weekend free-for-all — November 18-19, 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: Free Food for Millionaires, by Min Jin Lee. The daughter of Korean immigrants tries to figure out her life in New York. It’s long and sprawling and engrossing. One review I saw called it a modern-day Middlemarch, which seems right to me.

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

{ 1,495 comments… read them below }

    1. AnnaleighUK*

      I’m terrified of ducks. There is a reason – I was attacked by one when I was about four years old.

      Mmmyep. So ordering Peking duck from the local takeaway is my revenge on all those evil quacky feathery gits.

      1. Persephone*

        I’m also terrified of ducks. That’s only a recent thing; I got attacked by one two years ago. I understand you: evil, quacky, feathery gits is the most accurate descriptor for them.

        Also, why the stupid duck attacked me instead of LITERALLY ANYONE ELSE IN THE PARK was beyond me. I was sitting there reading! I wasn’t trying to hurt the duck!

      2. Janelle*

        That’s so scary. I also was attached as a child and fell into a lake running. I’m Not so much afraid now as I just keep my distance.

      3. CityMouse*

        A swan tried to drown my grandma’s dog once right in front of us. Birds can be super scary.

        I’m okay with ducks, but whenever I see someone trying to get close to a swan (especially a kid), I try to get them to back off. Especially if it’s cygnet season. You could get seriously hurt.

        1. Alexandra Duane*

          I was taking pictures of the trumpeter swans on a small lake near my house, standing on the bank where the water is fairly deep right up to the banks, so the swans can swim right up to it. A large male swan kind of meandered up to me – very slowly and casually, not looking agitated at all – and as soon as I was in range, popped me on the leg with his beak! Owww!

      4. Not So NewReader*

        My MIL was scared of geese after one chased her when she was very young. She lived into her 90s and that fear never went away. Birds can be so nasty.

        1. many bells down*

          There is a favorite childhood photo of me, screaming directly into the camera as I flee from an angry goose. Yeah, my dad photographed my panicked screaming instead of … helping.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Ugh. There’s a favorite toddler picture of me sitting on the driveway with the back legs of a cricket hanging out of my mouth. I’m like, jeez people, how about getting the cricket out of my mouth.

      5. Marie*

        That’s not too weird, my cousin is also scared of ducks for the same reason, though I believe she was about two when it happened to her and she’s got a scar on her leg. I don’t know details as I wasn’t born when it happened but even now in her 30’s she won’t go near duck ponds.

    2. Persephone*

      I’m getting frustrated with people – well meaning, I guess, but I kind of get annoyed at people offering unsolicited advice (e.g. “you doing x is the reason y happens” when, for me, y doesn’t actually happen, or y happens but it doesn’t bother me). It’s stupid to be frustrated by it, but I sometimes just want to ask, with one perfectly raised eyebrow, “Did I ask you?”

      I mean, it’s one thing if I asked for the advice, but normally it’s “I did this thing” and immediately get shut down for it. Something like a nap, or watching a movie instead of finishing an assignment due in a week’s time, or something like organising a date with a guy I’m into – it’s usually the same person telling me those things are why my life is going bad. And then for a while I think it’s all going okay, and it happens again, and I have to sit there justifying myself to someone who Knows Best and I’m like arghhhh stop it. (Also really great when same person tries to tell me how to do my own job, at which they’ve never been employed, or how to complete my studies, when they’re not the ones studying what I am and have never studied.)

      In other news, my dog is warming my heart each day because she is no longer scared of rain and that’s a big thing for her.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I hate unsolicited advice. It really, really annoys me when people give it to me. They don’t know the ins and outs of the problem that I’m discussing and they tend to give the most generic advice.

        I’ve taken to changing the subject with a blithe thank you, but I do sometimes want to say “I don’t recall asking for your opinion.”

        1. Persephone*

          Oh man. Yes. Or, “I know you better” is my personal fave. Know me better than who? Myself? The people who live with me? Oh, okay, I forgot. You’re omniscient. Carry on.

          Also, the “I don’t recall asking for your opinion” reminds me of Kirk Van Houten getting fired: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Le4sGUeXTk

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I hate that. I get it from certain people, who also like to send articles, etc. that have no relevance to me whatsoever or are full of bullshit life hacks or career hacks. These people do not spend time with me, they don’t talk to me on a regular basis, and they have no idea what I’ve tried or haven’t tried. They also do it re writing– “You know what you should do…” And then when I try to explain how things actually are, for example, that just simply writing a book doesn’t mean it will ever be published or the perfectly legitimate reasons I don’t want to self-publish it, they say I’m being “negative.” No, asshole, I’m being realistic.

        1. NaoNao*

          Ugh!! The self-publishing pushers! The people who are well meaning but have NO FRIGGIN IDEA what goes into actually editing, proofing and getting a book ready to publish, let alone the PR and publicity and promotion to get anywhere on any bookshelves or lists!
          Writing the book is the (relatively) easy part! Almost everyone has a complete or nearly complete novel sitting in a drawer somewhere!

          It’s not negative to not want to self publish. It’s a tremendous amount of work that may or may not pan out. That’s why authors hire agents and editors and publicists!!!

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            Ugh, this. I have a lot of writer friends who self-publish, and while they seem happy with their choices, self-publishing sounds like a miserable ordeal to me. I might give it a shot with a particular project someday, but doing all that myself/hiring people to do what I can’t sounds absolutely miserable to me.

            1. Laurin Kelly*

              I belong to an online writing community and the number of posters on there (most of whom have never published anything, either self or traditional) screaming that traditional publishing is dead and self-publishing is the only way to make any money as an author grinds my gears so hard. I’m very happy to give my publisher their share of sales in return for them taking care of all the administrative and marketing work. I really don’t have the time or interest in commissioning cover art, hiring an editor, submitting ARCs or any of that stuff. I just want to concentrate on writing.

                1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

                  Nope, not that one. Sad to see that more than one community has gone this route.

              1. Aerin*

                I ended up spending a whole lot less time on Google+ specifically because the writing community there is so indie fanatic. I can barely decide what to do for lunch, leaving every single decision in the writing process up to me is lunacy. I’ll happily outsource that stuff to someone who can get me into Barnes and Noble and leave me free to write.

                1. Fiennes*

                  This is so true. There are plenty of valid reasons to choose self-publishing, and a number of genres where it’s very viable. But SO MANY people choose that route out of mere impatience or ego. Their posturing muddies the waters for would-be authors looking for more specific guidance.

          2. Anion*

            God, yes. I am commercially published. As an experiment I self-published a novella. It was such a pain in the butt! I hated all the extra work, finding/commissioning cover art, formatting (especially that, even though I used a platform/program that made it fairly simple)…my agent helped me with it but I still hated it. I’m much happier letting someone else do all that nonsense. (The money was good, though, I do admit.)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I’ve heard the folks who do the best with indie publishing are the ones who already have a following from other stuff. Because obviously–if you have to do all the marketing and sales generation yourself, it helps, duh.

              Plus, there is the stigma still surrounding it that you’re selfing because nobody else will touch your crap work. When anyone can publish, anyone does, and you end up swimming in a sea of dreck.

        2. Persephone*

          UGH, yes. Currently have someone doing that re: pitching. “If you just did x…”

          As the actual published writer in this conversation, I’m going to say it’s a no from me, and the reason I’m not focusing on pitching articles is because I ACTUALLY DO NOT WANT TO.

        3. LilySparrow*

          I self-pub. I’m happy with it and enjoy discussing pros & cons with the SP-curious.
          But it is NOT for everyone, both in terms of temperament/interest, and in terms of what sorts of books it’s suited for.
          Getting a book published, and selling it afterward, are a lot of work no matter what path you take.
          I sometimes wish I could hand out scripts to people: “If you’re trying to encourage me and wish me success, then just say that!”

          “What you ought to do” is almost always ignorant and absolutely always infuriating.

        4. This Daydreamer*

          But but but I heard of this one guy who like totally made millions! Why don’t you do that?!

          Don’t. Get. Me. Started.

      3. Gingerblue*

        I’m going home for Thanksgiving in a few days and I’m already bracing for this. In the last few years I’ve just switched to saying “I’m not actually looking for advice,” which leads to aggressive sulking, but I’d rather deal with that than the advice.

      4. Katie the Fed*

        I’m having a REALLY hard time with unsolicited advice as a pregnant woman. I’m an adult woman capable of my own research and decisions. I don’t mind (too much) things like “oh, I tried X and it didn’t work” but I really mind things like “oh, you shouldn’t do X.” I have a family member who keeps doing this on all kinds of things. She’s told me I shouldn’t breastfeed, have the baby sleep in our room (even though it’s recommended up to a year to reduce the rate of SIDs), and a bunch of other stuff. I don’t criticize how she raises her baby, and I’m willing to adjust if my plans don’t work out. But I’m allowed to try things without getting a lecture.

        Really unless the subject is something like skipping vaccinations or some other glaring safety/health issue, I don’t want your advice.

        1. Life is Good*

          My only advice to you, KtF, is to do what feels right to you. You will do a fine job.

          I hated all the “friendly” advice when I was expecting (more years ago than I care to admit), too. One well-meaning family member was fearful that our cat would “suck the breath” out of our newborn and advised we get rid of her before our bundle arrived. Another advised against breastfeeding because ‘you can’t tell how many ounces the little one is getting.’ Darned breasts don’t come with gauges! Argh!

          1. Lauren*

            I don’t understand why that is a thing?! My grandma fully believed that cats could “suck the breath out of you”. She wanted my mom to get rid of her cat. I think it is so weird! He was the nicest cat, too. Newsflash, grandma. Cats like milk and babies tend to smell like milk!

        2. dragonzflame*

          Unsolicited advice about babies is the worst. Unfortunately, it won’t stop when the baby’s born, either! It’s so frustrating, because I try to be as intuitive as I can with my 4mo and just roll with things as they come up, and you just end up second guessing yourself. I guess you just have to learn to nod and smile, then do whatever you like. Lie if you have to and tell them you’ve tried it. (My mum likes to give me advice from 30 years ago!)

        3. Quinalla*

          Yup, it is infuriating when you are pregnant and after. So far the old my kids get, the less unsolicited advice I get, but it is absolutely annoying. I do my best to ignore it and do what works for my family, but it can still get me down sometimes. I try to tell myself, whatever I do as a full-time working mom, I’m doing it wrong in someone’s eyes, so I may as well do what works best for me and my family :)

        4. dawbs*

          ugh. I hate to say it, but it gets worse when you have a kid standing in front of you (which is extra annoying at the moments when you’re damn indecisive about something important, and trying to choose between reasonable options A, B, and C, and they come along and start hard selling unreasonable/harmful option Z).

          As an ‘older’ mom, I get a little less of it. And I’ve found slightly rude lines like “I know, but my doctor and I discussed and this is the best option. Isn’t it AMAZING how much the doctor’s recommendations have changed in just a few years from what you were told to do? ” can work wonders. Even when my doctor is out of the loop.

          (and the ‘best choice’ is always the choice that works for you and your family–not the one that works/worked best for someone else and their family)

          1. Half-Caf Latte*

            This is one benefit of being in a nurse-physician marriage. I can cheerfully chirp – “the nurse said to do X” or “doctor’s orders” to busybodies, and nobody but myself and spouse need to know that we’re the ones we’re referring to…

        5. Catherine from Canada*

          My daughter (who was due to deliver on Tuesday and is out for a long walk right now…) is bi-polar and has PTSD and anxiety: she will go back on all her regular doses once she’s delivered. I already know that much of my help to her is going to be getting in other people’s faces about their unsolicited, unwanted, unhelpful and uninformed advice about breastfeeding, sleeping and everything else.

      5. PhyllisB*

        That’s like my sister (who’s been married six times) trying to advise me on my marriage. (Forty-one years to the same man) I’m like REALLLLLLLLLLLYYY???

        1. Circus peanuts*

          I laughed when I read your comment. I would be so tempted to ask her which husband that her piece of advice worked on.

    3. nep*

      Most of my days I feel basically as if I’m just waiting to die. I don’t need suicide hotlines or the like — I’ve got zero inclination to do something to take my own life. Can’t envision doing that. Just that I really would be OK with it ending soon, and often it just feels as if I’m coasting toward that. Not seeking advice and especially I’m not engulfed in a pity party; on many levels I’m relatively content and I sure have no complaints. It just is what it is.

      1. Drama Llama*

        As someone who struggled with depression and depressive feelings/thoughts I can’t not reply to this.

        When I feel depressed it seems hopeless and there’s no way out. It’s only when I come out of the tunnel I realise otherwise. An awesome psychologist I used to see pointed out we often take our thoughts as facts, when they’re not. They’re just…thoughts.

        I started taking Prozac several months ago and it’s been life changing. I now know what it’s like to not feel engulfed by negative thoughts and bad memories from morning to night. I no longer feel like I’m held hostage by my emotions. No more ‘losing it’.

        In this day and age there is no reason why you should suffer in silence. I did therapy on and off for years but it was the prozac that made a huge difference for me. For you the solution may be different, or the same, I don’t know. But please know there are options out there for you to try.

        Life’s too short to live in sadness.

        1. nep*

          Thanks. I’m really glad you have gotten relief and rediscovered happiness.
          Thing is, I don’t go around sad all the time; I find joy in a lot of simple things. And emotions float by like clouds — I don’t give them power. For the most part I really live in the moment. It’s simply that I often sense no longevity/future, and feel as if just coasting to the end. I don’t feel sadness in that; oddly it just feels like that’s how it is.
          I gave that answer mostly because it truly is something I wouldn’t tell someone IRL, because then would come all the ‘I’m worried about you’ ‘what can we do’ ‘how can you say that’….

          1. bunniferous*

            One thing people may not know is not all depression comes with actual feelings of sadness. So if you ever find yourself not enjoying stuff, keep that in mind, But I believe you. I have days like that myself.

      2. Anon because .... well*

        I get this. Likewise I’m not suicidal and actually have a pretty good life but if it ended tomorrow I think I’d be ok with it. I work in the medical field and I’m always baffled by people who keep opting for aggressive treatment when it’s terminal and the treatment is brutal.

        Oh and I read fan fiction.

        I’d never ever tell people these two things!

        1. nep*

          Yes — I would be baffled at that too. I’ve even openly told a relative who’s having to go to a lot of doctor appointments lately (that dreaded assembly line where one is treated like a number for the most part; I’ve never, ever had a positive experience in that domain) that I were anything to happen to me to require medical treatment I’d turn to euthanasia, thank you very much. Of course, of course — and I added this — easy for me to say when I’m healthy and don’t need medical care. It’s impossible for me to know how I’d be. Were something to happen leaving me in intense pain or something, maybe I’d be crying out for a doctor and wanting to do everything to hang on.

          1. blackcat*

            I think, for most people, when it happens they just do what the doctor tells them for a while.

            My mother in law always said essentially what you have said. Healthy as a horse. Got diagnosed with stage IV cancer 6 weeks ago. Started doing the entire rigamarole of harsh treatments. Last scan showed no improvement, but no progression. Docs were all like “It’s working, your aggressive cancer stopped spreading!” And, for her, it finally dawned on her that extending her life was the doctor’s goal. Not making her life more pleasant, not curing her (not an option). She’s stopped all treatment now and wishes she hadn’t even gone down that road. But it’s hard not to when you have 5 doctors all saying “Yes, you should do this.”

            My husband is mad at her for not continuing to try, but her stopping treatment is 100% consistent with the woman I have known for 10 years. *Getting* the treatment was not.

            That said, there’s a huge range of “medical treatment.” I got severe pneumonia a while back–would have died without antibiotics kind of pneumonia. Two weeks of antibiotics and another two of taking it easy and I was totally fine (helped by the fact that I was 19 or 20 at the time). That level of medical treatment–stuff that returns you to your initial state with few side effects or problems–is so different from chemo.

            1. nep*

              Indeed. Meds once saved me from malaria — so a crucial intervention that brought me back to normal, not living with a chronic illness or some ‘tolerable’ state. Good point — there is a wide range.
              All best to you and your family.

              1. Ange*

                Lots of us manage to live perfectly happily with chronic conditions. It’s not a fate worse than death.

                1. nep*

                  Of course — I didn’t mean otherwise. Thanks for stating this. I was responding the sense of the other comment about the wide range of treatments / medical needs.
                  This reminds me of something a friend once said — somehow the quote ‘health is the greatest wealth’ came up as we were chatting. And he said really the greatest wealth is the attitude and resilience to be content no matter what one’s health condition. This has stuck with me — I think of it quite often. He’s absolutely right. I used to really be keen on that ‘health is the greatest wealth’ thing, and there’s something to that. But the ‘wealth’ my friend talked about is more important, I think.

                2. Ange*

                  Replying to myself due to lack of nesting, but really a reply to nep.

                  I do take your point – something about the phrasing just rubbed me the wrong way.

                  I’ve just had chemo, and I would only do it again if it was going to be curative – I’m not going through 6 months of that hell again just to buy myself a couple of months; however, if I had kids or a partner, I might make a different choice.

                3. nep*

                  I understand completely how my wording would have struck — I’m really glad you pointed it out.
                  All best to you.

            2. the gold digger*

              Antibiotics yes, chemo no. I watched my dad go through chemo for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It was awful and he died anyhow. I would go through chemo only if they guaranteed I would live happily for many years after.

              A doctor who treated my dad said he had a friend who had gone through chemo for testicular cancer years before. The doc asked the friend, who survived and was in remission if, knowing the friend would survive and knowing what chemo was like, if he would go through the chemo again.

              The friend said no. Even knowing he would survive, he would rather have died than go through chemo.

              1. TL -*

                A lot of chemos are much more gentle now than they were years ago.
                It depends on diagnosis and treatment, of course, but a big focus on research has been more targeted and more gentle treatment.

                1. fposte*

                  Yes, the experiences of my friends has been hugely different from my parents and their friends. Medicine has actually gotten a lot better at some things.

              2. PhyllisB*

                I totally respect your viewpoint Gold digger, but my husband was dignosed with non-Hodgkins in 2001 (on 9/11!!) he went through his treatments and has been in remission since. The point is, you never know. However, I would never urge someone to go aggressive if they felt like that was not right for them.

              3. Accidental Analyst*

                I know that everyone has a line in the sand. And it’s good to know where your line is. These are two anecdotes for the other side of the line.

                Sometimes chemo can actually help to improve quality of life even if it won’t improve longevity. My uncle had mesothelioma. He spoke to my mum about chemo (she was undergoing it for breast cancer). He listened to her experiences and decided to do the chemo. Before his death he thanked mum for her help in this as it improved the quality of his life which also helped his daughters.

                Mum has terminal cancer. The first hospital said she had 6 months without treatment and 12 months with. Second hospital said we don’t know how much time we can give you but it will be a lot more than that and will improve your quality of life. That was about four years ago and she’s still going strong (some health issues but nothing major). If she hadn’t of gone for treatment she wouldn’t have been able to see her granddaughter born and other important family events.

                YMMV but this has been my families experience

            3. another Liz*

              This. Human medicine, the default is doing all that can be done. The patient’s goals for treatment are often an afterthought, if they’re thought of at all. In vet med, euthanasia is a kindness, and yeah I know it’s a slippery slope and preventing its abuse would be beyond difficult, BUT…. My dad died of cancer in his brain, liver, and nervous system. The doctors paralyzed one of his legs permanently in n an attempt to lessen his pain. Those doctors and nurses were so beyond awesome and compassionate and did everything in their power to keep him comfortable, but even drugged into Oblivion you could tell he was in pain. All I could think was, “we wouldn’t let a dog go through this”. If it were me in his place, I would want that option on the table. The lines between life and death are becoming cloudier by the day, and existing isn’t living. I think my generation, watching what our parents are going through at the end, we will know that time isn’t the end-all of treatment, and death isn’t the worst that can happen to you.

              1. New Window*

                I just wanted to say, Just Another Liz, I’m sorry you and your family went through that kind of experience.

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

                I tend to think the same. We basically had to starve my grandfather to death. It would have been so much better in my view if we could have just ended his suffering immediately.

              3. nep*

                So sorry your family had to go through that.
                Euthanasia is a fundamental right, as far as I’m concerned. It’s one of my most basic rights, choosing how and when I want to die. Period.
                I gather that part of the opposition to assisted dying is it could be ‘abused’ by caregivers or something? I don’t know. I’ve not done enough reading on the debate.

                1. TL -*

                  Well, it can easily be abused by caregivers, even unintentionally.
                  A lot of times, end of life options become a reality when the patient is no longer able to consent and usually the family members are incredibly stressed and may not really understand what’s happening, end of life directives may not have been given, or one relative might have a different impression of the patient’s wishes than another relative.

                  In the ideal circumstances, someone gets sick and is of sound mind when this decision becomes necessary, but in reality, that’s often not what happens.

                  Which isn’t to say it shouldn’t be allowed, just that it’s a lot more complicated from a medical ethics standpoint than “let people decide to end their own lives” sounds.

        2. nep*

          P.S. I could pretty much write that same line: I’m not suicidal and actually have a pretty good life but if it ended tomorrow I think I’d be OK with it. That’s me.

        3. QualityControlFreak*

          Well … I think it’s a very individual choice. My spouse opted for the aggressive treatments, even knowing that at best it wouldn’t do more than buy him an undetermined chunk of time. But he wanted as much time with his family as he could get. And he was a fighter. So he fought. We were behind him either way. He knew that as long as he wanted to fight I’d be fighting alongside him. And that if he got tired of fighting, he could lay down arms and I’d still be right beside him. Sometimes … sometimes I wish he hadn’t chosen to fight a losing battle. The last two months were brutal. But it was his life, his battle, his death.

          1. nep*

            That’s beautiful.
            So true — it’s a unique experience and it’s all about what is right for the individual.
            Thanks for sharing this. Peace.

        4. Fiennes*

          Oh, man, I tell almost everyone about reading & writing fanfic. Since I’m a professional writer, I also tell many work contacts. One time one of them turned out to have read my stuff; another time, the contact realized I’d written for her in Yuletide a few years back.

        5. Not So NewReader*

          Agreeing with you, Anon because, some treatments are worse than the disease itself. Why would I put myself through that? If I am going to be made whole and go back to my regular life, then I would consider some of these things. But there seems to be boomerangs that come back a few years later and polish us off anyway.

          I am meeting more and more people who say, “If I die tomorrow, know that I am okay with that. My life has been rich and I feel I have done many things.”

          1. nep*

            I would like to have an out if I wanted it — an option of peaceful, painless assisted suicide. It would be nice just to know that’s available at any time.

      3. Shoe*

        Oh man. Been there.

        Hang in there. You never know what joy can be ahead for you, no matter where you are in life right now. I know how it can feel like that is just impossible, but it isn’t.

      4. AnonAndOn*

        I have had suicidal thoughts, lately more so because of not having a way to support myself. I did call the suicide hotline months ago and while I don’t think the person said anything deep that prevented me from doing anything, the time I spent on the phone talking with them was less time considering suicide. Honestly, I doubt that I’d attempt anything because I’m afraid of death. I don’t like the idea of ceasing to exist.

        I wouldn’t tell loved ones this because the last thing I need is for them is to take things to the extreme and watch me like a hawk 24/7. I’m not in a place right now where I’m contemplating suicide, although I have my days of feeling down in the dumps.

        1. nep*

          I’ve had suicidal thoughts, I’ve looked up ways people commit suicide. Can’t envision ever doing it — I don’t feel inclined that way at all. But I reckon I think about more than most people.
          I hear you about telling loved ones. I would never. They’d never be able to get in my head and know what I mean and there’s just no reason to.
          All the best to you.

        2. SoAnon*

          This sounds like me a very long time ago, though my problem wasn’t financial and I never made the phone call. What got me through it was telling myself: This too shall pass. And it did.

          I don’t have any idea if you will even see this, let alone if it will help you at all if you do see it.

          Best of luck to you.

      5. Have weekend depression, will look for help or sulk*

        Similar feelings here.

        I’m afraid that my apathy might make me unemployable. I know I *need* to finish brushing up on my skills and find work in 18 months, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Most of the time I just sit in front of my computer and browse the web.

        And it’s not that I feel a lot of despair. It’s that I just have no energy. I do feel content with my life, but I realize it can’t last forever. And I can dedicate myself to something for a limited amount of time. But I burn out really quickly, and have to spend a lot of time recuperating afterward. None of that is particularly helpful.

        1. No Green No Haze*

          I was there! Part of the problem is somehow finding the energy to a) care about it and b) do something about it, when all your energy is tiny and seems dedicated to keeping you breathing.

          If you haven’t had your thyroid checked, try to do it. I thought it was just stress from a toxic job environment getting me down, but it was also that my thyroid was shot. There’s more going on than that, for me, but getting that piece sorted out was the part that gave me purchase.

          1. Have weekend depression, will look for help or sulk*

            Thanks! I had my thyroid checked a while back and it was normal, but I might do it again, since I’ve gained a bit of weight since, and it’s been a year.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      I really enjoy reading fanfiction.

      I would never tell anyone this because there’s still a stigma around it but I love reading it because it adds more to the story when it’s done well. After I finished Stranger Things, I immediately went to AO3 and spent a day scrolling through the stories there enjoying myself.

      1. Julia*

        I do, too! I sometimes write it, too. I know some people in real life who read and write fanfiction, but I wouldn’t mention it to people at work.

      2. nep*

        I’ve read bits and pieces, mostly on AAM, but could you explain what fanfiction is — and why there’s a stigma? Thanks.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          Fanfiction is the act of writing a piece of fiction about a particular cultural/literary thing i.e. Harry Potter fanfiction are stories written by fans using the world and characters of Harry Potter. It’s the writers spin on the world. They can pair people up in fanfiction who aren’t paired up in canon (the creator’s work). In the HP fandom, a lot of people believe that Remus Lupin and Sirius Black were together and they write fanfiction around that.

          It’s sort of a way to extend the story and to enjoy the story at a different level.

          I suppose the stigma comes from it being seen as quite a nerdy thing to do, to enjoy something like that. A lot of people also assume that fanfiction is erotic fiction, but that’s not the case in about 80% of the works available (although there is a lot more sex than you’ll normally find in official work).

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Oh, you can find erotic fanfic about ANYTHING. When one of my skating coaches found out I read the Trixie Belden girl detective books as a child, some of the most squeaky clean literature in this galaxy or any other, she said “Rule 34. Look it up.”

            Well, it’s true–if it exists, there is p0rn of it. Yes, there is actually Trixie Belden-themed p0rn on the internet. >_<

            1. AnnaleighUK*

              I stumbled across Rule 34 for Tour De France cyclists once while quite innocently looking for a specific photograph (ok it was trying to prove to R that no, they don’t wear underpants, please don’t ask) and googling ‘do TDF riders wear underwear’ was a mistake I do NOT want to repeat.

                1. AnnaleighUK*

                  Lord, you’ve seen that one too? There’s that one and one with white shorts after a rainstorm that, um, proved my point.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                “ . . . googling ‘do TDF riders wear underwear’ was a mistake I do NOT want to repeat.”

                Well, after reading that, my curiosity dictated that *I* repeat your mistake. I see what you mean about the red spandex.

            2. Adele*

              Say it ain’t so! I loved Trixie Belden as a child and a couple years ago found a nearly complete set at a garage sale. I read them all straight through.

        2. JKP*

          I think part of the stigma is that people who don’t read it don’t realize how much really good, really well done fanfiction is out there. Most people’s knowledge of fanfiction is that 50 Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight fanfiction, and that was endlessly mocked for how bad the writing was.

          If you do read fanfiction, you do come across a lot of really badly written stuff, but there’s also a lot of amazing stuff too, you just have to sort through it to find the stories/authors you like.

          Also, technically fanfiction is illegal, in that none of the authors have license from the original artists to write stories with their characters/world. Some artists shut down people writing fanfiction, such as Anne Rice, but most just look the other way as long as it’s done just for fun. But that means you can’t make money with fanfiction. That’s why 50 Shades had to be tweaked before it could be sold, to make it different enough from Twilight. And if you can’t make money from fanfiction, very few professional level writers will write fanfiction if they could sell their original work instead.

          1. Fiennes*

            There’s actually a lively debate as to whether or not fanfic is illegal, so long as it meets the standards for fair use as a transformative work. It would be akin to parody–fiction written about a work to comment on that work–which is protected. My belief is that IP owners will embrace this legal definition explicitly within the next few years; they’ve already tacitly done so. This allows Disney/DC/etc. not to worry about policing fanfic at all, with zero legal repercussions for anyone. (The C&D letters for X-Files fanfic are as distant a part of the past as America Online discs.)

            And as a professional writer who has continued writing fan fiction more than a decade into my pro career, I can promise you–I’m far from the only one. :)

            1. The Ginger Ninja*

              I had an interesting discussion with someone about pastiche vs fan fiction. As far as we could tell, for the purposes of many discussions, pastiche is considered classy and respectable (an homage to the original, if you will) whereas ff is geeky and nerdy and kind of gross (thank you, 50 Shades for ruining it for all of us lol). That seems to be the main idea floating around in most non-fandom communities. As an English teacher, I find (and my students who write ff agree) that ff is hard to write, mainly because you need to keep the characters true to canon, which can be hard if you didn’t create them. Plus, look at someone like Lyndsay Faye who is quite successfully published in the Sherlock community. Her work is extremely realistic to original canon, in my opinion, so it would be a shame to dismiss it as “just fan fiction”. Just my two cents :)

            2. Indoor Cat*

              Hmm. But parody can be sold– for example, Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs” was a Star Wars parody that was shown in theatres and sold DVDs. “A Very Potter Musical,” after a very tense series of meetings with many lawyers (but not technically a court case) was ruled parody and was allowed to remain on YouTube and go on a professional tour. Neither Brooks nor Team Starkid ended up having to license those properties, which meant Warner Brothers and Lucasfilm didn’t make money from them.

              So, simply from the perspective that “corporations always want to make money,” it seems to me that any media company would fight against any non-licensed derivative work claiming parody status if it was at all debatable. Although, I haven’t been keeping on top of all this, so who knows?

            3. Frea*

              Another pro writer here who’s been tooling around on a fanfic scene all morning: *high-five* I worried I’d have to give it up but it’s the best kind of stress relief.

              Speaking of C&D letters, though, I’m making popcorn in preparation for when Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles TV show gets fanfic because given her history—well, yikes.

          2. Laurin Kelly*

            As someone who started out writing fanfic, there is definitely shaming that goes on with people saying that if you are a “real” writer you would be able to come up with your own characters and universes and not have to steal anyone else’s.

            I’ve seen the other side too though; once I transitioned from fanfic to original fiction exclusively I got a lot of comments that I was “selling out”, “turning my back on my readers” and that I must think I’m “too good for fanfic.”

            1. Indoor Cat*

              Wow. People are bizarre.

              I mean, I guess I should stop being surprised at people being both petty and obnoxiously entitled, but still. Write what you’re moved to write.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I see fanfic as good practice for budding writers. And some people may not want to do anything else past that–they may be writing just for fun, and that’s okay too. But I think if I created characters and someone were distorting them in a way I found problematic, such as making them pedophiles or something, or trying to profit off them, I would not be happy with that.

              My bank robber book started out as a sequel to the film The Dark Knight. It’s the only one I’ve ever written. I then wrote the same story all over again but with my own characters.

              1. Amadeo*

                This is the issue I have with fanfic from time to time, even though I wrote Knight Rider fanfic, so I don’t have a whole lot of room to preach. I’ve been trying to write my own novel, and having been in RP and fanfic circles, fanfic is one of the things I would dread as a creator of original characters/content. I probably would not try to stop people from writing it, a la WB taking down the Harry Potter stuff ages ago, but I certainly wouldn’t want to know about it or see it. Ironic, isn’t it?

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  If they’re just doing it for their own enjoyment, I have no problem with it, barring the stuff I said (if they were sharing that stuff online, especially).

                  I know I said I only did the one, but I guess notating some *koff* fantasies that no one shall ever see about a particular character I’ve crushed on for years counts…. *blush*

          3. Mallory Janis Ian*

            My only experience reading fan fic is that it has somehow become a family Christmas break tradition for my daughter to read aloud “My Immortal” over several evenings. My daughter writes several fan fics based on animes that she watches, and she tells me when one of them gets a lot of likes and requests for the next installment.

      3. Myrin*

        I basically only read fanfiction these days. The possibilities are endless in a way that published books will never achieve and which makes the vast majority just boring to me now (there’s an oldt tumblr post that says something like “Where else can you find a lesbian intergalactic assassin robot couple turned coffeeshop owners?” and that about sums it up) and it’s free so really, what’s not to like?

        1. Book Lover*

          There was a time when I just read tons of ff. But since things have moved to tumblr it seems as though things are more fragmented and it is just hard to find good work. Plus I am not into the major fandoms right now.

          1. Myrin*

            Check out AO3 (Archive of Our Own)! They’re the main fanfic host these days and you actually only need to find like two or three authors you like and subscribe to them, the rest will come to you because they will shout someone out or link back to another work or what have you and then you can bath in all the gloriousness.

            1. Book Lover*

              Oh, I have been on AO3 for as long as it has existed. But most of the authors I love don’t write often any more or now are published authors (hah, or both, for Astolat). And I have never had much interest in reading original ‘fanfic’ since I can just go to the bookstore or library for that.

              1. SpiderLadyCEO*

                I love Astolat! I read fic by ranking, because I’m lazy, so I’ll go to a tab and sort by complete only + bookmark, and that turns up tons of good fic ;) the problem is when you have read the creme de la creme, and the newer stuff hasn’t had the time to come to the top yet. Then I start subtracting out the well-known names.

                1. Book Lover*

                  I started with XFiles and read a lot of SGA fics. Once you have lived through the incredible fanfic that came of SGA it is just hard to settle.

                  Astolat’s semi-LKH crossover with Merlin is one of the most amazing things. The Crown of the Summer Court. And there are some Avengers fics that are really feel good, nice for the current times.

                  I just need to try to get into a new fandom I guess.

                2. Tau*

                  Having that problem as well – or sometimes one particular pairing or so just dominates the top rankings. (I still have a soft spot for Star Wars fandom, where the top rankings tend to get taken by time-travel fixit fics. My people.)

                  Agreed that tumblr is godawful for finding anything. It reminds me of Livejournal a bit that way, which was also a haven for fanfic. Finding anything for a new fandom on that site was murder.

      4. Fiennes*

        I wrote this above, but — I tell almost everyone who knows me well enough to discuss hobbies at all. Although I came up in the era of Deep Stigma, fanfic is MUCH more mainstream now, especially among younger people. I don’t *share* my fic with most–only people who would be reading it bc of the fandom, not because of me. And boyfriends (including my current partner.) Because a deep guide to one’s fantasy life is not a bad thing to have in that context…

        1. SpiderLadyCEO*

          It definitely is more mainstream, but there is still a lot of cringe culture to it. That being said, all of my best friends know I love fic – because it’s such a major portion of my life hiding it would be insane. Not only do I read and write, I’m a volunteer staffer with the OTW so weekends and evenings are eaten up working for that. After ten “I can’t come, I have a meeting on Saturday,” when your friends know your office is closed on Saturday, you have to come clean, haha!

      5. Aurion*

        Love fanfiction, both reading and writing it. I probably take it more seriously than I should (I have something like…twenty writing craft books on my floor right now because I am hitting a block with how to plot/structure a longer work and I need some guidance).

        I have zero inclination or desire to get published, so fanfiction is my writing outlet. The way I see it: my sports is my stress relief, but writing is my joy.

      6. Wintermute*

        I don’t get the stigma, I think it’s tied in with our sick culture of hyper-ownership of creative works in the modern day. Shakespeare wrote his own takes on other people’s stories and characters, which gave us Hamlet, Romeo and Juliette and more.

        During Doyle’s own life Sherlock Holmes had glorified “fanfiction” of him written which boosted the popularity of the character and lead to him becoming a household name and a major figure in the Western Literary Canon.

        Likewise, Lovecraft’s own work was pretty average in a lot of ways (people remember his hits like The Shadow Over Innsmouth and forget his much more crude take on the same subject matter in The White Ape) and his blatant and pathological (pathological even for the late 1800s) racism hurt his work and popularity. But later writers took his expanded mythos, writers like Dereleth and Carter, and they refined it into the pop culture phenomenon it is today, aided by the fact none of it was copyrighted so game makers, authors and others can freely use the “Cthulhu Mythos” and cross-pollinate with one another.

    5. Irish Em*

      I have chronic pain all the time. I never got a diagnosis from a GP because I only go when I’m completely acute and get a prescription, and the one time I was referred to a consultant she “didn’t buy” what I was telling her, so I just suck it up and deal with it. The other day I was talking to my pharmacist about something unrelated and the issue of my pain came up and she was horrified, and I have never felt so validated. It actually felt nice to talk about my pain, I told her what I can’t tell any other human being: my pain has been with me for the last 15+ years, and it’s like my friend. I’m used to it. I mean, it’s the buzzkill friend that nobody likes, but you still hang out with, but it’s still my friend. What helps me with my pain is a more Mediterranean climate, which we got in July for like a week, and I want to move to Italy or South of France, but my mother is now paralysed and living in a nursing home and would (possibly literally) die if I left the country, so I can’t look after my pain the way I want to because it will hurt someone else more. And a part of me hates my mother for it. (What feels even worse is that she was *just* coming around to the idea that IrishEm in Italy might not be the worst thing in the entire world about a week or so before she took the stroke that paralysed her, and I’m so glad she survived it, but I am so angry that she needs me to be in the country with her as her security blanket again and I am a terrible person). So there’s a double-whammy of depressing things I wouldn’t say out loud to actual human beings. I should probably change my username to Buzz Killington :P

      1. Anono-me*

        You are NOT a terrible person for your inner feelings born out of frustration, powerlessness and EXTREME CHRONIC PAIN. You are a wonderful person for the real actions you are taking to help your mother.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Exactly. Irish Em, you’re human and you are gonna have thoughts. It’s evidence of your good character (or “good enough” if you’re feeling too down on yourself to agree with this compliment) that you have not and will not express them to, or act them out in front of, your mother.

      2. Wintermute*

        I found a quote that might help you explain:

        “Going to the doctor when you’re chronically ill or in pain is a strange experience. Imagine a house on fire. You talk to the fire department and they’re like “well what’s the worst fire?” and you say “well I don’t know, the fire on the bed is really annoying because I can’t sleep well, but the fire on the curtains is the biggest fire, and the bookshelf fire has made it impossible for me to enjoy reading anymore. But I’d say the fire in the kitchen is the worst because I’m losing weight because it’s hard to eat” And the doctor says “well, the fridge is on fire and so is the microwave, you might have appliance-fireitis but if you did your VCR would be on fire too” and you go “Oh yeah! the VCR has been on fire too! I just forgot about that because it’s a comparatively small fire and we mostly watch DVDs these days so I don’t usually worry about it, plus it’s next to the bookshelf which is a much larger fire so you don’t notice it!” And then your doctor says “great we’ll try putting those out now, oh and don’t worry about the bookshelf fire, those just happen some times as your house gets older.”

        1. Katriona*

          Thank you for sharing this! I have fibromyalgia and it pretty much perfectly describes my experience. This is why it took me six years to get a diagnosis.

    6. Emily*

      Hearing about deaths of people I don’t know (especially relevant recently with all of the mass shootings, natural disasters, and incidents of police violence) doesn’t always elicit a strong emotional response from me. Obviously I don’t want harm to come to anyone, but it’s hard sometimes for distant death/pain/suffering to feel “real” to me. Sometimes I worry that I’m too emotionally flat – that I don’t experience emotions (especially sadness and empathy) as strongly as others.

      1. Shoe*

        This was actually going to be my answer.

        I care about world peace and violence and human rights and all that, in my brain. I don’t want refugees to be suffering and I think my country should help them. I think measures should be taken to stop gun violence. But if it isn’t someone I love, I find it hard to care in my heart. Like, my best friend will sob over stories of people being oppressed or killed or something, and have it completely ruin her day. I can’t find that in myself.

        1. Anion*

          Every once in a while one of those stories will really hit home with me and upset me (the Manchester bombing, frex, because we’d just left England after almost a decade of living there, and I have a pre-teen daughter who is a big Grande fan–the girls at that concert were/could have been my daughter and her friends, if you know what I mean. So that one was really rough for me). But usually, yeah, I feel the same.

      2. What is normal?*

        I actually believe this is more the norm and that those who are “devastated” have a problem.

        1. Agreed!*

          My MIL actually wails when she sees/reads/hears news involving deaths – any deaths, whether violent or non-violent, individual or mass, and regardless of the age or other characteristics of the deceased. Young man shot on the street? Wailing. Hundreds of people die in an accident halfway across the globe? Wailing. Famous figure who she didn’t even care about that much? Wailing. Her next door neighbor’s elderly mother, whom MIL never met? Wailing.

          Besides being rather horrifying (I have actually broken things because the sudden onset of wailing surprised me so much) and terribly annoying, it comes across as SO FAKE. Yes, it is awful when people die, especially if those deaths were senseless and preventable. But JFC, stop with the wailing.

            1. Agreed!*

              It’s probably not a cultural thing (she is of mixed Western European heritage, mostly Italian and Irish, ancestors have lived in the US for over a century), but I suppose it could be a family thing. I don’t know her family well, as she is estranged from a number of them. (The ones I have met are an unpleasant bunch.)

        2. Book Lover*

          I do get terribly upset because I think about the last moments of people and how they suffered and if they were afraid. And I see children starving and being bombed and recognize they are just like my kids and think how devastating for them and for the families that probably love them the way I love my kids. It is a big problem for me and very difficult. I don’t act like I am the one in that situation but I do feel terrible and with 24 hour news it feels nonstop. It is very unhealthy.

          So I would agree you are probably more the norm and healthier for it.

          1. Tau*

            Yeah, I’m similar. Sometimes I just see a news report of a disaster and go “eh, thing that happened” but often I start going “but what must the poor victim’s mother feel like right now?” and I get really upset to the point of tears. Agreed that it’s not healthy (I actually suspect this is a manifestation of my autism, my empathy tends to be a bit overactive in certain ways), and I definitely don’t think it’s viewed as normal. I get funny looks if people start realising I’m fighting tears over some disaster that did not affect me or anyone I know in any way whatsoever.

      3. Julianne*

        The only ones that really, truly devastate me are the school shootings. And honestly, that’s because I work at an elementary school, so the emotion is as much about worrying that I am going to be shot to death along with my students as it is devastation about things that have already happened.

      4. Indoor Cat*

        This is actually very normative.

        People sometimes talk like empathy is a thing you have or don’t have, like everyone is “an empath” or “a sociopath.” But it’s more accurate to say everybody has a mental capacity to more-or-less empathize with a certain number of people. It’s not a large number–the range is between 125-400 (this is called Dunbar’s number). Additionally, people have the ability to “deeply” empathize with a much smaller number of people– usually about 9-15. Immediate family and closest friends. These numbers can go down if a person has to learn to de-empathize intentionally because they are faced with many suffering people at once, or if empathy is punished, or if they internalize prejudices. They can go up a bit in some cases, but not by much. Generally, people who become more empathic than they used to be initially had below-average empathy. Any given person’s numbers can be naturally lower or higher, although true sociopaths (who empathize with no one) are pretty rare.

        The given people in our “empathy circle” and “deep empathy” circle can change based on how often we interact with them and how relatable they are. The monkeywrench is, now we frequently “interact” with people who don’t interact with us– we hear people’s stories on the news, or we follow celebrities on social media, and sometimes our minds end up putting those people in our empathy circles, or even our deep empathy circles. This is unhealthy for a lot of reasons, but the main one is that those people don’t empathize with you in return. They can’t. They don’t know you exist.

        Another wrinkle in all this is, in some instances, if a person has experienced incredible pain in the past, and that pain is still raw, then even the most distant empathy will bring up that person’s pain. No one really knows why this is for some people. There was a survey of Holocaust survivors that found that a small but significant minority of survivors had this type of reaction. One woman described how for the past forty years (at the time of the survey) she cries at least once every day. She’ll cry when she sees a poster for a lost dog, because she feels so bad for the people who must be missing their dog. It reminds her of all the people she misses who were lost, although it was clearly easier for her to talk about the people missing their lost dog than her own personal loss. For most people, even such a deep psychic wound heals and scars over eventually, but for some, it stays near the surface.

        Anyway, it’s all complicated. But, suffice it to say you’re pretty normal I think.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Cracked.com had an article about this–they called the circle “the monkeysphere.” Once you pass a certain number of monkeys in your sphere, your ability to care about them diminishes.

    7. Temperance*

      I’m hyper logical. I often judge people harshly for giving in to manipulative family members, partners, and friends, because the logical decision is X, but they go for Y, which is what the manipulator wants.

        1. Florida*

          Does giving into a manipulator really make life easier? It makes that moment easier. But I’m having a hard time thinking of a situation where it makes your whole life easier over the long-term.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            My point really was that you’re assuming people are in a position to assess things in the same way as you.

        2. Temperance*

          For the person who is bullied into giving in to the manipulator.

          In my experience, giving in to a manipulator just rewards them and makes their victim suffer. (A recent example: my MIL is caregiving her parents, without any help. Her brother, and his 3 adult daughters (and RN wife!) live a mile away. They are eligible for Medicare visiting nurses, for free. They only want “family help”, and because we don’t make the 5-hour round-trip drive monthly to pitch in, MIL gets stuck doing everything for them.)

          1. Indoor Cat*

            Er, alright, but who is giving in to a manipulator in that scenario?

            It seems like a fairly typical family conflict, in which people have different wants and needs. The parents want the privacy and safety of not bringing in outside caregivers into their home and, potentially, to make their food and touch their bodies. They want autonomy, safety, and privacy. They also need to be cared for.

            The five other adult family members want to keep their schedules as they are, without caregiving, probably because it’s stressful and work. They want routine and calm. They don’t have any unmet needs.

            You want to maintain your schedule as is too. Taking ten hours a month out of your schedule is too much of a sacrifice to your routine. You want to help your MIL’s parents, but not enough to make that sacrifice. You don’t have any unmet needs. [in the context of this conflict]

            Your MIL wants to help her parents. She also wants routine and calm (probably, since the workload seems too stressful for her).

            So, everybody hashes it out. You and the five adult family members have the best hand, because you want and need the fewest things. All six of you already win, since nobody wants to help the grandparents more than they want to not disrupt their schedules. So they don’t. People often say, “well, they should!” but everybody gets to make their own choices, and nobody gets to make anyone else’s for them when people are adults, you know? In a way, there’s no such thing as “should.” There’s just what happens, and what you do.

            Anyway, this means the conflict is between MIL and her parents, because those three are the ones with unmet needs and wants. So, MIL has a few choices.
            1. She could do the work because it gets her something she wants (assurance that her parents, whom she loves, are being taken care of) and just accept that the consequence is stress on her shoulders.

            2. She could do some of the work and then simply not show up other days, and inform the siblings that if they don’t show up nobody will. But that could backfire; what if the parents got hurt because nobody showed up? She’d feel awful because her parents were hurt, and inevitably she’d be blamed for the neglect. So she’d have to mentally weigh the risks. Probably the cons aren’t worth the pros.

            3. She could tell her parents in no uncertain terms that she would stop caregiving, and she’d give them x days to hire someone or tell the other adult children. But if they didn’t, she’d be faced with the same potential consequences as #2.

            On the other hand, there’s no reason #2 and #3 couldn’t potentially be good options. They’re just not necessarily the best if a person’s concern for her parents’ well-being (and potential risk of their suffering) trumps her desire for the freedom of not having sole caregiving responsibilities. So it’s a question of values, not willpower.

            Family conflict is normal, and conflicting values is normal. It seems like, on the internet at least, people throw around “manipulative” and “dysfunctional” when everyone is actually handling conflict in a fairly decent way. It’s just people don’t like conflict at all.

            1. Temperance*

              Your comment has given me something to think about, but I have a few minor tweaks: it’s not 10 hours out of my life that they are demanding, it’s one entire weekend per month, which includes 5 hours of driving.

              Grandparents live with my MIL, by their choosing, so it’s a little more complicated. I still think that they are manipulative, though, because they are essentially demanding that other people do their bidding when it doesn’t help them.

              1. Ruffingit*

                You mention the RN wife with a exclamation mark as though her profession means she is able to help more in some way. I’d just caution against that kind of thinking because in my experience, as a person in a caregiving profession, it’s very difficult to work all day with people and then also do that job with family. After all day as an RN on her feet, attending to people’s needs, I can see why she wouldn’t want to do that on her off time.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yup, I’m the same way. I try not to be judgmental that way, but it just drives me nuts to see someone giving in to the manipulator over and over again. I’m often thinking, “Why can’t they see what Sally is doing and that they should do X?” I try to remember I’m not in their shoes and it’s easier said than done, but it’s difficult.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I tend to be the same. People say things like “But Mom will be mad if I don’t come for Thanksgiving this year…” as though mom being angry is something to be avoided at all costs. My response there is usually “And…?” Mom will be mad. She’ll get over it. It’s really OK for her to be angry and to manage her feelings. You don’t have to manage them for her.

    8. what's my name again?*

      I really, really, really struggle with meeting my sisters-in-law. Either they ignore me, unless I make the first overture (“how’s life/work” etc.) or they criticize/lecture me. (They’ve denigrated our children’s school, my career choices etc.)
      At one point, they tried mightily to get our kids to sign up for an afterschool program (even though we don’t live near them, our kids have never expressed interest in joining it, and we frankly don’t have time (me especially as I work and took care of my elderly mother at the time). So I kind of snorted, “Yeah, in my free time.” The response, “Why, you don’t do anything.”
      Since then, I dread every family gathering. I end up brooding for weeks beforehand about what to say if I had the chance. I don’t, because I need to keep the peace for my husband and kids, especially now as my mother-in-law is declining in health.
      Thanks for this question and letting me vent. Thanksgiving is coming up and I’m in full brooding mode.

      1. sweetcaroline*

        Just accept that you have an iceberg relationship. They only see the small surface of who you are, underestimate your depth, and it’s a little cold. And it is what it is. They might not have the emotional ability to have a deeper relationship, and any comment or criticism they might have should roll off you like a pebble, because what do they really know about you? Their comments are a 5 minute review based on the trailer, a 10 page essay based on the back of the cover blurb. Not matter how’s pointed or nasty, their comments have as much weight as a squirrel chitting over how well you mow your lawn.

      2. Ruffingit*

        Sounds really unpleasant. I’d maybe revisit the idea that you need to keep the peace for your husband and kids. Frankly, your husband shouldn’t be allowing his sisters to treat you this way. And no peace is being kept for you in this scenario. Brooding for weeks sounds exhausting. Perhaps you and your husband can do something else for the holidays and visit his mother at another time. You really don’t have to put up with this nonsense from his sisters, nor do you deserve it. Just saying.

    9. CityMouse*

      I’m honestly not sure if I’m doing the things I’m doing right now because I genuinely want to do those things, or just because my entire life I’ve been pushing for the next thing and the next thing, and I don’t know how to turn it off. I never took a break (I went straight to college and then to law school and then to work), and I think I need one.

      1. CityMouse*

        I’ll add another – I have trichotillomania. I have tried all sorts of things to stop puling my hair out, but I can’t. Sometimes, in a weird way, I don’t want to.

        1. anonrtt*

          I can understand this. I pick at my skin and have scabs often. Long sleeve shirts are a help. I’m trying to stop and I’m on anti-anxiety meds, but the relief I get from it is hard to quit.

    10. HannahS*

      I love romance novels. Historical romance, in particular. Love them. Sometimes they’re subversive, sometimes they’re not, and I really try to find ones that are well written, but I’ll read mediocre ones too. Sometimes I go through phases where I read one a day. Sometimes I get frustrated, because one the one hand, I love Love! I love relationships, and I like reading about them. But on the other hand I can’t TALK about it with anyone because there’s a real stereotype about single women who read romance novels. And I also get frustrated that, you know usually I just want to read a book about a woman where no major characters die, it’s not scary, and there’s a happy ending. Like, actually happy, not “sweetly melancholy” or worse, “hopeful” (that’s just code for “lots of bad things happen, but the good stuff might start after the book ends!) And that just is SO hard to find in adult fiction!

      1. Myrin*

        Yes!! Since I started reading fanfiction (see a few comments above this one!) I’ve basically stopped reading published books altogether but before that, romance novels were my absolute go-to! I had one complete shelf of just romance novels. I was also in very good contact with some romance authors, who were just so sweet and funny and down-to-earth, it made me like the genre even more.

      2. Book Lover*

        I go through phases of reading bunches of them. I always liked Jayne Ann Krentz and Her alter ego, Amanda Quick. Just relaxing escapism :). And I read Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and they have a podcast too :). They feel like my people.

      3. Valancy Snaith*

        Honestly, I read a lot of romance novels because I want to read novels about A) women and B) romance and people’s private lives. I do read a lot of good literature, but I read a lot of trash, and I get really easily exhausted of people recommending yet another book about men to me. I read plenty of books about men. I want to read books about women and people’s personal lives. A lot of times, that’s romance novels. Coupled with the fact that I almost exclusively read historical fiction, and I read a lot of romance or quasi-romance novels as well.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I’ve been reading a lot of Liane Moriarty because I love the aspect of knowing about the characters’ (women’s) personal lives. I read novels like I used to listen to the adults gossiping about family and friends’ personal lives: because I’m nosy and I like an inside peek into what’s going on.

          Also from Liane Moriarty, I’m becoming obsessed with Australia and thinking about what it might be like to emigrate there.

      4. Anonymous Saturday*

        Romance novels are wonderful!!! (Granted, there are skunky romance novels just as there are skunky mystery or sci-fi or *insert name of genre here* books.) I no longer give a flying you-know-what if people see me reading them, either. Eye-searing bodice ripper cover? Bring it on, I’ll read it in the pew before church starts.

      5. Persephone*

        Yassss romance. When I was at uni I used to get judged by all my lit studies mates for reading trashy romance.

        Like, guys, we just finished Ulysses. I need a break from heavy writing. I just want a book where there’s a happily ever after and no BIG THEMES to process, and definitely no chance of being forced to write an essay afterwards.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ha, when I was in uni I read a LOT of children’s fiction for the same reason. It was a fast easy read and I didn’t have to think too much. I discovered some great books that way, also.

      6. Gala apple*

        Yesssss 100%!!! I read romance for the joy and the love and the human relationships… not for the physical love in the books (ok maybe just a smidge that)– it gets old fast. But the relationships are (generally) so lovely and I learn how to be, through them. To some degree, at least; I mean I don’t foresee a situation in which I’m eloping to Gretna Green in 19th century England.

        Just finished the latest Grace Burrowes (decent; liked her earlier stuff better) and have Mary Balogh’s latest next to me to dig into after I catch up here!

      7. Indoor Cat*

        Have you ever read the ‘Enchanted Inc.’ series? It’s a rom-com set in a company that sells magical items. The protagonist is a contract lawyer who’s immune to magic, and she falls for the quirky head of R&D and they have continued adventures.

      8. Persephone*

        Also, don’t know if any of you guys watch Jane the Virgin (it’s not a huge thing over here) but they released Snow Falling, Jane’s novel, as an actual novel. Kinda like what they did with Ransom My Heart and Princess Diaries.

        I read an excerpt on Mashable and I feel it might have been an advance copy as the writing seemed so stilted, and apparently it was an award-winning romance author writing as Jane (can’t remember who). Off to download a preview on Amazon and see how it is, but if any of you have read it, let me know thoughts, please!

    11. Insert witty name here*

      I’m afraid that I might be attracted to toxic people or unhealthy situations. When people are nice to me, it makes me uneasy. Then if they’re mean to me or seem to not like me, I find it a challenge and try to get them to like me.

      I’m sure it’s just a self-esteem thing or something, but I’m worried because I don’t like being used or yelled out or treated poorly, but when someone actually nice and healthy is there, it makes me uneasy and like I don’t deserve to be treated well.

    12. Hester Prynne*

      As a note, nothing has ever happened and nothing ever will, plus the OP said no judgment.
      I’m worried because I develop crushes on men who are either in relationships or are married. Again, nothing has ever happened and I think that’s why I do- because nothing will ever happen and they are “safe”. I think I’m afraid of being in an actual relationship. Heck, I remember slow dancing with a guy when I was younger and thinking “I’m a floozy!” and by the end of the dance, we were so far apart. The guy was really confused and I ran away, lol.
      Anyways, I still get nervous around guys and don’t know how to act. I’m worried about being too social, so then I’m too quiet. I don’t know….

      1. AnonAndOn*

        I’ve had crushes on all sorts of men who were unavailable, be them dating someone else, being gay, being celebrities whom I’ll never meet. I feel I do for the same reasons, that they are “safe” choices and that nothing can ever come from them. I’ve dated a few times but I’ve never been in a relationship. I feel that if a relationship ever happens great, but if not I have no problem spending the rest of my years alone. I’m used to being alone.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I love having crushes! I’ve been married for twenty-some years, and nothing has ever even come close to happening from any of my crushes. I just have always had them because I like the nice tingly feeling of daydreaming about various romantic scenarios and it helps to have some inspiration as to who is cast opposite me in these dreams.

          1. AnonAndOn*

            I feel the same way about mine. I feel I get too entangled up in them and end up feeling like a complete mess in the process. I haven’t had any ridiculous crushes in a while and I’m proud of that.

            I mentioned above that it was a “safe” thing for me to do, but I feel that I didn’t make myself available and open because I was too caught up in a fantasy and not with reality.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I had one a couple of years ago, on a celebrity. Then he got married and it, well, crushed me. Ugh. I felt so stupid for having the crush in the first place–it was the same crush eleventy million other people had. It got way out of hand. I guess I had it because I haven’t got anything IRL right now. I never get crushes like that when I’m dating someone.

              The worst part was finding out someone I know used to work with his wife and I was only two degrees away the entire fricking time! >_<

    13. Emmie*

      People in my life say that our deceased loved ones have come to them as ghosts, but much more real. So, I prayed / spoken it into being to my deceased loved ones not to scare the life outta me by coming to me like that. I don’t know if it’s real, or not. I am not ready to know! ;)

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ha. I’ll have to make this deal with my husband, as well. I’ll see how he feels about “tippytoe!” (from Seinfeld when George was warning Jerry about someone coming back into the room).

      1. Anion*

        I am fully aware that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever of ghosts. There never has been.

        I choose to believe anyway, and am convinced I’ve seen at least one.

      2. RL*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one! The thought of loved ones coming back to visit from beyond the grave horrifies me. My mom was sick for a very long time before passing away, and I told her numerous times (usually during some ghost hunting show), for the love of God, Do Not Haunt Me. Just go be happy in the afterlife and I’ll see you there some day! :)

    14. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      1) I hate the sound of balloons popping and will never use them for parties. In a summer preschool obstacle course, one requirement was sitting on a balloon to pop it…

      2) The one thing terrifying me about future cat ownership is clipping cat nails every 2-3 weeks. As a middle schooler, my dad got me a guinea pig and I had to clip it’s nails, which bled horribly and left the guinea pig scream crying and me in tears. I will gladly outsource this task to any veterinarian—I don’t care if costs rack up—it was that scarring ;((((((

      1. Mrs. Fenris*

        I hate the sound of balloons popping too! I got freaked out by the same thing, more than once, as a kid. You are not alone!

        The fear of clipping your pet’s nails is totally understandable too! But I don’t think you’ll have to do it every 2-3 weeks. In any case, when it does need to be done, your vet will be glad to take care of it. (Do us a favor and practice calmly handling his/her feet at home, though. Nobody ever thinks of doing this, and our lives would be so much easier.)

      2. many bells down*

        My very first real job was at a dog groomer and I *hated* cutting nails. If they’re light-colored, it’s easier because you can see the vein, but most dogs have dark nails. It got to the point for me where the fear of making them bleed was overwhelming and I couldn’t do nails anymore.

      3. Courageous cat*

        Huh. I don’t clip my cats’ nails, never have, and I don’t know anyone who does. Vet has never said that I need to either. They have a good scratching surface and they just pull their claw sheaths off naturally. Never seems to bother them!

      4. boris*

        It might be worth looking into tools for filing the nails rather than clipping them. You can get something a bit like a Dremel. You’re much less likely to catch the quick.

      5. Cat Wrangler*

        Adding super late to this – clipping cats claws can be something both you & your cat will enjoy! One of my cats PURRS while you do it, the other one is pretty relaxed. It gets done every 2-3 weeks so I just take 1-2mm off – just the very tip of the claw. No muss, no fuss

        What seems to work well is incremental steps – get cat to accept in stages: touching paws lightly & briefly, touching for longer, more firmly, holding paws briefly, holding paws longer, sliding claws in & out etc. All this can be done during normal cuddle time so it’s not a big deal.

        If the cat thinks that it is a big deal tasty treats can help make it something they enjoy. The trick is to only give the treat when they have accepted the step – so if you are up to “holding”, don’t give them a treat if they pull their paw away. The treat is only given when you release the paw. Don’t force the hold – let them pull away, but no treat.

        Clicker training is awesome for this stuff & a lot of fun. I clicker trained our fluffy cat to enjoy being combed as he didn’t even really like to be cuddled or stroked & was getting major matts. Now he RUNS when he sees his comb :)

    15. Lissa*

      I get irrationally angry when people have weddings they can’t afford and put themselves in debt, or expect others to do the same and say things it “sends a message” to not spend a ton of money on a friend/family member’s wedding. It’s not the extravagant wedding thing that bugs me – if you can afford it, awesome! Fun! But when it becomes a cultural expectation to spend thousands of dollars and expect others to spend hundreds,and you’re not wealthy – I don’t get. My rational brain understands people have the right to value different things but I still have an emotional reaction to choosing to spend on one day as opposed to like, a down payment on a house or retirement (when you can’t do both)

      1. AnnaleighUK*

        We’re saving for our wedding at the moment and everyone seems to assume we’re going to have some big extravagant thing – well, no, we’ve recently bought a cafe and a flat so hello, poor right now even though we aren’t exactly struggling for money. We’re having a small church wedding with a hog roast buffet after (having a chef as a fiancé means he has some fab contacts) and we’ve got two other receptions, one in France and one in Scotland, to budget for. Plus honeymoon in Japan/Korea. Soooo no big wedding for us! And no matter how pressured we feel by others we’re sticking to it!

        1. GirlwithaPearl*

          This is the weirdest “we’re not having a big wedding” humblebrag I’ve ever seen. Kudos.

          1. New Window*

            Won’t try to speak for her, but I have several friend-couples who met while living in foreign-to-them countries, or where each was from different countries. They ended up having two or three receptions in different places because important friends and family members weren’t able to travel the thousands of miles to be with them. More than one of these couples tried to make their weddings as small and inexpensive as possible in order to allow other loved ones to share with them.

            1. AnnaleighUK*

              Exactly this, I’m Scottish, he’s French and we are trying to include family who won’t or can’t travel to the actual ceremony by having gatherings in the other countries. I’m not ‘bragging’, unless you see explaining why we’re not having some kind of My Big Fat Really Over The Top wedding as bragging. It’s ridiculous to spend a ton of cash on one day, anyway, I’d rather spread the funds on something better, like including ailing grandparents who are too frail to fly in the celebrations.

              1. SpiderLadyCEO*

                I I remember your post from awhile back, ‘m glad to see that you balanced out how your were planning on doing things! :)

      2. Drama Llama*

        I had this reaction when my friend said “Boyfriend is saving for an engagement ring before we get officially engaged. Rings should be 2 months’ salary.” They were both unemployed. No savings. They’d worked in industries where the pay is low so it wasn’t like a huge pay cheque was waiting for them around the corner. It seemed bizarre to hold off a big life event just to follow some stupid rule about how much one needs to spend on a diamond. Particularly as their financial situation was not great.

        1. Tau*

          I’m from a culture that traditionally doesn’t do engagement rings and I honestly admit they still puzzle me. OK, nice piece of jewellery with a symbolic meaning, I can follow you so far… it costs *how* much?!

          1. StrikingFalcon*

            I’m from a culture that does do engagement rings and they still confuse me! Like the whole “one person waits for the other person to surprise them with one of the biggest decisions they’ll make in their life and and an extravagantly expensive piece of jewelry” is just. so. weird. (I do have one. The decision to get married was mutually discussed and the ring is reasonably priced)

            1. KR*

              Ugh my husband did not consult me at all when picking out my engagement ring and I’m still steamed about it.

              1. Definitely Anon For This*

                Oh my god! Me too! I was so upset. I hated the ring, and I hated that he insisted on surprising me even though I begged him not to, and I hated having to act delighted and play Happily Engaged around everyone when actually I was so sad I wanted to kill myself. I eventually moved out of our house for a bit, and 2 years later our relationship still hasn’t really recovered.

                Fun(?) fact: Men typically spend a lot more on engagement rings when they choose them without input from their partner. That’s why the industry keeps pushing the surprise proposal as the ideal.

        2. Overeducated*

          If you’re unemployed, at least saving up 2 month’s salary shouldn’t take long! (I’ll show myself out….)

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Ha. I was thinking the same thing: That should be easy, on his two-month salary of zero dollars.

        3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Also, that two months salary is one of the greatest advertising lines of the 20th century. An entire multi-billion dollar industry is built around that slogan (although its not holding well as a foundation anymore) in an attempt to drive the perception of scarcity and exclusivity for a rock that isn’t necessarily that rare.

          I get your ire!

        4. NeverNicky*

          The two month’s salary thing was a marketing ploy from De Beers, who incidentally keep the price of diamonds artifically high through a near monopoly.

          My engagement ring was made to order, and has a massive stone, but as it is silver and blue topaz, cost less than a day’s pay for my partner. It’s beautiful, unique, much admired, very much my style and full of meaning.

    16. Anon for this one*

      I’m a heterosexual woman and I have difficulty dating because on an intuitive level, I feel like masculine sexuality is a toxic institution that the world is better off without. I’m not going to try to defend this as a rational stance or anything, though I’m not going to consider myself insane for feeling either when sex has been used by men against women in very systematic ways as a tool of oppression (systematic raping in war, sexual harassment in the workplace, etc). I know on a rational level that a loving (or not loving, but fun) and consensual relationship is a different thing than systemic sexual violence, it’s just that on an emotional level, it feels very wrong to me to participate even in that, in the same way that it just feels wrong to purchase a product that I know was made with unethical and possibly violent practices way up the chain from me. I just know that if it were possible, I would give up any chance of me having a sex life if it meant sexual violence could stop, and while I get on a rational level that my sex life or lack thereof can’t promote or inhibit sexual violence, on a deep and hard-to-ignore level it feels like I’m participating in something that is hurting people for my own enjoyment.

      Hopefully this is okay to post as it’s not meant as a political statement at all. I am trying to work past it (I actually live in a constant state of cognitive dissonance because I have a lot of ethical feelings that I can’t realistically comply with all of them) and I certainly don’t think men or women having enthusiastically-consented-to sex with whomever are doing something inherently unethical. It’s just something that affects my life that I can’t talk about without sounding insane or being called a “reverse sexist” or something.

      1. Junior Dev*

        I hear you. I’m a bisexual woman but most of my relationships have been with men, but I have a hard time thinking about sex and romantic relationships without thinking of all the ways society condones using those things to hurt each other. And I see my friends forming long-term loving relationships and I’m happy for them, but I can’t wrap my head around it on a emotional level. I just think of all the situations I’ve been in that involved harassment or abuse of some kind and I wonder why anyone would put themselves in a situation like that.

        Disclaimer that I know this is my situation to work on. I don’t mean that I judge others for being in relationships or anything like that. But I have such a hard time picturing myself choosing to do so these days.

      2. Wendigo*

        I don’t want to come off as negating your feeling in any way – just as providing my own perspective on this exact thing.

        I was raped and sexually assaulted multiple times when I was younger, and a few times when I was an adult. It took me a long time to come around to sex, relatively speaking.

        Though I had sex in relationship contexts from ~17 on up, I was in my mid-20s before sex was a thing I personally wanted to have, instead of a thing I did for a boyfriend or husband’s sake, as if I was doing his laundry.

        I was in my mid-30s before sex was a thing I could deeply enjoy; it could be fun before that, but there was a notable and substantial jump in my regard for it. If I think about it as if sex was a book, then I’d think of it going from “I read this book because I have to; I don’t feel much of anything about it” , then progressing to “this is a good book; while it had its ups and downs, I hope there is a sequel” to “this is the GREATEST BOOK that I wish I could tell all my friends about; I think about the characters, come up with more story for them; I think about the plot lines and new ways to interpret them; I want a sequel and I want to re-read it again and again!”

        I contrast that sharply with my experience with rape. Rape isn’t a book at all. Rape is getting beaten with the phone book. Sexual assault is having somebody throw your favorite paperback at your head. Sexual harassment – something like a bad paper-cut, or dropping a heavy book on your toe. The book, as an instrument, is there; however, the violent act isn’t about the book at all. I understand deeply how one such experience might turn someone off of books, but I am ultimately glad I didn’t turn away from books over it.

        I personally think it’s a shame when people conflate sexual assault and sex. It’s a shame they even have a similar name. Sexual assault is really a weirdo type of an assault. I think we’d all be a lot better off if we spent more time focusing on the “assault” part and less on the “sex” part.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, it’s not about sex; it’s about manipulation, dominance, and control.

          I’ve been assaulted and raped also, but I like men (who aren’t assholes) and I like sex. I’m very grateful that I don’t have any major issues with it, other than a strong aversion to being restrained in any way, which I do warn partners about because it triggers a huge panic attack (not very romantic). Living without it has been really awful, actually.

      3. Indoor Cat*

        No judgement here.

        You know, 4% of American adults die without ever having sex. I was thinking about that lately, and I was thinking, “I wonder for how many people that’s intentional.” As in, that’s really what they wanted. I think you can be heterosexual (or any non-asexual orientation) and still feel like sex isn’t something you want and then just choose to opt-out. You’re allowed, if you want to. That’s the last thing someone should judge someone over. I’ll bet you’ve got a lot more company than you realize.

    17. Evie*

      I’m envious of those who are extremely social and handle social situations well. It’s something I’ll never be or be able to do well.

    18. Starley*

      I moderate a subreddit that has about 475,000 subscribers. I spend a ton of time on it and am really proud of the community, but I would never in a million years tell anyone I know in person!

    19. Anon for this*

      I hate my emotionally abusive mom. And I feel terrible about that because she’s elderly and alone and so very needy, and I’m the only one left who hasn’t run screaming from her life.

    20. Amber Rose*

      I’m almost 30 and I still sleep with my baby blanket.

      I just never stopped. It’s like a habit.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I also sleep with a cuddly toy. Sometimes my husband wakes up holding it. Sometimes the cat steals it. The other day he wrapped his tail around it and it was the cutest thing.

      2. Persephone*

        In my 20s with a cuddly toy. Family judges me, but it’s a security blanket as far as I’m concerned – when I’m anxious, I need something comforting, and that’s it.

        Also I’ve kept the toy because I stole it from my brother as a toddler and it’s now basically a point of pride that I keep said toy forever. My mother jokes it’ll be buried with me. If that’s what it takes for eternal victory over my brother, I’ll do it.

      3. anon24*

        I’m 25 and wore my baby blanket to pieces so I had my mom make me a new one (adult sized). Then that wasn’t enough so I stole one she made for my husband and had her make me one big enough for both of us… but I don’t share. Now I have 3 and I hide under them when I can’t take life (so at least once a day haha). They have names and I talk to them (but I don’t expect an answer heehee). I know I’m probably slightly insane but it’s better to cope with a blanket than to cope with drugs/alcohol.

      1. Sylvan*

        I say I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’m full of crap. My grandparents’ house was definitely haunted.

      2. Persephone*

        I don’t actively think about ghosts existing or not, but my mother tells me I apparently used to freak out madly at her workplace (an old boarding school) because it was haunted and I didn’t like the scary lady ghost. Also used to apparently freak out in antique stores for the same reason, and freaked out in my childhood home because “there’s a lady in there playing the organ” and yet there was no one.

        I recall absolutely zero of this, but all the family members back Mum up on it, and my grandmother fondly calls me a witch as a result. (Thanks, Nan. Can’t I have cool powers?)

      3. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        I say I don’t believe in ghosts most of the time, but I’ve had some weird experiences that I can’t come up with any other explanation for and definitely am more of a believer than a non-believer there.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I kind of believe in ghosts. I haven’t ever seen anything, and I’m envious of my friend who has seen something several times. It’s like seeing someone else have the capacity to be deeply emotionally transported by music; it’s something I want that I don’t have to the same degree, if at all.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        I’m counting on everybody who believes in ghosts to buy my book about a ghost hunter, LOL. If I can ever get it published.
        I most definitely believe in them, having grown up in a haunted house (or rather, the property).

    21. Temperance*

      A more lighthearted one: when my youngest sister was 2 or 3, my other sister and I would drive her around and take her places and listen to Eminem in the car. When she started singing “The Real Slim Shady”, I pretended not to know where she could have possibly heard it.

    22. Sylvan*

      I kind of assumed I wouldn’t still be around at this age.

      I’m still mentally ill but I’m way more optimistic about things. I don’t really know what to do with myself.

      1. Persephone*

        Ditto. I got to a point this year where I realised that was the day I’d planned to end it, and here I was – not actually planning to end it anymore.

        I’m glad you’re around, though. It warms my heart to hear stories like this – that bit by bit, things are improving.

    23. Anon for this*

      This is a weird one because I’m actually really proud of it, but it’s not something I can tell people in real life, obviously. I realized this week that my husband and I are technically millionaires. When you add up our retirement accounts, savings/investments, and equity in the house our net worth is just over a million dollars. We both started saving for retirement when we got our first jobs and with the market rally our 401(k)s and IRAs are doing really well. Neither of us are big spenders.

      It definitely doesn’t feel like we have this much though, especially since most of it is tied up in retirement vehicles or home equity loans. And you would never, ever know by looking at us. We wear a lot of Costco clothes, have an old car that we share, and have a pretty modest house. It’s our little secret.

      1. Moon*

        Where did you learn on how to save up for retirement? I have no idea how to invest my money ( about 20K)

        1. Anon for this*

          I put in enough to get the company match when I started my first job (my mom’s advice) and then I raised it a percent or two every time I got a raise. I invested in in the most aggressive fund we had and never touched it.

          Vanguard has some really good low-cost index funds I’d recommend, depending on how long you want to make the investment for.

          1. Moon*

            I don’t have a company to do any matching. It’s just me, employed by myself for myself. It’s so bad, that I don’t even know what index funds are. The money would be put away for at least 20 years. Not a big spender, and am good at saving up, just don’t think that my savings account is where I should be keeping the money.

            1. Ann O.*

              Yeah, I’m in your boat. I work multiple part-time jobs by choice, so I have no company matching. I have an IRA but the yearly max on that is super low. I have money to invest in retirement sitting in a savings account, but I haven’t figured out where I can put it!

          2. Juli G.*

            This is such a good point. I did the company match max for the first 10 years of my career and at that point, I started making enough money to live the type of moderate/comfortable lifestyle we wanted and I’ve started knocking up a percentage point or two with every raise and I don’t even miss it.

        2. bridget*

          I’m not “Anon for this,” but I personally recommend starting with the pamphlet called “If You Can.” (if you google that in quotes + pamphlet, it will be the first result). fposte recommended it in the comments here in 2014, I read it and it started me on my path to really understanding my finances and making good choices for my retirement. (Thanks, fposte!!)

          Then I graduated to the “stock series” on the blog jlcollinsnh for more detail. He has written a book (physically and ebook) if you prefer that format to blogs (they both have the same information. After I mastered those concepts, I upped my savings game even more (helped by getting higher paying jobs at the same time, granted).

          I now I have enough “f-you” money to quit any job tomorrow, if I wanted. My husband and I will technically be millionaires within the next 4-5 years.

          1. bridget*

            I should note that If You Can and jlcollinsnh do not agree with each other on all of the details, but the main points are very similar – save as much as you can (IYC is at 15%, assuming you will work until traditional retirement age; JLC recommends at least 50%, assuming you would like the option to retire much earlier), and invest in mutual funds. IYC recommends equal parts US, international, and total bond; JLC recommends 100% total US stock market while you are still accumulating.

            Both would recommend prioritizing any investment vehicles that have tax advantages, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, HSAs, etc., but if that’s not available to you, then a regular taxable account will do. I recommend Vanguard for very low cost mutual funds.

    24. Golden Ratio*

      I really am not excited and am rather indifferent about my friends’ new babies and fake the joy. It means the whole relationship will be different now and I feel pressured to buy the kids birthday gifts. Money that I would rather not spend on them.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I think that’s totally ok! I didn’t even want a baby shower because I’m old as dirt and most of my peer friends are past this point in their lives to get excited about babies. Also (and I feel like an asshole saying this knowing what’s coming) – I don’t think babies are THAT interesting. Kids from like 3-11 are pretty fun, but babies are kind of meh. Sorry, kid, but it’s kind of true :)

        I don’t think you have to buy someone else’s kid a birthday gift unless they’re related to you or you’re going to their birthday party.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I’m with you, Golden Ratio! I’m so glad my (few) friends are past the baby-having stage of life. I’ve just never felt any excitement over it. And I also don’t want any kids of my own and never have, which could be why I feel that way.

      3. Coywolf*

        I know the feeling! Maybe give them heartfelt cards?? I’m going to start making that my thing with my family because I really don’t want to go through the stress and expense of getting gifts they might not even want or use anyway!

      4. Jen RO*

        I feel the same. Like Katie said, they do get better around the age when they can hold an actual conversation, but until then? I hope I see you after they’re asleep and I don’t have to fake too many “omg so cuuuute” comments. (Like Dawn, I don’t want kids either, which may be an important factor.)

      1. another Liz*

        I was mildly happy when Michael Jackson died, because I believe he was a pedophile. I also feel an odd sympathy/ pity/sorrow that what he was born into, he never really had a chance for a normal life.

    25. Anon for this*

      I’m tired of being single (I’m 38) but also not really motivated to date. It’s so much time and effort and I think I’m suffering from low-level ennui and just not motivated to do much in the evenings. That thing we do not name on weekends is super busy right now and I’m so tired when I get home I just put my pjs on and and watch Netflix, but Christmas party season is here and I’m tired of being the single person at the table with all the couples. (And all of my friends are married.) I’m just in a rut, I guess.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Same. I want to make more of an effort because I don’t want to be single anymore, but at the same time dating is exhausting and I hate it.

    26. Anonnie for this here*

      I’m tired of being single (I’m 38) but also not really motivated to date. It’s so much time and effort and I think I’m suffering from low-level ennui and just not motivated to do much in the evenings. That thing we do not name on weekends is super busy right now and I’m so tired when I get home I just put my pjs on and and watch Netflix, but Christmas party season is here and I’m tired of being the single person at the table with all the couples. (And all of my friends are married.) I’m just in a rut, I guess.

    27. Anonymous Saturday*

      I have never read any of the Harry Potter books, and I have no desire to. And if the world would move on from its HP obsession, I’d be happy.

      Also, I am sick and tired of superhero movies. (Though I did really enjoy Wonder Woman.)

      1. Jen RO*

        I’m a big fantasy fan… but I haven’t read HP and I’m not really planning to. I’m actually quite sure I’d enjoy them, it’s just… the hype is turning me off somehow.

    28. The Other Dawn*

      When people tell me they miss me, I feel nothing. And then I start feeling obligated to say I miss them, too. Then I feel bad for lying because I don’t really miss them. Well, I can’t say there’s absolutely no one I miss, but the list is extremely short. Like my husband and my siblings, and my parents (now deceased). That’s it. No other family members or friends.

      A friend of mine that’s been off and on over the years–mostly off lately–will text after a long period of silence with, “Miss you!” Meh, OK. I’ll text back, “You, too!” because I feel obligated to reciprocate, but I don’t actually miss her, even though it’s been many months since we texted or talked.

      I often wonder if there’s something wrong with me. I’m fine texting or emailing a person once in a blue moon, but don’t usually feel like I miss them, or feel some need to speak more often (and definitely not on the phone!). I feel like I should miss people, but I just really don’t.

      1. HannahS*

        You know, I think that a lot of time when people say “Miss you!” out of the blue like that, what they really mean is “I saw this one thing that made me think of you and I remembered that you’re a person whose company I enjoy but we don’t really see or talk to each other often, but I want to tell you that I thought of you and generally wish you well” but that’s kind of long. So we say, “miss you!” or “thinking of you!” or something like that. For example (with name changed), every day I walk past this dentist’s office and the name on the sign is Bill Bobagen. It makes me think of a close friend I had when we were about ten and OBSESSED with The Hobbit. We’re not close anymore, haven’t been for a while, see each other whenever we happen to be in the same country and honestly I don’t really wish for more because I doubt we’d have a lot to say to each other. But one of these days I’ll take a picture and send it with a funny caption because it made me smile and think of her. Or, sometimes, they mean it as a way to keep the friendship going. I moved away from Hometown and want to keep up one of my friendships. I don’t miss her, but I like to see her when I’m in town and when we live in closer proximity I hope our friendship will pick up again, so every so often we send a “Miss you, how are you, what’s up” message. I guess it can be a bit like the phrase “How are you” in that it can mean “Actually, how are you?” or just “I recognize you as a human, say you’re fine and move on.”

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Can you sometimes respond with, “Oh I just was thinking of you [recently/last week/yesterday]!” Maybe it can help you with that feeling of lying when you “have to” reply “I missed you, too!”

    29. A Nonny Mouse*

      I’ve never had much of a sex drive, and now that I’m almost 50 it’s pretty much nonexistent. I don’t mind that much. There’s probably hormones or something that could kick start things, but that sounds like more trouble than it’s worth.

    30. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Thank g-d for this thread! Now I have somewhere safe to record my petty irritation with some of the harmless quirks of a couple of my women’s group members.

      1. The one who has to vocalize about everything. The person who has the talking stick is supposed to have the floor, and we’re meant to listen without interjecting. This one woman always makes “listening noises”: “Mmmm!!” “Uh-huh!!” etc. that constantly pull my focus from the speaker to her. I think she’s a person who processes by vocalizing, but it drives me mad, because I like to become immersed in listening, and she keeps pulling me out of my immersion.

      2. The one who focuses more on showing what she knows than on mutual listening and learning. Like, instead of a mutual exchange, each of her turns to speak is a mini-lecture titled, “What I know”.

      3. The one who I feel somewhat judged by. She is very precise and literal in her speech and language, and I tend to be figurative and story-telling. She gets these WTF expressions on her face when I’m talking that feel like I’m some sort of piece of work in her estimation.

      1. Mimmy*

        I feel you on your #1. I’m on an advisory council, and a woman who has recently started to attend regularly is like this. She was two seats away from me at our meeting this past Wednesday, and I wanted to throttle her.

      2. Jen RO*

        One of my reports (who is absolutely great at her job and a very nice person) makes excessive listening noises that make it look like she’s just ignoring you… even though she definitely listens, understands and applies what I tell her. I don’t think it’s something I need to talk to her about, but it’s a bit irritating.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          One of my former coworkers has this very intense “listening expression” that I found disconcerting at first. She doesn’t make listening noises, but she gets this pinched-up, pained-looking expression on her face like you’re explaining intergalactic calculus to her instead of asking her where the post-it notes are kept.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        UGH listening noises drive me nuts sometimes. One of my sisters does that, but it’s excessive. Pretty much after ever sentence I speak. Rather than sending the message, “I’m listening,” it sends the message (to me, at least), “You’re boring the crap out of me, I’m just half listening and I’m waiting for you to finish so I can move on.”

    31. jane doe*

      I don’t like the woman my wife’s cousin is going to marry soon. I don’t like her because they live in a country that provides healthcare to its citizens and people and so when she had surgery for melanoma there was no worry about money. The only thing she had to box for was new box of bandages and she could have gotten more from the hospital or her doctor but since the weather was bad and it was the middle of the night she just went to the pharmacy on the corner of her street because it was easier. My sister died from melanoma. She put off going to the doctor because she did not have insurance and could not afford it and then she decided to stop her treatment because she couldn’t afford them and was already in huge debt from the bills. If my sister lived here (where the woman my wife’s cousin is going to marry lives) she wouldn’t have had to worry about money and could have caught it early. I know I’m being irrational but I still can’t help but hate. She paid towards our wedding after the supreme court decision and got a friend of hers in her country to help with the legal stuff for our immigration to the country she and my wife’s family live in. She has never done anything to me except help. But I still don’t like her and would be happy if I never had to see her again. I haven’t told anyone this. Not even my wife. I know how irrational it is.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’m so sorry about your sister. It’s really awful how people here can’t get care.

        And I get this–sometimes I feel angry at people who seem better off than me. Reading people’s posts about pregnancy especially are really hard for me and I often skip them entirely. I just try to remember that they’re not having babies AT me.

      2. Drama Llama*

        I’m so sorry about your sister. Nobody should die because they can’t afford medical treatment.

        I’m sorry.

    32. anon anon anon*

      I’m really, really angry at my terminally ill father. I thought I had successfully cut him out of my life, but now that he’s ill, he’s invaded all of my other family relationships and is making my mother and my sister and I overturn our lives to accommodate him. I can’t say anything negative about him because now that he’s ill apparently he is beyond reproach. I can’t stand being around him and while I feel bad about his illness I would honestly be thrilled if I never had to see him again.

      As a corollary, I am also very angry at the rest of his family for doing sod all to help out while my mother wears herself into the ground to care for him, even though they are split up. But I don’t mind telling people that.

      1. anon anon anon*

        Also, this is incredibly petty but it also annoys me when I tell people about the situation (i.e for work) and they say things like, “The most important thing is to spend as much time as possible with Daddy!!” I know they’re well-meaning but the assumptions just grate terribly.

      2. Moon*

        At some point I realized that people who are terrible ( mean, abusive….) parents do not get to cry for care and love just because they are suddenly old and/or sick. Everyone who tells your mother or you that you should do this and that to him should stfu and just do it themselves then, if they care about this person so much. Ugh, I can relate to this.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        You remind me of me decades ago.
        I did not cry at my mother’s funeral. I had spent decades crying. I ran out of tears, I guess. The day she died I turned 60 years younger. I was only 23.

        You might consider installing a punching bag or stationary bike in your home or taking long walks to help yourself, if any of this is possible for your setting. I had a stationary bike and a rowing machine at that time. I used them. Daily. This was a challenge because I was not physically fit AT ALL.

        I hope your path gets easier for you very soon. I am very sorry.

    33. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I would love to date someone like Dwight Schrute for a couple of years (not marriage/for life because too much) because wow would that be interesting. I don’t think any of my RL friends would understand, lol.

    34. anon for this*

      I think people who lie about needing a service animal and who stick service animal vests on their pets just because they want to bring their pets everywhere are awful, selfish people. The same goes for people who lie about needing a service animal just so they can get a pet into a no-pet apartment.

      I wish it was easier for people who truly need them to get service animals, and I understand there’s difficulty in deciding who may need one, but so many people abuse this because it’s easy to buy a service vest online, and it makes it that much harder for people who do need a service animal. I was complaining once about how hard it was to find dog friendly apartments, and a former coworker admitted that she lied to her landlord about having severe anxiety attacks and that she needed her cat as a therapy animal because she didn’t want to go through the hassle of finding a pet friendly apartment.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        A friend of mine did the same thing. She didn’t exactly lie, as she does have depression and anxiety, but she chose to get something from her doctor stating her cat is a therapy pet so she could bring him to a no-pets apartment. She admitted that her depression and anxiety are pretty well controlled and doesn’t need a therapy animal, but she didn’t want to have to have to keep searching for a place that allows pets. I told her that was a crappy thing to do and she reluctantly agreed, but I think she still doesn’t think it’s hurting anyone. She’s also someone who likes the thrill of finding loopholes or ways to skirt the rules. It really annoys me, but that’s another story.

      2. Mimmy*

        Another thing that makes this sort of behavior easy is because the ADA forbids asking questions about the service animal or requiring documentation. I think the only thing that can be asked are what the animal is trained to do and maybe one other question that I’m blanking on. (I know there are other disability laws with service animal provisions, but the ADA is the only one I’m familiar with)

      3. blackcat*

        This is a thing for me, too.

        I was so, so angry when I was on a flight with a couple who had a LARGE “service dog” that they brought into the cabin on a plane. While we were waiting to board, the dog aggressively snapped at anyone who walked by, including children. Nothing ended up happening, but having a poorly trained 70+lb dog in the cabin of a plane just isn’t safe.

        If you genuinely need an emotional support animal, at least get one that is under 30lbs for crying out loud. I have zero problems with well-trained german shephards as actual service animals, since they are smart and super loyal. But who the hell gets a dog that grows to be the size of a 8 year old child, doesn’t train it, AND THEN BRINGS IT ON A PLANE?!?!

        On the stranger side, I once encountered a parrot with a “service animal” vest on a plane. It was in the same type of soft-sided carrier that a dog or cat would be in. I only noticed it when it kept saying “Out. Out.” presumably requesting to get out of the carrier.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Sincere question: How prevalent is this? I have seen maybe one or two people around here where I questioned the purpose of the animal. Is it a bigger thing in more populated areas?

        1. anon for this*

          I see a decent amount in the city. Also, there’s a surprising amount of people online who admit to doing this, or who accidentally reveal their “service animal” isn’t really a trained service animal, but a pet they bought and use as a service animal.

    35. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Wow, this is like Post Secret, and I want to tell another one:

      I have been avoiding going to my brother’s house for about a year because I’m at the end of my rope with my husband’s unfinished household projects, and I can’t stand to see one finished project after another at my brother’s house. I feel distressed that my husband gets a project to the point where the house is actually worse than when he started, and then he just wanders off into his mental fuzzy space and leaves it that way. Meanwhile, my brother knows how to methodically work from beginning to end, and his projects leave their house better than when he started. I feel like a chump for all the times I’ve gotten excited when my husband started a project, and I feel like his unfinished projects are a measure of his love for me. My love language is acts of service, and I’m really confused and hurt that he would let his loss of motivation leave me living with these awful unfinished messes. And then I have to watch my SIL get every repair and upgrade she ever wants from my brother.

      1. Ermintrude Mulholland*

        Sending total empathy – I work exactly the same way and this would hurt me so much. Thank you for expressing it so clearly, I’ve never quite realised that’s how I work before.

      2. Jessi*

        Could you ask your brother to come and finish off one or two of the half done projects in your house that are bothering you the most? Also maybe now is the time to ban your spouse from starting any more projects till all open projects are done?

    36. Coywolf*

      Lol you said no judgement so I’ll go ahead and admit…. I am in LOVE with Eminem’s new beard. I have always loved his music, always thought he was cute, but now HOT DAMN! O.O

    37. Anon Accountant*

      A grand mal seizure in 2014 left my shoulder dislocated and my body bruised and sore. My cousin, a nurse, and mom immediately told the doctors and EMTs I had sleep apnea and my oxygen dropped low, therefore the seizure. I’d never had a sleep study and s subsequent sleep study ruled that out. Thankfully they started meds and I’m doing well.

      The only people who are authorized to receive my medical records are 2 close friends. Because I don’t trust Mom, my cousin or other family.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Add in at 2 subsequent doctor appointments Mom took charge and my cousin called ahead, telling them I resisted a sleep apnea diagnosis and couldn’t have epilepsy.

        My cousins husband had been diagnosed with sleep apnea so they were on a mission. Don’t know how else to describe their pushiness.

      2. Emily*

        That is such weird and bad behavior from your mom and cousin. I’m glad that you’re receiving treatment for your actual medical issues and are able to keep your medical records out of their hands.

    38. Mike C.*

      The best thing for me about watching professional sports – especially those that involve vehicles (motor sports, America’s Cup, Tour de France, etc) are when the engineering team finds a really clever way to cheat. I figure the amount of work finding loopholes in the rules and designing outside the box more than makes up the moral issues around cheating.

      /This isn’t related to my beliefs about cake though, there’s nothing clever about going to a professional.

    39. Def anon fort his*

      I gave up thumb sucking ummmm like in my 20s and would pick it back up in a heart beat if there was no social stigma

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I have a habit that I recently realized must be a relic from my childhood thumb-sucking days: I sleep with my hand curled up near my mouth, with my index finger resting lightly against my upper lip and my thumb near my mouth but tucked into the curl of my hand. I never thought about it until one day recently my son came home and saw me sleeping on the couch and asked his dad, “Is she sucking her thumb?!

  1. Harriet*

    I had a really painful breakup this week – I met this guy fairly recently and we just clicked, everything was wonderful, and we stormed full steam ahead into a relationship… until it all went a bit wrong this past week. He is more recently broken up with an ex than I realised (my assumption more than anything), and he was very honest and said he’s confused and still not over the ex and should have taken much longer after the breakup before trying to meet anyone new…I am surprised by how painful I have found the entire situation though. I can’t even be angry at him because he’s possibly the most feminist, most good guy I’ve ever known and he was really upfront and honest. But I am more upset by this breakup than by any I’ve ever had before – and I’ve had some very serious long term relationships. My friends are being great. But I just really wish things could have been different, and cannot face the thought of throwing myself into the dating pool again. I have a history of abuse and not everyone can deal with the issues that throws up.
    So – any success stories of mid-30s people with lots of past trauma and issues having a happy ever after?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m so sorry to hear this – that you had your hopes up and got hurt. The fact he’s a good guy means there was more to lose and that’s really hard.

      A good friend of mine from university had several abusive relationships and met the person to whom she’s very happily married in her 30s. It most certainly can happen. Try to hold onto some hope, and to be kind to yourself right now.

    2. NeverNicky*

      Not lots of past relationship trauma, but I’ve have my own MH issues, and didn’t have my first serious relationship until I was in my early thirties. Wasn’t the best relationship – lots of low level emotional and mental abuse – and I physically left just over six years ago, when I was 41.

      An old friend was going through a break up too – we’d recently re-connected on Facebook – so we commiserated together. And then we decided to give the girlfriend/boyfriend thing a try, and we’ve been sickeningly happy ever since, despite going through divorce (his), redundancy, cross country moves, long distance relationship, dissertation hell, bereavement, house purchase…

      It can be done. And in your case – it may just take time. I first met my partner 23 years ago, there was always a bit of a spark but it never came to anything, but eventually we were both in the right place to make it work … hopefully it won’t be that long for you though!

      1. Harriet*

        I love this story, thank you so much for sharing it! And I’m really happy it worked out so well for you :)

    3. Triplestep*

      I’m sorry; ending a relationship while you’re right in the midst of the “gaga phase” feels awful.

      I don’t want this to come across as classic bash-the-ex style advice, but I would like to point out that if you didn’t realize just how recently his last relationship had ended, then he wasn’t entirely upfront and honest as you describe him. Sure, he may have been while explaining why he wanted to end things with you, but before that? It doesn’t sound like it.

      I suspect the reason that this is more painful than the end of much longer relationships is actually because of how new it this was. I’ve heard it said that our brains behave differently in the honeymoon phase of a new relationship; even things that might seem like flaws later are endearing, and we idealize people. It’s nature’s way of insuring we actually pair up. Maybe you are mourning *the potential* you had with this great guy, while the break-ups of your longer term relationships felt like losses of something concrete that you could explain logically. It’s hard to argue with your brain’s chemistry, but maybe trying to think more logically about this break up when those “loss of potential” feelings float to the surface will get you through this with a bit less pain.

      I don’t have what I’d call a history of abuse, although I did have a verbally/emotionally abusive first husband. When I rejoined the dating pool in my mid-thirties, I had two kids and a not-so-great financial situation. But I was also determined not to repeat the mistakes that had led to the choice of the first husband , so I set up some very non-romantic rules about the next guy with whom I’d get serious (I was potentially picking a step-father for my kinds, after all) and then I applied those rules by casually dating A LOT and determining early on if the guys had the potential to be serious or not. If not, I would still date them casually, and I get you might not see yourself doing that given your history. I don’t want to assume too much there. But the point is I gave myself a lot of choices (thank you internet dating sites!) which helped me really fine tune my rules.

      I know this seems awfully dry and pragmatic, but applying rules led me to break up with guys during the gaga phase (which is why I know how bad it feels) and later choose to date someone I might not have considered previously. We’ve been married 14 happy years :)

      Even though time is really the only thing that heals what you’re going through, I hope your healing experience goes as quickly as possible.

      1. Harriet*

        Right in the midst of the ‘gaga phase’ is exactly the right description! And yes, I think loss of potential is the thing that stings so much.

        In his defence, he mentioned the first time I met him he was recently broken up, and I knew it was under 6 months from something else he’d said…I just didn’t ask exactly how recent, and told myself if he was dating he must be ok with it. I have been kicking myself for not pressing the point at the time – but he thought he was ready, and I have two friends who are very happy after getting together when one of them had literally just got out of a marriage and everyone (me included) thought this was a terrible idea that would crash and burn….so even if I had known the exact time I think I’d probably have ignored it and told myself it would be ok.

        And I love your point about pragmatic rules. When I decided to start dating again I did actually put some rules in place for myself, mostly around taking things slowly and getting to know people gradually. And then I got completely carried away and disregarded all of my rules with this guy because it all seemed so wonderful. So maybe as painful as this is, it will help me be more clearheaded and stick to my rules in the future…

        Thanks so much for commenting. I’m definitely going to be using this as inspiration :)

    4. Kat*

      Poor you. Sorry to hear that. :( I’m not a success story unfortunately (not yet anyway!) but I think we will both be fine. Just take care of yourself in this difficult time.

      1. Harriet*

        I saw your comment downthread, and yes dating in your 30s can really suck. I think I’m in the same place as you in more than one way, so yes – I’m sure we’ll both be fine.

    5. Fabulous*

      I spent most of my 20’s in two dead-end relationships. Thankfully neither were abusive, but they still did a toll on my psyche regardless. I moved back home at 28 and the second relationship strung along for the next couple years too. We weren’t really still in a relationship, but it totally messed up my head thinking he still wanted to be with me, etc. The breaking point was when he invited me to his brother’s wedding. All his family kept asking when we were getting married and I didn’t have an answer. He was one of my best friends and one of the nicest people I’ve ever met so it made cutting off ties that much more difficult. Still took me a year afterward and a few horrible dates with people I met online before I found someone I liked again. I occasionally sent out messages to people on the dating sites but not often. Didn’t get many responses back. But one did. And he’s been seriously amazing. We’re actually planning on getting married and starting a family soon. I hope you have some luck too. And who knows, maybe once your guy gets things sorted out, he may contact you again. I know it’s super cliche to say “love will find you when you stop looking” but I had basically given up hope that I’d find someone, and along he came, so there you go.

    6. Melody Pond*

      In the poly/non-monogamous community, the stage of a relationship you’re describing is often referred to as NRE – New Relationship Energy, although I think New Relationship Euphoria is an even more accurate descriptor.

      I’ve been in a long-term relationship with Mr. Pond for 5.5 years now, and over the summer of 2016, I started dating another guy where we very similarly clicked and, as you said, stormed full steam ahead into a relationship. It fell apart catastrophically after seven weeks (right in the middle of NRE), in all the most triggering ways possible. And even though it was very new, and even though I still had Mr. Pond, my primary partner, it was horrifically painful. It hurt a lot for well over a year, which seems silly given the length of the relationship. I’ve had recurring nightmares about the whole experience, and they still happen, though less and less frequently.

      My point is – NRE is a hell of an intense phase, and it’s incredibly painful to have that connection broken suddenly and unexpectedly. Breakups are always painful, but breakups during NRE are traumatic in a very particular way. I’m not at all surprised to hear that you’re finding this breakup more difficult than any you’ve had before, including your more serious long-term relationships.

      I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this. Please know that the amount of hurt you’re experiencing is 100% appropriate and reasonable. It will get better with time, and in the meantime please give yourself lots of acceptance and space for these feelings.

      1. Harriet*

        Thank you for this comment – I’ve found so much validation in IRL friends and people here telling me similar stories of new relationships ending being so painful. And I love the concept of NRE – that expresses everything so well.
        I’m sorry you went through that experience, but thank you for taking the time to share – it has really helped.

      2. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        Yes! NRE basically functions in your brain as a drug. It spikes your dopamine, makes you feel fantastic, gets you craving MORE MORE MORE. Breaking up during that stage, or anything that causes your brain to think it can’t get its hit anymore (e.g., for me, certain behaviors can trigger fears of abandonment due to past baggage)? Cue total meltdown.

        I’m still pretty deep in NRE with the partner I’ve been dating for about 5 months, and he moved away a couple weeks ago. Across the country. Completely unexpectedly (for both of us). For now, we’re seeing if we can make something long distance work… but for the first few days after I found out, man, I was a total mess, and convinced everything was ruined forever. But if a similar situation had come up with my partner of 5 years, I would have reacted totally differently. Sad, yes, but with a more rational initial reaction of “okay, this will be different. How are we going to make this work?” And not “BUT HOW CAN I SURVIVE WITHOUT MY DOPAMINE HIT!? WAAAAAH.”

        Point being… it’s suuuuper normal for a breakup to affect you more than you expected when you’re still early on in a relationship. Your brain does that on purpose. It’s throwing a tantrum to try to get more happy-chemicals. Be kind to yourself while you come to terms with it.

        Hugs if you want them. :)

    7. Stellaaaaa*

      It is very, very painful to realize that someone you like/love will only ever think of you in relation to someone else that they love more. It sucks to feel like you’re a reaction to someone else.

      1. Harriet*

        I think that’s the thing…it seemed so good between us, but if he’s still thinking fondly of those years of shared history and love then… it’s painful, as you said.
        It sounds like you’re speaking from experience – I hope you’re ok x

    8. Effie*

      I’m so sorry. I too am suffering from romantic relationship blues. I hope you are really kind to yourself this weekend and indulge yourself in some way (warm bubble bath, trashy novel, fudge, whatever). It’ll get better!

      1. Harriet*

        Thank you, and I’m sorry you’re suffering too. I had lots of kitty cuddles and long chats with friends – I hope you managed to indulge yourself too. We’ll get there :)

    9. LilySparrow*

      Not the same background as you, but I didn’t even meet my now-DH until I was in my 30’s, and it was a couple of years before we started dating.
      Our 14th wedding anniversary was this fall.
      Time is your friend, not your enemy. We could not have had a happy relationship if we’d met younger. We needed to be our later selves to be good together.

      1. NeverNicky*

        I’ve shared my story above and what you’ve said about timing is absolutely true there too, I love how you expressed it.

        1. Triplestep*

          Totally agree – I also shared my story above, and we too just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. When I was dating after my divorce a friend told me I needed to find a mensch had just not marketed himself well and was therefore still single. That’s exactly what happened, and I had to be my more mature self to recognize our compatability. I sadly would not have found his wonderful geeky nerdiness at all appealing in my 20s.

    10. Jemima Bond*

      I didn’t meet my boyfriend until I was 35 (5 years ago). We’d both been in relationships and dated but nothing had worked out for either of us, no special reason. We met online (and he was the seventeenth man I dated in that “season” of internet dating (I’d find it once before) so I truly understand about feeling exhausted and losing hope!
      The practicalities (such as jobs including a military tour to Afghanistan and the vagaries of the property market) means it’s taken us a while but we are buying a house together and I have informed him (because ime many men don’t respond well to hints) that an engagement should follow swiftly. He seemed fine with that!
      Anyway he’s a prince among men and I could bang on for hours about how lovely he is to me. And he has a fabulous bottom.
      I hope this is duly encouraging!

    11. Parenthetically*

      Ohhhh, I’ve been there! Yes, mid-thirties; yes, trauma history; yes, got into a relationship with someone more recently split up than I’d initially realized (divorced, actually); yes, he was a genuinely good guy and I couldn’t blame him at all for the breakup.

      I’m now VERY happily married with a newborn, and he’s very happily married with a lovely toddler. It took some counseling to excavate a lot of that past trauma and when I met my husband I was in a much better place myself.

      Best of luck to you as you move forward.

      1. Harriet*

        Thank you! I’m glad you’re in a better place and have a lovely baby :)
        And yes, I have made an appointment with my counsellor after taking a break for a while…

    12. Harriet2*

      I’m a Harriet too! And yes, it can happen.

      Part of the reason I think this recent break-up stings so badly is because it was going well and has ended due to things totally beyond your control. It wasn’t that he was an ass, or that he got hit by a meteor or anything – it was just the wrong time. But you were invested and interested and there’s a reason but it’s just not one you can do anything about. It’ll take time but it’ll stop hurting.

      And there are definitely great love stories for those over 30! I’m one – looking for a fling after a long mucky relationship, met a guy via Tinder and just didn’t want to stop spending time with him. We’re buying a home together, we travel together, we’re both so happy together and our families have both made comments about the difference in us. It’s amazing and I feel very lucky.

  2. DanaScully*

    Good morning from Brighton, England! I’m here for the weekend and it’s so beautiful here. Definitely one of my favourite places in the world. The sunsets over West Pier are wonderful and I’m in awe every time I leave my hotel. I’ll reply to my post with a photo.

    Today I’m at a conference for LGBT people and I’m so excited! Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I love Brighton! If you get time to have a rummage in Snoopers Paradise I’ll be delightedly jealous.

      1. nep*

        What’s Snoopers Paradise? (I know I could search it online but I’d rather hear it from an enthusiastic Ramona Flowers.)

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Imagine if you got a bunch of charity/ thrift shops, market and vintage stalls and put them all in one building. You can find everything from old toys and games consoles to clothes and jewellery. I’ve spotted all kinds of random stuff in there – vintage knitting patterns, a Furby a book on collecting thimbles… it’s a treasure trove of random stuff. If you like that kind of thing it is indeed a paradise.

      2. DanaScully*

        Thanks for the tip. I’ve got a few hours to myself this afternoon and it looks like it’s not too far away. Will check it out!

  3. Lynn*

    Australia voted in favour of same-sex marriage this week (specifically, they voted in favour of changing the law regarding same-sex marriage) and our Prime Minister has suggested it will be done by Christmas. The turnout was almost 80% and 61.6% of voted yes.

    It’s been…mixed reactions – and I mean from the supporters. Those in favour are of course happy with the result, but frustrated that it took so much time/effort/money to convince the government to finally take action. The vote cost over $100million (AUD) which could well have been spent on more needed areas. Opinion polls have predicted the 60/40 split for years, and okay opinion polls have proven wrong on two big occasions recently, but really, it should never have gone to a vote in the first place.

    It’s also been divisive, as always predicted it will be. One of my friends told me that she still believes marriage is between a man and a women, but she voted yes because she doesn’t think her own beliefs should dictate who other people can/should marry. On the one hand, good that she doesn’t want to impose her belief on others, but on the other, I now know that if I were to choose to marry my same-sex partner she wouldn’t view it as a real marriage. Now that would’ve been true with or without the vote, but it’s less likely she would’ve shared that with me in this way.

    Anyway, it remains to be seen how this whole thing will play out. But for now, it’s an early Christmas for those in Australia who’ve been wanting this for so long.

    1. JenM*

      Congratulations Australia. Hopefully they’ll follow through and you’ll have marriage equality by Christmas. A referendum should never be used to decide people’s rights. When we had ours in Ireland I remember thinking how humiliating it is to have to ask your fellow citizens “can we please have the same rights as you”. And as you say it was so divisive.

    2. Steve*

      I think govt should get rid of marriage and replace with civil contracts. Let marriage be a personal thing between partners only or with those the partners want to be a part of the marriage.

        1. Steve*

          I would like the civil contract to not be called marriage. Let marriage be a spiritual or religious contract with no legal force. So those that think marriage means something in particular to them could get married by an organization that defines marriage that way. That way the legal benefits of what is now marriage are open to all, and the spiritual meaning of marriage is open to all to define however they see fit.

          If that makes sense.

          1. Manuscriptgeek*

            Every time the marriage debate comes up on the Internet, someone argues for giving everyone domestic partnerships through the government. The problem with this solution is that it cedes the concept of marriage itself to religious groups, specifically those religious groups who are the most resistant to welcoming married people who don’t fit their model. For instance, churches that don’t hold by divorced people remarrying could say that remarried formally divorced people aren’t married at all. That would be an awful result. As a married gay person myself, I value that people around me recognize my marriage as a marriage. If I had a domestic partnership recognized by government and a marriage recognized by my religious group but not by other sects, many of the people around us would not treat us as a married couple.

            1. Steve*

              You could get a legal partnership and find a church that you agree with on marriage and get married through them. Let different religious organizations define what marriage means to them. I think it is wrong to have government force others how to think with regards to what marriage means. Why should govt force religious sects you disagree to treat you as married. You would have the legal protections of a legal union. It seems you want to force the religious beliefs.

              I say”you”, but I mean that in a general sense. Of course I don’t know what you personally would push

              1. Christy*

                The government doesn’t force religions to treat you as married, though. Like, I have a secular marriage—I was married in a non-religious ceremony by a Presbyterian minister who filed my marriage license with the county. If I were to go to my childhood Catholic church and ask if I “counted” as married to them, I wouldn’t because I haven’t gone through the Catholic sacrament of marriage.

                If I were to work for a Catholic school, say, then for legal purposes they’d have to recognize me as married and give my spouse spousal benefits even if I weren’t married according to the church.

                That part where the church has to recognize legal marriage even if it doesn’t recognize spiritual marriage doesn’t change whether it’s called “legal marriage” or “donestic partnership”.

                1. Akcipitrokulo*

                  Actually you would count as married to the Catholic church. My other half is trying to get an annulment at the moment because his secular marriage between someone nondenominational and someone Jewish is regarded as a valid marriage.

                2. Christy*

                  I mean honestly *I* wouldn’t count because I’m married to another woman. But good to know! I honestly find that shocking.

                3. Florida*

                  My Catholic mother and Episcopal stepfather got married in the Episcopal Church. Years later, my stepfather became Catholic. They have to have their marriage blessed by the Catholic Church in order for it to be recognized by the Catholic Church.

              2. Christy*

                By the way, and I mean this seriously and not in a snarky way, if I’d wanted the “religious beliefs” associated with marriage (I’m guessing you mean like, spiritual recognition of my marriage), I would have gotten a religious marriage. I know I had a secular ceremony, and I’m 100% ok with a religion not thinking I count as spiritually married when I never intended to be spiritually married.

              3. Temperance*

                I am an atheist, married to another atheist. Why should religious organizations get to own marriage, and good, secular taxpayers be relegated to lower status?

                1. Steve*

                  What is the lower status? I am confused. If you want to be married and not for the spiritual part of it, i assume you just want the legal part. That is just a contract, between spouses and govt. What more would an atheist want? Just the word marriage?

                2. Christy*

                  The social and societal part! The part where I can introduce my wife as “my wife” and not as “my domestic partner”. The part where our relationship is taken as seriously by society as we take it.

                  I need to disengage because frankly I’m getting really angry and hurt that people still think that I don’t warrant the word “marriage” because I’m atheist and a lesbian. It’s very easy and low-emotion to argue against marriage when it isn’t a personal argument. Trust me, it’s very personal to many of us.

                3. fposte*

                  @Steve–that and the cultural implications of same, which are no small thing.

                  I think you are, without realizing it, arguing in a circle. You’re starting with the notion that “marriage” as a term is dependent on the inclusion of religion. But it’s not; it hasn’t been for a very long time in most places. It doesn’t make any more sense to say that the term “marriage” should suddenly be restricted to those who marry in the church than, say, to state the term “citizen” should be restricted to people with no religious affiliation. Even if people said those non-citizens could be called “born residents” and had the same legal rights, it’s a symbolic caste system.

                4. Temperance*

                  @Steve: the societal recognition and social benefits that come with marriage. It’s a falsehood that some sects of Christianity push that they own marriage.

                  You KNOW that it’s lower status, which is why you suggested reserving marriage for religious people, because it’s pretty obvious you are one.

              4. CityMouse*

                So you’re just applying a different label to the exact same thing? I fail to see the point entirely. If this legal union maintains all of the same government benefits and social benefits of marriage, is there really any reason whatsoever to change the name? It would just confuse people and be a big hassle for real discernible reason whatsoever.

            1. Akcipitrokulo*

              No… marriage could be a religious or non-religious action. It would just be an individual choice.

          2. fposte*

            I think if religious groups want a term that’s limited to religious unions, that’s fine, but they need to come up with their own special name that isn’t already a common and legal English term. You can have a separate religious word–just don’t try to poach an existing term to do it.

              1. fposte*

                I’m not sure what time and language you’re thinking of for “starting out,” but it’s kind of a moot point what it meant in the 6th century anyway; the fact is “marriage” has long had a legal, civil meaning and that’s not going away. If it’s really important to some people to have a separate term for union from that legal meaning, the burden’s on them to come up with one. If it doesn’t matter to them enough to devise a term, maybe that’s a sign the differentiation isn’t as important as they thought.

              2. HannahS*

                No, it’s not correct. The opposite is actually true. Here’s a very generalized explanation. Let’s back way, way up into the past. Well before Christianity. The whole reason marriage exists as a social institution is to ensure that when the man dies, his children and widow get his wealth and property. How do societies achieve that? By having two people to swear an oath in front of witnesses. That way, if the dude dies, there are people who can attest that, indeed, this was his wife and these were his children. Do the witnesses need to be religious? No. Does there need to be a religious authority present? Depends on the society, but it’s generally optional, because where are the religious authorities? They might be traveling, or in a temple in the big city, or they might just be the local wise-woman who blesses (and occasionally curses, just to keep things fun) the union.

                In this hypothetical situation that there’s some contest over dead dude’s property–say, his brother wants it and maintains that this woman is not dead dude’s widow, who is the person making the final judgement? Well, it might be a court, or a magistrate, or a council of tribesmen, or even just a plea before the tribal patriarch, depending on the size and structure of the society. But it was generally not the religious authorities, because again, they weren’t there.

              3. Temperance*

                This is a lie told in some churches to further give Christians a higher status than non-Christians and secular folk. But please, do go on.

                I’m assuming that you’re American. Marriage here has historically been available to men and women regardless of their religious background.

              4. Sylvan*

                No. People in a variety of cultures, with a variety of religions, all over the world throughout history have had marriages. If you can point to the culture in which it originated, go right ahead.

          3. HannahS*

            In countries where same-sex marriage is legal, the situation you describe already exists. I don’t know why this would come as a surprise, but religious marriage already has no legal force. If two Jews were to exchange rings, sign a ketubah, and declare themselves married before witnesses, they’d be married according to Jewish law. It doesn’t count to the government unless they sign a civic contract and are declared married by an agent of the state. Civic marriage is open to everyone, and religious marriage is open to people who want it and can get married in institutions that are define marriage however they see fit. In fact, the only part of your suggestion that doesn’t already apply is suggesting that only religious marriage be called marriage. But let’s be real, Steve. Would you actually be ok with my synagogue’s rabbi presiding over a lesbian wedding and calling that marriage? Would you be fine with two pagan men handfasting in the woods and calling that marriage? But also saying that a man and a woman who want to sign a civic contract so that they can live together and have lots of babies and live in heterosexual bliss are not married? Because according to your suggestion, that’s what would happen. Or is this just code for “I don’t want to call two men or two women ‘married'”?

          4. Ramona Flowers*

            This really frustrated me to an extent that I only just got it together to reply.

            My husband and I were born into different faiths and could only have a civil marriage. I’m pretty steamed at the idea of being shut out of being married as a result.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        I agree. The legal side is a civil contract, and if you eant to have a religious or personal marriage as well or instead of go for it… but legal side is the civil contract.

          1. JamieS*

            That strikes me more as fact than opinion. Legal marriage, that is married under the eyes of the law, is essentially a civil contract. People can get “married” in the eyes of their church but not be legally married (such as polygamous marriages). In those cases the legal side of marriage (tax breaks, ability to make life or death decisions, divorce law if union is dissolved, etc.) wouldn’t apply since they aren’t legally married.

            1. Persephone*

              I think that’s what happens (happened?) in my gma’s home country. You’ve got the civil marriage, which is required, then the religious marriage which is whatever, do it if you want to.

              Both parts are called marriage, though. But if you just get/got married in religious circumstances, the state wouldn’t recognise it. They were two separate events (I think by about a fortnight), with the civil union coming first.

              (Just did a bit of googling and this still happens over there from what I can tell, but I don’t know the full intricacies of it – just remember being really confused by my gma’s anniversary date happening twice, and that none of the family on that side being confused by it.)

              1. Jen RO*

                So uhm… that’s not the norm all over the world? How does it work in the US?

                Here you have two separate ceremonies – civil marriage and religious marriage. The civil one lasts 5 minutes – you sign a registry and that’s it. This is the legal part – you don’t need to do anything else to be legally married. The religious marriage is optional and doesn’t mean anything legally, but most (all?) priests ask you for your marriage certificate before they perform the ceremony. You can have both ceremonies on the same day, but there are lots of people who have months, if not years, between them.

                1. blackcat*

                  Generally in the US, you pick up the legal document ahead of time, and you have to show ID, swear you aren’t currently married to someone else, enter personal info, etc. You have a certain amount of time in which a ceremony must be performed. Who can perform the ceremony depends on the state, but the person performing the ceremony and at least one witness sign the paper and you send it back. They you are married.

                  I got married in California, with my brother in law performing the ceremony. He registered online with a “church” in order to perform marriages. The state of California not only does not check if you have a legitimate officiant–the documents straight up say that they *will not check* and it is up to the couple to determine if an individual can legally perform a ceremony. If I recall correctly, the paperwork did not require my brother in law to swear he was legit, so it wouldn’t been a crime for him to lie about it. There is also a way in most California Counties for someone to register as a temporary “justice of the peace” to legally perform ceremonies, but it is more expensive than becoming a part of an online “church.”

                  The general idea is that this allows clergy to perform the legal ceremony. But determining who is “clergy” is difficult, so many states throw their hands up and basically allow anyone to perform these legally binding ceremonies.

                  A few states, mostly those with a lot of Quakers, also offer something that is called a self-uniting license. This is to address religions that do not have clergy per se. These are signed by the couple and a larger number of witnesses.

                  Some states, like Nevada, allow private entities to issue licenses and then turn them into the state/county. This is why Las Vegas is known for “quickie weddings.” You can literally show up to a “chapel” and get married then and there.

                  tl;dr, In almost all states, there is some interaction with the government to procure the legal documents for marriage, but there is only one ceremony and you are “married” once those documents get dropped in the mail and sent back to the right government office.

                2. Natalie*

                  To add to Blackcat’s explanation, most (possibly all) US states automatically give clergy the ability to officiate a marriage, without an extra step. Laypeople generally have to get a specific license (unless they’re a judge).

                3. Persephone*

                  I’m in Aus and my knowledge of marriage is very rusty, but as far as I know, you do paperwork prior to getting marriage saying you’re planning on getting hitched. Then you and your witnesses sign on the wedding day, which the celebrant takes care of. Then, that’s it. There’s nothing separate, but you can choose to have a plain ol’ celebrant or a religious ceremony. So long as the person solemnising the marriage is authorised to do so, Australia doesn’t particularly care how it gets done (oh, and I believe the celebrant has to use some official sounding words in the ceremony, which define marriage in Australia, for it to be legal).

          2. Grapey*

            I currently hold that opinion myself and didn’t until “the gays” could get married. (Many gay people didn’t want to be married BECAUSE of that definition, and that’s why my opinion changed.) It’s also possible to acknowledge that the societal definition of “marriage” is powerful enough for many other gay people and atheists to want the status it gives. (being atheist and married, myself.)

            But over time, if the term “marriage” gets colloquially replaced with “civil union”, I’m not going to complain.

      2. Temperance*

        This only works if literally every existing legal marriage is dissolved and reclassified as a “civil contract”. Also, this only comes up when the subject of same-sex marriage is floated. I find that “interesting”.

        1. Steve*

          Not it solves a problem. You have your belief about marriage, others have a different belief. Protect the rights of all to be with who they choose and have the legal protections they deserve. And let people who want a spiritual connection, which has I think marriage historically was, define that connection in a way that suits them.

          You can grandfather in current marriages.

          1. HannahS*

            No, historically marriage was not a spiritual connection. It was a contract that involved the transfer of property (property being daughters, land, livestock, and money). The fact that it sometimes involved religious oaths before witnesses was because there weren’t other ways of making contracts in pre-literate societies.

          2. Temperance*

            Nope. This is ridiculous and discriminatory. Why not call your relationship a “Christian marriage”, and leave the rest of us be?

          3. Temperance*

            You keep dog whistling. What are your beliefs about marriage, exactly, that you feel the need to exclude anyone who disagrees with you from having the same relationship status? Just come out and say it.

              1. Steve*

                I am completely, 100 % for gay rights. Whatever law we have about marriage should treat gays and straight people the same. It is wrong and, imo, evil to have laws that discriminate against gays. Please do not imply I am anti-gay. I think there are 2 parts to marriage, a civil part and a religious part. I like the idea of separating the two.

                Though I don’t think it should have to be said, for the record, I am not Christian or any religion. And i am not married.

              2. Steve*

                Also, in the scheme of what I would like, giving gays the right to marry in the system we have now is much more favorable then them not having the right to marry. I just think civil unions for everyone is more in line with what governments role should be. And marriage is a word best defined outside government.

                Again, please don’t imply I am antigay

              3. Steve*

                Your implication i am antigay is insulting. I think gays should have the same exact legal riggrs as everyone else and have thought that for at least 20 years. Nothing i have written here contradicts that.

              4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Ah, my apologies then. The arguments and terminology you’ve been using here sound a lot like the things people say when they’re trying to discriminate against gay people.

                1. Steve*

                  What terminology have i used that sounds antigay? I don’t believe I have used any antigay terminology and think the apology you gave in your first sentence you retracted in your second.

                  Feel free to delete my posts if you think they are hateful or ugly.

            1. Steve*

              I suggested everyone should have the same staus under the law, civil unions. Anyone who wants something different are free to do as they wish. Whether that happens or not, gays should have every legal right that heterosexual have. I do not think government should be defining marriage. That is not antigay, it is anti govt.
              I remember talking to one of my daughters about gay marriage when she was young and i was for it, so I have been a proponent of gays having the same rights in marriage for at least 20 years of not longer.
              People want to look for bigotry or ugliness in people they disagree with. I think our rights are given to us by God and He gave the same rights to gays as He gave to me.

              1. Temperance*

                Do you, or do you not, support gay marriage?

                I’m an ex-evangelical, and all of the arguments you’re using are ones that my former church used, including the “I don’t hate gay people” thing, while sidestepping the obvious question.

                Why do you think marriage should only be granted to religious (Christian) people, when that has not been true, ever?

                1. JamieS*

                  Temperance you are clearly trying to find bigotry where none exists. The only thing Steve has said is he thinks the term marriage should refer to something outside the government and what we now call ‘legal marriage’ should be renamed to civil union so there’s absolutely no differentiation between a straight and gay couple in the eyes of the law. It’s kind of a moot point in countries that allow gay marriage but not every country does so it’s still a valid stance. It’d also bar governments from using religious arguments to deny gays the same rights since the term ‘marriage’ has religious implications to some and there’s no religious implications to ‘civil union’. Before someone corrects me yes I know marriage wasn’t historically a religious undertaking but you can’t deny that in modern times there are people who associate marriage with religion and have tried to deny gay people the same rights based on that association.

                  To summarize: exact same status for everyone and governments should replace their use of marriage with another term.

                2. Temperance*

                  I honestly don’t agree. What I’m hearing from Steve is that he thinks that marriage should be taken away from anyone who is not religious, and we should be relegated to a lower status.

                  I do see bigotry here. I’m not “trying to find some where none exists”. I’ve heard all of these arguments and comments before, especially railing against the idea of being homophobic.

                  The crux of the issue, for me, is that Steve wants to take something away from me and from people who I love. That’s not cool. I honestly don’t think he sees the issue as anything other than theoretical, because he’s in the group that would get to retain marriage. For me, it’s highly personal.

                3. JamieS*

                  Steve never said only religious people should marry. By marry I mean legal marriage which is recognized by the government. He said he thinks the government should call marriages civil unions instead of marriage. If governments change the law to replacement marriage with civil union all the rights, benefits, and protections would still be the same. The only thing that would change is what the government calls the relationship.

                  Based on prior comments it’s clear you, and for some reason Alison-though she later somewhat retracted, decided from the get go that Steve was being anti-gay when absolutely none of his comments even remotely suggest that.

                  We have enough actual bigotry and anti-gay sentiment in the world. Nobody needs you creating bigotry that doesn’t exist and trying to divide those who support equal rights for all.

                  I’ll end my part of the discussion here because unless you’ve changed your stance we’ll just be going round and round.

              2. nonegiven*

                I think the problem is the word marriage. The religious shouldn’t get exclusive use of the word.

                I remember in 8th grade, I learned about the government outlawing plural marriage, marriages of Mormons and marriages of Native Americans, according to our book. I was outraged and that was my first exposure to modern plural marriage, it had never occurred to me before. All those wives and children, already married and legitimate, being forced out of marriage by the government, that was supposed to keep religion and government separate. The government has too much say in who gets to marry.

          4. Valancy Snaith*

            I urge you to do some reading on the actual history of marriage, which has exceedingly rarely been focused on “spiritual connections” between spouses. Love marriages have only become common in the past hundred or couple hundred years around the world. Otherwise, marriage has been a way to unite families, consolidate land ownership, transfer property, and a number of other things. Focusing on love marriage and spiritual connection is a stunningly Western viewpoint and one that takes only the last century of human history into account, when marriage dates back for millennia.

          5. Sylvan*

            Why do others with “different beliefs” get to make my choices for me? Why do their spiritual and moral beliefs get to override mine?

            Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.

          6. another Liz*

            The state grants the church authority to marry, not the other way around. It’s always been so. My marriage is hetero, legal, and 100% non religious, but it IS a marriage, not a civil union.

    3. Caledonia*

      I’m so pleased for Aus! I follow tennis and there has been lots made about Margaret Court and her beliefs about same sex marriage, including some hurtful comments made about a current Aus female player.

    4. nep*

      It was really something seeing the footage of the reaction in various cities. And Sen. Penny Wong’s reaction. There was an interesting piece in the Guardian about her after the announcement.
      It will be interesting to watch the follow-up in parliament.

    5. Irish Em*

      The Marriage Equality referendum in Ireland brought out some similar unpleasantness, but I try to keep in mind the utter joy in Dublin Castle as the results came in. It is the happiest I have been in the last ten years.

      It brought out the most horrific homophobia from my two closest uncles (conflating same-sex marriage with incest because they didn’t seem to understand that it was 2015) so I have to remain quiet and let them think I’m straight but not dating as opposed to bi and not dating because the reactions from them would make dating not worth it if they found out. *sigh*

      But that day in May 2015 is my happy place. I’m so glad that Australians have a happy place like that, too, now.

    6. Shoe*

      It always feels so frustrating when it has to come to a vote to determine if a group of people gets rights just like everyone else. That isn’t the kind of thing that should be up for democratic debate. I don’t care if 99% of people don’t think two men or two women should marry, they still should be able to.

      It’s like, “raise your hand if you think I’m human.” Not cool.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        It’s like, “raise your hand if you think I’m human.”

        And then having to listen to all the people tap-dancing around, “I didn’t say we’re not all equal, but some of us are *more equal* than others.”

      2. Casca*

        Which is also why I’m now really worried about some people wanting more of these types of surveys- because it ‘worked’ this time, but was actually horrific. And it might not have worked- what then?

  4. Marina*

    Trying to lose weight in this cold weather and with the lead up to Christmas……is it even possible?!


      1. Marina*

        It’s actually the activity part that’s more challenging. Really don’t want to go outside/head to the gym/etc. I haven’t noticed if I tend to eat more if it’s cold, but since I wouldn’t be surprised since staying indoors means easier access to food…heh.

    1. AnonyMe*

      Me too.

      My recent discovery – Werthers hard candies are my friend. They’re rich tasting with a good mouthfeel and a lot lower calorie than the cookies that take the same amount of time to eat.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      As I finish my bowl of wilted spinach and soy sauce with a single egg and wish I could just eat some toast, I certainly hope it’s possible.

      1. nep*

        Not that it’s a substitute for bread/toast, because nothing’s quite like that. But have you ever used Nori seaweed sheets? I use them just to wrap around food as I’m eating (salad, beans…). It’s very tasty and a good source of iodine. (I’m much better off without any kind of bread, so I like finding different things to wrap food in. Even Romaine lettuce is nice — and that type of lettuce has many nutrients.)
        (Are you not supposed to have bread according to a programme you’re following?)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Heh– there was nori in that spinach/egg mixture too. :) I’m back on Weight Watchers, so I’m allowed to have bread, just in limited quantities. We’re supposed to go out to dinner tonight, so I am saving my points for a big bowl of pho and a cocktail or two.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I just got some red lentil pasta, wondering if I would like it. I do, it’s good. I can eat that instead of some of the carbs I have been downing.

    3. Overeducated*

      Soup? I am not a big salad eater so I am a bit relieved that it’s getting cold enough to ingest my vegetables in soup form.

    4. Tau*

      I hear your pain. I’ve managed to steadily lose weight for the past 6 months or so and am not that far off from my “goal” weight, but I have no idea how I’ll manage over Christmas. A lot of what I’ve been doing is making processed sugar a rare occasion, but various sweets are just embedded in my Christmas traditions. Bah.

    5. HannahS*

      Dunno. I’m trying to eat lots of hearty soups and stews that are pretty much just various combos of beans, vegetables, and brown rice, and switching my meals so that I eat a lunch-sized meal at breakfast, a dinner-sized meal at lunch, and a breakfast-sized meal at dinner. (I live alone, so this is logistically easy.) One thing I’ve learned (and not that I’ve lost tons of weight, but I think it’s helping) is to be creative with what constitutes a meal. If it’s 10 am and all I really want to eat is those cookies that Sarah brought, I’ll eat the cookies. But then I won’t be hungry for my lunch at lunch time. Maybe I’ll just have some extra fruit and vegetables. Then I might be able to put off eating the bulk of my meal until, say, 3:30. Then, I won’t really be hungry again until maybe 7:00 or 8:00, when I’ll just have a bowl of cereal. On that day, then, I feel like I treated myself, but I really didn’t consume more calories than usual, I just substituted in cookies, fruit, and cereal spread out over the day for one of my meals. Or if I forget to bring my dinner to my evening class, I’ll pop out and buy a banana and a rice krispie square, and call it dinner, instead of feeling pressured to buy a MEAL. But a banana and a rice krispie square has got to be close to 500 calories; it certainly is the size of a small meal, so it satisfies my hunger, and I don’t feel deprived. It’s shocking to me that since moving out, I feel like I’m eating more sweets than usual, but I am actually losing weight.

      1. HannahS*

        Oh, also, the other reason this is possible for me is that I eat my meals alone. At meal time I’m either at home alone, or at school alone studying, pretty much, so I don’t feel pressured to eat socially. I always eat more when I eat with other students. Still trying to figure that one out. Maybe making cups of tea to sip so that I feel like I’m not just sitting there….

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      It’s very, very difficult all year round. If anyone finds this topic stressful, you might want to skip the rest of my comment. Nothing dramatic, but I go into detail about health and diet and related topics.

      I’m a stress eater and I like to chomp down to decrease the aggravation. It helps to have small bits of carrots and celery but that takes some planning and effort, and I’m either lazy or just reluctant to do. one. more. thing. (I digest carrots better when they are lightly cooked instead of raw.)

      My inspiration to keep going, grimly, is that one parent and my spouse have diabetes, a disease I want neither for myself nor our son. So I tell him we each have a parent with this disease and I’m trying to set a better example. To some extent I have built-in assistance: I don’t drink sodas or sweetened tea, don’t eat much meat or fast-food meals or pizza, cannot eat or digest spicy or super-high-fat foods…but there’s still a lot of room for packing on the extra calories. (Did I mention that this is difficult?)

      I try to eat fruits and vegetables. I walk as much as possible when commuting and in leisure time. It is grouchy-making but ultimately helpful to stay aware of what I crave, why I crave it, and whether I want to accept the craving, eat the longed-for item, and/or find a substitute food or activity. It helps a lot to make my decisions and then focus my energy elsewhere. Most of all I try to see this as a lifelong way of life–redundandcy intended! There will be harder and easier days. I just have to keep on going.

      If this is helpful for anyone else, I’m glad. If not–oh well. Either way, Thank you, Alison, for creating and protecting this cordial forum where people can express themselves.

    7. Lissa*

      Ugh I feel this. I’ve lost 20 pounds since May and over the summer I was working part time as well as better weather – I was constantly doing some form of physical activity and making food at home. Now? All I want to do is curl up on the couch with a warm latte. Sleep and eat. I feel like a hibernating bear. I basically have decided I’m just going to try not to gain anything back and do what I can when I can until the worst of it’s over. So far that’s been successful.

      1. Allypopx*

        I think I’ve read our metabolism slows down in the winter? (I’ve read a lot of conflicting things about diet and bodies I can never remember what’s true). So we just want to hibernate until it’s warm again. Totally normal.

        Since the light changed I’ve just been so tired all the time.

        1. Alexandra Duane*

          I live in Alaska, so the days get way shorter in the winter. The only help that has really worked for me is to get outside at least 30 minutes a day during daylight hours, no matter how cold it is. We need natural daylight – some of the nerve impulses from the retinas get routed to the pineal gland, which has a large role in regulating metabolism. I know there are lights you can buy to simulate natural daylight, and lots of people swear by them to ward off the hibernation feeling, but for me getting outside is a necessity for me to feel my best.
          You might also consider taking a Vitamin D supplement. Lots of folks who don’t spend much time outdoors are borderline deficient.

          1. Allypopx*

            According to my doctor even people in the northeast who do get outside everyday are deficient most of the time. I take a supplement and my doctor gives me megadoses every so often. But I’m like you, I need real light to not feel gross.

            1. blackcat*

              Well, and then there’s the pale person vitamin D deficiency.

              I am going to get skin cancer. It’s a genetic certainty. But I can delay it and likely prevent melanomas by using sun screen. So I use sunscreen. Then I’m deficient in vitamin D.

              I try to solve that with a supplement and limited time outside without sunscreen, but it’s a real problem.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Yes. Smaller portions.
      Seriously. Eat a good variety of foods, plenty of nutritious ones, and just eat less. I think for some reason we’ve accepted that holiday = stuff as much into your gob as you possibly can. Not necessary.

      1. WellRed*

        Late to this, but yes! I partake of the stuffing, etc., but I still stick to small portions. Why people look at a holiday meal as a plan to consume waaaay too much food is beyond me.

    9. Book Lover*

      It is possible but so boring :(. I got down to my goal weight last year and said i’d never regain, and here I am again. My goal weight isn’t my ‘ideal’ weight, just a weight where my clothes fit well and I feel good about myself. And it feels so stupid because it is 7lb away and yet feels impossible. I just love pasta and bread. Sigh.

    10. Not That Jane*

      I don’t know, but I’m going to try! My resolutions for the next 3 months are: no sugary desserts (fresh fruit is OK), and exercise at least 45 min daily. Other than that I’m not giving myself any rules. I’m not exactly optimistic (because nothing about my body seems to be easy or simple or predictable), but I’ve given myself a limited time-frame and am trying to approach it as an experiment.

    11. Sylvan*

      Totally possible! Watch your portion sizes. If you’re up for counting calories, try MyFitnessPal or something like that. Really takes the guesswork and inability to predict results out of it.

  5. Al Lo*

    My husband and I are going to London in February, and I’ve been kind of keeping an eye on the Cursed Child ticket page, but not stalking it every day or anything. Didn’t figure we’d have much luck getting tickets — seemed unlikely, unless we hit the Friday Forty jackpot the week before we left. But tonight, I happened to be on the site, and there was a pair of tickets for one of the 3 pairs of shows we’ll be there for. At not a terrible price (so probably not the best views, but that’s okay!).

    So, since my luck was going well, I decided to check the Hamilton tickets. And found a pair of tickets for a night that we’re there. At a much more expensive price, but one that we decided we could splurge on (and still much less than some reports of the really expensive tickets).

    We’re theatre professionals and try to see a lot of theatre in our city, and I just spent more on theatre tickets in the last 30 minutes than I have in the last 6 months (or more), but it’ll be years before either show tours to our city, and I would kick myself if I knew we could have gotten tickets and decided not to. If there hadn’t been anything available, that would have been one thing, but I’m just thrilled that we nabbed both shows!

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Good ticket buying work there! My husband booked our tickets for Cursed Child – we are also going in February and he had to book 13 months ahead.

    2. Kit*

      I hope your tickets are better than the obstructed view tickets I got for Phantom ten years ago! I thought at the time, “oh, for that price I can lean around a pillar for a few hours” but no. There was no leaning around. The pillar was over a foot in diameter and under a foot from my knees—I saw nothing!! I’m just glad it was a musical.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I am so jeeeeeaaaaalllooooosss!! (Cursed Child; not really into Hamilton). Also that you’re going to London. I’d love to be there right now. Or for Christmas; it’s the only time I haven’t been. Maybe one of these days I’ll manage it.

    4. many bells down*

      I got my Hamilton tickets for Seattle in the mail just last night! They’re for my birthday … in March.

      I’m just going to randomly freak out for the next 4 months.

    5. Jen Erik*

      We were sitting in the gods, and the show was still enjoyable. (Though I’d like to go again and pay for better seats, just to be able to watch the way they staged the magic better.) We did almost leave, because it was hot & airless enough that it was making us feel unwell – though the theatre did what they could – windows open and jugs of water everywhere (the front of house team were all enthusiastic & helpful) – but that was July: I imagine in February it will be a lot more comfortable.

      It’s worth booking somewhere niceish to eat between the shows: I know they ask you to be at the theatre an hour before curtain up, but we still had time.

      1. Al Lo*

        We’re seeing the Thursday/Friday pair of shows, so we’ll be set for the schedule.

        I would love to have great seats to see the magic staging, but maybe I’ll invest in opera glasses. ;)

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      The Hamilton dates have been moving around because they aren’t done with the theatre renovation yet so I wonder if folks have put tickets up as they can’t go to a new date. Nothing has been cancelled yet but I dont know how they are cramming all the shows/people in to a three week shorter run.

      1. Curly*

        Given that a lot of people bought tickets a year in advance and the fact that you can’t resell the tickets, you must return them in you can’t attend, they’re probably able to cover a lot through returns.

    7. Curly*

      Hey, I’m going to see Hamilton in Feb as well! Bought my tickets when the went on sale in January. But I also just got tickets to Young Frankenstein that weekend as well.

  6. Emac*

    Can anyone help me with where to start exploring non-monotheistic religions/spiritual traditions (including non-theistic/agnostic, too)? I was thinking Paganism or Wicca initially, but I don’t know enough about either, and I know there are a *lot* of varieties, to really know if that’s the right direction to go in. I’ve done some Googling, but there’s so much out there it’s a little intimidating to wade through. I’m interested in exploring some sort of tradition/practice (not sure of the right term) that focuses mainly on nature/natural cycles and the inter-connectedness of life, if that makes sense. Thanks!

    1. Rogue*

      If googling isn’t getting you anywhere, I suggest making a trip to your local library, bookstore, and metaphysical shop (which will have books, in addition to ritual accoutrements). Read as much as you can, about as many different religions as you can, and see where it takes you.

      1. Emac*

        That’s pretty much just as intimidating as trying to get through all the Google results! I’m trying to find somewhat of a direction first.

    2. try batgap*

      Buddha at the gas pump (batgap dot com) may help you out. The interviewer speaks to spiritually awakening people from all sorts of traditions, so you’ll get first hand accounts of practices and what people have found/expierienced with them.

      1. Emac*

        Thanks, that’s a great link. I think it might help to see what sacred texts there are for various religions/spiritualities (even if I can’t read all of them).

      1. Emac*

        Yes, I think that is something I’d be interested in. I learned a little bit about it when I was in college, but I don’t think I had the patience for it then. Thanks!

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      You could try the Belief-o-Matic questionnaire at beliefnet dot com:

      Even if YOU don’t know what faith you are, Belief-O-Matic® knows. Answer 20 questions about your concept of God, the afterlife, human nature, and more, and Belief-O-Matic® will tell you what religion (if any) you practice…or ought to consider practicing.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I got Secular Humanism, Unitarian Universalist, and Liberal Quaker as my top three. I saw neo-paganism, Wicca, and other earth -centered traditions on there.

    4. Alexandra Lynch*

      I refer people who want to look at Wicca to either Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” and to Silver Ravenwolf’s “To Ride A Silver Broomstick”. If you’re more into the feminist possibilities of it, Starhawk is an excellent author.

      In Wicca, you really can make it up to suit you as you go along, so don’t be afraid! I’ve practiced for twenty-odd years now.

  7. Persephone*

    I’ve gone down Historical Drama route. Movies, TV shows, whatever: give me your faves, please? Bonus points for Netflix-ready.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Dangerous Liasions and Amadeus are 2 of my favourite films. There is also Valmont, which out around the same time as Dangerous Liasions but got swept to the one side a bit. Still, it does feature Colin Firth in an early wet shirt role if you like that sort of thing.

      Come to think of it, has anyone else noticed similar films or films with the same subjects which are released within a short period of time? There was The Illusionist and The Prestige (late 19th century Magicians) Infamous and Capote (Truman Capote) and Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror (Snow White)

      1. Alexandra Duane*

        I recently watched a trilogy of films called collectively “To The Ends of the Earth” – they’re available on Netflix and Amazon both. Not the greatest I’ve ever seen, but entertaining and an interesting viewpoint on the era.
        “Master and Commander” is one of my favorites.

    2. Sandy*

      THIS is my category! *have at least some seasons on (Canadian) Netflix

      TV shows
      *Downton Abbey. UK, early 20th century.
      *Outlander. Scotland/USA, mostly mid 18th century.
      *Call the Midwife. UK, 1950s/60s.
      X Company. Canada/Europe, WW2.
      *The Bletchley Circle. UK, post WW2.
      *Land Girls. UK, WW2.
      *Home Fires. UK, WW2.
      Bomb Girls. Canada, WW2.
      Anne with an E. Canada, late 19th/early 20th century.
      Deutschland 83. Germany, 1980s.
      Alias Grace. Canada, 19th century.
      Rome. Rome (obviously), 44 BC.


      *Hidden Figures. US, 1960s.
      *The King’s Speech. UK, WW2.
      *Braveheart. Scotland, Middle Ages.
      Hotel Rwanda. Rwanda, 1990s.
      The Last King of Scotland. Uganda, 1970s.
      *The Monuments Men. Europe, WW2.
      Land of Mine. Denmark, WW2.
      Labyrinth of Lies. Germany, 1960s.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I would also like to add Peaky Blinders, Britain, 1920s to this list.

        (Great choices, Sandy!)

        1. Violet Strange*

          Also, Lark Rise to Candleford. Late 19th century small town and rural life in England. On Amazon Prime.

      2. The Ginger Ninja*

        I love your choices too! I’d also add Grantchester and Endeavour, both Britain in the 50s-60s.

      3. AngelicGamer*

        I’d like to add the Crown to your list for TV shows. :) It’s on Netflix following Queen Elizabeth II’s reign from the beginning. The real shock was seeing the actor who played Moriarty in the RDJ Sherlock movies in the role of King George VI but I love his acting.

    3. Sabine the Very Mean*

      There is a brand new series on Netflix called Alias Grace I believe. Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood.

    4. Fiennes*

      If you’re into mystery & WWII, “Foyle’s War” is excellent. The recent (last decade or so) BBC miniseries of “Bleak House” and “Little Dorrit” are great for Victorian era. And two lower-profile but utterly wonderful Austen adaptations are the 1995 “Persuasion” with Amanda Root & Ciaran Hinds, and “Northhanger Abbey” with a pre-stardom Felicity Jones & Carey Mulligan.

      1. Anion*

        I was going to recommend the BBC Bleak House! Such a fantastic adaptation. I’ve watched it at least five times.

        I also highly, highly recommend the version of Jane Eyre with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson. It’s wonderful; their chemistry is amazing.

    5. Seal*

      Band of Brother – WWII
      The Pacific – WWII
      China Beach – Vietnam War era
      The Crown – post WWII – 1950s
      The Imitation Game – WWII
      The Theory of Everything – 1960s-80s

          1. AngelicGamer*

            ^ This. I got my dates mixed up with the UK release and the US release. I was so disappointed as I want season 2 /now/. *taps foot*

      1. Alexandra Duane*

        Wolf Hall, yes!
        Also, Death Comes to Pemberley – a follow-up to Pride and Prejudice, based on the book written by P. D. James. It’s a mix of period drama and murder mystery, a three-part BBC production.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Victoria and Poldark, both on PBS. If you sign up for regular donations (like $5 a month), you can binge Masterpiece shows on their website. I watched most of the first season of Victoria before it aired. :)

    7. Melody Pond*

      I just checked and it’s still on Netflix! A series set in the American Revolution called Turn: Washington’s Spies.

      It’s really good! I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else upthread mention it yet.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      The series ended this year, but Turn: Washington’s Spies was awesome. I really loved it and was sad when it ended. But obviously the war only lasted so long, therefore the series had to end.

      1. Persephone*

        Oooh, I’ve been getting that in my Netflix recommendations, so I’ll give that a go. Wasn’t sure if it was doco or drama.

    9. Isobel*

      Alison mentioned Middlemarch at the top of today’s post; there’s an excellent BBC adaptation from 1994. It’s not the most fast-paced story but I found the different narrative strands really compelling.

    10. Persephone*

      Please know how much I love you all. The minute my assignment is done, I’m getting onto it.
      I just finished Alias Grace and it was creepy yet perfect and I adored it. CTM is one of my faves, as is Downton (Dowager Countess is goals), and Outlander… though I’m getting a bit frustrated with Outlander, I think, but I can’t tell you why – I have no idea myself.

      SO KEEN FOR THE CROWN, though. We just got S1 on DVD at work, and I’ve been fangirling over it to customers who (so far) have all bought a copy because my rabid fangirling is apparently a good indicator of the show’s awesomeness.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      I really like Call the Midwife, which has a strong sense of time and place and winds up as sort of a history of the British National Health Service. It starts in the late 50s–people remember the War, but there’s a real sense of flux and changing norms from preWar to postWar to the oncoming train of the 60s. (Also, it has the Bechdel Test covered five ways from Sunday.)

      The movie Master and Commander is a great look at life on a British sailing ship in the nineteenth century. (I also like the book series on which it’s based, which we did as books on tape for long drives.)

  8. Struggling*

    I am having a real tough time. I was let go from my job at a small business a little over a year ago due to that business closing (nothing to do with me). I was there for several years – having been let go was such a crushing blow. I felt so betrayed and upset, even though the job did have its difficulties. I liked it there, despite having considered it a last resort when I first applied, and was doing well, learning a lot, and so on.

    Apparently closing the business was in the works for months before the owner let me go, but I had no clue. If only I’d known in advance, instead of just a month beforehand, I would have made better plans. Oh, and shortly before the owner sprang the news on me, I was in a car accident (not hurt, but I was still feeling a bit traumatized) and then the next day my best friend passed away. 2016 was not a good year for me.

    I went on Unemployment and tried to start a micro-business of my own, but that didn’t work out. I really didn’t have enough capital to do what I wanted to do. I squandered my time; I should’ve just looked for a new job instead of trying to start a business. I eventually exhausted my benefits and also ran through all my savings (what little I had – the job didn’t pay badly but not great, either). I took a temporary part-time job and it helped me catch up a little, but that ended recently. I can’t seem to find anything else and am now very behind on my rent and utilities, and facing eviction.

    I don’t have any family I can ask for help, and I’ve been looking for jobs, but I feel so stuck because social services here don’t help you if you’re not working. I’m terrified of becoming homeless, and have had to resort to panhandling. I don’t want to lose all my possessions and sleep in doorways. I’m not far from 60 years old. I have no retirement savings. There are reasons why I’ve lived hand-to-mouth and been struggling but I don’t want to go into too much identifying detail. Suffice it to say, I’ve had a series of setbacks over the last ten years.

    I keep working on my resume and sending out applications, but truth be told, my efforts could be better. I get very depressed mentally/emotionally, as well as physically exhausted from begging for several hours at a time. I walk around to do it because I don’t want to sit in one place with a sign, in case anyone I know would see me. My body aches when I get home. I hate doing it but I see no other option. I’ll be okay if they turn my electricity off, but I need to hold onto my apartment.

    This site has been great because I’ve seen ways I could improve my resume and cover letters and used them. I also borrowed a few books from the library which gave good tips and advice as well. I just hate that I spend time on crafting these letters and sending applications and then hear nothing. It’s time-consuming and feels dehumanizing a lot of the time.

    My resume shows diverse experience and a lot of contract/temp work, and so I think employers and agencies look at it and don’t quite know what to do with me. I’m a dabbler by nature. I’m curious and like variety. I’ve done this and that and a little of whatever – a winding path. One temp agency here got rave reviews on Yelp and people said they got called the same day they submitted their resume, but mine got no response at all.

    I’ve always been able to support myself. I had jobs when I was 14. But there hasn’t been a consistent trajectory nor any specific career. I worked as an executive assistant for a long time, up until about 7 or 8 years ago before I took a few turns into completely different things, and I think I want to get into admin work again. At this point, I need to take whatever job I can get, but part of me rails against that because I’m an intelligent woman and want a good job that pays well so I can get out of this hole I’m in. However, I know I really cannot be picky. I only hope my situation is temporary and soon will improve. I am in an age/gender bracket that apparently has the toughest time finding work. I was told that by the Unemployment office and scoffed at the notion, but it seems to be true.

    If I can just find a job, pay my back rent, and stabilize for a while, then I want to leave this city and go where there is a lower COL. I have bouts of frustration and insomnia just worrying about staying afloat and not get served eviction papers. I have posted here before with a different name, but haven’t been coming here too long. Ah well, thanks for letting me vent.

    1. Emac*

      I’m so sorry for everything you’re going through. I’m in a somewhat similar situation and it’s really scary.

      I wonder if there are any nonprofits in your area that focus on older workers? I’m in the Boston area and know of one called Operation ABLE (which I think also has an office in New Hampshire). Doing a quick Google search, there seems to be an organization with a similar name (but not related) and focus headquartered in Chicago but with other offices in Illinois and a few other states and yet another one in Michigan.

      I also struggle with depression and know how isolating and terrible it can be, so I also want to say that you sound like an amazing person who has a lot to offer!

    2. nep*

      Sorry you’re facing all this. I sincerely hope something will come through soon so you can once again feel stable in your home. I know it’s disheartening not to hear back on the applications you’re putting out; may you get a response, interview, and offer soon. Please keep us posted.

    3. Anon4This*

      I’m sorry <3

      My mother is in a similar position. She’s had depression for about thirty years, and she got fired from her supermarket cashier job after around ten years, two years ago, because they deemed that she had ‘too much time off’ with the depression – despite having a union rep and letters from her doctor etc; that new manager was a monster. It’s very hard to fire someone with a long-term illness here, especially against the recommendations of a doctor. Anyway, she’s sixty, with a firing from her last job and an old-fashioned CV and not good with technology. I’ve tried to help her but obviously her depression adds a layer to the problem.

      Tl;dr you’re not alone, and our society sucks.

      Her situation has actually been a wake-up call for me. I realised that I could easily end up the same way, and am now considering going to university and getting a career that I could also be self-employed with. I’m tired of being financially vulnerable and considered ‘disposable’ by employers. I’m an intelligence woman and I deserve better, as do you, as does my mother.

    4. Colette*

      That sounds really hard.

      Job hunting is not fun for anyone, and trying to do it under pressure is much worse.

      Do you have people who know your work who could help connect you to people who are hiring? That might get you past the diverse experience barrier.

      Alternatively, could you create a couple of versions of your resume that would focus in on the skills for the job you’re applying for and put everything else as “other experience”?

      I hope you find something soon,

    5. Nerdgal*

      Is there are Wal-Mart in your area? Many of them are pretty much always hiring. The jobs start out at pretty low pay but the chances for advancement are surprisingly good and the benefits are decent once you pass your probationary period.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      I feel your pain, but I also feel hopeful for you. What resources can you draw from in your area? Social service organizations sometimes have good projects to help older workers regain employment. With most agencies you don’t have to be Jewish / Catholic / Lutheran / whatever to be a client. Some have sliding-scale fees. Some programs may be no-cost. Your pubic library may have programs; it will definitely have reference librarians and computers you can use for research.

      Individual congregations sometimes offer pieces of a social safety net. Several years ago a fellow participant in a non-profit “job seeker’s boot camp” told me of his positive experiences at McLean Bible Church (based in McLean, VA…northern Virgina/south-western suburban rim of Washington DC). He said that when he went, he saw people ready to help with resume-reviewing services and gifts of interview-appropriate clothing. He also said that although meetings started with a prayer (heck, it’s a house of worship, there was no other effort to persuade participants.

      Would you consider taking work as a personal assistant? It sounds less than ideal for the long haul but–IF you were able to suss out and avoid any toxic employers–it might help you stave off eviction and get you back onto an upward spiral.

      I know from personal experience the private pain of being financially pressed in a HCOL area. (I quit door-to-door canvassing for a candidate I really liked after a bleak afternoon traversing a beautiful but unaffordable-to-me-ever neighborhood.) Conversations about ordinary-for-other-people topics (vacations, foreign travel, complaints about the limitations of homes much more spacious and comfortable than mine) are hard to hear, but hold onto your sense of your dignity. Project your belief in your own good worth. Only a few people really mean to build themselves up by putting others down; the rest will find themselves at ease with you if you’re at ease with them and with yourself. You will learn to distinguish among truly simpatico folks, those whose patter can be looked past, and those whose company you can minimize or eliminate in your life. (You’ll also learn which settings and events to avoid. A political policy meeting may be fine, but not a candidate fundraiser.)

      Are you a member of any congregation or other organization? It’s soul-sustaining to be around kind, non-judgemental people even if you’re just making general conversation. (In the early days after my husband’s diagnosis, I found it enormously healing to watch other, healthier families at my synagogue.) You can also leverage any/all personal connections. Do people need occasional domestic assistance, holiday preparation or hosting assistance, help driving children or elders to/from appointments, companionship for children/elders, gardening, dog-walking, or pet-sitting? Can you put up a sign offering to do simple sewing, such as reattaching buttons or hemming unlined garments? One of the silver linings in the cloud of grief/envy/uncertainty caused by a HCOL region is that there will be people who can afford to pay for the goods or services that you offer. Again, it takes determination not to feel diminished, but it can be done. Keep telling yourself that you are doing honest work for a worthy cause. Paying rent deserves respect.

      You already know this, but you can come back to this site over time. People are interested and supportive here.

    7. Tabby Baltimore*

      Would like to second Jean (just Jean) on the potential for using faith-based resources in your area. Many worship centers provide food pantries, and sometimes also assistance with paying utility bills. I’d like to think the staff in such places will not try to proselytize as they process your requests or connect you with outside resources.
      Another potential place to look for help, especially if you are concerned about your healthcare, might be to either cold-call a local hospital and ask to be connected to their Office of Social Work (or wherever it is the hospital’s social workers are operating). It’s my understanding that social workers in that setting are concerned primarily with helping the hospital’s patients (and their families) during the patient’s stay, and during the patient’s transition out of the hospital afterward, so I would expect many of them to be knowledgeable about local-area resources, too. It might be worthwhile to just walk in and start your search for them with a directional question at the hospital’s main desk, and go from there. Wishing you all the best in your search!

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Are you me? I’m in almost the same boat. I’m overqualified for the crappy jobs and underqualified for the better ones, either because of dyscalculia or just a lack of specific experience like a particular degree.

      We might just have to take whatever we can get to get us through. That doesn’t mean we have to stop applying to better jobs.

    9. NaoNao*

      I know you want to hang onto your place, but is there a possible to rent a room or do a “trade” like being a caretaker for an apartment complex in return for reduced or free rent?
      I know that sometimes there are also emergency or one-time use services that will pay for utilities and while I don’t know if you have to be working, can you put “self-employed” or “temp worker” or “contractor” just to squeak by on other applications?
      I also wanted to recommend the public library. Many librarians will assist you with job hunting, resumes, and navigating technologies or websites, and they often have lists and resources of public services. In my town, librarians are trained as a kind of social worker, because they deal with people in crisis mode so often.
      Is it possible to look at less desirable shifts/hours? For example, can you do overnight stocking in a grocery store or overnight security guard/desk? Those shifts often have trouble finding willing people and if you can do the work, it might be easier to get hired.
      I also want to put in a plug for call center work. It’s…not easy. I did it, and it was a “last resort” job. But.
      You’re seated, and indoors and you’re not lifting and hauling or sorting or packing. The work has some transferrable skills and it’s in a general sense, office work. You can spin it as such on resumes. It usually pays a decent wage that, supplemented, can get you by in a pinch. Generally they have fixed hours, unlike retail, and in the good call centers, they try to make life for the reps fun: free food, music, TVs, games and contests, etc.
      It can be draining and difficult work and to be frank, being in such a rigid environment after a certain age can really be demoralizing (scheduled breaks, lots of tracking and stats, etc). But as far as “emergency, last resort” jobs go, it is not awful.

      1. Struggling*

        I would love to rent just a room somewhere , but I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff after living in my apartment for a very long time (20+ years – however, the landlord wouldn’t hesitate to evict me if he could). So, I’d need time to sell or get rid of stuff. I’ve sold a couple pieces, but it’s not like the moment I put it on Craigslist my phone is blowing up with people who want to buy my stuff. It doesn’t happen overnight, which adds to the frustration.

        Also, I really don’t have many friends. I’m an introvert and usually have good rapport with co-workers but once the job is over I never stay in touch with anyone. My friend who died is the only person I really would say I had an ongoing friendship with. I have acquaintances and people know me in my neighborhood, but there isn’t anyone I can borrow $$ from or ask to let me move in with them.

        Plus, here is another thing I hate to admit, but my apartment is a wreck. I’m not exactly a hoarder but have the tendency to hold onto too much crap. With the traumatic events I’ve been dealing with over the last ten years and my depression, I don’t really put much effort into keeping this place clean and organized. Ever see pics of Debbie Harry’s messy NYC apartment back in the 70s? Major clutter, like that. There is a term for this now, if you’re not technically a hoarder – I’m a squalorer. Yes, I live in squalor. My place is only at Level 1 but it adds to my depression, which then adds to my paralysis or inertia when I should be de-cluttering and cleaning.

        I sometimes just don’t know what to do. Do I clean my apartment, focus on selling my things, look for a job, do panhandling, waste hours at the social services offices, walk up and down the avenues looking for help wanted signs – or what?

        I’ve tried to get the one-shot-deal assistance from the government for my rent, but what people don’t realize is it’s a LOAN and you have to provide paystubs to prove you can pay it back and support yourself going forward. I’ve also contacted some religious organizations but they refer me back to this city’s homelessness prevention program. That program will not help until someone has already been served eviction papers – which is what I’m trying to avoid – and they are overloaded with cases. I’ve been to Housing Court before, it’s scary. Ultimately, I’m between a rock and a hard place with government assistance.

        I know that a lot of people hate panhandlers but it is the only way, for right now, that I can get cash immediately to make the payment my landlord wants (although a lot of people don’t carry cash anymore, so it takes hours of asking so-o-oooo many people). As I said, I hate doing it, but have met some truly nice people while out there. There are a lot of nasty people who are very disrespectful, but the nice ones give me hope. I have done some freelance work, and worked the polls on election day, but I must wait anywhere from 30 to 60 days to get paid for those things (I’ll stop talking about work now!). Landlord was willing to accept a payment plan, but I couldn’t meet that first payment because I was short on the amount we agreed to, so I have to scramble this weekend.

        There were some good ideas that people suggested in response to my post, though, and I’m going to see what I can put into place. I appreciate all of them. The odd thing is, as tired and beat-down as I feel, I don’t feel like I’m pushing 60 and sort of can’t believe that I am (and most people guess that I’m in my 40s). It’s just that I’m reminded of it when I see the homeless women sleeping in the streets, and I realize that I never gave proper thought to what I would do as I approach “retirement” age. I’ve managed offices and retail stores well, but I’ve mismanaged my life.

        1. atexit8*

          Finding a job these days is mostly online. You can do that once in the morning and once at night.

          How sustainable is panhandling?
          I am glad people are giving you money, but I personally don’t give money to panhandlers.

          Search for social services organizations.

          Call your cable company and tell them you only want the cheapest cable and the slowest internet.
          Switch your cell phone service to a cheaper plan.


        2. Someone else*

          Have you tried selling things on Craigslist previously? I ask because what you described it not being like, is exactly what is was like for me the handful of times I did try to sell something. A zillion emails, almost immediately. Some of them were ridiculous, people who wanted to trade or super lowballing based on the price posted, but I would expect you to have offers overnight, maybe not all viable offers, but offers nonetheless. If you’ve done it before and had a different experience, I’m not trying to discount that, but if you’re speculating on how quickly you’d get responses, my understanding (not just from my own experiences but from anyone I know who has sold something on CL before) is it is typical to get a lot of responses very quickly. It may be worth reconsidering that route.

          1. Alexandra Duane*

            Also, Craigslist is not the only buy/sell option. Look on Facebook for buy/sell groups in your local area, try some of the buy/sell sites that are mainly phone apps but that you can post stuff on from a computer as well. Make sure that you post clear photos of what you want to sell – it really makes a big difference.

          2. atexit8*

            Remember with Craigslist is to not meet the people at your home.
            Select a place nearby like a library or a store.

            I haven’t had much luck selling on Craigslist mostly brand new consumer electronics.
            People do love to low ball and bargain even though I specifically state that the price is firm.

        3. Anion*

          Have you checked out temp agencies? (You mentioned unemployment agencies/job-seekers-type places, but not specifically temping, so I thought I’d ask.)

          How about your neighbors? Are you friendly with any of them at all, even in passing? Perhaps some of them would be willing to pay you to do some work for them–run errands, wait for the cable guy, walk the dog, that sort of thing–or know of people hiring. I mean, you’ve been in the building for twenty years, so maybe you have more friends there than you think. Maybe you could do something like the “rent parties” that kids used to throw, or something. And yeah, as others have said, you could sell some of that stuff; you never know, some of it could be worth money.

          I truly, truly hope you find a solution.

        4. Courageous cat*

          My advice: start with cleaning your apartment. Look at https://www.unfuckyourhabitat.com/ because I think a LOT of the advice there may be highly applicable to you, and it’s good inspiration.

          I find I have so much more mental clarity when my place is clean, so my biggest recommendation is to break everything down into steps and start there. It’s cheap/free and has a pretty low barrier to entry so it should be pretty feasible to accomplish.

          Best of luck!

          1. Alexandra Duane*

            Wow! That website is great! I’ve been working on improving my housekeeping, with some encouraging success, and a lot of the ideas there go along with the strategies that I’ve found most successful. I like the checklists, and the “challenges” – specific tasks that can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time, that give you the chance to say, “There, done!” I like their philosophy that you can’t – and don’t need to – change your life all at once, that you can make progress by setting one achievable goal at a time, establishing a good habit, and continuing to work toward improvement, without judging yourself as a failure if you can’t be perfect immediately. I like the motto (“You’re better than your mess”) and this part: “Don’t worry about catching up. This is about doing what you can, when you can. 5, 10, 20 minutes at a time.”
            Thanks so much for posting that.

            1. Courageous cat*

              You’re welcome, I’m glad it could be of help! I wish it had existed when I was at my most depressed and messiest, because there’s not a lot out there that tells you “it’s okay, just do what you can”.

              I’m also a sucker for a good before + after. So satisfying.

        5. nonegiven*

          For selling things, look for a local Facebook buy, sell, trade group. I’ve seen everything from used clothing and furniture to cars.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m sorry you’re going through this! Since this is the non-work thread, I’m going to ask that people focus on the non-work pieces of this here, but you’re welcome to also post this on the Friday work thread. (It’s pretty late to get responses there now, but you could post it on next Friday’s if you’d like.)

      1. Struggling*

        I’m sorry, that’s my fault. I realized after I submitted it, that I focused too much on work and this is a non-work thread. It’s just so much on my mind.

    11. Erin*

      Our town has a town social worker (I believe it’s a part time role) that helps people in similar situations. At a minimum the SW helps assess needs and can anonymously source help (everything from money to someone to pay your bills to free housing). I’m lucky enough to live in a fancy suburb in a HCOL area, and the town is filled with very generous people just waiting to be asked. Too often people are simply unaware of how they could help.

      Example: recently the town was made aware of a (n anonymous) family in suddenly dire financial straits. In less than a week, donors paid all their back utility bills, someone offered temporary free housing in the same school district (a rental property that would have otherwise been vacant until spring), 4-figure donations of grocery gift cards and an Amazon wishlist full of Christmas gifts.

      If you’re in the Boston area, check out the non profit Small Can Be Big, which is aimed at helping people that just need a little boost to get back on track.

    12. LilySparrow*

      I deal with depression & anxiety, and they make everything else so much harder to cope with or solve. I’d encourage you to make treatment a priority because it will help you solve other problems and connect you to resources.
      In my area, free or low-cost mental health services (including help with prescriptions) is available at a university/teaching hospital, at the county health department, through clinics run by the state Department of Mental Health, and at some religious groups like Jewish Family Services or Catholic Charities.

  9. not-Hermione*

    What do you do if you have an unusual name that’s been made famous by a movie (or TV series, or shared by a celebrity etc.) …except you don’t pronounce it the way the famous version does?
    E.g. if your name was Hermione except you’ve always pronounced it ‘Hermi-one’ (obviously not real example)?
    So, if your first contact is via email or something do you include a pronunciation guide, or just wait ’til you’ve met in person, knowing all the while they’re calling you something different in their head?

    1. Cruciatus*

      My mom’s name is Margot and no one ever, ever, ever gets it right. Her doctor’s appointment reminders call her Margaret. Or Mar-got (with the t pronounced). She’s just given up. Years ago she was hoping (jokingly) that Ross Perot would win the election since his wife’s name is Margot. And maybe now Margot Robbie’s popularity will finally help…

      But I would just let it go until you meet. It seems overly defensive to jump straight to correcting them in emails. I have a very classic, simple name and I’ve heard THAT messed up so there’s always someone out there able to mispronounce a name. So in the moment when you meet them you could just say ‘Hi, I’m Hermi-one” and maybe that’ll be the end of it. If you need to correct them you could do it lightly/quickly. “I actually pronounce my name Hermi-one. I didn’t want to steal Hermione’s thunder!” I would just keep it quick and matter-of-fact and I’m sure you’ll be fine.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          When I was doing a production of the Diary of Anne Frank, we were told to say MAR-gut (Margot was Anne’s sister). I think it’s a name with different regional pronunciations.

          1. nep*

            Sometimes I just don’t think things through enough before reacting. Hadn’t thought of this. I need to refrain from hitting ‘submit’ sometimes, and just reflect. And be quiet.

            1. Cruciatus*

              Nah. It’s not because the people where I’m from are so enlightened as to think it’s pronounced the way Margot Frank’s name was (and I fear they’d likely ask “who?”). At least the Mar-got people are pronouncing it the way it looks. There are still others who assume my mom doesn’t know her own name–Margaret, etc.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I went to school with a Candice, pronounced CAN-diss, who did not enjoy TV characters called Can-deese!

      I think you have to just wait until you meet.

      1. AnnaleighUK*

        My sister is a Candice, and she hates that too! Also she gets ‘Can-dass’ which is actually spelled ‘Candace’ and is NOT Candice!

      2. Merci Dee*

        Wow. I’ve always pronounced that name as CAN-diss. I didn’t know there was another pronunciation for it. Is that maybe a US/Europe difference? And I’ve always heard the names pronounced the same, whether they were spelled Candice or Candace.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I know someone named Pennaloe Candence. She goes by Penny. No, it’s not short for Penelope, she has to constantly explain. So basically her mum named her Penny Candy.

    3. lovetoujours*

      I have an unusual first name with an even more unusual spelling and I honestly stopped going by it because I was so annoyed by the comments. When I did go by it and not my nickname though, I just didn’t bother correcting them/letting them know how to say it until it was in person.

      People sometimes mess up my nickname (which is becoming a more common name to have after years of being ignored) but I just don’t bother correcting with that since the mispronunciations are close to the real version. If they type it wrong in an email, I very pointedly sign my name above my signature in a passive aggressive move.

      1. Bluebell*

        My name is a variation of a very common name but spelled and pronounced differently. All my life people have used the common pronunciation. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been different if my parents or I had just acquiesced and used the common pronunciation.

        1. lovetoujours*

          I love my middle name (which is what my nickname is based on) but I honestly almost hate my first name at this point. I think life would have been…easier. Not even from a bullying standpoint but from a just not having to dread when people first see or hear my name point.

          It doesn’t help that my last name is hard for people to pronounce too so it’s just a mess. Especially when people argue with me about how things are said.

    4. Seal*

      I was named after my mother and grandmother but have always gone by my unusual nickname. After all these years, I expect to have it mispronounced and misspelled, but most people get it right once they’re corrected. Still, there are a few people I’ve known for years that have never managed to pronounce my nickname correctly; I’ve given up on correcting them.

      What really irritates me is doctor’s offices, particularly those that ask for your preferred name but either refuse or forget to use it. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve stopped giving them my nickname at all. In fact, I switched primary care doctors a few years ago in part because after going to her for several years the woman never bothered to learn either my given or nickname. She was a terrible doctor too, but that’s a different story.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        When I started my current job they paid attention to the fact I gave a ‘known as’ name and introduced myself as that in the interview etc – think along the lines of Nicki short for Nicola (but obviously not that). They set me up in the internal directory as the equivalent of Nicki, told the team that was my name etc. I was so happy as I hate my full name.

        1. Circus peanuts*

          Oh, that is a sign of good, thoughtful management. I wish my job did that. It is so hard to remember that say perhaps George prefers to be called Elroy when you have a list choice of a hundred Jetsons.

    5. Courtney*

      I know an Adele who doesn’t pronounce it the same way as the singer. She just waits until she meets the person and doesn’t stress about it being pronounced wrong – she’s basically said that it happens no matter what, so she’s just decided to not care or let it bother her.

    6. NoMoreMrFixit*

      My surname is spelled differently than the usual. And my given name is often shortened even though I prefer to use the full version. If I am dealing with someone more than once I will correct them. Otherwise I let it slide these days.

    7. Alexandra Duane*

      Years ago, a friend had a girlfriend who was (I think) Belgian, named Gisele. She pronounced it GEE-sa-la, with a hard G. Makes me wonder if she is driven crazy by this phenomenon now that Gisele Bundchen (pronounced ji-ZELL) is so popular. Or, maybe Miss Bundchen actually pronounces it GEE-sa-la, and has given up after millions of people insisted on ji-ZELL.

    8. New Bee*

      My husband has the same first name spelling (pronounced differently) as a famous basketball player, and we live in the same city (less than 15 minutes from the arena). Luckily, he prefers to go by the shortened version, which is a common man’s name so the mispronounciation only really happens when he’s filling out official paperwork.

  10. Foreign Octopus*

    After the fun of the potluck thread where we were all talking about food, I got really hungry and wanted to try some recipes, especially Snark’s, but while we’re waiting and hoping for him to make his cookbook, I thought it might be a good idea to share our favourite recipes – the recipes that we make all the time and are always a family favourite.

    Mine – beef meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce.

    500g mince beef
    1 egg
    50g breadcrumbs
    1 tbps coriander
    1tbsp cumin
    1tbsp black pepper
    1tsp white pepper
    1tsp chili flakes
    Pinch of salt

    Mix it all in one direction to form an almost paste and then roll into equal size balls. Cover in an oil and Lea and Perrins mixture and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until brown.

    Fry off chopped onions (I like thin strips of onions instead of cut) and 2 cloves of garlic. Add a tin of pureed tinned tomatoes (500-1000g), add chopped for texture, and then add the same spices into the mix and bring to boil (add wine if you fancy it). Once boiling, add the meatballs and cook on a low simmer for 1hour to 90 minutes.

    Eat with lots of cheese and chunky bread.

    1. JJtheDoc*

      This is my go-to soup recipe – on regular rotation from mid-Fall through late Spring!!

      Beef, Mushroom & Onion Soup
      1 lb steak
      1 lb mushrooms
      1-2 lg onions
      32 oz beef broth

      Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
      Trim steak of excess fat and cut into slightly larger-than-bite-size chunks. Place in large bowl.
      Trim mushrooms and cut into thick slices. Add to bowl.
      Peel onions and cube. Add to bowl.
      Add just enough extra-virgin olive oil to bowl to moisten contents and toss until well covered.
      Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and toss again.

      Pour contents of bowl into large shallow pan and bake for 25 minutes.
      Pour broth into large saucepan or slow cooker and heat while meat mixture is baking.

      Pour contents of pan, including juices, into broth, stir well and let simmer 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning as desired. Garnish with your choice of chopped fresh parsley; chives; sour cream/plain yogurt; freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese.

      Leftovers are great for lunch and also freeze well for another night if you prefer.

    2. Overeducated*

      I missed the potluck thread, guess I should go back and read!

      My favorite recipes are generally not my own – one of my most frequent repeats is a palak paneer recipe from Food52 (link to follow). I also make pizza a lot using my food processor to make the dough a la the Frog Commissary Cookbook.

    3. Snark*

      I’ve been staring at this thread for five minutes and my brain is like, “Oh, favorite recipes! Here’s approximately FIVE HUNDRED.” I think I need a prompt.

        1. Snark*

          This is a summer dessert and it’s hilariously simple. I serve it when I’m grilling something, for reasons that will be obvious:

          Snark’s Grilled Peaches
          – One almost-but-not-quite-ripe peach per eater, typically 4-6, halved around their equator and pitted, brushed or sprayed with a litte oil. Very ripe peaches get too soft, so shoot for peaches that are barely ripe but still firm.
          – 1/3 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground mace, mixed
          – 1/2 cup or so chopped mint
          – 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted if you have time
          – Honey
          – Your favorite vanilla or lemon ice cream

          Serve whatever deliciousness you grilled for your main course. If you’re grilling over charcoal like I do, the fire will be past its prime by now and starting to die; spread out the coals with some tongs or an ash shovel so your heat is even, gentle, and low. If you’re grilling over gas, turn the flames down to low.

          Quickly press each peach half into the spiced sugar. Place the peaches on the grill grate, cut side down, and go eat and tell stories. Check on them once or twice, working carefully to avoid ripping off the caramelly goodness that’s forming on the underside. Once they’re deeply caramelized, maybe just charred in a few places, flip them over and and let them cook for another five minutes. If people are lingering over their burgers, take the peaches off the heat and set them aside for a bit.

          When it’s dessert time, plonk half a peach into a bowl, put a scoop of ice cream next to it, sprinkle with mint and toasted almonds, drizzle with a little honey, and serve.

          1. Snark*

            Instead of mint, this is also lovely with minced fennel fronds, by the by, and if doing that, one could add some ground anise seed or fennel seed to the spiced sugar to play off that. I’ve also done the spiced sugar with Mexican cinnamon, ground New Mexican red chile, and black pepper for a slightly spicier take.

          2. Merci Dee*

            That sounds great! We’ve done peaches on the grill before, and they’re fabulous. Also grilled tangerines, and long spears of golden pineapple sprinkled with brown sugar and lightly drizzled with honey. Fa-bu-lous.

            1. Snark*

              I love grilled pineapple! I serve it as a relish/salsa with grilled red onion, minced serrano chile and cilantro with my tacos al pastor.

    4. Tau*

      Hmm. I have trouble thinking of a cooking recipe here – I have executive function/energy problems, and although I do cook more now than I used to most of my recipes are still mainly notable for ease of making. Pasta with pesto, mozzarella and tomato features heavily.

      That said, I do have a basic apple turnover recipe that I like a lot and is always very popular! It’s an old family recipe, as visible from the fact that it has no amounts whatsoever.

      1 part quark*
      1 part margarine
      a little more than 1 part flour
      apples [I’d estimate roughly 1 apple per 100g of quark]
      (optional but recommended) icing sugar and lemon juice
      [Note for US readers – parts refer to weight, not volume]

      Knead the quark, margarine and flour together into a dough; keep adding flour to get a good texture. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and use something round (I use a large mug) to cut out circles.

      Peel and core the apples and slice them into thin slices. Put slices onto one half of each dough circle, fold it over and pinch the edges together. Put the turnovers onto baking paper/a greased baking tray and bake them in the oven at around 200 degrees Celsius until brown (this takes around 20 minutes I think?)

      Once they’re cooled, you can add frosting from the icing sugar + lemon juice for some extra sweetness.

      This is a pretty basic recipe and variations are possible; my dad loves raisins in these, I tried dried cranberries once, and my most recent attempt was with apple slices dusted in cinnamon which tasted amazing.

      * quark is a kind of German soft cheese, generally no-fat although you can buy ones with added cream – we need the no-fat/Magerquark kind. In the UK, you can get it in larger supermarkets, not sure about the US. Ordinarily I’d say you can try to substitute cottage cheese or cream cheese, but I don’t think it’s going to work in this recipe.

    5. Merci Dee*

      I’ve got a couple, and they’re easy to make.

      I made this one last night:
      1 lb package sausage
      1 8 oz block cream cheese
      1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with chiles

      Brown sausage, breaking into pieces as it cooks; drain. Turn heat to medium-low, and cut cheese into 6-8 pieces before adding to sausage. Let cheese melt, and stir until cheese and sausage is well-combined. Stir in tomatoes and juice, simmering until thickened. Serve with tortilla chips.

      Note: this dip can be made to taste for hotness. You can use mild sausage and Rotel tomatoes, or spicy options. Pick your heat.

      Sausage Brunch Pockets:
      1 lb package sausage
      1 8 oz block cream cheese
      2 cans Pillsbury crescent rolls

      Brown sausage, breaking into pieces as it cooks; drain. Turn heat to medium-low and cut cheese into 6-8 pieces before adding to sausage. Let cheese melt, and stir until sausage and cheese are well-combined. Smooth cheese and sausage mixture in pan, and let cool slightly; divide mixture into 8 wedges in the pan to make portioning easier.

      Open packages of crescent rolls and divide into individual triangles. Pat out the large end to flatten slightly, and then spoon one-half of a wedge of cheese and sausage mixture onto the flattened end of the crescent roll. Fold edges of dough up around sausage mixture and pinch all seams closed. Use extra dough from pointy end to close gaps if necessary. Bake pockets according to crescent roll instructions.

      Note: these are awesome for potluck breakfast or brunch. Pockets can be assembled the night before and refrigerated on the cooking pans. Next morning, sit pans out while oven pre-heats to temp on package instructions. Add maybe 1-2 minutes to cook time to ensure filling is heated through.

        1. Merci Dee*

          I made a batch of the brunch pockets for kiddo and me to have for a Saturday breakfast recently. Since the recipe makes 16 pockets and there’s only 2 of us, we had some left over. I put them in the fridge to store until we decided they’d make a good Sunday night dinner. But how to reheat them? They’d get way too soggy in the microwave, so oven heating seemed the way to go … but that could lead to burning. Suddenly, the answer hit me. I put the remaining pockets on one pan, and put a second pan on the top rack of the oven to block some of the direct heat. I re-heated at the original baking temp for 10 minutes. The pockets warmed through, the crescent rolls re-crisped, and they were delicious all over again. Can’t wait to make some more!

    6. Snark*

      So this is not really a recipe so much as an approach, but….Kenji Lopez-Alt has taught me the Way of the Kickass Quesadilla, and I have added some innovations of my own, and so let’s talk about that. I’m a serious cook, but I’m also a working stiff and a dad, and sometimes it’s just time for quesadilla night. But while melty cheese in a tortilla is never actually bad, with Kenji’s help, mine have become honestly pretty extraordinary.

      His contributions are the following:
      – Fillings must be diced small and mixed with cheese. The cheese needs to hold this thing together, and if you’ve got big strips of chicken or whatever, it’s falling apart with the quickness. Chop up your fillings fine, mix with the grated cheese in a big bowl, and fill the quesadillas with the homogenized mix.
      – Fillings must offer spice, punchiness, and texture to contrast with cheese. I always add cilantro or green onion to the cheese + filling mix, and usually the mix includes some chopped roasted chiles or grilled vegetables or
      – Semicircles are best. Two stacked tortillas fall apart too easily.
      – Generously oil the outside. Very generously. I use half and half melted butter and olive oil, and I paint the outside generously with a basting brush.

      As for cheese, I generally use Mexican queso quesadilla, which melts beautifully and has a taste that takes me back to the taqueria in Baja California on my first trip to Mexico at age 6 or so. Monterey jack also works, and you can add others like white cheddar or fontina or whatever if you’re getting fancy. Mushrooms and fontina are delicious.

      The best combination of fillings I’ve found is grilled corn cut off the cob with grilled chicken and green onion. I’ve also had great success with steak, roasted green chile, and cilantro, and mushrooms, cilantro, and green onion. But you can get creative, especially if you have leftovers. I really want to try them with shredded lamb, roasted red peppers, and grilled corn. I like making two kinds of quesadillas at the same time, mixing and matching so there’s some variety.

      My contribution to the Way is the use of uncooked tortillas, which are pretty widely available under the Tortillaland brand. I get my trusty cast-iron skillet preheated to medium, then lightly cook one side of my tortillas, leaving the other side raw. The lightly cooked side is the inside that gets the fillings. Then, I slather the outside with butter/oil, sprinke it with kosher salt, and toast it, moving and shifting it so it doesn’t get scorched on hot spots. With the uncooked tortillas, you can get them pretty deeply browned without making it dry and brittle, and they get unbelievably crisp and flaky. Then I just sling them as they get done, and everybody hangs out at the kitchen bar and drinks beer and eats.

      1. Tau*

        …I know what I’m having for dinner tomorrow.

        Thanks so much for this! Mexican food is not something common around here and definitely not something I cook regularly, but I was introduced to quesadillas not so long ago and fell in love with the concept. This is super helpful.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I’m going to a Friendsgiving today and am going to try this: thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/beautiful-roasted-vegetables/ I hate mushrooms, but I’ll put them in because they’re in the recipe. Right now I think I’d better get off this website and go cut everything up and figure out how to get it across town and not show up with stone-cold veggies (though I suspect they will still be good).

      They better like it because it wasn’t cheap to buy all these things!!!

      1. nonegiven*

        When I need to transport something hot, wrap in foil, newspapers, then a towel and set the whole thing in a cooler.

  11. nep*

    The book recommendation reminds me I’ve got Middlemarch on the shelf; I’ve long wanted to get to that one. Perhaps my next read.

    1. Mephyle*

      I’ve never been one for old literary novels, but once I was listening to a phone-in radio show where people talked about what they’d been reading. One caller said she picked up Middlemarch as a sleep aid, thinking that a 19th-century novel would surely send her to sleep. She found herself staying up later every night… 1 am, 2 am, 3 am. So I tried it and indeed, I did like it. Not everyone does, but it is a 19th-century novel for people who usually don’t like old literature.
      Also, The Toast did a series incorporating both a read of Middlemarch and My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead. It can all be found in The Toast archives.

    2. CityMouse*

      I’ll be honest that Middlemarch is actually one of my least favorite George Eliot novels. I liked Daniel Deronda a lot better.

    3. Fiennes*

      I was surprised how much I liked Middlemarch. People always described it as dull, but I found it fascinating. Kind of like how some folks describe War & Peace as some dense endless slog when it’s got the kind of dramas most soap operas could only dream of.

    4. Not That Jane*

      I LOVE Middlemarch. It’s like a soap opera that’s also really smart and psychologically true to life.

      I tried to convince my husband that if we had a boy we should name him Caleb Garth [Ourlastname], but he didn’t go for it. :D

  12. nep*

    Yesterday evening I watched a film (from a few years back) about a fig tree — the relationship between the fig wasp and the tree, and all that goes on as the fruit sprouts and grows. Absolutely fascinating film — unbelievable camera work. The Queen of Trees.

    1. Nye*

      Oh man, figs and fig wasps are one of the most delightful examples of coevolution readily available at the supermarket. I love figs, both for their deliciousness and their story.

      If you liked learning about the fig wasps, you might enjoy a book called Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice for All Creation. Evolutionary biology written as a sex advice column. Includes advice for lovelorn male fig wasps and so much more.

      1. nep*

        Sweet — I’ll check it out.
        That relationship, and everything that’s evolved including in some of the beetles that have a role, etc, is just amazing.

      2. nep*

        I don’t know, but I’ve read that there are some strict vegans who won’t eat figs because figs need wasps. Uh….I don’t consume animal products but I hardly think this beautiful, natural, evolutionary magic constitutes exploitation of a sentient being for food.

        1. Rainy*

          …Good luck with most other fruits and veg if they don’t want to eat plants that rely on animals. Whether it’s pollination or seed dispersal, most plants rely on animals.

          Modern seedcorn is also detasseled at least partially by humans, so the corn grown from that seed also relies on animals for production. :)

        2. Clever Name*

          Oh boy. By that logic, vegans shouldn’t eat any plant that is insect-pollinated either, which is most fruits and vegetables.

          1. nep*

            I know. I don’t remember where I heard or read it, or whether it’s even true. Indeed — good luck finding something to eat that didn’t in some way depend on another living being / insect…seed dispersal via mammals’ poop even, right?

  13. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I went for a sleep study last night. It was so awkward and uncomfortable. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. The good news is that the tech thinks I only have a mild case of sleep apnea. Have to wait for the doctor to review the results now.

    It’s rainy and cold, so I plan on sleeping a little bit and doing nothing much else today.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      It was Children in Need last night in Britain and they aired a clip from the Christmas special with Peter Capaldi and David Bradley that’s now up on YouTube. No spoilers. Just a two minute teaser. The link’s in my name if you haven’t already seen it.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I’ve had those done as I have a form of narcolepsy (with a much longer more complex name I can’t be bothered to explain). I hope they figure out some treatment that will help. Hugs if welcome.

    3. Seal*

      Sorry to hear your sleep study was uncomfortable! I did a home sleep study this week. They gave me a kit that involved a belt with a small computer to wear around my waist and a nasal cannula and pulse oxy finger thing, both of which plugged into the belt computer. I was supposed to try to sleep on my back, which I generally don’t do. Still, I was mostly able to sleep. I get the results after Thanksgiving. Since I’ve never slept well in general, I’m curious to see the results.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I did the pulse ox thing last week and they determined that my oxygen levels drop at night, so I had to go for the full thing. I was hooked up to dozens of wires and had all kinds of electrodes glued to me.

        Good luck!

    4. Merci Dee*

      I think I’m going to be in for one of these toward the end of the year. I need to get in with my doc so she can make a referral to the local sleep clinic.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I know it’s worth it, especially if they figure out something that will help me sleep better, but ugh.

    5. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I’ve got sleep apnea. My biggest complaint is that the masks don’t last very long before wearing out and having to replace them. They’re not cheap. Being unemployed and no medical coverage isn’t fun. You’ll need to keep distilled water in stock for the CPAP machine too. Fortunately the newer models are far more frugal in their water usage. I have an older machine that goes through water at a ridiculous pace.

      1. C*


        Have you looked into the CPAP assistance program through the American Sleep Apnea Association? They provide CPAP supplies at greatly reduced cost ($25 for one mask, $45 for 2, or $60 for 3).

        They also provide new/replacement CPAP machines to those who need them.

        Link in next post but you can also search for them

    6. LilySparrow*

      The bed at the clinic where I had my sleep study was horrible. The mattress sagged like it had three people in it, before I even got in. I couldn’t have slept at all if I hadn’t already been so exhausted I was falling asleep at stoplights.
      Getting treated for apnea was like getting my life back. If my house were on fire my cpap is the only inanimate object I’d even try to grab. I love it.

    7. Clever Girl -> BatteryB*

      Late to the thread but just wanted to express some “I know what you mean” sympathy. I’ve had both both day and night sleep studies, and what gets to me the most is the lack of privacy. I know they’re watching and monitoring, and I hate having to ask to get unhooked just to go to the bathroom. I have both sleep apnea and a form of narcolepsy. I hate using my CPAP but I know it’s necessary. The medicine for my narcolepsy gives me constant dry mouth.

      I also have three other chronic conditions (2 of them genetic), and I take about 30 pills a day. I joke that I have a different doctor for every part of my body.

  14. Database Geek*

    As mentioned a couple weeks ago I went to a Doctor Who convention on Long Island this past weekend. It was awesome! Sylvester McCoy and all of the other actors were great! It was very nice to have a break from other stuff. And the Doctor Who Christmas special is coming very soon! I’ll post some links in the next comments.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      It was Children in Need last night in Britain and they aired a clip from the Christmas special with Peter Capaldi and David Bradley that’s now up on YouTube. No spoilers. Just a two minute teaser. The link’s in my name if you haven’t already seen it.

      (Sorry for the double post here).

      1. Database Geek*

        It was sooooooooo much fun! But now I’m a bit depressed that it was over so fast… :( Oh well… will be watching some classic serials soon.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ahhhhh jelly!
      I’m going to a Friendsgiving with my Doctor who friends today. I can’t wait for the Christmas special. Here’s hoping I have a job soon so I can buy the new season on Amazon and watch Thirteen!! *squees; dances around*

      1. Database Geek*

        Have fun at your Friendsgiving! Do you know what episodes (or serials if you’re watching the Classic) you’ll be watching?

  15. Red Reader* </