weekend free-for-all – November 25-26, 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: Sellevision, by Augusten Burroughs. A good book to read post-Black-Friday, it’s a send-up of a fictional home shopping network.

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

{ 1,086 comments… read them below }

  1. Fiennes*

    Any tips on gift-giving for a significant other whose financial situation is currently precarious? My partner just got a job after a long period of unemployment (yay!), but his “fun money” kitty is extremely low, I know. This is an area where we keep finances entirely separate. On the one hand, I think he’d be unhappy about his gifts to me if I significantly outspent him; on the other, I don’t want it to come across like I’m being stingy or tit-for-tat. I want to get him what I’d usually get, and I don’t care what I get in return. But he’s a little more sensitive than usual coming out of a long stretch of both financial difficulty & depression. If it were you, how would you handle it?

    1. CAA*

      I’m assuming you either can’t or don’t want to have a conversation about it and come to a mutual agreement.

      How about giving him a shared experience instead of physical gifts — tickets to a concert, play, weekend away — whatever he would particularly enjoy doing with you. Then it’s not so much that you’re spending more on his gift, but spending it on something for both of you.

      1. Fiennes*

        I’ve tried to bring it up, but he always dodges it. Honestly I think his reluctance to discuss has less to do with any financial awkwardness and more with his great desire for gifts given or received to be total surprises.

        The idea of a shared experience is a good one!

        1. Kj*

          Yep. One year, I got us a cabin in a state park, which isn’t pricey and a groupon to a nearby brewpub. It was a lovely weekend get-away and we both say it was the most fun we’ve had on a vacation, as it was very low-pressure.

    2. Triplestep*

      Have you asked yourselves if gifts are truly necessary? We started giving year-round “just because” gifts a long time ago and skip special occasion gifts altogether. This includes Christmas, birthday, anniversary, valentines day, etc. (I’m Jewish and in my family Hanukkah gifts were only given by adults the kids anyway.)

      I know that not giving loved ones a Christmas gift is unthinkable to some people, but I thought I’d just toss it out there just in case. I really enjoy buying my husband something I come across that I know he’d love, and just surprising him with it out of the blue. These gifts are never pricey, and it really takes the pressure off special occasions.

      1. Fiennes*

        We could probably try that in future– I think he’d like it — but I don’t think I can spring it on him this close to Christmas. Also he LOVES Christmas, from hot chocolate to watching multiple versions of “A Christmas Carol,” so this is probably the one holiday he wouldn’t budge on.

        1. Triplestep*

          Well in that case, the “shared experience” idea is probably spot on. Maybe spend some time coming up with a new Christmas Movie list you can stream? (Kind of like a modern twist on the mix tape!)

      2. peggy*

        We’re the same way. We occasionally buy each other things just because, but we never give each other birthday or Christmas gifts – we make sure we go away for a night for each of those occasions (usually within a few weeks of the occasion). We have fun picking a place within a few hours of home, finding a groupon or other good deal on a hotel, picking restaurants, figuring out where we can stop along the way, what kind of hike or shopping or event we can do in the new place, etc. We’re in the Boston area so we have a ton of options if we want to drive 1-4 hours- coastal Maine, White Mountains in NH, Burlington VT, Cape Cod, NYC, the Berkshires. I make more money than my spouse so I usually pay for the hotel and a nice dinner, and my partner will pick up breakfast or lunch and gas. In 5 and a half years together, we’ve amassed a lot of fun memories and have zero pressure for gift giving holidays. :)

        1. Triplestep*

          Consider Rhode Island! I will post a link to a cottage we stayed in for three months while our home was being remodeled last year. Very reasonable in the off-season, and pretty centrally located. Full kitchen and fully furnished.

        2. Perpetua*

          This is our approach as well! It’s only our second Christmas together, but it’s shaping up to become a tradition and I quite like it. Last year we spent 3 days in Vienna, this year we’re planning to go to Budapest for 3 days as well.

          It takes the pressure off from finding a “great” gift more than once a year (we do gifts for our birthdays), especially since his birthday is 10 days before Christmas. We also have fun planning it together, enjoying it while we’re there (and the Christmas markets in this part of the world are pretty great!) and get to reminisce about it later, so it’s a win-win-win situation. ;)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      At some point it would be good to make it a norm to talk about Christmas budgeting. Probably you will have that opportunity next year once he has some paychecks under his belt.

      For this year, you could announce that you have decided that random gifts and thoughtful gestures though out the year mean more to you than a big Christmas gift, of the two you prefer the former. The key part here is to mean it and stick to it. So if this does not mesh with everything else he knows about you then this might be a poor plan. Some people really enjoy Christmas and run it to the max.

      You could try telling stories of what other couples do to help the two of you find your own thing. My husband and I had enough stuff. Sure, it would be nice to get this or that but would we actually use it and where the heck would we store it? So we ended up splitting on a pricey item that we would both use and enjoy having, we got a Vitamix one year, a piece of nice furniture another year and so on. Then we would get each other one little thing about $10 or so to tear the wrapper off of on Christmas Day. Honestly, I was a lot happier with this plan. It was a lot less stress.

      For this year, maybe you could consider getting him your normal level of stuff and if you out spend him just tell him that those additional items are congratulations on his new job.

    4. Temperance*

      In the past, Booth and I have decided, jointly, on a budget for gifts. Could that work? We have been doing activities instead of gifts recently, which is really great. For example, we went to see John Mullaney for my birthday this past summer and stayed at a hotel.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      I think you need to insist on talking about it at some point. You could do what we do and set a maximum spending limit.

    6. dawbs*

      You also might find that ‘raw materials’ do well.
      I mean, Mr. Dawbs is awesome at gift giving, but sometimes there’s the recognition that if he buys me, say, $30 worth of *insert hobby-sewing/making wine/etc* materials, I can make myself a $100 gift. Or he can put in the time and make the $30 into a $100 gift. OR, he can buy me a $100 gift–or buy a $30 materials and hire/barter with someone to put the time in to upgrade it to a copmlete project.

      But that depends on hobby/interest.

      Museum memberships are always awesome, as are theater gift certificates, IMO

    7. Janelle*

      Totally agree on the experience gift. I got ya tickets to Cirq one year which we both loved. A Groupon for the San Diego Zoo another year. Once the air museum which he LOVED! Also he never uses gifts i give him, or that anyone gives him, so the experiences make me happier as i don’t find it stuck in the back of his closet months later.

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      How about a nice set of coffees or idk farm-fresh avocados or small-batch IPAs (whatever he’s into) that you would implicitly be sharing with him? It’s something he likes but you won’t have the thing sitting around forever, plus he can feel better that you kind of bought it for yourself too.

    9. Ree*

      My husband and I have a “stockings only” rule. Sometimes we decide to get a gift for us, and then fill our stockings with treats, sometimes we only give stockings and the gifts must fit in our(knitted, quite large and stretchy) stockings. Two years ago my husband crammed a Kindle in there haha! I usually get him/us concert tickets or something similar, maybe a weekend trip somewhere close by.
      We prefer experiences, so we often use our Christmas money on a trip for us.

    10. Gingerblue*

      I think the ideas about shared experiences are great, and physical things you would both like are another good idea. Since you say he loves Christmas in particular, maybe you could invest in some Christmas stuff that’s for both of you but particularly meaningful to him? Some ideas might be some nice tree ornaments, seasonal dishes, fancy cocoa and Christmas mugs for both of you, a trip out to a seasonal concert, etc.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Coupons. I would make Mr. Bibliovore coupons for stuff he wanted me to do. Like Sunday Morning New York Times and Bagels and Cream Cheese run. (we lived in a 4th floor walk up at the time) or First dog walk of the day.

    11. Overeducated*

      I am going to say something a bit different than everyone else. I would say to get what you would normally get, and before Christmas let him know you enjoy getting gifts so your choice is about the joy of giving for you, but you know he has a limited budget and dont expect him to spend money. If you think it would work on him, I think sometimes reminding people that gifts are as much about the giver can take the pressure of “matching” off.

    12. Coffeejn*

      Assuming you can bake, how about something simple like homemade muffins or scones. Something that takes time but not a lot of money and can be enjoyed together?

  2. Legalchef*

    I was reading a Buzzfeed list this morning and they wrote about Chocolate Teapots! I had to share. Link to follow in reply.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’m so frustrated with Buzzfeed right now. I can’t see Facebook comments at all for some reason, on any article, on any browser, and logging out / logging in is not helping. I tweeted in their general direction and emailed support and have gotten no response. I disabled Ghostery and AdblockPlus and still nothing.

      Am I in comment jail????? It’s no fun to read Stranger Things articles if I can’t comment! Plus people have responded to my comments on prior articles and I can’t see it!

      1. Someone else*

        Did you clear all cookies/cache etc? You mentioned logging in and out but if you have a bad cookie or something cached, that won’t necessarily help. Disabling add-ons is a good step, but clearing cookies and cache should be step 1 for the type of symptom you’re describing.

  3. Fake old Converse shoes*

    (Still we waiting for some exam results, but let me have some rest)

  4. Emma*

    Random, but– where do you all get your desktop wallpapers? Just curious if anyone out there has some cool sources for nature/abstract wallpapers. I’m actually working on doing a “konmari” of my laptop and now that I have nothing on my desktop I’m ready for a whole new batch of wallpapers to rotate through!

    (Hope you all are having a great holiday weekend!)

    1. Perpetua*

      Ha, wallpaper searching can take me into the abyss of internet clicking for hours… :P

      I usually just google something like “best minimalist dekstop wallpapers”, “best abstract colorful wallpapers”, then click through some of the sources in those lists.

    2. Lily Evans*

      I usually use my own photos since I’m a decent photographer and I like having the memories attached! Or I’ll use photographers’ photos I find through instagram or tumblr. One of my current favorites is Hello Emilie, her photos are gorgeous and the ones on Facebook would probably be big enough for a desktop background.

      1. Regular anon*

        I also use my photos, specifically vacation photos — Hawaii (outer islands), French Polynesia, then African safari. Since I have plausible deniability about my regular commenting name, I’ll post a link to the abridged album that I’m currently using.

    3. Big City Woman*

      I used to just look for pretty images on Google, searching for large sized ones, and download them. Then right-click on the desktop to get the menu for wallpaper or background images and select the ones I want. But wallpaper programs and screen savers take up a lot of memory so I stopped doing that and just have a solid color background now.

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

      Some time ago I started taking fairly decent pictures of things with interesting patterns and textures, like walls or rock faces, specifically to use as wallpaper. I also have taken pictures of various items of clothing and similar items that had patterns I particularly liked before I got rid of the items to use for the same purpose.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve had a black desktop picturing a Weeping Angel with eyes covered and the words “Don’t Blink” for ages now. I like dark, nerdy backgrounds. I don’t change them often.

    6. Wendy Darling*


      You can specify your resolution and whether you want things exactly that big or at least that big. (It also autodetects it, usually successfully unless you’re like me and using a high-DPI display that your computer reports is half the resolution it actually is.)

      It’s completely uncurated so you kind of have to trawl through piles of crap, but it has EVERYTHING.

    7. Emma*

      THANK YOU for the suggestions, everyone! I have a bunch of tabs open now and I’m ready to waste an hour of my day poking around :)

    8. TiffIf*

      A few years ago I stumbled upon and fell in love with Digital Blasphemy (digitalblasphemy.com) its all computer graphics so it might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I love a lot of them.

  5. Pat Benetardis*

    My teen daughter needs a makeup organizer. She’s way beyond the Cablodle stage and has a big mess of palettes, etc. any ideas for what I should be looking at?

    1. Fiennes*

      Personally I don’t know, but have you checked out the site Makeup Alley? They rate all kinds of cosmetics via very large forums. I’d be surprised if you couldn’t find info on good organizers there, among a community of people who are as enthusiastic as your daughter.

    2. kc89*

      A lot of beauty gurus use the muji acrylic organizers, so if she is into youtube she might like those.

      Or you could get a small white set of drawers from ikea which can be good for palettes.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Does it need to be portable, or can it be one of those clear acrylic ones that sit on the vanity top? Those are sold practically everywhere, and range in size and complexity from “holds three lipsticks” to “has an individual compartment for every compact, tube, brush, etc.”

    4. Language Student*

      My little sister has a large set of drawers – like a single set, not a double, but it’s tall. The drawers are pretty thin and she has different plastic containers inside. She just got it from Ikea and the plastic drawer organisers came from Amazon. She’s definitely in the “mess of palettes” stage and it keeps everything clean (plus it looks really cute and organised).

    5. Al Lo*

      I like having my stuff visible (i.e. not in a cupboard or a drawer) and visible. I have a magnetic board on the wall with little rare earth magnets glued to the back of my various palettes and compacts, and a swivel organizer for bottles, brushes, etc. Keeps my counter uncluttered, and keeps everything at my fingertips.

      The magnetic board is super easy to make with an old cookie sheet or a magnetic whiteboard.

    6. Lily Evans*

      I keep my make up out on my dresser in cute little bins I picked up in the organization aisle of Target.

    7. Big City Woman*

      Funny, I only noticed recently that young women use the term “palettes” nowadays for their makeup or eyeshadow sets and kits. I was on a forum for entrepreneurs and during a discussion about finding a product to sell and using a drop-ship service, a member mentioned wanting to find a source for palettes. Everybody thought she meant those huge wooden palettes for cargo. They kept warning her about shipping costs and space consideration, until she told them she was talking about makeup sets. She just assumed it was common parlance. But I didn’t know what she was talking about either, and I’ve been wearing makeup for ages and ages. I never think, “Oh, I need a new palette.” I just look for eyeshadow. LOL.

      1. Big City Woman*

        Oh, forgot to mention how I store my makeup. Through the years, I’ve gotten a lot of free makeup bags of various sizes from making purchases in department stores. Usually it’s companies like Clinique and Estee Lauder that have these special sets. So, I divvied up my makeup into these bags – lipsticks in one, eyeshadows in another, etc. And I just stash those in a hard plastic basket with a handle, from Container Store, and set it on the shelf.

        1. Arjay*

          I had an ipsy subscription and I use those bags like this. I also have a couple bags that have a variety of products for a complete daytime and nighttime look.

      2. Artemesia*

        I always think artists palette and that is what a make up array looks like; would never have occurred to me they were talking about warehouse equipment.

      3. MommaCat*

        Huh, I think “palette” is for artists, and “pallet” is for heavy goods, at least in my area. Mind you, I think artist’s paint, not makeup, unless someone specifies “makeup palette.”

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

          To me they are pronounced differently. A regional variation, perhaps?

          1. Courtney*

            Must be – I’m in the US Midwest, we pronounce them the same here (as far as I know – I suppose I can’t speak for all of the surrounding states!)

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

              Interesting! My family is from Missouri but I grew up in Colorado, and I’d pronounce “pallet” as PAL-et (emphasis on the first syllable and the L sound is part of the first syllable) versus pa-LET (emphasis on the second).

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      Check out By Alegory online. Or go to Bed Bath & Beyond or Harmon (same thing really). You can find clear plastic organizers with little compartments and sections.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        Ooh those look nice. I really need to organize my……. well entire bathroom. Right now it looks like a drugstore exploded in there and someone sprinkled a bunch of Sephora on top of it.

        I have some nice makeup I don’t use enough because it’s all in a giant pile in a drawer right now and I forget I own it.

        1. Janelle*

          Ugh tell me. My sister works for Too Faced so you can imagine the amount of makeup i have, on top of my own personal Sephora addiction.

    9. namelesscommentator*

      I have this – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DUJEWDE/ref=twister_B01GGM711Q?_encoding=UTF8&th=1 and I use it for the stuff in my normal rotation.

      For palettes I know a lot of people use file storage for them – like this https://www.amazon.com/Rolodex-Collection-Stacking-5-Section-22141/dp/B00006IAKG/ref=sr_1_7?s=office-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1511670733&sr=1-7&keywords=file+organizer

      I lucked out with a sectioned plastic bin that fits Naked Palettes perfectly – but it was a being at Aldi (?) at the right time when they were $3. I haven’t seen them that cheap again – but they show up at places like TJ Maxx pretty frequently for tenish.

    10. SC Anonibrarian*

      Fishing tackle boxes are really awesome for this, and much cheaper than a lot of makeup-specific boxes are. I currently have three large (and one ‘portable’) Plano brand boxes with the smaller clear interior sub-boxes that slot inside. I love that they have nice durable handles and are functional and hard-wearing so i don’t worry about chipping the corners of cute fragile acrylic boxes or trays. I also use lots of smaller zip-top bags (like the ones makeup brushes come in sometimes, or the ones intended as manicure-kit bags) to carry a day’s worth or a specific color scheme around with me. I also have a small square lidded wicker basket that i keep my fingernail polish in. I am only allowed to keep as many polishes as fit in the basket. :)

  6. Mallory Janis Ian*

    Today is my daughter’s birthday — 21 years old! We’re having her over for lunch, for which she had requested a taco bar and a spice cake, no frosting, to be immediately eaten hot from the oven. She has never liked any cake frosting, and I like only the frosting with a little bit of cake on it, so I’ll make some cinnamon buttercream frosting on the side for everyone else.

    After lunch with us, she and her friends are going out to the bar and to see a drag show. She’s excited to legally buy her first drink, and she’s sterling herself against the anxiety she tends to get in noisy, crowded places. I hope everything goes well for her tonight.

    1. Triplestep*

      Congrats! That sounds like a great plan for the party today. Hope your daughter has fun tonight; her friends probably know her well and have her back. I’m guessing they will be ready to leave if the Guest of Honor decides she’s had enough of the bar.

    2. Natalie*

      I always find that actual entertainment makes bars less anxiety inducing, because I can kind of tunnel vision myself to focus on the entertainment happening. Hopefully she can do something similar.

      Drag and burlesque shows can be a ton of fun, too.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      So here’s a question just out of curiosity. She just texted me a pic of herself in the club with some martini-looking mixed drink.

      My question is about the outfit she’s wearing (none of my business and I’m not going to say anything to her other than, “Lovely”, which I already did). But I’m trying to place how “out there” she is based on the young adult club scene today. So here’s what she’s wearing, and y’all tell me if it’s tame, middling, daring, or what: little black leather bootie shorts; a white, off-the-shoulder peasant blouse with lots of cleavage; a bustier-thing that goes under her boobs but on top of the shirt and is kind of cinching in her waist and pushing up her boobs; and no bra. The top is semi-sheer and you can see her breasts kind of gauzy and blurred under there, but you can definitely see them. If gender/sexual orientation makes any difference in interpreting her wardrobe presentation, she is must likely trying to attract women, although she has had dates with lesbian women, a straight boy or two, and on one occasion a FTM young man who wasn’t out to his parents. Anyway, I just wonder if her outfit is within norms or an outlier in her young adult, kind of gender fluid context.

      1. Olive Hornby*

        Queer woman here—I wasn’t nearly bold enough for that look at that age (and still am definitely not!), but it definitely wouldn’t have been out of the norm at the (mostly queer) dance clubs my friends and I would go to. This would have been about 5-10 years ago, so I suspect things have not changed that much, though I’m sure it’s partly regional.

      2. boris*

        Sounds entirely within norms for a body confident young woman. I wish I’d dressed more outrageously when I was young and had the body for it!

      3. Thlayli*

        This is pretty region-dependant but I can tell you that outfit would be pretty normal in a LGBT bar but not in a “straight” bar where I live.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Thanks, y’all! I thought her outfit was probably within norms for the context, but I was like, “ I don’t know if I’m supposed to be seeing your boobs . . . “ I wore some outfits that definitely would have scandalized my parents when I was young and going to clubs; I wouldn’t have sent them a picture of it, though. And I was a little straight girl presenting myself in the context of attracting straight boys. My husband keeps bemoaning (to me, not to our daughter) that she used to look “pretty” before she got her hair buzzed and bleached on top and started wearing mostly men’s clothes. He’s getting on my nerves because I keep telling him that she’s not trying to look like a straight person, that she’s presenting herself to attract mainly queer women, and all he can talk about is “pretty, pretty, pretty”! It’s like he can’t or won’t understand that “pretty”!is different to straight men than to other people, and she doesn’t give [much of] a sh!t about straight men.

      5. Gloucesterina*

        I’ve observed that often dress/style choices (depending on the person/context) are less about attracting group X but about coding as a member of group X. This might not be your or your daughter’s experience, though?

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Yes, I think you’re right. She has said that she wants to look like a queer woman, and I’m the one who extrapolated that that must be because of who she’s trying to attract.

  7. nep*

    Anyone on Medicaid / have experiences with it? My state is one that has expanded Medicaid under ACA. Even though I’ve had a relatively low income past couple years, I always preferred to avoid Medicaid and pay for health insurance (with the credit to help with the premium, which itself never felt right to me but I couldn’t afford it otherwise). Well the plan I’m on would be more than doubling in cost (!), and income is still low, so I’ll be on the expanded Medicaid — for a brief period until my situation changes. (I rarely see a doctor; I’m on no meds. I didn’t use my insurance all last year except for one ob/gyn visit. I’ve always just seen insurance as something for sudden catastrophic illness or accident.)

    1. anon for this*

      I’m on it. My state privatised it a few years back so it’s not much different than regular insurance these days. I’ve had to change companies because one provider didn’t have a single doctor in my county that was accepting patients and then again when another provider pulled out of the program because it wasn’t profitable enough. But I have multiple appointments every week & I’m on a bunch of medication so it’s worth the bureaucratic hassle to not be up to my eyeballs in medical debt. Since it sounds like you might not use it very much, I think it would still be worth getting just in case.

    2. Red*

      I work in a pharmacy; in my experience, Medicaid tends to work very similarly to any other commercial plan. The main difference is, if my Medicaid patients can’t afford their copays, we can waive them. I so very much wish I could do that for some of my commercially-insured patients, who tend to have much higher copays. I know you don’t take medications so that probably isn’t important to you, but you wouldn’t be the first person to have a medical catastrophe and need something expensive, or just a minor thing that needs an antibiotic.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Just an FYI that waiving Medicaid copays for prescriptions is state dependent. If your state allows it there will probably be a sign at the pharmacy. Technically the pharmacy is legally allowed to bill you after for the copay, but in practice no pharmacy will.

          1. Red*

            Wow, I had no idea!! I’m here in NY, so here’s a caveat I should’ve known to add in the first place – my advice applies only to NY medicaid!

    3. Red*

      Other than that, I did want to mention that you ought to find a primary care doctor and see them once a year or so. It can be harder to manage some conditions if they’re not caught early, and having a primary care doctor all set up can make your life easier if you do have something minor come up (ex. if you get a UTI, you can make an appointment with them quickly because you’re already a patient there instead of having to pay a higher copay to go to urgent care).It’s free to go for a well-patient checkup, too.

      1. nep*

        Yes — it’s a wise course to take, all things considered. If nothing else just to rule out or catch the big stuff.
        I’ve got to suck it up and set aside the fact that I’ve yet to have a positive experience with a physician, ever — mine or any family member’s, and do the preventive care/checks.
        A couple of years back I did go to my PCP to get some blood work done; I do like to see those numbers once in a while. Also she heard a heart murmur and ordered an EKG. So yes — it’s the thing to do.

    4. Alice*

      I would like to convince you that there is nothing wrong with using Medicaid. When you work (past and future) you pay FICA contributions, which support Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Why shouldn’t you receive the services that those programs provide, when you meet the eligibility requirements?
      It would be very different if you were, I don’t know, faking a low income to remain Medicaid-eligible while actually earning more than the limit in your state. But you are using the program the way it’s meant to be used.
      Good luck

      1. nep*

        I’m almost to tears reading this. As simple and straightforward as that is, I’ve never thought of it that way or seen/heard it put that way. Indeed I’m turning to it out of necessity and the way the programme is meant to be used. Thanks, Alice.

      2. Trixie*

        “Using the program the way it’s meant to be used” and you’ve already contributed towards it. A thousand times this.

      3. Thlayli*

        It’s really strange to read that some people in America who are actually eligible for Medicaid actually feel guilty about using it. That’s so strange from an EU perspective. It’s total opposite over here. I just watched a documentary during the week about how many people are using private insurance to skip the public health waiting lists in my country. They interviewed a woman who paid for an operation herself and she felt really guilty about smgoing private and skipping the public waiting list. It’s the absolute opposite attitude. I’ve had other people tell me too that they feel going private is unfair because you are skipping the public waiting lists. I would never ever hesitate to use any social welfare benefits I’m entitled to. It’s no different from correctly doing your tax return! Take everything you are entitled to!

          1. Thlayli*

            You have to sit around for hours in every hospital in the world as far as I know. Bring a book.

            I understand why people would feel bad about it if other people are bullying them (which is what I presume you mean by people “shaming” them), so I understand eg not telling people you are Using government funded health insurance. I can even understand being embarrassed about it.

            What I don’t understand is being so ashamed that you would actually refuse free healthcare, when you need it and are eligible for it. That’s like being so ashamed of getting free education that you won’t go to school. It’s the exact same thing. You pay money in taxes to the government every time you work or purchase any taxed goods. You get money back from the government every time you access free education, free healthcare, or claim government benefits you are entitled to of any kind. There’s no difference.

            1. Thlayli*

              Also remember – if you don’t have kids then your taxes are paying for free education for other people’s kids at no benefit to yourself – including most likely the kids of people shaming you.

              if anyone says anything to you ask then if they got there today by driving on a public road, if they or their kids went to public school, if they aren’t speaking Japanese because of a publicly funded military? Same thing.

              We pay taxes, we get services, that is the entire point of government.

            2. TL -*

              The culture/expectations around benefits and government support is completely different in America than at least NZ and I presume Europe as well. They’re generally not thought of as entitlements here; safety nets is a much more accurate term. There’s a lot of internalized cultural stuff about what these programs are for/who should use them and when.
              Also you don’t go to the hospital to get on Medicaid/care.

              1. Ramona Flowers*

                On the flipside a lot of American posters seem to see sick leave as a benefit you’re entitled to use up no questions asked, which isn’t how it tends to be seen here.

            3. Mallory Janis Ian*

              It’s not necessarily the sitting-around part; it’s the disrespect that people have to endure. I’m nearing fifty years old, and the last time I had anything to do with public benefits was when my mom was on food stamps and welfare and lived in the housing projects when I was a young child. We were adopted by my grandparents when I was eight, and I suddenly became “middle class”. But I still remember and internalize the hateful, spiteful, punitive ways that officious administrators would treat my mother (and by proxy, us kids) when we would have to go to appointments about the services she was receiving. That’s the thing when you’re on public services: nearly every person you need to receive administrative assistance from takes passive-aggressive delight in punishing you for being on assistance. They speak dismissively and condescendingly; they make elaborate displays of not hurrying because you aren’t worth it and that will show you your place; they mutter to one another about why are people like you so lazy/ignorant/etc. The sitting and waiting is one thing, but being at the mercy of petty spiteful jackasses is what really takes it out of you.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                This. I was on welfare and used Medicaid for a short while when I lived in California, before I moved back. The Medicaid folks were really nice, but the people at the welfare office were nasty. Same here, in 2012, when I called to ask about food stamps during my unemployment at that time. Very condescending, and it wasn’t worth it anyway–as a single person with no kids, I would have basically gotten $35 a month to feed myself. That would have been like a dollar a day.

                It’s not just the staff; there’s an attitude here that demonizes poor people. It’s our fault we’re poor. Never mind that housing costs have skyrocketed but wages haven’t. Never mind that most people on welfare are working, or elderly, or disabled, or actual children. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, a caricature emerged of the “welfare queen,” an entitled wastrel who was entirely capable of working but preferred to live off our tax dollars instead. That caricature has been really hard to shake. Of course, poor people have always been scorned and exploited, but the stereotype remains.

                And of course, since America has this huge, increasingly toxic mentality of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps (i.e. work hard and you’ll make it!), that attitude has become internalized. People HATE asking for help even when they really need it.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  “People HATE asking for help even when they really need it.”

                  Yes! Because people take asking for help as an opportunity to Make a Point or Teach a Lesson. Ugh, People!

                2. Thlayli*

                  That is all absolutely awful. If a welfare office employee tried that in the EU you could make a complaint – do they not have any way to do that in the US?

                3. Ramona Flowers*

                  Sadly, it’s not exactly unheard of here either. My job brings me into contact with many people who have been treated like crud by the benefit system. My (now estranged) father was once asked “and will you be looking for work while you are there) when he had to rearrange his job centre sign-on (unemployment) appointment as he was going out of town for a funeral.

                  I once ended up on benefits after having a breakdown and at one point had to ask the telephone advisor to stop speaking to me like something on the bottom of her shoe. They lost my sick note and she was being really horrible. She hung up. It was only sorted out after my MP’s office intervened.

                  However the advisor who processed my initial claim – over the phone as I didn’t have the bandwidth to fill in forms – was so kind and helpful that I’ve never forgotten it.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I would actively refuse to go private even if I had the funds to, as it helps fuel a two-tier system and I don’t want that to become even more of a thing here.

          1. Thlayli*

            You’re in the UK I think I saw u mention before? The NHS is awesome. Most EU public health systems are nowhere near that standard. I have brought my two kids privately to see specialists, because the public waiting lists are almost 2 years long, and if there is anything wrong I’m not willing to wait 2 years to get it checked out. I’ve had people tell me using private health care like that contributes to the problem, but I refuse to feel guilty for giving my kids the best care I can afford. I understand where you (and others with the same ideas) are coming from, but i think you would have to be a pretty committed socialist to intentionally give your kids worse healthcare than you can afford – or worse education or anything else. In an ideal world everyone would be treated equally but I’m not willing to sacrifice my childrens health or education for the sake of my moral ideals.

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              Yep, UK. We still have some long waiting lists, especially for mental health. But I am utterly grateful for the NHS. I pay about £10.40 a month for unlimited prescriptions (I have about five medications currently).

              The issue of the two-tier system is, I think, one that varies depending on which country you are in. In the UK, only a significant minority go private so it’s easier to have that stance on things. It is also different if you have kids.

      4. Wendy Darling*

        I felt super bad about applying for unemployment when I was laid off, especially because I had enough savings to get by without it. I ended up telling myself that 1. I certainly paid enough into the system to take some out, and 2. I would not look down on LITERALLY ANYONE EXCEPT MYSELF for using it.

        Of course then I quit my next job and wasn’t eligible for unemployment, so I guess it’s a good thing I kept those savings for when I actually needed them.

    5. Wolfey*

      I have been on Medicaid for a few years since I’m self supporting and went back to school. It’s gotten me through two surgeries, mental and physical therapy, and a number of medications. I’ve paid nothing for surgery, ER visits, or therapies. Medications have varied by state but tend to be free or only a few dollars for common things like birth control, antibiotics, anxiety control, and allergy stuff. I am so so so grateful and relieved. My level of care has been excellent, though I’ve lived in states that are very pro ACA and make it easy to find coverage. I can’t recommend it enough for when you are in financial straits.

    6. Memyselfandi*

      Medicaid benefits are determined by the state (not federal) and some states have a variety of programs so you can get many different replies to this question. You need to check with your state program. I agree with Alice. The benefit is there for you when you need it. I learned that from my parents who graduated from high school during the Depression. Also, the United States is the only modern industrial society that finances its health care the way we do. Everyone else has both some sort of government supported health insurance AND better health outcomes AND spends less of the GDP on health care.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I am very lucky in that my doctor’s office has a program for low-income people where anything they can do in the office or the lab is $10 a visit. That’s it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t satisfy the mandated requirement to have health insurance. And ACA is not only too expensive for me*, but I cannot find my doctor on the providers. I may be able to get a hardship exemption and until I get a job, I’ll continue using their office program.

        *Even at my age, it’s kind of a detriment to be healthy! But I’m grateful, since all I really need right now is thyroid medication and I can get it at Walmart with no insurance for $4.

        1. nep*

          I would be fine going without insurance, as I’m on no meds and (touch wood) have no need for medical care right now. The dreaded fine doesn’t even bother me. It’s that I’ve been paying for insurance for decades, and it would feel like such a waste and a failure, really, were I to be in an accident or suddenly fall ill in the window when I don’t have coverage.
          Really miss the times when I could get affordable coverage that would be there just in case of catastrophic injury or illness.
          I can only hope I won’t have to use the Medicaid for long. Off to work on my resume…

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I was super glad I had insurance last year when Pig died and bit me and I ended up in the hospital. That infection could have killed me if I’d done nothing about it, but there was no way I could afford treatment if I hadn’t had insurance. When all was said and done, I only owed about $900 and was able to pay it completely. If it happened now, with two emergency room visits and two nights in hospital (one in the ER and the other in a room), my bill would be five figures.

            1. Crochet Meow*


              I don’t understand. Why aren’t you on Medicaid now if you’re unemployed (vs. being uninsured)?

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  AND—though I wasn’t sure about it before I posted this, Missouri did not expand Medicaid (it’s a red state) and therefore as a non-disabled adult with no children, I am not eligible.

    7. Courtney*

      My family is on Medicaid for the time being – neither of our jobs offer insurance, and at our income level our state didn’t even give us the option of a subsidy. The only issue I’ve had is that finding a primary care doctor who is accepting new Medicaid patients can be quite difficult – it took me lots of online searching and phone calls.

  8. Jessen*

    Eeesh moving out is expensive! So far my list is like $300, and that’s with already owning major furniture pieces!

    1. Jessen*

      Granted, some of that is cat food/litter/tree. It’s a small apartment, so the cat tree is Very Important!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I think the price of cat trees is ridiculous. I have a lot of cats, so I need them, but I hate spending the money on something they’ll destroy eventually. I have one particular cat that likes to run, jump up into the tree, and then scramble to the top perch (it’s one of those really tall ones), which sits on a flimsy pole. He’s a large, solid orange tabby. Every time he landed, the pole would sway precariously, and I knew it was a matter of time before he came crashing down. Eventually he killed the perch, so then I bought a better-made tree. Guess what? He no longer likes the top perch!

        1. Jessen*

          Eesh, I only have one cat, but it really is a small space. And I have a loft bed, so the cat tree is also supposed to serve as a ladder so she can get up there.

      2. periwinkle*

        Check out the IKEA Hackers website for tons of low-cost DIYs for cat furniture. Even if you don’t live near an IKEA, it could give you ideas on ways to reconfigure yard sale/thrift store finds. We have 8 cats so yeah, we have a lot of cat furniture…

        When we moved coasts, I made the move first and took the bare minimum of household goods – literally just a box of cookware, silverware, and a few plates & mugs, plus a couple towels and one set of bedding. First thing I bought was an inexpensive vacuum, but I didn’t start adding more purchases until I figured out what I needed vs wanted. Granted, once my spouse and cats joined me the whole minimalism thing went out the window…

        1. Jessen*

          A lost of the cost seems to be the little things. Silverware, dish towels, household cleaners, that sort of thing. I have a significant coupon off one order at target, so I have somewhat encouragement to buy a lot at once and then return things.

          1. Chaordic One*

            Sometimes I have been able to buy a lot of these things used at second hand stores. What I couldn’t get used, I would get at dollar stores. It was good enough to last until I was able to get my things shipped and unpacked. When I finally got my things unpacked, I ended up donating a lot of the same things I bought used back to the second hand stores.

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

              This. We had a very cheap set of cutlery and dishes and sat on plastic lawn chairs for a while when we first got our house. I washed it well and gave it away on freecycle when we were able to buy better ones.

          2. Language Student*

            I got a *lot* of that stuff at Poundland (I think the American equivalent is “dollar store”) for my first place. The quality isn’t great but it’s cheap, and you can swap stuff out over time when you’re back to normal monthly costs rather than hellish one-off costs.

        2. Wendy Darling*

          My parents have a series of small empty wall-mounted shelves I refer to as the Cat Superhighway. They have a lot of appealing ledges in their living room and entryway, so they’ve put up shelves so the cats can move between ledges without having to touch the floor where the dog lives.

    2. Language Student*

      Tell me about it. When my partner and I got our first place, we spent about the same – it would’ve been *so* much more if we’d had to buy beds. When we moved to our new, larger place, we used our extended family to get extra furniture and barely spent anything, which was fantastic, but largely dependent on family members renovating at the time.

      1. Jessen*

        It’s not even the furniture that’s killing me! It’s all the little things. Cleaning rags and silverware and trash cans and all that stuff.

    3. Rilara*

      Expect to spend more unfortunately. I recently moved from the south of the US to up north, and there are so many little things I threw away during moving that I ended up needing! It’s almost always “really small” things, and then when I head to the store to replace them I’ve spent another $100. It’s the most frustrating part about moving in my experience.

    4. awb*

      If you’re moving anywhere near end or mid month, aka rental periods, scour and sit on Craigslist to find free stuff. This includes furniture but also things like usables like trashcans. Chairs. Other kitchen stuff. A lot of people will give stuff away to get rid of iy, and if you’re patient, you can make out quite well. Borrow a car to do it tho

  9. paul*

    I’m *almost* back down to my xlt shirts. Good lord I hope I’m back in them by January.

    Be nice to have more options for cheap and decent clothes!

    Of course…I may have kinda eaten too much over Thanksgiving so that may slow it down a bit. Oh man. So much pie

  10. The Other Dawn*

    Well, I went ahead with my first massage ever yesterday; it was fabulous!

    I booked only 30 minutes, because I’ve never had a massage before. I know how I feel about pedicures (hate people touching my feet, but will suffer through it), and wasn’t too sure how I’d feel about a massage. I booked deep tissue, since it sounded like the closest match to what I was looking for, which was pain relief in a targeted area, but when I got there I told the therapist that she should do whatever she thinks is best since I hadn’t done it before. She asked about the location and intensity of my pain, and I explained that I’m going to PT for bulging discs and an annular tear, and that I’ve been having neck/shoulder blade pain/ache for three weeks. As luck would have it, I woke up with the same pain in the right shoulder blade yesterday morning, and the low back muscle that spasms often was also bothering me because I went back to working out with my trainer yesterday morning.

    I have to say, that massage table was so soft and warm! I’m always cold nowadays, so I was pretty excited about this. I loved the candlelit room and the soft music. The therapist was great. She told me what she was going to do and to let her know if she’s hurting me. It was actually just the right amount of pressure, and when she hit the muscle that was bothering me in my lower back, I wanted her to stay there forever because it felt so good. I mean, it hurt, but it felt great at the same time. Know what I mean?

    Thirty minutes was over way too fast. She was going to flip me over and do a little work, but we ran out of time. When I got up I felt like I was in a dream state. She called it a “massage coma.” I felt much more mobile and my neck felt better.

    My neck feels pretty good today. My back muscle still hurts, but that’s something that always takes about a week to work itself out. Plus, the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is setting in from working out yesterday, so I’m a ball of hurt anyway; I’ll feel even more tomorrow!

    So, I would definitely go back. I’m so glad I listened to those who suggested massage–thank you!! I’m also glad I didn’t go to the statewide franchise my niece and her girlfriend went to–I read the reviews on Glassdoor, Yelp and Facebook and they’re not great, especially Glassdoor. The bottom line is that they offer a membership and give people the hard sell. No thanks! (And when my niece’s girlfriend was telling me about it, I felt as though she was trying to suck me in.)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Oh I am so glad this went well for you and that you want to go again. It sounds like you and the MT were a good match up, too. That is so important.

    2. JD*

      So happy for you. I, for some insane reason, haven’t had a massage since last new years when we went to Big Bear. We always get a massage there by this male/female team who come to out hotel room and do them in front of the fireplace. Heavenly, they are amazing. I am already counting the days!! And counting the days until I am up there where it isn’t so hot!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Massage is so GREAT. I always book at least an hour because I don’t want it to end. I hope I find a job soon and that when I do, the dude I went to last time is still there because he had the exact right touch I needed.

    4. rj*

      yes! I love massages from the right person. I went on a whim while I was on sabbatical in a place I could book online. I loved my MT so much! I am looking for an equivalent in my new city (Columbia SC if anyone has recs)

  11. Junior Dev*

    Is there anyone here who’s gone from being a chronically late person to generally being on time? Or are there any articles on this subject you can link to?

    I feel weird asking about this because it seems to invite so much judgement…I know being late is rude and inconveniences people. I just can’t seem to stop doing it. (I can go into reasons why, but I want to see what people have to say on this topic generally first).

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      My family has always been pretty casual about punctuality, so I was the same way. Then I married the most punctual man in the universe and that all changed. LOL.

      1. Cassie*

        I’m the opposite…daughter of a military man who married a GD hippie. I haven’t been on time for anything in years, and screaming myself hoarse accomplishes nothing.

    2. Accidental Analyst*

      For me there’s a few things that make it more likely for me to be on time.

      1. Work out the timing of the steps needed to get there. Eg time to get ready, travel time, time to find a park etc
      2. Work backwards from when I need to arrive to find out when I should leave
      3. Leave 20-30 minutes before the calculated time (adjust based on estimated time)
      4. Avoid starting anything I find engrossing before having to get ready/leave
      5. Alternatively set an alarm for when I have to start getting ready and/or leave
      6. If it turns out my estimate was off try to work out why and incorporate it next time

      If I follow this I’m more likely to be early or on time. But I don’t always follow it…

      1. Language Student*

        I do this. Step 3 is essential – either that or add an extra 5 minutes for each step. It’s the little things, like putting your coat and shoes on, finding keys etc. that take up time.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I can spend 15 minutes looking for my keys. I wised up and bought a clip, now I clip them to my purse right when I walk in the house.

          For me, it was a matter of finding where the pitfalls were and setting things up so that things were less time consuming.

          1. Accidental Analyst*

            Agree. Having a landing/launch zone where bag/phone etc goes has really helped. It becomes automatic to check there. But if I forget to put things there it takes a lot longer – my ability to search for things that should be in one place but aren’t can be pretty abysmal

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Launch zones are great, I put the extras there that I want to bring to work/doctor/shopping. I do this before bed so it’s not a panic in the morning.

            2. Wendy Darling*

              I have a bowl in the entryway that my keys live in when they’re not in my pocket. If they’re not in my pocket or in the bowl they might as well be on the moon — I have NO IDEA where they have gone.

              For a while I considered getting one of those fancy bluetooth trackers but honestly the bowl works just as well and cost less.

          2. Coywolf*

            YES! now I leave my keys in the same place as soon as I get home and they’re always there on my way out!

    3. HannahS*

      Firstly, go you! Let’s all commit to not making this a thread about how much we don’t like late people. It’s awesome to try to figure out how to change your own behaviour, and it’s also really really hard (see: me and procrastination which I am literally doing right this minute). I think the successful strategy needs to be targeted to why you, personally, struggle to be on places on time.

      I have one always-early parent, and one always-late parent. For my late parent, the trouble is that they don’t leave time for “invisible” tasks. So for example, if the drive to synagogue takes 20 minutes and the event starts at 7:00 pm, they’ll say that we’ll leave at 6:40. But that means that at 6:40, my parent will save their work, shut off the computer, quickly run upstairs to brush their teeth and change their pants, grab their coat, wait, no, the other coat, lock up the house, drive to the synagogue, oh whoops it’s rush hour, park in the overflow parking lot, walk to the synagogue and find seats, just in time to be 20 minutes late. So for this parent, in that situation, we (the early people) would insist that we set our leaving time to 6:15. This is something I do for myself, as well. My morning walking commute takes about 20 minutes. But it doesn’t really; the part where I’m walking from the outer border of my apartment complex to the outer border of campus takes 20 minutes. From me putting down my tea mug at home to me sitting in my seat with five minutes to settle in or run to the bathroom before lecture starts takes more like 35 minutes, and I insist on telling myself that my morning commute is 35 minutes. So in my family, it’s a time-budgeting issue. If your issue has more to do with difficulty task-switching, or with getting engrossed in a task and forgetting to stop, then your solution is going to be different!

      1. Big City Woman*

        In describing your how your “late parent” manages their time, you described me! Funny, I just posted below about how I think getting somewhere only takes 20 minutes but I forget about all the little things that add up before I have to leave. It’s even harder to be on time when I have to be somewhere close than going somewhere farther away, because I think, “Oh, it’s just five minutes away.” Ha! But yeah, time-budgeting is a good word for managing one’s time.

      2. Triplestep*

        Synagogue 20 minutes away? Brushing teeth etc, at the exact time we should be leaving? Hannah, are you my daughter?

      3. The Expendable Redshirt*

        I think that we are secret siblings.
        It took 15 for the family to drive to church at 11:00am
        My early parent was always ready to head out the door at 10:35 am. This took into account driving time and showing up 10 min early before things started. Because arriving 10 min early IS being on time according to early parent.
        Late parent would start getting off the sofa to get ready at 10:45 am. (so, the exact driving time to location) But late parent never did any prep work. A shower had to be taken. Proper clothes put on. Teeth brushed. Keys lost and found. This was followed by a jerky, nausea inducing trip in a manual drive car. Late parent arrived at 11:20 am.

        In time, late parent listened to early parent when they said to start getting ready for things. So, proper time budgeting was an important thing to figure out in my family. It’s not just the time it takes to get to a place. There’s also the prep time that needs to be considered.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ha, I used to be like “late parent” and my husband kind of got me out of it by reminding me when I’m “time warping” (i.e. thinking I have time to do just a few more things when we should have left ten minutes ago). I’m still five to ten minutes late to a lot of places (including work most days), but I’m not ever as late as I used to be.

      4. Wendy Darling*

        I also have a Late Parent and an On Time Parent. I think Late Parent’s problem is he declares himself “ready to go” when he is actually not ready yet. So while I and On Time Parent are dashing back and forth putting on our shoes, getting our coats, and making the dog go out to pee before we leave, Late Parent is sitting on the couch watching television sans shoes, keys, coat, or wallet. He only gets up to collect those things once everyone else is standing at the door ready to leave.

        The best solution I’ve found to this is to declare that we are LEAVING RIGHT NOW 5-10 minutes before I actually intend to leave. I have to sell it by being ready to leave, but I don’t care if I have to play phone boggle for 5 minutes with my coat on if that’s what it takes to be on time.

        (As a bonus Late Parent is also ADD as all get-out so he frequently gets distracted during the find-your-keys phase of leaving and suddenly it’s 10 minutes later and he’s replacing the batteries in all the remote controls. I have not yet found a solution to this. Screaming does not work but sometimes we do it anyway.)

        I am generally incredibly punctual because I am a Time Management Pessimist (I actually have an incredible case of defensive pessimism generally but time management is its time to shine). I just assume everything is going to take 5 minutes longer than it should, and therefore arrive on time most of the time. I wonder if it’s possible to intentionally make yourself into a Time Management Pessimist? Like if you force yourself to assume everything is going to take too long for a few weeks will you just fall into the habit?

    4. Perpetua*

      I think I’d fall into the category of being chronically late before and generally on time in the past few years. What seems to have helped is mostly realizing how much better I feel when I’m not running late and getting more and more stressed, so I’ve started buffering in more time for getting ready, getting out of the house, not counting on public transportation to be RIGHT THERE if I’m to make it on time, things like that.

      Also, planning on leaving home early or getting somewhere early and having my Kindle with me (or even just taking a leisurely stroll around the location, or walking a part of the way there…), so that it feels like a luxury to have that time, and I’m actually looking forward to it. In that scenario, even if I’m late for the “luxury arrival”, I’m still generally on time for the appointment.

      I’ll write more if I think of something or find some good resources. :)

      1. Junior Dev*

        That’s so great and I think it applies to me.

        The part that rings true is how self-loathing contributes to this–often I’ll feel obligated to do something like load the dishwasher or clean the cat box at the last minute if I feel bad about not doing it, and also anxiety and depression make this worse–instead of packing to leave I’ll get overwhelmed and lie in bed until it’s too late to really leave on time, which weirdly removes some stress since I KNOW I can’t be on time and so I’m not frantically trying to be.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I would say I’m a very punctual person. Anywhere I go, whether it’s to a friend’s house for a movie, to a family member’s house for the holidays, or a meeting or training seminar at work, I’m typically 5 to 10 minutes early. It drives me nuts to not get there early.

      But getting to work on time? Couldn’t do it. I mean, I could do it when I worked retail years ago. That was typically because i had to relieve someone else or open the store, and managers didn’t tolerate lateness. I was even able to do it for awhile when I started as a bank teller. But once I became salaried exempt, I couldn’t seem to get there before 8:30 am, even though it was generally expected that I arrive around 8 am. I could get there if there was a conference call or meeting scheduled, but any other time I just couldn’t. Didn’t matter how early I set my alarm, if I laid out my clothes the night before and prepared all my food, or did something else ahead of time to help me get out of the house, I was still 15 to 30 minutes late. I think it was because it wasn’t set in stone that I HAD to be there at 8 am. (Also, my managers didn’t ever say a word about it because I got all my work done and was generally a rock star for most of my career.) Now, if you told me I would lose my job if I wasn’t on time, then I would be able to get in on time.

      Eventually I got tired of always rushing around to drag myself into work; I’m the manager of the department and felt I should be setting a better example. Plus it just made me feel bad about myself. So, probably about six months ago we had an audit scheduled and the auditors wanted to be in by 7:30 am. I took that as an opportunity to turn things around. I started getting to work by 7:30 am. Not just for the duration of the audit, but going forward. It’s now a habit to get there by 7:30 am, and I feel so much better about myself. I also get a nice jump on the day by getting my morning “ritual” out of the way: checking my work email and reading AAM while sipping my homemade iced mocha latte. Also, I get myself into the gym at work by 4 pm and don’t feel guilty about it, so it’s helping me be consistent with working out.

      Yes, I totally judge the chronically late. I do feel it’s rude and inconsiderate. I feel that if it’s something you really want to change and it’s important to you, and you treat it as a priority, you can make it happen. My chronic lateness was in only the one area, but it was very hard to change and it took me a few months to feel as though it was a habit. I had to just kind of flip a switch in my mind and tell myself that 7:30 am is my official start time, which really helped.

      (I’ve been dealing with chronic lateness for many years from my sister. She’s 57 now, so I don’t think she will ever change. We typically have to tell her that events are two hours earlier than they really are, and she will then maybe get there on time. Maybe. We used to wait for her when going places, such as meeting for lunch when we’re away on a weekend trip, but we no longer do that. If she’s not there at the designated time for dinner or whatever else, we just go without her. The first few times we did that she got upset and didn’t understand why we didn’t want to wait an hour for her, but she eventually got the message.)

        1. The Other Dawn*

          This is how I started out making it and it’s the basic recipe:
          6 oz brewed hot coffee (I use 6 ounces of water and one K cup; coffee must be hot)
          2 TB cocoa powder (use any kind you like, natural or dutch process; I use Hershey at the moment)
          3 packets Equal or other artificial sweetener (I can’t have the sugar; use sugar to taste if that’s what you prefer)
          16 oz Fairlife Fat Free Milk (I use it because it’s half the sugar) or any kind of milk you like

          –In a tall glass or Blender Bottle, mix the cocoa powder into the hot brewed coffee. This is key when trying to get cocoa powder to dissolve. The liquid MUST be hot. If you are using leftover brewed coffee, heat it in the microwave first.
          –Mix the Equal (or sugar) into the coffee mixture and shake or stir.
          –Pour the milk into the coffee mixture and shake or stir.

          You can drink it right away, or put it in the fridge either for a few hours or overnight. It depends how cold you want the drink and when you want to drink it. I usually chill it overnight. I feel like it gives the chocolate flavor more time to develop. The cocoa powder settles, though, so you’ll need to shake or stir again. That’s why I find a Blender Bottle works best for me.

          Note: This will not be super sweet like the coffee chain drinks. But you can control it based on how much sugar or sweetener you put in. I actually prefer the less-sweet home version to the coffee chain drinks now.

          (Nowadays I tend to do one K-cup with 12 ounces of water to make roughly 11 ounces of coffee, two HUGE tablespoons of cocoa (the tablespoon is now really just a guide and a vessel…) and 3 or 4 packets of Equal.)

            1. KR*

              Thank you so so much. I appreciate the sugar cutting tips very much. I’ll have to try that this week. – Starbucks has too much of my money already :)

              1. The Other Dawn*

                You’re welcome!

                Yes, you’ll need to adjust it to your taste. Cocoa powder has no sugar at all, I believe, so you really need to add a fair amount of sugar or sweetener in order to mellow it out. And adjust the milk and coffee any way you like. I tend to use a dark roast coffee so I get more coffee flavor, as the cocoa can overpower it sometimes.

    6. Weekend Warrior*

      I was a punctual person (family was VERY punctual even early) but drifted into some late patterns for awhile in my twenties before getting back on track. Also have a formerly late friend who is now punctual, surprising everyone. I say all this to show that while our early or late tendencies might be somewhat hard-wired, we can change them!

      For me, planning to be early in general is much less stressful than worrying en route if I’ll be on time. I time out how long getting ready and getting there will take and build in a 10-15 minute buffer, depending on the distance. Meeting down the hall? I build in 5 minutes. Cross town meeting through heavy traffic? I build in 30 minutes. If I arrive early I always have some reading material or check email. Arriving early also gives time to chat with others, grab a coffee, gather my thoughts, whatever appeals. I recommend it!

      What “cured” me in my tardy twenties? Someone saying “it’s all right. I just figure you’re one of the late people and adjust my expectations.” I hadn’t realized I’d developed such an obvious pattern and it didn’t fit my self image. Better time planning ensued!

    7. Snark*

      What kind of late person are you? Do you have problems with transitioning, like “I know I need to leave but I need to finish Thing”? Or are you more like “It takes 20 minutes to get there, got plenty time!” except it only took 20 minutes one time in 2003 and now it’s 5:30 and there’s rush hour and it will actually take you 45 minutes? Or is it “I’ll leave at 5:30 no probs AHMAGAD IT’S 6 WHERE DID TIME GO”

      1. Zathras*

        I don’t know about the original poster but I am totally the second one sometimes!

        Or, “It takes 20 minutes to get to work so I will leave 20 minutes before work starts” – but the 20 minutes is door to door, it doesn’t include cleaning up breakfast dishes, brushing teeth, finding my jacket and keys, moving lunch from the fridge into my work bag, checking the dog’s water bowl, etc.

      2. Thlayli*

        Omg I used to be ALL of those things. I still am really, but I have to be on time now. If I’m 4 mins late for work I miss the clock in window, and have to stay 15 mins late to make up. And then my childminder misses her train and is 45 mins late getting home. So I have to be on time every day otherwise it screws up not just my day but my childminder too. Having to take responsibility for that has really made me step up my punctuality game.

      3. Junior Dev*

        More the second, but also depression-based blahs make it hard to motivate myself to get ready until the last minute.

      4. Wendy Darling*

        I actually have major issues with transitioning not because “I need to finish Thing” but because… inertia? It’s like changing tasks requires more mental/emotional effort than sticking with what I’m doing. I’ve been known to get hung up standing there with a toothbrush in my mouth because moving on to the next task seems overwhelming. (similarly I am currently commenting on AAM instead of turning on my xbox because… because.)

    8. Lily Evans*

      I’m really terrible at judging how much time things will take, but I usually skew in the other direction and end up like half an hour early to things because I know if I aim to arrive exactly on time I’ll end up late. I just build in a lot of extra time when I’m getting ready, so that if I get distracted online and suddenly 20 minutes have passed, I still won’t be scrambling, and that’s helped a lot since I can’t seem to keep myself on track completely planning for distractions is great. I also have a rule that once I’m completely ready, I head out the door, since I seem to be the most likely to be late when I trick myself into the thought that since I’m ready I can just lounge around for a while and it will be fine! It’s never fine because then I totally lose track of time.

      1. Basically Useless*

        I’m like you. I have a terrible sense of time so I overcompensate.

        That said I can’t reliably get up in the morning so I work graveyard. Suits me to a tee.

        1. Lily Evans*

          I’m lucky that I’ve always been good at getting up when I have to, but I still despise having to consistently get up early so working a shift that starts at noon has been great.

      2. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

        This is also me! A childhood/adolescence as a classical musician reinforced it in me as well. It was OK to be arbitrarily early to rehearsals (super early? well, then you have plenty of time to warm up!), while being late was unacceptable. I’ve successfully trained myself out of showing up early to social things, finally. But I still find myself showing up to classes and other school things 20 minutes early and sitting in a hallway with a book, and thinking “this is silly.” I have also sometimes literally hid in a bathroom stall to hide how early I am for something. But whenever I try to be more exactly on time, I end up either being late or cutting it too close. (The whole “don’t show up more than 10 minutes early to an interview” thing is my worst nightmare.)

    9. fposte*

      I’ve gone a little in the other direction :-). What was interesting to me in light of your question is that I have a standing appointment that I was always on time for and I’ve started running late for. And what’s happened is that street construction in several places means I have to take a really circuitous route to get there–and despite the fact that I know this, I can’t bring myself to change my departure time by five minutes. The old time was optimal for very long, it’s more convenient for me, it’s not a permanent situation (though I’m not mistakenly believing the construction is done; I’m just resisting changing my departure time when I’ll just have to change it back), etc. What’s also interesting is that I’ve changed my self-image–I was somebody who was never late, but now I’m the person who runs late to this thing, and I found out the world didn’t really care which I was so I didn’t get any of the external nudges back to punctuality I expected. So I’m having to reverse engineer some of that.

      1. New Bee*

        Yep, I think my mom’s chronic lateness comes from having to corral small children for so long (when the youngest was born my parents had 5 kids under 5, including infant multiples), since my dad worked long hours. Even though those days are long over (the youngest is nearly 24), she still operates as if everyone isn’t independently able to get themselves together and be on time–it’s part of her identity, it seems.

    10. LCL*

      I was chronically late, in junior high school. My morning cigarette wasn’t going to smoke itself. I stopped when the school finally had enough of my ess and threatened to suspend me if I was late again, which would have made serious trouble at home.

      After that it was a combination of FOMO (we didn’t call it that in the 70’s/80’s but it was a thing) and having to be on time for jobs. Pre internet, pre cell phone and VCR, if you missed a thing you missed it. Re work punctuality-first were crappy jobs that would just fire you for too much late, then a job where I have responsibilities and have to set an example.

        1. LCL*

          Fear of missing out. It’s used as an explanation for why we find it so hard to step away from social media. That’s the reason I’m not on social media- the feeling that the rest of the world was having a grand time and I was missing out is one of my personal hot buttons. So if I start social media I wouldn’t be able to stop.That’s what happens when a highly social kid is raised by a social avoidant parent.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I have a dear friend who is never on time.
      I tend to be a clock watcher because of work and other commitments. For example, I leave work and get groceries. I know I have to be on the road home by x time or else my whole evening will be behind schedule and I won’t get to bed at a decent hour.
      It comes up in conversation, “I have to hit the store by x time, be home by y time because z is happening and I must be there.”
      My dear friend has been listening to me talk like this. I actually did not mean it as a slam, I was just telling her about my day/plan. So she decided to test drive this thinking and she started timing herself doing various things. A shower took much longer than she realized. As did cleaning up the kitchen for the day, sorting the mail and so on. Just my opinion but I think she did not look at a clock much. I had to for my jobs and for other responsibilities in my life be aware of timing and pacing or I would miss stuff that was very important to me. So my dear friend noticed I was doing this and she started collecting up data on how long it took to do routine tasks.

      What happened next is interesting. She has been ditching stuff out of her life. She got rid of more than half of her holiday ornaments, she discovered she had 3 handbags the same color, she ditched two of them, etc. She started seeing these things as time sinks, she was losing huge amounts of time dealing with this stuff when there were other things to do that are absolutely necessary.

      We have a finite amount of time each day. If we spend 8 hours sleeping and 8 hours working that leaves us with 8 hours for commute time, meal prep, and self-care. There really is not a lot of time to do long and/or unnecessary tasks. If a person’s work day is longer than 8 hours that makes time even more precious.

      I have nightmares about being late and my tardiness costs me something of value such as I miss a test and cannot reschedule. There was a time in my life where I feared I could become a chronically late person.

    12. Middle School Teacher*

      I was chronically late as a younger person (my mom says I come by it honestly because I was born almost three weeks late, so late to my own birthday!) but there were a few things that changed it, mainly as an adult:

      1. being told at at a job that if I was late one more time, I was fired. It wasn’t much of a job but I needed it.

      2. At this job, being early means I get to park in the “good” parking lot. (It has plugs for the winter. My car needs to be plugged in when it gets really cold.)

      3. I like having time to have a little sit in the morning, chat with my friends, and collect my thoughts before the day starts. If I’m late, I feel scrambled and out of breath all day.

      But I also don’t like being too early. I hate sitting around and doing nothing (especially in the morning, if that’s means I could have slept in). To maximise my morning time, I shower the night before, make sure my clothes are ready for the next morning, and have my lunch packed and in the fridge. Just little things that add up to an extra 15-20 minutes of sleep time in the morning :)

      Good luck! I genuinely believe that if I can do it, anyone can do it!

      1. Weekend Warrior*

        Yes, I swear by the night before organization as well. My organizing/decision making ability is much lower in the morning and every 10 minutes is much more precious that the night before. Days when I start rethinking what to wear in the morning are not good days!

    13. Mephyle*

      Most of it has already been said above. All I can add is My perspective.
      A forensic study of your lateness is a lot like doing a study of spending habits. For those who always run out of money, they often find that if they force themselves to write down every penny spent, they are very surprised to find how small things add up, and it brings greater consciousness that they can apply next time.
      Likewise, if you look at a breakdown of why you were late last time, you can learn what things took time that you didn’t allow for. Was was something in particular you had planned to take/wear, but it wasn’t where you expected, so you spent extra time looking for it? Writing the greeting card and wrapping the present, if applicable. Getting yourself ready; shower, hair, makeup. Finding the keys, getting out the door. Transportation; waiting for bus/taxi, getting caught in traffic. Arrival: parking, if applicable; getting from the vehicle to the destination– finding the building, getting to the door, waiting for an elevator, getting upstairs, finding an office or apartment in a large building that you weren’t familiar with.
      For next time, think about all those things that held you back and added time you didn’t count on; make at least a mental list, or write them down. Which factors will apply again this time? Which ones can you control by finding everything you need and having it ready at home before you start the countdown? Which ones are out of your control, and how much extra time should you allot for each one?
      If you allow for all the ‘maybe’ things, you’ll probably arrive early. What’s the plan in that case? Is there somewhere you can walk around, look at things, or sit down and read? Or maybe it’s all right to be early.

    14. Sylvan*

      Yes! I was chronically late and assumed that’s “just how I am” or “part of ADHD” or something. Nobody seemed very bothered by it, and the worst consequences were probably lowered grades on very late assignments in school. I just didn’t think it was a big deal? Then I tried to make plans with an equally late, equally flaky relative several times. OH NO, HAVE I BEEN LIKE THIS ALL THIS TIME?! IS THIS HOW PEOPLE FEEL WHEN I FLAKE?

      I got it together pretty quickly. One thing made the biggest difference. When I guessed how long it would take me to do things before going somewhere (change clothes, pick up something at home, etc.), I added 50% more time. This is much more reliably correct than my original guesses. Now that I can plan my time realistically, I can follow through with plans to show up on time.

    15. Big City Woman*

      I am a chronically late person who really has to work hard to be on time. I am a night-owl and do not have an easy time waking up in the morning. For years my lateness plagued me, and sometimes I felt the only way to be somewhere early in the a.m. was to stay up all night to do it.

      There’s a book called Never Be Late Again by Diana DeLonzor, which offers some insight into how chronically late people perceive time differently. For example, you’re almost ready to leave and tell yourself you only need 20 minutes to get somewhere, but forget to factor in the time it takes to do whatever you need to before you leave, and then there’s stuff you forgot – so you leave late and it takes longer than 20 minutes, and you can’t figure out why you’re late again! Then, for some reason you always think of getting to that place as a 20-minute endeavor. It was a helpful book for me to realize that it wasn’t about being a screw-up – I just can’t tell how much time has passed nor assess correctly how long it takes to do something or go somewhere.

      When I am being vigilant, a kitchen timer is an enormous help. I used to take 20- to 25-minute showers. Using a timer, I got it down to 10 minutes or less. That made a big difference. I use a timer for a lot of things. I call it playing Beat the Clock.

      However, I’ve since come to realize that I have very strong ADD traits/tendencies, and this plays a major part in my lateness. ADD biological in nature, and related to the regulatory activity or executive functioning of the brain – which means that for some people time is very difficult to manage or “organize.” So you have to create tricks and games (like Beat the Clock) to meet demands that, for others, isn’t hard at all. So, you may want to read up on it and see if anything about having ADD (or ADHD) resonates with you. If that is something you want to look into, I recommend the books Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell and Overcoming Distractions by David Greenwood.

    16. Stellaaaaa*

      A lot of it just comes from recognizing that I’m getting older. In your 20s, it’s uncool to be the first person at a gathering. Once you’re older and everyone has to be at work in the morning, it gets cooler to get things going at the actual start time. So maybe try to psychologically psych yourself out? Tell yourself that NOW it’s cool to be on time.

    17. Thlayli*

      I used to be ridiculously late all the time. I am now quite punctual. Things that have caused this:
      1 living in the U.K. For a few years where people are obsessively punctual
      2 marrying a punctual person (I was 45 mins late for our first date and he said if we hadn’t been meeting in the bar of the hotel he was staying in he would have left haha)
      3 having kids
      4 becoming a project manager and using time management tools a lot in work.

      You could try plotting out times for the day and always include travel time. That might help.

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

      Public transportation really changed this for me. I was always late for everything when I was driving places. Now I don’t have a car and the train is only every half hour, so I don’t have the option to be just a little bit late. Also if I take the later train there won’t be any seats and I’ll have to stand for an hour, whereas if I get the earlier one I can take a little nap on my way.

    19. LCL*

      I wanted to make a separate post about my coworker who was chronically late. She was a middle aged woman who for whatever reason, always had to be busy and couldn’t let any housekeeping task go or have any nonproductive time. So on her way out the door each morning, e.g. if there were dishes in the sink she would have to stop and do them. I was astounded at her inability to let the little chores go, she was astounded at my casual attitude towards housework. I figure, unless it’s a real emergency like a water leak or sick pet, the job will still be there when I get home. This isn’t just a women’s thing, I have a male relative by marriage who is the same way, and so is chronically late.

    20. Tau*

      Also chronically late, thanks executive dysfunction. I like to say that the problem is that on a really basic and fundamental level, my brain doesn’t think time exists. It’s really hard to plan things out when your unconscious assumption is that everything could be instantaneous if you tried hard enough.

      In all honesty, I wouldn’t say I’ve become punctual. What I have done is minimised my lateness’ effect on others:
      – I don’t have a job with a firm start time, and I set myself one that’s way earlier than anyone else gets in. I miss it every day, of course, but when I’m in at 8:15 and the rest of the team starts getting in around 9:30 nobody knows or cares that I actually meant to be in at 7:45.
      – I avoid meeting up with people in a way where I have to travel to X specified location at Y time exactly and they will be stuck waiting for me if I’m late. Things that are fine are things like group events or parties where they can get started without me or people visiting me at my place. Flexible arrival times can also work out.

      There are also some tricks I use to aid punctuality when it does need to happen:
      – someone upthread mentioned working out the time required for every component of your journey. I actually do the opposite; I refuse to think of my journey in individual components. It’s too hard for me to remember that getting ready to leave takes time, so instead I time journeys from getting up to get ready to leave to reaching my actual final destination. Getting to work takes half an hour, desk chair to desk chair. I actively avoid figuring out how much of that is spent on which part, because I know that if I work out it takes me 20 minutes to cycle to work I’ll start thinking that’s how long the whole journey takes.
      – I set alarms for when I plan to leave (where, as above, “leave” means “get up from couch and start looking for your keys.”)
      – I sometimes make a mental “date” for something in the near vicinity of the thing I have to be punctual for. E.g.: I have a doctor’s appointment at 11. I find a coffee shop nearby and promise myself that I will be there at 10:30 to have a nice cup of tea and go through what I want to say to the doctor in my head. If I’m 20 minutes “late” to the coffee shop appointment, I’m still well within time for the doctor. (Note that it has to be an actual event in my head; simply saying “I’ll get to the doctor’s 20 minutes early” will not work.)

      The thing is that doing these things is stressful and exhausting because it feels like I’m fighting my own brain the whole way, and I don’t think that’s something I can change. The best solution I’ve found is to structure my life so I don’t have to do this very often, and especially so I don’t have to do this for routine things. Unusual events like flights or doctor’s appointments I can generally manage through nervous energy (I tend to end up being ludicrously early, in fact) but I honestly do not think I could manage a job that required me to be somewhere at 9am on the dot every day.

    21. mirror*

      Figure out where your pitfall is and try to correct it. For me, it’s thinking I have more time than I do. So I set many, many alarms to remind me. I work backwards: if a location is 23 mins away according to google maps, I set an alarm at 30 mins prior. This is my LAST CHANCE YOU MUST LEAVE NOW alarm. Then, I set another alarm 15 mins before that. This is my “Yay! You are going to be so good if you leave around now” alarm. And finally, another alarm 15 mins before that. That’s my “heads up it’s almost time to leave” alarm.

      Then, when timing out my shower, breakfast, etc. I ONLY think about that “heads up” alarm as my time to leave. I work as hard as I can to be ready by that time. It never happens…but now I’ve built in time and I know I’ll be ok. And if by some miracle I am ready that early, since I know I will get distracted and find something else to do which would normally delay me and I’d lose track of time, the 2 back up alarms keep me on track.

    22. Soupspoon McGee*

      I have! Like a lot of other posters, I realized that I chronically underestimate how long anything takes, and then I spend time running around doing things I hadn’t budgeted time for, like changing my clothes, trying to match socks or find my keys. I started planning and setting out my outfit the night before (including the socks) and making breakfast beforehand (like a big batch of oatmeal I can just heat up). I also changed the way I organize, so that the same things go in the same places every single time (keys and bus pass on a hook by the door, gloves in a basket, spare charger and snacks in my backpack, etc). And big picture, I put all the mismatched socks in a special orphan sock basket that I go through every few months.

    23. Kate*

      I used to be chronically late, and now I’m generally on time. I work out when I need to be walking out the door and as long as things go more or less to plan after leaving (normal traffic levels etc.), I am almost always on time.

      For me, it was a conscious change resulting from a weekend that really drove home how inconsiderate I was. My fed up best friend abandoned our meeting point in irritation after I was 15 minutes late one time too many. The next day, I was late meeting my boyfriend (now husband for thirteen years). He is a pretty mild mannered guy in general, but he was just irate, and angrily pointed out how I obviously thought my time was far more important than other people’s time, and that I was so reluctant to waste even a moment of my time that I was willing to waste unlimited amounts of his. I had just never thought of it quite that way, and it made me feel like an awful person vs a “scattered” person, so after that, I reformed my ways overnight, at least to the point where I don’t leave people waiting for me.

  12. Junior Dev*

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

    I am doing better now that Thanksgiving is over, I think. I got pretty overwhelmed by dealing with relatives–there are two relatives who dominate conversations and get offended when you set boundaries. It was so bad that on Thursday night I couldn’t sleep til 2AM.

    I had to get up early to drop off my dad at the train station and I’m going to try to keep sleeping and waking up early for the next week if I can. I’ve talked with my therapist about establishing a nighttime routine but haven’t yet done it.

    Exercise schedule got a little thrown off by the holiday but I’ve gone on a lot of walks with family members so it’s not a total loss.

    I’m proud I was able to go to family events and set and hold some boundaries while doing so. I’m struggling with bills and money and getting stuff done–I have about two weeks of mail I’ve been throwing in a box telling myself I’ll deal with it later.

    How are you doing?

    1. Red*

      My husband has the same thing going on with holidays; he’s just a ball of stress during them. His M.O. is usually to tell everyone in advance that he can only be there until XX:00 because of another commitment (a true blessing of a blended family, lol). That way, he can duck out early and can relax because he knows there’s a set end time.

      I’m doing so much better now that I talked to my psychiatrist about my anxiety. It displeases me to know that I’m on yet another psychiatric medication (and a benzodiazepine, to boot!), but I’m glad I am because it WORKS! It’s such a relief not to have the threat of another panic attack looming over my life.

      I also decided to treat myself to some Capitalism Day deals (yes, that’s what we call Black Friday in my household, don’t ask) and got some long sleeved shirts because my arms are still a mess and a fitbit, so I’m quite happy and proud of myself. It’s a really big deal for me to think I’m worth spending my own money on :)

    2. Snark*

      I’m feeling obscurely stressed/anxious lately, and not living in my own head nearly enough. It’s only better when I take the dag and go walk fast up a mountain, but I can’t do that every day. Just sort of mental fog, endless nattering to myself about stuff I need to or forgot to do, nervous energy, irritable. Not a great spot, but not awful. I suspect SAD has something to do with it.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      I just cleaned my bathroom after a long slump where I was lacking in motivation to do anything much. And my EAP therapy is still going well. The EAP told her the wrong number of sessions and I thought I’d have to call and sort it so I didn’t miss out but she said no, she would sort it, and did, which was great as I just didn’t have the bandwidth and I think it also helped build trust.

      I am however emotionally exhausted. Friend of a friend died by suicide this week – not someone I knew – and been trying to support my friend. I am just exhausted, exhausted from it all. I would like to hibernate like a tortoise.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I don’t mean I’m exhausted from supporting my friend – rather, just a lot of draining stuff in a short space of time

        1. Harriet*

          It sounds like you’ve had such a tough time lately, and your comments here are always so supportive and thoughtful too – your friend is very lucky to have you through such an awful time, but it would also be ok if you were emotionally exhausted from it all and needed to take some time to look after yourself too, you know? Try to take care of yourself and give yourself a break – you deserve it just as much as all the people you support do.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Thank you for these incredibly kind words, which I appreciate more than I know how to express.

    4. QualityControlFreak*

      Doing okay, all things considered. Just over a month from my husband’s death, I’m struggling with motivation. And the grief that sneaks up and clobbers me from time to time. We had the family over for Thanksgiving (parents, sibling, and their children/families). I’m coping with Christmas by doing and getting whatever the hell I want. Which, as I told my sibling, who is not in a financial position to do gifts this year, includes getting some things for the people I love. This is selfish on my part, but it makes me happy and I need some happy, so. (I should note that I am a simple woman. I am not buying Ferraris here, just some things for the house and my family.) I hope everyone has a good holiday!

      1. chi type*

        I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine having to get through the holidays. Warm thoughts to you!

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          Thanks guys. Today has been one of the hard days. I’m distracting myself by spending too much money on Amazon. But the Christmas shopping is done. ;)

      2. Vancouver Reader*

        I know you said shopping for others is a selfish endeavour, but given your husband’s recent passing, I think it shows you are extremely thoughtful and kind. You’re doing things for others rather than throwing yourself a pity party.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          Well, I’m trying to avoid the pity party. But trust me, I ordered a bunch of stuff for the house, my daughter and I too. It will be coming in over the next few weeks and give us some welcome distractions as we go through our first holiday season without Dad.

    5. AnonAndOn*

      Feeling decent. Got through Thanksgiving with my family in one piece (save for them recalling an embarrassing story from my babyhood for no apparent reason) and am back on my own time and agenda. Will be leaving out today for a monthly meditation meetup I’ve been going to for the past few months.

      Still worried about my financial situation. I received a past due notice from my landlord a few days ago and am worried about ending up on the street.

    6. Justin*

      Doing okay. I started therapy in August and realized that what I had always brushed off as just something small had had a deep impact on me and particularly my self-image for decades. So now I’ve been trying to deal with all of that head-on instead of, you know, kind of avoiding living my authentic emotions.

      But jeez, after years of never stopping to sit down and be still (mentally), it’s heavy to just have to feel all the feelings I’ve had.

      With that said, life is good overall (work, hobbies, family) so I can’t complain and am lucky I can deal with this while not otherwise stressed.

    7. Natalie*

      Ugh, capital S stressed. Husband is out of the hospital and at home, which is better I guess because I don’t have to travel to the hospital multiple times a day. But he is not his best self because of the pain and he needs a lot. We’ve definitely talked before about how I can’t be his only human support in the world and he’s working on it but just didn’t get There before this surgery. I don’t like him a whole lot right now! But it will pass, probably sooner than later as his recovery is doing pretty well.

      1. chi type*

        Ugh, I hear you about being SO’s only emotional outlet. It’s like dude, you have got to make a friend!
        I’m sorry about the horrible health issues on top of that. At least now that he’s home you won’t have to keep going to the hospital. Hang in there!

    8. Athena*

      I’ve been getting anxious over big drives, and they’re not even that big in reality – just a few hours at a time. I only got my licence earlier this year after putting it off significantly. I enjoy driving now, but knowing I have a trip coming up gets me really anxious.

      What really confuses me even more is realising I’m not even worried about city driving (I’m from a small town, and am doing my trips up to the city). I picked a friend up from work on Friday in the middle of post-school rush at a busy hospital and didn’t get stressed one iota (except for rolling my eyes at one person who tried to do a U turn right on top of me. Why).

      Anyway. Is this normal, I wonder? I’m hoping more trips get rid of the nerves.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Just one person’s experience here, but I have always found it better when someone is in the car with me.
        I had stopped driving longer distances because of life events. When my husband died, I realized my range was too short for my needs. So I planned trips such as going to one of my favorite stores which is a substantial distance away. I googled the route and used street view this way I was sitting at home figuring things out rather than sitting by the side of the road. I left early when traffic would be lighter. I went into the store, looked around for a bit and then headed back home. A good part for me was that I was in control of the timing on this and I could sort at my own pace what I needed to do. And I was headed to an activity that I considered pleasant.

    9. Ramona Flowers*

      Something else that’s going well: I cooked myself a proper dinner. I don’t eat well when I’m alone (husband is away with work). I lack motivation to make myself proper food and have a lot of anxieties and issues about it that I don’t want to get into. But I made myself something nice – just a chicken pie and some roast veg but I got some nice stuff and it felt good to make the effort.

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

      I’m feeling kind of cranky. After a break of a few years I finally decided I wasn’t coping and I went back on antidepressants about a month ago. They do seem to be working, so that is good and I feel better overall. However I’m crabby about a few comments my husband has made in the last week or so. He’s usually very kind and understanding, but earlier this week he threw a fit because he got home from work and I hadn’t washed the dishes yet, he has made snarky comments about how I don’t do anything except play on the internet all day (yeah except cleaning house and doing a few DIY house repairs and constantly job hunting), and a few other uncharacteristically unpleasant comments. I’ve been unemployed since January and I am really despairing about it, so his comments have felt quite nasty and hurtful. He apologized but I’m still feeling a little upset.

      He’s also off at a costume party with his work friends tonight. I feel a bit resentful of this particular group, because while they are all perfectly nice to me and invite me to the pub etc, they regularly host these murder mystery type dinner parties that they only invite him to. There was an awkward incident where we assumed we were both invited but were told that there was only room for him, and they know that I feel rather slighted by not being invited. I don’t want to tell him he can’t go just because I feel rejected, but it still makes me feel sad and like they are only pretending to like me. The reason given is that there are only X number of characters and room for that many at the host’s house, but if we were trying to host it at our place I would be finding a way to make room for one extra person.

      I need more real life friends. Anyone want to meet up in London or Newcastle?

      1. Effie, who is worth it*

        Ouch! I’m sorry – that really sucks.

        If I were in your area I’d be totally down to meet up but I’m not :( sending you internet hugs from across the globe.

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

          Thanks. :-)

          I also found out when he got home that some people had to play two characters because they didn’t have enough people, which really felt like rubbing it in. Sigh.

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

          Let’s do it! Maybe I should start a new thread and see who is up for it?

      2. Grace Carrow*

        London is where I live too. I’m touched by your bravery, to be able to say “I need new friends” . I’ve been trying to post here a bit more rather than just lurking, and then I was going to ask advice about how to make some friends again. I’ve been through some life changes and health crises (physical and mental) where friends just dropped away at every big event. I used to have a great social life, not so much now really. I don’t know how we could organise it without putting our personal details out on the internet. Maybe Alison could give you my email address?

        1. Jules the First*

          We should meet back in the open thread next weekend, suggest a location, date, and time, and all show up. Then we can swap details in person…

    11. Effie, who is worth it*

      Lots of back pain due to stress :/ was mentally freaking out new relationship possibly ending and then it ended. Once it ended the back pain started to s.l.o.w.l.y. lessen. It’s less now but still sucky :/

      Next week is another week!

    12. Emalia*

      I’m surprised about how well I’m doing right now. My 6 month old daughter is having health issues that bring us frequently to the children’s hospital for appointments and tests. While most of the life threatening stuff has been ruled out, we don’t have a diagnosis or treatment plan yet. It could be just a developmental delay…or not…we don’t know yet. My dad’s cancer has spread and the treatment plan isn’t working. I talked to my brother today about how little information we are getting from our parents on our dad’s health and strategized a conversation to have with them at Christmas when we are both home. My brother told me, in the same conversation, that he’s being deployed early in the new year. I thought was going to happen over the summer and was planning a trip to see him for an extended period before then. I started a new job recently and am very overwhelmed with the workload. Money is tight because I spent the first 9 months of the year unemployed and we’re still recovering.
      Three years ago, I was dealing with similar stresses—overwhelmed at work, deployed brother, dad’s cancer returning, and infertility. I had a panic attack at work and drove myself to my doctor’s office. I was seen by a social worker and prescribed medication for anxiety by my doctor, who also referred me to a psychiatrist who added an antidepressant. Since then, I’ve worked really hard on challenging my negative thoughts (I did a CBT group and individual therapy) and being open when I need help. It’s working. I was only on meds during the crisis period, but have on and off considered if they would be helpful. I still have my low days, but now I know that the low feeling is temporary and strategies that work for me to shorten that period of feeling low. It’s definitely going to be a challenge going forward to maintain these successes given what is going on right now, but I’m hopeful.

    13. Sled dog mama*

      Much better than a few weeks ago. Things went well with the difficult patient that was causing me some issues. It helped that mom was totally overbearing and we ended up kicking her out of the room, sorry mom but he’s an adult you’re interfering and we don’t have any documentation saying he can’t make his own decisions, and what do you know patient was able to relax (he has autism) and get through having a full head nech and shoulder mask made with zero issues. I also got our nurse navigator to check in with mom and see how she was doing.

      Met with EAP and she helped me work out what kind of on going counseling I need and how to cope until I can get in with my chosen counselor (specializes in grief related issues but didn’t have an opening until January).
      Vacation was fantastic! Hubby and I are building a house so we decided to put off doing anything for our 10th anniversary so he surprised me by upgrading our room to a suite for the vacation, the big deal about this was that I got a soaker tub in the bathroom. Even the part where the kid fell and needed two staples in her head wasn’t too bad and hubby told me afterward that he was really impressed with how calm I stayed since he was freaking out.

    14. anonamasaurus*

      I’m having a super hard time with anxiety/depression and my doctor is suggesting medical leave. I’ve been reluctant because 1) it makes me feel extra bad that I can’t cope with life and 2) the place that should not be mentioned will make things hard for me if I do.

      Work/Grad School/Sister diagnosed with cancer/moving/break up has been a hell of a mix.

    15. (Not So) Codependent*

      Somewhere between Meh and Good, I guess. My therapist was able to fit me in on Monday and we talked through the rollercoaster of emotions that my ex sent me on last week, so that was good. I survived Thanksgiving by just treating it like any other day. Chilled and did some crafty stuff in the morning and went to my grandparents for dinner. Ignored the “happy thanksgiving” texts from my ex’s family – not super polite of me but better that than stirring up drama, I guess.

      Yesterday in the span of five hours my ex went from “lets team up to go Christmas shopping for the kids” to “I can’t see or speak to you right now” so I don’t know WTF happened there. I’m practicing letting it go because a) it might not have anything to do with me and b) even if it does, there’s nothing I can do until/unless he wants to talk about it. The emotional whiplash did send me to bed at 8:45, though. 10.5 hours of sleep was pretty great.

    16. Shrunken Hippo*

      I’m actually doing pretty good this week. I’ve been in a lot of physical pain which drains me, and I have been going through the application process to get government financial assistance which is humiliating and frustrating, but my depression is mostly in check.

      I was able to hang out with a friend for a few hours this week which was great. I’ve missed having people to talk to face to face. I also got some good news that the library here is hiring a casual position which would be great as I am still not physically capable of working steadily. I also love the librarians that work there and the great way that the community comes together there. Basically, for the first time in months I have some hope. I’m trying not to get too excited because nothing is set in stone, but it does make me feel good.

    17. Jules the Third*

      Tried taking magnesium for tight muscles based on the doctor’s advice. What she didn’t mention is that it also seems to affect serotonin uptake, so you can’t just take it a few times a week, it has to be as regular as my thyroid med or an SSRI. Took 200 mg of Mg on Fr / Sat / M / Tu / Th, spent Th and Fr and Sat crying / trying not to cry / fighting with my husband over stupid stuff / wondering if I should get a divorce. Evened out Sunday, after I checked for Mg side effects on Sat, found out about the serotonin side effect and stopped the Mg.

      Thanks, doc. Real helpful, especially since you have been treating my OCD for the last four years. Not.

      Now trying to decide between ‘calf pains and cramps’ (the Mg did seem to help) vs ‘risk of serious, relationship-threatening unhappiness’. I guess I’m going with the cramps. I’ve tried multiple other solutions, none work for long, so I’m not looking for cramp relief suggestions, please. Mostly just wanting to mention the Mg side effects – if you take it, take it every day.

  13. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

    I am in my third trimester of pregnancy. I am very petite, and I am starting to have shortness of breath, tiredness, difficulty sleeping etc. Basically, I am running up against the problem of pregnancy has gotten really hard again. I had six or eight weeks of relative ease and that seems to be over now. Work + feeding myself seems to be about all I can do, energy wise, without getting to the point where passing out is a risk (low blood pressure + tendency for low blood sugar + 7-8 months pregnant = passing out). I’ve also started puking again. So that’s what’s going on physically with me.

    My husband has generally been awesome and supportive through my pregnancy. And then suddenly, his mother got sick and passed away in the span of just a few weeks. Understandably, he is distraught and not functioning well. This basically means that he goes to work, comes home and sleeps for an hour or two, eats dinner, goes back to bed, repeat the next day. He expresses no interest in the baby, does not ask how I am. 100% of household tasks are falling to me. He has only been at his job 3 months, so taking more than a couple of days off right now isn’t possible unless he wants zero time off when the baby comes (which… is not what I want).

    I am looking into hiring someone to come clean the house. I am picking up more prepared food rather than cooking every day, but that’s hard because I need to be careful with my diet (see: low blood sugar issues). We don’t have a ton of extra money, but this feels like a do what you got to do situation. I have a therapist who I’m trying to start seeing more often (I go monthly). I am trying to see my friends for support, and they seem pretty worried about me.

    I am absolutely terrified for when the baby comes. I am pretty confident that I will be able to take care of myself and a baby. But I don’t think I can take care of myself, a baby, my husband, the cat, the house, etc. I just… don’t think I’ll be able to do all of that. I am hoping my husband starts functioning better soon, but I know grief can take a long time to become manageable and is often unpredictable. I fear resenting my husband for not helping with the baby, him not being able to bond with the baby, etc.

    I just don’t know what to do to prevent that. I see my therapist again soon (the last time I saw her was before my mother in law passed), and while I’m not at the end of my rope now, I feel precariously close.

    Any advice? Any recommendations for mentally preparing myself?

    1. Perpetua*

      Oof, that sounds like a lot!

      It’s understandable (and good!) that you want to let your husband grieve, but have you two been able to talk at all about your feelings and your needs? You say that he doesn’t ask how you are, but maybe you can be the one to start the conversation(s) about how you BOTH are?

      I think you present everything quite clearly and warmly here, so maybe sharing these worries with your husband as well might be the first step to figuring out how to feel better? That doesn’t mean that he needs to get “better” NOW and get over the loss of his mother this very instant, but it does mean that he could try to figure out what he CAN give from what the two of you need to have a functioning household.

      Is maybe he able to see someone (a therapist, a counsellor) as well?

      1. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

        We’ve talked a lot about how he is doing, but I haven’t been wanting to burden him with my fears/concerns when everything is still so raw. He knows that I am tired, and he feels bad about me doing everything around the house. But I haven’t even mentioned the couple of times I have fainted or near fainted while dealing with chores around the house–he has just seen me need to sit mid-task a few times.

        But it’s really dawning on me that we just don’t have that much time at all before the baby comes. My mom always went into labor at 35-37 weeks, so that’s in my mind, while my husband is set in the “in the childbirth class, they said most first time moms go to 41 weeks” mindset. My wait it out strategy isn’t going to work if I’m only pregnant for 5-7 more weeks.

        I have been pushing him to see a therapist, but he’s had bad experiences in the past–I think it is particularly hard for him to find a good fit. Since he doesn’t think he can find someone who is a good fit in time, he just doesn’t want to try. And there’s zero energy for trying–he’s basically said he’s willing to try if I investigate therapists/book appointments/etc for him. But… I have no energy for that…

        1. Alice*

          This sounds really tough for both of you.
          Could you bring in your siblings, or his? Maybe to do the therapist legwork, or just to have the conversation “you have to step up now” – and that doesn’t mean “stop being depressed” or “stop grieving,” but it does mean handling the grief differently, as Neverjaunty says.
          Of course it depends on the relationships… But for what it’s worth, my sister once had a wake-up-call conversation like that with me, which really was very valuable in the end.

          1. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

            His siblings are a combination of useless and non-believers in therapy. My one sibling is a complete and total asshole. I may talk to my therapist and get recommendations for her that I can cross reference with the list from his insurance.

            But it is helpful to hear people saying that I can tell him he needs to handle his grief differently. That felt too intrusive and too harsh to me, but it sounds like the only real option.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              You know, we pretty much don’t learn about grief growing up. Many parents don’t explain and schools don’t teach about it. So grief becomes this learn as you go thing, which is similar to deciding to learn CPR right when a person passes out in front of you. It’s not a strong plan.

              I think that you both could benefit from a grief group or sharing a book about grief together and talking about it. The causes of grief: It’s not just for deaths, but it’s also for lost pets/homes/health/jobs and many other things. The symptoms of grief: lack of sleep/sleeping all the time; not eating/eating way too much; unusual fears/unusual levels of anger and the list goes on.

              Counter-intuitively, my advice is to encourage him to cry. Crying causes chemicals to be released in the brain that help to keep the brain healthy. Crying is a release. Sit and cry with him if you want, if I were in your shoes, I think I would be crying pretty good by now. An odd thing about telling people to cry is that their need to cry eventually goes down in most cases. See, telling them to cry is an acknowledgement of “Hey, this really sucks, you’re right about that.” It’s very powerful when another human being acknowledges the situation is bad.
              And yeah, your situation sucks, too. If he chooses not to cry it out, you can make a different choice if you prefer. Check with your doc maybe she has some suggestions on what you can do to help yourself along in light of the new level of stress you face.
              Let us know how you are doing.

    2. neverjaunty*

      He doesn’t need to “get over it”, but he does need to manage his grief in ways other than dumping all the life maintenance on his pregnant wife.

      It is OK for you to expect more from him. It is OK for you to talk to him about how overwhelmed and stressed you are.

      1. Artemesia*

        I agree. The act of doing things and getting them done around the house might actually be helpful with the grief. Accomplishment is reinforcing. But of course he is miserable and this is hard. I would let him know that physically you’re struggling and that you need his help and hope this helps ground him a bit. Laundry is something that comes to mind. Vacuuming is another. Doing the dishes after dinner is another. What are some tasks you are physically struggling with that you could ask him to help with to get him going again and help the two of you connect. By protecting him, and taking the hit, you may actually be drawing away from him. Being needed can be very helpful to someone struggling; hope that is true with him.

        The stress is tough for him but it is also physically dangerous for you at this stage of the pregnancy. You need to be able to rest with your feet up and not be constantly both stressed and scrambling. If you can possibly hire house cleaning even just every couple of weeks do that.

        I would also be strategizing about ways to lighten your load now and in the first 6 weeks after the baby is born. Do you belong to a church that could provide meals for a few days after the birth? Lots of churches organize to help parishioners in need. Do you have a few friends you could share this with and ask for a bit of help when the baby comes — bringing in meals? I would also cook up a few big batches and freeze them right now, or stock up on frozen meals from TJs or your grocery store that you could draw on. If you are cooking dinner then cooking 3 meals worth and freezing two of them might not be a lot more work than preparing dinner. We used to do that when we were both slammed with work and family. My husband would cook weekends and I cooked during the week and he would make big batches so at least one or two meals during the week were covered.

        Time to stop walking on egg shells and repressing expression of your own concerns and needs in deference to the pain he is experiencing. At some point this isn’t helping his grief and is adding stress to the marriage and to new motherhood. And realize that postpartum depression is a real and physical thing that is increased with stress and be ready to care for yourself. Hope things get better soon.

        1. oldbiddy*

          I agree that doing something can be helpful, even if it’s routine housework/household stuff. My mom’s neighbor passed away suddenly after hip surgery, but had been going downhill rapidly from another illness. After she died, her husband began to remodel their house. He’d put it off since he was saving for her nursing home fees. First it was just long overdue repairs (roof, plumbing, etc), then kitchen and bath remodels. Having projects going on around him really took his mind off things, even though he had hired contractors and wasn’t physically doing it himself.

      2. Sled dog mama*

        Yes this is something that my husband and I have struggled with for the last 18 months. You don’t get over grief you get through it one day at a time.

        If you feel that you aren’t making progress with him picking back up responsibilities (or even if you do) try lining up friends, family and any other members of your support community to do things that are difficult. When my daughter died one of my friends is a terrible cook (food is such an overrated way to care for others) but she fed my dogs while we were at the hospital and helped with cleaning for the two weeks that I could not get out of bed. I felt how much she cared, if I had been in a position to plan ahead having several friends lined up each with a specific task would have been nice so that so much didn’t fall on her.

    3. Snark*

      I think it’s reasonable for you to lay out clear expectations. Grief is hard and it sucks and the suddenness of it probably made it worse, but it’s not a reasonable ask for him to sleep 90% of the time he’s not at work, let you fully maintain the house, and take care of yourself and the cat alone. You need help, you need support, and he can’t be asleep if you pass out, to be real blunt. My feeling is that he’ll rise to the occasion come babytime, but….I think a talk with him now along the lines of “I realize you’re grieving and I have enormous sympathy for that, and I want you to grieve as you need to, but I need you to step up for us, daddy-o.”

      Secondly, OH MY GOD ABSOLUTELY get a housekeeper.

      1. Kj*

        Yes, this. I think you need to tell him that he has to go to therapy as well. Yes, he has had a hard time with that in the past- but frankly, he is going to be a parent and is still grieving and that is possible BAD news for his attaching to the baby/the baby attaching to him. He also needs to notice and step up around the house. You are tired and struggling- he needs to step up and help you.

        1. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

          Yeah, this ” that is possible BAD news for his attaching to the baby/the baby attaching to him” is really my biggest concern. He has always been super into becoming a parent. My interest has waned over the years, but we reached a “well, now or never” place. I didn’t *not* want to have a baby… but I wasn’t super excited. And if he doesn’t step up and bond with the baby, I’m really, really worried about being resentful. My interest in de-facto single parenting is near zero.

          1. Emalia*

            Something to think about–
            Bonding with a baby is a process and changes as the child grows. If you plan to breastfeed, your husband will have a very limited role in care giving for the first few weeks/months. Babies can smell their mothers so you are also likely to be more calming to your baby, unintentionally. I can’t tell you how many times my husband said “Why doesn’t {baby’s name} like me?”. At times our 2.5 year old son will prefer me, at other times, he’ll prefer my husband. Once our son became more interactive (around 3 months), my husband connected more with our son. We have a 6 month old daughter and I’m watching the process repeat itself (also, of note, I had a pretty difficult pregnancy and it took me longer to bond with her than it did with my son, but now I’m very much in love with her).
            This is all to say that bonding doesn’t happen in a single instance and can happen later. DO NOT let your husband off the hook now helping around the house. You need to advocate for your health and the health of your baby. And, as our older son has grown and been able to do more, we have to renegotiate responsibilities around child care and the house. You have to be able to have conversations about your needs so that you can adapt to the changes.
            So don’t be too hard on yourself or your husband if there isn’t an immediate connection. Make sure there is a child care responsibility he can own (hello diaper changes). Don’t nag him if you think he’s doing something wrong.

      2. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

        “OH MY GOD ABSOLUTELY get a housekeeper.”

        Yes. I’m planning on making calls next week. All yard work has been outsourced to a pair of teenage brothers who live down the street already. The last of the fall leaves are Not. My. Problem.

        1. Erin*

          FYI, a housecleaner will deep clean, do dishes/laundry etc but de cluttering is typically not what they do, and has to be done before they come. You should find someone that can do whatever you need with minimal prep work on your end.

          Trader Joe’s for food.

          Lower all your standards.

          Gift cards for everyone for Christmas.

          1. Artemesia*

            And if you don’t want to do gift cards, pick something like Sees Candy or other vendor of yummies and send every family on the list a box of candy and be done with it. You can do it in half an hour with your feet up on the computer.

    4. Erin*

      Do you have anyone else to call on for support? Family, close friends? My husband turned into a slug during my second pregnant, when I had a toddler running around and was working like crazy.

    5. Junior Dev*

      Can you ask for specific help from your friends?

      There’s a site called Meal Train where people can sign up to bring you food on specific days for a period of time. You can write a post about what your situation is and what dietary restrictions you have and share it on social media/by email. I know there are similar sites for asking with other kinds of help like chores.

      You don’t have to post it publicly either but you could share it with a small group of people who you trust and who have expressed concern for you. You’re going through a lot right now and I think anyone would understand why you are reaching out for help.

      1. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

        My husband really wouldn’t go for this. He doesn’t like asking/getting help from friends. I’ve told him to tough it out and accept that some of my friends and colleagues are bringing us food (I just finished a big not-strictly-necessary task at work that made a huge difference to my whole team, so they’re trying to so some thank you stuff). But he definitely wouldn’t let a friend help clean or do laundry (and laundry is getting hard for me, since my balance isn’t the best and our laundry is in the basement).
        He’s more okay with hired help.

        1. Anon in IL*

          I apologize if this sounds alarmist, but please consider not doing even one more load of laundry in the basement. Could you ask your husband to carry the dirty laundry down and bring the clean laundry up? That way you could hold on to the railing and keep your balance. Also, many dry cleaners / laundromats will do your laundry for you and charge by the pound. Finally, a maid service I once looked into offered laundry service as an extra, not part of their standard package. Again, sorry if this comes off as bossy or harsh. Best wishes.

        2. TL -*

          If he’s not doing it and you’re pregnant, I don’t think he gets a say in how it gets done – if your friends show up to help and he complains, he’s welcome to take over the tasks.

            1. LilySparrow*

              This. Even when I was grieving my mom and nursing a baby, I could grasp this. He has 2 options: Do it, or shut up. If he is offline, you get to get your basic life maintenance needs met in any legal and ethical way that works for you.

        3. Artemesia*

          Frankly he doesn’t get to abandon you as he has and then demand that you not get help elsewhere. My god, you are WORKING outside the home AND being expected to do all the heavy lifting at home in late pregnancy AND he has too much pride to accept help but it unwilling to do his share. Screw that. Time to make it very clear how much help you need these days. And then get it where you can if he isn’t able to pitch in.

        4. nonegiven*

          >My husband really wouldn’t go for this. He doesn’t like asking/getting help from friends.

          Make a list of things that need done and tell him, somebody, not you, is going to be doing them. He can suck it up and let them help or suck it up and do some of the chores.

          Stop hiding the fainting/near fainting.

          Baby will gain the most weight and brain in the last month. Get plenty of protein and fat into you, eat several small meals spread out to manage blood sugar, keep a snack next to the bed in case you need it in the night.

        5. The Expendable Redshirt*

          Ack! This is a tough thing for a family to go through.

          Your husband is in a lot of pain, and that’s tough to deal with. Your husband needs to deal with this grief differently. Your husband needs to step up and Life Manage while in grief. I mean, the loss of a loved one is a devastating process to endure. And yet it’s utterly not reasonable for him to abdicate adulthood.

          In general for you
          1) Take care of yourself. If random adult task isn’t done, screw it.
          2) Frozen food is great! Kraft dinner is great!
          3) Whatever on the house cleaning. This is not a normal time, so don’t hold yourself to normal standards.
          4) Hire as much help as possible. You can’t do everything. If he can’t do something, then he needs to hire someone who can.
          5) Ask your husband to do one adult task a day. (dishes, laundry, recycling) Doing something active may help his brain.

        6. Junior Dev*

          If he’s not doing the things why should he get any say in how they are done? Frankly I’d do all the steps of setting a chore schedule for friends up except for actually sending them the request, then tell him he needs to either tell you how he intends to get those things done (with specific days, times and tasks written down) or accept that you will be sending the schedule to friends so they can sign up.

        7. AcademiaNut*

          At this point, I’m not sure how much his preferences count. He’s collapsed with grief and basically isn’t doing *anything* other than his job. You’ve got you’re own job, are doing 100% of the household stuff, and are throwing up, short of breath, in pain, have low blood sugar issues and are prone to fainting spells and are worried about falling down the stairs. And terrified and at the end of your rope. Consider your husband, but don’t forget to save yourself!

          Hiring someone to come in and vacuum and mop, and hiring out the lawn work is good. I would assign the laundry to him. And tell him that the low blood sugar makes you feel faint, you’re afraid of falling down the stairs, and he needs to do this. If he won’t, call up a friend with a cry for help.

          This is absolutely a situation where you should reach out to friends! It sounds like one of the things you’re struggling with is cooking, and pre-prepared food is difficult to buy. So maybe talk to your friends, and offer to give them grocery money if they’ll, say, make and bring over a big pot of nutritionally appropriate stew and some prepped vegetables a couple of times a week. Don’t be afraid to eat boring but nutritionally adequate meals.

          You can also ask help from friends for baby prep – any lifting or carrying or assembling, for example. And having them come over gives you some healthy social contact with someone who is not demanding things from you.

          You can’t force your husband to do anything, but you can stop shielding him from the fact that you’re close to falling apart and can’t cope. I can sympathize with the grief – my father suddenly died of a heart attack when my sister was 7 months pregnant with her first. But we still had to get things done. Start by not hiding your problems, and asking him to do specific things (laundry, grocery shopping, etc). And ask your friends for the help you need. If he complains, then be blunt – “I can’t cope myself, you’re not doing anything, and we can’t afford to pay other people to do it all, even if I had the energy to organize it.”

        8. Lissa*

          If he’s not doing it, and won’t “let” a friend do it, he might not realize it but that means he’s basically saying (for the stuff that isn’t really practical to hire for) “I insist that you, very pregnant wife, must do it all.” He may well not think of it like that, and probably doesn’t, but I think stating it bluntly like that might not be a bad idea.

        9. Observer*

          Your husband doesn’t get a say in this unless he steps up to the plate.

          You need to be VERY clear about this. It is PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for you to handle everything and it is DANGEROUS FOR YOU TO TRY. Spell that part out for him.

          Then give him TWO AND ONLY TWO choices. Either HE does these things or he lets your friends do these things.

        10. Temperance*

          VSPL …. I’m worried about you. Your husband is making choices for both of you, while effectively foisting all housework on you. I don’t honestly care that he’s super sad about losing his mother, he needs to put his big boy pants on before you get hurt.

          You should absolutely not be going into the basement to do laundry. You have bad balance and have been feeling faint. It’s hitting buttons on a machine. He can do that, even if he’s sleepy or whatever.

          Do you have a medical appointment soon? You need to mention this to your doctor. Super bonus if he’s with you at the time, so the doctor can give him a talking-to.

    6. Thlayli*

      I may have missed it above but I don’t think you said how long it is since his mother died? If it’s been less than say 2 weeks then I would say wait it out he’ll probably get it together before baby comes. But if he’s still this overwhelmed by the loss more than 2 weeks later then that to me would be “go talk to someone” level. I luckily haven’t experienced it yet but a lot of my relatives and friends have lost parents and 2 weeks seems to be a long time to be completely overwhelmed and incapable of functioning in the way you describe. Granted it was very sudden but it still seems longer than normal.

      Note I’m not saying he should be back to his old self within 2 weeks – just that this level of being completely overwhelmed by it is unusual.

      1. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

        It’s been a week, but he’s been like this since she got sick and it was clear she was going to die, so about 4 weeks total.

        1. Thlayli*

          I think that’s actually ok then. Having a dying relative is extremely stressful in itself. It’s normal to put life on hold while your mother is actually dying, and it’s normal to do it for a week or so after her death. I would say give it another week and see how it goes. After that I would sit down and tell him it’s time to get back to real life.

          Of course if you actually can’t handle it for another week that changes things, and you’re perfectly entitled to ask him to snap out of it sooner. But it seemed from above you’re more concerned it will continue into the future, than worried about spending another week eating takeout and letting the housework slide.

          Could you sit down with him and tell him your concerns? Something like “I really don’t want to push you, I know you need time to grieve. But I’m really worried that you’ll still be this upset when the baby comes and I won’t be able to cope. Do you think that’s possible?” Most likely he will tell you that he’ll be better by then. And most likely he will. But if he says he doesn’t think he’ll be better by then, or he is still this distraught in another week, I think that is definitely counsellor territory.

          Good luck

          1. Thlayli*

            And just to be clear – I’m not suggesting you do it all. I’m suggesting you just don’t do it for a week. Eat takeout from the container, buy fresh underwear and rewear clothes that are clean enough, don’t do any hoovering or gardening.

    7. Friday*

      I’m so sorry you all are going through this. To echo others, yes please get a house cleaner and some sort of laundry service going. Dry clean everything if you need to!

      Has he been going with you to your OB appointments? Time to make sure he does if not, and he definitely needs to be in the rom when you tell your doc about the passing out. Your OB should be filled in on your family tragedy as well if she hasn’t already; she wants to know of any big things affecting your home life.

      Best of luck to you all!

    8. Maya Elena*

      1) I feel like this is a case for hiring help if you can afford it – for housework and a doula.

      2) Also, I’d recommend making sure you eat enough and often. My moodswings got pretty bad and I got depressive, especially in the middle of the night if I woke up hungry. I snacked unapologetically and it usually got me out of my crying fits or worries over many things, including the risk of husband not “stepping up”, which he did wonderfully.

      3) As for husband: For my family the baby set a lot of things right, including sleeping schedule (no more wasting time with Netflix until 2 am) and a lot of non-baby anxieties about house cleanliness, etc. When the responsibility fell on us both, we kind of sucked it up and did what we had to to care for the baby, let other unnecessary things go or paid someone to do them. The new responsibilities might even take your husband’s mind off of his grief.

      And remember: at its worst, when you’re passed out asleep and baby is crying, he really has no choice but to step up and feed it, unless he is a psychopath. In which case you have bigger problems.

      1. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

        1) Doula was hired early in pregnancy since I have some medical issues that make most standard forms of pain relief not safe for me.

        2) I am trying really hard. My diet is like 50% peanuts because they are portable, protein-full, and require no work.

        3) I had been thinking he would step up, but I am less certain now.

        1. Peggy*

          Consider almonds too, if you like them. I did a mix of trader Joe’s dark chocolate almonds, regular almonds, and dried cherries–portable, full of protein, appealed to my sweet tooth. I carried a bag of that out everywhere through trimester three until I stopped pumping/breastfeeding!

          Sending you good vibes & good luck! But put on your own oxygen mask first. Not every chore needs to be done!

    9. Hard*

      When you say cat,I hope you don’t mean you are cleaning the litter box,I think pregnant women are advised not to do that.

      Something that has not been mentioned but that I’ve done when someone is under the weather is a bunch of friends taking turns to bring you food. You share a spreadsheet and people sign up. This helps a lot when everything is overwhelming.

      1. another Liz*

        If it’s an indoor cat you’ve had for years, and it doesn’t hunt, it’s fine. You can have your titers checked as well to determine if you’re at risk. Toxoplasmosis is a bit more complicated than just “never clean a catbox ever”, but it’s so tragic under certain specific circumstances that it’s easier to just say “don’t ever clean a catbox ever”.

        Source: I’m a licensed veterinary technician who cleaned the catboxes pregnant because hubby literally threw up when he tried. And yes I made fun of him for it :)

        1. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

          Yeah, indoor 9 year old cat. No risks. I wear a mask to deal with the dust and run an air filter after cleaning.

    10. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

      Thanks everyone for basically saying that it’s totally reasonable for me to ask my husband to step up. I didn’t think it was, but I was clearly wrong.

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

        Be gentle, of course, but yes. You are in a position where you can’t really pick up the slack for him.

      2. Bibliovore*

        yes and no. If you can pretend his grieving is as if he had a broken leg and he wasn’t mobile that might help.
        He IS a hostile dependent.
        As such he gets no say in how the household is being run now because you have your own special needs.

        Accept and ask for help for all chores including meals.
        Ignore his discomfort. (with people helping) good script. I didn’t ask your opinion. I am taking care of myself and our future child.

        As soon as possible get a housekeeper. Even more than one day. When I had surgery, I had the housekeeper come three (YES THREE days) so that I knew that dishes, laundry, dust, dirt, and bathroom scum were not piling up as I lay in bed recovering. Best part was the sheets being changed every other day.

        Practice pointing not lifting.

        Make a list of “things that need to happen” and give assignments. How can I help? needs a specific response.

    11. Jules the Third*

      hug, and good luck. Your husband is going to need a lot of time to cope with his grief; a sudden death is really hard.

      Don’t get focused on your husband’s ‘bonding’ with the baby. One study I read said as many as 40% of men don’t ‘bond’ with their child until they’re over six months old.

      Take as much off your / his plate as possible, just like you’re doing. My kid just turned 10, and we still eat a *lot* of rotisserie chicken and sweet potatoes.
      * Focus on simple meals, and be ok with repetitiveness.
      * Sweet potatoes are easy to make, great nutrition, low allergen, and cooked mashed sweet potatoes freeze really well. See if there’s someone who would be willing to cook you 10 – 20 lbs and freeze it in 1/2 lb freezer bags. We mash them; my husband likes to add OJ, but my kid and I like it plain. It’s a great baby food. (We have done as much as 40lbs at a time, but that takes a day and a lot of freezer space)
      * Use paper plates / plastic utensils / cups .
      * Give yourself permission not to be perfect. If you, hubs and child are alive at the end of the day, you did great.
      * If you have to pick a Thing to obsess over, make it ‘no added sugar for the baby’. That one’s relatively easy to do, and we’re still getting dividends from it.
      * Is there a family member or friend or two you can call on as a regular backup for house / car maintenance (as opposed to cleaning) issues?
      * Move yourself and your mindset, if possible, into ‘project manager’ mode instead of ‘project executor’ mode. Make lists of what needs to happen, give yourself permission to miss *everything on that list*, but ask friends if there’s things they could sign up to do.

      Set your expectations low – when the baby sleeps, do not plan to clean house. Rest. You need and deserve rest.

      My experience was 6 weeks of the kid sleeping 2 – 3 hrs, then 7mo of 4hr sleeps, then 6hrs +. Your mileage *will* vary; some of my friends’ kids slept 4hrs at 2 weeks and 6hrs as 2mo, one slept 90 minutes for a year. 7 out of 8 kids shifted to a longer sleep pattern at 6 weeks.

      I found it very helpful to have my kid sleep next to my bed, so that I could reach over, pull him in and feed him, then put him right back without having to get out of bed. You can put the crib next to the bed with one side lowered, safely, for several months. Once they start rolling, you’ll need to put the side up halfway.

      I breast fed and supplemented. DO WHAT’S EASIEST FOR YOU. Once you control for economic status, there’s a *tiny* advantage early on for breastfeeding, but it disappears by the time they’re 5. Breastfeeding had the least prep / cleanup, but I didn’t make enough, and formula meant my husband could take a feeding. In general, he fed the kid 9pm – 1am while I took a nap. 4 uninterrupted hours of sleep was glorious.

      good luck, and remember: if you get through the day with everyone alive, you’re winning.

    12. LilySparrow*

      I’ve done newborns and I’ve done grief, not at exactly the same time but close.
      I don’t know any mom who hasn’t spent some time resenting her husband after the baby is born, even in the easiest of circumstances. You probably will feel that, too. It’s not permanent and it doesn’t alter your relationship forever. It’s just a thing that happens and it passes.
      Bonding is not a single magic moment that you get one shot at. His grief is, of course, going to affect him around the birth and how he interacts with the baby at first. But it’s not going to fundamentally change who he is, or turn him onto a sociopath or anything. He will love and bond with your child.
      Get help. I don’t mean therapy, although that’s good too. I mean hands on. This is not a time to stand on dignity or ceremony. Start recruiting friends & family who are willing & able to come by and hold the baby while you nap, or drop off a meal, or run errands, or fold a load of laundry. Some now, and some after the baby comes. And be there for you emotionally. The hormone rollercoaster is huge, along with all the life-change stuff and the stress stuff. You can’t totally outsource the kind of support you want and need from your husband, but you can get a lot of support from multiple people, which will lighten the expectations on him while he’s grieving.
      Also see if you can recruit friends & family who will invest in your husband, take him out, give him someone to talk to in addition to you. Because he needs an emotional outlet and you aren’t going to have a lot of bandwidth.
      Plan for 8 weeks of insanity. If you can get some healthy meals in the freezer now, bonus. Keep everything that is not essential to baby’s survival or your mental health as simple as possible. Scrambled egg with banana & avocado is a fine meal. So is a pb&j on whole wheat with an apple. Basics.
      Get as much sleep as you possibly can, whenever you can.
      Hire out cleaning, get groceries delivered, hire a neighborhood teen as a mother’s help, whatever you can afford.
      After the baby is 8 weeks old, things ease up a lot. By the time baby is 3 months you have some actual skills built up.
      Put your physical survival needs first and temporarily lower your expectations everywhere else, including your expectations for how you & your husband interact. There is going to be a whole lot of suckage. There will also be amazing opportunities to get closer and be there for each other and be kind.
      His grief is not going to be linear. He will go through different phases and reactions, and sometimes it will seem like he’s doing better, but then he’ll cycle back down. It’s going to take longer than you expect, but he will get through it and so will you. And he will love your baby enormously.
      You’ll be okay. It’s going to suck for a while, but you’re all going to be okay.

  14. First white Christmas*

    I’m exceedingly fortunate this year. I get to travel to Europe for Christmas and New Year. Christmas will most likely be in Oslo or Helsinki and then a bit over a week in Reykjavik. I’m so excited about this. I’m hoping to get advice from the hive mind about two things.

    1. If I’m able to swing some extra days before Christmas, should I try for them (and Christmas) to be in Oslo or Helsinki?

    2. I come from a warm climate so I don’t have much experience dressing for the very cold. I’ll outline what I’ve got so far. Any advice on things that I still need to get would be appreciated
    * Roxy ski jacket
    * sheep skin jacket
    * two light wool long sleeve shirts
    * gloves – thinsulate 40 grams
    * two scarves – cashmere, pashmina
    * polyester thermal leggings
    * polyester jumper

    Thanks and apologies for any delays in responding as it’s 2:30am

    1. Language Student*

      You need thick socks (bring more than you think you need in case they get wet), and a hat – ideally one that covers your ears properly. Your feet and head will always get cold first. Also, layers are better than just one or two warm pieces, but it seems like you’ve got that covered. Hand warmers are great, especially the kind that you can crack to get heat from. Have a great trip!

      1. First white Christmas*

        Thanks. Will definitely be sticking up on woollen socks. I was able to pick up a polar fleece beanie while op shopping so I think the head is covered (pun intended). I’ll also check out hand warmers.

    2. Uncivil Engineer*

      I come from a warm climate and was recently in Iceland. I wore my ski jacket, a long sleeved shirt, fleece lined leggings, water-resistant hiking pants, wool socks, and hiking boots. That was my wardrobe for September. I underestimated the windiness of the country and how much colder it would be away from the towns without the buildings to stop the wind. The $11 I spent on new wool socks was well worth it.

    3. Lily Evans*

      Check out Uniqlo’s Heattech inner wear. It’s budget friendly and it’s great for layering and keeping warm. The leggings are thing enough to wear under other pants, which is good because it gets super windy in Iceland and it is biting. I’d also recommend a fleece lined hat, preferably waterproof unless you have a hood, and waterproof gloves if yours aren’t already. And a really thick scarf, pashima won’t cut it if you’re trying to keep your face warm, or get a neck wrap you can wear underneath and pull over your face. Check out REI or Eastern Mountain Sports, or another outdoor company to get high quality warm outerwear. Also good, waterproof boots with wool socks. I went to Iceland in April and I’ve lived in New England my entire life and I was still underprepared for just how cold it gets there!

      1. Lily Evans*

        Also, don’t forget a bathing suit if you’re interested in going to the hot springs! I know the Blue Lagoon rents them, but the idea of a rented swimsuit icks me out a bit.

        1. First white Christmas*

          Thanks for the tip on Uniqlo. Would you recommend the warm, extra warm or ultra warm? I couldn’t see anything which indicated what was best for what temp. Also do you know how it handles swearing?

          I’m not sure if the gloves are waterproof. I got them second hand and haven’t been able to find any info about them.

          What would be your recommendation if I was choosing between a scarf, neck wrap or buff?

          And finally, I will admit to be overwhelmed with the whole boot thing. Should I be going for a hiking boot or more of a winter one? And what length/height should I be going for? And do I need to bother with crampons?

          Definitely will be bring togs – hot springs is a must do! Renting is so a no go.

          1. Lily Evans*

            For the Uniqlo, it would probably depend on how warm you run. Some people warm up easily while others are always cold, if you’re the latter the warmest option wouldn’t hurt! And the fabric is moisture wicking, though I’ve never worn them in a very active environment so I can’t say just how much moisture it can handle.

            For the gloves, an easy way to test waterproof-ness is to flick some water on them. If it absorbs it’s not waterproof, if it beads up and runs off it is. And waterproof material is doubly good because it’s usually better at wind resistance as well.

            If you go for a scarf I’d recommend an infinity scarf. Traditional scarves aren’t great with wind because they have a tendency to come unwrapped unless you tuck them into your coat. Neck wraps are good because they’re tight to your skin so they help keep warmth in without worrying about wrapping. If you’re going to be doing more city-roaming a scarf should work fine (and is more stylish) but if you’re doing excursions you may want the extra coziness of a wrap.

            You shouldn’t need your own crampons unless you’re doing major hiking, and even then most companies you’d do a tour through provide those. The boot you choose should be based off your activity level. If you’re doing more city walking and sight-seeing style tours non-hiking boots should be fine. If you’re doing active tours you might want hiking boots instead. Either way you’ll want something waterproof with a good grip. If you’re unfamiliar with buying boots it’d probably be best to go to a store that can help you find a good fit in person, if that option is available. Most outdoors stores have very knowledgeable staff that would be happy to help you find the right boot for your plans. If you can only buy online just read reviews carefully, and maybe order multiple pairs with plans to return all but one since there’s not a ton of time before your trip. The boots I personally wore were my usual winter boots and I just explored the city and did a Golden Circle tour that wasn’t super active, and they were fine. They’re very similar to these Teva boots (just the version from a couple years ago).

            In addition to the swimsuit, you also can’t go wrong with a travel towel, since you often have to rent those too. I have this one and I love it! It takes up barely any packing space and dries super quickly (and they’re having a sale right now).

            1. First white Christmas*

              Good news. It looks like the gloves are waterproof so that was a score.

              TIL there are infinity scarves. My cold wear (and fashion) knowledge is sorely lacking.

              Thanks for the info on the boots and the other bits

    4. EmilyG*

      I haven’t been to either of those places specifically, but I have been to Scandinavia in winter. Unfortunately this is going to sound like a lot of research, but I would check what’s open in Oslo/Helsinki at Xmastime. On my most recent trip, I wanted to do Helsinki but decided not to bother because so much was going to be closed (or open from 11am-2pm) at that time of year. My hunch is that they may expect more tourists in Oslo and there may be more open. I would make a quick list of what you’d want to see and google the winter hours.

      I agree with other commenters that layering is key. If your jacket doesn’t cover your butt, I think you’ll definitely want to be wearing leggings under your pants at all times. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on longjohns, tights are an okay substitute. I brought corduroy pants on my trips because those are heavier fabric. I also did hiking boots on my most recent trip, not because I was going to be hiking but for the insulation… especially at the soles. I’ve worn my cuter leather boots on winter trips and the cold comes right up through the soles. I’d bring a couple of sweaters (depending on how many days) and layer your light wool long sleeve shirts under them. During your trip, you can wash the layers worn next to your skin, but not the pants, sweaters, etc.

      1. First white Christmas*

        Thanks. This has all come up pretty suddenly so I haven’t had done much research yet. It does sound like Oslo might be the way to go.

        The ski jacket goes to mid butt and the sheepskin finishes above the butt. So it sounds like an inner pant layer will be a must.

        Will keep the washing tip in mind

      2. paul*

        If you can get them where you’re at, good quality dusters are awesome for long coats. Problem is the good ones cost an arm and a leg. Try to get one with a liner; you may actually take the liner out if you’re layering up real thick, but it makes the coat as a whole more verstile and if you’re dropping 300 on a coat that’s a good thing.

        The longer ones *should* have straps you snap around your leg to keep the long part of the coat in place rather than flapping around, which isn’t something I’ve seen in more dressy overcoats

    5. CAA*

      I was in Helsinki and Oslo in August. Helsinki is a smaller city, very walkable, while Oslo is much bigger, but also has a lot more to see. Where to spend more time really depends on what you like to do. We mostly like outdoor sightseeing and historical walking tours with a few museums thrown in. If you are more interested in shopping or theater, I probably can’t help. Either way, I recommend the Rick Steves Scandinavia guide book. He has great info for each city, and we really enjoyed his self-guided walking tours everywhere we went. It was actually pretty funny in Helsinki as there were 5 or 6 small groups standing around the Three Smiths statue all reading from his book.

      In Helsinki, we took the ferry boat to the Suomenlinna fortress island; took trams around the city with stops for various points of interest; took a day trip to Tallinn, Estonia. In Oslo, we visited the Kon Tiki, Fram and Viking museums; went to Vigeland sculpture park; went to the National Gallery; took the tram up to Holmenkollen.

      1. First white Christmas*

        Thanks for your insight. I tend to like museums, galleries etc. Seeing the Christmas markets would be pretty cool and, if I get my days right, can be done in either. At this stage I am leaning towards Oslo.

        1. CAA*

          If you’re more into museums, then I agree that Oslo is a better choice. One thing I didn’t mention was hotels. Stay in places that serve breakfast if you can. For some reason, that turned out to be the hardest meal to find as a lot of coffee places didn’t open until mid- to late-morning.

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

            Scandinavia is also rather expensive for food, at least from my point of view. When we went on a trip around that region a few years ago we stayed in hotels that had a continental breakfast type arrangement so that we could eat a big breakfast and not have to pay for lunch. Once or twice we bent the rules a little and made a sandwich for later or grabbed an extra piece of fruit for an afternoon snack.

            1. First white Christmas*

              Thanks @CAA and Miss Pantalones formthe tip re breakfast. I had been thinking along those lines (more so because I’m lazy)

          2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            Scandinavian hotel breakfasts are legendary – I swear most of the hotels in Sweden at least try to outdo each other on the breakfast. My strategy has been to always make up a roll or two for lunch and port with me for the day. No idea if that is “allowed” or not, but no one will ever actually come up and challenge you on that respect.

            Most hotels will have a breakfast of some sort, but some chains are better than others (obviously).

            1. CAA*

              By far the best breakfasts we had were at the Scandic Haymarket in Stockholm. That was an amazing spread! I don’t really eat breakfast at home, but when I’m more active on vacation I tend to get in the pattern of eating a big breakfast and then having a snack instead of lunch. Since, as Miss Pantalones said, food is so expensive there, we actually saved money overall when we stayed in hotels that had breakfasts, even though they cost a bit more.

    6. Artemesia*

      Warm feet are critical. So good smartwool socks with silk liners and good warm boots. I always travel with a set of silk long johns; they are not as sweaty as poly but add that extra layer. But in any case, a complete base layer of long underwear will make you life better. And then layers. A lightweight down vest, a cashmere turtleneck, (wool is IMHO so much better than poly if you are not sensitive to it) etc that can be layered. You are likely to find that buildings are overheated and it is cold outside. It helps to be able to adjust up and down. I like the lightweight down vests because they can be stuffed down into a purse when you delayer.

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

        Those vests and the packable down jackets are amazing. I also got a pair of very thin merino long johns and they were very helpful when I was working outside in the freezing weather last year, and they were thin enough to wear under skinny jeans with no problem.

    7. paul*

      grew up in the rockies and did a fair bit of winter camping. never been to Europe, but I figure cold is cold.

      Layers, and the top layer needs to be wind proof/water proof. I used to buy heavy military surplus wool pants, wear them over long johns, and a windproof shell over those for my lower half.

      Upper was long johns, t shirt or a wool flannel shirt, wool hoodie or sweater, with a heavy oil slicked duster over that.

      You *can* get layer-able gloves; smartwool makes liner gloves. So does black diamond. For the outer gloves I like three finger gloves.

      Boots….if you’re going to be outside I’d just buckle down and try to find good winter boots. High ankles to keep snow out better. Vasque and Sorel used to make good ones, dunno if they still do since I don’t live in that type of cold any more.

      Heavy wool socks; smartwool at least used to be awesome, as did DG Hill.

      Headgear…I liked using a heavy wool hoodie with the hood up over a good quality wool baclava or a heavy ski hat.

      1. First white Christmas*

        Thanks. Yeah I think I am going to have to bite the bullet with boots. Lot of research to do. I’ll check out the ones you mentioned.

    8. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Make sure you have an outer layer that is waterproof and have breathable layers underneath because there is nothing worse than sweating while walking and everything getting damp in the cold.

      Helsinki and Oslo may not be as cold as you may imagine, but will likely be windy being off the sea. Windproof is always good! Also it may not get really cold until Jan/Feb and its more damp in the early part of winter. Make sure you have good boots along.

      Re: Iceland – there is a big music festival going on between Christmas and New Years so definitely book a hotel now if you haven’t. There aren’t a ton of hotel rooms, so you may want to look at Air bnb as well.

      Also, don’t forget, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th, with the 25th and 26th for being with friends, family, and drinking. Things may or may not be open. If you want alcohol over that period, make sure you get a supply in early from the state-owned shops because they won’t be open and it will be mayhem right before Christmas and New Years.

      1. First white Christmas*

        It’s possible I’m overestimating the cold, but where I’m from it may drops to 10C on the coldest winter nights. Also I’ll be leaving when temps are high 20 to mid 30C so I’m expecting the change will make it seem a bit colder.

        Currently researching wind proof and water proof pants as that (and shoes) look like it’s my biggest short coming.

        Accommodation is sorted for Iceland, will be sorting Oslo today after finalising flights.

    9. Jules the First*

      I recommend Christmas in Oslo and new year in Reykjavik- we did new year in Iceland a couple of years ago and omg the fireworks were fantastic. Oslo will be colder than Iceland, so layers will be essential to keep you comfy in both spots. I didn’t use my long underwear in Iceland but did in Oslo.

      I highly recommend renting an apartment (or something with kitchen facilities) at that time of year…lots of restaurants close (especially on 24-25-26th and 31st/1st). We didn’t think it was a big deal but ended up eating energy bars for lunch and unable to get gas on New Year’s Day!

      The public pool in downtown Reykjavik was fantastic…we went every day and swam under the stars for something ridiculous like $3. Buy your booze on arrival at the duty free (there’s one after you go through passport control but before you clear customs) in Iceland, NOT on the plane (you sometimes have to clear airport security again in Iceland upon arrival).

      Hands down the coolest thing we did in Iceland was snorkelling the continental divide (yes, in December….they give you a dry suit so only your hands get wet).

      1. First white Christmas*

        That’s the plan for Christmas and New Years. I’m trying to get a few more days in Oslo somI can see the Christmas markets etc. The visit Oslo website has a list of what’s open over those days (including restaurants) which is going to be helpful.

        Accomodation is already sorted through bnb. Little out of the capital but still a good base.

        I’d just been researching the snorkelling yesterday. I’m not sure if the others will want to do it but is is now on my must do.

      2. First white Christmas*

        I read that the locals buy and set off the fireworks. How cool is that. It would never fly where I’m from (with the exception of two territories) due to the fire risk.

    1. Fiennes*

      1) Furniture that’s spaced close enough for conversation

      2) Smaller rooms/defined areas within rooms rather than large amounts of open space

      3) Some softness in furniture pieces/fabrics/throws

      4) Adjustable lighting from multiple lamps rather than overhead

      5) An emphasis on comfort

      6) Color combinations that seem warm or creative rather than stark

      That would be my main list of things I think are nearly universally considered “cozy.” Personally I also like seeing books and or musical instruments (used/read, not purely decor!), a old-fashioned clock, plants and artwork that genuinely represents the person who lives there. And a well-loved pet is the coziest thing of all.

    2. Scubacat*

      *ponders* What about “I’m here for you?” / “You are loved / “Thinking of you?”

      A friend was recently diagnosed with cancer. The friend decided to name his tumor Trevor. So on all subsequent gestures of support we write phrases such as “Trevor is a jerk!” Or “Trevor is a bad roommate. Move out Trevor!”

      So. There’s that approach too.

    3. Language Student*

      Wooden furniture, but particularly if it’s all a similar colour or is non-dyed.
      Candles!!! Also incense.
      Deep colours, especially deep reds.
      Blankets on couches.
      Slightly dimmed lights.
      A “lived-in” feel – cleanish, sure, but having books and notepads etc. lying around doesn’t have to look messy. I really like seeing clean dishes by the side of the sink, for example, because it feels lived-in, as opposed to looking like a holiday home.

    4. nep*

      Good, cozy lighting (mostly, very little lighting — certainly not overhead.)
      Exposed brick.
      Rich wall colours.

      1. nep*

        Couple others came to mind or I was reminded reading other comments — books, yes. And a *mild* aroma from candle or incense.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      A cat. Throws and blankets and things to snuggle on/in. Photos. Candles that make the place smell nice. And if money were no object I would dearly love a log burner.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      It has to be user friendly. User friendly starts at the door with plenty of rugs for people to wipe their feet and other user friendly things continue through the house. I like brightly lit, cheerful rooms. I must have a dog. Then there’s thick towels and warm sheets and comfort food.

      1. Girasol*

        This. I need that perfect balance between zen interior design where the room is lovely but you wouldn’t dare sit down for fear of ruining the perfection, and cluttered knick-knacky mess where you need to move something to sit down. Also it must have a vase of flowers, colorful leaves, evergreen branches, or dried weeds according to the season.

      2. LCL*

        Yes! In my opinion we have reached maximum guitar in the living room. That’s two guitars and a fender bass, all in their cases because of big dog.

    7. Stellaaaaa*

      Furniture that looks clean, but a host that doesn’t make you feel like you can’t touch anything.

    8. Candy*

      Books, plants, cushions, blankets & throws, lamps instead of overhead lights, my husband cooking in the kitchen, a record playing on the turntable.

      My sister, who has very nice taste but does not like clutter, has no books or plants or little tchotchkes in her house. There’s nothing that doesn’t match, everything is white or grey or charcoal. And it’s nice! Her house looks like it came out of a decorating magazine. But it’s not *warm*. My place is warm. And I think its because, while I like to keep my place clean, I also find it comforting to be surrounded by things that are real and mean something to me.

    9. Overeducated*

      Cleanliness, not clutter. Clutter is my weakness but I feel so much cozier when it’s under control.


      Color of some sort on the walls, whether pictures, paint, hangings, or whatever.

      Music and smells make a big difference.

    10. Mischa*

      I hate clutter/knickknacks so my home tends to look a bit sterile. My neat-freak tendencies don’t help with that, either. I try to counter that with:

      1) A furry, cozy Rottweiler
      2) wooden furniture (warm tones/natural)
      3) Blankets!
      4) Soft lamp lighting + natural outside light
      5) Plenty of comfort food or drinks — beer, tea, coffee

      Even though I don’t have many decorations, lots of people have commented that my home feels very cozy because of the way I have arranged my furniture. I live in a small 550 square foot apartment, and instead of jamming it full of furniture, I’ve tried to curate my hand-me-downs into a cohesive, balanced look.

    11. Windchime*

      1) Soft things like pillows and throws. I like people to be able to snuggle in with a throw over their lap if they want.
      2) A pet, either a dog or a cat.
      3) Color. I’m not a super matchy-matchy person, but I like things to be kind of cohesive as well as colorful
      4)This may seem kind of weird, but I like a guest bedroom to be more comfortable than show-room ready. This means sometimes that the bed will often have pillowcases that don’t match the sheets, and the quilt across the foot of the bed might be worn and faded. My lamps in the guest room aren’t matching and neither are the bedside tables. For some reason, this just seems cozier and more comfortable to me than a pristine, perfectly-matching suite.

  15. New Here*

    Hi All, I’m looking for some advice. The mother of a very dear friend of mine just had a mass on her liver biopsied, and the results were that it’s a metastasized melanoma. We sent flowers on the day of the biopsy to let her know we loved her and were thinking of her, but I wanted to send a note now that the results are back. I just have no idea what to say.

    So, does anyone have any ideas on what one should put in a note for someone who was just diagnosed with cancer? We all live on the east coast and she lives on the west so we’re also very far away.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Snark*

      My feeling is that the wrong thing to say would be nothing, and the second worst thing would be “you’re gonna BEAT THIS THING and kick cancer ass rah rah rah.” Because maybe she’s gonna be in kickass mode sometime, but friends who’ve gotten The Diagnosis were not receptive to cheerleading right afterwards.

      I’d probably go with something like “We’re so sorry to hear the results of your biopsy. We love you, we’re thinking about you, and we’re here for you.” And then maybe look into having a meal delivered or something?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I second that. Especially the not doing the cheerleader thing. When my brother got his Stage IV diagnosis, several family members went into cheerleading mode and even though he went along with it, he just really didn’t want to hear it. Not only because his mind was reeling, but because the prognosis was grim; kicking cancer’s ass just wasn’t realistic and he knew it. Most of us knew it, but a few people were in denial about it, or wanted to put on a strong front for his sake.

        Just send a note letting her know you’re there for her and will help in any way she needs or wants, be real, and listen to her.

        1. Snark*

          I had one friend who finally just absolutely raged out on his family for doing the cheerleader thing. His 1-year survival chances were about on par with a lottery win, and he didn’t want to hear it, and finally just screamed “GODDAMNIT I’M DYING I WILL NEVER BEAT THIS WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU”. Metastasized melanoma is not one of your more optimistic diagnoses, so I would not personally take that tack with New Here’s friend.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Agreed. My brother had esophageal cancer, which had already spread to the liver and stomach, and one year was realistic, if a bit optimistic; he lasted nine months.

            Every time I heard my niece and one sister tell him he would be the miracle, the one in a million that beat it, I just wanted to say, “Are you stupid? It’s already spread to several organs and, at most, the doc said he has two years with aggressive treatment. Two years would be the ‘miracle.'” I never said that, but I did tell them that they’re not being realistic and he knows what his prognosis is.

            1. Mike C.*

              I would have gone that far and said it. Those sorts of “magical thinking” beliefs cause people not to take the measures they need to ensure that their affairs are settled or have healthcare plans drawn up if big decisions need to be made. Not to mention the logical conclusion is that if you die, it’s because you “didn’t fight hard enough” or “didn’t want to live” or some crap.

              The way we as a society avoid these discussions, as if we’re not all going to die at some point potentially saddle our families with some very terrible decisions. I was very lucky with my mother that she made it very clear what she wanted.

        2. Anon attorney*

          Thirding. Rhetoric about “battling” and “beating” cancer is hard to handle when you’re Stage IV at diagnosis.

      2. Anon anon anon*

        I think, “We’re here if you need anything. Let us know how and if we can help,” would be good. Having dealt with illnesses and loss, people tend to get emotional and leave out the logistics. Often when someone is in crisis, they are concerned about logistical things. Like who will care for their pets? How will they get to appointments? How will they get to do the things they want to do while they’re still here? How to deal with difficult people while feeling sick? And so on. There is usually a lot. And, for some people, it can be a good distraction from all of the emotional stuff.

      3. QualityControlFreak*

        My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer of the lungs (metastasized from his head and neck) in early August. He chose the aggressive treatment and went through hell. He knew it was terminal. He knew he was only buying time. He had about 2.5 more months with his family and died on his daughter’s birthday. He would NOT have appreciated any cheerleading. What he did appreciate was friends who reached out to let him know they were thinking about him and praying for him. That’s all anyone could really do, and it meant more than you might think.

    2. Scubacat*

      *ponders* What about “I’m here for you?” / “You are loved / “Thinking of you?”

      A friend was recently diagnosed with cancer. The friend decided to name his tumor Trevor. So on all subsequent gestures of support we write phrases such as “Trevor is a jerk!” Or “Trevor is a bad roommate. Move out Trevor!”

      So. There’s that approach too.

    3. Sarah G*

      I think anything along the lines of, “We love you and are thinking of you,” is never the wrong thing to say. Also, it sounds like you are talking about the mother, who is sick, but what about your friend? If you haven’t already sent her the same message, send it to your friend too, not just her mother. She may not be the one who has cancer, but she is struggling too!

      1. New Here*

        I’ve already reached out to her via text, but sending her a letter as well is a great idea. Thank you!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      When my husband had his final illness I was in awe of the people who stood by us even though the outcome would not be good. By their actions they said, “I can’t fix this and we both know it. But I am not afraid to stand beside the two of you while you go through this.” phew. awesome stuff.
      Call or email your friend randomly, ask her “So, whatcha doing today?” Then listen. The hidden bonus here is with these little conversations you will get to see opportunities where you can do random, small helps.
      One time I was really impressed with a friend of my husband’s. The friend called and talked on the cell with my husband while I drove him to a doctor appointment that was going to be difficult. The friend’s conversation broke the extreme tension.

      1. HappySnoopy*


        Take cues from friend when you reach out. They may need to vent, a distraction, a laugh a cry…maybe all. Just be thgere to listen or at least a touchstone that’s there when they want it.

        Stay in touch every so often, not with request to phone text email back if you can’t reach them right away, that’s an obligation on them when they’re overwhelmed. But notes or calls every so often to just say you’re thinking of them will mean a lot.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      Just tell her that she is in your thoughts and that she should feel free to reach out if she needs anything. Then leave it alone. Don’t put her in that weird situation where she has to manage other people’s need to be helpful.

      If you really do feel the need to send something, opt for boring stuff that is needed but no one ever sends. Toilet paper, bottled water, anything else that gets used when you have people over.

    6. Ange*

      I was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and a couple of friends sent me cards just saying they were sorry to hear about the diagnosis and that they were thinking of me. That was honestly all I needed to hear. Maybe an offer to talk on the phone or Skype, given the distance, if she wants.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        Thanks for posting these! I knew the line but not how to find them, but I think they’re really great.

  16. Snark*

    So it’s the anniversary of the day my wife and I made out drunkenly and decided to keep each other around, and my parents are taking the boy so we can go to Denver and have fancy drinks and eats, and….we’re both kind of finding ourselves overthinking it and stressed out about it, like we feel like it needs to be a Thing rather than just the Snarks having a pleasant day in a nice city. I got all wrapped around the axle about reservations and plans before she talked me down and we just decided to wander around having appetizers and drinks sitting at the bar, and now she’s kind of “bleh, I feel like I should want it to be a Thing.”


    We’re just going to have fancy drinks and eat stuff in town, fer chrissake, why are we both overthinking this?

    1. Alice*

      You’re BOTH over thinking this… because you are well-matched!
      Ok, seriously, at a high-end cocktail lounge the service will be good enough to make it a Thing, I expect. No need for more planning. Have fun!

    2. JD*

      Stop by the Green Russel downtown. Google how to get in. It is one of those speak easy places with the best drinks EVER. They custom make every drink to your tastes!

    3. Anono-me*

      You are over thinking it because ‘everyone’ says it should be a ‘THING ‘ not a ‘Thing’ and definitely not just a ‘thing’. So stop watching TV and hanning out on other internet sites. Just go do what makes you and your snuggle bunny happy.

      Ps Congratulations on finding each other.

  17. NDQ*

    Purging and cleaning NDQ HQ this long weekend before dragging out the decorations. We have so much stuff we never use. I may extend the purging into 2018. Sure feels good to unload everything and donate to a local charity.

    I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

    1. Lady Alys*

      Getting ready to move to Minnesota in a few months – generally stressful but *so* lovely to be purging unneeded things!

    1. LCL*

      Yeah! I had a pecan/bourbon/chocolate pie from the local baker. It was good, but not as good as boyfriend’s homemade pumpkin pie. Half my family cancelled turkey day because of flooding on the Skagit, so we have lots of pie and other food. Family is not endangered, but the affected houses are just downriver of them.

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

      This is why I still make a whole pie just about every year, even though there are only two of us and we’re in England. I want pumpkin pie for breakfast.

      Sort of like why I always order just a bit too much pizza if I get it delivered. I like cold pizza for breakfast.

      1. Artemesia*

        We bought an Amish smoked turkey (which still took a couple of hours to heat) and the pumpkins pies do make wonderful breakfasts — had that yesterday and today. The turkey carcass has already been turned into broth and smells so fabulous. There will be turkey soup and creamed turkey and turkey sandwiches for a few more days.

  18. Kj*

    Present ideas needed: I have two people who are hard to buy for. The first is my brother, who lives in Alaska and is very outdoorsy- hiking, camping, hunting. He loves beer and brews beer, but I never know what equipment to get him. He doesn’t care about clothes. He likes to read, but has little time. Any ideas?

    The second person is my husband. I usually get him a trip somewhere with me BUT due to medical problems, I am struggling with this, as it is very possible I won’t be able to travel in the spring when we usually go. He tends to buy things for himself and I am reluctant to get him physical things, as he usually buys things as soon as he thinks he needs something. He likes motorcycles, the outdoors, drums, and is a techie. Ideas?

    Thanks. Maybe others can post present dilemmas here too!

    1. BRR*

      For your brother, what about gifting an audible membership or some of your favorite audio books? Or some really good outdoor gear that’s a splurge. I know they make gloves that come with a battery pack to keep them warm.

      1. Kj*

        Oh, I like the battery glove idea! I’ll have to check he doesn’t have some already though. He also tends to buy himself gear and I don’t know what he has. Ugh. Buying gifts for men is hard… my mom is so easy compared to the men in my life!

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I don’t know if living in Alaska makes this feasible, but is there like a craft beer subscription box? I got a Coffee subscription box for my friend for
      Christmas last year and she loved it. Coffee beans delivered to her door once a month for three months!

      1. Overeducated*

        There IS. I got one as a wedding present for 6 months – delightful. A few friends grouped together to buy it though, so it might be too expensive for one person with shipping to Alaska.

    3. Ree*

      My husband also likes to brew beer! So I called the place he usually gets his supplies like hops and that sort of thing and asked them to put together a recipe for me! My husband generally brews in one gallon batches, so they adjust accordingly.
      I’ve also asked a friend of his to do this for me and then gave the list to the brew place.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know but if I’m not sure what to get someone, I ask them, “What would you like me to get you for Christmas?” If they say “I don’t know,” I ask if there is a book, etc. they’ve been eyeing. If they have an Amazon wish list, even better.

      I WISH people would do this to me but they don’t! I end up getting a pile of crap.

    5. Lcsa99*

      Your brother sounds a lot like mine – including the beer and outdoorsy. There are a tone of things I’ve gotten my brother in the past. Cool bottles he can use for his beers, one of those water filter bottles so he can get drinkable water anywhere, a lock box for his keys and stuff when he is camping, and a cool thing for making espresso outdors are the ones he liked the best.

    6. SignalLost*

      Are you my sister? That sounds like my brother, minus the beer, and also he now lives in Idaho. What I’ve found is a good gift for him is food. You could pair it with a specific style of beer, if you know he likes IPA or whatever, or you could do a generic snacky-eats, like some sausage, some crackers or chips, cheeses, a sweet or two, that kind of thing. It’s a bit gift-basket, but it’s exactly what my brother and his wife love, especially if you look for obscure stuff. I sometimes fancy it up with a kitchen knife or (one year) a small breadboard/cheeseboard thing, but they’re very minimalist and travel light, so I wouldn’t break the bank on that.

  19. Language Student*

    This is a weirdly varied comment, but oh well:
    Does anyone do candle making? How about physical stuff like climbing and hiking – especially people who don’t drive?

    I’m spending the next month making candles for Christmas presents, and I’ve never done it before. I’m doing single colour and scent pillar candles, in moulds. Any tips? I’ve read the FAQs of various candlemaking sites, but is there anything in particular that you do differently?

    Physical stuff. I want to be more active, and get stronger. The aim is to do more stuff that makes me feel like Lara Croft, and to be in nature more. I’m thinking hiking, climbing, cycling, camping and so on. (November is a great time to start…) Only, I can’t drive, which makes it tricky to get out to all the good places to hike. I’m in central Scotland so there’s some places I can get to via public transport, but a lot of places are somewhat rural with less reliable transport, which makes me reliant on other people’s schedules so that I can go hiking with them. Any thoughts on getting the nature and physical fix without needing to drive?

    1. Kj*

      Some things, like rock climbing, you can’t do by yourself, so they might be a good place to start- you offer to buy some gas and the other person drives. In November though, I bet most people are climbing in a gym, not outside. What about joining a group? Often, people carpool when going on a group hike. As to cycling, you can pretty easily cycle to natural areas in most parts of the world. Cycling in winter, you’ll need special gear, but it isn’t that hard to obtain.

    2. Snark*

      Have you considered using Meetup to organize a hiking group and carpool in your town? Or seeing if there’s an organized hiking club already?

      Camping is somewhat hard without a car, but have you considered mountain biking? You could ride out of town with a trailer or panniers on your own. Google “bikepacking” for info on camping with a bike.

      1. Language Student*

        Nothing on Meetup already, but I’ll give it a go!
        Bikepacking looks perfect, actually – it seems like exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for, that’s fantastic. Thanks so much!

    3. soupmonger*

      Well, you could get a bike which would get you to lots of places easily. Then you can walk if you want to, or keep cycling. Find walks around where you are within easy reach. ‘Out in nature’ can mean anywhere – parks,local woods, tiny streams – go exploring on foot and find your spots.

      I can recommend an electric bike; I use mine as my vehicle in Edinburgh (I don’t have or want a car) and it makes easy work of hills. Great if you’re not so fit and a bit daunted by the legwork of starting to cycle.

    4. HannahS*

      Depends on your finances, but could you join group trips? Obviously they aren’t great for regular, weekly trips, but I’m sure there are all sorts of guided hiking excursions in Scotland, especially in the summer. They’re geared at tourists, but there’s no reason why a local shouldn’t go!

    5. Red*

      I make candles. I think my biggest point of advice would be to not rush it. Just follow the instructions to the letter regarding temperature, time to set up and be firm, etc. I rushed it once and the candles looked like crap.

      1. Language Student*

        Thanks, I’ll make sure to take it slowly and make sure I have plenty of time before I start. :)

    6. Tau*

      So I don’t drive, do some hiking and lots of cycling, and also lived in Scotland for quite some time.

      I personally prefer cycling to hiking. Cycling has a few pretty big benefits in that you are way more mobile and can take more stuff with you (aka greater creature comforts if you end up camping). More mobile = it’s a lot easier to *get* to places. Even without a car. :) I’m not super fast and I can cycle around 70-110km per day depending on terrain. It also means you have an easier time finding camping places etc. to stay overnight. I’m more comfortable cycling alone than hiking alone, too, because you’re always on the road and never far from civilisation. And last I checked, you can also take your bike on any Scottish train for free!

      I don’t know where in Scotland you are, but there are some super pretty routes that go through central Scotland which you might be able to get onto without too much hassle. My favourite one was cycling from Glasgow to Inverness along the National Cycle Network route 7 – it heads past Loch Lomond and through the Cairngorms, has a lot of off-road parts and is super, super pretty. The continuation from Inverness to John o’Groats and then the Orkney Isles is also recommended. :) The National Cycle Network is really worth checking out if you’re interested in long-distance routes.

      Hiking – I think a bunch of nice hiking areas are accessible by train. I’ve hiked part of the West Highland Way (from Crianlarich) as well as in the Cairngorms (Blair Atholl to Aviemore, I think it was) and the Isle of Arran without a car being involved at any point. All great places!

      1. Language Student*

        Yeah, one of my main concerns is that going out regularly means that most likely, I’ll be going out alone – so cycling seems more comfortable for solitary trips. I’ll definitely look into the National Cycle Network – some longer routes look like they could make great holidays. Thank you!

    7. Px*

      Seconding look for groups for the outdoor stuff. BMC, meetup, Facebook, any university around will likely have something fairly regularly and usually be good about how to pitch in if you don’t drive.

    1. LCL*

      Yes but I haven’t done it. Let me know how it goes! My meetup will be for older, busted up hikers. More of a walk than a hike.

  20. Orange*

    I was so looking forward to this Thanksgiving, but we’re about to skip town two days early and I can’t wait to get home. Here comes some venting.

    My husband’s relatives invited us to their vacation house for the long weekend and we jumped at the opportunity. It was a very generous offer and we’ve enjoyed getting to spend some time with them, however, it’s just been a really hard trip. We have a young toddler who is dealing with the never-ending cold from hell, which I’m still struggling to get over (lingering nasty cough despite being no longer contagious). They told us to come anyway but I feel terrible that I’m annoying people with my coughing, and my toddler has been a miserable runny-nosed coughing wreck for most of the trip. Toddler won’t eat hardly anything, is incredibly fussy, and just generally doesn’t feel good.

    Relatives’ kids are out of the baby-proofing stage so the house isn’t baby-proofed, and is actually actively undergoing major renovations (which we didn’t know) so there are nails, power tools, holes in the floor, unfinished flooring, loose wires, etc. everywhere. It’s a beautiful house but right now it’s basically a mine field for a new walker who wants to put everything in the mouth, so I’m spending most of my time chasing my toddler around trying prevent a major accident, wiping a snotty nose, and attempting to get toddler to stop wailing and/or eat something. Fortunately toddler is a pretty good sleeper but with ten people living under one roof there is always someone yelling across the house, slamming doors, running power tools, watching TV, etc. at all hours of the day and night so it’s not especially restful.

    Thank goodness for my husband, who has been tag-teaming the grouchy toddler situation and also running interference with well-meaning people who keep trying to snatch crying toddler out of my arms (which results in more frantic crying). We were both very much in agreement that we needed to cut the trip short. All that stands between us and home right now is getting the car packed and driving a couple hundred miles with an angry toddler. On the plus side I’m feeling incredibly grateful to my past self, who decided that traveling anywhere over Christmas was going to be too stressful and put the kibosh on plans to do anything but hang out at home.

    1. Em*

      Best wishes from another wise mama who refused to leave the house this season. Mine are a sassy 4, a troublesome 16 months, and I’m pregnant.

    2. Half-Caf Latte*

      Tea and Sympathy. My 16 month old was in a wedding this weekend and I was the crazy one who was being way too strict and uptight about things, until said toddler lost their ever loving mind during the (7!!! pm!!!!) ceremony.

    3. Orange*

      Thank you both! Things are looking up now. Toddler slept or quietly played for the entire car ride home, which was incredible, and has been 10x more happy and relaxed since we got home. Lots of smiles and ate a huge dinner. I think kiddo was just super stressed out by traveling which I hadn’t anticipated.

      1. Emalia*

        Save us from empty nesters who have forgotten the stresses of parenting toddlers. Last year I went to a distant family member’s house for Christmas. She said the house was child proof because she had dog proofed it. Dogs can’t open cabinets.
        Also, my son had a runny nose and cough all last winter (and constant ear infections the previous winter). Zarbees has been a lifesaver. It’s basically diluted honey. My son’s cough would clear up almost instantly.

  21. Elkay*

    Skincare tips please. I’m in my mid 30s and look my age. I have very fair skin (15 minutes in the sun can burn me). In the morning I wash my face in the morning with a cream wash, moisturise my face with an SPF 15 daily moisturiser and use SPF 25 on my hands.

    I have what look like lots of blackheads on my nose/forehead. Skin on my hands gets dry but not so much on my face. I don’t wear makeup unless it’s a special occasion.

    What else should I be doing to look after my skin?

    1. Beatrice*

      I’m not sure on the blackheads, but I’m sure someone else will have input.

      On hands – maybe try some nighttime intensive moisturizer? I use Bag Balm – just a tiny dab goes a loooong way. I tend to use more than I need on my hands, but then rub the excess into my elbows, knees, calves if I’ve just shaved my legs, and then anywhere else. I apply it really thinly to my face and lips sometimes too, but my skin gets dry there…you probably don’t want to do that.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The bag balm is wonderful for chronically dry skin. It’s too greasy for your face if you’re at all prone to breakouts, though. For a deep moisturizing, wash your hands, apply the bag balm, and put a pair of plastic gloves over top, then some cloth or knit gloves over that, and let it soak. I do the same with my feet (with plastic bags and socks) before bed when they get really dry.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      How is your water intake? Keeping your hydration levels up and even each day will do a lot for skin.

      I have had better luck with my skin since I started washing my face with soap/cleanser at night before bed. This way the oils do not sit on the skin all night. In the morning instead of washing my face I just rinse it with warm water.

      1. Elkay*

        Water intake could be better. I work in a cold office so default to hot drinks. Maybe I should swap the coffee for fruit tea.

        I’ll try adding a nighttime wash to my routine. I’m really bad with any kind of beauty stuff so I need small steps.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My preference is to keep it very simple. And I tend to go with what gives me results. If you tweak one thing at a time you will be able to tell how much it is working and you won’t end up with this massive out of control live change, either.

    3. JD*

      I have very similar skin. A couple years ago I decided to start really taking care of my skin. It wasn’t cheap but has been so worth it. I have maybe had one pimple in all that time and my skin has so much more glow.

      I use Murad products. Eye cream, toner, and lotion. I have a daily SPF one as well as an acne set. I use the acne one a few days before and during my period and the other the rest of the time. They have numerous formulas depending on your needs.

      I also use the Clarisonic brush about once or twice a week. It is SO worth the money. Lastly is the Clarisonic deep pore face mask, which they now even sell at Walmart! WOOHOO. It very literally popped all my blackheads out. You of course shouldn’t pick but once the mask dries and they come to the top I can just barely squeeze my nose and voila, they are all out.

      The final thing that has changed my skin is a moisturizing night mask. I like the Givenchy Hydra Sparkling Night Recovery Moisturizing Mask & Cream. You can just use it as a night cream and/or put a thicker coat on and let it dry to sleep in. It moisturizes amazingly.


      I also once in a while do more “fun” face masks. I have a few, one for brightening, acne, etc.

      The investment overall hasn’t been cheap but Sephora does good deals and with my points I have been able to get travel sizes of almost all of my products for free.

      I wouldn’t look back on spending that money now after having problem skin since I was maybe 12 years old.

      Remember that often times skin over produces oil (blackheads) and such due to being overly dry. Moisture is KEY!

      1. Elkay*

        Thanks I’m not in the US so Sephora isn’t an option but looks like they sell Murad here. What is the acne set? Is the toner/lotion a morning thing or twice a day.

        I’ll look into the brush and a night moisturiser. I want to do small steps as I don’t think I’ll keep a complicated routine up.

        1. JD*

          Acne set meant their toner, lotion that is for acne. Someone told me long ago about fighting acne before her period began as that was her most likely break out time. Once I started doing it before i usually broke out it helped a lot.

          I do the toner and lotion twice a day.

          I will say that sounded like a lot of work but it really is just a minute twice a day other than when i do a mask or use my brush.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      Try adding a PM toner. I love the Pixi Glow Tonic. You can get it at Target. It has a small amount of glycolic acid that can help with blackheads and lightly even out your skin tone without drying you out.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          Wash and dry your face as you normally would. Then pour a little of the toner on a cotton pad and wipe it around your face. Then apply your moisturizer.

          If you want to try a higher SPF moisturizer, CeraVe makes a good one with SPF 30, I think called CeraVe AM. Be vigilant when switching up your sunscreen though. SPF is inherently a bit slimy and it can break people out. Switch back to your old one if you notice that your pores are clogging up.

    5. Artemesia*

      I’d go with a higher value of sunscreen; they make pretty good moisturizers with SPF 50. I am an old lady and yet the backs of my hands do not have the typical dark spots because I have used high level sunscreen for the past 40 years. It does make a huge difference.

        1. Natalie*

          Aveeno makes an spf 50 facial sunscreen. I think I bought it at target but I’m sure you can also find it on amazon.

    6. Thlayli*

      Diet is really important. Eat lots of fresh fruit and veg and consider a vitamin that’s good for skin. (Although if you eat enough healthy varied food you don’t need a vitamin). Also maybe look into what foods are bad for skin and avoid that. And avoid smoking anything, directly or passively.

      1. Elkay*

        I’m not sure how good my diet is, maybe I’ll add a multivitamin. I’m a non smoker, I can’t remember the last time I was in contact with anyone smoking as you can’t smoke indoors here.

    7. buttercup*

      I second maintaining a good diet. Few things cancel out a crappy diet – stay away from harmful additives and preservatives in food, mainly. Incorporate healthy fats into your diet – nuts, fish (if you eat meat), avocados, flaxseeds, etc.

      For surface level stuff, exfoliate 2x a week and moisturize daily. In addition to daytime moisturizer, I like to use a heavy night cream – they are usually packed with more nutrients than daytime moisturizers. Also, if you are willing/have the financial ability, invest in a serum and apply it once a week before your night moisturizer. Also use eye cream!

      I’m currently using products that are nutrient-rich (Vitamins A, C, E…) rather than anti-aging, but lots of anti-aging products exist. I really like Neutrogena’s line. It’s also possible/more economical to use more pure ingredients in place of the expensive products. Vitamin E oil by itself makes a good eye cream.

      Btw I’m not a dermatologist, I’m just kind of obsessed with skin care!

    8. oldbiddy*

      Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. I moved to upstate NY when I was 40 and it took me a while to be able to correctly guess people’s ages since everyone looked about 10-15 years younger than their actual age (I have lived in CA most of my life) I’ve seen the opposite when I visit Arizona.

      I am allergic to many non-mineral sunscreens as well as many of the fragrances they put in sunscreen. Clinique Citiblock has been my go-to for years. Sadly, the SPF 40 has non-mineral sunscreens now, but it may work well for you.

      I discovered Paula’s Choice skincare products when I as in my mid-30’s and have been using them ever since. I have sensitive combination skin and their skin balancing cleanser was the first product I ever tried that did not dry it out/make it too oily/cause breakouts/irritate it. The 2% beta hydroxy gel worked wonders and got rid of my acne/blackheads as well as a lot of surface freckles. I still use them 12 years later. You can get order sample sizes if you just want to try something out

    9. Memyselfandi*

      I swear by Paula’s Choice which is Paula Begoun’s line. I use the Resist products. She has lots of information about what is in her products and others on her Beautypedia website.

      1. Natalie*

        Yes, I put my skincare routine together from her material. I don’t use that many of her actual products, just ones where there was a good grocery store option.

    10. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      up the SPF on your face. At least 25. You will thank yourself later. Also, don’t forget about your ears.

    11. awb*

      Depending on where you are you may have access to Asian sunscreen. Which come in the spf 45+ approved ranges and are very elegant, aka not awful feeling and drying. It can be a bit of a black hole but I highly recommend checking out the subreddit on Asian beauty for Asian beauty products, which saved my skin from falling apart when I moved between a subtropical climate and the US NE. Good place to read up!

    12. Chaordic One*

      You’re not too young to start using a night cream. Night creams are heavier than daytime moisturizers, don’t have SPF, and a good one should probably have some retinol in it to help repair the sun damage that accumulates over time. (A few people have had allergic reactions to retinol and have developed minor skin rashes, but this is not usually a problem for most people. Obviously, if a product irritates your skin, stop using it.)

    13. Ron McDon*

      If you’re in the U.K., I can recommend the Linda Lusardi skincare range from Ideal World. I was a bit dubious about it (for those not in the U.K. Linda was a glamour model in the 1980s, so her name was not synonymous with skincare) but I gave it a go and it has made a big difference to my skin.

      I bought the whole set on 1/2 price special offer for around £50, which includes a hot cloth cleanser, eye cream, line serum, day cream, night cream and neck/décolleté cream.

      It sounds a lot of stuff, but I use the cleanser whilst showering, then apply they eye cream, night cream (during the day because I have dry skin) and neck cream – it takes a couple of minutes total and has made my skin really soft and lessened my emerging wrinkles.

      The one thing I would recommend buying if you only want to make a small change is a hot cloth cleanser – you apply a cream, let it sit for a minute, then use a muslin cloth, wrung out in hand-hot water, to wipe it off your skin. It exfoliates at the same time as cleansing, and has made the biggest difference to my skin. This may be enough to get rid of your blackheads, but if not I also use a Leonie blackhead remover mask (from Amazon) once every few months. Of course, they may not be blackheads – I have open pores and the look similar to blackheads, sadly.

      I used to use products by Liz Earle, but once I got near the age of 40 I found my needs changed and I needed creamier, thicker products. If you are younger they are a good product to try (Boots, John Lewis or QVC sell them).

      Sunscreen is a must – I use Heliocare 360 fluid everyday under my make up. It has skincare elements as well as being a factor 50, and has evened and smoothed my skin tone.

      Hope ththe s helps!

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Evidence based skincare stuff:

        I would use at least SPF 30 daily (I use 50) on face, ears, neck and hands. I prefer a physical blocker like zinc and I just use neutrogena dry touch sunscreen rather than a “face” cream per se.

        Retinol at night. Good for acne and wrinkles. I use The Ordinary brand but whatever is available near you.

        Vitamin C before suncreen in the morning. These can be expensive but I also buy this from The Ordinary (Canadian brand, does mail order) for cheapness and ingredient transparency.

        3 items most bang for your $/effort.

    14. Jennifer*

      I would recommend The Ordinary. While they are direct to consumer and aren’t the fanciest product (e.g. you won’t find them in Sephora), they mimic fancier brands like Skinceutical’s C E Ferulic, keeping much of the product makeup the same but you don’t get the branding, prestige, etc. I’ve tried their hyaluronic acid and am going back for some Vitamin C serum, rosehip oil and the C E Ferulic mock I mentioned above. All for $30, when the Skinceuticals version alone goes for $160.

  22. nep*

    Is anyone familiar with the podcast/radio programme Kind World? It’s out of WBUR in Boston. I only just learned of it on Thanksgiving Day when I heard a fantastic episode on NPR while out and about in the car. Looked it up and listened to a handful more. Great stuff.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that looks amazing; I’m looking for something diverting to do end of day that doesn’t involve me reading or tableting, and some quiet listening to this could be just the trick.

    2. tab*

      Yes, I love that series! The only thing I don’t like is that they don’t have a regular schedule, so I never know when a new episode is released. But, they are definitely worth the wait.

  23. Marina*

    Suggestions on what to do with a really beautiful notebook?

    I usually carry an all-purpose notebook in my bag in case inspiration hits. For years I’ve used a hardcover Moleskine, but recently decided to try something different and got a Midori MD notebook. But only after I opened the packaging I realised it doesn’t really have a ‘cover’ (it’s wrapped in a layer of wax paper) and so probably isn’t that suitable to be carried around with potential rough handling.

    The paper (grid-lined) is really beautiful though, and I don’t want it to go to waste. Since it’s already opened I wouldn’t be able to gift it either. I might try to see if there’s a suitable cover for it, but if I don’t find one, any other ideas of what I might be able to use it for?

    1. Marina*

      Also, suggestions for alternatives to Moleskine welcome! I’m keen to switch from lined to grid paper (more flexibility) but the lines in Moleskine’s grids are quite dark and feels ‘intrusive’…if that makes any sense.

      1. Zathras*

        I haven’t used one but several notebook manufacturers make a “dot” page option, I’ve been told once you get used to it it can have some of the benefits of a grid but is less visible. I know Leuchtturm makes them, but I think there are cheaper options as well.

      1. Marina*

        Yup, there’s a plastic cover that’s especially made for this notebook, but the reviews suggest it’s a bit flimsy…

      2. another Liz*

        You could go old school and wrap the cover with a nice heavy paper, like we used to wrap our textbooks in brown paper to keep the covers clean.

        1. Marina*

          Oooh…that’s actually quite interesting. I remember I used to cover my exercise books with magazine pictures (whichever celebrity I was into that year) and cover it with clear contact. Might be fun to turn the cover into project too.

      1. Marina*

        I’m so impressed with people who make bullet journals! It’s like a whole art project, but probably not something I’d keep up with. I do most of my scheduling etc. in Excel these days…

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If you own a home that could be your log book of maintenance and other random knowledge that you need to keep track of.

      Personally, I would take a really nice notebook and put my favorite quotes in it. I’d either hand write the quote out or clip it out of a copy and tape it in the notebook. I have done this with a cheap note book and I enjoyed it.

    3. EmilyG*

      I’m kind of a notebook geek and while I don’t use the Midori, I’m pretty sure it’s the kind that is meant to be put in a cover, maybe with some additional notebook components. If you like it enough to spend a little more on it, check JetPens for covers.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      I have started using fancy notebooks at work. It’s a little extravagant, but I also never lose a notebook any more since mine no longer look the same as everyone else’s!

      1. MilkMoon (UK)*

        Yes I was going to say the same!

        I always have two notebooks – a cheap one for the regular lists (food shops, chores etc) and a pretty one for gratitude lists and other lovely lists, like all the places I’d like to visit, the details in my dream home, ‘favourites’.

  24. Sunflower*

    How are those of you who are not into the holidays getting through them? For me, the holidays are a reminder that my family is unsupportive of my wants/needs/lifestyle, all my friends have families that support them and I have no significant other. If it was up to me, I’d treat this month like any other month in the year but holiday stuff is impossible to avoid whenever you walk out the door. It seems like I’m the only person I know who doesn’t care for the holidays. What about you guys?

    1. Temperance*

      I used to hate the holidays. It was too much travel, and everyone was pissy that they weren’t getting enough time with us. Meanwhile, we were trying to accommodate 3 different families, and since my mother decided to throw a grenade into relationships with my extended family, we decided to opt out.

      We had a nice Thanksgiving with close friends and their wonderful pup. I’m sure my mother made a disgustingly overcooked turkey, and all of her food was somehow burned and cold, and she ran her mouth the entire time about people she dislikes.

    2. nep*

      I don’t care for the holidays. For me any given holiday is just another day, so I don’t ‘feel’ anything. Not negative about it…I simply feel no inclination to shift my behaviour or habits for a period of time because of convention. I get how people enjoy the season, for various reasons…some might have a strong spiritual life and are moved by a given occasion; some just really enjoy getting into all the rituals, decorations, rush of buying and gift-giving, etc. Just not my thing.
      I will say I do enjoy seeing the decorated homes at night.
      Sorry your family does not support you. Hope you’ll find a peaceful way to get through the holidays — something that works for you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. This is kind of where I have graduated to myself. Holidays are something happening over there. It took me a while to get to this space. I spent years not enjoying the holidays.
        I do go to church so I get a lot from Christmas eve service. I volunteer my time on Thanksgiving. By the time New Year’s rolls around my give-a-damn is broken. I don’t care.
        Like nep is saying I like the holiday lights, I got little battery operated candles for my windows and I am enjoying that.

        We can’t help how our family treats us. But we can help ourselves. What do you like? I like a hot soak in the tub and a pint of coconut milk ice cream. It takes a while to work out some little plan, be patient with yourself as you try this or that. And some years you may need a new plan, again, be patient with your process.

    3. Girasol*

      If you have time off, is there something you’d really enjoy? All-day movie fest and cocoa? A day hike or drive in the country? Trying out a craft you always wanted to do someday? You can make your own activity that isn’t traditional and celebrate your own life.

    4. copy run start*

      I’m struggling this year. I have a lot of bad family memories, and on top of that, I’m trying to keep from my dad some big life changes. Even though we’re on different coasts, there is only so long I can put off this blow up. (I give it 90% odds it will be a disaster when he finds out.) And it seems like he’s starting to catch on, but I’m trying not to nuke the holiday season for my mom’s sake. I can hang up on my dad and his relatives, but he will take out his anger on her. I wish I could say his anger won’t affect me, but it will.

      Normally I like to put up the tree and watch holiday movies and make my own holiday, but I find myself avoiding everything this year. Everything but these blasted sales on things I don’t need but oh, do I want them….

      1. Artemesia*

        Any way to create an entirely different option? If you can take some time off over the holidays, how about renting a cabin in the woods, or planning a hike, or with real time, going to Paris? It works a lot better to do something different than to just avoid what you don’t like.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve begun to hate them. I wish I had the money to travel–I’d be far, far away from here come Christmas. Everyone gets me presents I don’t want or need (except for Amazon gift cards), EVERYONE in my family is paired off so I’m always a third wheel no matter who I’m talking to, and if I stay home (we alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas for big gatherings from year to year), I end up completely alone. Every year, I hope it will be different, and it never is. So I could just not care less, really.

    6. Anon Accountant*

      Hey! I was thinking about exactly the same thing today! The family that I care very much about is too far to visit this time of year (because of other conflicts), and most of my friends have their family close by. And this year I spent a lot of time thinking about and working through my family dynamics and basically just accepted the fact that my parents and I are estranged. So I usually visit family who don’t live sooo far away for Christmas, and for thanksgiving it varies – sometimes I celebrate with friends, sometimes I do make the trip to see other family, and sometimes I just cook myself something nice and hang out at home. I think on those occasions it’s most important to me to have the house clean so it feels cozy, and to have some favorite food that I look forward to having. But to be honest, I find New Years a lot worse than Christmas – all this pressure to do something cool, and it usually isn’t that exciting but yet somehow way expensive. So I don’t have an answer, but I feel you!! If I could skip the holidays, I would! Hope your holiday season goes better than anticipated!

    7. Effie, who is worth it*

      I worked retail full-time for a while and then moved to a job where I was in charge of planning holiday events so I now feel very little towards holidays. I also had terrible birthday experiences growing up so birthdays don’t mean much to me either. I feel pretty detached this time of year.

      I’ve found a few dates/happenings in my life that are special to me but I keep it private so no one else can suck the joy out of it and I won’t be disappointed if something bad happens, if that makes sense.

      I do kind of like seeing decorations. One of my best friends LOVES Christmas so I like seeing her get excited since she doesn’t force it on me and it’s a nice reminder of how people can enjoy holidays.

  25. Stefanie*

    Since it’s possible to be anonymous here, I’d like to ask: how do you feel about your finances? Like…what ‘level’ of spending would you think is okay for an impulse purchase (a fancy drink? A new outfit? A car?)? Do you feel reasonably secure about upcoming expenses (regular stuff like utilities, not the unexpected kind) or constantly worrying about bills?

    1. Temperance*

      I grew up very low-income, and I would say that Booth and I are comfortable now. I still struggle with buying things I actually need, and that would make my life better, because of how I grew up.

      I made an impulse purchase on Black Friday for one of those Shark vacuums and felt guilty for a minute before I realized that $150 for something we actually need is not a huge deal to us. My family would have kept tinkering with our broken vacuum and kind of, sort of made it work until they found one out for trash and tinkered with that, too. When I realized that people actually bought things like vacuum cleaners, and lawn mowers, I felt like I made it.

    2. fposte*

      I’m a naturally cheap person in a LCOL area saving for retirement :-). However, I’m in a reasonably good place for it and have been able to handle unexpected bills okay.

      However, I don’t really do impulse purchases–I stick religiously to my budget. I can do some impulse purchasing *within* my budget–like there’s room for nice cheese, so long as I don’t go overboard, so I might pick up fancy cheese that’s not on the shopping list if I see one I like–but even within the budget most larger stuff (clothes are larger stuff to me) is planned.

    3. nep*

      Absolutely unsustainable — that is the State of My Financial Situation.
      (So I’m working to change that.)

    4. (still) anon for this*

      I live by a monthly budget but I always include some ‘free’ money to spend because I’ve found that I need to be able to regularly treat myself to little things (like a fancy drink or a new DVD– no cars for me XD). I don’t get all that much money every month and, after budgeting for all my expenses, there’s not much left over. Being able to use what little is left to buy something shiny is what helps differentiate between living and existing for me.

    5. CatCat*

      We use YNAB to budget our money and I feel very secure since I know what all my money is supposed to be doing.

      We have a budget category for fun money and can splurge up to the amount budgeted on whatever. All my upcoming bills are budgeted for.

    6. Girasol*

      Have you ever tracked your spending? I found that when I looked at where money was actually going for a year when I didn’t have a plan, it helped to make a plan. I was spending more than I thought in areas that didn’t mean much and where I could cut back when I put my mind to it. I could save that for the scary expenses and not worry so much, and have a budget to spend as I liked for impulse purchases and the things I really enjoyed. It helped to think, “I have X pocket money to spend this month. I can have a coffee today or save that for a trip to the bookstore Saturday or save it all to splurge on vacation in a couple months. I’m expecting my car to last another three years and I’m not touching the money I’m saving to replace it.” What’s okay for me to spend might be much less or more than what’s okay for you, but I’m sure from tracking my spending that it’s what’s right for me. It feels nice to know for sure.

    7. Stellaaaaa*

      I buy whatever I want as long as I don’t dig into the $3,000 I MUST always have in my savings account. If I’ve dipped into that for an emergency, I don’t buy frivolous things until I’m back to $3,000. I like to keep $1,000 in checking but I’m less strict about that.

    8. NDQ*

      I grew up with a single parent and very low income. I never earned much or saved while single or married. Once divorced, I figured out my goals and a plan to get there. I now earn an average salary but my monthly saving goal is 50%. I’m not there yet. Some goes to employer sponsored retirement and the rest is invested for future real estate purchases. I own one multi-family property and will be able to buy a second early next year.

      At some point, I’ll have enough rental units that I can retire from full time employment.

      Having that goal keeps impulse purchases at bay. I’m not much of a consumer and I probably do way too much research before making purchases. I spend more time figuring out a way not to spend money.


    9. Melody Pond*

      A fancy drink or a new (thrift store) outfit is within the realm of what would be an acceptable impulse purchase for me. A car, not so much. I budget for $60 per week of “whatever” money, and that tends to be my impulse spending money. Things like food and clothing are budgeted separately from that.

      I feel pretty secure about the regular must-have bills (housing, food, transportation), but my income feels frustratingly low to me ($15.50/hour, in Portland, OR). That plus about $22K in student loans are the biggest sources of worry for me. My plan for improving my financial security is paying off my student loans as fast as I can, and hopefully trying to move into a higher paying job in the next couple of years.

      I would be much worse off without Mr. Pond, for sure. We live together (not currently married), and his income is about double mine. We split major household expenses proportionately based on our income, so that’s the main reason I’m able to get by on this income, in this city.

    10. Book Lover*

      I grew up with enough but not extra and with one parent a bit more of a spender and another more of an anxious saver. At some point I should probably talk to a therapist about money issues, but it isn’t really a huge/overwhelming issue.
      I have a good salary and plenty of emergency funds, retirement savings, college savings…. But I am very careful about buying things, always look for sales, can obsess about whether or not to buy a $20 item. I don’t think I do impulse purchases, really, but I guess I would think an impulse purchase of a car would be iffy but a few hundred dollars would be fine. I don’t worry about bills and I do have emergency funds that are probably much more than regular guidelines would suggest.

      1. Book Lover*

        Huh, seeing how other people talk about budgets though, I wonder if all my spending is ‘impulse.’ I don’t budget at all. I pay my bills and when I need something (clothes for kids, etc) I just buy them. But I have friends who fly to other states every weekend, have a room full of designer handbags, etc, so I guess I was thinking about that kind of purchasing.

        1. Stefanie*

          This sound a lot like how I approach things. Money was tight for a lot of my childhood, so for me it’s not so much ‘how much can I spend’, but ‘do I need to spend this at all’?’. First time I heard the advice that ‘X% of your income should go into savings’ I was confused because I figured anything that didn’t go into essential living expenses would go into savings. When people talk about how they plan to spend a bonus (or other windfalls) I’d be like…’but…savings!’. (Yeah, I’m that boring person who would probably put lottery winnings into a term deposit or something…)

          At the same time though, if something comes up that I /really/ want (and this doesn’t happen a lot, usually it’s for stuff like theatre tickets that get sold out quickly) I don’t really have to plan to save for it since the saving was pre-emptive. I’d still count those as impulsive purchases though.

        2. Not That Jane*

          Yeah, that’s how I do it too. I think it’s related to income for me. When I was single and making $22K a year as a substitute teacher, I HAD to have a budget, because an impulse purchase of $10 could have meant I didn’t have enough to pay rent the following month. Now that I’m married and our combined income is comfortable (although we live in a very HCOL area), I don’t tend to budget because I know that we can just afford things we need. For us, probably a $500 purchase would start to be the level at which we’d check with the other and talk about the expense.

          I do track our spending, after the fact, and we have sometimes used that as course correction to say, Hey, we should put a limit on how much we spend at the Farmers Market each week, or whatever. I think it helps a lot that we’re both naturally frugal; neither of us really likes to “shop,” and aside from eating out once in a while, we mainly just buy things that are necessities.

          1. Book Lover*

            I think that is right. I used to vaguely keep track in the past but it just hasn’t been necessary for a long time. In a sense, my budgeting is automatic. I have deductions for retirement, college savings, money market. I don’t have any loans. I have a separate emergency fund. So anything in my bank account is free to be used. But I don’t think of myself as someone who spends carelessly.

    11. periwinkle*

      I’m used to living on a tight budget. But with career #3 taking off (and paying well), and my husband also doing well, our household income is in the top 20% of our rather high COL urban region. We were sensible enough to buy a house we could afford on one income and really, really lucky enough to find such a place before the local market went bonkers a couple years ago. This gives us enough of a cash cushion to feel pretty comfortable. Not enough to live in luxury, but enough that we paid some recent hefty veterinary bills without feeling squeezed for other expenses.

      It still takes me a long while to put a crowbar in my wallet to buy anything over $100, which probably isn’t such a bad thing…

    12. AnonSpend*

      I like to save. I recently signed up with a financial advisor and I’m not 100% comfortable because this is the first time I haven’t fully understood what my money is doing. Previously I’ve stuck to cash savings but now it’s all in investment stuff.

      I flip flop on impulse purchases. I dropped $150 on a haircut today without batting an eyelid but $50 on a computer game seems frivolous. I’ll buy tickets for the theatre without a second thought but fret over whether I’ve got the best deal on a book or DVD.

      When I’ve needed to I’ve been super frugal and to some extent I still stretch food (batch cooking, taking lunch to work) and I’ve always tracked my spending so I can see where my money goes.

    13. Thlayli*

      I have gone through periods with very little (I was briefly homeless once and have gone hungry from lack of funds a few times) and now DH and I are lucky enough to be in a position where we don’t have to worry much about money. If we want to go out for dinner we can just go out. We certainly wouldn’t be able to afford to do it every night, but once a month or so we can just go out and not have to worry about the cost. It’s usually cinema and somewhere like a tgi Fridays, not the four seasons haha. Babysitting is probably he biggest cost!

      We wouldn’t be able to just buy a new car as an impulse purchase, but if one of our cars needed to be replaced we could afford to replace it without going into debt. We might have to forgo a holiday to pay for it. I think it helps that neither of us is really an “impulse-buying” kind of person. We plan all our big spending together. I shop around for bills every few years to get better deals. But I don’t have to worry about not having enough in the bank account to cover the bills each month.

      We both know what it’s like to go without, and I think that is an experience that makes you respect money and be careful with it for the rest of your life.

    14. Loopy*

      I have a pretty comfortable salary, but not enough to be frivolous. I save about 45%of my take home pay because I’m hoping to start investing more towards retirement after I do some research. With only about 55% of my pay “free” I can’t get real impulsive- it’s enough to buy people birthday gifts and go out to eat without agonizing, but not make big purchases over 100 dollars without planning. For example, I’d love to bake more, but won’t budget from my grocery budget to incorporate the extra ingredients into my list. I have a budget and track it pretty well though it all goes to heck this time of year because I love Christmas. It’s my financial achilles heel.

    15. Mrs. Fenris*

      We have a fairly simple lifestyle and we live in a metro area with a relatively low COL. We’ve had some times where money wasn’t coming in so well…Fenris works in real estate and the recession hit us about a year before everybody else. But we have always had a decent amount in the bank…I started out with a tiny but significant inheritance and we saved well during the boom market in the late 90s. So we stick to a budget, but we are always aware that we could spend $$ if we had to. The only uncertainty is that we have two teenagers. One has chosen a very reasonably priced educational track, but for the other one, we might blow through her college fund and have to dip into our non-retirement savings.

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

      I’m basically a kept woman and totally dependent on my husband. My parents still buy me things like plane tickets and occasional other expenses. It sucks. At least I’m quite frugal and don’t have any debts except our house and my student loans. I had a small balance on my credit card for a while but I paid that off as soon as I got a job last year, and now the bank has cancelled the card because I didn’t use it for so long, so I guess I won’t have to worry about getting in trouble with that.

      In my youth I was never very good at managing money, but now that I seem to be unemployable and only get a little bit of money here and there I do what I can to stretch it out as much as possible. I had saved about £2k last year (after contributing to our house payments and paying for transportation to work, etc) and I have only just run out of money for spending on random stuff & travel to events after 11 months of unemployment, which is much better than I would have done when I was younger. But I only have about $10k in an old 401(k) and no other retirement accounts. I’m royally screwed when I get old.

    17. Em*

      We are very comfortable, in that we have a savings account with 1x husband’s take-home salary (after all taxes and deductions for things like retirement and insurance), an emergency fund with .75x husband’s annual salary, and while both Husband and I work, we only really live off Husband’s income-mine goes to savings, aggressively paying our mortgage, extra $ for the kids college accounts, etc. (I only work part time, however).

      But…we want to do about 75k of home Reno that we haven’t pulled the trigger on, despite being able to easily pay for it in cash with a very healthy pile of cash left for savings (and of course our emergency fund). Part of it is we’re not 100% decided it’s For Sure what we want (it’s a complicated basement Reno).

      And I got laid off 2 years ago, completely unexpectedly. We didn’t need my income, but it was a total gut-punch. I was offfered 2 roles but they were not going to work with our lifestyle (oh, I was pregnant with twins when this happened! At least I got a big fat severance package). DH got a big promo at work and we decided to make it work with me going part-time doing consulting work. But we’re still very nervous that DH could lose his job, and then we’d both immediately be on the market for full time work. We have about the same market value, but I’m more easily marketable (broader experience). We don’t want to be a 2 full-full time (75+ hours/week, and travel) working parent household, however, because it’s a lot of chaos for money we don’t actually need.

    18. Chaordic One*

      I don’t feel great about my finances, especially having been unemployed for a fairly long spell. That said, I do still splurge on a few fairly small things. A big treat for me is going to Starbucks for a coffee once or twice a week. On a bad day at work when I’m too tired to cook, I’ll go to Subway or Blue Lemon for a cheap dinner. If I see something nonessential in a sale rack or a cute nick nack I might spend up to $20.00, but that’s about it.

    19. JenM*

      I feel happy about my day to day expenses. I can cover my mortgage and bills and have some left over for small treats. I can usually go on one holiday a year.

      I don’t feel so great about my long term finances. I’ve never been good with money – when I have it I spend it! I have no savings and no pension. So I’m worried about old age.

      So I’m now off to look up pensions!

    20. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I feel very good about our finances. Growing up, we went out to eat maybe 3 or 4 times a year, and our vacations were usually camping in the Catskills. Now my partner and I can afford to eat out 3-4 times a week and take 3-4 trips a year (domestic, but in hotels), and we *could* spend maybe a few hundred dollars impulsively, but we’re both planners, and with my upbringing, I’m likely to spend a fair amount of thought on any purchase over $10-20. Charitable donations, on the other hand, I’ll make fairly impulsively up to $100-200, although we have a yearly budget for that, as it’s one of our monthly transfers.

      We don’t budget, we just have separate savings accounts for different savings goals, and make automatic transfers every month in addition to maxing out our retirement accounts, totaling about 40% of our gross (dual) income. So whatever’s left over is our spending money. Maybe not the best system, but it works for us.

    21. Bagpuss*

      I can’t imagine impulse buying a car, but then it ‘s very unlikely I’d want to. I am in a position where if I needed t replace my car unexpectedly, I could.

      I budget by having separate bank accounts – one for fixed bills, which includes payments for savings via pensions and for long and short term savings.

      The other is for day-to-day spending which makes it easier to keep track of as I know all the essentials are already covered.

      I’m fortunate that I’ve reached a point where buying a fancy drink or picking up a luxury that’s not on my shopping list can come out of the normal spends without difficulty.

    22. Circus peanuts*

      I am just getting started on Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and I have to rethink my choices on this. My impulse budget was about twenty dollars a week previously but I am trying to shift my thinking into a more frugal state of mind. I do feel somewhat at ease about retirement though. I have to beef it up but it had been started before Dave Ramsey. I will be counting on my state employee retirement, social security, and my Roth 401k. Most of my coworkers are only counting on the first two which is scary to me.

    23. (Not So) Codependent*

      ehhhhhhh….my ex and I had finally moved from Struggling to Comfortable when we split up, so now I’m kind of starting over from square one. My focus right now is breaking a lot of frivolous spending habits that I can’t afford anymore.

  26. Ramona Flowers*

    Floofy kitties!

    So. Pet people. I would like my heart warmed after a difficult week. Please tell me about the cute, funny and weird things your pets do.

    My cat normally meows at us whenever he comes into the house, but now seems to have invented a new game where he silently sneaks through the house, runs into the bedroom and then suddenly jumps on us with a loud meow. I swear he’s shouting “SURPRISE!” in cat.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      My dog is getting older so he’s slowed down a lot. The vet had to pull all his teeth so his tongue sticks out a lot, which gives him a total derp look when he wakes up, and then he gets a bit offended when I laugh at him. Also yesterday I got to wear jeans to work (which happens maybe once a month) and he got all excited because he thought I was staying home.

      I also just read an article about how dogs can fake being sick or sad to get their people to stay home with them, and I have never been so grateful my doggo can’t read because he would totally do this.

      1. Red Reader*

        My younger dog, if she wants the bone or toy that my older dog has, will run to the back door, bark bark like there’s something exciting out there. Older dog will drop the toy or bone and run into the dining room down the right-hand side of the table to see what’s up – meanwhile, younger dog has run back into the living room up the left side of the table to snipe the toy or bone.

        She tries it on the humans too, on pizza night, like she’s hoping we’ll put the pizza down on the coffee table or something when we go to let her out instead of carrying it along. It never works, and she gives us the grumpiest puppy looks.

        1. Zathras*

          My mother’s dog does this too, only it’s the older dog who does it to the younger dog.

          After they are fed in the morning, they will try to convince any other people in the house that they have not been fed yet, in hopes of scoring a second breakfast. It worked once or twice when I lived at home and we all had different, varied work schedules – if the first person up fed the dogs before they left in the AM they would leave a note, but every so often someone would feed them but forget the note, and they’d get fed again.

    2. Lily Evans*

      We had an ongoing mystery at my apartment this weekend involving the cats. My roommates have a very difficult younger cat who we keep separate from my cat (and from other people) while they’re working on his behavior. The other night my room was open, so my cat was wandering the apartment while their cat was in their room with the door shut. I was sitting on my bed and felt a cat jump up, so I held my hand out because my cat likes to give headbutts as a greeting, but I was ignored so I looked over and realized that it was not my cat! Somehow the cats had swapped rooms without us noticing and we found my cat under the roommates’ bed. We just couldn’t figure out how their door had gotten open. Then yesterday morning it was the same set up, my cat was out and theirs was in their room, and I realized I hadn’t seen my cat in a bit (weird because she’s been super clingy since I got back from a trip last week). So I went into the hallway and caught her having just opened the door to my roommates’ bedroom so that she could explore, waking up the kitten in the process, who then tried to make a break for it. Apparently since it’s an old apartment, their doorknob doesn’t always latch properly when they close it, so my cat just gave it a push and let herself in!

    3. nep*

      One of our kitties, now long gone but he spent a good number of years with us, would put his paws on each shoulder and nibble the hell out of your earlobe.

    4. Lady Kelvin*

      We have a 60lb boxer/border collie mutt, hardwood floors, and dog blankets all over the house. Our dog likes to run from on end of the house to the other, jumping on her strategically placed blankets and sliding. And she will continue to do so until we tell her enough. But you watch her and she’s clearly doing it on purpose, jumping just before she reaches the bed and then making sure all four feet are on the blanket. She’s 2 and 1/2 so her puppy still shows sometimes. Photos in my username.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        What a gorgeous doggo!

        My cat likes to run and slide into those big square paper bags. Hold one open and… FOOMF.

        1. nep*

          Our last cat (we had to put him down a few months back) loved sitting in a paper bag for hours on end. Sometimes when he was in a playful mood, yes, he’d run into it and slide.

    5. periwinkle*

      My dominant male cat loves to sit on the desk when I’m on the computer. Then he’ll shift himself until he’s lying across my right arm and puts his front paws on my right hand. If I move the mouse, his paws move with it. This was cuter when he was a young lad but now he’s a big brawny man-cat. Oof, he’s heavy.

      Our youngest male (our little orange boy) equates the bathtub with petting. If one of us might be headed to a bathroom, he will follow and then hop onto the tub edge for petting. If we turn on the tub faucet he’ll drink while water drops on his head.

      All of our cats are pretty weird, really, just in different ways.

    6. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

      The first time my fetus kicked hard with my cat on my lap, my cat freaked out and refused to sit on my lap for a week.

      Now, when he gets kicked, he nuzzles where the kick came from and sometimes tries to lick it (which is awkward, because of clothes). It’s like he’s trying to get my belly to calm down, and it’s really cute.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I have a husky mix who, um, is having a life and I am in the way.
      He is rambunctious times ten.
      So you can imagine my level of concern going sky high when my neighbor said, “My grandson wants to pet your doggie.” Grandson was maybe 18 months old and barely knee high on me. My dog is 60 pounds of pure muscle.
      I tried to say this was a bad idea, my neighbor said I worry too much.

      Well, with three adults watching this, I decided to try. I lectured the dog that if he even thought about misbehaving he would be in Big Trouble.
      Dog saw tiny Grandchild walking toward him and instantly understood. Dog dropped to the ground, rolled on to his back and put all four paws in the air as if to say, “no harm”.
      Grandchild petted the doggie the way most toddlers do, with a FIST, slam, slam, slam right into the dog’s ribs.
      Dog just laid there and took it.
      Of course, the adults corrected the Grandchild.

      I was so proud of my monster.

      If you want to see a cute video google Jack Russell terrier dad meets his pups for the first time. The pups plow dad over.

    8. Red*

      One of my cats chases her tail in the bathtub, whether it’s dry or damp. She just doesn’t even care.

      The other cat is obsessed with my husband. She’s always all over him, and I was always joking that she was trying to steal him away from me. The other night, she laid on his chest like she always does, and licked. his. nipple.

    9. Harriet*

      Every evening when my cat and I are relaxing in the living room there will come a point when she goes into the other room and gives a really mournful howl, like the world is ending…and then when I get up to see what is wrong she waits till she can see me in the hall and comes sprinting towards me for a cuddle. It has just become part of her routine now – she cries, I stand up and take two steps, she thinks all is right with the world again…

    10. Caledonia*

      My cat goes really mad for cheese.

      My cat licks my hair when it’s wet from a shower. When she was a kitten she used to sleep curled around my head.

    11. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve posted it here before, but I’ll post again. It’s not something they DO, it’s something that happened.

      This story is back from when we moved to the new house in July 2014. I still laugh every time I tell it.

      I moved a few years ago, 45 minutes away from the old house. My sister and I transported my 12 (at the time) cats using two vehicles and nine cat carriers. One carrier held the two sisters, Thelma and Louise, and another held the two brothers, Max and Bailey. They traveled in her car.

      When we got to my new house, my sister complained that 10 minutes after we left it started to stink really bad in her car. Since this was July, she alternated every 10 minutes or so between closing the windows to enjoy the AC and get relief from the heat, and opening them because she couldn’t stand the stench.

      We started unpacking the carriers and found that the two brothers had both had an accident. Bailey was facing one way and Max the other way, so basically each cat’s head was next to the other’s butt. Well, apparently Max had an accident…diarrhea…and Bailey threw up, presumably because his head was Right There next to the muck and he couldn’t handle it. Or maybe he was just car sick. So, we had to clean them off, clean out the carrier, and spray some air freshener in the car. And that particular carrier was, of course, one I’d borrowed from the rescue I volunteer with and I had to be back down there that afternoon to do some volunteer work. Thankfully we have well water at the new house and the electricity was already on so I could hose it out and disinfect.

      Max’s new nickname (which I still use)? Poopers.

      Although I know the ride wasn’t fun for my sister or the two cats, to this day I can’t help but laugh my ass off every time I think about it.

      1. Cruciatus*

        Sort of related… My mom and I were taking our cat to the vet and all of a sudden the car got pretty stinky. Sometimes my mom has…issues…so I just assumed maybe it was her and politely stayed quiet until she commented on the smell. I admitted I thought it had been her but at this point it was obviously the cat and we laughed so hard we cried the rest of the way to the vet (and it’s a good thing it was so close)! Probably one of those “you had to be there” things but it was truly so funny in the moment.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I can totally relate to that! I have two kittens and the female….holy moly she can clear the room! Same with one of my adult females. It’s funny because the boys don’t do that!

    12. Seal*

      My alpha cat likes to knock over and/or steal things off the bathroom counter in the morning when I’m taking my shower, which I do before I feed him and his friends. Occasionally he steals my FitBit and runs off with it; unfortunately it doesn’t count steps when he does that.

    13. Elkay*

      One of our cats likes to groom elbows and will sit on our backs while we walk about hunched over like the idiots we are. The other likes belly rubs but only from me and will sit at the end of the stairs in the morning and headbutt us as we walk past.

    14. PlantLady*

      Our two male cats (who adore each other) get extremely excited about mealtimes. Last night, while running down the stairs to get dinner, the youngest one body-checked his brother into the wall to get ahead of him. Big brother is easily twice as big, but apparently size doesn’t matter when food is on the line.

    15. nonegiven*

      So we had a feral cat that was getting half tamed that had kittens in a feral cat box outside. She is still a skittish cat even now, but we brought them in the house and installed them in a lower cabinet in the bathroom. First we brought the kittens in to play with them every day, then put them back. Then one day we artfully arranged them in a cat bed several feet inside the house and lured her in. After she got used to the bathroom, she was ok with going out and coming back in to take care of them.

      So one day they were asleep in the cabinet alone, I opened the door, reached in the bathroom and closed the cabinet so I wouldn’t wake them up. Then I went in and sat down. At the time, someone outside was using a weed eater. We had a neutered tom cat that DH had tamed and brought home from work. He’d had a habit of hiding in the laundry basket we usually kept in the cabinet, when something spooked him, but it had been quite a while since he’d felt the need, until he heard the weed eater.

      So, tomcat pushes on the bathroom door and gets it open. He goes to the cabinet and eases the door open with his claws, maybe an inch. He sticks his nose in and a kitten pops out. So, he backs up a couple of feet, sits down and watches this kitten bebop around until it climbs into my underwear. He sits there a minute, then he goes over and sticks his nose back in the cabinet. Another kitten pops out. He backs up, sits down and watches. Kitten bebops around, then also climbs into my underwear. Four times, altogether. He watches the 4th kitten climb into my underwear. Then he gets up and walks out of the bathroom.

      A couple weeks later, he’s laying on the bed, kittens crawling over him.

    16. Athena*

      My dog is genuinely the sweetest and I adore her. She was pretty badly abused as a pup (I got her at 3 months old), so she’s terrified of men/boots/water.

      Things she does:
      – “flirts”. Like, not kidding, whenever a youngish guy comes around that takes her fancy, you practically have to tear her off them because she’s all gooey eyed and it’s hilarious. She’s particularly obsessed with my brother and gets jealous whenever he’s holding his wife’s hand instead of patting her.
      – she is quite smart, so knows a lot of commands… including “gimme some skin” for high five and “quede más?” if I’ve got treats and she walks away without eating them. Also “be a lady” – she very primly puts a paw on you and waits for her treat. My mum, upon meeting her, thought “be a lady” meant “back off, let me eat.” Mum was eating a sandwich, told greedy dog to be a lady, dog refused to leave her side and kept her paw gently on Mum just in case.
      – she is also a herding dog, my parents have a pool cleaning robot, and she spends approximately 5 hours a day chasing this robot to try and herd it.
      – she is also not too fond of bedtime and gets cranky when you tell her she needs to go, and tries to sneak in another hour of tummy rubs when anyone says “bed”.

      1. Athena*

        We also had two golden retrievers who were a delight. When I used to go outside and cry as a teenager, my dog would sit on me and try to calm me down, licking me and nuzzling me til all was okay. My brother’s dog was not too great with emotions (much like my brother) so would sit nearby, a paw on your knee, with a face of “please stop” and that normally made me laugh so much I did stop crying.

        1. Athena*

          She gets so mad when it stops in the middle of the pool, and will stomp over to the pool fence to start “yelling” at us til we turn it back on. She’s figured out we have something to do with it.

          She’s also cranky today because she’s been sent to a different part of the yard so the pool bricks can be cleaned up for summer, and she can hear the robot going but she isn’t allowed to chase. It’s killing her (and me, because there’s just one long, high pitched whine of despair from her yard, and I know if I make eye contact I’ll double the length of that whine).

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        Hahaha, I love that she hates bedtime! My crotchety old boy gets mad at ME if I don’t go to bed by 10:30. He’ll come racing into the living room and stare at me with his bulging eyes (he’s part chihuahua).

        But the mental image of your dog herding the pool robot is incredible!

    17. Mrs. Fenris*

      My dog was a shelter rescue. There are a bunch of things she had apparently never seen before I got her, and one of them is windshield wipers. I can barely take her anywhere in the car if it’s raining. She will lunge at the windshield snarling EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY PASS. She is a 65ish pound pit bull mix. :-)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh that is funny. I had a dog that would duck when we went under a overpass. We were laughing as we kept saying, “It’s okay, buddy, it’s okay.”

      2. Athena*

        Haha! My dog licks windows when we go through the car wash. The eternal optimist, hoping that maybe the fluffy window suds are delicious.

    18. Mike C.*

      My parents used to have a cat that whenever anyone was fighting or yelling would get in between the two people and start meowing really loudly until they stopped.

    19. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I have sleep apnea which requires I use a CPAP machine at night. My last cat figured out how to stand on the power switch to turn it off. That resulted in me waking up at which point he expected me to feed him. Never could sleep in again after that. Every morning at 5am he’d shut it off.

    20. Red Reader*

      My husband has two cats, sisters. One lost an eye as a young cat because of recurring severe eye infections, and we’re pretty sure that every ounce of brains or dignity she had went with it. She’s sweet as pie, but regularly picks, and loses, fights with her catnip pickle, the floor, and her own paws. She once flop-sprawled her way down the length of our coffee table, finishing by flopping sideways right off the table onto the floor. Loves to get stoned on catnip, then wander around the house with Pickle in her mouth singing (loudly) the song of her people. (I got her the pickle as a JOKE. Apparently Pickle is the best thing ever. I don’t even know.)

      Funny story: when we first adopted them and she was still two-eyed and having the eye infections, both cats’ shelter names were pirate themed from Pirates of the Caribbean. After her surgery we gave them both a stern lecture on taking things a little too seriously, and don’t get any bright ideas about hook paws or peg legs. My husband still hasn’t figured out how to get her to wear an eyepatch. But now her official name is Captain Kyna Whitepaws, SCOURGE OF LAND AND SEA.

    21. Chaordic One*

      My westie will sometimes get so excited that he’ll drink his water too fast and give himself a tummy ache. Then he runs around in circles whining because it hurts. I have to burp him. Sometimes I will pat his back while he stands still and other times I pick him up and put him over my shoulder and pat him on his back, just like a baby. (Of course, I have to make sure that I’m not wearing any nice clothes when I do this.)

    22. Clever Name*

      When my stbx husband moved out, I made him take the elderly crabby cat who hated my guts (even though I was the one who actually took care of her). And I went out and got 2 kittens. They’re the best thing ever. The male, a tabby is an absolute hellian and really affectionate. I’m crazy about him. He sleeps nicely cuddled up to my side. The female calico is one of the most unusual cats I’ve had, personality wise. She’s also friendly and affectionate, but she is also the calmest cat I’ve known. She likes to perch on my shoulder and she likes to sleep on my neck/face.

    23. Bewildered Cat Owner*

      My cat has a bun fetish.

      Hot dog and hamburger buns, that is.

      We used to keep buns in a bowl on top of our Very Tall fridge. Yet there have been multiple incidents where we have woken up to find the plastic bag of buns ripped open with a few of the buns bitten into. Not fully consumed, just ruined enough that we can’t eat them.

      Weirdest part is that every time he leaves the bag on the mat in front of the litter box. Meaning our petite, 1-year old cat had to drag an entire bag of buns out of a bowl, from the top of the fridge to the kitchen counter, down to the floor, across a hall, DOWN STAIRS, and across the room to his litter box.

      Why, cat, why?!?!

    24. Kate*

      My mother likes to sit on a memory foam pillow and one of my kitkats is OBSESSED with sleeping on it, but only after she’s sat down and warmed it up for him. He’ll sit on the arm of the chair and sort of leeeaaann over towards her, then wedge his head behind her back while continuing to lean in, so so slowly. Like maybe she won’t notice that he’s essentially using his head as a wedge to get her up out of the chair, if he does it slowly enough? Only does it after she’s sat down though, the chair will sit empty of cat all day long until the moment she tries to sit.

  27. EmilyG*

    I could use some help on invitation phrasing. Most years I have a holiday party, and it’s always really hard to pick a date that lots of people can come. My preferred solution is to try to do it with a timeframe (say, 5-10pm) that allows people with multiple parties to attend to do both–and then it doesn’t matter so much that I picked the same Saturday as 33% of other people hosting holiday parties.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to communicate that “stopping by” as opposed to staying the whole time is encouraged/expected. Should I just say “stop by anytime between 5 adn 10”? Does “Open House” suggest the right idea? (I’m nervous that would lead to uninvited surprise guests, which I don’t mind occasionally but don’t want to encourage per se.)

    1. Blue_eyes*

      “Open House” is what you’re doing, at least that’s what I would call it. “Holiday Open House 5-10pm” should let people know that they can come anytime during that window.

    2. Bluebell*

      We have a Hanukkah open house each year. On the invite we note “we know there are a lot of parties this time of year, but would love to see you if you can drop by”. We do set a time for candle lighting though, so that’s when we usually get our peak number of guests.

  28. Trish*

    Small vent: a cafe that I usually visit on weekends to write in has this week rearranged their furniture. The reason I loved to write there is because their tables were arranged in such a way that you could have your back against a wall and face the windows. I know it this sounds paranoid but I only feel comfortable enough to concentrate when I’m sure there’s no one who can see my screen (even though I’m sure very few people go around reading other people’s writing over their shoulders!). It’s hard to describe without a diagram but basically they’ve moved the tables/chairs so no chair is against a wall – this way they can fit more tables in.

    Ah well, their coffee wasn’t exactly the best (and /really/ overpriced, even for this area) and their service was a bit lacklustre, but the place had such a nice atmosphere. Sigh, time to go cafe-hunting again! (Like house hunting, but with much less commitment.)

    1. nep*

      I can relate. I would certainly need to sit with my back to a wall.
      That’s a drag. Hope you’ll find a good alternative cafe.

    2. Anon Accountant*

      I know the feeling! Can you get a privacy screen for your laptop? Maybe that will make things easier!

        1. Anon Accountant*

          I think somebody would have to be directly behind you, looking over your shoulder to see – as in, they’d be in your personal space at that point!

    3. Iris Carpenter*

      How much were you paying (food, drinks, tips) overall per hour? If you just nurse a couple of coffees over a 3 hour writing session then that might explain the furniture re-arrangement and less-than-stellar service. Place has bills & staff to pay you know.

  29. Sunflower*

    I’ve been having some issues recently of getting frustrated and almost snapping on my friends over sensitivity to a certain subject and I don’t know what to do.

    I grew up with a family who essentially told me I didn’t know how to make decisions for myself or what was best for me. If I wanted something they didn’t agree with, they would make it seem like they knew everything while I knew nothing. Recently, through the help of therapy, I’ve been able to make more decisions and trust myself. I’ve been more confident saying out loud, standing behind and asserting my decisions- however, I get extremely irritated when someone says or does something that gives off even small hints of this ‘you don’t know what you’re doing.

    For example, I just went on my first solo trip and it was hard for me to not snap on anyone who wasn’t 100% supportive. I understand people were worried but, to me, ‘worried’ means that they don’t think I am able to make a smart decision on my own and they know more about traveling solo even though they have do no research on the subject. I’m also job searching in a HCOL city that I travel to bi-weekly. I often get asked ‘do you know how much it costs to live there?’ even though they have been there a handful of times and I know the city like the back of my hand.

    I don’t see why I should need to defend my decisions or write a manifesto of why what I’m doing is safe or doable. I don’t ask people to defend the decisions they make. However, these people are my friends and I don’t know if they realize this is something that I’m hypersensitive about. Any advice on what to say?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      It sounds like these things are currently very polarised for you. If someone does a bit of x, they are totally doing x just like your family did and it’s triggering the same feelings, when perhaps it’s on a spectrum somewhere between – and perhaps the things they’re saying are meant a bit differently (or not, I don’t know that as I’m not there).

      What has changed, though, is not what other people say, or how you are perceived. What has changed is something from within: your own ability to have confidence in your choices without needing anyone else’s approval. You have the power to choose whether or not you take their suggestions as you are in control. That’s new, and your irritation/aggravation level may be because something new and still precarious feels like it’s being threatened.

      I suggest you say things like:
      Thanks, I’ve got this.
      I don’t need suggestions but thanks.
      Okay. Anyway, about [subject change]
      I know, that’s why I’ve done my homework.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This might sound weird. I think for me I would consider writing a letter “to” my family. The letter will never get sent and sending it is not the point. But I would take my time and craft a letter that accurately describes what they have done and how it has impacted me.
      It could take me months or even over a year to write this thing. Some issues have tentacles like an octopus, the issue goes into many aspects of our lives and makes our lives twice as hard.

      The reason I suggest this is that it redirects your anger to the people who deserve it. Your friends don’t deserve this and you realize it so you posted here. Put the anger where it belongs.

      I have been working on a letter for over a year on a different sort of issue/hurt. I pull it out when the mood hits and I add to it. Sometime in the future I will declare the letter done. I don’t know when that will be.

    3. Anon Accountant*

      I wonder if it would help to interpret your friends’ reactions differently – these are your friends, so they already know you and like you and know that you are capable of doing these things. So maybe when they are reacting in this way, it is their way to express that they care about you? I’m not sure if I am doing a good job explaining what I mean, but for example if you are planning on taking a trip and somebody says be safe, this might be dangerous, they are not saying that you didn’t do your research and can’t assess how dangerous something is. It might mean that they are expressing that they care about you. Expressing concern is the way that some people express that they care, and when they are not familiar with your personal history around the issue they probably don’t realize how their reaction is perceived.

      1. Ron McDon*

        Absolutely agree. I am also a bit ‘touchy’ about people questioning my judgement due to a family history of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’, but I did eventually realise that friends are expressing that they care about me when they do this, not trying to undermine me.

        It is hard to deal with initially, because anything that reminds me of how I felt as a child immediately gets my hackles up, but over time I learned to take a deep breath, relax, remind myself that they are caring not controlling, and not feel that I had to launch into a defence of myself or my choices. Sometimes a ‘aw, thanks for caring, I know what I’m doing ‘ acknowledges what they’re saying and shuts the comments down.

  30. Natalie*

    I understand people sometimes send nurse teams food and such as a thank you gift. I’m not really clear on the logistics, though – do you just have it sent to their floor? Do you bring it yourself?

    (We want to send Mr Wood’s nurses something since they were a really good team.)

    1. OBMD*

      If you send food to a nursing unit, you can have it delivered to the floor or bring it yourself. It is always so nice to hear from patients who appreciate the hard work nurses do. I am an obstetrician and my nurses are THE BEST!!!

    2. Big City Woman*

      Can you find out by contacting the head nurse in the unit and asking? Also, I think a lot of hospitals won’t accept homemade food that they don’t know where/how it was made. So I suggest a basket of only store-bought things that are fully wrapped.

    3. Pathfinder Ryder*

      Either works. My ward’s nurses tend to like gifts brought in person because they remember who you are faster from your face than from your relative’s name in a card, and then they can thank you for the gift in return.

    4. another Liz*

      While all of it is appreciated, the cookies/chocolate/ candy gifts can get overwhelming. It’s always really welcome for me personally when a nice basket of fruit shows up.

    5. Elder Dog*

      Better than candy, cookies, sweets, when I worked in ICUN was a delivery of pizza. One time the woman who owned the best pizza place in the county brought a dozen pizzas of different kinds as a thank you for caring for her daughter and granddaughter, and then she brought another dozen half way through the evening shift, so they got fresh and the night shift also got some. Really thoughtful! I supposed it would be logistically troublesome now with the recognition of celiac, but back then, it meant the diabetic nurses could have some too.

  31. Moving on up*

    I currently want to move to New York City from Florida but of course job searching will be very difficult. My current salary is $75K, would that be enough for 2 people living in a decent neighborhood? ( I can transfer to my company’s Manhattan location.)

    1. NYC*

      Depends what you mean by decent neighborhoods – and how big a space you want. It’s kind of a game of how big the apartment, how far from Manhattan and how much you want to pay in rent. I’d check rental prices and how the commute would be to your place of employment.Washington Heights and Inwood are decent places,where the rents for Manhattan tend to be better. Queens tends to be more affordable and some areas of Brooklyn.Pay attention to what trains are around where you live and how you would go to your place of employment. Google maps can give you an estimate of how long it would take you by public transportation to go from one place to another.

      1. Moving on up*

        Thanks, the office is located at Penn Plaza and space isn’t an issue, we would be fine with a tiny space.

        1. NYC*

          That’s great, it’s a pretty central location. Washington Heights and Inwood would be about 25-35min commute so really good. Best subway lines would be A, D, and 1.

          1. Moving on up*

            I loved all the green spaces around that area, and The Cloisters. Our budget is $2000/month, maybe a little more.

            1. Big City Woman*

              It seems that most places start at about $2300 for a small 1-BR, and often are more than that. But you can find places in Manhattan at that rent, still (Upper East Side, believe it or not). Be prepared if you go through a broker – their fees/commissions are ridiculously high!

              1. Bewildered Cat Owner*

                Surprisingly, the UES is one of the more affordable places to live if you want to live in Manhattan. Particularly the Yorkville area. You should be able to find a decent 1-bedroom for around $2,000/month, though a budget of $2,200 if you can swing it would yield much better results.

                Neighborhood is great. Lots of restaurants, quiet at night since it’s more residential, very safe.

            2. Em*

              Does that take into consideration that you can ditch any cars you have? I doubt you’ll want one in NYC. No payments, maintenance, gas, insurance or parking.

              If you DO need a car, it’s $$$$.

        2. Blue_eyes*

          If it’s at Penn Plaza you might want to consider living in NJ and commuting via PATH train or NJ Transit commuter rail. You could get a lot more space for less money in Hoboken or Jersey City and it would be a quick commute to Penn Plaza.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      I’ll give you one specific example: My sister makes $55k and she has to live in Brooklyn with two other roommates even though she works in Manhattan and ideally would live there. She’s pretty good with money. Her main expenditure is food, and even there she’s pretty good about choosing the cheapest takeout. She has no student loan debt or any other kind of debt.

    3. Sunflower*

      75k is my friend’s salary. She lives in a 2bd in Astoria in Queens with her husband and dog (a lab). I think her commute is about 45 mins to Penn station.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Do you have to do New York City proper (even boroughs)? Or can you live in central New Jersey?

    5. Anon Accountant*

      I think it’s doable, but your standard of living would be very different. I moved from the south to nyc and did not consider that everything here is more expensive, not just the rents. Food costs more, and eating out costs significantly more than in the south, and you need to include costs for public transportation in your budget, which may be higher than anticipated.
      I think you can definitely do it, but if possible try to leave some room in your budget for generally higher costs and unanticipated expenses. Good luck!

  32. Ice skating*

    I think there are some here who ice skate. I came to it in my late 40s and am very proud I can skate a bit without falling, still feel a need to be close to the wall. I’ve been wondering if it would be worth paying for a private lesson or taking more formal classes? the classes around here start early January but they come to close to $40/class for a 30min group class plus time on the ice (which is nice but there are a few/free cheap rinks around in winter.) One private class I got a quote for was $60 for 30min so the difference doesn’t seem that big, as sometimes you can get so much more done one on one. On the other hand I am a true beginner, maybe I should just go out there as much as possible for now?

    1. EmilyG*

      I am a bit stronger skater than you describe yourself and signed up for some lessons a couple years ago, after taking a spill that sapped my confidence. Depending on what you want, I would go for the private lesson. I took some group lessons that quickly turned to, not “tricks” exactly, but specific footwork. Think very very very low-level figure skating. If your goal is “have fun without falling, maybe try going backwards” you might have better results with a private lesson that just focuses on what you want.

    2. Friday*

      I used to coach skating so, biased, but I definitely recommend the private lessons. Just a few or so, to give you skills and learn some tricks which will increase your strength and confidence. Good luck and have fun!!!

    3. CanadianUniversityReader*

      I’m a beginner, just started skating in October. I’m currently taking group skating lessons. For me, they are working well because it’s a small group with people of varying abilities. The instructor spends some time with everyone at the start and then circles back to check how you’re doing throughout the lesson. But, the lessons are 1 hour long which I think helps.

    4. Elf*

      I’m a lifelong skater and skiier who has been helping my husband to learn all of these athletic skills he didn’t learn as a child. My advice: get the private lesson, but just one or two. Then do a bunch of practice on your own, then go back for another one or two. My husband found he learned a huge amount from each private lesson, but then it took a while for him to internalize it enough to learn more.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I started with group lessons–they were cheaper. When I first signed up, I didn’t know if I could even skate; I only knew that I’d always wanted to, though my first time on the rink ever, I was off the wall by the third go-round. The group covered the basics and it was fun learning with other people who couldn’t skate either.

      Once I got through those and realized I wanted to keep doing it / was actually able to do it, I started taking private lessons and preparing for tests, etc., though I only ever did one competition. I had private coaches all the way up until I quit. My rink also had some really cool seminars–once, they had legendary choreographer Ricky Harris come and work with us for a couple of days. I scraped up the money to do that and also to have a private lesson with her. She spent the entire half-hour on the first ten seconds of my program, haha. But that’s the program I competed–against the book, since there were no other adult skaters at the time–and I won gold because I skated an absolutely clean program for the first time in my life. I now have a medal that looks like a big time turner. :)

  33. Anon in IL*

    I have used this script, “Thank you for your concern but believe me, I have researched the heck out of this and am really aware of that [whatever issue they are bringing up]. I mean *really* aware. Right now, I need support. Please encourage me and cheer me on — it would mean so much!”

  34. Lissa*

    Recommendations for detective/crime/mystery shows that don’t involve too many elements of this: “Straight white dude with Scars from His Past (often involving a dead female relative) returns home/moves to a new city to deal with his demons and solve crimes usually revolving around sexualized violence of women.”

    I have mostly been watching “lighter” mysteries because those at least usually won’t involve as much “women as victim” (any more than anyone is going to be a victim in a crime show!) I’ve watched all of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Death in Paradise, starting on the Bletchley Circle. I do like the more intense ones too but they almost all seem to focus on that sexualized violence/men as hero/women as accessory and I just get sick of it.

    1. Torrance*

      It’s an older show but I really enjoyed Hetty Wainthropp Investigates. It might not be as intense as you’re looking for but it was such a great show, starring Patricia Routledge (from Keeping Up Appearances) & a wee Dominic Monaghan (LotR/Lost). And, along a similar theme, there’s also Rosemary & Thyme.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      HBO did a version of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency a few years back–they’re pretty light, not at all sexualized, female-focused, and all shot on location in Botswana.

        1. Tau*

          I was totally going to recommend them until I reread and saw “show”. I haven’t seen the show but I love those books! They’re like a nice fluffy blanket and a mug of hot chocolate for the soul.

          1. Lissa*

            Thanks! I do like books as well, but find it easier to find female-focused detective stories that are books, whereas almost all the TV shows seem to be as described above. Anyway I read the first 1 Ladies Detective Agency book and really enjoyed it, will try to track down the show!

    3. Mysteries*

      Vera is another series with Vera as the strong female detective; victims are not exclusively female, or sexualized. But I’d say the series is “heavy” – I can’t for example watch then go to bed immediately but I love it, find it really well done.

    4. Mephyle*

      Foyle’s War. It doesn’t have what you’re trying to avoid. Police detective (ok, he is a straight and white), female helper (who sometimes solves the mystery when he can’t), and a very nice non-romantic relationship that develops between them as the series goes on. The crimes don’t focus on sexualized violence at all but often have something to do with the war (series is set during and after WWII).

    5. Big City Woman*

      Have you ever seen the Midsomer Murders detective series? I used to see it in my PBS catalog, but never paid much mind because I didn’t know anything about it. Then I came across an unopened 4-disc set in a thrift store and bought it. It’s really enjoyable! I’ve occasionally borrowed a few DVDs from my library, too.

      It’s been on British TV for years and years, and I believe it’s very popular. It started out with an actor named John Nettles in the lead, as a detective in a rural area of England, and he has a junior detective working with him, and a family. bu now it’s with someone else. So, I’ve only seen the ones with Nettles and I like them. The stories are murder mysteries but fairly mild, though not avoiding adult or controversial subjects, and there is always an element of humor and sometimes goofiness.

      The thing I like about the ones I’ve seen with John Nettles is that he’s a Shakespearean actor and a lot of the guest roles are played by his fellow alums from the Royal Shakespeare Company, so they are really good. In later years of the series, his character supposedly retired and so they got a new actor. I am slowly working my way through the Nettles seasons.

    6. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

      I adore the Miss Marple series from the 80s with Joan Hickson
      also the Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett
      seconding Scott & Bailey. so good.
      Frankie Drake Mysteries has just started recently, but I’m enjoying it so far (female PI, set in the 20s in Toronto)
      Murdoch Mysteries is straight white dude police detective, set in the 1890s in Toronto (and somewhat ananchronistic, I suspect, given the female coroner :) but what I’ve seen has been enjoyable)
      Republic of Doyle is straight white dude PI in modern day St. John’s, Newfoundland – again, I haven’t seen them all but it’s generally enjoyable.
      Private Eyes has ex-hockey dude who ends up working with a female PI (not a Remington Steele situation (which may still be worth a watch, though it may not have aged well?)), set in modern-day Toronto

      1. WellRed*

        Sigh. I stopped watching when Bones and Booth went undercover at the circus. She’s a forensic scientist for crying out loud!

    7. Caledonia*

      Jonathan Creek – magician and journalist team up to solve bizarre mysteries (like how someone was killed in a locked room etc)
      New Tricks – retired dectectives look at and re-investigate cold cases

      1. Thlayli*

        I was going to suggest Jonathan creek too. It’s pretty funny but the mystery is enough to keep you thinking most weeks. Every episode is a murder investigation.Some episodes have female victims some episodes male victims. There may have been sexual violence eepisodes but none spring to mind (I also hate shows like that – can’t watch svu at all).

        Also castle is funny and has enough mystery to keep you going. Plus Nathan fillion!

        1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

          Just make sure to avoid Season 8 of Castle like the plague. It ended up souring my enjoyment of the show as a whole, and now my DVDs sit gathering dust.

          1. Artemesia*

            This. The show was fun until that last season where they ran out of chemistry and ideas.

            Unfortunately most of these suggests are available on DVD but not streaming on Netflix.

            1. Thlayli*

              Jonathan creek is on Netflix. The first 2 seasons of castle were on it for a while but I think they’ve dropped off now. Also Netflix is different country to country too

    8. Mrs. Fenris*

      I haven’t seen the show, but I really liked the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters, and there was a TV series based on them.

    9. Ron McDon*

      Mr McDon and I stumbled across an early episode of ‘Diagnosis Murder’ with Dick van Dyke on one of the CBS channels recently. We loved it! It’s completely ridiculous and we often work out who/why they did it, but we’ve now series-linked the show and spend some quiet Sundays when we have no plans lying on the sofa watching a couple of episodes!

      I also enjoyed Maigret with Rowan Atkinson which ITV show one-off episodes of once or twice a year. Because they are set in the 40s there are sometimes elements of women being ‘the accessory’ but he has a lovely relationship with his wife and he seems to treat women respectfully.

      Also love the old Miss Marple episodes with Joan Hickson.

      I loved the first series of The Fall apart from how Gillian Anderson’s character seemed to be sex-mad and sleep with anyone she took a shine to – I thought it unnecessarily distracted from the serious nature of the investigation, and made her character seem weaker and driven by her emotions.

    10. 14 years*

      Father Brown is good. Catholic priest solving murders in 50’s England. I also like Dr. Blake Mysteries. Doctor solving murders in 50’s Australia. Hm, I sense a theme…
      Agree with Murdoch Mysteries above. It’s clever and interesting. All of these are on Netflix.

      1. 14 years*

        Will add: Doctor Blake does have a dead family and returns home to take over his father’s practice. But the crimes aren’t sexually aggressive against women as far as I remember. Plus Australian accents….

    11. Maya Elena*

      Agatha Christie’s Poirot is classy, artfully done, and not sexualized at all. The show is mostly faithful to the original works and covers Christie’s entire Poirot oeuvre. They’ve also updated the later episodes with more politically correct gender balances and live triangles.
      I’ve enjoyed it and watched most.

    12. Student*

      iZombie – funny, detective lead is female, the reason for being a detective is a decidedly non-standard plot device of the genre instead of the bitter-past-trope, victims are usually guys, stuff is majority non-sexual though sex-related stuff will pop up for some episodes. I don’t think there’s any rape crime plots – I can’t recall any – the sex-related episodes deal with human trafficking and fetish-related extortion instead of “the usual”.

      It’s definitely “campy”, and probably more gory and humor-focused than the average detective show. I love it.

      If you’re on-board with anime mystery – I like Gosick. Female lead detective. Characters are school students; sexualization is minimal. There is a rape sub-plot, later in the series, but the lady victim in question is not portrayed as a helpless victim. Mysteries are fantastical instead of realistic. Victims are usually male. Japanese anime mysteries (that I have personally watched) have vastly different “tropes” than US mysteries.

    13. Leslie Knope*

      I have watched probably everything available on Netflix. Haha. I love Rosemary & Thyme. Two older women who are friends and gardeners who just happen to solve crimes. I really liked the Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis series. I second the Midsomer Murders, Father Brown, Dr. Blake Mysteries, Foyle’s War, and many others that have been listed below! The Agatha Christie Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot series are also fantastic!

  35. Big City Woman*

    I don’t hate holidays (well, er… except for Valentine’s Day!) but I truly don’t give a fig about most of them, nor about birthdays. I dislike forced merriment of any kind.

    On holidays where I am not working or a lot of places are closed, I’m usually at home cleaning my apartment or doing laundry. And maybe I’ll take a nice walk, but nowhere near any touristy holiday craziness (I’m in NYC). I stay indoors on St. Paddy’s Day if I can, and avoid Rockefeller Center like the plague when the tree is being lit (and I absolutely hate that they chop down a large tree that was a home to birds and wildlife for a stupid ritual).

    The one holiday I love and enjoy is Halloween because I like dressing up.

    But yeah, all the forced merriment at this time of year? No thanks.

    1. Mrs. Fenris*

      I used to love the holidays, but they are hard on me these days. Christmas hasn’t been the same since my dad died suddenly in late October ten years ago. I probably have SAD, and the short days around the solstice are very difficult. I do not get any time off at the holidays, and most of my family are teachers and government workers so they forget that some people don’t. I actually usually have to fight like hell not to work extra. I’m a veterinarian and my job is very, very stressful during the holidays. For several reasons, we see a lot of very sick pets this time of year and the outcomes are often terrible. So I’m not feeling it for the forced merriment either. The good news is that I left emergency practice so I probably won’t see quite as much death this year, and I’ve gotten much smarter about getting as much sun exposure as humanly possible.

      1. another Liz*

        If you don’t follow Vetgirl on Facebook, 10/10 would recommend. She speaks about self care and avoiding burnout a lot. Many Internet hugs and respect. I know I couldn’t handle emergency work for very long.

        1. Mrs. Fenris*

          I love Vetgirl! I went to a lecture by Justine Lee at NAVC a few years ago and she is just as engaging in person. Are you a veterinarian? You are so right…I think we are all learning how important self care is in this profession. Hugs/respect right back!

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Best: I bought myself a surprise box from Tatty Devine (£12 for a mystery necklace) as a pick-me-up which would only work if I liked the surprise – and got something I absolutely love (50s-style cherries). It’s a small thing but it made me really happy.

      Worst: a good friend lost someone to suicide. That’s the third suicide this year that has affected people close to me.

    2. paul*

      worst: I got sick at the office potluck, and I’ve got a lung infection.

      best: antibiotics. Gotta love ’em. Modern medicine is GREAT. From feeling like hell to fairly functional in less than a week.

      Best/worst just because it was intense and interesting: Someone set fire to a dumpster behind the office Wednesday afternoon and we had to evacuate because it caught the grass and this bush thing that was growing there on fire too and *that* led to an electric pole.

      So we got out like 2-3 hours early which was nice. And the person’s on camera.

    3. NJ Anon*

      Best: 2 Thanksgiving dinners!

      Worst: just found out domeone I worked with died of cancer on Thanksgiving. I didnt know her well but still depressing.

    4. NJ Anon*

      Best: 2 Thanksgiving dinners!

      Worst: just found out domeone I worked with died of cancer on Thanksgiving. I didnt know her well but still depressing.

    5. WellRed*

      Worst: didnt like the turkey at dinner on Thanksgiving, weird texture. Cut really thick. I dunno.
      BEST: Turkey aside, the restaurant is high end and fabulous and right on Nantucket Sound with to die-for views.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: Nicer weather. It stopped being so dark and gloomy. Also, I sold my table and got what I asked for it, which enabled me to catch up on the utility bill.

      WORST: Still no sign of any job. Plus I’m going to have a huge tax bill because I’ve been raiding my money market account and haven’t had insurance all year (though I might be able to get out of that).

    7. nep*

      Best: Had an absolutely gorgeous day on Friday and I had the time to take advantage of it and rake/mow the yard. It was so beautiful out there. And it’s great to look out to a nice tidy yard. Also, some really good workouts this week; feeling fit and strong helps deal with some of the crap.
      Worst: No leads/no movement on the job front.

    8. Tau*

      Best: I joined a chorus recently and sang for the conductor this week to have him check if I’m suited. I wasn’t too worried, but I’d been a bit concerned about my singing because I was having a lot more trouble with high notes than I remembered having last time I sang in a chorus (a sad thing for a soprano). Apparently this is because I was breathing totally wrong, the conductor gave me tips and I immediately sounded amazing! Not professional or anything, obviously, but so much better than before. And I passed the trial. :)

      Worst: Developed a weird toothache which may or may not be a sign of something wrong. I seem to really easily get psychosomatic toothaches, so it’s hard to say. Have an appointment next week, really hoping it’s nothing because I have had so many issues with my teeth in the last few years and don’t want to deal with even more. I have significant resistance to dental anaesthetic and am terrified I’ll need another root canal.

    9. Effie, who is worth it*

      BEST: Was able to lay in bed a ton this week

      WORST: I have had terrible back pain this week, which necessitated the laying in bed.

    10. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Had a four-day weekend with the holiday and Friday off. Got to do some things I’ve been needing to get done for awhile.

      WORST: Nothing really.

    11. Mimmy*

      Best: Spending time with my wonderful family in Boston in the last few days.

      Worst: Nothing bad but slightly unnerving – On the bus going home after work, a guy started playing with his lighter, flicking it on and off. I was thinking “what is he trying to do???” A fellow passenger confronted him, and they get into it for a couple of minutes. The second passenger was thisclose to calling the police. Thankfully the first passenger (begrudgingly) put his lighter away. I could not get off that bus fast enough when it reached my stop!!

    12. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: I got engaged to the love of my life yesterday!!!!!

      Worst: Not telling the family until 2 months before the wedding, bc my narcissist mom tends to sabotage things on epically grand scales (public meltdown, last we spoke in June she hated my ring design and said I should be ashamed for lowering my dating standards). When SO and I visited my cousins in October, nmom called said cousins and tried to get them to postpone or uninvite us bc she wanted us at her office party to make her look like a model Martha Stewart mom.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It sounds like your cousins opted to be with you instead? Perhaps the cousins are slowly waking up?

        Congrats on your engagement!!!

        1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

          Cousins: the week of, they emailed/texted me that my mom told them of a “really important dinner SO and I couldn’t miss, full of very important teapot engineers.” I told cousins SO and I were visiting and did so. There, they mentioned the dinner in passing and I told them mom was lying and she has it all the time, and was baiting us to be free dishwashers (I spent Valentines’ Day 2 years ago doing her dishes for 15+ church people at midnight instead of with SO).

          On the bright side, my best friends’ mothers are emailing me words of support and prayer because they realized just how destructive and insane the mom was.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Progress, that is a good thing. I was very good at covering for my mother, you probably were also. People were convinced she was fine. I blocked their view. Then I stepped back. It was not long after the sky fell down on everyone. Reality hit.

            It’s been a life lesson for me. I will help anyone with various things, but I will not cover for people.

    13. Fake old Converse shoes*

      Best: no exams until mid December! I also slept all I wanted this weekend.
      Worst: my Youtube channel was deleted, thanks to Famous-pianist-and-conductor-who-instructed-his-social-media-team-to-delete-every-past-performance-on-Youtube-which-included-tons-of-false-positives. I’m not going to buy tickets for his performances here next year. I don’t know if I should start from scratch using other service, but I’m tempted to send an email to all my subscribers saying, “thanks to so-and-so this channel doesn’t exist anymore”.

    14. Overeducated*

      Best: 4 day weekend visiting my family. No guests outside the immediate family for Thanksgiving dinner to put on a facade for, so my siblings both said kind of ridiculous “thanks,” and one of my siblings and I got into a leftist ideological purity type argument at the table (our traditional dynamic is friendly fighting), and nobody was embarrassed and my mom actually said she was happy. My mom was almost NEVER happy at a big family holiday meal growing up, something always went wrong, so I am happy we could all relax with each other and keep the pressure off.

      Worst: continued anxiety and uncertainty around dual career issues, and my husband still being a bit sick.

    15. Circus peanuts*

      Best – I got engaged this weekend.

      Worst- my father’s leukemia is kicking his butt and I am worried about how to time the wedding so he will be there. I have to coordinate with another person’s chemo schedule as well. I really just want a court house wedding and a nice lunch afterwards. We would ideally like to do this when school is out because my guy had a kid who gets wound up tightly easily and it would be kinder to not add to his stress. So we have to weigh each guests situation now against one another. The two stage 4s get top priority though.

      1. WellRed*

        If it’s a courthouse wedding/lunch it shouldn’t be so disruptive for the kid, hopefully. I don’t know who the other stage 4 is. Follow your dad’s lead? Good luck and congrats.

    16. Jules the First*

      Best: managed to ride three times this week, which was awesome as my schedule was bonkers, but I committed to it and it happened.

      Worst: currently suffering through the head cold from hell…spent the weekend in bed (cancelling three sets of plans) and now trying to decide whether to get in the shower tonight before bed or in the morning before work.

  36. housing crisis*

    Just venting…. My rent is going up 7% on the first of the year. I can comfortably afford it, but I’m not happy about it. I moved into the “bad” part of town 6 years ago so I could get more apartment for less, and suddenly things are skyrocketing. (Even though there’s still a drug and crime problem here, still crappy schools, etc.) Other units in my complex are being advertised at 12% more than what I’m paying now! Our valley is out of land, so everything existing is suddenly more valuable. I now earn a lot more than I did when I moved in, so I’ve still got lots of options, but it’s so frustrating to shell out 30% more than I used to for the same exact place. There are other things I’m unhappy about here, but with the price increase it’s just not worth the savings any longer.

    So I’m going to resign a 6 month lease and move over the summer. (I don’t have the bandwidth to move over Christmas/New Year’s.) There are lots of nice, new complexes out there that hit all the marks (better amenities, better location, better layout, allow my cat, etc.) for the same or slightly more. But is there a point to moving if it’s just going to happen again and cost me more? But if I’ll be forever renting, I might as well rent something nice, right?

    There are also lots of nice, new condos out there that would be totally affordable… if I had 20% down! And yes, there are assistance programs out there, but they only provide 3% to 5% for you, which isn’t enough to make even the cheapest condo out there happen. Homes are a pipe dream here unless your family makes near six figures, and mobile home parks are getting razed for luxury apartments. If I didn’t have student loans to pay I could get a down payment together in a reasonable time frame, but if I didn’t have student loans, I wouldn’t have a job that allowed me to live in this town. Grr!

    The best part is I can’t afford to move out of the city, even if I wanted too. Housing is still too expensive in the outlying towns, and there are virtually no apartments out there anyway, just house rentals that I can’t afford.

    About the only option I can think of is camping out in a “student special” apartment for a year or two and just directing every spare dollar at my loans or towards a down payment. But hauling laundry to a laundromat at 30 is so unappealing….

    1. periwinkle*

      If you’re still thinking about buying, it may be feasible. Yes, 20% down payment is preferable because you won’t have PMI and will probably get a lower mortgage rate, but if prices are going up and up, it might make more sense to accept the PMI (which can be removed once you hit the 20% equity point) and buy now.

      We knew house prices and rents were going up and we did not want to keep renting; with 4 cats at the time, finding another rental would have been challenging anyway. Saving for the 20% would have taken several years,
      and meanwhile we were living in an expensive apartment complex with lousy parking. It made sense for us to go with a 5% down payment, work with a Redfin agent because they kick back some of their commission toward closing costs, and convince the seller to cover additional closing costs. This won’t work for everyone, but it worked out beautifully for us.

      1. housing crisis*

        But at 5% down I can’t afford the monthly payment. That’s my whole problem. The amount I actually finance has to get below $100k to make it happen, whether that’s because it’s just cheap or because I have a large down payment. There’s nothing available at $100k – $110k.

    2. Temperance*

      We didn’t have 20% down when we bought. We had something like 8% available. We bought an old house, so the sellers were motivated to help and get rid of the house.

    3. Anono-me*

      Please contact a local Credit Union about 1st time home buyer and no/low down payment mortgages. Most CUs have classes. Then find a good realtor and talk over your options with him or her.

      Also, put the word out that you are looking for a contract for deed* condo. I know lots of people that found their partner after each had a condo and don’t want the hassle of renting the extra condo nor the capital gains hit from selling it.

      *A contract for deed is basically a rent to own program without the landlord fixing things. It can be great, but it has the potential to be abused, so please research it carefully if you decide to go that way.

  37. Unpopular opinion*

    So umm…I watched Hamilton. And I found it…okay.

    I mean I /enjoyed/ it, but about as much as I enjoy most of the mega-musicals I’ve watched. And I didn’t even go in with ultra-high expectations or anything (since I know the hype would be hard to live up to). Much like Wicked or Phantom…I’d say watch it if you get the chance, but if I had to pay the sky-high prices that some seats are sold for (or worse, if people go to scalpers)…I wouldn’t say it was worth it.

    Then again, I’m not American, so maybe the historical significance doesn’t resonate as much? I did like how it places emphasis on the role of the women during that period (and not just relegate them to background characters).

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      A lot of people don’t like Lin’s songwriting. I view Hamilton somewhat like I view Beyonce – the music doesn’t do it for me but its significance is kinda divorced from the quality of it.

      1. nep*

        What’s the significance of Beyonce? Not being a smart a** — a real question as I’m interested in this phenomenon.

      2. Unpopular opinion*

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say I /don’t/ like it, it’s just…I’m not feeling the OMG!Love!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t like rap (and I did sample some of the songs on Spotify), so I doubt I will ever be all that interested in it. If someone bought me a ticket, I’d probably go with them, however.

      I do really like George Takei’s Allegiance: The Musical, the one he worked so hard to get produced about the Japanese internment during WWII (he was interned with his family as a small child). I’ve seen it twice at the cinema and had bought another ticket to go on December 7 before the recent allegations. I’ll still go unless Fandango or the theater itself cancels it; it’s a powerful story and has great music.

    3. Athena*

      I really enjoy it, but definitely not at first – it grew on me. I loved listening to Lin’s In The Heights tracks (it’s the sort of music I grew up with), so Hamilton was a little bit different, with historical symbolism I didn’t quite get (not American either). I more appreciate some of those amazing couplets he’s got in there, and I really love some of the things Lin does for the Latinx community in the US (then again, not overly well versed on US stuff, but I’m a proud Latina and love seeing that).

      And then my brother, who loves rap, hates the musical and bitingly called it “lame”. So there’s that. Different strokes, different folks.

    4. Em*

      I saw both Book of Mormon and Hamilton at their prime and felt the same way.

      I did, however, see The Producers when both Broderick and Lane were headlining. That is the only show I’ve seen that wwould have been with $400 a ticket to me (but I went for free because I have a best friend with a sweet hookup). I’ve seen Cabaret and Chicago with all-star casts, and those were fabulous. But not so much I’d pay 3-4x face value. I’ve seen a bunch of other shows that were very good, and I’d splurge on good tickets (front & center) but not $400 for balcony!

    5. all aboard the anon train*

      I saw it with the original cast pretty early on in its run and was lucky enough to get orchestra seats eight rows from the stage for $150. I thought it was amazing, but it’s not in my top 10 favorite musicals. It’s definitely become Musical Theatre 101 a la Les Mis/Phantom/Wicked, where they’re good shows with some substance, but they don’t have the nuance and emotion of some other shows. They don’t make me an emotional wreck the same way Next to Normal or Blood Brothers do, and I don’t have an emotional connection to it the way I do with Cabaret or Waitress or most Sondheim shows. I do think the staging was one of the highlights of the show – out of everything, I was blown away by how they choreographed certain numbers.

      I have a soft spot for Hamilton, but I hate that it came out the same year as so many other wonderful shows because they became overshadowed. Waitress and the revivals of She Loves Me and The Color Purple were all outstanding that year.

      It’s definitely not a show for everyone. And even though I did enjoy seeing it, some of my love faded due to how absolutely horrible and toxic the fandom is for the show. There’s a culture around the big mega-shows that’s pretty off-putting, but imo the reaction to Hamilton was way worse than any show before it.

    6. Casca*

      I also wondered if I had that reaction because I’m not American.

      On the other hand Dear Evan Hansen can still make me cry

    7. Bagpuss*

      I’m really curious about whether I shall like it – I’ve got tickets for me and a friend to see the London show next year. I usually go for straight theatre rather than musicals but thought it would be fun to see what all the hype is about.
      (And if we don’t like it, well, we usually pair our theatre trips with a meal at a really good resturant as well, so there’s that! )

    8. Pathfinder Ryder*

      I’m not American and for me the significance was more about the casting rather than the history. Also I like rap, so that helped – when I bought sky high priced tickets for Broadway and my mom said she’d come with, I gently pointed out it’s rap and she doesn’t like rap, so I had a much better time with my American cousin (who did enjoy the history).

      1. Lissa*

        I was honestly surprised I liked the songs, since I’m not American and tend to not like rap, but I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack!

  38. Counselor recs in DC??*

    Or more like, what are some good sources to consult for finding counselors in the area? I’ve previously been referred to counselors via my university, but not sure how to go about it here. I want to go to a counselor before I consider seeing a therapist.


    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Psychology Today?

      Though not clear on the distinction you’re making between therapist and counsellor.

    2. Kj*

      Are you from another, none US place? I ask because here mental health counselors and therapists are virtually the same thing- both have MAs, are qualified to diagnosis and can bill your insurance. Psychology Today or Good Therapy are both sources with websites and bios/searchable profiles for various professionals. What are you looking to get out of therapy?

      1. Counselor recs in DC??*

        I’m in the US, but I guess I misunderstood the difference. I thought only therapists billed your insurance and could diagnose. The reason I was looking for counselors is because my impression is they are cheaper than therapy.

        I’m basically going through a tough time and need help getting through it. I also have generalized anxiety, and probably could benefit from regular sessions once or twice a month, but I have never done this due to financial constraints.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Therapist and counselor are the same. You may be thinking of a psychologist and therapist. A psychologist typically has a Ph.D. and will be more expensive on the whole. Therapists have a master’s, can diagnose, and can bill your insurance so a therapist should be able to help you.

    3. Sue No-Name*

      Psychology Today has a great listing with many filters so you can zero in on exactly what you want (gender, therapeutic approach, issues commonly addressed, etc)

  39. Just wanna cry*

    I cannot wait for the holidays to be over. I normally enjoy them and my first grandchild is due 1/2. I should be thrilled, right? But my marriage is in a shambles. I am planning on moving out in Feb/March but in the meantime I’m trying to fake it. My husband is in denial/delusional. I have my holiday work party next weekend with spouses invited and am dreading it. Husband is an alcoholic and I’m praying he behaves. Too late to back out plus I’m the one planning it.

    Sigh, very depressing.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Can you encourage yourself that it will never be this bad again and that this is your last year doing this? I can some times get myself through stuff by thinking of it as a sprint rather than a marathon. It sounds like your marathon will be ending shortly.
      I am sorry you are going through this.

    2. Effie, who is worth it*

      I just want to give you a huge hug. That sounds so hard. Keep breathing, take lots of deep breaths, especially in the moment when you feel stress/headache coming on and drink lots of water.

      You can do it. We’re here for you.

      1. Just wanna cry*

        Thanks, I appreciate everyone’s kind words. I am going to try to make the best of it for now.

    3. buttercup*

      I’m so sorry. Wishing you the best. Definitely feel free to spoil yourself in every way possible during this period of your life (with whatever brings you joy.) You deserve it, and you should take care of yourself.

  40. Nutella Jar*

    What do you do if your siblings can’t live independently from your parents?

    I’m in my mid-twenties, and I have three siblings- two older siblings and one younger. We’re all legal adults, and all three of them have learning disabilities. Growing up they would have associates helping them in school, and my mom constantly helped them with homework. However, I think my parents sheltered them too much too. All three siblings currently live at home. The older two work part time for dad (fewer than 10 hours a week), and the younger one is in community college but mom does all her homework. They don’t do any other work, don’t pay for anything, and don’t do much house work. My older siblings have never worked full time, and while the oldest has an associated degree and can do some computer work, they don’t really have any work or life skills. While yes, they have learning disabilities, I think they have the potential to learn more, but my parents never really pushed them to try anything.

    I’m getting really concern what will happen when my parents pass since my siblings completely reply on them. I barely make enough for myself, and I don’t think I could financially help all three of them in the future. They also have very little people skills. They easily get upset, and my younger sibling bullied me growing up. People who know my parents have expressed concern to me what will happen to my siblings in the future, not just financially but emotionally too.

    My boyfriend has told me that I’m not responsible for my siblings, but I know I couldn’t turn a blind eye if something were to happen to my parents. My mom told me my dad has life insurance, but he’s been throwing his money away at his dying business, so I’m not sure how money there is.

    I hit a breaking point over this Thanksgiving. Early this week, my mom had a minor surgery, and she told me she would need help cooking because she would need to rest. I live in a different city, and when I drove down I was shocked to find how dirty the house was. Everyone left dirty dishes (which my mom hates), and the dining room and kitchen were dirty. When it came for dinner, none of them helped me cook and no one helped me with the dishes. It broke my heart, really, seeing how no one but my dad was helping mom.

    What advice do you have? The older I get, the more upset I get about this.

    1. Thlayli*

      Hi there. That sounds like a really tough situation. I can empathise a little as I have a disabled sibling also living at home – but not as reliant on my Mam as yours. I have had conversations with my mother about what she expects to happen when she gets too old to do everything she does for him. I’ve also talked with my husband about it. I’m prepared to have him come live with me if necessary but I’m hoping he will be independent.
      I have some ideas/advice – hopefully some of it will be applicable/helpful:
      1 look into what sort of supports your siblings would be entitled to in your area if they had no family support at all. Would they have some sort of disability payment? Home help? Etc? Find out every single thing they might be entitled to. Then try to find the rules for what makes them entitled to it. For example it might not be best for them to inherit a lot of money, as it might make them ineligible for some supports they would otherwise be eligible for. Do your research on this as thoroughly as you can.
      2 think about what things you think your siblings are capable of learning and doing, that they are not currently doing. Make a list for each sibling
      3 think of things your siblings are not capable of and would need assistance with. Make a list for each sibling
      4 identify the obvious gaps – things they need help with that none of them is capable of doing or learning. This is stuff they will absolutely need help with. Is there any assistance available that matches with this? If not is it something you are likely to be able to do without it overwhelming your life? Make a list of the “gaps”
      5 have an honest conversation with your parents about it all. Tell them in advance that your mams recent experience has made you really think about this, and that you think you should all sit down like grown ups and come up with a plan. Come with all your info and talk it through. You don’t have to offer to do anything. It’s unlikely youll be able to support all three alone anyway, so if your parents try to push that idea, point out that even if you promised to do that, it’s unrealistic. Tell them you need a realistic plan, and you making promises you aren’t capable of keeping is not a good plan.

      Hopefully things will get a bit clearer once you do all that.

      Good luck

    2. WellRed*

      Quick question: Did you ask ( or tell, with specifics) your sibs for help? I realize there are special circumstances, but you are gonna have to have the conversation with your parents eventually, and this seems like an opportunity to start.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      How severe are your siblings’ learning disabilities, truly? Are you sure that they don’t have any other issues that would prevent them from supporting themselves?

      This might be a personal thing for me, but I think you need to draw a distinction between “my adult siblings are not working full-time/going to school/saving for a down payment/working toward some other worthwhile life goal” and “my adult siblings live with our parents.” It can be very, very, VERY hard for an employed adult to afford his or her own place these days, especially if they’re single and have aged out of the roommate pool. It’s not about the fact that they live there. It’s that they don’t have the rest of their lives in order.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I was thinking about the severity issue, but from a different perspective.

        If they’ve got a disability that is eligible for public support – a caseworker, job training/placement, a group home, in-home care, that sort of thing – then one thing the OP can do is research these options, both to present to her parents for help now, and for backup when the parents can’t support the siblings any more.

        But from the OP’s description, it doesn’t sound like their learning disabilities are at the public support level. The threshold for support at school is a *lot* lower, and there are a wide variety of learning or behavioural issues that entitle you to support as a minor in school, but where you’re completely on your own as an adult. If this is the case, then things could get really messy – if the government won’t take care of them, and they aren’t able or willing to take care of themselves, it will fall on the OP, or nobody.

        Have you discussed this frankly with your parents – the question of what will happen to them when your parents can’t support them any longer, along with the very firm insistence that you will not be able to take them in and support them financially and physically.

        It will not be easy, or even necessarily possible, to get your parents to see that their behaviour makes it easier for your siblings in the short term, but disasterous in the long term, and could result in them, at age 40-something, getting tossed out into the world with the life skills and job skills and emotional experience of someone in their mid-teens.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          Exactly. You can be a functioning adult who is living with Mom and Dad and contributing to their household, especially if you stand to inherit the house. You can be caring for Mom or Dad or paying a bit of rent or simply living there as an easy option while working a full-time job. The problem is that these siblings aren’t living productive lives or making moves toward half-self-sufficiency even though they presumably have some resources at their disposal.

          I also agree that it’s going to become OP’s problem even though it’s entirely unfair to them. OP might even want to begin the conversation with, “Mom and Dad, please start working on this, because otherwise you’ll be forcing me to deal with it.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I spent a decade working with folks with disabilities of all sorts.

      We would advise parents to build a plan of where the dependent adult child would go in the event of their passing. And our recommendation was to start planning now, there is no such thing as starting to early. You can let your parents know this.

      Several thoughts and please hang on to them or some version of them:

      Mom and Dad can barely keep up with the needs going on here. It’s reasonable to assume that you will not fair better than that. Say that out loud to them. You will probably have to say it a few times before they “hear” you.

      It’s going to take about 15 people of various specialties to fix all that is going on here. If you attempt to do it yourself you could very well end up in the ER.

      Try not to gauge/guess what the sibs can and cannot do. This is for your own peace more than anything else. Encourage your parents that the sibs will get a professional evaluation and placed in a program to help them. Generally, if the professional sees that a person is not doing something, the professional will assume that they cannot do it. Probably they will receive counseling or assistance for these things that they are not doing. Not trying to be shocking, but the professional will probably say they have very low daily living skills.

      Probably not a consolation but we saw many families where the parents were adding to the issues because of doing everything for their child. This is not unusual.

      As far as the life insurance, your sibs would need to receive a multi-million dollar pay out to cover what they may need for the rest of their lives. Encourage your mom that the life insurance is to take care of JUST her.

        1. Not So NewReader*


          I would try places like this here. The link is a map, you can locate your state and find what is available. (Am hoping you are in the US.)

          I would also google “help for people with disabilities and independent living”. You can add your state or your zip code to this and maybe get more local resources.

          1. Thlayli*

            Cheers – I’m not in US but I’m guessing Nutella jar is since she mentioned thanksgiving – so I’m sure this will be useful for her – just wanted to ask in case she doesn’t get a chance before you stop checking this thread.

            My family is sorted we already know how to access supports and stuff – plus we don’t have the social opposition to people using what they are entitled to that you have in the US (see Medicaid thread above).

            Thanks for all the work you do with people with special needs.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Did do- I had to back away from that kind of work after a while. It taught me a lot though and it made me stronger in some ways.
              Thanks for reaching out here. OP’s situation is very, very difficult.

      1. Nutella Jar*

        Thank you, Not So NewReader and everyone else who has commented. I’ll try to address everything in this post:

        My siblings’ disabilities are a mix of auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, OCD, ADHD, and anxiety. My family has never had a definite diagnosis. When we were kids they were diagnosed with high-functioning autism, but that diagnosis was dropped about 8 years ago. I’m not sure if there is public support for those disabilities for adults.

        I’ve brought this situation up to my mom before, and all she told me that I won’t have to help them financially without giving me any details or specifics. To add to the situation, my mom is/was a stay-at-home mom and hasn’t worked in 30+ years now. She once said to me two years ago that dad had spent a lot of retirement money on his business, so I’m not even sure how much they have for themselves once they hit retirement. I’ve been debating if I should talk to my uncles and aunts about it. They were all so happy when I moved out of my parents’ and I think they may be worried about my siblings’ future too.

        Sadly, the people who work at my dad’s company don’t really enjoy working with my siblings. One employee said that my siblings often come late and leave early, they make a lot of mistakes, easily get upset over little things, and work too slowly (which the disabilities likely do have an impact on that). While I know some of their disabilities impact their work skills and their ability to work fast and efficient, I’m worried how their social skills could get them fired if they were to work anywhere else.

        Thank you again everyone for the comments and advice. I’m ready to go back to home. Growing up, my younger sister taunted me and called me names all the time. She was doing that again yesterday, and I snapped, told her to stop, left the room upset. Since then, she had yelled at me whenever I’m around and has slammed doors and thrown things close to me. Thank you everyone once again.

        1. Observer*

          Have ONE conversation with your mom. Tell her that you can take NO responsibility for your siblings – not financial not anything else. You are worried because they are not functional in any reasonable fashion – the fact that they can’t even step up to the plate and keep the house in order is is a HUGE issue.

          Either they need a new diagnosis and supports other than your parents, or they have to find some way to lower the boom and force the issue, or some combination thereof. You don’t know the answer to that, but your parents need to figure this out.

          There will never be a better time than now, when your parents can see clearly how dysfunctional your siblings are, to have this conversation. They may still not listen to you, but there is nothing else you can do.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          The behaviors you mention here are the very type of behaviors that my old place would help with- yelling, name calling, throwing, slamming and so on.
          Because of the possibility of multiple problems that may increase their chances of being eligible for help. As you show here, several problems converge to make things very difficult for them. And what you say here also shows that they cannot hold down a job.
          Probably talking to your aunts and uncles is a very good idea. Your parents should not be bankrolling your sibs’ care for the rest of the sibs lives. Even worse yet, you should not be paying for their care either.

    5. Sara smile*

      Sounds like your parents are enablers and you are the scapegoat. It may be useful for you to read about these dynamics and how they are part of a dysfunctional family.

    6. Artemesia*

      Your parents as you realized have ruined the lives of their children. Someone with disabilities needs to be helped to cope but also helped to be charming, helpful and competent at life skills because they will need kindness and help all their lives and competent nice people have a better shot at that. I would see a therapist who deals with family situations like this about some sort of intervention while your parents are still alive. There may still be time to turn this around so that these adults are capable of self support. If they truly cannot be helped to be independent, steps should be taken now to find them protected living situations. I hope your father really does have lots of life insurance (like a million at least) and that he has a trust plan for managing their care once your parents are gone. I’d be dubious. I have watched people raise kids with learning disabilities to be competent self supporting adults and it makes me very sad to hear of a situation where parents don’t step up to help their kids survive in the world as well as implicitly burden one child like you feel they are burdening you.

      Personally, I’d move to the opposite coast. But first I’d try to organize an intervention to create a plan going forward to help your siblings.

  41. Elizabeth West*

    Damn social media bots. Yesterday, I retweeted a Swear Trek tweet with my own joke about seeing a dog at the hair salon, and they retweeted it and it got TONS of likes. I checked my Twitter notifications today and saw what looked like a follow from my celebrity crush. I nearly had a heart attack before I checked and found it was just a stupid mirrored bot account. Rawr!

    I reported the account and blocked it, but wouldn’t that have been cool? *insert heart-eyes emoji here*

    I have four crushes going –two are literary and thus, can never break my heart, one is a celeb who absolutely can, and one is someone I follow on the Twitter machine who is fecking gorgeousssssss why do I do this to myself gaaaaaah. It’s absolutely exhausting, LOL.

    Who’s your crush right now?

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Also a celeb. When he announced his engagement and then got married a few years ago I actually cried. Then felt stupid for crying. Then cried again.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          Oh, that sucks. I have a friend at work who knows someone who works for my celeb crush (she’s one of his lawyers, I think). When my friend told me he might be at his lawyer’s wedding, I wanted to kind of shake her and say “you are actually breaking my heart right now”. Whenever I see him in a photo without his wedding ring (like he’s filming or something) I have a brief fantasy that he’s split from his wife. I periodically have to take twitter breaks to get my neuroses under control :(

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Once they get married, my fantasy is over, because in order to place myself into the scenario, first I have to imagine a way to get rid of the spouse. If they start having kids, that kills it completely since I would have to then deal with stepmom stuff and the ex-wife all the time. I’ve done that already, and while it’s not a total IRL deal breaker, it’s incredibly difficult and I would only do it again for the right person.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My fictional ones are Roland Deschain from The Dark Tower book series. That’s a very old one. The other is a mild one on the character Nathaniel in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. He’s being uber vulnerable and cute right now on the show and NOOO I don’t want to like him but now I do but it’s fun.

      2. Be the Change*

        I just finished “The Great Reckoning” about ten minutes ago. Oh my goodness. Armand forever.

        And sooo sorry for Ms. Penny… maybe I will write her a letter since nice fanmail probably helps a little and I can’t do anything else.

    2. nep*

      Larry David.
      As for ‘in real life’ — For a good while had a crush on a married man I would see only once in a great while (random — when he would come to a public place when I was there); it has faded over time though, which is nice.
      There is one famous artist/musician I’d love to get to know and spend time with — not a romantic crush but a bit of a fantasy about having the opportunity to get to know him.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Really? Hahah he’s funny.

        I have a few writers I have much admiration for and would love to hang out with. Stephen King is one. I’m in awe of him. I’d also give anything to meet the Queen. *star-eyes emoji*

      2. Anon attorney*

        Yeah, I’m currently nursing a mild actor crush, but I think it’s less to do with him and more to do with my own creativity poking me in the kidneys to say “oi!! Not seen you in a while!” I want to be part of the creative life rather than it being sexual (not that I’d climb over him to get to my laptop).

        Real life crush on a friend will have to stay where it is. I really don’t think our orientations align, and even if they did, I know deep down we wouldn’t be right for each other. It’s a safe place for my energy to go while I figure out the challenge of actually dating. If I figure it out.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t have any crushes on anyone IRL nearby, for which I am profoundly grateful. I had a workplace crush in 2015 and it sucked. I finally worked up the courage to ask him for coffee, and he said yes, but then when I tried to schedule something, he demurred and I dropped it. Just embarrassing. I really don’t like crushes, but they’re much worse when it’s someone in close proximity. Especially if it’s not mutual.

          The Twitter one is somebody who followed me first because we have mutual political interests (?? I guess), and when I checked to see who it was, I thought, Oh daaaaaamn (he’s mega hot) and followed him back. But we’re absurdly far from each other, and he’s not really responsive to my tweets, so it shall remain an entertaining fantasy for now, alas.

          I’d much rather have something IRL, even if it’s not serious, but there isn’t anyone here. If there were, I’d have met him already. And nobody in their right mind would come here on purpose from anywhere cool!

          1. anon attorney*

            What I’d like is a FWB relationship, but no candidates right now. I guess I could have that kind of arrangement with someone new, but I’m just not yet in a place in my life where that feels possible.

            Friend crush is a lady and so am I. I think she’s straight but she doesn’t know I’m not (and I doubt she’d guess). I guess I could share that information with her at least, but I’d rather not let her know my feelings for her.

    3. Not Australian*

      Famous Actor, four years younger than me. Never miss a film, occasionally catch him on stage (very rare and usually expensive), would love to chat to him but would probably hate him in real life so I’m glad I’ll never have the opportunity. I’ve been stuck on this one particular guy for a good ten years now – after disliking him for complicated reasons before that – so it looks as if this one’s going to stay with me forever. Which is good, because Alan Rickman died and Kevin Spacey disgraced himself – so this one had better not do either!

    4. So anon!*

      Dr Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG1 is my fictional one. And Juan Cabrillo from the Oregon Files by Clive Cussler.
      And…. Ummm…. my tutor…. who is not only completely unavailable but is also my line manager (workplace training). But he’s good looking, has a really nice personality and is someone who I feel comfortable just chatting to. And I think there’s also the fact that he is ‘safe ‘ (read unavailable) and therefore can’t hurt me like my ex did, which is why my brain has gone ‘ooh, he’s lovely ‘!

    5. Torrance*

      I’ve been crushing pretty hard on Peter Hollens the past few months. Not only is he really, really hot but he’s got a fantastic voice. /swoon

    6. QualityControlFreak*

      I think I’d like to have a crush; that would be a nice distraction. But I don’t think I really have crushes, at least not since the earth cooled and I was young. Right now it seems much safer to me not to have any kind of emotional attachments to anyone, but I don’t place a crush in that category.

    7. Yams*

      This super cute guy I met a few months ago. Well he isn’t super cute, but I think he’s the cutest guy I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

      This is definitely the crush that will push me to move to a different city and back into therapy, but that’s a good thing! I think, if I don’t completely fall apart.

  42. Weekend Warrior*

    +1! Stories can be a bit soapy but fun; acting is excellent; police work is gritty and realistic; friendship between female leads very satisfying. Bonus points for Manchester setting!

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I think the scene that got me hooked was in one of the early episodes where one of the main characters got dumped by her married boyfriend and then demanded he keep paying for her flat. In most shows the dumped partner would just go away in silent and noble dignity. I remember being impressed with her gumption. I’m sure lots of people have imagined doing what she did. It didn’t hurt the bf was played by Rupert Graves… he is a silver fox :)

  43. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    House is giving me a headache! I had a leak in the roof, all is fixed, so moving on to fix the interior damage. So I’m scraping away at the peeling paint in the bathroom (plaster, so pretty tolerant of minor leaks), and the top layer of plaster comes off! The basecoat is solid thank goodness, but I don’t know how to do this level of repair on plaster. Small holes, yes. Half the wall needs a new topcoat? No. But I’m cheap and stubborn, so will be learning.

    Also, there’s a possible broken pipe underneath the slab in the utility room. I’m really hoping not, because that is NOT a DIY job for me, and would be expensive and messy.

    At least Thanksgiving went well.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I like going to Ace Hardware with some of my questions. Sometimes they can talk you through the repair.

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        You Tube. Wonderful thing. I need to wait for the wall to dry out before I can repair it, which will take a while. Doesn’t help that it’s a bathroom, and the only shower in the house!

  44. today is today*

    How do you respond to people who anytime you are doing something say “I could never do x”? For example, I did a triathlon last year. So many people have said they could never do it! I mean, I am terribly slow, I was terrified at times, and I am not athletic looking, but it was something that seemed fun and I trained for it (with all the ups and downs that entailed), and I finished it. I had a lot of fun! I was one of the last ones in! I don’t think I did anything extraordinary, I just decided I wanted to do it mostly, so I prioritized it, and stuck at it, even when I wanted to quit. I can understand if you think this is not your idea of fun, but I do believe that if one wants to do it, one can – the people telling me don’t have health issues that would prevent them from doing it, they are just untrained. I just never know how to respond.

    1. nep*

      If you want to respond directly you might say something like ‘If it was something you wanted to do, I’m sure you could’.
      ‘I could never do X’ is rarely a literal expression, I think, though in that context most people probably see it as literal. It’s really just a common expression. For some, perhaps it’s an ‘out’ in a way. I could never do that = so I don’t ever need to even try.
      I agree with you — if a person makes something a priority and works at it, he/she can accomplish things that might at once have seemed inaccessible/infeasible.
      Well done, by the way. Nice discipline and consistency, for sure.

    2. Thlayli*

      Mostly when people say that they mean “wow I’m impressed you did just a difficult thing”

      Just say something like “it was really hard but I got there in the end” and conversation will naturally flow

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      In this specific case, people might be reacting to their past conversations with other runners or athletes. I gotta say, whenever someone starts talking about running or crossfit or reps (seriously, enough with the reps) or freaking yoga, I shut down the conversation as quickly as possible. It’s like when people want to tell you about their dreams or how they got zomg soooooooo high last night. 99% of time “I did a triathlon” is a conversation that proceeds in a specific way, and it can be really annoying for the person who has to listen to it. If you really want to tell a friend about your latest athletic stuff, maybe think of a different way to broach it?

    4. Artemesia*

      It is small talk. It doesn’t require a serious response or a lot of thought. Something casual like ‘oh it did take a lot of training to pull off, and not everyone is up for that’ is plenty. And then move on.

    5. Jennifer Thneed*

      I hear this a lot about the fiber arts I do. “Oh, I could never make that”. “Oh, I don’t have the patience for that”.

      I get that it’s small talk, but damn it’s annoying! Why can’t they just compliment me without putting themselves down? And honestly, why do they make it all about themselves? I never started that conversation! Are they looking for reassurance? to be coaxed? I can never tell either.

      When I don’t want to hear it, I just smile and nod, or say something like “Yeah, it’s fun”. When I feel like engaging, I tell them that they certainly can make this thing, but they don’t have to if they don’t want to. Sometimes I have wanted to respond with “Sorry to hear it” but that just feels mean.

      1. Gingerblue*

        I think a lot of the time it’s meant as a safe sort of “Wow, that sounds awesome, but I know so little about this hobby of yours that I don’t know how to continue the conversation in more than general terms! I’m going to signal that I admire this thing you did, and please don’t think my lack of specifics means I’m not interested!” Which, fair enough. I could burble on quite happily about fiber arts to you, but I couldn’t say anything much about a triathlon beyond that I admire someone for doing a Hard Sports Thing!

  45. Loopy*

    Just a fun poll: for those who celebrate Christmas and are into the holidays, do you start before Thanksgiving, right after Thanksgiving, or only once December 1 rolls around, or even later?

    I used to be a staunch, no Christmas anything until December 1, but now I’m starting to warm to the idea of getting into the Christmas mode right after Thanksgiving.

    Just curious on others’ traditions.

    1. Athena*

      The rule here, growing up, was no Christmas until dad’s birthday passed. We’d usually put the tree up December 6.

      When I moved out on my own, that tree went up December 1 (officially. It usually went up far earlier. I am a Christmas nut).

      I’m in Australia, so no thanksgiving, but retail work got me in the holiday spirit early.

        1. Athena*

          My dad would love it down January 1, but I think I usually tear it down closer to February because I like to hold onto the magic for a while.

      1. Old Biddy*

        My birthday’s Dec 7. I don’t really start thinking about it until after that, even though I’m almost 50. Cookie baking starts Dec 12 or so, and the tree goes up 1st or second weekend of Dec. The cookie baking and holiday parties make me feel festive. My husband has way more holiday spirit than I do so our lights and wreaths are already up.

    2. Nicole*

      I always wait until after Thanksgiving, but every year it varies how soon we put up the decor. Typically it’s mid December because there’s no real great place for the tree so it makes things a little cramped. Besides that and all the decor making it feel more cluttered we can only tolerate looking at it for so long. We also take down the tree before New Years.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Right after Thanksgiving. Family tradition is, after turkey (and cleanup) we put on Handel’s Messiah and hold a sort of… hm. Observed transition, I guess you could call it. The Messiah is the start of Christmas.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      In my family growing up, we always set up the Christmas tree and Nativity scene the day after Thanksgiving. It came down on January 12 (Epiphany). These days, I only occasionally bother, since I’m either gone or on my own and don’t care.

    5. Tau*

      No Thanksgiving here. The Christmas season officially starts on the earlier of the 1st of December or the first Advent (this year it’s the 1st of December), although some minor decorations and first bakes of Christmas biscuits are acceptable starting in November.

      That said, the tree itself only goes up on the morning of the 24th, and it only gets chopped down at most a few days before. This is because we use real candles and you really, really don’t want to combine that with a tree that’s had a few weeks to dry out.

    6. Loopy*

      So I gave away that I’m in America but now I’m wondering if I didn’t have Thanksgiving holiday if my Christmas prep would just begin creeping uncontrollably earlier each year!

      I won’t decorate until after Dec 1, but I’m indulging in my Christmas music tonight. I love the Pentatonic xmas songs. Guh.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      I start the first week of December usually. I find as the years go by I look forward to the whole decorating thing less and less. Actually, it’s the dragging the stuff down from the attic, unpacking it, figuring out which lights work and which ones don’t, moaning about why I have so much damn stuff, putting it all up, only to take it down three to four weeks later. Once it’s up, I’m happy. I just don’t like the putting up and taking down. :)

    8. Aphrodite*

      I only recognize two seasonal celebrations in the entire year but I care very much about them: Autumn (which includes Thanksgiving) from approximately October 1 through the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend, and Christmas (from the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend until about December 28-29. I want to have everything put away before the end of the year because I am an enthusiastic participant in Apartment Therapy’s annual January Cure.

      I adore the holidays but I suspect part of the reason is that I am pretty insulated from the overkill of advertisers and stores. I dislike most shopping so I avoid stores as “entertainment.” I spread out my holiday shopping throughout the year so it’s easy. I have decorations but I do not go overboard; I am quite fussy about what I buy. I have to love it, first, and then I have to be willing to store it for 10.5 months of the year. That, as you probably can imagine, is pretty good at weeding potential purchases out.

      This year, for the first time, I decided not to do the traditional T-Day meal because in central coastal California we are having heat. I hate heat and can’t wait to get out when I retire. So I elected to go seafood and had shrimp cocktail, green salad, steamed artichoke, lobster and pumpkin ice cream. Easy and good. I may do this again.

    9. Valancy Snaith*

      Here in Canada the usual rule is that all holiday stuff waits until after Remembrance Day to go up, and my neighbours definitely started putting up their outdoor lights November 12. I feel like that is PLENTY, and usually I try to hold off until this weekend or December 1st. But we put up our outdoor lights this weekend because we like to get it done before there’s too much snow on the ground.

    10. Lady Kelvin*

      I put out my decorations the day after Thanksgiving, but they are fairly minimal. We’ll get a real tree this year because we aren’t traveling (yay!) But not for another week or so, just because it’ll probably die pretty quickly here.

    11. paul*

      I haven’t put up a tree in 5 or 6 years…I think we have some tin snowmen we might put in the yard this year?

    12. Not Australian*

      We usually don’t put up our tree until a couple of days before Christmas, but we’re traditionalists who don’t take it down until January 6. This year will be different, though; it will have to go up round about 14 December due to family commitments, and probably be taken down earlier as a result.

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

      As a kid the day after Thanksgiving was always the start of the Christmas season. Back in the stone ages before black Friday was such a big insane thing (I never heard that term until about 10-15 years ago) we would go out and do a little shopping, and put up the decorations. Then we’d have a mini lighting ceremony – turn on the lights and sing “we wish you a merry Christmas”.

      These days we are often not at our own house for the holidays so I put up some decorations whenever I feel like it. Usually I just decorate the mantlepiece around the fake fire. Since I don’t have kids or pets to worry about breaking things I’ve started buying myself one or two glass ornaments every year. Nothing super fancy, just whatever I see while I’m out and about that I like. Last year I made a sort of garland out of my little collection but I change it up. This year I might cut a little branch from the hedge and use it as a mini tree for them.

    14. Overeducated*

      After Thanksgiving. Used to be later into December but I am now starting earlier since I feel like I have less free time due to work now. We made some gingerbread cookies yesterday, and will go to our first Christmas party next weekend, but I am not sure when we’ll have time to set up a tree. That might take longer.

    15. Natalie*

      I don’t put anything up until after Thanksgiving, although this year I bought a decorative pot with evergreen branches, birch, etc in it early. But that’s more “winter decor” than Christmas specifically. I usually get my tree around the first weekend of December. And then everything comes down shortly after New Years.

    16. Bagpuss*

      I’m in the UK so don’t do Thanksgiving. Growing up, we always put everything up on Christmas Eve and took it down on 12th night.

      These days, I usually travel to family for Christmas so I tend to put some stuff up a bit earlier, so I get maybe a week with decorations up at my house, but it’s fairly minimal.

      This year I am spending christmas at my parent’s home and as christmas is on Monday and I finish work on Friday, I’ll be able to be there all day on Christmas Eve and help put everything up. Normally we have one main tree which will have 50 years worth of family decoration on it – never knowingly under-blinged! But probably will also have at least one smaller, artificial tree, which we’ll do something beautifully colour-coordinated with :)

      My brother-in-law has just finished putting loads of lights up on the outside of their house, though, so they are starting early!

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        +1 to taking it down by 12th night. My birthday is not long after so Christmas needs to be packed away!

    17. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      My seven year old son gets amusingly distressed when he sees stores with Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving. We went to Target about two weeks ago to pick up a gift for a birthday party and he went into a full on rant about how inappropriate it was that stores couldn’t be grateful and thankful during Thanksgiving season and not wait until Christmas season to display Christmas decor. I’m not sure how much is his genuine emotion and how much is an act he puts on to seem older and cooler to people while he rants loudly.

  46. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Anyone have any good tips for working a new neutral/base color into your wardrobe without breaking the bank?

    I’ve spent most of my life holding a vehement grudge against navy blue (blame terrible school uniforms), and building my wardrobe on a basis of black with pops of bright colors. Now, I’m finally over the childish grudge and really wanting to incorporate more navy into my life – but navy and black don’t play well outside of Marine dress. Thoughts? Key items that can pull multi-duty? Help?

    1. NicoleK*

      Accessories are a good way to incorporate more color into your life. Jewelry, scarves, handbags, and etc. A blazer or cardigan can be worn with slacks, jeans, skirts, and dresses.

    2. fposte*

      I like navy and black together myself; what I think helps is to throw in a third color that isn’t white. Grey is good if you have it; maroon can work pretty nicely too; purple can work in the right place. Now that I think about it, I’ve also done dusty rose, lighter blue, light turquoise, and teal. Got any of those?

    3. HannahS*

      I think navy can pretty much go anywhere black went. So if a previous outfit was based around black pants, you can probably use the same shirt/sweater/blouse/accessories that you did before. My wardrobe revolves around navy blue, and my favourite colours to wear with it are red, cream, grey, pink/coral, purple, brown, etc. It pretty much goes with everything. Any jewel tone in the winter and any bright colour in the summer. Super basic sample outfits I wear:
      Navy pants, blouse with navy blue flowers, cream cable knit pullover sweater, brown leather watch, black shoes.
      Navy lace dress, sheer pantyhose, red cardigan, silver or copper jewelry, black shoes.
      Coral summer dress, navy cardigan, brown leather sandals.

    4. Temperance*

      I love navy now, but hated it as a child. I like navy with gray, but I typically do navy with a brighter color, like red. My favorite suit is navy and I wear it with a red top and red shoes.

      I am a firm hater of navy with black, FWIW, I think it’s becoming okay with society at large.

    5. Effie, who is worth it*

      I rediscovered navy as a neutral about 5 years ago and I agree with both fposte (for lighter shades of navy) and HannahS (darker shades of navy).

    6. Horizons*

      Not to derail-same general topic…

      I love the idea of going neutral with pops of color, but I look terrible in black, navy, and taupe. Even gray is iffy. You can see my Irish heritage: reddish brown hair, ruddy complexion, brown eyes.

      I get the most compliments when I stick to autumnal colors, but they are not mix and match neutrals!

      Any ideas on how I can simplify my wardrobe when I look so awful in black and navy?