weekend free-for-all – December 2-3, 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: History of Wolves, by Emily Fridlund. I originally wasn’t going to read this because the title made me think it was some sort of modern Call of the Wild, but it’s actually about an isolated teenager’s relationship with a family who move in nearby and it’s quite good.

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

{ 1,428 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie*

    I’m usually a big fan of the Graham Norton Show (more so than any other talk show), but I was really surprised (and disappointed) that he had Mel Gibson as a guest the week before last. I don’t know how much control he has over the guests booked (or which movies are being promoted) but… I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

    His interviews are meant to be fluff pieces (so of course he’s not going to try make his guests uncomfortable) and most of the time I like that, but the thought of being receptive or friendly with Gibson just…could not stomach that.

    Did anyone watch that particular episode?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Norton is big enough that I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t be able to make demands, and I’m also shocked that he would interview a renowned anti-Semite and homophobe. I may have to watch it, just to see if he tried drilling him about his bigoted public statements. I’ll be very disappointed if he gave him a pass on that.

      1. Katie*

        I think Gibson was part of a ‘package’ with Mark Wahlberg and John Lithgow, so maybe there was some sort of deal where Norton had to have all three on? But the fact Gibson is still getting cast in big films is just…ugh.

        1. Quiet lurker*

          Mark Wahlberg isn’t a great choice either, didn’t he hospitalize a Vietnamese man in a racist attack?

          1. Beaded Librarian*

            Yes but at least in his case he’s admitted ever since he did it and has not done anything similar. Now it could be argued that he’s gotten good at hiding his racist views but that’s better than what Mel Gibson has managed, he just gets worse as he gets older.

        2. Circus peanuts*

          I saw the movie that those three are promoting. Gibson’s character in the movie is a horses ass so while it was odd to see him on the screen, he did a good job. The movie’s energy level was a bit uneven, Lithgow and Ferrell were high energy playing off of one another and Wahlberg and Gibson were lower key in contrast.

    2. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I thought some of the other guests might have looked a little uncomfortable sharing a stage with him, but I only caught clips so it’s hard to say for sure.

    3. Etak*

      I saw it and I felt the same. I love the show and I was left feeling pretty ick about Mel Gibson being there and everyone acting pretty blasé about it. I think there was even a passing mention of the “troubles” Gibson has had??? Ugh no, disappointed.

    4. JulieBulie*

      Ugh. I don’t know who Graham Norton is, but my mother re-watched “The Patriot” the other night and couldn’t stop talking about it yesterday and I couldn’t believe my ears. (And yet, I also could.)

      I didn’t want to hear about it, and she kept bringing it up. I kept changing the subject, but then she’d try to talk about politics. (Between Mel Gibson, politics, and other stuff regarding my mother, I am struggling not to go off on a rant of my own.)

      (I just mentally wrote a whole thing, but I’ll save it for a future weekend freefrall when I have time for it.)

      Mel Gibson has been dead to me for many years. I realize that he’s not actually physically dead, and I realize it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to humor me. But, damn, really? Are people’s memories really so short? (Trick question; the answer is yes.)

  2. Elf*

    What? First???

    I am being shocked by how unpleasant the first trimester is. It is much worse than the last time. I think part of the difference is probably that I am working full time, but there isn’t much I can do about that and my toddler keeps climbing on me when I am trying to rest, and this weekend I get to bake approximately 100 dozen cookies because my family is insane (that will be replicated each of the next two weekends).

      1. JaneB*

        I think you give all the reason you need in one word – toddler!! You get to cut all the corners you can with no shame for the next year, I reckon -tell the family it was ordered by a random non medical doctor on the internet!!

        Joking aside, that sounds SO tough, cut yourself a LOT of slack…

    1. Ms. Annie*

      I couldn’t even be in smelling distance of the kitchen during baking.

      Can you tell them the smells trigger your morning sickness something fierce and cut back or skip baking altogether?

      There are a couple of really, really good bakeries near me that do wonderful cookies. Seriously though, take care of yourself.

    2. Emalia*

      My second pregnancy was much harder than the first–vertigo at work, any smell set me off, constant lower back and hip pain. My first pregnancy, I had mild nausea till around 10 weeks.

      My saving grace was prenatal massage. Possible gift idea? Oh and, my husband would take our toddler on adventures one morning each weekend so I could sleep in.

      I hope you enjoy baking, because I’m sure there are plenty of bakers who do if you don’t!

    3. Artemesia*

      Could not Dad bake with the toddler (I am thinking a toddler would love putting the Hershey kisses on 100 peanut blossom cookies. and I say that as a grandmother who bakes with her grandkids) My daughter just had her second and has a tough time too with an older child and full time work; I know she dropped a lot of the usual obligations and I think you should do the same. The first trimester is exhausting and if you have morning sickness even more so. This is a time to be kind to yourself, to let your husband pick up some more of the slack and to drop non essentials. ‘Mom, Sis — you know I love the family bakeathon but I am not up to it this year. ‘ some things are more important than others and your health while carrying a baby is one of those things. Exhaustion is not good for you, for your toddler and your new baby. Be easier on yourself.

      Baking for 3 weekends is absolutely not essential. Just say ‘no’. If your husband can step up (nothing is easier than baking cookies) great; if not, there will be other years.

    4. Pawnee Goddess*

      Totally up to you, but this internet stranger gives you permission to say no to all extraneous baking and other requests, now and forever! If you have a partner or a friend who can take over, could you lean on them for a while? Sorry if this is just adding to the mountain of unsolicited advice, but I think people often don’t realize how much strain is put on pregnant/parenting people and could use a little “hey, can you help me out here?”

    5. PhyllisB*

      I had a terrible time during my second pregnancy. Could not keep food down and like you, was working full-time and dealing with a 3 year old. My doctor even told me I needed to gain some weight. I told him I wanted that in writing, because NO ONE had ever told me before I needed to gain weight. :-) I drank lots of milk shakes; that seemed to be the only thing that would stay down. Must not have hurt him too bad, he’s 32 years old and six feet tall and doing great. My first and third I sailed through with no problems. (They were girls. Wonder if that was the difference?) All this to say, sending good energy your way, and don’t do anything you don’t absolutely have to do.

    6. Anion*

      First trimester with my second was way worse than my first, too. I felt basically normal with #1, just tired. With #2 I was queasy and exhausted all day; the only thing that made me feel better was Friday’s potato skins and spanakopita appetizers from Target. I ate those every day at like 2pm, which was when I finally felt okay getting up off the couch and eating something.

      And the smells! I couldn’t go near the kitchen sink, because the smell of the drain (which normally I never noticed) made me want to puke. My husband bought some green apple scented dish soap, and the smell of *that* made me want to puke, too–I couldn’t stand it, and that lasted through the entire pregnancy. I still don’t like it much.

      But the smell of Comet cleanser was so good I wanted to eat it. :-) I scrubbed the tub and sink almost every day because the smell of that cleanser was sooooo wonderful. (Of course I didn’t actually try to eat it, lol.)

      Funny story: a month or two ago I was helping child #2 (who will be 13 next week) work out some major tangles in her hair, in the tub. I had a bottle of Bed Head conditioner, which–I discovered after I bought it–smells like green apple. So I’ve never really used it much. But I needed a LOT of conditioner for her hair, so I figured I’d use it.

      I got about a handful and started working it into her hair, and she says, “What *is* that smell? It’s awful, it’s making me feel sick.” !!!

      So the smell that made me feel so queasy when I was pregnant with her…now makes her feel queasy.

      I was pretty amazed by that!

      (Also, once during that pregnancy when I was dozing on the couch, MY toddler decided she’d had enough of Mommy napping. She grabbed this big hardcover Disney book we had, and slammed it down on my head! So there I am, dozing away, trying not to throw up, when all of the sudden BLAM! right on the top of my head. :-) I actually started to cry, it was such a shock and so painful [and hormones]. I mean, I saw the humor even then, but…ouch!)

      1. Green bean*

        I had the same attempted napping experience, but it was a piece of firewood my toddler hit me with! Second pregnancy is tough!

      2. Properlike*

        Funny about the green apple thing! I have a similar tale: When my mother was pregnant with me, she made a bunch of Christmas ornaments out of halved walnut shells. She at the nut meat for the entire month of December, and came to hate it.

        Walnuts are the one nut I can’t eat. Hate the taste of them.

    7. Observer*

      I don’t understand why you are baking the cookies. If you really can’t find a way to say no to your family, please find a competent therapist, if you are not seeing one, and work on setting some reasonable boundaries.

      I’m not being snarky – you can’t really do much about the other issues, but that kind of baking job is NOT something anyone gets to demand in your situation. The fact that you seem to think that you have to do it is concerning.

      1. Elf*

        The baking is stressful and crazy and also literally my favorite thing about this time of year. It’s also at a much saner pace than it has been in the past, we’ve broken it up into a longer period so we aren’t doing more than one type of cookie a day, so we’re really only doing 2-3 hours on a given day, and my father watched my son the whole time we (my husband, mother, brother, and I) were doing it. It’s a big difference to be doing about 200 dozen cookies + packing over six days, instead of 385 dozen over four. (I totally hear you, it is a lot, but sometimes the crazy is what makes you special. I’ve never seen a bakery that makes cookies a fraction as nice as ours). Also, the smells of the cookies do not make me sick, I really would back out if they did.

        I’m coping a little better the last couple of days, because I’ve been making tea out of fresh ginger in the evenings. Things had been mostly manageable all day until about 5 pm when I just feel gross, but the tea seems to help a little. It’s harder because I’m a teacher so I can’t do things like eating and peeing when I need to, and I can’t get into a routine about it at work because we have a rotating schedule so my free times are different every day. I don’t think it would help to say something at work because teachers are exempted from a lot of labor laws, and I really don’t want to until most of my evaluation is done for the year, so if they decided to get rid of me it would be really obvious pregnancy retaliation (I’m untenured).

  3. Anon on this one*

    Okay, here goes: How do you talk to a partner who fairly quickly (within 2 months) goes from a normal-to-high sex drive to zero? He’s had a lot of professional drawbacks and his self-esteem is really hurting…which I suspect is the core of what’s going on, but also makes it really hard to have a conversation about this. He’s very aware that the rejection is painful for me which makes him just feel worse. I’ve been calm and tactful but that isn’t helping. It’s more important that he feel better than For our sex life to immediately resume but I don’t know how to accomplish the former either, especially since this is now another thing he feels bad about.

    For the record I’m positive he’s not having an affair, neither of our appearances or health levels have dramatically changed since the start of this or even the start of the relationship, and he is very sweet and kind to me otherwise.

    Hope this isn’t too racy for the board.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Sounds like it’s a symptom of whatever else is keeping him down. Which of course you knew, but may encourage him to work on the underlying problem, knowing that it isn’t really about you or your relationship. Is counseling an option?

    2. Anonymous Pixie*

      It’s not too racy!

      If no one else suggests it, try Captain Awkward if you haven’t already. Other than that, it really does sound like the professional drawbacks are feeding into a self-esteem issue. Counseling might be good if it’s feasible, but there’s a certain type of person who will hear ‘what about counseling’ and feel like they’re even more broken. I don’t know if your partner is like that, but you probably will know, so proceed with caution if you think it might happen.

      1. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

        Sorry but I like the young Prudence, Mallory Ortberg. She’s super with sexy-times questions.

        You could try Dr. Psych Mom, she does a lot of sex and marriage questions too. (Although she endorses 50 shades, “to get the spark back” she says, but it’s hard for me to understand why she endorses a novel with completely unhealthy DSM relationships…which is, well, abuse, so I’m not sure what’s sparky or romantic about that. But just my opinion)

        Capn lost me as a reader after the couple renting a cabin from a friend found a ton of cameras or something, and they knew children had been there just before them, and she advised them NOT to call the cops, basically. There were other things I disagreed with over the years but that one turned me away completely. When she started tho, the first few years, were golden IMHO

        Um, no. If you have reason to believe that someone is committing a crime against a child, you fn report it. Don’t care whether the cabin is owned by your friends or what. That’s BS. Insted she left it in the court of the woman who was recorded – I think her bf found them and brought them to her or something or took them from the cabin, but he was recorded too -because as the victim she gets to make the call to cops or not. (??)

        Captn isn’t a mom and I have a background with a non-profit for children where I had to pass a federal background check, so I might be biased here.. But I’m sorry, if you suspect crimes being committed against a child, you go to the cops, period. Full stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Unless you’re selling videos of underagers of course!

        The updates were in the comments and the cops were eventually involved for an unrelated reason or something. Sorry it’s been a while and I have no interest in tracking down that particular column. Probably 2 years ago?

        1. NaoNao*

          I’m surprised that you read that letter as a) involving kids at some point (although reading between the lines or speculating, children *could* have been involved) and the Captain says “It’s okay to get law enforcement involved….”

          Her entire response is one of extreme horror and support for the victims and encouraging them to drop this person out of their circle and warn everyone.

          I think there’s a chance you may be conflating two letters?

          It’s no skin off my nose if you don’t like the Captain, but there might be some confusion that reading the letter could clear up. She doesn’t come out in all caps and say “call the cops right away!!” but she doesn’t say “Don’t call the cops” either.

          1. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

            “Her entire response is one of extreme horror and support for the victims and encouraging them to drop this person out of their circle and warn everyone.”

            That’s way different than “call the cops.” And that’s where I drew the line. I’m all for victims but not at the expense of crimes against children (past or future) being committed. HEnce why the cops needed to be called immediately, and that should have been the first thing said. The response sounded like the friendship meant more than crimes against children!
            Drop this person ie shunning is proven to squash these crimes, or something, apparently? Umm no.

          2. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

            From that letter there was no way to know if it involved kids or not, but common sense says cameras stuck in secret places, like bathrooms, may catch a child. Might be the neighbor kid who briefly stopped by, or someone’s neice or nephew tagging along for a rare brief visit. Whatever. Assuming all the victims were adults is really silly considering the circumstances, which is that it was essentially a rental/vacation property. (Btw Capn didn’t consider any of this and conveniently didn’t post my polite comment pointing this out. She can make her own rules for her own blog of course, and my rules are not to give her money anymore or promote her site.)

    3. Autumn anon*

      Have you tried sitting down with him and telling him that you support him and that he’s more important to you than your sex life? If you haven’t, it might help him to know that not having sex with you isn’t a personal failure of his, and relieving that guilt might help with other aspects of communication around how he’s feeling right now. He also might not want to burden you or have you pity him, so you’d probably want your tone in all this to be sincere and earnest but not necessarily sympathetic, at least while you’re discussing sex, though, of course, you know your husband better than I do so use your own judgement on that. If you have talked to him about caring more about him than your sex life, then maybe a sincere discussion about what he feels and what you can do to help and support him is the next step, but if not then it might be a good place to start.

    4. Temp anon*

      You might suggest he talk to a counselor about his stress, self esteem, etc. It’s okay that he is feeling bad, but his coping skills can’t include shutting down or shutting you out. A couples counselor could also be a good option.

      What I mainly want to caution you about is letting this go too long. My husband and I haven’t been married for very long but we’ve struggled with his sex drive since shortly after we got engaged. He largely chalks it up to self esteem, too, but I made a big mistake in ignoring my concerns about it for a long time. I don’t have a super high sex drive either so at first I figured I could just wait for him to figure out whatever it was, and I’ve been in his position so I was really cautious about him feeling pressured in any way. We probably should have postponed the wedding. Some physical health problems came after that and right now I think we’ve had sex once or twice in the last year. Now I’m at the point where while I love him and want us to work out, I think I have about a year left before I’m walking away.

    5. Hellanon*

      Has he seen his doctor about depression, or about high blood pressure, etc, the kinds of medical conditions that can impact sex drive?

    6. Coffeelover*

      I wanted to start by saying this is so common and normal in long term relationships. Life gets in the way and sex takes a back seat. And I think that’s totally fine. I think it’s important to keep the intimacy alive, but sex isn’t the only way to do that.

      Personally, I’m in your boyfriends boat right now. I’m on new hormonal birth control which has temporarily killed my sex drive (not the kind of birth control I was hoping for haha). I told my husband about it and he was really understanding. He said something like, “that’s fine… I’m sure you’ll be good to go in a while”. That’s it. No more discussion needed. He also doesn’t push for sex and when I say I’m not into it, he stops immediately and cuddles instead. This might not work for everyone, but the fact that he waits until I initiate (at which point he’s enthusiastic) takes the pressure away. I don’t feel like he’s disappointed or waiting for me to get my game back.

      I say try to be intimate in a way that doesnt involve sex (ie cuddling and kissing) and let him initiate when he’s ready. If you want to talk to him about it then say something short and sweet… don’t try to have a long drawn out conversation (because this is probably not something he wants to discuss). You can say for example, “hey I know you’ve been stressed at work and we haven’t had a chance to have sex for a while. I want you to know that’s fine with me. Focus on what you need to and well get our groove back later.”

      1. Artemesia*

        Hormonal birth control does not ‘temporarily’ kill sex drive; if it has that effect it tends to be long lasting. I’d be looking for an alternative birth control method if this doesn’t turn around in a month or so.

        1. ValaMalDoran*

          This, this, this. Hormonal birth control pills have permanently (so far, at least) tanked my hormone levels and my sex drive. I’m 33, and have been off the pills for 3.5 years. I ended up getting a Paragard IUD because I won’t touch anything hormonal again.

          I’m very fortunate to have a lady doctor who will prescribe me testosterone cream. It has revived my sex drive.

        2. all aboard the anon train*

          Not everyone has that option, though. I need hormonal birth control to help my endometriosis and it’s killed my sex drive for years. I can’t have an IUD and I’m allergic to an ingredient in a lot of other non-hormonal pills, so I don’t know if this is Coffeelover’s case, but alternative birth control methods don’t always work for everyone. Sometimes you have to choose between a rock and a hard place.

          I don’t mean to be argumentative and I don’t think you meant it in this way, but I see so much on the internet about how bad hormonal birth control pills are and how women should stay away from them, and while it has had some bad effects, it’s pretty much let me go about a normal life because hormonal pills tamp down my severe endo symptoms in a way non-hormonal pills don’t.

          1. ValaMalDoran*

            I don’t think you’re being argumentative at all. Your experience and perspective is just as valuable and important as mine. (I do sometimes forget about the actual medical necessity for birth control pills, so thank you for the reminder.)

            I think there needs to be more discussion about birth control risks and side effects, for all kinds of birth control, so everyone can make the choice that is right for them. (Full disclosure: my IUD made my cramps SO MUCH worse, but I’d rather deal with that, than having no no sex drive. And I knew that was very likely when I made the decision.)

            What really makes me mad, was the doctor who prescribed my hormonal birth control pills didn’t discuss the more serious risks, including the potential for permanent libido changes, and neither did the insert that came with the pills. (That I read every single line of, every time.) No one can make an informed decision if they are not informed.

            I’m glad that hormonal birth control pills help your endometriosis. But I’m sorry that you didn’t have any better options available to you. That sucks.

            1. Julia*

              This. So many doctors just prescribe hormonal birth control to women without talking about the risks. Heck, even to teenagers!

              I was super against ever taking any pill ever again, but just like all aboard the anon train, I have endometriosis and the benefits far outweighed the risks. That said, I was appalled by how nonchalant my doctor was about the possible side effects. My pill says anyone with a history of depression needed to be ultra careful, and she never even asked me about my medical history, and when I brought it up, she shrugged it off. Luckily the pills work for me, but what if they hadn’t?

              1. blackcat*

                I was put on BC at the age of 12 because of terrible periods.

                I suffered from anxiety and depression through adolescence. In college, I decided to go off the pills since I wasn’t having sex and, for several women I knew, periods got less painful with age. My periods still sucked, but suddenly my depression and anxiety were gone. I spent 8 years on drugs that were making me depressed, and I had no idea. No doctor ever told me they could be connected.

                It’s been non-hormonal BC for me since then! 2-3 days of bad pain is infinitely preferable to me to being depressed and anxious. For some people, it’s totally worth it. I am not one of those people. And no doctor ever had a frank conversation with me about that.

        3. JD*

          Totally agree. I actually refuse any birth control at all anymore as I was tired of the libido killer and I didn’t like putting that into my body every day for years and years. I have 5 years off all birth control and never will look back.

        4. Elizabeth West*

          I had this issue once and my doctor and I had to switch around trying to find a BC pill that didn’t affect libido. But be careful–I ended up on one that, in combination with my thyroid medication, gave me a DVT. In the end, we went with a low-dose contraceptive and I was able to continue on them with no further side effects.

        5. Coffeelover*

          Well my doctor said I should wait six months before changing anything while my body gets used to it (so it’s temporary at least in that sense). I have noticed a slow improvement though so I’m hoping it works itself out.

      2. Natalie*

        For what it’s worth, in the OP’s position I disliked the advice to create intimacy in other ways. Mainly because I already *had* that non-sex intimacy in my relationship, so something is still very much missing. It’s not like we were relying solely on sex for intimacy.

        I think your suggesting wording is perfectly fine *if* it’s actually true for the OP. But if it isn’t true that they can wait indefinitely, they shouldn’t lie about it.

    7. SuperAnon*

      My husband and I went through something similar a few months ago. It was completely psychological for him. You’re clearly handling it better than I did. It felt like he was rejecting me and our marriage, but it was truly out of his control. He was willing to go to his doctor who confirmed that it was psychological and also really common. He got a prescription for a few months and then everything went back to normal.

      1. SignalLost*

        Can I ask what the prescription was for? My bf tried therapy (this situation has been going on for several years for us, and I get that he’s stressed for a lot of reasons) but … I don’t think the therapist was any good. He moved BF to group therapy without – as far as I know – hitting any of the goals BF had completely or even consistently, and BF is not good for group therapy – he’s an emotional sponge with self-esteem issues. At this point, I don’t even care if we have sex again, it’s been so long, but I would like him to be less stressed, and I can’t do all of that by myself, given our life factors.

        1. SuperAnon*

          It was a prescription for Cialis. We are trying to conceive, so being able to have sex was really important. The whole issue to begin with was caused by the weird pressure we put on ourselves, especially after having a miscarriage.

    8. paul*

      I’m in your husbands boat ATM and it royally sucks from that side of things too. I was hoping working on dropping some excess weight would help but so far no change. If it’s not better in another month or two I’m going to have a *very* awkward convo with our family doctor.

      1. SignalLost*

        Sounds like it’s not awkward at all, given how much traction this comment has here and other places I’ve seen similar concerns.

      2. SuperAnon*

        My husband said it wasn’t particularly awkward and the doctor was great about discussing how common of a problem it is. If you’re doctor makes it awkward, find a new doctor.

        For what it’s worth, my husband is super shy and reserved. So he was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t the worst conversation ever.

    9. Christy*

      I think it would be good to handle this as a mutual problem that you are dealing with together. Like, I think it would be really helpful for you and your partner to talk through the situation and possible solutions together. I think being united about wanting it resolved will be the first step in resolving it.

      And in terms of concrete advice: my top advice is to stop trying for coitus for a while. Focus on one person giving the other pleasure. One set of genitals involved at a time. That way, when he’s on the receiving end, he can just enjoy himself and not have to worry about pleasing you. And when you’re on the receiving end, he can please you without worrying about being physically unable to perform or physically uninterested in performing. Once you do this for a while, I bet he’ll suggest coitus and that will put him back over the hump.

      In the meantime, I also recommend physical intimacy without sexual intimacy. We had a period where neither of us had a sex drive but we both wanted the intimacy of, say, being on the giving end of sex as I mention above. But since neither of us wanted it, it wasn’t an option. So we’d set aside weekend time to basically naked cuddle together. Like, active cuddling. We also gave massages a lot and often showered together. It really helped with feeling like we were connected without sex.

      1. Anon on this one*

        One of the big problems is that he basically refuses to be on the receiving end. Sometimes — not often enough, but still — he’ll be the giving partner. This helps some, but the situation has gone on long enough that I’ve begun to feel like I can’t really relax and enjoy it when he’s been unmoved for so long; I feel really exposed and vulnerable. He won’t even accept a back rub. He has always been happier to give than to receive, sexually speaking; you wouldn’t think that could have a down side, would you? But I think he subconsciously (or maybe even consciously) punishes himself by denying himself pleasure.

        We are physically affectionate in other ways at least, so it’s not like he’s being cold. Maybe it’s a place to build from.

        We have various family stresses piling up on us for the holidays, so I’ve decided to let things lie until January. We’ve got enough to deal with. But shortly after the new year, we’ll have to have a talk that results in some definite plan of action. Letting it go on any longer than that can only harm our relationship.

  4. Blue Eagle*

    December is officially movie season for us (too cold to enjoy our usual favorite activities out-of-doors) so just wondered what 2017 movies you’ve seen that you recommend.

    1. Peggy*

      We’re into more indie than blockbuster – Loving Vincent was slow moving but absolutely gorgeous to watch. We’re seeing Lady Bird this weekend and The Florida Project in a week or two. Very excited about both!

      1. PhyllisB*

        Went to see Murder on the Orient Express last Sunday with my mother. I really enjoyed it. I saw the original make in the seventies, but I think this one was even better.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            In my opinion, it doesn’t really compare. David Suchet inhabits the role in a way no one has ever really matched, and that adaptation more effectively drew out the themes of the novel (nature of justice vs. the law) and used the setting to greater effect.

            1. Fiennes*

              Although Suchet’s Poirot is unquestionably the best, I actually didn’t like that version as much. While I think you can handle the themes more seriously than the 1970s version, IMO the Suchet MOTOE went too far in the other direction. Poirot spent so much time questioning himself–something Poirot really doesn’t do. Agatha Christie’s mysteries are at their core cozies, and the extremely somber tone felt really off to me. It was very well-acted, though.

                1. Laura*

                  Neither the Branagh nor the Suchet versions is true to the book – the latter welds on Catholic guilt and a backstory for Suchet, both of which are ridiculous considering the character Christie established.

      2. Coffeelover*

        I really liked the Florida project. It does such a good job of telling a dark story in a light way.

      3. Pearly Girl*

        Loving Vincent was absolutely gorgeous and an amazing accomplishment. The first fully painted motion picture, 5 years in the making, a feast for the eyes.

    2. Nicole*

      I recently saw Daddy’s Home 2 and thought it was even better than the first one (which initially I hadn’t had high hopes for and was pleasantly surprised by).

      I’d like to see Downsizing and Pitch Perfect 3 which come out later this month. I’ll probably wait until January just so I have something decent to do on my birthday.

      Also, I’m sure I’ll be seeing the latest Star Wars movie since my husband is a huge fan. I don’t care either way, but the funny thing is I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. He drags me to all the blockbuster Sci-Fi and comic book films and I never necessarily want to see them but end up liking them immensely.

      1. Anon on this one*

        “Get Out” is absolutely terrific. It’s genuinely horror as well as humor/social commentary, which I didn’t anticipate, but it wasn’t scary at a level I couldn’t handle. (Unlike, say, “It.”) It’s extremely well acted and a very smart, sharp film.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I really liked it. (And have almost no memory of the original.) That rare movie that doesn’t need to step in and explain everything.

      2. JulieBulie*

        I loved it too, and actually thought it was better than the original (better story, more coherent, less likely to be compared with the novel).

    3. Temperance*

      Wonder Woman. I absolutely loved every single minute of it. I also found Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to be absolutely delightful.

      1. Seal*

        Agreed. I saw Wonder Woman on my birthday this past summer and loved it. And Fantastic Beasts is a very worthy addition to the Harry Potter universe.

        1. TardyTardis*

          I still think that Newt Scamander is financing all his beast collecting by letting his Niffler loose. He’s a wizard and he can’t fix the lock on his suitcase?

      2. JulieBulie*

        During the first half hour of Wonder Woman, I found myself thinking about all the Batmen, Supermen, Hulks, and Spider-Men of my lifetime, and I started to cry. There were so many different ways they could have screwed this up, but it turned out just right. Something I wouldn’t be embarrassed to watch with my nieces.

        1. peggy*

          Over the summer I took a random day off after a long stretch stressful weeks that flew by without a single minute of self care time. I took myself out to lunch and then saw Wonder Woman by myself in an empty theater and I cried several times. I grew up loving superhero movies (I was never a super fan, didn’t read comics or play with action figures, etc but loved the movies) and I was just so HAPPY at how well this movie was done. It felt like someone finally did right by all of the female superhero fans who’d been patiently waiting their whole lives for something to be done right.

    4. Merci Dee*

      My daughter and I saw Coco last weekend. It was amaaaaazing. The visuals for the Land of the Dead just blew me away. And you’d never suspect that animators would bother to put expression on the face of so many skeletons, but they did, and it was great. I can’t say enough good things about this movie.

        1. Merci Dee*

          Without question. There’s pretty good action going on, and lots of music. Depends, though, on whether the 3-year-old in question would be weirded out by skeletons.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I LOVED Thor Ragnarok!! I’ve seen it twice, and would happily see it again! It was amazing- funny, exciting, full of action. My favorite kind of superhero movie.

      2. SL #2*

        I am a huge Marvel fan and I adored Ragnarok without expecting to; the ~space series (Guardians and Thor) never really held much interest for me, but Ragnarok was so damn good.

      3. Lilo*

        Adored Thor Ragnarok.

        That’s one thing I really like about the Marvel movies – they’re all different. You have a spy thriller (Winter Soldier) and a space comedy (Ragnarok) all in the same universe.

      4. Nina*

        Yep, Thor Ragnarok was a blast! So much fun.

        I want to see it again before it leaves theaters. Then my $$$ is going towards Black Panther and Infinity War.

    5. Pat Benetardis*

      I loved Wonder. As good as the book. I cried my way through the movie, but kids who were there were loving it, bouncing up and down in their seats. Teens liked it too. Something for everyone in this movie.

    6. Lady Jay*

      Loved Wonder Woman, Spiderman: Homecoming, and Dunkirk. The first two are especially great; they’re fairly light-hearted and have characters I can actually cheer for, which is much needed during this dark political season.

      1. Lilo*

        My one complaint about Dunkirk was the soundtrack. I found the super super slow Nimrod took me out of it because my brain would go “Wait, is that Nimrod?”

        1. JulieBulie*

          I didn’t like the way the soundtrack was mixed… I couldn’t hear a lot of the dialogue because it was drowned out (so to speak) by the incredibly loud music and/or sound effects.

          Otherwise, an excellent film!

    7. Kathenus*

      I really enjoyed Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri – a dark comedy. Engaging, funny, thought-provoking.

    8. No Green No Haze*

      So many already mentioned are wonderful.

      I just saw ‘Girls Trip,’ which came out in….July? I remember having enjoyed the trailer & making a mental note to check it out, but forgot all about it during the summer when my income is low anyway. It was 100% hilarious in a completely raunchy, vulgar way that you definitely have to be in the mood for, which I was. I watched it twice in two days & laughed until I couldn’t breathe.

      Tiffany Haddish, who plays Dina, is a comedic genius, start to finish.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Logan. I’m usually eh on super hero movies–I’ve missed lots of them–but this one seems to unfold on a human scale. Like, dementia in someone with super mental powers is An Awkward Thing. A bit of Odysseus for grown-ups, where it’s less about the adventure and more about wanting to stop. And the little girl is great.

      And Lego Batman is just darn fun.

    10. Audiophile*

      For the last several years I’ve been going to the movies a lot. When I’m by myself, I tend to gravitate more toward indie films than mainstream/blockbuster films.

      So far in 2017, I’d say these are the best films I’ve seen:

      Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
      Wind River
      The Big Sick
      The Lovers
      Ingrid Goes West

    11. Lilo*

      Spiderman: Homecoming. Tom Holland as Peter was pitch perfect, Michael Keaton was great in it. There’s just a completely amazing scene between the two in it I can’t really discuss without spoilers.

  5. Anonymous Pixie*

    Do you bullet journal, or journal at all? What resources did you find helpful for starting and/or what did you want to accomplish with it? Did you need a goal, or was the act of journaling enough for you?

    Some backstory: I’m trying to reinforce some boundaries with people who think that family should have no boundaries, and having a hard time with it. I thought journaling might help, and there are some other things that are concerning me, too (budgeting, mood, eating logs, getting enough water/exercise). I’m drawn to the monthly layouts for tracking, but I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do that and accept my own — like, I don’t know, humanness about not doing everything every day?

    1. No Name Yet*

      I’ve not done bullet journaling, but as for setting goals – what about setting goals to do things X times per week or month? So I’ll exercise at least Y minutes Z times per week, or meet my goal of drinking Y amount of water 50% of the time. As you say, it is VERY human to not do everything every day, and having realistic expectations for yourself often means you’re more likely to meet them at all.

      1. Anonymous Pixie*

        I’m trying to be kind to myself about exercising– I’ve gone from zero exercising to intermittently exercising, but right now I’m aiming for 15/30 on cardio and 8/30 on weight lifting. I’m terrible about consistency, which is one of those overlying concerns I’m trying to reassure myself on.

    2. Asha*

      Novel coming:

      I bullet journal sporadically and I LOVE it. It took awhile for me to get into. I was already someone who journaled and needed that, but got too busy/got hit with a few tough life situations that I couldn’t bring myself to write down, even though that’s what I needed.

      Anyway. When I turned 24 I made a bunch of arbitrary goals – something that has worked for me in the past. When I turned 25, I’d met one of them, because they were all so large and I didn’t take any time to break them down into smaller steps. I thrive in a deadline-driven, clear progress environment – like the semesters of school or project-based work – but after graduating college and leaving contract/freelance work behind, I didn’t have any built-in progress steps and a year was just too long to digest for habit-building. Bullet journalling provided that monthly visual, and actually really helped me identify what’s standing in my way of accomplishing those little things that could help. I still have my 10-year, 5-year, and 1-year goals – but getting my daily mindfulness and intentionality under control has helped me so much. It’s also an easy place to track my health, which has been an ongoing hormone battle.

      When things get super busy I tend to set it aside until things are more manageable – I don’t like writing down the humanness (as you put it so well) of not being able to handle a super busy work month and watching my exercise habits fall apart. But I track about 3 weeks of every month on average, and it’s been a life changer. Also, I was worried about the humanness too – but when I started, I realized I accomplish so much more in a day than I thought I did – and all I really needed was to write that down and learn how to shift priorities and timing to get everything done that I wanted to.

    3. Marillenbaum*

      I bullet journal! The thing that got me started was just going to the original Bullet Journal website and getting familiar with the process. It is more important to get started than to get it right; it’s a flexible system that can encompass what you need it to. I use mine for daily tasks, but also for things like writing up sessions with my therapist, making sure I drink enough water, and planning my grocery shopping. I think the first things are: make monitoring its own habit (sometimes, setting an alarm to just sit down and review the thing). You won’t be perfect, and sometimes it is painful to see that nice lovely chain of habits get broken. But progress, not perfection, is the goal. You got this!

    4. a*

      I do. I use a weekly tracker for better flexibility, so that I can add and drop things. I try to be very flexible about it and build in as little rigidity or pre-planned pages as possible. My setup is like this one (not my post): https://www.reddit.com/r/bujo/comments/76hgun/minimalist_setup_for_my_weekly_to_do_list/

      One thing I do to track exercise without having a set schedule is I’ll just set up my weekly like that, write “exercise” in the to do column, and then mark each day that I exercise. If I want to schedule it, I can draw a checkbox for that day in advance, but I can still track unplanned exercise that way, too. It’s pretty great if you’re not consistent about whatever it is that you’re tracking.

      Best way to start imo is just to use a notebook you have lying around and any writing implement. A lot of people want to dive in with decorating and washi tape and expensive notebooks, but I think it’s more important to see if the system works for you first.

  6. PhyllisB*

    We lost our other dog this Monday (I shared in August about the first dog’s death.) This is the first time in 40 years we haven’t had a dog in our household.

    1. Kms1025*

      So very sorry for your loss…it’s a heart pain quite unlike any other…my sincerest sympathies :(

    2. Lauren R*

      I am so so sorry. Losing a beloved dog hurts like nothing else and to lose them both so close together must be awful. Your dogs were so lucky to have someone who cared for them and loved them so much, and I’m sure you made their time on earth wonderful and did all you could to make their end a peaceful one. I’m sending warm thoughts to you and your family!

    3. paul*

      sorry :( We still miss our two (one died in 2016, the other this year).

      Still keep expecting to step into one of them when I wake up in the morning. Stay strong and try to remember the good times

      1. PhyllisB*

        Paul, you are so right. The one we lost in August used to sleep with us. She would lay between my feet and when I got up I would have to do all these contortions to keep from hitting her. The other dog slept in the den, but when my husband got up to make coffee she would come back and stand by my side of the bed waiting for me to wake up. Then she would fling herself on the ground for a belly rub. Also, she hated the vacuum cleaner and would try to bite it whenever she saw it. Even if it wasn’t on. It felt so strange to not have a pyscho dog attacking while I vacumed today.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I got out my car earlier this week and started toward the house, and something caught my eye in such a way that, for a moment, I thought my German shepherd was coming out of the carport and up the sidewalk to the front door. For that moment, I thought, “Oh, she’s going to beat me to the door and be waiting on the porch for me to let her in.” She died ten years ago, and I still miss her. But it’s been a long time since a bit of movement caught from the corner of my eye has made it seem that she was actually there.

        1. JulieBulie*

          OMG, I experienced that so many times for the first few years. I kept thinking that I saw her out of the corner of my eye, or if I turned around really quickly she would still be there. I thought it was just me.

    4. Athena*

      I’m so sorry. It’s such a horrible feeling. Sending lots of hugs – the grief over losing a pet is so real.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I’m responding to Elizabeth, but this is to all of you; thank you so much for all the kind expressions of sympathy. And the hugs!! :-) This why I love this site. All of you are so kind to those in need. I wish we could all meet up and have lunch or something. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season.

    5. JulieBulie*

      I’m so sorry. 10+ years later and I still miss my dear doggie every day. There is no welcome-home greeting quite like the one you get from a dog.

  7. Holiday Elf*

    I have a friend who is going through some financial difficulties lately. Won’t go too much into it but basically she’s a freelancer who has been having trouble getting a regular workload. She was telling me about some of her financial worries, and it got me thinking about the upcoming holiday season. We both celebrate Christmas and have exchanged gifts for years. I’m in a stable full-time position, therefore I have a much better financial situation than her currently. I tried to mention to her that I didn’t mind if we didn’t do a gift exchange this year with her being low on funds but she was insistent we still do it, because she loves Christmas and loves exchanging gifts.

    With her financial difficulties, I can’t decide whether I should get her something more practical that she could use or something more fun. On the one hand I should get her something practical because that would be more useful than something silly and fun. But on the other hand, if all of her money is going into necessities at the moment and nothing fun, maybe I should get her something frivolous since she can’t get it for herself. (My own personal preference is to get fun gifts, not practical gifts since most people in my life just get what they need without waiting for it to be gifted) My original plan before I realized her financial worries was a fun geeky shirt and action figure, but she doesn’t NEED that; what she could probably use that’s practical for her life is a new cooking pan or a big supply of her favorite coffee. Which is better to get for a friend who is going through money troubles this holiday season?

    1. Anonymous Pixie*

      I’d vote for the supply of favorite coffee and maybe the action figure if you know it’s someone she loves loves loves? Coffee is a luxury as much as it’s a need, sometimes, so I feel like it skates the edge between fun and practical in a good way, if that makes sense?

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I vote for being frivolous. A gift that’s too useful carries a bit of pity with it, it might feel like it’s implying she needs it. (Even if she does, it’s not a fun reminder.) You can still help her out the rest of the year by taking her out to eat, inviting her over to eat, “regifting” new clothes you don’t want if you’re the same size, etc.

      1. Holiday Elf*

        That’s actually a really good point; I didn’t think that a useful gift could be seen as a pity gift. I think that’s even why she was against the idea of not exchanging gifts. I don’t need a gift from her so I was saying it to ease her mind but she said ‘No way! We are doing gifts!’

        Thank you for that point of view.

    3. Asha*

      Maybe coffee and a frivolous geeky-themed mug or travel cup? Coffee is a great gift to me that, while I need coffee every moment of the day, I don’t usually consider a boring practical gift. You could get an assortment of coffees for her to try to make it more fun! The mug or travel cup would also qualify as practical, but those are always fun to choose.

      1. Atgo*

        I had a similar recent dilemma and gave my friend a gift certificate to one of her favorite restaurants and one for a fun activity. She and I had talked about her troubles a lot, so I knew that she was consciously giving up those things in order to save money. It turned out really well!

    4. nep*

      I’ve got financial troubles this holiday season — best gift for me would be a gift card from either Trader Joe’s or the health food store I frequent. But that’s just me. I can imagine some might want that ‘extra’ thing they would not buy for themselves — something special and fun.
      I love the idea of her favourite coffee — in a way it fits both bills. Saves her having to spend money on coffee, and it’s special.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I saw that same win/win with the coffee idea. OP, you might find other ideas similar to this, something she would use but it’s a nice item to receive anyway.

    5. MissDissplaced*

      Maybe instead of a thing, how about an experience? Like tickets to a concert or other event or place such as a museum or festival. If you have a higher budget, even a hotel room stay or spa visit.
      Sometimes this type of thing is better than “stuff” especially when you’re low on finds.

    6. Lauren R*

      I definitely wouldn’t go for just something practical but I think you could find a way to make something practical fun too! Could you get her the coffee and a fun geeky mug or two to drink it in? Or the pan (only if she actually likes to cook; I wouldn’t recommend getting it if it’s obviously just a “necessary” gift) with some of those little cookie cutter things for making pancakes/whatever else in shapes from her favorite geeky franchise? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen ones that are shaped like Captain America’s shield and stuff like that. Etsy’s a good place to find that kind of stuff! Or instead of the pan (or in addition to it) you could get her a cookbook that’s got simple, cheap dishes that are “fun” to make and maybe some plates that are geeky themed to serve them on.

      If you get her a pan, go for one that’s like a “jumbo 5qt cooker” (or something along those lines) – they can be used as frying pans but have tall sides AND a lot of them are meant for in-oven use too! They’re awesome because you can use them for so many things and it makes for fewer dishes; you can make most of your meal in just the one pan even if it requires lots of different steps.

      And no matter what you give her, I think the best gift would be to include a thoughtful card telling her how much she means to you and that you’re rooting for her and think she’s great – not in a pitying way of course but just as her friend who loves her! My dad sent me a note like that for new year’s forever ago and I’m not even sure I still have the note itself but I remember it really well, because it meant a lot to hear at a time I was so overwhelmed.

      I’m sure no matter what you get your friend, she’ll just be happy that you’re there to celebrate the holidays with her! You’ll find something great so try not to stress too much – I don’t think that’s what she wanted out of the gift exchange! :)

    7. JDusek*

      This is the case with my brother and I usually do a combination of both. Fun and practical. I did an all practical gift, a few years back, and he was extremely mad about it. Bonus points that the gift is fun and practical.

    8. Snazzy Hat*

      I vote for coffee. If you can swing it, get an assortment of coffees from elsewhere. Doesn’t have to be fancy shmancy, just coffees she wouldn’t expect because they aren’t from your area. For example, Victoria Gallery coffee from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Stumptown coffee from Portland, and Café du Monde coffee from New Orleans.

    9. Observer*

      Maybe a combination?

      Like maybe a Starbucks gift card that will cover a month of one of their really good coffees. Or a big supply of her favorite coffee plus a supply of other coffees you think she’d like. Or a gift card to a place like Whole Foods – helps cover her food bill, but would give her a chance to experiment with some more expensive stuff she might not be able to afford otherwise.

  8. Norway!!!*

    hi folks, I’m heading to Oslo for about three days in December. My friends have booked a hotel near the Central train station. I would appreciate recommendations for things to do – hopefully a mix of touristy and non touristy things? I like hiking, and am also interested in the Vikings museums there. Quaint bookstores, interesting (vegetarian) food, places nearby we could take the train to… all suggestions are welcome. Thank you :)

    1. CAA*

      December will be cold and dark, so I’m not sure how much hiking you’ll be able to do.

      The Viking ship museum is in the Bygdøy area. You can get there by taking a public ferry from the piers behind city hall. The same ferry also makes another stop (or you can walk about 20 minutes) at the Kon-Tiki and Fram museums, both of which are interesting. The museums are small and you can visit all three in less than a day.

      Ugla Bar is a cool book-ish place to have coffee or a drink in the afternoon.

      1. Going back, can you tell?*

        I was there in October, and the ferries had just stopped running for the winter, so I took the bus. It was already pretty cold and it rains a lot though, so be prepared for a certain amount of waiting around in the weather for public transportation (which is excellent). I got the 3-day Oslo pass, which covered all public transportation in the city (not to and from the airport though) and all museums – it was definitely worth it for me!

    2. Going back, can you tell?*

      The Vigeland sculpture park is one of the most beautiful, moving places I have ever been. His depiction of human emotion and connection is honest and stunning. They’re massive and overwhelming but so familiar at the same time. That’s my top recommendation. Also, if you’re interested in architecture, the Opera House is bonkers and amazing, you can climb it like a marble mountain (slippery though!) and the view is spectacular. Oslo is so beautiful, I bet December will be a lovely time to be there. Pay attention to the City Hall bell carillon at the top of the hour – they play a little tune and it changes all the time – for instance when Bowie died the bell-ringer adapted a couple bars of “Changes” for the bells, so you never know what you might hear!

    3. Sarah G*

      I second the Vigeland sculpture park, which is extraordinary. Also the Nobel Museum, which I thought was fascinating.

    4. Sarah G*

      Also, I’m not sure where you live and what your exchange rate is, but I live in the U.S. and was astounded by how expensive Norway is. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, and the Norwegian Krone is quite a bit weaker now that when I was there in 2011, but be prepared for some sticker shock.

    5. boris*

      Definitely get the bus to Bygdøy and go to the Viking Ship Museum and the Museum of Cultural History. The Vigelandsparken is great. The National Gallery was also great. If I were there again, I would happily give up a spend a day getting the train to Bergen and then coming straight back! It was incredibly beautiful.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I was going to recommend the Viking Ship Museum and the Kon-Tiki as well. It has been some years since I was last in Oslo, but I can remember having lots of money and it not going very far. (It was replicated this year in Copenhagen)

    6. Reba*

      We did a tour of the Oslo opera house which was awesome! Seconding that suggestion. If you are into architecture even a little bit this is strongly recommended. Plus it’s mostly indoors ;)

      I also enjoyed the Kon-tiki museum–that history is so bizarre and fascinating.

      It will not be easy to eat vegetarian food, or at least it was not in 2013. There are quite a few restaurants doing local and “new traditional” foods which are really exciting, but often meaty too. Not to mention costly! (Also be ready to see whale on some menus. I know it is a cultural thing for Norwegians but it was really disturbing to me.) We ended up eating picnic food for most of our trip, punctuated by Indian places when we needed to dine out.

      If you are into craft beers there are several nice ones made in Norway–make sure to get to the vinmonopolet during their rather limited hours!

      We loved Norway and I hope you have a great time!

  9. Kat*

    I had three dates with the same guy in the last week. We met on Friday, again on Saturday and then again on Wednesday. We got on really well and he seems into me. However, he’s just gone away for a month for Christmas to stay with family (a planned trip from before we met). He has said we’ll keep in touch and that he wants to see me when he’s back, but it’s just such a new thing that I can’t help worrying that won’t happen. I guess I just have to wait and see, and I know I can’t force anything. I don’t even want to. I just like him and think it might be a good thing? But… it’s a long time. Oh well, not much I can do except keep myself occupied, enjoy Christmas and see what happens. I guess my optimism about dating is so low that I just tend to assume the worst!

    Has this sort of situation ever happened to anyone?

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      I first met my husband a couple of weeks before Christmas–first week in December or so? Then we both went away for a few weeks and didn’t see each other again until January. We chatted the whole time we were far away, started dating for real in January, and we’ve been married four years now. I did pretty much what you did–kept myself occupied, enjoyed Christmas, and just waited to see what happened!

      1. Kat*

        That sounds a good approach! He’s not great at texting, and doesn’t use WhatsApp, so I find that a bit tricky (is he just being rubbish? Is he just ignoring me? That’s what dating in your 30s does to you, hah). He did say he preferred to talk on the phone, so maybe next week I will give him a call to say hi.

    2. Artemesia*

      yes, long long ago and the best way to spend that month would be to go on any other date that comes your way. Like jobs, things happen when you aren’t obsessing and desperate so anything you can do to chill and just assume nothing will happen till it does will be good. If a friend offers to set you up or if you have a chance to meet people at Christmas parties go for it.

      1. Kat*

        Yeah, I may do. I had the possibility of another date, but the guy and I intimated that we wouldn’t go on any others and see what happened. So I feel probably I shouldn’t? But at the same time, you’re right. I guess just going won’t do any harm.

        1. Rainy*

          Pretty much, if you have not mutually and explicitly had a discussion on being exclusive, in those exact words, and both committed to it, I wouldn’t consider yourself exclusive because observation and experience indicate that he likely won’t.

          1. Kat*

            Yeah, not my first time at the rodeo so I suppose I ought to be realistic. I mean, I am. But we did at least discuss seeing how things go so I feel confident that when he’s back we can meet up again.

    3. Coffeelover*

      I haven’t been in that exact situation but I think it’s really important that you don’t focus or think too much about him over the holidays. He’s presumably got a lot of things planned and being so far away from home makes you forget about your regular life and all the things you would/should do. It’s really easy for him to not text at all or not text as much while he’s on this trip. I dont think that reflects on how much he likes you or is interested. If you don’t hear from him, I think it’s totally fine to send some standard messages, which are really easy to come up with over the holidays. Ie, “merry Xmas! I hope you’re enjoying your trip!” Even if you totally forget about him and don’t hear from him, just send a message when you know he’s back. Ask him how his holiday was and if he’s still interested in meeting up again. As you said, either it works or it doesn’t at that point but don’t torture yourself over the holidays waiting for him to message you. (For all we know though, he might end up messaging you too much!)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Go about your ordinary life as best as possible.

      If he feels like you do, he WILL be back. I met my husband working in a seasonal vacation town. At the end of the season, I went home which was almost 200 miles away. Yep, we stayed in touch and did not lose sight of each other. I moved up here permanently and we got married. These things can work out, for sure.

      I found it helpful to trust that it would go the way it was supposed to go. While we did not promise not to date before I moved up here, we both indicated that we really were not interested in meeting others. Since we did not discuss it further I have no idea if he saw other people or not. I am guessing not, but I would not have been upset to find out he did. My thinking was that we should figure out NOW if we did not want a long term thing rather than figuring out much later into the relationship… ugh.

    5. Phillipa*

      I went through something like this two years ago. We went on a few dates over the last two weeks before he left for Europe (where his family lives) for a month. It was so weird to have built up a bit of momentum and then…nothing. We messaged sporadically for the month (but he was also terrible at that and also didn’t have Internet access for most of his trip). I tried not to think of him and focused on my family and myself. When he came back, we got together right away and have been dating ever since! Now we both laugh about how weird it was to miss the other person when we had essentially just met. Of course I wouldn’t attribute our relationship success to that initial month of separation, but it definitely didn’t hurt us in the long term.

      1. Kat*

        That does make me feel a bit better! I mean, obviously I can’t say if we’d work out long term, but I’d like the chance to find out.

    6. Javert*

      I went on two dates with my boyfriend before going on a pre-planned holiday. Bizarrely, the same thing happened to my close friend as well. We are all still with our partners. A couple of cute texts do the trick, if there is a spark there, it’ll hopefully still be there a month from now

    7. ScarlettNZ*

      I met my now partner about 8 weeks before he left NZ to go on sabbitical for 6 months. For most of that time he was in Bordeaux (how terrible lol). I ended up visiting him for about three weeks and when he returned, we continued to see each other. That was 10 years ago :-)

      1. Kat*

        Six months! That is a long time. Actually, this guy invited me over to Ireland (where he’s gone) over Christmas but I am not sure he was serious. In any case, I said no because I’m always with my family at Christmas.

    8. Christy*

      Yes! My wife left for a month about 10 days after we started dating. We definitely (obviously) kept in touch over that time, and absence definitely made the heart fonder.

    9. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I met my husband the day before I left town for three weeks. We met through mutual connections (my sister worked with his mother, we all wound up at the same event), and flirted all night. But we were both too anxious/unsmooth/whatever to exchange numbers.

      So the next day I asked my sister to ask his mother to give him my number (awwwwwkward; we were in our late 20s, not middle school as you might guess based on our ineptitude). He didn’t call, and I was surprised because it had seemed so clear that we hit it off.

      But when I got back in town, there was a handwritten letter waiting for me, with his number and an invitation for a first date. He’d written it the day after we met, but of course I’d been away and not seen it.

      So we both spent the three weeks I was away wondering why the other person hadn’t called. Ha!

      1. Kat*

        That’s a good story! I am thinking of calling the guy to say hello (he said he preferred to talk on the phone) but anxious because if he doesn’t answer I’ll naturally think he’s ignoring me, hah.

    10. JanetM*

      Not quite the same, but my husband and I met at a science fiction convention, fell in love by the end of the weekend, and went back to our respective homes about 2,000 miles apart (East Tennessee to Arizona, USA). We were long-distance for 18 months, only meeting up in person three times for a total of less than two weeks.

      I finally made the decision to move to Tennessee.

      We’ve been together ever since (met in 1988, moved in together 1990, married 1991).

      I hope your new friendship works out in positive ways.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      A sad fate for a cute teapot.

      Does anyone else have the reaction of “that’s not my teapot?” My mental image of chocolate teapots involves less spherical vessels.

  10. nep*

    Weightlifting world championships underway. Love watching these brilliant athletes who work their asses off day in and day out. Beautiful stuff.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I love weightlifting. Something about the combination of speed and clarity — by which I mean, it’s clear which number is higher, and almost always clear whether a lift qualifies or not. Ironic, since I also love baseball, which is kind of the opposite, in that it’s incredibly slow, and while it can be clear, there are often a lot of near-misses (a foul ball vs. a home run) or very close calls by the umpires that can swing a game one way or the other.

      But there’s no sport as straightforward as weightlifting. Except maybe track, but only the dashes.

    2. GoryDetails*

      While the world-championship weightlifters are awesome, I admit that my favorite weightlifting contest is the World’s Strongest Man series – I find it more interesting to watch them hefting different objects around than working with the standard weights.

    3. paul*

      Rebook Record Breakers just happened for powerlifting too; judging was a bit generous but it was consistent throughout the meet, and a lot of those lifts were just amazing.

      1. nep*

        Cool. Good that the judging was consistent. Too generous or too harsh is easier to take if it’s consistent for all lifters.

        1. paul*

          I gotta say, the funnest part was watching youtube commentators who I doubt have deadlifted 500 lbs telling a 900 lb deadlifter that they don’t know what they’re doing.

  11. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

    This time next week we will be somewhere over the Atlantic on our way to New York. We’ve never been, but the friends we are going with have been before, so we’re relying on them to guide us. The itinerary is pretty full (we’re there for four nights, and we seem to have included a couple of activities the moment we land – never mind the jetlag! – I’m denying all knowledge; I was playing with a doll’s house when most of the activities were being planned!)
    The main thing I’m concerned about is actually getting around NY. We’re in our 30s, and our friends are happy walking everywhere. Hubby’s family (who have also been to NY) are aghast at the idea of walking ANYWHERE, but they’re in their 70s.
    What’s your view on this, please? Do I need to budget for taxis/the subway/a tour bus?!!?!

    1. Kms1025*

      New York is BIG…walking is fine but budget should allow for some public transportation…everybody gets tired eventually :)

    2. Dan*

      Plan for the subway and walking. NYC is too big to literally walk everywhere. You may use Uber or a taxi, but those are optional. Taxis can be hard to get at rush hour. However, taxis aren’t a bad option for a group of people from the airport.

      Although, Ill note that the economics of taxis change a bit with a group.

      One thing to keep in mind is that NYC will be cool if not chilly. Temps are expected to be between 0 and 5 c next week… Which is actually quite pleasant for this time of year.

      1. Effie, who is worth it*

        Ooh yes, plan at least a 15 minute cushion for transportation time (don’t listen to Google. It lies. Add at least 15 minutes onto the ETA it gives you, if not half an hour).

    3. Peggy*

      Plan on taking Uber or Lyft or subway a few times a day. When we go to nyc a few times a year we walk a TON but tend to cover a lot of ground and take cars for the longer journeys. Like a few weeks ago we spent a morning walking around NOLITA near our hotel but took the subway up to MOMA, walked partway back then grabbed a Lyft to take us the rest of the way. NYC is huge – as not-very-in-shape-but-able-bodied travelers we probably walk 10 miles in a full day of sightseeing and take 1-3 Ubers.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Oh wow, and now there’s an extra level of learning involved – what’s NOLITA and MOMA?!
        (sorry – colour me naive, but as mentioned, I live in a village of 6000 people)

        1. Bryce*

          NoLita apparently is a neighborhood “north of Little Italy” MOMA is the Museum of Modern Art.

          Sounds like you’re from a town about as big as the one I grew up in (8,000 people) so my best advice is to prepare to be overwhelmed. Haven’t been to NYC but that was my experience in Paris.

        2. NaoNao*

          MOMA is the MOdern Museum of Art. Nolita is NOrth of Little ITAly. You will encounter many more such abbreviations. I’d suggest firing up Google or another search engine and doing some background research here; you’ll enjoy your stay a lot more if you’re not befuddled through half of it :)

        3. Peggy*

          Tons of acronyms in NYC. i’ll post a link in my next comment! I can’t vouch for all of them (like the fire hydrant one lol) but SoHo, NoHo, stuff like that is all helpful.

          Can I also recommend if you have decent weather that you walk the high line? It’s amazing – cool views and art along the walk. Will post a link about that too.

    4. Triplestep*

      I grew up in NYC (don’t live there now) and I think you will want to be flexible about how you get places, and base the decision on the scheduled activities. Walking and/or subway will allow you to take in more of the city and do some things spontaneously, but if you have a pre-planned activity with a start time, grabbing a taxi will make things less stressful. Planning to take a taxi will also allow you to enjoy the *current* activity longer without having to strategize over how long the walk will take you. To me, this is the best way to optimize a vacation.

      My husband and I are both city people; we recently had plans to go to another city an hour away to see a performance. We planned on taking the commuter rail and subway, but when we worked out the schedule (it was a weeknight and we both have weekday jobs) we discovered that we’d be better off driving into that city and using a parking garage. We were dejected at first because it seems wrong to us to forgo public transit when it’s available, but it would have made the whole evening rushed and much less pleasant. So we gave ourselves permission to do a non-city thing (drive) and we weren’t sorry. I think your situation is comparable. When needed, just give yourself permission to take a taxi and consider it part of the experience.

    5. Lcsa99*

      I would definitely budget for trains, but that doesn’t have to be that much, depending on how long you’ll be there. If you get a pay per ride card, you can use just one card for your whole group each time you use it (with a weekly card you’d have to wait 18 minutes after each swipe) . You can use it on any train or bus (with a few exceptions) so if you decide to suddenly change plans and go in another direction, the weather goes bad and you don’t feel like walking or you’ve just had a long day, having a metro card on hand gives you some flexibility.

      I would not really recommend a tour bus, but I personally prefer having more flexibility, so it just depends on your preferences. There is so much to see and do, I think you’d enjoy it all more if you focus on what’s important to you and see them at your leisure.

    6. Temperance*

      I love New York, but you’ll definitely need to plan for taxis. What are you doing while you’re in the city?

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        We’ve got a full itinerary! It’s all the usual (from what I understand) touristy stuff – visiting Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the Empire State Building – if it’s a cliche we’re probably doing it!
        Where we are staying is supposed to be a few blocks from Times Square, but I have no frame of reference for how big a block is!
        Hubby and I have done London a few times (he has family down there), but really I am a small town Northern UK girl (frame of reference, the village where I live has a population of just over 5000; I was born in a town of 100,000 and that felt huge!) so I’m prepared to be overwhelmed; hence the request for advice! Thanks to all!

        1. ThursdayNext*

          In general a city block is 1/8 of a mile (1/5 a kilometer, although if I remember correctly the UK has some mixed use of the metric and imperial systems)
          You should check out the museums as well; if nothing else it’s a good way to warm up after being outside in the cold.

        2. Natalie*

          This might seem like weird advice, but plan on using the toilet whenever you get an opportunity. There really aren’t public toilets to speak of in the US and in Manhattan in particular. If you need a toilet while you’re out and about I believe Starbucks is still generally fine with people using their bathrooms, although it is nice to buy something or at least throw some money in the tip jar.

          1. Effie, who is worth it*

            I agree. Just in case here are public toilets I can think of!

            Penn Station (Enter from 8th Ave at 34th or 35th St)
            Any New York Public Library (NYPL) branch (you have to ask for the key at the front desk but they won’t give you a hard time)
            Paragon Sports (an athletic goods store) just north of Union Square, on Broadway between E 17th St and 18th St
            Macy’s at Herald Square (34th St, between 6th Ave/Broadway & 7th Ave)

          2. Lizabeth*

            Most hotel lobbies have restrooms available, the trick is to act like you’re staying there when you walk in and to figure out where it is without asking…can be done!

        3. WillyNilly*

          Generally 20 blocks (“streets”)or 4 Avenues = 1 mile. Its not a hard & fast rule, but a safe estimation. So for example the Empire State Building is at 34th St, Times Square is 42nd St (and up), so about 1/2 a mile. Central Park then starts at 59th St and goes up to 110 or so (but no one does the whole park in a day!)

          A hint – if you sre wary about walkiwwwj,civvies ccc” ng, hiw do you feel about stairs? Because the Statue of Liberty has no elevators, its all stairs.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I only went to NYC once. If you are there with people who know their way around it will be fine. I remember going down to the subway, riding, and popping up somewhere else. I don’t think we ever walked more than a couple blocks. We used a taxi to the train station. And I remember thinking this navigation thing would take me a while to learn.
      If your hubby’s fam has limited navigating abilities, then you should mention that to your hosts ASAP. It could work out that the older folk may opt out of afternoon activities and just do morning activities or visa versa.
      NYC is a high energy place, it could be that the folks get infected with this energy and the whole thing is a non-issue.

    8. Lore*

      You can cover a lot more ground if you plan to walk somewhere and then take public transit back–so, say, walk from your hotel to the Met museum but then take a bus or train back. One thing to know about cabs is that they’ll only take four people (Uber is different) so if your group is 5, don’t count on being able to share a cab. But if you’re mostly keeping to central Manhattan, for four people a cab won’t cost that much more than the subway. I’d say maybe budget for about 2 subway rides or 1 cab ride per day (so about $6-10 per person per day). If you’re staying close to Penn
      Station you can take the train from either Newark or JFK airport without a huge hassle–though cabs from both are flat fare so again for a group of 4 it may be just as easy to take a cab. (I think it’s $40 from JFK and $60 from Newark.) Those don’t apply going back to the airport though so you might want to arrange a shuttle through your hotel.

      Pack comfortable shoes, ideally waterproof ones. This time of year you probably won’t see snow but slushy rain is a possibility and there’s a lot of clogged gutters and such.

    9. It happens*

      It all depends… depending on where you’re staying and what activities you’ve planned. Generally, walking, subway and buses will get you where you’re going in the most efficient manner (as long as you’re not staying somewhere far from a subway.)
      Google maps does a very good job of public transit routing – and even gives live arrival time updates when available.
      Trains/buses cost $2.75/trip (transfers b/w subway and bus allowed within two hours) and a weekly pass costs $32. Ferries are also $2.75 but no transfers to subways. Each couple putting money on a pay-per ride card (as suggested above) is a good idea- the remaining balance is displayed each time you use it so you know when to put more money on it.
      Have a great trip!

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Thanks everyone! This is awesome advice!
        I know I could get a lot by googling, but in my experience, it’s possible to get so many mixed results, and I know that at least SOME of the AAM has to be in the NY area :-) that I’d rather get advice straight from the horses’ mouths.
        I’ve not quite worked up excitement yet (work issues that would be vetoed by the nature of this thread), but we’ve got our clothes folded in piles ready for the practise packing now, and with all the extra (last minute!) info from you guys, it’s feeling more real now! eep!

    10. K.*

      You don’t need to budget for a tour bus unless you want to take a tour – that’s entertainment, not transportation. You should definitely budget for public transportation. I would get an unlimited MetroCard for the time you’re there; it’s the most cost-efficient way to get around. You can walk all over NYC but not everything is within walking distance, if that makes sense. It’s too big to walk literally everywhere. You may want to take cabs too, but if you have a budget I wouldn’t make them the main form of transportation.

    11. NYC*

      My suggestion is to try and plan to do things that are close together together so you can walk then take the train or cab somewhere else and repeat; that way you minimize the travel time. Something to keep in mind, it’s pretty easy to go north-south by subway; east-west is can be much faster to ake a cab. But part of the (unfortunately dying) charm of NYC is walking and finding gems of architecture, funky stores etc. Also, I’m not adverse to cars, but there are times,especially now the holidays are close, that traffic is awful; Times Square, around the Rockefeller tree, in particular.

    12. Effie, who is worth it*

      If you need a ride somewhere, my favorite app is Juno. I’ve found it to be the cheapest out of Lyft, Uber and Juno. If it’s freezing or raining you’re not going to want to try hailing a taxi, trust me (that is an NYC experience you can live without!).
      If you’re not in a hurry, and you’re in Manhattan south of 125th St, Via is a most cost-effective app. It’s a ride-share app so they may pick up other people on the way to getting you to your destination but it’s super cost-effective (outside of rush hour/late night it’s only $6 a ride and I’ve never paid more than $12).

      1. NYC*

        Via now goes all the way to the northern end of Manhattan, which means you could take it if you were going to visit the Cloisters.

    13. Sunflower*

      NYC is walkable but also very large. They have an amazing public transportation system so it’s not worth it to try to walk everywhere. I don’t live in NYC but I travel there bi-weekly for work and I will only take cabs if the subway isn’t convenient or I’m carrying a bunch of crap. Cabs often times take longer than the subway- you can sit in a cab for 20 minutes to go 4 blocks. So if you’re going a longer distance- like WTC to Times Square, definitely opt for the subway. Even shorter distances- I take the subway from Penn Station to Times Square because its faster than a cab. The subway is reliable enough- most of tourist areas have multiple lines running there that can get you to the same place. If you haven’t already, check the MTA website and see how the subway map lines up with your itinerary.

      I’d recommend getting the unlimited week pass for $32. Single ride tickets are $3 so if you plan to take the subway or bus 10 times, it pays for itself. And you can take the subway short distance and not worry about budgeting that in.

      Enjoy- NYC is amazing

    14. Mousemaker*

      Oh have fun! I just got back from a weekend trip to NYC to visit my friend and see the Christmas decorations! To repeat what everyone has said, definitely budget for public transportation and the occasional Lyft/Uber/Taxi. Make sure when mapping your routes you also budget an extra 30 minutes into your travel time-there are often delays on the subway and traffic can slow to a snail’s pace for many reasons (this weekend everyone got caught up in protest traffic due to the President being in town).
      I love walking through the city-I’m a big walker and enjoy planning my day in a way that involves walks to points of interest to take in as much city as I can-but if you’re traveling with people who don’t like to walk as much or simply can’t, I recommend planning your itinerary that you group your sightseeing destinations geographically so you’re not traversing a huge area and only need to plan on getting to and from the general location. That’s easy to do in NYC since it’s so dense with things to do. Plus if the weather is nice you can build in real time at the parks or in colder weather at cafes/restaurants/bakeries.
      Also as a heads up, I’m sure you will want to see the Christmas decor as well especially at places like the Rockefeller center and 5th avenue, but it gets crowded. I got caught in a massive crowd of people around Saks Fifth Avenue that made made it impossible to move-human bumper to bumper traffic that felt like being wrapped in an aggressive blanket. I would suspect it’s better on the weekdays so I would recommend seeing those lights on a weekday night and looking at the window displays during the day (the Saks fifth avenue is particularly beautiful-it has a Disney’s Snow White theme). But if you get claustrophobic I might suggest avoiding it entirely. And definitely check out the Christmas markets like at Union square and Bryant park if you get a chance! They also get a bit crowded but not too terrible!

    15. ANON who loves to give food recs*

      Born and raised New Yorker here!

      Subway subway subway! It is easily the #1 way to get around NYC, and if you’ll be staying near Times Square then you’ll have access to nearly every subway line. Download the free subway map onto your phone beforehand for reference. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend taxis as they’re so much more expensive and taking the subway is part of the NY experience! (Also, Lyft/Via, etc. will usually be cheaper than a taxi.)

      Your itinerary sounds pretty packed as it is (keep in mind that Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Central Park, etc. are all in very different locations. For reference, it would take about 35+ min to get from Times Square to Statue of Liberty/Battery Park). I recommend mapping out where it is you want to go, and using Google to estimate how much time it’ll take to get from place to place so you can maximize your itinerary.

      Other top touristy things to do if you have time:
      Museums: The Met, Museum of Natural History, MoMa, Whitney
      Shopping in Soho (SOuth of HOuston – pronounced “house-ton,” not like the Texas city)
      Try food around the LES (Lower East Side)
      Walk the High Line – a park built on a railroad track elevated above the streets
      See the holiday shops at Union Square, Bryant Park, and/or Columbus Circle
      See Grand Central, Washington Square Park, 9/11 Memorial
      Brooklyn Flea + Smorgasburg (in Brooklyn)

      I know this was something you didn’t ask about, but I feel strongly that the best thing about NYC is the food. I could probably write a forever-long list of places to try, but at a minimum here are some delicious eats to definitely go to if you’re nearby!
      Levain Bakery, DO cookie dough, Doughnut Plant, Doughnut Project, Momofuku Milk Bar (try the crack pie), Rice to Riches (rice pudding – trust me on this), Spot Desserts, Aux Merveilleux de Fred (meringue – also trust me on this), Two Little Red Hens, Ice & Vice, Ample Hills Creamery, Lloyd’s Carrot Cake. More touristy options include Black Tap Craft Burgers & Milkshakes, Magnolia’s, Dylan’s Candy Bar and Economy Candy. If you happen to be in Brooklyn, then Four & Twenty Blackbirds is amazing.

      1. Sputnik*

        Super late to the party but I absolutely recommend downloading Citymapper to navigate – I find it much more reliable than Google Maps. The MTA is always changing subway service, especially on weekends, and I find that Google Maps doesn’t always stay on top of those changes. It also is pretty good at telling you when the next train or bus will arrive at a particular stop – people complain about the bus system all the time, but I actually find it quite useful when coupled with a good navigation app to tell me what routes to take :P

        (Not so great at navigating outside major metropolitan areas – it’ll get me around the NYC/NJ area but if I’m driving up to my friends’ cabin upstate it just shrugs)

  12. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I’m binge-watching Nurse Jackie (Season 2, no spoilers!), spouse and I just started The Sopranos, and we’re loving The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon).

    What are you watching lately?

    1. nep*

      A Malian TV series I didn’t know about till last week. Fortunately (or unfortunately) looks like all the episodes are on YouTube. I’ve had to keep pushing that pause button to stay on this side of the black hole.
      It’s quite good, though.

    2. bassclefchick*

      My husband and I are almost caught up on Chance. Bit violent, but I love Hugh Laurie. I’m watching Mindhunter because I love true crime. I want to watch The Handmaiden’s Tale. We also have seen all of the Marvel shows. The Punisher is WAY more violent than the rest, but still enjoyable.

      And hopefully, I’ll finish the last 2 episodes of season 5 of Orange is the New Black. Somehow, this season has been harder for me to get through.

      Oh, and I REALLY can’t wait for season 2 of The Crown!!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oooh, I’m glad you mentioned Chance! My spouse and I are caught up on Mindhunter, and I had heard of Chance but forgot to add it to my list, so that is another one we could watch together. (We also are caught up on OitNB and The Handmaid’s Tale; I watch all the Marvel shows, but on my own.)

    3. GoryDetails*

      I’ve been binge-watching the various Great [insert country here] Bake Off shows. I’m in the US, where the first three seasons of the British show have not aired – odd, as the more recent seasons have become a major hit here – but I found the earlier ones online and enjoyed them thoroughly. Also loved the Great Australian Bake Off. Am now peeved because there’s a Canadian version currently airing, but it isn’t available outside Canada, so I guess I’ll have to hope it gets wider play once the original season’s over. I can’t get enough of the nearly-always-upbeat and charming contestants – and the usually-droolworthy food!

      1. Artemesia*

        I am watching the British bake off shoes on netflix; they start with the 4th season. Where did you find the first 3? WE love them and are surprised as when you can’t taste it seems like odd TV, but the way they show the plans etc along the way makes it interesting. I like the fact that the people are pleasant and helpful to each other; so different from the truly annoying whiny twits on Project Runway. The twins on that show may have done it for me; I don’t know if I will watch again. I haven’t seen any of the others US/Canada/Australian — but the British show is fun.

        1. GoryDetails*

          The first three British Bake Off seasons appeared in various YouTube or other videos, which I found via extensive Googling and some trial-and-error. I did look for official versions – heck, I’d have bought the DVDs if they were available in US-player format – but wound up catching most of them via YouTube. There’s another site called DailyMotion where I caught most of the Australian episodes, though a few didn’t seem to be available anywhere.

          1. ProfessorPlum*

            Thanks for mentioning DailyMotion. I’ve started watching the Great British Bake-Off season 1 this afternoon where I hadn’t previously been able to find it.

        2. Middle School Teacher*

          Those twins killed me. The day they sent Claire packing was the best episode of the season!

        1. GoryDetails*

          I can see the web site, but it won’t let me watch the videos, as it recognizes my ISP as out-of-country. I imagine there are ways to get around that, but I’d rather wait and see if the series airs on my cable once it’s finished its original run in Canada. (That, or take a trip across the border with my laptop and binge-watch then {wry grin}.) I did enjoy some of the supplemental materials on the Canadian-channel web site, which includes a blog by someone who attempts – with hilariously little success – to replicate some of the challenges at home.

          1. Middle School Teacher*

            I’m also a huge fan of All the Bake-Offs so I’m glad the Canadian One has been good, and I haven’t given up hope for a drop-in from Mary Berry!

            If you do decide not to wait, I’ve had success with the hola chrome extension ;)

    4. Marillenbaum*

      I’m loving The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel! I’m also working my way through Bates Motel, because Vera Farmiga is AMAZING and tears up the scenery.

    5. Jen RO*

      I started watching American Horror Story and I just finished season 2. I don’t love it, but it’s good for when I am bored. I am planning to watch Dark next – it’s a German series so it will also help with my language skills!

      My “regular” (ongoing) series are South Park, The Walking Dead and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m watching and loving iZombie. I gave up on it the first time I tried as I was upset by something that happened in series 1 (which I hear the makers now regret!) but decided to try again after rewatching Veronica Mars (same creator) and now I’m hooked.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        If that’s what I think it is I think they made a mistake, but I stuck with the show after that and still love it!

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Rooftop incident!

          I’m so glad I went back to it as it’s just brilliant. I’m halfway through s3 now.

    7. StudentA*

      I enjoyed Nurse Jackie and the Sopranos. I’m watching Ozark on Netflix and it’s pretty good. I’m not used to Justin Bateman in this kind of role, so it’s interesting from that perspective. I’m always on the lookout for excellent shows if anyone has any recommendations!

    8. Limenotapple*

      I loved Nurse Jackie so much. I hope you post when you’ve finished it!

      I liked The Americans quite a lot. I came of age in the 80s so I enjoy the setting, but it’s also a unique premise for what is essentially a family drama.

    9. Melody Pond*

      I finished watching season 1 of Mindhunter not too long ago. Netflix had been pushing it on me for a while, and I finally looked it up on Rotten Tomatoes, and saw it had a 96% score. It was pretty good! The first few episodes are mind-bogglingly good, and then there are some in the middle that are kinda meh, and the last few are pretty solid.

      If you’ve seen Glee, it’s got Jonathan Groff in it, who was a frequent guest star on Glee for a while.

    10. Cristina in England*

      I am obsessed with The Good Place on Netflix, which I just finished and I am itching for new episodes coming in January. Kristen Bell plays a woman who accidentally gets into ‘the good place’ (heaven) and doesn’t belong there. Ted Danson plays the architect of that particular neighbourhood in the good place, who guides the newly arrived humans around.
      There is a heavy emphasis on ethics and what it means to be a good person in the show. It is really funny. Do not skip the first episode (like someone I know did, but honestly who does that on Netflix??) or you will have NO idea what is going on!

      1. Book Lover*

        It is great and I love Kristen Bell! Have to rewatch Veronica Mars, it has been so long. I do not like the second season of the good place as much as the first :(

        1. Cristina in England*

          I kind of know what you mean about the second season, but I am going with it. It is not like any show I’ve ever seen before. After I finished all the episodes I did some youtubing for cast interviews. I was really happy to find out that Ted Danson and Kristen Bell have become good friends in real life and hang out as a foursome with their spouses Dax and Mary Steenburgen. I find that charming!

          1. Emac*

            I’m obsessed with that show, too! I wasn’t really sure about season 2, but got into it more as it went on. I feel like they’re building up to some big twist. It will be a little disappointing if everything is actually as it seems now…

            I started watching it because I love Kristen Bell. If you’re a fan of hers, you should check out her appearances on the Craig Ferguson show on YouTube. I guess they got to be good friends after she was a guest on his show and they’re hilarious together.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          I just rewatched all of VM. So good. Am now enjoying iZombie which has a few VM people showing up here and there including the actors who played Keith Mars and Cliff the lawyer, a hilarious cameo voiceover from Kristen and the odd reference to Hearst College.

          I am unsure on s2 of Good Place. It feels like the plot is being played by ear and I doubt that’s true but it’s not a great way to feel. Still love it though.

          1. Ron McDon*

            I loved S1 of Good Place, really didn’t like the first couple of episodes of S2, but I loved the last couple of episodes.

            I agree, it felt like S2 had no ‘plan’ and almost as though each episode was being improvised; not great.

            But I (and my son!) can’t wait to see the new episodes.

      2. Artemesia*

        Reminds me of the movie with Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks where they both end up in the way station between heaven and reincarnation and fall in love; Defending your Life. worth watching if you like The Good Place.

    11. Middle School Teacher*

      I’ve been watching Godless on Netflix, because it has some actors I really like, but I don’t know if I’ll finish it because it’s incredibly violent. Normally tv violence doesn’t bother me but this is GoT-red wedding level violence (and beyond).

      I’m also watching Dirk Gently but it’s a bit too weird and quirky for me to follow, which is disappointing because I’m a big Douglas Adams fan. I’ll try to stick with it, it just needs more attention (eg no fooling around on the internet while I’m watching).

      I’m also watching Strictly Come Dancing because I like Susan Calman :)

    12. Annie Mouse*

      I’ve discovered The librarians, the tv series. Loving it! Got the films set to record too.
      Need to finish Code Black as well, it’s so good I’ve been putting off watching the rest of the second series!

        1. Anon for this*

          Ooh, thanks. I’m in the UK so probably won’t get it for a while (and can’t get the DVD in UK format either!) but I shall keep an eye out for it.

    13. Red Reader*

      I just finished the two seasons of Glitch (an Australian tv series, I guess?) that Netflix has, and I found that super entertaining. Chance is on my list, as are Mindhunters and Sopranos, and Punisher.

      1. Casca*

        Glitch is very interesting- did not go where I expected!

        The star of Glitch is also in (a completely different series) No Activity, which is hilarious.

      2. TiffIf*

        I just finished season 1 of Glitch last night after Netflix kept suggesting it. Probably going to watch season 2 next week.

    14. Fake old Converse shoes*

      I got hooked on a Korean reality show called The Return of Superman. It’s about celeb fathers spending their free time with their toddlers, while the kid’s mums have the day off. It’s all in YouTube with English subtitles.

    15. Cristina in England*

      I feel like I am late to the party on this (not a new feeling!) but I just finished Stranger Things and I love it. Along with everyone else I suppose, but I missed all the hoopla about it after the first season aired.

    16. JD*

      Just finished Bates Motel. Love that show. I still can’t find anywhere to watch all the episodes of Crazy Ex Girlfriend. Only can find the most current three not the beginning of the season. Bumming me out.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      I just started watching Luther on Netflix. OMG WHYYYYYY did I not watch this show earlier!?!?!?!?! I LOVE it. It’s so intense and complicated and subplots and conflict GALORE. I love the whole Alice thing–god, she’s aggravating but so much FUN. I imagine the actress had a blast playing her. I’m only four episodes in. Netflix better not pull it or I shall scream.

      Also Idris Elba, yum yum yum yuuuuuuuuum. He’s so fecking adorable when he smiles. Which Luther doesn’t do much, but then when you do get it, it’s that much more special. :3

    18. Totally Minnie*

      Apart from my obsession with General Hospital, my favorite show right now is Heartland. I’ve blown through the first 7 seasons on Netflix, and I’m sad that I’ll be running out of episodes soon. Netflix only has up to season 9.

    19. Aurora Leigh*

      We’re really enjoying Ghosted a Fox series that’s airing now ( but it’s available on their website, we don’t have cable lol). Its so fun! And it has Ben from Parks and Rec in it!

      Also The Tick on Amazon was really good!

      And an older gem that a friend recently introduced me to is Slings and Arrows a Canadian comedy about a Shakespeare festival. Its so hilarious in so many unexpected ways.

    20. Julia*

      I’m wondering if I should watch Mrs. Maisel. I loved Gilmore Girls (same creator) back in the day, and I still do, but I’m getting a little tired of the “tall thin dark-haired blue-eyed woman talks over everyone else and is rude to people but it’s okay because she’s funny” thing and the fat-shaming. :(

      I started Jessica Jones the other day, but I’m unsure if it’s not too dark for me. I really want to watch Veronica Mars soon!

      Other than that, the husband and I watch The Big Bang Theory (which is not without its problems) and Young Sheldon, and we’re waiting for season 4 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

    21. Nines*

      Great topic! I love good show recommendations!
      I’m working through American Horror Story (I’m on season 6) and Mr. Robot right now. I’m loving them both!! And Stranger Things!
      I also just finished Justified which is an older show, but I found it on Amazon and totally became obsessed with it. Timothy Olyphant is the best!

    22. Bluebell*

      Just for fluff, I watched Stan Against Evil on Hulu. It reminded me of Slither, the movie w Nathan Fillion. John McGinley from Scrubs plays a character with the same sarcastic slightly grouchy outlook. I also started watching Schitts Creek and have only a few episodes left. Love all of the actors on that show – very funny and a lot of heart as well.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        A bunch of us at work watch Schitt’s Creek. I think my faves are Dan Levy (also hosting Great Canadian Baking Show!) and that girl who plays the cashier (I can’t remember her name). I laughed like crazy when he told her he was looking for a job “as a tastemaker or a trendsetter”.

    23. JulieBulie*

      Baskets Season 2
      Chance Season 2
      The Good Place Season 2
      Stranger Things almost done with Season 1

  13. Anon for this*

    Y’all, I will be heading to Wales next year and am very excited! I don’t know what to expect. Never really been out of Central london.

    1. Ange*

      Whereabouts are you going? North Wales is pretty hilly. Lots of good hiking if you like that. Also Wales is pretty wet, so be prepared for rain.

      1. Anon for this*

        We will be heading to Snowdonia, that’s all I know! And ooh, thank you – will pack good hiking boots then.

    2. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Wait a second! I’m so intrigued by this. I desperately want to be your penpal as my life is wildly different from yours and I’ve never spent more than two years in one place. Is it common for folks not to leave London ever?

      1. Anon for this*

        Oh no – as in when I go to Europe on holiday i don’t leave central London very much. I love it.

    3. A. Student*

      North Wales is great! I can recommend going over to Anglesey. Also, remember to bring a good waterproof coat

    4. GoryDetails*

      I visited St. David’s Head once, ages ago, with friends – wonderful trip, beautiful scenery, great pubs {grin}.

    5. ArtK*

      Wales is beautiful! I *love* Snowdonia. Make sure you visit Gelert’s Grave (just outside of Beddgelert.)
      I second the suggestion of a side trip to Anglesey — very pretty and a there’s a beautiful castle.
      Absolutely get good hiking boots (and break them in ahead of time!) and wet weather gear.

    6. WellRed*

      Jealous. I have been watching hinterland on Netflix and Wales looks gorgeous. Also, kind of end of the earth which I always find appealing.

    7. Margali*

      Oh, you are heading into beautiful country! I think you can do a day trip down the Vale of Conwy, and Conwy castle and the town itself are quite interesting. If you like historical fiction, you should read Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman. It takes place in Wales during the reign of King John.

    8. Amey*

      North Wales is lovely! Go to lots of castles (Welsh castles are the best) and walk in the mountains. You can get a train up Snowdon. Bodnant Gardens are nice too.

    9. JulieBulie*

      I went to Portmeirion in 1994 and would love love love to go there again… even if there is no Prisoner convention in progress.

      Extremely nice/scenic hiking around the grounds.

  14. Lcsa99*

    Since I know a lot of people here are cat people, and we’ve gotten great suggestions for cat toys and stuff from here in the past (most notably the big head bowls and the fling-ama-string’ which every cat should have) I am wondering – what is your cat’s favorite toy?

    1. bassclefchick*

      Pens and milk bottle rings. LOL

      She does love her catnip toys. She also has a Kickaroo that she “kills” all the time.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Oh, my gah, does my cat love his Kickeroo. He kills it several times a day. I can always tell when he’s going for it: he’ll do this casual walk toward the toy, then veer until he walks right over the top — and then he latches on to it with his front legs and kicks off with his back legs so that he literally flips head-first over the Kickeroo and winds up on his back, gnawing and kicking furiously. I laugh every time I see his tumbling routine.

      2. Artemesia*

        Years ago our house cleaner decided to move the couch to clean underneath. She was puzzled to find about 30 milk jug rings the cat had batted under there.

        1. nonegiven*

          We replaced a space heater the other day. There was a 12″x 18″ rectangle of bottle caps and rings packed in tight under the old one.

    2. RoseRed*

      My foot. LOL.

      No, but really, my cats are obsessed with those jingly balls with the little bell inside. I’ll toss them around the house and my cats bring them back like they’re playing fetch. (I’m starting to think they might actually be dogs…) When I want them to turn on their hunting instincts (they’re indoor only, but I like them to hear the call of the wild every once in awhile), I hide the jingly ball in a cardboard box so they have to hunt it down and figure out how to open it before they can have it.

    3. Marzipan*

      He has this thing we call birdmouse, that looks like a bird but makes a really disturbing squeaking noise (it has a battery in it). He greatly enjoys killing birdmouse.

    4. Torrance*

      My cat is a simple, simple girl– her favourite is those ones that look like finger traps (especially after they’ve been sitting in a baggie of nip for a while). They’re really light so she has fun either tossing them up or down &/or hurling them from one end of the apartment to the other. I find them everywhere. XD

    5. GoryDetails*

      Mine likes to play with pens, and with Things on Strings – or on wires, like those little cardboard bits attached to a long wire handle. (The wire makes the target bob in unexpected ways, which the cats seem to like.) His favorite toy is a little catnip fish by Yeowww; it’s advertised as high-test catnip, but it may just be the size and shape that appeals to him. When he’s in the mood he’ll bat the thing around with great agility for a 10-year-old and rather rotund cat!

    6. PlantLady*

      Felt balls. Usually I find them in craft/fabric stores. Sometimes I have to dig through the offerings to make sure they’re big enough that the cats can’t swallow them, but both my boys love playing with them.

    7. anon24*

      My cat is crazy about the “go cat da bee” wand toy. It’s a good thing they make replacement bees because he destroys them. One day he was bugging me to play with him but I was busy at the time. A little later I turned around and my girl cat was running with the wand in her mouth and he was chasing behind playing with the bee. I’ve also seen him drape the wire over the X at the base of our dining room chair and pull the wire with one paw and swing at the bee with the other. Glad he doesn’t need me to entertain him anymore ;)

    8. KR*

      She has this little felt/foam type ball that’s a bunch of different colors. She also loves her catnip and usually has a small toy mouse out. She has a little toy thing and while I put everything back once and a while she tends to pull out the ones she feels like playing with. She also loves the little feather on top of her scratching post in the living room. She’s not a huge fan of the laser pointer. She will play with it for a little bit and then get bored – I think she knows I can control it.

      1. Seal*

        One of mine loves a good cardboard box. I always leave one out for her to play with.

        Mylar balls are also a favorite. Something about the crinkly texture.

    9. CatCat*

      He likes a lot of toys, but I am going to go with the laser pointer. He’s so funny about it. He’ll get up in our faces wanting us to do the laser thing, he’ll hyper focus on trying to catch it for a few minutes, and then he’ll suddenly break away very nonchalant and is just done.

      The cat is also a paper product connoisseur. He really enjoys a just delivered card board box for about a day and then it just seems to kind of lose its appeal. Paper bags from Chipotle have a solid 4-5 days worth of interest for him. Wrapping paper is his greatest paper product love and wrapping gifts this time of year is always interesting. I can’t leave it out or he’ll shred it. The varmint.

    10. Valancy Snaith*

      This is going to sound ridiculous.

      The first Christmas we had our cats, my mom got them a thing of Target cat toys that were all sewing-themed–there was a little stuffed pincushion and thread spool, and a stuffed pair of scissors with crinkly stuff inside. Well, those scissors are my cat’s most beloved thing. They’re the perfect size and weight for her to toss around and carry around in her mouth, she even cuddles it when she sleeps. The only problem is that only one side of the toy has the “scissors” markings on them. The other side has no markings and looks exactly like a teenage-boy cartoon drawing of a dick. Like, if you picture a terrible drawing on a desk–that shape–that’s what shape this toy is. It’s so embarrassing. And she LOVES IT. She carries it around in her mouth. It’s…I just don’t think anyone from Target considered that!

      1. GoryDetails*

        I LOVE the one-sided-scissors racy cat toy – I can imagine the cat trotting out during family visits with her X-rated toy!

        Not X-rated, but very cute: I acquired a plush Golden Snitch ages ago, during the height of Potter-mania, and found that it was an excellent cat-toy. Got some for family and friends, whose cats liked them too, but my favorite memories of my late, lamented Big Gray Cat involved him trotting around with the Golden Snitch in his mouth.

    11. Melody Pond*

      Our younger cat goes beserk for plain old hair elastics/hair ties. She also can’t resist a cardboard box.

      For proper, actual cat toys, she goes nuts for something called Go Cat Teaser Cat Catcher Wand Cat Toy on Amazon. Though the “mouse” it comes with is kind of flimsy, and we later replaced it with these other really nice ones made from real fur and sewn together with no glue.

      Wand Cat Toy: https://smile.amazon.com/Go-Cat-Catcher-Teaser-Mouse/dp/B000LPOUNW/ref=pd_sim_199_5?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B000LPOUNW&pd_rd_r=WNCN29322NCGDBQ1W14Y&pd_rd_w=CZeHp&pd_rd_wg=iZPt5&psc=1&refRID=WNCN29322NCGDBQ1W14Y

      Mouse replacement: https://smile.amazon.com/Refill-Attachments-Wildcat-Catcher-Poles/dp/B00E4WNS9K/ref=pd_sim_199_1?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B00E4WNS9K&pd_rd_r=HJSTWBGKNF6A9SHGDDPG&pd_rd_w=i7cB3&pd_rd_wg=W2MYn&psc=1&refRID=HJSTWBGKNF6A9SHGDDPG

      1. tigerStripes*

        You might want to be careful with hair elastics – they sound like the kind of think a cat could ingest, and that can sometimes be something that requires surgery to deal with.

      2. ANON who loves to give food recs*

        +1 for that Wand Cat Toy. My boys utterly destroyed the flimsy mouse part – it’s been reduced to the size of a penny – but they are still obsessed with that toy.

    12. MissDissplaced*

      A ‘Da Bird feather spinner on a fishing pole toy. It induces lots of chitterlings and leaps!

    13. Windchime*

      Mine loves the little crinkly mylar balls. He also used to be obsessed with a little stuffed frog that would croak whenever he would play with it, but the battery finally died in that. He loves the “Da Bird” feathers on a string and wand. But the most favorite thing of all is when I take a toy and hide it in/under tissue paper. He loves to pat and attack the tissue paper until he finds his toy. Really, any type of game where the object is hidden and he has to figure out how to get to it is his favorite.

    14. oldbiddy*

      My Maine Coon mixes have always been REALLY into milk rings, the shorthair cats not so much. What’s up with that? They both like soft stuffed toys that aren’t too big and are sort of squishy, but it’s impossible to predict which ones will be winners and which one will be duds.
      For cats that like milk rings, give them a larger ring (off a applesauce or spaghetti sauce jar)

      1. Ms Ida*

        I always found winners to be free stuff(empty bags and milk rings) and the duds anything I paid for at a petstore!

    15. Red Reader*

      I got my husband’s cats a catnip-stuffed pickle a couple months back as a joke. Turns out the one-eyed goofy one thinks it’s the best thing ever — she carries it around the house everywhere she goes, takes it up to people and yells (with it still in her mouth) to show it off, and regularly loses fights with it.

      1. JaneB*

        Small canvas mice with feather tails and rattle-y innards

        Post it’s

        Scrumpled up balls of the sort of crispy paper used to cover the sticky strip on panty liners (she carries liners around too, the embarrassment!)

        Socks, freshly killed after stealing from the airer

        Shoelaces, preferably in use

        Random scraps of cardboard she chews off the sides of boxes

        She’s 18…

    16. nonegiven*

      We have to hide rolls of paper towels or Tom will eviscerate them. He’s gotten them off the top of the fridge, he’s stolen one off the table while DH was eating and watching TV at the same time. By eviscerate, I mean kick an unopened package with his back feet until there are holes almost all the way down to the cardboard tube. I keep them in closed cabinets, now.

    17. Mallory Janis Ian*

      A sticker ball from our sweet gum tree and a fresh new one whenever the old one gets worn down; she likes them fully prickly.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Also, we had a basket of old stuffed animals sitting by the front door on their way to Goodwill, and she “hunted” two of them out of the basket to keep for herself.

        Our other cat who recently passed away at 19 used to love to “hunt” pairs of folded socks from out of the laundry basket. The way she carried them, it looked like she had a small dead animal by the back of the neck; they were her prey.

    18. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Teh Cat Dancer – a piece of wire with cardboard at the end. They LOVE this thing.

      Also, catnip is so last year. SILVERVINE is the hot new kitty crack in my house. We were ordering it from Japan (you can get it in power or stick form) and then we found a catnip+silvervine mix in the US on vacation and that blew everyone’s minds. I think petsmart or petco had it – in a red metal tub.

    19. Jessen*

      My girl’s favorite was always those toys that are basically just a strip of fabric tied to a pole. They often come with feathers on the end but those usually disappear pretty quickly.

      Pro tip for any frugal pet lovers: If you go shopping immediately AFTER a holiday, there’s usually a pile of holiday-themed cat toys for massive amounts off. And the cats have never complained about the print on the toys being out of season.

      1. Sputnik*

        My friend’s cat loves to play with dice – he will bat them across the floor all evening and if left to his own devices will hide it away somewhere. Friend and their partner once found 30+ dice in a Kleenex box :D We play D&D at their apartment a lot and whenever a d20 rolls onto the floor we have to pause the game and scramble to find it before kitty does….

        I also had a cat as a teenager who loved harp strings. Whenever I had to replace a string on my harp he’d come running and then I’d have to spend a while dangling it in front of him for him to bat at. He found laser pointers to be beneath his dignity, but hunting the end of a broken harp string was the Best Thing Ever!

    20. kible*

      my old lady cat doesn’t really like playing much, but will chase ties on my pajama pants. young cat has a catnip filled toy pepper that she loves, but i’ve also caught her carrying some balls around the house. roommate’s cat has a crinkly fish that she’ll pick up and walk around with while screaming.

  15. Lily Evans*

    A bunch of my FB friends from high school and college are either pregnant or have recently had a baby and I’ve been doing a lot of reading and processing my own feelings about not really wanting children. I’m 25 right now and have no interest at the moment and can picture happy futures that involve kids and ones that don’t, but for I’m leaning towards the no kids ever side. Today specifically I woke up thinking about the “you’ll regret it one day” argument that people love to use against anyone who chooses not to have kids and I started thinking about other things that people told me I’d regret someday that I definitely don’t.

    So far my list includes: Not going to prom, which my mother was convinced I’d regret terribly. I’m so glad I didn’t waste all of that money because I hated dances and I’ve never once been like “hmmm, I really wish I’d spent hundreds of dollars to stand in a gymnasium with a bunch of sweaty teenagers for four hours…” I was also told I’d regret being an English major because I’d never find a job, but I’ve found jobs just fine. Last, my parents were convinced that I’d regret moving to the city instead of settling down in the town I worked in right after college, but I’m so much happier here than I was there! The only thing that people told me I’d regret that I actually do regret is not studying abroad in college. I could have afforded to, but I let my fears hold me back and I really wish I hadn’t.

    What are some things that people used vague possible future regrets to try to get you to do that you ignored? Did you end up actually regretting it, or are you glad you didn’t listen?

    1. Dan*

      I skipped my senior year of high school. I was told I’d regret it and haven’t.

      I’m late 30’s, divorced, no kids, and happily single at the moment, FWIW.

    2. Holiday Elf*

      I feel you on the study abroad. I did a summer program for a few weeks but it wasn’t the same as living there for months.

      My main regret in life is not doing an internship in college. I didn’t have a ton of people telling me I should do it (my parents were actually against it because they just wanted me to focus on my classes) but I do regret it because I think an internship would have given me more guidance of my career rather than being tossed in headfirst at my first post-college job.

      I’m in my late 20’s and my friends are starting to get married, so I know babies will soon be around the corner. I’m lucky enough that in my friend group, there are several of us in the ‘likely to not procreate’ camp so I’m not alone there. Though I do wonder if I’ll feel differently when my other friends do start having kids.

      1. Anxa*

        I also didn’t win any internship slots. I think I failed to make myself competitive enough for lots of reasons, one of which was that I was more comfortable working on campus because I didn’t have a car and didn’t live in a city or anywhere with workable public transit.

        I was so naive, too, because I thought it would make me ‘well rounded,’ but it really just meant I didn’t have direct experience in my field.

      2. Valancy Snaith*

        I do regret not doing an internship. I don’t recall it ever even coming up–I certainly don’t remember anyone steering me in that direction, so I just worked retail in the summers. I honestly wish I had been proactive enough or just aware enough that it was A Thing. I feel like it would have given me a lot more solid work experience in my field. I regret it to the point where I want to reach out to my university’s department I studied in and let them know that there’s absolutely zero awareness or guidance of field-related internships for students. Or maybe there is now, several years later. But I do regret it immensely.

    3. RoseRed*

      My husband and I were repeatedly told by his parents that we would regret our choice to cook all our food for our wedding. (We love to cook, so the idea of making a meal for 100 guests was our idea of fun as well as an immense cost-saving measure–and we were getting married on a friend’s land, so no catering requirement.) To this day, our wedding guests tell us how much they loved the idea, we had so much fun doing it, and it’s my go-to “cool story” to tell about our wedding day when I’m chatting about it to new people. Definitely understand that it’s not for everyone, but you do you!

      1. Too Witches*

        This is WILD and I’d love more details? I’m assuming you did prep ahead of time, but were you actually cooking on the day?? Like, I’m imagining instead of a reception line your guests came by as you dished up meals for them! This is just such an unconventional wedding day, I love it! I once helped a family friend cater a wedding and it was massively stressful, but especially if you love cooking I really can only imagine your guests were so chill and relaxed because how special is that??

        1. RoseRed*

          We did probably 90% of the prep ahead of time, and the friend who loaned us her land for the wedding also lent us their detached basement which has a little mini-kitchen setup so we could warm up the pasta bakes and stuff like that. I wish now that I’d written down somewhere what we made, because it was 5 years ago and I no longer remember everything. :-P We did a variety of pasta dishes, a tomato salad, oh man I can’t remember what else but there was a bunch of stuff. We live in a rural area, so we got all our ingredients from farmers we know and one of them gave us 1/2 a bushel of peaches as a wedding gift. :-)

          You did get it right on the head that we really prided ourselves on having kind of an unconventional wedding. Instead of having a guest book, we put paper on the tables and left out crayons for our guests to draw on the tablecloths. Unfortunately this backfired because it rained before we had a chance to take them off the tables, but we have some great pictures of people’s drawings! We didn’t have a reception line, though it was more of a buffet-style setup than us serving them. We just kind of mingled and ambushed people while they were eating. :-) A lot of people still say that it’s their favorite wedding they’ve ever been to, and we’re really happy about that!

          1. Too Witches*

            It sounds like it was absolutely wonderful, and I’m so glad you did it in a way that got you so well! I’ve had to most fun at weddings where the food is good (obviously) and the couple really manage to mingle and be part of the party, because, in my admittedly limited experience, it just really loosens up the atmosphere. I’m so impressed by the whole thing!!

            1. RoseRed*

              Just found the Google Doc where I wrote what we cooked! Looks like we made several pasta bakes, ratatouille, coleslaw, roasted tomatoes, homemade bread, deviled eggs and crackers, salmon croquettes, bean salad, and pasta with peanut sauce. My mother-in-law offered to make baked chicken, and my mom made some veggie sandwiches. Definitely nobody starved. :-)

              Also I found an old email between me and my husband that indicated that we paid approximately $350 for all of this. Can’t beat the price for that amount of food!

          2. Windchime*

            It does sound amazing. My son and his bride had a similar wedding. They didn’t cook the food, but we served sandwiches from Costco, pasta and green salads, fruit, and potato chips. There were plenty of non-alcoholic drinks, and wine from Trader Joe’s. A bartender friend provided a keg. Instead of cake, an assortment of fresh bakery pies was served. It was very inexpensive and awesome. Best wedding I’ve ever attended.

            1. oldbiddy*

              We did something similar, but with hamburgers/hotdogs and Costco cakes instead of sandwiches. People also brought side dishes. It was a little bit hectic organizing but we had a great time and people enjoyed it.

    4. Natalie*

      I’m quite certain some people regret having kids, it’s just not socially acceptable to talk about because people confuse it with not loving said kids. But I’m sure my mom, for one, wishes she didn’t have children.

      1. Lily Evans*

        I actually stumbled across a few articles about that recently. Apparently it’s not that uncommon. I’ve often wondered about my parents as well, since I think they had my sister and I more because they felt like they should than really wanting kids since they don’t even like kids! As someone who genuinely enjoys working with children and still doesn’t want my own, I just don’t buy their “it’s different when it’s your own kid” explanations.

        1. Book Lover*

          I kind of don’t like kids, but I think mine are amazing :). I think I am just very jealous of my time and space, and tend to be on the irritable side. Other kids hit all my buttons, but mine are cute and adorable and interesting most of the time. Still happy when it is bedtime though! Just to say that you can not love kids in general but adore your own.

          1. Ron McDon*

            Haha, you’re just like me!

            I work in a school so see plenty of ‘other people’s kids’; they are universally not as polite, interesting or cute as mine! (I mean, they are to their parents, I’m sure, but I love my kids without loving other people’s kids).

            I also love my me-time and can be a grouch, but am trying not to be :)

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I’m the same; I like and enjoy my own kids, and I’m pretty “meh” about other kids. I like them if they’re fairly well-behaved and if the parents’ parenting is fairly reasonable. I mean, it’s really refreshing to meet a kid whose parents are down-to-earth and keep firm but fair guidance over the kid. It seems more and more prevalent, though, to meet kids who probably would be better behaved if their parents weren’t so permissive. Like, they want other people to hold up the “be patient with children because they’re in training” end of the social contract, but they don’t appear to be holding up the “well then, show us that s/he’s receiving some training” end of the bargain. And then I dislike the parent and the child because I’m becoming curmudgeonly from over-exposure.

        2. Ann O.*

          I do find it different with my own.

          I think regret/not regret with having kids is a difficult subject because it’s not like emotions are static and persistent. For me personally, there are options I would have had if I didn’t have a child that I wish I had. There are times I have felt regret as a result. But there are also many times I feel incredibly lucky to have my child. During the very difficult newborn months, I felt regret a lot. During the pretty easy post-sleep-training-but-still-napping time period, I didn’t feel regret at all.

          An additional factor is that the US is a very difficult country to raise a child. There is still a lot of pressure and judgement primarily directed at mothers for our choices, compromises, and perceived failures. There is very little institutional support.

      2. Too Witches*

        Same, I think my parents both got married and had kids because it was expected, and they’ve never had the happiest relationship. It’s one of the reasons I’m firmly on the no kids side for myself – the idea of raising little humans does not excite me or make me feel good at all, and why would I want to expose someone to that? I would never want kids I had to feel like a burden but that’s exactly what the idea feels like to me, so I will leave the baby-having and rearing to the people who REALLY want it.

      3. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Yep. My mom once told me that if she could do it over, she probably wouldn’t have gotten married or had a kid. (I wasn’t offended–ever since I was a little kid they’d been telling me stories of how they wanted several kids before they actually had one–me–and realized how hard it would be. I know my mother loves me, but I also know that her life isn’t what she wanted it to be when she was younger, and I think that discrepancy hurts her a lot.)

        1. Jackie*

          My mom told me that same thing when I was very young. She said if she knew was marriage was like that she never would have married or had kids. At the time, I just accepted what she said with no judgement. But as an adult, looking back now, I think geez, didn’t she feel blessed to have three kids who loved her deeply ?

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            Oof. I’m sorry your mother said that. I was probably 15-17 when my mom and I had that conversation, she only said so because I’d asked her about it, and I only asked because I knew what the answer would be already, which is very different than how it was communicated to you.

          2. Natalie*

            Wow, I definitely wouldn’t tell a small child that! I don’t think little kids have the ability to understand that someone could regret the overall experience of having kids without believing they were somehow personally responsible for that.

      4. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

        I’ve been reading a lot about this recently. I think one thing that’s really hard and REALLY not socially acceptable to talk about is how much harder parenthood is for mothers than for fathers in heterosexual pairs. Fathers are still seen as the secondary parent by a lot of people, which means that the bulk of the labor, responsibility, and inevitable blame (“didn’t your mother raise you right?”) falls on the female parent. I know my mom really wanted to be a mom, and my dad is a great dad, but my mom still got the short end of the stick with all the hard parts of parenting.

        1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

          Agreed. I never liked children to begin with so I probably wouldn’t have wanted to have any no matter what, but the knowledge that as a woman I’d probably be doing most/all of the childrearing work (especially the gross stuff) made my decision not to have children a lot easier.

        2. Ann O.*

          Also, the career and pay sacrifices only happen to women. Men are actually boosted on statistical aggregate by having a family.

        3. Lissa*

          Yes, this. In my social group I know quite a few guys who are like “oh yeah, I’ll have kids maybe, if my future partner wants them?” and seem to not have strong feelings on this. Whereas just about every woman I know is YES I want kids, NO I never want them, or ambivalent/mixed feelings that are fairly strong. A guy friend of mine was talking about his “oh, maybe, I don’t really mind either way” feelings about it as compared to my NOPENOPENOPE and I pointed out to him that it was a lot easier for a guy to have that opinion, even in today’s society.

          I think a lot of guys have zero concept of how different it is for women. They seem to have a concept of kids that involves way less hard work and change to their life than women.

    5. nep*

      Prom. People said, ‘Go — you’ll regret it if you don’t.’ Cared not at all then, and never a second of regret.
      Having children. Some people have said, ‘But it’s such an important experience in a woman’s life…you’ll change your mind one day…blah blah blah.’ I was going to say ‘wisest decision I ever made, not having kids,’ but it was never even a decision — I was never on the fence. Knew I was not meant to be a mom, period. Zero regret. On the contrary.
      At least one relative said I’d be sorry taking off returning to a developing country to freelance. I thrived, and had some of the absolute best moments of my life.

    6. Overeducated*

      I had a kid at a time that (in retrospect) had a major negative impact on my intended career because I knew I would always regret it if I couldn’t have kids, but I’d probably be ok if my career took another direction. I think knowing instinctively what I would seriously regret and what I would not was a compass for navigating these tradeoffs so I don’t regret it at all. Many of my other friends put off kids longer or chose not to have them because their compass pointed them in a different direction. I think intuition is really really important and really really individual.

      1. Overeducated*

        On the other hand, I went to prom out of fear of missing out, and it was way overrated. Dress shopping was fun at least.

        1. I get that*

          I went to my prom and all I remember is my date and a friend disappeared for awhile and I couldn’t have cared less. I gave into pressure to go. Would have been happier staying home with a book or the tv.

        2. Lily Evans*

          I decided not to go after some dress browsing but before actually paying for anything, so I feel like it was the best of both worlds because I do love trying on fancy dresses!

    7. PlantLady*

      First, let me say I’m over twenty years older than you are, with no kids (by my own choice). Back when I still answered the “are you going to have kids” question, I got the “you’ll regret it” attitude on a regular basis. I don’t regret it. Do I sometimes wonder, “what if?” Sure I do. But regret it? – No.

      As to other things – I grew up in a family that went through 2 bankruptcies before I turned 16, both because of catastrophic medical bills. “Get a good job with benefits and don’t ever be without health insurance” was drummed into me. I missed out on a lot of life in my late teens and twenties because I went the safe route with regard to those things. I regret that. I wish I had traveled more, done more “fun” things in my youth and not been so hung up on being safe. (Granted, with healthcare the way it is now, if I DID have a child, I would be likely to give my kid the same advice my parents gave me. But in the late 80s and early 90s, it wasn’t quite so bad.)

    8. AMT*

      I’m trans and the possibility of regret was used by several people to try to deter me from transitioning as a teenager. I think it’s the way we think about risk — the consequences of *doing* something scare us more than than the consequences of *not* doing something. So the risk of spending decades of your life being unhappy and afraid to take action is okay, but the risk of climbing up and grabbing what you want (with a small chance of failing) is somehow unacceptable. My family is risk-averse and hates change, so a lot of other things I wanted to do were constantly questioned and debated.

      I ignored them and transitioned. I also did all the risky things they warned me about — taking a summer job out of state (which led to a career), going to a faraway college (worth it, graduated with almost no debt and met my spouse), moving to NYC (best place in the world), getting engaged to someone I’d only known for a couple of months (8 years of happy partnership), and dozens of other little things I’d never have done if I’d spent months or years debating them. Sometimes making a few bad decisions is worth not being a quivering blob of inertia all the time.

      1. AMT*

        Oh, and I share your no-kids lifestyle! It’s hard to regret being able to live comfortably in a one-bedroom.

      2. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

        That’s such a good point about how we think about risk! It feels scarier to take a risk by doing something rather than take a risk by being passive, even though not making a choice is still a choice. I’m slowing coming out of “being a quivering blob of inertia” and you’re right, life is way better now even though I have made a couple bad decisions.

      3. Lily Evans*

        Your family sounds very much like my family! I’m actively trying to avoid following in their no-risk-taking-content-but-not-really-happy lifestyle. On one hand there’s my dad who hates change, but who never really wanted much beyond the life he’s led, so he always questions my choices and generally sees the world as an unsafe place. On the other hand there’s my mother who’s very vocally regretted her choices in life and who’s openly jealous of the things I’ve been doing in my life that she always wanted to do but didn’t (living in a major city & traveling).

        1. AMT*

          Your parents could be my parents. My mom has a million things she’s always wanted to do, and there have never been insurmountable barriers to doing those things, but her inertia is powerful and my dad opposes anything that would involve spending money (on things he doesn’t want) and going places (that he doesn’t want to go). She has always marveled at how I’m able to, y’know, do stuff. I don’t understand how doing stuff sounds so much harder than wasting your entire life.

          1. Lily Evans*

            Yep, that is all so familiar haha! My mom could travel, her sister does and she has friends who probably would, she just doesn’t. And my dad hates spending money and has no interest in leaving the US (except for Canada). They’ve been talking about taking a trip to either Vegas or Florida for like two years and could totally do it financially, it just doesn’t ever happen.

        2. Grapey*

          Funny, I also don’t want kids but that’s because I consider kids to be risky. I too hate change and just sort of let life ‘happen’ to me. It’s been great to me so far – great husband, great family, great job…to change my life to HAVE kids seems like the way bigger risk!!

    9. Circus peanuts*

      I have no regrets about saying yes to my fiance. My friends like him but my family does not. My brother refuses to even meet him. My fiance is disabled and cannot work. That doesn’t matter to me. I’ve never been happier and he treats me so well. Life has never been so golden.

      1. Lissa*

        Wow, I’m so sorry your brother is such an ass about it! He won’t meet your fiance just because he’s disabled!? Does he actually admit that that’s the reason? My partner is also disabled and couldn’t work for a long time, and my father was a complete jerk about it. It’s got better over the last 5 years or so but still frustrating. So I feel your pain on that one.

    10. Nicole*

      I don’t regret not going to my prom either. I went to one Homecoming dance in high school and that was plenty.

      As for kids, I’m not sure anyone ever told me I’d regret not having them, but I think it’s not really an all or nothing feeling either. Sometimes I feel sad that we don’t have a little family we can take to all the holiday events around town geared toward families…. until I see a kid having a meltdown and I’m like “nope nope nope” glad I’m not YOU. ;)

      Ultimately I’m happy with my decision despite feeling wistful about the more wonderful moments I’ve missed out on. For me it will always be 95%/5% against/in-favor of kids. I can live with that 5% “regret”. I channel my “mothering” instinct toward taking care of my husband and dog… and my husband’s kids (whom are grown) on the rare occasions I see them.

      I think you know what’s best for you and the life you want to live so don’t second-guess yourself. And since you’re young if you change your mind later then so be it.

    11. Triplestep*

      I was told I’d regret not getting my architectural registration after architecture school, and in many ways, I *do* regret it. I have worked in that field and related fields for 30 years, but cannot say I am an architect. (Well, I could say it, but I’d be technically lying.) That said, I have made a pretty good career of working in-house for large companies who hire designers as part of their facilities planning teams. I have been able to work pretty steadily (a lot of architects can’t say this) with large company benefits and earn more than if I had gone the traditional route for architects. So it’s been a trade off.

      You didn’t ask, but I will just add this: The reason I did not complete the three-year intern development program and sit for the registration exam had a lot to do with the fact that I had my first child at age 24. It was not planned, and I was way too young. I tried to continue on my road to registration, but as a parent of a young child, I was more limited as to where I could work and what kind of hours I could take on. Bad economy and more than one layoff didn’t help either. I later came to envy female friends who had waited and planned better. They had many more choices than I’d had for how to balance career and family.

      The truth is you may change your mind about kids, and you may not. Either way no one should be telling you that you’ll regret it. My daughter (21) says she does not want kids; I suspect she might change her mind, but I would never say that to her, nor would it cross my mind to tell her she’ll regret it. I can’t think of a sure fire way to shut people down when they mention regrets, but that is certainly called for here!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Shrug and say, “Very few people leave this planet with NO regrets. Having regrets is part of life.”

        OR, if you are feeling snippy:
        “Then that will be my regret to bear alone and it will not have any impact on you.”

    12. Temperance*

      I’m 34 and childless and pretty okay with that. Most of my childhood friends were really young parents and have kids who are 14 or 15.

      I was always told I would regret not following that path, but honestly, I’m thankful I did not. My life is better. I have friends who have only been as far as the NJ shore. Meanwhile, I have met Bryan Stevenson, the PM of Ireland, worked with refugees, etc. Their world is much smaller than mine, and unfortunately, so are their minds.

      1. Courtney*

        This reads as fairly unkind to me – I’m someone with kids who is super supportive of my friends who have zero interest in ever having any of their own. I think the judgement people have on the issue is ridiculous and that obviously people who don’t want kids shouldn’t have kids, and I’m the first one to point out what a jerk someone is being when they make a comment to one of my friends about how they’ll regret it or something. But if one of them told me that my mind was smaller than theirs due to the fact that we have some different life experiences and I haven’t traveled around the world? Ouch. That’s just stooping to the level of the people who tell childfree people that they don’t know what love is because they haven’t experienced it as a parent.

        1. Dan*

          I read that statement with a bit more nuance than was written. I grew up in an area of the country that was very insular and full of close minded people. That includes my parents to some extent. (My mom won’t shop at Target after the trans bathroom kerfluffle that I had completely forgotten about. She reminded me of this over Turkey Day.) When I moved out to Washington DC, some members of my extended family asked me why I wanted to move here — because “there are black people there.”

          I live in the big city (er, the suburbs) have no kids and travel a bit — I fully understand the sentiment Temperance expresses.

          I think it’s fair to acknowledge Temperance’s belief that the people she knows with kids that don’t travel are closed minded — she’s clearly referring to people she knows, not making broad generalizations about classes of people she doesn’t.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed, about fearing regret. It seems to come with other fears also.

            There are those people out in the world who live in total fear of having to face the slightest regret. I wish there was a name for this group and, NO, we cannot just use my family name instead.

            Those Who Fear Regret seem to have difficulty seeing other people experience regret. It pains them in some way. Additionally Those Who Fear Regret also fear other things. They have TWO extra coffee pots in case the first two of the three pots fail all in one day. They fear taking chances even if the risk is well chosen and well thought out.

            Reality is that everyone’s life will contain some regret. It’s not so much that we have regrets, it is how we handle that regret once we are confronted with it. Does Regret become this huge suitcase to carry through life OR does Regret become a Teacher who makes us wiser in parallel situations?

            OP , I loove, loove, loove, your list of decisions where you did not experience regret. Perfect. And this is EXACTLY how to think about future decisions. Look at the decisions that have gone well for you and find the cross-overs or common threads to use as a guide with your current quandary.

            There is no bullet proof way of finding the definitive answer. But there is one last thing you can do, you can decide that you want to take X road in life and then decide that you will make the best of it the whole way no matter what curves/bumps/detours life throws into the road. Life takes work no matter what we chose to do with ourselves.

        2. Temperance*

          I actually have tons of friends, now, who are parents, and a few whose kids even call me Aunt Temperance. I actually love children.

          My childhood friends are the ones who were largely negging me about not being a parent at a young age. I don’t care if people travel! It was more to show how the people I grew up with willingly limit themselves. I’m not sure if you watched The Daily Show at all during the election season, but there were several Jordan Klepper segments of him interviewing conservative voters at a rally near where I grew up. Those are the people that my friends grew up to be.

          1. Anion*

            So conservative voter = small mind? Conservative voters have “willingly limited themselves?”

            Sheesh. I’m sure the Daily Show guy went out of his way to find the stupidest, worst people he possibly could to interview, but I don’t think it’s an example of broad-mindedness to assume that any handful of members of a huge group are typical examples of that group, or that the entire group can be judged based on them.

            But hey, what do I know?

            1. Courtney*

              I don’t know, now that she has clarified I think she’s saying they’re in that group and therefore like the people he interviewed. I think she is saying that they literally have the opinions/mindsets/lack of knowledge of the people he interviewed.

            2. nonegiven*

              I remember when Jay Leno interviewed the governor of Arkansas and his wife. The circumstances were that some organization had come up with the money to refurbish the original governor’s mansion, but they had to move out while it was done. They moved in a triple wide manufactured home for them to live in while the mansion was being worked on.

              Leno went at it like they were putting on airs, living in a triple wide mobile home.

              They set up the camera outdoors with the view of the manufactured home in the background. During the interview a big dog came out from under the porch. The studio audience cracked up.

      2. Anon for this*

        yeah, I agree with Courtney – I do think travel is wonderful and broadens your horizons, but I don’t think people who don’t (or can’t! – there is a ton of financial privilege involved) travel are necessarily missing out.

      3. Kat*

        I very much hope friends of mine with kids don’t believe I feel this way about them. We have different lives and different choices, but theirs don’t automatically mean my life is better.

        1. Temperance*

          I totally agree. I’m from a small town that’s very close-minded. I was actually speaking to the specific comment here, which is something I related to. I was criticized for not having multiple children by 26 as being “too old” to be a mother, and how sad my life must be.

        1. Dan*

          I suspect the nuance in Temperance’s sentiments extends from the beliefs expressed by the people she knows — the use of “unfortunately” in her statement came across to me as an expression of sadness, not one of judgement. In no way did she write “all people with kids who don’t travel are closed minded and have sucky lives.” She just said her life is better than that of those she knows; that’s her opinion and she’s welcome to it.

        2. Temperance*

          Oh my goodness, it’s not about the travel at all! It’s about their lack of knowledge of the bigger world and truthfully, their close-mindedness. What I expressed, rather badly, is their lack of curiosity about the larger world, and truthfully, their prejudice against anyone who isn’t them. I regularly talk about this with people who know Scranton, so I shouldn’t have been so glib.

      4. Lily Evans*

        I think “better” is a very relative term. Having those opportunities may feel better to you, but wouldn’t to someone who had kids and really enjoyed raising them. I’ve admittedly found myself slipping into that mindset, but then I remind myself that not everyone wants the same things I want or prioritizes the same goals I do. It’s possible to be happy for other people, while also being happy that you’re not in their place. I’m glad when I see people enjoying their children, and I’m even more glad I don’t have any when their children are having difficult moments. The only time I feel sorry for people who have kids is when they’re obviously having a rough go of it, but I know that it was still their choice to make and not mine to judge.

        1. Temperance*

          FWIW, most of my friends were teen parents (or very young, under 21). They didn’t get to go to college, and sadly, their worldview is super limited. They’re passing that on to their children, which bums me out.

    13. Artemesia*

      Kids are a bigger deal than all those other things and thus having them is also a bigger deal in terms of impact on your life. I have two friends now in their 70s who didn’t have children because there husband didn’t want them and they claimed to have agreed; they both are very regretful about it now and it has been part of a severe depression for one. But when YOU really don’t want that to be part of your life you are in a different place than someone who is pushed that way by a spouse. There are lots of people who have fulfilling lives without kids and you certainly have more disposable income and freedom than if you take on the responsibilities of children. There is no greater responsibility anyone can take on than bringing life into the world; from that point forward they have to be one’s greatest commitment. My children and now my grandchildren are enormously important to my personal happiness and that is with a demanding career and fair success in it and a happy marriage. You don’t need to decide once and for all at this point in your life but you probably do need to commit one way or the other before marrying if you decide to do that. But it is not in the same league IMHO with not going to Prom.

      1. Lily Evans*

        It’s definitely not in the same league at all! It’s just an interesting thought exercise since I’m not the best at processing my feelings and making decisions about things. Looking at situations like that and choices I’ve made while comparing the gut feelings and thought processes surrounding them helps me to lay out thought patterns for future decision making. But the fact that the idea of attending prom and the idea of having children give me an equally “meh” gut feeling tells me that unless my feelings change significantly in the future I should not have children.

    14. SRB*

      If I wasn’t sure about it…
      I’d rather regret not having kids…
      …than regret having them.
      Just my two cents.

      1. Maiasaura*

        This. If you don’t have children and later regret it, *you* suffer. If you have children and regret it, innocent people who never asked to be created suffer. There’s just no contest.

    15. Melody Pond*

      I’m 31 now. At 25, I was in the same “leaning towards the no kids ever side” and at that time I got a copper IUD that would last for ten years. I told myself that if, by the time I was 35 and it was time for the copper IUD to be removed – if at that time I still wasn’t wanting kids, that I’d get myself sterilized then.

      I wound up removing the IUD and having surgery to sterilize myself earlier this year (I posted about it a bit, at the time). I’m thrilled about it. It helps that I’ve been with a partner for the past 5+ years who is also firmly against having kids. Rather than this swaying me in a direction I didn’t really want to go, I think this did the opposite. It gave me “permission” to realize that I didn’t particularly want to be a parent.

      My family has generally been supportive of this – perhaps because I have so many other siblings who are definitely going to be procreating. But Mr. Pond’s family has tried all of the “you’ll regret it one day” and “kids are so great” and “it’s different when it’s your own kids” arguments. To us, this just feels like they are desperately trying to impose their own values upon us. And sure – it’s entirely possible we could get to 40 or 50 and suddenly regret it. But I think that it’s much better to regret NOT having kids than to risk the regret of having them when you didn’t really want to be a parent.

      1. Dan*

        I’ve always hand the mindset “I don’t want kids in the next two years; after that, we’ll see.” I’m 38 and still feel that way.

        Although it’s entirely possible that I may regret not having kids at 50 or 60, I can definitely say I don’t regret the life I’ve had in the intermediate years without them.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Definitely it is an attempt to impose their values on you. We need childless people as much as we need parent type people. While the purposes are different the level of need remains the same for both groups of people.

      3. Totally Minnie*

        I used to work in childcare, and one of the kids in my class was always dropped off and picked up by her grandmother. As we got to know each other, she told me that she and her husband thought they never wanted kids, but they started to regret that as they got older. They were past the point where they could have biological children, so they applied to be foster parents. They ended up adopting a pregnant teenager and helping her raise her baby.

        What I’m saying is, if you put off having kids and find you regret it later, there are other avenues you can take to become a parent. But I don’t ever recommend having kids for any reason other than a real and sincere desire to be a parent. It’s not a bell you can un-ring.

        1. Melody Pond*

          Exactly! It’s not like there aren’t other ways to fulfill a parental role in someone’s life, later on. I can’t relate to the fixation on procreating your own, biological children. I think it’s more in line with my own ideologies, anyway, to adopt a child that already exists and needs a loving home (if I were so inclined to be a parent).

        2. SS Express*

          I love this story! Someone I know recently got on my case about how my husband and I can’t put off having kids any longer. I definitely do want kids one day but I am absolutely not going to have kids when I actively don’t want them, because I know that even if I do miss my chance to have biological children there are a million other options available.

          (Also, I’m 28.)

      4. Gloucesterina*

        I have a kid and the argument that a person will wake up at age 60 and think, “oh my god, I wish I had an adult child living in their own apartment right now!” just sounds so bizarre to me.

    16. Balloon*

      Are you me 11 years ago? Haha. I also did not attend prom (and am still happy with that decision) and was an English major.

      I transferred schools in the middle of college and my mom told me I’d regret it. I don’t.

      One thing I really regret, though, is not taking a gap year between high school and college. I was still a minor when starting college and I really think if I’d taken a gap year and either worked or traveled or done some volunteering or something besides charging forward with unfocused studies, I would have gotten a lot more out of college than I did. However, I was not allowed to do this (and since I was a minor, I pretty much had no choice) because my mother told me I’d regret it.

      I was also pressured to date and pursue romantic relationships, and my refusal to do so was often regarded as cowardice or some kind of refusal to grow up. It took me until I was 30 to realize that the reason I didn’t want to date is because I’m asexual, and that I was just following what my sexual orientation was telling me to do, so I don’t regret saying no to dates all those years!

      I 100% think that most people live their best lives when they don’t listen to the opinions of people around them at the expense of their own gut feelings. You be you!

    17. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      One of the most healing things anyone ever told me was that there is no objectively right decision. There are always going to be pros and cons, things you regret and things you loved, things you wish you had done differently and things you pat yourself on the back for. And I think that’s been the case for most major decisions I’ve made so far– what college I picked, whether to study abroad, who I’ve dated, etc.

      I find the idea really freeing, because it helps me not to obsess over whether I’m sacrificing a “perfect” choice in favor of a just-okay choice. Obviously you try to pick the best choice with the information that you have, but it will probably always be a little bit of a mixed bag.

    18. LCL*

      Not buying a house earlier. The real estate market here is berserk. We chose wisely and have done well because of the market, but I could have done better.

    19. HannahS*

      Made a practical, boring choice to study at a university that I wound up hating. Didn’t really regret it; I really don’t think the benefits of going anywhere else would have outweighed the deficits. Didn’t attend my university graduation, haven’t regretted it. Didn’t study abroad, didn’t regret it. Didn’t go to parties, didn’t regret it. Didn’t date casually, didn’t regret it.

      Turns out, I really know what I like and what’s good for me. I can tell when the reason I don’t want to do something is anxiety and when it’s really that this thing isn’t going to work for me.

    20. kas*

      I’m in my mid-twenties and I also have no interest in having children. I’m around kids often (family and my friends’ kids) and I’m always so relieved to give them back to their parents. I enjoy doing as I please and doing whatever whenever without having to worry about anyone.

      I may change my mind once I settle down/get married but for now, I think the only thing I would regret is that my parents won’t have grandchildren.

    21. Fake old Converse Shoes*

      People constantly told me I’d regret not throwing a Quinceañera, but I thought (and still do) it’s a ridiculous waste of money. There is a fierce competition about who has the best dress, throws the most extravagant party, that make me loathe those events with all my soul. I remember two girls at my school that had a new party dress made for every birthday they were invited. Instead of following tradition I chose to go to Europe for my birthday, which was a cheaper and more fulfilling experience.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        This is essentially how I feel about weddings. Why spend all that money on dresses no one will ever wear again, dead flowers, and food most people won’t even like?

    22. JulieBulie*

      I just turned 50. I didn’t have kids. It’s fine.
      I was an English major. I have a great job. It’s fine.
      I moved away. I was told that I would never make it there. I did. It was fine.

      There were things that might have turned out better if I’d decided the other way, but there’s no way to know for sure that I wouldn’t have been run over by a truck instead. So, in my opinion, it was fine.

      At one point, I did something that I really didn’t think was a great idea. Everyone else thought it was great, though. It was not. It sucked. (Of course I could be bitter about the lost years and all of that, but I’ve already tried the bitterness thing and it’s not a good use of my time.) It took a long time to put things right… but I did it… and now it’s fine.

      It was all decided by me, and it’s fine. Not perfect. Perhaps not the best it could have been, but again, there’s no way to know and it doesn’t matter, because I’m still here and I’m fine!

      You don’t have to decide now. But however things turn out – you’ll have had your reasons. It will be fine.

  16. Confused Publisher*

    My husband and I are our Christmas shopping, and I pretended not to see when a copy of Philip Pullman’s book surreptitiously made it into my husband’s shopping basket, strategically hidden under books for other family members. I think I’m getting a collection of his essays too…

    Ramona Flowers, this made me think of you.

      1. Gwenny*

        Hi Ramona. I have a copy of Pullman’s latest. I confess, I have read it, but if you don’t mind that (and you think there’s a chance you won’t get it for Christmas) I would love to pass it on to you. I don’t have the space.

  17. Menacia*

    Got the speeches about kids from a couple of people (but who will take care of you when you are old?). I’m 52, been married 15 years and *still* happily child- free. I recently read an article that boiled my blood. Women being denied their request for a tubal ligation or other form of permanent birth control because they were deemed to young to fully understand what they were doing (I’m talking women in their twenties and thirties. Just another way to prevent women from having any control, even over their own bodies. I did not have any procedure done, my husband had a vasectomy, no questions asked.

    1. PlantLady*

      I’ve heard these stories, too. So lucky that none of my PCPs ever batted an eye when I told them I was planning on staying nulliparous for life. (Maybe knowing the correct term helped?)

    2. anon24*

      I have a medical condition that is pure misery to live with, and while I can get some relief from medication, it only lasts a year at most before I have to spend months trying new meds to find one that works. The fix will eventually be some form of surgery, but that will leave me unable to have children. Great! I HATE children and am terrified of the possibility of having any. However, because I’m in my 20s, all the doctors refuse to do anything because I “may change my mind”. So I have to live in pain until I’m in my 40s because I may want to create a miniature version of myself someday. But a male my age can go get a vasectomy for no other reason than that he doesn’t want children. Wtf??? It infuriates me. If I “change my mind” which is so so unlikely I would rather adopt a hurting child than create more people in this world.

      1. Myrin*

        I’ll honestly never understand that. Not to sound heartless but if I’m a doctor and perform a procedure the patient later regrets, that’s not really my problem now, is it? (Provided I’ve sufficiently talked with them about risks etc. beforehand.) And I seriously don’t think all these doctors are such good, empathetic people that they simply can’t bear the thought of someone regretting a medical procedure; I call shenanigans. At least call it what it is, people.

        I’m so sorry you’re dealing with such pain, and stubborn arses to boot!

        1. Lissa*

          What it really is….Fear of being sued? Heh, I don’t even know. I went in for my Depo shot yesterday and they talked to me about how I’ve been on it pretty long and might not be able to continue. I brought up permanent sterilization and was very happy the doctor was supportive! She said that some weren’t, though, so she could try to find me one who was (I was at a clinic since I have no PCP). I’m almost 35 so maybe that’ll make it better than when I brought it up in my 20s.

          1. Myrin*

            I’d say the “what it really is” is the need to impose your own values on others (coupled to a lesser extent with thinking it’s horrible to not (want to) have children; also, misogyny). And really, the fear of being sued can be easily alleviated by having someone who wants to be sterilised sign some kind of form/contract before the procedure, that they’ve been informed of any risk and that they’re undergoing surgery willingly and with eyes wide open. Maybe it’s because I’m from a country where contracts and signatures are a big and important thing but it just always seems to me like doctors are making way too much of a fuss about this thing which has a pretty easy solution.

    3. Hellanon*

      Happily child free, and quite honestly, not interested in caring for my parents when they hit the next stage of elderly. That whole “who will take care of you?” argument seems like a selfish reason for having kids (and not exactly a guarantee of care, either – buy good insurance, and then have kids because you want to raise a family…)

      1. SS Express*

        Yeah, that argument really creeps me out. You’re going to create human beings with thoughts and feelings and hopes and dreams just to guarantee yourself a carer when you get old? And people say not having kids is the selfish choice!

    4. Don't Blame Me*

      I’ve heard those stories too and it’s ridiculous. I’ve never had a doctor say anything directly to me but when I went to a consultation with a surgeon to have a tubal after my third child, he had this look on his face when he was asking me if I was sure I wanted the surgery that seemed to be implying he thought I’d change my mind or something … after three kids!

    5. Allypopx*

      Oh yeah. As a childless woman in my 2os who plans to remain childless with the caveat that if both my partner and I end up with FAR more money and resources than we anticipate *maybe* we’ll *consider* adopting in our 40s but I am 100% sure I never want to incubate a human – yeah, this is a thing. It’s awful.

    6. Mimmy*

      Has it become more common nowadays? I had the procedure in 2005 when I finally found a gynecologist who would refer me – the one or two before that gave me a hard time and/or tried to pin the responsibility on my husband. The surgeon who did it was wonderful. He made absolute certain that it was what I wanted, but he did not try to fight me even though I was only 31 at the time.

      It is sad that women have a difficult time asserting their preferences. If a young woman feels that having children is not a fit for them, for whatever reason, they should have the ability to make that decision. I do think that it is a decision not to be made lightly, but still! A lot of factors went into our decision to not have children and we have no regrets.

    7. Jackie*

      Yes, just another way to prevent women from having any control, even their own bodies. I was reminded of my mother who went to the doctor for a diaphragm. The doctor said to her, “You’re Catholic, aren’t you?” She said, “Yes.” And then he said he couldn’t give her a diaphragm because it was against her religion.

    8. Melody Pond*

      Yeah, this horrifies me, too. Apparently, I was lucky. I had my fallopian tubes removed earlier this year, and my OB/GYN didn’t even blink or ask me if I was sure it was what I really wanted – she was just like, “Okay, great! Here’s how this will go down, here’s what you need to know about the procedure…”

      I don’t understand why my experience isn’t shared by every woman (regardless of their age) who wants to be sterilized.

    9. Middle School Teacher*

      There was an article in today’s NYT on exactly that subject, how the medical profession is failing women (especially young women) who don’t want kids.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      This has been going on for eons. It used to be that once women got past child bearing years they were not worth treating for any problem.
      This may have worked out well for some because early treatments were pretty barbaric.

      1. Mallows*

        NSNR, would you elaborate a little on this? I don’t even know what to google to get more info. Apparently I want to rage more than I already am today.

        1. Not So NewReader*


          I went on to find articles where mothers were dying in childbirth unnecessarily but the baby lived. So I guess she did her job and was done here?

          I have seen article that counter this idea, however, the same article will mention that there are not a lot of written materials from the era to say what treatment should be. I think that the absence of materials says everything we need to know.

          I will say though, medicine was pretty crude/primitive. One article talks about putting menopausal women in asylums for the insane (hysteria). As a balancing point, I remember reading of diabetics being incarcerated because of their behaviors when their blood sugar was off. (Jails were used to house people who could not be responsible for their actions before we had asylums.) I see an overarching problem of not addressing mental health and well being in both examples.

          But when you start digging through the specific stories the treatment of women by medicine is pretty disturbing.
          Just my opinion, I think right now we have an over compensation for previous neglect and women can be over treated sometimes. Just my opinion, though. As with anything else, “buyer beware”.

    11. K.*

      My friend was denied a tubal for years. She gave up. She’s going to try again when she turns 40. She’s married and has been saying she didn’t want kids since high school. I’ve known her since then and she has never, ever faltered on that position.

    12. Bobstinacy*

      I had my tubes tied when I was 21 – I didn’t think any doctors would do it because of my age so I had an elaborate 5 year plan to convince my GP and eventually a gynecologist to perform the operation.

      Went in, had a conversation with my GP where I outlined my reasons, she made sure I understood that it was permanent, and then I had a referal. The gynecologist was more of the same.

      I ended up having the procdure a month or so after asking for it. It’ll be 10 years this coming April and I’m still happy with my choice and I’m really grateful that my doctors respected my choices.

      1. Alex the Alchemist*

        That gives me a lot of hope! I’m 21 right now and have been considering it. Not immediately, but I think it’d be a good option. I’m on the Depo shot now to help with my extremely painful periods, and I have back problems such that it would make it extremely painful for me to be pregnant, plus there’s the whole fact that I’m gay sooooo yeah, not any biological children in the future anyway.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      This makes me so mad because, despite the obvious fact that women are ADULT HUMANS who can DECIDE THINGS FOR THEMSELVES, there are other ways to become a parent if they should happen to change their minds.

    14. JanetM*

      I was able to have my tubes tied in my early 20s. It may have helped that I walked in with a cost comparison of having the surgery vs. being on the pill my entire adult life, and also a list of all the probably-genetic conditions that run in my family (hypertension, diabetes, depression, alcoholism, and Parkinson’s).

      Even so, the gyn asked me, “What if you meet Mr. Right and he wants children?”

      My immediate, not-previously-thought-out response was, “If he wants children, he’s not Mr. Right.”

  18. Juli G.*

    I’m in my mid-thirties. My grandparents were always “Grandma” and “Grandpa”. 90% of my friends’ grandparents were the same with the other 10% being more cultural names (grandparents were immigrants).

    But now, my parents and their friends refuse the grandma and grandpa title. It’s Meme, Mimi, Mi Mo, Ni no, NeeNee.. and these aren’t titles the kids are giving, which is cute. This is self selected! My parents and I agreed on nicknames that don’t make me feel completely embarrassed to say but I avoid using my mother in law’s title as much as possible.

    Anyone else notice this trend? Is it a vanity thing to avoid appearing “old”?

    1. fposte*

      It could be, but it might also depend on your circle of friends. Meme and Maymaw have long been very common in my more rural neck of the woods, and I’m mid-fifties and knew more people with Nanas than Grandmas as a kid. So some of this may depend on their own experiential maps for the terminology.

      1. JanetM*

        I think it may be a Southern thing. My husband’s grandmothers were Mamaw (first ma pronounced like the ma in mass, not like mah; accent on the first syllable) and Granny [last name]; I don’t know what he called his grandfathers.

        My in-laws are Nana and Poppy to their grandchildren.

        My grandmothers were Gramma [first name] and my grandfather was Gramps. (I grew up in Arizona and my parents and grandparents were from New York.)

    2. Lcsa99*

      I haven’t noticed but considering what my in-laws were called when my nieces and nephews were younger (poo-poo and papa, picked by the kids, of course) it seems like picking your own nickname is smart!

    3. Allypopx*

      I had “Grammy”, my boyfriend has a “Meme” (meh may). I know Gigis. I think there’s probably a lot of factors.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Dammit, posted too soon–meant to add that the nephew always called her that and he called my dad Popper.

          FarmBoyEx’s father went by Poppy. I liked him a lot and missed him after we broke up (and I think he has passed now). So I refer to my book protagonist’s departed grandfather Poppy also.

        2. Peggy*

          My grandmother is now GiGi to her great grandkids – stands for Great Grandma! She loves it. I still call her Grammy but it confuses my nephew because to him, my mom is Grammy!

    4. Nicole*

      I’ve noticed that with my friends who had kids at a younger age who now have kids of their own. It seems like if they are under 60 they refuse to be called Grandma and opt with another moniker. Lately GiGi seems to be a popular one.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      I think it’s about differentiating different sets of living grandparents and giving little kids a word that’s easier to say.

    6. Marillenbaum*

      My mother goes by Nana with my nephews, but her mother was addressed the same way. And my dad is Morfar, which is Danish for “mother’s father”, so it makes sense for us.

    7. Courtney*

      I think it is generally a vanity thing. For my parents it’s a point of pride that they haven’t chosen a ridiculous name like many of their friends with granchildren have, haha! They’re just grandma and grandpa, like yours were. My mother in law insists on “gram gram,” which is super annoying. She repeats everything and turns so many words into baby talk. Yum-yums, fish-fish, etc. And I loathe baby talk, so it’s super annoying (and shit for the kid’s language development.)

      1. Temperance*

        Oh that’s so obnoxious. FWIW, my mother and grandmothers were like this as a child, and I absolutely loathed it. I grew up hating it, and speaking like a tiny child robot.

    8. Temperance*

      I’m around your age, and grew up with a Poppy, Pa, and Papa (great-grandfather), but I will say that I think it’s regional. I grew up in an area with a lot of young grandparents (late 30s to 40s), and they had no issue with being grandma.

      The thing that I find super weird is the Philly variant, Mom-Mom.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Actually, it could be a traditional thing from certain cultures. My MIL, who is mostly Swedish, was called mormor, which is what the Swedish use for mother’s mother.

        I think part of the reason we looked for distinct names my parents and my in-laws could use was just so we could easily tell which grandparent we were talking about without having to add a couple more syllables by appending proper names to “Grandma” and “Grandpa”.

        1. Artemesia*

          Our grandkids have: Gram (me) Granddaddy (my husband) Grandpa and Grandma, (the other grandparents) When I noticed that the first words a baby can say are often ‘nana’ for banana, I realized how smart the grannies were who opted for ‘Nana’ —

          I really dislike the ‘Pop’ Mom Mom, Papa etc choices that seem to be coopting the parental names. Couple that with intrusive grandparents and you have a recipe for disrespect for actual Mom and Pop.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          That is why it was done in my family to be able to tell every apart. Otherwise the women would all be grandma and the men would all be grandpa, then total confusion would set in.

          I think now we will see more of it with blended families.

          1. TL -*

            Yeah, my parents both came from divorced homes and I have a grandma, a grammy, an oma, and a grandma first name (one of the stepmoms was more distant than the others. She didn’t get to choose her moniker, but everyone else did.)

          2. Ron McDon*

            Our kids have a Nan and Grandad (my parents) and a Grandma and a Grandad (in-laws).

            I was initially thinking this was so we could differentiate between the two women easily, but just remembered my mum-in-law ‘telling’ my mum ‘I am going to be called Grandma so you’ll have to pick a different name’.

            Yes, she’s charming….

      2. Lcsa99*

        I don’t know that mom-mom is strictly philly. My paternal grandparents were mom-mom and pop-pop and they were very Jersey.

    9. Anxa*

      No-one in my family has every been called “grandma” or “grandpa.” I’m white, American, grew up on the East Coast, and wouldn’t really say I come from an immigrant family culture (although my grandmother was an immigrant). I don’t know any of my friends ever called theirs Grandma or Grandpa.

    10. Laura*

      I dunno.

      My paternal grandparents are/ were “Grandpapa and Grandmama.” My maternal ones are/ were “Grandy” and “Grandpa and Grandma Nic” (divorced and Grandpa Nic remarried)

      “Nana” and “Bubba” were the Great grandmothers’ nicknames.

    11. Sylvan*

      My grandparents were all Grandma/Grandpa Lastname. I think one of my mom’s grandfathers was a “Granddad,” but that’s as creative as my family got, even with immigration in the mix.

      I know it’s a cultural thing, and it’s pretty common in my own culture, but I kind of wonder about the ones who pick a nickname for themselves that sounds really close to Mama or Mommy!

    12. NaoNao*

      Yep, my mom is only 62 (which I now realize is pretty much typical Grandparent age of toddlers, but when I was a child it seemed *ancient*). She is called “Grammy K” (her first name begins with K) and was very firm about no “Grandma” or “Grandmother” style names.
      I think it’s two things:
      Don’t want to or aren’t ready to “feel” that old
      Don’t like the formality and remove of “GrandX”.

    13. Landlocked Thalassophile*

      We were the first of our generation to have kids. We both grew up saying “grandma” and “grandpa” and so that’s what we did. Without ever saying anything, that’s what they called themselves, too.
      All the siblings who had kids after us (a good ten years later) decided for some reason to use “nana” and “papa” and some of the cousins have been particularly cruel to my kids for not using those names. And once my dd bought her grandpa a T shirt that said “best grandpa ever” and FIL returned it for the version that said “papa”

    14. Lily Evans*

      I noticed that when I was working at a daycare. Every kid seemed to have different names for their grandparents and I could never keep them straight! The funniest one I ever heard was “poo-pah” (not sure how they spelled that) for a grandfather.

      For me my mom’s parents were grandma and grandpa and my dad’s were memere (meh-may) and pepere (peh-pay), but that was because they were French Canadian and that’s what all of the grandparents on that side of the family had always been called.

    15. Cristina in England*

      My mom wouldn’t pick out a ‘grandma’ nickname for herself so we just call her and my dad by their names. FWIW she never wanted to go by Mrs. Lastname either, she always told my friends to call her by her first name. But that’s easy for us because they both have one syllable names and they’re easy for my little ones to pronounce!

    16. Grandparent Names*

      My kids call my parents Mimi and Boompa. My mom didn’t want to be called grandma since that is what we called her mother. She wanted her own name and not one that has strong (sometimes negative) connotations. Boompa comes from the movie “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation” and suits my father perfectly.

    17. Nonnymoose*

      It’s also regional. In the south, everyone has a Maw Maw, Mam Maw, or Mimi. And has for generations, definitely not a new thing :)

      1. Hope*

        Yes! All my midwest cousins called their other grandmother Mee Maw, which I have never heard anywhere else.

        1. K.*

          Funny – I associate Mee Maw with the south, though I had a coworker who has spent her life in northeastern suburbs who called one of her grandmothers that.

        2. nonegiven*

          BBT/Young Sheldon calls his grandmother Meemaw. They wrote him as being from Texas. Meemaw is played by Annie Potts and she’s a real hoot.

    18. Hope*

      My personal opinion is that it is to avoid appearing old, which is a little obnoxious but generally harmless. To be fair to the Boomers I also recently read an article about millennial parents who don’t want to go by “Mom” and “Dad” because that makes them feel old, so they use “Mama” and “Papa.” I’m a millennial parent and I definitely see the Mama thing, but not so many Papas. *shrug*

      Our toddler is the firstborn grandchild on both sides of the family so we just figured all this out. I’m Mommy, her father is Daddy, and her dad’s mom is Mamma because that’s quite literally “paternal grandmother” in her native country/language. I grew up calling my maternal grandmother “Grammy” so that’s what my mom (proudly) calls herself. My dad has been waffling on what he wants, so lord knows what she’ll end up calling him (I refer to him as “Grandpa”). The only one who wanted a different variant was my stepmom, who is a) considerably younger than my parents, and b) ever careful about not stepping on my mom’s toes. She requested to be called “Miss Firstname” which I think will be a bit confusing, but I’m not going to force her to go by something she doesn’t like – and I appreciate that she’s being considerate of my mom.

      1. Ann O.*

        I use “mama” with my daughter because it felt weird to have her call me what I call my mom. We’re a linguistically blended family, so it worked out well as she’s being raised bilingual and “mama” works in both languages.

    19. Em*

      My mother became a grandma at 55 (I was 29). She was thrilled. However, she had this mental block and from the day she found out I was pregnant, went on a crusade about not being called “grandma.” She is “not old enough to be a grandma.” She chose “Grammy” and that’s what my kids call her. My oldest is now 5, though, and will occasionally call her or refer to her as “my grandma,” and my mom HAS A COW. How “Grammy” is less “old” than “Grandma,” I do not know.

      My father (who was 54 when the first grand was born) had no problem with grandpa, but my oldest never said it right and he became “G-Pa” (Gee-pa, sometimes the kids will call him “Geep” for short) which stuck and honestly I think he likes the way it came about.

      My FIL wanted to be “Grandpa (lastname)” but never made that clear until the kids started callling him Grandad, at which point it was a lost cause. We tried getting the kids to go with Grandpa Lastname and my kid was like “that takes too long to say. Nobody calls me (first name/lastname)!” Kid had a point.

        1. Cristina in England*

          I am 37. I would love to be a grandparent! (Says someone who may be a little exhausted by my 2 under-5s)

        2. Temperance*

          One of my childhood friends is a 34-year-old grandma. My own grandmother was around that age when she became a grandparent.

    20. Fiennes*

      My grandparents (who had kids late in life, and so were early 20th century babies) weren’t called anything like grandma and grandpa — they got whatever the first grandchild came up with. So I don’t think it’s that unheard of/new. That said, with generations living longer, you may run into th situation my aunt did: when she became a grandmother, her mother was still alive and determined to be the only “Grandma” in the family! This is how my aunt became Mymee.

    21. Peggy*

      Based on the names my niece and nephews have established, my future kids will have 2 Grammies, 1 Papa, and 1 Grampy.

      My friends’ kids have Mee-Mees and Mimzies and Meemas and all sorts of odd names (all picked by the grandmothers themselves and not my friends or their kids). My mom and my MIL both just wanted to be Grammy, which I’m pretty grateful for :)

    22. Alex the Alchemist*

      Idk, I never used “Grandma” and “Grandpa” when I was growing up. My paternal grandparents were “Grandmamma” and “Granddaddy” and my maternal grandmother was “Nana.” My maternal grandfather passed away before I was born so I’ve just always said, “my grandfather” for him.

      1. Alex the Alchemist*

        I should also note that Nana lived with us, which is probably why my name for her was shorter.

    23. Cambridge Comma*

      Same with me, my mother insists on Nonna despite not being Italian. She thinks it’s more stylish. My dad wants to be called by his first name. My MIL wants Anma (from grandma). I thought they would be nan and grandad like my late grandparents. I feel really stupid saying these names. The baby is 4 weeks old so we’ll see.
      I think it’s because they don’t identify with the lives their parents lived when we were born. They are certainly not shy about saying they are grandparents.

    24. Sled dog mama*

      Bro in law had kids before we got married and his kids named hubby’s dad Pap-Pap which FIL hated. MIL told them to call her Nana.
      I grew up with Gran and Poppy (who was Granddaddy to all the cousins) and Grandma and Granddaddy. I was afraid that my daughter would be confused but by the time she was two she was very clear that Granddaddy was my Grandfather and Granddad is my Dad. I thought it would be nice to call my mom something other than grandma since her mother had a different name and she and my dad’s mom never got along great, she selected Grandma’am. I think it’s weird, my daughter loves it.

    25. Someone else*

      The terms gran, granny, gram, grammy, nan, nana, meemaw, maymaw, maymie, mimo, mimma, gamma, gammy, gemma, gigi, gangan, gankie, nona have all been used as nicknames for grandmothers over the past 50 years, if not longer, but are to a certain extent regional. If these are among those you perceive to be popping up more frequently, it may be more indicative of a geographic shift, rather than newness of the terms. Less consistently common: pretty much anything that could be a mispronunciation of any part of “grandmother” or “grandma” pops up in English in various smaller clusters. It’s true that the less conspicuous names are picking up steam in the past 20 years, but most do have origins stemming from the full word or variations of it in other languages.

    26. SS Express*

      Obviously a lot of the “alternative” grandparent titles are actually just from other regions/cultures, but I do think there’s also a trend for names that don’t carry the same connotations as grandma, grandpa, nana, etc. Magazines have been talking about it for a good ten years now and I’ve definitely noticed it with the people I know too (i.e. people who I know don’t belong to a culture where their chosen title is actually common). I suppose it makes sense, once upon a time you’d probably be retired (women especially) with grey hair and glasses once you became a grandparent, but these days people are seen as “young” for much longer.

      Personally I find it a bit cringey when people choose a title from a language/culture that isn’t their own – e.g. yia yia when they aren’t remotely Greek – but that might just be because the only person I personally knew who did it was pretentious in other ways too.

    27. EmilyAnn*

      My parents decided on cutesy nicknames before my niece was born, because other grandparents live in a foreign country and barely get to see her. So the grandparents who are far away get the distinct titles, and they get the time and closeness and the cute nicknames.

  19. Allypopx*

    I had a 3am panic attack, didn’t sleep great. In my sleepy stupor got on the wrong bus. Realized when we got to the supermarket and walked the mile uphill back home. Woke up my boyfriend for a ride to the train. Ended up being an hour late for work.

    How’s everyone else’s morning going?

    1. Nicole*

      Sorry about your panic attack. Those are the worst!

      Having a relaxing morning just browsing this open thread. Usually I’m running errands so this is different, but good. It’s nice and sunny outside and I’m enjoying it since it gets dark out way too early now. I really dislike winter.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Well, my husband told me that the friends who were going to visit from abroad around Christmas are actually coming in less than a week. And he’s known for a week. And he thought he had told me. And no, he didn’t think about how strange it was that I hadn’t brought it up in conversation.

      We are not currently guest ready. I am really really stressed for various reasons.

    3. Sylvan*

      Ugh. UGH. I’m very sorry that happened.

      My morning has been good. I ran errands and now I’m sitting here reading comments while my cat snores beside me.

    4. Effie, who is worth it*

      Sorry to hear!

      I was slowmoving this morning so I arrived at the studio with twenty minutes to set up instead of my usual forty so I ran around turning everything on and then had the speed-mopping session of my life.

      Strangely everyone else arrived late too, so unfortunately I could not teach the whole class time but at least it wasn’t that I was late and everyone was waiting for me!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Mine was horrible when I got up and discovered we were now officially an oligarchical kleptocracy, but then I went to meditation and coffee and feel a little better now and ready to kick some arses. Plus it was nice out today, although that is going to change after this weekend.

  20. Penny*

    Is it normal for the bark of a dog to get deeper and raspier with age? My 13 year old small breed family dog has had a high pitched and yappy bark for since she was a pup but this year when I went to visit my parents, I notified her bark has been a lot deeper. She’s not sick with a cold or anything, this has now been her bark for months. We’ve had other dogs since I was young but I never noticed before like I am with her. Is this normal?

    1. fposte*

      A little deeper, sure, though that’s mostly when they graduate from the puppy barks; raspier is something I’d want to get checked out. I’d say it’s worth asking a vet about this.

    2. Athena*

      Agreed. Usually they get a slightly deeper bark when they’re adults, and it doesn’t change much from there. Our retrievers graduated from puppy bark to VERY STERN DEEP BARK quite quickly and at a very young age.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Is she barking or howling a lot? More than usual? I left my westie in a boarding kennel for a week and I when I picked him up his usual bark was a soft low-pitched “woof”. I was told that he howled (apparently out of lonesomeness) the whole time that I was gone, although the people at the kennel petted hime and played with him regularly he didn’t like it there. I think he missed me. Anyway, after a couple of days his voice returned to normal.

  21. Kana*

    Does anyone have advice for contacting someone you used to date after a long time of no contact?

    In my situation, I dated someone for a very short time- less than 2 months. We had a lot in common and it was going well but her ex asked for her back and she took some time to choose between us but ended up ending things with me. She wanted to be friends but we stopped talking after a few weeks. Now it’s 2 years later and I found she’s single again. Things ended well but we haven’t talked in over a year and a half. I know she’s looking again and I assume she thinks I don’t want to talk to her. Would it be weird to contact her to catch up/ see how she’s been, and see if we could at least be friends again? I’m not trying to jump back into dating her but I regret not staying in touch.

    1. Merci Dee*

      Never hurts to try. But I would caution you to be very sensitive to her cues about this – she ended the relationship before, and may find that it’s awkward to try to resume it now. But, even if things don’t work out, at least you’ll know.

    2. PainScientist*

      I don’t think it’s weird to check back and see if she’s willing to try to be friends again! I’d mention something about having been reminded of her recently and wondering she’d like to catch up.

      I regularly see little things that remind me of friends (to be fair, not former dates/partners) who I haven’t talked to in a year or two and reach out to those friends (usually framing it as “I saw this fun fact about xxx/saw a xxx is close to where I moved to/found out that xxx and thought about you – how have you been?”). I haven’t gotten a negative response yet.

    3. Red Reader*

      Heh. I’ve recently been pondering dropping a “Hi, how’s life been” to my ex-husband. I think it’s probably been … 5 years? since we had any interaction. So far I’ve refrained because I don’t really have any actual purpose behind it, which makes me think I’m a little too close to “I want to know how his life is because I’m pretty sure that he’s still in just about the same place he was when we separated, while my life has improved beyond my wildest dreams since then, and I’d like to kind of rub that in a little bit.” And really, that’s not a good reason for anything. (Even if it would be immensely gratifying. :P )

    4. Rebecca*

      About 2.5 years ago, out of the blue, I got a Facebook friend request from a man I last saw when he was 21 and I was 19, 33 years! I was blown away. We were so close, not boyfriend/girlfriend but everyone thought we were “together”, and we both went our separate ways, married other people, although he tracked me down just before I was going to get married and I told him I was in a relationship…fast forward to 2015…and we’re both available again. We’ve kept in touch, and hope to meet up at some point in the near future. (confession, I just adore him!) so glad he reached out to me.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      I’ve done that before. Just ask her if she’d like to meet up. If she says no, wish her well and move on.

    6. Lissa*

      I think you should go for it with one caveat – if it’s been like, less than a month since things with her ex ended, I wouldn’t. You risk looking vulturey even if it isn’t the intent.. I say this because there’s an unfortunate phenomenon where suddenly someone is single and somebody else will be all over their social media…

  22. NoodleMara*

    My laptop was working fine except the charging port has failed. It runs fine otherwise. Also unfortunately, lenovo has dropped all support for it so I can’t even buy a docking station. So I’m buying a new laptop which was so not in my plan this year.

    1. Undine*

      I was able to buy a second hand docking station on ebay for my old laptop. My first & only purchase on ebay.

      1. NoodleMara*

        Yeah I checked around there. I actually bought the test charger from someone on ebay because i couldnt find one anywhere else. My main issue is that I couldn’t find a battery for my model that had the docking station ports.

    2. Artemesia*

      I discovered that Apple doesn’t support its laptops after 5 years; I have a small problem and they won’t even change a battery. I have been buying Apple from the beginning and have owned maybe 20 including work products over time. We have four right now, two desk tops and two laptops. They don’t support upgrades of their new photo ap to allow access to their old photo ap so I have a back up drive full of photos I can’t access on my new desk top and a laptop that won’t work without being plugged in.

      I think much as I love Apple products I may be done. Need a new laptop and if Apple is going to be a pain to use I might as well go with a much cheaper product. My laptop is basically good but they won’t fix the problem it has. So screw Apple.

      1. SL #2*

        Wait, really? Is the 5-year rule new policy? I was able to get a battery replacement for my 7-year old MBP earlier this year.

    3. ArtK*

      What model is it? I have a docking station for a T61p that I don’t really need. Also, you may be able to find someone independent who can repair the charging port (sure it isn’t the battery that is bad?)

      1. NoodleMara*

        It’s a Y510p. It doesn’t come with the docking station battery standard and I haven’t been able to find anything online if it even had one. I have to hold the cord at a really weird angle to get it to charge so I’m pretty sure it’s the charging port. I’ve never had any issues with it otherwise.

        1. ArtK*

          Have you tried a different wall wart? The cable going into the PC-side plug often breaks down, which would explain the wonky angle. An independent shop might be able to fix the port itself if that’s the problem.

          1. NoodleMara*

            Yeah I bought a new charger to test and I had to hold it at the same weird angle to get it to charge.

    4. moql*

      I’ve had several Lenovo’s that I thought had a broken charging port, but getting a new charging cord temporarily fixed the problem. The port was super wiggly and that was definitely *a* problem, but a new charging cord allowed it to limp along a while longer.

      Both laptops died only a few months after though, due to many other issues. Once the charging port goes that means everything else is about to die as well. So, don’t feel bad about having to replace the cord for *just* the port. It’s about to be everything else as well.

      1. NoodleMara*

        That’s really good to know! I bought a new cord but it still is the same issue so I know it’s definitely the port. That corner has been a little funky for a while, the keyboard area clicks a lot, the cover on the exhaust port came off. I’m not super impressed with lenovo and maybe if they were selling gaming laptops at the same price I got this one, I’d get another but they increased the price and if I’m only going to get three and a half years, that’s not worth it.

        I’m going to get a Dell because the number of times I’ve dropped my work computer is astounding and it still works fine.

    5. Struck by Lightning*

      If it’s otherwise in good shape, it’s worth getting an estimate on having it replaced. I’ve had 2 done (idiot dog likes to run full tilt into my laptop cord & rip ot out. Not good for them) One was $125 because they had to order a part; other was @$70 because they could just reattach the part that was loose inside the dc port.

  23. Stacy*

    Questions for folks with experience with MCAS (Mast Cell Activation Syndrome).

    I’ve suspected MCAS since last Spring when I had an awful time recovering from dry socket from a wisdom tooth extraction. We actually talked a little about it in one of the open threads at the time, which is what prompted me to really start looking into it. Got in with a good allergist in the area who ordered a zillion tests (blood work) and everything came back normal. As I suspected it would because I wasn’t symptomatic at the time.

    Fast forward to this week. Thursday I quickly developed major flushing and hives while at work that progressed super quickly. Left early to get Benadryl, and amazingly was able to get in to my primary care doctor like an hour later because the allergist can’t see me until January. Which, doesn’t work for me when having an acute reaction. The Benadryl kicked in enough that it was getting better by the time my doctor saw me, but by the time I got home it was back and much worse. So I’ve been alternating Benadryl and Zyrtec, drinking tons of water, etc. Yesterday was much improved, and bam: this morning it just started back up again.

    So, questions: does this sound familiar to anyone? Coincidentally I’m fasting for labs in a couple of hours so I haven’t eaten anything for like 10 hours, so I really don’t think it’s something I’m ingesting. Our other thought was that maybe someone in close proximity to me had a fragrance or something on that I may have been reacting to, but this seems to rule out that possibility since it’s the weekend and I’m still in PJs in bed. Does anyone have a MCAS diagnosis? How long did it take to get to that point? I also have EDS and Dysautonomia, so I’m pretty sure it’s the EDS/Dysautonomia/MCAS trifecta for the win.

    1. fposte*

      No help for you, but wow, does this sound like what a friend of mine with EDS deals with. I’ll have to mention it to her.

    2. SL #2*

      My friend with EDS/dysautonomia does also have MCAS and these symptoms all sound pretty familiar. I’d say it took her about 2 years after the initial EDS diagnosis to get the MCAS one too.

    3. Temperance*

      Wow. So I did a little investigation, based on your comment, and I seriously think this explains so much. I react to histamine-rich foods, like bell peppers, and regularly get hives, rashes, etc. My allergy tests came back clear, but my allergies are terrible. I should probably bring this up with my doctor.

    1. Caledonia*

      Wow! That is like a department store tree. I can’t wait to see it decorate (please share another pic/video)

    2. Melody Pond*

      Wow, that’s great! And the tree is HUGE, and I loved seeing video of the cats interacting. I’d love to see more of that after it’s decorated!

      1. Artemesia*

        the tree is fabulous but I’d be terrified to have a gorgeous real tree that close to the fireplace; those things are tinder pretty quickly

        1. Not So NewReader*

          There are Christmas ornaments that are actually smoke detectors. I think they are a good idea.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ha, it is fake. My husband’s allergies mean no real trees for us. I just tell myself it’s real, and since I didn’t grow up with any tree, real or fake (as I’m Jewish), I can’t really tell the difference.

          1. tigerStripes*

            I grew up with real trees and have a fake one now, and I much prefer the fake tree. It’s cleaner, it doesn’t require water, I just pull it out of the garage and put it together, if the kitties knock it over, it doesn’t really matter. So much easier!

            When I was a kid, I remember us going out in the cold and the rain to get a “cut it yourself tree” (they were cheaper). I don’t miss that.

            1. JamieS*

              Ditto. The worst part for me was that I didn’t understand why I needed to be there in the first place. What? Was somebody expecting 6 year old asthmatic me and my small for her age 5 year old sister to be the ones carrying that spruce up the hill and out of the forest? I would’ve rather been left home with some cocoa and Rudolph.

    3. Windchime*

      Beautiful! I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a video of your cats and it’s a little surreal to see them in motion. I love how Sam and Lucy are quietly relaxing in the chair and just calmly observing the others while they tussle.

      Your home looks really cozy and warm.

    4. tigerStripes*

      Beautiful tree! I think Sam and Lucy were watching Olive and Eve as if they were entertaining – look at the young ones getting up to stuff!

  24. Ice Bear*

    I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about negativity lately.

    When I was younger I was often accused of being too negative and I’ve worked really hard not to come across that way even though I think I still do from time to time. It’s just ingrained in me now to see the flaws in things first and foremost. However, when it came up in therapy my therapist didn’t think I was a negative person at all, but pointed out how I grew up surrounded by it. Since I’m still in contact with my parents and siblings I’m still around it, just not daily, and I try not to let their poor attitude drag me down.

    For instance, I was happily baking away in my kitchen on Thanksgiving when I got a text from a relative who basically ranted about not understanding why we celebrate the holiday when it was about raping and pillaging (their words, not mine). What am I even supposed to say to that? I opted to not reply until the next day so I didn’t let their negativity spoil my day. And when I did reply I basically said I like the holiday because of the food, family time, and games we end up playing. What I didn’t say is that I think they can choose whether to focus on history, or turn the holiday into something they enjoy, and by choosing the former they are only making themselves miserable.

    I can see why this person is so unhappy because they focus on all the injustice in the world. They get mad and dismissive of me when I suggest they think about the good stuff going on in their life personally vs terrible stuff they read about happening to people they don’t even know. I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t care, but they get so worked up over it when there’s nothing they can do. Then they get disappointed with me and accuse me of not not wanting to have deep conversations. Right, because I don’t want to discuss death and disappointment during the holidays?

    The thing is, I DO get it, I just know myself well enough to know that I have to put other people’s suffering out of my mind or I’ll drown in despair. They see that as avoiding things. Is it? I think it’s my way of coping with being an HSP (highly sensitive person) which I suspect they are too.

    In any case, considering how miserable this person seems to be most of the time and how I haven’t suffered a major depressive episode since the summer of 2016, I think my method works, at least for me.

    I just wish my family could find a way to be happier so I would enjoy my interactions with them more. I don’t have a very large family and when I try to “rally the troops” so to speak I often get smacked down with reality which sucks. I just want to have a fun time, particularly around the holidays, and not talk about how the world is a horrible place. There will always be terrible things going on but there’s also wonderful things if you look for them. I find it ironic that I can’t seem to win. I’m either too negative or I’m accused of being superficial. Why can’t it be that I’m trying against all odds to enjoy life before it’s too late? No one ever laid on their deathbed wishing they complained about life more.

    1. fposte*

      I think this is a really interesting and complicated issue. I’ve known a lot of people over the years who really believe that anybody truly in touch with the world has to be unhappy because there are so many things wrong; this just seems like arrant self-justification for a mindset or a belief practice to me, though, since you could equally say that anybody truly in touch with the world has to be happy because so many things are wonderful. There are definitely groups that seem to use unhappiness as a badge of something important to them.

      But it is often a group practice, and it’s not likely you’re going to change your family’s behavior by rallying the troops any more than you’ll change their practice of having whatever food at Thanksgiving by telling them that barbecued ribs are great and they should have them. Just as it was ingrained into you and you shared it with other people without realizing what you were doing, that’s what they’re doing. You only changed after some soul-searching and work that you voluntarily put in, and they’re not there.

      So I think your solution is to do what you’re doing with the texts–disengage from the negativity and put out what you want in the world. What I’d say is the next task is to find the reward in that and not look for recognition from the people you got that negative tendency from. (And it doesn’t matter who you are or what behavior you’re talking about, some people will always think you’re too much and others that you’re not enough, so I wouldn’t spend energy trying to please both sides there.)

      One to one with a close relative, you might be able to bring it up more directly: “Mom, I feel like we spend so much time talking about what’s wrong in our lives and it’s not good for anybody. Let’s talk about some good things that have happened.”

    2. Marillenbaum*

      I feel that. It might be worthwhile to readjust so that you do small-doses interactions with these people when you want to be happy, and maybe open your social gatherings to people who are more likely to want to share your joy? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be happy–in fact, happy people are more likely to help others and do things to make the world a better place (volunteer, engage in civic activism, donate money) precisely because their cup is full.

    3. Menacia*

      What I find interesting about people who focus on the negative is that they never actually *do* anything that allows them to focus on something positive. Why not use that energy to volunteer which not only brings positive outcomes to others, but also yourself. I think it’s truly fear that keep people this way, and they think by building this wall of negatively around themselves it becomes a type of shield.

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        I have noticed this too. I have a friend, who I love dearly, who cannot maintain their house, is always depressed and exhausted and talking about self-care and calls themself an activist.

        Meanwhile, other friends volunteer, donate, and keep aware and are happy and fulfilled.

        There is a balance between making yourself miserable, and being miserable to the people around you, and helping things get better. I do think we need to acknowledge the horrific origins of Thanksgiving and in inequality and injustice of how Native Americans are treated today, but do something good and kind, and move on with your day. For most people, thanksgiving is a celebration of gratefulness and joy at the things they have. Very few anymore celebrate it with any historical significance, and I think that is OK.

        I feel very strongly that when you see a problem, instead of complaining you should work to fix it in any little way that you can.

    4. Undine*

      Negative world-view is both a symptom and feeder of depression. I definitely grew up with a family that prided themselves on their morose, oppressive realism. Ironically, this coexisted with a total inability to process negative feelings or express them in a healthy way, so there was lots of rage, weeping, and slammed doors. I think there can be a lot of displacement, looking out at the horrible things of the world and talking about them because that is a reflection of an inner state you don’t want to examine.

      Good cheer can be a denial, or it can be an investment. There’s a book, “How we choose to be happy” you might be interested in.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        How we choose to be happy…
        This is key. Some people want the “reality” as they call it. They find that preferable to “being happy”. Some people chase happiness so hard that they can never be happy because they are always chasing and never arriving at their destination.
        To me it boils down to what do you want your life to look like?

        The higher level in my mind is contentment. Contentment is enduring where happiness can be fleeting and social outrage is unfulfilling. Outrage/anger can leave us very empty on the inside.

        1. Athena*

          This. For ages after my depression, I tried to hold onto it – it was all I knew. I’m not sure whether that significantly contributed to the length of my depression, but I know it did at the tail end, and choosing to be content and let things go made things seem a lot brighter.

          OP, chase your happiness. Life’s hard enough without others dragging you down.

    5. nep*

      You’re not avoiding the trouble and suffering in the world. Being positive is an act of rebellion against all the negativity, the way I see it. Whom or what does it serve to be negative and fixate on all the bad things going on in the world? No one, nothing.
      By wanting to enjoy the short time we’ve got, you’re not in denial. You’ve simply got a different perspective.
      I really like the saying/sentiment ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’…or: ‘better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’. I know — just sayings…But there is something to this.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Am chucking, if I have to be here on this planet I will make the best of it. To those reality people or negative people I have to ask, “Okay so you see a situation that is not right. How are you willing to help to fix this wrong?”

        If they are not willing to help fix the wrong and they are not willing to stop talking about it, then they are whiners. There’s lots of wrongs I cannot fix but I let it push me along so I do try to fix the wrongs within my reach.

    6. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I think one of the hardest things for me to learn is that wallowing in my worry, fear, and (justified) pessimism was a way for me to feel like I was doing something, while avoiding actually doing hard or vulnerable things that matter, like picking up the phone, going to protests, or facing up to my own complicity. I also feel, especially among white-middle class people, that it can be a bit performative. Not that it’s not understandable– it absolutely is– and I’m a little suspicious of people who act like everything’s totally fine with the world. But I think it’s possible to find a balance of joy/gratitude and critical action.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. It is possible to be outraged by one event and in total gratitude/awe over another unrelated event.

      2. SpiderLadyCEO*

        Agreed. I think the best way to help is to do it quietly. No one needs to know how much you give to charity, no one needs to know how many hours you volunteer at the soup kitchen. If you show up at the protest, take ten selfies, and go home, how much good did you really do?

    7. Stellaaaaa*

      I’ve been accused of being negative. Since I’m often the one to has to fix problems, I tend to try to predict them before they rear their heads. At work I’ve been the one to say, “If we go forward with this marketing campaign, we’re going to get a lot of calls and emails because X part of the ad is confusing.” And then we do. And eventually people realize that I was right.

      The trick is that I’ve learned to identify which problems are worth pointing out. I try to balance my “necessary” negative statements with positive ones, and that’s easier to do when you realize that you don’t have to make yourself responsible for fixing everything.

      1. Reba*

        That’s a great distinction. I also see the negatives and potential negatives in things. I have a critical mind; my mom likes to say that I was born with the red pencil in my hand. And for me, outside of work-related stuff (when corrections are frequently necessary), criticizing something is part of how I enjoy it! I can live with the ambiguity that things can be partly good and partly bad!

        Explaining that last part–that offering a criticism =/= totally trashing something and “I can’t believe you would like this”–and also learning to curb and reorganize my critical thoughts in settings where they’re not needed, have helped a lot with family time. Seeing popular movies together, for example ;)

        I think about the world suffering vs personal happiness stuff a lot. I made art about it, including an artist’s book called “Want and Plenty.” It’s been my experience that even people in devastatingly hard circumstances also have moments of happiness and joy (see again that ambiguity thing). There *are* many terrible things in the world but there is also love and grace, which we should enjoy where we can. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about the other.

    8. Lissa*

      You make me think of a friend of mine who is like this. All conversations will lead to injustice and any time someone posts/says something happy, it seems they have to point out how it still isn’t perfect. When someone was celebrating finally being able to legally marry their partner, they posted “But X group still doesn’t have full rights yet! Marriage equality isn’t good enough.” Ok yes, but time and place.

      Their latest thing is pointing out who is awful in any form of media, it’s to the point where I can’t mention a movie I liked without getting a lecture on why they’re boycotting it. I know, I get it, but…sometimes I just wanna see Thor and turn my brain off.

      They also constantly mock white people in this really smug way. They are white! But it’s like a way to point out how they aren’t like those “other” white people.

    9. Totally Minnie*

      I read a study a year or so ago, and I can’t find it now. The basic idea was that the neural connections in your brain that get the most use are the ones that get stronger. So continually going down negative thought patterns actually makes it easier for your brain to continue in those negative thought patterns.

  25. AnnaleighUK*

    We’ve been invited to a ‘Friendsmas’ potluck by a guy in our triathlon club. Potlucks aren’t really a thing here in the UK so it’s quite exciting to go to one! We’re taking two dishes – R is making his legendary tiramisu cake (bestseller at his cafe) and I’m trying to decide what to take as a main course dish. Leaning towards a stew or a casserole – experienced potluck people, what works for you? And do I need to provide a side dish as well? We were asked to do a dessert and a main course but what about vegetable sides? Is it bad form to bring a side dish too?

    1. I get that*

      Just bring what you were asked. Others would have been asked to bring sides. I would prefer the stew.

    2. Marthooh*

      Just bring what you were asked to bring. Trust the host/organizer to figure out how much of what everyone should contribute. Either stew or casserole works as a potluck main course, being easy to dish out. Speaking of which… it wouldn’t be bad form at all to bring serving utensils, say a cake knife and a serving spoon.

      Have fun!

      1. AnnaleighUK*

        Good point, serving spoon and cake knife! I’ll write that down now so I don’t forget. Thanks!

        1. Artemesia*

          I have lost two nice serving spoons from my stainless at potlucks. consider picking up an inexpensive serving spoon and knife that you dn’t have to worry about.

      2. Laura*

        Label the serving utensils (and possibly the containers) with your last names so that should they get lost in the bustle of things, they have a better chance of getting back to you.

    3. CAA*

      Don’t bring any more dishes than you’re assigned. Also, don’t make too much of your assigned dish. If there are going to be 20 people and everyone brings a dish that’ll feed 20, but nobody actually eats 20 servings of food, most of it will go home, so the more you make the more leftovers you’ll have. For very small groups it makes sense to bring enough of your dish to feed everyone, but when the group is large, the math (and the leftovers) quickly get out of control!

      1. AnnaleighUK*

        There’s about 30 people going so I was going to make a dish that served about 15 – 20, we can deal with leftovers. Or should I do one that serves less? R suggested I do a shepherd’s pie, I have a nice big dish that would make a 20-portion one easily. This is quite fun, I think potlucks should be more if a Thing over here.

        1. Artemesia*

          Shepherd’s pie would be fabulous and in my experience good main courses seem to be rare; I’d make a big one and not worry about leftovers. Bet there won’t be any. People always take more things at a potluck than a served dinner e.g. if there are 3 main courses, everyone will sample all three.

        2. CAA*

          Shepherd’s Pie is a perfect potluck dish. I’ve brought it myself and since I love it so much, I never mind having it left over.

        3. Gingerblue*

          That sounds great! I wouldn’t do a stew, personally—at potlucks people usually wind up trying a little bit of a lot of dishes because everything looks good, and with dishes that need separate serving arrangements like bowls can be neglected because people don’t want to take a bowl with just a little in it. Something that is easy to divide and can go on a plate with other stuff is probably your best bet.

        4. SS Express*

          Shepherd’s pie is a perfect choice! Easy to make ahead, transport, serve, and pack up if there are leftovers, insanely delicious, and it’s kind of a whole meal so your side dish dilemma is solved too.

    4. Grumpy*

      If you were here I’d lend you “Run Fast, Eat Slow” (the cookbook by the lady who just won the NYC marathon). The book is excellent and has crowd-pleasing, easy recipes for people trying to fit long training runs into crazy-busy lives.
      No affiliation here, I paid full price for the book and love it.

    5. Mephyle*

      I would suggest you bring something that can be served on a plate; that doesn’t require a bowl. It’s more convenient for a potluck, which is essentially like a buffet when it comes people serving themselves. It’s more convenient if they can put everything they try on the same plate. A stew either needs a bowl or runs all over the plate into the other dishes.

  26. StudentA*

    So, do you think Kevin Spacey will ever perform again? I highly doubt it. He’ll be interviewed on CNN or something (uh, there’s no more Larry King and Charlie Rose doesn’t have a show anymore, so who’s fit for such a high profile interview, I don’t know). Regardless, I considered him absolutely brilliant and it’s a shame this is the reality.

    1. CAA*

      My cynical expectation is that many of these offenders will be “rehabilitated” and find their way back into some alternative version of their former lives. I think this is especially likely for those in entertainment or news, less so for those in politics. Spacey may not star in a movie, but in a few years I won’t be that surprised if he’s getting supporting roles in film, guest roles on TV, acting on stage, or turning up as a writer or producer.

      1. Don't Blame Me*

        Yeah, usually in Hollywood you just have to wait long enough for the scandal to die down and do something that gets you back in the public’s good graces and voila!

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      I think it’s less likely in Spacey’s case because he’s not straight, and while what he did was awful and he should be punished for it, I do think people were much harsher towards him than they have been with straight men who abused women. The accusations against Spacey whipped up a lot of “see, the gays are deviant and evil!” furor again while straight male abusers were justified by a lot of people (I’ve seen a lot more people say they’ll refuse to support Spacey but say they have no problem supporting Polanski, Depp, Gibson, Weinstein, etc).

      Unfortunately, straight white men get off easier with these types of abuses than anyone else. Look at Winona Ryder, who was basically exiled from Hollywood for shoplifting for almost two decades, while countless straight white men continued to have lucrative careers despite being brought up on charges of abuse or bigotry.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I observed far more backlash about Spacey using his coming out as a redirect / shield. He got called out on that by a LOT of people. Besides Kevin, we already knew. :P

        1. K.*

          I didn’t even realize he wasn’t out! I thought he came out years ago – like, before he was famous. I don’t know anyone who thought he was straight. I’d heard rumors about him liking young men for years.

          My gay friends were livid when he came out in response to Rapp’s accusation because he himself made room for the “see, gay men are predators!” narrative by doing that. There was a lot of talk among that subset of friends about “setting [them] back.”

        2. all aboard the anon train*

          I don’t think a lot of people already knew about his sexuality. There was a lot of surprise over it when people were discussing it at work and some social gatherings I went to. Unless someone explicitly comes out, I don’t really trust rumors about their sexuality because they’ve been wrong often enough. I’ve never been a big enough fan to follow his life, so I never really heard anything about it.

          He deserves backlash about redirecting the allegations to his coming out because it was pretty harmful to the LGBTQA+ community, but at the same time, there have been plenty of straight actors who have used shields against allegations and haven’t gotten the same pushback.

          I’m not trying to justify his actions, but just browsing the internet there was a lot of “he’s awful” – which yes, he is – and then those same people handwaving all the straight men who’ve raped, harassed, or abused women. Since those accusations, I’ve heard far more justification from certain people on why it’s okay to be suspicious of queer adults around children…and very little about being suspicious of grown men who prey on underage women. Twitter is full of this kind of sentiment.

    3. Ann O.*

      I’m sure he’ll perform again, but I wouldn’t consider it a shame if he didn’t. He was a serial predator. He should be in jail, and instead he’s simply lost his gigs. Assuming he didn’t spend foolishly, he won’t even be suffering financially.

      The only shame I see is that he was allowed to get away with his behavior for so long.

    4. Anon4This*

      I wonder if he will, considering Anthony Rapp was underage at the time. But then there is that director, Podlanski? who was actually charged and might have been convicted, yet ran from justice for 20 years until the victim finally said, “I give up, I dont want to pursue this anymore, I want to move on with my life.”

      And here’s where I’m going to get in trouble – how much will the age difference play into his “rehabilitation”?

  27. CatCat*

    Any soap makers here? What processes do you use?

    I am interested in cold process since I have greater control over ingredients, but my main hang up is that I have to work in my kitchen and so I am really hesitant to use lye in the same space where we prepare our foods. For this reason, I am leaning toward melt and pour soap base options. In addition, the possibilities with the clear bases seem fun.

    Any insight appreciated!

    1. Book Lover*

      Melt and pour is easy and fun and you can do a lot of things with different colors and inserts.

    2. Gingerblue*

      I’ve done a tiny bit of cold process and I think the dangers tend to be overblown—there’s a lot of stuff I wouldn’t want in my food that I routinely use to clean the kitchen. Just be mindful to clean up well afterwards and you should be fine.

      Melt and pour looks like a lot of fun and more relaxing, though!

    3. Nana*

      Before ‘investing’ in the makings, see if anyone you know is a soap-maker and would lend supplies so you can try it. I did that…and realized I didn’t really want to make soap! (I did melt-and-pour, BTW)

    4. Amadeo*

      Lye gets used for a lot of things in food. Pretzels, hominy and so on. Just wipe up after you soap and you’ll be fine. I soap in the kitchen all the time and mix my lye water down in the sink. It tickles my inner mad scientist. I’ve been soaping for two years and know a little bit if you have questions about cold process.

      I can’t help you much with melt and pour though.

    5. SAHM*

      I’ve been soaping for about 4.5 years. It’s fun! I’ve had to take a step back during the busier seasons of life, but I love CP soap. Before we moved to New House I would soap in the kitchen, but now I have a room separate just for me! I wouldn’t stress too much on the lye, it is MUCH easier to mix your lye water in a bowl in a sink than anywhere else (I once spilled a bowl of lye water against the wall and it ate through the baseboards, oh well), so spillage can get washed straight down the sink!
      MP is also great, I use MP for all my embeds since they’re so easy and fast to make, plus the clarity makes it more fun to add glitter! Which is the one thing I have against CP is the fact you can really only add glitter to the top, it doesn’t really come through too much within the bar, of course I can do a mica line but the amount of mica for the line….. eh. It’s just not my style.

    6. JulieBulie*

      I made soap (cold process) for a few years, a couple of decades ago. I did it in my kitchen. The lye is really not a problem. Mix it with water in the sink. It will ionize in the water and not get into your food.

      Do use a separate pot and utensils for soaping, though – not because of the lye, but because they can be greasy and difficult to clean after soaping (and possibly smelling perfumey and/or having residual pigment/dye) – NOT good for your food.

      Melt & pour is a totally different experience than cold process soaping. Both activities result in soap, of course, but I never found melt & pour as satisfying.

    7. Fishing Rick*

      I love melt and pour – it’s like my own little science project and it’s really hard to screw up so bad the soap isn’t usable. I make lots of fun things for my boys and friends.

      I thought about making the jump to cold process but don’t really have enough time to devote to it right now.

  28. Hoping for a Doggyfriend*

    I’m relatively new to the adult world and I really really want a dog at some point. Buuuuut… I’m having trouble figuring out how your average adult with a typical work schedule and a non-dog-friendly workplace manages to keep happy dogs, especially if they live in apartment buildings where it might be harder to have dog walkers come pick up your canine during the day. I could imagine it if I (or my partner) lived close enough to work to duck out for half an hour and get the dog out for a bathroom break in the middle of the day, but neither of us currently do.

    If you manage it, how do you do it?

    1. KR*

      I have an older boy, so as long as he goes potty before I leave for work he is fine just snoozing until I get home from work. He just needs a walk at least a couple of times a week and needs some loving when I get home. Most dog walkers are used to having to come in apartment buildings and the like – I use the Rover app. Your results may vary but I found my petsitter through there and she’s lovely. Maybe a puppy might not be for you if you don’t have someone to check on him throughout the day or a flex schedule to hang out with him during the day sometimes, but a middle aged or senior pup might be right for you.

      1. Hoping for a Doggyfriend*

        Thank you, that makes sense! I definitely don’t think my life would be fair for a puppy (and I’m not entirely sure I have the patience for one anyway), so I was definitely thinking of adopting an adult or older dog. This hope of mine wouldn’t be implemented for a while anyway; my work schedule is about to change dramatically with the new year and I would want to figure out how it might fit a pet. I’m a grad student and about to start in labs rather than merely taking classes, so my schedule will get busier and necessitate more time away from home. (Depending on what happens with this tax bill, my financial flexibility might also be changing, which could make me scrap the idea entirely.)

        1. TL -*

          I would not get a dog until you know what your lab schedule is going to be like – I’d wait until you’re in a routine on a project, unless your partner is okay doing the bulk of the dog work.

    2. Nicole*

      Older dogs typically can hold it until you get home from work. When my SIL lived with us no one came home during the day and her dog was fine. She mostly slept when everyone was gone and was confined to the kitchen without food or water. She was fairly lazy overall, so she wasn’t put out by this arrangement.

      We got a puppy last year and decided to potty pad train her since she’s a small breed, we don’t have a yard, and it’s too cold to be going outside constantly. When we’re at work she’s in a playpen attached to her crate so she has access to food (she’s free-fed because otherwise she gets sick between meals), water, and her potty pad. I also leave the radio on for her. She’s just over a year old now but cannot be trusted to have full access to the house when we’re not around, or even just the kitchen, because she still will occasionally chew on the furniture. I have noticed that despite her access, she really doesn’t eat, drink, or use the bathroom until we get home. We have a camera on her and whenever I check on her she’s sleeping. Since I work close by I do come home on lunch just to let her out to stretch her legs since she’s still young and likes to play a lot.

      I guess this is just my way of saying what to do with them when you’re not home depends on their size, age, and temperament. If they are very high energy then hiring a dog-walker might be a necessity and you’ll want to factor that into your budget.

      1. Hoping for a Doggyfriend*

        Thanks! That all makes sense. It’s really helpful to hear multiple ways of handling the situation.

    3. LCL*

      House with a dog door into a small yard, not accessible from the street. Walk in the morning and in the evening, it stimulates their minds. My dog is elderly now and it’s just within the last few months we have sometimes skipped a walk when it was cold and rainy and he was Ok with that.

    4. Em*

      We’ve adopted 2 dogs at different times, both older (6yrs, 8yrs). I let them out at 7am and they’re inside until 6:15 when I get home. We’ve been mostly fine on accidents, with the exception of our second dog, who came to us semi potty trained, but after having her for about 10 months, she rarely has accidents, unless there are complications (like letting them out late or something).

      We do a final letout before bed at about 10pm. I love my doggie buddies!

        1. Em*

          Ha! I keep thinking of things. It was also good getting 2 dogs. We had 1 for a few years & added the second. I was so worried about them getting along- it took a few days for them to figure things out, but our original dog seems happier about having company, less crazy to see us when we come home. It’s definitely more expensive (food, vet bills, heartworm meds), but it’s been a great thing for us & them.

    5. JKP*

      My dog is fine in the crate while I’m at work. When I’m home during the day, she just lays around the house, so I don’t think she’s missing much while I’m at work.

      Make sure you do some research on what breeds are better for apartment living and fit your lifestyle. I looked for breeds that didn’t bark much, and that didn’t have high energy levels, so they would be satisfied with a burst of activity in the evening but would be mostly happy lying around my small apartment with me.

      Also, I looked for fenced off leash dog parks to take her to on my days off, so she could run around a bit more.

    6. AAM fan*

      I’ve had highly varied experiences with dogs in terms of being home alone, house-training and so on – so it’s really difficult to predict. (I currently have three and have lived with seven different dogs in the last ten years). With older dogs, they are more likely to be house trained, but some smaller breeds tend to be tough to fully house train (like Chihuahuas – I have two of them). And I hear puppies are hard, but I’ve always adopted older rescues and they often have issues like separation anxiety which can be noisy for neighbors. Plus some dogs do better living with other animals, and for some it’s a disaster (my sister ended up with one of my dogs for that reason. He was a fantastic only dog, but a major problem living with other dogs. Like stitches needed for the other dogs kind of problem. And he came from a previous family with other dogs who said he had no problems at all. Hmmm).
      So if/when you get a dog, it’s a great idea to have flexibility if at all possible, in terms of your working hours, money for a dog walker/doggy daycare, friends/family who can help. Plus budget for a trainer and extra vet bills for the first year or so, especially with an older rescue. Good luck! I love my doggies but they are not cheap or easy, that’s for sure! Oh – and rescues and fosters tend to tell you the best version of your prospective dog rather than all the challenges. Understandable, but just expect more problems than they tell you!

      1. Nines*

        My chihuahua is house trained! And can manage for hours on end without being let out. He’s a perfect apartment dog. Though we did get him at a year or two old, so had a lot of time to train him and whatnot.

    7. paul*

      how big’s the apartment?

      A lot of it comes down to getting dogs that match your life style. We both work and left our doggies inside all day, but they were lazy bones and it worked OK. We did have some accidents during their last year of life.

      Worth noting; we adopted adult dogs to make this easier; I don’t think it’d work with puppies.

    8. Phillipa*

      I’m also a grad student and newish adult person, and I adopted an adult dog (my first pet EVER) a few months ago. His previous owners potty-trained him, and other than a few accidents when he started adjusting to my apartment, he’s been fine holding it all day so long as I can take him out first thing in the morning and then when I get back home. Having a partner helps so much; even if we’re both busy during the day and can’t make it home, we can trade off doing the work in the mornings and evenings. It also helps that our dog has a super chill disposition and is not very vocal, so he fits in well with our hectic lives and small apartment.

    9. LadyKelvin*

      I’m going to mostly repeat what everyone else has said: but the key to having a dog when you work full time is to have an adult dog and be willing to put in the time to walk it. We actually got ours when she was 10 weeks old, a rescue who was born in the shelter. For reference: she’s 60lb border collie/boxer mix, so she needs a lot of walking and playing time. At the time I was working full time from home as a grad student, so it was easy to housebreak her, give her lots of attention, etc. However, we also got into the habit of 2 long walks every day. 20-30 minutes in the morning and 45-1 hr in the afternoon (When I was home full time I did afternoon and my husband did mornings, now that I go to work later than him I do mornings and he does afternoon).

      Our dog is 2.5 now and has no problem going 10 hours alone and probably could manage up to 12, but we try not to let that happen. We also no longer crate her when we leave which allows her to pick where she spends the day sleeping, and we have lots of toys for her to play with while we are gone. We also give her a frozen peanut butter kong before we leave for work. She did/does have some separation anxiety, so those have all been things that we’ve done to help her adjust to us being gone. Now its almost no problem. We take her to the beach/dog park a couple of times a week, usually on the weekends but sometimes also in the afternoon after work to really tire her out. She is generally exhausted for the next 36-48 hours after fun at the beach. Also: we’ve always lived in apartments, so she’s actually never had a yard to play in. We committed to walks when we got her and 2 years later we’re still walking her, although she’s gotten a lot lazier and sometimes we have to force her to go for a walk, lol.

      So to sum up, having a dog when you work full time you should:
      Get an adult dog
      Commit to multiple walks per day
      Pay attention to what kind of dog you get, some need more play time than others
      If you dog has separation anxiety, you might need to have some more complicated leaving rituals
      If all else fails, look into sporadic day care, going once a week would be less expensive than every day, but you dog will benefit from all the stimulation.

    10. Natalie*

      Everyone I know with a dog and a job just leaves them home all day. One friend of mine takes her dog to day care midweek, usually Wednesday or Thursday. Dogs sleep 14 hours a day, and my dog (to use one example) gets at least 4-6 of those hours during the day.

      Definitely get an adult dog as suggested – they can hold their bladder for 8 hours at least. For our dog, some play + outside time three times a day does him just fine. He’s actually not a big walker and prefers to run as fast as possible so we chase him around our yard a lot. We also have a lot of bird feeders so both he and the cat have something to look at. On weekends we take smell walks (that’s what he likes to do on a walk) and go to the dog park for extra stimulation.

    11. Athena*

      When I got my insanely energetic puppy, I naively thought she’d be fine to chill on her own. How wrong I was. Definitely go for an adult dog. Mine (now grown up) stays outside during the day with toys and a cosy bed, then will smooch all night because she’s missed me. One of her toys gives her heaps of exercise as she has to chase it, and she’ll spend hours doing that even when I’m working from home.
      However, puppies need a LOT of work. My circumstances were such that I ended up being at home 99% of the time while little one was a pup, and she had another older dog to entertain her… and she was still a bundle of energy. I took her for a 10km run once. She napped for half an hour when we got back then immediately got up and chased everything again. Meanwhile, I was still trying not to cough up a lung from the exercise.

      When we were kids and had puppies, my parents got two at once so they could have a playmate. They were fairly sedate dogs, but we also had a massive yard and owned the house. It wasn’t feasible for me with my current dog, and wouldn’t be feasible for apartments or renting. Besides, your get home and they’d look at you, bleary eyed, clearly just having woken up, like “oh. It’s 3pm, you’re home from school already? Wow. Time flies. Just… five more minutes of nap and I’ll love you.”

    12. Chaordic One*

      I thought everything was fine with my dog, but when my brother came to stay with me for a while, he said that as soon as I’d leave for work the dog would start barking and howling and even rattling his crate. Sometime my brother just let him bark, but sometimes he’d get up and let the dog out of his crate and when he did the dog wanted to go outside and run around for a bit (anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes or so) in my fenced yard. Then he’d want back inside and he’d go lie down in his crate and be fine until I got home from work.

  29. Mimmy*

    Anyone here with sensory processing issues?

    In addition to my slight vision and hearing loss (both congenital), I’ve always had issues with certain sensory stimuli. We’ve talked on AAM many times about sound sensitivities (misophonia?), which I most definitely have but never formally diagnosed.

    So this past Wednesday, I had my monthly session with my counselor, and she gave me a thing about Sensory Processing Disorder. I think she gave it to me because she thought I’d find it interesting, but after a rough week at the place we don’t mention on weekends, I’m beginning to think I should seek formal testing. I think I’ve had this my entire life but have never had a proper evaluation for it.

    I think my main issue is that I can easily get overstimulated (too much moving around, too many people talking at once, people coming and going during a meeting), my nervous system gets frazzled and, in some cases, I snap and lose my temper. I know all of the advice about “take a breath” “count to 10” “figure out your triggers”…yet, I don’t always know that I’m going to snap until it happens, which then leads to embarrassing situations.

    I think that’s why I’ve struggled personally and professionally. I have a doctor’s appointment in a couple of weeks – I may ask him about it.

    1. Nicole*

      I had to look up sensory processing issues since I wasn’t sure what it was, and I don’t think I have that (and from your description I’m not quite sure you do either), but I do think I have misophonia and I can relate to losing my temper when too much is going on around me. Perhaps you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP)? I find I can’t focus in busy/loud environments and I get cranky.

      Do you have ringing in your ears from the hearing loss? I ask because in August I developed ringing in my right ear and they found slight hearing loss in it in the high frequencies. Apparently this will never go away which is quite annoying, particularly when I try to lay on my right side. Interestingly enough, about four years ago I suddenly had balance issues, like I was going to fall to my right, and after testing it was determined that the balance system in that ear was damaged, possibly by a virus although no one knows for sure. My left ear eventually compensated for it, but over the summer the balance stuff returned with a vengeance and that’s when the ringing began. My right ear has all sorts of issues it seems.

      1. A Nonny Mouse*

        Have you been tested for Menieres? That cluster of symptoms matches well. Mine worsened this year, but I have been able to to control the balance/vertigo through diet (no caffeine and low sodium).

        1. Nicole*

          I have not been tested for that but it sounds like a possibility, although the sense of fullness in my ears would come and go with both ears. This was over the summer when I was also having a stiff neck and pain in my sinuses. I had allergy testing and it’s suspected they are the cause of most of my issues, although the off-balance thing was something entirely different which occurred years ago. I haven’t had vertigo, though, thank goodness. It sounds very unpleasant!

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        That sounds like what I had, and I do have some hearing loss (especially in my right ear), but nobody ever made the connection. For about six months, I was very off-kilter in terms of balance and having a good sense of my body’s position. If I rolled over in bed, it felt as if I was about to roll to the floor. I’d be sitting at my desk and all of a sudden have to grab on to the desk because I felt like I was free falling. Thank goodness it went away, but I’d love to know why it happened in the first place.

    2. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I probably have it and my teen received sensory integration related OT and PT as a preschooler. One OT said it was at a diagnosable level, another said it wasn’t. I figure we ride that middle ground that gets kindly labeled as “quirky.”

      Our OT used to say it was all about the mouth…for all of us, neurotypical and otherwise. Google “sensory diet” and look at some of the options. Some examples are: carrot sticks, pretzel sticks, and drinking thick things like smoothies or applesauce through a straw. If you find out that crunchy foods have an effect on you, you can choose your lunch or snack accordingly. I find mushy foods comforting and hate finding crunch in unexpected places and I can use that to help regulate my responses to my surroundings. Also think about chewing gum, fidget spinners, fidget blocks, etc. I sew, so my favorite fidget aid is a rolled-up tape measure. I also find a lot of comfort in hot cocoa and a big piece of it is holding a warm mug.

      Also google Heavy Work. It’s a special class of activity that can help regulate your mood and energy. Maybe you need to take a brisk “fresh air” break before intense meetings. A lot of this stuff is geared for kids. Sensory processing is still new and still mostly directed at kids. We haven’t officially recognized that sensory kids grow up into sensory adults. And of course, some don’t, and sensory seeking kids could turn into sensory avoidant adults.

      One of the primary books for Sensory Integration is “How Does Your Engine Run?” The premise is that there are appropriate speeds for various activities. You want to have a slow engine for meetings and a fast engine for crunch days and having the opposite just causes problems. This book helps you recognize your engine speed and gives you techniques for resolving any mismatches.

      Also think about transitions. They can be tough for people with processing difficulties. Florescent lights can be a problem for some. That’s tough to control in an office environment, but you never know, and at the least you could give yourself some task lighting in your area to provide some relief during other times.

      I also remember there was some cool music therapy my child had that involved banging a drum-like thing to music. Seems like not much, but the beat was regular and a specific speed and it really made a difference. I can’t look up the details now, but I’ll try and add a comment later this weekend.

      Oh, there are these inflatable chair cushins made out of the same stuff as yoga balls: one side is bumpy and the other is smooth. That would be a great thing for at your desk. I’ll check my amazon history for a link later. Less rolly than a yoga ball but the same purpose. They also make little spikey or bumpy balls for kids. If your work environment is playful, you could have a ball like that for tossing and no one needs to know that the spikes are like therapy for you.

    3. Sylvan*

      I don’t have any advice, but I’ll be watching the thread. I might be in the same situation. My therapist thinks I have sensory processing disorder. For me, I think the sensory issues could be one of those weird things that happens in the overlapping part of the clinical anxiety and ADHD Venn diagram.

      When someone is both hypervigilant and not great at filtering sensory input, they can end up unconsciously trying to pay attention to everything at once, resulting in: Why are so many people talking and why are so many lights on?

    4. J.B.*

      My kid has sensory processing issues secondary to anxiety. I have touches although not clinical. The good thing about being an adult is that if you think you can probably identify areas of concern for you. Do you need more touch or less touch? (for myself I hate hate hate light tickly touches but feel better with deep pressure sometimes). Physical activity is huge, so identifying and doing something every day – lunchtime is a great option.

      If you want to get more input, an occupational therapist would be the one to diagnose. It’s kind of uncertain as a syndrome – AAP only recognizes it as secondary to mental health diagnoses, and anecdotally I agree with that. Given what you’ve described you might want to look into cognitive behavioral therapy and specifically ask about interoceptive exposure.

      Good luck, it’s tough. Management strategies (including medication if needed) really make a difference though.

    5. I heart Paul Buchman*

      My son has a formal ASD diagnosis but sensory processing issues are a big part of his day to day so I have some secondary experience in this area. For him his tolerance seems to be about thresholds. He has multiple things that can trigger him (from all of his senses) – socks not on correctly, brushed his teeth with minty toothpaste, smell of someone’s perfume, an annoying noise in the background such as an airconditioner, etc, etc, etc. He may be able to cope with any one of these things just fine, maybe even two but if you hit him with a few of them at once then he will meltdown. Or maybe, one at a time but in quick succession and then something tips him over the edge like someone ruffles his hair or a dog barks nearby. The overlap period seems to last for a couple of days so if yesterday we went to a parade and it was all way too much today the air conditioner will be unbearable. Contributing factor is that if he is overloaded neurologically then he doesn’t sleep/eat/toilet well (he has digestive issues) which also reduce his tolerance and make it harder to cope. This can spiral quickly.
      In terms of a fix… I think this is a condition that for him he needs to manage not cure. The biggest part of management is recognising when things are starting to spiral and then pulling them up. If is getting overloaded I reduce all stimulating inputs as soon as I can (maybe a warm bath/shower, put on comfortable clothing and sit in a quiet enclosed space and do a quiet fine motor activity that calms the mind) sometimes twenty minutes of this is enough and he can resume normal activity. After the calming period some of the heavy work/sensory diet stuff that is mentioned above becomes helpful. My son finds light weights and stretching very helpful to give input to the joints. Self massage of the limbs with a body brush is also calming to the nervous system. Weighted products such as blankets are amazing or wrapping yourself tightly in a sheet/sleeping bag burrito style. Basically anything that made you feel safe and cocooned as a child could be helpful now :) I don’t suggest you do these things in the office but 10 minutes morning and evening could be calming enough to make a big difference.
      Oh and one other thing – have you looked into dietary causes of sudden sensitivity (if it is sudden)? My son is horribly affected by some food preservatives and MSG and I understand this as I get migraines from a high Amine load. We did the RPAH elimination diet with my son and it made a big difference to understanding his thresholds (we did this through our local hospital dietician but I am not in the US). Good luck, SPD is difficult but management can make a huge difference.

      1. SIDAdult*

        I was diagnosed with SID as a child, and went to occupational therapy for it, but I didn’t know about this until I was an adult. A friend’s daughter was diagnosed, and she was mentioning the things she struggled with, and it clicked in my head. I mentioned it to my mom, and she told me about my diagnosis.

        For me, it was a lot of the same things as your son – the sound of toothbrushing makes me gag, most toothpastes make me gag, other people brushing their teeth, if I can hear of smell it – three rooms off…chewing gum, textures of clothing, having seams in the wrong places, not having pressure somewhere I need it…

        But I didn’t know any of this as a kid, and no one told me it was abnormal. Mind you, I knew I was different, because I was in therapy and had to do weird things, but my best friend was in therapy with me for ADHD and some learning disability, and our sessions overlapped. That probably helped a lot. Now, I just have to know what will be an issue and what won’t be, and when I can deal with something and when I can’t. If I’m going to be in a large, loud crowd, I can’t wear uncomfortable clothing, if I’m flying I pick my seats, and find a reason to not dread the flight. It probably helped a lot that my routines and habits got worked in when I was a small child not young enough to know what I was avoiding, and have had wonderful friends who do things like get rid of their gum when I tell them it is making me sick.

    6. HannahS*

      No, but I have sensory issues related to fibromyalgia. One thing I’ve found extremely helpful are noise-canceling headphones (I basically come on this thread and recommend them to people each week lol) which I use in pretty much any situation where I feel overstimulated and there’s no need for me to look super professional. I have a Taotronics pair and I love them. Sunglasses, sometimes. Finding ways to build a wardrobe that’s as comfy (i.e. soft, stretchy clothes) as possible, while looking as put together as I need to be.

  30. Nicole*

    Right now I wish I lived in a warmer state like Arizona. There are outdoor events I’d like to attend such as zoo lights, or Illumination at Morton Arboretum, but I know I’d be miserable in the cold. I get uncomfortable when it’s under 65 degrees so clearly Illinois is the wrong state to be living in, at least in the winter!

    For those of you who can attend outdoor holiday events without freezing to death, is it as wonderful as I envision? I want to live vicariously through you.

    1. KR*

      It’s definitely nice but I find myself missing the cold and the variation in the seasons. Another thing is in the summer it’s super hot out every day in the desert (I’m in the Mojave desert in CA) so during the summer you can’t do as much until it’s dark out because the pavement is too hot for dogs and everything is just so hot to the touch. Your shoes might melt on the pavement. So there are plus’s and minus’s.

      1. Nicole*

        That’s a good point. We visited my husband’s family in Arizona this past August and it was over 100 degrees every day! We brought our dog and had to walk her before 7 am and after dark because the asphalt would literally bubble up. Ideally I’d like to have a home in the west I could live in from November through March and then come back to Illinois. I like the green here but hate the cold.

        1. blackcat*

          I once attended a conference in late July or early August in Phoenix.

          It was over 110 every day. There was a severe dust storm.

          It was actually hell, at least how I picture hell. My eyes and lungs burned. A cup of water could evaporate in minutes.

          There are plenty of warm places that aren’t as hellish as the desert.

    2. CAA*

      We went to our town’s Christmas Parade and tree lighting last night, and yes, it was lots of fun. The parade is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, so it’s basically a few local stores driving their vehicles, the high school band, church groups, Girl Scouts, etc. It’s just a fun time to hang out on the sidewalk with friends and wave and call out to the people you know who are in the parade. Then we walked up and down the street sampling the cookies and hot cider that the different stores were handing out.

    3. JD*

      But AZ is SOOO hot! I HATE heat. Trade you places! It has been so hot the past two years in CA. We had an all time record high on Thanksgiving which just ruins the feeling of holidays for me. I swear I am packing my bags on the 26th if we have another 90 degree xmas. I just cannot flipping handle it anymore. How you don’t like it under 65, I despise anything over 70. The plan is to move to the Pacific Northwest. I’d prefer Seattle although SO is open to Portland….although now he just got a new job and wants to stay here longer. I really cannot take another summer in the heat/hell hole. I am so dang burned out on CA. I am over the people, the weather, the COL.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’d…….be okay with that. I’m sick unto death of freezing and the damn pile of clothes I have to wear to go outside and ice. I can’t stand ice or the thought of it after the 2007 multi-state ice storm. That soured me on winter forever. Now I dread it, because you never know if it will happen again.

    4. Tris Prior*

      I am cold all the time (I feel you re this not being the state for me!), but for Christmas events like Zoo Lights, I don’t mind it so much; I just dress really, really warm and drink a hot beverage. The cold (and snow, if we have it) feels right for the season. After Christmas, forget it; I am indoors until spring except when necessary.

      That being said, we specifically did our annual Christkindlmarket visit this past week because it was in the 40s and not the 20s and who knows how long that’s going to last. (Not long, going by my weather app.) So I hear that.

      1. Nicole*

        I’ve been wanting to check out the Christkindlmarket but am not a fan of going downtown. Now I read there’s one out in the suburbs so I might check it out this year!

    5. Sylvan*

      It is wonderful! I wear a T-shirt, jeans, and a jacket for most of the winter.

      It feels strange to have “winter” in sunny, almost-warm weather, though. Some of my neighbors hang lights that look like icicles from their roofs and porches. Some stores try to sell sleds and snow shovels. It’s not going to happen, folks!

    6. Saguaro*

      I live in AZ and absolutely love it! This time of the year, until about February or March, we get much cooler temps at night and in the morning. It can be in the low 30’s in the mornings, which is perfect sweater and boots weather, and the days are usually in the 60’s or low 70’s. So we do have to wear a coat or sweater to the night time holiday events, which I love because it feels more holiday-like. And we go just an hour and a half up north to the mountains to experience the 4 seasons, including a lot of snow.

      Yes the summers are hot, but that’s really only July to mid-October. I always tell people that by Halloween night at the latest, you will have to wear a sweatshirt at night.

    7. Jillociraptor*

      I live in the Bay Area and I feel like we get the best of both worlds: it’s nice most of the year, and basically “fall weather” (high 60s, but still sunny and nice with the occasional rain) during the winter. I don’t really do outdoor holiday events, but it is nice to be able to go to the farmer’s market in December! I will say, though, that since moving out here, my tolerance for cold has gone way down. I used to chuckle at the folks in their parkas on the rare occasions when it dropped below 60, but joke’s on me because that’s my life now!

      1. blackcat*

        I’m a bay area native turned new england resident.

        My mom constantly frets about me going outside without a coat/jacket when I visit in winter. She does not understand that 30s-40s is jacket weather to me, and I’m generally fine in just a sweater if it’s 45-55.

        That said, it does freeze a few times a year where my parents live in the inland bay area. It used to get colder than it does now, and it does get pretty hot in the summer sometimes. But if you aim for coastal areas without “hills” (small mountains by east coast standards) between you and the ocean, basically the entire California coast is neither too hot or too cold.

        1. paul*

          When we were in high school (I think I was 15 or 16) we took a family trip to Disney over Thanksgiving.

          We lived at 8,500′ elevation, give or take, and had snow on the ground for the season by then.

          Hearing the Florida news talk about a “cold front” with lows in the high 40s and advising everyone to bundle up sent my parents into a gale of laughter like I’d never seen.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            The flip side is true as well. I’ve lived in the Southwest all my life, and when people from other states say “It’s 89 degrees out, it’s so hot!” I always want to respond with, “Oh, honey, do you know how many 118 degree days I’ve lived?”

            1. paul*


              These days I’m on the high plains. We hit 100+ every summer, and we hit low single digit lows every winter. I’m kinda over it TBH. Couple it with the fact I’m allergic to the local grasses and cacti…I want to move back to the mountains or down to a swamp somewhere.

              1. nonegiven*

                My friend called her sister and said she had complained that it had gotten up to 85F. I said did you tell her that our overnight low was 87F, we’ve had 10 days in a row of 110F+, and nearly 2 months of 100F+?

  31. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

    How do you “reset” your views of a place when you’re miserable? I hate it here. Even though I’m already down to less than a year before I leave, I just desperately want to leave now.

    Getting my visa to come here was the worst and most stressful thing I’ve ever had to do. I won’t go into the whole story, but I was basically constantly being told different things and wound up wasting a lot of money and time instead of getting to enjoy the fact that I got in and was going to grad school, so I was in a pretty crappy mood when I got here.

    I’ve also had problems finding housing (resolved, but more through luck that a bad choice turned out reasonably well) and getting utilities set up (including Internet, which I finally gave up on–I’m just gonna be a grad student with no Internet and therefore very limited access to certain research materials I need) and getting pretty much every other thing set up that I’ve needed to. I’m so exhausted and miserable that I never want to go sightseeing or try to date when I have a free day, and I’m dropping a free and non-credit class (which is the only thing I’ve actually enjoyed here) to focus on my degree courses because I came here to get that freaking piece of paper and I don’t want all my misery to be for nothing.

    I’ve planned a long (too long, tbh, but I can’t bear the thought of shortening it and being here any longer than I have to for school) vacation for after the semester ends because I just need to Not Be Here. I’m hoping this will help me feel better when I get back, but I’m looking for suggestions of things to try when I get back (no time/energy to do much before the semester ends at this point).

    1. Marillenbaum*

      I’m sorry. That sounds really stressful and exhausting–no wonder you’ve been having a hard time enjoying yourself! My suggestion is to start with making sure you have your big physical needs met: is your bed comfortable? Are you eating regular, healthy meals? Moving in a way that feels good? From there, it can be easier to branch out into low-effort things that feel fun. It might be going for a walk around your neighborhood, or rereading your favorite books for fun. Good luck with your degree!

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Good points. I struggle with a lot of basic self-care stuff at the best of times, and this is…definitely not the best of times, lol. I’m going to look into getting meals delivered (like Blue Apron, although they don’t seem to be here so I’ll have to research which companies are best) because I have issues carrying heavy loads so my grocery shops have tended to focus on things that don’t weigh much rather than on things that are healthy.

        1. Cristina in England*

          One thing that UK shops do really well is prepared food. You can get pre-made sandwiches, mashed potatoes, veggies, main courses in every single major supermarket (Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, heck you can even get fresh sandwiches in Boots!) and generally the meals and sandwiches are really good. Obviously it costs more than cooking it yourself but if you can give yourself a break every weekend or so, it might make things easier and might be a good alternative to the higher cost of eating out and the higher hassle of a UK Blue Apron (there is one I just can’t think of the name right now… I think it has the word fresh in the name).

          1. Annie Mouse*

            Hello Fresh, it’s fab. Not cheap but I get it as a treat occasionally and I can get a minimum of 5 meals (I can’t cook risotto apparently!) and usually 7-9 from a 3 meal for 2 person box.

            Sorry you’re struggling over here, hopefully things will look a little more positive after your break.

        2. Incantanto*

          Most UK supermarkets do home delivery. good for planning and you can select a time slot thats quite narrow. And they carry it to where you are from the car.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Maybe. I’ll see what my school has available. (The NHS has been another sort of stress and I’d rather avoid them if I can, plus I’m not sure what I’d be entitled to there and can’t look it up right now because my Internet is limited.)

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Some contacts for you.

          Samaritans: 116123 – free from any phone. People think they are only a crisis line but they are for anyone who needs emotional support.

          Mind Infoline – open Mon-Fri 9-6 and can suggest local services
          0300 123 3393
          Text: 86463

          Sorry you’ve had problems with the NHS. They are also not my favourite people this week.

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Is there an ex-pat group or similar where you are? I wasn’t that happy with the UK when I first moved here but in part some of that was not knowing anyone and not having any connection to the way things are done back home. I met some other Americans through a forum and made some friends who were going through similar experiences and that was helpful.

      I haven’t kept track of your whole experience but I find it odd that you can’t get internet working! Maybe someone here can give you some suggestions?

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        There are several other Americans in my grad cohort, and we’ve bonded over this sort of thing–I’ve had way more problems than they had, but I’m the only one who’s avoided having major problems with banking, so lucky me there, lol.

        They did some renovations in my apartment before I moved in, and I think they must have cut a wire or something because I’ve tried two separate companies for the Internet and both have had horrible problems trying to get it working. I’d rather just give up and use my phone for the Internet (plus school, Starbucks, library, etc.) because the uncertainty was making things so much worse. I’m very angry about it still, but giving up on the idea of ever having wifi here has actually helped a little bit.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Hmm, I’d think your landlord would want to fix it but I understand that they are not always concerned about this sort of thing!

          I will also say that it can be helpful to meet other ex-pats who are in different situations and have gone a bit native as well. When I first got here most of the other Americans I knew were also students and all they did was complain about everything. After I met some people who had moved here for other reasons and had been here longer I managed to get a much less negative perspective on things, as well as learning useful tips!

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            I haven’t told the property manager yet because I’m too busy trying to convince them that something they claim is in a certain place is actually not there, lol. I’ll definitely tell them before I move out (preferably long before then, actually) for the good of the next tenant, but I really want to get this other thing sorted out because now it’s too late for me to get Internet anyway (since all the ones I’ve seen are 12-month contracts and I’m planning on being here for less than 12 more months).

            That’s a good point about trying to meet other expats in different stages/life stages, though.

            1. Jen Erik*

              My mum is with zen, and I think that’s on a monthly basis (although she’s been with them for years, and their deals may have changed.)
              Also maybe look at Virgin Media – my daughter definitely had a shorter contract when she was working in the south of England last year: I’ll try and check if that is who she was with.

              1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

                Virgin was the first company I’d tried, and they quoted me an unforgivably long amount of time to try to fix their lines, so I gave up on them. I’m not familiar with Zen, though–I’ll check them out and see what they have to offer and if they have anything shorter than 12 months (probably starting in January or February since I’m leaving soon and don’t want to pay for Internet I can’t use). Ty.

                1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                  You might also check out Three mobile. They have pretty good 4G and at least some plans include tethering so you can use it with your computer.

            2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

              If you are in a multi-unit newer building in London then Hyperoptic may offer service. If not, then try Relish?

              However, if there was any other provider other than Virgin that couldn’t get your internet running then you may be SOL because everything runs off BT infrastructure. It could also very well be a problem in the flat (and yes, having seen some of the illegal/inept wiring and plumbing in our last flat, I would believe someone cut a wire) at which point it doesn’t matter which provider it is either. Walking away to save your sanity in some instances is the way to go.

              And yeah, NHS – whole other can of worms. Great if you have an emergency, not great if you have ongoing care needs. You also may want to find an independent psychologist/psychiatrist who specializes in expat and/or trained in US-style treatment. They are about 20 years behind the times in even accepting issues of mental health, much less know what to do properly.

              1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

                Yep, tried Sky and they’ve had problems too.

                I did not realize that about the UK (or just the NHS rather than the whole UK?). Kind of assumed they’d be ahead of us in that respect. Guess it’s good to reset my expectations now?

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Also, where are you? I’ve started another thread on attempting to get a meetup going if you are anywhere near London or Newcastle.

    3. fposte*

      Oh, sorry; I know that was a lot of work, and that’s a really stressful feeling. I’m with Caledonia on counseling–does your uni offer any kind of services?

      The thing about grad school for a lot of us is that it’s an experiential setback after we’ve enjoyed the agency and standards of working adulthood. Stuff that you put up with when you’re nineteen can feel ridiculous once you’ve graduated and lived differently. I thought of that when you were preparing to leave –it sounded like the transition to student-slumming-it was already proving rather challenging, and it’s especially ironic when it takes so much work to transition to a life with less.

      Aside from counseling, a few thoughts: first, what if you bailed? When could you do it, and what would you do instead? It wouldn’t hurt to go down that road and see if it’s reasonably doable–it’s unlikely that this is such a miraculously door-opening piece of paper that it’s worth Dantean suffering to get. Second: what if you shrugged and accepted the suck rather than raging at it? It’s a year-long dentist appointment: unpleasant, but a thing you’re committed to for long-term good, and it won’t last forever. The disappointment in what was supposed to be a cool adventure won’t go away so easily, but maybe it’ll be less emotionally exhausting to just slash those expectations like they’re on sale for Black Friday.

      I hope you find some peace whatever you choose.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I found grad school in the UK to be very different and isolating from what it was in the US, too, so it really made things very difficult for me. If I hadn’t met my husband I probably would have left after the first year myself.

        I did my MA in the US and it was not that different from my undergraduate experience. We had regular classes, people hung out socially, we studied together, etc. Part of my problem in the UK was that I didn’t have to take courses but just jumped right into independent research with very little overarching structure or interactions with other postgrad students. I did everything alone and didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of except my supervisors, and I didn’t get along with them very well. I really had no idea how different the British system was until I got here and there was no orientation or anything for international students. My complaints eventually led to a new session being introduced in the grad student training program but it took a while!

      2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        I mean, if I were committed to leaving I’d leave in January (because I’ve already paid for the vacation, otherwise I’d just get on a plane next week or something after packing my stuff). I have many personality flaws, but a general unwillingness to leave when I’m unhappy is not one of them (actually, I tend to be TOO willing to leave, which is one reason why I’m trying to stick it out). I’d go back to freelancing and just travel around Asia for awhile (all I need to freelance is a computer and stable Internet, which is easy to come by). (In other words, it is extremely doable, and I have thought about it probably a bit too much.)

        The thing is, I feel like I shouldn’t be so miserable now. The visa crisis was resolved, and I know that because I’m here. I have an apartment I like okay (other than the possibly-cut Internet wires) with rent that is within my budget and a commute that I can live with. I have a bank account. I finally got my ish together enough last week to buy pots and pans so I could cook properly instead of the weird jury-rigged cooking I’ve been doing. My classes next semester look like they’re going to be a lot more interesting and applicable to my specific career goals than the ones I took this semester. These are all improvements. I’m not where I’d like to be, no, but I don’t think I ever really recovered from the frustration and burnout from the visa problems, and I think I’m taking it out on the area and making things worse for myself than they need to be.

        1. fposte*

          Okay, that all sounds very considered and reasonable.

          It also doesn’t strike me as unreasonable to take a while to bounce back from exhaustion and frustration, and that things are starting to look up somewhat. So maybe you just do some deep breathing, forgive yourself for needing a recovery period, and look forward to the gradual return of interest in things.

          1. Reba*

            My old therapist told me that the physiological responses to stress (cortisol the “stress hormone” and other things) can linger in the body for a long time after the external sources of stress are removed. So just because the stressful stuff is “over” doesn’t mean that you immediately swing back to normal.

            It’s so great that you have other people in similar boats to commiserate with. I also agree with others about therapy or a hotline–it might also be beneficial to talk about this stuff with someone who is totally outside it and neutral on grad school issues.

            Best of luck to you, katamia!

        2. caledonia*

          The mind doesn’t always work like that though, so although your visa issues were solved there was a lot going on before, during and after this event. I would try some of the places ramona flowers recommended or mindfullness.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I think I am picking up on exhaustion here. Exhaustion will make a person feel like they have nothing left to give the situation that is draining them dry. Is it possible to increase your rest periods by even a little bit?

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            There’s definitely a lot of exhaustion, although I’m not really sleep deprived. Getting up for class is rough (night owl + having to be up before 9 = no fun), but I’m probably getting 9-10 hours of sleep on days when I don’t have class, so it’s not sleep.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              The next layer is what are you eating? Junk food can negate 9 hours of sleep, no prob.. Chicken is a really good energy booster, salmon is also good. Maybe a protein drink would fit into your day better, though. Junk foods might also pull down your thinking, if you have depression junk could add to it.

              How’s your water intake doing? Are you hands and lips dry? It might be time to start pumping water. When I am busy, I will measure out a pitcher of water in the morning and make sure it is empty by bed time. That is the only way I can keep track of how much water I have gotten into me.

              This last one is really tough. A person who feels like they have no meaningful goals or feels adrift at sea can have a really tough fight to get through their day. What do you want your life to look like and what are you willing to do to get to that point?

              1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

                Food is a struggle here because the general British diet is pretty much the opposite of my dietary needs, but I think trying something like Hello Fresh, where it seems like I’ll have an easier time finding things that fit my needs, will help. Just not gonna start something like that when I’m leaving for vacation so soon. :) I’m actually drinking a lot more water here than I have in other places, so I think I’m good in that respect.

                Re sleep, I think some of it is just not knowing what to do with myself–I’m used to being able to work as much/as little as I want from freelancing, which I can’t do here (and I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate not having things to do). While we’re supposed to be reading a lot, there are very few assignments for this program (and, look, I like reading, but I can’t read for 8-10 hours straight every day because reading doesn’t feel like I’m “doing something” and I need to feel like I’m busy).

                I’d probably sleep less (in a good way) if I had a part-time job or something, but it looks like that’s going to be very hard to come by (and take forever because I literally today just realized there’s another hoop I need to jump through before I can legally work here–yet another thing I was never given information about *sigh*), and transportation costs are much higher here than where I was before, so I’m hesitant to commit to volunteering when I don’t have any income (no place I’m interested in volunteering at within walking distance).

                So days when I don’t have class just really do feel like eternities–I try to be productive and sometimes I manage a load of laundry or something, but some of the sleeping is just me waking up, looking at the clock, and going, “Ugh, that’s too many hours to kill. I’m going back to sleep.”

                1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

                  So in conclusion I guess I’m both bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed and stressed out, lol.

    4. Colette*

      You’ve only been there a few months, if I remember correctly?

      Moving is hard, and adjusting to a new place is hard. There are a lot of hassles, and nothing is as easy as it should be.

      A couple of sessions with a counsellor might be a good idea as others have suggested, but also it’s a matter of hanging in there and finding a way to enjoy the place since you won’t be there forever.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Yeah, I haven’t been here that long. This isn’t the first time I’ve moved to a new country, but I had a lot more support from my job than I have this time around from my school. I don’t think I realized just how much support I got in that other country before I had to do it all on my own this time around.

        I definitely want to enjoy the rest of my time here, especially since I probably won’t be coming back anytime soon (not just because I’m not liking it so far but because my career goals are going to take me elsewhere and realistically it just probably won’t happen).

    5. Shakier Than I Should be*

      Earlier this month I found out that I won’t be getting a job in the UK. I was a finalist, and everyone thinks that when I say I’m not really that disappointed that I’m just putting on a brave face. It was very high-profile and it would have been a capstone to my career so I feel ridiculous telling them that even reading all the info on the visa process stressed me out and if I’d gotten the job, the next three months were going to be hell. I’m so sorry you’re going through what you’re going through, and it was worry about the kind of thing you’re experiencing that made me relieved that I didn’t get it. I also thought I was going to be offered way less that I’d need to make it work (you can’t eat prestige).
      You’re not over-reacting to an unbelievably stressful process. It also doesn’t help that you probably have some feeling that you’re not completely ‘safe’ in your new space. I’m probably projecting, but when EVERYTHING is so different, I’m constantly reminded that “this isn’t home” so I’ve always got a little bit more monitoring of the surroundings going on. Even behind closed doors, I’m more alert than I want to be at home.
      I hope you can come up with some little rituals or activities that are soothing, and that the time goes more swiftly than you think.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Thank you. I’m sorry you didn’t get that job, although I also feel the need to congratulate you on avoiding the visa process. :)

    6. SS Express*

      If you can spare $50, or probably even $20 if you go to Poundland, you could get a fancy candle and a couple of throw pillows and a really nice-smelling hand soap. I’ve been miserable a lot in the last few years for a variety of reasons, and taking a few small and relatively inexpensive steps to make my home a more pleasant place to be honestly made the second-biggest difference (after therapy, which is wayyyyy more expensive and nowhere near as fast).

  32. MCL*

    My spouse and I are thinking about buying a new home due to commute. We already own a small starter home that we’re about 20 years from paying off. We are in our mid-30s. The home values in this neighborhood have risen decently since I bought it in 2010, and we could sell it for a profit. Or we could hold onto it and rent it out. Anyone here have experience with that?

    Pros: Neighborhood rental rates seem such that we could charge enough rent to pay mortgage and home insurance, with a $50-100 “profit” (would be socked away for repairs), and we’d be diversifying our assets in retirement.

    Cons: we would probably have to contract out many things because we’re not super handy, also who knows what is happening with tax code right now.

    Should we hold onto it, or sell, take the money, and run? Thoughts appreciated!

    1. MCL*

      This is all assuming that the financial piece would work out (getting a new mortgage) which we’re investigating.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      In addition to the contracting out eating away at any profit, also consider that you could go months between renters, or have to evict someone for nonpayment. You’ll need to be able to absorb the full cost of both houses for at least six months to a year, or you could find yourself in a hole that might be difficult to dig out of.

      Not discouraging it, not at all, but just like you should try to have an emergency fund to pay for home repairs, you should have a much bigger one to also cover rent and repairs on the rental property.

      1. Em*

        Yes, this. If you’re planning to use a property management agency, that will have a cost too, but will help with renting it out, and will also avoid you having to answer tenant phone calls in the middle of the night/having to hound them if they’re not paying.

        If you don’t have a healthy cushion of savings for repairs & times to cover the mortgage & utilities when it’s not being rented I’d be nervous. $600-$1200 annual profit won’t last long if not, like if a fridge goes out or septic problem or whatever.

        My husband and I are in a similar situation with a similar plan & for us we want to make sure that if renters back out we’re not screwed.

        1. MCL*

          Yes, definitely. We’re going into this super cautiously, and we’re taking lots of time to make the decision.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’m not bringing this up to discourage you, MCL, just to prepare you. Remember, if your mortgage payment is $1000 and $400 of that is principal, then even if you break even every month, you’re still actually making $400 in equity off of the rent. You’ll still need to be prepared to cover unexpected costs, but remember, when it’s rented you could still be making money even if none the rent actually winds up in your pocket.

        1. MCL*

          Thanks! Definitely appreciate the advice. This is a very new idea and we’re in information-gathering mode.

          1. nonegiven*

            Real estate taxes will likely go up. I know they are higher here for a rental property than the same property lived in by the owner.

    3. Limenotapple*

      I’m in this same situation. We decided to sell. Mostly because it’s an older house and there’s a bigger chance of needing *really* expensive maintenance down the road that will probably not be worth it (for us) in terms of profit.

    4. Someone else*

      Being a landlord is a lot of work. I can’t tell you which option will be right for you, but make sure you think long and hard about whether the effort of renting will be worth it for you, regardless of the financial side. It also depends a bit on expenses in your area, but for me the “profit” margin you cited for repairs wouldn’t be a comfortable buffer for me. If you could sell and make enough to make a substanial down payment on the new house in the newer area, I’d probably go with that because it’s a known quantity: the math works out not or it doesn’t. Renting existing house could change drastically, so while there may be higher upside (if you rent it easily for the amount you hope to, no major repairs, easy tenants who stick around, property values continue to rise) the rental route carries more risk.

    5. Pearly Girl*

      Sell it and use the money to lessen your new mortgage. The lower your mortgage, the sooner you can pay it off and have a mortgage-free retirement.

      I personally don’t think $50-100/mo. is enough of a benefit to keeping a home that you still have to maintain and pay for if you go without renters for any period of time. Plus, for me, it would feel more like an albatross than a asset.

    6. CAA*

      I just read an article by the National Assoc of Realtors yesterday where they estimated what the tax bill will do to house prices in each state. Obviously this is not an unbiased source, and I don’t agree with all their numbers, but I think they are likely correct that house prices will decline if the tax bill becomes law. I also think their reasoning is sound when they say that the negative effect will be felt in every state, and more strongly in places like GA and OH rather than CA and WA. They are basically agreeing with the economists who study this stuff and have been saying for years that the home mortgage deduction is inflating housing prices.

      If I were thinking of moving to a new house within about 50 miles of the current one, my goal would be to buy the new place after the market drops and wait to sell the old one until it recovers in a few years. Given that, I’d plan on renting out the old place. If there’s enough urgency to make the move now, I’d rent something to live in and get tenants into the old house and then start looking to buy in 6 months or so.

      If the tax bill doesn’t pass soon, then I think next year will be a very uncertain period and I’d wait until 2019.

      1. Meredith*

        Thanks for the recommendation to research what the housing market is doing now. We live in Madison, Wisconsin. I purchased my house in 2010 at 145K, and my realtor (who was giving me an estimate based on comparable sales in the neighborhood) thinks it would sell quickly at a 180-190K price point. Obviously, taxes and realtor fees will take a chunk of sale profits. I keep a close watch on home sales in my neighborhood, and I’m comfortable with her estimate. There are two well-rated public schools in the neighborhood and not a lot of rental stock, and I’m beginning to amass some numbers on what rental rates are like here. However, it will be interesting to see how home prices will be impacted over time – we are thinking of making a move in the next year or two, so we’re not in a rush. I think we’re going to see also what interest rates are going to be doing in the next few months, which may force us in one direction or another (or just force us to keep our low-interest mortgage for now and stay where we live now!).

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          We used to live in Madison and found it frustrating to find good rentals for more mature folks NOT in student areas but still close to downtown or west side. This was almost a decade ago now so maybe things have changed a bit, but I think we used Craigslist and in the end finally found something pretty decent that we stayed in for 3.5 years or so while Other Half finished school. But finding that place was luck really, 90% of postings seemed to be of the crappy apartment in a house that had been broken into 5 apartments (badly) on the near east side variety.

          So – if you have something you may rent for a few years depending on your strategy, maybe look into longer short-term rental groups like postdocs, mature students, or visiting researchers.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Unless I had a super good reason for keeping the house, I would ditch it rather than rent it out.

      Your profit margin on this endeavor is scary low in my opinion.

      I have seen enough landlord/tenant situations to know that unless you are working on the high end rentals, this is way more work than you can ever believe.

      It is not a easy income stream. There will be complications and sometimes the complications will have complications.

      Unless the house was of extreme sentimental value OR I needed to retain the property for a while until another specific and trusted person could take ownership then I would not do this.

    8. Landlocked Thalassophile*

      Look at the fine print on your mortgage. It may require your home to be owner-occupied, so retaining it as a rental might mean a refinance, as well. Waaaay back in the day I worked in mortgage loan servicing to pay my way through college, and we had someone who we figured out had taken out TEN mortgages and claimed all of them were owner occupied first homes. It was a mess but he had to refinance most of them.

    9. Epsilon Delta*

      Something else to look into: when you are applying for a mortgage on the new house, will the bank let you count the first house as rental income or will they consider it a debt? Our in-laws own a house and rent one out and were told that in order to count the second house as rental income they had to have rental income from it for 12 consecutive months. Otherwise it is considered a debt and it counts against your debt-to-income ratio. Might vary by bank, but something to ask about!

      1. MCL*

        Thanks! I was definitely wondering how that would work. We’re meeting with a credit union mortgage expert next week to discuss our options and will definitely ask.

  33. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

    London and/or Newcastle folks: anyone want to meet up at some point soon?

    Mostly I’m in southeast London these days but I’m also up in the Newcastle area about once a month. I am one of those sad people who don’t have a lot of friends in real life so it would be nice to occasionally meet up with some friendly people in a pub somewhere.

    Some of the central-ish London pubs I know to be decent and relatively quiet are the Castle (near Farringdon), the Doric Arch or Euston Flyer (Euston), Chandos (near Trafalgar Square but busy if there’s a play on), Doggett’s or the Blackfriar (next to Blackfriars/Tate Modern), Scottish Stores (King’s Cross), the Dickens (St Katherine’s Wharf), the Merchant of Bishopsgate (Liverpool Street), the Draft House (Old Street), the George or St. Christopher (Borough High Street), or further afield if there are a lot of people in a particular area. Newcastle area ones include the Central and the Station (Gateshead), Tilley’s, the Town Wall, or the Forth (off Pink Lane); Newcastle Arms (Chinatown), Bacchus or Lady Grey (near the Theatre Royal), the Botanist (Monument, I’ve never actually been but it’s supposed to be good), Crown Posada (Quayside), Bodega (near the Tyne Theatre).

    Or, you know, there’s probably coffee shops in those cities, too. ;-) (Quilliam Brothers near Newcastle University, for instance, or various chain coffee places in London that are open late).

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          This December or next year? And we can totally do Newcastle (or perhaps even Edinburgh, it’s only about an hour and a half from Newcastle).

          1. caledonia*

            Next year, I’m moving this month otherwise I would actually be in London right now (I had a long weekend booked)

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I work in London and would love you to keep me posted on this idea. Anywhere reasonably central is good for me, so long as it’s not too far from a tube station.

    2. Katie*

      I’m in (central) London, but those places (or pubs in general) are definitely not my scene.

      Good luck and hope you have fun if it goes ahead!

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        We could also do coffee or something if people are not pub goers. I love ale but I also like coffee. :-)

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Coffee sounds great to me. I am really flexible on location so long as it’s within 10 min walk of a tube station (I get tired easily).

        I’m so tempted to turn up with something from the paperchase llama range to signal who I am hahahaha.

    3. Anon for this*

      Although I’ve gone anon to post this, I might be up for meeting up in Newcastle some time after Christmas. Quilliam’s is great but Olive and Bean is a fantastic coffee shop that is always worth a try!

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

        I don’t think I’ve ever been there so I’d be happy to try it!

    4. Potty pooper*

      Vaseline or petroleum-based lotion for the South end (raw from wiping), wet wipes, and put a tv in the bathroom. Loose sweats for prep day and procedure day – don’t want to fiddle with zippers and buttons, and a rule that, if possible, NO ONE else is allowed in ‘your’ bathroom.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’ve had a really stressful day and I just proper cackled out loud at this. Thank you for the stress relief!

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      In London as well – I work South Bank near the Tate but live very near east side, so anywhere between those two (and general vicinity) works for me. I tend to be more of a coffee person these days, but still open to Pub things.

      Post Christmas would probably work best otherwise there are a lot of parties going on right now. Would suggest maybe the Oyster Shed off the Thames Path (near Mansion House), Tate for coffee, El Vino (next to the Blackfriar), or somewhere around Borough Market possibly. I can also make Moorgate/Bank/Lpool St area work too. One other option is that there is a “hidden” Draft House just north of the Tower down a street behind the new Four Seasons (Behind the Pret). You have to know its there, which makes it rather quiet most times :)

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Another vote for post Christmas as I don’t have much spare time or £ left in 2017 really!

    6. Grace Carrow*

      I would definitely be up for meeting in London, anywhere that’s reasonably close to a tube. Before or after Christmas would be fine. Happy to meet in a pub or coffee shop. There are some nice independent coffee cake & ice cream places on Edgware Road that stay open late. (Bakerloo, circle, district & Hammersmith & City lines). Anywhere on those lines or Jubilee line would be perfect for me. I could do pre or post Christmas.

    7. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      In London, but I’ll be gone for most of January. I could maybe do something in February/March.

  34. The Colon Knows?*

    I have to have my first colonoscopy next week and I am panicking about the prep day, like what to eat, how to stay comfortable, etc. Please give me your best tips for surviving prep day and the day-of the appointment itself! I have been reading horror stories online and I’ve freaked myself out.

    1. fposte*

      It’s usually mostly just annoying. Different preps have different levels of intensity, so your experience may depend on just what you’re taking. I’m following up with a link to great collected tips. For me, use a straw, wet your toilet paper, and keep some Vaseline on hand.

    2. Menacia*

      You should have been given instructions for prepping for your colonoscopy, but here are some tips:

      A few days before the colonoscopy procedure — Start a eating a low-fiber: no whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or raw fruits or vegetables.

      The day before the colonoscopy procedure — Don’t eat solid foods. Instead, consume only clear liquids like clear broth or bouillon, black coffee or tea, clear juice (apple, white grape), clear soft drinks or sports drinks, Jell-O, popsicles, etc.

      The day of the colonoscopy procedure — As on the previous day, clear liquid foods only. Don’t eat or drink anything two hours before the procedure.

      You will also be given a prescription for the bowel prep, and depending on which one they choose (pills, GoLytely drink), it can be a little challenging. I am hoping for my next colonoscopy there is a better option because I could barely get the required amount of the liquid own, but I made sure to start eating lightly a few days before which helped me prepare.

      Also, stop reading the horror stories online…! ;)

    3. Nicole*

      I’ve had three colonoscopies and the best thing I ever did was ditch the prescription prep and do the Miralax Gatorade prep instead (Google it). The other stuff made me throw up and just made the process so horrible, but drinking the Gatorade with Miralax was easy and the worst part was how sore your butt gets from all that time on the toilet. I recommend a soft toilet seat if you’re able to swap yours out, some hemorrhoid-specific wet wipes, and lots of reading material!

      Also, don’t worry about the day of because you won’t feel or remember a thing of the procedure. They give you a light sedative that has amnesia qualities so it’s like you take a nap and then you’re done. Good luck!

      1. The Colon Knows?*

        Are you allowed to ditch the prescription prep and just do Miralax and Gatorade? I would like to do that since I’ve read it’s easier but I didn’t know if it would piss off my doctor or if they would even know.

        1. KarenK*

          That’s what I did for my last procedure and I hated it. The other stuff tastes gross, but it worked a lot better.

          1. Nicole*

            The prescription stuff can cause kidney damage (or at least it used to anyway) so for people such as myself the Gatorade combo is safer. What did you hate about it?

            1. fposte*

              I think it depends on what the prescription is for–the sodium phosphate is the one associated with kidney damage, but there are other prescription preps that aren’t sodium phosphate; some of them are basically Miralax with electrolytes and some have other mechanisms of action.

        2. ..Kat..*

          For my colonoscopy, miralax was the prep. You just need to make sure you are taking the correct dose with enough fluid intake.

    4. Lady Jay*

      Had one a few years back. Get a nice, big, dumb magazine for the back of your toilet (I had a bunch of bridal magazines).

    5. Pearly Girl*

      It’s really not that bad! Just get something interesting to read while you’re… um, busy.

      Also, you’re out during the procedure with a wonderful drug that makes you not remember much at all about any of it.

    6. paul*

      Did they give that awful nasty drink? I forget what it’s called but it taste like chalk and uh, it kinda cleans you out. I don’t think I was allowed to eat anything the day before mine, but I also had an endoscopy during it (TUBES IN ALL THE HOLES). So I’m not sure if that was for the colonoscopy or the endoscopy or both.

      Buy baby wipes. You’ll need them.

      1. Nicole*

        I just had an endoscopy recently and the only prep for that was no eating after midnight and no drinking four hours before the procedure. The chalky drink is barium if you need an upper GI. That stuff is even worse than the drink for a colonoscopy and I hope I never need another upper GI again. The nurses were getting so mad at me for not being able to drink it but I have a very sensitive stomach. I once had to drink water with iodine in it for a cat-scan (for a suspected kidney stone) and even though it just tasted like regular water the volume made me sick and I threw up.

        1. fposte*

          Volume is the real challenge with all of this stuff. That’s one of the reason the split prep (some the night before, some the morning of) is becoming more popular–people just couldn’t chug down that amount of liquid, even if it was in Gatorade.

    7. Artemesia*

      there is no ‘what to eat’ you don’t eat. They give you detailed instructions and they start several days before with a limited diet and nothing the day of prep. It is not pleasant but it is not a big deal. You want a comfortable chair and a pile of books in a private space and your own bathroom so you can hole up and drink the disgusting prep materials and proceed. I have done it several times and the prep solutions are increasingly palatable. The first time it was like drinking a gallon of liquid plastic it was awful. The second time it was drinking a gallon of not too unpleasant stuff. The last time I was able to drink a glass of a not horrible flavored liquid and then chase it with a 10 ounce glass of water which was MUCH less unpleasant than the earlier preps. Each time I was drinking a large quantity of liquid about every half hour or so for several hours.

    8. Anono-me*

      Plan to leave a little early for your appointment, in case you need to stop for a bathroom break on the way.

    9. Potty pooper*

      Vaseline or petroleum-based lotion for the South end (raw from wiping), wet wipes, and put a tv in the bathroom. Loose sweats for prep day and procedure day – don’t want to fiddle with zippers and buttons, and a rule that, if possible, NO ONE else is allowed in ‘your’ bathroom.

      And the prep tasted better icy cold.

      1. ..Kat..*

        I found coconut oil works better than Vaseline and other petroleum based products for your derrière. Start using it before your hiney starts hurting. You will need to apply this right at the “opening” of your South end and the near by skin. I also recommend having some adult diapers in your size. When you wake up needing to go,you may not make it to the toilet in time.

    10. the gold digger*

      Mine was fine. The prep was not nearly as bad as everyone says – but stop eating high-fiber foods several days before your prep. And the procedure itself is a piece of cake. I don’t know why there is so much drama about all of this. For me, it was easy.

      Use a straw to drink the solution or chug it (that is, don’t let it hit your tastebuds). I didn’t add the flavoring because lemon-tasting nasty stuff didn’t sound any better than nasty stuff.

      I drank apple juice on prep day and didn’t get hungry. A friend got really good chicken soup at a deli and strained all the solids out.

      I started my prep (working from home) at 2 instead of 5, as I did not want to be up at 11 checking – things.

      It was not that bad! It really wasn’t. And once I was at the clinic, they gave me an IV (that’s the part I was dreading, but the nurse was so good I didn’t even notice) and I was out and then I was done.

    11. Girasol*

      I followed the instructions I was given, which sounded horrible, and it turned out it wasn’t all that bad. For both prep and procedure my imagination was much more awful than reality.

    12. Aphrodite*

      Don’t freak out. It will be fine–at least as fine as something that embarrassing can be.

      Follow your doctor’s instructions about what to eat and drink and when to stop. I have always done better since I tend to stick strictly to water for about 36 hours in advance. I don’t know why I don’t try chicken stock–it would have nutrients water doesn’t have–but I don’t. And I cannot stand jello or anything else on the approved list. Easier to go with water, I guess, as I only want to go through this once (each time). But do have something tasty and easy to eat for afterwards like eggs. However, in my last one with a different doctor, I felt bright, alert and very cheery afterward because he used little anesthesia. I had my driver-friend stop by McDonald’s so I could get a huge burger and fries–and I don’t like fast food but I sure ate that.

      Also embarrassing is preparing for the prep, the worst part by far. I buy Depends, lots of them and have them open and ready to go (I often put on two at once because I do not want accidents. I hate it but the stuff you have to drink is very effective. I also have plenty of bleach and vinegar and -paper towels paper bags inside plastic bags in the bathroom. If I am sitting in the living room I have put down a old towels I got from the thrift store to guard against any accidents but have not had any. The idea is to minimize risk, but I am sorry to say you are not going to enjoy this part. Keep in mind, though, that the “cleaner’ you are the better for the doctor and for your results.

      Good luck and always remind yourself that the procedure is far, far better than the alternative.

    13. Colonel Colon*

      The procedures and advice offered by Nicole is what my doctor had me do. (Gatorade and Miralax.) Complicating things a bit was the fact that my doctor also decided that this would be a good time to do hemorrhoid banding. Afterwards I was mildly alarmed when my doctor informed me that he removed several precancerous polyps (but I’m glad that they were only precancerous and not the full-blown thing).

      My doctor assured me that I could go back to work the next day, so I did. In retrospect, I wish I had taken the day off from work and just stayed home to rest and sleep for a day. I was definitely off of my game at work the day after. Since they found precancerous polyps the first time I’m supposed to go back and have another procedure 3 years after the last one.

      1. the gold digger*

        I took a sick day the day after mostly because our new corporate owners changed our personal days to sick days (yes, I have effectively lost 25% of my vacation time) and I will darned it I am going to let them go unused, but also because I knew the fasting would give me a migraine and I suspected that I would get whatever negative effects might come from the anesthesia because I always get the negative side effects of drugs.

  35. Lady Jay*

    Anything I can do to get my downstairs neighbor to turn down the heat?

    During winter, he puts plastic over the windows, which causes all the heat to rise straight up into my apartment and accumulate there. So it will be 30-40 degrees outside, and I’ll be cracking open windows as I go to bed because it’s 75 in the house even with my own heat completely off. This is uncomfortable for me, especially since I have a skin condition that’s exacerbated by the heat. (I like my home 70-71 during the winter.)

    I’m actually on good terms with this neighbor. We’ve hung out a few times and occasionally swap baked goods. I guess if I were pressed, I’d say there’s not much to be done besides opening my windows more (how do you say, “turn down the heat in your house!”) but thought I’d ask here before I give up altogether.

    1. Kathenus*

      I’ve been there when I lived in apartment buildings. I always just used the windows to regulate the temperatures as you mentioned. I was trying to write a potential script of how to bring it up in a more neutral way, but can’t come up with anything that doesn’t sound like you’re asking him to lower the heat even if he prefers it as is. I’ve lived places with such drafty windows that I had to use the plastic – because otherwise there were whole sections of living space that were too uncomfortable to use – that may be his issue. I’d just keep opening the windows as needed. One of the quirks of apartment living.

      1. fposte*

        I’m in agreement. I mean, if merely putting plastic over the windows raises the temperature of *your* apartment that much, those are hella drafty windows that I can’t blame somebody for wanting to block.

        I’d add a fan to the window usage to spread the cool better.

      2. Lady Jay*

        Sadly, I’m in a rural part of the country. An open window can sometimes carry the lovely scent of eau de cow. :)

    2. INTP*

      I definitely don’t think that there is any way that you can reasonably ask him to turn the heat down and keep his apartment cooler. You can’t ask him to be cold so that you won’t be hot, and chances are he keeps it at that temp because he gets cold when it’s cooler. It *might* be possible to ask him to remove the plastic from his windows so the heat leaks out instead of just up, but only if the heat is included in your rent, so you aren’t asking him to pay more, and you have individual control over the heat in your own apartments so that he would definitely be able to crank up the heat more to maintain the same temperature. Even then, he may refuse if he’s environmentally conscious or spends a lot of time near his windows.

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I’m replying so late you might not ever see this — I’m not sure if the heating ducts are in the floor or ceiling of his apartment. If they are in the ceiling, it could be that they aren’t sealed or insulated very well, so all of his heat is rising rather than making his apartment warmer, which means he needs to run it more in order to keep warm. If you approach him, you could suggest that you each pay half on some sort of HVAC inspection to see how efficient the system is. He might be spending a fortune on heat and would love to reduce his costs. Alternatively, is there any way to increase the insulation or create a barrier between your apartment and his without his input, like adding rugs?

  36. Merci Dee*

    Goodness gracious. My mom just stopped by to pick up my daughter for their traditional day of Christmas shopping. Mom takes her out so that kiddo can choose presents for me and my dad without us along on the trip. Kiddo looks forward to the shopping trip, and gets so excited when she and mom start planning for it. No telling when they’ll finally get home.

      1. Merci Dee*

        They were gone for about 3 hours, and were giggling and whispering when they got back. I’m pretty sure they were very pleased with the gifts they managed to find today. :)

    1. Courtney*

      Aw, this sounds very nice! I just showed my kids things online and had them pick something out to be their present to dad, haha.

      1. Merci Dee*

        After they got back from shopping, kiddo and I went out for shopping of our own. Mom had given her a few ideas for gifts for my dad, so we picked up something for him. Also got my mom a gorgeous pullover sweater, since that’s what she asked for.

    2. Windchime*

      My mom used to do this with my kids when they were little. They all looked forward to it. She would then take them back to her house so they could wrap their gifts with her paper and tape. So much fun!

      1. Merci Dee*

        My mom usually takes care of the wrapping, so that’ll be done separately. But kiddo and I will go to mom and dad’s place this coming Friday to help them decorate their Christmas tree. Kiddo loves doing that – my folks have a larger and more elaborate tree than we do, since they don’t have a cat that would try to climb it. :)

    3. Artemesia*

      Oh that is a great tradition, I should do that with my granddaughter. We do lots of things together but I hadn’t thought of that and she is getting old enough to do that.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Mom’s been taking kiddo Christmas shopping since she was about 4, and she’s 13 this year. I suspect they’ll still be going out for their annual shopping trip right up until kiddo heads off to college in 5 years or so.

        5 years until college. Now I’m feeling a little light headed. O_o

  37. fposte*

    Stains! Some people before recommended Nature’s Miracle as an enzymatic cleaner that “lifts” stains. I was keen to try it, but then I saw that “Nature’s Miracle” is a brand name and the product line is extensive. If I want to try an enzymatic cleaner, what product, not just brand, should I look at, either in the NM line or another one?

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      I’ve had great luck with NM Original Stain and Odor Remover. I have cats, so I’ve also used the Just For Cats formula of the Stain and Odor Remover, but I don’t find a huge difference either way.

    2. Temperance*

      Are you looking for something to clean pet stains, or something else? I second Valancy’s recommendation of the NM Original brand, but I’ve only used it for pet issues.

      1. fposte*

        Food stains on carpet and upholstery–areas where lifting the stain sounds a lot better than just smushing it around in place.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I use the Original also. Link in reply below.

      I see the instructions say not to use it on leather, but I used it on suede and it was indeed a miracle. It could be that they have changed their formula. I tried it because the jacket was ruined, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. It worked.
      I used in the laundry for any stain from a natural source such as blood or grass stains. I don’t use it on garden dirt knees though. I just scrub with a scrub brush in that case. I have also used it on food stains on clothing and upholstery/rugs. The trick is to get the stain as soon as possible. And this rule goes for any stain and any product, sooner is always better than later.

      It does great with coffee on the rug. Spray the stain. Come back later and the stain is gone. Other situations may require more effort such as several applications or blotting up excess fluid etc.

      1. nonegiven*

        In regular laundry, Biz. Biz used to be just a powder but it comes in other forms, I think now. We’d make a paste with the enzyme cleaner powder and rub into the stain on both sides of the fabric and let it sit for 20 minutes, then wash. Check the stain to see if it needs to be repeated because once you dry it, the stain is harder to get out. I had a report from someone who I suggested it to, that it got (nursing home worker) poop stain out of white polyester.

  38. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    We changed our Facebook status to “Engaged” last night. It’s finally official! (No ring selfie, it feels a bit showy and I’m a slight introvert). A ton of privacy settings on. Now comes the planning but we’ve calendared it all so it’s good knock on wood.

    1. How do you enjoy SO quality time that is nonwedding related aka pure relaxation? (Eg. Watch a movie? Go for a walk?)
    2. Any easy cookie recipes? My brains exhausted from this week. In a good way.

    The people who:
    1. Need to know (eg. Groomsmen) know and
    2. Are 100% supportive know.
    Privacy settings on, and hoping for peace on earth and all that….

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      It wasn’t ostensibly a non-wedding activity as it was something we did for the wedding, but we had a few private dancing lessons and it was so much fun and made us laugh.

    2. Bryce*

      Mazel tov! I was just about to make some oatmeal raisin cookies that I remember being simple, lemme photo the recipe.