weekend free-for-all – December 30-31, 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: Mortified: Love Is a Battlefield, by David Nadelberg. I’m obsessed with the Mortified podcast (based on the Mortified stage show where people read their real-life diaries and letters from adolescence, and believe me, the name fits), and this is a book with more of the same. I’ve recommended their first book in the past as well, and their entire empire is delightful.

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

{ 1,637 comments… read them below }

    1. Overeducated*

      I’m not going that far but I definitely feel like I need a dietary overhaul involving much less butter and sugar and much more vegetables and beans. (Almost interested in the Whole 30 idea but honestly I don’t quite have the time to cook those menus.)

      1. Samata*

        I did the Whole30 without cooking at all. It was pretty easy to stay compliant. By way of salads. Lots and lots of salad with O&V.

      1. Fiennes*

        I did a thing for a while where one meal of the day was vegan, another was vegetarian, and only one involved meat. It allowed for a lot of flexibility while still challenging me to get creative with options, and greatly decreased my meat intake. My partner and I are considering starting this up again soon.

        1. Helpful*

          It really gets you eating more fruits and vegetables, which is a major win. Once you take away cheese and crackers as a legitimate lunch, you have to be way more creative. :)

          1. Overeducated*

            I tried that one year…the problem for me was that I love dinner leftovers for lunch, so getting that creative was not a fun change! (Also, almond milk in my coffee.) Might have to try for a modification like meatless Mondays, but vegan.

    2. Book Lover*

      I have officially eaten too much of everything. However, I pretty much enjoyed it, and will choose to worry about it on Monday :)

        1. JD*

          This is what we are saying today. I am hungry as heck today however as everything I ordered to eat yesterday was prepared wrong to the point of me barely wanting to eat it. I don’t like onions people!! Arg. Hoping for decent food today and then laying off the booze and Fat Tuesday.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I’m not personally going that far but I typically cut waaaay back on sugar in January and try to do a general diet reset. No sweet baked goods or dessert, avoid adding sugar, avoid French fries, that sort of thing.

      1. Samata*

        I like the no baked goods or deserts for January. Those are my weaknesses for the most part and if I can get out of the habit of them my life gets much easier.

    4. Rainy*

      I’ve been sick since the Thursday before Christmas, and wasn’t able to eat anything but tea and crackers until just the other day. All my grand plans for delicious holiday food…just didn’t happen. :/

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      Normally I overindulge in some kind of food (cheese, sweets) in December. This leaves me feeling chubby.

      This December I have been overindulging in alcohol, so now I feel chubby AND dehydrated. :/

    6. Coywolf*

      Well I went vegan 2 years ago and cheese was the hardest thing to resist but if you keep it up long enough your taste buds change and even if you ate cheese again it probably wouldn’t taste as good as it used to! Little by little I’ve become more sensitive to salty and high fat foods, they taste too salty or feel too oily to me all of a sudden and cheese is both of those things! Good luck!

    7. GirlwithaPearl*

      I’m doing a January Whole 30 and cannot wait.

      First I need to consume all the cheese in my fridge. Also the wine.

      1. Pretend Scientist*

        One of my co-directors at work did this with Moe’s queso. It was delivered by a Pharma rep, I think, and she took a ton home in a coffee travel mug, ate it all, and subsequently wanted to die the next morning. She said that she felt dehydrated from all the salt more than anything else.

  1. I Love Thrawn*

    I hope this is ok; if not I understand if it gets removed. I’m only posting here because we are kind of desperate. My cat Toby is 13 years old, an orange tabby. He came into my life when he was three weeks old, found in someone’s car engine on a cold day. I believe that loss of his mother too early led to his health issues in his senior years, which I’ve managed until now. Right now, we are dealing with his need for a dental procedure for his resorptive lesions; teeth are being reabsorbed into his jaw. Surgery is required now. Extraction if we are lucky, but it might need his jaw drilled into. This is painful and progressive. And do I need to add expensive?

    I started a GoFundMe for him, but my problem now is one of exposure. Just don’t know enough people, and my social media prescence is almost non existent, so our success here is probably not going to happen. If anyone is interested in contributing or even passing the word on to others, purrhaps, I would be grateful. Prayers and good thoughts for his procedure and recovery are also very welcome. Details can be found at GoFundMe by searching for Toby dental surgery, Tallahassee. He’s the cute orange cat. Thanks and Happy New Year!

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Good luck. I hope you can get the money – it’s amazing how much it improves their quality of life, even though they feel a bit crap for a little afterwards.

    2. Tara*

      You should try posting the page to reddit at reddit.com/r/assistance and reddit.com/r/gofundme.

      They have a couple thousand subscribers each. I’ve also seen people post albums of cute cat pictures to imgur.com with the story of how you got the cat, pictures throughout its life, what’s happening now and a link to the gofund me page in the text at the end.

      1. Safetykats*

        My cat just has two teeth extracted for the same issue; it is expensive. I’m going to share your gofundme on my FB and I hope it helps. You can also try angels4animals.org or graciesmission.org, they are organizations that provide help with vet bills.

        1. Safetykats*

          Also make sure when you share your gofundme on FB that you make the post public. You can change the privacy settings for that post only. That way your FB friends can share it more widely. I mention that because while I can find the gofundme on their site, I can’t find it searching FB – so I think you might be sharing it with a narrow privacy setting.

      2. I Love Thrawn*

        I just put him on the reddit page. Wow, there are some seriously heart breaking requests on that page.

    3. Former Employee*


      If you can’t raise all of the money on your own, contact Red Rover (link, above). They help people with expenses they can’t cover for their animal’s medical needs, among other things. Just go to their site, click on resources at the top and under that there is “apply for help”.

      Best of luck to you and Toby. Please let us know what happens.

    4. AnonAndOn*

      Unfortunately I can’t donate due to going through financial difficulties, but I shared it to my social media. Good luck in getting the help you need!

    5. Eagan and Rory's Meowma*

      I love ginger kitties! Toby is so precious. I have two of my own. We’ve donated and my kitties have shared the GoFundMe link on their Instagram account, they have about 600 followers, so hopefully that helps! Have a lovely New Year!

    6. Alison Read*

      I rarely read the open thread, I’m glad I did today. I wish your little wooby the best possible health, I couldn’t spare much but hopefully a bunch of little donations will add up to get him the treatment he needs. Kudos for taking on what to most cats would be a death sentence. I am encouraged by the other poster’s comment that their wooby improved after the same treatment.

      1. I Love Thrawn*

        We really appreciate it. And your lil guy is so cute! That face, oh my goodness. I’ve heard from other cat moms on this subject; I am nervous about it, but we have to do this for him. Happy New Year!

    7. MsChanandlerBong*

      Good luck to Toby! I wish I could have given more, but my job situation just changed, so we have to tighten our belts for a few weeks. Hopefully, a lot of little donations will add up to the amount you need.

      1. I Love Thrawn*

        Thanks so much ! So many people have been so kind to Toby today. I told him so too. Happy New Year.

    8. AnonEMoose*

      I’m not in a position to donate just now, but I shared the GoFundMe to a group I’m in on Facebook that I know really loves their kitties (and dogs, and birds, and…). Very best of luck to you and Toby!

    9. Pretend Scientist*

      Donated. We have had many cat health issues this year and lost Diego in March to a pituitary tumor, and Bubby passed away from end-stage FIV on 12Dec. Difficult as it has been, I have been mindful that we have been incredibly lucky to be able to afford regular, specialty and emergency vet visits (feline neurologist? who knew?!)–quality veterinary care is so expensive. We spent NYE last year at PVSEC in Pittsburgh with Diego (Toby looks a lot like him). I hope he has a successful procedure and full recovery. My parents’ cat had abscessed teeth removed soon after they adopted her ~10 years ago, and the recovery (and her new-found enthusiasm for pain-free eating) was great.

      1. I Love Thrawn*

        Thank you so much for your kindness. I’ve been able to keep up with his more routine illnesses and needs, it’s just that this particular issue has such a high price tag. Happy New Year!

    10. Bye Academia*

      I donated! I hope you are close enough that you can go through with the surgery. My cat had a dental a few months ago and it really does make a difference. Good luck!

      1. I Love Thrawn*

        Thanks!! Yep, we are very close now. Maybe another week, factoring in all logistics. The kindness of strangers has been amazing.

  2. Courtney*

    Tell me how you celebrate New Years Eve if you stay at home for it! Since having kids my husband and I usually end up falling asleep before midnight hits, but we’ve had a very hectic month and I’m looking for inspiration on ways to make the night a little more special once the kids are in bed.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      For the last few years we’ve spent NYE with 2 other families. Our kids are all friends, so they all run around together, and the adults hang out drinking cocktails. We always have dinner too. This year I’m going to make a leg of lamb. My mom brought it over a few months ago, and it’s been in my freezer. She found it on sale at the grocery store and couldn’t pass it up.

      1. Courtney*

        This sounds really fun! Most of our friends are childfree and will be going out, but a good idea for if we ever find some parent friends.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          It’s hard to find parent friends that you get along with, and who have kids you get along with. We were really lucky. One family had the in-home daycare my daughter went to for about 4 years, and we got to be good friends with them, and my daughter is close friends with their kids. The other family has been friends with them for years — they all went to high school together. Their son is the same age as my daughter, and they are best buddies and are in the same class. And we’ve become close friends with them too.

      2. blackcat*

        This is what I did as a kid! Tons of fun. Everyone (adults included) slept over.

        Just as a warning, though, starting around 14, we were able to sneak booze out from under the adults noses. In retrospect, it is entirely possible the adults decided we were old enough and the environment was safe enough that they didn’t care.

        1. the gold digger*

          At a family reunion where a lot of people were camping, I said something to my cousin about all the drinking teenagers. She replied that she wanted her kids to have a miserable drinking experience in an environment where they were not driving and there were adults around.

    2. Overeducated*

      This isn’t quite what you’re asking, but I like the New Year’s Day brunch substitute – celebration with food at a time i am more awake.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        We are doing this for the first time this year with three other families and I am looking forward to it!

    3. Adjunct Gal*

      I’d be curious too. Technically It’s our dating anniversary also, but getting a sitter for NYE is $$$ as well as next to impossible. We used to go out to see friends, but now that we have a dog also…well, it’s just better to stay home.

      Maybe games, a fancier dinner than usual, a little wine, and a good movie?

    4. another Liz*

      When I was little, my parents did parties like Ann’s, kids downstairs adults upstairs. It was a blast.

      This year, it’s been super hectic. We’re doing a movie and some wine by the Christmas tree.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I’m usually in bed by 10:30 or so, so we really don’t do anything; it’s a regular night for us. In years past we would buy some cheese and crackers, and maybe some shrimp cocktail. We’d watch the ball drop and then head to bed. Real party animals, we are.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Last year I told my family about how they have Netflix countdown videos so parents can trick younger children into going to bed earlier. Around 10:00 pm, my sixteen-year-old son said, “Mom, can you “trick” us with one of those videos? I’m tired.” So we played a countdown video, had a champagne/sparkling grape juice toast, and went to bed.

        1. Courtney*

          I saw the NYE thing on our Kid profile but didn’t realize what it was – I’ll definitely have to check that out!

    6. Windchime*

      I always stay home for New Years Eve. I am just not much of a partier or drinker. I live in a place with easy access to illegal fireworks, so it’s usually impossible to sleep before midnight because of the fireworks/explosions happening all around. So I get myself a nice snack and do a project while the Twilight Zone marathon (Syfy channel) plays in the background. Last year I cleaned my master bedroom closet.

      Yeah. So it’s pretty wild around here.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t do much either, but this year I was invited over to a friend’s house. We’ll probably just play cards or something. I was kind of hoping for a party, but it’s going to be so frickin cold. Ugh.

    7. The gold digger*

      Best party ever was NY’s Eve in Paris: party started about 4:00 p.m. central and was over by 8:00 p.m.

    8. DanaScully*

      We have a Chinese takeaway and pop a bottle of something fizzy. Usually we watch the New Years specials on TV and join in the countdown.

    9. Book Lover*

      I can’t keep my eyes open past about 10, so we do a lovely family dinner, put the kids to bed as usual, and go to sleep before the fireworks start. Sorry, not what you are looking for, but the kids are going to be bouncing out of bed at 6 and that means getting some sleep if I am going to be functional.

    10. tab*

      My husband and I always stay in. I don’t like to be on the roads early New Years morning. I make cheese fondue with broccoli & cauliflower for dipping, and I get a tiny dessert from Whole Foods. I always stay up ’till midnight, but my husband doesn’t bother. We have brunch with friends late the next morning.

    11. Peggy*

      My wife and I had an exhausting year. Usually we go to a party, but this year we’re going to cook a feast (filet Mignon and shrimp) and make mocktails and watch movies. We’re in our 3rd round of IUI, we’ll find out if she’s pregnant next week, so we’re not drinking. We’re way overdue for a quiet night in just the two of us!

    12. Incantanto*

      Going to a social dance (contra) to dance the night away then going to the afterparty at the callers house. Have been told to bring dance shoes and wine. Should be fun.
      Unfortunately its a hour away by train and strikes are looming

    13. Suddenly Free*

      Up till this year we’d mostly stay in and *try* to stay awake for the fireworks, with varying success. Occasionally we’ve had friends over, eaten lots of yummy food, booze for those who partake, etc. This is our first year without spouse/dad. We’re having a few close friends over. Hoping to start the new year on a positive note. 2017 was brutal.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I will be on my own, so I have ordered a festive meal which just requires reheating and will perhaps go out briefly to see the fireworks, but it has been really cold and snowy here.

      2. Nines*

        I’m sorry for your loss. The first holidays are always tough without the presence of a loved one. I’m glad you will have some friends over to spend the time with. That has helped our extended family immensely with the loss we had this year.

      3. Connie-Lynne*

        I lost my husband as well this year; you have my sympathy.

        I’m gonna have a far more mellow new year this year.

    14. Laura*

      Honestly, at my house it’s 2 things- our favorite contraband- for me that’d be Cheeto puffs, Oreos, Easy Cheese-the spray can stuff, American flavor-, and ritz crackers- and the Twilight Zone Marathon on theSci Fi channel.

      Seeing as I’m fighting off the ick this year, prolly gonna be modified.

    15. Nines*

      We usually just do a movie with something bubbly at midnight. This year we’re trying something new to incorporate the seven year old and I’m really excited about it! We have a local Native American organization that focuses on substance abuse and they do a huge pow wow every year all day long. So we’re taking the kiddo this year. Not sure we’ll make it to midnight, but I’m excited to have a family friendly celebratory event for us to go to this year.

    16. Gadfly*

      Netflix? Snacks? Reading? Bubble bath?Calling and chatting with people? I don’t know. I’ve been old and boring since before I was young.

      Neo-pagan rituals (SMIB!) is my back up plan, but I’m leaning Netflix.

    17. anon24*

      I don’t have kids, but I’m very laid back, don’t like crowds or parties, and don’t drink, so I always stay home on NYE. I would love to have a few people over to chill, but I don’t have any friends and all my husband’s friends are partiers and drinkers. The two of us usually stay home and snack on food, shrimp, cheese, crackers, etc. This year we made caramel popcorn and I’m going to make cinnamon buns so it will be a true junk food fest that will probably have us both wondering why on earth we ate so much. We usually watch a movie or he plays video games and I read. I don’t usually bother to stay up, he stays up and watches the ball drop on his tablet and then goes to bed. We’re so boring :)

    18. oranges & lemons*

      I usually cook something nice and have a few people over. This year is paella and a few simple tapas. Still refining the menu…

    19. Aphrodite*

      I’m having four friends over for NYE from about 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. We’ll snack on salad, tomato soup, and some of the frozen appetizers from TJ’s as well as champagne, sparkling water and white pomegranate tea as we chat, laugh and play board games. It may not be exciting to some but it works for us–and we all still get to be in bed at an early, reasonable time. (We are at the age where that is a wonderful thing.)

    20. Connie-Lynne*

      Usually my Burning Man village goes off into the mountains to celebrate and have a campout at a 4H camp.

      This year, the logistics of me getting there are too much (I have PTSD that makes it hard for me to drive alone, particularly over bridges and mountainous areas). But I’m really looking forward to hanging out with another friend, in town. We’re going to get together and cook a big dinner and just enjoy hanging out.

    21. Clever Name*

      I’m not really big on going out for NYE. I remember my parents had big parties when I was growing up. Grown ups would play board games and the kids would play the Nintendo in the basement. So now that I have my own kid, I like to have friends over and do the same. I’m newly divorced this year, and I’m having a few girlfriends bring their kids and we’ll celebrate together. I just hope I can make it to midnight!

    22. Ramona Flowers*

      We are staying in and I’m so happy. We were meant to go to the local pub with friends. Husband said he wasn’t sure he wanted to bother and apparently the look on my face showed how thrilled I would be to just stay in. We have pizza and Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit and lots of snacks!

    23. Bluebell*

      Visiting nearby friends for dinner -which almost counts as staying home. They have a fireplace though which makes it nicer, and we make dinner together, and have fancy hors d’ouevres.

    24. AnonEMoose*

      We’re doing a night in. Probably movies and watching a countdown video with a non-alcoholic toast at midnight. Doing a light dinner as I woke up with a pretty unhappy stomach this morning. Though it’s doing better now.

    25. Die Forelle (The Trout)*

      My husband and I are livestreaming the Phish concert at Madison Square Garden and we have some champagne to enjoy. He’s the Phish fan and I’m on here/reading a book when the jams start to drag.

      We can see our city’s fireworks display from our apartment building roof, so we’ll probably go up there to watch that if we stay awake until midnight. I’ve always enjoyed a quieter New Year’s Eve. My family would get together with another family who had daughters who are about the same age as me and my sister. We’re scattered to the four winds now, but I’ve enjoyed seeing glimpses of everyone’s at-home celebrations on my social media feeds today.

  3. Ann Furthermore*

    Also, it’s the one night of the year when we all tell the kids they can stay up as late as they want.

  4. Bibliovore*

    okay, finally, finally , finally feel human again. Two rounds of antibiotics and steroids. Anxiety rising about the thing we do not discuss on weekends. On the other hand, it is thirteen below zero and I don’t have to be anywhere.I have a stack of books to read. A warm dog who understands how to use a pee pad, gas fire, and enough food in the fridge for the duration. There will be laundry, a lot of reading, and maybe something in the Instant Pot. I might bake something.

    1. nep*

      Feels great to feel human again after being through the wringer like that, doesn’t it? Glad to hear you’re feeling better. And that you don’t have to be anywhere in this freaking uninhabitable weather.
      What are you reading?

      1. Bibliovore*

        Top of the pile is How to Read Nancy by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden, Pablo And Birdy by Alison McGhee, and an advance of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, Holt, March 2018.

    1. nep*

      Same. It’s to the point we are glad when it gets to the teens or — heat wave — 20s. And it’s supposed to stay this cold through next weekend. Ugh. Hate. (One consolation — not a lot of new snow right now. No way I would shovel in this brutal cold — too dangerous.)

    2. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Me too. and it snowed yesterday, so I need to go out to shovel it. It’ll take me 10 minutes to get outside with all the bundling. :(

    3. WellRed*

      I know most people hate winter, but I like it for the most part because:
      an excuse to be all warm and cozy indoors with tea and a big stack of reading
      sparkling snow and giant ice stalactites are pretty
      sea smoke if you live by the sea
      fewer bugs
      noisy neighbors are stuck inside too!
      It’s -13 where I am.

    4. Middle School Teacher*

      I’m so tired of the cold. Apparently yesterday it was warmer on Mars than it was here.

      1. Former Employee*

        It was about 80 in L.A. on Friday. It should be somewhere in the 70’s for the next several days and then drop into the 60’s.

        I’m glad it will be warm for the Rose Parade since people camp out overnight. Should be in the upper 40’s/lower 50’s New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day in the early morning. I don’t recall exactly when, but several years ago, it was so cold New Year’s Eve night that they put out hypothermia warnings for the people camped out on the street. Yes, it was in the very low 30’s. And people wonder why someone like me who lives in SoCal owns a coat!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          With climate change making the weather so unpredictable, I would definitely keep one coat if/when I move out there! Besides, you might want to go into the mountains, where it’s definitely much cooler.

    5. Tris Prior*

      I’m really grateful that I (mostly) don’t have to go out again until Wednesday when I am back at work. Though we have to do a grocery run today. Booooo. Last I checked it was SEVEN degrees out. Which, at least it’s above zero? Ugh, this sucks.

  5. C Average*

    I’m writing this on a plane to Honolulu, where I am having what I’m describing to friends as a little offsite with myself.

    I’m going to spill my guts here, because I’ve always valued this community as a safe place to share personal and work-related things.

    My life has been in such a skid the last few years. A decade ago, I had a job I loved at a company I’d long aspired to work for.

    Then I took a promotion I should have passed up and ended up in a dead-end role I sucked at, working for a manager I couldn’t stand.

    Around the same time I married a guy with two kids. I had some trepidation about this, but I loved him and got along well with the kids, who lived with us part-time.

    Everything has gone so wrong.

    A series of family tragedies landed the kids with us full-time. I left my job to take care of them. The older kid was severely traumatized by everything that happened, and she turned the full force of her pain and rage on me. For several years I endured psychological and emotional abuse from her, as well as physical threats. Her father chose not to get involved.

    Then my sister got cancer. She’s okay now, but it’s been a very difficult journey.

    I left my husband in the spring. The divorce will be final in the next couple of months. I live alone with my cat. I work retail—I haven’t had much luck jump-starting my stalled career. I’m really happy doing what I’m doing, but it’s paycheck to paycheck. It’s hard. It’s probably always going to be hard.

    The political events of the past few years have been really hard for me, too.

    It hasn’t been all awful. I had an irregular mammogram that turned out to be nothing. I took some design classes and am gaining skills in sewing, something I’ve always loved. I wrote a first draft of a novel and am working on the revision. I’ve found a few wonderful friends. I have a tiny, beautiful, affordable apartment in an area that’s in the city but feels like the country. I got a new-to-me car in the divorce settlement and sometimes on my day off I drive out to the coast, and no one tells me when I need to be home. I’m closer to my sister than I’ve ever been; we both call ourselves survivors.

    I really want 2018 to be the year the skid ends. I know worse things have happened to better people, I know everyone is fighting some kind of battle, I know I still have a lot to be thankful for. I’m trying. But it would sure be nice to catch a few breaks.

    I had a huge airline credit from a trip to Europe I was supposed to take with my ex and his kids. It needed to be used soon, and it’s hard to get much time off working retail. So I am blowing the whole thing on three days in Hawaii for New Year’s. Yeah, it’s a little crazy. But I’ve been dealing with so much of the bad kind of crazy that I’m ready for a little bit of the good kind.

    Happy New Year to Alison and to all of you here. I hope it’s a great year for all of you. You’re a wonderful community, and I’ve learned so much great stuff here. You’ve been a consistently bright spot in a pretty dark world, and I’m so grateful for all of you.

    1. Caledonia*

      Ah I’m sorry to hear of your troubles C Average. I am glad that you are taking the air miles and doing something with it for yourself.

      Hope 2018 is good to you and your family in the ways which this last year has not.

    2. Purple Snowdrop*

      My god. I knew things had been tough for you but not this bad.
      My 2017 has been pretty shitty, too. I hope for better things for you and me in 2018. Keep posting. It’s made a world of difference to me, having this community supporting me. Take care.

    3. Hrovitnir*

      Oh man, that is so many hard things! I hope you have a great New Year and 2018 is an upward trend. A trip to Hawaii for New Years doesn’t sound crazy at all. I really hope you enjoy it.

    4. patricia*

      I know what you mean about the last few years being the skid into awfulness. Same here, for a variety of reasons. Happy new year to you, I hope the Hawaiian vacation helps (at least you’ll be warm while most of the rest of us freeze our collective tuchas off!) and I hope 2018 is less of a dumpster fire. Hugs to you, internet friend.

        1. BatteryB*

          Thirded. FWIW, I’ve always enjoyed your posts. I’ve spent a lot of time in the archives and had wondered how you were.

    5. Windchime*

      It sounds like you have had a really rough year, but you are doing an excellent job of taking care of yourself. I’m so glad that you are taking a little break to enjoy the beauty that is Hawaii. Here’s to 2018 being a much, much better year for you.

    6. Book Lover*

      New Year in Hawaii sounds like a perfect way to kick start 2018 for you. I am so sad things have been so terrible but it sounds like you are making a great new beginning for yourself. I hope your retail job allows you a bit of spare time to apply for jobs in other areas, and that you get back into an area that you love.

    7. Enough*

      Sounds like a wonderful way to have a reset and new focus for the new year. From postings I know that you were trying to help these children and really cared. Unfortunately when they are in that much pain it is so much easier to attack the outsider than to admit that your parents have messed up big time and that you can love and hate them at the same time.
      So I toast to you and all those who are making 2018 a fresh start.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Aww, C, I am so sorry.
      I will say this, I watched your stories and you went above and beyond in trying to help your ex and kids. You put your all into it. You were exemplary in your unselfish choices. But we can’t help people who don’t want to be helped and this is a profoundly sad conclusion to reach.

      You are very gifted with insight. There were quite a few times I was struck by what you said of this or that. I hope your next career path allows you to use it with people who actually want to be helped. Hang on to the fact that no experience is ever wasted. You have seen and learned so much, this will be a help to you moving forward.

      Let us know how Hawaii is, okay?

      1. C Average*

        Your wise, kind words always mean so much to me, NSNR.

        Hawaii was wonderful. The beach, the stairs at Koko Head, the beach, watching New Year’s Eve fireworks from the lanai, eating the best pineapple I have ever tasted, the beach. . . it was a fast trip, but managed to be everything I hoped for and more. I’m getting through, and I’m going to be okay.

        Peace out, 2017.

    9. Update on he wants a baby*

      I’m so sorry to hear how hard everything has been and I’m glad you feel like you can share and get support here.. I think a trip to Hawaii sounds like a fabulous idea. I will lift my glass to you, to me, and anyone else who needs it on New Year’s Eve for a better 2018 (if I get out to get something to put in said glass in this subzero weather).

    10. fposte*

      I’m so glad you’re finding a chance to do something for yourself.

      Sometimes, no matter how much good will and effort we put out, we can’t make life go the way we want it to. But the way it does go can still be valid and rewarding. I hope it is so for you.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year. You’ve accomplished and endured so much, I hope this is the start of better times for you. Happy 2018!

    11. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’ve always looked forward to your comments here and missed them when you’ve taken breaks from commenting. I’m sorry to hear that things have been rough for you for a while. It sounds as if you still have a lot going for you, and I hope things get so much better in 2018.

    12. A bit of wisdom*

      To C-Average: I hope 2018 is the year things turn around. I’m rooting for you!

      To others: this is a cautionary lesson that one hears all too often. Do not sacrifice your economic livelihood/self-sufficiency to become a caregiver.

      I am sure some out there will disagree; I don’t think this is the place to debate it, so I’ll just say up-front that YMMV, but also that you never think it will happen to you.

      1. Hildegard Von Bingen*

        Thank you. I agree. I’ll never forget my first full-time job out of college. I was a Claims Rep for Social Security. A woman who’d stayed home all of her life to take care of her family got dumped by her husband. She was in her late 40s – early 50’s -with no kids under 22 (so mother’s benefits were out), she wasn’t blind or disabled (so, no SSI, a means-tested federal welfare program), and her cheating soon-to-be-ex was still alive. She had no earnings record of her own. She had no savings of her own and no traditional outside-the-home job skills or experience.

        She came in assuming she’d get some kind of benefit payment. I had to tell her that she didn’t qualify at that point. I’ll never forget the look of terror and panic in that woman’s eyes, or how she asked me, “What am I supposed to do?” I winged it, with recommendations for job training, food banks, Social Services, Section 8 housing. I also suggested she get herself a human shark for an attorney and take her husband to the cleaners in the divorce settlement if she possibly could.

        But this woman was middle class, and it was as if I were speaking Greek to her. She couldn’t imagine herself using such services. It was heartbreaking. That encounter helped shape my decisions forever afterwards. A total eye-opener. All these years later, I still think of her often. I hope it all worked out OK for her.

      2. C Average*

        This comment has been in my head ever since I first read it.

        As general advice, yes, I co-sign it with all my heart. Don’t step out of the workforce without realizing that stepping back in at the same level might not be possible, especially as time passes.

        At the same time, I don’t know how to think about my own situation. When I left my job to try to stabilize the household in the wake of the original tragedy (the kids’ mom’s loss of her home in a house fire—the kids were with her when it happened and landed with us full-time afterward because she was struggling to find a place to live and then to furnish it), I figured I could freelance, do some contract work for my former employer, stuff like that.

        But then tragedy compounded tragedy. My husband’s ex—the girls’ mom—has a very scary mental health episode while they were with her, leading to total estrangement between the older girl and her. The girl subsequently developed a severe eating disorder, a lot of self-harm behaviors, and generally a lot of behaviors not indicative of a healthy mind.

        I crammed calories into her. I begged my ex to get her into therapy. I drove her to the therapist and the nutritionist, all under the white-hot glare of her utter contempt for me. I hosted her friends, I lent her my stuff, I read the books she enjoyed to look for common ground, I took her to my parents’ house for holidays so she wouldn’t have to navigate contact with her mother that she wasn’t ready for. I held as much space for her as I was capable of holding—frankly, more. Under the guidance of a good therapist, I am finally being real with myself about just how very hard it was, and for how long.

        I sincerely believe she might well not be alive if it weren’t for those efforts. I occasionally speak to my ex, and I know she has spent the past three months in an inpatient facility. He is worried that she hasn’t made more progress. He dreads her coming home. He doesn’t know how to deal with her. I think he’s finally beginning to understand a little of what it was like for me. (She loves him and is affectionate with him, which probably makes it a little different.)

        My point, and I do have one, is that I don’t know how to look at a sixteen-year-old girl’s life and say, “No, I should have stayed in my career track.” If I had to do it again, knowing I have possibly many years of underemployment and financial struggle ahead, I still would. Saving her when she didn’t want to be saved is the most important thing I’ve ever done. I hope my ex and the team of professionals helping her can finish the job, and set her up for a good life that she can come to value.

        (At the same time, I hope I never lay eyes on her again. The thing she did that finally ended our relationship can be forgiven, but not forgotten. Wherever she goes from here in life, she’ll have to get there without my help. Yes, I am still bitter. Working on that.)

    13. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Blowing the miles on a Hawaii trip sounds like just the ticket after all that you’ve been through. I’m sorry it’s been such a rough road but I hope that this is the beginning of it turning around for the better.

    14. Jean (just Jean)*

      Vicarious heartache for your bad news, and good thoughts back atcha for your good news. May life continue to improve for you and your sister (and for your ex and ex-stepkids, someday, when they’re ready for it).
      You made the best decisions you could at all the choice points along the way and your caring shone through in all of your postings.
      I don’t know why life has to include these roller-coaster stretches. You sound like you’re coping pretty damn well.
      (As for the political news…hang in there. Do what you can–within your limits of energy, time, and funds–to improve the world. And vote, vote, vote, every chance you have.)

    15. SeekingBetter*

      I’m sorry to hear about all that you’ve been going through, but am very thrilled to hear you’re going to Hawaii! Wishing you well during your trip and to a healthy and prosperous New Year!!

    16. Stellaaaaa*

      I have read your posts for a while, and I have often thought of your stories when making similarly difficult relationship decisions of my own. You have acted in kindness during situations that many people would not be able to endure with grace. I hope 2018 will be better for you.

    17. ..Kat..*

      Happy New Year. I hope your trip to Hawaii is the reset button for your life circumstances. Best wishes going forward. Your apartment sounds like heaven.

    18. Struggling*

      I wish you a wonderful and rejuvenating time in Hawaii. I’ve been struggling with some pretty dark times since the summer of 2016 and I often don’t know what to do with myself. Life seems like such a bleak thing sometimes. It’s good that you have the means and ability to get away for a few days in paradise. Enjoy it

      Comments like yours that often make me wish this site has a forum, rather than blog comments. Usually, forum software allows members to have a login and message each other privately, where we can share email addresses, etc. I’ve made some friends from various online forums, and even met a few, but you can’t really do that if everything is public and you can only share so much.

      1. C Average*

        I’ve had that thought, too, Struggling. I hope things look up for you this year and in the years to come. I usually at least lurk in the weekend open threads. Shoot me a bat signal for empathy anytime—I’ll keep an eye out.

    19. nonegiven*

      My friend lives there and I’m cold (23F outside) so I looked up his location and it’s 74F right this minute.

    20. Frankie Bergstein*

      You sound like a wonderful and resilient person. Frankly, I am really admiring you for this post and your weekend trips and design classes and closeness with your sister with everything else happening. And here’s to 2018 being the time the skid ends!

    21. Clever Name*

      I’m newly divorced too. It sucks, but you get through it, I guess. I’m sure you already know this, but your ex-husband standing by while his daughter spewed her emotions onto you was absolutely not okay and is a form of abuse. You didn’t deserve it.

      1. C Average*

        Thank you for saying this. My therapist says it, too, and I’m getting to where I can actually believe it. I think he was doing the best he could in a complicated situation, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t deserve better. It’s taken me a while to be able to split that hair.

        Good luck recovering from your divorce. It’s a journey, isn’t it?

    22. C Average*

      You GUYS. Do something about the dust and the onions in here.

      I spent the day wandering Waikiki, and now I’m having a glass of wine on the lanai and reading y’all’s wonderful comments.

      It’s ridiculously beautiful here. My Airbnb comes with not only its own lanai, but CATS! They’re keeping me company as I write this. Tomorrow I’m climbing the Koko Head stairs and then going on a tour of a pineapple plantation.

      Thank you for all the kind words of support. I plan to come back and read them again and again.

      1. Former Employee*

        I was in Hawaii many years ago. Loved it.

        I think that many of us have had a difficult year in 2017. From unpleasant health related “surprises” (I had some of those this year) to political “say what?” moments.

        Wishing you a Happy New Year and a better time in 2018.

      2. Bluebell*

        Have a very very happy New Year and all the best for 2018 – you deserve it. Will that Airbnb give you a choce of cats or puppies? If so, it sounds perfect. ;)

    23. Jade*

      Missed your comments when I didn’t see you around; sad that all this happened to bring you back.
      Many wishes that 2018 will be much kinder to you!

  6. Chasing pavements*

    Going anon for this.

    This situation is weird, right? I had someone quote me for some new windows.

    Then today I logged into fb and he had sent me a friend request. This is bizarre, right? I am a little freaked out now. He wants me to give a deposit for the work (I said I would go with the quote) and has texted me twice about it.

    I should say something to his company, shouldn’t I?

    1. Red Reader*

      Is it weird enough that you’re willing to not use his company after all? If so, I would definitely tell the manager that and why — “Look, I was very pleased with your quote, but Reginald has made me seriously uncomfortable with his personal overtures, and I’m just not willing to have him further involved in my transaction. If switching me to a different representative isn’t an option, I’m going to have to take my business elsewhere.” (Personally, this is where I would be. I’d rather pay a little bit extra to work with a company that doesn’t suck.)

      If it’s not that bad (by your personal definition), it’s a little hazier. I’d be worried that, if I still intended to work with him/his company, “telling on him” (which isn’t how *I* would see it, but probably how *he* would see it) would come back to bite me in the butt as far as getting the work done, and possibly cause him to escalate, whereas if I just ignore his personal overtures and keep it business, and then block him when my windows are done, maybe I can just muddle through it?

      1. Red Reader*

        I feel like my reply is awfully wishy-washy. Sorry about that. =/ I did have a service rep at a car dealership send me repeated facebook requests at one point, and by my recollection, after the second one I told him to stop, and after the third one I submitted a customer service complaint to the dealership about him. I never heard a response back from the dealership, but I also never heard anything from the service rep again. I was satisfied with that outcome, but that also didn’t involve someone who had any professional reason to be coming to my house like a window-replacing guy might. (I … honestly don’t remember if it was the same dealership I still take my car to or the previous one – this was several years ago and I’ve moved twice since then. I do know that I didn’t stop using the dealership because of this one dude, but I never encountered the dude again at said dealership.)

        1. Chasing pavements*

          Luckily this quoting guy is not a workman – just the salesman who does the calculations and so on. The work is already pretty expensive but they do have a decent finance plan (very low interest).

          1. Book Lover*

            Is it possibly a Facebook page that he really uses for business purposes? My trainer and the other trainers at the gym sent Facebook friend requests and even though it is their personal pages, they only use them to talk about gym stuff.

    2. CatCat*

      Ehhhhh… some people just like to add everyone under the sun to facebook. Just decline/ignore the request to add the window guy as a friend.

    3. Helpful*

      I don’t like this. My neighbors got taken— they put down half for windows and the guy never came back. Be sure there is recourse. I went with Lowe’s because I felt I had some recourse if anything went wrong.

    4. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      I would call the company and ask to speak with a manager, and try to work with someone else at the company. If they weren’t able/willing to accommodate that, I’d go with another company or get more quotes if you need.

      It’s perfectly reasonable to expect a customer to take a day or 3 to get a deposit in. Especially given the holidays. If I got 2 text messages about getting a deposit in, that’s a bit much. And FB is completely over the line. Block the guy on FB – google it if you don’t know how.

    5. Triplestep*

      He may just be today’s version of the typical pushy sales person; Facebook friend requests may mean something completely different to him than they do to you. But if you’re uncomfortable for any reason, you don’t owe anything to anyone here.

      I got the contact info for a handyman on a neighborhood social media site. He returned my call at 11pm at night (I didn’t answer) and I know it was intentional because he posted at the site moments later that he couldn’t get in touch with me. I checked with a few people around the same age as he (I’m in my early fifties, and he appeared to be early thirties) just to see if anyone thought this was a generational thing; All of them saw red flags as well. It’s possible this guy was a fine handyman who was clueless about how to come across to potential customers, but I decided to go with my gut and not continue contact. I think you’re fine doing the same – it’s a valid reason.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, clueless is right. I have a friend who works on people’s homes. While he will make phone calls any time day/night he always considers the person first. If he does not know the person and does not have specific instructions to call anytime before x hour (a late hour) he waits until morning.
        A good rule of thumb is to be a little formal until specifically told to be less formal. It’s good for business.

    6. JD*

      I am going to get internet beat down for this but so be it. I stand by my opinion on this. A man happening to find you interesting, attractive or whatever and attempting to add you on Facebook is not bizarre or requiring threatening his job. You decline and move on. If that was so bizarre then every man/woman who ever so much as found the other sex attractive is in the wrong. But oh wait, that is what is happening lately. If his two texts were regarding the windows, perhaps you do not wish for him to text you, but plenty of people do business using text.

      Sure it does sound like he might like you. Ok, so? And? This comes across as acting like you are being stalked by someone who simply is reaching out. I really do not wish to live in a World where every time someone smiles at another person their employment is at risk. It has all gone too far.

      1. blackcat*

        But if I have *only* had business interactions with someone, why do they have to insert their personal feelings into the business transaction?

        I’d find it much less uncomfortable if all the work was done *and then* dude sent a facebook request. As it is now, this guy has made it seem like she has to be personally friendly with him in order to get the price/work done. That’s really uncool.

      2. Safetykats*

        Yeah, but this is man she currently has a potential business relationship with. Contact should therefore be business related only, and business-appropriate, at least until the business relationship is finished, or until they know each other well enough for him to know whether personal contact would be welcomed. I actually think that if he sent the friend request because he’s attracted to her that’s worse than if he is just clueless, or using FB to track business contacts – and if he is using his business related access to troll for women his employer should definitely be notified, because that’s not okay.

        OP – I would decline his friend request, block him, and ask the company for another contact person, explaining why. It’s not just creepy to have someone like this trying to friend you – it’s potentially dangerous – particularly if you’re going to have any of the work done while you’re not there, and would therefore be giving this company a key to your house.

        Of course, before you give them a deposit, make sure they are licensed, bonded, and ensured. Look them up with the BBB. Visit their actual place of business. And if you do decide to go with them, provide your deposit by stopping at their actual place of business.

      3. Elizabeth H.*

        I don’t think it (necessarily) has anything to do with attraction or sex! Other than that I generally agree. Delete request and move on. Some people friend literally everyone on Facebook. I find it weird but whatever.

      4. Colette*

        If he’s ignoring business boundaries now (I.e. the Facebook request when Facebook is fundamentally a personal platform), what boundaries is he going to ignore if/when he’s in her home?

        This is a legitimate thing to be concerned about, and could easily cost his employer business, which they would want to know about. Should he be fired? Probably not, if this is an isolated incident. But he’s not entitled to mine business contacts for personal relationships just because he wants to.

        1. Truth teller*

          Actually, yes, he is entitled to reach out to whoever he wants on Facebook. I add business contacts to Facebook all the time. If you don’t like it, don’t accept the request. If you can’t abide by the fact you can reach out to business contacts on Facebook generally, don’t use Facebook. Problem solved.

      5. Former Employee*

        “If that was so bizarre then every man/woman who ever so much as found the other sex attractive is in the wrong. But oh wait, that is what is happening lately.”

        Yeah, it’s just terrible how sexual predators and rapists are losing their jobs lately!

    7. Hildegard Von Bingen*

      Get another quote from another company. What you’re describing is way out of line. I had substantial work done on my home in 2017: new HVAC system and hot water heater, new flooring, new ceiling fan installation and wiring, and I got estimates for extensive new landscaping and exterior paint on my 2,000-sf home, to be done in 2018. Nobody I dealt with pulled that kind of nonsense. If they had, I would not have done business with them. Vendors should behave like professionals. I think it’s always a mistake to do business with people who don’t.

      Just get another quote. Surely there are other window companies in town.

  7. Fabric shaver*

    Unexciting question, I know, but does anyone have a recommendation for a fabric shaver/sweater stone they like to get rid of pills on sweaters? (Or, I suppose, an anti-recommendation of ones that didn’t actually work very well?)

    1. Tabby Baltimore*

      I have a small old battery-operated hand-held Remington model that I’ve used for several years, and it works pretty well. The head is rounded, not flat (I don’t know if round-headedness is an industry-standard feature or not), so you do have to use a sort of swirling motion as you travel the head over the fabric surface. It has never pulled a thread out, so I’m pretty happy with it. Before using a device like this, though, I would recommend looking over the garment’s exterior surface pretty carefully and then use either your fingers or a sharp pin to pull loose or pulled threads that have come out, and that lie on the external surface, back to the inside of the garment. That way, you won’t accidentally cut any threads with the shaver blades and cause a hole to open up.

    2. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      Yep, I always get the cheap 8-12 packs of razors from Dollar Tree and each one is good for a few shirts or sweaters. Easier to control pressure and not put holes in the shirt. I also find them easier to keep up with because I lose small appliances like it’s my career path.

    3. Pollygrammer*

      I was surprised when I switched from lint rollers to a fabric brush how many little pills it cleaned up, not just lint.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I just got one for Christmas. My boss found these things somewhere. She bought it and reeeally liked it, so she bought a bunch more to give as gifts. She mentioned it in passing and I did not think anything of it. I said I would have to look for it because my pill buster died. Funny because I had just thrown it out. I was really happy that she gave me one.

      The name of it is “Gleener on the Go”. It’s got a little bag and accessories, you can put different blades in it. I have not tried it yet, but so far I like that it does not need batteries and I like the way it’s made. Their site is gleener dot com.

      1. Teach*

        Seconding the Gleener! I’m a knitter and thrifted sweater hoarder and I’m always amazed at how this little tool spruces up the pilly areas!

    5. Pretend Scientist*

      I think I got mine at Big Lots, multiple years ago. It shaves decently and doesn’t snag. The metal “screen?” is rounded. If there’s anything that it can’t handle, I ask the dry cleaner to do it so I don’t start ruining stuff.

  8. Detective Amy Santiago*

    It’s snowing, freezing, and I’ve been sick for the past couple of days. I went to the grocery store this morning and now I don’t need to leave again until Tuesday morning for work.

    Happy New Year!

  9. Nic*

    At this moment I am both proud of myself and extremely disappointed. I’ve lived with the same person for about 2 years and in this time we’ve only really had one argument, however it is a doozy.

    The basis of it is that when I say that something he says is painful for me my roommate argues that I am the only one who can decide if something hurts and I shouldn’t let myself be hurt, rather than being willing to change phrasing patterns. When I have tried to discuss this with him I am told that only stupid people require the kinds of things that I am asking him to do, and that when they are done towards him it makes him feel belittled.

    Things came to a head this weekend and after
    the same old argument again and being told that when I thought I’d finally gotten through and he tried a couple of the phrases I was “compromising his conversational ethics”, I asked if I need to look for another roommate because obviously this isn’t working.

    He flipped out started back peddling, while at the same time telling me that I was overly emotional and crazy, and when he got home from work that night he yelled at me.

    That night I finally replied back to an email thread from the summer that had gotten me so upset I couldn’t face it until now. It was about the same old argument. I explained one last time and told him that I was no longer going to allow myself to be hurt. I told him that that would involve me leaving the conversation and not seeking conversation with him. He hasn’t replied, though the day after I sent it he apologized for yelling at me and said that he would think on it for a few days before replying.

    In the meantime I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter what his reply is. He has shown me that his unwillingness to change is more important to him than the fact that he is hurting me. So I’m looking for another roommate. And even if he responds to that email in the most perfect way possible he’s going to have a lot of trust to rebuild.

    I am incredibly proud of myself for setting that boundary. At this point the pain of losing him as a friend is less than the pain of having to continue to deal with it and I’m stopping it now.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      It sounds to me (and correct me if I’m wrong) that you asked someone to respect certain boundaries and he was like – no.

      Good job on what you did. You can be disappointed at losing a friend but also proud of standing up for yourself at the same time.

    2. Hrovitnir*

      Good for you! What a tool. I hate it when someone who I assume was otherwise a good friend reveals such a terrible dealbreaker.

      You are the only one who can “let yourself” be hurt but people being considerate makes him feel belittled? Maybe he shouldn’t let himself feel belittled. Pfft.

    3. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      If something someone says or do causing someone distress, they ask you to not do it again, and you refuse to change going forward, then they’re not a good person. Find a new roommate, and this guy isn’t your friend.

    4. Pollygrammer*

      So basically, you told him he was being cruel and he blamed you for finding his cruelty hurtful? What outrageous gaslighting. I really, really hope you part ways.

    5. fposte*

      Ah, yes, the overintellectualized version of “everything is your fault.” No reason you have to live with that; glad that you’ve decided not to.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      ugh. Clearly, you mistook him for a responsible adult. We only waive the rules for five year old children. I wish this guy much luck in life, he is going to need it.

    7. Indie*

      If you say x bothers you, then a good friend will either say ‘oh Ok, how bout y and z?’ If x is super important to them they will sadly conclude an incompatibility but still accept your right to dislike (or like) whatever the hell you want.

      The behaviour you describe is entitled, insulting, contemptuous and that of an enemy. you should run away in a straight line to the furthest star. I imagine you knew this would happen if you dared make a suggestion which is why conflict was rare.

    8. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Ditto what Foreign Octopus said. It sounds like he just wants to do anything he wants without regard for anyone else. That’s fine for him I guess but his desire to be thoughtless or rude doesn’t obligate you to put up with being hurt. Good for you for standing up for yourself.

    9. ..Kat..*

      Good for you for setting boundaries. Good luck finding a new roommate.

      BTW, it does not matter what he (or anyone else) thinks of the reasonableness of your boundaries. These boundaries are reasonable for you. And you deserve a safe home space.

    10. Clever Name*

      Good for you! Honestly, reading this reminded me of my 17-year marriage to my ex-husband. He called me overly emotional and crazy whenever I would express a need or disagree with him. He was always right (even when the topic was a field in which I have an advanced degree in and clients pay me for my expertise). We also rarely argued (because I earned I wouldn’t ever get my needs met and arguing became an outlet for him to emotionally abuse me). So, you’re not overly emotional, and you’re not crazy. I’m sure you already know this, but it’s helped me to hear folks acknowledge this truth to me.

    11. Nic*

      Thank you to everyone for the comments. The validation is really helpful!

      We had a long conversation tonight. He apologized for several things, but did not bring up the things from the email. He said he’s still waiting to respond to that. At the end of the conversation he asked if I felt better, and I said no. He asked if there was anything he could do to help, and I said yes, but that he’s said he’s not ready to discuss it yet, and that given previous discussions, I’m not bringing it up.

      We’ll see what the future holds. I haven’t stopped keeping my eyes open.

  10. Foreign Octopus*

    I had the worst Boxing Day I’ve ever experienced (December 26th for those who don’t celebrate the Christmas period).

    After the trauma of uninvited guests on Christmas Day, my dad and I were driving into a local, smaller town to get some supplies as it’s business as normal in Spain on Boxing Day. Halfway down the long, winding road, a cat ran out in front of us and we hit it. Unfortunately, the car broke its back and we had to take it to the vet to have it put down. I was in floods of tears because it was awful and nothing like that has ever happened to me before. It was only a little baby. The vet said that it was about two or three months old, and I was just heartbroken. The one saving grace was that we’d hit it in such a way that it didn’t feel any pain once the shock wore off.

    That same day, we decided to take my cat to the vet (some of you might remember that I adopted her from a shelter about six months ago). It seems that anything that could be wrong with a cat, is wrong with my cat. She has an eye infection, possible parasitical worms in her intestines, malnourishment (which I hadn’t realised because she’s been putting weight on since I got her and she seemed fine), and very, very bad dental problems. The vet thinks that most of the problems are stemming from her dental problems. Apparently the build up of bacteria in the mouth will affect the rest of the body because that’s how the nutrients pass through her system (seems obvious in hindsight).

    She’s currently on a course of antibiotics to clear up her mouth in order to allow the vet to clean her teeth. That will then let me know whether she has to have any teeth removed. I’m also taking her in for a blood test to make sure that there’s nothing more serious at play.

    Overall, on a day to day basis, she seems perfectly fine. Doesn’t seem troubled by it in the slightest, but I just feel so guilty for not realising that there was something wrong with her, and for not taking her to the vet sooner. The only reason I didn’t was because I was afraid as I’d have to have the conversation in Spanish, which is so stupid now I look back on it.

    So, yeah, that was my week.

    1. Red Reader*

      oh, rough :( Good thoughts to you and your kitty. If it helps any, cats (and I think a lot of animals?) are very very prone by instinct to concealing when they’re not feeling well. It’s hard enough to know what’s going on with them when they can’t communicate clearly, and even worse when they’re actively trying to act like everything’s fine. No fault of yours!

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      It sounds like you’ve had a really rough holiday season. Here’s hoping the New Year brings you some peace.

    3. Purple Snowdrop*

      Oh my god. that is horrible. I am so sorry. Thinking of you, the poor kitten, and your cat. Take care of yourself. I can understand being reluctant to deal with that conversation in a foreign language :-(

    4. Hrovitnir*

      Aw no, that all sounds awful. I hope things start looking up!

      On the plus side, at least all or most of your cat’s problems should be resolvable, so here’s to a healthy cat for 2018.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Ohhh, dental issues. Yeah. Dental issues are a very common thing with cats, especially orange cats for some reason. I’ve have several cats go through some major dental work because we didn’t take them in for regular cleanings (who knew??). It’s quite expensive and can cause all sorts of problems that have nothing to do with the mouth.

      So sorry about hitting the kitten! I’d be heartbroken, too.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        You can bet I’ll be taking Bones in for regular cleanings now. How often do you take your cats in?

        1. The Other Dawn*

          No particular schedule. Their teeth are checked when it’s time for annual vaccinations and I go from there. The major work is done for the four cats that needed it, although two more cats need major dental soon (extractions and cleaning). Now it’s just upkeep. In other words, whatever the vet recommends when they go in for routine stuff.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had such a dreadful few days. I hope you know that hitting that cat was absolutely not your fault and that you did a very decent thing by taking it to the vet.

      I think anyone can tell you love your cat and that you took her to the vet as soon as you were able to. Animals are really good at hiding health problems – frustratingly it’s a survival instinct but of course it has the opposite effect by delaying you getting them help. You are not to blame for her being ill.

      The best of wishes to you and your kitty.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Thanks Ramona.

        I really do love her, and I realised just how much with everything that happened on Boxing Day. The vet did try to tell me that it’s normal for cats to hide their pain but I was too busy kicking myself to really listen.

        As for the poor little kitten we hit, we discovered that it’s so, so normal for people in my part of Spain to just drive on after they hit animals because there’s such a high percentage of stray cats and dogs around due to the custom of not neutering them. The vet was surprised but pleased that we brought the little girl in.

    7. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Re the cat you hit – accidents happen. You did the kind thing however, taking the cat to the vet and making sure it wouldn’t suffer further. If you’d just driven off, that cat would have died a very painful death. So yes, it’s horrible that you hit a cat, but it’s wonderful how you responded.

      Re your cat – cats are MASTERS of hiding pain or illness. Showing weakness in the wild will get them preyed upon. Parasites are relatively easy to treat AFAIK, and can cause malnutrition. So treating that will help. The antibiotics should help with the eye infection and make a dent in the dental issues. When she goes back in for the dental, tell the vet that if there’s any teeth that could go either way, you’d prefer that they be pulled. They typically do everything while the cat is knocked out, since it’s hard on them. Cats adjust very well to missing teeth, even a large number of missing teeth. It’ll be better in the long term to pull 3 teeth now, versus 1 now and 2 in 6 months.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Echoing, I have been told by vets that cats can hide anything. Kidneys not working? No prob, just hide it. It’s pretty normal to get a cat to the vet and find some big deal going on. When I first had cats, I felt like such a bad cat parent but the vet said no, that is not what is going on here. I learned to watch more closely and I learned somethings to watch for, this helped a lot.

      2. Red*

        My cat has 4 teeth left after some dental problems, and they’re all the tiny front ones. To be completely honest, I’m not even sure she realized she woke up from surgery without them. The very next day, she was demanding to have her hard food back, after we switched her to soft food when her teeth started getting bad. Apparently, house cats don’t need teeth! Who knew?

        1. Pet sitter*

          One of my favorite cats to petsit for had lost all of her teeth and had facial injuries before her owner adopted her. She eats more canned food and less kibble than the other cats, but she doesn’t do anything else differently. I’m always surprised by how “normal” she is, though of course I haven’t been through a vet visit with her. It’s really amazing how much animals can recover.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          It’s so weird. I have a cat that basically has no teeth (his teeth were in very poor health when we adopted him and he eventually had to have most of them pulled), but he absolutely refuses to eat wet food. He wants dry only, and has always been like that. And not just any dry. It must be Purina Naturals. He gets really annoyed when the store is out of that branch and I have to get something else. I also feed prescription food for a couple cats, which means they all get it since i have 11 of the buggers. He eats around it. I always say he’s not a real cat, because he won’t touch tuna, milk (yes, I know cats are lactose intolerant and I don’t normally give it to them), most kinds of meat, or anything else that’s considered to be widely liked by 99% of cats. He will eat a little deli ham, but that’s it. And I don’t like to give that to him. He gets it maybe two or three times a year and it’s maybe 1/4 of a slice while I’m making lunch.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              Haha! They kind of go about their business. Some love attention, others not so much. They tend to entertain themselves a lot. I now have a good mix of seniors, adults, and teens. The teens and adults sometimes play together, the seniors like to sleep. Two of the teens (very recently kittens) love to snuggle with one particular cat for some reason. We do play with them, but they have a lot of toys, cat trees, and scratching posts so everyone has something to occupy them.

              Feeding is a game of musical plates. As I’m scooping food into their dishes they all have to try each other’s dish (no, they don’t have assigned dishes LOL). Eventually they settle on one, but they do have to visit each typically.

              I know this is long, but I like talking about my cats. :)

      3. Foreign Octopus*

        Thanks for this guys.

        My vet said that it’s really normal for cats to hide it, and because she was a shelter cat (one-two years on the street, four in the shelter), I just didn’t think anything of it. I thought her body was just reasserting itself.

        I’m going to go with whatever the vet tells me. It’s going to be expensive but I hope that she’ll be with me for another ten years at least and it seems a small price to pay to keep my little fluff ball pouncing on my face in the morning.

      4. Gadfly*

        One of my cats nearly died once because of hiding sickness. He had some sort of odd urine crystal goop issue. I took him to the vet becsuse I noticed he’d stopped jumping. Between home and the vet he went from fine looking to looking half dead. The vet sent me to a 24hr place but told me he probably wouldn’t make it. They found his kidneys were shut down and did a bunch of flushes and such and were able to get them restarted.

        Now I have to buy prescription food for him and he gets cage rage if I try to leave him at a vet (which makes getting urine samples funnnnnn…. my old vet had a system, but after moving I haven’t found a vet who is a good fit yet.)

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Awww. Pig had a mouth infection too and I didn’t have a clue until she stopped eating. They took a tooth out and we added a cleaning onto her annual appointment, and it never came back. I felt really bad myself, but how would I have known? At least you caught it, and now it’s being taken care of.

      As for the accident, you took care of the kitty as best you could. Not your fault at all.


      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Thanks, Elizabeth. I appreciate the hug :)

        Also, I love your cat’s name. It’s a great one!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          LOL the neighbor who had her prior had named her Miss Piggy, but I didn’t like that, so I shortened it to Pig. I rarely called her that directly–she was Piggles, Piggins, Kitty, Little Baby, Baby Girl, and Come Here. :)

    9. another Liz*

      Cats actively hide it when they are ill, don’t beat yourself up over that. You took her in when you realized she needed it, that’s all you can expect of yourself.

  11. Purple Snowdrop*

    Hi all. Just thought I’d give a quick update. Christmas was OK but hard. My food was tasty, though, and I saw Small Child for an hour. And went to visit some friends Christmas Night – and someone heard me apologizing for something the husband has done since I left him, and said ‘what on earth are you apologizing for him for?!’. And on one level I can explain that, and on another level, fuck that. He’s making his own choices now. Yes he’s in a sad situation, one he had no idea was coming, but taking it out on mutual friends (…. who are now officially just my friends… yay?) is a) out of order and b) totally on him.

    So. Yeah.

    I’m having a hard time. But I will get through.

      1. Update on he wants a baby*

        And this one. I agree with the friend who thinks you shouldn’t apologize for things your husband does now. He gets to to make his own choices and mistakes. And I say this as someone who almost couldn’t take her ex-husband off the car insurance on the day she said she was going to because what if he hadn’t gotten his own yet? Taking too much responsibility is easy, but not healthy.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Yes, remember that he makes his own choices now and it’s totally on him.

      My friend just got divorced and her ex is basically homeless. However, he saw the divorce coming, chose to continue his lifestyle, didn’t bother to try and save any money, made some REALLY bad choices in the romance department (unfortunately, he’s quite gullible and is always hoping for someone to “save” him), and has no car because he chose to buy new at 450.00 a month and it was repossessed after only about 6 months. So, my friend feels guilty and lets him stay at her apartment (and her new boyfriend is being very forgiving about it), and he’s basically taken over her car. She has to get a ride to and from work from either the ex or the new boyfriend. I don’t see her getting out of this situation any time soon, because she continues to feel responsible for the divorce and his situation.

      All this to say, your ex is on his own and it’s up to him to make his choices and own them.

      1. K.*

        Seconded. Ex is an adult and can – must! – make his own way. One of my friends has had two “when the relationships ended the guys ended up homeless” breakups (my friend owns a home and has moved two men in with her), and she feels guilty about that until someone, usually her sister, points out that there was nothing stopping these guys from having jobs and saving money during the time she was with them. Or before that, even (one of them had a particular aversion to working, claiming that it was more noble to be poor. He had grown up in poverty so he had kind of warped ideas about money).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Starting new habits. You probably apologized for him in the past. But now you don’t have to, he is not on your watch any more.

      My husband used to say, “Eh, not my turn to watch him”, in reference to other people having poor behaviors.
      So this is a piece of your new normal. You will find other pieces as you go and it will be okay in the long run.

    3. Gadfly*

      Hugs. We call my husband’s ex his 3rd child. If it weren’t for the first two actual children we’d be able to leave her to flounder, but not while the youngest is a minor and lives with her.

      My husband enabled her being helpless and incompetent while they were married, so he’s having to fix his bad habits of saving her/helping her in ways that let her think that is his responsibility. It is hard to watch because she just is really bad at basic adulting. And won’t get better unless she has to. Balancing that with the whole issue of the kids is complex. And I think ulitimately is going to be worse for her, but the kid is the priority.

      Anyway, the sooner you can stop enabling, the better it will likely be for everyone.

        1. Former Employee*

          Some people do seem to be missing the adult gene or they have the gene but came without the kick starter.

    4. MsChanandlerBong*

      Good for you for recognizing that. I used to be friends with someone who “fell on hard times” and got evicted. My husband and I let her move in with us. The original agreement was that she didn’t have to pay rent as long as she saved all of her pay to move out within three months. Both of us are freelance writers, which I know can be difficult, but we worked for all the same clients, so I knew how much work was available. She could have easily made $2,500 per month (and I think $3,000+ was also doable) and had $7,500+ on hand to get a new apartment. Instead, she barely did any work and pi**ed away the little money she made on cigarettes and daily coffee from the gas station down the street. I told her that if she was going to stay longer, she had to pay us $275 per month, which I thought was reasonable. She was late the first month and didn’t pay us the second and third months. We finally had to ask her to move, and she hasn’t spoken to me since I drove her to a rest stop and had her daughter pick her up. I am sure she has painted me as a horrible person in her re-telling of the story, but she is the one who didn’t do what she was supposed to do. And it’s not like we asked for $1,000 a month. We asked for a measly $275. There was enough writing work available at the time for her to make that amount in a day or two. I felt guilty for a long time, but then I realized, hey, she made her bed and had to lie in it.

  12. Ann Furthermore*

    Every year we spend New Year’s Eve with a few friends, and it’s always really fun, and I’m looking forward to it again this year like always.

    But the last couple of years it seems like the end of the year has been so depressing. Last year, I was so sad when George Michael died on Christmas day. Then just a few days later it was Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

    One of my favorite authors died yesterday — Sue Grafton. She wrote a series of books about a private detective named Kinsey Millhone, set in the 80’s. It was the “alphabet” series, and it began with “A is for Alibi,” and “Y is for Yesterday” was released a few months ago. I was really looking forward to seeing how she would conclude the series.

    I also found out yesterday that one of my cousins is now in hospice at home. She battled cancer for many years, and did several rounds of treatment, but a few months ago her doctors told her there was nothing more they could do for her. She did get to spend the holidays at home with her kids, which what she wanted. I feel kind of stupid and naive… I knew she’s been ill, but I didn’t know how bleak her prognosis was. Everything she’s posted about treatments, doctor appointments, and hospital stays has always been very positive and upbeat, and not in that fake, artificial way that you see so much on Facebook. It’s always been very genuine.

    We aren’t particularly close, but I was still so sad to hear that. The whole thing is just so unfair. I sent her a note via Facebook messenger last night, to share a couple of memories and let her know I was thinking about her. I did get message saying she’d “reacted” with the angry emoji, but it’s so easy to hit one of those stupid emojis when you don’t mean to. I’ve done it so many times. I hope that’s what it was and that I didn’t say something to upset her.

    1. Caledonia*

      I’m sorry to hear about your cousin.

      It’s sad about Grafton, her daughter said that they are firmly against ghostwriters so the alphabet will end at y.

    2. Pharmgirl88*

      I’m so sorry about your cousin.

      I didn’t know about Sue Grafton, but I’m sad to hear it. I picked up the series because of a recommendation on an open thread (from you maybe?) and have been loving it.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I read once that her first book was based on an idea she had for the “perfect murder,” that she came up with while fantasizing about ways to get revenge on her ex-husband. Instead of actually doing it, she wrote a book instead, and ended up creating a beloved character and becoming hugely successful. Talk about the best revenge!

        The last book was going to be called “Z is for Zero.” The completionist in me may never get over the alphabet ending at Y.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      Sue Grafton died? I’m so sad. And I am never especially sad when famous people die (Except George Michael. I’m still sad about that.) I’ve been reading her books for almost 30 years. I loved her work and I have so many memories of my life tied to when her new books came out. I was looking forward to “Z” as well but I was also looking forward to what she would do after. She is quoted as saying she was going to “take a long nap” after reaching “Z”.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I’m also so sorry to hear about your cousin. I was processing Sue Grafton and meant to offer my condolences about your cousin’s prognosis. And people hit the wrong thing on Facebook all the time – I’m sure it was an error. You were thoughtful to reach out to her.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Thanks. I’ve hit those dumb emojis by mistake so many times, especially in the messenger app while re-reading something.

          Normally I would take the time to handwrite a letter and mail it, but since she’s in hospice I wanted to be sure and get it to her. A family friend of ours passed away earlier this month, and he’d been in hospice as well. I’d planned to write him a letter and was thinking about what I was going to say, but then he went downhill pretty quickly.

          When I heard about George Michael it felt like losing a little piece of my youth. The only good thing to come out of it was finding out that he was a very, very generous person and donated a lot of money not just to charity but also directly to people in need. And I think he set it up so that Andrew Ridgely, his partner in Wham! ended up getting all or most of the royalties from Careless Whisper, since he helped write it. It was one of the only songs he had songwriting credits for, so George Michael let him have those so he’d be set for life.

    4. WellRed*

      I was so sad to hear about Sue Grafton and I am another who doesn’t get all maudlin with the passage of the famous.
      Sorry about your cousin.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Every once in awhile, a celebrity passing will really hit me. The other one this year that I was quite saddened by was Tom Petty. I am such a huge fan of his music, and he was responsible for much of the soundtrack of my youth. I was at a trade show in San Francisco, manning my company’s booth when I heard about it. I had to take a moment to compose myself.

    5. Sled dog mama*

      So sorry to hear about your cousin.
      FWIW as a person who works in cancer care, often patients don’t realize how dire their prognosis is, and many try to hide it from their families and friends.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        You’re right. I don’t think she was doing that, I think it was more along the lines of trying to stay optimistic and hoping for the best. I think she’s a pretty pragmatic person.

    6. Kirsten*

      I’m so sad about Sue Grafton. I started reading her books in middle school in the mid 90s and have loved them ever since. I own them all. I always found it amusing she started writing them the year I was born, and by the time the series ended I would be almost the same age as Kinsey.

      I’m sorry about your cousin.

    7. Big City Woman*

      I’m sure the emoji was unintentional.

      Also sorry to hear about Sue Grafton. I started reading her Kinsey Milhone series back around 1986 or so, when there were just a few letters done and there was still such a thing as a small bookshop devoted only to mysteries! Ha, there were three mystery book shops in my general neighborhood alone (NYC) in the ’80s – – my favorite had a hidden door in the wall that led to their office. You’d be browsing there and suddenly the shelves would swing forward and someone would pop out.

      I loved the character of Kinsey Milhone, and would always look forward to the next letter of the alphabet coming out. I also thought it was interesting how, over the course of the series, her writing kept improving and her plots got tighter and more cohesive. A is for Alibi is very slow-paced compared to the later books. Eventually, though, I lost interest in detective/mystery novels in general. I’m pretty sure the last one of hers I read was M is for Malice. Actually, I thought she’d taken a break for a while and didn’t realize she was still keeping the series going.

      Well, I say what better way for a crime/mystery writer to leave this world than with the last book in a series left to be written – the ultimate mystery!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I did get an updated response to my message, with a happy face.

        That’s a great way to think about the alphabet series never finishing. Her writing really did improve over the course of the series. Towards the end of the alphabet, she changed things up a bit. She started writing from the perspective of different characters, in addition to just Kinsey’s point of view, and some of the secondary storylines were really good. In either “S” or “T,” she really did a good job creating an evil, sinister character. The first one I read was “H is for Homicide,” and then I went back and read the rest of them.

        1. Former Employee*

          I’m sorry about your cousin, but glad that she was pleased to hear from you.

          It’s very sad about Sue Grafton, who was a lovely woman as well as a wonderful writer. I had so looked forward to finding out what was ahead for Kinsey in the future. (I thought she might get back together with Cheney Phillips.) From reading comments her family members have made, I know that she did not have a story worked out for “Z”, which would have been the only book that had a predetermined title – she had always said that the last book would be “Z” Is For Zero. However, if she had a plan for the way she wanted to leave Kinsey in the end, perhaps she shared that with someone.

          1. Epsilon Delta*

            I’m so sorry to hear about your cousin. It is so hard to know someone you care about is suffering.

            Regarding the unfinished series, it can be so frustrating to not know how it ends. I like to imagine that the characters are still out there living their lives like I am — meaning they are having new adventures that I can imagine, and that *I* get to decide how their story ends. It makes them feel a little more real to me, in a way. Real life doesn’t usually get tied up neatly and sometimes fiction doesn’t have to either.

  13. AnnaleighUK*

    It’s nice to be back in the South of England! A Christmas in Scotland was nice and obviously seeing the parents but oh my gods, talk about being grilled about wedding plans. So yes, nice to be home and away from that.

    In other news, apparently I sound exactly like Merida from Brave when I’ve had a few drinks. Well aye, yes, I do get even more Scottish when the drink flows.

    Hope you all had a nice Christmas, AAM folk!

  14. Hrovitnir*

    Oh hi. It’s 4 am and I’m awake (went to bed at 10 pm, gave up at 3.30 am.)

    Means I’m early for an open thread though! I hope everyones’ end of year is going well or at least not too crap.

    Mine is going pretty well: cleared out 630 kg/1390 lbs of crap from our house today, though that’s only scratching the surface. My partner has remortgaged after decades of very little upkeep on the house, and we have fairly significant plans, so that’s exciting. New piles/roof/repaint + replace some of siding/actually insulate and double-glaze/rearrange the rooms and windows so they utelise the sun and view properly (~1920s house with a great view best observed through the bathroom or laundry.)

    Will probably have more work next year. I have had permanent staff enquire casually as to whether I’d be interested in a career in diagnostics (what this temp position is in; some opportunity for research) if one came up, so it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I have my name on a grant application for a PhD I’ll find out about in June, but that’s a fairly low chance of getting funded, and if there were an opportunity for permanent work I really don’t know! It’s an adjacent field to what I’ve been working in/towards, but very different work, but also it’s… science work, that’s interesting, in my city. That’s huge. Just playing it by ear, but even the idea has certainly shaken up my thinking.

    1. Windchime*

      Ha, the best view in my house is looking out the tiny window (behind the toilet) in the upstairs guest bathroom.

      I am on a dejunking tear. Yesterday I cleaned out the fridge; there was so much old, freezer-burnt crap in the freezer that I couldn’t fit actual food in there. So I threw all that out, plus some expired condiments and questionable produce. Today is going to the be the kitchen countertops and a couple of cupboards. I put up with junk for months, it seems like, and then all the sudden I get annoyed and start pitching crap.

      1. Lady Alys*

        I’m getting ready to move in the spring, so decluttering is my other part-time job now. Visitors to my house in the past few months have departed with everything from empty bookcases to unopened packages of pearl sugar.

    2. Book Lover*

      I love hearing about/watching/reading about home repairs and improvement :). I used to watch this old house and stuff like that nonstop. I hope everything turns out just the way you plan :)

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Thanks! When we actually start *doing* something (more than clearing out) I might try and update on here.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        It is pretty cool; I’m not even entirely sure what would be my preferred outcome re: career goals. I naturally included it here with thinking because it’s kind of the shape of my life! Until I was lucky enough to get this foot in the door my path and was flexible but looking at >5 years to even really start my career and almost definitely moving to Europe. Now… I don’t know. O_O

  15. The Other Dawn*

    So, I had the cortisone shots for my back a couple weeks ago. It helped cut down a lot on the pain while in bed, which is great. It’s quite awful to be trying to sleep and your back is in pain. You toss and turn most of the night and then wake up in pain, too. As far as daytime pain, which is typically while sitting for 10 minutes or more, it really hasn’t helped. Went for my follow-up the other day and they want me to have another round of shots on the 11th. I knew going into it that there’s a 50/50 shot of them working, so I’m really not surprised. A little disappointed, definitely. And the cost….doctor’s office charged the insurance $1,800.00. I don’t know yet what portion I’ll need to pay. With all the back issues between me and my husband, the HSA is wiped out (it’s my first year in the plan). But I guess the bright side is that I hit the deductible and I’m close to the out-of-pocket max. My plan year is May-April, so from here on out I won’t have to pay much. I’ll just have to make sure I get everything in before the new plan year.

    In other news, it’s effing cold here in the Northeast, my lovely cats knocked my computer speakers behind the desk (that will be fun crawling around under the desk with all the tangled wires–how do they get that way anyway when they never get touched??), and I need to clean the house for my family’s Christmas shindig next weekend. Wash all the bedding in the spare rooms, shampoo the carpets because cats, etc. People will be sleeping over, so it’s not like I can just close the doors upstairs and pretend there’s no mess. At least a lot of the nitty gritty cleaning is done, because my husband’s family came over for Christmas.

    And speaking of his family at Christmas, one niece and nephew, as well as SIL–all adults!–didn’t even thank us for the gifts, which was just lovely. We don’t ever expect gifts in return–we buy because we like to–but a thank you would have been nice, ya know? Also, I know that everyone has things they go through that make them not look forward to the holidays, but SIL every single year moans and complains that she’s not in the mood, hasn’t shopped yet, doesn’t feel like putting up the Christmas tree, etc. Every. single. year. Her dad, my FIL, does exactly the same thing. They both enjoy complaining and I have no idea what they would do if they couldn’t (not just my opinion– even MIL and husband, as well as their extended family, say this about the two of them). Anyway, I told my husband that I don’t want to hear it from her this year. I’ve had a very rough year with the loss of three cats, my dad, my brother, surgery, sickness, and now the back issues. Apparently my husband must have said something to her before they came over, because she started complaining about “not being into Christmas this year” while I was in the kitchen, and she stopped mid-sentence and walked away. She had nothing to say once she couldn’t complain and was basically quiet the rest of the night. Spent most of it playing on her phone. I was very happy not to hear the “woe is me” spiel this year. Any other year I just ignore it, but I just couldn’t take hearing it this year.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! Yup, hoping next year is better. I burned a real bayberry candle on Christmas Eve and will do so tomorrow night, too. The years I’ve done this I’ve tended to have a pretty good following year. I forgot to do it at the end of 2016, and I feel like 2017 would’ve gone better had I remembered. I totally know it’s just folklore, but it makes me feel like I have some sort of edge in the universe.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            There are several versions, but basically it is thought that if you burn a real bayberry candle to the nub on either Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve, or both, it will bring you luck, health and prosperity in the new year. Here are a few I found online at Cape Candle and Colonial Candle:

            “As folklore goes, To bring good luck for a year, burn to the nub on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. And if the flame burns bright and the light shines clear, then the heavens will bless you all through the year”

            “This bayberry candle comes from a friend, so on Christmas eve burn it down to the end. For a bayberry candle burned to the socket, will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.”

    1. Mimmy*

      Oh yes it is indeed super cold (I’m in NJ – I know much of the country is feeling the chill).

      You have been through quite a lot this year and I’m sorry your relatives were less than appreciative. I am sending you hugs and good wishes for a better 2018.

      On a lighter note – I hear ya on the tangled wires! In the room I use at the place we don’t discuss on weekends, there are 5 computer stations in two rows of desks, both rows with a rats nest of wires and cables around and underneath. Oy!

    2. ..Kat..*

      So sorry about your back pain. Have you tried topical lidocaine? In the USA, it is available in patches and cream. I suggest it because it has made my pain much more tolerable. However, BIG CAVEAT, lidocaine is also a heart medication. If you take any heart medications, consult your health care practioner first. Also, don’t use more than the package advises, because this is a heart medication.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I’ve tried it and it didn’t help. The pain is from two bulging discs and an annular tear, so it’s not muscular pain. I’m guessing if it were, the lidocaine would help.

        1. BatteryB*

          Sorry to hear about your continued back pain. A few years ago, I had two ruptured discs in my neck. The pain eventually ended up feeling like an electrical shock running down my arm. Medication and physical therapy didn’t help so I ended up having surgery. I don’t regret the surgery at all; the only thing I regret is that I didn’t have the surgery earlier since I ended up with some permanent nerve damage in my right hand. The ruptured discs were impinging on one of the nerves in my right arm. Wishing you the best for a full recovery.

    3. chi type*

      I’m not sure you want suggestions but a TENS machine is the only thing that helped at all when I blew out my back. I got it from a chiropractor (that was the only helpful thing he did) and my insurance completely covered it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        A cousin of mine mentioned it, too. If the cortisone shots don’t help it’s something I might consider. I’m not in awful pain, but it could definitely be better than it is. And an annular tear is apparently a long healing process.

  16. Cawfee Ninja*

    My house is full of dust and dog hair and I can’t ever fully get rid of either! (Especially the dog hair) Ughhh

    1. All Hail Queen Sally*

      My house is always full of cat hair. I can never keep up with it. I am always surprised that my cats aren’t bald–and there are only two of them! Years and years ago when I had a white cat, I went to a Dr appointment and while I was sitting up on the table and he was getting ready to examine me, he asked me if I had a cat. I said “yes, why”. and he said “you’re wearing him.” I looked down and my navy blue slacks were white and furry from the knee down. I was in such a rush that morning that I hadn’t noticed. My cat liked to rub against my legs in a figure 8 design while I was getting around in the mornings.

  17. Mimmy*

    So it appears that my husband got my mom’s cold, and I don’t think I’m too far behind. And on Tuesday, we go back to that place we don’t discuss on weekends. Well, at least *I* do – he does it from home most days.

    I’m also going to get my glasses checked in a few minutes – will update later, but I expect some frustration.

    Yay. Happy New Year :/

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Hopefully you don’t catch a cold. I’m just getting over one and it sucks so bad. One would think with all the advances in the medical field that they could find a cure for the common cold, or a vaccine or something. It’s a week of pure misery, followed by hacking our brains out for another week.

    2. Rookie Manager*

      My sympathies. Went home for Christmas and brought home presents and germs. Lots of germs. Haven’t left the sofa all day. Hope your household germs are less persistent than mine.

    3. Mimmy*

      Well, good news is that I’m not sick – I think it was just temporary irritation…we hadn’t dusted the living room in a while…. But hubby is definitely sick :( (seems a lot of people are though).

      Got my glasses adjusted. Still not great, but not being able to be corrected to 20/20 makes getting the right script that much harder. My eye doctor actually made the script WEAKER. I have to give it time to see if I get used to it–which the woman at the optician counter said might take awhile–but if not, I’m bumping it back up!

  18. Rocky Top*

    Looking for recommendations for using 2 olive oils I received for Christmas, harissa and sage & mushroom. So far, all I’ve come up with are roasting vegetables, and using the harissa as the base for Smitten Kitchen’s finishing oil with her quick pasta and chickpeas. Any other ideas for *vegetarian* uses for these 2 oils would be greatly appreciated!

    1. AAM fan*

      Ooh I love flavoured oils! I use them instead of spices – like, for the harissa one, use that when you might use chilli’s, like in a soup or any spicy recipe. Or to intensify flavours: mushroom oil in mushroom soup, or drizzled over mashed or baked potatoes. I also use them in salad dressings or in place of mayo in sandwiches. I think the harissa oil would be awesome with veggie burgers, and you could make a type of truffle fries with the mushroom oil. I think ohsheglows has a good baked potato fries recipe that you could use either of those oils with. Or Yotam Ottolenghi veggie recipes could work well with these oils too.

      1. Kuododi*

        Oh that all sounds delightful!!!DH and I used to have access to a really good hot pepper olive oil…. this was ages ago. I don’t even think it is on the market anymore. He would use it to make this amazing 4-cheese omlete. Stuff was not for the faint-hearted and DH had an asbestos GI tract. Good times.

    2. Overeducated*

      I cooked some mustard greens yesterday (no pork, just stock, spices, vinegar, and maple syrup) and thought harissa olive oil (which a family member also received) would have been a nice addition. It could also be nice on tomato soup or a grated carrot salad.

      Sage and mushroom could be good for potato pancakes, gnocchi, or ravioli.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Hmm… I love harissa and mayonnaise as a topping for veggie burgers or roasted cauliflower– maybe make an aioli or mayonnaise with mostly regular olive oil and some of the harissa oil?

      Or… shakshuka, finished with harissa oil. Pasta tossed with goat cheese, lemon, and your sage and mushroom oil.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      The only thing I can think of is for dipping bread. I have some rosemary oil and garlic oil, and that’s what I’ve been using for. I really eat too much bread…

    5. Incantanto*

      Use the harrissa oil for chickpea and spinach stew. Fry onions in the oil, add cumin, chickpeas, tomato puree and water (I would normally add harissa here, but the oil dows that.) Stew for ten mins then add spinach.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      Any sort of vegetable could work well – drizzle the harissa one over steamed green beans, for example. Add a squeeze of lemon and a bit of salt, if you need to. I’d also be tempted to try them on steamed rice.

    7. BatteryB*

      I don’t know how vegetarian this is, but I used to make brownies with blood orange oil. I love the chocolate/orange flavor combo.

      I also use either garlic oil or jalapeño oil when making chili. I even looked into making my own flavored oils, but most sites that I looked at discouraged it because of the possible health hazards. I did end up making my own flavored vinegars and vanilla.

  19. Cristina in England*

    I need some advice about phrasing awkward things, and I know this is a great place for that.

    Someone I am close to sometimes says… prejudiced things that I am not ok with. And so much of it is so subtle. He will, for example, complain about BBC Radio 4, and it will always be about a presenter who is female, minority ethnic, or gay. He will some sort of snide comment about the way someone’s name is pronounced or something else and then complain that they interrupted someone or they are biased. He has no problem when the straight white male oresenters interrupt someone or are biased though! He doesn’t say anything outright enough that I have a good opportunity to just say “that’s racist”, it’s always almost an aside when saying something else. So I would have to go out of my way to circle back to that aside and I am not quick-thinking enough or confident enough in an argument to do that. He is also sensitive to “political correctness of the left” etc etc so if I say what I am thinking, “you’re a racist, not old-fashioned, and I don’t find these comments welcome” it may blow up and be counter productive.

    My goal is for him to actually question his views, not get into an argument. Any thoughts? And no I can’t avoid him.

    1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      I kind of had to do this with my mom, though I think she was a little more forward than this friend seems to be. She’d say things like “it seems like a safe neighborhood to have a bunch of black people” and I’d go “well, why would that have anything to do with it? They can be just as poor as we are, or far richer. *Lists examples of people we know in real-life* – and just because it’s a poor area doesn’t mean it’s crime ridden. Low income doesn’t equal crime.” And she’s getting better. Essentially, I just acted like she was saying the dumbest thing I ever heard anytime she said something to that effect, and point out why she was wrong. She’s beginning to see the error of her ways. I think this is going to depend largely on your relationship with this person. My mom isn’t big on political correctness either (largely because she grew up during segregation and it’s just a foreign concept for her, I’d like to believe she isn’t genetically wired to be that awful) – but she took it fairly well. I think I may have rambled my way around your question, but perhaps you can find a few pieces of advice buried in that.

      1. Cristina in England*

        I wish I were having this conversation with my mom instead! I find it so much easier to say stuff to her outright. Like my latest thing with her is to say “you won’t like that show because you don’t like flawed female characters” and she always takes it well when I am blunt like that and I think she tries to figure it if there’s merit in that. At least she doesn’t get angry and shut me down. Good for you for taking this on with your mom!

    2. Junior Dev*

      Maybe with the not-quite-outright statements you can ask questions. What do you mean by that? You seem to be implying ___, do you know of any evidence for that?

    3. Anon anon anon*

      I would question his commentary. “Why does that person seem biased?” And also point out when the straight white male presenters do the same thing. “Wow, he’s constantly interrupting the interviewee. That doesn’t bother you?” Over time, it could start a conversation or make a point.

    4. Florida*

      When someone makes a subtle racist comment, with a wink-wink, you-kn0w-what-I-mean tone to it, I like to play dumb. No, I don’t know what you mean, you’ll have to explain it to me. You could say, “What do you mean by that?” (with a curious tone, not an accusatory tone). I keep asking until they finally have to explain that it is because the person is of ___ minority. That will accomplish you goal of getting them to consider what they are saying.

    5. Triplestep*

      I was going to say pretty much what others have said: Saying things back to people in the form of a question can often be the best way to get them to stop and hear themselves. And often, you don’t need to elaborate; just a simple “what did you mean by that?” can stop them in their tracks. Like Alison recommends for job offer negotiations, say the thing you want to say then stop, and do not fill the silence no matter how awkward. Your fiend will be left to explain, after which you’ll either have a conversation (if he feels like defending his position), or he’ll see how he’s coming across and start to pay more attention to the things he says.

    6. Book Lover*

      Cristina, have you listened to In Our Time at all? I keep getting my hackles up because it seems like the women experts get interrupted or dismissed more than the men, but I wonder if I am just being irritable.

      A lot of this stuff is so deep and unconscious that it sometimes just takes being told about it or having it pointed out. As long as it isn’t in a ‘you are sexist/racist’ way that makes people resistant.

      1. Cristina in England*

        He usually complains about the Today programme but Any Questions is also a target. Question Time has been for similar reasons and he won’t even listen to PM because he can’t stand Eddie Mair (he thinks EM is condescending but not John Humprys!) every time he mentions EM he describes him as gay. Like any time he describes random people in stories it is always “this black woman” in a way which on the face of it could seem purely descriptive but there is something about his tone where it is obvious to me he is going all “white working class men are the demographic nobody cares about”.
        Anyway, his main radio complaint is that left wing women are the worst interrupters ever on these shows and talk over people and use condescending tones of voice, and the white male conservative counterparts are unfailingly polite and get talked over. It has gotten grating, over the years.

        1. TL -*

          A good way (for me) is to just start asking questions, like, “what did her race/sexual orientation have to do with it?”
          Or pointing out the obvious in a neutral tone. Like, if he says he doesn’t like a female presenter, just nod and say, “yeah, I figured you wouldn’t like her. You always complain about the women on this program.”
          After that, don’t get into an argument with him – he’ll probably bluster and sputter and deny, but you should just say “okay” in a doubtful tone, or “hey, not looking for an argument, only an observation,” and change the subject. Don’t engage in a fight; let him stew in his own head.

          1. Cristina in England*

            Thanks, I especially like the “what does X have to do with it?” and I think I will use that. I would love to point out the obvious (to me) in a neutral tone. If I did that, I would say “you only complain about people on Radio4 if they’re women, minorities, or gay”. Then here would really be fireworks! For someone so obviously racist, he is pretty touchy about anyone calling him racist. What’s up with that?

            1. Ann O.*

              Super common. Because they know that racist = bad guy and they don’t want to be the bad guy (or see themselves as the bad guy).

              I think if your goal is change, your instincts to avoid direct confrontation are dead on. Social science is clear that while direct confrontation may make US feel good, it just causes people to dig in on opinions. Little, indirect comments while still appearing to be on the same side are the most effective over time (with “over time” being key).

              Another thing you may be able to do is counter-complain. If you see a white, Conservative guy interrupting/talking over/etc. complain about that in the same fashion this guy complains about the women/PoC/gay people. Your acquaintance probably doesn’t even notice because he almost certainly has an unconscious bias that the white guy should be the one talking.

              1. Cristina in England*

                Thanks very much! I shall try counter complaining, I hadn’t thought of that as a strategy. I did ask him if it bothered him when John Humphrys interrupted and talked down to people but of course he disagreed and said that JH didn’t do that, and was “one of the best”. :-/

        2. Elkay*

          John Humphrys is the worst! As one of my left leaning workmates said the other week “He had me feeling sorry for a Conservative MP”. I can cope with about 5 minutes of his interviews but beyond that I switch to our local station which is like listening to Alan Partridge.

      2. Nye*

        Interesting – I haven’t noticed that. Mostly I’ve been impressed that, in BBC fashion, there is always at least one female expert on the panel. That seems so unusual compared with most American media that I’ve always thought of it as a quietly progressive program.

      3. Gala*

        Haha I usually say (or think) “Shut up Melvin!!” a few times every time I listen to In Our Time. I know he’s trying to keep the show on track but I want to know what the experts want to say! I haven’t noticed a gender bias but it doesn’t mean it’s not there. (Plus if he didn’t expound on his own theories there would be more time, too).
        Good luck with your friend, Cristina, it can be a process…

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I love it when people complain about the radio or tv. NOT.

      If the show bothers him he can turn it off. You can start there. “You don’t seem to be enjoying the show, get something else on or turn it off.”
      (I actually did this to someone.)
      From there you can work your way up. “Hmm. You say that a lot when a woman is speaking…. what’s up?”
      Now I am at the point where I can speak up about word choice. “Gee, you know, times have changed and more and more people do not use that word now. It’s a mean word, ya know?”

      I started by coming in under my targeted area that I wanted to address. I mean, I could have sledgehammered with my words, but then I would not be heard. I wanted to be heard. So my solution was to make it an on-going conversation where I cover a part each time.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thanks, I think I will try to adopt a long term view, and see it as an ongoing conversation. I think I’m afraid that no matter what I say, even a curious “what do you mean?” will trigger a more polite version of “get stuffed with your leftie PC nonsense and I’m not racist, the left wing uses that to censor people, and they’ve never even been on a city bus with 30 immigrants shouting at each other on their mobile phones.” If that happens the ongoing conversation won’t ever happen. We’ve had a conversation about race in America that went surprisingly well (I am American but he is from the U.K. and the part he is from was 90% white until a decade ago, so this is also tangled up with “the immigrants are ruining our country” stuff).
        He doesn’t use offensive words but he does use a lot of coded language and shortcuts. When he speaks, “Salt of the earth”=white working class conservative. Just as often, when we are talking about a neighborhood, he might simply shake his head and say “Asians”. In this context, “Asians”=Pakistanis and Bangladeshi immigrants who throw rubbish in the street, stand in large groups talking on street corners, have poor hygiene habits and hate white people. And the thing is, he is work friends with Asian guys who are immigrants. It’s so hard to call out because he rarely says anything outright. And I can’t just say “you’re racist” because he can then say “but I am friends with Mohammed”. I’ll just keep telling myself “ongoing conversation”.

        1. TL -*

          If he says Asians, you can ask what he means. “Asians?… I don’t get it. I guess the neighborhood does have a lot of Pakistani-British people, but what does that have to do with Subject?”

          And then, when he says loud, dirty, whatever, you can just say, “oh, that hasn’t been my experience with them. The Person I Work With/whatever is really nice and I enjoy their company.”

    8. Cristina in England*

      Thanks, all. I took your advice and did a playing dumb “what did you mean?” when he made a comment about the pronunciation of someone’s name on the radio. I did manage to suggest she might have originally had to westernize her name when she got into radio and now no one can bother to say her name correctly, which may or may not be true, I don’t know, but I was proud of myself for saying something and also not pushing the point to where it became an argument (I often struggle to find a middle ground of calm disagreement in the moment). I am going to take a long view on this since that more closely matches what my reality will be. I am going to throw out some crumbs for thought more regularly and see if anything lands. Thanks again!

      1. Reba*

        thanks for reporting back! Good luck with changing the dynamics in the relationship. It’s one of those things where you feel like you can never win but I think you’ll feel better for pushing back.

  20. DanaScully*

    Is anyone here familiar with skin conditions? My fingers and hands have suddenly come out in tiny, itchy blisters. I *think* it might be dyshidrotic eczema. I’m disabled so I’d rather avoid having to go out for medical assistance unless I really need to. I’ll reply to my comment with an image (best I could get).

    Thank you for any responses, and I hope it’s okay to ask here.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        I get those and they usually go down in about a week. I might try switching to unscented products for a while, try not to expose your hands to extreme heat or cold and take a look at what comes into contact with your hands–it could be something crazy like the lining of a pair of gloves. My go-to is Smith’s Rosebud Salve, which is quite cheap and great for pretty much everything.

        Also, nobody is ever going to notice them unless you point them out, I promise!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That totally looks like the eczema I have. Try a cortisone cream for the itch, and talk to your doctor. Mine prescribes betamethasone valerate ointment. It’s a steroid, and you’re not supposed to use it forever because it can cause thinning of the skin, but it’s the only thing that works for me. I only use it on active outbreaks, not any other time.

        Keep hydrated and moisturize aggressively. Thicker lotions are better, preferably fragrance-free because scented lotions will aggravate it. I’ve had great luck with Gold Bond’s eczema formula–Walmart has a generic version that isn’t as expensive. Reduce stress as much as possible. I find that when I’m stressed, it gets much worse. When things are going fairly mellow, I don’t have any problems.

      1. C*

        Most dermatologists take months yo get an appointment with…so you could make an appointment now while trying the above treatment. If it doesn’t work, then you will know by the time you have your appointment. And if it is better, you can cancel the appointment.

    1. Simone R*

      I’ve gotten something that looked exactly like that before and I also assumed it was some varient of eczema, just on my toes. It went away eventually, and for me, is usually brought on by some change in shoes/socks so I never did anything to treat it except change what I was wearing.

    2. Book Lover*

      I have always done a good thick hypoallergenic lubricating cream. Especially after washing hands. It is ouchy – hope it resolves quickly.

    3. Ktelzbeth*

      It looks and sounds a lot like my dyshidrotic eczema. If it is, the treatment is moisturizing and a steroid cream.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        But if it gets worse or just doesn’t get better, you may have to go to the doctor. As C says above, it can sometimes take a while to get in with a dermatologist, but if it’s one of the more common skin things, a general practitioner might recognize it or, at the very least, be able to tell if the need for a dermatologist is urgent and speed things up.

    4. Courtney*

      Ugh, sorry! My husband and I both occasionally get these. Haven’t been able to figure out a reason, so I’m afraid I’m not helpful for advice, but I can relate!

    5. CopperPenny*

      My response is a bit different then the others.
      I got dermatitis on my hands that looked like that initially. If it doesn’t go away in a week or two I would make a dermatologist appointment. Mine became an open wound because I waited so long and was also unbearable pain and itchiness.
      The moisturising cream that worked for me is CeraVe. I need both a steroid cream and the CeraVe to get rid of it when it flairs up, but the CeraVe by itself is a great help.
      Mine was caused by developing an allergy to most soaps. I also wear gloves now while using cleaning supplies and anything harsh.
      I hope it goes away quickly and fairly painlessly.

      1. Aussie academic*

        I also have this and have also got to the open wounds stage, and I’d strongly encourage you to take action before it gets that bad. Treatment now can help, but it’s really worth once you’re out of this active flair looking at what are your triggers and figuring out what you can do to avoid them. I’m quite sensitive to cleaning products and heat, so no washing up for me, even with gloves, as the heat will trigger it. Good luck getting it under control!

    6. Amy*

      If it came on suddenly it’s possible it could be Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. It’s a virus that usually just affects children but can infect adults as well. If that’s what it is it’s pretty benign and will go away on its own.

      It’s just top of mind for me since my preschooler had it over the winter break and had little blisters all over her hands (plus a few on her feet, lip, and bum). My husband got a mild case too.

      I hope you feel better soon!

    7. Anon b/c of medical stuff*

      That looks similar to how my shingles presented at the onset – I’d recommend seeing a doctor to rule out that possibility, because if it is shingles, the sooner it’s treated, the less severe it (typically) will be.

    8. Molly's Reach*

      Looks like excema to me. That’s how my outbreaks start – with those tiny bumps. I do have a medicated Rx cream for it. I think it’s called Elocom. With mine the bumps kind of dry up and the skin gets quite dry and itchy. My dermatologist said to moisturize often, like 10-15 times a day. Use gloves when cleaning. Don’t use really hot water for bathing. Use sensitive skin laundry detergent and skip fabric softener all together. These are all tips my dermatologist gave me. Hope this helps.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      I get this occasionally on one foot, and sometimes the fingers. It flares up, and then goes down, and is worse in hot weather. I find the hand one more difficult to deal with, because it’s so hard not to rub the fingers together when it itches.

      For eczema, the first treatment tends to be over the counter steroid cream, which can be used for a couple of weeks, and reduces the itching. You can ask your pharmacist about it. If that doesn’t work, then you can go to the doctor. Eczema can be a real pain to treat, though.

      From what I’ve read, this type of rash is not always eczema based, but can be an reaction to a fungal infection like athlete’s foot somewhere else on the body (an id reaction). And the treatment is very different than that used for eczema. So if the over the counter stuff doesn’t work, a doctor can help you figure out whether the problem is actually what you think it is.

    10. Bluebell*

      This looks like the eczema I had on my fingers when I was younger. Knock wood, I haven’t had it in 20+ years. The doctor gave me some kind of steroid cream, and it really helped. Weirdly enough, I can’t use hydrocortisone because it really makes me itch, so OTC remedies aren’t really good for me. If you can avoid doing lots of dishwashing, I think that is helpful. I vaguely remember being told to avoid it if possible, and to stay away from really hot water. Hope it clears up soon!

    11. Pat Benetardis*

      I have what I think is dyshydrotic eczema on my feet, but have never gotten in to a dermatologist while it’s active. Anywho, last time I had it I used tea tree oil on it, and it cleared up really east (faster than when I’ve used an Rx steroid cream).

    12. DanaScully*

      I just want to say a huge thank you for all of you who took the time to reply. I’m keeping a close eye on it and I’ve been applying an eczema cream which seems to be helping. It’s *so* itchy! Really not sure what kicked it off.

      I’ll get an appointment with my GP as soon as I can after the holidays. I’m sure it will disappear that very day! Thanks again.

    13. JanetM*

      Oh, is *that* what that is! I used to get those all the time as a kid, and I still occasionally get one or two — always on my palms or the palm-side of my fingers. Itch like crazy; eventually dry up and peel.

      I will take the suggestions in this thread to heart.

  21. Junior Dev*

    So this is gross but…my cat is barfing a lot. I think it’s caused by eating too quickly. I tried getting one of those dog bowls that has multiple compartments so she can’t eat the dry food as fast but I don’t think she knows how/is able to get the food out of it. I gave her some wet food this morning and she threw it up.

    I took her to the vet a couple months ago and they didn’t find any problems that could cause this. I don’t have much money now but I start a new job in January so once I get paid I could take her again.

    Does anyone have other suggestions? I mostly feed her dry food, she likes wet food but for some reason only when the can has just been opened, and a full can is too much.

    1. Caledonia*

      How much is throwing up a lot?

      My cat was throwing up after food – all food, every meal – and it turned out she had an inflamation of her osephegus so they gave her medication and she was as good as new after a week.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          My cat used to eat his food too fast and throw up. We found it helped to feed him in a few smaller amounts.

          1. Loopy*

            This may not apply because I’m not a cat owner but my dog was doing this suer fast inhaling like eating and now we also break his meal into smaller “courses” so to speak. He hasn’t had any issues since.

    2. Windchime*

      How is her breath? Does it smell like clean kitty breath with a tinge of cat food? Or is it stinky? I had a cat who barfed constantly and he also had bad breath. The family vet didn’t really know what the problem was and told me that he probably was eating too fast. A visit to a different vet revealed that he had very bad tooth decay (that was what the bad breath was from) and the pain and infection was making him sick.

      When you take her back, make sure they look carefully at her teeth. If she has a tooth infection, it can cause all kinds of problems.

    3. CatCat*

      Our cat used to eat his food so fast that he’d puke. We got an automatic cat feeder that dispenses three small meals per day (instead of the main meal he had been getting) and that solved it.

    4. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      If an empty food bowl is causing food stress, then you need to bypass that process. My older cat was like that and would overeat and eat too quickly (she’s old enough that old issues have been outgrown and replaced with new issues). I got an automatic feeder that I could program to put down x amount of food 3 times a day, and she figured out very quickly that if the bowl was empty, she knew when it would have food again. That knowledge prevented her from panicking that she’d starve, so ate less overall and slowed down, so stopped throwing up. You can get these at pet stores or online.

      There are bowls that are designed to slow them down, but if she can’t figure it out that’s only going to make things worse.

      Also don’t rule out sensitive stomach. If slowing her down doesn’t fix it, she may be having trouble with the food itself. Right now, it doesn’t sound like this, but keep it in the back of your mind.

    5. Red Reader*

      Try like, a muffin tin? Less complex than what I’m envisioning from your dog bowl description, but if you break the food out, a spoonful in each divot, it’s more like a dozen tiny bowls. Slows her down, but not really complicating matters too much for her.

    6. the gold digger*

      Laverne was throwing up about once a week or so. We tried putting tennis balls in her food bowl to make it take longer for her to eat, but she was still throwing up and then she started losing the hair on her belly.

      We switched her food (I think you guys suggested it!), finally settling on a fish only/no grain/no filler formula – Fromm Grain-Free. It worked – she has stopped vomiting and her hair (finally) is growing back.

    7. Gadfly*

      My cats will do that. I have mostly defaulted to just having dry food always available (one of them had kidney and urine crystal issues where stressing him out to try to control his food is a bigger problem then him over eating. And they don’t over eat now that they are used to it.)

      I also tried thing like tbe snuffle mats. There are a lot of options for feeders that slow the animal down. Even just spreading it out on a big tray with some obstacles to have to work around or in a couple small bowls not next to each other helped.

      I also learned to give him just a little, a few pieces only, first and then a few minutes later fill the bowl. That way it wasn’t a lot of food hitting his stomach all at once.

  22. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

    I’m pretty financially illiterate in terms of saving and investing. (Thankfully, my parents did teach me that a credit card is just a pretty terrible idea. I have no desire to go through what they’re just now starting to get out of.) I don’t have a ton of money above basic living expenses to deal with right now, but I’d like to start having a plan for when I do, hopefully in the next few years. I stumbled upon The Simple Dollar and I really appreciate how simply they seem to break everything down. Does anyone have any experience with that blog or perhaps similar ones? (I don’t have any consumer debt right now, just student loans. I’ve seen some of Dave Ramsey’s stuff and it isn’t really my favorite, but I’ve only heard the no debt preachings, and not much of anything else he may or may not touch on.)

    1. CatCat*

      I’m a huge fan of YNAB for personal budgeting and they have a blog. It’s not particularly geared toward investing, but does have a good approach for saving for things you know you’re going to need (e.g., car repair). They also just came out with a book, which I haven’t read yet, but other users have commented on it favorably.

      For investing, I like The Simple Path to Wealth as a place to start. It’s written very conversationally and is easy to read. (I’d recommend reading other books too. I like The Four Pillars of Investing and Bogleheads Guide to Retirement Planning, but I think move onto those after The Simple Path to Wealth). You can get the Simple Path to Wealth as a book or basically just read the whole thing in the author’s blog. I’ll share a link in a reply.

    2. CatCat*

      I read Dave Ramsey’s book several years ago. I think his investment advice is bad and has overly optimistic projections.

      1. Kuododi*

        I wasn’t crazy about his investment, long-term planning advice either. DH and I did find it very helpful in terms of daily/weekly planning as well as just helping opening up dialogue on issues around money management as a couple. (We were able to take the course for free as an employee benefits at his place of work a few years ago.)

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        I like to use a school analogy. Dave Ramsey’s stuff is for people who are in financial elementary school (I don’t mean this in a mean way)–drowning in debt, living beyond their means, don’t know anything about budgeting or saving, etc. His baby steps are quite helpful for someone who has never had a budget, an emergency fund, or any kind of cushion: save $1,000 in a “baby emergency fund,” pay off all consumer debt (including student loans), build an emergency fund of three to six months’ worth of expenses, start saving 15% of your salary for retirement, save 20% for a down payment on a house, save for kids’ college expenses, pay off the house, build wealth by investing/give generously to others. Once you’ve got these basics under control, it’s time to graduate.

        I also cannot stand Ramsey’s political opinions. However, I was able to get great value from listening to his podcast and just skipping the parts where he rants about how government should be run like a business.

    3. Simone R*

      The Billfold has been pretty hit or miss lately, but there are a lot of personal stories about money that look at spending/saving from different angles and the commenters there are great! There are some open thread like posts to ask specific questions as well.

    4. It happens*

      I think reading the articles by the founder of the simple dollar (Trent) is a good first step. He gives good, conservative advice on how to approach frugality and saving. The others are a little more salesy or gimmicky (hey, the site has to make money…)
      At the end of the day the core advice is to spend less than you make; set goals and then work toward them. Which is very boring and hard to sell advertising for.

    5. Melody Pond*

      I really like a blog called 20somethingfinance.com. And I also really like Elizabeth Warren’s book, “All Your Worth.” Her simple breakdown of the 50/30/20 rule for managing where your money goes, was really helpful for me.

      I’m really into personal finance – so much so, that Mr. Pond and I developed a little presentation to illustrate what we do, and what our plan is for our money. If you’re interested, it’s here:


    6. Mallory*

      I think one place to start is identifying goals- shorter and long term. Then create a plan based on those goals.

      Do you want to retire early? Buy a home? Have a savings account of $X? An emergency fund that needs beefing up? Go on a spendy vacation without guilt? Pay off your loans ASAP? Start a family?

      For example, Mr Money Mustache will help you optimize your life around financial freedom/early retirement, but may not be the best if what you want to do is be solvent enough to buy a house and have a bunch of kids.

    7. Meag L*

      Your right that credit cards are terrible if you don’t pay off your balance every month! BUT they can also be very useful in building credit, IF you are able to manage them responsibly. I put every purchase I possibly can on my credit card, and then pay if off in full each month. I have a strong credit score which helped when I went to obtain mortgage. If you don’t use credit or have other debts that you pay off your credit score might be impacted. Just some food for thought.

    8. NDQ*

      I’d start with mr money mustache. It is a great philosophy to learn to live on less, invest more and live a life you design.


  23. CatCat*

    I got all kinds of stuff to make soap for Christmas and today I’m going to try it out! I’m just doing a basic recipe without added color or fragrance to see how it goes.

    This is going to be a great activity for my inner pragmatic mad scientist.

    1. Gadfly*

      Melt and pour?Cold process? Details!

      I have only done a little of the melts, but want to play with lye when I have space (does not exist in affordable Bay Area apartment)

      1. CatCat*

        Hot process! No patience for cold process and I couldn’t find palm-free melt and pour or I’d be doing that.

        1. CatCat*

          I didn’t get a kit, but I did do a lot of research. I read a couple books, read instructional material on the internet, learned how to use a lye calculator, and bought the component materials that I needed. I looked for kits and Brambleberry has some beginner cold process soap kits (would work for hot process, I would think, you just need to add the step of cooking the soap). I wanted palm-free soap though and the kits use palm oil.

  24. Vicki*

    Do you wear shoes indoors?

    People on television shows (English-speaking ones in any case) always seem to just walk in/out of their homes without removing their shoes. I used to think it was just a matter of convenience for filming (much like how no one ever knocks and why presents are wrapped separately) but I’ve been told that in the US people actually do that as a matter of course?

    (For context, I’m from a culture where removing one’s shoes at the door is a pretty big deal, and it’s considered incredibly disrespectful to wear your shoes into someone else’s home unless explicitly invited to do so. Guests are usually provided with slippers.)

    1. nep*

      I wear flip-flops while in the house. I don’t like keeping my shoes on once inside, but don’t like walking around barefoot or in socks.
      When I go to someone else’s house, I always go to take my shoes off near the door — just doesn’t feel right to be inside a home wearing shoes that have been outside; but people generally say don’t bother.

    2. Windchime*

      I grew up in a house where shoes are removed when you come in (in the USA) and my shoes are still the first thing to come off when I enter. I have a pair of sandals that I sometimes wear around the house. If it’s dry outside, then I will sometimes wear my shoes indoors for a little while but if it’s raining, I don’t.

      When service people or workers come to the house, they always put on those little blue shoe cover things so they avoid tracking in dirt.

    3. Book Lover*

      We take off shoes and put on slippers :). Or sometimes the kids go about in socks or barefoot, but not shoes in the house.

    4. DanaScully*

      I live in the UK and I’d never go into someone’s home without removing my shoes first. Sometimes people say it’s okay to leave them on, but I’d still rather remove them as I think it’s polite to. I had this drilled into me as a child and it’s stuck!

      In my own home, I’m either barefoot or in socks/slippers. The only time I wear my shoes inside is if I’m ready to go out and quickly run back inside for something I’ve forgotten.

    5. Cruciatus*

      Yes, I wear shoes indoors, though not constantly in my own home. In others’ homes I do ask if I need to take them off, but my mom wears orthotics and would be extremely uncomfortable without her shoes. I’d prefer to keep my shoes on in other peoples’ home if I had it my way (obviously not muddy, gross, icky shoes). It would feel so weird to have a dinner party in my socks or someone else’s slippers. I’d do it, but it’d be uncomfortable for me.

      1. CatCat*

        I’m with you. I actually avoid some people’s homes because they want me to take my shoes off (never actually been offered slippers, but I’d find it kind of gross, and shoes end up discarded in a pile). I wouldn’t dream of asking a guest to take off their shoes.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        The dinner party in socks is one that seems weird to me. When it’s a normal day I take my own shoes off for comfort, but I don’t expect it of guests. (With my kids’ friends, it seems evenly split on whether “of course shoes indoors, and keep your clothes on too” and “of course always take your shoes off on walking into a house.”_

      3. Starryemma*

        Agreed. I’m really not used to removing my shoes, so I’m usually unprepared for it. It’s the worst if I’m wearing shoes that don’t require socks, or tights or boot or something. It’s so awkward going barefoot in someone else’s house, but I’ll do it if asked, or if it seems like everyone’s taking their shoes off.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Most people I know don’t remove shoes as a matter of course when entering the house. I mean, they may choose to remove them and wear socks or slippers, but it’s not a standard or a requirement. My SIL sprung the “please remove your shoes” on me unexpectedly when they first moved out here. I hate being barefooted! At home, I take off my shoes and put on slippers, but others in my house just wear their shoes around. So I spent an evening at my SIL’s with my feet awkwardly bare and cold. Now I put a pair of socks in my purse when we go over there.

      5. Courageous cat*

        Totally agree. Shoes are a significant component of one’s outfit and it would be so strange to be in a party setting without them!

      6. Liz in a Library*

        Like your mom, the pain of not wearing shoes is the crux for me. I have problems with my sciatic nerve, and the change in my posture from standing flat-footed for as little as five minutes can lead to pain shooting down my leg hours later. I’m in shoes from the moment I get up until I climb into bed, and I generally just can’t accept invitations to homes that require shoes off.

        I’d be happy to slip on painters’ booties over my shoes though, and have occasionally kept a pair in my purse for that purpose.

      7. Catarina*

        Medical reasons aside, I am always amazed at the apparent grace and agility of shoeless home dwellers. I am constantly tripping over cat toys, bashing my toes into a chair someone didn’t push in…if I went shoeless, I’d have ten broken toes in less than a week.

    6. MissDissplaced*

      American here, and yes we mostly do keep our shoes on in the home. It’s not considered rude to do so and most people keep their shoes on around the home.
      However, I like to change into my slippers when I come from work in the evening. But this is more for comfort, not because of social norms.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I should clarify that if one is wearing shoes or boots that are muddy, dirty, wet, or snowy, grassy, or especially gross, then of course those would be taken off at the door. (Though my hubby doesn’t always follow that rule and sometimes tromps through the house making a mess!)

        “Normal” shoes such as sneakers, loafers, heels, etc. were/are typically worn in and around the home. At least this is how I was raised and still do so. I’m wearing my sneakers indoors right now. In the mornings, I put my work shoes on in the bedroom and walk through the rest of the house. Do others not do this? Do you keep all your shoes by the door then or set them out every night?

        Funny, but I tend to equate removal of shoes in homes with being more “well-to-do.” Growing up, there were a few freind’s homes where the parents required shoe removal in their home. But I always thought this was because they had much nicer “fancy” homes with plush white or beige carpets, expensive furnishings and such. And of course I knew removing shoes was the norm for some cultures. But in my working class home, we wore our shoes. It’s kind of an interesting cultural question, and I wonder why shoe wearing is more the norm with Americans.

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          As a shoes-off culture, yes. All the shoes are kept near the door or in the hall closet, unless it’s a particularly formal/fancy pair of shoes, in which case they live in my closet and get taken to be put on when I’m walking out the door.

          1. MissDissplaced*

            Hmmm… in my house there is no space by the doors allocated to this purpose. And literally no place to put a seat or storage for the shoes, or even a basket. You enter right into my living room or kitchen, and in the kitchen, you’d fall down the basement steps if you tried to sit to remove/put on shoes!
            I’ve been in houses with “mud rooms” of course, but I’ve personally never lived in a home with one.

    7. Valancy Snaith*

      I live in Canada. Shoes come off at the door, always. But I grew up in the States where it was common to leave shoes on all over the house, and I much prefer shoes-off. The floors stay so much cleaner!

      In the winter, where I live, places like medical offices, spas, etc., will often ask you to take off your shoes at the door as well or wear shoe coverings to keep the entire place from getting salt stained and mucky.

      1. NoMoreMrFixit*

        Another Canadian and shoes definitely come off indoors. If we’re cold then we put on slippers or thick socks.

    8. Muriel Heslop*

      We take our shoes off as soon as we enter our house and our 4 and 6 year olds do, too. We have a very leafy entrance and our kids are always muddy, so it’s just a habit. We don’t ask other people to do it, but they usually do when they see the basket near the door.

    9. LazyGirl*

      In the US this is regional. I grew up in a place where shoes were not removed, but now I live somewhere where people expect you to remove them. TBH it still feels rude to me but I comply in other people’s homes and just give people the option in my home.

    10. fposte*

      I’m American and I grew up with shoes indoors. As an adult I’ve split the difference; outdoor shoes are okay downstairs for a quick walk from getting dressed or right when I come home, but upstairs is no shoes.

      Or no outdoor shoes, anyway. I’ve got foot annoyances that mean I’m often better off with shoes, sadly, so I have indoor shoes that are kept separately.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        In Germany and Austria, I have been invited into people’s homes and been given slippers to wear (think a fabric version of the free towelling slippers you get in posh hotels)

        Although I remember once going to somebody’s house for a meeting/get together and I was the first person to arrive. I had visited her before and not needed to take my shoes off, but this time, she told me I had to. Ok, but then when the other people arrived, she didn’t ask them to remove their shoes!

    11. Ktelzbeth*

      I always take my shoes off when entering my own house unless I’m quickly grabbing something and running back out. In the winter I put on slippers. At someone else’s house I will ask. I’m in the USA Midwest, so in the winter it’s often off because of the amount of snow and salt and sand that could be tracked in. I usually bring slippers with me if I expect this to be the case. I would prefer guests to my house take off their shoes, but will not make anything of it unless it is clearly muddy or otherwise gross outside and I can see the footprints coming in.

    12. Courtney*

      I live in the US (Michigan) and grew up with shoes on indoors. My husband grew up with the opposite (although he’s from the same area) and I’ve deferred to the way he prefers it since I don’t really care.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      The doc says I have to wear shoes. My secondary reason is my floors used to be flipping cold. Think of your feet being so cold you start crying. I used to let my dog on the furniture for this reason. I put a thermometer on my floor one time and it said 45 degrees. My house is warmer now but on these cold days I would still wear shoes even without the doc ordering me to wear them.

      For me, I get tense if I have to take my shoes off in someone’s home. I do it. But it is not without physical pain.

      1. BatteryB*

        Same here. Doctor has told me to always wear shoes. I do change from outdoor shoes to ones that are only worn inside. I also keep some in my car when I visit someone who wants me to take off my outdoor shoes.

    14. Fiennes*

      It varies in the US. Continuing to wear shoes generally isn’t considered rude, but some areas usually have people take their shoes off, and others don’t. Just based on anecdata, it seems like urban areas are more likely to remove shoes (because they’re loud in apartment buildings, and people have generally walked on public streets and/or been on public transport), and more rural/suburban areas are more likely to keep them on (as there are no downstairs neighbors to disturb, and people have generally traveled door-to-car-to-door). It also seems to me that removing shoes is becoming more common in the US, particularly in the past decade or so.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I’ve always equated shoes off with being more well-to-do. and nicer furnishings So, maybe that’s why it’s more the norm in the city? Plus being practical in large apartment buildings and public transportation would make sense. Interesting.

    15. Detective Amy Santiago*

      At home or when I’m at my parents house, never.

      When I go to someone else’s house, it depends. Some people think it’s rude if you do take your shoes off, some prefer if you don’t. It’s definitely not a US custom to provide slippers to guests (anywhere that I’ve been) but I usually follow whatever the host is doing.

    16. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I don’t because I personally find it pretty gross (and also I just hate shoes and don’t understand why anyone would want to wear them a moment longer than necessary), but in general US culture it’s not wrong to wear shoes indoors, although even as a kid I had some friends whose parents wanted us to take our shoes off indoors.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        To me though, someone walking around with sweaty bare feet and sweaty socks is even grosser than the shoes.
        Not to mention athlete’s foot and fungal infections.

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        I feel EXACTLY the same way about shoes. I cannot understand how people can stand wearing them indoors, ever!
        I don’t feel like socks or bare feet are gross either, or at least certainly not as transgressive as shoes. I do change into clean socks/slipper-y socks when I get home.

    17. ThatGirl*

      In my house we take our shoes off at the door; I also do that at peoples houses I know well. If I don’t, I follow their lead. I think it really varies. I’ve known people who don’t take their shoes off till it’s time for bed. That said it’s winter and very snowy so shoes off prevents gunk from being tracked all over.

    18. Moonmodule1998*

      From the southern US here. I’m wearing boots on my bed right now. :) Too lazy to take them off at the moment. Yes, it’s acceptable to wear shoes indoors in the US, but different families and people will have different preferences. For example, on Christmas we visited my mom’s boyfriend’s parents house, and a lot of people took off their shoes before they went inside. However, they didn’t explicitly ask us to, and I didn’t take mine off because 1.) it seems weirdly informal and I don’t visit them that often, 2.) no one else in my family did, 3.) I wasn’t sure how long we were going to be there. I think there are some people here who will ask you to take off your shoes, but I haven’t been in any of their houses yet. I’d be fine with doing so if asked and wouldn’t think much of it, but it is less common. In contrast, if you visit my parents house you aren’t expected to do that, and it could seem kind of odd to do so, almost.

      From this random Americans point of view, taking off your shoes in someone’s house seems like a weirdly informal, even potentially rude thing to do. Like, maybe kids could do it, but not these grown guests who aren’t family and are only here for a while. I’d also be thinking about stinky feet, LOL. This is a very culturally American thing, it seems.

      1. Amy*

        Agreed – I would never take off my shoes at someone else’s house unless I was asked to. It would seem much too familiar, in a weird way. However, if the host wants no shoes I’m fine with that.

    19. Loopy*

      I used to at the home I grew up in and I’ve found most others actually don’t! So as an adult I don’t and now it irks me when guests leave shoes on. I also feel really rude when people tell me I am fine to leave shoes on in their house!!! I usually follow the hosts lead or see what other guests do, but though I am in the U.S, it’s stating to feel more odd to be tracking dirt everywhere knowingly.

    20. copy run start*

      Grew up in a shoes-off home in the US. Often my mom would yell at me for running around in socks (because they’d get dirty) so we typically wore slippers or went barefoot (during high summer). In my own home as an adult I always take my shoes off, though I don’t bother with slippers anymore and opt for slipper socks or barefoot during the summer.

      Honestly I think wearing shoes around the house is revolting. I have a friend who is a shoes-on family and their off-white carpet is now gray with filth in high-traffic areas. As a guest I would feel deeply uncomfortable wearing shoes in someone’s home and people who do not take off their shoes in my home seldom are invited back. I’d much rather walk around in socks because they’re easier to clean and replace than the floors and furniture.

    21. Nicole*

      We always take our shoes off at the door and let new guests know ahead of time before visiting. I don’t think it’s rude to do so. Not only is it more comfortable, but also more sanitary. There was a study where they found traces of feces on the bottom of every shoe tested. I don’t want that on my carpet and floors! Also, how does one relax on their couch wearing shoes? I like to sit with my feet up. :)

      1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        I think it’s incredibly kind of you to alert guests to your preferences before. It wouldn’t sway my decision to visit you, but being able to mentally prepare for that and not be blindsided would be a huge relief. It’s like when people tell me where to park. Those are the folks I like to visit. :-)

    22. Bryce*

      It really depends on the house/family. Most of the folks I know leave their shoes on, but I always take them off. My mother needs to wear shoes for stability but has a separate pair of indoor ones to keep them clean. I think it can depend on how much of the floor is carpets and whether you want to bother; shoes tend to stay on for parties for example because keeping track of everything is bad enough with jackets.

    23. Lissa*

      I’m from Canada and we take our shoes off. I remember learning about Japanese culture and reading “they take their shoes off inside!” as though this was some surprising fact and I was like….yeah? It seems to be mostly USA that keeps them on, though I also like how in some European countries, slippers are offered!

      Every time this topic comes up a couple people who live in shoes-on areas mention how they can’t take their shoes off, or know people who can’t, for medical reasons. I have never seen this come up in a shoes-off location though and I imagine that most polite people would totally understand a “actually I have a foot condition”…I just haven’t ever seen it come up, oddly!

      1. Bryce*

        My mother has an ankle issue and needs shoes for support, but she has a separate pair of indoor shoes.

      2. Colette*

        Canadian as well, and I think most people with foot issues bring separate indoor shoes to wear. But yeah, you take your shoes off when you come inside.

        (I don’t think I did as a child, at least not all the time, but I wouldn’t think of keeping my shoes on now.)

    24. Elizabeth West*

      It varies. I usually take them off at home just for comfort, but I don’t make other people do it. I don’t have carpets, though. If asked, I will take them off at other people’s homes, no problem.

    25. Amy*

      I’m in the US and don’t generally remove my shoes when coming inside, except when I’m planning to be inside the rest of the day and would rather be in sock feet for comfort. We were raised to take off our shoes if they were muddy or wet, but otherwise we didn’t worry about it. I’m happy to comply if that’s someone else’s preference in their own home, though.

    26. Elizabeth H.*

      I’m from USA (MA) and have basically always lived here. I personally take my shoes off at home and I have ever since I can remember (including as a teenager), but I wasn’t raised like we are supposed to take shoes off at home and I think my parents often wear shoes in the house and always have. In my (miniscule) dorm room in college I always took shoes off at the door and when I’ve lived in apartments I always take shoes off at the door. Once in a while I forget something in my room and have to run back and get it and if I’m in a major hurry I leave shoes on but it seriously makes me cringe. Some things to add are that I am a huge neat freak (when I had my own place I vacuumed weekly and kept the floors literally, for real literally not hyperbolic, clean enough to eat off of) and that I personally have a big compulsive thing about shoes (I hate wearing shoes at all and especially closed toed shoes). I feel uncomfortable wearing shoes in other people’s houses and usually take mine off if there’s any sign it’s socially acceptable to do so (in winter in New England, it’s normal to take your winter boots off at door). The exception is if it’s a party or festive occasion and I’m wearing nice shoes like heels or nice flats in which case I will wear those shoes the whole night inside (including if the dinner or party is at my own house). And sometimes in snowy weather I’ll bring nice shoes to change into when I get inside.
      I think wearing shoes inside is pretty unpleasant but I recognize it’s common here. Because I recognize that it’s common here I don’t ask guests to take off shoes (except my boyfriend when he is in my bedroom) but when I had my own place I would clean scrupulously after they left.
      As you can see I have many thoughts on this so I’m happy for the opportunity to share! I really loved traveling in Japan where it’s not weird and is in fact appropriate to take shoes off inside *always*. And Russia.

    27. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have always hated wearing shoes indoors but I grew up in a shoes-on household. When I moved out on my own, I made my own home shoes-off, but I don’t insist on it with guests. When I visit someone for the first time and they’re wearing socks, I usually ask if it’s a shoes-off house and prepare to de-shod. I usually wear fun socks, so I’m prepared.

    28. Annie Mouse*

      I usually at least go to take my shoes off at the door and kinda expect people to do that at my house. Although sometimes I will nip inside my house with them on if I’m not stopping long.
      I would say a dinner party is possibly an exception to that if you’re all dressed up posh.
      And I have a massive exception at work. My shoes go on when I leave the house and the only times they will come off before I finish for the day is if I get something in them or if the police need them as evidence for something. And I go into a lot of houses each day. I realise that it can seem disrespectful in some cultures but my boots keep me safe and I’m enough of a clutz with our equipment that I’d have serious issues with my feet if I took them off!! But give me a pair of those blue shoe covers and 99% of the time, I’ll stick them on.

      1. Annie Mouse*

        Just thinking actually, my work boots are the only shoes I absolutely won’t wear in my house past the hallway. I know where those have been in the past….

    29. Courageous cat*

      Yeah, I always wear shoes indoors throughout the day, I only take them off at the end of the day really. I dunno, I get the argument against doing that, but like… I’ve done it my whole life and I haven’t experienced any weird horrible disease from whatever’s on my floors, which seems to be what some people seem to think will happen. It’s just not a big deal to me. Shoes are part of the outfit and so I wear them with the rest of the outfit. And my floors are not visibly dirty in any way.

      And I can tell I already start feeling defensive when I am typing that because I tend to be in the minority on this and I sort of hate coming to someone’s house and being asked to take off my shoes when I am not expecting to, particularly if I’m not wearing socks. It feels too intimate to be barefoot in someone’s house, especially if there are people there that I don’t know very well.

      1. MissDissplaced*

        A lot of my shoes are worn without socks and it would be gross to me to have to walk around barefoot in someone else’s house.
        This is really fascinating though.

    30. Rookie Manager*

      Fascinating thread! We’re very much a shoes off household (Scotland). In our old house I’d take off my shoes but my partner didn’t all the time – but downstairs was all hard flooring.

      When we moved into our new house we decided that all carpets were shoe free. Guests can wear shoes in the hall/kitchen/downstairs loo but if they venture into the lounge etc shoes must come off. We have pale fluffy carpets and after 7 years they are almost immaculate. We used to warn people that we were shoes off and to paint toenails/bring slippers/wear clean socks (or whatever makes them comfortable) and have never had any push back. Now everyone does it automatically, we even have a bench to sit and take off/put on shoes.

      In home visits in a professional capacity I have occasionally been asked and occasionally offered to de-shoe. My family are all shoes off households so I do it automatically, SIL just got a new carpet so is shoe free and most friends I expect to remove shoes and feel more comfortable when I do. My MIL always fussed and says to leave my shoes on but I know how much effort she puts into keeping the floors immaculate so I ignore her and will take slippers for any longer than an hour visit.

    31. kas*

      I’m Canadian and shoes come off at the door. I can’t walk around my house in the same dirty shoes I wore outside. If I go to someone’s house though, I always bring socks unless it’s family. I don’t feel comfortable walking around barefoot in someone’s house, especially because I don’t know if their floor/house is clean.

    32. K.*

      At home or at my parents’ homes, never. Growing up we didn’t wear shoes indoors. Slippers, sometimes. At others’ houses, I take my cue from the host. But I literally never wear shoes in my own home. I’m wearing wool socks right now.

    33. Big City Woman*

      Yes to indoor shoes. We would only take slushy or muddy boots off. When I was growing up, I only knew of one family that required shoes to be removed when I went to their house, and that was considered pretty weird and a pain in the butt. I have one friend who requires removing your shoes, and I hate it because I always have problems with my feet or have holes in my socks and don’t want anyone to see.

      1. fposte*

        I think she’s talking about the way TV presents have the lid and box wrapped separately, so people open presents just by lifting the wrapped lid off the box.

        1. nonegiven*

          I used to wrap that way, but only if I had a box with a separate lid, not like an Amazon box or whatever.

    34. ..Kat..*

      I need foot support from special, expensive orthotics to try and manage my plantar fasciitis (which is really painful). So, sigh, my shoes now have to stay on in the house.

    35. Aphrodite*

      I have no idea why but this subject is generally a hot one wherever it appears. People are either “no shoes in the house” or “shoes on in the house.” There seems to be very little middle ground, and I am not sure why. I always follow my hostess’s rule and have no problems with either way.

      I am definitely in the no-shoes camp. I wasn’t raised that way; we wore shoes except when sleeping or bathing. However, in 1979 I moved to Hawaii were no one wears shoes in the house. And I never have since–nor do I allow anyone else to do so. I wouldn’t walk barefoot on a public *gags at the thought* and to me wearing shoes that have been on the street and then wearing them inside your home is no different.

    36. Kerr*

      US here. I go barefoot in my own home for comfort, but I live in a firmly shoes-on culture and would never require it of guests. But I’ve lived in both shoes-off and shoes-on cultures, and both make sense to me.

      The key is that if it’s cultural, nobody is surprised. If you’re going against the culture and making a special request, you want to give people warning well in advance and not press your expectations upon guests. In a shoes-on culture, I don’t expect to take off my shoes in someone’s home, and my feet may be unpedicured/stinky that day/wore mismatched socks/shoes are grubby inside (especially sandals!). It’s my feeling that hosts going against the grain should give advance notice and/or disposable shoe covers or slippers.

    37. MsChanandlerBong*

      We change into slippers/socks when we get home, but only because our yard is filled with plants that drop thorny little balls of terror all over the ground. The barbs are so sharp that they sink into the soles of our shoes, so if we wear shoes in the house, we end up shedding spiky things all over the place. I don’t know what the plants are, but the barbed balls of terror look kind of like kidney stones with hooks sticking out from them. They are awful.

    38. nonegiven*

      My husband wears lace up work boots, pretty involved to put on and take off. He’s in and out most days doing stuff outside. He puts them on in the morning and doesn’t take them off until he’s getting ready for bed or shower.

      I can’t stand shoes and I take them off in the bedroom and put on my slippers as soon as I get home.

    39. Catarina*

      I actually have a question about this, and I’ve never gotten a straight answer.

      For people who refuse to wear shoes indoors, how do you deal with going in and out over and over with your arms full–like when unloading groceries from the car? Do you teeter in the doorway fumbling with your shoes each load, or just walk back out to the car barefoot? I don’t get it.

      1. Someone else*

        I can usually carry all my groceries in both hands. I never have more than 4 bags at once, but usually it’s more like 2-3. If I did need multiple trips I just put them down right inside the door. There’s no need to repeatedly take shoes on an off to unload groceries. Once they’re all inside, I take my shoes off at the door and then move the bags into the kitchen.

      2. Clever Name*

        I have a tile entryway, so I bring in my groceries and set them on the carpet near the door. Once they are all in, I take off my shoes and carry them to the kitchen/have my 11-year-old carry them the rest of the way in.

      3. Valancy Snaith*

        I have stone in my entryway and a rug in front of the garage entrance. So either I bring everything in and set it on the rug or the stone, or stack everything right outside the door and bring it back in. It’s not that complicated. Honestly, it’s so rare that I have more groceries than my husband and I can carry in our hands that it doesn’t come up very often at all.

    40. Clever Name*

      I don’t wear shoes in my own home. In summer I go barefoot and winter I wear slippers. But I don’t demand guests remove their shoes. If it’s slushy outside and folks are wearing boots, people normally remove their shoes without being asked.

      My parents wear their shoes in their house, and when I visit, I keep my shoes on, mostly because I think they don’t clean their floors often enough or are particularly thorough about it.

  25. paul*

    End of life care is awful, at least in the United States (is it better elsewhere? I haven’t seen it in action elsewhere).

    I didn’t make my dogs die like this. Why do we make people go this way?

    1. Book Lover*

      I am so sorry. I have had wonderful experiences with hospice, but I know that they are different companies and it depends on which one you choose. And of course the patient and family have to want hospice. Again, so very sorry.

      1. paul*

        He’s in hospice and we’ve removed the hydration IV (there’s a term for it, I’m forgetting it). Lots of anti anxiety meds and morphine but he’s 80 years old and if we want to avoid jail time we basically have to let him die of hunger and/or dehydration. Staff last night said it could be up to 8 or 10 days like this :/

        Hell of a way to die.

        1. Suddenly Free*

          I’m so sorry paul. I watched my husband slowly suffocate in the hospital. Yes, he had morphine. He had stage 4 lung cancer. His lungs were shutting down. And it still took literal days for him to die. He was 64. I will pray for your loved one and for you what I prayed then; for this to be over.

        2. fposte*

          I know it seems horrible, paul, but I think it’s harder for the onlookers than for the person dying. I’ve known people who chose that, and it’s actually been really peaceful for them; the body just shuts down on its own. Does it seem like they’re in distress?

          I agree with you that physician assisted death, as is legal in a lot of places, is something that should be available. But I think if your person doesn’t seem uncomfortable, they probably aren’t, and it’s more of a problem for those close to them.

          I know it’s tough, and I’m sorry you’re going through it.

        3. Book Lover*

          This is how my grandmother went, in another country, and as awful as it seems from outside, for her it was peaceful and painless. And with family at bedside as much as possible. Sometimes people want to give hydration because they think how uncomfortable it would be to die of thirst, but actually it is not like that, and hydration causes more problems with breathing. I am not sure if that helps, but just to say I have seen it and it really is peaceful. I am not saying that there couldn’t be better options, but it is not so awful as it sounds (for the patient, of course hard for the family).

        4. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I am so sorry :( I agree that it’s cruel that we make people suffer to die “naturally” when we don’t do that to our pets.

          Sending good thoughts to you and yours for a quick and painless passing.

        5. Tris Prior*

          I’m so sorry. I went through this with my father. They took him off of the machines and said he’d go in an hour or two. He held on for four days, and it was awful to watch.

          As you say, we don’t make our pets suffer like this.

        6. ..Kat..*

          I am so sorry that you and your loved one are dealing with this. But, part of the dying process is the shutting down of the digestive system. The patient loses their appetite. We used to think that putting in a feeding tube and feeding them was the right thing to do. But now we know that (when someone is dying) the not-eating thing actually provides some pain relief. We let the patient decide whether to eat or not.

    2. Suddenly Free*

      It’s better if you have the money to pay out of pocket, or can do the care yourself. Well, one of those is better. My BIL died in hospice care in a beautiful private home setting with full-time medical staff. It was bloody expensive but he had superlative care. My husband died in the hospital after being cared for in his own home by myself and our daughter for several months. I’m very grateful he was able to be in his own home, with his own family for that time, but it was … just incredibly hard.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      We have a long way to go in developing our medical treatment plans. A very long way to go.

      Very sorry, Paul. Very sorry.

    4. Elf*

      I decided years ago that if I get any of the diseases my grandparents died of then I’m moving to a state with euthanasia for precisely this reason. I hope he has a heart attack or an aneurysm or an accidentally high dose of morphine to speed things along. Just remember that it will end.

    5. All Hail Queen Sally*

      My father was in hospice for EIGHT MONTHS when he was dying of Parkinson’s Disease. He would get so constipated from the morphine and be in pain but they wouldn’t give him an enema because that was “treatment” so they would give him more morphine for the pain. It went on and on like this. It was just horrible. When my time comes, I want to be euthanized.

      1. Lissa*

        Same. I actually don’t understand why it’s considered humane and the right thing to do for pets, but not humans. I’m not being facetious, I actually don’t know. With humans they can even say “this is what I want” so we can be sure!

        1. Epsilon Delta*

          I struggle with understanding why we view these cases differently too. I can’t wrap my brain around the logic.

    6. Clever Name*

      We were lucky in that my granny was able to die in her own home. We had been giving her morpheine (under the supervision of the in-home nurse). We gave her appropriate doses at all times, but the nurse still cautioned us not to give her too much because “it might suppress her breathing”. Essentially the nurse told us to do less to ease her pain and drag out her dying process. It was unreal.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this.

  26. AdAgencyChick*

    Someone just canceled his RSVP for my NYE party (for which I cook a full meal with apps and desserts) because he doesn’t want to go out in the cold.

    Don’t be surprised if I don’t invite you to any more parties, bro. This is a lifelong bachelor who has never hosted anything in his life (unless “come to my apartment and bring all the food and booze” counts as hosting, but he hasn’t even done that in years). I don’t know whether he just doesn’t know how much work it is to put together a good party, or if it’s that he doesn’t care. Either way, he sucks.

    Just venting. :/

    1. Triplestep*

      Sounds like you’re lucky he cancelled rather than just deciding not to show up without telling you. (And yes, it also sounds like he does not know how much work it is to put together a good party, and/or he thinks it comes easily to you and you enjoy it, so his cancelling is no big deal.) Sorry you’re one short; is there someone else you’d like to invite in his place on short notice?

    2. Simone R*

      Ugh. I will never forgive the people who came to my NYE party (with tons of homecooked food) and then took the alcohol they had brought back with them when they left! Ever since then I’ve hidden the wine, or thrown out the 6 pack carrier so they can’t do that.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Huh. In my circle you bring your own booze to drink and take it home with you or you hand a bottle to your host.

        1. Rookie Manager*

          In my circle that would be incredibly rude unless the host insisted you take it back with you. It’s how we have ended up with a collection of spirits we don’t drink… but is fantastic for the occasional ‘just come back to ours’ at chucking out time.

          At house parties the host would normally provide the first drink or two and plenty mixers and guests would bring their own alcohol for the rest of the night. Depending on how raucous the night becomes the host may come out with more or less booze than the start of the night. My partner is also likely to go ‘you have to try this new whisky/local keg I bought.

          Unfortunately neither me or my friends are sophisticated enough to match drinks to courses!

        2. Simone R*

          This was beer and wine, not spirits, the guests handed the wine to me, and drank the provided cocktails and ate the fancy food I had cooked. That’s why I found it annoying!

          1. Rookie Manager*

            I probably wouldn’t invite them back! Unless something was explicitly agreed I would just find that really rude.

            This is so context dependant though. A couple of months back a friend popped in a had a glass or two of red wine, when he left I sent him away with the rest of the bottle because it was a fancy one that neither of us would drink, it seemed a waste to turn it into gravy or poured down the sink.

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        Hmm, interesting. I can see this both ways. If I am going over to a small dinner party I would leave whatever didn’t get consumed during the evening. But at a larger event (including possibly an NYE party) if something I brought didn’t get served, like an entire bottle of wine, and it seemed unobtrusive for me to take it back (as in I hadn’t like presented it to the host, just left it in a bag waiting to replenish the alcohol available set out), I think I’d take it back. I would also take back beer that didn’t make it into the fridge in the first place.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Also is this alcohol that’s being shared with the group or that people are bringing just for themselves? I’ve got a bottle of gin I’ve taken to two dinner parties this week – I can’t afford to leave it there just so I can have a couple gin and tonics and wouldn’t be expected to.

          1. Rookie Manager*

            If you are just having a couple of gins at mine then I’d definitely suggest you take it home with you. Or if you were regularly round and insisted on leaving it I’d be very firm that it would be ready for you next time.

            We tend to put all the alcohol together and people batter in. I get annoyed when people (Not necessarily at mine) will drink the open bottle of wine/vodka/drink of choice all night then take theirs home because it hasn’t been opened. Or bring a cheap bottle themselves and drink the quality stuff others have brought – this is how we have paint stripper vodka in the cupboard *shudders*.

            It can be a fraught issue if you stray from the norms of your group I guess.

              1. Rookie Manager*

                I don’t think I explained clearly, all the drinks tend to get put in a cold spot and everyone helps themselves after the first drink or two. If I had to be a proper hostess serving people we would be much less hospitable. Between the shoe thread and this one I’m currently surprised anyone comes to our house!

            1. Middle School Teacher*

              A little off topic, but paint stripper vodka can be drinkable with the right mix. I use it for Caesars :)

        2. Simone R*

          Yes, this was wine that had been handed to me and beer that was in the fridge that got taken back. That’s why I was annoyed!

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            That is pretty bizarre then! I can’t imagine handing someone something then taking it back, unless it was a really casual & large party (the BYOB type party) and there was an excess of whatever it was. And especially taking beer out of the fridge, again, unless it was a BYOB party. Most of the gatherings I go to are BYOB but you can pretty much tell the difference.

      3. Rookie Manager*

        I will never forgive the unknown person who brought a 1/4 bottle of vodka to a house party over 15 years ago. No one drank less than 1/2 bottle and most drank far more. No one had money as we were all students. We found the bottle during clear up next day and no-one admitted to it. Same party someone superglued a flower to my cactus, that person sheepishly apologised the next day.

      4. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yeah, that is pretty rude. To me, the booze is a gift for the host, so to take it back would be like giving somebody a gift and then taking it home with you when you left.

    3. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      I know some people are just generally crappy, and I’m not trying to self diagnose, but does your friend have anxiety or any sort of family drama going on? The holidays can be rough for either of those. I have anxiety and I’m not proud that I’ve canceled on some friends, and some of my excuses have been pretty pathetic but sometimes your brain doesn’t give you much of an option, or at least make it easy to override. Obviously, if it’s a pattern, maybe not. Just thought I’d throw it out there because I never really even thought about that being a reason before I realized and was diagnosed it myself. I completely understand your frustration though!

      1. Bryce*

        I’m that way with anxiety. If I agree to go to a social thing I can’t give myself any escape clauses (“if the bus schedules cooperate” “if I’m not too tired” et cetera) or part of my brain starts trying to sabotage me to fit into them. It’s also (among other reasons) why I tend not to host; I’m often the first one to want to wrap things up, and I prefer it if I can just say some discreet goodbyes and slip out the door.

        That said, once I commit I’m committed. The only time I’ve ducked an RSVP is when I had the flu, that wouldn’t have been a very nice wedding gift.

    4. fposte*

      How cold are we talking about? It’s supposed to be 12 below here on NYE. I’d damn sure cancel if I was doing anything invitational.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        We are about the same here. It said on the news that they were expecting a lower turn out at a big wingding in our state’s capital city because of the cold. They will have heaters but that is just not enough to motivate me.

      2. K.*

        I agree. I’m supposed to go to a yoga thing on NYE. It snowed today and tomorrow’s high is 18 degrees. There are no reserved spaces so there’s nothing to cancel but I’m contemplating not going. I went out to dinner with a friend earlier this week and it was sub-zero with wind chill, and while I enjoyed my friend’s company I wished I’d stayed in. It was COLD.

    5. Fiennes*

      Is there anyone you know likely to be alone that night who might appreciate the dinner that guy just turned down? Maybe his rudeness can be someone else’s good fortune.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think you’re being a little harsh. He called and notified you that he wasn’t coming a day ahead of time. Maybe he’s not feeling well or has some other health condition that makes the cold difficult for him. How far would he have to travel and how? If I had to drive a great distance or rely on public transit when it was this cold, I would be hesitant to go out too.

    7. brushandfloss*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if more people canceled on you depending on the weather. Its bitterly cold in the NE right plus snow in some places. I’m not risking an accident or getting stranded just for party. Those are the risks with hosting parties during cold weather. I would expect a friend to understand that.

    8. Tris Prior*

      Eh, I don’t know. I understand being disappointed because someone is bailing, but, you’re in NYC, aren’t you? (Apologies if I am misremembering). I am in a similarly public-transport-friendly city where it’s normal to not have a car – I don’t – and I am seriously thinking over whether I want to bail on my NYE plans. Do I really want to deal with public transport when it’s going to be -2 out (before the windchill)? Is the Lyft surge pricing going to go so high that I can’t afford it – on busy nights like NYE, that often happens? Or do I want to gamble on catching a cab on a busy night, which might take longer than taking the damn bus in the first place?

      I don’t know how cold it’s going to be where you are, but here it’s not that unusual for people to bail on stuff if it’s going to be dangerously cold and neither they nor their friends drive. (And we are supposedly “hardy midwestern stock” who can take everything; still, it can be downright painful to be outside in these conditions.)

    9. Ktelzbeth*

      I’m sorry. That sounds frustrating, since you’ve probably already started putting in some of the work. On the other hand, I don’t know where you are, but if it’s anything like where I am, it is going to be dangerously cold the next couple of days. Church was cancelled for tomorrow morning and our pastor told everyone to stay home and be safe. Sometimes it really is too cold to go out and that number is different from person to person. It also sounds like you do a lot more for him than he does for you, so unless he is truly scintillating at parties or has some other major attraction, it doesn’t sound like you have much to lose by not inviting him back.

  27. Junior Dev*

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

    I started using my SAD lamp and oh wow, it’s really helped my mood. It’s not a cure-all but i do think it helps with my depression when the days are so short.

    I’ve been concerned about getting my sleep cycle back on track for a Thing We Do Not Discuss on Weekends so this is encouraging too.

    Anxiety is still bad in certain contexts. I took an Ativan before going to the mall recently and I think it helped.

    I’m thinking about trying to ride public transit again, but I’m not sure if I can mentally handle it. I started a knitting project and I’m thinking of riding with my noise cancelling headphones and a podcast on. I don’t know if that would be safe, they’re nice headphones. I might try a test run next week when I don’t need to be anywhere in particular.

    I wasn’t able to exercise for a while because I was sick with a cold. I went to the gym last night and used the hot tub after working out and by 10:30 pm I was ready to collapse in bed so that’s a good sign. I had been staying up til 1 or 2.

    How are you doing?

    1. Windchime*

      I’m doing well! When I take the train, I will sometimes knit but the bus is too crowded (for me). But I see people crocheting on the bus, so I could probably knit if I wanted to. Make sure to keep your ball of yarn in a baggie or something so it won’t go rolling down the train aisle if it falls(as me how I know this). As far as the headphones go, I have a big (expensive) pair that I used to take back and forth to use on the bus, but now I leave those at work and use a smaller pair of ear buds on my commute.

      I continue to feel pretty good, anxiety-wise. Holidays are usually rough for me, but I pretty much sailed through this one with only little pangs of anxiety. I’ve got a tropical vacation coming up in three weeks, so that is keeping me pretty excited and happy. Oh, and I paid for the rental car with credit card points so I’m feeling pretty smug about that.

      1. JaneB*

        Not great, but so pleased to hear the light is helping you!

        I’ve got into bad sleep patterns (too much/wrong time) and lazy eating habits (not awful but not good) over the break and I totally don’t want to do anything ever again, or leave the house… slowing down is great, but worrying about having to get going again is hard… back to the thing we do not talk about with a vengeance on Tuesday, with a trip to a conference (no talk written yet) and I don’t want to :-(. More sleep please!!!

    2. nep*

      Great stuff, Junior Dev. Glad the lamp is helping some.
      I’ll be interested to hear how the public transport outing goes. Years ago I used only public transport for work; right now I don’t have to, and I really wonder whether I could. I sometimes think of hopping on a local bus just to see. The thought of it freaks me out — all the more reason I should do it.

      A hint of dental pain yesterday had me pondering suicide methods.
      I need an F-ton of expensive dental work done and I’m broke, so it’s all got to wait. I’ve been fortunate — touch wood — in that I’ve been pain-free for a long time, against all odds. It’s like a ticking time bomb, because heaven knows what I’ll do if something gets really bad. (Already I’m living dangerously because any kind of infection in the mouth can wreak havoc.) When that pain came yesterday, ending it all is really the only “solution” that came to mind.
      I wouldn’t go through with it, though; as I’ve said before, while I might contemplate it I can’t imagine acting on it. The dental problems are an enormous source of stress, and I can plainly see how the stress is affecting me.
      Very fortunately, the pain has subsided. Bought a little more time.
      Current home situation is crazy and working out saves my life; I’m so glad I’m able to exercise.

      1. AAM fan*

        Is there a dental school near you? If so, it might be an option for cheap dental work. You probably already know this, but just in case…

        1. nep*

          Indeed — that is a good idea because of cost and I’ve heard of people having good results with that. Call it ego or whatever the hell — truly it’s all I can do to expose my horrid mouth to the dentist and hygienists I already know and who’ve seen how bad it is; can’t imagine going to a new dentist. As it is it’s stressful as hell even going to the one I’ve been seeing for years. I’ve thought about going to a dentist who’s closer to where I live, who’s an acquaintance; the one I go to is a ways away. But my regular dentist and his staff have been really fantastic.
          Probably would be a really good ‘exercise’ for me to go and be vulnerable in front of a dental team and just let it be. What would I tell a friend? You are not your teeth. Your mouth does not define who you are.
          Crazy thing is the period when my teeth took a real beating was decades ago when I was depressed and thinking of suicide. In a way the fact that I’m alive to deal with me teeth issues is testament to — I don’t know — something that brought me back from the edge.

          1. C*

            Also, do you have Dental Insurance? Costco offers dental insurance for not that much money. You can also buy an individual plan from Deltadentalins dot com. It is typically a Dental HMO where you have to choose a specific dentist from their list. But your dentist may be an option – or it might be worth changing if it would be more affordable.

            1. nep*

              Once my financial situation stabilises I’ll certainly look into dental insurance or especially CareCredit. (Most insurance probably has a cap above which I’d easily go within months.)

              1. Nye*

                Something to consider is that personal dental insurance (eg not through work) sometimes doesn’t cover anything more than checkups for a set period of time, like a year. So better to get coverage sooner if you can swing it, to pay for future dental work. I was without dental insurance for 8+ years as a grad student/postdoc, and was dismayed to discover this.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Aww, nep, I so feel you.

            Just been going through a bunch of stuff with my teeth. I do not see an end in sight yet.

            A couple random suggestions:
            There is a discount dental plan – Careington Dental. The website is “1 dental dot com”. My friend used it and it probably saved him 30-40% on his extensive work. Unlike some dental insurance there is no cap, so you just keep going with the work you need. It’s $99 per year, of course, you can cancel it in the second year if you only need it for one year. You do have to check to see if the doc accepts the Careington Plan. The other thing I would check is to find your doc’s prices and compare that with the estimates on the Careington site, to make sure you can reasonably assume you will save money.

            Going a different way, my dentist had me get this product at the health food store. It’s called Peri-Gum. It’s around 30 bucks a bottle. The dentist could see the results the first week I used it, everything started calming down, gums less red and so on. It’s cayenne pepper, so you start off with a small dose and work up. There are clear directions right on the bottle. His strategy here was to keep things from getting worse and worse. I can tell you, it worked. I understand the desire to hide from one’s own mouth. Been there. This might help dial that back while you take care of other things.

    3. DanaScully*

      I have finally come to accept that my arachnophobia is getting out of hand, and I’ve asked for help. I check for them in every room I enter, and if I ever do encounter one, it’s a full blown panic attack with hysterical crying and it takes me such a long time to calm down.

      I’m also really concerned that I have some sort of OCD due to the rituals and affirmations that have become part of my daily life. Hopefully the therapist I’m assigned will help me to explore this.

    4. Almost Violet Miller*

      I think I made my first personal post in response to a question of yours… and here I come again.
      Those lamps are great! I also use one, usually in the morning while I am having breakfast/getting ready. It’s not how it’s supposed to be used exactly (at least mine) but I found it to be the most useful way. When and how do you use it?
      I am proud of having enjoyed the holidays more than I’d expected. I also haven’t done anything desperate after my break-up which is hard when you are staring at your phone through your tears but being alone gives me some perspective and while I still don’t know what my ideal scenario would look like, I think I am as close to figuring it out as it’s possible for me.
      Struggling with: pretty much what I just wrote above. Being alone, even when I am an introvert and generally need A LOT of alone time, is hard and not having someone there for you constantly is a new/old experience I am learning to deal with. I am also working on a side project and I am a bit behind but I am having fun with it and also am learning a lot from it so I am letting myself enjoy it in my own pace.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m so glad to hear the lamp is helping and well done on getting to bed. Re public transport, can you break it into small steps? One time just go to the stop or station, look around and leave. Maybe next time get on and ride for one stop.

      I’m proud that I advocated for myself after my very disorganised local chemist (unfortunately the only place I can conveniently get my meds) left me a snitty voicemail saying I ‘still’ hadn’t picked up a prescription from December and insinuating that they would throw it away.

      I had been in twice in December. The first time they were struggling with a huge backlog and I had to come back another time. The second time they failed to give me everything. I said this was their oversight not mine. That I have five prescriptions to keep track of and they were making it even more stressful. That I’ve been using them for several years and always pick up my medication and it’s a shame they don’t have any way of keeping track of regular customers.

      I asked could they not call me in future? She said no, they had to as it’s policy. I said well I have anxiety and I need you to make a reasonable adjustment and make a note that you do not leave voicemails like that – just tell me I need to pick something up. I added an AAM-style: can you do that? She said yes. But it was a hollow victory as it was so damn stressful.

      I’m struggling a bit with not being taken at my word over on the Friday open thread when posting about something really hard for me – I know the person meant well but being told “you’re probably wrong, this person probably hasn’t noticed that you don’t work on x” when I KNOW THEY KNOW WHAT I DON’T WORK ON has just been kind of exhausting. I’m not usually so easily rattled by internet comments but I guess I was feeling vulnerable.

      I also need to deal with the stuff I posted about on there. So I guess I’m struggling with people asking me about what I’m eating.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        Congratulations on advocating for yourself with your chemist! I can picture myself shaking while trying to have that conversation, so please don’t read me as at all sarcastic when I say that that sounds huge. I’m sorry you had trouble with some replies yesterday. I hope you got some good too.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Thank you, I really truly appreciate that. And I got a slew of helpful responses yesterday, too, I hasten to add.

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        Congratulations. That’s really excellent that you were able to stand up for yourself like that. I do find that AAM comes in handy in many different circumstances.

        I’ve just been scrolling through the Friday Open Thread. I’m sorry you had to deal with that. It’s really frustrating when you want advice about a particular thing and yet you have to sit through unnecessary reassurances about another. It’s like “thanks, but that’s not at all what I need to talk about but please, continue for five minutes while I bang my head against this table.”

        I hope Sunday is a relaxing day for you.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Thanks, Foreign Octopus. I definitely summoned the power of AAM in that conversation.

          As to the other thing, I know I’m taking a very minor thing to heart and shouldn’t let it overshadow all the kind and helpful responses.

    6. Fiennes*

      I’m really struggling to stay regular with my meds while my schedule is so unpredictable and disordered. Please bring my routine back!

    7. anon for this (no name)*

      I’m not doing so good. I met my cousin’s fiancee for the first time over Christmas. She is so put together in all aspects of her life. She has a serious investigative type job with the government and is well connected to judges, lawyers and politicians. She is educated and articulate. She is financially savy (she helped my cousin learn to budget and crawl out of debt, he was notorious for having awful spending habits before they met and now she has changed all that and taught him to budget and have control of his own finances) and she got him to pay off all his debt (she has none). She is the kind of person that everyone goes to if they need help/something fixed. My aunt had flat tire and was up the road from the house we were having Christmas. She went with my dad and uncle and helped them to change the tire. My nephew is a month old and he stop crying whenever she held him. She is pretty and I do admit to being jealous of her looks. She has a pixie cut and on Christmas morning had no makeup on and oversized pajamas and bedhead and she looked like a frickin model. I know it’s petty but I can’t stand her even though she did nothing to me and was nice. My cousin’s dad and my dad are twins and live next door to each other so I see my cousin a lot. I know it’s my own anxiety and other issues which are causing me not to like for no reason. Christmas was rough with her around and I just found out she will be at New Years Eve tomorrow.

      1. NaoNao*

        You know, I totally hear you on those types of people and how they can make us feel.
        If it helps…
        I recently made some lifestyle adjustments for health reasons and started investing in major self care. I got mid-price (so, like 20-30$ instead of 6-7$) skin care and started doing multiple steps a night/day. Huge difference, but what really struck me was this:
        To be that “pulled together” person who looked effortlessly good takes *a ton of time and money* usually.
        And if I’m away from my routine for a few days, it shows.
        Very, very few people just “naturally” have their lives together and look great. It takes dedication and tons of effort.
        But the good news is that it’s possible for us mortals to achieve that too!

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        I hear you on feeling like that but try not to let it fester. You know this isn’t really about her but some unresolved feelings within yourself, right?

    8. AnonAndOn*

      I mentioned in the Christmas thread how I started a GoFundMe to raise money for my rent. While I couldn’t share the fundraiser here, so many people came out of the woodwork to help me out and I managed to make enough money to save my apartment. I was humbled by the people who were willing to help me (some were complete strangers) in a time of need.

      Compared to my last mental health check in I feel better. I no longer have that stress of being evicted or moving in with a relative (that I get along with better with distance). I can relax…well I’ll be able to relax more if I could find a freaking job but that’s another topic (one better suited for the work thread!).

      I hear you about dealing with public transportation. Dealing with crowds and people’s noise can be overwhelming. When I’m on a quiet route I’m fine sitting and staring out the window, but when I’m on a loud and crowded one listening to music helps keep me feeling calm. I take the headphones off when I get off the bus or train so I can be alert.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Great news! Nice to hear that your problem was solved AND with the help of kindhearted strangers! Thank you for the update. Enjoy having this worry lifted from you.

      2. Effie, who is wondering*

        Oh wow! That’s awesome AnonAndOn. Wishing you the best :)
        Sometimes wearing sunglasses helps me on public transportation. It worked well in the Southwest, not so well in the Northeast ;)

    9. bassclefchick*

      I haven’t checked into this thread recently, and I really should have.

      My godfather died at the beginning of December. He’d been ill for a long time, so it wasn’t unexpected. Still, I’m struggling with his loss. My dad has been in and out of the hospital for most of December. I was very scared he wouldn’t make it. He’s on the mend and doing better, but I’m still concerned I won’t get another Christmas with him.

      I’m proudest of FINALLY asking for help for a really bad habit I’ve had since childhood. I’m not really sure if I’ll ever truly be able to end the behavior. But I’ve asked for help, the counselor has given me some great coping tools and I’m making a bit of progress. I know a lifetime habit can’t be broken in only a few months, but I’m trying and that’s what count.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m so sorry for your loss and worries. It’s great that you’ve asked for the help you need and started making progress – well done.

    10. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m so glad that most people are doing well here! It always makes me happy to see.

      As for me, I think I’m doing okay. Now that my brother has finally sorted out internet in his new flat (2 weeks it took, 2 weeks) and isn’t around mine every. single. day working (I got relegated out of my office and into my bedroom), I feel much happier. I’m no longer caught up in his dark pit of negativity and I’m breathing much easier having my space back to myself.

      I’m a happy little hermit who turns into a Gollum-like creature when my personal space/time is invaded, and I know that it’s partly the cause of some bad mental health days, so it’s such a relief to be able to get back to myself in time for the New Year.

    11. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I researched a therapist and emailed to set up a consultation. This will be the first time in therapy for me, outside of one-off trips to the EAP for one thing or another. This will be the first time I’m seeking long term treatment with a goal in mind for what I want to work on.

      For the past few years, I’ve been getting stuck in negative thought loops that I can’t make myself stop repeating. When it first started, it was only that I would entertain a few “pet” irritations and aggravations during my weekend housecleaning routine, and I could turn it off and on at will. Then it became more of a pattern to automatically think angry, uncharitable thoughts every time I did housework, and now I feel stuck in an almost-constant state of negative, angry, and anxious thought. Every time I vow to just stop it, already, I slip back into those well-worn grooves and before I know it, I’ve wasted another weekend making myself feel awful.

      I’m hoping maybe CBT will help me stop doing this to myself?

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I remember that I started doing it because a little bit of zippy, righteous irritation added some spice and pep to boring, routine housework. I never expected to get stuck in it to the point of being unable to stop even when I want to.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh. Trying to avoid everyone talking about how cuuuuuuuuuuuute one of the crushes and former ex/nowbacktogether are. Puke. Avoid avoid avoid. (Something’s off about that, anyway. I can’t put my finger on it, but it doesn’t seem like it’s just wishful thinking on my part. Well, sometimes you have to go back to realize you can’t go on, soooo….)

      I’m pretty annoyed that nothing is happening here. I could use the distraction. >:(

    13. Gadfly*

      Thanks for the reminder to use my lamp. It got put away in a safe place while cleaning and rearranging and I need to bring it back out.

    14. Elf*

      I’m having a really hard time. I think I have some kind of SAD thing going on, because last year I was really useless all fall but it was noticeably better by mid-January, and the timing on this seems similar. It’s really bad because it mainly manifests as an inability to do anything useful housework or toddler-wise, so it all falls on my husband, which is super-unfair to him, and the house is an awful mess because its more than one person’s worth of work, and it makes him so angry and frustrated which I understand because I’m being useless but also makes it worse because it is too much angry for me to live with.

      It’s worse this year because I’m pregnant and the first trimester has really been taking it out of me, and I don’t honestly know where the line is between genuine physical pregnancy-related incapacity, and other stuff. Pregnancy was a lot easier last time, but I also wasn’t working a full time job, nor did I have a toddler. I think it isn’t objectively bad in terms of symptoms (I’m not throwing up or anything), but I’m just so tired.

      Exercise might help, but there’s really nowhere to put it without borrowing from sleep, and that’s a trade I just can’t make right now. The only time of day I could possibly have the energy is first thing in the morning, but I already have to be up at 5 to get out the door for work, and I can’t manage earlier.

      I would appreciate advice, as long as it doesn’t involve taking medications or spending lots of money.

      1. zyx*

        I know you don’t want to spend lots of money, but is it possible for you to hire someone to do a one-off housecleaning session? It sounds like the mess is a real source of stress for you and your husband. Similarly, is there a neighborhood kid whom you could hire for an hour or two after school as a “mother’s helper” to care for your toddler while you’re still in the house? When I was 12, I did that for a neighbor. I’m not sure what she did while I played with her kid, but you could exercise at home or take a nap. Even once a week might be a help.

      2. TL -*

        Can you count your days in successes rather than failures?
        You’re exhausted and pregnant and winter is hard, so if you pick up clothes from the living room, or load a few dishes in the dishwasher, celebrate! Set the bar for happy success really, really low and then revel in every little thing.
        When I’m sick, that’s what I do. If it’s 20 minutes or 5 minutes of work and then an hour nap, hells yeah! I am super happy with myself for getting something done and rewarding myself with rest so I can do more and feel awesome about that, too.

    15. Red*

      I’m doing fairly well! I started taking vitamin D3 because I know I’m not getting enough; I live in Western new york and don’t like milk, so there goes the usual sources. I also have a psychiatrist appointment coming up next week, which is great because I have some psychosis-related concerns and there are meds for that.

      I did talk about my husband in this thread last weekend, and I do have an update. We had an argument that ended in me telling him that I desperately want to spend my life with the man I met almost 5 years ago, but that’s not the man I’m living with now, and I’m not willing to spend my life with him because he’s a jerk that does nothing but snap at me and demand more than I have to give. He is now totally, 100%, completely motivated to go to therapy and work out his med issues, and I’m actually going with him to his next therapy appointment. I really hope he can be more like the version of himself that I fell in love with, because I miss him terribly.

      1. Red*

        I posted that comment a bit early, whoops! It continues below.

        I also wanted to thank you for posting these threads weekend after weekend. It helps me so much to have a space to tell people about my problems and victories and to read and respond to their posts. This is such a great thing for you to have created, and I appreciate it.

        And, for the final but of the comment, anyone else have a lot of awkwardness going on regarding drinking and holidays? I can’t drink with my meds, and people get all sorts of weird about it!

    16. Tris Prior*

      I’m proud of starting yoga again. I’ve done it more days than not, all this week.

      Otherwise….. things are rough. I think it was a perfect storm of: post-holiday blues (this Xmas was going to be a hard one for Family Reasons and I thought I got through OK but crashed HARD after), the horrible horrible dangerously cold winter weather and resulting cabin fever, seasonal depression, hormonal stuff, insomnia, some old eating-disordered thoughts/behaviors cropping up again when I thought I’d gotten past that 20 years ago, and the cherry on the sundae was discovering in the middle of the night that we have a rodent problem in our apartment. That last one really set me off and I ended up *weeping* in my therapist’s office over it.

      I then very tentatively brought up my eating-disordered thoughts (not literally starving myself, but definitely not eating enough and really obsessively counting calories and feeling fat and disgusting when Rational Brain knows I am a normal weight), and she suggested I try Weight Watchers or see a nutritionist. Which…. maybe I didn’t adequately explain the problem, but I don’t think either of those are going to help with the “I know rationally my weight is fine but I feel disgusting and can’t make myself eat normally” issue, you know?

      I said something like, “um, OK, yeah, I can look into a nutritionist, but I usually find medical stuff really overwhelming and it causes a lot of anxiety, and I still don’t have a primary care doctor” and she said, “OK, we need to work on that too, then, because regular medical checkups and tests are SO important.” And something just broke in my brain because I literally CANNOT “work on” another issue right now. Dealing with my toxic family and the resulting anxiety and PTSD, plus seasonal depression, is literally all I have the mental energy to work on right now. I didn’t say that, though, because the session was ending and honestly I didn’t have the energy to advocate for myself right then. (And because, yes, I KNOW MEDICAL CARE IS IMPORTANT. That doesn’t mean I can flip a switch that suddenly makes me able to do it.)

      1. Schmitt*

        Sometimes I really have to break it down into the tiniest steps, like…. Step 1: Think about finding a PCP. Accept that it’s OK if this takes a month to complete. Step 2. Do some research about doctors available to me. Accept that it’s OK if this takes a month to complete. Step 3. Make an appointment. Accept that it’s OK to ask for help and have my partner call for me.

        When I was dealing with severe depression and pain from a surgery that did not go well, my partner did the research step for me as well – ended up with a therapist that was terrible, but that happens sometimes, and I had improved enough to tell her to go fuck herself at least ;)

    17. Junior Dev*

      I wrote this in the morning. It’s now evening and I feel exhausted. I had a panic attack after spending all day with my friend and not eating enough. I managed to eat fast food for dinner, buy groceries, drive home and take an Ativan. Now I’m hiding in bed, still scared to do anything that is at all stimulating. I need to eat a snack and get ready to sleep. Brain why.

  28. Sophia*

    In an effort to get a little healthier in the new year, we’re contemplating signing up for one of the food delivery services like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron? Does anyone have recommendations, insights, suggestions, etc?

    1. Temperance*

      Booth and I do Hello Fresh, and really enjoy it. Blue Apron is good, too – the food is awesome – but I’m kind of a novice cook when it comes to meat and it was a bit hard for me. (Plus, I have an inability to certain kinds of peppers, so I avoid them all, generally … so that is limiting with BA.)

      Home Chef is more simple than Hello Fresh, but I don’t think the food is as good. We tried Sun Basket and it wasn’t ideal for us, but the food is very healthy and you can pick paleo if you want.

    2. CatCat*

      We do a meal plan service rather than food delivery service. The service is called Cook Smarts. It sends recipes to you every week (with 3-4 options for each meal) and generates a shopping list and steps you can do for prepon the weekend. The service is integrated somehow with Instacart so you *can* have the ingredients delivered, but we don’t because my spouse likes grocery shopping.

      We’ve used it for 3 years and love it. We make 4 servings of each meal so dinner one night also serves as lunch the next day. It definitely cut back on eating takeout for us.

    3. Mimmy*

      I’ll be interested in hearing others’ responses too – we did Blue Apron for a while this year but stopped because the meals were getting repetitive and the quality of delivery was going down, e.g. missing ingredients, packaging with holes or not securely sealed. The prep was extensive too. I will say, though, the food was often very good and, by comparison, healthier than our typical diet.

      How does Hello Fresh compare?

      1. Searching*

        We had the same experience with Blue Apron about the declining quality of delivery and the amount of prep time. Plus all the packaging materials bothered us (sure it’s recyclable, but there was so much of it). We stopped the service after about a year.

    4. Bigglesworth*

      I just signed up for Hungry Harvest. I enjoy cooking (it’s a stress relief from Law school right now) and I support the mission. They don’t send you recipes with the food you get, but you can customize your box, get only veggies, only fruits, organic, etc. It is only on the east coast right now, but there’s tons of coupons and they base new locations on the zip codes on their waitlist.

    5. Loopy*

      I do Hello Fresh (vegetarian meals only) and really enjoy it. My only issue is if you wait too long with the meals (say ~4 days after getting it) produce can go/be bad occasionally.

      I find it very easy and like most meals. I am a terrible cook and they make it pretty foolproof. The meals are usually around 55-650 calories and not always crazy healthy if you are trying to avoid things like cheese- but they are fairly healthy compared to eating out! I have also had really really great experience with their customer service. I mean, shockingly positive and helpful. That’s as much of a plus to me as the food part with subscription services. I usually recommend them.

      1. Loopy*

        oof 550 calories. Need to proof my posts. Also I hope I didn’t scare you away with the produce thing. It’s a rare occurrence and usually because I get the meals saturday and sometimes don’t get around to the last one until later in the week- like Thursday. Even then, it’s an only sometimes thing.

    6. Piano Girl*

      We did Hello Fresh for awhile. It was interesting, and I finally tried my hand at risotto, but we finally quit, as we preferred my cooking to what they offered. I think if you are a beginning cook with somewhat adventuresome eaters, it would be a good place to start.

    7. oranges & lemons*

      To be honest, I live in a country that Blue Apron doesn’t deliver to and couldn’t afford it anyway, but I like to use their recipes. They’re all available on their website and there are some good ones. So if you’d like to get a sense of what the recipes are like, you can try it out for free.

    8. Elf*

      I’ve tried a week of several services (I really can’t afford any of them, but I used the half price first weeks). I found the Blue Apron recipes the most polished/interesting, with SunBasket as a fairly close second. Blue Apron has a slight price advantage due to shipping charges on SunBasket, but I thought SunBasket was the clear winner for me because of the Paleo option (I don’t eat paleo, but I try to avoid grains/potatoes so paleo eliminates what I don’t eat) and because it had better sized protein portions. I felt Blue Apron tried to fill out their menus with the starches a little bit. I tried HelloFresh recently and was really not impressed. The recipes were all things I could do myself, but better, and the chili recipe came with this absolutely disgusting pre-shredded orange cheese that looked like what you’d get at Taco Bell. (I am definitely a cheese snob).

      If it was in my budget, I’d love to use one of these (particularly SunBasket, but I wouldn’t say no to Blue Apron if someone offered to give it to me).

    9. MsChanandlerBong*

      I tried Blue Apron for free. I would not pay for it. The portions are incredibly small, especially for the price, and I think it’s wasteful to have everything individually wrapped in paper and plastic. I could get almost a week’s worth of groceries for the price Blue Apron charges for three (small) meals.

  29. Lcsa99*

    My husband and I have been watching a lot of older tv shows for the last few years and are enjoying the reactions we have to some of them.

    TJ Hooker has me a little ashamed of William Shatner. Seriously, police training academies can use most of the episodes, especially in earlier seasons, as examples of what NOT to do. It doesn’t surprise me that Columbo is so much fun. He’s playful but sharp as a tack. I love how much of a badass Cannon is, in spite of his weight. It’s fun watching him get in a fight. While Rockford wouldn’t hesitate to jump right in, Cannon fights smart and will stand there and use the bad guys momentum against him. We are watching an episode of Cannon now and just heard a great line “I get your message, loud and clear. Especially loud.”

    Has anyone else been re-watching stuff like this?

    1. Triplestep*

      I’ve been re-watching Rosanne and I’m really taken by the changes in the show’s characters, writing, and acting from the early years to the later. I know the show was criticized for having gone off the deep end in the last season (and for a terrible finale) and I agree with those assessments. But I can see why it was considered ground-breaking, and I’m excited for the reunion episodes coming out this spring.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ms. Orange Worshipper has lost me forever. I enjoyed the original show, up until David and Darlene get together, and then I get bored with reruns. But the first couple of seasons are still watchable. My favorite was always the tornado episode and the Halloween ones.

          1. Triplestep*

            Yes, her politics are a strange turn of events, but that won’t stop me from watching the new episodes.

            Sounds like you the seasons you prefer are the ones I like less! I think it got better after David and Darlene got together.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              I will echo your comments. I think I was about the same age as Darlene at the time of the original series & I liked her character arc. I’m curious to see what they do with the new show.

          2. Cristina in England*

            I am with you on preferring the early seasons when Darlene was still into sports. And no to new Becky! (I didn’t like her much on Scrubs either).

              1. Triplestep*

                Sarah Chalke was just SO young when she played Becky. Her body language said “awkward teenager” because that’s what she was. Lots of standing with her hands on her hips (paired with leaning forward when she was acting angry) or folding her arms, or tucking her hair behind her ear too much, or slouching. Not good.

          3. Brittasaurus Rex*

            I thought there was far too much David and Mark in the later seasons. I loved Darlene and didn’t care for her character arc near the end.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      My six year old thinks the Dick Van Dyke show is the funniest thing he has ever seen. We are watching it together and he can’t get enough of it (I’m thrilled, since it is far superior to Paw Patrol.)

      TJ Hooker is craptastic and basically unwatchable (Adrian Zmed, god bless him) but we still love Rockford. I’d say that they should remake that show, but there’s only one James Garner.

      We always watch Cheers at night while winding down and discussing our day and we still love it.

      1. fposte*

        I will love the Dick Van Dyke Show forever. I am also delighted beyond all measure that Rose Marie became a Twitter goddess at 94 before she died.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I know! I heard and I was like, “Oh no, not yet! She just got on here!!”
          But also glad she shared her famous spaghetti sauce recipe first. I’d love to see the film about her, Wait for Your Laugh. It will be playing in KC but I have no way to get up there (can’t afford it). I’ll have to wait for the DVD.

          1. fposte*

            I know; I really want to see that too.

            I think that exemplifies some of the good Twitter can do. She was able to enjoy the spirit and admiration of a bunch of people who thought she was fantastic and would never have been able to tell her so otherwise.

      2. Book Lover*

        Omg Paw Patrol :(. I could live with never seeing it again. Right now we have thankfully switched to Doc McStuffins but that won’t last.

        And on topic – rewatching Stargate (series) and planning on Babylon 5.

      3. Lcsa99*

        I am sure they will try to remake Rockford at some point (probably with James Garner as Rocky) but honestly I hope not. It can’t be improved so it would be a waste of time. Like remaking Macgyver. I can’t believe it’s lasted.

        We love the Dick Van Dyke Show. He is such a fun actor. Watching him in Diagnosis Murder is fun too. They should have done a Murder She Wrote/Diagnosis Murder crossover.

    3. LazyGirl*

      I’ve been rewatching Will & Grace. It’s interesting to see how things have changed since the 90s. For example, in one early episode they talked about how marriage and family would be impossible for Will :(

      Also, everyone is wearing amazingly high waisted pants.

      1. Lcsa99*

        I really liked Will and Grace but my sense of humor must have really changed cause I just find it cringeworthy now. Same with Friends.

    4. CatCat*

      Every now and then, I go on a “Murder, She Wrote” binge. I just love that show. Jessica is so kindly and terrifying to me.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        Every year when we take extended family photos at the holidays, we take a “Murder She Wrote” pose of us all fake laughing, like she ends every episode. (And yes, that show is so comforting to watch.)

        1. CatCat*

          Hahaha! That’s awesome! I love how they try so hard to end in an up note. Sure, there’s been a terrible murder and Jessica is the harbinger of death, but [quaint and corny thing] so it’s all good.

          1. Merci Dee*

            I love “Murder, She Wrote”, but I’ve said for years that knowing Jessica Fletcher can be hazardous for your health. You’re sure to either be murdered, or falsely accused of murder until Aunt Jess rides to your rescue. I’m surprised Cabot Cove still had any residents, with the way Jessica and Co. would wade through them. The dumb ones ended up dead, and the smart ones should’ve run for their lives!

        2. Lcsa99*

          That is hilarious.

          My husband and I used to watch Murder She Wrote with my grandmother when we went to visit her. Since she passed a few years ago, we’ve found ourselves watching it weekly. It’s just charming.

    5. Cone*

      I remember losing interest in watching Friends around 1999-2000. I thought maybe I was just being a teenager who thought I was too cool to like something so popular, but now that I’ve watched it years later from season 1 and season 10, I can see that the show did stop being clever sometime after they all went to London. Before London, they were fairly reasonable 20-somethings with typical life problems. After London, they transformed into clowns with exaggerated quirks played for laughs. I found myself not appreciating all the LGBT jokes either. Hard to believe these were still acceptable less than 20 years ago.

      1. WellRed*

        This is interesting
        I like the whole series but I thought the writing and acting seem a bit heavyhanded in the earlier seasons and then improved.

        1. Lissa*

          I think Friends really hit a sweet spot – the first season and a half or so weren’t great and then all the characters became really caricatures of themselves later on, but IMO some of the middle stuff was *really* good.

          I find the LGBT portrayals to be weirdly heartening just to see how far we’ve come in what’s considered acceptable (not that things are perfect now but the fact that so many people cringe at stuff that was considered modern back then is kind of cool.) Also Joey was *horrible* to women. I know Ross gets much of the flak for being such a perfect example of a “Nice Guy” stereotype but some of the early stuff with Joey was really really bad.

      2. DoctorateStrange*

        Funny enough, Living Single seems to be for the most part timeless. I find that interesting as the this was the show that came before Friends and what was apparently what inspired Friends to come to be in the first place. Maxine Shaw was my favorite character, although I was fond of the whole cast. Rewatching Friends, I started realizing I disliked everyone except Monica, who, well, deserved better.

    6. Fiennes*

      I rewatched Columbo last year and LOVED it. He’s one of the few American fictional figures who fits what I think of as a British archetype: the humble, comical, seemingly ridiculous figure who never resorts to violence, but wins through mental brilliance and the willingness to let others underestimate him.

      1. Elf*

        This reminds me of a favorite oldie of mine: MacGuyver. I first got into it because I loved RDA in Stargate, but MacGuyver is just absolutely the best character, because he always saves the day by *knowing all the random stuff*!!!

      2. LCL*

        When Columbo was new, I was a grade school kid. Out of all of the mystery movie series, he was my favorite. My mom and I would always have good natured arguments about the show because she loved mysteries and watched them all, but hated Columbo. She still let me watch it.

    7. Middle School Teacher*

      I’ve been rewatching MASH and the original Law& Order. MASH was not without its problems (the sexist issues especially) but I think it was pretty groundbreaking for the way it tackled things like racism, being gay in the military, and mental illness, and especially for definitely showing the hellish side of war. It’s interesting to see the way things changed on L&O (when Detective Curtis had a cell phone, for example, whereas before to call the precinct they were all using payphones) and some of the social issues (being gay and high-profile; prosecuting someone who was deliberately infecting women with HIV, etc). It’s interesting to see how much life has changed since the 1990s.

      1. caledonia*

        I love Law & Order. I did a watch of all the early seasons this year. It made me smile to realise that the first episode had Leo McGarry/John Spencer in it. I liked Briscoe the best and never saw the ones in S1-3 without him in it.

        1. Former Employee*

          I loved John Spencer who left us much too soon. I looked it up in Wikipedia -he was only 58 when he passed in 2005. And “The West Wing” was one of the best shows ever. Fun Fact: He got his start on “The Patty Duke Show”. And Patty Duke was another one who was still in her prime when she died.

          Law & Order is always worth watching, especially the ones with Briscoe. Jerry Orbach was an accomplished actor of stage and the big screen before he went to L&O. He was in The Fantasticks! off Broadway and I thought he was wonderful as Baby’s father in “Dirty Dancing”.

          1. Middle School Teacher*

            I also love Jerry Orbach! Briscoe was so witty, and he was so great with all of the partners (I especially remember his reaction when Detectives Logan punched a councilman, I think, and he got demoted). The other actor I really liked from the later seasons was Dennis Farina. I thought it was so cool that he was a cop in real life before he played one on tv. The Sundance channel is totally enabling my MASH and L&O fix right now.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        I remember as a kid being allowed to stay up late to watch the MASH series finale – I think it still holds records for most-viewers non-live programming.

        I’m not a big fan of sitcoms in general, as I have a low tolerance for cringe comedy. But I liked MASH, and I remember enjoying Night Court (I’d love to be able to rewatch some of that). And Murder She Wrote is the TV murder mystery equivalent of chicken soup.

        1. Cruciatus*

          I have Dish and have a channel called Laff. They re-air Night Court and Empty Nest, Roseanne, Ellen, Grace Under Fire, That ’70s Show, and lots of other stuff. Actually, my friend who doesn’t have cable also picks up Laff with an antenna. We only started getting this channel in the last year or so so it’s possible it may have been added to your channel lineup with whatever provider you have (if any).

    8. Bryce*

      There’s a broadcast station here that plays the old stuff and I like it for background noise. Kojak is incredible, my favorite episode boils down to “you did it, I know you did it, I can’t *prove* you did it, but don’t think this is some chess game. You’re a kid who got lucky and I gotta convince you of that before it all comes back to bite you.” Also a lot of westerns. Big Valley, Bonanza, Rifleman, there’s some good episodes in there and some really overly saccharine ones if not outright tone-deaf.

      What I’ve found most interesting is Get Smart. Comedy doesn’t always age well, so you get great actors with great comedic timing doing a great show that suddenly runs into a joke that doesn’t fly at all these days. Like “and now for a solid 15 minutes of racist Chinese caricatures” not flying.

    9. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve been rewatching Star Trek: Voyager and there was a point in season five where everyone suddenly seemed wildly out of character.

      Janeway was distant and a little cold to her cruel.

      B’Elanna had attitude.

      The decisions that were made seemed unusual.

      I don’t remember it being like this.

    10. Trixie*

      Miami Vice. Love seeing the retro locations which were seen again in Burn Notice. Miami Vice producers also discussed how in the early episodes local retirees were paid as extras. And some neighborhoods really were that run down and abandoned.

        1. Be the Change*

          OMG Burn Notice was my favorite (except for West Wing). Such a great combination of action, drama, and comedy, although the comedy disappeared in Seasons 6 & 7. I wish I could be Fiona.

    11. Windchime*

      I’m a sucker for The Golden Girls. It hasn’t aged well as far as fashion goes (the shoulder pads–my god, the shoulder pads!) and a few other topics, but I generally find it a pretty gentle and kind show. I will sometimes turn it on and let the reruns play when I am having an afternoon nap on the weekends.

      And I almost hate to admit this, but I love Little House on the Prairie. I do.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        The only complaints I have about Golden Girls is that they make fat jokes and there is slut shaming. But it was ahead of its time when it comes to LGBT and race issues, so I still love it.

      2. Mimmy*

        I have such a soft spot for Little House – I watched it incessantly when I was little and even watched syndicated reruns when I was in college. I cried when Michael Landon died. I was fascinated by the storyline where Mary goes blind.

        Do you know if it’s in reruns anywhere? I’d love to watch it again.

        1. Lcsa99*

          I don’t know if you get them but there are two channels we get that occasionally have it. Cozi and MeTv

    12. Stellaaaaa*

      The X-Files and Lost almost 100% hold up, though Lost seemed to have gone through an unusual amount of on-air trial and error. I’ve never seen another show attempt and then drop so many elements.

      Buffy also mostly holds up, though the Whedon dialogue gets exhausting. I was surprised to find out that I found the last two seasons to be the most consistently well-written all around.

      1. Lcsa99*

        Joss Whedon has such a talent for writing. I still love Buffy, and wish they let him go further with Firefly.

    13. Aphrodite*

      Oh yes! The Carol Burnett Show, Rockford Files, LA Law (learned not to go past season 4), Hill Street Blues, The Bob Newhart Show, and more of that era.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Also, Columbo (which I never get tired of) and the Mary Tyler Moore Show (god, the Chuckles the Clown episode is to die for).

        1. Former Employee*

          Carol Burnett’s show was about the only physical comedy I ever liked, other than A Night At The Opera; for example, I can’t stand the 3 Stooges.

          James Garner was terrific in Rockford as well as in Maverick and quite a number of movies, especially The Americanization of Emily, Victor/Victoria (both with Julie Andrews) and Murphy’s Romance.

          LA Law was such a departure from the usual legal dramas and it introduced the wonderful Jimmy Smits to a wide audience.

          Yes, MTM/Chuckles the Clown, dressed as a peanut, was killed when a rogue elephant tried to shuck him. One of the funniest things on TV ever. That and the Went With The Wind episode of Carol Burnett

    14. RL*

      Every couple years I re-watch the old Mission Impossible series. I love how we don’t really know much about them personally, we just know them as super spies.

    15. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I tried to watch MASH, but the constant sexual harassment that was the basis for most of the humor left me more irritated than amused. I had to stop watching after two or three episodes.

  30. Almost Violet Miller*

    This has been a rough year. I see many of you fellow commenters have gone through a lot in 2017. It’s reassuring to know I am not alone in all this and this virtual community has been really supportive – thank you for that!
    A recent break-up (apart from giving me months of heartache) made me realize that I am not really in touch with who I am aspiring to be. So here’s my plan for 2018:
    – starting meditation/mindfulness classes and practicing it in everyday life
    – finding a job that intellectually stimulates and challenges me (I might be going back to school)
    – if changing careers, finding a way to keep up the balance between my interest and not letting academia/work overtake everything
    – a trip to another continent
    – closing a *thing* one way or another after almost a decade of mixed signals (so that I can move on from my break-up and general relationship past)
    Wow, feels good to write these down.
    Here’s to a(n even) happier 2018 to all of you!

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Good luck for 2018.

      I’m curious though, as this isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone mention mindfulness. What is it? And can you point me in the direction of some reputable websites where I can get more information? It sounds interesting.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I specifically did something called mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR). It’s about stopping your busy brain wandering around quite so much and learning to take time out in the moment. It’s not that you stop having thoughts and feelings exactly, but they’re like boats passing by as you stand on the shore.

        Some people approach mindfulness in quite hokey ways (eg spending ages talking about a raisin) but I did a six-week phone coaching programme through my EAP and it helped loads. Will post some links in a follow up comment.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            This is all really helpful. Thank you so much.

            My impression of mindfulness was that it was a little hokey-pokey, incense burning stuff but then a student of mine started talking about how she’d be practicing it for a couple of years and it got me thinking about it. It seems like something to explore in 2018.

            (And you had me laughing at the idea of talking about a raisin!)

            1. Epiphyta*

              Another MBSR participant here!

              I was referred to the eight-week course by my therapist (severe clinical depression with suicidal ideation, and social anxiety as the gift-with-purchase); the facilitator went through the training programs at UMass Medical, and my experience was about as far as “wooish” as could be imagined.

              Parts of it were not fun – about three weeks in I was furious, which I’ve learned since is perfectly normal if one’s actually putting in the time on the homework – but at the end of eight weeks I felt that I had some tools that would, with practice, help me to get a handle on the thought processes that worsened my depression. For me personally, it was really important to do this while still seeing my therapist; your mileage may vary.

              If you’d like to read more, there is all sorts of information at the website: https://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/mindfulness-based-programs/mbsr-courses/about-mbsr/history-of-mbsr/

              1. Helpful*

                Is it possible to do any MBSR course online from reputable places? I’m seeing Duke University but am not sure if anyone has a recommendation.

      2. Mimmy*

        My therapist describes mindfulness as being aware of your feelings and being okay with it. I know that’s probably an oversimplified description though, so my apologies for that. I was never good at these type of cognitive exercises, but I’ll check out the link Epiphyta posted below – maybe it’ll offer some insight.

      3. Almost Violet Miller*

        I am actually gonna do a course with a certified trainer. I will send some updates on a weekend thread when I see how it works out for me.
        Also thanks for the links and the additional info, I will see how that compares to my classes.

  31. Anne*

    Does anyone still make New Year’s resolutions?
    On the one hand, it’s kind of nice to have goals (plus I kind of like making lists), on the other hand…does anyone ever keep them?

    1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      I don’t. In my opinion, if you have to wait for January 1 to change your life, (in a big or small way), you’re either never going to start or never going to keep it. If you want to change something, do it then. If I decide in June I want to lose 20lbs and wait until January to do it, my motivation is long gone. I also think some people have resolutions just to have them because it’s “a thing” and that’s a poor reason to resolve to change something about yourself, too. I’m sure the whole scheme works for some people, but I haven’t met any of them.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree with you. I used to make a resolution every single year to lose weight. Never happened. It didn’t happen until I finally decided I’d had enough, started seeing some potential health problems down the road, and was publicly humiliated (although I’m sure no one noticed but me). I had to hit my rock bottom in order to make a change, and no amount of NY resolutions could make me change until I hit that point.

        These days I tend to think about something small I want to change or improve, like getting better at sending birthday cards or cooking more. It really doesn’t go beyond that. If I’m not motivated enough to do something during the year, then it’s really not very important to me and likely won’t happen. I also got tired of setting myself up for disappointment every year.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I agree that you shouldn’t wait six months to get fit or whatever but January 1 seems like a reflective time of year and a natural starting point. I don’t think it should be the only time of year people make new habits but what’s the harm?

      3. Librolover*

        Its not about changing your life, necessarily, Its taking the time to pause and say, ok, What do I want to improve or work on?
        At least thats what it is for me…..

    2. Cone*

      I kind of do, but my list tends to be about things I want to do rather than qualities I want to have, because I’ve accepted at this point of my life I’m set in my ways and will never become a better person. What works for me is I pretend it’s the end of next year and I start writing “Things I Have Accomplished This Year,” and it turns out I usually just have 5-6 major things I want to have accomplished.

      I don’t always get to check off everything at the end of the actual next year because I have multiple interests and get sidetracked a lot, but I’m really more of an “enjoy the journey” kind of person. As long as I get to learn about people and/or the world in the process, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

    3. CatCat*

      I do with kind of hit or miss success. This year, my resolutions are are:
      – Start journaling. I received a journal with just a small spot for writing each day and it lasts 5 years. It’s called the “line a day journal.” I like that it just requires a very brief records.
      – Walk 365,000 steps. That’s 10k steps per day, but looking at the total for the entire year gives me wiggle room for off days. I’m planning to represent this visually for myself with flowers that I color in.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I really like the idea of a total step count for the year. I may need to try that, as I’m always beating myself up for not making my daily goal.

        Not the same thing, but someone gave me one of those engagement calendar-type books with really cute cats on some of the pages. I’ve never been a user of planners, but I’m thinking I might try and make myself use it this year. She paid 15.00 for it, so I should make an effort (she forgot to cross out the price…).

        I’ve tried journaling and it just seems so time-consuming, but I like that yours is a “line a day.” Sounds much more doable.

    4. fposte*

      I don’t so much do resolutions as life housekeeping updates; I check and update beneficiaries on everything, redo my budget projections, set out 2018 financial plans, update information letters in the event of incapacitation or death, etc. Those are concrete things that need to be done anyway, and they’re kind of enjoyable to do over the New Year’s week.

    5. Fiennes*

      I do. I know all the haughty blah-blah about “why change your life on that day in particular,” but, you know — why *not* on that day in particular? Rituals often help us ground ourselves, and resolutions are pretty harmless as rituals go. I’ve made plenty of resolutions I didn’t keep, but there are several I did, to good effect. So yes, I’m trying again this year! Resolutions: (1) get into a routine at the gym—I’ve already begun going more frequently so this is more about getting a schedule going; (2) cut down on the pasta and rice, increase the vegetable sides; (3) carve out more time for reading day to day instead of saving so much of it for business-trip travel; and (4) no more phubbing with the phone! Forest is a great app for helping with that last one.

    6. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I normally don’t even bother making them, but the last few months have been really rough with settling in to a new place, and I think a couple of resolutions might help me “reboot” a bit.

    7. ThatGirl*

      I make goals for the year. My goals for 2018 are to cut out sugar in January, do a proper workout three times a week plus walking, see my girlfriends once a month, and go to the doctor, dermatologist and on/gyn for checkups.

    8. Loopy*

      I dislike new years resolutions. I’ve never kept mine and I feel like they are doomed to failure. It always seems superficial to me.

      That being said I do like having yearly goals or goals for where you want to be in the next X number of years. Since I’m turning 30 in June I kind of need to step up my “by 30” goals and it just happens to be new years at the 6 month mark. So I do happen to be thinking a lot about goals this year at New Years, which feels hypocritical of me!

    9. Bryce*

      Yom Kippur is my time for that sort of thing, but rather than full-on resolutions I use it as a time to take a hard honest look at myself and my life. Figure out what I’m happy with, what I’m not, that sort of thing. Sometimes I decide to change things right there, but a lot of the time I’ve found it more of an awareness thing, and when a chance comes along later to reinforce something I like or change something I don’t, I can recognize it.

    10. Lissa*

      I don’t normally, but this year I’m doing a bit of a reset just because of how much a shitshow December has been! I made some really positive life changes this year and then December has been a bit of a boozy mess, LOL. I have a gathering Jan 1st daytime so starting Jan 2nd I’m going to get back to doing the things I know make me feel mentally healthier….ie not just constant sugar and barely any exercise. But I give myself a few more days to be a burrito and play video games while eating crap food until then. :)

    11. Elizabeth West*

      My dharma group is doing a 30/30 meditation challenge in January, to sit every day for 30 minutes for the next 30 days. I think it came along just at the right time–I’ve been avoidant lately, which a facilitator said is normal for newbies. So that is one I’ll be doing.

      I’ve kept them before, but they were not great big things. And I don’t worry too much about a little occasional backsliding. Making habits is hard.

    12. AnotherAlison*

      I don’t make resolutions, but I still like the rhythm of starting new things in January.

      Last year, I started kettlebell class in January and returned to boot camp at my gym in February, and I’m still at it! Sorry, I’m going to brag a little here. . .I have been a very inconsistent in the past, due to kids or injuries. I finally made it just a fact of my life to do it. I don’t ever ask myself if I’m going to go or if I feel like it. . .I just go. Not sure how I’m going to carry this over with my travel schedule for 2018, but I know my body can’t take letting it go back to rot again. My mother also had a broken pelvis in 2017, which has given me some extra motivation to stay in shape and be strong.

      Good luck to those starting new things. Starting is important, but keeping at it is even better!

    13. Windchime*

      I stopped making them a few years ago because it seemed like I was always setting myself up for failure. But lately I’ve been thinking about the next steps of my life (I will probably retire within the next 6-8 years). I’m going on an expensive vacation in a few weeks, and it occurred to me out of the blue the other day that, instead of planning a spendy vacation every year or two, how about if I instead made a life that I don’t need a vacation from?

      I don’t exactly know what that means right now, but I’m thinking on it and I will most likely be making some changes in the upcoming year.

    14. New Bee*

      Some years I pick a new skill to learn (in past years: nail art, knitting, and cooking) and other years a regular resolution (this year I want to drink less soda). I like starting in January–since I work in education I have the first half of the break to indulge/decompress and the second half to find ways to stick to my resolution.

    15. Rookie Manager*

      I like to have a positive resolution rather then a negative one, start something rather than stop. Ie play piano daily, swim 3x week, see live music once per week, eat at least 3 fruit and veg per day, go to bed by midnight 5x week…

      It’s like starting a new notebook, good time to reset your expectations of yourself.

    16. oranges & lemons*

      I like to make resolutions, but I usually try to make them manageable and pleasant (one year I resolved to work less overtime; this year I’m resolving to make more time for writing). I find January/February a good time to try to shake up my routine, since it’s usually a quieter time of year.

    17. Merci Dee*

      One of my sisters said today, “I’ve decided to postpone my new year’s resolutions for another year so that I can still be an asshole for 2018.” My sister is many things, but asshole typically isn’t one of them, so we were all just rolling laughing when she said this.

    18. Sylvan*

      I do! I have kept my 2016 and 17 resolutions. Something about it works for me. I like having concrete steps to take and a timeline, and coming up with a good resolution can give you both.

    19. TL -*

      I’m starting a planner/scrapbook to record and share my adventures with my family. I have a planner I use for normal life organization but I feel like I should be recording/sharing more of my overseas adventures than I actually do.

      I only make them when there’s something I really am motivated to change, but I do tend to stick to them when I make them. I use Lent the same way – it’s a very goal-focused way to approach a change and I appreciate the structure.

    20. JamieS*

      I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions but I advocate monthly resolutions which is when you resolve to do something, or not do something, for a month. I like to take my overarching goals (for me it’s exercise more and eat better) and break them into specific actions I can take for a month. I use a month because that’s about how long it takes a new habit to really solidify for me but YMMV.

      I had previously been focusing on my, now mostly attained goal, of spending less and saving more so in January I’m going to switch gears and focus on my eating better goals by resolving to not eat out, exempting 1 daily latte, and cook everything I eat at home. In February I’ll have another goal related to eating better, in March and April my goals will focus on exercise, May-June back to focusing on eating better, and so on.

    1. SeekingBetter*

      I practice tai chi at tai chi classes weekly and the place I go to does their version of chi gong once a week. Chi gong is great for cultivating “chi” and controlling one’s breathe is emphasized. I love practicing it and look forward to it all the time!

    2. LK03*

      I also took a tai chi class years ago that started with qigong exercises, and I discovered that I liked the qigong even better than the tai chi! I’m no expert, and it’s been a long time, but from what I remember the qigong exercises involved stretching, relaxation, breathing, and some standing meditation. I still try doing some of it on my own but I often think that if I had more free time I should try to find a class and learn more.

  32. Rogue*

    Ack! Got so annoyed last night. Went over to my boyfriend’s co-worker’s house for a small get together. Co-worker’s wife would not leave me alone about not drinking; pushing and pushing. I kept responding with some variation of “I’m good, thanks.” And around 3 hours into things, she responds to that with some crap about “no you’re not, I know you!” (mind you, she like really, really doesn’t. We’ve spoke maybe a handful of times.) I snapped then and told her in no uncertain terms that, no, she doesn’t know me and I when I said I’m good, I am. I don’t want a drink, if I did, I’d have one and she needed to drop the subject. Oh boy did she get upset. Proceeded to ask me why I was being so violent!! Seriously, was standing in the same spot, hands in my pockets, and she needed to drop the subject and stop trying to push me to drink. After that, she got mad and walked off, refusing to talk to me for the rest of the evening. The girl was hammered, she was stumbling. I get it, some people like to drink and I will on occasion, but I don’t feel there’s any need to justify my decisions to anyone and for a 30 something adult to do what she did, it really shows the kind of person she is. I think I’ll pass next time completely.

    1. Triplestep*

      “Violent”? Sounds like she was having a drunken vocabulary lapse! She probably meant “hostile” but she would still have been wrong. I’m with you – the whole thing sounds pretty high school. I would probably pass completely next time, too, except if it would impact boyfriend negatively at work. I’ll bet it won’t happen again, though – she may be somewhat embarrassed.

    2. fposte*

      I knew somebody in grad school who was really uncomfortable with people who didn’t want to drink; she seemed to feel it was a statement about her drinking and she therefore would change her behavior as a result. I wonder if your acquaintance had a similar thing going on.

      1. Bryce*

        Back in college I avoided the pushers by carrying around a glass of soda. Not as easy to do when they’re the hostess though.

      2. nep*

        Yes — I’ve seen that and I think it’s fairly common. Someone could have some deep-seated unease about how much she/he is drinking — knowing they can’t imagine going without — and it does not sit well at all when others are abstaining.

    3. Loopy*

      WOW. I don’t drink ever and I never have issues like that. Heck, I’ve never even been pushed to explain myself. I am so sorry you experienced that. I would have been really upset, myself. I definitely wouldn’t go back there if it meant this might repeat!

      1. Rogue*

        Yeah, this normally doesn’t happen. Most people go “okay” and leave it at that. This woman, was also the kind of person who decided it was okay to tell me I have to have children (boyfriend and I don’t want them), and that I should lie on my resume to get ahead in life and use people I’ve never worked with and don’t know well as references because “no one checks.” In the industry we are in, that is probably somewhat true, but I’m not going to do that. I was mostly just highly annoyed by the time I told her to knock it off. I’m normally a very quiet and polite person and will let a lot slide, but this woman decided to push all kinds of buttons in a short amount of time.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          My boyfriend has a friend like this. The type who will insist you do whatever he thinks you should do, even if you tell him you’ve got it covered. I cannot stand to be around him or his wife (who is similar) because every time I’m around him, I want to shake him and remind him that I’m a different person with different experiences and I’m old enough to know my own damn mind. So you have my sympathies.

        2. Loopy*

          I hate to be judgmental, but I fear I may be here: I wouldn’t want to spend my limited time with a person like this if I had ways of avoiding it!

  33. JaneB*

    Did anyone else glance at the photo and see Eve as being in a little boat on some water?? Maybe I need an eye test…

  34. BumbleDrama*

    Quick, anonymous confessional time: So after Christmas I matched on bumble with an old high school classmate, J, without realizing it– I figured it out before I messaged with him, he knew exactly who I was. Long story short we’ve been texting for a couple days and even though he doesn’t live locally anymore… I’m already contemplating making a visit to where he lives now just to see if there’s a real connection here, because the conversations have been going that well!

    Well… we have one real mutual friend in common from high school, B. I wasn’t close with either of them in high school– never had a class with J, I only got to know B recently. I guess J reached out and asked if she thought we’d be good together and now B is giving us both the cold shoulder. I’m not SUPER close with B… but I wanted to understand what was happening here and I found out from two of my close HS friends that B apparently briefly dated J in high school and at one point they had a “marriage pact” that they’d marry each other if they were still single at 40.

    I’d feel worse if it hadn’t been over 10 years since this happened between them. Not to mention, J seems VERY interested in a serious relationship and was already very clear about that with me– which I’m fine with! B has also been in ~3 serious relationships since high school, serious to the point of almost being engaged AND she’s currently in a serious relationship as well. My still-close HS friends both knew J– and they both think that J is great and that we’d get along well as far as they knew– of course, he’s been away for nearly ten years in this other city so no one can say for sure.

    I hate to say this, but since B and I aren’t very close (we really only see each other 1-2x a month at most on lunch breaks)… I wouldn’t mind losing her as a friend over this because it seems kind of extreme that she’d get that upset over this.

    Not sure I’m looking for advice with this, maybe just someone to sympathize with. I didn’t grow up in the small town I went to high school in– moved in middle school right before I started high school– so I was always out of the drama. And I really, truly do not enjoy it. So I feel terrible that B might be upset, but man… this time around I’m just not sure I want to let go of this guy just to preserve some kind of lingering high school fantasy she might have… especially since it sounds like both J and I have been single for the better part of these 10 years! Seems like there was ample opportunity for B to reach out if she wanted to.

    (This was written hastily before I run out to lunch with my parents– I’ll be back in a couple hours!)

    1. Temperance*

      Oh please. B sounds … pretty ridiculous and petty. I had a marriage pact in high school, too. (Spoiler alert: we are not married to each other, and he’s marrying another dude next year. We’re both happier not having help up the super romantic promise we made to each other at 16!)

      I don’t see this woman as an asset to your life.

    2. fposte*

      I really wouldn’t feel terrible about upsetting B. Both her hopes and her reactions to the situation are unreasonable, and while she may have her own pain going on that it all relates to, that’s no reason for you to bend over backwards to make sure she doesn’t have to feel it.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      I teach middle school and this is the kind of thing my eighth grade girls would do because they aren’t mature enough for authentic romantic relationships. B can’t lick all the cookies on the plate – good luck with J! It sounds like it has potential.

      1. Jen in Oregon*

        Marriage Pacts are dumb things people commit to when they are drunk and/or lonely–the only conversations that should be taken *less* seriously are “We should open a restaurant/bar” and “We should start a band.” Don’t give B another thought–“B can’t lick all the cookies on the plate”–I loved that!

        I should probably stop right there, but I can’t help but add………when I was 26, I got a wild hair to look up an old friend when I went home for Christmas. This guy and I had a bit of a flirtation going over the years, but we were never in a situation where we could ever really pursue it (living in different states during our late teens, early 20’s.) Long story short: we worked it out. We dated long distance for about a year then got married and moved to the west coast together. Our 21st anniversary was yesterday. Even if that isn’t how it works out for you guys, why not give it a shot? Best wishes that things unfold as they should.

        1. BumbleDrama*

          Thank you! The timing is weirdly perfect– he does live in another state now and loves his job. It just happens that my job has been getting less and less challenging/interesting for me so I’ve been considering a job move… to wherever a great job might be. Who knows! I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself but I am very much feeling the “let’s give it a shot” vibes.

      2. BumbleDrama*

        Haha! The licking all the cookies on the plate thing pretty much perfectly articulates my frustration with the entire situation. Thank you for giving me a laugh this evening.

    4. Mrs. Kate*

      I had a put marriage pact too. It was with a friend I was never romantically interested in in the slightest, but when we were wallowing about one day ending up alone with a million cats, we agreed that we could probably live with each other and hell, we both really dislike cats. We said if we were serially unattached by 35 we’d give it a go.

      I got married at 26 and he’s happily dated for many years but let me tell you, I wouldn’t have taken him up in the pact. Still no interest :-).

    5. New Bee*

      Realistically, it sounds like we’re about the same age, so 40 is over a decade away? So she has 10 years to come up with a devious plot to win his heart. (Yes I am spending my Saturday binging romcoms, why do you ask?)

      In all seriousness, good luck! I met my husband on a blog when we lived on opposite coasts–8 years together yesterday. We’re rooting for you!

    6. Anon anon anon*

      So, do you know why B is giving you the cold shoulder? Has she said anything to you? Because, although it could be for the reasons suggested, she might also just feel awkward or not want to get involved or have other stuff going on in her life. Or it could be the opposite. She could have complex emotions about J that are mature and normal for someone to have. But you’ll never know for sure, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

      1. BumbleDrama*

        To be fair to B I don’t know exactly– I’ve tried texting her three times over the last few days (about things totally unrelated to J) and haven’t gotten a response so I’ve decided to just let her talk to me when/if she’s ready. Hopefully it is the case that she’s just busy!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      If B wants J in her life then she should clear a path to make that happen OR let go.
      If you think about a marriage pact, it’s basically saying “I will take you if nothing else better comes along.” Really? It’s not a great foundation for a marriage.

      OTH, J could say, “Gee, time out. I need to get my head squared away about B and then we can talk.” He’s not doing this either.

      It’s not up to you to figure this out for them. It seems to me by their lack of action they have already arrived at an answer.

  35. The gold digger*

    Our cat was throwing up about once a week (and her belly hair was falling out). We had to change to a meat/fish only food – no grains. It worked.

  36. Ramona Flowers*

    Cat people! I have a question. Why does my cat only bring ‘presents’ to me, his female owner, and never my husband?

    It’s definitely not a coincidence. If he brings in a ‘gift’ it’s only when he’s already been in and seen I’m home – and I have a completely unpredictable schedule. There’s no way he could do this by coincidence for, like, five years. And he always brings them to my side of the bed!

    He’s very well bonded with both of us. We both feed him. But only I get the ‘presents’. Is this common? I’ve searched online and can’t find anything about cats bringing gifts to only one person.

    Yesterday he brought me a mouse trap from somewhere with a mouse in it. Uh, thanks?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      He brought the whole trap to you? That’s so funny! Probably not at the time, I’m sure.

      I have no idea why he would bring you gifts and not your husband; however, I know that some cats have a preferred gender. The rescue I volunteer with has a cat at the main foster home who LOVES men. She was all over my husband–she had only just met him that day–rubbing against him, presenting her butt to be scratched, looking at him lovingly, purring loudly. It’s was quite comical. Me? She just looked at me like I was infringing on her territory and then ignored me. I spoke to the woman who runs the rescue (she’s the main foster home, also), and she confirmed that Twinkle loves men and doesn’t care for women at all. She said she’s had several others like that, as well. Some cats respond to women with deeper voices, others like men only, and some are afraid of men and like women only.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        It’s actually the second time he’s brought us a trap! The first time it was empty and we found the whole thing kind of hilarious and meta. Less so this time when it came with a mouse in it, but still amusing.

        My cat likes men and women. And he’s seemingly obsessed with my husband and always prefers to cuddle with him though he is also close with me.

        1. CatCat*

          Our cat is bonded to both of us, but it’s pretty clear that my husband is his best bro. He will usually choose my husband to to cuddle with first (or as we call it, “a bro down sesh”) and he often tries to groom my husband but not me.

          He’s still very sweet and affectionate with me. I’m just not his best bro.

    2. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Have you seen any of funny memes that boil down to cats think we’re really dumb kittens? Yeah, they’re not just funny, there’s truth in there too. Your cat is trying to teach you how to hunt. For whatever reason, he doesn’t think he needs to teach your husband to hunt. Appreciate the love, good luck with the results.

      And don’t bother with mouse traps yourself, clearly you’ve got a mouser to take care of it :)

      1. Moonmodule1998*

        Ha, I was about to mention the same. One popular theory is that cats think we’re poor morons who can’t even catch food, so they need to bring it to us. Or they’re gifts. Or they’re trying to teach us to hunt. Or they’re trying to contribute to the family hoard. Or they’re like, “Look, mom! Look what I caught for us! PRAISE ME!” There’s a lot of different popular theories out there, actually, around why they do this. I tend to assume any random thing I read on the internet about animal psychology is BS but it is fun to think about.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          But why not my husband?

          Maybe it’s because he brings home more of the groceries and all of the cat food…

          1. Cruciatus*

            It’s possible the cat thinks your husband is hopeless and you’re the only one who can learn to be a good mouser! Maybe she’s trained you the best.

          2. Foreign Octopus*

            If he’s the one who normally feeds the cat, then that might be it.

            Or, you cat might just love you more :)

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              We both feed him! And I thought he loved my husband a bit more.

              Maybe he’s just a bit of a weirdo. Little furry weirdo that he is.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I think that animals express their love in different ways to different people. My husband always said the dog loved me best. No, it was just different that is all. My husband did not see the dog sitting by the window waiting for him to come home every night. In the end, the dog guarded my husband daily, constantly watched my sick husband and made clumsy/adorable attempts to help here and there. I think animals respond to differences they see in us.

  37. PlantLady*

    Does anyone have advice for applying for VA benefits? (Warning, venting ahead, though I tried to edit that stuff down.)

    My dad is a veteran (enlisted during Korea and did his 4 years), in his 80s, and in what I would call late-early to early-middle stage Alzheimer’s, as well as having an assortment of other health issues. He’s still at home, being taken care of by my mom (who has her own set of health issues), and they are getting by on Social Security and a tiny pension. There is basically NO extra money after the basics are paid for each month, so I’m hoping that there is something they can get from the VA to help out. Also, if cuts to Medicare and Social Security come along, they are going to be in serious trouble. I am living 2000+ miles away from them, and so trying to help as much as I can via phone and email.

    So far, I have talked with (and subsequently “fired”, for reasons I won’t get into) someone who billed himself as a “VA Liaison” and then later with a very nice man at the local office of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs for the state they live in. Between the two, I got a copy of the Aid and Attendance form for Dad’s doctor to fill out, but then it turned out that his physical exam, the completion of the form and the receipt of the form by the VA all had to happen within a 30-day period, and we went over the 30 days. And then my mom didn’t want to schedule a new doctor’s appointment, she just decided to wait 6 months until his next regular one. (Don’t ask.) By then, the VA had issued a NEW version of the form, so while we did get it done within the 30 day window, it still didn’t count because it was the wrong version of the form. So he’s just had yet another physical, but between the holidays and some other things going on, we’re not going to make it within the 30 day window, again. I can’t afford to fly out there often, but the way this is going, I think I’m going to have to scrape up the money to be there for his next appointment so I can hit the VA office in person, as well as handing the forms to the doctor in person, and then picking up the forms from the office and hand-delivering them back to the VA.

    Also, from what I got from the state VA office, it sounds like even if the forms get filled out and Dad gets approved for aid, the VA will only reimburse my parents for money they spend for in-home care, etc. Does anyone know if this is true? And if so, WTF??? If they could afford to pay for care out of pocket, I wouldn’t be screwing with the VA in the first place!!!!!

    Mainly, I want to get him set up with the VA so that when the time comes that my mom can’t take care of him at home any longer, he is somewhere on the waiting list for the Alzheimer’s wing of the state VA home. I hate, hate, HATE that it is going to come to that, but I honestly believe that it’s going to be the best of a short list of shitty options. That VA home actually gets good reviews for care, so I’m hoping he can land there and not in one of the other, less-well-reviewed places in the area.

    Okay, I’ve now depressed the hell out of myself. Now that I’ve given a broad sketch of the situation, any advice would be appreciated.

    1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      The government sucks sometimes. So does dementia, but that’s all the time. You’re ahead of me, I’ll get there though.

      See if you can find support group/agency/something local to them with people who’ve gone through this. At a minimum, your mom will have some resources if she needs to vent to someone who understands (and isn’t you). You might also look in your area too for the VA stuff. My family won’t have any involvement with the VA so I don’t have any thing specific there, but there’s got to be a veterans group or SOMETHING that can provide some guidance.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’m going to watch this thread, as we’re trying to get my FIL to apply for VA benefits. He very clearly would qualify and needs them due to financial strains, but for some reason just won’t do it. I think it’s part laziness, and part thinking he won’t get them. He applied 10 years ago when he was making much more money and was denied, and seems to be stuck on that. He’s now in a spot where he’s no longer working, living off social security, two of his three pensions are done with, and can hardly make ends meet. MIL is retired, also. But he won’t apply because they told him 10 years ago he was making too much money. Circumstances have changed a lot, but he still talks about how he was denied.

      1. Enough*

        This I never understood. The whole because one time something happened I will never check again. My FIL spent his last years bedridden because he would not get knee replacements because one friend many years before FIL needed it had a bad outcome. Let’s just forget about the 4 who were just fine and all the improvements that had occurred since then.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yup, this is my FIL 100%. Because it happened once to one person, he won’t do it/buy it/try it, etc. He’s clearly in a spot where VA benefits would help him out, but he won’t bother applying because he got turned down 10 years ago when he was in a very different financial position. It’s also laziness, as he does this with other life things.

    3. Enough*

      I wouldn’t worry too much about potential cuts in Medicare or SS for your parents. If there are any cuts it is very very very unlikely to affect anyone who currently receiving benefits.

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      I don’t know if you’ve already tried this route, so apologies in advance if you have. If I were in your shoes, I’d start contacting my local-area Veterans of Foreign Wars post, or an American Legion post (by phone or online). These organizations frequently have someone on staff (usually a volunteer) who’s familiar with the local VA scene, and can advise you fairly decently. I would expect that either post rep could very easily put you in contact with their counterpart representatives in your parents’ area, so you could get more location-specific information and advice, and referrals. Best of luck to you.

      1. PlantLady*

        @Tabby Baltimore, that’s a great idea, thank you. It hadn’t occurred to me to explore that avenue.

      2. the gold digger*

        Also, when our congressman does his town halls, he saves the last 30 minutes of each session for constituent services, helping people with things like this. It couldn’t hurt to write or call your congressperson to ask for help. That is one of the things they do.

        1. dawbs*

          YES-and don’t be afraid to do the local ones too.
          I used to work for the state-level-congress folks, and there was a ginormous constituent database. That meant that even if an individual state-level-rep/senator/whomever was an idiot, there was still info.

          Not info the public could get to, but, if someone picked up the phone and dialed “District 7, John Donne’s office”, they’d get Ms. Smith, his aide. And Ms. Smith (these aides tended to be competent–or at least, there tended to be at least one competent one in each office) had access to this huge database and so she could look up, essentially “things reps have done to work with the VA to mke constituents happy” and send some knowledge your way.

          THe worst that could happen is you get the incompetent aide and you’re not any worse than where you started.

      3. KR*

        Those organizations, and there also may be other veteran support groups like Rolling Thunder, Enforcers, ect to help. They may be willing to drive back and forth to appointments or talk to your parents veteran to veteran about pushing the VA for benefits. They’re bikers usually but they have good hearts and want to help. Many are retired and have a lot of time to give. Good job pushing your parents about this. Your dad gave his service and I bet they paid him peanuts and the military won’t give him the benefits he deserves unless he pushes them.

    5. periwinkle*

      Reach out to the Caregiver Support Coordinator at the local VA hospital or call the Caregiver Support Line.

      Caregiver Support Line: 1-855-260-3274

      The CSC is a social worker or RN who is there to support Veterans and their families by ensuring they have access to whatever caregiving resources are available. They’ll help with sorting through the paperwork and can connect you to non-VA resources as well (Veteran orgs, government agencies, community resources, online support forums, etc.).

      A few years after the CSC program was started, the VA realized that the role had grown organically and needed to be standardized so Veterans and their families would receive a consistent level of service regardless of location. My first job after grad school was a contract to write the first handbook for CSCs!

    6. periwinkle*

      My comment might be stuck in moderation for a while because of the link, so search Google for “VA caregiver support” for a lot of good information about the Caregiver Support program and the help they can offer. Good luck!

    7. ValaMalDoran*

      My mom had to deal with paperwork for my grandfather/the VA a few years ago. My parents are in Pennsylvania, and my grandfather was in Tennessee. This was for getting his benefits when he had to go into assisted living.

      My mom said the VA was not much help at all. She found a place in PA, the Office of Veteran’s Assistance, through/at her local courthouse. They were really good, and helped her even though my grandfather was located in Tennessee. They only seemed to care about helping a veteran, regardless of location.

      Maybe your state, or your parents’, has somewhere like this that can help you. Try local courthouses in both your locations, they may know of resources to help.

      Good luck!

    8. Rookie Manager*

      I manage a service for veterans in the UK. We have hundreds of charities/benevolent funds for veterans and most would either help people apply for equivalent help here or put you in touch with local people who do. Are there any local veterans charities/organisations? I guarantee you will be neither the first nor last to have these issues.

    9. Brunch with Sylvia*

      I am sorry that you are going through a difficult time plus trying to manage VA bureaucracy from far away. Have you considered enrolling your Dad in VA for primary care? The VA doc/NP can fill out the physical exam form and the proper Aid and Attendance form right at that visit. In my state, every clinic also has a social worker who can give you the scoop on the wait list and requirements for the Veterans Home and other benefits your dad is eligible for that can be helpful like home health aid hours that could give your mom some respite. You can reassure your parents that your dad does not have to give up his non-VA family doc by enrolling with a VA PCP.
      I am so thankful for your dad’s service in Korea!

    10. LCL*

      I did a google search and was impressed by a website called the Military Wallet.com. It had a lot of links and suggestions.

    11. PlantLady*

      Thank you, everyone for the suggestions! There are some other things at play in the situation (family politics, my mom’s denial about my dad’s condition, etc.) that I didn’t get into and that have messed up some things that I’ve already tried, but I appreciate all the kind thoughts. I just have to keep telling myself, “Baby steps.”

    12. ..Kat..*

      Can the doctor just fill out the new form without another doctor’s visit? Or maybe just a phone consult with your dad?

  38. Triplestep*

    Does anyone use a tablet with a stylus for hand note-taking to keep in electronic form? I am considering switching to this from a paper planning method just to be better organized, but I don’t want to spend a lot, and I want something really portable. I use Onenote on my phone, but really just for my gym routine and shopping list, and I want to expand it to use in other areas of my life

    I started carrying a notebook after reading about the Bullet Journal method; I don’t follow it religiously, but I have started carrying the notebook everywhere and writing everything down. Now I just need a way to organize it all – the strict Bullet Journal method will do that for some, but not me.

    If you carry a tablet and stylus, please share what kind. I hear good things about the Galaxy Tab with S Pen. I do not want an iPad, as I am PC and Android in all my other devices.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks, I considered a phone, but I do a lot of sketching for work so I need a larger “canvas” than a phone would give me.

        1. Alice*

          Well – I don’t know if the LG styluses are all the same, but I found the one on the phone easy to use and responsive. I didn’t use it to draw, though, so you might have more discerning taste so to speak.

        2. TL -*

          If you sketch, the Windows Surface is good – I have the laptop version and honestly love it but my friend sketches on the tablet version and finds it suits her needs. I didn’t like note taking on it but I really prefer paper/pencil.

  39. Alice*

    I went to my first rock concert last night… And I hated it. So loud, no chance of conversation, drunk people being really rude to each other and the staff. I’d much rather have some frienda over and listen to an album. Am I terminally boring?

    1. nep*

      If you are, then I am too.
      I went to lots of rock and other kinds of concerts decades ago and enjoyed them, but can’t fathom going now — for all the reasons you mention. Just about the opposite of my idea of a good time.

    2. Lucia*

      No, you just didn’t enjoy a concert. That’s not a big deal, they’re not for everyone. That said, you didn’t enjoy this concert but you might enjoy others – a lot depends on the act and the crowd. I’m not someone who enjoys that type of environment normally, but when it’s an act I love and I go with friends, I have a great time. I don’t tend to encounter the very drunk rude people though.

      But if it’s just not your thing, it’s really not a big deal. ;)

      1. Nicole*

        I agree. Normally I prefer to avoid loud crowded places such as concerts, but if it’s for my favorite band I always go and I always have a great time.

    3. Red Reader*

      I don’t like live concerts at all for exactly that reason. I don’t pay for tickets to hear other people caterwauling over the main act, and I can usually get a better listening experience at home on the albums I already have.

    4. Bryce*

      I’ve had some concerts (none rock) where I really appreciated seeing them live and the energy was something greater than just the music, but a lot of the time it’s not for me either.

    5. Lissa*

      Yeah, they’re not my thing either. I like the type of concert where you sit in seats and listen, LOL. But I’m OK with being boring! I know that some music fans get really almost rabid about concerts so I can see why you might feel odd you didn’t have a good time, but I’d look at it as having good and useful information! I still have people try to get me to go and I just usually say “I hate music and fun” and they laugh.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Nah. I’ve been to an arena concert or two (Rod Stewart indoors; The Grateful Dead outdoors) and also concerts at smaller, more intimate venues (Men at Work, Weird Al, various smaller bands you’ve never heard of), and I much prefer the latter. Even if it’s loud, it’s not so crowded, you can get closer to the stage and actually see the performers, and there’s less chance of gross people being gross.

    7. NaoNao*

      I’ve been to like, 3 concerts in my life. I have no earthly idea what is fun about them. There. I said it.
      The noise, the crowds, the having to stand most of the time, the chaos and confusion, the volume of the music…plus the more subtle lack of control over the playlist.
      But I’ve never been the “fan” type-never had a celebrity crush! And wind up saying things like “Gosh, that blue eyed guy in Night Manager is kind of dreamy” (Tom Hiddelston, Hunk of the Moment!!) so meeting/seeing my musical “gods” in person doesn’t hold much appeal.
      The only band I would make an exception for is the first rock band I ever heard or can recall hearing, and loving: Def Leppard. Yes, I had a sheltered childhood!

    8. Elf*

      I love concerts of the folk music coffeehouse variety, but I got dragged to a rock concert recently and hated it. (If you are mikeing a trumpet in a relatively small theater then you are doing it wrong, and also, why are you flashing bright lights in my eyes?) Don’t give up on concerts, some are awesome, but go to the right ones. I will plug the Walkabout Clearwater Coffeehouse for anyone in the NYC metro area, its in Westchester (yay for the legacy of Pete Seeger!) Not liking a loud rock concert definitely doesn’t make you boring.

    9. LizB*

      I pretty much only like concerts if it’s a group I know really well so I can sing/dance along to all the songs, it’s not too loud (or I at least remember to wear my earplugs), and I’m wearing clothes I don’t care about so when someone spills a beer on me I won’t mind.

  40. Hair Cut Question*

    I’m curious to know what y’all pay to have your hair done. I’ve noticed that it varies widely from person to person. Just so we can compare, tell us what you have done, your gender (because that affects the price) and the price before the tip. You can tell us what you tip if you want to – I just want to be sure we are all comparing the same thing.

    I used to go to someone who charged $45 for a haircut/blowdry. She left town, so I’m trying to find a new person I like. The ones I have tried range from $65-$85 for a haircut/blowdry. I’m a woman with hair that is difficult to cut.

    1. cheluzal*

      $85 just to cut and dry!??! Holy.Crap.
      I pay $95 for wash, cut, highlights, and dry, and style!

      I’m female in central Florida.

      1. Kuododi*

        Oh goodness… I’m female, SE USA… I paid $85 before tip for wash, full color, cut, and brow wax. I had long curly high maintenance hair and about two years ago I had her cut it off in something like a modified pixie. She recommended the style and I have been thrilled with it ever since. The lady who does my hair is an old family friend whose worked in the business for ages. She’s wonderful with what I need and delightful to work with. I shudder to think about what it will be like when she retires. :(

    2. Simone R*

      $60, female, major East Coast city, for simple haircut/blowdry. I could find it for less probably but I like the woman and just only get my hair cut a few times a year.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I despise the fact that haircuts are so expensive. I long for the days when it was 20.00 for a wash and cut. Although I could go to Super Cuts or something like that and pay that little, I guess.

      Anyway, I’m a female in CT with naturally curly hair. My old stylist charged me 55.00 for wash and cut. The person who took over when she left charged me 65.00 (that’s crazy to me!). Someone I’m seeing now charges about 45.00, but she’s a long drive (friend of a friend). I’m at the point where I just go to Super Cuts and pay 20.00 and take my chances. It seems to be hit or miss, because I never get the same person. I know I can make an appointment, but by the time I’m ready to go, my hair is usually out of control, I’m ready to shave it off, and I forget that I can make an appointment.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      I pay £28 plus tip for a cut from someone I trust – with a cappuccino thrown in.

      She’s better than any more pricey salon I’ve tried!

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        This sounds about right for what I was paying in the UK. Although I didn’t get a cappucino!

        When I moved to Spain and got my haircut for the first time, I had to ask them to write the number down because I thought I’d misheard them. For a cut, style, and blowdry, I paid €13.

        I was shocked, and appalled, and pleasantly delighted.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            I know! It was absolutely incredible, and I thought maybe I’d just gone to a cheap place but literally every normal hairdresser in my part of Spain is that price. It’s ridiculous. I honestly don’t know how they stay afloat.

    5. CatCat*

      I pay $120 before tip every 10 weeks for wash, color, cut, and style. My hair lady does an amazing job. I went for 2 years without a haircut when I was aggressively paying off a loan. After I paid off the loan and got a raise, getting my hair done nicely was how I decided to treat myself. I’m a pretty frugal person overall, but this is my luxury.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        That’s about what I pay in Canada for the same thing. It’s a bit cheaper if she only touches up my roots and more with foils, obviously. And considering I have a ton of hair, I think it’s fair.

        I had a conversation with my stylist about it, because she’d gone to a conference about the service side of the salon business. Since basically everything is on YouTube, and I live close to a drugstore, I could probably do into myself with a couple of boxes of $15 dye. But I go because she does an amazing job, I get coffee, all the trashy magazines I want, she massages my head after she washes my hair, she styles it amazingly beautifully, and she gives me advice on techniques to use so I can style it myself later. That makes it worth it to me.

    6. KR*

      I usually pay between 40-50 including tip for a women’s cut with long layers, with long curly hair. I usually get a wash too.

    7. NicoleK*

      Great Clips or some other low cost salon chain. $20 or less for a cut including tip (once in a while a stylist will blow dry the hair). I’m a female in the Midwest.

    8. Thursday Next*

      PNW, female, $6 at the local beauty college. I tip $5/$6 depending on how much cash I have. I have long hair and no bangs so I don’t care if they need to take off an extra 1/2 in because of a mistake. I don’t know how your hair is difficult to cut or what sort of style you prefer but if you’re looking to save money, check out a local beauty school. They’re definitely slower than a fully trained person but in my experience since they’re learning they are careful and want experience with different hair types. And the instructors will check the haircut when the students are done and fix any mistakes.

    9. fposte*

      I get a cut and blowdry for $40 in the small-town Midwest; bang trims in between are free.

      A big factor here will be cost of living–really leasing space–in the area, too. You can’t pay rent in Manhattan with the costs of haircuts in the small-town Midwest.

    10. Engineering consultant*

      About $45-50 for shampoo, cut, and blowdry in the DC suburbs, at a salon with a mostly Asian clientele. I got highlights in my hair once and it was about $120. My stylist is a little more expensive because she’s excellent and I’m willing to pay for her expertise, but at this salon, the lowest tier for cut/blowdry starts at $25 without tip for females. I think it may start at $20 for males.

      I’ve heard other friends who go to more upscale salons in the DC area and the prices tend to range about $65-$100 for shampoo, cut, and blowdry.

    11. Bigglesworth*

      I’m incredibly cheap – I’m a woman with a pixie cut. I just got my hair done at SuperCuts – wash, dry, and cut for $22 ($18 for hair and $4 tip). I’m also in law school with a limited income and know I can get by with only 3-4 haircuts a year if they cut it short enough.

    12. Fiennes*

      Deep South city, $55 for cut, blow dry, style. Color gets way more expensive but since I discovered Schwarzkopf dyes I handle that myself. (This message brought to you not by the Schwarzkopf company but by my own disgust with pretty much every other drugstore hair color.)

    13. Overeducated*

      My stylist is a “junior stylist” who charges $50 for a short women’s cut. I had to call around and ask about rates because the senior stylists in my area charge a lot more, and with a pixie cut I can’t stretch it to 2 cuts a year like when my hair was longer. (My stylist is on leave now so the front is growing out, I had my spouse trim the back and sides with clippers and it’s not completely horrible….)

    14. ThatGirl*

      My stylist is $52. I’m in the Chicago suburbs. I’ve been going to her every six weeks or so for like 9 years, her prices have gone up little by little but I like her and the salon so much I’m willing to pay. My hair is short and it’s never looked better.

    15. Searching*

      I’m a woman in Utah and pay $70 ($60 pre-tip) for my haircut/blowdry. I’ve been with the same stylist for more than 30 years so she’s turned into a friend and I love how she cuts my hair. I know it’s expensive and it adds up because my hair is short and I have to go every 5 weeks, but this is my only self-care treat, I don’t do mani/pedis or massages or anything else like that. I schedule all of my appointments for an entire year at once – my husband can’t fathom this because he usually goes to Great Clips with about 5 minutes forethought – but she has a huge client load so that’s the best way to get the times I prefer.

    16. rj*

      I used to pay $25-30 very rural midwest, including wash, cut, style and tip. When I lived in Toronto I paid $55 + tax (because it was Canada) + tip (around $70) even as a grad student. It was my main luxury. I think location is the biggest difference. My hair is short and curly and I have had a lot of bad haircuts, so I prefer to pay more.

    17. Alston*

      Ok sub question. How much do you guys tip % wise? And does the % change if you are doing color as well?

      1. Hair Cut Question*

        I tip 20% no matter what. I don’t care what I have done, and whether it’s the owner or another person. I don’t know if that is necessary – I wish it wasn’t. But since I’m not sure, I err on the side of over-generous.

      2. Pharmgirl88*

        I tip at least 20%, maybe a little more depending on what bills I have on me. I’ve been seeing the same stylist for years now, and I really like her so I make sure to tip well.

      3. Kuododi*

        I try to tip a min of 20 percent. More often than not I will err on the side of caution and tip 25. If I’ve got extra cash together and can manage… Ill over tip. I do my best to apply that policy all around to anyone I encounter in the service industry. I have worked enough service jobs and delt with enough in my time… I figure if I can pass on a little positive, it’s something to help the universe.

    18. Loopy*

      I’m a female and I have very curly hair so it takes some experience/skill not to butcher it. I’m just too terrified to go to someone at a place like Supercuts. I’ve tried a few salons around town and for a basic cut I can’t get anything under 65-90 dollars (90 was for a Deva Curl cut (I’m probably misspelling that?), so on the higher end for a reason).

      I end up getting frustrated with cost and not cutting it for months and then having a mess.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        You’re spelling it right! I pay $90 for my DevaCut in a mid-sized city in the Southeast. But I only get my hair cut 3 or 4 times a year, so it’s worth it to me. I used to pay $55 for a cut and blow dry in Queens, NY, but I went every 8 weeks or so.

    19. Mrs. Kate*

      $55 plus tip for basic cut and blow dry in an expensive Boston suburb. I’ve paid as much as $80 for the same.

    20. Book Lover*

      In Arizona, for a woman, about $45 for cut, dry, style. And then I usually add on 15% for a tip. Though, oops, I just did the math and think I have been doing less than that.

      I am unhappy though, because they always want to straighten my hair and then it is thin and feels like they have pulled it all out. And didn’t cut short enough last time. So I need to find someone new or get them to listen to me.

    21. Grace Carrow*

      In London I pay between £20 and £30 depending on length of appointment. Same cut again is around £20. And while I am female, it doesn’t matter, because Barberette has a gender neutral prices policy.

    22. Emac*

      I pay $65 before tip for cut, wash, and style. It’s expensive but worth it to me because my stylist specializes in cutting curly hair and always does an amazing job. My hair is not evenly curly/wavy and before I found her, no one ever cut my hair so that it consistently looked good, unless I was willing to spend tons of time on it which I’m not. Even other places that supposedly specialized in curly hair would end up making me look like a poodle or a mushroom. And with the current stylist, I get a ten minute head massage when she washes my hair.

      I’m a woman in an eastern MA city (outside of Boston).

    23. brushandfloss*

      Female, ethnic curly hair, Lower Westchster/NYC suburbs
      $45 plus tip – Wash, roller set, cut, flat iron Cut hair from shoulder length to nape of neck

      My sister same hair type but mid-back length
      $60 plus tip- Wash, blow dry, flat iron, and ends trimmed.

      Took us awhile to find a salon around where we live that we felt confident that the stylist knew how to work with our hair type.

    24. Delphine*

      I get a special cut for curly hair, which costs about $65 at my stylist in Boston, and I add a $15 to $20 tip. Typically the cut is done on dry curls, but my stylist works with the curls wet, and unless you ask for them to set your hair and pay extra, you don’t get to dry. I love the cuts I get, but walking out of the salon in the dead of winter with dripping hair is never fun, and I tip accordingly.

    25. periwinkle*

      I’m a short-haired female and pay $95 for color, simple layered cut, and blowdry. My stylist used to charge a lot more for the same set of services ($140 or so) when she worked in a salon and had to pay chair rent. Now she works out of her home and has reduced her prices accordingly. I’ll tip 30% (25% for her and the rest for her big doggies).

    26. Rogue*

      I’m a woman and I’ve had my hair shampo, cut, and styled (blow dried and straightened) in FL, CO, NM, TX, AR, and PA. Prices have ranged from a low of $24 in NM to a max of $36 in PA.

    27. Hnl123*

      I live in a HCOL city and around here, women’s wash and cut is at least $65+ at a salon. Cheaper if you go to like… Fantastic Sams, but the talent level is hit or miss. If you add in highlights your looking at $250+. I hate how expensive it is so I can only go once a year. My hair basically looks terrible 11 months out of the year for this reason. Le sigh.

    28. the gold digger*

      I live in a major Midwestern city. I pay $30 (with tip) for my haircuts (my hair is straight, which means any slips show) and $100 with haircut and tip to have my hair highlighted. (I do that about three times a year – it feels very extravagant and vain.)

    29. LCL*

      Cut and color every five weeks. I’m female. Cost is 100$. The salon I go to is no tipping and pays a higher wage. I have some substantial grey, but it’s all patchy and I look broke if I don’t color it.

    30. CA Teacher*

      I pay $45 for the cut and $90 for the color (basic, no highlights), and this is a steal for my amount of hair. I have mid back, thick hair, and I go to a family friend. This is LA area.

    31. Courtney*

      I pay $60 for a cut, but I see a person at my salon who charges more because she is a “master stylist” who does hair at NY fashion week and fancy stuff like that. I decided to spend the extra $ because I was in a hair rut and wanted to basically let someone do whatever they thought would look good, so I was willing to spend more. Really liked what she did with it so I’ve continued to see her.

    32. Damn it, Hardison!*

      $135 for one process color and cut, + $25/tip, every 6 weeks. Female, major East Coast city.

    33. Elizabeth H.*

      I am female and typically have medium (just above shoulder) length thick, wavy hair that I straighten daily. I pay around $40 for a cut and blow dry plus $10 tip. This is at low-to-medium-end salons. However, I’ve had pretty bad luck with losing access to people who cut my hair that I really liked, so for the past 2 years I actually have had my best friend cut my hair (for free) when she is in town. She is not a hairdresser or anything, she just trimmed it once or twice in high school (I had superlong hair I wouldn’t entrust to anyone else) and decided to ask her for the favor again last year. It’s not exactly the same as a professional cut but it’s good enough for me for the time being! I could afford to get a professional cut but it’s more the time and energy and money investment of trying to find a new person whose haircuts I adore – I don’t really want to undertake that (again!) now and until I feel like it I’d rather not pay any money at all for a potentially mediocre cut!

    34. Elizabeth West*

      I pay around $100 for color, cut, and style, and it costs $15 (was $12) to get my brows done, which I often do at the same time. So with tip, it’s around $140. Every five or six weeks, longer if I can stand the roots. I try to get brows done every two or three weeks, or else I look like a werewolf. :P I’m female, in Missouri, and this is at a Kevin Murphy salon.

      It’s a lot; if I’d known I was going to lose my job, I might not have gone blonde because I could do the red at home. But I love my stylist and she makes me look fantastic, IMO. She also understands that I can’t tip very much if at all right now–I can just manage to keep going so I don’t look crappy while job hunting. I made her a Harry Potter Felix Felicis necklace for Christmas and she loved it. :D

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Haha thanks–it doesn’t always, because the lighter color shows EVERY STRAY HAIR. And when the dewpoint is high, I look like the humidity rabbit. :P But when I style it (or especially when she does), I feel like a frickin film star. :D I wish I could afford the Kevin Murphy products for everyday–they smell amazeballs.

          Plus, when she shampoos me, I get a scalp massage!!!! \0/

    35. Rookie Manager*

      In my small town I pay around £45 for cut/colour and finish. When I lived in the big city where I work I easily paid twice that for a good salon. Currently you get 10% discount if you book your next appointment while in the salon. When I realised the price in the big city I stopped getting my colour done professionally and did it myself. Now It’s my luxury treat for working f/t.

    36. NaoNao*

      I’m at about $70 for wash, cut, and style–and that’s at an upscale, although mall-located, salon. I honestly believe you really, really get what you pay for with hair.
      I spent 400$ on the best color of my life (it was an unnatural color correction, so hours and hours in the chair) and it was worth every penny.
      Hair is something you wear every day and a good cut, color, and style can make SUCH a difference in your mood and self esteem.

      1. NaoNao*

        Sorry, I’m also female and I have a “lob” of wavy, thick, somewhat damaged hair, and I live in Denver. I also have “baby hairs”–broken off hairs from too much bleach, and my stylist was able to layer those in (somewhat) so it was worth every cent. I get it cut every 6 months or so because I’m lazy, but it’s always worth it, I feel so much better!

    37. Red*

      I’m a lady with very curly hair that goes to a guy that specializes in curls. I pay $43 for a dry hair cut.

    38. kas*

      For a wash/treatment and trim/cut, I pay between $95 – $120 before tip depending on the type of treatment I’m getting. I’m a woman, in Canada and I have curly hair.

    39. Not So NewReader*

      Rural America here. I am feeling pretty good about saying I get a cut for $10. Someone raised a good point about the overhead costs of the salon. Where I go is attached to the person’s house. She lives there so no commute costs and probably low overhead because it is just one room, although it’s a large room. She has not raised her prices in well over 12 years. I think I will speak to her about how she should increase her prices again.

    40. LAM*

      Around $110 for all over color and style, $160 for cut, color and style. I tip 20-25% due to how much hair I have and how long it takes to do my hair (it’s something like 4-5 bottles of dye and 3 hours minimum).

      I’ll typically dye it every 6-8 weeks, and do a cut every other visit.

    41. Rovannen*

      Wash, cut, blow-dry, flat-iron and style. $25 + $5 tip.
      PNW Female. My stylist recently moved salons and 100% of her clients moved with her.

    42. TL -*

      $160 for highlights/cut/blow-dry/styling at an upscale-ish Boston salon. I’m going to get it done in Sydney and am budgeting $200AUD.

      I am extremely picky about my hair. I have long, blonde, wavy hair and it should look like a Disney princess any time a stylist touches it. If I could afford to fly back to Boston twice a year to get it done, I would. (I loved my hair stylist.)

    43. HannahS*

      Am female, previously payed about 40-55 Canadian for only a haircut at a salon twice a year. Currently cutting my own hair because I hate getting my hair cut, not thrilled to be paying that much for it, and I wear my hair braided or in a bun daily so the stakes are low. It’s suprisingly really easy.

    44. teclatrans*

      Female, high cost of living city, I pay…hm, it used to be $85, but now he is up to $100 (!) for a cut and blow dry. I have hard-to-cut hair and a lot of anxiety over some awful cuts, and this is the first stylist I trust implicitly, so I pay what he charges.

      My tip used to be 20%, but I can’t afford thay, so it’s more like 15% (Also, my stylist is in a …coworking sort of space, where he keeps more of the base charge than he usually would.)

    45. Galatea*

      Non-binary, in a large Midwest city.

      The place I go to has haircuts starting at $30, although there’s a price increase depending on seniority of the stylist. It’s a little more expensive than some places I’ve been, but I go here specifically because they don’t price on gender but on length, and because this place doesn’t try to feminize every single haircut I get — I’ve had places straight up refuse to square off edges because it looks “too masculine”, which is a weird thing to say to a person wearing men’s clothes and a binder, but whatever.

      My stylist charges I think $32, but I usually tip $10-$20 on top of that because I like her and because I’ve pretty much given her free rein to do whatever she wants with my hair and it turns out looking nice.

    46. Clever Name*

      Getting my hair done at a nice salon is one of the only luxuries I allow myself. I pay over $100 for highlights, shampoo and cut. I go every other month. I get constant compliments on my haircut and my color. I’ve been seeing the same stylist for 10 years now.

  41. SparklingStars*

    Has anyone here ever used a tour group such as Rick Steves or Lonely Planet? I want to go someplace in Europe this year (haven’t quite narrowed down the destination yet, but am leaning towards England, Scotland, or Italy) and was wondering about others’ experiences with group tours. For context, I don’t want the “adventure” type tour with tons of physical activities included, but I’m fine with moderate walking.

    1. NicoleK*

      We took a Collette tour of Italy a few years back. We enjoyed our experience and would be open to tour groups in the future.
      Pros: Obviously someone else is driving so you get to enjoy the view or nap during the drive. It’s great having hotel, transportation, most dining options, and most attractions planned out. We didn’t speak the local language and it was nice having a tour guide when there is an issue.

      Cons: Can be pricey. The age of the tour group typically skews older (I was 37 and DH was 46 at the time).

    2. Bigglesworth*

      I’m curious too. My parents are doing a Rick Steve’s tour of Germany and Austria in March, by their the first people I know doing that.

    3. Fiennes*

      You know best what you’d enjoy, but definitely consider going on your own, without a formal tour. This way you decide what to see, what pace to go at, where to eat, etc. Obviously in England & Scotland you’ll speak the local language (and the accents aren’t insurmountable); in Italy, at least in most tourist areas, you’ll be able to find English maps/guides/speakers with ease. Public transit in Europe is plentiful and affordable; you can relax and check out the scenery as well on a train as you could on a bus. (Yes, new transit systems can be intimidating, but I always remind myself these trains weren’t set up for the exclusive use of rocket scientists—I can probably figure it out!)

      I’m not knocking tours; lots of people really enjoy them. But I think many would-be travelers choose them more out of unfamiliarity & intimidation than for their real benefits (predictability, support staff, fixed costs, etc.) I’d just urge you to consider all the possibilities.

    4. Lore*

      I went to Ecuador with Gap (now I think they’re just called G) a few years back. Pretty reasonable price wise (esp since the trip included the Galapagos, which you have to do in some sort of group) and I really liked the fact that most of the scheduling was very open–you arrived in location A, checked into hotel, and then they’d give you a list of activities they could arrange but you could also just sightsee on your own or with other group members and as long as you were at the bus station or wherever the next departure point was, it didn’t matter how you spent the intervening time. (Which also meant it was easy to cater to your own levels of physical competence–I skipped white water rafting, for example, but did a waterfall hike later the same day.) I also liked that they don’t charge a single supplement if you’re willing to share with another solo traveler. On my trip there were three solo travelers so we each got single rooms part of the time and shared part of the time and it worked nicely.

    5. Lily Evans*

      I’ve never done a group tour, but I read a ton of travel blogs and have done a lot of research into possibly doing group tours in the future. I’ve heard really great things about Intrepid Travel (which despite the name offers tours of all physicality levels). Highland Explorer Tours in Scotland is another company that I’ve seen very positive reviews of. And I don’t know your age/gender, but there’s a group called Women Traveling Together that I found looking for tour groups for my mom that has really positive reviews and their groups are only women with an average age of 50 (but they accept adult travelers of any age). If you fall into that target demographic it might be a good choice!

      1. Aussie academic*

        Just to add on, I’m a big fan of Intrepid travel, having done trips with them to Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, and in 3 days I’m heading off for an Intrepid trip to northern Africa! I like that it’s just small groups (usually max 16 ppl) and that it doesn’t involve sitting on coaches but really getting out into the community with a local guide. They have different styles of trips and I’ve not done the kind that involve camping or anything too rustic, but you’re not checking into business hotels where you could be in any big city either. I’m 41 and my hubby is about to turn 50, and we’re pretty well traveled, but we like to have a bit of structure with our trips without spending all our time with a group, and this seems to provide a nice mix of group and personal time. And we’ve found a mix of ages, from 20s through 80s with Intrepid, which works for us, but check out their blogs if you want to get a sense of the style of the trips. We tried a few companies before settling on this one – some were too ‘party hearty’ and others a little too… old, to put it bluntly? Good luck!

    6. Fiddlesticks*

      There are actually tour companies where you can buy a package including flights and hotels (and some incidental tour items if you want), but that leave you completely unscheduled during the day. (Gate One is one of the agencies I’ve used in the past.) It gives you the ease of one-stop-shopping for the logistics if you don’t feel like hammering out all the individual details, but also provides you the freedom to schedule however you want during the days themselves. Bonus: these tend to be less expensive than the fully scheduled/tourguided group trips!

    7. JenM*

      I used The Travel Department to travel around the Barcelona region. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really enjoyed it. Hotels were ok and the guide was really good. I was one of the youngest there (35). My sister was with me. She has trouble with her feet but was able to manage the walking no problem. They leave from airports in Ireland and the UK. Might be worth looking at.

    8. Colette*

      I did a group tour years ago. It was good for what it was, but there were a few downsides. They didn’t allow hot food on the bus, which was sometimes tricky if we didn’t have long for a lunch break. They were also sticklers about leaving on time (which I liked, I hate waiting) so if you weren’t there, they’d leave without you. But since it was a bus tour, if you were done whatever you were doing an hour before the bus left, you got to sit on the curb for an hour until the bus showed up from whereever it was parked. There were good reasons for all of those things, but they were not my favourite.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Not any of those, but I did a small-group day tour when I went to Scotland, so I wouldn’t have to mess around with buses to and from Loch Ness (it’s 14 miles outside Inverness). The company was Inverness Tours dot com (google it). They sell off single seats on group tours so you don’t have to join a huge group or get one together. It ended up being me and an American couple, and we had a great time. The tour guide, an Inverness native named George Munro, picked me up at the train station and dropped us off anywhere we liked afterward (all three of us wanted to go to Leakey’s Bookshop). I booked everything through email and they were very easy to deal with, and George was delightful. It was just for a day trip–I didn’t have to make a commitment to a large group and it didn’t cost that much. I know there are some like it for walks in Wales and other places.

      Going up from London, I took the Caledonian Sleeper and booked it through Trainline dot com. Google The Man in Seat 61 and his website will tell you everything you need to know, in detail, about booking and taking trains in the UK and Europe. I followed his directions exactly and everything went as he said.

      I also made great use of Rick Steves’ website. I didn’t need to join a group for anything else, and it all went very well. The main thing I would advise is not to overbook yourself–you will want some days to just wander around and do whatever you like. That’s why the day tours are so great. I had a ton of stuff scheduled in 2014, but my next trip in 2015 was very loosey-goosey; the only pre-booked thing I had was the Titanic film concert at Royal Albert Hall. I spent a lot of time just farting around randomly in London in between that and doing research at the British Library.

    10. HannahS*

      Went on a Haggis tour in Scotland. It was lovely; I had a great guide. Mostly the age was 22-30. They have a sister company that markets to older people but I’m pretty sure they send us all on th same busses.

  42. DoctorateStrange*

    I’m reading The Invention of Angela Carter by Edmund Gordon and I find it to be one of the best biographies I’ve read. I’ve been an admirer of Carter’s work for awhile and I love how meticulously well-researched and well-written this book is. So far, I like how Gordon shows Carter as a fully-realized person, flaws and all, and not some mystical being.

    I’m also going to start on Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast series. I hope to have good fun with that.

    1. fposte*

      I was so excited that you mentioned this! Fay Weldon and Angela Carter were two writers that were hugely instrumental in forming my ideas about femaleness and feminism; The Bloody Chamber especially was a hugely important work for me. I will get a hold of the biography.

      1. DoctorateStrange*

        I am not too familiar with Fay Weldon but I would love to give her a try!

        The Bloody Chamber is such a formative influence on my own writing. I am especially fond the Lady of the House of Love and the Erl-King.

        1. fposte*

          Fay Weldon is a domestic, if exaggerated, realist. Probably her most popularly known work is The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, which got made into the not-great movie She-Devil.

          I think my favorite in Bloody Chamber is actually “The Company of Wolves,” for the line in the encounter with the wolf: “The girl burst out laughing. She knew she was nobody’s meat.”

          1. DoctorateStrange*

            Oh, wow, I hadn’t know that movie was based on a book. I am really curious to read it now!

            Carter was brilliant at how she weaved her sentences together. A line I will never forget is in the first story based on Bluebeard where the heroine’s husband gives her a ruby choker that she describes as “…two inches wide, like an extraordinarily precious slit throat.”

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      That sounds interesting. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of biographies. I always find them a bit dry.

      I’ve just finished Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. As I told my dad, it’s a story of two men who manage to royally mess up one woman’s life.

      At least Hardy was aware that the woman paid the consequences for a man’s actions. He seemed very astute about it all.

      I’m now trying to decide what book to read in order to start the new year right.

      1. DoctorateStrange*

        Usually, biographies can come off dry to me as well. I found this one interesting because Angela Carter died too soon and I was always fascinated by her thoughts on matters. Not to mention, the author is clearly just as passionate about her as I am but is also not afraid to point out any myths pertaining to her.

    1. nep*

      What do you mean ‘worse’ ? Not as beneficial, do you mean?
      I would think the most important difference is not having a skilled instructor to help ensure proper form and possibly avoid injury. That said, I have experienced enormous benefits from yoga — I wouldn’t want to live without it — and I’ve never set foot in a class.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I think a class is better partly because they can adapt to your needs and also because you ideally want to be able to relax and shut your eyes and trust that someone can see what you’re doing.

    3. fposte*

      I’d say it depends, but I’m with nep in being a happy practitioner who’s never set foot in a class.

      I think the main challenge is being able to judge what your own body is doing, so a mirror can be helpful, especially if you’re just starting out. It’s not so much so you can go “Oh, no, my downward dog isn’t as deep as the instructor’s!” because who cares, but so you can be sure that you’re, say, hinging at the hip rather than rounding the back (though there’s some decent research to suggest that rounding the back isn’t that terrible anyway–it is, however, good to know whether you’re doing it or not when you’re trying not to). It’s also helped me a lot to read some good books about modifications like Miriam Austin’s Cool Yoga Tricks, so I get some really good ideas about how to do the poses in ways that might be better for me.

      I think that it’s also a personal thing, and that I do yoga better on my own, where I don’t risk a competitive desire to do something I shouldn’t, where I don’t have to pay extra, and where I don’t have to haul myself out of the house. I’m sure I’d find some other benefits from going to classes, but I think it’d be hard for them to be worth more than those.

    4. c*

      I started doing yoga with home videos. I go to public classes every now and then, but I still do home videos fairly often. If I didn’t, there would be days when I didn’t get to do much physical movement at all.

      I find that I get a deeper savanasa in public class, though. It’s nice to have the dimmed lights, incense, and soothing music sometimes. Also, instructors’s adjustments have been helpful.