weekend free-for-all – January 13-14, 2018

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: Fraud, by David Rakoff. Smart and hilariously funny essays on places where he never seems to quite belong.

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

{ 1,530 comments… read them below }


    It seems like there are a lot of us based on the comments from that Uber/AirBnB letter. Would there be any interest in an AAM meetup sometime when we’re not all frozen?

    – Detective Amy Santiago

        1. Stephanie*

          Oh, don’t tell me that. I’ve been out at my parents’ in Arizona for winter break the last month where it’s been 75 and sunny everyday.

      1. Overeducated*

        I also wish that! (Family there, but the attempts to get jobs there have not worked out so far.)

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I think we talked about that recently on an open thread! Feel free to hit me up if you want any advice or suggestions about the city.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      Some days I wish I could meet you all in person, shake your hands, buy you coffee/beer/etc and thank you for the advice you’ve given that’s helped me in my day jobs over the years. I just can’t risk giving up my superhero identity as an everyday wrench turner. As much as I love Pittsburgh – beautiful steel work all over that town!

  2. SpiderLadyCEO*

    This weekend is is -32F where I live, which is just wrong. I’m planning on spending the day reading in my home. What are everyone’s weekend plans?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Hibernate. I’ve got that cold that almost went away and came back, and now I’m just really tired. I’m going to watch a lot of TV, drink a lot of tea and soup, and just relax. I don’t have to leave the house until Thursday thanks to tele[thingwedonttalkaboutonweekends]. :D

        1. Bibliovore*

          Whatever that crud I had before Christmas took three weeks to go away. Went straight to New Years. I am here to say there is an end to the misery. this too shall pass. Oh and hot water, lemon, and honey. Eucalyptus tablets in the shower. Netflix.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Thanks to you both! I’m on week two, and I go years without so much as a cold, so I’m hoping this will go away quickly. I’m just so *tired*! And I’ve got a party tonight with people I adore but hardly ever see, so I think this afternoon I’ll have a long, hot shower and take some Dayquil, and that should give me a boost for a few hours.

    2. Shayland*

      I really hope to clean my room. My caregiver was over yesterday and helped me cook, so I have good, healthy food to eat for the next two weeks. I really hoped more cleaning would get done while she was here. But hopefully the positive energy from her visit will see me through.

      A friend of mine was also planning on visiting. They’re not the tidiest person in the world but I’d still like to welcome them into a clean home.

    3. Chris*

      And here I am, sitting a tropical 13F
      Plans are watching netflix, knitting, and continuing learning to code. If I get brave and ambitious I may even go outside to get the mail!

    4. nep*

      All inside activities.
      Reading, working on resume and cover letters, practicing on a couple instruments.
      So done with cold and ice and snow. But as I braced myself against brutal wind yesterday, I kept saying to myself ‘can’t complain could be worse can’t complain could be worse’. Many regions are going through far worse. And I’m grateful for a warm house.

        1. Sounded like a good idea*

          I’m a Minnesotan and have learned we have 2 ways to deal with winter: “well at least it’s warm enough to snow” and “well at least we don’t have to shovel because it’s too cold to snow.”

    5. Bigglesworth*

      I’m having a Harry Potter movie marathon/potluck with some of my law school classmates before the semester starts on Tuesday.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        But tomorrow will be working on my writing sample and cover letter. I need to start applying for internships/externships soon. :/

        1. Bigglesworth*

          We did!!! I made wizard hats (pie crust, chocolate, and cinnamon sugar). Others brought polyjuice potion, pumpkin pasties, and chocolate wands among other things.

    6. Gala apple*

      I’m at the end of a week-long respiratory infection, so I’ll be doing a lot of tea drinking, broth drinking, reading, and resting. Trying to get in a few cleaning tasks too.

    7. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m in bed with my cat. Ive tried watching a bunch of new dramas that all sucked. Now, Netflix maybe.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        Ramona, are you taking recommendations? Because I am bursting with excitement about two recent series :)

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Yes please! Are they available in the UK?

          I tried to watch Derry Girls, McMafia and Hard Sun – all new on TV here – and didn’t like any of them!

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              I’ve just started Once Upon a Time. I like it so far which is great as there are lots of seasons to get stuck into.

              1. rocklobster*

                I liked the first two seasons of that a great deal (apart from the constant harping on twooo luv), but people I trust tell me seasons 3 plus aren’t that good, so I’m not bothering.

                1. Ramona Flowers*

                  Annoyingly it’s also not possible to download for offline like a lot of shows, so I can’t watch it on the train to work. Wish I had spotted that before starting it on a Sunday evening!

    8. Amadeo*

      I have to shampoo the hallway carpet (because cats and barf), but after that I think I’ll finish the glitter tumbler I’ve been working on and make some French Onion soup. From scratch. Mmm.

      1. I Love Thrawn*

        When we were looking for a house to rent, hardwood or tile was at the top of our list, for exactly that reason. Cats!

        1. Amadeo*

          BTW, does your nick for this site refer to a certain blue-skinned, red-eyed character from the Unknown Regions? I’d been meaning to ask.

            1. Amadeo*

              He’s one of my favorite villains (favorite characters are still Obi wan and Ahsoka). I still haven’t gotten to his episodes in Rebels, but have read the new book, looking forward to the next one and clinging to the old Thrawn trilogy even though it’s ‘Legends’ material now.
              Although, after some of the new material, I gotta admit, I’ve got a new appreciation for Tarkin too…

              1. I Love Thrawn*

                I don’t see him as a villain, just a man willing to do anything to protect his own people. And that meant strengthening the Empire – which did have some good people in it. I think they’ve de-canonized the Y Vong now, but they were an incredibly nasty threat to EVERYONE. I’m more pro-Imperial than Rebel, myself. And when they did get into power, it was just more of the same old corruption anyway.

                I’ve seen his Rebel eps. He’s 99% same as book Thrawn, but there is a tiny sliver missing, so I still prefer book Thrawn. And how about Eli Vanto? Such a sweetheart he was. Tarkin was fascinating, and I’m pretty sure General Hux had a poster of him on his wall growing up.

                Speaking of, I finally saw The Last Jedi. I really disliked the way they played Hux for laughs. Especially knowing that as a boy, his father hated him and abused him, so watching him get tossed around in the movie was a bit disconcerting.

    9. Old Biddy*

      I’m snowed in and am hibernating/resting up from a very busy two weeks. I’m going to bake some cinnamon rolls, make some soup and possibly go play in the snow

    10. neverjaunty*

      Going to urgent care for stitches, apparently!

      (It’s not serious, just a cut finger, but FFS.)

    11. Lady Jay*

      Ha! It’s about 1 degree F where I am (high 13, windchill -10), and that’s cold enough for me! I’m meeting up with a friend for lunch, but I don’t really want to leave the house!

      Besides lunch, I’m catching up on some work and errands. Tomorrow my library is showing the 1951 War of the Worlds, and I think I may go to that. I may work on some long-term planning and a few writing projects that I fiddle with when I have the time. Also! I think I want to make SmittenKitchen’s Dijon Beef Stew. I’m not a big meat eater but this looks delicious, and perfect for a chilly weekend! (I’ll put the link in a follow-up comment).

        1. Adele*

          Ooooo…I may have some in freezer. It is delicious. Mustard loses potency with exposure to air and time. This recipe is best with a fresh jar of mustard. I love SK.

    12. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      It’s sunny and 11F here. I’m planning on avoiding the outdoors over my 3 day weekend. I plan to do some work on the house. I had painted a closet before Christmas, and still haven’t gotten around to rehanging the shelves and putting everything back in. I’m getting tired of the mess, so will finish that up.

      Also in the middle of painting half my downstairs. Walls are done, but need to work on all the woodwork and 5 doors. There are (of course) numerous complications so I can’t actually finish a lot of things without doing other things. But there’s plenty I can work on.

    13. New Bee*

      We’re going to the park, farmer’s market, and library–this feels like the first weekend to get back in the rhythm after the winter break. And I’m having dinner with a friend at my favorite restaurant tonight; can’t wait!

    14. Elizabeth H.*

      So far rather disappointing and frustrating. This weekend I was planning to drive up (from Boston) to visit a very, very good friend who lives in Vermont. Original plan was to leave straight away after work on Friday and drive back Monday morning. First, my plan to leave Friday right after work was foiled because after bringing the car to mechanic to have snow tires put on during the day on Thursday, it was discovered it needed the brakes fixed so it wasn’t ready until Friday afternoon (and needed to be picked up from my parents’ house, which isn’t in the city where I live and work). I decided that the responsible thing to do would be to plan to leave early Saturday morning rather than Friday evening – I am famous for middle of the night drives, but I always feel that this isn’t the best thing to do so I was trying to make the choice to do the more sensible thing and drive while rested instead of tired. Unfortunately, now this morning there is a major winter storm in Vermont that’s covering the roads in snow, flooding, minimal visibility so after agonizing I decided not to drive up this morning. I’m a pretty good snow driver and personally I feel like I could drive through anything but I’m trying to make the sensible decision. It’s really frustrating because I had already planned to visit on a weekend in November but she had to cancel due to busyness and we have been having a really difficult time finding a weekend for me to visit. Argh! If it clears up for real in the afternoon I’m thinking I’ll drive up to get there in the evening for a short visit, and a longer visit in March. It just feels so frustrating to not be able to really know for sure if the weather would have been okay, if this was the right decision and so forth.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Small consolation but staying home was probably wise. I am hearing that Vermont really got clobbered, trees or
        ice jams cutting off roads, flooding, all kinds of stuff. Lots of roads are closed, from what I am hearing.

    15. Dr. KMnO4*

      Stay inside, cook, play video games, do crafts, curse the ridiculousness of the US health insurance system. I am annoyed that I went out in the cold, scraped a layer of ice off my car, and drove the 20 mins to the pharmacy to pick up only half of my prescriptions because of my new insurance company. I’m not leaving my building again this weekend.

    16. The Other Dawn*

      Well, seeing as how I had another muscle spasm in my back, I’ll be working on standing upright. :)

      But actually, I really want to clean out my fridge and freezers, and organize the hell out of them. I really stink at the organizing part, but I’m great at throwing out stuff. Maybe I can sucker my husband into helping since my back hurts and he can do the organizing part.

    17. selina kyle*

      DND! It’s the perfect stay inside, be warm, hang out with friends activity. (And watching Critical Role’s new campaign)

      1. Liane*

        Supposed to play Star Wars RPG via Discord tonight. IF it doesn’t get postponed *again*. Player A having a rough time, then Christmas holiday, then Player A and the GM sick. Player A may still be sick & we’re worried he might have caught the flu because no one has heard from him since last weekend. So we’ll see.
        As for the rest of the weekend, College Son & I are doing a little cleaning, and every one listening to poor husband cough & cough because he has the local plague.

        1. Amadeo*

          How do you even get started doing those online? I’ve never done any gaming like DnD, but I think it’d be fun, and it would be easier for me to join a group online (because I live in the sticks and would have to drive half an hour minimum, probably repeating my daily work commute on a weekend, bleh, to do it in person).

    18. Courtney*

      Ugh, that is way too cold! Pretty bitter cold here too, but not to that extent.

      I’m working on lesson plans for the place that we don’t talk about on weekends. I’m brand new to the profession, so they’re very time consuming since I’m starting from scratch, but I’m so excited!

      Tomorrow I have book club, so pretty soon I need to stop and finish up our novel for this month. Excited to spend time with friends but hoping the roads are less of an ice rink by then.

    19. Stormy*

      Just finished six hours of comprehensive final exams for my degree, and well-meaning-but-clueless spouse wants to go out to celebrate. The weather is a horror and my brain is gelatin. Dude, just let me rot!

    20. Elizabeth West*


      I need to write some but my fingers are too cold to tyyyyyype. Maybe some AAM commenting will warm them up, haha. Tomorrow, I have a ticket at Alamo Drafthouse for The Shape of Water! \0/ I’m so looking forward to it. It took them ages to get it–I don’t know why so long.

      I should be cleaning today, but eff it. I’ll do it tomorrow after I get back from the film. Today is my day to be lazy, after meditation group this morning. :)

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        OMG I hope you like it! Bestie and I absolutely adored it, one of my favorite movies I saw in 2017.

    21. Pol*

      Met up with two friends to play board games. Then a cold I was apparently incubating hit full-force, which really sucks because one of those friends is undergoing chemo and doesn’t have much by way of an immune system. Argh. Should be ok, but I really don’t like this happened.

    22. Lissa*

      I’m visiting my girlfriend in Connecticut, which is warmer than you right now at a balmy 18°F, but this Texas girl is a popsicle. I’m hoping the weekend involves a lot of snuggling on a couch under a blanket, but all her friends want to meet me so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ we’ll see.

    23. Soupspoon McGee*

      It’s sunny and 50°F in Seattle. Weird. I need to study. There’s just so much to absorb in such a short time that it’s easy to get overwhelmed, stuck, and not at all productive. I am armed with chocolate and tea. If y’all could send some energy and motivation, I’d appreciate it.

  3. I Love Thrawn*

    I wanted to give an update on my cat, Toby, since quite a few of you donated to his fundraiser. He had his dental surgery on Friday and so far is doing quite well. Sadly, the Xrays showed more extensive work was needed than expected, but that is why those are so critical. Visual exam just isn’t enough. They also do Xrays after the surgery to make sure nothing more is required.

    Toby lost four teeth in all. He went in with 3 canines (we lost one two years prior) and came out with only one, an upper canine. Poor guy looks like a pro hockey player now. Another tooth was fractured. They did have to drill, and remove roots. I’m told he has plenty of teeth left. I was given one antibiotic and two painkillers for him to administer at home. Giving him meds is a bit of a challenge, since his mouth is swollen and sore and full of stitches.

    Right now, his mouth is swollen and he just doesn’t look happy at all. And he’s wobbly, but this is all normal stuff. His pre-surgery bloodwork was actually really good too. He is also eating and using the litterbox, so hopefully we’ve endured the worst of it all and can look forward to a long, reasonably healthy kitteh senior years.

    I can’t thank everyone enough for caring about Toby, and for the donations, prayers and good thoughts. We hope everyone has a great weekend.

    1. Bibliovore*

      My old lady rescue (came to us around twelve, is now about fourteen) had to have all of her teeth removed last year because of a multitude of dental issues. She is doing just fine without them except missing her greenies. She munches on a very weird dog treat that I swear is just Pirate Booty repackaged.

    2. Kuododi*

      Oh sweet little love muffin!!!! Y’all have been in my thoughts. Best wishes for a swift recovery and a healthy, happy senior kitty!!!

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Glad to hear everything went well. Two of mine will be going for dental soon and I dread it. It’s so expensive and you never know how bad it actually is until they get in there.

    4. Former Employee*

      I came here for the express purpose of finding an update on Toby. I have fallen in love with your cat from his picture on the GoFundMe page. He looks so leonine – a truly noble looking beast.

      I don’t have any animals, but I thinks it’s a lot like with humans – if you’re eating and using the litter box it’s a good sign.

      Please keep us updated on Toby’s progress.

    5. Hellanon*

      Yeah, my Vala had all her teeth from the fangs back pulled a few years ago. She was hungry when she go back from the vet – good sign, yes, but not as easy as she thought it would be (somewhat hilariously). She spent a couple days not knowing what to do with her tongue but it was an easy recovery and she’s just fine now.

    6. Trixie*

      He will feel so much better when the swelling goes down and he isn’t on meds. Cats can lose teeth and still do just fine. One of my favorite youtube channels includes a feral cat, Mason, who had to have all most ALL of his teeth pulled because of infection. Still battling some health issues but lives with foster kittens for him to dote on :)


    7. Ceiswyn*

      My Cirrus and Sirocco have both lost most of their teeth (they’re 18). It doesn’t slow them down much. Their gums toughen up enough to cope with biting kibble, and cats aren’t great chewers anyway!

  4. Mrs. Fox*

    This may seem like a silly set of questions but I need help.

    My 2 year old son has hair we’ve never cut. I brush it every morning, however he tends to shake out the nice brushed manner or wants his hair brushed his way. I never worried too much as his hair becomes easily staticy (especially during winter with hats going on and off). He’s also a very typical rough and tumble boy. I gave up a long time ago trying to perfect him. (He’s also that kid who always has a runny nose no matter what!)

    The last few weeks I have noticed that his hair looks like its been brushed when I pick him up from daycare. Yesterday I was able to leave work early (first in months!) and pick him up early. His hair was wet and looked like it had just been combed. I have a reason to believe that they are brushing his hair while he is there. This is concerning on multiple levels.

    1. Do they believe I don’t take care of my child? (Since they feel the need to brush his hair?)

    2. What are they brushing his hair with? (I have not given them anything to brush it.)

    3. Are they brushing other kid’s hair?

    4. Are they sharing a brush?

    I’ve worked in childcare and this disturbs me on many levels. How do I go about addressing this without losing it in them?

    1. I Didn’t Kill Kenny*

      5. Lice

      I sure hope they don’t have an outbreak if they are using combs/brushes on multiple kids.

      This issue also gives you an excuse to ask them not to groom his hair.

    2. Chris*

      I would just ask. If they say yes, say no, hair care is handled at home. If they say they aren’t it may reveal a brush they didn’t know about- something I did in first grade with a group of friends playing dress up. My poor mother had to deal with lice three times before she got me to understand sharing brushes is a no-no.

    3. Turtlewings*

      Brush-sharing is a legitimate thing to be concerned about, since head lice are OF THE DEVIL; good luck keeping it from spreading through a toddler class anyway, but yeah, no reason to tempt fate. Other than that, I don’t think there’s any reason to be upset about them brushing his hair? It’s not some kind of commentary on your parenting, it’s just… kid with long hair, the hair gets messy, they brush the hair. He may be asking them to brush it, who knows.

      1. Amadeo*

        Yeah, this is pretty much the position I have too. I wouldn’t have gone straight to them brushing his hair as a commentary on your parental skills at grooming or anything – maybe his hair just got really messy playing and they wanted to comb it down before you arrived. Lice is a legit concern to discuss (how are they caring for that brush or comb between children?) but just that they brushed his hair doesn’t seem like something to get upset with.

        1. Mrs. Fox*

          I think my biggest concern is him getting lice. I got it my last year in childcare and it was HORRIBLE! I was sent home several times because I was at a no not center. I can’t afford missing work if he gets it.

          1. Amadeo*

            I think that’s fair. I’d just share your concerns about that and if you feel the best way to prevent it is to ask them not to brush his hair, it’s fine to tell them that and why.

          2. Observer*

            That’s a legitimate concern – so make sure that they are not sharing any combs. brushes, clips etc. Other than that, though, who cares.

            Also, if you are worried about lice, try putting his hair in clip or rubber band. It’s not a panacea, but it definitely helps reduce the spread of lice.

          3. Anion*

            Va-Mousse is a lifesaver. That’s the lice treatment you want to get, just an FYI for you and any others. It really works, one application is all that’s needed (as long as the scalp & hair are truly saturated).

        2. Triple Anon*

          I see it differently. I think it crosses a line. Hair care isn’t normally included in day care so parents should be informed and asked if they’d like to opt in. Child care is an exception to the, “Not everyone can eat sandwiches,” thing. You really do need to ask if the kid can eat sandwiches. Or tell the parent you offer sandwiches and give them a chance to opt out. I don’t mean you need to go into detail. Just enough that the parent can make requests or ask questions as needed.

          I would document all of this. Write down what you’ve observed so far. Then ask about it in a friendly way. “His hair looks so nice when I pick him up. Are you brushing the kids’ hair? Or has he been getting his hair dirty while playing?” Then you can follow up by asking about the brush issue and anything else.

          I don’t have kids, but it seems odd and worth asking about.

          1. Observer*

            Actually, brushing a kid’s hair after a nap, etc. is quite normal in day care with very young children. When you are dealing with bigger kids it’s different. But children who need to nap, be diapered and changed routinely are a different story.

    4. Helpful*

      I’d ask about it but his hair may simply be really messy after nap and they neaten it up. It’s not a criticism of your parenting (and if it is, who cares!). :)

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        Yes, if they are brushing it there is a good chance it’s not for a any big reason related to your child. We had one child in my extended day program who had serious issues at home so my boss bought all the pre-k girls hair care kits (each girl had a bag with their own brush and hair ties) so that the little girl who needed the help didn’t feel alone.

        Definitely ask about it – if they are using the same brush on all the kids, then that definitely needs to stop, but I would bet it’s something along the lines of what Helpful suggested.

    5. Shoe*

      I’m sure they’re not doing it as a comment on your parenting skills. They very well might be sharing a brush though–people have different levels of comfort with doing that. If I were you, I’d just bring in a hair brush and say “I noticed that sometimes little Johnny has his hair brushed, and I just wanted to make sure he had his own brush in case of a lice outbreak or something. If he needs his hair brushed during the day, please use this one on him, and keep it for just him.”

      They probably just want to present a nice, neat-looking kid to you at the end of the day so that it doesn’t look like he has been neglected all day, much like you don’t want them to think that you don’t brush his hair!

      1. Scubacat*

        Like many have said, it’s doubtful this is a passive aggressive shot at your parenting skills. My Mom (who works at a daycare/uses a hygienic brush) would probably do such a thing. Only from the position of general grooming from a position of kind care taking. But of course you can ask the staff to stop brushing the hair of your child. It’s a reasonable request.

    6. Call me St. Vincent*

      This would bother me too. I would definitely ask about it. You should mention that his hair was wet upon pick up and ask why that would be. Then I think it’s fine to say that you prefer they do not do that unless it is an emergency (gum or something in there). But it’s also fine to tell them to call you in that case. This is something I would bring up with the director rather than the individual teachers, because that’s less awkward for you.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          I think that asking why it’s a big deal isn’t necessarily helpful here. There is a very fine balance with being a working parent and having others take care of your young child that can be hard to get comfortable with in your head. Everyone has different boundaries that work for them. In this case, this is something that bothers Mrs. Fox because it seems to invade her province and makes her uncomfortable. It’s okay for her to feel that way and I can understand why it could bother her. There can be something intimate in doing your own child’s hair. Whether someone else thinks it’s a big deal or not is sort of besides the point. I don’t even think Mrs. Fox thinks it’s a “big deal,” but she is just reckoning with her feelings of discomfort. I hope that helps clarify.

          1. Observer*

            You’re not really being helpful here. The question of why Mrs. Fox cares is relevant to how she should handle it.

            If she thinks it’s a criticism of her parenting, then she should be aware that it’s not likely to be the case, but she can verify this very easily is she is cool about it and asks casually. If she’s worried about the brush, she needs to talk to them about that. etc.

            1. Call me St. Vincent*

              This is the last response you’ll get from me, but your comment to me here is a little bit harsh and the tone is just not necessary. It’s totally okay for other people to have different opinions than you. It’s cool for you to think this issue isn’t a big deal and that Mrs. Fox shouldn’t care or be bothered, but you can’t force that view on everyone else. It’s cool with me that you disagree with me, but you’re being really argumentative and dismissive and it’s not really necessary. We can have a good dialogue and disagree and move on with our lives. If you don’t see why your comments (throughout this thread) come off as harsh (e.g. telling Mrs. Fox “who cares?” about something that she definitely cares about and for which it’s her prerogative to care about since it’s her life, her child, her situation), then I think you should re-read them and give it a little bit more thought.

              1. Observer*

                It’s good that you don’t plan to respond, since you are not responding to anything I said anyway.

    7. Lily Evans*

      I worked at a daycare where we would brush the kids hair after nap time, and we’d clean the brush between kids. A lot of the girls had very long hair that would get really tangled while they slept, and even though a lot of the boys didn’t have the same problem they’d want their hair done too. Toddlers are pretty susceptible to wanting to copy what their friends are doing. And if his hair was damp, there’s always the possibly that he just got something in it that needed to be cleaned off. I also wouldn’t think it’s a slight toward your parenting at all, they might want you to think he’s not making a mess of himself at school. We had parents who’d get into a snit fit if their kid wasn’t perfectly clean and tidy when they’d pick them up (one mom once cried because her toddler was no longer in matching clothes because she’d spilled food on herself so we’d changed her, but the mom had social plans for them that afternoon *eyeroll*).

      If you’re most concerned about the brush sharing could you put a small travel brush in his bag and request they use that?

    8. Drama Llama*

      I think you’re reading too much into this.

      If you are concerned about sharing a brush, certainly ask them to stop. But it’s not an attack on your parenting and definitely not some creepy behaviour on their part.

    9. LilySparrow*

      I assume you generally trust their intentions and awareness of basic safety and hygeine, or you wouldn’t leave your child there, right?
      Brushing/combing a toddler’s hair every morning before daycare is a very low-priority task, and many excellent parents don’t bother.
      OTOH, toddlers caking their hair in yogurt, paint, or mud at every opportunity is A Known Thing That Happens. His hair may well have been wet because something needed to be washed out of it.
      Having kids in school or daycare share a brush is so ludicrous that you can safely speak of it as a confusion/curiosity.
      Breathe deep over the weekend, remember it’s not a criticism, and just ask about this weird thing you noticed.
      “Hey, I noticed lately it looks like y’all have washed or brushed his hair. Why is that, and how are you sanitizing the comb or brush?”

      I imagine they are far more concerned about sending a kid home with his hair full of leaves/glitter/paste, than you need to be about their opinions of you.

    10. Book Lover*

      I send my daughter in a variety of styles in the morning and get her back with an entirely new fancy hairdo every afternoon. They don’t use brushes but combs instead. If it bothers you or you are concerned about lice, ask them not to, or ask them to use a comb and not a brush. Sometimes the kids do each other’s hair also. It is petting, very primate :)

      1. FrontRangeOy*

        Oh my goodness, the petting! My youngest is in Kindergarten and this is her first year away from me all day (we’re both thriving). The amount of primate-like petting that happens in that class caught me completely off guard! Very few kids leave class with the same hair style they arrived in. And all of the extra good byes and hugs as we’re trying to get off the school grounds and across the street. You’d think they were being separated from their troop forever.

    11. Amy*

      My almost-2-year-old sometimes comes home from daycare with her hair done in pigtails by the caregivers, which I actually like because it keeps her long hair from getting into her face. It doesn’t seem creepy or gross to me; in fact, I appreciate that they’re taking the time to keep her looking neat. Honestly, the lice thing never occurred to me.

      If it’s really upsetting you, it’s reasonable to ask them not to do it. I do think you’re overthinking it a bit, though, to be honest. As other commenters have said I seriously doubt it’s a judgment on your parenting skills, just an attempt to present you with a non-disheveled child after a day of playing, napping, and eating.

    12. Overeducated*

      Been there! My kid had similar hair at that age and would occasionally come home from day care with damp, combed hair. I was slightly embarrassed at first but I thought it matched up with days they had done water play or gotten messy. I also thought it was a little sweet that someone cared. It stopped when we did eventually decide a hair cut was in order.

      Do ask about brushes if you’re worried about lice, but don’t assume it is a hint that you’re an unfit parent or anything like that.

  5. Tabby Baltimore*

    Alison, please consider asking your spouse to upload all his weekend/holiday cat photos for the year (with captions) in one spot on your site. (Perhaps in a way similar to your recommended books list?) I enjoy them when they appear, and would appreciate having the option to view them again, periodically, in the future. Thank you.

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Oh my gosh, I love this idea! The photos are all so great, I would love to sit down and go through them all.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “here is our six week old foster kitty…” oh my, oh my.

        This is a great collection. I love the ones where the cats are snuggled up with each other. So sweet.

      2. Kuododi*

        Magnificent!!!! I absolutely adore kitties and have been owned by them in the past, however age, time, new allergies and other issues have conspired to mean I now must worship them from afar. I do get amused when we take our mini daschunds to PetSmart to explore. They have seen kitties maybe 3-4times in their lives and they are convinced that these creatures are aliens from Mars!!!!

  6. Shay*

    Got another new diagnoses explaining some of my symptoms! Now instead of describing in great detail an aspect that is wrong with me that a service dog can help I can just stay [Diagnoses] interacts with [Diagnoses] causing extreme instances of [Symptom] here are three tasks a dog could help me with so I can stop ending up in the ER.

    And the doctor who diagnosed me was super nice and just really cool in general. He was a new doctor and I’m glad our first appointment together went so well. I have medical PTSD from past doctors not being so cool. He’s also agreed to fill out some medical forms for my service dog applications in tandem with my specialist.

    I tried owner training a service dog before this, and it didn’t work out. Well, a friend of mine will be moving to a group home because she can’t live independently even with her service dog in training. So I’m considering homing her dog for a year and continuing it’s training. It will be a lot of work, but having even a half trained dog will likely hugely boost the things I’m able to do for myself.

    It’s all just kind of a lot.

    1. Thursday Next*

      It’s great that you’ve found a helpful doctor! Having labels to put on things can be so helpful in getting support—it’s so much easier for administrators to grasp that X diagnosis involves Y needs. Yes, it sounds like a lot, but it sounds like some important things are falling into place. Good luck!

      1. Mimmy*

        Some say labels are negative, but I agree with you – having a name for what you’re experiencing – be it physical or cognitive – can be really validating.

        Good luck with everything Shay!

    2. Circus peanuts*

      Isn’t it wonderful when you find out what is really going on with mixed symptoms? Best of luck with your dog.

    3. anonagain*

      That’s excellent news. I hope this new doctor continues to be an asset on your medical team.

  7. Casca*

    I miss Charmed. Having Rose in the news a lot has got me rewatching. Yes, it could be fluffy but it was feminist and it really got the complex sisterly relationship. And it was ultimately optimistic, which I’m appreciating at the moment

    I find it easier to rewatch than Buffy/Angel, which I never would have guessed!

    1. Turtlewings*

      Oh man, Charmed was the constant background noise of my college years. There was a lot of real heart under the cheese. All my love for that show.

    2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Me too. I rewatch it a lot when I’m working–about halfway through season 3 on this current rewatch. :) And I feel like every time I rewatch it (although I end with the season 6 finale–I don’t like 7 or 8) I appreciate it even more. I regret a lot of my DVD purchases over the years, but not my Charmed DVDs.

    3. Felicia*

      Charmed meant a lot to me growing up and I still love it on rewatch and still read the novelizations. My 2 sisters and I have matching triquetra tattoos because of Charmed

        1. Felicia*

          Some of the novels were I think equally as good as episodes! They were easier to find while the show was on but still not impossible

    4. Lcsa99*

      I loved charmed so much, but I am glad it ended. There wasn’t really anywhere else they could take it. But we still have reruns (thank you tnt!)

      1. Casca*

        True- the whole Billie storyline was s good indication of that

        I would have been interested but skeptical of the spinoff, The Charmed Sons, that seemed to be a possibility. (Following Wyatt and Chris in the future)

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I wanted that more than anything and I’m still disappointed we didn’t get it.

    5. Stormy*

      I find that my absolute favorite shows are ones I tend to rewatch rarely, because they are emotionally taxing. This includes Buffy and Six Feet Under.

      Charmed is delightful brain junk food, and thus good for repeated viewing.

        1. Ann O.*

          I wish Buffy had ended at season 3. The writers just didn’t seem to know where to take the characters once high school was over. There were a lot of good individual episodes in the post-season 3 years, but I didn’t think any of the seasons held together as a whole.

    6. Rainy*

      I loved Charmed–my fiance and I have been watching it intermittently since it hit Netflix, and he has been surprised by how much he enjoys it.

    7. SS Express*

      I loooooooooved Charmed! They do re-runs every day at midday where I live, which makes sick days a lot more bearable.

  8. Bibliovore*

    Actually taking the weekend off at a spa in California. An add on to a “thing that will not be named” trip that went really, really well.
    There will be a massage and a lot of sitting in hot mineral springs.

    Thanking everyone who chimed in on my April trip to Japan. It is shaping up nicely and I am very excited about it as is Mr. Bibliovore.

    Yesterday’s gratitude to Alison and AAM from Disney Princess went off the rails so I would like to chime in.

    I love to have a place to read and reflect on my work life and management skills/deficits. I love getting sane advice on issues that I only become aware of by reading this blog. I love the comments from regular posters as I observe their struggles and read their accumulated wisdom.

    And as someone who has a tendency to the anxious, the weekend free for all has given me life advice, I had gotten nowhere else. How to talk to contractor, how to replace a flooded basement floor, how to travel to places that scare the pants off you, how to get a work/life balance, how to talk to the husband when I am seeing red, how to drive in snow, how to dress for cold climates, how to manage chronic illness, how to manage chronic pain, where to go for help when you have a sick dog, sympathy for child-less ness, sympathy and guidance for letting go of an aging and ill pet, how to manage long term friendships, how to make friends in a new city, how to do something new and scary and most of all how to feel like I am not alone in my struggles.

    I appreciated the sometime the comments get messy but that is the price we pay for freedom of expression.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, really. It’s a great snap shot of what people get out of reading here. Thanks for sharing that, Bibliovore. It is amazing, truly.

    1. NacSacJack*

      Man, got to search for some of that stuff up above. Had some interesting experiences traveling just in the continental US. Cant imagine traveling offshore, but gotta see the world.

  9. Kat*

    I am feeling really rather low this weekend. I went back to work last week and next week I have to be ‘in charge’ while my manager’s away, so getting used to my routine again and the fact that the days have been really dark has all just made me feel a bit sluggish anyway. Then today I was meant to hear back from a guy about meeting and he hasn’t replied. Which in itself should not make my mood so much worse, but I have realised it must be a symptom that small things are having a bigger impact than they should. I’m doing my best to feel OK. I’ve been for a run and then a long walk by the coast and then I bought a coffee to treat myself. But it’s getting dark soon and I’ve no evening plans, and I’m feeling a bit isolated. Any things people can recommend to do so I don’t just feel sad? Ha.

    Related: how does anyone make friends in their 30s? I’ve lost a couple recently for reasons and that’s partly why I’m a bit isolated. I didn’t find MeetUp that useful as it’s just a bit without focus, so I thought maybe join a running club as I like to run (slowly) but I’m not fast and I don’t know if they’d even want me. I just need a couple of additional people to hang out with, I don’t need the massive social circle! But hey even super-introverts need company sometimes :)

    I didn’t meant this to be negative, I live alone and needed to get it out there!

        1. Bibliovore*

          I have only had luck meeting people and making new friends in volunteer situations. Also letting go of the wish to make a new best friend. In volunteer situations that require a weekly commitment, I have met kindred spirits who intersect with my interests. It is a really slow process. Months. But. I do finally have a handful of people who I can call for a spur of the moment dinner or coffee or movie. That I can chat on the phone when I am angry or lonely or anxious. I also continue to rely on phone calls with old friends. We make phone dates and talk from ten minutes to a half hour.

    1. Lady Jay*

      In my 30s and can confirm, making new friends is HARD. I’m sorry!

      However, I’d encourage you to go check out your running club! In my area at least, the running clubs are really supportive of you whatever speed you run; they’re just glad to add another person into the group. Plus, there are usually all speeds of people at a club. We have a few speedy people but also some self-professed “turtles”. Good luck!

      1. Kat*

        I might check a couple out… I did before Christmas but felt that was the wrong time to go when I was going home for two weeks. And also I’m a bit embarrassed that I’m slower than I’d like and I’ve only ever run alone, so it’s a bit daunting to turn up to a group of people. I’ll try to be brave and find one to try!

        1. Justin*

          I would co-sign this. Find a relatively large club, I might say. Larger means a larger range of paces and then you can find someone your speed, and meet everyone else at group events even if at different paces.

          My own team has people who run from 6 min/mile to 13 or 14.

          1. UnexpectedPenguin*

            Totally agree – I’m in my thirties too, was crazy nervous before joining my running club and everyone was really lovely from day one. Don’t go so much now because of my work schedule, and it’s not like I’ve made any lifelong friends (I think) but whenever I do go there’s always someone who’s up for a chat afterwards.

        2. Natalie*

          I’m not a runner but my dad is a marathoner. From my experience watching him at races, runners can be a really welcoming and supportive group. This might sound a little odd, but have you looked for a group with a lot of older runners, like 50+? People naturally slow down a bit as they age, so many older runners are going to be a little closer to a pace you can handle already, and running is one of those sports where experience is useful so older runners make great mentors. Finally, just my experience but the people who stick with their sport even after they’ve “peaked” seem to be less competitive. Like the process of slowing down weeds out the dbags.

          1. Kat*

            Thank you for the suggestion, but half the problem is I need some friends my own age (or maybe more like my own life stage). I am sure whatever group I find will have a good mix of people though so I can hopefully get the benefit of experience too!

        3. baconeggandcheeseplease*

          Good luck! Also, a lot of the running/fitness clubs around here grab coffee or a bite or drinks after, so maybe some of the groups you’re looking at do that as well.

          Since you’re taking a writing class, maybe you can try to make a point to write at the same coffee shop? while you’re technically still by yourself, at least you’re surrounded by other people (many of them also by themselves doing the same thing you are), which I find helps me get out of my head a little bit. And depending on how big your town/city is, that coffee shop might have a ton of regulars that you may become friends/friendly with over time.

          Hope you feel better soon!

          1. Kat*

            I think they get coffee after the Park Runs here, but I’ve not yet been brave enough to go to one. Maybe next weekend…

            There are a few coffee shops. I’ll have to force myself to write once I start the class, so that might at least help!

        4. ..Kat..*

          Or a walking club! The bonus with a walking club is the average age can be higher than a running club. These are people with more life experience who are delighted to give younger people the advice that comes from years of living. So, they can share experiences and wisdom that they learned the hard way. They can give you valuable information that younger people can’t get from their peers.

    2. Natalie*

      There are some really good (IMO) Captain Awkward articles about making friends as an adult. I’ll put some links in a reply.

    3. JDusek*

      A few years ago, I saw a counselor for depression. At the same time, my husband, son, and I relocated; I started working from home. I felt like I had no friends except the ones that were out of state. I am an introvert. But, like you said even we get lonely. I didn’t want to use medication even though I qualified because I first wanted to see if I could come up with coping skills. But, my doctor did suggest an over the counter supplement called SAM-E. I would suggest you Google it. The other suggestions for feeling lonely. Find a local junior college and see if they offer cooking classes or find a yarn shop that offers knitting or crocheting classes. Find a local animal shelter and volunteer. If you’re a reader, go to the library and see if they offer book clubs or ask about volunteering for them. My local library also hosts adult game nights. Find something that sparks your interest and push yourself into putting yourself out in a more comfortable setting.

      Good luck! It’s a hard thing to do but it does work.

      1. Kat*

        I’m starting a writing class next week, which is daunting on its own, but I’m hoping that might be a good way to start meeting different people outside work. I saw a counsellor a couple of years ago too. It didn’t help much but I think it was the fit with the counsellor, she was just too similar to me. I might try that again. I’m not on medication and would rather not be (just for my own reasons) but it gets exhausting when I feel low and have to fight it off.

    4. K.*

      It is hard to make friends as an adult, particularly if you’re single and/or don’t have kids – I think a lot of my friends became friends with their kids’ friends’ parents because they’re thrown together all the time. I don’t have that outlet. My friend just moved an hour and a half away to live with her BF and has no friends there; he doesn’t have many friends and is fine with that but she’s more extroverted, so she’s really lonely.

      I’m in my 30s and have surprised myself by making a few new friends over the last year, and I met them through work and through some hobby groups I joined (a book club and a cycling club). I would definitely recommend looking at a running club if that’s what you’re into. My cycling club has different levels (level A = fastest, level E = slowest, with rates of speed listed) so you can go on rides that are your pace. Maybe running clubs do too?

      1. Kat*

        Yeah I’m single without kids too. My friend with a toddler goes to mum groups which seem to be a good way to meet people except… you need a baby! And I don’t plan to have one of those any time soon.

        I did make a friend at my yoga class, but although she’s lovely she’s quite a bit older than me with a family (and she’s not well at the moment so aside from anything else I can’t see her much). I’ve pretty much got all the friends I can from work (most of those don’t work there any more) and it’s a small company so I can’t expect that to be a good source forever. I signed up for a creative writing class so i hope the side benefit might be more people to meet, but the running might work better in terms of small talk and getting to know people. It’s just so scary! I’m perfectly able to be social and like chatting, but the ‘going to a group the first time’ thing terrifies me so much.

    5. Sounded like a good idea*

      I’m 45 and struggle making new friends. It’s hard..esp as a child free woman. So many Meetups are for mommy groups. My husband and I are very much each other’s best friends but we should have others, just so we can take a break from annoying each other. If you are in Facebook, there are more and more groups that I have found helpful. Like I am a fan of a very popular podcast, and there is a group of local Minnesota fans…so that’s a start. I don’t have much advice since my friend making skills are meh, but I hope you have some luck!

      1. TardyTardis*

        You could always join a small volunteer group or local arm of a political party whose aims you agree with. I did that and ended up as the secretary at my second meeting (very small group at the time and I replaced someone who was 89). We’ve been a bit busy for the last year…

    6. INTP*

      Watching this since I’m 31 in a new city with zero local friends. I agree about Meetup, most of the topic-based ones I’ve been to have been full of middle aged and older people (who are lovely to chat with about the topic, it’s just not an environment for starting a whole social circle outside the group). I’ve had the same experience with volunteering. Ones that seem to have that purpose usually have meet ups that are pretty costly, like restaurant dinners, and I’m on a strict budget. I also took a photography class and while it was nice to get out and be around people, it just wasn’t a friend-making environment.

      It feels like most people that do form a social circle in a new city as an adult, at least the ones I know personally, did it in an environment that was already community-building in nature like their church congregation or parents at their kids schools. I have no religion, no kids, no coworkers (remote worker), and no group hobbies, so I know it won’t happen organically for me and I’ll have to put more work into it. To be honest in the day-to-day I’m fine doing everything alone and don’t really crave interaction, I just know that in the long term it’s not healthy to have zero friendships, so it’s hard to make it a priority when there are things I’d rather do with my limited free time than go meet strangers.

      I’m thinking about trying Bumble BFF or something similar. Any experiences? I feel like a 1-on-1 happy hour might be more my speed than a huge meetup. But I’m intimidated by the articles telling me that I need to have X, Y, Z kinds of pictures in my profile to attract friends because I don’t have many pictures of myself, especially not candids or pics with friends.

      1. PX*

        I’m using Bumble BFF and finding it pretty decent! To be honest just 1 or 2 pictures of you and some descriptive text about what you like/enjoy is enough. Ignore any articles with criteria of X,Y,Z. I swipe right on anyone who seems vaguely interesting and if the chat flows enough then I’m always keen to meet for a drink and see how things go!

    7. Stephanie*

      I found hobby groups that meet up regularly to be the best way. Maybe it’s all the endorphins, but I found most running groups to be pretty beginner friendly (and friendly in general).

      I made friends as an adult through a running group, improv classes, and political activism groups. Key is just to find something where you see people regularly.

      If it’s any reassurance, I didn’t find meetup that useful either. I found the groups were either too general (eg, 20 somethings in Large Metro Area) or people kind of knew each other already.

    8. Emily*

      I’m sorry you’re feeling down!

      I think that the running club is a good idea; the worst that can happen is that you discover it’s not a good fit and don’t end up going back. And I don’t know the particular group you’re looking at, but my understanding is that many running clubs have different pace and distance options for people of various abilities.

      Re: adult friendships, I’ve been living in my area for 4 years (as a graduate student), and it wasn’t until relatively recently (maybe in the last year or so) that I started to develop more friendships outside of my graduate cohort. What worked for me was playing ultimate frisbee and, to a lesser extent, bouldering at the nearby gym – and even then, it took some time before I started connecting with people who might want to spend time together outside of the shared activity. (For what it’s worth, I also have a few hobbies – community orchestra, pottery – that haven’t made me any new friends yet, but still give me some feelings of social and creative fulfillment. I think those types of activities can be worthwhile too.)

    9. Not So NewReader*

      You might want to talk to your doc about vitamin D, I noticed you mentioned how it gets dark quick. To me that early sunset just seems to exasperate things.

      Have you checked out your library to see what is going on there? Maybe you have a local Y you could investigate?
      Occasionally, I have taken adult courses at the community college nearby. I pick topics that would be useful to me right now and it’s a good way to get to talk with people who share your interest.

    10. LilySparrow*

      Our local library does board game nights and craft groups (like knitting or paper arts) in addition to the more traditional book clubs.
      Libraries are always a good place for introverts to be around people without being too people-y, IMO. And it helps to have something to do with your hands.

        1. LilySparrow*

          I haven’t done one, but they have a rapidly-growing section of tabletop games you can check out, which is awesome.

      1. WillyNilly*

        Our local museum/cultural center does craft night monthly. You bring your craft & supplies and a snack, they provide big tables and chairs in a well lit room and nearby slop sinks.

        Also craft stores like Michaels offer courses like cake decorating or knitting which can be a good way to meet folks.

    11. WillyNilly*

      The APA (American Pool Assoc) is a national billiards team group. They have a ranking system that weights ability so poor players can be huge assets to teams, just as much as sharp shooters. It can be a great way to make friends!

    12. MeM*

      I’d suggest joining the American Needlepoint Guild or the Embroidery Guild of America, if either has a chapter in your area. Admittedly, the women (and the very occasional man) attending are probably older than you, but I have never been to a meeting where I didn’t leave feeling uplifted and enthusiastic. The members are very nice and caring. I’ve made many friends there. There wasn’t a chapter near me when I was your age, but I did counted cross stitch and embroidery at night while I worked as an electrical engineer/team lead during the day (and looked forward to getting home so I could continue on my latest project). The good thing about needlework is that it is an engrossing pass time, and when you’re through, you have something tangible for the time spent. Same goes for joining a quilt guild – you’ll find many friendly people there ready to interact with you.

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        Just had my chapter EGA meeting today,–we made Japanese thimbles (I forget what they are called). I am going to an ANG meeting on Monday with a friend who is a member. Needlework is my passion and I also belong to guilds for lace making, quilting, crochet, and weaving.

        Find a hobby you enjoy and I guarantee, that somewhere there is a group of people with the same interest that will welcome you with open arms.

    13. Tipcat*

      Nobody has mentioned community theater. I have moved around a lot and have always found these groups welcoming. They always need help with many different kinds of jobs other than acting.

    14. pandq*

      I’m late to the party so not sure my comment will be seen but I’ve met a couple of friends in the SF Bay Area through GirlfriendCircle.com It’s like a match.com for girlfriends, which I believe is available more broadly than just the bay area. I think it’s free at the moment.

  10. TW*

    Howdy! We are heading to Belgium for a wedding in May and I was looking for suggestions. The first four days will be spent with the wedding group doing brewery tours, Bruges and the ceremony (exact site tbd but it’s a serious group of beer snobs). The second four days are completely open so I wanted to go somewhere else. We do fly in and out of Brussels so somewhere within a half day’s drive or train ride. I was thinking of heading to Rotterdam to stay a few nights. Are there any other places we should consider instead (or in addition) that are close to Belgium?

    1. Kat*

      Antwerp is pretty, and you could go to Lille if you want to hop across into France. My friend lives in Brussels but unfortunately she’s 12 hours ahead of me at the moment in New Zealand on holidays so I can’t ask her. But we’ve been to both those places when I’ve visited her and they were nice.

    2. that broadway nerd*

      If you haven’t been to Amsterdam, that’s not too far from Belgium and it’s a beautiful city! Or, if you’d rather do something smaller, Delft is like a little, beautiful mini-Amsterdam with canals and nice cafes :) Amsterdam is about 3 hours via train, Delft is 2.5.

      1. TW*

        I went to Amsterdam twice last year so I figured I’d skip it this trip :-) I’ve heard good things about Antwerp and Delft! Ill look up Lille – gracias!

    3. caledonia*

      Ghent which is a very short hop away from Bruges and Oostende (seaside) Luxembourg City is also very, very lovely.

      1. Emalia*

        Definitely Ghent. The Ghent alter piece is an amazing work of art and worth the trip itself. I think I may have especially fond memories because the day I spent in Ghent was the only sunny day during my two week trip to Belgium/The Netherlands.

        Also would suggest The Hague.

    4. Jen RO*

      I found Rotterdam to be very boring, so I wouldn’t suggest that. Or The Hague – not much to see there either.

      However the distances between cities are smaller than they seem – for example, I did Brugge as a day trip from Tilburg. You can get to Amsterdam or Brussels if you wake up early enough (or you can spend a couple of days if the prices aren’t too high).

    5. PX*

      I spent a lot of time in Rotterdam so I’m a fan, but definitely dont expect cute quaint Dutch-ness. It was all bombed during WW2 so its a much more modern city than the rest of the Netherlands, but thats also why its known for its funky architecture. Maastricht is supposed to be really nice though I’ve never been, and Utrecht is also quite cool. Although to be honest, once you’ve seen one Dutch city, you’ve sort of seen them all, so dont expect anything massively different.

      Looking at a map, obviously you may want to consider Gent (supposed to be quite nice), more time in Brussels or Antwerp. If you want to relax rather than do a city trip, the Ardennes are nice for hiking or just renting a house and having some time in nature.

      Other alternatives are Germany: Dusseldorf, Cologne and Bonn are all relatively close by, train links are good or you could even get a cheap flight if you wanted. Ooh, or Luxembourg! If you do that, definitely take the train as you get epic views of the castle on the way in/out :D

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I recommend the SNCB website. Belgian railways offer various tickets and passes for getting around the country and Brussels is a good base.

        Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp, especially the station are worth seeing, and Oostende is nice if you would like a day at the seaside. If you want to see Paris or Amsterdam, check for special offers on the Thalys (like Eurostar or TGV) .

    6. Wandering Anon*

      I stayed in Leuven, a university town about 30 km east of Brussels, about 20 years ago. Leuven is pretty, has some cool gothic architecture and outdoor markets. Lots of places in the area to bike and walk.

      I second someone’s comment about Antwerp and Ghent as well. Brussels is definitely worth an afternoon – the Royal Museums of the Fine Arts could take you days to go through if you did them properly (especially good for a dreary wet afternoon).

      And Oostende! I went in late May and the beaches were open, lots of tourists.

  11. Helpful*

    Recommendations (or warnings) on a direct-to-consumer mattress for people who run hot at night? Thanks for your experiences!

    1. Professor Ma'am*

      That was my #1 concern as well (husband is the hot sleeper). We ordered from Nolah this Fall. He hasn’t noticed any temperature issues but then again, it’s been freakin cold out! It always takes me a while to heat up in bed, and I guess I’d say it’s no faster or slower than our old spring mattress. So overall I’d say it’s doing its job of making temperature a non-issue! Comfort-wise it’s pretty good but I wouldn’t say life altering. They advertise as being soft enough for side sleepers and I can definitely say that’s true. I think it’s a pretty good balance between the foams where you sink in and get stuck and the ones you feel like you’re laying on top of. Plus it’s a 3 month trial and they’re a bit cheaper than some of the other options. We were looking at Purple as well (also advertise as good for temperature control). I had such a hard time finding legit reviews online because nearly ALL of them are getting paid by the mattress companies (if you snoop around the websites you’ll eventually find where they mention the sponsorship). You can google about this big incident with a reviewer that wrote bad reviews and I think Casper sued them then eventually bought them…

    2. CAA*

      Wirecutter.com has a good article called “The Best Foam Mattresses You Can Buy Online”. They are doing an ongoing test where they sleep on each new one for a month and then compare it to all the previous ones.

    3. Namast'ay in Bed*

      I have the Tuft & Needle Mint and it is absolutely amazing. It is so comfy and supportive, but also breathes like a dream.

      1. Parenthetically*

        We also have a Leesa and the only time I’ve awakened in a sweat in it is when feverish or crazy hormonal postpartum in August. Apart from that it sleeps cool IME and is the perfect combo of supportive and sinky-inny.

  12. Shay*

    My dog just threw up on my bed covers. Whatever, I was going to wash them today anyway. (Probably.) and if not I can sleep in my guest bedroom.

    1. Laura H*

      Even if one plans to… that’s no fun. Is the dog ok?

      And I’m hoping you were out of bed. That’d make it a little better as opposed to waking up to the dreaded noise of pending dog puke.

      1. Shay*

        She seems fine, just regurgitated part of a cardboard cream jug she stole from the trash. I gave her rice and chicken broth last night to help settle her stomach but I’ve been expecting this.

        I was in another room putting away clean dishes. I thought she was going to be good enough to puke on the floor, but no.

        I’m not 100% sure if I cleaned it right. I stripped the bed and there’s this thing under the sheets but on top of the foam mattress toppers for my back that got puke on it but not through it. So I went over that with Shout and am letting it air dry. Is that cleaned? I didn’t get all the yellow coloring out, but whatever that layer is is also stained from my own instances of vomiting.

        Ugh. Adulting is hard.

        1. fposte*

          I’d say no, that’s not cleaned. Shout isn’t a dry cleaning substance–it’s a stain remover that needs to be rinsed out. Most mattress pads can just be washed in a washing machine (and should be washed every few months), and I’d do that with yours. If you want to err on the side of safety, air dry it rather than putting it into the dryer, since sometimes there are vinyl or elastic bits that don’t appreciate dryer heat.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, good point. I have a wonderful washer-dryer set from the Cretaceous period, and the one thing that’s gone slightly wrong is the dryer’s ability to obey heat setting commands, so I forget that that’s an option.

              1. Natalie*

                Eep, that sounds dangerous. To your clothes, I mean, the house is probably safe.

                I also hate my dryer because it lacks various settings that I like (including no heat). Since the washer seems to be musty they are both high on the replacement list, but realistically they work and I should probably wait.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                I will bring my glasses/negative experience into this answer…. having removed smoldering clothes from a dryer (laundry mat) and knowing this is pretty fn scary… please be careful, fposte.
                I was married to this geeky guy and failing thermostats/heat controls were deal breakers for him. We either changed the temp control or changed the entire appliance. We can push these things for a while and then, very suddenly, we can’t.

        2. Elizabeth H.*

          It sounds like that’s a mattress pad which as fposte said are typically washable. I wash and dry mine in the machines just like the sheets.
          On the other hand, depending on your comfort level with dog vomit if it was a very small spot and hadn’t soaked through mattress pad and I didn’t really want to wash the mattress pad (I only wash mine a few times a year) I would probably clean the spot with a wash cloth and soapy water, let it air dry and call it good.

        3. All Hail Queen Sally*

          I once had a cat who would go into her litter box whenever she had to throw up. Only once in her lifetime did she not make it there in time. She was an awesome cat. That said, there was once where she felt her butt was dirty so she got in bed with me and “scooted” her butt on the sheets right next to my pillow leaving a little brown streak. *sigh*

  13. Ramona Flowers*

    I’ve had one of the worst weeks of my life. I had a lovely birthday and then on Wednesday I got some really terrible news. I can’t bear to discuss the details but it’s one of those moments that divides everything into a before and after.

    I don’t think I’m very well (will save the details for the mental health thread) but the place we don’t mention on weekends has been a welcome distraction, blissfully so, so I’m not staying off. I keep ruminating over small details, like I was so excited to have dinner with a friend on Wednesday and so upset to have had to cancel, when that isn’t what I’ll remember in a month or a year.

    This weekend thread promises to be a welcome distraction, but I am somewhat lacking in bandwidth. I thought 2018 was going to be so great. On the upside I just realised I have a new episode of The Good Place to watch. This is what I need: small moments of sunshine.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Sometimes the moderation software is really arbitrary. I’m so sorry to hear about the bad news and glad you’re finding ways to give yourself some space.

    1. Kat*

      I hope you feel start to feel better soon. Take care of yourself. The small moments of sunshine are important.

    2. nep*

      So sorry. I wish you peace and strength in the face of whatever you’re dealing with.
      Love your attitude of seeking small moments of sunshine.

    3. Shay*

      May you be filled with loving kindness
      May you be well
      May you be peaceful and at ease
      May you be truly happy.

      Get well. <3

    4. that broadway nerd*

      So sorry, Ramona :( I remember when I found out my mom died, I had just made plans to get ice cream with my friend and, afterwards, kept thinking something along the lines of “this is insane! I’m supposed to be eating Baskin Robbins right now!!” It’s among my most vivid memories from that day filled with vivid memories. I’m wishing you peace and strength for whatever you are going through. (Oh, and the new Good Place episode is wonderful.)

    5. Bibliovore*

      I am so sorry. Distract away. Stay in today. Self care. Sometimes I just take to my bed like a Victorian Heiress .

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m so sorry, Ramona. Virtual hugs, tea, and sympathy on offer, any or all. Sometimes you’ll have to “fake it until you make it”, meaning doing whatever you can to cope and distract yourself (like you said about work) until you are ready to start processing it. Do try to take as much time as you can for self-care, and be as kind to yourself as you would a best friend who just went through the same thing.

    7. Mimmy*

      Ramona I am so sorry you’re having a rough patch. I’ll be stopping into the mental health thread today myself. Hugs all around!

    8. Drew*

      Ramona, I always enjoy seeing your comments here. I’m very sorry you’re going through a rough time and I wish you peace in the days to come. E-hugs if you would like them.

    9. Elizabeth H.*

      I am really sorry. I know so clearly what you mean about being upset about small details like having to cancel a dinner.

    10. Foreign Octopus*

      No! I’m so sorry that you’ve had an awful, awful week.

      I hope that the thread provides a good distraction for you and definitely enjoy The Good Place. It’s a great episode.

      Lots of internet hugs and affection.

    11. Call me St. Vincent*

      I am so sorry to hear this. I will be thinking of you and sending encouragement and positive vibes your way.

    12. K.*

      Aww. Big hugs. I hope you feel better soon.

      We’re only two weeks into 2018; there is lots of time left in the year for joy. I hope you find lots of joy this year.

    13. Ramona Flowers*

      I love this community, thank you all so much for being so kind. All of these comments are just so hugely appreciated.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      The Good Place was really good. And…. an episode that marks a big before and after, so maybe resonant?

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Funnily enough I was just thinking I might follow the Shellstrop method of dealing with problems!

    15. Alpha Bravo*

      I’m sorry Ramona. There’s not much anyone can say to make some things easier, and sometimes the “after” side of those moments feels like a huge ringing void. Hold those small moments of sunshine close, and carry them with you as you step into the future. There are lots of good wishes for you here.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      Very sorry about your upsetting news. Our lives definitely go in chapters. Each chapter has something not so hot (okay, life changing) and something good. I hope the universe sends you something good and something you need very, very soon.

    17. Stormy*

      Sorry to hear it. I also was looking forward to a fresh start, and 2018 has violently kicked me in the gut twice already. It has made it difficult to get motivated to make the changes I want to reach for.

    18. Rookie Manager*

      So sorry you are going through a difficult time Ramona. The Good Place is definitely helping my need for sunshine. Look after yourself.

    19. Turtlewings*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope you have IRL people who can help support you. Please take good care of yourself and just don’t expect a lot from yourself right now. I wish you all the little sunshine moments you need.

    20. Ramona Flowers*

      Thank you all so much. I have read and appreciated every comment more than I can say. I do have support IRL too. Thank you.

    21. ..Kat..*

      Ramona F. I am so sorry you are dealing with this. Internet hugs if you want them. I love your comments and wisdom. I am sorry you are struggling.

    22. Grace Carrow*

      I am so sorry to hear this. Please take very good care of yourself and let the people IRL keep supporting you and remember you have so many allies and friends on this board, all of whom like you and some of whom have grown to, I guess, love you just a little bit. This is an amazing community that I have recently found, and you are one of the members who has shaped it to be just that. You have a small army of supporters wishing good thoughts for you.

    23. Ramona Flowers*

      Thank you all so much for these comments. I lack words to describe how much they mean to me.

    24. Bluebell*

      I’m very sorry to hear that, Ramona! I hope the good wishes here all help, and that things get easier. I can’t remember if you are in the northern hemisphere or not, but if you are, at least we are at the time of year where there is more light every day.

    25. Bagpuss*

      I’m really sorry you’ve had terrible news, (and glad that it did not come on your birthday)
      Don’t forget to be kind and gentle with yourself as you navigate what has happened, and its effect on you.

    26. Anion*

      I am so sorry for whatever it is that’s happened, and I truly hope you’re okay. I also truly think, just from seeing your comments here, that you are strong and capable, and will make it through this.

      Keep finding those small moments of sunshine. You deserve them.

    27. Starryemma*

      When I had a before and after moment, playing mindless computer games was a welcome distraction. I hope you find many small things that help get you through.

    28. OhBehave*

      I’ve had those moments recently. So sorry you are dealing with this. Share when you feel you can because we care.

    29. Overeducated*

      I’m sotry to hear about your awful news. I wish you peace and comfort and,relief wherever it can be found, including but very much not limited to tv and sweets.

    30. Cheshire Cat*

      I’m so sorry for whatever your terrible news was, Ramona! Sending you hugs (if you want them) and good thoughts while you are adjusting to the new reality.

    31. ..Kat..*

      I’m sorry you are going through this. Can you pretend that you are getting all the crap that 2018 has to offer done with at the beginning of the year? And therefore the rest of the year will be the good stuff?

  14. nep*

    I adore Warpaint and I’m happy they exist.

    I know they’ve been around for more than a decade, but they’re new to me (!) and I’m glad to have learned about them.
    Anyone experienced Warpaint in concert? I certainly hope to one day.

    1. mreasy*

      I used to work with them! I have seen them maybe a dozen times, and I can genuinely say they put on one of the best live shows around. Over the past couple of years they have become legitimately incredible live. They’re inspiring.

      1. nep*

        How wonderful.
        Yes, they are inspiring. Masters of their craft, creative, solid, free. Their vibe is… I don’t even know how to put it.
        The gorgeous photo book their tour manager/photographer made looks just amazing.
        I love these women and I thank them.

    2. Loopy*

      Love cheering out new music and have never heard of this group! Do you recommend any great songs for someone just looking into them that really showcase their style?

      1. nep*

        There are so many great numbers. And of course, all will depend on your taste in music.
        One I really love is ‘Majesty’, but the Rough Trade Sessions version on YT. (I like this rendition better than Majesty I’ve heard on an album.)
        Love is to Die is great too. Elephants. There are so many.

        1. nep*

          Also worth a look is ‘Elephants’ — Pitchfork Music Festival Paris 2014. Hell of a clip from a live show.

    3. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

      I did! I will admit that it was because they were opening for Depeche Mode, but they were definitely an enjoyable part of the evening – good music, interesting sounds, and just a really good, professional show. Actually, thank-you for reminding me I’d meant to look them up :)

  15. Power of attorney*

    If you are single, who do you have as your power of attorney in case something happens to you? my mother wants to be mine but I actually don’t think I want her to be it, in addition to the fact she lives really far away and is older than me. I think a parent may make sense if I was in my 20s but I’m over 50 and not really close to her despite what she may think.

    1. Drew*

      My sib is an attorney and we get along really well, so (with permission) I’ve named them as my POA and beneficiary of my insurance and estate.

      Funny story: my parents redid their wills a few years back. After they were done, they called and asked to take me to dinner because they had something serious to discuss. (Drew’s brain: “OMG one of them is sick. But free dinner! But terminal illness.”)

      Turns out, they had decided to make Sib the executor of the estate without consulting me and wanted to make sure I, as the elder, wouldn’t be offended. I assured them that it was very sweet of them to be concerned, but if they had named me executor instead, I would have hired Sib immediately with the money from the estate, so they made the right call and saved some money in the bargain, so could I have dessert?

      1. Bibliovore*

        Just want to say I appreciate your sense of humor and yep. Please don’t pick me to be anyone’s executor.

    2. Old Biddy*

      My brother is mine. When I set up my living trust my investment advisor recommended against having your parents do it, even when they’re relatively young. It’s usually harder for them to make end of life decisions if you’re on life support, etc.

    3. Natalie*

      Sympathetic to the lack of closeness – my mother and I aren’t close either, and part of the reason my husband and I have POAs is to specifically cut her out of decision making in the event we are both incapacitated. Also – hopefully this doesn’t sound to callous, but if I was your age I wouldn’t pick someone that has a reasonably high likelihood of dying in the next decade or two unless you felt really strongly about it. Obviously age isn’t any sort of guarantee, of course.

      What I’ve always heard is that the most important thing is that the POA is someone you trust to execute your wishes and make a reasonably accurate guess at what you would when it’s not written out in black and white. So with that in mind, I’d think about siblings, close level-headed friends, or adult children or nieces/nephews.

    4. fposte*

      I don’t have anybody officially on paperwork, but it will be my local BFF. Nothing gets by her :-).

        1. CAA*

          Yes, it’s especially important to do the paperwork if the person you want making decisions is not your legal next of kin.

        2. fposte*

          Ugh, you’re right, I know. I’ve got things in decent shape in the event of actual clog poppage, but the intervening stuff, like POA and mPOAs, I haven’t done. Thanks for the nudge.

          1. Bibliovore*

            Gold Diggers posts about her outrageous in laws and dealing with their estate got me to a lawyer and we made a will and a trust. My best friend is the executor and as such will receive a share of the estate as well as a fee.

    5. accidental manager*

      My sequence of people with personal authority for finances includes a former-partner-now-best-friend and two siblings. My sequence of people with personal authority for health care decision-making includes the same former-partner, a sibling, and an adult stepchild/child-of-former-partner. I have had legal documents spelling that out since I was in my early 30s, because I didn’t want them defaulting to my parents.

      My grandmother outlived both her children, and thus both of the people in her decision-making sequence. This made it more complicated for us to take care of her in her final years. Whoever you list first, list a second and a third person, too. (And, of course, ask their permission first and tell them your wishes.)

    6. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      I used my sister. She’s a lawyer and our relationship has matured to the point where I’m good with using her. I would recommend that you think through and write down various stuff. Medical what-ifs, preferences for funeral, etc. The way I’m setting up my estate I also wrote down my overall plan for the money, etc. Just because legal documents are so dry and I really wanted to leave a more accessible guide. Where important documents are, maybe an overview of financial details, usernames/passwords for everything. So she’s got a series of word docs with narratives, as well as a word doc with “here’s where stuff is if SHTF”.

    7. MissingArizona*

      My husband and I just had to redo our wills, because we realized the people we have taking care of everything wouldn’t be able to take care of our dog. We don’t actually believe he’ll outlive us, but if an accident happens, then he needs someone to take care of him. I got lucky that his trainer wants him if something happens to us, and he was shocked that we decided to allocate $10k to his care. Don’t forget your pets!

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Yep, we have it spelled out what happens to our dogs and how much goes with each for their care. Since our daughter is four it’s also spelled out in our wills which family member is to become her guardian. We could see that becoming a total cluster and we trust my sibling to ensure that she gets to have a relationship with all her family, we definitely don’t trust hubby’s brother to do that but we know his wife would fight to have her.

        1. the gold digger*

          My husband asked his parents five years before they died what arrangements they had made for their two cats.

          Sly told Primo that Primo and I could take the cats.

          Primo told him no, we already had two cats and Sly needed to figure something out.

          Sly and Doris never did. With all the drama with Sly and Doris’ estate, I think the most traumatic thing for Primo was re-homing the cats. He was determined not to send them to a shelter. (And I was determined not to have them in our house, as one of the cats was really mean and the other was a huge shedder.)

          1. MissingArizona*

            That’s basically what I don’t want to happen. My dog is the smartest, sweetest, bestest dog in the world, but he’s 90lbs of dammit. I know my Dad can’t take him, my sisters can’t handle him, and my husband’s family is horrible, so the trainer (who is also a very dear friend), is the only person I can trust.

            1. Bibliovore*

              Yeah, I set aside 10,000 in a financial plan for the dog and the financial planner said it was too much. We hired a different financial planner. Good news is that my brother has agreed to take whatever dog we have at the time of departure.

    8. Temperance*

      I do a lot of POAs for folks who are not married. Some people choose a sibling or close cousin. Some people choose a friend.

      Typically, a person who wants POA is not the person you should give POA to. That’s just my experience.

    9. Kuododi*

      While we were living further north…my BFF was my designated person on my living will and durable power of attorney. I’m redoing my paperwork to reflect the state we live in now. (In this jurisdiction, where we live now all living relatives after spouse have equal say regarding end of life issues for the person in question.). I’ve appointed my sister to be my back up person because I know if it got down to brass tacks, my parents would try to fight my DH to keep my brain dead body hooked up. My sister wouldn’t put up with that mess!!!

    10. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I don’t have a power of attorney (should probably get on that), but I’d want my dad to take on that role (and he’d want to do it because he’d be convinced no one else would do it right, lol). He’s very thorough and good at bureaucratic stuff, and I trust that he would respect my wishes (assuming I was just injured rather than dead; I don’t care about what happens after I’m dead, and if he or my mom were still alive I’d want them to get everything after I died anyway) even if he disagreed with them.

    11. Lauren R*

      My father is mine, with my aunt as backup and my cousin as backup backup. Possibly sounds like overkill but the scariest thing to me is the idea of my mother (who I don’t have a relationship with) having a shot at the title based on technically being my “next of kin” so I want it all spelled out clearly. As I get older and my dad and aunt stop being the best options, I’ll change it of course but it works for now. My dad’s a great choice because he knows me well and also he’s just very respectful and trustworthy. That side of the family has always been a bit messy when it comes to end of life stuff and he’s never gotten involved in the mess and just wanted what was best for everyone and to honor the person’s requests with kindness. And when he divorced my mother a few years back, he was honestly so considerate and respectful even when she was making his life hell (more so than usual) which was frustrating to watch but admirable of him and really made me proud. He just wanted what was fair and tried to make sure they both got what they needed, even though her side was going for the throat at the time. I feel like that’s the kind of person you want making your decisions because you can trust that no matter where your relationship is at that point or what may have changed in the time since naming them, they’ll try to do the right thing (even if that’s just stepping aside and picking someone else you trust) rather than letting any negative feelings get the best of them at your expense or someone else’s.

      He’s just a very good, kind-hearted person so if anyone needs to make decisions on my behalf or make sure my wishes are respected, I’d like for it to be him or someone with his values and principles.

      1. Natalie*

        I wonder if it’s possible to explicitly de-POA someone, the way you can explicitly write them out of a will? I’ve wondered about that in regards to my mom, too. AAM lawyers?

        1. Kuododi*

          I’m not an attorney but DH helps patients write medical POA all the time as a part of his job. According to him, if you want to make a change…. just shred the first document and fill out new POA with appropriate changes. Of course… confirm what I am saying with an attorney in your local jurisdiction. Best wishes!!!

          1. Natalie*

            Sorry, I can see how that wording wasn’t clear. I know you can update them, but I wonder if you can explicitly codify that Person X is never allowed to make medical decisions for you, even if they are legal next of kin.

            1. Kuododi*

              My understanding from DH using our jurisdiction as an example, as long as you spell out who you want as primary and secondary on your living will and medical power of attorney there’s no need to specify who you don’t want involved in end of life planning. In our jurisdiction, it is spouse first then all living relatives have equal priority. That is why I designated my sister as backup for DH as I don’t trust my parents to not put up a fight to keep my brain dead body on machines…..shudder!!!!

              1. Kuododi*

                Follow up to say…as always…. double check anything you find out online with legal advisors in your local jurisdiction. Best wishes!!!!

              2. Natalie*

                Although if both of your designations die somehow, I think it goes to legal next of kin. Not a lawyer though.

    12. Sled dog mama*

      Both my husband and I have a good friend who shares our views on long term life support and death with dignity. He was our mPOA long before we had our daughter who passed away and was one of the people we called in the middle of the night when we needed to decide if we were going to keep fighting or take her off life support. My brother is actually the executor of our estates (we asked first) because he’s the lawyer in the family ( deals with a lot of estate planning stuff) so we felt he was best equipped to deal with everything efficiently.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I should probably do that, ergh. I sent all my passwords to my brother before I went to the UK in 2014, just in case, as it occurred to me I hadn’t chosen anyone. He’s the only person in my family I trust with that. He’ll probably end up handling my stuff if anything happens to me.


    14. hangry*

      I always thought I’d put my sister. But some of her life decisions recently have had me really questioning her judgment and now I’m starting to rethink things. I have a cousin and a best friend since college I’ll have to consider. I commiserate though, this is tough. I also have an estranged parent that I need to block just in case.

    15. Turtlewings*

      Oh, is that a thing I should be doing? /nervous laughter

      I have my parents down as beneficiaries for most things, especially my mother, as I know my father’s very concerned about her being taken care of (his health is not great and never has been, so he’s always assumed he’d go first). I don’t have any kind of POA or will–I don’t have any assets to leave anyone, and my BFF has orders to wipe my browser history. XD I guess my sister would be the best choice for medical decisions, since we live together whereas my parents are very far away.

  16. nep*

    Does anyone use a rebounder / mini-trampoline? (Stop me if there’s already been a discussion on this…I can’t recall whether I’ve asked before.)
    I’ve long had one around the house, and I’m always interested and intrigued reading about potential benefits, especially for the immune system. For some reason, though, I never got in the habit of using it on a regular basis.
    Past three days I’ve made sure to spend a bit of time just bouncing — not a strenuous workout but just the ‘health bounce,’ while listening to some great music. Digging it so far.
    You or anyone you know experienced interesting results from using a rebounder?

    1. Yetanotherjennifer*

      The health benefits beyond those from any regular cardio workout are possibly exaggerated. Not too long ago, I saw some ads for rebounders that touted health benefits and did a little research and found that they aren’t grounded in a lot of scientific research. I’m on my phone right now…I’ll try and find links later. That said, any exercise you consider fun and will do regularly is great and beneficial even if there aren’t bonus benefits. We keep ours in the TV room. My teenager was never one to sit still and watch tv and the rebounder was and still is our favorite piece of living room furniture.

    2. Menacia*

      I have one and it came with a DVD. I used it a few times and have not in a while. There are some mini trampoline videos on YouTube which may be of interest to you.

      1. nep*

        Yes there’s a lot on line about them. I’ve never tried a full-on workout on it — not really my thing.

    3. nep*

      I’m the biggest skeptic alive. I don’t go in for things thinking Oh this is going to change my life — especially the latest greatest health and fitness thing. I simply like the idea of incorporating a few minutes of that bounce — it feels good. This is apart from my workouts.
      Anyway was just curious whether anyone’s big into this and what their experience has been.

    4. LCL*

      I’m going to use one, I got it for Christmas but haven’t assembled it yet. I’m not expecting it to change my life, I just want a way to do low impact cardio because walking my creaky old dog doesn’t get my heart rate up.

    5. J.B.*

      I have one, good way to mix intervals in at home with circuit. It’s a nice option, nothing more involved than that.

  17. Drew*

    Went to work Monday. Hung out with friends after work. Came home a bit early, felt a little off.

    Woke up Tuesday to a full-on head cold and sore throat. I am just today starting to feel a little better. Shout out – no, actually, a very pained whisper out – to my fellow sickies.

    1. nep*

      Glad you’re starting to feel better.
      It’s been frightening reading these news articles about fairly healthy people dying of the flu. In each piece I read, the person felt under the weather, thought it was a bad cold…went to hospital when symptoms wouldn’t let up, then their condition deteriorated rapidly from there.

      1. Drew*

        I’m no hero. If I started running a fever or had symptoms that NyQuil couldn’t knock back to a dull roar, I’d be on my way to urgent care. This really is just a cold.

        1. nep*

          Right — didn’t mean to refer to your situation. Your post just reminded me, as I’d read an article about another flu victim just this morning.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yeah, the flu the shot was formulated for has a nasty habit of shifting a lot. So the vaccine is less effective this year. Still, everyone should get their shot regardless, as it does help.

            There’s also a nasty cold with sore throat going around. I had it a while ago. It was like a mini-flu, blergh. Utterly miserable for three or four days, and then it got better fairly quickly, thank the universe.

  18. Life is Good*

    I just love tortoiseshell cats! Yours is adorable. We rescued one years ago (like 30!) when she ran into my husband’s classroom being chased by a large dog. She had the sweetest personality. We are on the fifth cat since our beloved Pebbles left this earth, but she has a special place in our hearts. Also love the photos that feature one of your cats stuffed into that felt “box”.

    Anyone else just nuts about cats?

    1. Anonyme*

      I am!

      I currently have 3. A tabby that purrs the moment you look at her, and aggressively cuddles, a white puffball that kinda makes squawky pterodactyl noises, and a little guy that wants us to watch him eat.

      My first cat (when I was 7) loved bread. He once tried to steal a baguette. He was caught slowly dragging it up the hallway. it was twice as long as him.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Cat person checking in. My cat is black so he’s hard to photograph as he just sort of looks like a shadow. He’s also a puppy in the body of a cat.

      1. DietCokeHead*

        I also have a black cat and he is the worst to photograph. Usually he just looks like a black blob in photos. Which really should be motivation for me to haul out the dslr and not just take cell phone snaps. My black kitty is highly opinionated and vocal. He also is a big snuggly fluff ball. I love him.

    3. MilkMoon (UK)*

      I sure am! :D

      My baby is a tortie & white and I can never get over how pretty she is *loving sigh* Thankfully she’s as obsessed with me as I am with her haha. She’s a proper weirdo though, and she snores!

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Wistful and wobbly here. I used to love cats but my family of origin included people allergic to felines. Later I developed my own feline allergies which have intensified over time and sadly, diminished some of my affection. (This is probably some sort of deep-rooted evolutionary thing, since it doesn’t make sense to crave something which makes breathing difficult, but it’s still a bit sad.)

      I now feel about cats the way that some child-free people may feel about children: they are wonderful, their presence improves the world, not everybody is able to nurture one or more specimens, and that’s okay.
      Occasionally I donate to shelters or take my worn-out t-shirts and towels to a nearby animal hospital.
      Thankfully, the world still has lots of people who can give homes to cats!

    5. Scubacat*

      I love cats! And everyone knows it…..

      At work, someone randomly left a cat scratcher in the mail room. My coworkers all assumed that I had brought it in.

    6. Lcsa99*

      I am! So much so that I collected cat figurines as a teen (until it felt weird. Just have three or four now) . I literally grew up with cats. My mom got one when I was born and we had her till I was 21. We had many others with her. Think six was our top number. Thankfully I met a wonderful man who is also a cat person, and we have two now. I think I have only lived 5 or 6 years of my over 30 years without a cat.

    7. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Count me in! Currently have two, but have had more and also fostered kittens in the past. The house is full of “cat themed” stuff. Now I volunteer for a nonprofit that is trying to raise money to build a sanctuary for elderly cats who have survived their elderly owners. I have a cat on my lap as I write this.

    8. nonegiven*

      I have a tortie, much darker than Eve. She has tortitude. She also seems drawn to people who totally ignore her.

  19. Merci Dee*

    Going for my annual eye exam this morning. My doc told me last year that I probably needed bifocals, but he could fudge my prescription for one more year. So I’m diving in with the bifocals this year. Hopefully, I won’t have problems adjusting to them. Wish me luck!

    1. Drew*

      I got away with contacts plus reading glasses for a couple of years before my eye doc said, “Nope, that’s not going to work much longer” and told me to start looking at (through) bifocals.

      Instead, I got LASIK – gosh, over a year ago now! – and it was the best investment I’d made in my health in years. (It helped that the local clinic that co-sponsors our Locally Dominant Sports Franchise was having a $1,000 off deal.) I still need readers sometimes, but ONLY readers, and not having to fumble around with contacts or do the bifocal head bob is so worth it. I can’t believe how long I spent poking plastic into my eye.

      Not advice, just an alternate suggestion.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I would love to get LASIK, but it just hasn’t been possible for me. My eye doc told me that my vision would have to be stable for 3 years before I would be eligible. My vision would be mostly unchanged from year 1 to year 2, and then would have a substantial change in year 3. Which would, of course, reset the 3-year wait. I’m resigned these days to the fact that corrective surgery is off the table, and it’s okay. I’ve worn glasses since 2nd grade, and frames are such light years better and more fashionable than when I was a kid. Shopping for new frames is one of my favorite parts of my annual eye exam.

        It’s the little things that make me happy, really. :)

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        If you’re able, get your prescription from your eye doctor, and then go to Costco for frames and lenses. SO much cheaper!

        Last time I got my eyes checked I looked at frames at the eye doctors office and there was nothing under $5o0. Ridiculous. I went to Costco and got 2 pairs of glasses, including lenses, for $399. They took $40 off the second pair of frames, and my insurance paid $110.

        I knew it would be cheaper there, but I was shocked by how much less it was.

        1. Merci Dee*

          I go to America’s Best for my exams and glasses, where they offer two pairs of glasses for $69.99 with a free eye exam (which I can never take advantage of). I have supplemental vision coverage, so I would have gotten money toward frames and lenses. I always choose frames from the lower price points so those would are free. My lenses are always what kicks my backside. Because of my prescription, hovering somewhere around -7.0 these days, I get the ultra-lite lenses with anti-glare coating. After my insurance discount, I pay around $260 for my glasses.

    2. OperaArt*

      Just be careful walking up and down stairs for the next few days, and you should be fine. (I say from personal experience—thank goodness mine was in the upward direction.)

      1. Merci Dee*

        I’m used to taking those really big steps up and down curbs, etc. when I get new lenses. A few times, my scrip changed so much from one year to the next that I felt like I was marching from place to place with my knees way up. :)

    3. Kuododi*

      I have been on bifocals for about 6-7 years. I found adjusting to be a very minor nuisance for the first day, day and a half…after that no problem… I use these just like regular glasses. I have always used the no-line bifocals, so I have no basis for comparison but it might be worth looking into that style of bifocals. Good luck!

      1. Merci Dee*

        The no-line option is definitely what I’ll choose when it’s time. My parents got bifocals before the progressive lenses were available, and they both expressed aggravation with the way the line hit right in the middle of their field of view. They got annoyed with having to tilt their heads back and forth to find the right spot to see clearly.

    4. Merci Dee*

      Turns out that my prescription had changed very little from last year. The doc told me I could still use the same glasses I got last year with no problems (which is a good thing – I love the frames I found last year, and they’d been discontinued when I picked them out, so I couldn’t have just bought another pair of the same frames again this year). Doc said that I might have another 3 or 4 years before I really need to start looking at bifocals, but I’m not sure it’ll be that far off with all the computing I do with work, etc.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I expected to have problems, such as headaches, and it was easy. The only two times I even noticed were running in the woods and watching TV while slumped way back. (Both cases I was trying to look through the bottom of the lens at something several yards off.)

      1. Merci Dee*

        I’ll have to keep that in mind – no slumping on the couch while watching TV. I don’t think the slumping will be an issue with my second-favorite couch habit — napping. ; )

    6. Sounded like a good idea*

      Zenni optical online is a great source for cheap bifocals. My husband was told it would be $800 at like Vision World or some place and we choked. He got a pair from Zenni for under $100 and he looks handsome in them. He still has adjustment issues, but honestly the cost of eye glasses esp bifocals is insane

      1. Circus peanuts*

        I use Zenni too. They used to have buy two, get one free sales on the Fourth of July and Black Friday weekends so I got three pairs of glasses for $200.00. They were progressive lenses. So far, I have gotten six pairs of glasses from them. The one drawback is how long it takes for them to arrive in the mail since they are made in China from what I read on the net.

    7. OhBehave*

      I got bifocals several years. I adjusted pretty quickly. They suggested bifocal contacts but I didn’t think I would like them. You’ll love seeing better!

  20. Amber Rose*

    Thursday morning I went in for Lasik. Today I can see. Also I’m allowed on my phone/ computer for short amounts of time because I’m healing up nicely.

    It was the single most terrifying experience of my life. Also halfway through the first eye the machine malfunctioned and I had to go sit in a room for half an hour while they fixed it, which meant I had to endure the scary parts three times instead of two.

    But for the first time in 20 years I can see with my own eyes.

    I would recommend it, but its definitely not for the faint of heart. Or the large of chest. I had to have a nurse hold my chest down so the machine could move. :P

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Glad you are healing well! I cannot even imagine how scary that must have been.

      The best thing I ever did was have a breast reduction (speaking of ‘the large of chest’). It was also terrifying, but the benefits have been completely worth it.

    2. fposte*

      Maybe in future they can do a twofer–simultaneous mammogram and Lasik. Glad the outcome was good, though!

    3. Drew*

      Ha, I made my comment above before I read this one.

      I’m sorry your experience was suboptimal – mine was literally five minutes, in and out. I wish you good healing and great vision. I’m super pleased with my results.

      (As for the scary parts: they offered me my choice of beer, wine, or Valium, and made it clear that if they thought I’d already indulged in the first two, I couldn’t have the third. I took the pill and I was M-E-L-L-O-W for the procedure itself.)

        1. Nicole*

          That’s the part that scares me off from having it done. That and I worry I’ll get the dry eyes or halo side-effects. It’s tempting, though, because my eyes have stopped tolerating contacts the past year and I’m tired of wearing glasses.

          1. NicoleK*

            Since he’s had the procedure completed, DH has suggested that I get Lasik too. I don’t think it’s for me. I’ve had several surgeries, but it’s different when it’s your eyes and you have to be awake and alert the entire time.

            1. Natalie*

              For what it’s worth as far as being awake, it’s an incredibly short procedure – I think my husband’s was under 15 minutes and he had PRK, which is a longer procedure. The actual laser part was less than a minute per side.

              Not that this means you should do it, of course. I know I already have dry eye problems so I’ve decided against it for now.

            2. Middle School Teacher*

              As far as alert goes… depends what they offer you. I got two ativan and I was feeling fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine the whole time.

              I did have a minor freak-out when they just came at me with something (tape, I think?) but then they explained every step as they went and I was cool. I spent my hour in recovery wondering why I wasted so much energy freaking out.

          2. Drew*

            Full disclosure: I still get dry eyes occasionally, over a year after having it done, and I have bottles of artificial tears stashed all over the place when I feel things getting a little scratchy. But I had the same problem with contacts, and at least now I don’t have to fish a dry contact lens out of my eye.

            The haloes were prominent for the first couple of months, but now I don’t notice them unless a REALLY bright light is shining in my face.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              I had lasik ~8 yrs ago. I really appreciate it because of the dry eyes and contacts, but the dry eyes seem to get worse every year and the halos are, too. IDK if I would do it again. I have genetically dry eyes and allergies, and it was a big concern of my dr’s going into it. He had me try to wear tear duct plugs for a week or two to prep my eyes, but they kept popping out. I don’t actually know if my eyes would be any better if I hadn’t had lasik, but I would definitely think twice if someone suffers from dry eyes…going to go put in some drops now, all this talk has made me feel dry.

          3. Amber Rose*

            Well, for the most part, you just stare at a blinking light. Once it gets going, pretty much all you can see are lights.

            The parts that made me flinch were the tape and the little ring to keep my eyes open, and when I saw tweezers. But that’s my overactive imagination that made me squeamish. If you recite lyrics or do fractions in your head it’s much easier.

            The dry eyes kind of suck, but the halos aren’t so bad.

          4. DDJ*

            I had my first procedure done, on both eyes, in 2006. Then I had a second procedure done on one eye, because it had gotten bad enough to warrant it (thankfully, follow-up treatments were free, as long as there was enough tissue left to actually do it again). It made such a huge impact on my life. I went from being unable to function without my glasses, to being able to function completely without them. -6.25 in one eye, -6.5 in the other, if I remember correctly. Now I’m about -1.25 in one eye and -.75 in the other, so while I could (maybe should?) be wearing glasses most of the time, I only wear them when I feel like I really need them.

            I got it done because I was going traveling, and the idea of being someplace I didn’t know, not understanding the language, and having something happen to my glasses without being able to get them fixed or replaced immediately? It was too much.

            I ended up with halos. They were terrible the first couple months, but I’ve pretty much gotten used to them. Driving at night is basically a no for me though, since it’s too hard with reflective signs/streetlights, LED signs, that sort of thing. Not that it’s impossible, but it’s not the most comfortable. Still though, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m glad I got it done when I did. I was the youngest person getting it done at the time, and most people I talked to just said they wished they’d gotten it done earlier.


            The weirdest part is when they use the little brush to brush the lens back down after doing it. You watch it the whole time, just sweeping over your eyeball. It freaked me out for weeks after, because I was sure that the flap was going to just fly up. But really, it’s such a quick procedure, and the changes really can be life-changing.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Oh man, I WANT THIS. I’m so sick of messing with contacts and glasses and trying to pay for them. I don’t mind using reading glasses, but the other is a pain in the arse.

      1. Amber Rose*

        No more $1000 glasses bills for me. There’s no coverage for glasses around here usually. For some reason they aren’t a medical necessity. :/

        Also I can go to the pool/beach and not be terrified of tripping or getting lost. I’m very excited about that! We’re hoping for a Hawaii vacation this year.

    5. Nic*

      That sounds super scary! Being on the table was nerve wracking for me. I got mine done over 10 years ago, when they still cut you. The worst part was the smell.

      But like you say, I could see with my own eyes. It was like a miracle. I recommend it to anyone.

    6. Athena*

      My dad has been nagging me to get it done for years and I’m tempted. He got his done about 20 years ago and we still have the old video recording of it (which he also loans to his work’s science department for biology classes; it’s practically a rite to see Mr J’s eye video.

      Though kinda scaring me to hear you only got a stress ball for each hand; I’d want to be unconscious during the whole thing because I am a sook. Well done you for going ahead with it!

      1. Amber Rose*

        You can’t be unconscious because you have to focus on the blinking light.

        They can give you a mild sedative, I think I wasn’t offered it because I’m already on meds for anxiety. It doesn’t hurt anyway, so as long as you don’t think about what’s happening it’s not too terrible.

  21. fposte*

    Ramona Flowers, thank you so much for the recommendation of Lionz! It’s made an amazing difference to my browsing on my iPad.

      1. fposte*

        While the adblocker on my laptop was preventing the ad redirect problems on AAM on elsewhere, I was running into that all the time on the iPad. Ramona mentioned that the Lionz app worked for her, so I tried it and it seems to do a great job. After you download it you have to go into the app to toggle it on for what you want it to do, and you may have to go into your browser settings as well (I did just in case, but nothing seemed all that key there). But that was like two minutes of setup, and not a single redirect to my wonderful Amazon gift card prize since then.

        1. Merci Dee*

          Good gravy … if I’d won every single gift card that I’ve gotten re-directs and spam messages for, I’d never have to spend another dollar of my own money again. Wouldn’t it be nice ……

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      By the way, you may need to reload some pages to make the content appear eg I think this happens on Inc. If you can’t see the article, hold down / long press the arrow at the right of your address bar – that you’d use to refresh – if you hold it down it will come up with an option to reload without content blockers.

    2. Nines*

      You guys are the best! I was coming here this weekend just to ask about a solution for this. It’s gotten way worse on my phone lately! Hooray for helper apps! I’m downloading now.

  22. Annie*

    Question for people who draw: does working on a slanted surface help with getting proportions/perspectives right?

    I used to draw with a graphics tablet, so even though the drawing was on a flat surface the screen itself was vertical, so I never really had issues. Recently I started working with pencil/paper but often I find what looked fine when laid flat often looks slightly wonky when held upright. I’m still /very/ much an amateur so I don’t know if it’s just a matter of honing skills or if it would help to work on one of those slanted drawing boards (the local art supply store sell very basic ones reasonably cheaply).

    1. Former art student*

      It can help, yes! Especially if you’re not a person that leans forward over your drawing surface. What makes the differences is whether the angle your surface (paper, tablet, canvas) is at when you’re drawing is the same as when you’re viewing the finished piece. So if you’re looking at the paper from an angle because it’s sitting flat and you’re not directly above it, it can throw your perspective off and things can appear stretched when you pick the paper up. Personally I’ve had to be careful with slanted drawing surfaces because depending on your grip and style it can give you some carpal tunnel if your wrist is bent at an angle. For good ergonomics you should keep your wrist and forearm aligned in a straight line as much as possible!

      1. Annie*

        Thanks for the info!
        I find I’ve started over-compensating with the ‘stretched’ thing so things start looking out of proportion in the other direction (argh). I only do it as it a hobby so unlikely to be spending many hours a day in that position but will keep the posture issue in mind as well!

        1. Former art student*

          I would say as a quick fix, just pick up the paper and hold it at arms length to check the proportions every so often. That will help you remember not to stretch or over-shorten, and it’s good practice for checking on your drawings anyway! :)

    2. Observer*

      There is a reason why drafting tables tend to be adjustable so that you can slant them.

      How large are the things you are drawing? If it’s on the smaller side, try a table top book stand. You may need to put a board over it, though.

  23. maybe it's just me...*

    Maybe it’s just me but I find the phrase “the thing we don’t talk about on weekends” really irritating. I get we shouldn’t talk about work but surely we can just say the word “work”, no?

    1. fposte*

      I think that falls under the category of “say it the way you like it.” I say “work,” and other people prefer not to; it seems to all the thing we don’t talk about on weekends out.

    2. Gala apple*

      I agree, I don’t love it. It’s fine to say “work.” Though for me at this point, it’s like saying “bye bye” at the end of a call- used to drive me bonkers when people did that, so I started doing it myself, and now it’s just how I end a call (a work call ;)).

    3. Hollie*

      Yup agree. It’s too cutsey.

      It reminds me of when people started saying ‘WTF Wednesdays’ and then more people picked it up and it became some sort of semi-official ‘thing’.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think I do that not because I think I literally shouldn’t use the word, but rather to reinforce the idea that there’s a clear division in the open threads, mostly for the newer commenters who might not pick up on it. You know, like emphasizing professional terminology at work, especially around the interns. :) Between us, we might call it a spout, but if you absolutely must call it a Directional Hot Water Delivery System around the client, then it’s not a bad idea to use that term when talking to the new people, you know?

    5. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I think it’s meant to be a call back to an old open thread or letter where the phrase was first used.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      Sorry if my post irritated you!

      Personally I have a job that can be quite emotionally demanding and I find setting a boundary on here where I don’t even call it work is helpful for me in maintaining a healthy work-life separation.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Also, I feel there’s something in there about group dynamics. People who are in a community together will derive some enjoyment and satisfaction from having shared norms and in-jokes and stuff, you know? This is one of them, perhaps.

        1. miri*

          ‘shared norms and in-jokes’ are also a great way to make people feel excluded or out of sync with the rest of the community. maybe take that into consideration when someone mentions not enjoying such things.

          1. Courtney*

            I’m a newer/infrequent commenter here, but this criticism seems like a stretch. It’s a phrase many people here use. It’s not an exclusionary phrase, it’s really not even an inside joke, though I think I get what Ramona meant.

            It would be one thing if someone was saying “hey, this phrase you guys use a lot is kind of problematic because X,” and X genuinely was something kind of offensive or exclusionary. But it’s not. It’s a completely inoffensive phrase that someone said irritates them. If someone told you they were irritated by a word you use – not for any real reason, it just irritates them, I think you’d be pretty justified in saying, “Sorry, that’s a pretty common word/phrase here!”

            Maybe now I’m the one reading too much into stuff. But I think exclusion is an important enough topic to not throw it out there over a totally innocuous phrase.

          2. LilySparrow*

            Why is being out of sync a bad thing? If a person or group has a harmless habit that annoys you, then you are out of sync with each other.
            Realizing that is a great way to proactively minimize the annoyance in your life.

          3. Ramona Flowers*

            Okay, wow. I don’t always manage to be kind on here but I try.

            I am sorry if I sounded like I was advocating cliquiness. I was actually just making an observation about the forming / norming / storming / performing you see in groups – including online ones. I have some professional experience of facilitating online communities and I don’t think there’s a single lasting community out there that doesn’t have some in-jokes, norms or common language.

            I’m not sure if you realise how abrupt your comment here might have seemed to me, and I don’t know what’s fuelling the strength of your reply, but I’m not really in a place where I have the emotional stamina for this. Please try to be kind to me too, even if you think I’m wrong.

            1. Lily Evans*

              I feel like it’s also not really cliquiness when anyone who uses the phrase is probably more than happy to explain what it means if someone asked. It’s not as if the in-jokes here are super secretive and only for those in-the-know.

          4. Ramona Flowers*

            Bear in mind also that this post appeared right after I used said irritating phase, so I kind of felt like it was aimed at me.

          5. SS Express*

            If you don’t like silly expressions that refer to shared norms and in-jokes, this is not the website for you. Ask Wakeen in the Spout Testing division if you don’t believe me.

            (As an infrequent commenter in the open threads, I appreciate terms like “place we don’t talk about on weekends”. It’s extremely easy to interpret from context, and a good reminder not to respond with “yeah I’ve had a rough week at work too, my boss made me donate a kidney and people won’t stop quacking…”)

      2. maybe it's just me...*

        Why would you assume it’s your post specifically? There are many of them used throughout the open threads.

        1. ASDFG*

          Ramona said “if”, not “that”. Why would you jump on her for apologising and explaining?

          Is everything OK? You seem really touchy in this thread, to an extent that the issue doesn’t seem to warrant. If something has upset you IRL, I’m sorry and I hope you feel better soon.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Because I just used it and I’m having a bad week so maybe I’m feeling kind of vulnerable.

    7. KL*

      It took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out the phrase meant work and was irritated people wouldn’t just say what the hell they were talking about.
      I probably need more sleep in general…

        1. Natalie*

          Look, I don’t really have a dog in this conversation – I don’t love the phrase but I also don’t think it’s creating a bad atmosphere – but in general lots of people won’t ask about something like that, especially in a writing-based interaction rather than in person.

          But also, I don’t think you have to worry about this, or feel defensive about using the phrase. It’s okay. :)

    8. Alinea*

      OMG SAME, haha. I was going to mention it as well. I only noticed it when I was reading the thread from last weekend and I thought…Voldemort? What’s happening? What are they talk- ooohhh…

      1. Courtney*

        See, Voldemort is the exact reason I like the phrase! It totally reminds me of Harry Potter, haha.

        1. Bibliovore*

          And as a person whose work/life balance is clinically unbalanced, (towards work) I love the phrase. It reminds me of Harry Potter and Voldemort in a way that just saying the word “work” gives it superstitious power over me. Anytime I read or write the phrase it makes me smile.

      1. bibliovore*

        Also…there are many AAM phrases that I enjoy and make me laugh or smile.

        Go get your dog

        Is it legal?

        Perhaps we need a glossary if phrases and terms with links to the original postings?

        I am thinking about Wakeen

        1. Observer*

          I agree on the glossary.

          While “the place we don’t name” and it’s variants is something that people might be able to figure out, “quack”, “Holy Hanuka balls” etc. are just things that people REALLY can’t be expected to understand. But trying to exclude that would be a shame.

        2. Laura H*


          I like the glossary idea.

          Also- yes jargon is a bit annoying and at times unweildy, but I always find it inexplicably fun to learn this new stuff.

          Now, I don’t rattle it off every chance I get- but it’s FUN to use these words in their right spheres.

    9. Nic*

      The first time I saw someone use it, I thought they were referring to a PERSONAL thing which may not be named, and was impressed that everyone who replied had been following along with this story of The Thing Which Shall Not Be Named for long enough to respond.

      And then I saw it used multiple times, with enough context, and felt silly.

      1. RestlessRenegade*

        I thought the same thing. I don’t mind the way it’s used (it also reminds me of Voldy), but it does feel less mysterious now that I know it just means “work.”

    10. Gavin X*

      I also find it irritating, thanks. As a infrequent commenter, I never felt I had the standing to say anything, though.

  24. Emily*

    Has anyone else watched the One Day At A Time reboot on Netflix? The first season has been out for a year, but I only found out about it a few weeks ago (and finished it this week)!

    It has so much heart! I love how members of the family come at issues from different perspectives and experiences, but still love and support each other. And I like how it doesn’t shy away from dealing with real issues (things like immigration/deportation, racism and sexism, sexuality, mental illness), but does so in a way that isn’t demoralizing or exhausting.

    I am not Cuban or Latinx, so I can’t speak from personal experience on how well they handled that in the show (the family is Cuban American), but my understanding from reading online reviews is that the portrayal feels authentic to many people.

    1. Don't Blame Me*

      I liked it and so did my 10 year old daughter – she binged it all before I could. Season two should be on January 26th. I’m excited!

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      I love this show SO very much! Justina Machado just lights up the screen, and it addresses so many important issues in a hilarious, lighthearted way. I cannot *wait* for the next season. I am so, so excited!!! YAYYY!!!

    3. NacSacJack*

      Yep, big fan here. Looking forward to Jan 26th. Portions of it were really awkward but that’s first season adjusting. What was hard was I saw the original and so for the first few episodes, I was like, this isn’t right, until I just decided it was a new show with a rebadged name and intro music. I love that Rita Moreno is on the show and dancing. Please let there be a West Side Story episode!!

    1. Merci Dee*

      So, naturally, I had to read the description on Amazon. Once I read it, naturally, I had to buy it. This kind of novel is right up my alley. Now I have something to read between loads of laundry this afternoon! Thanks for the recommendation! And congratulations to your friend on her novel, and on winning the Minotaur First Novel Award!! That’s something to be proud of, for sure!

  25. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I have $75 in Amazon gift cards that I was given for Christmas. What should I buy?

    Things I am considering: an instant pot (I’ve long been a slow cooker aficionado), a variable temperature tea kettle, or an Amazon Fire.

    1. Clever Name*

      I had a $50 Amazon gift card and bought the instant pot mini. So far I’ve made rice in it. It’s not as scary as normal pressure cookers.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I am one of those instant pot fanatical people. I love mine! I actually sold my slow cooker and I haven’t looked back. The IP does everything.

      1. BeautifulVoid*

        I gave my slow cooker to my BIL when I got my Instant Pot and never regretted it. I use the IP all. the. time. Not only do I do the usual stews and roasts and whatnot, but I also use it to steam seafood, make risotto that doesn’t require stirring, and I’ve even made cheesecake in it! It’s amazing, and I like the texture of the food a lot better than what came out of the slow cooker.

    3. Nye*

      Another vote for the Instant Pot! I was given one and kind of pooh-poohed it because I like to cook and I’m pretty good at it. I already have a proper stovetop pressure cooker. Why would I need some silly trendy kitchen gadget?

      Well, shut my mouth, because I finally tried it out and I *love* it. It doesn’t do everything, but it’s fantastic for soups, stews, curries, etc. They cook significantly faster than on the stovetop, which is nice for a weeknight. Plus, even when time’s not a factor, cooking under pressure can make a lot of things, particular tougher cuts of meat, beautifully tender. And you don’t have to babysit dinner like you would if it were bubbling away on the stove.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I love my Breville variable tea kettle. We actually bought it for our college student, but liked it so much we bought a second for home.

    5. Lady Alys*

      The instant pot really is the bomb (I am making some most excellent chili in mine right this very second) but I have to put in a plug for a variable-temp kettle, IF you happen to really really like coffee, and prefer to make it in a French press. I make glorious coffee for myself every morning using the kettle and my metal insulated press (water should be at 190F instead of 212F).

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I’m a big tea drinker and I would like to be able to make my greens and whites at the proper temp.

    6. All Hail Queen Sally*

      A friend of mine recently bought the instant pot and has been cooking up a storm. She can’t stop talking about it. My sister got the Amazon fire last year and spent so much time with it she had to give up doing housework for a few months.

    7. nonegiven*

      Whatever Amazon cards I get go on my account and don’t get touched for household needs. I use them when I want something for myself or to rent or buy digital things.

  26. fposte*

    So, nicknames–not in real life but online. How do people feel about their online handles getting shortened in conversation? It doesn’t happen much to mine since it is so short, but much as I adore Princess Consuela Banana Hammock that’s a whole lot to type out sometimes :-). And then with people like Ramona Flowers and Detective Amy Santiago, I can’t decide if it’s okay to go to first names alone like if that was their real names, or if it’s different since the the whole thing is their official online name same as any other name.

    (I’m hoping the answer is “I don’t care as long as it’s not disrespectfully done,” because man, the hand arthritis/RSIs can kick in some days this winter. But I’m willing to hear different.)

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I often wonder why people don’t just use ‘Amy’ if they are referring to something I’ve said, so… I guess that’s where I fall :)

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I prefer Ramona to RF because I sometimes search for that to find my own comments again in order to read replies and I don’t think to search for RF.

      I sort of imagine these actually are people’s names even though I know they’re not. Like, somewhere out there someone is answering their phone with “Hello, Snark speaking.”

      1. Snark*

        I want to give one of you my number for the sole purpose of giving me the opportunity to say this.

        1. TL -*

          Stephanie, in particular, sticks with me as looking like her icon! Which is odd, because I also tend to think of her as “super competent engineer.”
          …so in my mind there’s this really cute muppet kicking ass at engineering school in Philly, complete with excellent manners and high pitched, child-like voice.

          1. Stephanie*

            Hahaha, my voice is a solid alto, borderline contralto. And I’m in Pittsburgh. But thanks for the rest of the compliments.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Personally I’m in the “Just don’t call me late for dinner” camp! :D As long as people can figure it out, why should it matter? It’s not like speaking, where it’s pretty much just as easy to say a name of any length — there’s a reason LOLspeak is so popular! (Laziness, too, but typing also more time-consuming than speaking.)

      When referring to others, I usually use the full name once (sometimes I’ll copy and paste, if it’s long), and then I tend to prefer initials if I need to refer to it again in the same comment, or sometimes the same thread, although if they’ve commented or started that thread, that can kind of count as a mention. Initials feel less…open to personal preference, you know? If I say “Princess” or “Consuela”, those might sound out of place to some as the nickname depends on all four words, but PCBH is empirically a summation of the full name, is how it feels to me.

      So that’s my take on nicknames.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      I don’t mind. Foreign Octopus can be shortened to FO, Foreign, Octopus, and my personal favourite, Octy :)

    5. Laura H*

      My usual (nonprofessional) online handle has always been Weildy… so it’s usually shortened to TDH or the just the last word (ex. Honey, again as my nonprofessional/fandom handle- I don’t cross them uh publicly)

    6. kc89*

      Re-Princess Counsuela Banana Hammock-her friends call her Valerie.

      (that’s a friends reference just to be clear lol)

    7. Alpha Bravo*

      I’ve gone through several different handles here. First I was QualityControlFreak in reference to my job. Then I posted as Suddenly Free when life circumstances changed abruptly. It’s never bothered me when folks shortened my nickname. My current moniker is just my initials anyway. :)

    8. Red*

      I used to go by Andromeda, and it would be shortened to Andro or Andi all the time. Didn’t bother me a bit, I actually thought it was kinda nice – like a nickname your friends would give you. Now, I just go by Red and no one can shorten that, so that dilemma is solved.

      1. Alpha Bravo*

        Okay, come to think, there’s one instance I can remember when people shortening my name annoyed me. I do live role playing. I had a character named “Major Payne.” And everyone just referred to me by my rank.

    9. Merci Dee*

      I did a lot of chat for a number of years, though I’ve gotten out of it recently. The handle I chose for AAM was actually one of the nicknames people gave me from my long-time chat handle. So I’m already in nickname territory. Most other chatters just called me merci, but I know that could be a problem here, since someone else comments with the name MerciMe.

    10. Stormy*

      Not sure what platform you’re using, but in some apps you can create a customized dictionary that auto-corrects to whatever you choose. You can always add in the longer AAM names as your chosen abbrevations and have it correct to full form.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I try to use people’s full screen names here. In my chat room, we’re far too lazy to type out something like (example) LordOfTheRingsFan, so it just gets shortened to Lord, or LOTR, or Fan, etc. One person is just his initial! We joke that everybody has a nickname for their nickname, haha.

      Part of the reason for this is that the chat is real-time, and when we’re clowning around or in deep discussion, it can go very fast. You just don’t have time to be formal. When I first started hanging out there, my mediocre typing speed shot way up.

    12. TL -*

      You know, people always forget the dash when they mention me and it’s quite upsetting! :P
      Obviously, my name doesn’t get much shorter but people usually don’t include the dash (which is just there for searchability) and I don’t care. Though in real life I hate hate hate having my name shortened, online, I don’t care.

        1. TL -*

          It used to not be there, actually! But the search function changed a few years ago so “TL” brought up every instance of tl (so instantly would show up, for example), so I had to change with the times.

          (I always regret not being able to come up with a more creative name! I started commenting years ago, too, so every time someone new posts with a clever name, I’m like, ah, that could’ve been me!)

    13. Casca*

      Casca is a shortening of a previous screen name (Cascading Carrots) that I got sick of looking at :)

    14. This Daydreamer*

      My real name is one that doesn’t have a nickname (it’s actually used as a nickname) so having a nickname is a bot of a novelty for me. I’ve been called Dreamer before and I like that. TDD works, too. Or whatever you like.

    15. Nic*

      Here there’s not a lot shorter you can get for my name, but in a lot of other places I have longer names and usually see them shortened to the first syllable.

      Once upon a time in a video game I was using Vercingétorix, which is a historical figure. Most people called me Verc, but I ran across one random person who called me Rix and made my day. That was the historical figure’s actual shortened version.

      I don’t have a preference so long as I can tell it’s intended for me.

    16. Pathfinder Ryder*

      I will answer to both Pathfinder and Ryder :)

      My username elsewhere has only been shortened on one of my Discord servers, which tripped me up for a bit partially because one of the letters wasn’t actually part of that syllable, and partially because it got shortened to a Teletubby’s name.

    17. Plague of frogs*

      fposte, I’ve been wondering whether your name is from Cold Comfort Farm? Because if so, that is awesome. (Of course, you’re already awesome because of This Is Not My Hat, but Cold Comfort Farm would be the awesome frosting on the awesome cake).

    18. purple orchid pot*

      it’s fascinating to me that people *want* to be recognizable in this commenting community over time, while retaining anonymity…if someone you know personally were to figure out who you were, then they could go back and find all your posts if they wanted. now i know this does make me sound paranoid, but to avoid such a possibility i’ve rotated through a variety of handles and only once accidentally used two in the same post.

      time for a new one now, too, i think!

  27. Candi*

    Book recommendation: The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity.

    A collection of short stories that I find hilarious. Workplace stories are included. :P

    Answers to such burning questions as why do faeries like plastic, and what happens if, in the modern world, you take a leprechaun’s gold instead of the three wishes.

  28. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Wedding is less than 4 months away!!! Eeep lol.

    1. I spent this past week contacting 17 hair/makeup people, and finally booked 1 who was actually/luckily free that day. (Budget-friendly, plus my hands shake when I’m jittery).

    2. A little misbehaving grand-nephew of mom said “shut up” to her and my aunt repeatedly while they babysat him (was told via text), and they thought it wasn’t their place to discipline him. Our ethnic culture has a history of misogyny and poor treatment of women…partly because boys are subconsciously favored over girls. ugh, #canteven. I knew 4 boys whose dad used to do bad things to their mom in that culture, and she was lauded for her long marriage with him, instead of being told to divorce and pursue safety and happiness..

    3. Nmom wants to meet me and fiance for dinner this Monday.
    Pro’s: make things less awkward for the wedding (e.g., the first time they’ve spoken/seen us in 1+ years will not be at a wedding)
    Con’s: mom asking obnoxiously purposefully stressful questions like where we’re going to live and whether we’ve bought a house yet, and implying we’re poor idiots if we haven’t (mind you, we can only handle one life change at a time, and we already have ok savings twd a house).

    4. My brain hurts. How did you relax during planning, of any kind? (My lifesavers have been netflixing Kimmy Schmidt/tv show, reading magazines, and short feel-good inspirational books, and stocking up on frozen veggies and fruits b/c I’m too tired to think about cooking).

    Thoughts? X/

    1. Loopy*

      I’m in the early stages of wedding planning and the Great British Baking show has been my respite. But more because I won’t let myself touch my phone or laptop while I watch so it’s *actually* a break. The show itself is great too.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      First off, it sounds like you’ve been making great progress drawing and enforcing boundaries with mom, so yay you! Second, don’t let any trouble from her make you feel like you “failed” in your attempt to manage your relationship, as her upbringing has probably trained you to do. You are experimenting with allowing some contact, and that will inevitably be painful to some degree at some point, at which point you evaluate whether you want to pull back or keep risking it.

      With that in mind, the first thing I thought with #3 was to KEEP THE EMERGENCY EXIT LANES CLEAR. :D No, seriously, have an escape route (for her or you) from both the dinner AND the wedding. We had advised our wedding party of which family members to keep an eye on, and how to handle them.

      And I hope you can tune out your mom, because the most effective way to deal with the critical, demeaning “advice” might be to just ask her for her advice, then tune her out. At least, that’s my experience with family members who sound extremely similar. But you also might need to be ready to give one boundary-declaring ultimatum and then leave if she doesn’t respect it. Depends both on her, and what kind of relationship you want to have with her.

      Good luck with everything!

    3. MilkMoon (UK)*

      Mine too! I’ve got my hair & makeup trial this week… I’m really scared they’re going to give me terrifying eyebrows :(

      As for stress, today I unfollowed all the bridal Instagram accounts I was following, and I’m going to stop searching things on Pinterest. They were making me feel ‘lacking’ and had me questioning my decisions.

      Good luck with your mother!

      1. only acting normal*

        Ah yes the terrifying eyebrows! What is that all about?? :D
        I guess that’s the benefit of the trial run: you get to veto the weirder fashions.

        I had a mini wedding (less than 10 people), so I did my own make-up. I wore more products than I have before or since (things like finishing powder, in addition a full face: eyes, brows, lips, cheeks). Photos came out nice though. :)
        Not long after I saw a TV show compare a “minimal” makeup look to a full makeup look – the minimal look had more than I wore on my wedding!

    4. Relly*

      Here’s the best thing I can tell you, from my wedding experience of long-ago.

      One person, trying to be helpful, told me not to worry about anything, because the day was just going to go by in one big blur anyway. I decided that sounded terrible, and that I was absolutely not going to be so stressed that I missed out on the biggest day of my life.

      Another person gave me amazing advice: any time something goes wrong, you need to take a deep breath and remind yourself: today, I am marrying my best friend. Everything else is details.

      The flowers didn’t come? Have the wedding without flowers.

      Hair stylist caught the plague? Brush it and clip it out of your face.

      Church burns down? Carpool to the reception and get married there.

      At the end of the day, you will still be married to your best friend, no matter how many bridesmaids forgot to order matching shoes, how many guests pick drunken fights, how many new in-laws threaten to walk out over religious differences. Everything else just makes a good story later.

      Trust me. Someone’s hair actually caught on fire during my bridal shower. (She’s okay! We put it out quickly!) Just makes a hilarious story later on. (“My bridal shower was largely uneventful, except for the fire …”)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My friend officiates weddings. She tells each couple, at least three things WILL go wrong. And in the end you will still be a married couple. One bride tripped on her way down the aisle. She got up to my friend and said, “That’s ONE.”

      2. Observer*

        Church burns down? Carpool to the reception and get married there.

        Well, here’s an advantage for Orthodox Jews I hadn’t thought of. The custom for most Orthodox communities is to actually have the ceremony outside (when it’s done indoors, there is generally a skylight over the place where the actual ceremony is, so that it can still be under the sky not a roof.) So you can get married no matter WHAT burns down. :)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I’d skip dinner. I can’t see where mom has earned your company yet.
      OR you could say yes, but warn her you will leave if she asks any questions at all. Then actually leave.

      You might like a homeopathic remedy for calming. You can check the health food store for some.
      Or you might like a drink with electrolytes in it. I lean toward this one because stress does pull vitamins and minerals out of our bodies (and in turn our minds). If I have been following correctly, it seems that you do eat pretty healthy so that is a bonus. Just good diet will give you a leg up on reducing stress.

    6. Sled dog mama*

      Coming up on ten year anniversary in two months so it feels like the world was hugely different when I got married. The advice I was given was two fold, have topic free time and learn to “bean dip”.
      First set aside time between you and your fiance that is wedding ( or whatever is stressing you out that week) talk free. Hubby and I lived a two hour drive apart while we were planning and would talk every night, Thursday nights we had a no wedding talk rule this kept me sane and made me realize that the world would not fall apart if I didn’t tell him about
      the problem with my dress fitting immediately.
      The second really applies to relatives, if saying up front that you are a little stressed by x right now and would really like to enjoy seeing them doesn’t keep them off the subject change the topic relentlessly.
      “Have you bought a house yet?”
      “No. Please pass the bean dip.”
      “You need to buy a house”
      “Isn’t this bean dip yummy”
      “You’re not really adults until you own a house.”
      “Do you have the recipe for this bean dip?”

    7. WillyNilly*

      I was in event planning for years, my best advice is: your guests don’t know what you planned. You ordered daisies and got dalhias?
      Ultimately, who cares? Your guests just see beautiful flowers, they have no idea the order is totally messed up. You asked for half up with a braided crown hair, you got a perfect French twist – you still look gorgeous, don’t stress.
      Ultimately its just a party; the marriage is what counts the wedding is just icing… and even ugly cakes taste like cake so never stress over the icing.

      1. bibliovore*

        Probably not helpful but I disinvited my nmom and had a mostly stress free wedding. It was the only event in my or my siblings lives that had no “mom” stories.

      2. SS Express*

        My decorator was useless and despite multiple explanations WITH PICTURES, she just couldn’t get her head around the floral centrepieces I wanted (a fairly simple choice that was also a really big trend at the time). She ended up giving me literally the exact flowers I had explicitly said I didn’t want!

        I still got married, everyone still had an awesome time, and everyone still thought the venue was gorgeous (it was). They had no idea what flowers I’d asked for so nobody knew that these were wrong.

    8. Overeducated*

      Good luck! I found the thing that made wedding planning less stressful for me was just keeping in mind that most of the stuff that takes planning is really just party planning (the entire reception, decor, etc.). The ceremony part was not, obviously, but telling myself “it’s just a big party” helped me not take most of it too seriously. Most of it is just fun details.

      The really tough and stressful parts, as you know, relate to family, their expectations, and their impositions…as you also know, the best thing you can do for yourself there is carve out space and time away, which you are. I hope you are able to crack the door open to your mom and close it again quickly as needed, and I hope the rest of your circle of loved ones is more positive and supportive.

    9. Observer*

      If you decide to meet with your mother, meet at a restaurant where you can walk out if you need to – separate checks ONLY.

      Also, set some hard limits in advance with yourselves. These questions we will answer, those we will NOT. This will cause us to provide ONE warning, second occurrence we walk out. That will cause us to walk out without warning.

      This will lower the stress level, and keep things from getting to crazy for you. And it will be good practice for you. Last, but not least, it will let your mother know that just because you’ve resumed SOME contact, it doesn’t mean you are going to allow her to start steamrolling you again.

    10. Anono-me*

      1. Keep telling yourself. “We are getting married and having a party to celebrate. The party is the fun part and the marriage is the important part.”
      2. I was really glad we hired a videographer. There was so much going on and I felt less presured to be everywhere, knowing that latter on spouse and I could cuddle up and watch it and see what we missed.
      3. Ask for help. Organized friends are a blessing.
      4. It is okay to find this stressful. You are planning a major event and going to be one of the central figures in the event. Plus you are making a Major Life Change. Plus you have family adding to both your stress in general and to you wedding stress.
      5. You don’t have to invite you nmom. You can. It may make things easier with other relatives. BUT YOU DO NOT HAVE TO INVITE HER or anyone else (including the parents of grandnephew)!

      1. I think if you choose to meet with nmom (and remember it is your choice) that keeping the exit lanes clear is a good idea. I suggest picking somewhere that you pay for the food before you sit down, like Panera or Chipotle. That way you can just walk away if you decide it is best.

      2. Know what your boundaries are and be ready to walk away if nmom oversteps. But also realize that you can leave earlier if you want.

      1. Anono-me*

        Actually, I was wrong. You do need to invite you fiancee, an officiant and the legally required number of witnesses.

  29. Natalie*

    I don’t normally recommend pocasts but if you are a US history nerd and/or social justice person, I’ve been listening to Uncivil recently and it’s fantastic. I avoided it for a while because I thought it was going to be either Civil War Myths 101 or a simple chronological retelling, and both of those are rather boring/repetitive to me. But it is neither of those things! They go in depth on different events or aspects of the war, for example a PA shopkeeper who ended up inadvertently counterfeiting Confederate money and then deliberately did so and got rich. The reality of the past mythmaking and necessity of present day mythbusting is woven throughout all of the episodes rather than being a coda or just ignored. And it’s funny and well produced IMO.

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      Thanks, Natalie! Folks have recommended it to me too — I’ll listen following your recommendation :)

    2. Dinosaur*

      I LOVE Uncivil! I’m not super knowledgeable about the Civil War and am not aware of a lot of the myths so it’s been a great crash-course and made me understand a lot of things.

  30. Foreign Octopus*

    Update on my cat:

    After extensive testing, an overnight stay at the vet that resulted in shaved legs and a shaved neck, and €400 later, all that my cat needed was to have her teeth thoroughly cleaned.

    She doesn’t have leukemia, or feline AIDs, or any of the other terrifying words the vet was throwing at me (it really seemed that he kept repeating the word leukemia on a cycle). I thought that she was going to be riddled with problems but, nope! Just her teeth needed a damn good cleaning and that, in theory, should clear up her skin, eyes, nose, mouth, and fur problems, which is such a huge relief.

    Thanks to everyone who commented over the last few weeks about my cat and helped me to stay calm, particularly Ramona Flowers. I really appreciate it.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Aw, really glad to have been of any help and so pleased to hear this latest update. What a relief. Though the whole thing sounds a bit like the emotional equivalent of being hit by a bus. Big hugs to you and your kitty!

    2. All Hail Queen Sally*

      So glad to hear she is doing better!! My old man (as I call him–he is 12 years old) recently had his teeth cleaned to a tune of over $1,000. He had to have a vet visit with lab work first, then ended up having some extractions which prolonged his time under anesthesia, etc. He had lost a lot of weight and it turned out he had a couple cavities that were probably bothering him.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      Thanks for your replies everyone!

      Bones is currently curled up between my legs under the blanket (she’s a strange one) whilst I watch Star Trek so it’s a happy flat this Sunday :)

  31. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Ad update: As some of you know, this site has been hit by a wave of bad ads recently (so has the whole online advertising industry, but it was especially bad here). My ad network has worked some kind of magic that has significantly helped the problem (nearly eliminated it, I think, although not 100%). If you are still getting redirects, please try clearing your cache; you may have some old ad code still cached, and that should help.

    1. Red*

      Thanks for posting this! I was wondering why I was having a terrible time of things on my cell phone, but no trouble elsewhere, and clearing my cache cleared away the problem!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Thank you!
      I noticed that my blocked ad counter was showing a lot less blocked ads. I was wondering if you found something.
      It was not long ago, I almost had to give up because of the deluge of ads. It was ridiculous. I now hit websites that say I have to whitelist them in order to read them and how dare I take their revenue. Uh, I can’t view many sites unless the ad blocker is on, there are just too many ads, I can’t navigate through the site. With the counter I can now see that it is hundreds of ads per hour. In a three hour period, it is nothing for the counter to show over 1,000 blocked ads.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Thank you. Whatever you did worked. The horrible redirects then trapped until I rebooted stopped.

      2. msroboto*

        In most cases if a website wants or requires me to whitelist it. I use the google personal blocklist browser add-in. That domain will NEVER show up in my search results again.
        You know if they don’t want me to visit their site I won’t.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Oh my goodness, the local newspaper ones drive me mad. They all accuse me of not wanting to support my local paper and local businesses. I have a good reason for using an adblocker thank you very much.

    3. Nines*

      Thanks so much for this note! I was having so much trouble with those ads lately and had no idea why!

  32. Elizabeth H.*

    This is a random discussion topic I’ve been thinking about since the other day, but something I think about a lot. I’m curious how people’s attitudes about semi-private or public nudity vary. I’d love to hear anyone’s experiences especially from people in different countries. I find this interesting because it has implications about body image, culture (e.g. places with sauna or public bath culture where it’s common to be naked in these semi public spaces), family origin (like if you come from a family where it’s common to walk around in underwear or if everyone is fully dressed constantly) and just personality difference. I have been following some strippers/stripper advocates on Instagram lately and inspired by some of these women’s perspectives, I’ve been thinking a lot about what displaying one’s body (in various contexts) can mean as a feminist act and a personal choice. I’m from the US and I feel like we have relatively high standards against public nudity – even in places like locker rooms, people often prefer private changing stalls. For whatever reason, even though I have a fairly reserved personality I’ve always been quite comfortable with settings like hot tubbing with friends, changing in front of others and so forth and I wonder if I’m an outlier or if this kind of thing varies more independently as a personality trait due to above factors. Would welcome anyone else’s reflections!

    1. fposte*

      For me comfort with nudity feels like a political choice in relevant moments. Admittedly it doesn’t apply to all that many situations, but it sure is useful in the doctor’s office when somebody opens the wrong door. Go away or I will stand up and walk toward you and if necessary go into the hallway and reprove you there. That’s a different thing from being naturist-type more comfortable nude all around, but it means that I’m not necessarily made *uncomfortable* by being nude, and I’m fine with situations where it’s the way to go.

      I also think going to an all-female sleepaway camp for years was the best thing for my body acceptance ever. I saw a bunch of different female bodies of different ages and shapes, and I think it spared me a lot of locker-room anxiety through the years. Like most things, the more often you’re exposed, the less of a deal it is, so, as you note, the privacy tendencies in the US makes it a bigger deal.

    2. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Also US. And I know I’m a bit of a prude. I try not to inflict my views on others.

      In private, you do you, just respect anyone else around. I personally sleep unclothed and will be walking around that way at night sometimes. I stay away from windows though.

      In public, I much prefer if people wear wearing sufficient clothing to cover most of the torso. I don’t care about arms/legs. If you’re somewhere like a nude beach, that’s fine. But in general, I don’t want to see other people naked. (regardless of gender) Young children are another category of course, they’ll just decide to remove their clothing and I get it. I have returned various articles of clothing to parent’s of young children!

    3. Jen RO*

      Background: Eastern Europe, never been in the US, lifelong diet of American pop culture.

      I think we are pretty prudish despite what Americans seem to think about Europe… but maybe in different ways. (Or maybe it’s just me!)

      For example, the idea of a communal shower like I see in US highschool movies is just…. nonono. People are not going to see me najed. Locker room nudity is not really a thing either (‘worst’ I’ve seen was changing a bra without turning your back). However, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at women going topless at the beach. Nudist beaches are not extremely common, but I haven’t seen a lot of outrage (they are considered a hippie thing, just don’t go there if you’re not into it etc).

      1. Uncivil Engineer*

        That communal shower thing you see in US high school movies… it isn’t common. It may still exist in some places but I don’t know anyone who went to a school where this was done.

        1. fposte*

          Me! But that was back in an earlier time. I also found university facilities in athletic facilities vary from the shower room to the cubicle approach.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          We had those, but we weren’t required to shower after gym. I had last hr gym, so nbd. What did boggle my mind though, is that they put in communal showers at a new community center built in my hometown just a few years ago. I haven’t been in a gym/health club with these since the Y 20 yrs ago. I probably wouldn’t have gone there anyway, but as someone who showers at the gym before work, I didn’t even bother to check it out.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          We had the communal shower and also three or four stalls in high school gym. People would wait in line for the stalls and then be late to class.

          At summer camp, communal shower–there was nothing else. You got used to it pretty fast. Same with the latrines–behind the barrier, all the toilet holes were in one big line with nothing in between. You had a pee, or a poo, or changed period things right in front of everybody. This was no big deal when you did it with people you knew, but I’d rather have some privacy in a public restroom.

          1. TL -*

            oh my lord! So I’m fine with communal showers – they’re a bit awkward at first but then I always end up not caring after the first five minutes.

            BUT COMMUNAL TOILET TIME?! That is an abomination unto Om. My bathroom time is my sacred alone time, people!

        4. Nacho*

          Yeah, I know I sure as hell didn’t do it when I was in school. Then again, I didn’t do sports, so maybe if I did? I certainly wouldn’t want to finish up football practice then wait to shower until I got home.

        5. NacSacJack*

          I found it weird when I went back to visit my university that they had switched to cubicles. It was only a year or so after, and I visited because they made my former floor co-ed which I wanted to see how they did it (very nicely).

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        We had communal showers at my high school (brand new in the 90s) and my junior highs (lord knows how old they were). Unsurprisingly, NO ONE used them.

        University and lap swim pools tend to also have communal showers; despite my issue with public nudity (see my note), now that I think of it, I can be moderately ok with swim pool locker nudity, although I do tend to do the towel switch with putting on shirt and undies.

      3. Sherm*

        I think communal showers are on their way out in the US. Probably a lot of high schools still have them — they might not have the budget to revamp their old locker rooms — but I doubt a new gym for adults would build communal showers, as they would get a lot of “WTFs” from potential customers. It sure seems to me that there is more locker room modesty than in older days, maybe because people are used to having more privacy (e.g., not sharing a bedroom with your two siblings).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          The ice rink here, built in 2001, has them. I guess most of the hockey players didn’t mind taking showers with their teammates. I never took one there–no matter how much I reeked after an ice show, I waited until I got home!

          1. TL -*

            I know an ice hockey player who played very, very seriously – was being scouted by NHL teams/on the draft before an injury ended his career – and let’s just say nudity was not an issue any of his teams seemed to be concerned about.

      4. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Yeah, we had shower facilities in my high school, but no one ever used them. Or at least none of the girls did–I sometimes saw guys with wet hair after gym class. But they might have just been getting their hair wet (with clothes on or maybe just with shirt off, which generally isn’t a big deal for guys) versus full-on showering.

    4. Turtlewings*

      I’m from a religion that emphasizes modesty, and I’m also overweight, so I really don’t like displaying or drawing too much attention to my body. I actually had a conversation on this topic with my best friend not long ago; she’s a gleeful borderline nudist when she’s in her own home, and grew up with her mother being the same way, just walking around nekkid whenever the fancy struck. Meanwhile I have literally never seen my mother without a full set of clothes on. Even my father lounges around in an undershirt, never topless. Me and my sisters are much more casual — we’ll get dressed, get out of the shower, breast feed, whatever — around each other with no problem. But even with my close female friends I don’t feel that level of comfort, only with my sisters.

      Even though I do believe in modesty, I also feel like our culture would be healthier if bodies weren’t quite so taboo. In other cultures, kids grow up seeing what the human body looks like in real life, not just in pornos, and I think that has a lot of advantages.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Nursing is such an interesting and difficult thing in some senses because all of a sudden you really need to figure out a way to get it done in whatever location you’re in. I could never for the life of me figure out those nursing covers! I ended up just saying “f it” and nursing whenever I needed to and being like “oh well I guess that person is going to see part of my breast.” It was embarrassing, nerve wracking but also liberating at the same time. Not that I go around showing people my breasts now that I’m not nursing! I mention it just because it was such an unusual thing that become normalized for me, but was also weird and awkward at the same time with doing it in public. I think the whole experience says a lot about our collective comfort with public nudity.

        I will say that I was always expecting someone to come up randomly and tell me to cover up but every person I ever had to nurse in front of, including total strangers who were older men on airplanes, was cool and supportive.

        1. Turtlewings*

          My younger sister is the one breastfeeding, and she started out very shy about it, and now (with baby #2) she just whips it out wherever! She very much does not want males or strangers to see her breasts, but she either uses a cover or just arranges her shirt to hide it (she’s gotten very good at that). She actually had someone come up to her several days ago and thank her for nursing in public and helping to normalize it!

        2. LilySparrow*

          It depends how you’re built, of course, but I quickly discovered that a loose or stretchy shirt + a cardigan or light jacket gave me as much coverage as a blanket with no “signalling.” I didn’t particularly care if anyone got a flash of boob. I was more embarrassed by anyone seeing my jiggly belly or back fat. But mostly it was about avoiding nosy people.

          There’s people seeing you (don’t care), and then there’s people *staring* or God forbid commenting (no thank you.)

          And sometimes they do. I preferred the privacy of flying under the radar. Taking care of my kid is job enough, I don’t have energy to educate all the cretins on the world.

          1. nonegiven*

            My sister and I have each been asked by a worker in a public place, clothing store, fast food place, if we were nursing the baby. Both young women who asked just seemed curious. The reason they had to ask was neither one could actually tell, for sure.

            1. LilySparrow*

              Sometimes the people who commented were being positive. But it was still intrusive.
              Like, dude. It’s nice that your wife breastfed all y’all’s kids until they were four, but I don’t know you, and I don’t want you sitting that close to me, and I don’t want to hear a half-hour lecture about how I’m incarnating the goddess energy that will save the planet. Go away.

    5. Uncivil Engineer*

      I was recently in a country with a public bath culture that required you to shower naked (in a locker room with people of the same gender) before entering the baths. It was not a comfortable feeling for me. After a few visits, I realized having strangers see me naked wasn’t the worst thing in the world but I didn’t want my friends to see me naked. They apparently had the same thought because, without discussing it, we would all break off in different directions to shower and then meet up in the baths once our bathing suits were on.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      American here, but living overseas with Swedish partner. I’ve always been shy about changing in front of others and I was on the swim team/triathlon team for YEARS. I only do it if i have to, and even today at the gym (in the UK) I grab my stuff and head for a private cubicle. At least they have one or two here!

      However, I appear to not be in the norm when in Sweden. When I have gone to swim at the local town pool in there are no facilities for private changing and you are expected to sauna without a suit on (and there are signs indicating that it is strictly forbidden to do so). I try to take a “when in Rome” approach but I still find it hard to overcome feeling uncomfortable when, lets face it, no one cares and they are all extremely comfortable. Also, if you go to a private sauna with friends you are expected to be in the nude, although they tend to be segregated. I’m not sure I could handle sitting around lady friends in Sweden like that even though lord knows they don’t care. Germany we had an interesting experience in a hotel sauna where everyone was nude too and I just couldn’t do it, so I sat there feeling really conspicuous in my suit!

      I had a large chest area for many years before reduction and I wonder if that didn’t play in to some of my less than acceptance of body image, also developed before other girls. But as noted above, I played a lot of sports, and plenty of sports where people weren’t exactly fully clothed. There was never any shame or weirdness made of the human body in my house (my dad is an artist so inevitably there was art of the human form around), so I am not sure otherwise why I am so shy about things other than the aforementioned situation.

    7. Enough*

      I don’t flaunt, but am not going to run screaming if someone sees me. Much prefer to wear clothes for multiple reasons, just wish bras didn’t get so wet. Girl in my college dorm used a towel that practically hit the floor when wrapped around her and would only remove it after she put on her robe. That was a bit much, always wondered about how she got dressed with a roommate. Prefer people to be clothed because I find most people are much more attractive that way.

    8. Dr. KMnO4*

      What really determines how I feel about being nude in front of others is how I’m currently feeling about my body. I definitely am more accepting of nudity (both mine and other people’s) since I went to a nudist campground with one of my ex-boyfriends. I was very hesitant at first but when I saw how nonsexual it was it was very liberating. The few times I went there were probably the times I felt the most comfortable with my body. There was a general feeling of acceptance, that no one was being judged for their scars or hair or weight or anything else. I kind of miss that place.

    9. neverjaunty*

      I’m pretty chill about people being nude, but I’m always a little side-eye at public “nudity is a political act!!!” stuff related to sex work – not because sex work is bad, but because it always seems to center around heteronormativity and “sexy” women’s bodies.

      1. Triple Anon*

        There is also a side to it that involves forcing one’s own politics on other people. For example, reacting to a naked woman by saying, “What a radical feminist act!” without knowing her or what her views are. People do things for different reasons and the same action can fit with different views on things.

        And there’s the privilege side to it. Not all strippers are motivated by their political views. Some are just paying the bills. If you choose that career path because of your views despite having plenty of other options, I think it’s important to acknowledge that, and acknowledge that it is a financial decision for a lot of people.

    10. Lissa*

      I personally prefer covering up, but I don’t care what other people do at all. I can’t really explain it – I’m completely fine with taking off my shirt to change it in front of friends as long as *they* aren’t weird about it, but sometimes in public I want to be fully covered – I have wished it was more acceptable to cover the hair for non-religious reasons in my area. This dichotomy of my reactions is pretty confusing to me. :) and it seems to be related to my mood as there are times when I’m OK with shorts/tshirt and other times really no. My favourite “looks” are very covered even if not especially what one would think of as modest, so leggings with a short skirt, and a blazer over a shell of some kind..often still fairly tight, but not showing a lot of skin.

      But I have no issue at all with other people wearing very small/no clothes, etc.

    11. nep*

      Some context (?) — I absolutely hate being naked, period. Even alone. I’d never go nude or semi-nude even in places it might be seen as acceptable such as a women’s locker room.
      That said — in a women’s locker room, I’m completely fine with women who are OK to walk around naked. In public, though (apart from at a beach or a pool where it’s normal to bare a lot), I don’t like to see a lot of skin.

      1. nep*

        (This reminds me — Once at a beach in Senegal, I was walking along with a male friend and a woman walked by us with just her bikini bottoms on. It struck me as a lovely departure from the sexualisation of body parts.)

    12. Candy*

      Background: from the Pacific Northwest + lived in Europe and the Middle East.

      I’m pretty comfortable with public nudity when it’s expected (locker rooms, nude beaches, at home) but I don’t like seeing it unexpectedly (men exposing themselves on the street, etc)

      My gym here, for example, only has a couple privacy stalls in the locker rooms, everyone just showers and changes communally and it’s totally normal. There’s a scene in Take This Waltz that depicts it well where the two main characters are showering and talking together at the same time. Some women even stand in front of the mirrors and do their hair naked, which is a bit exhibitionist, but all in all not terribly remarkable. Being naked daily with women of all ages and sizes and shapes goes a long way towards making me comfortable with my own body, I think. If the only naked women you see are the ones in porn or on tv, you don’t necessarily realize just how much variety there is out there! And how it’s all beautiful in its own way.

      I also live in a city with a nude beach and in our twenties we’d go there as a group of friends and it wasn’t a big deal. (Now that we’re all in our 30s we don’t go anymore but I haven’t, like, done a survey to see if that’s because we’re more modest now or if we just no longer have time to sit around drinking on the beach all day!)

      My husband and I also have no qualms about being naked at home — not all day long, but walking from the shower to the closet, etc. obviously happens daily. When we’re at home in the Middle East and it’s 40°C though? We’re pretty much naked and sweaty 24/7 if we don’t have guests over!

    13. the gold digger*

      I don’t care if someone sees me naked as long as it is my choice. I have been to nude beaches. I changed clothes in front of my college roommates. I change in the locker room at work without going into the shower stall.

      My parents were pretty casual. I saw my mom naked when I was a kid and didn’t think twice that that might be unusual.

      However – I felt really uncomfortable when my husband first took me to meet his parents and his dad told me that Primo and I were welcome to shower together in the master bath, where he and Primo’s mother showered together all the time. Hello, boundaries!

      PS Primo and I did not shower together, either in his parents’ bathroom or in the guest bath.

      PPS I have never seen the romance in showering together. I want the warm water to myself.

      1. copy run start*

        Your story reminds me of a big debate back when I was in HS: sex in the shower vs. hot tub? As I recall most people preferred the shower.

        It also reminds me of the time I first met the parents with a boyfriend and he wanted to get busy in his bedroom, which was RIGHT below his parent’s bedroom. I could hear his dad snoring, for crying out loud. That bedroom was were amorous feelings went to die.

        1. nonegiven*

          We did it in the tub, bath, not hot, since we got married, at least once or twice a year, up until I threw my back out, too.

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        I HATE showering by myself because I get SO BORED in the shower. I can’t explain it. I spent a long period of my life with crazy long hair that took forever to wash and that might have instilled some kind of “shower=boring” deep in my core. I have a shower radio but I get frustrated if there isn’t something really good on NPR and try to time my showers for good program times.

    14. Agnodike*

      I’m North American but grew up in a household where casual nudity was very common. I also spent a good chunk of my 20s doing a lot of queer/sex-positive activism, and learned that I am very comfortable with public nudity and very uncomfortable with public sex! I’m a pretty casual nude person myself – I strip down in the main locker room area, get dressed/ready to go out in front of friends, happily share saunas/hot tubs or swim nude with others, etc. It’s just not a big deal to me. But someone being uncomfortable with nudity wouldn’t register as “prudish” for me, any more than someone who was embarrassed to pee in front of others would. Some people like a lot of personal space; some people like less.

      1. Laura*

        The US is *very* prudish about nudity IME, with the Germans being the opposite! I’ve been to many Mediterranean nudist beaches, and there it’s very relaxed with no judgement about prudishness. Ie, people can keep their swimsuits on if they want, women can go topless but not bottomless, etc. Though as a woman, going with gay friends to the gay section is much nicer as men are not going to bother you… I’m a straight woman and I’ve seen almost all my girlfriends naked at one point or another, mostly changing in swimming pools or spas. Could not care less.

    15. copy run start*

      I live in the US. I saw my mom nude as a child and showered with her when I was younger, but never my father. They didn’t walk around the house unclothed at all, and neither did I. At worst it’d be a crappy pair of shorts and a spaghetti strap, or my dad would be shirtless. In my own home, I typically wear at least underwear (it’s so hot in the summer) but am frequently topless. I leave the curtains open during the day, but it would be very hard to spy on me from the window where I live.

      I have no issue with nudity, personally, though I respect that most people don’t want to see me naked. (I see a naked woman every time I get in the shower, you know?) I think we tend to assume here that exposed genitalia always has a sexual context, or will trigger “impure” thoughts in the opposite sex that they won’t be able to control*, and we react accordingly by covering up and losing our minds when others don’t. I think showing more nude humans doing non-sexual activities of all ages, genders, body types and races would do our society a world of good.

      *As in, men who “can’t resist” someone of their sexual preference, and women who strive to “be irresistible” to their lovers through scent, sight and behavior.

    16. LilySparrow*

      You know, I was talking to my DH today about some friends who are doing some extreme oversharing on social media, and it went in a direction I think relates to this idea.

      I was born in the 70’s, so I’ve fully adopted digital/social media culture, but I was an adult in the analog world, too.

      One thing that seems like a real shift to me, is that so many people can’t seem to separate privacy from shame. It’s as if there are only two options – public nudity (for example) or prudery and body shame.

      But if that’s someone’s reality, then how do they define intimacy?

      Nudity for me, like emotions or personal information, is relational and contextual. I don’t mind my husband or kids seeing me. I’m fine changing in a locker room, though I usually use a towel when walking around. But out in public, in an open evironment? I don’t know those people. And I don’t want to see other people either.

      It’s not about shame. I don’t want strangers on the bus telling me about their health diagnosis or their divorce. I don’t want the grocery cashier asking about my retirement account or telling me they had complicated grief when their abusive mother died. And I don’t want to see strangers with their clothes off.

      TMI, dude.

    17. SparklyLady*

      I’m a burlesque performer and figure art model (US), so I’m very comfortable with nudity. However, I’m also very situational about it. I don’t like to be inappropriately naked. So I tend to change under towels or clothing in the locker room. I’ve spent time in countries with a public communal bath tradition, and after I got used to it, I found it lovely and comfortable. But it feels very different to me to be naked when everyone is comfortable with it than to be naked when some people are clearly uncomfortable with it.

    18. TL -*

      I am not particularly modest – I tend to be hesitant only if I’m not sure it’s socially acceptable to be naked in an area and even then I’m usually not hesitant unless everything is coming off. But even then, I get really, really angry at society in general if I get hesitant about de-robing.
      Last night, I actually had a dream about showing up to work pantsless and even in my dream I just said, “Oops. I must have forgotten my pants. I should probably go put some on.” and it wasn’t a big deal.

      I also don’t close my windows and don’t worry about being naked in my own space. (I’m not eye to eye with another window but you could probably see in from some angles if you really wanted to. Whatever.) That being said, I don’t find being naked particularly comfortable (I am well-endowed and need support) so I can’t see myself joining a nudist colony!

    19. Jules the First*

      I came from a family that was chilled but not exhibitionist – you went from bedroom to shower nude, we didn’t close the bathroom door (mostly because there were five of us and only one bathroom, so the odds were good that someone else needed to be in there too) – and I’m pretty relaxed about it. I danced as a child, and so got used to changing in front of complete strangers.

      I did go through a period where I was very ashamed of my body for a number of health-related reasons, and my therapist put a lot of emphasis on nudity as a way of learning to reconnect with my body. (In a healthy way!)

      Unfortunately that means I’m now the one making people uncomfortable in pool locker rooms by stripping off in the middle of the room and doing my thing. I figure if everyone is naked, no one is looking so you might as well be clothed. I also think it’s healthy for young girls to regularly see women of all shapes and sizes being comfortable in themselves. And really, if you’d wear a bikini on the beach, is there really that much different to being nude in a ladies-only locker room?

    20. Triple Anon*

      I’m comfortable with nudity. I chose to get comfortable with it. Being critical of people’s bodies, being self conscious, all of that seems to be a big source of negativity in the world. I decided to let that go. I have felt better since then.

      I say this with respect for trauma survivors and others who have a more frought relationship with the issue. I know that “letting it go” is easier for some people than for others.

    21. Daydream Believer*

      I’m from the US, haven’t lived anywhere else. I am very modest, and grew up in a family where that would’ve gotten horrified gasps and my mom telling you to go to room and put some actual clothes on.

      I hate being seen naked, much less by strangers. For me, it’s an issue of safety: I’m transgender, and there’s a very real risk of violence to me if someone found out. Even if people in locker rooms or public showers don’t care about the body parts they expect to see from each other, there’s no guarantee they won’t freak out at mine. The thought of having to go to a communal bath or sauna on a business trip or something scares me to my core.

    1. fposte*

      That is a gorgeous color. Did you do it yourself or go to a pro, and did you have to get color-stripped first? (And are you going to dress to set it off or wear red and be damned?)

      1. Free Meerkats*

        I went to a pro and she didn’t strip it first. I’m mostly gray anyway. The few really dark hairs I have left didn’t take much visible color. Here’s a before shot.


        Here’s a collage of in-process shots.


        I’m going to continue to dress as I normally do, not taking any special effort to set it off. I tend to blues, the sweatshirt in the picture is a uniform shirt.

        This was a test run for a costume; the fabric should be in the mail today. After I get back from Vegas the dye job will be about 2 weeks old, the same age it will be for the costume competition. We’ll look at the fabric and the 2-week old color and decide on the final color for then. Probably have to go a shade or two darker.

        I’ve had so many people comment that I look good in pink. I may just keep it.

    2. Merci Dee*

      I love the pink on you! I think lavender would also look great with your skin tone, if you decide to mix things up. :)

    3. Not That Anne, The Other Anne*

      That is awesome! I loved having pink hair. The reactions from others are the best part, especially when you’re rocking it with confidence (which you clearly are).

    4. Anono-me*

      Your new look makes me think of a cotton candy wizard, kind of a Pink Poppa Smurf.

      The color turned out really nice.

  33. Call me St. Vincent*

    Alison, I am wondering if there’s a way to combat all the negativity that has been on the forum lately. Could there be a way to add a “flag” to a particular comment that flags for you that someone is violating the commenting guidelines? Ideally, I think it could let you select (radio buttons?) how you think it’s violating the commenting guidelines. For example, it could have options for “off topic,” or “nitpicky” or “unkind.” Lately, I’ve been dreading reading a lot of the threads and I know you can’t always be around to tell people to knock it off or put a disclaimer at the top. I was really disappointed in the bird phobia comments, the pants/skirt comments about the modesty board and then yesterday the calling cat my baby comments (there was a whole lot of negativity and condescension towards people who are childless and I am a parent saying that as well as to general animal lovers). I also hate that people seem to want to make the same condescending points over and over again after you’ve stopped the conversations in previous threads (e.g. you really don’t love your pet as much as you think and if you had to choose between pet and child you’d clearly choose child, parents have it so much worse than non-parents, anything about religion where minority religions should just “suck it up”). Would something like the above idea be feasible?

    Does anyone else have ideas about how to keep this the type of place we all have come to love? One of the things I have always loved about this board is that it isn’t like everywhere else on the internet full of people with “keyboard courage” and I don’t like that it seems to be trending in a negative way.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I looked for something that would let people flag comments, but everything I’ve found will just kick the comment into moderation after a certain number of flags rather than alerting me (and I don’t want comments randomly disappearing like that; it also means someone could essentially “disappear” someone else’s comments by flagging them enough). If anyone knows a WordPress plug-in that will just alert me, let me know!

      Honestly, the real solution is for me to be able to moderate more. My schedule has kept me from doing that consistently, but I hope I can do more of it in coming months. But also — like I said in yesterday’s open thread — sometimes big comment sections with lots of strangers from different walks of life are just messy. I don’t think that can be totally controlled for, at least not without a much heavier-handed approach than I’d want to take.

      That said, January and February are always particularly grumpy months here. It’s been a pattern for years now.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Thanks for responding! I am so tech illiterate that I have no helpful suggestions for how to accomplish something like that. I can definitely understand how anything that just kicks out comments could be ripe for abuse. Maybe one of the techier commenters knows more about how something like that could work.

        I also have noticed that some of the threads are just enormous! I can’t imagine how difficult those would be to moderate. I admit that the Friday open thread is usually so large that I feel overwhelmed by the thought of reading it and usually just skip that one.

        Hopefully people will follow the normal trend and be nicer come March :)

      2. Thursday Next*

        You do so much that I don’t see how you could possibly moderate more! :)

        I also had a hard time with some of the comments yesterday, and I didn’t even feel personally invested in any of the arguments (unlike, say, the letter by the interviewee who didn’t give up a subway seat for an elderly person whose daughter asked for it). Certain letters seem to invite projections of commenters’ own circumstances that lead the discussion far astray from the LWs’ original questions.

        I wonder if the answer is just for other commenters to call out unkindness when they see it? I admired the commenter yesterday who pointed out the unfairness of using one woman’s situation to indict misogyny around reproductive issues (I’m trying to word this as neutrally as possible, because I don’t want to instigate a rehash here).

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          It’s so hard though because then the original commenters sometimes get even more negative. I pointed out a comment in yesterday’s thread that was unhelpful, off topic, and a type of comment that I believe Alison has explicitly shut down before since it’s entire purpose was to be undermining of other’s opinions and feelings (the epitome of not taking people at their word). The original commenter wrote back saying I was “hostile” to him/her. I left it alone and didn’t write back, but it didn’t really seem to do any good at all.

          1. Thursday Next*

            I agree–it definitely has the potential to devolve into an argument between commenters. I think you were right to let it go, because that way it couldn’t become an argument. You made your comment, and let it stand on its own. I still think it’s good to do this, because while people might try to argue back, it’s good to have the comments reflect dissent of this kind. That is, you weren’t arguing about whether all blamblags are actually purple, but pointing out that saying that all blamblags are purple doesn’t take the LW at their word and is besides the point of the letter.

          2. fposte*

            I think once a thread has gotten heated things like that tend to come across to people as personal. I tend to limit my “Hey” interjections either to one-off posts or posters I feel like I have an ongoing relationship with to balance it out, and I usually don’t do it about how they’re talking to me but to an OP (I feel really protective of OPs, who are sort of insects pinned down in a lab for our examination) or another commenter.

            Mostly, I think, the comments section is the best it’s going to be with this volume without turning it into a fully moderated forum, and that would inevitably mean that you’d get a pile of complaints about the moderation anyway. And while I enjoy some briskly moderated forums, they lose some things that I think are valuable.

            But if anybody ever developed a posting utility that automatically converted snottiness to non-snottiness, they’d make a mint :-).

      3. Free Meerkats*

        I’ve been especially cranky lately and have, so many times, written a reply here then Mr Filter (yes, he’s an anthropomorphic personification) slaps me upside the head and I delete it. I usually don’t even try to rewrite, I just delete and do something else.

        Headed to Vegas Tuesday, maybe I’ll be better when I get back.

      4. Don't Blame Me*

        Alison have you thought about appointing a small team of moderators? It seems like it would be too much for one person to handle, especially on the posts that end up going viral.

        1. neverjaunty*

          The problem with that is you can’t really call on longstanding community members, who 1) have their own biases/leanings and 2) would then, if they’re good moderators, have to step back from the board.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I feel like that could be a good way to handle it.

          I love this blog, but there are times when I just don’t read because I get really tired of all the negativity, snark, and nit picking. There are also times I really want to comment, but I don’t because I know something I say will get nitpicked to death (it’s happened to me before, even in the weekend thread). Maybe I just need a thicker skin or something, but it can be exhausting so I just don’t bother.

        3. JamieS*

          Despite what I assume would be the best of intentions I think the risk is too high people would flag comments they dislike because of personal opinion even if it doesn’t violate any rules and ignore comments that violate the rules if the mod agrees with the comment. Personally I’m an advocate for “Hey Alison, look at this comment.” if a comment is especially egregious. Otherwise self-policing, while not perfect, seems to work ok overall.

          1. StudentA*

            I am in complete agreement with this comment.

            When someone writes something I find rude, I either ignore it, or politely disagree. Like JamieS said, it really would have to be an egregious comment to warrant a moderator’s attention.

            There will always be some negativity everywhere. This site is full of kind, warm, helpful people. But then again, I usually (like 90% of the time) read the non-work Saturday thread, so I haven’t come across the controversial post you guys are referring to.

          2. Laura H*

            I was thinking the same thing yesterday while I was on my break glancing at the um main comment (idk if there’s a better term).

            It’s a slippery slope. Yes in the matter of pushing people out, but also that kind of power inevitably goes to your head and I know I don’t realize how much I use certain features like the ability to hide FB posts, for example- I use that one a lot for really petty reasons that relate with politics- and a lot of times it’s an emotional response, to a shared link rather than their own words, but still it’s almost habitual for me at this point. Which now that I’ve thought about it- YIKES!

            At any rate, the community seems to get along well and the stuff isn’t as frequent as on other sites. So thank y’all for that and thank you Alison for helping foster that.

      5. nonegiven*

        January and February are grumpy? Color me not surprised! It’s a gray, grumpy, dark, slow time of year. I don’t care how much vit D I take, my life is gray and slow and so is the economy in my area.

      6. ..Kat..*

        We have some frequent commenters who actually help with the moderating by calling people out for being unkind or obnoxious.

    2. Blue Eagle*

      I don’t mind negative comments so much as I mind the same people responding over and over on a thread. I generally comment one time and that is it. If people disagree with me, that is fine, but unless you are clarifying your comment in response to another commenter’s comment on your comment, PLEASE only respond once per issue.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m sorry this is frustrating for you but I guess I see this more as a conversation where it makes sense to have some back and forth.

      2. Lissa*

        I’m kind of on the middle on this – I don’t think people should respond only once, but if somebody has a really strong opinion sometimes they respond to like…20 different comments with basically the same argument, often sounding pretty argumentative about it, with stuff like “As I said above”. There have been times where I’ve decided not to post my opinion because I knew a particular poster would come in to hector me. I think it’s fine to have a back and forth discussion but some people seem so unwilling to just let other people have a different opinion.

        And in relation to the specific issues mentioned by St Vincent, sometimes you see people believing the comments are way too awful because they favor A, but then another person will believe they actually very strongly favor B – so in the letter yesterday some people felt the comment section was overall super mean to Jane, whereas others felt the comment section was too sympathetic! So in a case like that I think it’s impossible to make everyone happy . . .

        1. Triplestep*

          Because this is not a message board (and does not have message board threading and notifications and replying) it’s not set up for the kind of conversation that just organically happens here. I think this may be one reason people repeat themselves, and maybe even why they say “As I said above …” It’s just really easy to miss what people have said elsewhere. One can’t be sure that the point made earlier has been seen by the person they are answering elsewhere in the comments.

          Having been an active member of message boards in the past, I’ve really had to reset my expectations about whether or not people have seen a certain comment when they are responding. (I’ve also had to relax about not being able to read every single comment before chiming in myself!)

      3. New Bee*

        I agree; sometimes repetitive comments feel performative, like it’s more about getting a head pat (from Alison? Other commenters?) than actually contributing to a conversation. And then it’s just awkward when the comment is received poorly and the person says the opposite of what they just said, self-flagellates* until someone steps in with a pep talk, turns the comment into meta-comment on the comment section, rinse and repeat.

        *Autocorrect changed this to self-marriage, ha!

      4. nonegiven*

        If you’ve already said something, you could search for your comment and link it instead of saying it all again to a different commenter.

      5. neverjaunty*

        That’s… not actually part of the comments policy?

        Urging people not to repeat themselves or bicker is certainly in the spirit of the way AAM tries to run the site, but I’m not sure “it bugs me when people do X, so please don’t do it” is helpful in that regard.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      I had to stop reading when someone insisted the death of a pet can never be like losing a human. As if you can police other people’s grief.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Yes this is the part that started to get me. It’s policing other people’s feelings whether it is in the pet context (trying to condescend to people who love their pets as that love being less than) or in the other contexts it seems to have come up in lately. It’s this thing that their experience is the only experience and anyone else is just stupid for having their feelings and beliefs.

        1. MilkMoon (UK)*

          Yes I know exactly what you are both talking about. Their comments were clearly not made or placed to try and change hearts & minds, but to show contempt and ridicule.

          1. Natalie*

            And really, none of it was relevant to the actual question anyway! I don’t know if I’d quite call it a bridge dweller activity* but it did seem a bit like baiting, and then everyone’s off to argue about something both extremely heated and only mildly connected to the question.

            *Trying to avoid tripping the spam filter, I think the word for the billy goats gruff’s adversary is automodded.

            1. Nic*

              I love the way you referenced bridge dweller activity with the added clue about the billy goat’s gruff. I heard that story a lot as a kid, and this reference made me smile.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        That person could benefit from reading on the subject of grief. My husband and I cried harder when our dog died than when we lost either of our fathers. That sounds cold. It was situational, of course, and grief is cumulative. We don’t finish crying over one loss and suddenly another loss happens, then it is very likely that we will cry harder. We cried over the dog and over both our fathers in that one incident.

        Not many of us will get off this planet without learning something about how grief is cumulative…. such is life.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          The context when I saw it too was particularly gross. It was the old “if someone said they would murder either your pet or your child, you would 100% always choose your child, so you don’t really love your pet like a child.” As if that’s how these things work. Another commenter was better in their response than me and said, in that hypothetical I would have mythical powers and snatch the gun away from the murderer and turn it against them and save both. I think it illustrated how ridiculous it was. My problem with it was how off topic it was and how unhelpful. The thread was supposed to be about helping the person who had an issue at work because she accidentally said something that upset a co-worker. It wasn’t supposed to be you random person on the internet challenging how much someone you don’t know loves their pets and oversimplifying a very complex set of feelings of love for your family members, but thanks.

      3. nonegiven*


        I would grieve mightily if I lost my only 40’s child, I might take to my bed. I don’t know if he will ever marry, if he does I might have step grandchildren or maybe even grandchildren to care about. Right now I have cats I take care of every day, I know their personalities and preferences. I know who picks on whom and who cares after whom.

        When my son calls, I ask after my grand kitties. I can’t help it.

    4. nep*

      It is indeed a bad feeling to dread reading or commenting on a thread here, given how much I’ve come to love this site, Alison’s counsel, and this community.
      I don’t see any easy solution. It’s up to each one of us.

    5. Earthwalker*

      Sometimes I can be pretty tone deaf. I wouldn’t mind if there were a brief checklist of “not appropriate” flags like the “like” and “don’t like” voting buttons of other blogs. If people could anonymously flag my posts in just the way St Vincent says: off topic, nitpicky, and unkind, and do it visibly on the post, the feedback would be helpful. Do others feel that way too? Is that as difficult to do as hidden flagging would be?

    6. LCL*

      One thing that I believe would help is if we all resolved to try not to use the modern snark phrases that quickly become cliches. It is so easy to use them, I do it myself sometimes but am trying hard not to.

      Examples but not limited to the following are:
      Ding ding ding!
      Not a good look. This one is especially irritating because when it is used the poster has the opportunity to say something serious, but instead uses it to shut down discussion.

    7. Ramona Flowers*

      So I’ve been thinking about this and I think a certain amount of negativity is unavoidable with topics that push people’s buttons – but that it could be so much worse (eg I never ever read comments on Guardian articles).

      I think moderation can sometimes cause more problems than it solves, and isn’t necessarily the right solution here. I think this is an online community – it looks like a blog but behaves like a community – and problems can arise when people try to use it in different ways. There are some interesting articles on sites like Feverbee and I would recommend anyone trying to find a solution looks into community theory.

      Personally I think humans have feelings and reactions and people have been arguing with each other and sometimes being negative since the beginning of time so it’s not surprising it happens here too – I’m sad to hear that some people don’t feel able to read at all, and I would be interested to know what makes someone take such an all or nothing view – I did similar with the guardian (whereas on here I’m happy to scroll past or close individual threads when needed) and I think it’s because on the guardian it’s not worth the emotional risk of reading as the comments rarely offer enough value to be worth it.

      1. TL -*

        For me, a big thing is if I feel like the comments aren’t adding anything to my understanding of the topic. And, of course, kindness. Friday, for example – there were a few incredibly insightful comments and I can forgive a little winter blues in a community that’s proven their good will.

        That being said, one of the conversations did, for the first time, cross a serious line for me and had Alison not stepped in to moderate, I probably would have started questioning if this was somewhere I wanted to be spending time at. But I also had faith that Alison would take care of it and she did. (so I guess I’d stop reading if I lost faith in Alison being committed to growing a good community.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          One thing to know is that while there’s no easy flag button, you can always flag a comment for me by replying to it with something like “Alison, take a look at this” and including a link of any sort — because the link will send it to moderation and I’ll see it (whereas otherwise I might not see it at all, or not for a long time). A couple of people did that on Friday, which I really appreciated.

    8. Sami*

      I do so wish for a way to block certain commenters. The one that instantly comes to mind posts SO OFTEN I just cringe. I simply cannot scroll fast enough. I occasionally wonder if this person is as talkative IRL as online. For example, on the midnight post, out of, say, the first 40 or so comments, seven or eight will be from one person.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        If this is me then I’m really sorry.

        (For me it’s not midnight but first thing in the morning.)

        1. Marion100*

          I like reading your posts! Please don’t let rude people discourage you from posting as often as you like.

        2. Call me St. Vincent*

          Ramona, your comments are the best. Please ignore any naysayers. Honestly, it’s one of the things that keeps me commenting. Even on this thread, which I feel is much more of a “safe space” thread than any of the others of the week, it’s clear people can’t help but still be mean and that is literally what makes me not want to be a part of this community anymore. There is a comment to me on a different section of the weekend thread that is just argumentative and mean-spirited looking for a fight in response to a comment I made that was agreeing with the OP. I honestly am at a loss. I may take a break from here. Ramona, please stay strong. I know you are going through a lot lately, but you are very much appreciated.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            I’m so sorry you’re hurting. It’s important to look after yourself but know that you will be missed if you do take a break.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        And either way, do please bear in mind that you’re talking about real people with feelings.

      3. SS Express*

        Does the content of the comments bother you, or just the fact that they’re all posted by the same person? Would it bother you as much if the same comments had been posted with different user names attached?

        1. Sami*

          I removed this comment because it was unkind. People have different ideas of how to comment here, but it’s not okay to be unkind to people here (and I’ll repeat Ramona’s note from above that you’re talking about real people who are reading your words). -Alison

  34. Nervous Accountant*

    Had the funeral. Crazy but an expected crazy. Still trying to process it all.

    Husband and I waiting for the right time to talk to my mom. I was able to talk to her for a bit before he got here, so now I have an idea of what’s going on and we’re not going in as blind as we thought we’d be.

    So far a few major talking points—did my dad financially support anyone aside from her. How much is their monthly expenses (home groceries bills etc). And what are his debts (owed and owed to him?).

    Any other things I haven’t thought of?

    1. fposte*

      I’m sorry, Nervous Accountant. There’s a really useful Nolo page with some steps to go through in your situation–I’ll post the link in followup.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. My father in law passed away suddenly (but not unexpectedly, if that makes sense) a few years ago and we were facing some of the same questions/issues. One important thing we didn’t know ahead was to get multiple copies of the death certificate as you will likely need them. I don’t know if you are in the US, but if yes, you may need an appointment with Social Security (that turned out to be easier than expected). Since you are there, this would be a good time to be added to any bank accounts, if you/your mother wish (my MIL did, in case there was some sort of emergency). If you father had retirement accounts, investment accounts or anything else that named a beneficiary upon his death, they will need to be notified. Also, updating any bills that were in his name only.

      We focused on the things my MIL needed/wanted us physically there to do (like signature cards for the bank) and followed up on the other things via phone/email a bit later. There will be a lot of things you need to do, but not all need to be done immediately. It was helpful to focus just on those and then come up with a game plan a couple of weeks later when everyone had a chance to catch their breath.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes to the multiple copies of the death certificate. I bought 10 at $10 each. For each party that needed a DC I would ask if a copy would be okay. This helped to stretch the DCs. I think I ended up with 2-3 when I was done. Probably about 5-6 places accepted the copies in place of the originals. Sadly, I kept a couple DCs hidden in my car for a while. I seemed to not be forewarned I would need one and I would have to run out to the car to get one.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes to multiple copies of the death certificate! My sister opted to get multiples while handling my dad’s estate and it was such a big help and relieved a tiny bit of the stress.

          Sorry for you loss, Nervous Accountant.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I know that you’re going to be busy getting things resolved, but make sure you take time to take care of yourself during all of this. Make sure you’re drinking enough water, eating regularly, and getting rest.

    4. Anono-me*

      My condolences.

      Check for non main bank accounts and insurance policies. For example, my credit union has a small free life insurance policy for each of its members. So did my uncle’s union.

      Change all the social media stuff so that you mom or you is in control.

      Set up some way to watch out for people trying to scam your mom. Now is the time when strangers and people who you thought were friends try to take advantage.

    5. All Hail Queen Sally*

      My condolences to you and your family. If he was a military veteran, be sure to notify the VA as they pay a death benefit.

  35. harley*

    TL;DR: You guys are great, and let me tell you about my dogs.

    Hi, everyone! I don’t know if anyone remembers me and my situation, but I posted in the open thread last February, looking for advice on how to connect with my rescue dog. She wasn’t brand new, but that disconnected feeling was. I got a lot of great feedback, and things between us really improved for a while, but as the year went on it kind of felt like she was caught in this anxiety spiral, and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. We were at the point where, if I was home, she wasn’t happy unless she had my undivided attention, 100% of the time (obviously super unrealistic), her wailing when I was on the phone got much worse, she barked at every leaf blowing past our place, and she started getting destructive in the house, no matter how many miles we walked or how much time I spent one-on-one with her inside. I tried not to let her see it, but I was angry with her more and more often, and knowing it wasn’t really her fault didn’t make it less tempting to like, sell her to the circus. And I love her! I never wanted to be mad! I mentioned my first dog, when I posted before, how he died young and unexpectedly, and how they were always so good together, and she wasn’t so scared when he was around. I felt like maybe she just wasn’t supposed to be an only dog, but I wasn’t ready at the time. I was also worried she wouldn’t accept another dog, because honestly, she started acting like a jerk to other dogs when we moved here, and there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to socialize. We hardly met anyone on walks and the only local “playgroup” was on non-fenced property and it was full of people who just threw their dogs into the fray and didn’t supervise at all. And it’s kind of like, well, I trust HER, but I don’t trust that random guy’s intact male who keeps barreling over the top of everyone and is wearing a prong collar turned outwards so I can’t pull him off my dog without sticking myself.

    WELL, a few months ago I started looking at shelter dogs and there was one I just kept coming back to. I brought her out to meet him the day before yesterday and she was okay with him, so we took him home, and you guys. YOU GUYS. She’s so happy. They wrestle and run together and she’s letting him sleep on her bed, with her toys (she sleeps on my bed) and I’ve caught her cleaning his face when she thinks no one’s looking. She’s quiet and chill when they’re not playing, she isn’t hollering at every noise, and (the big test) I made FOUR WHOLE PHONE CALLS yesterday without her even turning an ear in my direction. I know it’s early still, and I have some work to do with the new guy as it is (he’s way too thin, he’s a little nervous about touch and he doesn’t know any commands except “leave it”), but she’s just acting so happy that I legit cried watching them play in the yard this morning.

    I’ll link a photo of him in a new comment. His name is Sammy, he’s two, and the shelter said he’s a Pointer mix but I don’t really see it. I just thought I’d let y’all know that things are looking up, and I know a lot of you are animal lovers and I wanted to show off the new addition, to be honest. :)

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      I LOVE THIS! Congratulations!!! So so so wonderful to hear this news!!!!! Yay dog family!!!!

      1. harley*

        Thank you!! He’s really come out of his shell, too. When it was just me meeting him, he was sweet but really shy, like hesitantly licking my hand while tucking his tail and cowering a bit, but now that we’re all home he’s bombing around like he’s lived here for years, and every time I sit down, he tries climbing into my lap, frantically licking my hands and face with the tail going wildly. Apparently he was a stray five times before his people stopped coming for him, and his most recent owner had him for four months and then got sick and brought him back? So if he’s this comfortable here now, I can’t wait to see him when he realizes he’s staying! :)

    2. Turtlewings*

      That is such wonderful news! Several years ago my sister and I had a similarly super-anxious and destructive dog. We saw a lot of advice saying having another dog would probably help, but not to get one unless we also just flat wanted a second dog, because it might NOT help and then what would we do with the other dog? So we didn’t get another dog at that time, but when we ended up with one a few years later, it made all the difference in the world for Anxious Dog. He had maybe two or three destructive incidents in the whole rest of his life, mostly when separated from the other dog.

      Worth noting, we also kept Anxious Dog on anxiety medication, which helped hugely as well. I’d say it was fifty-fifty; neither one solved the problem on its own, but together the two-prong attack was successful.

      1. harley*

        Thank you! I guess they really do need a four-legged buddy sometimes! I always got the sense with her that even if I quit everything else in my life and gave her all of my attention forever, it still wouldn’t be enough, and anyway, I can’t get down on the floor and full-on wrassle like she used to do with my first dog. I knew I wanted another but it took me a while to get to that point, I was so nervous that something else would happen with a new dog? First Dog was four years old when he had a random seizure, and after testing and an ultrasound, the vet said 70% of his liver was scarred up and not functioning and there was fluid in his stomach cavity and he had six months to live. Out of NOWHERE. She said he probably had a problematic liver from birth, or maybe was exposed to something as a puppy (I adopted him at 14 months), and she didn’t know how he was carrying on so well at that point. He made it to five and I had to put him down, and my family was really awful about it, and then I moved across the country almost immediately after. So it was traumatic and terrible and I kept thinking I couldn’t do any of it again. But Sammy seems wonderful, and he even reminds me a little of First Dog in some ways.

        What medication did you have Anxious Dog on? Our vet recommended trying some natural calming stuff before we went to meds, and I think it helped a little, but I didn’t know how much of her fear was regular anxiety versus some kind of PTSD (she was an abuse rescue, and I know her issue with the phone, at least, was related to that).

        1. Turtlewings*

          I feel like since dogs are pack animals, they really need other dogs around in a way that’s hard for us to understand — there’s needs they fulfill for each other that humans just can’t. Which isn’t to say an “only dog” can’t be happy, I’ve seen that they can, but as a generality I think it’s good for dogs to be together.

          Anxious Dog was on amitryptiline (I hope I’m spelling that right), which is also a human anti-depressant. (Which came in handy for not killing my sister the time she accidentally took the dog’s medication instead of hers!) We could get it filled at a regular pharmacy and everything.

          I’m so sorry you had to go through something so terrible with your poor puppy! I can’t blame you for being a little traumatized, for sure. The awful thing about having pets is that they don’t live forever. :( I’m so glad Sammy is working out, I hope they both have very long and happy lives!

    3. Hrovitnir*

      Aww, this is so nice! I very often disagree when people want to solve a problem by adding another dog, but this certainly sounded like an example where it could be appropriate, and you waited into you we’re sure *you* were ready. ^_^

      I’m so happy for you and your puppies. <3

    4. Lauren R*

      This made me really happy to read!! I hope your dogs continue to bond and enjoy each other, and that Sammy gets settled into his new home soon. How wonderful that not only did your first dog get a friend and her confidence back but that your second dog got such a great, loving home out of the deal, where he can blossom and be part of a family! Congrats! :)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t blame you for crying, I have a bit of a lump in my throat just reading this.
      Excellent call on a difficult situation. I am so happy for the three of you.

    6. Basia, also a Fed*

      This is so wonderful! Many, although not all, dogs prefer to live with other dogs. As Turtlewings said, they are naturally pack animals and feel comfortable when they’re with another dog at all times. I volunteer at the local humane society and have seen numerous times when a dog’s behavior has improved greatly with the addition of a second dog. In addition, it sounds like yours was grieving deeply for the loss of your other one. My husband was originally hesitant to get a second one, but when he saw how much happier they were, he swore he’d never had just one again. Plus, your new one is a cutie!

    7. Starryemma*

      That’s so wonderful! Our dog also has had less anxiety since we brought home his”sister.” We were also terrified about how it would go. I guess it’s a pack thing!

  36. Thursday Next*

    Distressing subway incident: I was riding home with my 10-year-old around 5:30 p.m. last month. He’s high-functioning autistic, has clinical anxiety and depression, and is very slight (like, monitored by doctors and nutritionists for failure to thrive, in the 1st percentile of weight for age slight). Plus he leaves home at 7 a.m. and the physical demands of a long day, coupled with the additional emotional demands of keeping it together during the school day, wipes him out. There was a seat by the door that I told him to sit in while I stood in front of him. Two older women got on the subway and both asked him for his seat. Two adults next to my son promptly stood up to offer their seats to these women. The women then yelled at me, saying I was a bad parent who was rude and not teaching my son that being polite meant giving up his seat.

    Now I was in a difficult position. One of my chief parenting principles is: do not lose it in front of my kids. This is even more important with my son, who’s got antennae for my anxiety, which makes him anxious.

    Another principle: don’t talk about my kids in front of them as if they’re not there. In other words, respect their privacy. I wouldn’t disclose an adult’s medical issues or disabilities to strangers. Why would I disclose my child’s?

    I tried the Miss Manners approach of pointing out that publicly criticizing another person’s manner’s was the worse rudeness, but I guess that was too refined for them. My son got really upset, and stood up. I told him that I was his mother, and he had to listen to me and didn’t have to listen to anyone else. Then I told them that they did not know everyone’s medical situation.

    I was trying to hide my tears from my son, and found myself doing an emergency meditation on my meditation app. I still took a Valium when I got home.

    Who asks a child for a subway seat? And why would anyone feel entitled to attack me *after they got seats*? I’m not sure how I could have handled this better. What was ironic was a few weeks earlier, he had asked me what would happen if we were riding on the subway and no one gave up their seat for his sibling, who is physically and cognitively disabled. I said someone would. He said, what if they didn’t? And I said, I would ask, is anyone able to give up their seat for my child with disabilities? I’ve never been in a situation where someone didn’t give up a seat when asked. But I’ve never singled out anyone to ask. And I’m more comfortable (though still very uncomfortable) disclosing that my younger child has disabilities (not what they are) because I can do so breezily and not make my younger child feel bad about that. My son is very aware and sensitive and would know he’s being talked about, though.

    Sorry for the extremely long post. I’m actually crying as I’m typing, even though this happened three weeks ago.

    1. Kathenus*

      If it helps, I think you handled the situation pretty perfectly. It seems like you balanced finding a way to respond and being conscious of how your doing so would affect your son really well – I can’t imagine all that had to be running through your head to navigate that. And as much as this situation was obviously horrible, just think about the many, many, many nice and polite people that have interacted well with you and your children on the subway in the past – from your reference that you’ve never been in a situation where someone didn’t give up a seat when asked. The bad ones stand out, but they’re so much rarer – generally speaking – than the good people. Unfortunately a bit of a microcosm for our society right now. I think you did a great job and taught your son by example. Give yourself some praise for how you handled yourself.

      1. neverjaunty*

        I agree. You did the best you could in the situation – which actually was really damn good! Some people, like these women, are garbage, and there’s not much you can do about that.

    2. fposte*

      I’m so sorry, Thursday; that’s really upsetting, and it hits you square on the parenting nerve.

      It sounds like you did well under trying circumstances, and one of the lessons here for your son is “You can’t convince everybody, that’s okay, and you move forward nonetheless.” Maybe that’s a lesson for you too?

      I do think it’s okay on the transport systems I know to ask a child for his seat; children are presumed both to be generally healthy and also not necessarily to be au fait with the giving-up-seats protocol. But adults who ask also have to be prepared for an answer of no, and I think it might be useful for both you and your son to develop a short version of that answer; it doesn’t have to go into detail, but “I’m sorry, but I have a need to sit down” sounds vaguely authoritative and means that you have an actual answer to give.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Thank you fposte, for your second para in particular. I think that’s a lesson we both need to learn.

    3. Shay*

      Autism is one of my disabilities and you sound like an amazing mother. You son is so lucky to have you.

    4. Call me St. Vincent*

      I am so sorry. People are so rude sometimes. To give you an example, my friend’s wife is disabled and they have a handicapped plate/windshield marker. They were going to church (to CHURCH) and he dropped his wife and son off in front of the church so she could go right in without having to even walk from the handicapped spot. Since they would be walking back to the car together after church, he obviously parked in a handicapped spot to which they were entitled. People were YELLING at him that he was a bad person for parking in the handicapped spot and it wasn’t people just walking on the street outside the church, it was literally people going INTO the church.

      As to what happened with your son, I am so so sorry! That is terrible. I don’t think you handled this poorly at all! They were the ones who handled it poorly! I just feed bad that they upset you so much. I think you would’ve been perfectly within your rights to totally ignore them even though I know that’s very hard to do. You would also be within your rights if something like (and it sounds like you did say this) that they were being entirely inappropriate and that they needed to stop commenting on your child’s behavior and stop speaking to you and your child immediately. You would also have been within your rights to tell them that they had no right to judge anyone else as they had no idea whether someone has an invisible disability and shame on them! You did a great job and you really can’t beat yourself up about this. You are a strong mom and they are ignorant, short-sighted people!

      1. Lissa*

        I see some of this behavior as using an excuse to be a jerk that will make them look good. You know those peole who yelled at him that he was a bad person went home and felt great/bragged about telling off someone who was stealing a handicapped spot.

        Not the same situation but there’s a couple friends of mine lately who are very invested being allies to particular causes, and they will JUMP all over you if they think you said something “wrong” – lately one did this to me in a case when I wasn’t saying anything like what they thought I was saying. Felt like they wanted to have a “tumblr/Facebook story” where they told off someone for saying some problematic thing.

        Yes it’s important to speak up, but oh man some people just love doing it to the point where they do it in situations where it’s actually not helpful to anyone except their own ego.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          That stinks. It does seem to be getting increasingly knee-jerk everywhere apparently :(

          1. Observer*

            >sarcasm alertsarcasm off<

            A lot of people really don't realize that not everyone who LOOKS like they can walk a distance, can. And a lot of people make other assumptions that just are not correct. Some of the don't make sense, and some do, but it doesn't matter because they are wrong.

            Part of what makes it hard to deal with is because of the confirmation bias that happens with stories of people who actually do abuse the system. Yes, those people exist, and shame on them! But they are not truly a significant number.

            1. Observer*

              Oh, no. The brackets ate the first part of my comment.

              It was:

              Well, “everyone knows” that people scam the handicapped parking ALL THE TIME. Of COURSE he was taking a place he wasn’t entitled to. How many people who have those tags really need them, ya know?

              1. Elizabeth West*

                LOL I figured it was something like that.

                Yep. My mum has one. She can walk, just not very far. If she went to the mall and parked in the back of the lot, by the time she got up to the door, she’d be too damn tired to shop.

                And those stupid scooters are a bitch to navigate. I know, because I used one when I had a DVT and had to stop at Walmart before going home to get off my feet entirely, as my doctor ordered. I was 30-something and I got some funny looks from people before they noticed my grandpa’s cane in the basket. I guess I’m lucky nobody unloaded on me.

        2. SS Express*

          Soooooo true. My mum parked in an accessible spot the other day and the person parking in the (also accessible) spot beside her came over to the car, OPENED THE PASSENGER DOOR, stuck her head in and said “don’t you realise this is a disabled spot?”. My mum’s parking pass is clearly displayed, if this awful woman had just taken a moment to check she would have seen it, but some people would rather pat themselves on the back for their outspoken “disability advocacy” than actually be inclusive of those with invisible disabilities.

      2. Rookie Manager*

        When I first started using disabled spaces (early 20s) the amount of vitriol I received from strangers was awful. It was worse if I was out with my younger sister’s. Strangers shouting at us that we had no right to steal that space while my sister lifted my wheelchair out the boot.

        People are mean sometimes.

          1. Rookie Manager*

            Thank you. It made my cry a couple of times when I’d made an effort to look ‘healthy’, hair and make up all done etc to meet a friend and just got abuse. It’s not a side effect you expect from illness or injury. I found sticking cutesy disabled stickers on the car helped originally. Looking older has definitely helped too.

            1. Thursday Next*

              That is so terrible. Too many people have a very particular, limited idea of disability that can be so hurtful, like the experiences you cited. I’m always upset when I hear about parking lot incidents, because the people who take it upon themselves to police disabled parking space use seem to do it so stridently. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      I think you handled this absolutely brilliantly. What a wonderful example you just set for your son.

      I look fine but need a seat. Sometimes people ask me for my seat and don’t believe me when I say I can’t give it up. They are lucky not to know what it is like to have hidden difficulties.

    6. Natalie*

      Oh, I think you did fine. Doing everything well is unfortunately not necessarily going to prevent or stop other people from being shitty!

      I don’t have any kids, much less kids with cognitive differences, so you know, I don’t know what I’m talking about, but maybe it would be good to chat about this incident with your son? I think if I was a kid and saw something really upset my mom, I might hesitate (consciously or unconsciously) to bring up any feelings or questions I had about it because I wouldn’t want to upset her again. Especially since you say he’s really attuned to your anxiety. Or maybe his dad or an auntie or family friend could talk to him about it if you think you might get upset again?

      1. Thursday Next*

        This is a really good point. I did say something as we were walking home, but I could see him feeling anxious about asking me questions. I’ll ask my husband to talk to him. Hopefully the conversation will be easier since it’s been some time since the incident.

    7. Nicole*

      Oh my, I’m so sorry that happened to you. Those women were out of line. I’ve seen examples of what I have perceived as parents not taking advantage of a situation to teach their children manners BUT I still don’t say anything because who am I to scold someone publicly like that? Also, I remind myself we don’t always know everything from just looking at someone. And finally, I wouldn’t think to ask a child to give up a seat anyway. Who does that?

    8. Blue Eagle*

      I am so sorry to hear about the way you were treated. I agree with your response to those women that “please don’t judge me, you don’t know the medical issues that we are facing” and leave it at that. Sending positive thoughts and energy your way :-)

      1. Ron McDon*

        That’s interesting; in the U.K. adults would usually expect a child to stand to give them their seat, and it wouldn’t be considered rude at all to ask a child to give an adult their seat. Something that was drummed into my sister and I as children! We would usually offer an adult our seat on the bus without being asked, and my children have been raised to do the same.

        So I don’t think the adults in this situation were remiss for asking a child to give up their seat; however not accepting a polite refusal and being all judgy is definitely not ok. I am sorry this happened to you and your son.

        1. Natalie*

          Just curious, do you see that extend to all children or just those over a certain age? I feel like little kids are going to have a hard time keeping their balance, so I feel like kids that aren’t at least adultish height should sit. But I’m also more familiar with buses which are jerkier than trains and don’t have support poles going down to the ground where kids could reach.

          1. UK Bus Rider*

            Children small enough that they cannot balance to stand are usually expected to sit on a parent/accompanying adult’s lap if someone needs the seat. They ride for free, with that expectation.

        2. Call me St. Vincent*

          It really is amazing how differences between cultures can turn up! Thanks for sharing this perspective. In the US, I don’t think it would be expected for a child to give up a seat (although maybe there are regional differences in this here too). It isn’t weird for someone who needs a seat (elderly, individual with a disability etc) to ask someone to give up a seat, but it’s weird in my view to ask a child before asking otherwise able-bodied appearing adults and agreed that a polite refusal from anyone asked should be accepted straight away!.

          1. Triplestep*

            I grew up in NYC in the eighties and knew I had to give up my seat on buses and subways to adults. My kids (now 22 and 28) were raised in a smaller city and took public transportation to school – they, too, knew they were expected them to let adults sit if there were not enough seats for everyone.

            I agree with Ron McDon that the adults who asked for the seat were not out of line in doing so, but everything else they did was not OK.

            On the question of who asks a child to give up a seat (from the top post here): Me – I did that once. A teen-aged girl was sitting in a seat by the door of the subway and an old, frail man hobbled onto the train. She looked at him, then closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep. I nudged her and said “I believe he needs your seat”. She gave it to him. I certainly didn’t think about the potential hidden reasons she may have needed the seat, and now that I have (after reading this) I’m honestly not sure what I would do in this same situation in the future. It’s a tough call.

            1. JamieS*

              This is something I struggle with. While I realize we can’t automatically know everything about a person’s individual limitations, disabilities, etc. I don’t think that means we’re obligated to act like all possibilities are equally likely or ignore context of the situation. Sure it’s possible she had a disability that made it impossible for her to stand and extreme social anxiety so she chose to act like she was asleep to avoid confrontation. What’s far more likely is she was perfectly capable of standing and just didn’t want to.

              That’s not to say we should assume people’s health and make comments when people don’t meet our expectations (such as the above church comment and the yelling over a young person in a disabled spot) but I don’t think someone should feel bad about asking someone who’s most likely healthy if they would give up their seat to someone less able whether it be themselves or someone else. If there’s a refusal I don’t think responding with yelling or other rudeness is appropriate but nothing wrong with asking in the first place.

              1. Call me St. Vincent*

                Agreed! I think if you ask respectfully and take no for an answer, that’s all that it takes.

            2. Natalie*

              I think a kid and a teenager are different, personally. A teenager might be a legal minor, but physically they’re basically an adult. Little kids are not.

              1. Triplestep*

                Good point. But a teen won’t think about giving a seat to an adult unless he or she has learned about it as a child, which presumably is when parents are riding along with them and can teach them.

                1. Natalie*

                  Sure, but you can teach that to children before they themselves are capable of doing it – explain the social standard, point it out in practice, and do it yourself. Kids learn a lot from observation.

          2. JamieS*

            I think there are differences by region. I didn’t ride public transit as a child so that may be different but in any given situation that involved seats it’s pretty common for adults to expect children to give up their seats over another adult. I think it has to do with the “respect your elders” mindset which I actually don’t fully agree with but that’s not really relevant.

        3. Rookie Manager*

          I think this is actually a bad system. I never got it as a kid and I don’t get it as an adult. Why should a child who hasn’t yet developed the motor skills to stand on a moving vehicle, who might be too small to reach the rails/ straps to hold onto, could have illness/disability be expected to give up their seat over a healthy adult? There is also the thing where some people will press against girls and young woman and get a good grope under the guise of ‘a busy carriage’. Children are much safer having the seats.

          My feeling is it fits into the whole “kids these days” mindset where children are always consider to be rude/in the way/should be seen and not heard when they are just existing and learning to be people. I think Thursday handled the situation well and I would hope the UK is evolving so that we treat kids better.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, I think I wasn’t clear–I didn’t mean a child getting up for a healthy adult. But since I’m often not one of those, I would ask a kid to yield if I needed to sit. And in my experience kids on their own sometimes gravitate disproportionately to the disabled-preference seats up front in transit that has those, so it’s a thing.

            1. Rookie Manager*

              I think We’re at cross purposes fposte! I was responding to Ron’s point about the UK – perhaps not clearly enough myself!

              In the UK kids are taught that all kids should give up seats to any adult without being asked. I disagree with that. However, a healthy older child should offer a seat/move for someone with disabilities/pregnant woman etc. I’ve never had problems with teenagers giving up disabled seats for me when they see my crutch. I’ve told younger children to stay where they are though when I consider myself better able to stand for a short journey. Vulnerable kids are often advised to sit in the front so the driver can see them and keep them safe.

              1. fposte*

                Honestly, I think I just had the wrong end of the stick from the start–I was thinking the women who asked for the seat were in the priority seating categories (elderly, pregnant, disabled), so that’s why I didn’t see their request for the seat as out of line. But now that the thread has rolled on I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case and that was just in my head.

        4. Savannnah*

          On the NYC subways, adults give up their seats for kids all the time and it would be expected that adults would offer for kids under 7-8, otherwise they can go flying or knock into people.

          1. Delphine*

            Yep, same in Boston. Kids are small and it’s safer for them to sit. People often stand to give seats up to them and I would find it horribly rude if a healthy adult demanded a seat of a child.

        5. Casca*

          Same in Australia! The school bus passes even had info on the back telling kids to offer their seats

          1. Isobel*

            Yes, when I was little the buses had a notice saying something like “Courtesy makes the journey more pleasant. Children can help by giving up their seats to older people at busy times.”

        6. Ramona Flowers*

          UK person here. I would not ask a child for their seat! I would ask the adults with them if they need it.

    9. Katriona*

      As someone with an invisible disability this is one of my worst nightmares, and I think you handled it perfectly.

    10. Gloucesterina*

      I rode NYC public transport for years and never saw anyone ever ask a child to give up their seat. I would think that most people understand that children have different needs, period. I’m sorry this happened to you and your son. I hope after the pain wears off you can be pleased and proud about the response you modelled for him.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      “There are extenuating circumstances that would be inappropriate of me to discuss. You have your seat. I hope you have a good rest of your day.” [Sincere, unrattled tone of voice. If possible.]

      With stuff like this, I keep telling myself “they have NO idea what they have just done to another person.” NOT in the context of “I should forgive them” but in the context of “people can hurt/injure others and have no clue to what extent they have done this damage.”

      I am very sorry this happened to you. You did an excellent job of thinking this one through.

    12. Temperance*

      There are some people who are just entitled jerks. I personally find approaching a little kid and demanding their seat on public transit to be shockingly rude.

      I wouldn’t ever do the Miss Manners thing and point out that they were rude by calling someone else rude, because, well, they were rude for deciding that they deserved your son’s seat more than he did, that they needed it more, etc. Your son wasn’t rude! You weren’t rude! I would have told them to shut up because they found seats and your son needs to sit down.

      I do not support ever singling out a person and asking them to move. I’ve been in the position to need to ask able-bodied people to move out of the accessible seats, and I just asked if everyone in the seats needed them, because I couldn’t stand for the entire train ride home. (Sprained ankle, in a boot, not worth hurting myself because someone wants to manspread and is entitled!)

    13. Jules the First*

      I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. I don’t always look like I need the priority seat, but I often do and in the mornings I frequently have to ask. My go to is “excuse me, would you mind if I sat?”, sometimes followed with “it’s difficult for me to stand”. If I’m in the seat when someone else gets on who has a more visible complaint, I will either head it off by making eye contact with the person in the priority seat opposite and saying “I’m sorry, I can’t get up – would you mind?” or I will smile at the newcomer and say “I’m sorry. I know it doesn’t look like it, but I do need this seat.” There’s a special place in my heart for the guy who takes the same train as me who will always get up and offer me his seat without asking if he sees me get on the train and there are no free seats. He’s definitely not reading this, but dude, you make my day.

      You could also check with your local transport company – Transport for London has just introduced a badge for hidden impairments that says “please offer me a seat” which seems to be making inroads.

      1. Shay*

        My strat is to sit on the floor. I hate asking people for seats due to extreme social anxiety and it just turns out to be a super easy way to get almost everyone out of the priority seating area.

        Also, someone with a similar strat wrote a blog post about their experience doing it and other issues with public transit as a disabled person, which gave me the idea. link in reply to this.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        I have one of those badges and it’s AMAZING.

        I get offered seats every day on the Central Line in rush hour. This is one of the busiest lines – it’s like Lord of the Flies on wheels.

        Someone made a comment on here saying it was sinister to have badges labelling disabled people. But the badge has helped me so much. It’s really restored my faith in people actually.

    14. Observer*

      I haven’t read the reponses yet, but I have some thoughts that I hope will be helpful.

      Firstly, I think you handled tings in a stellar manner. You were in a tough spot and kept it together for your son.

      Attacking you was rude and I don’t think that it would be excusable even if they did NOT get seats. Being an adult doesn’t give anyone license to treat anything that you perceive as absolute truth. Nor is it a license to to say anything in their minds, or comment on people’s parenting. So even if they had been correct about what they were thinking, they would have been wrong about how they spoke to you. So, what it comes down to is, why worry about what they think about YOUR manners, when they don’t have any at all? Of course, that line of thought is easier said than done, but I think that reminding yourself of this might help.

      On the asking a child for their seat, I hear you. But, it might be helpful to be aware that it’s not always coming from a bad place, just from lack of information. In communities where respect for elders, etc. is a strong value, it’s common for children to be expected to volunteer their seats and parents routinely tell their children to get up. Of course smart / polite people don’t ask kids specifically and CERTAINLY don’t make comments or yell. But, people often don’t realize that there are good practical reasons why it’s a bad idea, in general or for a specific child. Perhaps a neutral line like “my pediatrician says it’s not a safe idea” might work with the clueless people. It’s vague enough not to give anything away, but it’s true enough that you don’t have to explain to your son why you are telling fibs. And it should shut up anyone who isn’t a jerk.

    15. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

      This isn’t particular to your situation, exactly, but this seems like a time for the phrase: assholes are going to asshole.

      I had a older man yell me on the bus the other day for not giving up my seat (one of the sideways facing “disabled” seats). I am massively pregnant. Obviously pregnant even under a coat. “about to pop” pregnant. Getting in and out of a regular seat involves sliding sideways, which causes the sensation of my pelvis ripping in two. And this guy chose to yell at me, instead of the teen boy sitting next to me (who may have had his own reason for not getting up, but was not visibly in need of a seat, unlike me) or anyone else for that matter. Someone else got up and offered him a seat, but he declared he “needed” mine (apparently he needs to be on the left side of the bus?). I moved to the vacated seat and said something like “Only a very mean person choses to yell at a pregnant woman for wanting to sit.”

      Those women, like the man I encountered, are assholes. If someone declines to get up when asked, the assumption is they need the seat. Anyone who yells afterwards is an asshole. I understand that it’s different with a child present, but I don’t want you to feel at all bad for how you reacted. I do think that it’s appropriate to teach children that some people are just mean, and that we should do our best to ignore mean people.

    16. Katie Beth*

      I don’t see any problem asking a child to give their seat to someone who needs it. Children should be taught to give people in need their seats without being asked. However, these people certainly shouldn’t have been rude. People should be understanding of invisible disabilities.

    17. anonagain*

      I’m so sorry you had to deal with that, Thurs. I think you handled it really well.

      I also really like your strategy of not singling anyone out when you ask for seat. A few other people have mentioned this. It’s my preferred strategy, too, and I would love to see it become a more standard practice.

    18. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      You handled this well. I definitely would have yelled and/or burst into tears.
      Also FWIW, I grew up in a large, North Eastern U.S. city and asking a child to give up their seat on public transit is very unusual. I often end up trying to get parents traveling with kids to take my seat.

  37. BreakUp McGee*

    Just broke up with a guy after three months. I’m feeling a lot of emotions right now (relief, sadness, fear of possible aftermath) and having difficulty sitting still right now. Any advice? I’ve already been to the gym, so I supposed I could clean my apartment.

    1. Alpha Bravo*

      Not exactly the same situation, but missing my spouse has led to all sorts of household projects. Cleaning, hanging wallpaper, replacing old flooring, setting up my home office/studio. Beats sitting around crying.

    2. MilkMoon (UK)*

      Clean your space, it will do you all kinds of good.

      Also my breakup comfort food was always a cheese toastie with a bowl of tomato soup to dip it in, if you get peckish.

    3. Anono-me*

      For me, getting a hair cut always seemed to help me let go of all my complicated feelings about the ex. ( I think I saw South Pacific too many times.)

    4. BreakUp McGee*

      Thanks all! I took a long nap and have a pizza cooking right now. It was the right decision, but I’m still sad and working through my emotions.

      1. DDJ*

        That sucks, sorry you’re going through that. Make sure you give yourself a break. Allow yourself to feel sad and grieve the loss. A lot of people will jump in with “you’re better off” and “he doesn’t deserve you anyway,” but you DO get to be sad about it.

        I also like organizing my closets when I’m having a bad time. Loud music and organizing. Get yourself some fancy bins from a dollar store if you like that sort of thing, and get things nice and organized and looking smart.

    5. Clever Name*

      Let’s see, right after I told my husband I was divorcing him (and I planned on keeping the house) I moved a bunch of useless pavers out of the garden and gave them away. As the divorce process moved along, I gave away everything he gave me (which was surprisingly little, given that we were together nearly 20 years; a telling sign).

      Getting a pedicure or a massage is nice. I called my girlfriends and we went out to dinner.

  38. The Other Dawn*

    I had a muscle spasm in my lower back, right side. It happened Wednesday night while I was working out with the trainer. It scared the crap out of him because I basically yelled out, fell on my knees and the kettle bell went flying. He helped me up and I sat for a few minutes and then went home. I’ve had lots of these spasms over the years, but it’s been probably eight years or so since i had one this bad. It really took me by surprise.

    I’m used to muscle spasms and know they take awhile to work themselves out, and I was prepared for the immediate stiffening up, followed by trouble walking and turning over in bed. I’m also used to the way it basically tilts my pelvis to whatever side had the spasm, which makes me look like my hips are out of alignment and makes me walk funny. Once the muscle loosens over the course of a week, I go back to looking normal and like I’m in alignment. This time, though, I’ve got the added fun of a sharp pain, kind of at the bottom of the rib cage in the middle of the right side of my back. I know it’s related to the fact that I can’t straighten up all the way and my hips are out of whack, but holy crap it hurts. Sitting and laying down eases the pain, which stinks because I need to walk for my lower back on the left to feel better (can’t win). It actually feels just like when I had the tummy tuck last year and spent a week in pain until I could walk fully upright.

    Not sure even what my question is. I guess I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions for how to work this out or anything that might help for that upper back pain (I honestly think it feels worse than lower back pain…). I’m taking muscle relaxers, but it doesn’t feel as though they’re doing much. Tylenol isn’t helping. I can’t take NSAIDs. I’m using Salon Pas patches, which don’t really help. I do have my dad’s lidocaine patches I grabbed when we cleaned out the house, but they don’t seem to stick very well.

    Oh, I got my second round of cortisone shots Thursday afternoon for my lower back/disc problems. I’m thinking they will work this time. Hopefully I don’t need them a third time. The discomfort during the procedure wasn’t as bad this time, which was nice, and the pain afterwards from the shots was almost nonexistent. (The woman that went in before me for her shot sounded like a cat in heat. LOL)

    1. fposte*

      One possibility, from what you describe, is that you’ve had some muscling overtighten to try keep things stable. I say this because I get this a lot, so there’s obviously some projecting going here :-).

      Some things you can try in that case: heat, which loosens the muscle a little. A big spread (like heating pad or a hot bath) is probably better than a small patch, because sometimes the part that hurts isn’t the tightest part, just the weakest part in the chain. You can also try foam-rollering or tennis ball massage in the area; start gently and if it doesn’t hurt or hurts so good you can up the pressure. And again, I’d spread around the area, not just stick to the pain spot.

      Hope it improves soon! There’s nothing like an extra helping of pain spots when you’ve already got a big one on the boil.

    2. nep*

      For whatever it’s worth — I have had huge relief from applying castor oil when I have back pain. Whenever I feel my the pain starting, I go to bed with my back slathered in castor oil.
      Also arnica oil. I gather it’s generally suggested for muscle soreness after strenuous work / workout. I’ve used it just once when I had crazy upper back/neck pain. The effect was astounding.
      Call me crazy, but I swear by the castor oil, and I will definitely use arnica oil again. Of course results vary depending on person and cause of pain. Just putting it out there.

    3. Call me St. Vincent*

      That stinks! Have you tried those little heated packs that stick onto you? They sell them at the pharmacy and are generally disposable. Sometimes it’s easier to use those than a heating pad because they don’t need to be held up and stay on if you get up.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I love those. I’m trying to work out making a permanent one that will hold the packs, since the ones you buy for them are not meant to last and they rip. Just can’t figure out fastening.

        Heat helps me when my back goes out. I have a heating pad also.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Minerals. Calcium, magnesium, potassium. I am not sure which ones would be appropriate and I am not sure what a good dosage would be for your setting, if you did need these things.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I know this sound counter intuitive. Because of a rare medical condition, I awaken in muscle spasms. Mr. Bibliovore has begun to wake me up in the morning with a frozen gel pack for my back spasm. Less than five minutes, I am okay, and then I have a hot bath.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I decided to start with a heating pad and see how that goes, mainly because that’s what I have on hand and it hurts to have to walk around much. So I’m sitting here watching Ocean’s Eleven while I soak in the heat and hang with the kitties. It’s one of my favorite movies: I love heist movies, plus there’s Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and George Clooney all in one place. :)

      If this doesn’t work then I’ll move on to some of the other suggestions. Thanks!

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Ocean’s 11 is one of my all time faves and I am totally stoked for 8 coming out this summer.

            If you’re a fan of heist type stuff, I also have to recommend Leverage.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              The show Leverage? Yes, I watched that series until the end and loved it!

              I always watch Ocean’s 11 before I go to Las Vegas. And I listen to “A Little Less Conversation” in the car on the way to the airport. It just gets me in the Vegas mood.

    6. Meow meow*

      Does massage help at all? I recently got a self back massager from the Body Back company, which is an S-shaped manual massager and is great for working out knots.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      I sat/laid with the heating pad on full blast last night while watching TV and I feel like it helped. I still have pain today, but at least I was able to walk through the grocery store without wanting to die. I bought some tennis balls so I can wash and dry my down jacket, so I’ll give those a try on my back later. Still popping the muscle relaxers, too.

  39. Sun Sensitive*

    For various reasons I have to avoid sun exposure, which can make things very warm in the summer. Nike just released a sport hijab that could potentially help with some of my issues (still waiting to see if it is sun protective at all). For any Muslim readers, would it be appropriate for me as a non-Muslim woman to wear it? I’m sun sensitive, but I really want to be culturally sensitive as well. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hijabi*

      I am a Muslim woman who covers my hair, and I say go for it! And please come back and let us know how it works; I need a sports hijab.

    2. Lauren R*

      I’m not Muslim so take this with a large grain of salt. (Maybe Hijabi can confirm or clarify if willing?) But my understanding, from what I’ve read on the topic, is that this wouldn’t be offensive or cultural appropriation unless you called it a hijab and treated it as one. Like if you were to just refer to it as a regular headscarf and use it to prevent sun exposure, it’s not necessarily appropriation because it’s not really the item itself that has an inherent religious significance but rather the person’s reason for wearing it and the cultural practices surrounding it that give it meaning – which is what turns what could be a plain old headcovering for anyone into a hijab that holds a deeper significance to the person for religious/cultural reasons. The feelings and practices surrounding the object are more important than the object itself, and even something that’s intended for use as a hijab isn’t automatically a hijab based on that fact alone, since the name is dependent on the practice and not the item. Some people wear scarves over their hair to sleep at night, or cover their head when undergoing chemo, and other things like that – and the act of covering their hair/heads isn’t religious in nature and wouldn’t be called a hijab or considered one by people who practice the religion. And conversely the exact same scarf used for those other purposes could then be used as a hijab by a Muslim woman if desired.

      Of course, it’s possible that someone may see you wearing this item and assume you were using it as a hijab. If approached by someone who was offended or curious, you could just explain it’s a scarf used for medical reasons and not intended as a hijab for religious ones. And you could probably limit those concerns by canceling out the hijab look of the item to some extent, such as by leaving a little hair out or something along those lines. Since someone using it as a hijab would be aiming to keep their hair covered with it, I imagine many would see that and connect the dots.

      Again I’m not Muslim so please don’t go based on my word alone as I could very well be misinformed. But this is what I’ve read on the subject in the past, and it may be a good place to start when looking into the topic further. Hope you find something that helps with the sun!

      1. Hijabi*

        This is really interesting! I agree with you, Lauren, that the significance of the hijab is more the religious reasoning than the physical material used to cover the hair. I’m not sure how I would even talk about Islam and cultural appropriation. Islam is a religion, not a culture. Muslims from many different cultures wear hijab (and the way they wear hijab is informed by their cultural background). And of course, being white doesn’t preclude someone from being Muslim.

        I do get bothered by all the articles about Muslim women whose titles reference “lifting the veil” or “behind the veil”. Or those articles wherein the author tries wearing a hijab for a day or two in order to understand what Muslim women go through. These articles share the common fallacy that hijab defines a Muslim woman’s religious experience. I haven’t always worn the hijab, and I did not identify as less Muslim when I didn’t cover my hair. Tbh, wearing hijab is a small part of my practice. There also seems to be a tinge of orientalism or exoticization behind some Western representations of hijab.

        And of course, Muslims are not the only people who cover their hair for religious purposes. And that’s not even getting into the secular reasons someone may choose to cover their hair (everything from chemotherapy-induced hair loss to a bad hair day to wanting to protect yourself from the sun).

    3. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I have to limit sun exposure due to a past case of melanoma. Tilley hats are great for protecting sensitive skin and come in a variety of types for both men and women. I don’t work for them or have any association other than being a very satisfied customer.

    4. Salem*

      Muslim women here. You have nothing to worry about. Please don’t even think about this. Women across time, all over the world, from many other cultures wear scarves on their head for all kinds of reasons. You have NOTHING to worry about, you shouldn’t even be thinking about this and I am not even at all sure why you think it is an issue. You can’t appropriate something like this. Not even close.

    5. another muslim*

      You are very kind to ask this question. While I don’t don the scarf, I wouldn’t be offended if you wore it, even if you were not Muslim.

  40. Lauren R*

    I’ve mentioned my dog Thumper here before and asked for advice regarding her liver disease. Everyone was so nice and I really appreciate it! She did really well for a while, and had a nice life for longer than her scans and biopsy would have suggested. Sadly she took a turn for the worse over the holidays and the liver disease started causing neurological problems for her (she’d get confused and just couldn’t move around too well due to lack of coordination) and she didn’t want to eat much or really do anything but sleep. I talked with my vet shortly after Christmas and made plans to let her go the following day, and sadly that night she ended up having a seizure and I had to say goodbye at the emergency vet. It was very scary for me but I think it was ultimately the best way for her to go, because the last thing she probably had any true awareness of was falling asleep cuddled up in bed. From her perspective that was the ideal situation I think. She hated the vet’s office and even if everyone there is really great and it would have been nice for me to have the proper goodbye, I really don’t think it would have been very peaceful for her to have that as her last memory.

    My vet was so nice (as always) and kept our appointment so I could go talk to her about it, which helped a lot. I miss her so much. She was 13 and I know it was her time but it’s still hard. I adopted her when she was 12, so we only got to have a little over a year together and it hurts to know we couldn’t have more time. But she was the best dog I could have asked for. My previous dog Cassie passed a few months before I got Thumper and I’d had her for 15 years. When Cassie died, I genuinely just thought I’d never be whole again and even if it sounds silly I really just wanted to go with her. I felt so alone and like everything was just wrong without her and would never get better. Finding my sweet Thumper changed that for me. She taught me that I could let go of the pain I felt and move forward, without it being a betrayal or a constant reminder of what was gone. She brought me such love and joy. I’m so sad she’s gone but mainly I just know I was so lucky to have gotten to have her for the time I did. I feel much better than I did with Cassie, not because I loved her more but because Thumper showed me there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’m so grateful to her for that.

    The rescue that I got Thumper from called me the other day to let me know they had a dog they thought might be a good fit for me. They’re such nice people and said they know I may not be ready but told me I could come meet her if I wanted, and decide if I wanted to potentially foster or adopt. I said I’d love to possibly foster her but after seeing pictures and hearing all about her, I kind of feel like it’ll turn into adopting anyway haha I’m going to go meet her tomorrow! From everything I’ve heard she sounds like a sweetheart and a great match for me. She is definitely younger than I’m used to though at 3 1/2 years. Apparently she’s pretty calm and good at keeping herself busy with her toys and stuff when you have other things going on, but I do really love seniors and that “mature” mellowed-out personality they tend to have and kind of assumed that’s what I’d be looking for again this time. Thumper was definitely a character though and could be a handful sometimes so maybe age isn’t always the best indicator haha And it would be nice to have a dog with a little more energy for walks, since both Cassie (when she got older) and Thumper weren’t really up for longer ones.

    We’ll see how it goes!! She’s very cute and it’s funny because she’s a mixed breed (like Cass and Thumper were) and sort of looks like a mix of both of them in a way. Like if you saw a picture of just two of them side by side you wouldn’t really see too much resemblance but she definitely has a lot of each of their physical traits all jumbled up together! That feels like a “sign” to me. Trying to take it slow and not get ahead of myself, and just do what feels right, whether it’s adopting or just fostering till she finds a home or telling them I’m not quite there at all yet. I’m excited though, even if it’s nerve-wracking! Wish me luck!

    1. fposte*

      Ah, Lauren, what a journey. It sounds like you’ve had some amazing dogs in your life; whether this new one is right for you or not, I hope you find another one to bring you joy.

    2. harley*

      I’m so sorry for your losses, Lauren. I don’t think it’s silly to have felt that way after losing Cassie, I felt the same after my dog passed (from liver disease, actually, so double-hugs if you want them, I know how hard that is). Not to get all woo-woo about it, but I think sometimes certain dogs come into our lives at exactly the right moment, and maybe this new girl is meant to spend some time with you, whether it’s a fostering or adopting situation, or even just a tiny bit of time on her way to another home, if you’re not ready at all. GOOD LUCK! <3

      1. Bibliovore*

        I am sorry for your loss . Good luck with the fostering. I am a foster fail with my little old lady dog. And yes it all worked out for the best

    3. Basia, also a Fed*

      I’m so sorry. You gave her an amazing year and it sounds like she really appreciated it. We lost our beloved Norton, who was 14, recently. Good luck with your foster – fingers crossed that it turns into a foster failure!

    4. anon scientist*

      Good luck! I lost my old dog 2 years ago and I felt like you said, like I just wanted to go with him. It was a dark time for me, that is for sure. I got a puppy about 6 months later. In some ways it was too soon. I missed my old dog and couldn’t help comparing the puppy to him. In other ways the timing was fine, because this raucous, chewing, biting, barking, adorable monster consumed all of my energy and attention. I didn’t have time to be as depressed about losing my old buddy. I still miss him every day, but I don’t feel that crushing sadness anymore.

      Whew, sorry, that got long! Whatever happens with the possible foster, I wish you well!

    5. Starryemma*

      Senior dogs are such sweeties. I’m glad she went in a way that was peaceful for you both. I hope this new pup is wonderful too.

  41. Loopy*

    Thanks to everyone who helped with tips to help me get more done over the week. I am feeling much better about this weekend, though I’m not entirely where I want to be. There’s hope though!

    I brought a book to read during my oil change and realized I absolutely can’t tune out the TV in the waiting room. I didn’t realize tubing out news anchors is nothing like tuning out children’s cartoons.

    So, cartoons it is.

  42. Already Hungry*

    Favorite house warming gift?

    I don’t want to bring wine, so I was thinking of getting a small, useful kitchen item. My friend gave me a Chef’n Looseleaf Kale and Greens Stripper and it’s awesome! I sent her before and after pictures of my kale, hahaha.

    1. Enough*

      For all my nieces and nephews I got them a small measuring glass when they got married. It does teaspoons and tablespoons. It’s at Wal-Mart.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t know how much they are, but I once received a mini food processor and I love it. I still have it 22 years later. I want to say it holds maybe two cups, if that. I use it mainly to chop onions and garlic, as well as make small amounts of bread crumbs. I just pull it out, throw an onion in and pulse it a few times. So fast and easy!

    3. Lily Evans*

      My parents got me a really good vacuum to replace my $20 Dirt Devil I’d been using and I love that thing. I have a long haired cat who sheds a lot and having a vacuum that actually worked well was a revelation.

      1. Lily Evans*

        Somehow I completely missed the “small kitchen appliance” part of your comment, sorry! Immersion blenders are a great choice since they’re not super expensive, small, super useful, and not a lot of people have them already!

    4. Candy*

      Plants! They instantly warm up a new place and even the most neglectful plant owner can keep a Snake plant alive. Plus: no wrapping required and they’re usually cheaper than a bottle of wine.

    5. Nye*

      A microplane grater is really useful in the kitchen, and not too pricey (definitely <$20). Other kitchen items that people can always use are nice spatulas or wooden spoons, or a set of good kitchen towels.

    6. Dead Quote Olympics*

      I would love this as a housewarming idea.

      Microplane ™ grater. My husband makes all kinds of fun of me because of my assertion it was life changing. Plus they may sell it in your supermarket, so bonus points for ease of acquisition!

      I also love my particular garlic press because it is self-cleaning; we’ve had at least three that have been terrible to clean out.

      I also love my narrow silicone spatula, perfect for getting the last globs out of jars. You could make a small bouquet of silicone spatulas of different types.

      Depending on what kind of cook your recipient is, a mortar and pestle is something a lost of people wouldn’t buy for themselves but is surprisingly useful, as is a cheap coffee grinder dedicated to grinding whole spices – it makes a huge difference in flavor if you grind spices right before you use them.

      What about a sampler of exotic salts instead of wine? Unlike other trendy ingredients, it’s sure to be used, because…salt.

        1. Nye*

          Seems like! I love your other suggestions, too – especially the spice grinder! Maybe I’ll finally get my act together and get myself one.

          Which reminds me, Penzey’s sells good-looking gift boxes of spices and such, which would also make a nice hospitality/housewarming gift for a cook.

    7. Already Hungry*

      Oooo, all fantastic ideas!! Thanks, all. I’m leaving the house as we speak. Might end up with a few things mentioned above :)

    8. Temperance*

      My favorite all-time housewarming gift was this really beautiful cheeseboard that was made out of scrap minerals left over from counter installations.

    9. Jane Lane*

      Someone got us a fire extinguisher and I thought it was a great idea. Now I always give it as a housewarming gift (along with something more fun).

  43. OldMom*

    Hey all. Just got a message from my kid in Hawaii that they are getting take cover alerts saying missile heading their way. Appears to be a mistake but I’m having trouble finding more info. Anyone know more?

    1. fposte*

      For stuff like this I find Twitter to be helpful. I just found a headline of “Hawaii emergency management accidentally sends out an alert of an incoming missile.”

    2. Rosie M. Banks*

      All I know is what I Googled, but NORAD (and everyone else) is assuring the public that it is a false alarm.

    3. Hellanon*

      Apparently it’s some kind of a hoax – it’s been all over Twitter this morning, along with actual information from state authorities.

    4. Lauren R*

      The Washington Post has an article on it. It’s a false alarm as others stated. Must have been pretty terrifying for some people though! I’ll post a link as a reply or you could check their homepage for it.

    5. Kuododi*

      According to CNN some dingus pressed the wrong button during shift change and set off all that scary craziness. I hope you were able to get in touch with your beloveds and be reassured that all is well!!! Blessings!!!

    6. This Daydreamer*

      Yikes! I hope you’ve recovered from the scare! I was flabbergasted when I read about the whole mess.

    7. anon scientist*

      I feel for everyone in Hawaii who had to go through this. A number of years ago, I lived in a town that had once been destroyed by a tsunami, and now has a tsunami warning siren that goes off every day at noon as a test. One night it went off at midnight. I freaked out, grabbed my cats and dog, jumped into the car and drove out the road. I finally went home after an hour or so because I couldn’t find anything online saying there was a tsunami coming. Next day the city posted that it was a glitch in the system. I was really irritated because it was pretty scary.

  44. Stephanie*

    So I’m moving to Metro Detroit in May after I graduate. Starting to look around for housing now (before I get busy for the semester). Any suggestions on where to live? I’ll be working in Dearborn (slight giveaway who I’m working for, perhaps) and would like to keep my commute around 30 minutes. Considering parts of Detroit and Dearborn, but curious to other areas that others recommend.

    1. Courtney*

      My university is in Dearborn! (A dead giveaway of where I go to school, but hey, bet I could also guess who you’re working for!) Anything in particular you’re looking for in the area you live in?

      1. Courtney*

        Realized after responding that I should probably go ahead and throw some suggestions out there too in case I don’t get back to this later. I really like parts of Dearborn and Detroit. Corktown immediately comes to mind for neighborhoods in Detroit – cool area with lots of great food and places to check out. Beyond that, I know a couple of my professors live in Sherwood Forest.

        Ann Arbor is my dream city I hope to move to after graduation, but it’s a bit outside of your commute range (probably closer to 40 minutes) and is definitely more expensive.

        The suburbs north of Detroit (Bloomfield, Farmington, etc.) are generally considered safer and are more family-oriented, but is very expensive, not much diversity if that’s something that matters to you, doesn’t skew younger, etc.

        I grew up Downriver (which will mean nothing to you since you’re not from the area, but it just means cities just south of Detroit River – Lincoln Park, Taylor, Southgate, Wyandotte, Melvindale, etc.) Wyandotte is probably the only one in that grouping that I would recommend – they have a nice downtown area on the Detroit river, and I definitely feel safer walking around there at night than I do in most of Detroit.

        1. Stephanie*

          You would be correct in the employer. :) I interned last summer and actually worked across the street from your campus last summer (in the mall, no less…).

          I’m actually familiar with Downriver! My friend’s husband is from Southgate and I met her over there one evening when she was visiting her in-laws. Someone else recommended Wyandotte–I’ll check it out.

          In terms of what I’m looking for–something on the younger side (doesn’t have to be super trendy or all fresh college grads, but at least a mix of ages would be good), a downtown with some restaurants and bars, diversity. Some walkability would be great, but I know