weekend free-for-all – February 10-11, 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: Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests, by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. This is an exhaustive oral history of the show from the start, from its fights with censors to the fights among its stars to how the writing gets done. You’ll learn things like how different celebrity hosts treated people, and why everyone hated Chevy Chase.

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

{ 1,476 comments… read them below }

  1. Leela*

    I’m trying to read more non-fiction but find a lot of it too dry for my tastes. Does anyone have any good non-fiction recommendations for a fiction reader?

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Any particular subjects you find interesting/would like to know more about?

    2. Okay then*

      Granted I listened to the audio book, but I really enjoyed The Storm Before The Storm by Mike Duncan – it’s the history of the beginning of the fall of the Roman Republic.

      I love history but I tend to just read fantasy/scifi.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berednt – it’s just so good. His writing is brilliantly engaging and it flows so well.

      Tracks by Robyn Davidson – your more typical retelling of an adventure but she’s really down-to-Earth and very honest.

      I’m an avid fiction reader but I really enjoyed the above two.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I love that book! I also love The City of Falling Angels, also by John Berendt. It takes place in Venice, and it’s so good!

      2. fposte*

        Oh, I loved Tracks. I think they made a movie out of it at one point but that it didn’t make much impact in the U.S.

      3. Almost Violet Miller*

        I loved the film based on the book and have had the book on my reading list since then. Thanks for the reminder, I should look into getting it.

      4. Parenthetically*

        LOVED Tracks! Read it aloud to my husband on a road trip and it made the long miles go much faster.

    4. nep*

      Depends on your interests.
      I really enjoy these two books by Peter Hessler (about his time in China) — River Town and Oracle Bones. Those are a couple that come to mind.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil

      Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

      Pretty is What Changes: Tough Choices, the Breast Cancer Gene, and Learning How to Live in the DNA Age by Jessica Queller

      Myths of Gender: Biological Theories about Women and Men by Anne Fausto-Sterling

      The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe V. Wade by Ann Fessler

      You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen

      Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover

      On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

      Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol J. Clover

      A History of Mistresses by Elizabeth Abbott

      Teaching Malcolm X: Popular Culture and Literacy Edited by Theresa Perry

      Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell (definitely get the audiobook version)

      The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much? by Leslie Bennetts

      The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

      1. Florida*

        Another vote for Weapons of Math Destruction, Newjack (which I think was an AAM recommendation once), On Writing, and Henrietta Lacks.

        If I remember correctly, Newjack and Henrietta Lacks were both very short, easy reads.

          1. Nye*

            Hm, I’ve been thinking of trying Henrietta Lacks but was really turned off by interviews I’ve heard with the author. (I felt she grossly misrepresented the scientific side if things in favor of the story she preferred to tell.) But I’ve heard enough raves about the book I wonder if it’s much better than the interviews make it out to be.

          2. Kali*

            I’m studying genetics, and we had to discuss the ethics of Henrietta lacks in our tutorial session the other day. :( I read the book a few years ago, so I was able to go on a proper rant about it.

      2. Anonymous Analyst*

        Deborah Tannen’s You just don’t understand made my so angry to read (it was a required text for my feminist epistemology course in college, but was used mostly as an example with which to critique binary thinking on gender). If you pick that one up, make sure to read it with an eye for the time it was written in, and with a grain of salt, or in tandem with Anne Fausto-Sterling’s book, which Anonymous Educator also recommended.

        Also I second Newjack.

      3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Actually, to piggyback off this, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley) might be a great way to go. Very narrative but still non-fiction (and mind-blowing).

      1. nep*

        Oh good reminder — I liked King Leopold’s Ghost also.
        How could I forget — one of my all-time favourite books, Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation, in which she (and various drivers) visit locales from the lives of presidents who were assassinated. It’s a mix of history, travelogue, and human observation. Your high school history class probably skipped over the weird free love cults of the 19th century, but here we go visit their house, and muse that a guy who could live here and not get laid probably had some mental issues. Or as her toddler nephew observes, that the house looked like it escaped from a Scooby Doo episode.

      1. King Friday XIII*

        Honestly I love everything Sarah Vowell writes and I was scrolling down to recommend her so yes please.

    7. Rainy*

      If you are interested in epidemiology, The Ghost Map by Steven Berlin Johnson is my favourite non-fiction book. Everything by him is great.

      I also really recommend Mary Roach–fun stuff.

      1. I love it when you call me big panda*

        I read pretty evenly between fiction and non-fiction. I think anything by Mary Roach would be great for someone avoiding dry non-fiction. She is an engaging and entertaining writer.

      2. ace*

        Second both of these! I don’t think I’ve ever run across someone else who read The Ghost Map. If you’re into armchair epidemiology and podcasts, I recently started “This Podcast Will Kill You” – the hosts are two epidemiology students who spend an episode on various diseases – and it struck me as very much along the lines of The Ghost Book.

        I love everything Mary Roach writes, but Packing for Mars and Stiff are my two favorites.

    8. ann perkins*

      I have been reading a ton of addiction memoirs lately (mostly heroin) – they are fascinating and sad but all written by people who are now sober:

      Shedding the Reptile
      Dirty White Boy
      Running in Circles
      American Drug Addict

      My boyfriend gave me a Kindle Unlimited subscription, so I believe all of those were free. I also read Without a Doubt by Marcia Clark, which is super depressing to read how badly the LA PD botched the OJ case in addition to Judge Ito being a complete joke.

      1. Rainy*

        If you like heroin memoirs and music, you might consider The Book of Drugs, by Mike Doughty. Talks about his struggles with heroin and other drugs as well as his struggles with the music business. He was the frontman for Soul Coughing and then went solo some years ago.

    9. AnonEMoose*

      I’d say to pick a subject that interests you and go from there. Some nonfiction books I’ve really enjoyed:

      Amelia Earhart’s Daughters (can’t remember the author) – it’s about the women who served as pilots in WWII, transporting aircraft from the factories to where they were needed. Really good read.

      I’m a big Tudor-Stuart history nerd, so I tend to read a lot (fiction and nonfiction) about that period. Alison Weir’s books tend to be fairly accessible and engaging.

      Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs, by Barbara Mertz is a good (and fun to read) overview of Ancient Egypt.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Sex with Kings and Sex with the Queen, both by Eleanor Herman. Stories of royal affairs in several different periods in history.

    10. Fiennes*

      Have lately enjoyed the Isaacson bio of Leonardo da Vinci, and am currently reading Frankopan’s The Silk Roads, which is thought-provoking and scholarly without being dry.

      One of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read is the biography of NC Wyeth. For some unfathomable reason, this book isn’t a classic and is now hard to find, but you could probably request it through your library. It’s a wonderful bio, a sterling work of art criticism, AND a Gothic tale with a couple of reveals that will leave you slack-jawed with shock. Really worth the effort to find.

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        I have just started on the Leonardo biography. One of our museums is hosting a Leonardo exhibit this spring and summer and I will be a docent. I am so excited.

    11. Florida*

      Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen about serial killer. This was an excellent book.

      Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King about racism, Groveland boys. This was particularly disturbing to me because I like about 45 minutes from Groveland. Another excellent book.

      Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent. I think it was recommended here once, which is why I read it. It’s sort of like the gender version of Black Like Me (another book you should read, if you haven’t). A woman lives as a man for one year. This was pretty good. Not excellent. It’s top-of-mind because I just finished it.

      All three of these are narratives, but nonfiction

      1. Max from St. Mary's*

        Absolutely Larsen! Garden of Beasts is brilliant, and Dead Wake is also good…though Devil in the White City might still be my favorite.

      2. Steph Eats*

        +1 for Erik Larsen! Dead Wake was incredible.

        Also recommend Unbreakable by Laura Hildebrand – it’s so so good!

    12. Felicia*

      Depends what you’re interested in but I like non fiction that’s written in more of the style of a story. My favourites have been A Year of Living Biblically by A.J Jacobs, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

      Celebrity autobiographies can be a good transition from fiction. I really like Neil Patrick Harris’ choose your own autobiography

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Shaping Humanity by John Gurche. He’s the artist who did the models in the Smithsonian’s Hall of Human Origins, and the book is a fascinating mix of art and science. My favorite detail was his trying to decide when the whites of the eyes appeared, which isn’t preserved in the fossil record. I had never realized what a difference that makes in reading faces.

    14. A Nonny Mouse*

      I am really enjoying Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. I like his writing and he has some interesting views on the early history of humans and the forces that drive our history, and I am not a history buff.

      1. Thlayli*

        Second sapiens – the history of the human race from ape to modern times. Could not put it down. Also:
        – freakonomics
        – all of Jon ronsons books

        1. Thlayli*

          Oh also the science of discworld series weaves fiction and non-fiction together so might be a good start for a fiction reader wanting to get into non-fiction.

          1. Kali*

            Science of the Discworld is why I study genetics. I read it as a child. If I ever win a Nobel prize, I’ll be quoting Sir Terry; “You gave me wings when you showed me birds”.

    15. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I like memoirs: non fiction but often still a sort of plot to follow. Garlic and Sapphires is on the surface about a NYT restauarant review but also delves into identity and personality. The Boys on the Boat, about the US Olympic rowing team for the 1939 olympics, is awesome and well told. I like most of Bill Bryson’s books which are mostly about travel. A Walk in the Woods is his most popular but I also like I’m A Stranger Here Myself which is a collection of his columns he wrote about living in New Hampshire. The Thunderbolt Kid is about growing up in the 50s and has some really funny parts.

    16. Reba*

      One of my top ever books is “the Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman. Caution, it is heartbreaking.

      “Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot is similarly amazing.

    17. Typhon Worker Bee*

      I used to read very little non-fiction, thinking that I got far too much of that at work thank you very much. The book that changed my mind was The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddartha Mukherjee. It’s long, but well worth it – it’s a beautifully written history of our understanding of cancer, from archaeological evidence of ancient tumours to genome sequencing.

      I’d also recommend anything by Mary Roach. She’s written books about death, sex, food, ghosts, and more, and she is very very funny. I laughed so much at Stiff, which is about how human cadavers are used in research, that it didn’t feel decent.

      Jon Ronson is also good – he writes with a nice light touch.

      1. Typhon Worker Bee*

        Oh, and just to add – I find that with a few rare exceptions, I can’t read a non-fiction book the same way I read a novel. I can read fiction for hours on end, but I seem to hit a wall with non-fiction much faster than that. Don’t be put off if you find you need shorter sessions! There are even some books that I’ve read as slowly as a couple of pages per day – they were still very much worth reading, but they were pretty dense, required lots of thought, or were otherwise more difficult to read.

      2. Nye*

        Seconding all of these recs – Muckerjee and Roach in particular have the very rare skill of writing both engagingly and accurately about science. (Most pop sci is an either/or proposition.)

        I adored Muckerjee’s The Gene as well, it’s a history of the field of genetics. My father, who isn’t in the business, also really enjoyed it.

      3. Red Reader*

        Mukherjee is excellent. (Emperor of all Maladies was also done as a Ken Burns documentary that was fascinating, featuring him as a speaker.)

    18. 14 years*

      Rejected princesses by Jason Porath. 1-4 page histories of women through the ages. It reads like your friend is telling you a story and has great illustrations

    19. Torrance*

      I want to third the Sarah Vowell recommendation and also suggest anything by Mary Roach. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers tends to be the starter Roach book and it’s great– my personal favourites also include Packing for Mars (space travel-centric) & Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife.

    20. anonagain*

      I second the recommendation for (literary) memoir as a genre to look at. If you like audiobooks at all, I recommend finding memoirs that are narrated by the author.
      I recently listened to and enjoyed:
      Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir both by Jenny Lawson
      The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
      Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

      I also enjoy essay collections. Whether they are all by one person or anthology style, that might be a good option for you. I used to love the Best American Science Writing. If one piece is really dull, you can skip to the next. You get variety and can dip in and out of the book.

      I love non-fiction now, but both of those styles were my gateway from being a fiction-only reader. They were easier to get into than the chunky informational books on a single subject.

      1. The Ludaeig*

        I’m adding another plug for Mary Roach — I enjoy her books and have read some of them several times.
        To me, the best kind of nonfiction reads like fiction. So, agreeing with readers who suggest Erik Larson (Devil in the White City is fantastic, as is Dead Wake). David McCullough can make history quite interesting, as well – his newest book on the Wright Brothers is great, but also his biography on John Adams.
        I also really liked The Poisoner’s Handbook (about the birth of forensic science). I’m a Chicago history and architecture buff, so I suggest They All Fall Down about Richard Nickel (and if you’re into Chicago history, The Sinking of the Eastland by Jay Bonansinga is excellent).
        Also — for quirky and quite good (at least, I thought): The Year of the Goat by Margaret Hathaway — or Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien, which I found fascinating and endearing.

    21. Mimmy*

      Echoing everyone else that it depends on the subjects you’re interested in reading about. I’m partial to anything related to disability inclusion / accessibility and memoirs from people with disabilities. One of my favorites was “Gabby: A Story of Courage, Love and Resilience”, Mark Kelly’s memoir about Gabby Gifford’s recovery after she was shot in 2011.

      I also enjoy some entertainment-related nonfiction; right now, I’m reading “I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution”. It’s extremely long, but as a child of the MTV era, the backstories about the channel and the artists made famous via music videos is really fascinating.

    22. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I really liked David Grann’s The Lost City of Z (which I read years before it became a movie). And Marah Hardt’s Sex in the Sea was pretty interesting, too.

    23. Sparkly Librarian*

      I also prefer fiction, and I found Bill Bryson’s nonfiction works very entertaining. Try: At Home, A Short History of Nearly Everything, The Mother Tongue, or Made in America.

      1. Isobel*

        Yes, I was going to suggest Bill Bryson too. One Summer: America 1927 is also really good and covers a huge range of topics.

    24. Lady Jay*

      Nomandland by Jessica Bruder; covers the rise of “houseless” people living out of RVs and trailers and traveling for work. Surprisingly upbeat and positive tone but honest about the social conditions that led to this situation.

      The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean. Stories about the periodic table of the elements, and the elements themselves; accessible for non-science people and a lot of fun!

    25. Reader*

      If you might like memoirs, I highly recommend The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose and The Tender Bar by J. R Moehringer.

    26. Almost Violet Miller*

      Van Gogh’s Ear. The True Story by Bernadette Murphy. Her storytelling is incredibly engaging. The paralell ways in which she presents her research journey and also the painter’s life and especially the events that had led to Van Gogh cut off his ear (or part of it – read the book to find out!) are brilliant.

    27. Aluminosilicate*

      It seems like it should be fiction, but isn’t:
      “Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants”

      1. Electron Wisperer*

        It helps to at least have sufficient chemistry to recognise that fluorine is an oxidiser of some note, but that it also may have ‘issues’ as a rocket propellant component (And that diflorine dioxide is not going to be a whole lot better!).

        But, yea if you follow “Things I Won’t Work With” this book is for you.

      1. many bells down*

        Ooh, also, “Eruption: The Untold Story of Mt. St. Helens”. There’s a lot of backstory about the logging industry and how that related to the mountain, but once it gets to the actual days leading up to the event it’s really good.

      2. Former Employee*

        Yes, but it’s one of the most depressing books ever. The one guide, Rob Hall, talking with his pregnant wife who was back in New Zealand about what to name their baby girl because he knows he is going to die on the mountain and never see his wife again/never see the baby completely did me in.

    28. LadyKelvin*

      I have always been an avid reader (seriously, I used to be punished by taking my books away as a kid) but never enjoyed non-fiction. It wasn’t until I tried reading books about topics I was interested in in the last 2 years that I really have enjoyed non-fiction. For me, it was books about food, and I get recommendations based upon which Gastropod casts I liked the most. So try thinking about a podcast/topic you really enjoy and find out what other people have enjoyed in that genre. Start there. I’m a big fan of Mike Duncan so I loved Storm Before the Storm which he wrote, and I enjoy food, so Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker (about wine) was a very entertaining read.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The Language of Food by Jurafsky, about the intersection of linguistics and food. I picked it up after an NPR interview in which he explained that restaurant reviews of good expensive places are described with sex metaphors, good cheap places with drug metaphors, and bad places of all stripes with extensive use of the first person. That last one is something I can’t unsee–once the soup if burnt, it becomes this first person narrative of a night out that was supposed to be fun, and turned horribly wrong, and here is a cautionary tale so the gentle reader will not be ensnared.

      2. Sparkly Librarian*

        Oh, food memoirs do it for me. A Year in Provence (built my French vocabulary!) to Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me with Apples to Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany.

    29. Parenthetically*

      I really loved A Crack in the Edge of the World and The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. The first is about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the second is about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary.

      Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking had me in stitches, but it’ll get you in the tear ducts too.

    30. LilySparrow*

      I think Dava Sobel’s work is fascinating and a very immersive, narrative read.
      I loved Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter. The Glass Universe is on my TBR.

      For more contemporary/current events, I enjoyed “The Big Short” and “Arms and the Dudes.”

    31. HannahS*

      Personally, I found two routes into nonfiction, as a major fiction lover. One was biographies and memoirs–which are basically narrative fiction, except true!–and books that were…I don’t know what it’s called. But that thing where each chapter is a self-contained unit. Bill Bryson’s At Home and The Mother Tongue are good examples of that. Mostly because I could just read one chapter, learn, laugh at what was funny, and put it down. There wasn’t pressure from the book to sit down and remember much of what it was saying chapter-to-chapter. Also, each chapter makes good bathroom reading if you’re a quick reader–they feel more like extended interesting articles rather than a Heavy Tome of Much Serious Knowledge.

    32. Boo Berry*

      A Brief History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It’s a pretty charming summary of the history of science and, thus, the history of both the world and humanity told by a non-scientist. It’s very sweet and a lot of fun.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And very good as a book on tape from the library, if you have a long drive. It’s one of my standard fallback “I know we’ll all be happy to listen to this if the new book is boring” selections.

    33. Peanut*

      If you like food, I recommend two essay collections by Jeffrey Steingarten, The Man Who Ate Everything, and also It Must Have Been Something I Ate. He’s a food critic, and his writing in these is so funny.

    34. Rookie Manager*

      As a big fiction fan a couple of non fiction books I’ve enjoyed amd recommended;
      Animal by Sara Pascoe
      Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
      How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.

    35. Aphrodite*

      Depends what interests you have, really. There is so much that is so great. I will read anything by Mary Roach (off-beat science writer with truly quirky interests and a fabulous sense of humor), Simon Winchester (all I can say is simply “amazing!”) and to a lesser extent, Bill Bryson. I loved Bill’s In a Sunburned Country and most of his other books.

      I also enjoy what I call adventure books, like The River of Doubt by Candace Millard (another fantastic writer), Into Thin Air (an oldie but a goodie) and any books that, in my opinion, are deliciously awful. In other words, books about places and adventures where misery is the star and the journey, possibly a horrible death is likely such as wreck diving, deep caving, mosquitoes are the size of 747s and there is enough humidity to drown humanity. I especially love to read these sitting on a comfortable sofa with the refrigerator nearby, the air conditioning and my American bathroom down the hall. Heaven!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I treasure In a Sunburned Country–with Assassination Vacation by Vowell, it’s one I reread every couple of years. We were in Australia at the same time and, yes, it was a heckuva rainy season that year.

      2. that broadway nerd*

        I’ve read In A Sunburned Country about 4 times now. It continues to be one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever encountered (and hilarious to boot!)

    36. Pathfinder Ryder*

      The Secret Loves of Geek Girls edited by Hope Nicholson is an anthology of fans and genre creators’ personal stories.

      How to be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis is a memoir realizing how her literary heroines have shaped her life.

    37. Mephyle*

      Fiction reader here. I differ slightly from the opinion mentioned above that it depends what you’re interested in. Partly true, but good writer can make you interested in a topic you had never thought about before. I wouldn’t have been attracted to at least half of the books below by their title or a description of what they were about, but fortunately I just happened to pick them up and started reading them, and I found them highly recommendable.
      Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
      Anatomy of a Rose and An Obsession With Butterflies by Sharman Apt Russell
      Endurance by Alfred Lansing
      One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw by Witold Rybczynski
      Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris
      Our Own Devices: The Past and Future of Body Technology by Edward Tenner
      I also remember reading and enjoying the adventure travel memoirs of Dervla Murphy many years ago when I otherwise read nothing but fiction.
      Also seconding in particular of the books recommended above; Longitude, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Into Thin Air.
      Also a pitch for one I haven’t read yet, but which sounds very good. I read the author’s blog, and I’m looking forward to reading this book: The Education of Will by Patricia B. McConnell.

      1. wishful thinker*

        I agree – I’ve found some non fiction books on subjects I am not really interested in are fascinating – for example, I am not really a big tennis fan, but Andre Agassi’s “Open” was really good.

        My current non fiction recommendation is “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City”, by Matthew Desmond, it completely changed my mind on some not fully formed beliefs, and even months later parts of it come back to me with force.

      2. Mobuy*

        I also loved Guns Germs and Steel by Diamond. Great book that explains disparities in the world with geography. I just realised that made the book sound boring, but I’m a fiction lover and have read it multiple times.

        Life and Death in Shanghai is a beautiful memoir about a woman who survived the Cultural Revolution in China.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Another Guns Germs Steel enthusiast. I think part of what resonated with me was having been in the Peace Corps and so immersed in a culture with different norms. I thought his deep respect for the subsistence farmers and hunter-gatherers really came through–that there is an incredible amount of learning and stored knowledge in those ways of life. You have to be deeply intelligent to show up in a new landscape and figure out what you can eat or otherwise use. Interacting safely with other groups of humans has a ton of subtle yet widely varying rituals, which you have to learn by practice and observation. Several times I’ve seen an author point out “A was obvious to me but not to the people I was with” and it gets read by people who have only ever lived in the author’s home group as “He’s disparaging the people he’s with as being stupid” which is emphatically not the case.

          This is also a message in Sapiens–that there are a lot of different ways to set up social rules, and you learn the local set by intense observation from infancy.

      3. Woodswoman*

        So glad to see Endurance on your list. This is such a well-written account of Ernest Shackleton’s extraordinary expedition and survival story in Antarctica from 1914-1916, a page-turner that would be unbelievable if someone invented it for a movie, and yet it all happened and no one perished. The accompanying historic photos of the journey add to the compelling narrative. This is a terrific book.

        1. Mephyle*

          I saw Endurance on TV once (I’m not sure which one; there’s a 2000 movie and a 2001 miniseries), and it was ok but it left out some of the most dramatic parts! It was a long time ago, but I remember my disappointment in the movie in that the giant wave and the final slide down the icy mountain into the unknown on South Georgia Island were either omitted or vastly understated.
          The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard is also one of the most gripping polar exploration narratives.

    38. Dr. KMnO4*

      I’m seconding the recommendation of Endurance.
      I would also add:
      Ice Bound by Dr. Jerri Nielsen
      Freakonomics by Dubner and Levitt
      Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins
      Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Loewen
      Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh
      Mindset by Carol Dweck
      Return to the Scene of the Crime by Richard Lindberg
      Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett
      This one is not, strictly speaking, nonfiction, except that when you read it you find out that it probably is. City of Thieves by David Benioff.

    39. JustAnotherJen*

      Mountains beyond Mountains, a biography of Paul Farmer and Partners in Health
      Malcolm Gladwell’s books are pretty entertaining (although, as a mathematician, I sometimes have to resist the urge to throw these against the wall, because they’re almost right, but not quite.) What the Dog Saw is cute, and an easy read.
      I liked the periodic table book by Oliver Sachs, (I think it’s Uncle Tungsten)
      H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald is complicated to explain: it’s both biographical essays about TH White and autobiographic essays about her training a Goshawk

      1. OtterB*

        Another vote for Mountains Beyond Mountains. Or really anything by Tracy Kidder, but I especially loved that one.

    40. Candy*

      Some good non-fiction I’ve read recently:

      Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas – very interesting look at luxury fashion, it’s history and how it lost its exclusivity

      Just Kids by Patti Smith – excellent memoir

      The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries by Jessa Crispin – woman travelling alone memoir

      Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective by Amina Wadud – re-reading the Qur’an from a feminist perspective

      Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – quick weekend read (note: I read this before the babe.net article about him came out so YMMV on whether you’re into reading him discuss relationships)

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Qur’an and Woman sounds really interesting. Had you read the Qur’an beforehand/do you think it would be helpful to have read it beforehand?

    41. Book Lover*

      I enjoy books by Paul Theroux, he wrote a number of different travel books that are really engaging. And capture a different time as many of them are over a decade or two old now.

      Different tone but just as engaging are travel books by Bill Bryson.

      1. Book Lover*

        Looking at my bookcase, I would also suggest ‘When the air hits your brain’ by Frank Vertosick, anything by Atul Gawande, The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean, Disease by Mary Dobson…. I should likely stop there :)

    42. Effie, who is pondering*

      I really enjoyed Rejected Princesses, and the second volume Tough Mothers is available for pre-order! You can also go on the author’s website to read entries before committing to buying the book. It’s a collection of mini-biographies about strong women who should’ve made history and for whatever reasons they’ve been edited out and/or watered down of regular history books.

      1. Relly*

        I came here to mention Ann Rule, especially The Stranger Beside Me, her book about Ted Bundy.

        For anyone who doesn’t know, Ann Rule became friends with Bundy while working as a crime writer in the Pacific Northwest; they volunteered on a suicide hotline together. Rule’s dawning realization that nice, charming Ted is actually a vicious serial killer makes the story all the more of a gut punch.

    43. Temperance*

      I almost exclusively read non-fiction. What kinds of fiction do you like? “When Breath Becomes Air” is really excellent and wonderful and I recommend it to anyone.

    44. Koala dreams*

      A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape from North Korea by Eunsun Kim
      A very sad page-turner, with a kind of happy ending, I cried a lot during reading

      Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
      This book is dry at times, but the format is great: seven short chapters, mostly free-standing, about interesting topics in physics
      I can’t say I understood all of it, but it sure felt good to read it

      A Street Cat Named Bob by David Bowen
      A feel good book about how a cat made Bowen change his life in positive direction

      China: Empire of Living Symbols by Cecilia Lindqvist
      The author weaves together the history of China, Chinese writing and her own experiences visiting China from the 1960s onwards
      My absolute favourite book! This is a book perfect for browsing or reading slowly

      I have a lot of un-read history books on my shelfs, so I will check out the other recommendations. Thanks for asking this question!

    45. Kali*

      I love reading about economics and human behaviour; basically, lots of trivia about why the world is like it is. Freakonomics, and anything by Dan Ariely or Tim Harman.

      1. Kali*

        Oh, and books about how people use money, especially extreme examples. How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day by Kath Kelly, In the Red by Alexis Hall, and Save Karyn by Karyn Bosnak. I also really like Phone Sex: Aural Thrills and Oral Skills by Miranda Austin, a memoir from a woman who worked on phone sex lines. Again, I think the appeal is learning about human nature.

      2. AVP*

        ohhh can I recommend something here? Diary of a Very Bad Year: Confessions of an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager is basically a book-length series of interviews with an anonymous finance guy explaining what went wrong in the 2000’s and I thought it was SO fascinating and did a really good job of explaining some of these arcane concepts that we all had to learn about quite quickly.

    46. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I recently read and loved The Dragon Behind The Glass, which is a book about the illicit animal trade, focusing on the Asian Arowana. I have no particular interest in biology generally, or fish specifically, but this book was fascinating. I learned a lot, and have tons of Fun Fish Facts for parties now, but the author is also just a really engaging writer who gets in (too?) deep for her story (for instance, she literally changes her legal name so she can sneak into Myanmar during a time when they weren’t letting journalists in, in hopes of finding a new Arowana species). Really, really fun read.

    47. AVP*

      I don’t think anyone’s suggested this yet but – Dave Eggers has written a few books that are technically listed as novels but are very much based on peoples’ real life stories as rewritten by him based on interviews. They might be a good bridge as you get used to a more nonfiction voice, as interpreted by a novelist. “What is the What” and “Zeitoun” are the two that come to mind but “AHWSG” is also technically a memoir.

      For full-on nonfiction:

      – David Grann! His two full-length books are both fascinating (on very different types of topics) and I don’t find his writing dry at all.

      – I also loved The Emperor, by Ryszard Kapuscinski, and thought it was kind of a fun read, the topic notwithstanding.

      – Ian Frazier’s travel books are great as well, and read like novels.

    48. Harper*

      I highly recommend all of Mary Roach’s science books – each takes a somewhat irreverent layperson’s look at a particular topic. “Stiff” was her first one, all about what happens to human bodies after death (including natural decomposition, embalming, cremation, organ donation, etc.) but some folks find that a little grim. “Gulp” (the digestive process) and “Bonk” (sex) are both pretty entertaining!

      If you prefer history, check out Erik Larson’s books – he writes history stories in a way that feels like a thriller. My favorites are “The Devil in the White City” (the dual stories of the Chicago World’s Fair and killer H. H. Holmes) and “Dead Wake” (the story of the sinking of the Lusitania.)

    49. The Original Flavored K*

      “The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York,” by Deborah Blum. It’s an interesting look at prohibition, the process of creating an actual forensic pathology department that did forensics (rather than just kicking the cadaver, or, worse, leaving death certificates unsigned), and case studies of poisonings from the onset of Prohibition up to I think the mid 1930’s. She does a great job of explaining the chemistry (and why the body reacts the way it does) for each poison, without ever getting too dry.

  2. Foreign Octopus*

    The latest in my ongoing cat saga with Bones.

    On Sunday, I was minding my own business when I heard a gentle pop sound – like the kind you get when you put your finger in you mouth and pop your cheek. Next thing I know, my cat is yowling in pain and hiding behind the toilet in the bathroom. It took twenty minutes for me to get a clear look at her face and her eye – well, her eye wasn’t great.

    The vet said that she suffered from an unexpected perforated corneal ulcer with iris prolapse. In layman’s terms, her eye exploded and everything was hanging out.

    Because it’s Spain (and not Madrid or Barcelona but really rural Spain) nothing was open on the Sunday so I had to wait until Monday morning before I could rush her to the vet where I very quickly realised just how serious everything was. She was referred to a specialist and taken to surgery that afternoon to have her eye repaired. She was home with me by that evening.

    However, it’s still 50/50 that she might lose her eye. Because of all of the health problems that she’s had since Christmas, her immune system is very, very low at the moment and that will significantly slow down her healing time. And for eyes, it takes longer to heal anyway.

    At the moment, I have to give her eye drops every two hours (which she hates) and take her to the vet once a day for anti-inflammatory injections (which she doesn’t really like but she’s getting used to because all the vets love her there). She also has an ear infection which is just great.

    I can’t remember ever feeling so stressed about anything before. I’m living in a constant state of worry and anxiety over her; terrified that all of these health issues are just going to keep mounting up; anxious over the fact I might miss something when the vet is explaining things to me in Spanish; sleepless nights over the financial cost; concern over her being in pain. It’s all a little much at the moment.

    However, I have started a GoFundMe account to raise money to pay for her surgery (€700 – I swear, I think I blacked out at the specialist’s when they said the price, and I still feel a little light headed).

    I’m not asking any of you to donate but because I don’t have any form of social media, if anyone has Facebook, Twitter, or the other ones, would you please be kind enough to share the link? Even if just five people do, that’s more than I could reach with my lack of social media. I’d really appreciate the help.


    I hope you all have had a better week than me, at any rate!

    (There are also pictures of Bones on the page if anyone wants a look – only one gross picture from after her surgery. The rest are of her looking relatively normal.)

    1. fposte*

      Oh, FO, that is stressful.

      I did want to mention that even if your kitty loses her eye, she’ll almost certainly be okay. There are happy, healthy one-eyed cats all over the world. It’s stressful right now that things are hanging in the balance and I absolutely think you’re right to do what you’re doing, but even if things don’t go the way you hope, they can still be okay.

      1. Red Reader*

        Yes! My husband’s cat had her eye removed after repeated chronic eye ulcers, specifically with a goal of preventing the eye from actually blowing out, and – barring the occasional (entertaining) miss when trying to make longer jumps, and a general tendency to not make much in the way of vertical jumps – it hasn’t slowed her down a bit, and she is in fact the most fearless of our four cats. (Though I’m pretty sure she stored all her brain cells in that eyeball and no longer has a single one left – she’s sweet as pie, but dumb as baked dirt.)

      2. cat socks*

        I’m so sorry about your kitty. What a stressful situation. I follow a lot of cat accounts on IG and Facebook and I’ve seen many kitties with one eye or blind in both eyes get around amazingly well. Seeing them in action, it’s hard to believe they are impaired in any way. Also, sometimes they do better with eye removal so they are no longer in pain. Sending lots of good vibes your way.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I’m not too concerned if she loses the eye. Obviously I don’t want her to but she’s an indoor cat and sleeps most of the time anyway but the best option is definitely to save the eye. Thanks for the good vibes.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        We could learn a lot from our animals they adjust so well. My uncle had a blind kitty who had NO problem finding my bag of Frito’s on the kitchen table. I was two rooms over and I thought “What is that crunching sound? Oh no. Fritos.”

        Not to minimize your concerns because we can worry over our animals as much as an actual person, but to say that she may be okay in the long run and it is just real nerve wracking right now.

      4. periwinkle*

        I’ll echo this. I had a 11-year old cat who developed cancer in one eye; no way he could keep it and survive. He adapted beautifully, and in fact became a lot more active (although that was likely due to feeling suddenly better).

      5. Foreign Octopus*

        Thanks fposte. The priority is definitely to try and save the eye but, right now, I’ve accepted that if she does lose it, we’ll be okay. I think it’ll give her an interesting conversational piece. Maybe I’ll get her an eye-patch. The possibilities are endless.

        1. Autumn anon*

          I’m really hoping that your cat keeps her eye and completely recovers, but if she does lose it and you go the eyepatch route, perhaps you could also get her a parrot cat toy? ‘Bones’ is already a great pirate-cat name.

    2. Anonymous Ampersand*

      I’ve shared on my Facebook. I mean, I only have less than 15 friends, but most are cat lovers! Good luck.

    3. Teapots for Llamas*

      Oh, my god! I’m so sorry! My cat is the best think in my life, so I am utterly sympathetic and horrified. If I had money to send, I would. As it is, I will send “Jedi hugs” (a la Captain Awkward) to you and Bonesy!

    4. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Poor Kitty! I hope she recovers OK very soon. Good luck raising the money. I know vet bills can add up very quickly!

    5. Former Employee*

      I looked at the pictures of Bones, but skipped the part about checking out what her condition looks like. I’m sorry she has to deal with this and you have to see it/go through it with her.

      If it’s any consolation, I suspect that this surgery would cost at least twice as much in the USA. It isn’t just people health care that’s more expensive here!

      Please give us updates here at AAM.

      I don’t do Facebook, so I can’t share with anyone.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        If I could skip looking at what her condition looks like, I would too! She is very cute otherwise. I just wish I had a better camera to take pictures of her with.

        I know I’m very lucky to live in Europe where things are more affordable than the US (seriously – how do you lot manage?).

        I’ll keep everyone updated on the weekly thread. Thanks.

    6. Pretend Scientist*

      Donated–not much, but hopefully it helps! Specialty vet visits are so pricey. I’ve had a cat with eye issues (due to FIV) and I work for an ophthalmology practice, so I know what you’re dealing with and will be keeping Bones in my thoughts.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      I am so sorry to hear of all the kitty troubles. It’s so hard, thinking they’re in pain and not really knowing. Cats are very good at hiding their pain. And if she loses her eye she will be just fine. It’s amazing how cats get along with one eye, missing limbs etc. I’ll share the page for you.

    8. Just Another Intern*

      I’m very, very late to this, but I’d like to say I’m sorry you both are dealing with this. I hope Bones feels better soon and you can reach your GoFundMe goal!

      I saw on your GoFundMe you’re having a hard time with this, which is completely understandable. In my experience, when it comes to taking care of a sick pet you take it one day at a time — it’s hard, so take good care of yourself, too.

      Please keep us updated!

  3. Falling Diphthong*

    So last night I found my kitten sitting on top of my purse, batting at the keys to the car.

    I declined to drive her anywhere, so no idea what the long-term plan was.

    1. anon24*

      My cat is notorious for hiding my car keys when I have to go to work. If I go to leave and he’s nonchalantly lounging on the floor instead of freaking out about me leaving I know that he’s laying on my car keys and I get to wrestle him to get them back.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I read an article recently about how dogs will fake being sick (or sad) to get their people to stay home. Do cats do the same? Or maybe she just wanted to go for a car ride?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Nah. Cats fake being well or just not caring so their owners will leave. LOL I’m pretty sure most of my cats are happy when we leave, so they can lay around undisturbed all day long.

    3. Nancie*

      I fell asleep on the couch last night, after putting my eyeglasses on the ottoman. It took me an hour this morning to find where my cats hid them. (Aided by my computer glasses.)

      My glasses were on the other side of the room, behind the cats’ toybox.

      1. Casuan*

        Your cats moved your eyeglasses?
        That’s impressive!
        signed, She Whose Cat Is Sitting & Staring at Her & She Doesn’t Know What The Cat Wants

        1. periwinkle*

          If they can carry around prey in the wild, mere eyeglasses are no challenge.

          One of my boys went through a cat burglar phase. It turns out that bags of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers are the perfect size and shape for feline transportation. My small beanbag wrist rest went missing a lot. He eventually stopped. But now another of our cats has taken over. Little weirdos.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      OOOO— Shiney!! ha.

      I had left a newspaper on the table and the headlines were in an unusually large font.
      I came back into the room to find my Persian trying to push the large letters off the paper. She did the same thing to the pattern on the kitchen floor.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      When my cat is hungry he pushes either my hairbrush or my make up bag off my shelf. Dude wants to groom, clearly. (Or he thinks I should.)

    6. OP#5 (how do you work at home with cats)*

      My son’s cat has hidden my son’s glasses multiple times. The cat has also taken my hair scrunchies and hidden them some unknown place. It takes about a month for all of the hair scrunchies to disappear after I purchase a pack. I have a feeling we will eventually find everything he’s (the cat) has taken off with like once we pack up to move next.

    7. Thursday Next*

      I highly recommend watching Cats Don’t Like Things on YouTube. It seems to document a feline Society for Knocking Things off Other Things.

  4. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

    I was thinking of going to Paris next month for school break (about a week long), but I’ve decided I want to push that trip back a bit. I still want to go somewhere, but I’m having trouble deciding where. Not Ireland–I’m planning to do that later, too. Same with Wales. I’ve already been to Scotland (and judging from the research I did, a lot of the interesting stuff would still be closed when I went if I decided to go back). So where could I go that would be relatively close/cheap and where a week would be a good amount of time to spend in one (maaaaaaaaaaaaybe two if they’re close but preferably one) city?

    Travel likes: museums, ruins/old buildings, creepy things, food
    Travel dislikes: being outdoors for outdoors sake (like I’ll spend time outdoors in the name of looking at old buildings but not because I want to look at pretty trees), beer/drinking (not a teetotaller, but “X city has great beer!” is not something that would make me more likely to visit X city)

    1. DrC*

      York – small enough to walk around, but a lot to see. The Jorvik Centre is well worth a visit, and there are museums.

      1. Buu*

        York seconded, there’s lots of museums and there are a few creepy walks/boat rides. I went on one of the boat rides, and it wasn’t that scary but sitting on a boat listening to ghost stories was nice.
        I also recommend Brighton the Pavilion is pretty good, and there’s a lot of good little cafes.

        1. JaneB*

          York thirded – compact walkable city, lots of Roman & medieval structures, lots of museums including some great “interactive”stuff, ghost walks, the minster AND a Betty’s tea room. (You should go to that tea room, seriously). And it’s in God’s Own County.

          1. Typhon Worker Bee*

            But go to Little Betty’s, not the main one. It’s smaller, less busy, and in a gorgeous building with wooden beams and wonky floors. York also has some gorgeous old pubs – Kings Arms, Three Legged Mare, Royal Oak, and more. (I grew up in York!)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              My Facebook friends live in Raskelf. I really really really really want to visit. I’ve not been up to the north (rode through it on the train to Scotland, but I was sleeping, LOL).

      2. Rookie Manager*

        I love York and nth the recommendation. However their best ice cream shop is shut till Easter. If you can bar to miss it then you’ll still have a great time in this beautiful city.

      3. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Wow, I had no idea York was going to be so popular, lol. Definitely gonna take a closer look at it.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      Madrid and Barcelona are great cities and no love Amsterdam.

      All well worth look at, Madrid has so great art and the van gough Museum in Amsterdam is amazing.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Barcelona is absolutely gorgeous. If you like buildings, go here. Also lots of great food.

      2. Dr. KMnO4*

        I heavily second the recommendation for Madrid. Art, architecture, food, culture, history…the list of amazing things about it goes on and on.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m not sure what your starting point is.

      Assuming western Europe, I’ll suggest Zurich as a great city to walk/boat around and explore old buildings. Expensive though, so you probably want to combine it with somewhere in Germany or Italy. We really liked Freiburg, which has a gorgeous cathedral, walkable old town, and convenient small mountain at the edge of the Black Forest which you can walk to. Also they have a lot of crepes.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Oops, thought I’d mentioned I’m in London, but I guess I just imagined I did.

      2. Grandma Mazur*

        Seconding Freiburg. Everything’s walkable, food is amazing (there’s a thermal bath on the outskirts) and there are many things you can do as daytrips via public transport (eg, Schauinsland mountain with cable car, mountain railway, Alsace, Breisach old town ). You can fly to Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport and visit all three!

    4. Lily Evans*

      I really enjoyed Amsterdam, despite having no interest in the party scene that a lot of people seem to go there for. The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum were both interesting, and there were a bunch more museums I didn’t even get a chance to see. The accommodation was pretty affordable since it was low season, and there was enough indoors to do that it didn’t bother me that the weather was on the gross side. When the weather was nicer I had a great time roaming around taking in the city, it really is gorgeous.

      I was also pleasantly surprised how good the food was! I didn’t go into it thinking it was a major food destination, but I didn’t have a single bad meal there. One of the best meals I’ve ever eaten was gnocchi at In de Waag (which tragically is no longer on the menu since it’s seasonal, but I’m sure the rest of their food is equally good).

      1. Isobel*

        I was in Amsterdam for the first time last weekend and I absolutely loved it. It just felt like such a civilised, liveable place.

      2. HannahS*

        Seconding Amsterdam. It’s lovely and so walkable. When I was there I took a day trip to a nearby windmill village and enjoyed it; everything is so close by!

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      You could go two for one (practically) with Vienna and Budapest. Do the history thing in one and the spas in the other. Its 2.5 hours between the two on the train, or you could go Vienna to Bratislava for less time and still see two different cities/countries.

      1. Casuan*

        Vienna & Budapest are two of my favourite cities. If you ever do both, for a change take the hydrofoil instead of the train.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Slightly in the future, but apparently direct Eurostar train services to Amsterdam will be starting in April.

          Brussels might not be the most attractive city, but it is an excellent base for visiting Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent, and the seaside.

      2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Planning to do those later. :) I have a weird gap between when my classes end and when the program officially ends, so I’m going to be doing those (plus other parts of Central/Eastern Europe) then.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        Any recommendations for Budapest/Hungary/Vienna? We just booked tickets for May! We’ll fly into Vienna take the (probably) bus to Budapest, a few days there, then head further into Hungary before working our way back to Vienna for a day or two.

        We’re less into museums at this point, having been to so many already, and are more into nature, birdwatching, markets, nice walks, hot springs, good but not fancy food and drink, photography, cooking… We won’t have a car, but are happy to navigate public transit in random languages.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          Go from Budapest to Vienna via the Neusiedlersee (it’s in both countries). Visit Rust, Podersdorf or both. Nature, birds (google Rust & storks), walks, lots of local wine.

        2. AVP*

          If you like sort of creepy historical places…there’s a great park outside Budapest (accessible by a regular city bus) where they put all of the old Soviet statues and signs. The idea was to get them out of the everyday eyelines, but not feel like they were destroying the history or art. It was really fascinating! And it’s in a nice green area to walk around.

          If you like hot springs then you definitely have to check out the historical Turkish baths there as well!

          And a lot of the food and drink are great but very cheap and unpretentious. It’s been a few years since I was there though so I won’t try to recommend anywhere specific.

    6. Canuckian*

      If you go up to York, you could also pop out to some of the places out in the Peak District, like Chatsworth House (apparently what Pemberley is based on), Bakewell (or other villages) and there are some gorgeous ruins (like Fountains Abbey). For the creepy factor, you can also visit Whitby, although it’s kind of a cheesy creepy-ness from all accounts.

      If you’re more interested in Roman Britain (and willing to go north), Hadrian’s Wall is a good visit. Along the Wall, there’s also Carlisle, which has some of it’s old ramparts and was a major trading centre back in the day. Closer to Newcastle, there’s also Alnwick Castle (which has a poison garden and incidentally the town has the largest used bookstore in Europe), Lindisfarne, and Bamborough Castle, though some of those may not be doable on public transport.

      Cornwall is also worth a thought. I camped when I went there, but there were plenty of hostels. Very beachy, but there’s also a lot of historical things. I got the bus from Sheffield to Newquay for £30 round trip too, so that may keep costs down.

      If you’re looking to leave the UK, Budapest is highly recommended (and not too expensive!)

    7. Fiddlesticks*

      If you’re thinking of staying in the UK, I loved Canterbury — perfect for a short weekend or long weekend break! Other amazing options are Budapest or Prague, and I’m seconding the suggestion further up thread for Barcelona or Madrid. I love both, but confess I’m personally more in love with Barcelona!

    8. Sarah G*

      PRAGUE! Prague, Prague, Prague. If you’ve never been, what a breathtakingly amazing city. Plus take a day trip to Kutna Hora (ossuary, etc.).

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      I hear you. In a similar vein, I hope it warms up. I can’t endure driving to work in -30 any more.

      1. nep*

        I am grateful that the temps are not bad — high 20s / low 30s is more than tolerable. Glad we’re not due for a deep freeze after all this snow. Holding out for Monday, when the snow is supposed to finally let up.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          -30 Celsius is insanely cold. With the wind it’s been -39 a couple of days. I would take some snow (10cm or so) every day if it wasn’t so darn cold.

      1. Casuan*

        I would. Today is gorgeous althought it’s starting to get too warm & I might need to put on the a/c for a few hours.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      [Raises hand.] Can I exchange this freezing rain for snow, please?

      I wondered if it would turn to freezing rain and I hurried about on Thursday with the roof raking in the hopes of lessening the weight on the roofs.

      I do agree though if I could just sent it all back and cancel any further orders I would in a heartbeat.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, we’re getting it tonight. I have residual trauma from the 2007 ice storm–the mere mention of it makes me nervous. Lucky I don’t have anywhere to go tomorrow, and I made it home today just as it was starting to get slick.

          I put the wrong kind of wiper fluid in, and it keeps freezing. I’ll be glad when it warms up enough so I can use it up and then get some of the winter-rated stuff. My neighbor has decided that feeding stray cats isn’t enough and is now also feeding birds. :P

        2. nep*

          Turns out we had some sleet for a while this morning — everything’s coated in ice now. Hope that’s the end of it and things will ease a bit before Monday’s commute. Supposed to be sunny tomorrow with no precipitation, thank goodness.

    3. paul*

      Send it here. 120 days without measurable precipitation and literally all the surface water’s basically gone :/ Fire season is going to suck. At least I’ll be moved before it’s in full swing.

    4. Forking Great Username*

      Seriously. We’re supposed to get hit hard again tomorrow night where I am – last I checked, anyways. It’s driving me nuts and seriously messing with my timeline of when I’m teaching what. Over it. Also VERY over shoveling.

      1. nep*

        We’re supposed to get more tomorrow too. It’s snowing as we speak. It could be far worse and every day I count my blessings — still, I’m SO over it.

    5. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Oh god, yes. I’ve got something like 2 ft on the ground (it’s so hard to tell with compression and drifting), and it’s supposed to snow another 5 inches. I’m just done. I had a baby shower to go to today, and I made it, but it took me 45 minutes to get from the garage to the road – I kept getting stuck in the alley. I’m not going ANYWHERE tomorrow. I don’t even want to go outside.

    6. Nye*

      I was just visiting northern Maine and “1-3 inches overnight” was more like 6+ inches continuing through the morning. Luckily I managed to get home more or less on schedule despite it! (I drive a small 2 wheel drive car without snow tires, so it was a little hairy getting out.)

  5. Lillie Lane*

    Entertaining website suggestion:
    /aiweirdness dot com.
    I don’t know if it’s been discussed here before, but if you are interested in nerdy wordplay, you may like it!
    The author uses neural networks to generate names for all kinds of things…candy conversation hearts, rescue kittens and guinea pigs, paint colors, novel titles, craft beers, you name it. My favorite was the common names for birds.

          1. Lillie Lane*

            Ha ha. The non-PG ones (sent via email if you request them from her) are BAD. But hilarious.

            Though I really want to see the master data to see how these came about — HOLE? Perhaps I need to buy a bag of hearts to see what they’re printing on them these days….

      1. Lillie Lane*

        Ooo, those are good! I really liked “The Consultant Count” — I’ve never read a romance novel but would DEFINITELY buy that one!

  6. Ruth (UK)*

    I have been playing the violin since I was a kid (like 7 years old, and I’m 27 now). You may think this means I am, or should be very good by now, but I haven’t placed consistently for all that time – I initially quit when I was about 14 (I’d taken lessons up till then). I then re-started casually when I was about 22, playing in folk sessions etc.

    It’s difficult for me to assess my own level but basically, I think I’m ok/average in a folk setting but not great. I’m typically in tune (at least for the most part. I might occasionally hit an off note, but I’m not generally out of tune), and my timing is good. I don’t think my sound quality is great, but not notably awful. One thing I’ve very self-conscious of is when I accidentally brush a string other than the one I’m playing on. Also, my posture, which, compared to people trained classically, is definitely not good. I had been playing a couple times a week (usually in a folk session or similar).

    I live in a flat block and rarely practice. (before anyone suggests I hire a place where I can practice without being overheard, I simply do not have the time/funds/available location to allow this with any degree of regularity).

    However, I have recently become a lot more self conscious and have actually not played at all since about December now. First, one person I knew made an off-hand comment about my playing not being great (I shouldn’t take this one to heart really as this guy also plays an instrument and is not really very good at all – his timing is awful and he gets faster and faster and races a lot of sections. He’s also frequently critical of other people’s music/singing/dancing/whatever).

    The other one that put me off most came from a person I like and get on well with. He does not sing (except in group choruses) or play any instrument but is in the folk music community. While very drunk, he commented about my playing and specifically brought up how sometimes I brush a string I’m not playing on (eg. my bow will sometimes be over the D and the A if I’m playing a note [supposedly] on just the D). He said (drunkenly, jokingly), that if I don’t play the violin, he won’t sing (in the context of him saying/implying his singing is bad and not something a person wants to be subjected to). eg. it was presented like a ‘trade’. His partner then told him off for saying it, and he retracted it, but then re-stated it shortly later.

    This one really affected me, because it sort of made me realise/think my playing is actually so bad that even a non-musician is able to specifically pinpoint a bad part of my playing.

    I’m not really sure how to get past this, and even if I should or not – maybe I really should just not play anymore, and not force anyone else to be subjected to my playing.

    (I do know there are at least a few people who have said positive or complimentary things about my playing, however. So I also wonder if maybe this guy just simply doesn’t like the violin [as an instrument]. I’ve then also got neutral-to-positive comments like, people saying at least I’m in time and in tune (when comparing me to other players at certain folk sessions who often aren’t).

    I kind of now feel like I want to cringe/wince when I hear myself play. I do also have a heavy-practice mute which goes over the whole bridge and makes it all a lot quieter, which, on one hand, makes me feel a bit better, but on the other, makes the sound quality worse and that’s something I’m already conscious of…

    1. Language Student*

      Could you play one-on-one with other fiddle players and get some tips from them? Or save up for even one or two lessons specifically focusing on technique? (The latter is the only thing that got me through my exams, and I have family who play that found just one lesson helpful for technique).

      Either way, if you like playing, you should play! Trying to improve sound quality is great, but it shouldn’t put you off doing something you enjoy.

    2. DrC*

      You need to do things that bring you joy, so I say keep playing. I admire anyone that can play an instrument!

      It’s all too easy to get anxious about something, and then it feels like a much bigger thing. We are all at the centre of our own story and so for you this becomes a big negative. For others these are throwaway remarks that they will have forgotten the next day.

    3. matcha123*

      I played the viola when I was in school, but haven’t played since I graduated high school. I don’t have a viola, but would love to play, and I have the same fears as you. Honestly, with anything, the more you practice, the better you get. If you are practicing by yourself, keep it up. If you have a teacher, get some tips from them.
      If you’re practicing late at night, I’d use the mute, but if it’s a reasonable time, just go forward without it.
      One thing that helped me was to visualize myself playing, think about the sound, how my fingers would move, etc. before I started practicing.

    4. Rat in the Sugar*

      Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself! Every musician gets self conscious and we all hate to hear ourselves play — all we ever hear is the flaws, and having them confirmed by another person can be shattering. But having flaws in your playing just means you aren’t perfect, which none of us are of course. The only way I know to push past that self consciousness is to practice a whole lot more. More practice brings surety and smoothness to your movements, and when your skill with the songs you know grows over time so will your confidence. It definitely takes a long time though, like weeks and months, so stick with it even though you feel crappy right now. You have good timing and you play in tune so you’ve got the foundation you need; the rest is just practice.

      Also, about the way you’re hitting two strings at once — you mention that you haven’t got great posture, and that’s actually part of the cause of hitting the wrong string while you play! If you don’t have good posture (and it doesn’t have to be classical style, but that is a good one) then as you play your arm won’t be moving in the proper smooth, straight motion but instead well be tilting and changing angle which will cause you to hit the next string. If you look up some posture guides, especially guides about the right arm and elbow, I think that will do a lot for solving your problem.

    5. neverjaunty*

      These guys both sound like massive tools. It’s one thing to give someone honest feedback about a problem they can address (if you do actually brush a string?) and another to make snotty remarks about how well they think you play.

      There is a particular strain of person who boosts his own ego by lecturing other people at how they can do things they enjoy better. (Some of these people even otherwise seem nice.) I too used to be bothered by this, until I got a little older and realized “this pompous opinion hits my insecurities” does not actually mean the opinion is correct. At all.

      Keep playing and practicing, and maybe don’t waste your time on these two jerks. More playing and lessons and practice is how you get better.

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, do not listen to these foot-in-mouth dudes. Well said neverjaunty!

        I hope you get some enjoyment out of practicing, improving, and just playing! I still dig out pieces I played in my senior recital (the high point of my piano training, half a lifetime ago) from time to time. I don’t play them well but I am always amazed at what muscle memory can do. And it’s fun! I recently bought new music too and my progress is slow due to irregular practice but it’s so, so fun to get to the point of actually hearing the melodies and the real meat of the music *I* am making.

        Don’t give that up.

    6. Thursday Next*

      I’m with DrC on this–do what brings you joy!

      We live in an apartment building, so we can hear when everyone practices (and everyone can hear when various members of our family play or sing). Everyone’s abilities vary, and that’s cool! We’ve loved hearing our now-12-year-old neighbor grow in her violin musicianship. And we’ve heard kind words from neighbors about our 10-year-old.

      Unless you’re playing at 2 a.m. (Our building has defined quiet hours, so this would be verboten), you are fine. I’m absolutely shocked that anyone would offer negative comments–they are the ones transgressing social norms of courtesy. And who cares about the opinions of rude (especially drunk rude) people? You sure shouldn’t! Play on!

    7. Alice*

      I think that you need to start practicing at home. Not only will you improve your skill, you will also eventually start feeling more comfortable with your identity as an amateur musician. It’s ok to make mistakes – if people can’t accept that, then they should go listen to a recording instead of going to a session (live folk music). And it’s also ok to practice at home, as long as it’s not during quiet hours. Good luck!

    8. .*

      I agree with other commenters, play your heart out! I understand the feeling of being self conscious and what helped me was adopting a growth mindset. Everyone has to practice to become more skilled.
      And honestly those rude people have issues and are just projecting their insecurities onto you, it’s their problem not yours. Do what makes you happy and keep playing, I admire you!

    9. Ruth (UK)*

      Hi all, thanks for the encouraging comments – I did actually get out my fiddle (for the first time in 2018) and have a very quick practice session just to see what it felt like to play. I do mean very short – I played through a couple folk tunes a know well and all in all, it was back in its case in about 10 minutes). It felt ok, not dreadful, not great. I do think I’ll try to keep playing and get over this feeling. I feel self conscious a lot about things like this but also don’t come across this way (people think I’m quite confident and not afraid to look silly or make a mistake and stuff).

      In response to people calling the two people jerks – I would say the first one is a low-level jerk who I generally get on well with but do not consider an especially close friend.

      The other is, (arguably other than that specific comment) not a jerk and it’s not typically in his character to be critical of people etc. I am also quite close friends with him.

      What shook me about his comment was that, being quite drunk when he said it, I sort of read it as him being honest about how he felt about my playing (due to the alcohol) when normally he wouldn’t say anything (because of being polite), and the fact that he specifically pinpointed one of the ways in which my playing was poor (rather than just saying that he didn’t like it in general).

      1. Jessica*

        I think it’s great that you enjoy playing! I would definitely practice at home with the mute block, it makes it pretty unlikely that you’ll be heard. I totally sympathize with not wanting people to hear you practice, it also made me self-conscious, but it’s the only way to get better.
        Now for some advice/perspective that I hope helps you understand how to improve! I also play violin, and I was a bit surprised to read that you are generally in tune/in rhythm but are occasionally playing two strings accidentally. To me, that is somewhat of a beginner’s mistake, and that might be why it’s standing out to people. If you have a friend or instructor who could help you with your posture, that might help a lot. Otherwise, I’d suggest practicing just playing two open strings back and forth, starting as slowly as necessary, and then speeding up as you get better at it. The idea is to embed the proper position in your muscle memory. Once you have two strings down, you can try introducing some other notes to make sure they’re not throwing you off (so start with D A D A for example, then maybe D A F# A). Practicing in front of a mirror will help you see your posture (and also help you improve your sound quality by making sure your bow is staying between the fingerboard and the bridge).
        One of my biggest regrets is that I never really properly practiced as a kid. I’d play violin for 30-60 minutes a day, but I’d just play the songs I liked over and over and if I messed up I’d often just power through. Really, you should work just a couple measures at a time, playing them as slowly as necessary until it’s clean and in rhythm, even at a super slow pace. Then you can slowly speed up. Then you can start to put measures together until you have a full piece. You could try some etudes (here are a bunch of free resources: http://fiddlerman.com/studies-etudes-and-music/free-violin-music-studies-and-etudes/) to give your fingers some practice at different patterns.
        I was only trained in classical music, so maybe not all of this advice applies to folk music, but I hope it helps you practice and gain more confidence! Best of luck :D :D

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          I think the way I play is indeed an odd mix of ability levels in terms of the types of mistakes etc I make. I wonder if this is partly because I have played over a period of a very long time, but with limited formal training/instruction (at least not recently) and also, I play other instruments – I play piano at a higher level than my violin playing (and dabble a bit with piano accordion and recently glockenspiel!). I also play button melodeon (at a lower level to my violin playing, but I’m less self-conscious because there’s less to go wrong with sound quality!) I think this helps me with pinpointing when I’m in tune etc which makes that one an easier one to correct if it’s an issue. I am also a (very regular) dancer (ie. I am in 5 dance groups, and have a regular dance practice typically 4 times a week). So it makes sense my timing is good.

          By the way, I originally was taught by Suzuki method, but unfortunately it was long enough ago and not for long enough (and I didn’t practice enough) that it’s enough to make me realise my posture is wrong, but not pinpoint how to correct it!

          But thanks for the advice – I’ll look at the link in a min!

          1. Jessica*

            That makes total sense! You sound like you have a lot of musicality in general (which probably makes you a harsher critic on your violin playing!).
            I don’t know for sure if this applies to folk styles of playing violin, but my 2nd teacher helped me correct my posture by standing with my shoulder/upper arm of my bow hand against a wall. This was supposed to teach me that all the arm movement should come from below the elbow in order to draw the bow straight. Obviously in real life your upper arm won’t stay 100% still, but it can help you get the right feel in your elbow.
            (Disclaimer: I played a lot from age 12 until 26 or so, and have barely taken my violin out of its case in the past 4 years. This is making me want to go practice again! But it also means you are light-years ahead of me in terms of current dedication to violin haha.)

      2. Rosie M. Banks*

        I am a very excellent folk musician (if I do say so myself). I was at a gathering just last night, where people were jamming their hearts out on guitars, fiddles, mandolins, dulcimers, etc. In the midst of all our fantastic music, I overheard folks having bits of trouble with timing and missed notes and less-than-ideal intonation, and you know what? I couldn’t care less! Overall, the music was fun and the atmosphere was welcoming and everyone had a great time. People should make more music, not less! You don’t have to be perfect to play music!

      3. LilySparrow*

        Guy #2 may not be a full-time jerk, but that was a jerk move, absolutely.

        I think the alcohol didn’t remove his “manners” vs “honesty” filter.

        It removed his “decent person” vs “jerk” filter.

        Because, really, the point is the same – who made him the official gatekeeper of who’s allowed to play? Extremely arrogant and presumptuous.

      4. dawbs*

        sometimes, people are just weird about a certain noise too.

        You know the sound it makes when someone runs their finger up & down a guitar string but doesn’t pluck it? Holy Shiitake mushrooms, that sound is like nails on a blackboard to me. And it is EVERYWHERE, it’s on recordings of professionals I own (I tend to skip those tracks). It is not a horrid thing–I mean, it’s usually to be avoided (I think, i don’t play), but it’s not a cardinal sin of playing. Iif I can make myself not listen for it, it’s not bad…but somehow, I’ve trained myself to listen for it, so it drives me bonkers.

        I’m not saying he’s trying to be a jerk, but it might be *his* hang up, more than a major flaw of yours.

    10. King Friday XIII*

      I get it, I also have the kind of brain that will throw out six hundred compliments in favor of one useless insult. But you yourself said you’ve gotten multiple positive things, and you glossed over it but you mentioned that plenty of people play worse. ;) Folk sessions are supposed to be more about the fun of playing together than being, you know, a symphony orchestra. Tell your brain weasels to go eff themselves and play your violin.

      But yeah, if you’re worried about it, the suggestion above about asking a fellow violin or fiddle player you respect for feedback is not a bad idea if you believe they’ll be frank with you.

    11. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Yeah, those hotel mutes are not great for sound quality, but that’s not what they’re designed for. And these guys are jerks. You know their comments are more about them than you. We all sometimes brush a string and sometimes we do it on purpose for musical effect. And we all have to start somewhere. If you enjoy playing, then play. Try and give the people who have complemented your playing equal or greater time in your brain. And if it really bothers you, you could add a couple of technical exercises to your practice routine. Suzuki is designed for kids, but I know lots of adults who use it as well. You could see if there are any You Tube videos on technique. Is there a nice person in your group who could evaluate your playing and give you tips? Do not get better for the jerks…do it for you. Also, is there a song you just love that you could learn on your own. Even if it’s a stretch piece. Maybe especially a stretch piece. I absolutely adore Caliope Dance. I spent hours learning it by ear off a recording back when I was still in orchestras because I loved it so much.

      I’ve been playing off and on like you for a really long time. Mostly classical, which I love to play, but I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for fiddle music. I didn’t do anything about it until recently. I even lived in bluegrass country and did nothing. (Admittedly, I had a spouse in grad school and a toddler and most jam sessions happen at night. But still!) Finally 3 years ago I joined a fiddle class and I love it. We learn music by ear, which is fun and somewhat comes naturally to me. I’m challenged by harmonies, identifying keys, and remembering what title belongs with what melody. I coast a lot on my years of classical experience, but my class is filled with retired people who are new to the instrument and work really hard. I should go practice now.

    12. Casuan*

      You’re your own audience here, Ruth, so if you’re playing just because you enjoy it, then do it! Play some of the pieces you know well & are good at to warm up, then tackle something more difficult if you want.
      It doesn’t sound like you’re going for any professional gigs, although if you are then, yeah, you’ll need to re-strategise & practise practise practise.
      When someone critiques you, be a bit self-effacing: “Yeah, I never get those notes right although I love trying!”

    13. Anono-me*

      Someone quietly playing the violin, or most other instruments in an apartment building (maybe not the drums or bagpipes) wouldn’t bother me during the day or early evening. I would suggest keeping it between 10 am and 7 pm. That way you avoid playing when people who sleep late are still resting and when parents start to put small children to bed.

    14. LilySparrow*

      Those guys are just arrogant jerks. Why do they think you need their unsolicited critique in the first place?

      I guarantee they target people who are feeling unsure, and leave alone the people who have demonstrated they don’t want or need the approval of mean-spirited amateur experts.

      Don’t let these guys gatekeep you out of something you’ve loved for 20 years. Screw ’em.

      And as long as you’re observing quiet hours in your building, practice away!

      If you want to get better, playing more is the only way. I hope you find your joy again!

    15. Jules the First*

      Don’t let them make you give up playing if it’s something you enjoy!

      For posture, you want to think of it like a ballroom dance “frame” – the best way to explain it is to feel it. Grab your instrument and put your back against a wall. Feel both shoulderblades in contact with the wall. Now put your instrument on your shoulder and play something (pluck instead of bowing unless you’ve got a handy pillar!) while keeping both shoulders flat on the wall. Repeat regularly until you can conjure this feeling without the wall. If wall space is at a premium, you can also do this on the floor.

      Next, bowing. The most likely issue is that you are bowing from the elbow when you should be using the wrist (at uni my teacher used to say you should play with the smallest part of your arm possible – fingers not wrist, wrist not elbow, elbow not shoulder…). Find that patch of wall, this time with your bow and instrument. Put the bow to the string (A is easiest angle for now) at about the midpoint and scootch over until the point of your elbow is resting on the wall. Now play some simple rhythms, keeping your elbow in contact with the wall – and don’t be discouraged if it’s tough…practice will help!

      The other thing that will help is improving suppleness in your fingers. Grab your bow and hold it vertically over your bed (because you will drop it the first million times you do this exercise!) in a proper bowhold. Now climb your fingers up the stick to the top while keeping it vertical (no cheating with your other hand). Once you can do that, climb your hand down from the top (much tougher!).

      And if you find yourself in London, ping me and I can take a look in person and maybe give you some more personalised suggestions (I don’t teach anymore, but I’m always happy to have a look at posture and mechanics when folks are stumped because I know that kind of teaching is usually hard to find and/or pricey)

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Thanks for this, I will try those. I do occasionally go to London (I’m 2 or 3 hours away by train, depending on how many stops it makes). Despite knowing other fiddle players here, I don’t have many I can easily ask for help from. Of the ones I can think of:
        1. Is very good but I don’t see her often and when we’ve played together before, she just says I’m good/fine and says she doesn’t really know how to teach
        2. another who is very good recently moved away
        3. a guy who is self-taught and I think he plays quite well (it’s a good sound to listen to – VERY folky by the way) but his playing style is vastly different from mine – he tucked the violin against low against him arm/shoulder and some folkies do, not under his chin, and he holds the bow way further up than me and he very frequently plays multiple strings at once (but when he does it, it seems to be for effect, not by accident
        4. another guy who is, honestly, awful. He’s never in tune (his instrument is out of tune to begin with) and he makes all those awful sounds that violins can make when in the hands of someone who can’t play. He has a lot of enthusiasm though.
        5. another woman, who is not dreadful like number 4, but is below my level rather than above, and is largely self-taught.

        The finger climbing thing, I actually recall doing as a child when I first learned, but forgot about all those bow exercises.

    16. Thlayli*

      It’s folk music, not the symphony orchestra. As your other aquaintance said if you’re on time and in tune you’re good enough for folk music. If you were perfect at it you wouldn’t be playing folk music you’d be a professional violinist. Don’t give up a hobby because you’re not good enough to be a professional.

      If you want to get better practice more. But don’t cut off a part of your life you enjoy because you’re not perfect at it!

      Below is a partial list of things people do as hobbies that they are not good enough to be professional at. Imagine if everyone who wasn’t as good as a professional just stopped altogether – there would be no hobbies left!
      Playing music

    17. Viola player*

      This is yet another person saying don’t give up!
      I’m a professional viola player and, like every musician playing live music, sometimes I make mistakes: the odd scratchy sound, a dodgy position shift, hitting a string I don’t intend to play (I guess you could insert a lot of viola jokes here!) It’s all part of playing an incredibly complicated instrument, where there are always things you can improve.
      In relation to your specific problem, your bow control could be affected by tension in your right arm and shoulder: for a while I’d developed a bad habit of tensing and raising my right shoulder while playing, which obviously had a detrimental effect on the sound quality.
      Another thing which I don’t think anyone has mentioned: is it possible that the problem isn’t you but your violin? Check the shape of the bridge to make sure that it’s cut properly and that the grooves for the strings are in exactly the right place. This week I had to take a new instrument which a student had just bought in to get the bridge sorted out, as the way it had been cut made playing on the A and D strings really difficult.

    18. School Psych*

      Drapes for insulation? My piano teacher lived in a NYC apartment building and put thick drapes on the walls that bordered his neighbors and had rugs down in every room with rug pads underneath them. He never got complaints from neighbors and there was someone playing the piano all day long, since his job was teaching music. It wasn’t completely quiet, but it was muted enough that the neighbors could turn on the TV or radio and block out the sound of people practicing.

  7. Language Student*

    Thanks to everyone who gave me clothing care tips last week! Everything was really helpful so hopefully my wardrobe will be in better shape from now on. :)

  8. Rat in the Sugar*

    So I’ve been struggling for a long time with keeping both of my two indoor cats, Sunhillow and Moon Ra, properly stimulated and exercised, but I recently found a new solution!
    My issue is that Moon Ra is very energetic and will chase after anything, but Sunhillow is more particular and requires a perfectly simulated hunt every time. Like, he wants to stalk the toy around the living room for a good ten minutes before he’ll deign to actually pounce on it. Moon Ra always runs over and starts chasing the toy herself, and then Sunhillow loses interest and starts yowling at me because she threw off his groove. It’s too difficult to play with them both using two cat wands as they have to be far apart so they won’t get distracted by each other’s toys– Sunhillow won’t touch a toy Moon Ra is playing with, but whatever Sunhillow has is always the most enticing to her. And trying to wear Moon Ra out and then playing with Sunhillow by himself doesn’t work either, as Moon Ra basically does not get worn out. Ever.
    But a solution has been found — bubbles! I found a little bottle of catnip scented non – toxic bubble solution, and it has been a huge hit. Bubbles are apparently one of the great mysteries of the universe (I think because they’re hard to see in the first place and then disappear when they pop) and both of them will stare at and chase bubbles — together! — for ages. It’s very stimulating for them and they get a good bit of exercise, especially if you blow the bubbles in different places around the room.
    Does anyone else have games similar to this that they play with their cats, that more than one kitty can play at the same time? It’s hilarious watching them chase bubbles around but I like to switch things up to keep them interested. The only other thing I’ve found is laser toys, but those make the cats a bit frustrated so I try not to use them too much.

    1. cat socks*

      Catnip bubbles are so fun! I need to break mine out to entertain the kitties. Well, I find them entertaining too. Two out of my four kitties love to play. Luckily they are pretty good about taking turns, but sometimes I’ll put in another room so I can have one-on-one playtime. I’ve tried playing with one toy in each hand, but I’m not super coordinated. They love playing with Da Bird feather toy. I recently found these mouse and bird attachments that drive them crazy. The Flingama String Toy will keep one of the cats entertained on his own while I play with the other one.

    2. Lcsa99*

      Bubbles+cats=hilarity. Both of our cats love bubbles. We actually have a video of them playing with the bubbles and in it, our rambunctious Marlowe try to catch one, then looks at both paws confused cause it’s gone!

    3. SAHM*

      Bubbles are universally loved, we pulled out the bubble maker a week ago bc the weather is so nice, and the kids will play for up to two hours chasing bubbles (I’m talking 8 yr olds here, 6&5 too but 8 is that weird age where some things are too little for them). Our dogs also chase the bubbles, jumping up and trying to eat them. You might also want to give a dollar store bubble maker or one from target a try if you get tired of always blowing bubbles.

      1. dawbs*

        (there’s a comment from me in mod w/ a link–I can assure you that I didn’t and wouldn’t pay $50 for bubble solution, please shop for something cheaper :)

    4. doctor schmoctor*

      Strange. My family has always had cats as pets. But none of them reacted to catnip. Most of them completely ignored it. One of them gave a few sniffs and then walked away.

      Maybe they were just weird.

  9. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Live From New York is one of my favorite oral histories! James Andrew Miller also wrote another favorite, Powerhouse, about the CAA. Couldn’t put it down. He is so good at that genre.

    In other news… I think I’m sick. I feel mostly ok, but I’m stuffy and coughing occasionally and my throat is a little sore. However, the sore throat could be because of the post-nasal drip OR because I sang in a concert last night. Here’s the issue: I have another concert tonight and another tomorrow, and I have never “called out” of a concert. I am one of about 160 singers. Right now I’m going to see how I feel in a few hours, but I hate making these decisions. I feel well enough to bake a loaf of bread and do my laundry, and I could probably power through a two-hour concert, yet… singing. Inadvertent spitting. Cough suppression. Breathing on people. Sigh.

    1. OperaArt*

      Speaking as a choral singer myself.
      If the tables were turned so that you felt well and the person who was to be next to you during the concert felt the way you do now, what would you hope they would decide about singing tonight?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup, you’re right. This is all leftovers from school days, where I feel like I have to justify every ache and pain. Thank you for that! I often need a bit of a push to alleviate the guilt.

        My boyfriend, who is also singing in these concerts, is like, “Nooooooo, stay home.” But who listens to HIM? :)

      2. Forking Great Username*

        Not a choral singer, but this is what I was thinking too! If I was one of the other singers in your group I would encourage you to stay home (and not get me sick.)

  10. nep*

    As of yesterday evening I have sworn off shoveling snow (after about four rounds throughout the day) — and oddly, it feels good to finally state that and act on it.
    I love the exercise of shoveling (as discussed in a thread a while back), but I always feel it’s too great a risk — back pain or possible heart issues…Every year I say ‘This is it — I’m done’ but I kept doing it.
    I’m going on about a month of no back pain and it’s been like paradise — I don’t want to go back to the misery because of one bad move with the shovel. I’m careful about form, but since I don’t know what causes my back pain I don’t want to mess with it. The heart — who knows. All I know is I feel pretty awful after a lot of shoveling (and generally I’m very healthy and feel great all the time — I hate that shoveling takes that away from me). Someone might say ‘suck it up’…which I’ve been doing for years. But it’s just not worth it.
    Done. Good to just own it and not feel like a wuss or guilty about it.
    Does anyone relate to this? (Yes — overthinking it…but for years there was this sense that I would be wussing out if I didn’t go out and shovel — so stupid.)

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      I hate shovelling too, but my city will fine people who don’t shovel within 48 hrs. I have occasionally gone up to four days for less snow, and I do have a neighbour who has a snowblower and will sometimes do the whole street. But if I could get away with it, or if I had the money to pay the fine (or hire someone to shovel), I would skip it.

      1. nep*

        I hear you. We have a neighbour up the street who was nice enough yesterday to go up and down the entire block clearing the sidewalks. (That was one round of many — the snow just kept coming.)
        One of the best things about shoveling was the satisfaction seeing it all clear — that didn’t happen yesterday.
        I live with an older relative right now who can’t shovel — she’s been depending on me to do it. But I’ve told her from now on when it comes to clearing the snow she’ll have to pretend I’m not here and pay someone to do it.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          When I moved to my house I was like, this neighbourhood is so quiet, no teenagers!!! Now when I need snow shovelled, I’m like, this neighbourhood is so quiet. No teenagers :(

          1. nep*

            A couple snowfalls back, a young man was walking about with a shovel asking if anyone needed their snow cleared. That particular day I’d already done it but I told him to keep coming round. Either he’s not been by since or I’ve missed him each time. It’s truly a win-win — I’m spared having to clear the snow and a young, enterprising person makes some dough.

      2. Rainy*

        I fucked up a wrist falling on an inadequately shoveled sidewalk a few years back. Injuries like mine (and worse) are why there are shovel laws and fines, in case you were unaware.

        1. nep*

          I would never leave the sidewalk icy and treacherous. I walk/jog and it’s a huge pain not to have them cleared. When I say I’ve sworn off shoveling I don’t mean I’ve sworn off being a good citizen and making sure the walks are cleared; hope it didn’t come across that way.
          (Running a shovel along the sidewalk and pushing it is a far cry from clearing the driveway especially after the streets have been plowed. No worries about doing that.)

          1. Rainy*

            You definitely did not come off as someone who leaves sidewalks uncleared! Obviously it makes no difference between doing it yourself and hiring it done, as long as it gets done, that’s the important part. :)

        2. Middle School Teacher*

          I don’t leave mine bad either! I hate doing it, and shovelling in -30 is the WORST, but it gets done.

    2. fposte*

      I outsourced snow removal the last back surgery year and never took it back. Plus my snow removal guy (who’s also my yard care guy) is so delightful it’s practically a pleasure to give him money.

      1. nep*

        Love it.
        That’s what my relative has to do — find someone who will be delightful and reliable. I think she’s going to ask a couple of neighbours about people who do their snow removal.

        1. fposte*

          My neighbors have two young kids, and one is *obsessed* with lawn mowing. My guy (who has a young son of his own) will kindly answer all kinds of the kid’s questions about machines and mowing and also keep an eye out to make sure he’s out of the way.

          1. Myrin*

            Completely random but I somehow didn’t see your post nep responded to and then I saw you say “my guy” (without the yard and shoveling context) and I was like “????? I thought fposte has said before that she’s single? And not only that, but her partner has a son, too??” I suddenly felt like you’re a perfect stranger. (Which, I mean, you are, but you still get this feeling of somehow knowing someone when you “meet” them on a website every day. I was shocked there for a moment.)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      So you live with an elderly person and take care of them, too. Yeah, that shoveling thing is probably a bit too much. And it gets worse as the decades roll by. Hopefully, you can get yourself position so that you just do the small spaces that the snow blower can’t get into like near the doors or on the stairs.
      Some storms are worse than others, can I just say that you picked a particularly BAD storm not to ask for help?
      Bare bones ask for someone to come help when it’s over 3 inches or so. I have an old tractor with a 48″ thrower on it and I was out there for hours, twice. The second time a friend called and said, “I’m coming, I’m coming.” So I got a bit of relief then. The snow was up over the thrower, I had to do everything twice to get through it. It was just a tough, tough storm.

      I don’t know if you have choices in different shovels. If you have different shovels to chose from you might want to see if a different style works better for you. I am almost 5′ 8″. I hate short handled shovels which most of them are. I tried those shovels with the bent handle and that was not helpful. My oldest shovel remains my favorite. It has a long handle and the shovel proper is not wide, I don’t pick up unwieldy loads that tip to one side or the other. It’s metal too, not that plastic junk. I have this fruitless quest to find The Perfect Shovel.

    4. nep*

      Not that I have to ramble on about this here — but just for the record.
      Here’s what it comes down to: I am big on keeping fit and healthy; feeling really good most of the time and being able to exercise as I need to are truly keeping me sane at a time when I’ve got anxiety issues, I’m severely underemployed and pretty much broke, and my current living situation is trying at best.
      I feel as if I’m going on and on ‘defending’ my decision here, when it’s not even a big deal. Just wanted to put that out there — this other layer. It’s huge. And I’ve just got to be OK with the fact that my family wouldn’t understand.

      1. fposte*

        For me there was a bit of a generational element to this, too. The DIY outside stuff was a standard in my family growing up and it clearly was something my father felt was inappropriate to outsource; while he was always very “You do you!” in explicit messaging to me, the fact that he felt that that was just not an area to spend money on clearly made a big impression on me.

        I’ve also had a lot of thoughts lately, for a variety of reasons, about not wanting to perceive myself as a quitter. It’s such a baked-in-from-childhood denigration, whereas “a person mistakenly sticking with something when it’s useless, unnecessary, and possibly harmful ” is a concept that arrives a lot later in life. So I still squirm a bit initially when I stop doing just about anything, and it can take me a minute to remember there are really no additional virtue points for staying when I should go.

        1. nep*

          You just nailed it — the thought process I had when I finally, finally said I’m done shoveling.
          Same here — grew up in a family where we outsourced little to nothing. And I am loath to quit at anything, so I had to shift perspective here. And then not worry about anyone else’s view of it.
          Thanks for the insights.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I have been thinking about this lately, too. My parents could not afford to outsource too much. They started with nothing, I mean nothing. They had to buy everything they needed every inch of the way. I am in a different position. I inherited their furniture and other household miscellaneous, so I did not have to start with nothing. This means money not spent on basics can be put toward something else.

            Additionally. my parents grew up in a blue collar world. They knew how to do things because they had to learn. I tend to wonder if they worked themselves into an early grave. We admire their self-sufficiency but was it a truly good thing all the time? Is it as necessary in today’s world?

            It was a different mind set because the needs and resources were so very different at that time. I have been thinking about this because of just how much work I have had to pay someone else to do. It gets discouraging sometimes.

        2. Amey*

          Oh, this is so true! My husband’s family is like this and it’s really rubbed off on both my husband and I and their other children. There are so many things that you just don’t outsource (that plenty of other people do) like basically anything house or garden related. They were and still are always extremely careful with money (though they’re fairly well off now – partly because of that care) and they will never pay anyone to do something that they could, conceivably, do themselves. If they do have to pay someone for something, they’ll feel the need to justify in detail. That in turn makes all of us feel the need to justify really normal outsourcing to both them and ourselves. We recently had a builder in to do a job (which we couldn’t do ourselves) and a repairman in to fix a couple of appliances that were beyond my husband’s skill and it was such a relief. We enjoy and get a sense of achievement from some of the work but other times you’re just making yourself suffer for no reason once you step back and look at it.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        All I have to say is “you go!” If not shoveling is what you need to do, don’t shovel. I learned last fall the joys of giving people money to do things I don’t want to do even though I’m perfectly capable and eventually got over the guilt of not being self-sufficient and “wasting” all that money. Except it wasn’t a waste. I got to do things that enhanced my life and someone else made a little more money to feed their family.

        1. Clumsy Ninja*

          I’m right with you – I’ve sometimes justified it to myself by looking at how long it would take me to do the job (that I didn’t like) versus how long it would take to earn the money to pay someone else to do it (and do it well!). For many things, it’s a no brainer just by looking at the time trade off. For others, I’m happy to help someone else pay their bills and avoid doing what I don’t like.

          1. nep*

            The time investment is certainly important. I’d rather spend the time on my cover letters and research.

      3. Envy*

        You mentioned in the original post that some back pain was unexplained. If you have anxiety that could explain it. My anxiety always comes with different symptoms every attack. I injured my back many years ago and for the past year when I’ve had back pain I couldn’t recall aggravating it. I was reading up about different ways anxiety shows itself and back pain was one of them. Lately the back pain is the worst. Seems to come out of nowhere when I’m anxious about having to run errands then goes away when the errands are done.

    5. Anono-me*

      You might want to check out the Shoveler, Snowhub, or Plowz apps.

      I love my snow thrower. If I didn’t have that or a service; I think I would cry a little bit then go back inside until spring.

    6. Oxford Coma*

      Our snowblower is broken, because it needs one small part that is discontinued. My husband refuses to replace the entire snowblower due to this part, but is unable to make the repair. (Gerry-rigging is not viable since the part is a piece of the fuel system.)

      So, I have had to shovel our entire 1/4-mile long driveway non-stop during the past two years, while he conveniently has a back injury and can’t help. But he doesn’t think any of this is a big deal, and we can make do. *screaming*

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        That’s incredibly selfish of him. Inform him that until a functional snowblower is available, you won’t be doing any snow clearing and he can just figure it out. Then go make yourself a cup of tea (or whatever) and DON’T SHOVEL SNOW.

      2. Cruciatus*

        Ew. We also have a long driveway. We do have a snowblower for emergencies or touching up the driveway, but we pay someone to plow it for us. It’s worth it if you can afford it. We pay for each run through our driveway and you can usually work out how often you’d like them to come. Just after huge snow storms, early morning and evening, etc. I would not continue shoveling. Ours would take hours, depending on the amount of snow. Ain’t nobody got time for that! New snowblower, pay a snow plower, or get someone else to fix the blower, but that is much too much work for any one person. Or even two people.

      3. Clumsy Ninja*

        I’d be buying the new snowblower myself or hiring a service. Having to be the only one affected by “making do” would be completely uncool.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I only shovel my driveway, but I don’t *shovel*–I push the snow off it like a little snowplow. I guess I’m doing okay, since it never seems to bother me. But honestly, if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. I quit mowing my lawn because it kills my shoulder. I pay someone to do it now and it’s worth every penny.

  11. bassclefchick*

    I found out the Hamilton tour is coming to my city for the 2019-2020 season!!! Oh, man. Would I LOVE to go! But those tickets will probably be out of my reach. Both in terms of cost and in how quickly they will sell out. The venue suggested the best way to guarantee tickets is to become a subscriber for the 2018-2019 season. Yeah, spend even more money on shows you might not want to see, just to get tickets to the most popular show.

    Such a first world problem, I know. Oh, well. Maybe if they manage to get The Book of Mormon the same season, it will be easier to get tickets to see that one. LOL

    1. Rainy*

      Depending on how your local does subscriptions, sometimes theatres will offer a limited subscription deal in addition to the full season subscription. My last city had a subscription where you bought into three shows, and I don’t think you even had to pick them ahead of time. It might be worth investigating if yours has a similar subscription tier.

      1. Someone else*

        Most theaters who are getting Hamilton and putting it on subscription are excluding it from anything other than full season packages. They’re giving away money to do otherwise.

    2. Kathenus*

      Last year I found out Hamilton would be in my city this year and faced the same situation. I wasn’t willing/able to get season tix either. What I did do was join the email list for the theater it was coming to in order to get notification of when tickets went on sale. I got up early, got into their ‘virtual waiting room’ online a half hour before they went on sale (had I know there was a virtual waiting room I would have done it earlier), and by dedicating the time to staying online and waiting until I came up in the queue I was able to get tickets about 30 minutes or so after they opened them up.

      The three+ week run sold out within about three to four hours, but the email list notifications and planning to be fully available when they did go on sale made it relatively easy to get them for me. Budget was a different story but I prioritized them in my discretionary spending, and got mid-range ones that are decent seats but not crazy expensive. Another bonus is that the theater occasionally runs great sales advertised on their email list and I’ve gone to some other shows for great discounts.

      Good luck!

    3. Lily Evans*

      I got subscription tickets for it in Boston, because I actually wanted to see 5/6 shows and they had a payment plan that worked for me. Also a subscriber ticket for a balcony seat for the full season was only slightly more expensive than just one Hamilton orchestra seat ticket at the subscriber price (idek how much they’re going to charge for the public onsale). I ended up paying the difference for a closer seat just for Hamilton, but the balc seats aren’t terrible for the other shows.

      1. Lily Evans*

        Obviously I believe you when you say they’re out of your budget, though. I meant this more as a commentary on how ridiculous getting tickets is for the show!

    4. Kristy Lane*

      If you become a member, make sure that gives you the option to get Hamilton tickets. I know some cities did not give the subscribers first dibs on Hamilton tickets.

      1. Lily Evans*

        And when they do give subscribers dibs, it’s super limited! When they opened extra subscriber tickets here it was for less than a week and you only got two tickets (in addition to however many you originally subscribed to). I caused a minor family upset because I bought them on behalf of my grandmother and her best friend (who’d asked me about them six months prior, they’re super into musicals) when apparently my mom (who had previously shown no interest in it) apparently wanted to go. They also were only selling a limited number of seats per show at the subscriber price, and being sneaky because when you bought additional tickets they’d claim that they were the “best available” but once you bought them you could “upgrade” to better seats for the same show, at the same price. Which is how I got my grandma and her friend Orchestra seats for $200 each and became her favorite grandchild in the process (jk).

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      We’re getting Book of Mormon AND Wicked this year, so I am excited. It definitely is easier to get tickets to the good shows if you subscribe, as subscribers are given first dibs. However, you don’t have to buy a ticket to every show. You can buy tickets to two shows just to get tickets to the show you want. Is this possible in your city?

    6. Jen RO*

      I just want to say that I am extremely jealous of all your people in the US and the UK who actually get to see musicals. I only have bootlegs on YouTube, because musicals and Romania are just not a thing.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Germany seems to be the place to see musicals, although they will be performed in German. I was out shopping today and saw various offers for city breaks to Hamburg and Cologne including tickets to various musicals.

        1. Jen RO*

          Hm that’s actually good to know, because Germany is fairly close, a good vacation spot *and* I am studying German!

          Also I realized I will be in London for work in about a month, so maybe, just maybe I will be able to squeeze in a musical.

    7. many bells down*

      My venue did the same thing with subscriptions, but I also signed up for the “Ticketmaster verified fan” thing which allowed me to buy them like a day before they “officially” went on sale. It cost me almost $400 for two, and you can’t see any of the prices before you buy them!

      But there’s also an official app where you can enter the lottery for $10 tickets. If you’re flexible when you can see it, I’d go that route.

      1. zyx*

        I would definitely not count on the lottery for getting tickets. My friends and I all entered every day for every show, and none of us won in the months Hamilton was here. I bought the cheapest seats I could get (because that’s what I could afford) and saw it that way.

      2. Windchime*

        I work with a guy who won the lottery for the show in Los Angeles! He lives here in Seattle, but he won two tickets ($10 each). He and his wife had some airline points, so they booked a flight and took a day trip to LA to see the show. He said it was amazing. So I am now entering the lottery on a daily basis. Hoping to win!

  12. matcha123*

    Could I get some outside perspective on a friend…or maybe ex-friend?
    I’ve known him for years and early last year we really seemed to click. I should say that despite knowing him for now almost 18 years, he was never good at reaching out to me to chat or anything. When I was in his area, I would shoot him a message, we’d have dinner, part ways and never exchange any messages until the next time I contacted him.

    So, we hit it off well and I was open to dating him depending on how things went. We had a “welcome to the city” dinner when I moved to his area last year and during the dinner, it seemed like he tried to push the topic to make it a date…without calling it a date. He asked me a lot of questions that I personally consider private, such as my taste in men and my thoughts on marriage and children. He asked me about my interest in what could be considered date-like activities and told me he told his friends about me. I was not prepared for those kinds of questions, they make me terribly uncomfortable and I didn’t really give any positive answers to him. The night ended on a weird note, but I figured that since he was a friend and I’d just moved there, he would look at it as a meh night.

    A few days later I invited him to an event and he replied with, “Thanks for letting me know. I’ll go when I get a girlfriend.” So, I asked if he’d like to date, he said no and that we weren’t compatible, but bffs and that was that.

    What has been bothering me is that the 3 times I met him after that, it seemed like he was trying to brag about his job (he saw my salary and said that it was low for the work I do); when I spoke about how paying my student loans and other financial things had me stressed he said, “And I have a good paying job,” as if he were trying to bait me into asking him for money? and a few other things.
    I’ve tried to shoot him friendly messages throughout the year, but after he got a girlfriend, he would reply that he was doing something with her, or he would not reply to my messages at all.

    I guess I’m wondering if it’s even worth it to continue this friendship? I felt like his reply to my invitation and him not introducing me to any of his friends is his way of sending me a pointed message that he doesn’t want me in his life. I tried to keep in better contact with him since he called me his bff, but I want a friend I can feel comfortable with. Not one that’s going to diss me. This guy is not American, but spent about 8 years in the US, including his secondary and post-secondary education. He’s misinterpreted things I’ve said before due to language issues, and that’s really the only reason I hesitate to say eff it and throw in the towel. Thoughts?

    1. fposte*

      If he hasn’t been responding or showing up for a year and was annoying before that, I don’t see the point in putting effort it here. Maybe you’ll find a good friendship track again in another decade, but right now doesn’t seem to be the time. Put him in a storage box in the basement. Metaphorically.

      1. matcha123*

        I’ve mentally been preparing myself for that over the past few months. There’s only so much detail I can get into online. I wanted to present my side objectively and fairly to him, since I couldn’t tell if I were blowing things out of proportion.

    2. Athena X*

      I’d let that one fade away gently. Put your energies into developing friendships with people you admire and who that make you feel good about yourself – this guy is neither of those.

      1. matcha123*

        Good points. I’ve been more willing to cut old “friends” out of my life recently. I want friends who give as equally as possible.

    3. Fiennes*

      It sounds lik he doesn’t understand how to navigate a platonic friendship with a woman, at least not one where both parties seem to have at least considered dating at some point. He chose not to date you, and you were okay with that…and I think maybe he’s not okay with you being okay with it! The “good-paying job” stuff sounds to me like he wants you to consider him a good catch, which given his refusal to date is just weird. Does he want the ego boost of someone longing for him? Has he second-guessed his decision not to date but put the responsibility for revisiting that issue all on you? Obviously I don’t know, but it sounds to me like you’re not enjoying your interactions much anymore. In your place I’d just leave it up to him to invite for a while, accept only occasionally and only for stuff that sounds extra fun, and see if he can work through this on his own. If so, great. If not, you can let the friendship go.

      (I really relate to this Q because I have a kind-of-friend with whom I briefly went out for two short periods many years ago. Each time, he sent me long emails afterward apologizing for breaking my heart—which was not only not broken but also not even scratched. What about casual dating did he not get? I wondered. But it was never a big deal for me, and I never delved into it with him.

      Fast forward a decade, and I’m on a group email on which this guy lets us know he’s moving back to town and will be in touch. Six months later, while my partner and I are planning a Christmas party at our house, I think, hey, I never heard from That Guy, some mutual friends will be there, maybe he’d like to come. I send him a message on FB, inviting him. Within an hour he writes back, accepting the invite, but he had to add, “I feel I should let you know I’m seeing someone.” Like, seriously, after a decade, That Guy remains convinced I’m angling for him, despite all evidence to the contrary.

      Tl;dr—some guys really want to be the one doing the rejecting.

      1. matcha123*

        I got the feeling he had been depressed for a number of years and when I saw him last year, he seemed happy that he’d lost a lot of weight and started dating. I was happy for him. But, I did not like feeling like I was being treated like some random girl off of a dating app.
        I mean, I get that he got into the dating game late. I am the same. But, it was like his friends? were feeding him lines off of cheesy PuA forums and he was expecting me to be impressed with superficial things. I did shoot him a message asking for local dating advice. If he’s not interested in me, I guess I should be able to ask him about other guys. He was eager to give me advice and added, “But, I totally don’t understand why you want to date without getting married.” Which is not what I said at all when I talked to him. I said I wasn’t interested in, or didn’t care about, marriage. Marriage is big here and I’m sure his family is putting pressure on him, but I don’t come from that background.
        I’ve come to a similar conclusion about reaching out. If he wants to talk to me, he has a number of ways to get in touch, he knows were I work and I don’t live that far from him.

        1. fposte*

          And you’re free to decide even then that you’re not interested in being friends with him–your friendship choice doesn’t have to hang on whether he’s interested in your friendship or not.

          1. matcha123*

            That is an option that I’ve only recently realized was open to me. It is scary, but empowering, to feel like I am on equal footing with someone. I have to keep reminding myself of this to make it stick.

          2. Snark*

            Seconded. One does not need to be friends with someone as long as they’re content to passively allow you to spend time with them on accasion.

    4. neverjaunty*

      I’m tired just hearing about this guy. And no, it doesn’t sound like language issues; language issues don’t make someone ask person questions or ignore attempts at contact.

      1. matcha123*

        He has never had any problems asking language-related questions or clarifying the meaning of other topics. I assumed that he’d do the same in this kind of situation, but I guess not!

      2. Casuan*

        What you described wasn’t a dinner with a friend. It was an interview for him to determine which level of relationship that you are in his life.
        This isn’t a language issue; if it was you’d know by now.
        Matcha, you deserve to have friends who want to be with you & who make you feel better about yourself, not worse. This is never an easy decision although as you’ve been learning you’ve felt more empowered when you’ve made these types of breaks. Do that now.
        Also, you needn’t bother to tell him or to give him reasons. It might seem like you’d feel better by doing so, however it can also backfire because if you don’t get a certain reaction then you’ll feel even worse [& yeah, I’m projecting here].

        1. matcha123*

          An interview is exactly what it felt like. The vibe was completely different from the times I met with him when I was in the process of moving. The relaxed, carefree nature of those chats really made me feel good. This dinner kind of made me think he had prepared to question me and expected that I’d done the same. This was also a dinner after we both got off work and in the middle of the week at a random place, nothing fancy.
          I did end up sending him a message last year because the whole thing was causing me a lot of stress. I told him that I enjoyed his company when I met him on fun occasions last year and that I was disappointed potential miscommunications had come up, but I hoped that in the future we could strive to make our communications clear. I also told him I was absolutely not interested in taking money from him and I don’t want to put friends in that position. But, he hasn’t replied to that at all. I suspect he won’t.

    5. Snark*

      Honestly? If this is too blunt, I apologize in advance, but this person is not a friend, ex or current. He’s a slightly garbage dude who periodically enjoys your attention. He’s content to play low-stakes footsie games with you on occasion – probably when he needs a little ego boost – but wasn’t and isn’t remotely interested in putting in any effort to maintain a friendship or anything else. He hasn’t introduced you to any of his friends or family because that’s not who you are to him.

      I’m sorry. It sucks. I’ve been there, with the genders reversed. But cut this guy loose. He’s using you, and at that, not even enthusiastically.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. There are men and women who will just hang out with someone because nothing better is going to today. Tomorrow when something better is going on, bye-bye. I have a family member who has Big Fear of being alone. She’ll hang out with almost anyone, just so she is not alone. It does not matter if she likes them or not.
        Look at it this way, you can waste your time and thoughts about this friendship OR you can find other friendships where people actively enrich your life.

      2. matcha123*

        We have a number of mutual friends, and so I’ve tried to play it cool. But, the more I think about his behavior, the more annoyed I get. There’s still a part of me that would have liked to date him. I met another guy a few months ago and after fooling around a bit, he said he’d prefer we stay as friends. It kind of hurt, but this other guy has been a good friend and the contrast is striking.
        I had to stroke my ex-boyfriend’s ego without getting much in return and I’m not looking to do that again. When I haven’t been in contact with other friends for months, we can pick up where we left off because we had great communication in the beginning. There wasn’t even much of that for us.

        1. Casuan*

          When I haven’t been in contact with other friends for months, we can pick up where we left off because we had great communication in the beginning. There wasn’t even much of that for us.

          Between this & his when-I-get-a-girlfriend remark… I think you have your answer, Matcha.

    6. Triple Anon*

      The personal questions and firm boundaries around dating versus friendship make me think that he’s into old fashioned gender roles even if he doesn’t say so. He sounds like the kind of person who views all interactions between men and women as some kind of dating or precursor to dating, and who is looking for a long term relationship where the roles are clearly defined (the man is the leader/provider and the woman is in charge of the household and follows the man’s lead). A lot of people think this way even if they aren’t open about it or may even be in denial to some extent. It can be a deeply ingrained cultural thing (including in the US).

      That’s my take, reading what you wrote and fitting it with my own experiences. I’m kind of masculine and I tend to befriend men over platonic things like shared interests and a similar sense of humor. It took me a long time to figure out how to tell if they see it as a precursor to dating or if they actually want to be platonic friends, and how to communicate about that stuff. It’s tricky because there is a lot of middle ground where people are kind of checking each other out but are also interested in friendship.

      Personnally, I think platonic male-female friendships between hetero or bi people are the next frontier. They’re under rates and we need more acceptance and discussion in that area. But there’s still a long way to go.

      1. matcha123*

        I do think he tilts to more traditionally-minded gender roles. At our dinner he told me he wanted to date someone that had her own career and was independent but not too independent. I’ve been living alone since I graduated university and I’ve had to mostly depend on myself for a lot of things, and not because I wanted to.

        Most of my male friends here are married and some have kids. I’ve never been popular with the kinds of guys I’m interested in, so I was quite happy that he seemed interested. Even if things didn’t work out, we can still be friends and chat. It seems like he stays in contact with other female friends, so I don’t even know.

        I wasn’t raised with traditional gender roles and I get thrown off by people that assume I would want a man to provide for me. Or that as a female searching for a man to marry is my ultimate goal in life. Those things just don’t even register.

    7. Come On Eileen*

      Sounds like several of your most recent interactions with him have been strained and uncomfortable. If it were me, I have enough people in my life that I enjoy spending time with that I wouldn’t put more effort into this awkward friendship — I’d let it fade away.

    8. LilySparrow*

      I know you can’t put all the context into a short question, but I’m not seeing the friend part.

      Like, the part where you enjoy his company, share common interests, and do fun things together that you both like.

      Do yourself a favor, and invest your time & energy in people you have that kind of relationship with. If he wants to invite you somewhere fun, maybe go if you feel like it. Don’t if you don’t. And fill up your time with good things so you don’t have time to worry about it.

      1. matcha123*

        We have a number of shared interests, but since I wasn’t living in his area we never really met up. When I moved to his area, he contacted me about once again getting into one of our shared hobbies and I was like YES! and then after the dinner interview he never contacted me about it again. I did contact him months later and we arranged a date to hang out. I’d say many of our interests align, but until recently, distance was the problem. I have hesitated to talk to him about or ask to borrow his items since I don’t want to have my messages ignored or met with “That’s something I’ll do with my girlfriend.”
        I am willing to guess he’s clueless enough to not know how hurtful “I’ll do that activity with my girlfriend (but not you)” is.

        1. Betsy*

          Just wanted to say that I can kind of relate. I started chatting to a friend of a friend online recently, because we seemed to have very similar interests and sense of humour. We got to the point where we were chatting all the time and he asked quite personal and specific questions about my dating preferences and things like that. When we were finally able to meet up (living in different cities) he didn’t seem to want to have that much to do with me, despite having put so much effort into spending so much time chatting previously. These kinds of situations can be infuriating and I really can sympathise. I feel like some people really do want to hedge their bets and some people don’t want to be open about their feelings. The best people were just straightforward, even if they turned out not to be interested, they were upfront about it, but not mean. I guess what frustrated me about my situation was the second-guessing (what’s really going on here; did I just totally misread everything?) and feeling like I’m not even considered worthwhile enough to receive a kind rejection.

          1. matcha123*

            That is kind of how I feel. I have to keep reminding myself that he was the one that sent very clear signals that he liked me; he was the one that brought up the dating topics; and he was the one that dissed his ex-girlfriend to me (she was crazy because she was a member of a religious group, which is more like a cult here so I understand his reservations, but he dated her knowing that!) and then dissed his current girlfriend’s taste in music.
            I’ve reminded myself that he’s probably told his friends I was “crazy,” too. And even if I did date him, if we broke up, he’d probably call me “crazy.” So, that does make me feel better.
            If he were some random person I’d only met a handful of times, I’d be ticked off. A friend of almost 20 years? Very disappointed.

    9. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      IDK, I mean, don’t be friends with someone you don’t want to be friends with. That’s a choice you can only make for yourself. But I see people on this thread calling him a garbage person and I really don’t see anything to back that kind of derision up:
      – You’ve been friends for a long time, but not particularly close. I’m friends with hundreds of people that I have no regular contact with… Facebook makes that a lot easier, and I might grab a drink with them when they or I are in town but we’re not in a group chat or anything together. Nothing wrong with any of that, on face.
      – You move to his city, and get together for dinner. You noted that you’re open to dating him, depending on how things go. But you’re immediately put off that he seems interested in dating you.
      – I’m not convinced that any of his questions had to do with dating you anyway! Of course, this is a level of detail that you know and I don’t. But especially if I know i’m not interested in dating someone, I’ll ask them about their taste in significant others, or whether they want to have children, or whatever, all day long. You note that he also asks you about shared interests, which given that you’ve known each other for almost 2 decades seems pretty normal! I don’t know what you might have expected to talk about instead?
      – The subsequent stuff all sounds pretty normal to me, too. If a friend is talking about pay and work and stuff, I’ll give an opinion on if I think their pay is low compared to market (unless they seem like they really don’t want to talk about it) or whatever.
      – I’m interested in what the activity was that he said “I’ll go when I have a girlfriend.” If its, like, a painting class or something, that might be weird. If it involves dancing, its less weird. I think I’d need to know specifics to pass judgement on that.

      Ultimately, I feel like y’all maintained a distant but fine relationship, and then you got into the same city and, in person, one-on-one, y’all just didn’t really mesh. This is fine and normal and you can absolutely decide that that’s not a friendship you want to continue, but a lof of this sounds like you’re trying to ascribe a lot of motives to his actions that I’m not sure are a straight a to b (assuming he wanted to date in the first place instead of maybe just being curious about you, talking about how its “hurtful” to hear that he wants to do certain activities with a girlfriend, etc) that I just am not convinced the details really back up.

      Again, you know your life better than I do! And I’m very open to the idea that there are more details that change the tone of this story. And either way, again, if you don’t wanna be friends with him then don’t be! But I think that people here talking about how this guy is a jerk for … I guess maybe trying to date someone who expressed an interest in dating him? are really stretching.

      1. matcha123*

        I kept re-writing my reply. I don’t know if you’ll check this thread, but, until a little over a year ago this friend and I never talked about dating or anything like that. I met with him a few times before I moved to his city and that’s when we did talk about general dating stuff. He’d been dating a lot more and was excited to tell me about it, and I listened. However, those conversations covered a bunch of other topics, too.
        During the dinner, the topic was almost entirely date-focused. I was expecting the same casual, easygoing conversation from before and he kind of literally and figuratively had me cornered and fired off questions.
        I am certain I told him that since moving to his city that my budget was going to be tight for the foreseeable future, but free or low-cost events were possible.

        The event I invited him to was an exhibition for a wildly popular figure in this country. Think Morgan Freeman as a comparable figure who seems to be well-loved, with little controversy, and I don’t think an exhibit on Freeman’s life would be seen as romantic. I said I had tickets and asked if he’d like to go with me. I didn’t say it was a date. That’s why his reaction surprised me. We’ve watched movies together and planned to watch more, and he’s never indicated that historical figures were his idea of a date.
        The times I did meet with him last year, he seemed very interested in turning the conversation to dating and my thoughts on certain topics. Certainly talking to friends about dating is not abnormal, but would you be interested in the romantic life of someone you declined to date? The salary comments would come when I’d remind him that I wasn’t going out to a bunch of places due to budget reasons. He would literally say, “And I have a high-paying job…” or talk about his mortgage. He said that on each occasion that we met, and it rubbed me the wrong way because he never said anything like that in years past (he works at the same place).
        I tried to remain friendly with him throughout the year; inviting him to meet my friends and have dinner with them (he did that on one occasion before I moved to his city), giving him my thoughts on programs we both watched and just generally trying to act like a friend. And the majority of my messages were ignored.

        I sent him a message at the end of the year asking for his advice on dating in this country and got a prompt response, an invitation to meet to talk face-to-face when he was free, and a question about something that he’d been wanting to ask for a long time. The question was basically “I don’t get why you’d want to date someone, but not get married.” But, I never said that. This is still long, but I hope that clears things up some?

  13. Nervous Accountant*

    Re: panic attacks and other shit

    Long story–

    I came back from 75deg & sunny weather in cali to 0 temps and snowstorm in Jan. Got bronchitis. No pain, just an annoying cough. Dr gave me antibiotics I felt better after 1 day.

    Then Dad died and I had to fly to home country and forgot my meds, still sick w coughing and lost my voice. I took some homepathic medicine and was better. in fact, I felt 100% when I left there and came home (it was 50s/60s temps and sunny if that matters).

    Come home, and I started coughing again. Go back to pcp, he gives me the antibiotics again for the respiratory infection that never went away.

    Start getting side/rib/lung pain the next day. He said its just a muscle strain, normal, just take cough suppressant and give it 3 weeks.

    3 days later, I have a coughing fit and Im thinking I broke a rib bc I’m in extreme pain, and on my way to work I had a panic attack as well. Plus my dad had a silent heart attack so pain + can’t breathe + fear & grief = ER. Somehow I got myself there, got an EKG, X rays, all normal. Spend the day at home and then go back to work. self medicating with ibuprofin, naproxen tylenol and icy hot patches.

    I was never officially diagnosed w panic attacks but I recognized the symptoms online and whenever they happened (6 times since 2014), I just powered through them. Drink water, breathing, etc. they passed w no lasting effect. No medicine. I could have taken Xanax this time but didn’t.

    I can’t go to a psych before March (yay crappy work insurance) but…. I don’t know what to do anymore..

    I told my pcp about the ER visit, he said come back, I can’t afford to keep taking time off work and paying the copay and when I do c him he just rushes.

    I don’t know if I need to quit my job and go to a warmer climate or just power through for the next few months. I don’t know if this pain is normal.
    Right now, all I want is my peace of mind and my health back.

    Is this pain normal? It’s a muscle strain from coughing, if I had a muscle ache from too much exercise I’d just power through and it goes away. This, I feel like I have a wound or surgery and I’m scared to crack a rib or something.

    1. SC Anonibrarian*

      It’s too hard to tell, i’m sorry. You could have cracked a rib from coughing. You could have a muscle strain from coughing (or even something small and unrelated), or the pain could even be related to the panic attacks (i get nerve pain with my attacks that feel like those bad ‘charley horse’ muscle knots).
      What is most likely is a muscle strain or spasm. It can resolve on its own but if it’s a core support muscle or one that’s impacted by your coughing, then you might have to go to the doctor to get muscle relaxers to get it to relax enough to un-seize.
      But it might be something else and I just can’t tell.
      I’m sorry. Coughing sucks. Hurting sucks. Panic attacks suck. I wish you all health and good effective help to get there.

        1. Rainy*

          The x-rays don’t always catch cracked ribs, or even broken ribs that aren’t displaced. My bff and I both got pertussis one summer (thanks, anti-vaxxers!) and she broke 3 ribs coughing. When she got x-rays they looked fine, but she was having increasing pain and our doc scheduled her for a CT scan and sure enough, there they were. There’s not a lot to be done except try not to make it worse or displace the break–our doc recommended splinting the affected side with her arm before coughing, and we both got cough suppressants. (She got heavy-duty prescription DM, and I got codeine because I’m allergic to DM.)

        2. Caro in the UK*

          Could it be a trapped nerve? My friend experiences a similarly intense and sudden onset pain, but the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong. It lasted for a few days, until she rolled over in bed and something popped and the pain disappeared instantly.

    2. fposte*

      This is all really distressing, but I think you may be underselling the role of grief in all of this–the panic attack (I realize you had them before, but the recurrence now is likely no coincidence), the low immune response, the feelings of fragility, the search for peace of mind. If your employer has an EAP or you have other coverage, I’d think about throwing a therapist in the mix there.

      Even if you had broken a rib, you’d still be pretty much powering through it. Take OTC pain meds and ice the area to make sure the pain doesn’t keep you from doing your regular breathing, which is an approach that works if it’s a strain, too; it usually takes about six weeks to heal.

      Sorry you’re having a rough time and I hope things calm down soon.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So agree here.
        I was having small rushes of anxiety but told myself nasty things and pushed forward. Then my father died, enter full blown panic attacks. I’d totally lock up in stores. I learned to really fear driving.
        It was a bunch of things, the worst being my father passing and a crappy job. The next layer was bad diet, dehydration and 20-22 hour days. I had to fix the second layer because there was not enough of me left to go looking for a job. It felt like my leg was caught in a leg trap.

        So. I changed my diet, simple foods and lots of veggies. I started drinking stuff with electrolytes in it to get some minerals back so I could sleep. You have to have energy to sleep, I had no energy so I did not sleep.
        And I decided to learn about grief and all the symptoms of grief and what the process looks like. Perhaps you can find a grief group in your area, some are free but I am not sure if all of them are. The ones here are church based but if that does not appeal to you perhaps you will find something else. The grief group I went to was NOT horrid at all. I was scared to go the first time. Everyone was so kind that I did end up crying but it was because people were so gentle and thoughtful. It felt good. I couldn’t wait to go again.

        I have had good luck with vitamin D for coughing, it would also help bones in their healing process. You could try some arnica gel on your ribs, this might be good for times where you can’t go around smelling like a tube of menthol but you can’t ice your ribs either. I also like peppermint oil for pain, but that might not be the best idea for a workday.

        Of everything that I did, I got the biggest results when I gave up artificial sugars. The attacks dropped by 50% just with that one single change alone.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      In my case, I don’t seem to have a cracked rib either, but I have some bad muscle pain from when I was hit by a car 7 weeks ago. My back muscles are all healed, but I have one area– my side, around my ribs– that still isn’t completely better. Last night I twisted in an odd way and it hurt. I tell you that to assure you that certain muscles take a long time to heal, especially around the ribs. After all, we use them quite often to breathe! I could get myself into good positions to minimize strains on my back, but that side rib muscle just persists. Not bad enough for muscle relaxers, just bad enough to remind myself that I haven’t fully healed.

      But here’s the other thing: you’re in emotional pain, you’re grieving (and I am very sorry for your loss). Grief does things to the body too. Combine that with all of the travel you had to do, and your work stress… you are understandably vulnerable to physical stress and strain. And you’re not alone. A friend of mine lost his father over Christmas, flew overseas to bury him, came back with strep. His brother, who did the same trip, has a persistent viral illness that will not go away.

      I wish you could take more time off of work, but I get that’s not possible right now and I’m really sorry for that. In your downtime, please rest. I know it’s easy for me to say.

      Also, re: your doctor… you know you need to find another one if you feel like this one rushes. But in the meantime, if it gets really bad, go to urgent care. Much cheaper than urgent care, and you may get a more thorough result. I wish you luck and peace!

      1. fposte*

        I’ve got a post stuck in moderation, but I’m with ALB–grief is a huge thing for body and mind and you’re in the throes of it right now. It doesn’t mean the physical isn’t real, just that you’re fragile right now both in what will hurt your body and your resilience in responding to it.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        I think this may be it. He did call me today to check up on me so that was nice of him I guess. Consensus is that the pain will take at leasta few weeks so Ijust have to sit tight and wait.

    4. matcha123*

      I don’t know if this is helpful, but it could be that you’re feeling stress in your life and when you are elsewhere it dissipates. I’ve had a lot of similar coughing fits and my guess is that it’s a pulled muscle or strain from all the coughing. I definitely though I’d broken ribs during those times, but the pain cleared up with the coughing.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      Is it possible there is mold or some kind of allergen where you live now, and when you go away, you are no longer exposed to that allergen so you don’t have symptoms? When I lived in PA, I had chronic respiratory issues that lasted for months at a time. They were so bad that I had to buy a nebulizer and start doing breathing treatments at home. When I moved, they completely went away. I’ve had regular illnesses since I moved, but nothing like the problems I had in the other place. I am convinced that the mold in that house (no ventilation fan in the bathroom, so a lot of mold and mildew grew around the tub, plus the house had a damp dirt basement) was triggering my respiratory problems.

    6. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      It might be the muscles. If so, I’m so sorry but it’ll take a long time (at least a month) to feel better. When you cough, there are muscles involved in making it happen all around the ribs. It is possible to strain those muscles, and then they hurt like hell, all the time. Coughing a lot, for an extended time like it sounds like you’ve done, will do it. It’s not like pulling other muscles either, it’s way worse and feels much more dangerous. I had a panic attack too, it’s really that visceral and terrifying. I think it’s because it’s a threat to your breathing.

      I had this happen in 2013, had various viruses and asthma be inadequately treated and ended up in the ER thinking I’d broken a rib. Nope, pissed off muscles. It was bad. I tripped and fell in the ER (couldn’t actually recover balance due to the muscles), a nurse picked me up and helped me sit & cry for a while. (They knew exactly what had happened too – saw me trip, saw I couldn’t recover and just went over. The nurse who picked me up was trying to catch me before I went down and didn’t get there in time.)

      For me, once I stopped coughing, it was about a week to be able to move. In my case, I needed help bathing, dressing, etc for about 4-5 days (initially, I just stood/sat and my then BF bathed and dressed me), then I was just really slow and stiff. Probably about a month for most of the pain and stiffness to go away. But it was really about 3 months until I felt normal again. Proper torso support w/pillows, get a heating pad if you don’t have one, and take OTC pain meds (assuming you can).

      This is weird, but if it hurts to lay flat, try sleeping sitting up on the couch, leaning slightly forward and to the side on the back of the couch. Basically, drape yourself on the couch, let it fully support your torso. For me, that was the most comfortable position. Just make sure you’ve got enough blankets, you don’t want to chill any muscles.

      Hugs. Hang in there, you’ll through this. Get help if you can from friends/family so you can get past the worst of it.

    7. Windchime*

      I had something similar a couple of years ago and it ended up being bronchitis. Coughing was super painful, as was sneezing or any other kind of deep breath. It felt like a broken rib and was super sharp and painful. It also took many weeks to go away.

    8. Thursday Next*

      You’ve been having an extremely rough run. I’m sorry. FWIW, yes, coughing can cause extreme pain, an unfortunately the coughing can persist after the underlying condition has been treated. (Daughter and I both had pneumonia this fall.)

      But really I think your emotional well being has been thrown for a massive loop, and that can have all sorts of bodily effects. Grief has a long and wide reach, and IME it takes time for it to stop impacting the body so severely and frequently.

      Is there someone through an EAP or PCP that you can talk to about this? That is, not just the specifics of this particular physical effect, but the physical toll of your grief?

    9. TardyTardis*

      Could be pleurisy, when the lining of the lung is all inflamed and hurts like a booger–won’t show up on X-rays, either. I’ve found that lying on the side or strapping it up (Ace bandage, duct tape–no, not kidding–and various other methods help).

  14. Ruth (UK)*

    By the way, has anyone tried bubble tea? You know, the thing with the tapioca ‘pearls’ in it? I tried it recently while feeling a little suspicious about the idea of having solid tapioca balls in my drink, but it turned out it’s a) really tasty and b) way more refreshing than I had expected. There is also a really good variety of flavours (both of the drink, and of the ‘toppings’) in the place(s) in my city that sells it.

    I’m going to admit I’ve actually started having a bit of a craving for it (true story: I dreamed about bubble tea the other night!).

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      I love bubble tea! We have a bubble tea club at work. $6 a month and one person goes and gets it for everyone who pays in. The avocado with lychee is my favourite!

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        My favourite is green milk tea with red bean and pearls OR chocolate milk tea with coconut jelly and pearls, but so far I’ve liked all the flavours I’ve tried (about 5 different ones now). I’m generally quite an un-fussy eater though. In terms of taste/flavour, the only thing I don’t like is banana and it’s quite rare for me to have any strong dislike for anything unless it has banana in it. So I anticipate to like most/all of them, even if I don’t love them all.

        Avocado is an interesting one! That’s definitely not on the menu (unless I’ve missed it) at the places I’ve been. But lychee is.

    2. matcha123*

      I’ve been a bubble tea drinker since the late 90s. I love it. I was a bit suspicious of the tapioca bubbles the first time I had the drink. My “friend” didn’t tell me what they were and I’d never had milk tea before, so it was a somewhat scary experience.
      There are some Taiwanese chains that have locations overseas and you might find some local places that have their own unique blends. I recently tried a hot bubble tea/pearl milk tea that was quite nice. I usually drink them cold. Now you’ve got me wanting some!

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        I’ve been having mine either cold or ‘warm’ (the place I’ve been going to will do a ‘warm’ one which is a little above room temperature but not hot). I like this because I prefer cold drinks generally, but as it’s February at the moment, it’s not so great to have really chilled drinks!

        Even in Starbucks etc, I’ve asked them to make me ‘room temperature’ lattes. Ie. a latte where they don’t steam the milk – so by the time the espresso shot was hot, and the milk was chilled, it ends up about room temperature. As someone who worked a few years full time in food service not too long ago, I don’t normally like to make my orders too ‘customised’ but this one doesn’t really add any complicated steps (in fact, it takes away the milk steaming step, or the ice-adding step), and if they made an error and served it either hot or iced, I’d just take it.

    3. Not That Anne, The Other Anne*

      I love bubble tea! A shop recently opened not far from me and it is very difficult not to go over there on a regular basis. I just do the usual plain bubbles, but the popping bubbles are fun too, if you can get those.

    4. Reba*

      I LOVE Bubble tea (although my fave is the grass jelly not the true bubbles). I almost always get taro, followed by jasmine milk tead. Even better, the most recent place I went offers different levels of sweetness! 50% of “normal”sugar level is about right for me :)

    5. Introverted introvert*

      I think it’s okay, but I don’t like the fact that you have to chew them. You can’t just drink it- I guess I just don’t like the fact that you have something smooth /liquid-y mixed with something solid/that you have to chew. I don’t know- I’m weird.

    6. Porygon-Z*

      I love bubble tea! I don’t know why I love having tapioca balls that don’t even taste like anything in my drink, but I really do. Milk and creamy things aren’t really my thing, but I put up with it for the sake of bubble tea. Then recently I learned that there is a variety that is fruit flavored and not creamy, and now I love the stuff even more.

    7. Elizabeth*

      I’ll be the contrarian. I really dislike it. It is a textural issue for me. My husband loves it.

      It is worth trying to find out if you like it. It isn’t usually to expensive.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        I do think it’s a bit of an odd texture, especially in a drink and even more especially when coming up a straw! I can see it being something people either love or hate. My mom won’t try it, but thinks she’ll hate it, and honestly, though I think it’s good to try things, I think she’s probably right. She dislikes a LOT of foods largely due to texture issues (including beans, peas, mushrooms and more)

    8. Casuan*

      Hate it.
      The liquid is yummy although I don’t like the pearls. I think it’s a texture thing; they’re too slimy.

    9. LilySparrow*

      I had a bad experience that put me off bubble tea. It was a relatively new thing in my town at the time, and I hadn’t heard of it, didn’t know what it was.

      I ordered tea with my meal, and apparently the server asked, “bubble?” I suppose I didn’t understand her. I have no memory of her asking, but my companion said she did. It probably didn’t register because it was a non-sequitur to me.

      In any event, I was surprised to get my tea in a tall glass with a straw, but shrugged and took a big sip…

      And got an unidentified lukewarm blob lodged in my windpipe.

      It was a very unpleasant introduction, and I haven’t had any desire to try it again.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Wow, that does sound awful! It makes a big difference for a taste or texture to be unexpected! There’s a story in my family that my grandpa always told about his dad (my great grandfather). Apparently when he was a young teenager, he had never before seen/had a tomato. He ended up buying a large red one thinking it was a lovely shiny red apple, and took a bite right into it.

        Imagine expecting the crisp texture and taste of an apple and getting the texture of a tomato (plus how acidic they are, if you are not familiar with them!). Apparently it put him off both apples AND tomatoes!

    10. Nye*

      Ooh, I lived near a terrific bubble tea place for a brief but glorious period. My go-to at a proper bubble tea joint is a roasted barley tea, no milk, half sugar, double boba. So good!

    11. Koala dreams*

      Yes, it’s great! Though it took me a long time to get used to the bubbles – I used to order bubble tea without bubbles! Last year I tried to make my own bubble tea with dried bubbles from the asian grocery store, it was quite fun but took longer than expected. Also, make sure to not buy too old dried bubbles!

    12. Emily*

      I love bubble tea, but only as an occasional special treat – I’m afraid it might lose some of its appeal if I have it all the time. My favorites are the various milk tea flavors (fruity ones are okay, but less my thing) with less sugar when that’s an option. I mostly just get the tapioca pearls, but people on this comment thread are making me feel like I should try the jellies more often!

    13. LAI*

      I don’t actually like the pearls, so I always get mine without. But I love the drinks! Hot almond milk tea in the winter when it’s cold and mango green tea in the summer for me. The places near me have a ton of other options for things you can add besides the pearls but I haven’t tried them.

    14. DDJ*

      Earl grey milk tea with mango boba. So they’re not tapioca pearls, they’re more like a gelatin ball filled with juice. It’s very cold now so I haven’t had one in a couple months, but this post is really making me crave one!

      I do like black tapioca pearls as well. But I’m not a big fan of any of the smoothie-style bubble teas.

  15. Lauren*

    So many people here seem to love The Good Place. I gave it try a while ago on the recommendation of a friend, but just…couldn’t get into it. Since reading so many good reviews here I thought maybe I just didn’t give it enough of a chance so I tried it again and…I still can’t get into it. The whole premise makes me cringe, I hate all the hand-waving whenever they need to explain away something, and even though the cast is good there’s just nothing that’s clicking.

    Sigh. Why can’t I get into shows that everyone else seem to be talking about?

    1. WellRed*

      I can’t seem to either. Parks & Rec, Brooklyn 999 and a whole host of others. I am actually looking forward to the Murphy Brown reboot.

      1. Red Reader*

        Yeah – my husband loves Good Place, Parks and Rec and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and all of them range between boring at best to actively annoying to me.

      2. London Bookworm*

        Parks & Rec, The Good Place and Brooklyn 99 (I’m fairly sure) are all from the same showrunner, so it makes sense that you might not like all three. His style maybe just wasn’t a fit for you.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, I think it’s a very particular kind of humor and I can see how it wouldn’t resonate with some people! I ADORE all three of those shows, so, so, so much.

        2. Cristina in England*

          Yeah it’s Michael Schur. I once heard someone on a podcast say “the gentle humour of Michael Schur” which, as soon as I heard it, explained why I liked it.

          1. teclatrans*

            It’s funny, but I can’t stand the humor on Parks & Rec and Brooklyn 99, but I adore The Good Place. I can intellectually identify why people like the first two, but they just really turn me off.

            The funny thing about The Good Place is that the premise it puts forward (via Ted Danson’s exposition and Kristin Bell’s navigation of her situation) isn’t really the premise of the show. Each episode reveals a bit more, shakes up your assumptions and broadens your sense of the people. I think both TGP and Big Little Lies play with this narrative approach, of ‘telling’ you what people are like and setting you up to understand their relationships in one way, and then over the journey you learn about people as people, good with the bad but mostly good and trying to do right by each other.

    2. Claire (Scotland)*

      I love that show (it’s the first show I’ve gotten into in a couple of years!) but I’ve bounced off SO MANY other shows that everyone else seems to love. I’ve never figured out what makes the difference but I do find it frustrating.

      1. Rainy*

        I’m like that with tv shows–I do actually really like tv, but a lot of the shows it seems like I should like, I end up either not liking them at all or only liking them for a season or two. For example, I really wanted to like Grace and Frankie and I loved the first season and some of the second, but I just am not interested anymore. :/ I have no idea why. It’s frustrating because I love the cast, and the first season was so good, and now I just can’t make myself care.

        1. OperaArt*

          Same here. I watched one and a half seasons of Grace snd Frankie, and then just stopped. Not sure why. I liked the acting.

    3. fposte*

      Well, nothing is universally liked, and probably there’s stuff you like that other people aren’t into. What do you like?

      I just fell in love with the British show Derry Girls, which is currently findable on YouTube. It’s a comedy about teenaged Catholic girls in Derry in the early 1990s amid the Troubles, which mostly just float in the background but still matter. If you liked Raised by Wolves, definitely worth a watch.

      1. Isobel*

        Derry Girls is great! I was a teenager in the 1990s so the music and fashion are a fab nostalgia trip, but it’s also a bit of a reminder of how little we knew about what was going on over in Northern Ireland.

    4. neverjaunty*

      I hear you. So many shows where I’ll watch it because a friend loved it and am all, “HOW has this crap been on the air for multiple seasons?”

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      Confession time: I didn’t like Game of Thrones.

      I tried for three seasons, because I do love fantasy, but it was too much work for me to keep the characters straight.

      1. Tris Prior*

        I agree – and I hear it gets WAY too violent for my taste. I’m probably the only person I know who doesn’t watch it. Oh well.

        1. LilySparrow*

          I never even tried it. The very first thing I heard about it was how rapey it was. Hard no from me. There’s some stuff I just know I can’t get past.

      2. Emily*

        Game of Thrones is a weird one for me. I watched the first few episodes with friends and hated it (it made me so uncomfortable and unhappy), eventually got into it, and then quit a couple of seasons later when I realized that I was no longer enjoying or looking forward to watching it. I understand why people like it, but the sex/rape/torture (especially when they’re combined) was too much for me.

        More recently I saw an episode from a later season and it was pretty meh, so I don’t really feel like I’m missing out.

        (I have read the books, and while I liked them better than the show, I dread the day when George R.R. Martin actually publishes another one and I have to reread the previous five in order to remember what’s going on. That sounds like a lot of effort for a series I’ve cooled on. Maybe I’ll do it if Sansa features prominently – she’s one of my favorites.)

    6. Lily Evans*

      Everyone has their own taste. I’m super into TV as well, but there’s plenty of super popular shows I couldn’t get into or just didn’t like that people are obsessed with, like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men. Sometimes popular things just aren’t your specific type of thing.

    7. Introverted introvert*

      I think I watched the first 10 minutes of The Good Place and just couldn’t get into it either. I tried. I’ve been watching Mad Men on Netflix and while the first few seasons were good, it got sillier as the season went on. I managed to finish the series, but was a little disappointed. I’m thinking of trying to watch “Walking Dead”, but I’m not big on the whole zombie thing, so I don’t know.

    8. Forking Great Username*

      Eh, I think everyone has some popular shows they can’t get into. I can’t stand gore so I can’t handle Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, etc. I do wonder if you would feel differently about the hand-waving to explain things away in The Good Place once you get to the big twist in the season 1 finale.

    9. Oxford Coma*

      I don’t get into that sort of thing either. I am a dark cynic who cannot tolerate sitcom-style “golly gee shucks” humor. I like black comedy like It’s Always Sunny.

    10. BPT*

      You might still not like it, but it went from a “show that’s entertaining enough for me to catch up on every few weeks” to “OMG it’s brilliant” once it reached the Season 1 finale. If you get to the finale, you’ll understand a lot of the hand-waving problems away. It’s a twist that was totally worth it to me.

      1. Overeducated*

        Yes. I think The Good Place is a brilliant show masquerading as kind of a dumb show until the end of Season 1. Totally changed what I thought about it!

    11. NaoNao*

      Same here! I watched one episode and it was funny, cute, and clever, but it was also frenetic, in your face, and loud, physically and psychologically.
      List of shows I am not into that everyone else in the entire world seems to be:
      True Detective
      Game of Thrones
      Crazy Ex GF (although the first few episodes were entertaining and fun, just didn’t grab me)
      Good Place
      Parks and Rec
      Big Bang Theory
      This is Us
      SNL (find most skits very dull and draggy)
      Louis (of Louis CK) too mean spirited and bleak
      Billions (not sure if anyone was into it, but it had a bit of a buzz when it came out)
      Once upon a time (or is it just Once)
      Royals (started off great, production quality dropped by like 90% on episode 2, not sure how that happened, and it was a real shame)
      Man in the High Castle (same! all their money was spent on episode one!)
      Twin Peaks I, II, Fire Walk with me, etc
      The Good Doctor or any other show about a neuroatypical “hero”/antihero
      Fleabag (this show was SUPER off putting to me)
      You’re the Worst

      I seem to have a radar for shows that no one else likes or else are very niche like UnReal, High Maintenance (which I started watching as a web series) “An African City” (vimeo series and it’s GREAT. It’s an African Sex and the City.) and I like finding cool, different, weird stuff.

  16. Red Reader*

    I started a crafting challenge yesterday- to do a craft project (in my case, a knitted sweater) between the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, 6am my time yesterday to 6am my time on the 25th. So far I have about 5” of sweater body knitted, and nothing else to do this weekend other than 5 hours of working tomorrow. Today’s plan is to knit til my fingers fall off, while watching cheesy true crime shows on Netflix. (Forensic Files, I am looking at you.)

    Challenge is complicated by the fact that I’m leaving for Disneyworld on the 21st and jog-walking the Princess half-marathon on the 25th. Wish me luck! :)

    1. Rainy*

      Aw yeah, Forensic Files. I highly recommend Caught on Camera, also on Netflix–it’s British, and shows crimes caught on CCTV and how the police use the footage to find the perpetrators of assaults, thefts, etc. If that seems like your kind of thing, there are 3 seasons up and it was great for bingeing, for me anyway. :)

    2. King Friday XIII*

      Good luck with the challenge! Is it the not!Ravelympics or something else, if you don’t mind me asking?

      1. Red Reader*

        It’s not – I’ve done the Yarn Harlot’s Knitting Olympics twice in the past, and this year just decided to do one myself with any family and friends who wanted to join in :) I’m knitting, my mom is doing a quilt and my sister is painting a Labyrinth (movie) themed tryptich, I think.

  17. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    I’m so friggin sick of migraines. Fought one off yesterday. Can feel another one brewing. I’ve taken my medicine and doing everything I can to get rid of it. It’s my best friend’s birthday shenanigans tonight…and I’m the only one who can make it. I feel bad enough that I won’t be able to finish her birthday gift (I have a “faux” gift so she at least has SOMETHING to open), I cannot call this off.

    1. nep*

      I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with that. Migraines — well there really aren’t adequate words for how awful they are. Hope it eases up.

    2. Canadian Natasha*

      Sympathies from a fellow migraine endurer who is also tired of those stupid headaches with extras. They SUCK. I hope it resolves quickly so you can enjoy your time with your friend.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m so sorry! I had one myself this week, plus the next day leftover headache, so I can sympathize. I didn’t leave the house for 2 days, which was a relief. I hope you feel better soon.

    4. LPUK*

      I know how you feel – I have had one that comes and goes since last Friday, and it’s really screwed up my sleeping patterns as I doze during the day while my medication kicks in, and then I can’t sleep until early am, then sleep in and then get another migraine ( because fatigue is one of my triggers). As I am self- employed and quiet at the moment, it hasn’t affected work, but has affected all my new year promises to myself ( networking, LinkedIn articles, house clearing and decluttering and gym) so i’m Disgusted with myself as well as exhausted and in Pain! Plus the weather is. crappy in my part of UK, so i’ve hardly been over the threshold

    5. Elf*

      I really feel you – I had the worst issue first trimester where even if the migraine medicine worked, I’d be incapacitated with morning sickness all day (like, ok if I’m flat on my back, but feel awful if I try to sit up and puke if I stand to walk to the bathroom). I’m back to being functional post meds if they work, but I just really don’t want to deal with this shit anymore. Hope you feel better.

    6. Erika22*

      I sympathize completely. I had a terrible migraine most of the day yesterday, complete with getting off the underground to puke in a station toilet before getting back on the train (highlight of my day) and being juuust okay enough after that to make it to a birthday dinner for my friend. Just know you’re an excellent friend, and you can go home afterwards and pass out till tomorrow!

  18. The Career Files*

    Hi everyone. Longtime reader here. I recently started my own blog and would love to get feedback (and if you’re so inclined, submissions). I’m planning to provide a day-in-the-life look at a bunch of different jobs across industries, income levels, and experience levels. Link is in my name if you care to take a look!

    1. Kaz*

      This is a cool idea, I would do this because I’m constantly trying to get people into my field (clinical research) and no one knows it exists.

      I am not sure that having the whole form be filled out right at once is a good idea though.. I want to help but looking at that form is kind of exhausting. I’m working on it but honestly not sure I will fill out the whole thing and then I might forget about it. I think you would get much better response rates with less work required from each person. My days are also extremely variable so I don’t know that that’s all that helpful.

    2. Ree*

      Love this!
      I think the only other thing that could add to it is to have a comment section for people to ask additional questions of the person who submitted their day in the life.
      Like, I want to know if the associate lawyer is on a partner track and how long that takes? And what is the potential salary from that? I guess.. what are long term career track or plans for the writer?

      But I LOVE IT! Already subscribed!

    3. SC Anonibrarian*

      Same feedback on the form. I’m working on it cause this is a great idea, but it’ll take a while. Maybe a short ‘intake’ form and then get more details in an email or a later form?

  19. Teapots for Llamas*

    My husband told me on Wednesday that he doesn’t want to be married to me anymore, completely blindsided me. We just bought a house together eight months ago, and celebrated out eight anniversary two weeks ago. I’m in such shock, and I’m not ready to talk about it with everyone yet. I hoped that we could at least talk about how to do this amicably before filing anything, but he hired a lawyer yesterday. I’m reeling. I have no idea what happened.

    1. Liz*

      I’m so sorry, that’s terrible!

      I’d recommend you go ahead and get a lawyer of your own now, and also make an appointment with a therapist if you don’t have one – particularly since you’re not ready to talk to everyone yet.

      1. Teapots for Llamas*

        Thank you, I do have a great therapist, thankfully. In an exquisite piece of bad timing, I was supposed to see her the day he told me, but there was a snow storm, and her office was closed. I’m seeing her on Wednesday now.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, TFL, I’m so sorry. That’s like stepping off a cliff. Take care of yourself. I get that you might not be ready to talk IRL, but don’t let that keep you from getting support when you need it.

      And also, get your own lawyer ASAP.

    3. Ruth (UK)*

      I don’t have any advice, but I’m thinking of you and I hope you come out of this as well and as ok as is possible xx

    4. Rainy*

      Oh no. I’m so sorry, that is rough.

      But yeah, get a lawyer now. Find a good one. And definitely therapy–you are going to need someone to talk to about this.

    5. Bird*

      That is very hard, and I’m sorry that you’re having to go through it. It sounds like everything is happening very quickly, which leaves you no time to process any of it. I hope you feel able to reach out to a trusted friend or family member, or even a counselor, soon; perhaps having someone explicitly in your corner will help.

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I’m so, so sorry! And yes, you need a lawyer now. Which means you’re probably going to have to tell some people so you can get recommendations. You need someone who can be cool and objective and look out for what’s best for you while you take care of your broken heart.

    7. Emmie*

      My heart goes out to you. It sounds so cruel and shocking. FWIW, tell people when you’re ready. And couples go through things all the time.

    8. King Friday XIII*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, and that he’s chosen to do it this way. I agree with the folks above that you should get a lawyer too since he’s apparently been putting pieces into motion fast, and you want someone who can give you solid, unemotional instructions.

    9. Peanut*

      I’m sorry. Almost the same thing happened to me about 8 years ago – we were married a few months longer than you, had bought a house a few months more recently than you, and I had no idea he was even unhappy until he said he wanted a divorce – and please trust me that it WILL get better with time. But it does take time.

      The one practical bit of advice I can offer is to bring a good friend (ideally one that is your friend, not a friend of you and your husband as a couple) to any lawyer meetings. I thought I was handling everything fine, thought I was making the best decisions for myself, and would have laughed at anyone telling me to bring a friend, but truthfully, it is such an emotional time that you need to concentrate on taking care of yourself, and you need a friend to concentrate on following the legal stuff to make sure you are taken care of legally. I got kind of screwed legally, but by the time I realized it, it was too late to change anything and I was so heartsick that I just wanted the whole process to be over with.

      1. Teapots for Llamas*

        Thanks, that is good advice. I’m still so shocked, I can’t take anything in. Having another set of ears sounds like a very smart idea.

        1. Good luck*

          When a divorce seems to come out of nowhere and then starts to happen fast, the person filing has usually spent a lot of time thinking about it, decided he/she wasn’t interested in salvaging it, and put on a neutral face while they lined up their financial/social resources and came up with a plan. You’re behind the game (understandably), and not in a place to make pragmatic decisions (also understandably).

          You need a good lawyer who’s prepared to handle your particular situation. Get recommendations from anyone who’s had a “good” divorce, from the bar association, etc. Get in for two or three consultations. Find someone you feel comfortable with, but also someone good. And someone experienced with yours issues – family business, military, retirement assets, custody, international, etc. Feel free to ask them, “if it was your divorce, who you would ask to represent you.” If they say themselves, they’re not being honest with you. Clear your schedule to handle this – it needs to be priority one.

          While you lock down a lawyer, do not make any decisions that might disadvantage you. Don’t move out. Don’t put money into shared accounts. Don’t pay bills in his name. Don’t badmouth him around town. Don’t give him access to your social media. Take notes about anything relevant.

          Find someone to advocate for you. Not just to take to meetings with your lawyer, but to be a witness when needed (if he’s taking things out of the house, or demands you give him payment for something, for example). A family member might not be ideal. You’ll want someone you trust, but also someone who can be objective and talk you down from anything crazy or ill advised – not to go over the cliff with you.

          If you have kids, line up emergency childcare. If you have significant assets, line up your own accountant. If you need any type of special advisor for a business, or other special needs, find one.

          Once you’ve spent a week or two putting together a team to help you, let them help you. Don’t throw out good advice because you’re hurt or angry or upset. Step back, and focus on self care. Put your daily routine back in order. See your therapist. See your doctor. Talk to your friends. Do not let your life be all about your divorce for the next year. Let it be about putting yourself back into a strong place.

          – Signed, a divorced divorce lawyer who’s seen it from both sides.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Not a long comment yet super informative. Nice job on that.
            See, OP? Already you are not alone. You have back up coming in for all over.

      2. On Fire*

        +1. My ex-SIL did basically this same thing to BIL, and she made out like a bandit because he was too shocked to realize what was going on. They also didn’t use lawyers, so he didn’t have *anyone* looking out for his interests, whereas she had been planning for a while. Get a lawyer ASAP, and have someone you trust to have your interests at heart to help you. Sympathies and hugs.

    10. Turtlewings*

      Oh man, that’s awful. I understand why the lawyer thing stings but just because there’s lawyers involved doesn’t mean things have to be non-amicable. I’ve even heard some people say bringing in lawyers enabled them to keep things MORE amicable, because the lawyers could do the dirty work without the spouses having to argue about things in person. Plus a lawyer is just a good idea when you’re doing a legal thing, so he may not have meant it as the rude gesture it feels like.

      I’m so sorry you have to deal with this out of nowhere. Best of luck with it.

    11. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m so sorry, I hope that you have a good support system that can be Team You during this difficult time.

    12. Fiennes*

      Oh, my god, that’s awful. I’m so sorry. As Captain Awkward says, time to assemble Team You to help during this wretched time. Wishing you strength.

    13. Ktelzbeth*

      When I needed one, my therapist had good divorce lawyer suggestions. It seemed odd, but I suppose that she probably sees a lot of people who need one.

      I am so sorry. Hugs (or whatever you prefer).

  20. dr_silverware*

    Trying to get into exercising regularly. I have a hard time forming an exercise habit partly because I tend to get discouraged, partly because I find it so boring; the things I find less boring, like team sports, I find even more discouraging! It’s really hard to manage making myself do something physically difficult, breaking my routines by showering at weird times of the day, and keeping my hopes up about how well I’ll be able to do while also trying not to be desperately bored or to fall into the trap of caring about weight loss.

    Now that I’ve vented, does anyone have any advice about a) non-boring things to do for exercise or b) techniques to push through the really early days of getting fit?

    1. Nicole*

      The only thing that helped me was watching TV or YouTube videos while working out on my elliptical machine. Music wasn’t good enough to overcome the boredom.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        This also worked for me. Specifically, however, i made “appointment tv gym time” – I would go work out while Maury was on because wanting to know WHO IS THE FATHER? kept me from getting off the machine during the commercials :)

        After about a month it was just second nature to go to the gym if Maury was on or not, but most of the time it was :)

        Is there another show you would like to watch that would hold your attention?

        1. dr_silverware*

          You and Nicole are totally right–a friend also has stuff he’ll only watch/listen to at the gym, which might be more of a draw.

    2. fposte*

      I am pretty easily bored by exercise too; I’ve learned that I’m never going to go past 20 minutes on the elliptical because I just can’t cope with the tedium another minute, even though I really enjoy the elliptical.

      What helps me is TV when possible and also quantifying improvements–my body freaks out with sudden changes anyway, so it makes sense for me to start small and go up a rep/pound/minute each time. (If you’re at all spreadsheet-geeky, make a spreadsheet; feel free to graph the progress bar for encouragement.) I find it really bolstering to realize I’m doing twice what I could do a couple of weeks ago. I would also say don’t do the same thing every day, and maybe have a minimal go-to for the days when you just can’t (going for a walk is a good off-day activity anyway).

      And sometimes routines just stop working for you, and that’s okay. My magic routine for ten years ago isn’t the same as the one for five years ago which is different from this year.

      1. dr_silverware*

        Yeah…I think especially the reminder that routines will change is really helpful. I’ve been running and noting when on my calendar for just a couple weeks now, which is helpful, but it also fills me with a very strange existential dread. Like, I have to do this forever???

        Which is probably a sign I should do something I find more enjoyable…or at least track it in a different way. :P

    3. Snark*

      I tried so, so hard to get into exercizing regularly on our treadmill, but I just couldn’t get there. I’ve gotten a bit of dad bod going lately, and I’d really like to work out more, but hiking and trail running is really all that works for me. Thankfully, I live literally at the foot of a mountain range, so it’s actually practical for me to do it – I just had to invest in some waterproof running shoes, fleece pants, and layers to be reasonably comfortable exerting myself when it’s 35 degrees and the sun is setting at 6000 feet.

      1. dr_silverware*

        That sounds like a pretty wonderful way to work out & also to get to know your home in all seasons. I just went on a walk/run around a nearby reservoir and splashing through the mud was surprisingly pleasurable.

        1. Snark*

          The thing that works for me is that it feels like leisure. I hike for fun. I don’t hike to lose weight or meet some arbitrary challenge. I hike because the sensation of moving fast and free over terrain is pleasurable and peaceful, and because I love being surrounded by mountains and deserts and canyons.

      2. paul*

        How do you handle kids in crappy weather? Mine refuse to wear headgear or gloves–even when it’s single digits. So they can’t handle any sort of real time outside. Makes winter a bear for hiking. I’m OK going slow and covering less ground, but I get worried about them getting frostbite :/

        And in summer they never seem to want to drink water on hikes, even when its’ 95+

        1. Jules the First*

          My dad’s solution was very simple: if you didn’t wear appropriate gear, you couldn’t come (which worked because mom was usually staying home and had something scintillating like cleaning planned).

          For drinking water on summer hikes, he also had rules – everyone had a water break together at regular intervals – but what helped most was that everyone carried their own water and we soon worked out it was easier carried internally. The other one that worked was that juice boxes were available at the turn-around point of the hike, but only to those who had reached the halfway point on their water. (Ditto trail mix and lunch…)

          Of course, this is the same man whose wilderness survival motto was “be stupid and die” (the idea being, I suppose, that it’s the stupid mistakes that put your life at risk) so we learned early on about the risks of dehydration, hypothermia, frostbite, and other wilderness hazards…his authority was probably also enhanced by the fact that we were usually hiking in places where there was wildlife that could kill you, so ymmv.

          (With my Rebel kid sister, he took the nuclear option on one memorable skiing trip and went so far as to explain that she had to listen when Daddy told her not to do something because Daddy really didn’t want to have to go home to Mummy and explain that Sister was hurt/sick/dead/missing, because Mummy would be really upset…and that seemed to do the trick).

      3. Snark*

        Just went out on a little slippy-trippy run, just me, the mountains, and four inches of fluffy snow on the ground, with more pouring down. Utterly delightful, despite bicycle-kicking a rock a mile or so in. It’s snowing to beat the band and it’s gorgeous and dead silent.

      4. Ktelzbeth*

        So jealous. I have no convenient mountain range and asthma that won’t let me run under 40F, which is a huge chunk of the winter in the upper midwest. I’m just waiting to at least be able to get back to my 30 minute away river bluff state park.

        For advice on what to do to stay in a routine, I sign up for Masters’ swimming every session and trail run with a group (weather permitting). Then the coach (swimming only) and the other people ask where I was when I don’t show up. Masters’ swimming refers to people who are older than college athletes, not skill level. We have people start every so often who can barely make one lap without stopping at the beginning of the session.

    4. matcha123*

      I used to play a variety of sports when I was younger, and I love moving my body and exercise. But. I had “boring” exercise, so I totally feel you. I am not a gym person, but I have decided to try and go a few times a month.
      For non-boring stuff, I say YouTube. There are a lot of people who’ve put out interesting videos in everything from zumba to yoga. If you have a Chromecast or similar device that lets you stream to your TV, it’s a lot easier to watch videos and do your thing in the living room.
      To push through? I do what I did for my kindergarteners when I worked as a teacher and use stickers. I give myself a sticker for each day I exercise. I tell myself it has to be at least 30 minutes of “real” exercise. For me, that means doing the elliptical at the gym or doing a series of YouTube videos…or doing 30 minutes of stretching.
      When I do go to the gym, I always bring my mp3 player or cell phone. I use Google Play Music to listen to stuff and kind of day dream and concentrate on counting.

      Even when I played sports as a kid, I hated going to class, but I loved the classes. It’s the same today. The push to get to the place or change into gym clothes is the hardest part for me. But once I’m at the gym or in my exercise clothes at home, I find that I am in the mood to move.

        1. fposte*

          I would never work out if it depended on my going to a gym. It’s like all the downside of exercise, plus leaving the house to be with strangers in ugly surroundings with annoying music! I can intellectually understand how it could work for somebody to have a special location and get into a groove, but it ain’t happening for me.

          1. Snark*

            Yep. Unfortunately, I’m really in need of upper body exercize, and I’m at a loss for how to do that outside a gym.

            1. fposte*

              It probably depends on how intense you want to get and what the specifics are, but if you have a look at You Are Your Own Gym (and its app, Bodyweight Training); it’s got a ton of bodyweight exercises you can do at home, including upper body stuff, and good old exrx dot net is worth trawling through as well for suggestions. I splurged on the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells for my weight stuff and I really like them (though that’s mostly for lower body at the moment), and they go up to 50 lbs a piece so they should get you a fair ways. A home power tower is also comparatively cheap (there are serviceable ones on Amazon for about the $100 mark).

              Admittedly, it might be easier just to give up and go to the gym :-). But there are other ways.

              1. Snark*

                That’d probably be great, thanks for the recommendation. I’ve also considered installing a fingerboard, which is kind of a cross between a climbing wall hold and a pull-up bar, in the garage. My wife has issues a firm ruling against turning the west wall of the house into a bouldering wall. :(

                1. Jules the First*

                  What about a treadwall or the freedom climber? My gym has a freedom climber which is awesome because you can safely climb solo without a harness and it only needs about six feet square.

        2. matcha123*

          I agree with you on that. I’m tying to motivate myself to go today. Unfortunately, I don’t always want to do push-ups, so, gotta get out there.
          Going to zumba or some kind of class would be great, but the process at my closest gym is too complicated (gotta get there 90 minutes prior to the class to get a ticket) and yeah.

      1. dr_silverware*

        Ugh, yeah, the activation energy required to leave the house and do something feels SO HIGH. And I always remember the times I didn’t pass some arbitrary standard I set myself, instead of the times I did fine and felt good.

        1. Ktelzbeth*

          I overcome the activation energy by usually going to the gym directly from work. It’s easier to leave the office than my recliner. Summer is easier, because a bike ride or a trail run is fun. Lap swimming is about the same at any season, but treadmills and stationary bikes are only tolerable with movies to watch.

    5. Ruth (UK)*

      Not all of these will work for you, depending on various circumstances but here are some things I do that make me more active:
      1. I commute by cycling (or walking, if it’s close enough). Part of this is that I simply don’t own a car, but I cycle as opposed to taking the bus. I realise this is only possible if you can ride a bike and the commutes aren’t too lengthy.

      2. I go for a walk on my lunch break at work. I get 45 mins which is long enough for me to spend half an hour walking, and then 15 minutes eating (I always eat in the last part, not the first part, because sometimes I run a bit).

      3. Have you tried an active activity / hobby other than sport / straight up exercise, that is still physical? In my case, I do a lot of folk dance, and I also am an allotment gardener. Both of these are physical activity, and things I find fun/interesting, but are not sport, or competitive (some types of dance are but mine isn’t), and is not just exercise for the hell of it. Alternatively, you may instead enjoy an exercise class (with music etc. Like Zumba. I am not a fan of it but I see the appeal).

      4. If you want to do something like running, I recommend finding a group or something similar. I like to go to parkrun, which is a free timed 5k every Saturday. There happen to be 3 different ones, all within a reasonable cycle commute of me (the closest of them being 3.5 miles away, the furthest being 5). I like running in a group and then meeting people and being social afterwards. At parkrun, people do the 5k in anything from sub-18mins to close to an hour (ie. walking).

      5. Rather than team-sports, you might also enjoy something like squash, badminton, or tennis. You can play casually/non-competitively, it’s still got the social aspect you might like from team sports, but if you’re having a bad day or not playing well for some reason, you don’t need to worry that you’re letting people (ie. your team) down.

      6. Depending on where you live and what’s available you in your area, and what you can afford, you may also be able to find another fun activity, like maybe skating / roller blading, or rock climbing (a huge bouldering wall opened the other year near me). You might be able to find some friends interested in trying it with you, or go alone to a beginner session of something.

      That’s all I can think of right now, but I hope some of these are helpful or give you an idea. Good luck!

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Oh, one more! This works for me but not for everyone:

        7. I find having a specific goal/event to work towards makes me feel motivated to do exercise that I’d otherwise find boring. For example, I don’t have a great deal of motivation to do long runs (anything more than 30 minutes) on my own BUT if I’m training for a specific event, then I do. So, at the moment I’ve signed up to a half marathon in April, so when I run I think about it being in training for that, and I find it much easier to motivate myself and not get bored on the run. But when I have no specific event ahead of me that I’m training for, I’ll feel bored and give up around 20 minutes in, at best. I would not suggest a half marathon as your first event (unless you’re already very fit), but maybe signing up for a 5k or even 10k at some time not too close, but in the foreseeable future, would make you feel motivated (that is, if running is a thing you might wanna do).

        1. dr_silverware*

          Those are all really good suggestions, in particular actually having goals & incorporating activity into other parts of my life & hobbies. I figure I can do a couch-to-5k kind of thing at first–which is actually one of the reasons I wrote in, because I just recently pushed myself to run too hard on some of the intervals, got hit with some shin splints, and got discouraged when I realized I just can’t run that fast yet! But I think you’re totally right that some kind of goal is important. Thank you :)

          1. Ruth (UK)*

            Yes, I’ve heard good things about couch to 5k. I’ve not done it myself (because I did other types of exercise frequently prior to starting running, it turned out I could already run a non-stop (but not very fast) 5k when I took up running, so it wasn’t an ideal one for me). However, I did read through the steps of it and it looks good, and I know other people who speak well of it.

            I do think one of the worst things that can happen in the early stages of a new exercise regime is pushing too hard and then being put off. If you’re unsure about the pace you can progress at, I actually think it’s better to ‘play safe’ and progress slower than you think rather than push too hard too soon. Once your body is more used to exercising in general, your recovery times will start to get faster, and you’ll have more room to ‘risk’ pushing a bit harder or going a bit longer. You will unconsciously begin to get a feel for what your body is capable of and learn to pace yourself properly. But at the start, I think it’s better to ease into it not too dramatically.

          2. LilySparrow*

            There’s a free c25k app by zenlabs that’s quite straightforward & easy to use. It’s just a voice in your ear that says *Bing* “start your warmup now…*Bing* start jogging…*Bing* start walking…”

            You can play your own music at the same time. I love it because I can let my mind wander, clear my head.

            It takes me more than 8 weeks to do the progression, though, because my joints take longer to acclimate. My cardiovascular fitness adapts much quicker than my knees/hips can.

    6. MMM*

      Personally I love group fitness classes, so if that’s something you may be interested in I’d recommend a gym that offers a wide variety. That way you could sample one of a variety of options and see if there are any you like enough to work into a more regular schedule.

      In terms of making it a feel like a habit, I “schedule” my gym time for myself. I essentially treat it as an appointment and having that mentality helps keep me going. Knowing that I have gym time “booked” into my day or week just makes it seem more regular, without being overly forced. Now that my gym routine is so set, I have almost the opposite problem of you–if something comes up and I have to change my gym/shower time, I’m frustrated. I realize that doesn’t help you get past those early days, but just an anecdote to say that once you get past the initial struggle of making it a habit, you may be surprised to find how much you like your gym routine!

      1. Betsy*

        Yes, group fitness is the only thing that works for me at the moment (although I haven’t been doing it recently). I like the variety, because if I’m bored with one class, I can just swap it out for another, and if I try something and hate it, I just make a note never to attend that particular class again. Group fitness at gyms also has music, which is a plus for me, as it makes it all feel a lot less serious.

        I really feel you on this OP. I do need to get back into exercise for a number of reasons.

    7. Triplestep*

      I have started to do something radical. I know I will not exercise at the end of a work day, and I get to work by 7am. Monday through Wednesday I get up at 4am and go to the gym before work. On Thursday night I have a standing appointment with a trainer that keeps me accountable for after-work exercise, so I get up my normal time. On Friday, I do nothing for exercise. Saturday I may or may not fit in gym time, but Sunday I do.

      This schedule insures the following:
      1. I exercise five to six days a week
      2. I only have to get up earlier than the crack of dawn three of those days.
      3. I only have to prepare to go to the gym before work three evenings a week, and one of them is Sunday (not a work day) so I can do it any time over the weekend.
      4. By the time I think I can’t stand this schedule anymore, it is Thursday and I’m getting a break.
      5. Once it’s time to re-start the schedule, I have had four days off of the regimented, really early gym time, and a weekend to recuperate, so I’m ready to go again.

      It took me a while to come up with this, but I just finished week five, and I feel like it’s manageable. It started to get easier after the second cycle. I gave myself a break gym-wise the first two weeks. At that point it was about figuring out what to take to the gym, how to pack it all, managing the locker room in the least amount of time, etc.

      Oh, and I have a Planet Fitness membership, so this all takes place at three different gyms plus my trainer’s studio. (One PF is near my home, and two near my work for M – W). Exercising in different places might make things more interesting for you.

        1. Triplestep*

          Thanks! Honestly, item 4 is really the thing that makes this whole arrangement work. By the time I’m thinking “I can’t keep this up” … I don’t have to!

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      I take the bus to and from work. On the way back from work, I don’t take the bus directly from work but walk about a half hour on the bus route and then get the bus later. That’s the only way I’ve been able to consistently work exercise into my daily/weekly routine.

    9. Molly*

      I’ve just gotten into the Fit Woman app and love it! There are three difficulties and then you can choose from an array of pre-made workouts with focus on this or that (only complain is the titles because how am I supposed to know what a ’Snow White workout’ does before clicking on it??)
      You can also create your own workout.
      And there’s video with voice-over like if it was a youtube video. And a count-down. And it tells you how many calories you’ve burned.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      What helped me stay in the habit is going to a trainer once a week because I need accountability. It’s so, so hard to slog through the early days but knowing I would see the trainer once a week kept me on track. If I wasn’t exercising on my own in between the trainer knew by how well I did when I saw him. Plus if I didn’t I do some on my own I was wasting my money.

      When I use the treadmill I use that time to read a book on my phone. I play my playlist when I’m doing other things.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Forgot to say that using the gym at work has really helped me stay with it. I eat at my desk and use the hour I would have used for lunch and go in the gym instead. I go in at 4pm and finish up a little before 5pm, then just go home.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Boredom. I have often thought that exercise is not just for muscles it also for mental discipline. It’s keeping our minds in a place where we stay at it.

      One thing that has impressed the heck out of me is that any discipline we decide to develop will help us in some way. Probably the most noticeable is in times of crisis. We don’t get to chose when crisis happens we just find ourselves in crisis. Surviving a crisis requires presence of mind to think quickly and effectively. The times we have made ourselves stick with something are learning experiences we can draw on to pull ourselves through the crap in life.
      It’s not what we do when things are going well, anyone can handle that. It’s what we do when things are going poorly that cause us to grow. We can look at exercise, work or any boring thing through the lens of “Which tool will I use today to pull myself through this?”
      Don’t ever forget bribery. Do your exercises then do something you really like. The exercises become just a thing you gotta do before you get to Likable Thing.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        There is so much truth to exercising in order to have a chocolate/glass of wine/ extra piece of pizza. I need to exercise so I can keep up with my young kids, but my real motivation is to combat metabolism slowdown. Which, okay, the best way is portion control but keeping a good exercise habit does keep the metabolism going too.

        I’ve decided a middle ground is what works for me. I run on the treadmill and watch shows. I only make myself do it 3x a week, any extra is a bonus in my head. If I really feel crummy, I walk with a high incline rather than jog. If I can keep my goal of being able to jog a 5k, I count it as doing well. I do have a vague goal of getting down to my personal best pace, but I’m settling for maintaining for now.

    12. Incantanto*


      I’m vurrently doing blues, salsa and whatever social folk I can get in. Folk is the highest energy bit harder to find clubs in my area. Salsa is bouncy, and there are tons of absolute beginner classes around.

      To get into it it just has to be habit though. Same time every week. Do it conciously for a month and then you naturallt go to yourself “gym tonight”

    13. Fiennes*

      So many great suggestions here. Rather than add another, I’ll just say: try everything. At least, try everything you could conceivably, physically, geographically, financially do on a regular basis—even stuff that seems like it might not be ideal! Sometimes people wind up liking/committing to forms of exercise that aren’t intuitive. And the thing you like is the thing you’ll stick with.

      Signed, lady in her 40s who was *astonished* to discover, 10 years ago, that weightlifting was actually enjoyable

      1. PX*

        Second this advice! Try lots of things and see what sticks. Also, try and figure out what helps motivate you. When I climbed, I loved the fact that it was a mental as well as physical challenge, it was social and you could track your progression easily (and therefore easier to set goals). I started doing krav maga, and my actual motivation some days is genuinely just getting value for money! I have to pay X amount per month for my lessons, so on days when I’m feeling lazy, I think of how much money I’d be throwing away and it kicks me to get up and out of the house. Once I’m there I love it and usually come away feeling like I’ve learnt something new, but that initial hump of leaving the house can be a bit tricky.

    14. Be the Change*

      I’m one of those annoying Crossfit groupies, so…. If you find a box that focuses on health and development rather than competition, which is not hard, I have found it fun and challenging. It’s the perfect mix of being with people but not being responsible for their outcomes. And I was always a clumsy non-athlete my entire life.

    15. LilySparrow*

      I found Zumba really, really fun, if the teacher is good. It’s more like just fun dancing where they teach you cool steps but you don’t have to do them perfectly.

      For solo exercise, I have a very carefully curated playlist that makes me feel happy, strong and energetic. They are songs that just make me move.

    16. exercise*

      A few years ago I trained for a triathlon and I loved that that everyday I did something different. I don’t always do run/bike/swim now but it’s taught me how much I thrive on variety. So right now my routine is more elliptical one day, swim another and I’m doing weights on the other day and repeat. It makes things easier schedule wise.

      The other thing that really motivates me is to use that fitness for fun things, i.e., I can go on a hike, a bike ride or this winter I’m taking ice skating lessons. I am a very beginner but I can see how all that work in those other sports really come in handy here and I’m not so beat up as some of my fellow classmates. Or one day there was no electricity and I could walk to my apartment on the 12th floor and not be destroyed by it.

    17. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I am totally in love with Jazzercise. It doesn’t even seem like exercise at all. Dance routines to popular music–and the time goes by so fast. I hate regular “exercise.”

    18. Meow meow*

      What really works for me are organized classes–I dance and do aerials. I have the problem with being extremely bored with typical forms of exercise, and classes help because 1. well there’s an instructor and other people, can’t really sit around even if you don’t want to do 20 push-ups 2. my classes have a more creative component to them, which is key for me. 3. you have to attend them at a particular time, which helps (sometimes) because they are on my schedule, I’ve paid money, etc. Even for people who have never danced before, I think that there are classes that are more accessible, such as zumba and those barre work-out classes.

    19. Book Lover*

      I started playing Pokémon go and now I find myself getting antsy if I sit around too long, so that has worked for me :)

      And going to a trainer regularly, so having someone you are accountable to and need to show up for.

    20. Kuododi*

      I was heavily involved in martial arts during my younger, more “flexible” days. (Studied both karate and Kung Fu). It is not a cost effective activity. Back in the 90s the Karate Sensei I studied under cut me a big break on cost bc I was a work friend. Later I moved to the Midwest and picked back up with my studies…my monthly expenses doubled for training both in Karate and Kung Fu. (Money well spent IMO).
      Since we’ve been back in the south, I have been going to the local Y. Cost effective, excellent facility with both weight training, indoor water classes, walking track as well as a variety of exercise classes. Personally, I have discovered that I need to be in a situation where I have to get dressed and go somewhere for exercise. Otherwise I will find all kinds of reasons to talk myself out of regular activity.

    21. Plague of frogs*

      Stair-climbing is the one thing that works for me. It’s boring unless you dress it up right, but I’ve dressed it up right.

      There’s a yearly stair-climbing race in a city near me, and a team of us do it every year. At this point, about half my office does it. This is really great because:
      -We are all competitive and gentle trash-talkers, so it’s fantastic incentive to exercise.
      -We work in a building with stairs, so we can go up and down them to practice (this only works if your knees can handle going down, though). I and another coworker do it twice a week all year, and other coworkers joins us as the race gets close. It’s great to have the “gym” right there at work, and people who are constantly pushing me to use it.

    22. Envy*

      I started using a pedometer. First did normal activity to gauge steps. Then considered different walks to go on to see how many steps each block was. Treating it like a fact finding mission. Then I started treating it as a challenge to increase my steps everyday. When I got bored I would walk a different route I’ve never taken before or see how fast I could walk the same old boring route. Also looking at different things on my walks. i.e. one day looking at all the insects I could find, the next looking at the buildings/houses I walked past, trees I saw, etc.

    1. Casuan*

      I hate to cook so this isn’t an issue for me. And when I do, Trader Joe’s has a decent frozen rice; it’s three packets per box.
      Hopefully someone can give you a better answer for what you want to do. :)

      1. Casuan*

        Long ago I tried to use a rice cooker & I followed the instructions to the letter.*
        It was a disaster because the erupting steam contained starch (at least, I think starch?) & it was a pain to clean up.
        What did I do wrong &or what am I missing about the joys of using a rice cooker?

        *I’m the model exemption of the axiom “If you can read, you can cook.”

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          We use a rice cooker almost daily. It should be kept in a well-ventilated area because the steam does contain starch and will build up on nearby surfaces. Rinse the rice well first–traditionally it should be rinsed seven times, but 3-4 is usually fine. At least until the water is mostly clear. Then just set it and go. If you have a low-quality rice cooker, it might put out more steam and cause more problems.

        2. acmx*

          If you use Japanese rice, the cup measurement is not the same as US cup. You need about an inch of water above the rice in the cooker.
          You may just need a better rice cooker.

        3. Peanut*

          Wipe up the starchy liquid as soon as you put away the leftover rice, with plain water and a paper towel or cloth. There should only be stuff around the spout where the steam escapes. (If you have more than that, check to be sure you aren’t putting too much water in the pan – the one time my rice cooler bubbled over, I had mismeasured the water by only a little bit.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I bought a NordicWare Multi-pot and cook it in the microwave. Comes out really well nearly every time. It took a bit of experimenting to do wild rice and brown rice. It will also cook quinoa, but it takes a little longer. No more boiling pots and messes to clean up. And it leaves a burner free — I only have two working ones atm.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Don’t overcook it! Also, use a non-stick pot. :) How are you cooking your rice? That might help us help you.

      My method, and I only cook brown rice these days: cover rice with about two inches of water. Boil. Once the boiling starts, reduce heat to about medium-high. Cook uncovered until mostly dry, turn off heat and cover so the rice steams. Granted, I like my rice a little al dente so this may not work for everybody, but I don’t have a lot of sticking issues.

    3. dr_silverware*

      One is the pasta method—boil a bunch of salted water, then dump in the rice and reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender, then drain. Cooking time will depend on rice type so you’ve got to keep checking it.

      Another possibility is being REAL strict about cooking time with the normal method. Use exactly the proportion of water to rice recommended on the package, put in a bit of salt. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce to a bare simmer and cover, NOT opening the lid until cooking time or cooking time – 2 minutes has passed. When you check, best case is when you tip the pan you see a tiny amount of water pool around, and then you can cook another couple minutes. Then when there’s no more water pooling, immediately (!!!) fluff the rice with a fork and some fat (or fluff it and take it out of the pan).

      I suspect you’re currently either slightl overcooking your rice so it dries out a bit too much, or letting it sit untouched too long until the starch gets sticky and gluey. I don’t think there’s a way to avoid the film of starch left on the pan, though :(

    4. Rainy*

      White rice in non-stick saucepan with glass lid to depth of first finger joint. Wash in warm plain water, swirling with hands, until rice washes clean(er). Tip out all rinse water, shake rice level, fill to depth of second finger joint with cold water. Add salt and any seasoning you mean to (if you are making seasoned rice). Put rice on medium heat with the lid on (the glass-lid saucepan is very helpful for this, reduces the urge to peek), bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and once it’s simmering, set a timer for 15 minutes before ever looking at it. DON’T RAISE THE LID! :) Just peek through if you can. The rice will be done just at the moment the excess water is absorbed. Test it, if it’s still crunchy add a little more water and put the lid back on and simmer until absorbed. I haven’t had that problem in a while but this way does allow you to “rescue” crunchy rice. Fluff it with a fork and you are all done.

      I live at high altitude, so you might have to adjust the time–I have been living here long enough that I don’t remember how long it took at lower elevations.

        1. Rainy*

          I never stir so it doesn’t stick. I think the more you disturb the rice the more likely it is to stick–in my experience at least. You have to be vigilant though to snatch it off the heat the second all the water is gone! Cook with your nose and ears as well as eyes, hands, and tongue.

        2. teclatrans*

          Do not stir!! I wonder if you are doing this because this is the way to keep pasta from sticking? Rice is not the same. I think type of rice can make a difference, and many people swear by thorough rinsing ahead of time.

          As Rainy said, don’t even lift the lid. Letting out the steam a) is likely to dry out your rice, and b) makes the temperature drop, which can lead to unevenly cooked rice. I read somewhere that what happens is that the inner core of the rice is still hard while the outer perimeter is soft, and then when you have to get the pot back up to full heat, you overcook the outer part. I don’t know if this is correct, but I wonder if it might lead to the sticky rice you are trying to avoid?

          I put rice and water (1:2) in a lidded pan, bring it to a boil, then drop to the lowest heat setting. 15-20 minutes later, I take a quick woek. If I see holes throughout, I know that the water has all cooked off, and it is done. I think the only time my rice has been sticky is when I spooned up rice too soon, then stirred to redistribute any rice and water.

    5. Triplestep*

      I bought a rice-cooker at a discount store (not big-box) and it has served me so well. It clicks from “cook” to “warm” when most of the water has cooked out, and that’s the point at which I have to quickly shut it off and fluff the rice. If I let it sit on “warm” the rice will stick.

      The cooker’s bowl is made from aluminum; I wash it with Barkeeper’s Friend to get the sticky stuff off.

    6. Ron McDon*

      I cook mine in a steamer, and it makes it light and fluffy every time!

      Pour enough boiling water to about an inch above the rice in the main body of the steamer, bring to the boil, stir well, then turn down slightly and cook for about 8 mins – the rice will soak up most of the water and have lots of indentations on the top surface.

      Drain into the steamer part of the pot.

      Refill the bottom of the pot with a few inches of boiling water, sit the steamer part over it, covered by the lid.

      Bring back to the boil, turn down slightly and cook for between 10-20 mins. Stir every 5 mins or so. It’ll go fluffy and soft when cooked.

      Works every time!

    7. Enya*

      I rinse the rice first and let it drain to get rid of excess starch. Then I cook it in a little oil until all the grains are coated with oil. Then I add spices, mix, then add the water. When the water boils, I turn it down to Low and cook til I see holes form in the top of the rice. Then I turn it off, cover the pot with a towel and let it sit for a while. Typing that all out, it seems like a lot of steps but it goes pretty fast.

    8. Melody Pond*

      I scanned the rest of the responses and didn’t see this already mentioned – the Instant Pot is awesome at making rice!

      It comes with a little packet explaining how long to cook different types of items, including various kinds of rice and other grains. With white rice, it will stick just a *tiny* bit to the bottom of the pot, but with brown rice, it doesn’t stick at all.

      So, in case you were already considering an Instant Pot, add this to the list of reasons it’s awesome.

    9. Gitty*

      Pour a bit of oil (abt a teaspoon) in the pot and heat on a medium flame. Pour the raw rice in the oil and let toast, mixing, for about 3 minutes. Pour the water on top, mix, bring to a boil, than lower the flame all the way and cook covered for 20 minutes

    10. LAI*

      I use a rice cooker and once it’s done, I turn it off and let it sit for five minutes. If you try to scoop it right away, a layer stays stuck to the bottom. If you wait a few minutes and let it cool, it’ll scoop much more easier. If it does it stuck, it’s very easy to clean by soaking in hot water, but I just hate to lose the rice – I want to eat it all!

  21. New girl*

    I love the Olympics. I’m generally not a fan of watching sports on TV but the Olympics just suck me in!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I could have done without the “Oh… Asian culture” commentary for the opening ceremonies, but I’m super excited to see the actual performances in the upcoming events.

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        Agreed. That was pretty terrible. I’ll be following all the figure skating events, both on tv and online later so I can watch on my schedule. I do like Johnny Weir, so I don’t mind the skating-specific commentary!

    2. Fiennes*

      I love the olympics, but I HATE NBC’s smarmy coverage so much that it nearly ruins the games for me. They assume (a) Americans wouldn’t ever give a damn about sports more popular overseas; (b) also only want to know about one foreign athlete to every ten Americans; and (c) need this to be some kind of quasi-spiritual experience. Their endless overdone sentimentality only waters down the stories/people that truly are fascinating. Honestly, I lost it when NBC decided (2 or 3 games back) to only focus on the big countries during the parade of nations, and show only momentary clips of smaller nations’ teams. It’s a LOT harder to reach the Olympics if you’re from a nation that only fields a team of 6. Those athletes don’t get huge sporting contracts. This is supposed to be a moment in the sun for EVERYONE, and NBC took it upon itself to decide which nations “count. It’s infuriating.

      ::deep cleansing breath:: So I now keep up via online clips.

  22. Casuan*

    WTF Windows 10…?!?!?
    Finally I sat down to customise my settings & documents. Normally it’s a relatively quick process working within File Manager [or Explorer, whatever it’s called these days]… except when I go to the Start Menu folder it tells me access denied & all I get from googling (which took more time than my customisations would have)… apparently Microsoft doesn’t trust me to do what I want with the files on my computer & it presumes to know the best Start Menu config for me.
    Options are to install third-party software that kind of works as the Start Menu I want, change permissions on the locked folders, make no changes & just make do with the current config or get a Mac.
    As soon as I can, I’m going to the Mac store, although it won’t be soon.
    And don’t even get me started on “My Documents/Music/Photos/Etc”…

    1. Triplestep*

      I have Windows 10 at home and I was able to configure start menu more or less as I like. You do start to find that the aps/programs you use “float” to the top of the list after a while, so maybe it just needs to get to know you.

      Work is another story. My *company* does not trust me to set the start menu the way I like, or even give me access to my own C drive. I requested and got the latter (sorry, I need it – I use special software that no one else in my company has, and customizations live on the C drive) but it still will not let me re-jigger the start menu, and it really makes me mad. What am I, a child?

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Well, there is another option, which you may not like—go Linux. Or if regular Linux intimidates you, Chromebook. But I also highly recommend Macs.

    3. Observer*

      If you want control Linux is as good as you get – and you don’t even need a new computer. You can install it on the one you have.

      Macs tend to have a control freak mind set, so make sure that you make sure you can actually change anything you want to change.

    4. Casuan*

      Now I’m tired & really pissed off. What should have been an hour or two on my computer turned into a multi-hour ordeal & I’m not bloody happy.
      Windows %*@&?!?!?! 10 makes even the simplest tasks a pain in the asterisk & there are redundant file locations & settings anywhere. The customisation settings suck because thanks to redundancies it’s taken at least twice as long to do things. How many different screens do they need when the Control Panel is simple enough that my cat can use it.
      Then after what should have been a relatively quick install of Quicken… that’s the straw for me. I’ve used this programme for over 20 years & this is the first time I was told to change a language unicode setting AND the bloody software won’t even run unless I sign into my account. And of course my prior credentials don’t work because… oh, who cares.
      I just want to do my work. Is that really so difficult?!?!?
      Don’t tech companies know that not all computer users want to do social media all day, edit photos & play games? For years they’ve been trying to dumb down their software for the casual user & all that does is vex me because I just want the programme to install & stop asking me “What do you want to do today?” so I can just get to *doing* it.
      :::missing the good ol’ days…:::

      thanks for that vent :)
      As for Linux & other suggestions, thank you!

      1. teclatrans*

        I want to add a vent, apparently upgrading to Windows 10 meant that they put all my 3rd-party programs into a separate Programs file, one that the OS does not look at. I am embarrassed to say how long it gas taken me to figure out why my computer thinks I don’t have, e.g., any PDF-reading software.

        I really hate Windows 10. You are in good company.

    5. Just a Concerned Third Party*

      Linux really is a fantastic operating system, but of course, it isn’t Windows. Applications that you’re used to, if they don’t have Linux ports, generally can’t be run on Linux. There are compatibility layers like Wine (winehq.org) that can run SOME Windows applications on Linux, but many of them won’t run correctly or even at all. If you aren’t married to specific software, you can probably find Linux alternatives with similar functionality, but it’s something to think about. I agree that Windows 10 is hot garbage, but some editions are worse than others (looking at you, Windows 10 Home).

      However, if this is your personal computer, it’s possibly not supposed to be doing that. Any version of Windows can develop problems that cause it to stop working correctly and require a system repair, and I’ve had more problems with 10 eating itself than I have with any other version of Windows. At least 10 makes it very easy to run repairs … it’s almost like MS knew! /s

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        While everything you’re saying is true, I think now is actually a better time to switch than ever before, as people are using a lot more cloud-based stuff than 5 or 10 years ago. While I’m still using iTunes, almost everyone I know streams music through Spotify, Pandora, or Google Play Music. Some people are still tied to Microsoft Office, but it seems almost everyone I know uses Google Docs personally (if not for work). Considering how much Chromebooks have taken off in the home and education markets, regular desktop Linux (which can do a ton more than Chromebook) is probably worth looking into.

  23. Drama TV Recs*

    I’m not really into sitcoms, but I love dramas. I’ve watched a lot of them, but I’m looking for recs where there’s NO rape or sexual violence towards women. I’m honestly tired of rape/sexual violence being used as a plot point because it’s lazy writing, getting to the point where people are desensitized to it, often written/filmed in a titillating manner, and a host of other issues.

    I’m willing to watch something with rape/sexual violence if it’s portrayed the way it was in Veronica Mars, Jessica Jones, or The Handmaid’s Tale, where it’s clearly about how awful rape/sexual violence is and deals with the recovery/trauma of it without sexualizing it.

    I’m just really tired of starting a new TV show to have a rape scene within the first few episodes. There are many other ways to write nuanced female characters with troubled pasts or overcoming challenges than throwing a rape scene into the mix.

    1. Kaz*

      I don’t know if you are into scifi, but we watched The Expanse and I loved it. Would have shotgunned the whole series if husband wasn’t against binging.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Because you mention Jessica Jones, I assume you have Netflix. We binged Godless and really enjoyed it. It’s violent, but not gratuitously, and the female characters are pretty well developed. We watched the first two episodes of Ozark and I do get what the fuss is about, but personally I am done with the visual darkness and blue tones. If that doesn’t bother you, I’d go with that show.

      1. Drama TV Recs*

        I had Godless on my to-watch list, but some of my female coworkers said they were turned off by the rape scenes?

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I found them jarring but not gratuitous, and I did have some issues with male savior-ness, but overall I think it’s an interesting portrayal of women if you look at it in context of the times. That’s always been my thing; I have friends who can’t watch Mad Men because of all the misogyny, but my feeling is that the goal of the show was to put you into that era and experience all its lumps.

          1. Drama TV Recs*

            I don’t know. I’m honestly pretty tired of historical fiction saying you need to experience female rape and violence because it was part of the time period, but then not showing other issues of the time period like, say, dysentery or cholera or amputation or starvation. They’re not going to give you other context of a time period because it’s not “sexy”.

            I feel like “this was part of the era!” has so often been used as justification to show violent rape or abuse of women (or other marginalized groups) when most of the time it’s not necessary to the story or character growth and a thinly veiled way to show nudity. It’s not even restricted to historical TV shows, the same things happen in shows set in the modern era. There are a lot of other ways to give people context on subjugation or suffering of women during a specific era without showing graphic sexual assault scenes.

            1. Fiennes*


              Also, when it comes to stuff like Game of Thrones—you can bend reality for dragons, but not for sexual violence?

              1. Drama TV Recs*

                Yeah, I have the same issue with the books. They’re not as bad as the show, but it still annoys me when straight white men create these fantasy worlds where marginalized groups are still suffering because “that’s the way it was in history” or because it “lends authenticity”.

                Just because you based your fictional fantasy world on a real life time period doesn’t mean you had to write about women, people of color, or queer identities suffering. If you can write about magic or zombies or dragons, you can write a world where people aren’t oppressed. I’ve been pleasantly surprised over the past few years at how YA fantasy and sci-fi has overcome this problem in a way adult fantasy and sci-fi hasn’t

                1. Betsy*

                  I so much agree with you! Very well said. :)

                  I understand that there are good feminist novels and films that portray sexual violence because it’s important to deal with that subject matter, especially when portraying historical events. But then there are so many shows that are like, ‘hmmm, throw in something edgy… OK more rape’.

            2. Thlayli*

              Yes yes a thousand times yes. I’m so sick of it being thrown in to “lend authenticity”. That’s not the reason and you know it!

    3. Triplestep*

      Have you been watching “This is Us”? Lots of people consider it a tear-jerker, but I find it uplifting as well. I was telling a few people at work about it yesterday; I like it because it does not spoon-feed you. It takes place in three time periods of a family’s life, and you glean information from each to put all the pieces together.

      1. Drama TV Recs*

        Ah, no, I’ve had multiple people tell me it’s one of those shows that manipulates your emotions and I’m really not into those types of shows. None of the previews for it have made it seem like my cup of tea either.

        1. Triplestep*

          I’m not sure what is meant by “manipulate your emotions”. Whether it’s comedy, drama, horror, fantasy, action, etc, isn’t the purpose of entertainment to get you to feel something?

        2. Peggy*

          It’s the most emotionally manipulative show that’s ever been on television. It’s designed purely to rip your heart out over and over. Goal every week: make viewers sob harder than the week before.

          Still watch it. Still enjoy it. But it’s the definition of emotional manipulation.

          1. Triplestep*

            Name a TV show, film or any kind of fiction that is NOT “emotional manipulation”.

            I think that “manipulation” is a really negative way to frame something that is designed to entertain. Someone who does not like to have his or her heartstrings tugged should not watch “This is Us”. My husband prefers to watch “things blow up big” and read sci-fi fantasy. Neither of us is the victim of anyone’s “manipulation”.

            1. Someone else*

              I speak only for myself, but when I refer to a show, especially THIS IS US, as “emotional manipulation” I mean something more/different than just the fact that by its nature, TV/movies/theater are trying to make us all feel something when we watch. When I use that phrase, I mean the show is gratuitously going for certain emotional misdirects; they’re obfuscating the point not because it’s a mystery show and the characters are figuring things out as we are, or anything plot driven. They do “twists” for twists’ sake. A lot of the storyline would not have very much impact on me watching it if they were not using the crutch of the surprise reveal. And it uses that technique in nearly every episode. While I do accept and understand the execution is generally half of what makes one show good and another not so great, this show, to me, goes about it in a really unearned way.

              1. Triplestep*

                Thanks for the explanation. I suspect there’s a better word than “manipulation” for what you’re describing. It’s a pretty loaded word.

            2. Peggy*

              Hi Triplestep –
              Sorry – that word choice wasn’t meant to be personal whatsoever.

              It’s my understanding that this is a very common term used to describe shows and movies that are designed specifically to pull the heart strings. Whereas other shows may have occasional episodes that might bring a tear, This Is Us seems to be made for the express purpose of making you say, “at what point in this week’s episode am I going to sob hysterically and think about my issues with my mother and trauma from my own childhood?” Like the other poster said, there are emotional twists in almost every episode where the reveal is intended to make the average person cry. That’s fine! It’s still entertaining. No judgement, I watch it and cry every week.

              I don’t mean that you are a victim of manipulation in a negative way. It’s just a term to describe a show that is written to evoke more strong emotions than the typical show. The term is meant to be more reflective of the showrunners and writers and their intentions than the viewers themselves.

    4. Lily Evans*

      As I started to reply to this, I realized just how many shows I’ve watched have had this kind of violence, but it happens so frequently it barely even registers any more. But some things I’d recommend are:
      -Sense8. The premise can be hard to get into, but it has a cult following for a reason and it’s one of my all time favorites.
      -Call the Midwife. This one I completely forgot does have a plot point in a later season involving sexual violence against a woman, but the storyline was handled tactfully and not just swept aside after one episode. It’s a period piece about midwives in London in the ’60s and every episode has made me cry. I love it because most of the story lines are just women supporting each other, with the men as supporting characters.
      -Hart of Dixie. Lighthearted and Gilmore Girls-esque, it’s good for a mindless binge and for me is basically a TV version of comfort food.
      -Wynonna Earp. Reminds me of Supernatural, but with sisters instead of brothers and is generally just better plot-wise. I’ve only watched season 1, though so I can’t make any guarantees about the contents of season 2 yet.

      1. many bells down*

        Sense8 is one of my absolute favorite shows. I was devastated they canceled it.
        And Call the Midwife is a great show!

        I was telling someone else with the same requirements for shows about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. There are maybe one or two plots that deal with violence against women, but it’s dealt with from a very female perspective. And Phryne Fisher is a woman who thoroughly owns her own sexuality, which is fun to watch. It’s pretty comedic for a detective show, and some of the accents verge on outright racist caricature, but it’s a good show.

        1. Drama TV Recs*

          Yes, I love Miss Fisher, and I really hope the movie plans keep going forward.

          I’ve noticed there’s a big difference between sexual assault and violence when it’s done via a focused, nuanced female perspective than via a man who thinks rape is a quick way to portray trauma or drama for female characters or, worse, a starting point for male action and rage.

      2. Parenthetically*

        I call Call the Midwife “Get the Tissues.” I hate emotionally manipulative shows, but I find CtM to be emotional because it’s telling realistic human stories rather than because it’s trying to jerk me around by the feels.

        1. Lily Evans*

          Yeah, I don’t find it manipulative in the way that I found This is Us. It’s more that the stories it’s telling are genuinely emotional and the highs and lows feel realistic. Even back when I wasn’t such an easy crier it would make me cry (now I found myself crying at Vanderpump Rules the other night, so my tissue warnings probably aren’t that relatable all the time).

      3. Lindsay J*

        I really like Hart of Dixie a lot. It’s in my regular rotation of “background noise” shows that I watch over and over again.

        I think they do a really good job of showing attraction and relationships developing between people – so often sitcoms and such just kind of smoosh two people together and go “They’re a couple now,” without there being any real chemistry or reasons for them to want to be together.

        It also does a good job, of, by the end, making characters that were originally really one-dimensional become realistic and sympathetic.

    5. Cruciatus*

      Jane the Virgin is probably more on the comedy side than drama but, well, it is a telenovela and things are often dramatic! But I really love it. The narrator really makes the show.
      There’s also Elementary. There are likely certain episodes that deal with violence towards women, but it’s not the main theme of the show (like, say, Criminal Minds). There is of course murder though.
      Call the Midwife was mentioned–I also love that show. Again, there may be certain episodes that deal with that topic, but not all.
      Justified was a wonderful show. I didn’t think it’d be up my alley at all and I loved it. Especially season 2 with Margo Martindale (but again, murder and stuff).
      Friday Night Lights–also not a show I thought I would like and I’m still sad it’s no longer on. I don’t give a flying fig about football but it really wasn’t (always) about the football.

      1. Drama TV Recs*

        I loved Justified! I was actually thinking about rewatching it soon.

        I just caught up on Elementary, too. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how they handled Kitty’s character because it could have so easily gone down the traditionally tropey and poorly handled rape survivor route. They did it in a way that let her be angry and let her heal without sexualizing any of it, and I really appreciated it.

    6. Anon for this*

      I just want to say I totally 100% agree with you and I don’t think this is talked about enough. In TV, movies and books rape is just tossed in as a plot element constantly, without being given the significance it deserves – often being used even as a comedic device (male/male rape in prison is often played for laughs for example which is sickening).

      I don’t throw the term trigger around lightly, but I have a really strong emotional reaction to it (I have experienced rape myself) and it really upsets me to see it just tossed in there as a bit of flavour for the scene. (GOT anyone). It seriously upsets me. I wish writers didn’t do this.

      Now that I think about it this is probably why I don’t like dramas.

      1. Drama TV Recs*

        It’s definitely not discussed as much as it should be, and when it is, it’s often justified as lending a series authenticity or being true to history. It’s historical, so of course women were raped, and that means the portrayal within the show is credible! Yet, they’re not showing all the other horrible aspects of a time period that happened to men. It bothers me for a lot of reasons, but also because it adds an air of thinking rape was “okay” decades or centuries ago because “that’s just the way it was”.

        To me, it’s really just lazy writing and seems to come from men who apparently can’t think of any other way to show a women with flaws or a dark backstory. The fact that people are so desensitized to it appearing in media is pretty upsetting, too.

        And yes, I cannot tell you how much I hate m/m prison rape jokes. It’s not only sickening, but it has that homophobic tint that makes my stomach turn as well (it just perpetuates the “queers as predators” stigma).

      2. many bells down*

        It’s a tough watch, but “The Fall” on Netflix deals with it in the most dramatic way I’ve ever seen – by *calling out its own audience for being complicit*. You’re watching the murder of women for entertainment; you’re complicit in these happenings. A really bold choice for a show.

        1. Anon for this*

          Murder is also thrown about way too much, particularly murder of minor characters. How many times have you seen the hero or villain just shoot someone and walk away with zero consequences and zero reflection. Austin powers called this out really well with the whole “nobody thinks of the family of a henchman” joke.

          I amn’t triggered by murder because I don’t know anyone who’s been murdered, but I imagine people who’ve lost loved ones to murder would feel the same way about the portrayal of murder as I do about the portrayal of rape.

          1. Lindsay J*

            A movie theater chain near me is doing a showing of all the James Bond films in order, and that’s one of the things that has really struck me about the older movies.

            (In addition to showing Bond essentially forcing himself on two different women, but it’s okay because they enjoyed it because he’s good in bed. When they’re shocked and resisting and trying to push him off of them it’s not at all attractive or okay.)

            There is just so much gratuitous death of the “bad guys”. And while most of it isn’t graphic, that’s almost worse.

            I don’t really watch or enjoy shows like Game of Thrones or say anything by Quinton Tarintino because of the violence involved. But at least there it’s clear that it’s violence, and it is hard to watch. In these films, it barely elicits a reaction other than “whew, that was a close one.”

    7. Fiennes*

      If you’re looking for OTT campy spy drama, “Alias” has five whole seasons of a female action heroine who is never raped nor directly threatened* with sexual violence, not even once. Nor is any other woman or man.

      (I disclaim here because just once, a character tacitly threatens harming her in this way—but he’s threatening a man who cares about her welfare. She isn’t even in the room and the audience fully knows she’s in no danger from this guy. And the allusion isn’t explicitly worded at all.)

      Other suggestions: if you’re willing to watch something even older, I’m pretty sure “Colombo” was free of sexual violence. Women were sometimes the murder victims, but never due to sex crime. As of now, “Stranger Things” is free of sexual violence. “The Crown” I think is also clear though I’ve not seen the final episodes of season 2. God, it’s depressingly difficult to think of more.

      1. Drama TV Recs*

        Alias was MY SHOW back when it was airing. I haven’t thought about it in ages, and I think I still have the DVDs somewhere, so I might need to rewatch that.

      2. Anon for this (same person as above)*

        Oh I really hope stranger things stays free of sexual violence. It would really ruin it for me and I love than show.

    8. Liz*

      Watch Hannibal! The people behind the show were very clear from the beginning that there would be no sexual violence in the show, and they stuck to that. There’s lots of murder and gore, but it did air on NBC so it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. (Plus it’s just a fantastic show – very well-acted and beautifully shot!)

      1. Drama TV Recs*

        Already watched it (and hoping we get a season 4)! I use Bryan Fuller as an example of someone who wrote a show that was dark and gruesome and gave characters trauma and dark pasts without resorting to rape or sexual violence.

        1. Fiddlesticks*

          Fannibals! I love that show SO MUCH and try not to get too verklempt every time Bryan Fuller drops out of another showrunning gig and find myself hoping against hope it’s to kick off season four…

    9. Ktelzbeth*

      I’m watching ReGenesis. It’s about the fictional Canada-US-Mexico collaborative lab to solve outbreaks of disease. The science is sometimes questionable and there is a fair amount of consensual sex, nudity, and swearing, but I’m into the second season without any rape (I think). It’s on Amazon.

    10. Fiddlesticks*

      Are you open to watching subtitled shows?

      I ask because there’s a massive universe of kdramas that are very female-oriented, and have no sexualized violence, even if they have problematic themes. A few that I love with all of my heart and recommend without caveat:

      1. Queen In-Hyun’s Man: Time travel romance. A scholar and courtier from Korean history gets a talisman that jumps him forward in time every time his life in danger, and in the course of this, he ends up in modern-day Seoul and meets an actress just on the cusp of her big break. This show is staggeringly, sweepingly romantic, the male protagonist is brilliant and heartbreaking, and their love for each other just makes me get all weepy remembering it.

      2. Because This Is My First Life: Slice-of-life reflection on growing up and into our relationships. Our male and female lead become roommates, and then get married for convenience, but the actual plot of the story is people learning to value themselves, staying true to their boundaries, and negotiating the difficult process of growing up and being authentically themselves. The main pairing is killer, but the secondary romance is radical: a woman caring for her disabled mother who will do sex but shys away from relationships, and her entire arc is learning to allow herself vulnerability. AHHH IT’S SO GOOD.

      Both of these shows are available on Dramafever or Viki subtitled if you want to give them a shot!

      1. Drama TV Recs*

        Oh, yes, I’m always up for expanding my horizons and watching foreign shows! Both of those sound great, so I’m going to add them to my list! Thanks!

      2. K*

        I personally don’t like to watch Korean dramas, but I can highly recommend to try out Japanese shows.
        Love shuffle is one of my all-time favorites for the mix of humour and drama, without any violence.

    11. PX*

      A couple of shows which I’ve not seen mentioned:
      – Orphan Black – caveat here is that I still havent caught up with the later seasons, but strong female lead and no sexual violence that I can remember
      – Dirk Gentlys Holistic Detective Agency – it took me at least 4 episodes to get into this, its a weird mishmash of sci-fi, murder mystery, humour and just everything! But again, really good writing and once you get into it, it properly sucks you in. Just waiting to find some time to binge season 2!
      – Mr. Robot – highly recommend, still waiting to binge season 4. Generally lives up to the hype.

    12. NaoNao*

      My suggestions:
      The Crown (if you like royalty, historical fiction, costume dramas, and relationship dramas, this is your “treat” show!)
      The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (the word for this show is “exhilaration”–a wonderful, upbeat, and very female-forward/friendly show written by, for, and about women. Amazing. Highest recommendation)
      Atlanta (a few scenes of suggested violence but none to women) a funny, off-kilter and GREAT show
      High Maintenance (a silly, shaggy dog tale series that makes me feel happy and light watching it. Comedy/human observation—does reference drugs pretty heavily, but not in a gritty way)
      Togetherness (family and relationship drama)
      Black-ish (sitcom, light hearted)
      Insecure (a wonderful, sharply observed coming of age in your late 20’s comedy/drama about African American women in L.A. a delightful show again, by, for, and about women)
      Transparent (a few scenes that reference sexual violence, assault or misconduct, by in a respectful way that is central to the plot. Not exploitive at all) a somber but weirdly uplifting drama. This TV show made me feel mixtures of emotion I have never felt in my life. I felt blessed to be alive at a time when art was being made like this. Not an exaggeration. Amazing TV.
      One Mississippi. A dry, gentle comedy/drama with unusual characters. No violence and honestly, no real sex at all. Just family comedy/ light drama.
      Better Things. OH MY GOD THIS SHOW. By, for, and about women. Three generations of funny, flawed, cool, weird women. Start watching now, thank me later.
      Godless. Has some rough scenes, BUT they also have all the “real” historical things (amputations, infections, illnesses, etc.) Episode one was great, but I petered out on this show. Many rave reviews say it is a great character piece and really does a terrific job with its female characters.
      Young Pope. Okay, wild card but again, NO violence against women (that I recall!) and a visual and psychological delight.

  24. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

    What tricks do you use to get songs out of your head?

    I have a really crazy internal DJ. For DAYS this week I had a mash-up of “Mony Mony” by Billy Idol and “Money, Money, Money” by ABBA stuck in my head. It’s just as bizarre as it sounds. And that’s not even the weirdest I’ve ever had.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I usually have to sing the song– or songs– until they leave. Then, of course, they get replaced by other songs.

      And gee, thanks, now that’s running in MY head. Together. :)

    2. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

      I try to imagine Johnny Cash singing the song that’s stuck in my head. That usually ends the song in question but then gets a Johnny Cash song in my head, but I’m OK with that.

    3. 14 years*

      I decided on a go to song a long time ago. Any time something is in my head, I either consciously or sometimes unconsciously start thinking of In My Life by the beatles. It’s one of my favorite songs so I don’t mind switching. It honestly works well.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        My brother suggested the same thing to me, only his suggestion was ” I Touch Myself” by the Divinyls. I have a feeling your song would work better.

    4. Casuan*

      Love this question!
      Sometimes I can actually get rid of the song by “giving” it to someone else, kind of in the misery-loves-company sense (or if-I-need-to-live-with-this-I’m-sharing-it-with-an-unsuspecting-friend).
      Other times I need to replace it with a song of my choosing.
      However when my internal DJ plays a medley of totally unrelated songs? Not so easy, that.

      ps: I’m going to steal “I have a really crazy internal DJ” because that describes this perfectly.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I heard that a song repeating in the mind is a symptom of fatigue. I try to get extra sleep and that seems to do it for me.

    6. Lcsa99*

      This is going to sound ridiculous, but it works. I also think of it as an internal dj, so I will start singing a particular line from The Smith’s Panic – “hang the dj, hang the dj, hang the dj, hang the dj!”

      It works every time.

    7. Ramona Flowers*

      Listen to Peaches by the Presidents of the USA. Or sing it. For some reason this song is a great antidote to almost any ear worm!

    8. On Fire*

      My go-to is the “Soft kitty, warm kitty” thing from The Big Bang Theory. I sing it through 2-3 times, and it gets rid of the ear worm without becoming one itself.

    9. Nicole*

      I find if I listen to the song in question from start to finish it will go away.

      The funny thing is when I have a song stuck in my head and I’m not sure where it came from. I had, of all things, a New Kids On The Block song running in my head the other day and I wondered out loud where it came from when my husband admitted he had sung the chorus a few minutes beforehand. So he GAVE me an earworm, that jerk, lol!

  25. Anonymous Ampersand*

    I was at a lecture type course thing recently and they mentioned over-thinking in passing.

    I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of myself as an over-thinker. But suddenly I thought: no! I’m not an over-thinker. I think about things deeply and sometimes see issues way before other people. This is actually a good thing. Sometimes in my personal life I let my thoughts run away with me, but again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: sometimes I come up with amazing insights into myself that way.

    I also read an article in the guardian recently by Hadley Freeman, in which she was saying that 2018 was her year of No More Self Doubt. And since then, every time I’ve thought “but what if I’m wrong?!” I’ve thought to myself – no. I’m trusting my gut. Who knew that defeating self doubt could be as simple as an effort of will?

    So these things have surprised me. And I’m gonna stop with those manners of self-sabotage and start trusting myself more.

    Anyone else found this before?

      1. nep*

        Great piece. Thanks for noting/sharing. (Extra bonus — very nice to get the Middlemarch references. I’m reading it now.)
        I find I appreciate many of Freeman’s columns.

    1. Casuan*

      It’s easy to confuse overthinking with that’s-just-how-your-mind-works.
      With me, what some people think is overthinking is simply how my mind processes information.*
      Something I’m just learning about myself is that I have a high objectivity factor, which makes things more grey than black & white because I can think of alternate scenarios. I’m learning to rein that in a bit more & my life has gotten much better for it.
      Think of all of this as learning how to use your superhero powers instead of perceiving them as a curse. :)

      *eg: someone says something, I ask for clarification on a definition, they say I’m overthinking & I tell them I’m not overthinking because when I heard the word in question my mind simultaneously gave me two definitions & I wanted to be clear on what was said.

    2. Reba*

      first, “spent a lot of time thinking of myself as an over-thinker” — ha.

      Thanks for sharing the link.

      It really grinds my gears when anyone’s thoughts are dismissed as “overthinking”–when often they aren’t, they are just inconvenient to the dismisser.

      So many things in the world seem have not enough thinking behind them. I really don’t think any of us using our brains any less is going to be for the good!

      1. Anonymous Ampersand*

        I didn’t even see what I’d done there, that’s hilarious :)

        …they are just inconvenient to the dismisser.

        OH MY GOD. Thank you. I hadn’t got that far yet but I TOTALLY dismiss my own concerns in this way in work because I think they will be inconvenient to the other person.

        Something else to stop doing!

        1. TL -*

          Ha. I once had my high school ex’s stepdad tell me I overthought things and was too smart and that was bad because smart people were easier to torture…. I gave him a really confused look and said I wasn’t planning to join the military so I didn’t think it was a relevant factor.

          His favorite way of interacting with me – and most women, I think – was to neg and it frustrated the heck out of him that I didn’t respond by feeling bad but was always just confused why he was saying so obviously untrue.

    3. Betsy*

      I have always thought that the kinds of people who throw around accusations of overthinking are the kinds of people who just aren’t intellectually curious, so they get very bored of anything a bit more speculative.

      On the other hand, sometimes when people say this I think they mean ‘try not to worry too much; things will probably be OK’ and I’m happy to take this on as a reminder not to need to turn every possibility over in my mind.

  26. Kaz*

    I am really getting into bubble tea these days – does anyone have recommendations for good tapioca bubbles that come out reasonably soft at home? I bought some off Amazon but it required half an hour of boiling to get them pretty soft.

    1. Just a Concerned Third Party*

      Tapioca pearls do take a while to cook, between 30-45 minutes. That’s just how they are.

  27. Triplestep*

    Does anyone have any experience managing acid reflux with food choices and lifestyle changes?

    Backstory: I started taking a medication that can cause acid reflux, and I got it bad last weekend. I cannot stop taking this med, and I don’t have a generic or substitute. (One may be coming in May – we’ll see.) I do not have GERD or any other underlying medical problem. It is definitely being caused by the med that I need.

    Due to possible interactions, I cannot try herbal remedies or half of the OTC meds for acid reflux. I have been taking 20mg of Famotidine (like Pepcid) twice a day with pretty good results, but I would rather not manage the undesirable effects of one drug by taking another if possible.

    I already avoid processed foods for other health reasons (need to watch my sodium) and I started taking the necessary med on a full stomach, and not eating three hours before bedtime.

    Anything else I should be doing? Any foods I should be enjoying/avoiding? Any tips or tricks from fellow heartburn sufferers? Thanks in advance!

    1. fposte*

      Check last week’s free-for-all for some reflux discussion–the OP on that subthread was Nicole.

      Is this a permanent med or a temporary one, and if temporary, for how long? Aside from the processed foods, where are you on caffeine/chocolate/acidic foods intake? Are you a grazer or a big meal person? (Some people find large portions a problem, but others find that giving the old MMR some time to work between meals is really helpful.) Have you tried bed risers, which are pretty cheap, since it sounds like you’re talking nighttime issues?

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks, I will go check out last week’s entries on the subject.

        The med is permanent until something else gets FDA-approved. I limit my coffee intake to one cup a day in the morning, and I LOVE chocolate, but limit it since I’m trying to lose weight. I tend to eat multiple small meals in attempt to reduce calorie intake. (I find that I am hungry throughout the day regardless of how large my meals are.) It’s funny – I’m doing these things for other reasons, but it seems they should help in the acid relux area, too.

        Thanks for weighing in!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have GERD that comes and goes, and unfortunately I also love foods that aggravate it. FUN. Things I have to avoid when my heartburn flares up:
      – Tomato products, like salsa and marinara sauce
      – Eggs – whites only are sometimes ok, but whole eggs are not
      – Citrus, especially juice
      – Cheese
      – Yogurt and cottage cheese
      – Wine and hard liquor
      – Too much coffee

      In those periods, I cut down on a lot of seasoning (I love spicy foods, so it sucks) and try not to eat too much that will produce a ton of gas. Beans aren’t terrible, though. Bread, rice, potatoes, tofu… All good when I have heartburn.

      1. Triplestep*

        Ugh, I’m sorry you can’t enjoy the foods you like.

        Yes, I found that in the aftermath last week, mashed potatoes were my friend. I was afraid to eat beans, but I may work them back in. If anything, the responses here prove to me that everyone is different and foods impact people differently.

        Thanks for taking the time to respond here!

    3. Rainy*

      A big spoonful of cold Greek yogurt swallowed without letting it warm up or thin out in the mouth is often a good sort of immediate “rescue” for the pain of acid reflux, for me.

      My experience is that acid reflux is one of those things that’s highly personal as far as food triggers go, so other people’s food triggers may not be that helpful for you. Keep a food and reflux journal, identify trends. And sleep either propped slightly up on your back, or else on your left side.

      1. RestlessRenegade*

        I agree–food triggers can highly differ. I used to have terrible heartburn, even if I avoided everything my doctor mentioned: avoiding spicy/oily/acid foods, not wearing tight clothes, not eating right before bed, sleeping elevated, not sitting/bending over too much. It was so bad that I would get it just from drinking water.

        My dad ended up getting his gallbladder removed to alleviate his symptoms. I haven’t looked into that yet. The only thing that helped me was Omeprazole, but I’m not supposed to be taking it continuously and I’m not sure if it will help you, OP. I suspect that losing weight will help me as well, but that remains to be seen for now!

        1. Triplestep*

          Thanks, both of you – yes, I’m beginning to see that it’s highly personal and I need to continue tweaking and keep track.

          I had not heard or read anything about the gallbladder, but I haven’t had one in 21 years, so that would not be a fix for me.

          Omeprazole, I believe, is one of the drugs I am allowed to take with the one that’s causing the issue (Pradaxa) but I plan to talk to my doctor about how long I can stay on any acid relux drug.

    4. Emac*

      I get really bad acid reflux at times. I agree with Rainy that the foods that trigger it are different for everyone – Greek yogurt is actually a big trigger for me.

      One non-medication remedy that I have tried is drinking a little bit of apple cider vinegar. I can’t remember what amount now, maybe a tablespoon or two. Though I used it as a preventative when I wasn’t experiencing symptoms, so I’m not sure if it worked because it just wasn’t flaring up at the time or because it really was stopping it from flaring up. And I’m not sure if it would have worked if I had done it after the symptoms started. So YMMV. I should try it again. I stopped because the taste is awful.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks – I’m going to do some ‘net searching on that vinegar solution. I’m guessing it impacts one’s natural Ph somehow? Yes, it sounds awful, but if it works …

    5. Aluminosilicate*

      Sleep with the upper part of your body raised at an angle. I see bed risers mentioned above – lots of pillows can work too, as well as trying to avoid sleeping on your right side, due to the way the stomach and esophagus are oriented. Also as others have said, dietary triggers can vary a lot by person. You might have to experiment. I avoid cucumbers, mint, red wine, everything in the onion family,
      and anything too fatty.

      1. Triplestep*

        Oh, of course I am a right-side sleeper!

        I started to avoid onions, broccoli and anything acidic like tomatoes. But it does sound like I will need to play around with my diet and keep track. Thanks for weighing in here!

    6. Thlayli*

      Had it both times I was heavily pregnant and one of my babies had it for months. Things you can try:
      1 rennies (uk) / tums (US) or gaviscon
      2 sleep lying on your left
      3 sleep propped up on pillows
      4 do both 2&3
      5 carobel (don’t know if there is a UD equivalent) is a powder made from some type of bean (possibly soy?) that acts as a thickener. It can be added to any liquid or even to wet food and is almos tasteless. They use it with reflux babies and in oldfolks homes for bedridden people.
      6 there are medications for reflux that work by reducing the acid in your tummy, but obviously check with your doc that these can be taken with the medication you are on

      1. Triplestep*

        I just looked up Carobel, and it is definitely a UK thing, but I’m interested to find out how a thickener works for reflux. Thanks for mentioning it.

        I’m sorry one of your babies had it. I can’t imagine how helpless you must have felt. At least adults can reason that it will pass …

    7. Jessi*

      I don’t know if this may help you but I found Omaprentazol a lifesaver in dealing with my acid refux. It encourages the protien in your stomach to make less acid. I did a months course (about 5 years ago) and it got most of it under control for me.

      Some foods totally make it worse for me – corn chips I’m looking at you.
      I find eating really well helps. Foods that are high in fiber help soak up the acid – which I find really helps keep it under control and not eating oily things and then drinking cold water too

      1. Triplestep*

        I do think Omaprentazol is one of the drugs I can safely take with the required med, so thanks – I will be asking about that.

        So don’t eat anything oily and then drink cold water … interesting. I’m not sure what that would do, but I’ll try to avoid it. The high fiber soaking up acid makes sense. I think I may need more high fiber carbs in my diet. I’d been getting the fiber from veggies, but a lot of veggies exacerbate the problem.

        Thanks for chiming in here!

    8. Ann O.*

      I’m the worst at avoiding food triggers for mine–partly because I don’t have them figured out and partly because ever since I hit my mid-30s my body reacts to a ton of foods, so my starting point is already really limited.

      However, I did learn on the Internet that there’s a home remedy with drinking baking soda in water. It’s simple but for me, it was quite effective. I would talk to your doctor about it first to make sure there won’t be interactions and to see how frequently it’s safe to do.

      I also have a wedge under my bed, which seems to help.

      1. Triplestep*

        I think that baking soda and water is what they used to call a “bicarb” – a home remedy for gas. But I will look it up – thanks for the tip!

    9. Adele*

      Left side sleeping and even adjusting my sitting so I am leaning a bit left can help. Eating an apple helps but better to eat proactively so I buy bags of smallish ones so I can eat two or three a day. I find drinking g a Diet Coke helps counteract the burn, too–weird, I know. I try not to eat my main meal at noon and not eat at night. If I do eat in the evening, I avoid anything oily.

      1. Triplestep*

        I am a right side sleeper to the point that I’m sure I will find myself there in the middle of the night. But it’s good to know about leaning – I can do that at work after lunch.

        I’ve been afraid to eat apples becuase in the past they’ve been gas-producing for me. Maybe if I peel one it won’t be so bad. Funny about diet coke. I used to have a pretty bad diet coke habit, and my husband still does so we still have it in the house. Nice to know in case of emergency. Thanks for the tips!

    10. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I have been fighting reflux for a while and have discovered that processed foods, high fat foods, pickles, tomato sauce, citrus, mustard, spicy foods, (pretty much all my favorite foods) were bothering me. I elevated the head of my bed on bed risers and it made a huge difference.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks for the tips. I’m sorry you’re not getting to eat the foods you like. You and I are like jack sprat and his wife. I already avoid all the things you mentioned!

    11. Kuododi*

      I’ve completely stopped eating tomatoes or anything made with tomatoes, onions, spicy food and I have almost completely decaffeinated. Can’t take any of the PPI meds because of bad kidneys and their aggravating tendency to jack with my thyroid meds. For the most part that seems to keep things in check. I do miss things like a good thick beef chili in the winter. I also miss lasagna with marinara sauce. Just a minor nuisance!!!

      1. BatteryB*

        I can’t eat tomatoes anymore, but I’ve found that canned pumpkin purée is a good substitute. To me, it really doesn’t have much of a taste, and it takes on the flavor of whatever spices you use. I’ve made chili, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, baked enchiladas, etc.

      2. Triplestep*

        Thanks for the tips. I think avoiding tomatoes and tomato-based things is going to be the hardest for me. I had (unfortunately) given up most caffeine, chocolate, and others stuff I like for other health-related reasons. At least with reflux, it gives a very good physical reminder of why we aren’t consuming things we like!

    12. Too much information.*

      The other commenters have done a good job of telling you what you can’t have. As someone who has had this problem in the past, these are the things that I seem to tolerate. (I can’t verify that they’ll work for you.) Chicken soup (with rice, noodles and/or vegetables). Beef soup (with barley, rice, noodles and/or vegetables). Beef stew, Shepard pie, chicken breasts, lean beef, fish, cooked vegetables, most breads (try to stick to whole wheat). Gravy doesn’t seem to agree with me, but I do o.k. with a bit of broth used as an au jus.

      I’m afraid that these things make for a bit of a bland diet, but it is filling. Raw veggies and tossed green salads seem to make things act up. Apple slices can be microwaved if they cause problems.

      Also, since you are probably not going to be eating as many raw fruits and vegetables as usual, you might find yourself getting a bit constipated. I have not had good luck with laxatives (if they’re effective they’re usually too strong), but I find that using an over-the-counter probiotic helps. (I like Florajen.) I’ve also had good luck using stool softeners, and as a last resort. (They can also be heated up in bowl with water in your microwave.)

      1. Kuododi*

        Actually, going off your post, both my internist and my GI MD recommended a low fiber eating plan as a way to help manage the gastric distress. (Chronic heartburn and nausea with vomiting). IOW- cooked not raw veggies, easy on the raw fruits and multi grain products, very counter intuitive to everything taught these days about food and nutrition. Needless to say things do get backed up….my MD recommended Miralax as the most effective, least stressful laxative product. I have found it to be quite helpful FWIW. Good luck!!!

        1. Triplestep*

          Thanks, both of you, for the info. I think if I end up forgoing raw vegetables for the long haul, it is going to impact my innards pretty negatively. I have temporarily stopped pretty much all raw veggies this week, and I’ve already noticed a difference in the frequency I am … “evacuating”, lol!

      2. Too much information.*

        I meant to add “prunes” as a last resort. I’ve always heard about “stewed prunes” but being incredibly lazy I just put them in a bowl of water in the microwave and nuke them until the water is hot (but not boiling). Afterwards, drink the water, too.

    13. GERD is the worst*

      Ugh, so sorry. I’ve been managing GERD with no apparent cause except hormones for about 10 yrs. As others mentioned, food triggers are really personal – tomatoes and cooked onions are fine for me, while full fat dairy, dark chocolate, processed foods, carbonated beverages, alcohol, anything with chilis, and citrus are all a hard no. Things I’ve discovered lately that surprised me: all fruits are all relatively high in acid (which explains why chocolate covered raisins are THE WORST). Caramelization increases acidity in foods, which explains why Jeni’s salty caramel ice cream is sadly off the menu for multiple reasons. You might try reading the book Salt Fat Acid Heat if fat or acid in foods are clearly triggers (as opposed to foods that make your stomach produce acid) for some interesting chemistry background. If you keep drinking coffee, switch to cold brew.

      Things my gastroenterologist told to do that helped: raising the head of my bed (more than you think is necessary). No food after 8 pm, don’t lie down, try and stay fully upright after eating anything (thank you sit stand desk).I use gaviscon, not tums, for on the spot relief, it seems to work better. I take a PPI (protinix) and the doc recently added the generic for Zantac every night and that has helped a lot (more than anything else, I can sometimes eat like a normal person now). I find legumes (peas, beans, lentils, etc) can be triggers or maybe just the gas adds to the general discomfort.

      In general, Italian and French recipes tend to be safer. Too bad I love Mexican , Indian, and Thai. Coffee is the absolute last thing I will give up.

      1. GERD is the worst*

        Edit: don’t ever lie down after eating anything, not even a snack, not don’t ever lie down!

        1. Adele*

          Yep, agree. Never lie down until hours have passed from eating. Which is why I try to avoid eating at night.

  28. Wintermute*

    This started in another thread, but to avoid derailing things it had to be cut short, so here I present, in a more appropriate forum (sorry!)

    It started with a discussion of how to decline “Fergus” in Latin, I believe it’s fergus, multiple fergi. and declines Fergus, Fergi, Fergum, Fergi, Fergo, Fergo. So I decided to break out my best doggerel latin:

    Ecce Fergum:

    Fergus est a common nomen

    For a very special Roman.

    O! Ferge!

    cur torment me?

    usually when we have had a problem,

    Omnia have met a Fergum.

    Perhaps our workplace harmony

    is hampered per insolentia Fergi.

    perhaps for a boss who has gone cookoo,

    Fergus est en loco.

    O tempora! O mores!

    He clawed back a promised raise!

    or of a co-worker that does a no-no

    a writer speaks de ferguso.

    O! Detestabilis Fortuna!

    Today he microwaved a whole tuna!

    Alison! Defende nos!

    We suffer copia fergos!

    Many of us have been brought low

    by things wrought ex fergo.

    Manager or coworker, no workplace bliss

    is unmarred ex per fergis.

    and so we shout, unto the sky,

    de nostrorum omnium Fergi,

    Ask a Manager! protects us from

    actus iniquitus Fergorum!

    1. Confused Publisher*

      I laughed so loud my husband came in from the other room to ask what had gotten into me. Now we’re both cackling and reciting lines to each other.

  29. Snark*

    Winter is not exactly salad season, but I made two this week that were seasonal, insanely delicious, and easy.

    1) Sumo tangerines, green olives, and grilled halloumi cheese over butter lettuce. The halloumi is a squeaky, firm, salty Cypriot cheese that, rather unbelievably, holds up well to a hard sear in a cast iron pan or on the grill. Sweet, salty, savory, and crisp all play together so nicely. Nice next to some lamb chops.

    2) Roasted beets, grilled sweet onion, blue cheese, and walnuts. Kind of the same situation – deep, complex sweetness, cut by the bitter nuts and sharp cheese. Dynamite with steak.

    Any other winter salad ideas out there? I’m sick of braises and stews.

    1. Rainy*

      I really like a modified Cobb in the winter. (Modified because of my allergies.) It’s hearty and a full meal, and delicious.

    2. fposte*

      What do you do with radishes? I love radishes, and we’re now getting a very mild cultivar that is great for just eating out of hand, like tiny apples. The ones with bite can be impressively cut with oil/fat (bread and butter with radishes is *amazing*).

      Not a mixed salad, but ripe pears with blue cheese are wonderful. The cheese can be chosen for taste–I run mild, so I like a Fourme d’Ambert or even a Saga Blue–or just pick based on what’s likely to spread on a sliced pear, since drier blues are going to be a tougher combination.

      1. Snark*

        I love roasted radishes with anchovy butter. And the classic butter and radishes with bread is a pretty frequent player when we do cheeseboard night.

        And yes, blue cheese is magnificent in so many things, sweet or savory.

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        I had a nice salad when I was last in Paris, which was mixed lettice leaves, grapefruit segments, fine matchsticks of apple and smoked salmon, with one of those mustard dressings.

    3. Isobel*

      Last night we had a salad of roasted squash (with a little oregano), sauteed mushrooms, puy lentils, and rocket (I think this is called arugula in the USA?), with a very simple vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tiny bit of Dijon mustard).

      1. Snark*

        Ooh, I love the idea of earthy mushrooms and lentils together with the sweeness of squash. I’m totally making that. I never realized that butternut squash is easily peeled with a Y-peeler, and so I’m making it a lot lately.

        And yes, that’s called arugula in the US, but that’s kind of a new thing – my grandmother knew it as rocket.

        1. SC Anonibrarian*

          That reminds me of when we took my great aunt out to dinner at a very fancy fusion restaurant. The salad was tiny, just a scattering of all sorts of micro-greens and forage: purslane, arugula, dandelion, some ramps and mushrooms, I think even some wild grass grains. My aunt was not a tactful or quiet person and when the very fancy waiter placed the salad she told him he could take it right back to the kitchen because she wasn’t paying a day’s wages for a ‘mess of poor-folk greens I can pull out of my own back 40 whenever I’ve a mind to.’ We all diiied.

          1. Plague of frogs*

            I got home before my husband one day and took the opportunity to make a nice salad out of the dandelion greens in the yard, torn up small enough that he wouldn’t know what they were. Unfortunately he is quite perceptive. He took one look at it and said, “Did you pick these in the yard?” He still ate them, but wasn’t a fan.

            I liked them. They are nice very early in the spring, with a vinaigrette and some boiled eggs. Maybe with some other bitter greens like arugula, for a variation of texture.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          It’s also great with mango, rocket (aragula to you?) and yoghurt mint dressing. Or in roasted peppers with chilli flakes and lemon juice.

          I recently had a pretty amazing salad that I think included red cabbage, figs and clementines.

      1. Parenthetically*

        OK, so is halloumi essentially the same as paneer? Because if so, it’s ridiculously easy to make and so so much cheaper than store bought.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Endive, walnuts, cotija, grapefruit, balsamic.

      Roasted butternut squash, black lentils, goat cheese, arugula, warm red onion/bacon vinaigrette.

      1. Snark*

        Cotija is underutilized outside Mexican cuisine, and I can’t fathom why – it’s like creamy parmesan, people, jeez!

    5. Ally A*

      1. Arugula and roasted pear with toasted pine nuts and a vinaigrette with some maple syrup in it
      2. cabbage salad with apples and spiced pecans
      3. For the roasted beet salad you mentioned, consider also adding roasted red peppers – I love that in a salad with blue cheese, nuts, and steak
      4. I think all of these would also be good with some quinoa or orzo added.

      1. Snark*

        I feel like roasted peppers would have to be subbed in for the grilled sweet onion – otherwise, too much sweet going on.

    6. selina kyle*

      I love mandarin oranges in with some greens and almonds or walnuts – a nice vinagarette really puts it all together. Plus it’s cheap! I got hooked on them in college.

    7. Not That Jane*

      Smitten kitchen has several that I love: fennel/blood orange, a red cabbage salad with dates & feta, and a carrot salad with harissa and mint. You should be able to Google for them. :)

    8. Casuan*

      For tonight I’m planning to use my meager cooking skills to try to do some type of rice salad. I found a few recipes & I’ll adjust to the ingredients I have.
      rice, arugula, mirepoix…

      Wish me luck!!

    9. GoryDetails*

      I just had roasted sweet potatoes and fennel with pears; I like a nice balsamic dressing but you could probably dress it with anything from a spritz of lemon juice to your favorite creamy option. (If the pears are fully ripe they can go in raw; if they’re on the bit-too-firm side and you don’t want to wait, you can roast them with the veggies, or saute them.)

  30. I'm Over Pants*

    So, I think I’m done with pants. I took the plunge on a pricey pair of black denim pants that did not wash well and I’m just over it. Every once in awhile I will find some jeans that fit great and I do love to wear them from time to time, but I think I want to shift my entire winter wardrobe to work around leggings. And that includes work, too. I’ve taken up yoga in the past year and go to classes 2x/week during my lunch hour, so only having to change my bra/top is amazing (no hot yoga, I promise I’m not gross after!)

    My office is very casual, but not so casual that leggings-as-pants is okay! I’m also not really going for an “athleisure” look– I like wearing tall boots/fancy scarves/jewelry to dress things up. I have a couple tunic tops that get me through the week now that I’ve stumbled on randomly– at Kohl’s/Target– but if there’s anyone else out there that lives in leggings– I’d love to know where you’re getting tops that work with them!

    1. Rainy*

      Tunics with belts.
      Your summer dresses with a cardi over or a long-sleeve top (match it to the leggings colour) under.

      I feel you on the Tyranny of Pants. I stopped wearing them a while back and it’s only skirts and dresses for work now.

    2. Ron McDon*

      Have you tried jeggings?

      They are soft and stretchy like leggings, but look like denim jeans. I wear them all the time – black ones to work with heels/boots, blue ones at the weekend, nights out, to the supermarket…. I love them! They’re smarter than leggings for work, but just as comfy.

      Not sure if they’re just a thing in the UK though?

      1. I'm Over Pants*

        My jeans I do have are jeggings! I should have been a little more clear about that. I can’t imagine wearing stiff, non-stretchy jeans! I’ve been having a hard time finding jeggings that fit well in my waist/hips lately, unfortunately.

        1. JenM*

          I really like M&S jeggings. They have an elasticated waist and fit pretty well. Also they don’t lose their shape after multiple washes.

    3. Snark*

      I’m a guy, and I totally feel you on hating jeans. I really, really don’t like them. I’ve transitioned almost entirely to pants made of technical, quick-drying, stretchy materials that are cut like regular pants, and I’m never going back to heavy, stiff denim.

    4. Loopy*

      Meeeeeeeeee I did exactly this. However, I am not very stylish. I have about five A-line style comfy dresses, very casual, with pockets, and I put long sleeve black shirts under them with black leggings and soft ankle boots. No shirt recs, sorry :(

      1. I'm Over Pants*

        Honestly, comfy dresses with pockets sounds great! The only thing I miss about pants are the pockets at this point (I have some leggings with pockets but they’re a little too sporty-looking for work!)

        1. Loopy*

          I believe they are Lands End A line dresses, if that helps. They are so comfy and the pockets are brilliantly done!

    5. cat socks*

      I’ve also randomly found tunic tops at Target and Kohls. I wear ponte knit leggings year round and I prefer longer tops that cover my rear. I’ve had some luck at Nordstrom Rack and Land’s End. You may also want to try Macy’s, although I usually shop online there. Marhsalls and TJ Maxx might have stuff too. I know Amazon has a lot of clothing options, but I’ve never bought from them. I find the search options lacking, especially since I need petite sizes.

    6. Effie, who is pondering*

      I just discovered Betabrand yoga work pants and am so tempted! They’re yoga pants with real back pockets & belt loops and fake front pockets.

      Re: dresses with pockets, my go-to is Hell Bunny brand cotton dresses. Other readers have recommended eshakti which I have not tried.

      I also wear blousy and/or silky long tops that go past my hips with jeggings. I wear above-the-knee dresses with leggings (I have short legs so don’t look too sexy for work, may not work for longer-legged ladies). Tunic tops make me look too young.

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        Seconding the beta brand, I have a good friend who adores them – they looked very professional, and she said they were wonderfully comfortable.

        I live in leggings and ponte pants and honestly? I just wear a nice sweater. The leggings I wear are thick enough and structured well they just look like skinny pants, so that is all I need.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I have some ponte skinny pants and leggings – one each from Costco, Eddie Bauer, Land’s End, and Banana Republic Factory. They vary in thickness and tightness but are great for a work look. I’m a bit self conscious so I always wear a long shirt or tunic.

          Long shirts and tunics – again with BR Factory (dressy button down shirts) and Old Navy (long sleeve tops). I have some of the plush knit long sleeve tops from ON and they are amazing.

          My issue isn’t so much with the material of jeans as with the need to zip and button. I want pants with a simple flat elastic waist – Athleta does this so well.

      2. Pretend Scientist*

        I bought a pair of Betabrand recently, in a color that was being discontinued so if they weren’t quite right, I wouldn’t be too mad. They’re great! Max and I had a seminar to go to on the weekend (therefore lots of sitting) after I got them, and they were awesome! No wrinkles or baggy knees.

    7. selina kyle*

      A gal I work with really loves Athleta for that type of look. A lot of it passes as work wear, but is apparently quite comfy!

      1. Erika22*

        I LOVE Athleta! Definitely second it for athletic clothing that works for the office. I have three pairs of pants from Athleta, and since they’re made for both exercise and leisure, they’re super comfortable and easy to move in while being much better than your standard black leggings (or even more athletic-looking yoga leggings). They’re a little pricey when full price, but they have an unlimited return policy, and they often have extra 20 percent off sale price deals. I highly recommend!

    8. MMM*

      This isn’t exactly answering your question, but I find Old Navy’s Pixie pants to be more comfortable than jeans, even though they are nice enough to be dress pants. They’re super stretchy and come in both ankle and full length, so the ankle could be good for a more casual work environment. They are literally the only work pants I own!

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I have gotten cute tunic tops from Boden. They even have a tunic section but I wait till they go on sale.

    10. AKBlues*

      I do Pilates on my lunchbreak twice a week and I also wear my workout clothes to work and simply layer on top. I have 4 different Toad & Co Chaka skirts I thrown on over my leggings and then pair with sweaters or jackets on top. So comfy and okay for wearing at my semi-casual office.

    11. Fiddlesticks*

      Uniqlo! They have amazing legging-type pants with elastic waistlines that mock the look of regular pants with buttons and pockets! They are super easy to care for, I just throw them in the washer with their respective color families and they always come out fine. Super comfortable, reasonably affordable. I just checked and I think I own like 4 different pairs, two in black, one in navy and one in dark green.

    12. Fellow Traveller*

      I was not a legging fan until I was pregnant, and hey we’re the only thing I could stand to wear. Now I wear them all the time. I do have a couple of tunic tops, but I also will wear leggings with a short skirt- something about mid thigh length and in a casual knit or with a colorful pattern. Usually with pockets. If it’s longer than mid thigh, it ends up looking like I should be wearing tights.

  31. Sparkly Librarian*

    I filed my taxes yesterday. I would’ve liked to have done it earlier, but my employer stuck to the extreme deadline of Jan 31st for sending out our W-2s, and I also had to get forms from my banks. I was happy to find out last year that creditkarma.com (where I already had a free account) lets you file for free, for both Federal AND State returns.

    Are you an early or late filer? Any funny tax stories? Here’s one from a few years back, from another librarian-type I know: http://librarianavengers.org/2012/02/the-irs-was-kind-to-us/

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Nice! My federal return was accepted within 5 minutes (!!) but the state always takes longer. After last year’s surprise bill (new job for the wife but same withholdings, or something), I adjusted our 2017 W-4s and am getting a little bit back this year. Just in time to pay for the car window that got smashed while we were parked in the city earlier this week. :/

        1. Rainy*

          Yeah, the state here sends out paper checks, but filing so early, they sent mine out on the same day as my federal so I should get it soon, I think. Maybe Monday!

    1. nep*

      Early, at least to get my papers together. I pay an accountant friend to do my taxes. I always get my documents to her as soon as I’ve received them all.

      1. K.*

        Ditto, down to the accountant friend. They’re typically done sometime in February, and that was true when I was doing them myself. (I started having my accountant friend do them a few years ago when my finances were more complex than usual.)

    2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I normally don’t do it until late March or early April. I’m just a bit of a procrastinator there. I’d like to do it sooner, but realistically it’s just not going to happen. Probably never will.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I was always very early–until I owed money. For the last few years I’ve been waiting until about the end of March since any refund would be taken from the IRS. This year I’m happy to say I’ll be filing next week because I’ll be paying them off AND getting money back!

    4. periwinkle*

      We are firmly on the early side. My husband upgrades TurboTax at the beginning of January and starts getting antsy waiting for our various forms to show up. It’s just about the only thing he will never procrastinate on!

    5. fposte*

      I don’t know how many of these changes affect individual vs. business returns, but did you guys know the Senate budget plan rolled back some of the changes in the tax bill? Yes, that’s right, the last-minute changes that everybody’s scrambling to adjust to just got even *more* last-minuted.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Nooooooooo! I live in fear of having to file an amended return. (And I’m thinking about it now because I am not sure I claimed property taxes in 2015 or 2016. And that was what tipped the balance this year.)

        1. fposte*

          I’m trying to find out—it was kind of buried even on Wednesday when it was just the Senate plan, and I can’t find specifics about what was left when it eventually got approved by the House yesterday. A lot of the news focuses on stuff the tax law sunsetted that got re-allowed by the budget deal, and they’re drawn to the reinstatement of stuff like depreciating your racehorses. Which is great for headlines but not so helpful to me.

          1. Simone R*

            If the senate budget plan changed the tax bill that was passed in the end of December it shouldn’t effect your current return as that tax bill applies to 2018 not 2017.

            1. fposte*

              That’s a good point that a lot of it is, but some of it annoyingly goes back, like the change in the allowable medical deduction (that goes back to 1/1/2017, and there are a few things that go back farther). So it would be super cool if some financial journalist would just write something that says “You won’t need to change your tax filings because of the budget deal.”

              1. No regular name*

                Two changes that may impact your return: the Tuition & Fees deduction is back, as well as the deduction for mortgage insurance. These are 2 of the most common ones.

                1. fposte*

                  Thanks. Looks like some energy credits got put back, too. The advice that makes the most sense to me is that if you had something that would have been deductible in 2016, check out to see where it stands for 2017 now.

                2. Natalie*

                  Do you know if that is retroactive to this year, or just going forward? I just did ours on Friday and we would (potentially) be eligible if it’s retroactive.

    6. LadyKelvin*

      Ours are done, last weekend we submitted them. We do/did ours early because we have both been “victims” of security breaches, equifax and when the government security database was compromised, so basically everything of ours is out in the dark webs. This way someone doesn’t file our taxes for us, get a huge refund, and then we have to pay back the refund plus lawyer costs, etc that goes into proving to the IRS that our taxes were filed fraudulently.

      1. Rainy*

        My state now sends out refunds by paper check because this happened to a huge number of state residents, and apparently the state didn’t check anything and ended up “refunding” a few scammers a LOT of money.

      2. Natalie*

        I noticed my tax software asked us for DL info this time around, I assume partially because of those breaches.

    7. CAA*

      I have to wait for 1099-B forms from our investment accounts. The deadline for sending those is Feb 15th, so I’ll probably do our taxes next weekend.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Us too. I reckon we’ll try to get it filed ASAP but unfortunately we have 1099-DIVs coming too because we switched funds management last year, and those things are such a massive pain.

    8. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Usually I’m an early filer. Last year was the first year I paid so someone to do them. I sold a bunch of stock I got from my job and wasn’t sure of the tax implications so thought it was time to bring in a professional. On my to-do list for tomorrow is checking if I have all of the forms so I can make an appointment.

    9. Nicole*

      Everything is ready to go but we haven’t filed yet because we owe (which we do intentionally), so we’re not in a hurry to give money more to the government.

    10. Oxford Coma*

      I’ve had ID theft issues and prefer to file ASAP to discourage that sort of thing, but in reality I file at the absolute last second because I need the time to scrape together every last penny to fill my IRA before the deadline.

    11. Aphrodite*

      Oh, I’m definitely an early bird. If I could do my taxes on January 2 I would. But mine got done yesterday so my refunds will show up within a week (if history repeats itself). What I find amusing is that people start griping more as the deadline nears and I’ll hear their grips and be puzzled for a few moments because that was soooooo long ago. Wasn’t it? Well, not for everyone.

    12. Jen*

      Medium. I usually file late because I usually owe a little, but I have things 90% done by early Feb.

      This year though we’re getting a 4 figure refund so I’m probably get them out in the next week or so.

    13. Book Lover*

      I have to wait for a K1 so always later than I would like. Before I always used to do them at the beginning of February. Hate the uncertainty now, as I can’t really plan well not knowing what the K1 will look like.

    14. SC Anonibrarian*

      We usually manage to get our ducks in a row around early March each year, and we always get a refund. I live in fear of owing the IRS so they’re welcome to the ‘loan’ of my overpayments if that means I know I’m safe. We try to balance it so we don’t get too much back, but there’s only so close you can get without rebalancing through the year. I actually used to do that when I did my mom’s taxes. She didn’t want to owe, but she also really didn’t want the government ‘using’ ‘her’ money. So i always checked it once a month for her and sorted it out – I kept her within either getting or owing $20 for about 5 years. I’m done with that bullshit now. I don’t have the time or energy to care.

      We did get ours done early this year because of *%#^*}% equifax. We aimed to get it done by the end of January and got them done Feb 5th (stupid slow credit union was NOT in a hurry) so I feel pretty good about it. I’ve been checking the mail daily for the last week.

      It’s already nuts at the library tho. We got our first call about tax forms before christmas this year, and we get fewer and fewer forms from the IRS every year (to give people for free) and people are always soooo pissed. Our state doesn’t provide any free forms at all unless you mail them a request, and then it takes forever for them to mail them to people.) It’s a giant yearly pain. What kills me are the people who come wandering in around May wanting tax forms and info then.

    15. Natalie*

      Well, that might be a reason to sign up for Credit Karma. I always do our state taxes by hand because I refuse to pay to file – the state form is short and easy so it’s not a huge deal, but I’d love to efile for obvious reasons.

      We filed our federal taxes Friday and I just have to mail the state. Somehow we owe the state even though our federal refund is huge (literally 10x what we owe the state). I don’t know what’s wrong with their withholding tables but for me, at least, they are jacked up.

  32. The Other Dawn*

    I need some advice today, please. (And sorry if the formatting is off. I’m typing this on my phone.)

    A former friend sent me a friend request on Facebook this past week after no contact for 20 years.

    For some background, we were friends in elementary school for a few years and then she waa moved to anothee school in the same town. We lost touch and then reconnected in freshman year of high school. We remained friends for about 12 years until i decided i didn’t want to be friends anymore.

    My reasons for wanting to end the friendship were the one-sidedness of the friendship that eventually evolved, as she had depression and some other issues. I spent many years listening to her bash men, bash her son’s father in front of her son, blame all her problems on others and basically do nothing to help herself. Being on the phone with her for several hours at a clip was so mentally exhausting and i just couldn’t do it anymore, so i ended it.

    Over the years I’ve thought about her. I miss the good parts of the friendship, like the great talks we had and the fun we had before she started being the victim in her life.

    I’m very torn on whether i should accept the request or not. I realize it’s just Facebook, I have the power to control it and I now live further away, but I’m worried what’s going to be invited back into my life. I’m not sure if i should give it a trial run or just forget it altogether.

    1. 14 years*

      I wouldn’t. Facebook is toxic enough without inviting it in. Do you have any reason to reconnect? That sounds cold, but you’re not gaining anything other than negativity (probably)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Part of me really does miss what used to be, before she decided she was a victim of everyone else. And also I can’t help but wonder if she’s changed for the better. Normally I’m not so charitable in my views of people, but for some reason I’m hoping she’s changed. The request has been sitting there for a week and I still can’t decide. I’m by no means ready or willing to go meet up for lunch, but I’m not 100% against exchanging a few emails. I guess I don’t want to have to dump her all over again.

    2. periwinkle*

      It’s too easy to forget the negatives when you fondly remember the positives. I had a friend like that, and although I miss some parts of our friendship, I remind myself of why it’s over. Emotional vampires are too exhausting.

      Granted, maybe your friend is now better at coping. You could accept her request and limit what she sees on your feed until you get a better idea of what she’s like now. Just tread cautiously.

      1. Ron McDon*

        You’re so right. We sometimes look at the past through rose-tinted spectacles. I would suggest you had really compelling reasons to dump her all those years ago, but it may be that the not-knowing will eat away at you if you don’t reconnect. I’d second what periwinkle says, if you do connect then be cautious and tread carefully.

        Good luck!

    3. Overeducated*

      I would accept. There is a pretty vast distance between passively reading facebook updates and being on the phone for hours of complaints.

    4. LadyKelvin*

      I wouldn’t, my rule is that if I have to wonder if I should accept them I don’t. That way my facebook is a stress-free fun zone that I only use to keep my family updated on our adventures (we live 5000 miles away from my hometown/every member of my extended family).

    5. Thlayli*

      I would accept – maybe she is over her depression and back to her old self. If not you can unfollow.

    6. Casuan*

      Dawn, if you want to to give your friend a chance in hopes that she’s changed, then go for it. Just mentally prepare yourself that your friend might not have changed & decide in advance how far you think you’re willing to go to make this determination. From my own experience with personalities like you describe, I doubt she’s changed much.
      Can you look at her Facebook page (or is she on other social media) so you can get a sense of how she is now?
      If not, I don’t think you’ll hurt anything by accepting the request. Just proceed with caution. There’s no right or wrong here.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Just in case anyone is still reading, I’ve decided to delete the friend request. It occurred to me that rather than thinking, “Hmm I wonder how she’s doing,” I’m thinking, “Hmm, I wonder if she’s still the same.” That, along with the fact that I’m still sitting on this request after a week and have had to ask several people in my life, as well as people here, what I should do speaks volumes. Thanks for your help, everyone!

  33. Cappuccino*

    I have a wedding based question that I’m hoping some of you can help me with.

    My partner and I have started talking about getting married, but we’re both really worried about our families coming together as they are so very different.

    One family is quiet, conservative, and low key. One family is the loud, party animal type. I can just picture both families together in a room and I can just imagine the disdain towards the louder family.

    We’ve come up with few options, but there are cons to all of these:
    *Invite parents, siblings, aunts and uncles only, to keep things on a smaller scale.
    *Have two separate celebrations with both families on different dates.
    *Have a party, but warn the quiet and reserved family that the other family can be loud and overbearing. I’d also probably let them know that we wouldn’t be offended if they left the party early.
    *Nicely ask the worst culprits in the loud family to be mindful of keeping the noise down.
    *Don’t have a party – perhaps go for a meal afterwards with parents, siblings, aunts and uncles?

    What would you do?

    1. 14 years*

      Elope! Ha ha I only say that bc I wish I had. Unless you have the money, have one party and yes warn both sides. You can pull out the “It’s MY day!” card, too. As long as they’re not jerks, just different, hopefully they’ll be respectful.

    2. fposte*

      What about option 19–not managing your families’ feelings about one another? It’s okay if they don’t hit it off immediately–or ever–and if you guys have managed to understand that people have different styles, I bet they have too. If there’s somebody who’s genuinely a jackass and not just a different style, assign another relative to Uncle Funky for the first meet, but other than that, plan an occasion that will please you two and don’t be offended if some people leave early to go to bed and others hit the bars afterwards.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes yes yes. Let other people manage their own emotions and responses. You don’t have to take responsibility or ownership there AT ALL.

      2. Turtlewings*

        This. It would probably be a good idea to mention to each side that the other tends to be very [insert trait here] so don’t take their behavior personally, but after that, they’re grown-ups who (a) hopefully can be polite to strangers for a little while, (b) don’t actually have to be friends in order for your life to proceed happily.

    3. nep*

      That is a challenge, all right.
      The first thing that came to my mind is elope. But from the options you threw out there, I’d say a low-key meal after.

    4. Pixel*

      I would have the wedding and reception that suited me and my partner, and let our families deal with their own feelings. If you want a smaller wedding, that’s fine but don’t do it to keep the families apart. If you want a massive blowout party, go for it. These people are adults, presumably, so they can handle being around people who are different from themselves for one day. Don’t try to manage their feelings for them, you will have enough to do planning the wedding!

      And congratulations on being ready to start the talking about getting married.

    5. nep*

      I do like the approach and principle some are suggesting — you do you and let family members on both sides ‘cope’ as they will…awkward moments and all. Do what your gut says will be right for your wedding day.

    6. Overeducated*

      What about finding a venue with multiple spaces for guests to hang out during the reception? A good friend of mine had one in some kind of historic estate house type place, there was a big room for the dinner, dancing, and loud party folks and a smaller room with seating nearby where some of us went to chat and catch up on life. It was really nice.

      That said, this is one day, they never have to see each other again after this, so don’t worry too much.

    7. Rainy*

      As someone in the middle of wedding planning–don’t have two.

      Seriously. Planning and paying for one is bad enough. Just have the wedding you want, and don’t manage your families’ feelings. They are grown human beings and should be managing their own feelings.

      1. Natalie*

        Co-sign. We had a second reception in my husband’s home town that we didn’t plan or pay for, and even that was kind of a pain. Have one wedding, and let the chips fall where they may.

    8. Forking Great Username*

      Although obviously I don’t know either of your families, I don’t think this has to be so complicated – throw the wedding you two want. The people who want to be loud and crazy will be on the dancefloor. The people who would rather just stay at their table and chat will do that.

    9. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I know this approach isn’t for everyone, but can you embrace the awkwardness/weirdness? I was actually disappointed that my wedding didn’t have more weird moments in it. Sometimes you can shift your perspective and find it funny. (Obviously that doesn’t work if people are genuinely going to have their feelings hurt, but if it’s just mild discomfort and awkwardness … well, there can be real humor in that if you embrace it.)

      I know I’m not normal about this though.

    10. kas*

      As others have suggested, I would plan the wedding I want and stop thinking about the what ifs. Is it possible to have get togethers with both of your families before the wedding? That way they can mingle with eachother beforehand.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      There’s a lot to be said about controlling the behaviors of a group by controlling the room they are in.

      I am thinking a nice restaurant, where they have to sit down and eat in what feels like a public space, even if the restaurant is closed for your party.
      You can set the tone also by carefully choosing the lighting and the music.
      Another boundary you can set is by stating on the invitation that the reception is from x time to y time. Fifteen minutes before the end of the party have the staff announce that it is time to leave as they will be closing.

      While I do understand the concept of letting people find their own path sometimes we need to pave the way. “Look folks, let’s all go in this direction.” In your case, these two families will be in and out of each others lives for the rest of your life. It would be handy if they got along semi-well.

      If you go with this type of approach, expect minimal to NO results and be happy/surprised if a few of them click with each other. That is to say, keep your expectations low then you will be less disappointed and more willing to just chalk it up to the differences in people.

      I do believe in staging a room to help get better results. My boss uses the same school of thought also. We have both seen too many times where the room set up has smoothed the path for people to make connections with each other.

      I staged a reception after a funeral. This was a group of people who were barely on speaking terms with each other. There were little pockets who would talk to each other but they would not talk to other pockets of people.
      I had the restaurant put the tables in a U shape. there was NO “head” of the table. No one could be accused of trying to “run” the group. They could seat themselves next to whomever they wished. Next, the restaurant was a really interesting building with lots of antiques to look at, this distracted them. Some of them wandered around to look at all the cool stuff, conversations popped up just in this process. Since some people were friends not family this helped to dilute other issues as the friends would join in conversations. Last, the food was outstanding. They got a great meal and they were all happy with it.
      Then they went home. No bad behaviors, no arguing, no big scenes, nothing. (Granted yours don’t argue, they are just loud. But you get the general idea.)
      I am not saying this is some magic cure-all. But if you guys land on doing this reception, controlling the setting might be something to consider.

    12. Thlayli*

      Option 1: as others have said do what you want and don’t worry about other people’s feelings. Especially don’t worry about the “disdain”. I myself am an outgoing friendly charismatic person /annoying headwrecker (depending on who is doing the describing) and I can assure you we could give a flying crap about other people’s opinions of our behaviour.

      Option 2: if you really want to manage their feelings have a Wedding in a place with two spaces – have the meal and dancing in a room with a bar but have a quieter lounge area outside where the quieter people can go to sit and chat. But bear in mind how this will interact with smoking section also as a nice comfy smoking section will attract both types so you would need two smoking sections as well then. Or else an uncomfortable smoking section to drive the smokers back t their areas ASAP.

    13. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      There’s also no requirement that your reception has to be evening/open bar/dancing.

      If you get married in the summer, you could do an luncheon reception indoor or outdoor. English teatime/garden party might be cute theme. Get married at 10 am, reception is lunch in a garden from 12-3, serve wine only if you want alcohol. Beautiful and likely no one will get too wild with the sun still out. Might save you some money too.

    14. Jingle*

      I know a few people have suggested eloping already, but I just wanted to say – this is really a viable option, and I say that as someone who did it. Our reasons for eloping had some overlap with yours, with the added complexities of divorced parents (on both sides) who don’t get on. Trying to figure a way to have a wedding that everyone (including us!) would enjoy, and that wouldn’t cost the earth, just seemed impossible. And even more importantly for us was that we are quiet, private people, and we both hated the idea of being the centre of attention.

      So we eloped. We told our very closest family beforehand, as we didn’t want to hurt their feelings, and they (and everyone else later) were delighted for us. We went overseas on a long-scheduled trip very far away and married there, with all the bits of a wedding that we wanted (dress, ceremony, photographer, rings) & none of the bits we didn’t (flowers, cake, rigmarole). And I think flying far away for our wedding helped as none of our friends or family would have wanted to pay to come to a wedding so far away if they had been invited. We announced our wedding via email and Facebook afterwards and invited family and friends to celebrate with us over very small dinners on our return (which was great – each was us and one friend/family, and we got to spend the time to really connect with each person).

      So this is all a very long winded way of saying that eloping can be an option if you want. Of course go for the traditional wedding if that’s right for you, but also know that you can choose to keep/change any element of it to make it work for you!

    15. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      In my extended family, there really isn’t contact with the inlaws outside of weddings, funerals, etc. Even birthdays were separate (space issues). As long as everyone is going to be polite and at least pretend to be friendly, it doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks.

    16. Blue Eagle*

      Warn both families that they are going to a celebration similar to “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and it is not appropriate to call one family “dry as toast” nor is it appropriate to lambast the more exuberant family.

    17. Jacquelyn*

      What do you want, really? You don’t say whether you want a small gathering, a big party, or just a simple dinner so it is hard to give advice.

      What does your wedding mean to you? I think this question is really important before you decide what to do. I can understand why some people would want to elope, but for me personally, my wedding was not just about me and my husband, it was also about us each joining each other’s families. Also, our wedding was the only time in our lives when everyone we love would be present in the same room (people rally to come to a wedding) – there is something special and particularly moving about that! I just had to chime in about that since a lot of commenters have suggested eloping.

      Are your families the type to put aside their feelings and discomfort to make the day about you, or are you worried about a scene? If it is the former, you do you and let everyone manage their own feelings! If it is the latter, can you get someone you trust to intervene if needed so you can feel more serene?

      Good luck and congratulations!

  34. Mischa*

    It’s been an interesting year. I started law school, and subsequently was diagnosed with depression and ADHD. As a 25-year-old woman, the ADHD was a huge surprise. I was, and still am, extremely fidgety, but my main problem since childhood is that my mind wanders and I daydream a lot. Despite that, I did well in school. It was easy for me, so it wasn’t a problem that I didn’t pay much attention in class. Law school is a different story altogether, and I struggled the first semester (for my standards/academic history, at least — I did fairly well objectively speaking, but not as well as I could have done). Now I’m having to relearn how to study, and I’m having to figure out how to work with my brain, not against it.

    Has anyone else been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as an adult? Any coping mechanisms, organizational tricks you would like to share? I’m curious to hear your stories.

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Yep. I was diagnosed with ADHD at 28. Adderall helps me a lot, although my ability to take it has always been inconsistent (in the US it’s so heavily controlled, then I lived in a country where it was very illegal, and now the health system in the country I’m in is such a pain that I can’t face dealing with them to try to get a prescription).

      I’m still trying to figure out the strategies that work best for me, but one thing that’s helped me a lot is to do what I “feel like” doing. I don’t mean that I just play video games all day, but if I have to do A, B, and C and B’s the only thing I really feel like doing, well, I do B. Even if A or C is more urgent. That way I’m still accomplishing something–if I try to do A or C, I know myself well enough to know that I will get nothing done anyway. Obviously there are limits to this, but it’s still helped my productivity a lot even if things sometimes get weird too.

      Also, active reminders help me a lot more than passive ones. I loathe to-do lists even though a lot of people with ADHD seem to swear by them (I either forget I made one or the thought of looking at it stresses me out and I avoid it), so I set up Google Calendar reminders to email myself things I need to do at the appropriate time (which is, for me, when whatever it is is very close; I don’t need to know I have a doctor appointment 2 weeks ahead of time, but I do need to know the day before).

      1. Mischa*

        I just started Ritalin, and I’m not sure what I think about it. Luckily, it was easy finding an anti-depressant that worked for me, but I have a feeling that finding an ADHD med will be a different story. Ritalin is heavily controlled like Adderall, and it’s expensive – I spent $80 on a two week low-dose supply. I died a bit on the inside. Yay for awful insurance!

        I like the idea of active reminders! It sounds similar to what I do with my calendar on my iPhone, which is linked to my school email/calendar client.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          If you’re in the US you should check out GoodRx, a free discount card thing. I have the app on my phone. I use that for my Adderall because my new insurance company wanted me to switch meds so they won’t pay for even the generic Adderall. I got a 30 day supply for $40. Not all pharmacies will accept it for controlled substances, but my local Kroger does.

          1. Mischa*

            I have a dog on various medications so I’ve used GoodRx for a few years. It’s been a lifesaver — he’s epileptic, so without GoodRx I would be paying hundreds a month. I’m planning on calling the pharmacies around town to see if they’ll take it for controlled substances like Ritalin/Adderall.

      2. Dr. KMnO4*

        I agree with the pop-up reminders. They help a LOT.

        Adderall has probably been the thing that has made the biggest difference for me. I survived grad school (barely) without meds, and was struggling to stay on top of things as a professor until I started on Adderall. Now I can actually grade a stack of papers without losing focus 20,000 times.

      3. Lindsay J*

        I feel like it’s somewhat of a cruel joke how difficult it is to get and maintain an Adderall or Ritalin prescription.

        I waited too long a couple months ago to pick up my meds from the pharmacy. So then I had to make a new appointment to go back to the doctor for a whole new visit to get a new prescription written so I could get them.

        Or another time the pharmacy the prescription was sent to did not have the meds to fill it and wouldn’t for a few days. And again, it couldn’t just be sent to another branch in the same chain. I would have had to go back to the doctor to get them to write a new prescription to send to the other chain.

        I already have difficulty getting things done to begin with. Never mind getting them done twice!

        I understand why they have to keep the drugs on a tight chain, but it’s really frustrating in the moment.

        And getting my most recent job was a pain in the butt. There was no other procedure available other than to fail the drug test, then contact the drug officer and tell them about the prescription, and then have them get the prescription number and follow up from there wi