weekend free-for-all — February 17-18, 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: Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness, by Melissa Dahl. If you didn’t win this week’s giveaway, get it for yourself. It’s awesome.

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

{ 1,429 comments… read them below }

    1. Wandering Anon*

      I was hoping that was Sam! Olive and Eve seem to have many more pictures (and Eve was a cute kitten). What’s the fourth cat’s name again?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Lucy! And yeah, Eve and Olive have gotten a disproportionate share of pictures here. Sam and Lucy were already full grown when I started posting cat photos when we were fostering Olive when she was a tiny kitten, and then Eve came along as a kitten too. Kittens…

  1. Alldogsarepupppies*

    I’m thinking of going vegitarian (but not vegan). Anyone have recipes to share? Do ya’ll think its better to go cold turkey (pun very much intended) or to slowly take meat out of my diet one at a time

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      • Think ethnic cuisine–lots of Italian, Mexican, Asian, African dishes that just are vegetarian, no slab of not-meat taking the place of the expected pork chop on the plate. I never liked tofu until I had Vietnamese food.
      • Check your library for vegetarian cookbooks, especially of the “dinner in a reasonable time frame” variety. Makes it easier to sample a few approaches.
      • I think it works to move meat toward the periphery, so it’s not forbidden, just used more sparingly. Healthwise, anything that punches up the vegetable count is good. But which method of incorporating lifestyle changes ‘takes’ is very individual. (I think easiest is a complete change in environment that removes old cues and habits, but moving to a new walkable place with lots of great vegetarian food everywhere is unworkable for most of us.)

    2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Ex-vegetarian here. I love The Washington Post’s Sweet Potato and Chickpea Shepherd’s Pie (link in followup comment), although I always made it with regular potato because I don’t like sweet potatoes much. I also recommend looking into Indian and Chinese cuisine because they’re pretty vegetarian-friendly, although IME Chinese is a lot simpler to cook than Indian (generalization).

      I went cold turkey when I did it and didn’t really miss meat much (I’m ex because I have health issues that get more difficult to manage when I don’t eat meat). But if you really feel like you’d miss steak/chicken/fish, then you could certainly try cutting out the ones you’re less fond of and finding good veg alternatives for those before cutting out whatever your favorite is.

    3. Bluebell*

      So I have been mostly vegetarian for about 30 years now. First I gave up red meat for about three or four months, didn’t miss it, then took chicken out of my diet. Finally I gave up shellfish, but never have given up fish, even though I don’t eat it often.
      As you reduce eating animal proteins, start to make more with tofu and legumes. I make a stirfry at least once a week, enjoy lots of bean soups, do things with pasta. The advice to think ethnic is great.

      1. TardyTardis*

        But tofu is made from soy, which is a bean. My co-workers will be delighted if I take a pass! (Beano gets really expensive if you use it every day).

        I do love the idea of making meat more peripheral, though; Spanish rice uses a lot less meat than you think it does, meat is just one ingredient out of many.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      When I wanted to get rid of sugar from my diet, I did it in one shot. I would not recommend making a big change like this to anyone. It was very challenging to work full time, run a household and figure out what the heck I was going to eat at each meal. And there were physical changes with this decision, too.
      I vote for keeping it simple. This week change your breakfast plan, next week or in a couple weeks change your lunch plan and so on. Get one nailed down pretty good then move to the next. It is definitely a learning curve. I had surprises for example, I had to rearrange my whole kitchen because I needed different things and some things I no longer used at all.

    5. Clara*

      I would do it one meal at a time! If you already eat a vegetarian breakfast, great. If not, think of some awesome breakfast options (smoothies, oatmeal, pancakes, scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes…) and just don’t have any meat for breakfast. Do that until you feel comfortable, then add another meal.

    6. .*

      It’s different for everyone. I phased it out (though not deliberately): first baby animals (lamb, veal,..) then beef & pork, chicken, fish and finally shellfish, this was over 10 years ago and it took around 2 years iirc. I never set out the intention to become vegetarian, just a process I went through. But I know plenty of people who did it abruptly, they just knew it was right for them and could stick with it.

      I think it’s best to listen to your gut, it can be a big dietary adjustment. There’s not one correct path, just try things to see how you feel and remember that it is okay to take steps back or slow down if it’s overwhelming. I’ve been plant-based for a while now and I could never have done it one big step, it’s doable for some, but not for me. What helped me was meal plan and prep in the weekends, I like cooking but not during the week, I just heat up homemade food.

      Most importantly is to replace meat with legumes, nuts & seeds, tofu, etc. Don’t just cut it out of your diet, read up on some basic nutrition stuff and maybe pantry staples if you like cooking!

    7. Elyon*

      I’ve been strict vegetarian for a decade and one of the easiest ways to make quick, protein-rich meals is to buy certain frozen meat substitutes that are made of actual vegetables and not soy, so its somewhat healthy. My favorite are the Morningstar black bean burgers, they’re delicious and if you have buns and some burger fixings, maybe frozen sweet potato fries on hand you have a good meal in less than ten minutes. I’m also a fan of those fancy artisanal veggie sausages made of rice and veggies, but they can get quite expensive.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I love the crap out of those frozen veggie patties at Aldi. They look like a speckled hockey puck but they’re actually pretty tasty!

        I’m glad this question was asked–I’ve given up pork and trying to eat less meat overall, especially processed meat, but BOY is it hard to find anything that doesn’t contain it.

    8. Reba*

      Yay! I hope you like it! We gradually became vegetarian over a couple years, eventually making a rule of meat once per week (we had a favorite burger place) and after a while feeling like, eh, don’t even need that. For me and my spouse it just wasn’t that complicated to cut it out, probably because we already ate a pretty diverse diet and so there wasn’t a lot of thinking through substitutes. Also, during recent periods when we have eaten meat and fish for Reasons, neither of us ever experienced any difficulty dealing with it even though we’ve been veg for 8 years, though I know can be a thing for some people.

      The cornerstone cookbook (I also learned cooking in general from it) is Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.” It will give you simple techniques and TONS of ideas. I love it because I know I can get anything from the store or farmer’s market and find something to do with it in this book.

      Currently I’m cooking a lot from Madhur Jaffrey’s Vegetarian India. She has other veg cookbooks that I’ve got on my wishlist, too. This one is fairly simple, home-cooking style food. Indian is one of the few world cuisines developed *for* vegetarians! So much to explore there.

      Agree with others that lots of Asian dishes convert nicely to veg or vegan.

      Our current challenge is reducing cholesterol–of course it’s already lower than some, since no red meat, but some members of our household do enjoy cheese. Goodbye, beautiful veg lasagnas we used to make monthly!

      1. Rocky Top*

        Seconding the recommendation for Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I read this cookbook and learned so much. It’s not the primary cookbook I cook out of anymore, but as a new vegetarian I leaned a whole new way of cooking. Current favorite cookbooks are Isa Does It and Smitten Kitchen Every Day, both for super tasty weeknight meals.

      2. Reba*

        Oh yeah, I want to add that for replacing savoriness in dishes, if that’s something you find you miss, good veg stock is indispensable–make your own or use Better than Boullion (in the jar). Nutritional yeast and miso paste are also pretty amazing. Miso is seriously fantastic, we love cooking with miso broth, and making dipping sauces and even gravy with it.

    9. Starley*

      Whether it’s better to go all in immediately depends on your personality and what kind of variety you already have in your cooking, I think. I went all in from omnivore to vegan, but I already cooked a lot and a wide variety of food, so I already was used to and loved cooking tofu, tempeh and other plant-based proteins. Falling Dipthong is spot on, a lot of the easiest dishes for me to make are ethnic foods where you’re not trying to replace meat in a recipe to begin with. Indian, Thai, and Japanese dishes are my favorite to make anyway, so it’s easy to do! One of my favorite weeknight meals is just stir fry with tofu. If you haven’t baked it before, give it a shot! It makes it a lot less wet and soggy than just tossing it in a stir fry. Here’s a recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/241709/baked-tofu/ If you have an air fryer, though, they are perfect for tofu! I cube mine, toss it with a little flour, cornstarch and seasoning depending on the dish I’m making.

      If you happen to live near a Cafe Yumm and can buy some of their sauce, Yumm bowls are also another easy weeknight meal. You pretty much just need to make rice and do no more work beyond that than opening some cans. I usually make them with rice, black beans, avocado, tomato, and either baked tofu or textured vegetable protein flavored with taco seasoning, but the variations are endless. Here’s a link if you’re interested in that! https://www.melskitchencafe.com/yum-yum-bowls/

    10. Always Anon*

      I went adopted a whole food plant based way of eating (vegan with no processed foods) for health reasons about a year ago. Before that I eased into it with meatless Mondays and vegan Thursdays for awhile. When I finally took the plunge, I made a conscious decision to focus on all of the wonderful foods that I can eat instead of mourning the things I no longer choose to eat. Vegan or vegetarian, there’s so many wonderful choices! And I went from borderline diabetic (A1c 6.2) back to within normal range (A1c 5.4). For anyone interested, see the book “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes.” Also “How Not to Die.” Google forks over knives and Google Engine 2 Rescue Diet.

    11. Snuggly muggle*

      I follow Cookie + Kate on Facebook. All of her recipes are vegetarian and everything I’ve made has been good. One of my favorite recipes from her is a lentil soup. You can find it by searching her website.

    12. Sarah G*

      I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 13 and gave it up all at once, but I wasn’t a big meat eater anyway, and I do better in general with the all-or-nothing approach with food habits. (Like when I give up added sugar, I find none is easier than some.)
      I do a lot of stir-fries, adding either tofu or tempeh for protein (I like to crumble the tofu and squeeze out some of the liquid into the sink as I crumble it, then cook it in olive oil and seasonings till it’s getting crispy, and THEN added the veggies!) I’m not vegan and eat eggs pretty often. I eat a ton of beans, sometimes fresh but often canned. Also veggies and hummus.
      I highly recommend the book MOOSEWOOD COOKS AT HOME, which is quick and easy recipes (20 min or less). The other Moosewood cookbooks are not easy recipes, so I really recommend this particular book! I’ve had it for decades, and many recipes are amongst my standbys, such as the Black eyed peas w/spinach, which is SO simple and so delicious! My mom isn’t vegetarian and always asks me to make it for her!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Seconding this recommendation; I’m regretting passing mine on to my daughter when she got her first kitchen, and should get another copy.

    13. Grandma Mazur*

      We’re trying to cut down the amount of meat we eat. Recipes I’ve found recently that we love and have added to our regular rotation:





      (We use the gravy recipe with other things a lot too)

    14. RestlessRenegade*

      Vegetarian here, coming up on my six year mark! I definitely agree with all the recommendations to replace meat with beans, legumes, soy, seeds, nuts, etc. For me, I unintentionally and slowly phased out meat I didn’t want to cook for myself. Then, when I made the decision, I went cold turkey. Technically I was pescatarian for the first 1.5 years. (The only thing I miss is sushi.) Good luck!

    15. Overeducated*

      Tons of good answers already…one additional tip is that I remember reading that for meat based cooking, you often plan around the protein, but for vegetarian cooking you start with the starch and build from there. I find that generally accurate.

      1. Overeducated*

        Oh sorry wanted to add – some of my favorite vegetarian recipe sources,are the Smitten Kitchen blog archive and cookbooks and the cookbooks “Jerusalem,” “Plenty,” and “Made in India.” Madhur Jaffrey’s “World Vegetarian” is a classic but it doesnt have many pictures so I find it harder to get inspired. Deborah Madison has also written a number of good vegetarian cookbooks.

      2. Socks*

        I find that when I do it that way, I wind up eating meals with like, no protein, though- I could VERY EASILY eat nothing but carbs and be 100% satisfied in the moment. Oh, god I love carbs. I love them so much. If I don’t plan my meals around how I’m going to incorporate some beans/tofu/eggs, I will forget to, and feel like crap all day until I remember to go eat some peanut butter or something.

        A lot of people struggle with vegetarian/vegan diets because they’re eating too much starch and not enough other stuff, and most people do not actually feel great on that kind of diet.

        1. Reba*

          Don’t forget that veggies themselves oftentimes contain lots of protein!

          (this is not directed at you, Socks, just your comment made me think of it)

          A pet peeve is that when certain people ask about vegetarian diets, a real common question is about “but where do you get protein”? There seems to be a myth that protein is only found in meat and, like, peanut butter. And that getting tons of protein is hugely important–most Americans on a typical ‘Western’ omni diet get twice as much protein as they need, daily. (I’m almost sure I complained about this here in another open thread before. Why are Americans so obsessed with protein?)

          A secondary myth is that of “incomplete” proteins needing to be planned to put together complete sets of amino acids in a single meal. Our bodies can handle putting together the aminos as they come, so as long as you eat with some variety you’re fine.
          Link to statement from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on vegetarians and protein: http://jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(09)00700-7/fulltext#sec3.1 There is a more recent set of guidelines but it is not available full text online.

    16. Socks*

      Lifelong vegetarian here, but my boyfriend (who I live with) has sort of accidentally lost 90% of the meat in his diet since living with me, without even really noticing. I do most of the grocery shopping and cooking, and when he does cook, he rarely feels like putting in the extra effort to cook himself a whole separate meat thing that I can’t eat.

      I think my biggest thing, and this is, apparently, the opposite of most peoples’ experience, is just… don’t be afraid of imitation meat products. We eat them ALL the time, and he is not the first meat-eating boyfriend I have had who has really enjoyed Morningstar’s soy meat stuff, either. Apparently their fake chicken tastes exactly like dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets? And I made a veggie shepherd’s pie once with their fake beef crumbles, and his brother ate like half the tray without realizing anything was amiss (…we weren’t trying to trick him, he was *not supposed to be eating our food*). My dad, who has very limited mobility in his hands, uses them all the time so that he doesn’t have to brown actual ground beef (you can just dump them from the bag into a pot). They’re not a perfect simulation of actual meat, except for maybe children’s microwaveable dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, but they are definitely less weird than I think a lot of people make them out to be, especially when they’re an ingredient in a dish that has a lot of other stuff also going on (chili, pasta sauce, tacos, etc.)

      Besides that, yeah, just get out of the mindset of a traditional American (or really most European countries) diet, because it absolutely sucks at not containing meat. Mexican, Mediterranean and a lot of Asian cultures’ foods are a lot more suited to meals that remain more-or-less complete, even when you take out the meat. We eat a lot of beans (/tofu) with rice and vegetables, is what I’m saying. Go through a lot of vegetable bouillon cubes. Boyfriend has not claimed to miss anything, though he does generally get meat when we eat out, which is like once a week. If cutting down to meat once a week makes you this chill with not eating it for the 20 other meals that week, I’d totally recommend doing it that way, though.

    17. Plague of frogs*

      17 year vegetarian here. I did it gradually (the last non-veggie things I ate: Jello and turkey gravy. Not together). I know a lot of people who have done it all at once, and it rarely seems to stick.

      There are so many good suggestions here for recipes that I don’t need to add much, but I’ll add one because I’m just about to make it. If you like the flavors in sushi, you will love this:

      Good luck!

    18. STOP! It's Panda Time*

      20 year vegan here. I went cold turkey, but it really is personality dependent. I know you’re just going vegetarian not vegan, but for what it’s worth I love all of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s books, and Terry Hope Romero’s. They are well tested and generally use very accessible ingredients (for Americans).

    19. Betsy*

      Almost lifelong vegetarian here. My advice is just beans. Try a range of beans and find the kinds of beans you like the best. I think you can feel a bit lacking in protein sometimes as a vegetarian, especially if you eat at places that don’t really understand vegetarianism– then you’ll get served really light things like soup or just vegetables with a lot of cheese.

      However, meals that include a decent amount of legumes almost always leave me feeling full. I think the risk when trying to become vegetarian or vegan is ending up lethargic or accidentally starving yourself. You may have to try larger serving sizes too, because if you have a plate that is mostly just rice and vegies, for example, that will be generally be quite low in calories. The standard serving size example doesn’t seem to be designed with vegetarians in mind. When I try to follow something like that, I get very cranky fast, probably because I’m not getting quite enough. Some vegie meals can be very low in calories compared to meals with meat in them.

      Potatoes and sweet potatoes are also your friends.

      If you want to get creative, it might also be good to experiment with different kinds of carbs too, as meals won’t be meat+ veg anymore. They tend to be more carb focused. There are many vegetarians that just eat a lot of pasta, for example, so it can be good to mix things up and add in some rice-based meals, and some quinoa-based meals, or whatever carb of your choice.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Especially if you eat at places that don’t really understand vegetarianism.

        An example from an episode of Top Chef–they had a vegetarian (maybe vegan?) challenge, judged by an actress who had been a vegetarian for years. The winner was a guy who gave up meat for Lent every year: he was used to cooking stuff you could live on for 6 weeks rather than 1 meal, and it turned out she was looking for that–judging based on what she could eat and feel satisfied, not what was fine if she balanced out any lacks with later meals. (The starch-and-veg default eat-out option is usually okay if it’s one meal, and especially if you’re an omnivore having that, but not if it’s several in a row.)

    20. Heaven*

      I’m not vegetarian but I’ve been trying to eat less meat for money reasons (plus just eat more veg in general for health reasons) and I found it surprisingly easy to make a satisfying meat-free meal when I stopped thinking of meat as the centrepiece of the dish.

      Last night I made a Thai curry and by the time I’d got a pan full of sweet potato, red peppers and peas I didn’t really need meat. So my recommendation would definitely be curries and stir fry. And soup! I recently discovered just how delicious carrot and coriander soup is and keep meaning to make a batch myself.

      I think the key thing is making sure the meals you cook are satisfying and filling. I don’t know if it’s just a mental thing but I sometimes find vegetarian meals less filling. That’s why I love sweet potatoes so much – I find they really help with that.

    21. Miles*

      Cold turkey always worked best for me for changing diets. Basically meat is no longer considered food. But you’ll want to prepare for it first. Make sure you have recipes to replace the nutrients you’re used to getting from meats, and it might be a good idea to talk to a nutritionist as well to be extra sure. Then you take a week or so in which you stop buying meat and use up what you have left, with your “cold turkey” date set at the end of that week.

      The first week or two is also the most difficult for cravings so it might help to prepare a variety of food ahead of time for that time as well.

    22. Kiwi*

      Tinned beans are brilliant. I’ve been vegetarian 2 years and for a lot of my meals, I make a vege stew flavoured with whatever I feel like (curry, mushrooms, tomatoes, whatever) and throw in a tin of beans. Quick, easy insta-protein.

      I went from eating meat a couple of days a week to cold turkey vegetarian. I was amazed to find that within about 6 months I stopped wanting any meat at all, even stuff I used to love, like bacon. I expected to crave bacon for the rest of my life, but nope.

      My partner’s turned almost vegetarian because I do the cooking, so he only has meat when we eat out. He isn’t missing meat either.

    23. AB*

      I eat a mostly vegetarian diet with some fish added back in recently. It can be very tempting to look up lots of fancy recipes. My advice would be to plan for the fact that you might not always be able to cook. Freeze a meal or two. Buy some
      hummus, guacomole or black bean dip (or learn to make ahead) and pita. Keep the ingredients for quick wraps or quesadillas on hand. Raid your local bulk store for nuts and seeds to add extra protein to salads. Oh She Glows is my favourite site for longer recipes and Mind Over Munch is a great site for practical ideas although not strictly vegetarian.

    24. Lindsay J*

      I would go one day at a time. Start with a “no meat Monday” or similar, then build onto that.

      And I agree with going with different cuisines that are meatless, rather than just trying to substitute veggie burgers for regular burgers or whatever.

      I love meat, and I thought that a meal without any couldn’t be satisfying until I tried a south Indian vegetarian restaurant. It’s hard to describe the difference, but I guess it’s that the meals are constructed to be meatless from the start rather than having the meat subtracted out later. They’re flavorful and the textures of the meal are complete and fulfilling.

  2. On Fire*

    Advice, please. I had to cancel a haircut last week with four hours notice because I got sick. The salon did not charge me for the cancellation (I did offer) since I was sick. When I reschedule, I want to tip my stylist extra – should I tip double, or would it be better to tip the full amount of the missed cut? (Cut is $40, and I usually tip 25%.) I do not know if they were able to fill the slot at such short notice, but they do stay busy and accept walk-ins.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      Maybe this is dependent on where you live, but I would never expect to pay for cancelling a haircut appointment. It’s part of doing business for them – they can either fill the time with a last minute client or will just have the free time to do other things. Most stylist aren’t fully booked anyway. I also wouldn’t tip them extra – I mean they don’t give me a discount when they have to move my appointment. Then again I already think 25% is a really high tip (my haircuts cost around $100).

      1. I like French braids*

        I’m going to have to disagree with this. In a lot of salons the stylists pay booth rent. They are self employed. It’s totally true that a walk-in may happen, but usually not. Salons that don’t do booth rental are usually paying minimum wage or commissions. It can hurt the stylists income to have a late cancellation. Most salons don’t charge but some will, especially if you regularly cancel late. I’d double my regular tip.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          That depends. I’ve been told that in my state it’s illegal for salons to charge stylists for a booth rental. I wouldn’t want that to be a factor in OP’s decision if it’s not even allowed in her state.

      2. Triplestep*

        Heartily disagree. My stylist and her one employee are totally booked, and do not take walk-ins. They lose money when people cancel last minute if they cannot fill the slot, and they often cannot on short notice. I actually helped my stylist develop a written policy about last minute cancellations to deter repeat offenders. After three instances of cancelling last minute (fewer than 24 hours) a customer will now only be allowed to book services for the same day he or she calls the salon. And since they are typically booked, that means repeat offenders are now getting weeded out.

        That should be an indication of how these cancellations impact a self-employed person. The problem needed a “take no prisoners” approach, and she was more than happy to lose these customers.

      3. Bea*

        Hmmmm I tip $20 on a $40 service, so my side eye engages when I hear you drop that much and think 25% is a lot. They charge to cover expenses and take home meager amounts while doing extensive personal work for you.

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          I tip 25% on 40 too. I don’t think it’s super common to tip 20 on 40. I’d probably do it this time as OP is thinking about, as appreciation for their graciously not charging you for the cancel.

        2. Gaia*

          A 50% tip on a haircut is high. I don’t think it is fair to judge others for not tipping that high. 25% is very normal (around here, 20% is standard).

          My stylist charges a fair price that covers her expenses and compensates her for her time and expertise. I tip her because I appreciate her professionalism and skill but I don’t tip 50%.

        3. Teapot PM*

          Why would they only charge enough to just cover expenses? I expect businesses to charge me a fair price and and willing to pay for it. And we until very recently owned a services business and yes we priced services in order to make a profit

      4. all aboard the anon train*

        This might be area specific. The salon I use in my city is always booked. I have to schedule several months in advance, and the salon charges a fee if you cancel under 24 hours before the appointment. It’s like that for a lot of service businesses, and I expect to pay if I have to cancel at the last minute for a non-emergency.

    2. Another Lauren*

      That’s so nice of you! I just texted my stylist friend for her opinion, and she said tipping double the usual tip would be more than enough.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I would tip extra since you have a regular stylist, but not the cost of the cut. It’s not like they want you to come and spray your flu germs over all the stylists and clients–the occasional illness cancellation is a cost of doing business. Being flexible about it–so Regular Customer With a Good Reason gets a waiver, while Flighty Person Who Always Cancels gets charged–is a reasonable approach to retaining good customers.

    4. Parenthetically*

      My salon has a “cancellation list” that they call down, and they almost ALWAYS fill up the spots, even at the last minute, so it’s possible your stylist didn’t even lose the $40.

    5. Emmie*

      If you want to go above and beyond, I would tip 50% of the normal haircut cost. You don’t have to, but it’s incredibly generous. Salon salaries may look like this in my experience:
      – Commission: 40-70% of work, 10% products (there are outliers of course)
      – Booth rental: They play a flat fee per month, but make 80-100% of work sales. Some make the 10% of product sales.
      – Wages plus commission: more common at Fantastic Sams and that caliber of mass chain salons. Guaranteed about, hypothetically, $12 an hour if they don’t make the sales quota (sales, maybe service volume) that triggers full commission. Alternatively, this model could look like a flat lower wage + small work commission + small product commission no matter quota. Admittedly, I haven’t kept up on this model.
      But, I’d say 50% is more than generous.

    6. Bea*

      I think doubling would be a great gesture and they know you were truly understanding that canceling can be a burden! Nobody is ever mad at a larger than usual tip.

    7. Oxford Coma*

      I would not tip extra next time, but I get my hair done at a beauty school, where appointments are charged for product cost only so students earn their licensing hours. I also tip an insanely high percentage to begin with, because of the system structure.

      If I went to a regular salon, I would tip the amount of two appointments at the next one to make up the loss.

  3. EmilyG*

    Here is something that just happened to me, so I haven’t really had a chance to think about it, but I bet commenters here would have good ideas!

    I bought a city house last year that came with the biggest tree on the block, and a sidewalk that has been severely broken up by the tree’s roots. Sidewalks in this city are notoriously awful–the city doesn’t do much (any?) enforcement–but mine stands out among the worst on the block. I spent the fall beginning to figure out how to deal with this. I need to get the tree trimmed (first quote $600) so that the roots can be ground down without destabilizing it. Then the sidewalk replacement (first quote $1700), but the neighbor has two adjacent sidewalk squares that are also crooked, which the first-quote guy said he would do for $400 if he was out here anyway.

    I ran into the neighbor today and asked if he would be up for doing his two squares, and he basically said absolutely not, because they are moving away. Ah, I thought, I’ll ask the next folks. But he said, no, they’re going to rent out the house, but don’t want to put any money into it. He suggested that I just cut down the tree (nooooo!). He also scoffed at the $400 quote, saying in his experience concrete contractors jack up the price halfway through the job.

    I guess that last bit is a good tip for my negotiation with contractors, but what do I do now? Do I have any choice but to pay for his sidewalk myself? I want to do this because we’re right near a church full of elderly people whom I don’t want to trip, and also it’s been a nightmare to shovel snow; I have to do each square or half-square sort of individually because the edge of the shovel hits the uneven edges of the next square.

    1. Alldogsarepupppies*

      Have you talked to the city? They’d be lible if anyone did trip and get hurt since its their duty to maintain the sidewalks.

      1. EmilyG*

        In my city, I as the property owner am both responsible and liable. :( The city is not at all likely to come after me, but a personal injury lawsuit could.

        1. Free Meerkats*

          If the owner is responsible for sidewalk maintenance, and you do anything to your neighbor’s side, there’s a real risk you become liable for anything that happens on/with those areas.

          I understand the desire to make things better, but given your interaction with the neighbor, I wouldn’t spend a dime past your property line.

          1. EmilyG*

            Yeah, that sounds like a good reason not to mess with theirs. If I just did my section, that would leave a pretty dangerous sticking-up part on their side, but I guess that’s their problem and I warned them. Unless what the sidewalk guy was saying was “I can’t leave it like that” and that’s why he said they should do theirs too. Hmm.

          2. super anon*

            I assume homeowners insurance would cover any accidents on your portion of sidewalk, but if you fix the neighbours sidewalk and someone gets injured on it and sues, if you are liable would your insurance cover that? If you only fix yours and someone trips on the other terrible sidewalk, but lands on your square and gets injured, are you liable because it was your square that caused the injury, but the neighbours square that initiated the fall? Could your neighbours blame your tree for causing the sidewalk to be uneven and shift the blame on to you, making you entirely liable anyway? This became lot more complicated than it was at first glance when I started thinking about it…

            OP: I would suggest going to see a lawyer and asking them on their take on how to best move forward if you do decide to fix your neighbours sidewalk squares too. It’s generally pretty cheap to get a consult and they’ll be able to walk through all of the legal ins and outs of the problem. I’d also be tempted to contact my insurance to see what they have to say on the matter as well.

        2. FD*

          This is true in my area too. It’s a long shot given your city’s attitude, but around here, you can choose to get your own contractor or you can choose to have the city’s fix your sidewalk and pay the city. It was actually cheaper to do the latter when the building I help supervise needed to make some repairs.

          It might be worth checking if your city has such a program.

        1. TootsNYC*

          yes, but often in those cities, the government will fine you if you don’t keep it in a safe condition.

          1. EmilyG*

            In theory, my city could do this, but my impression is that it’s filed under “the least of our worries” and they don’t bother.

    2. fposte*

      If I’m understanding that it’s your tree shifting his sidewalk squares, I would bite the bullet and pay for his two squares. (I’m presuming because of the way your city works with sidewalks they won’t balk at doing work on what’s technically somebody else’s property.)

      1. EmilyG*

        I wouldn’t rule that out; I was just surprised. Their sidewalk is pretty messed-up, it has a lot of big cracks and one part, on the other side of the house, where it all crumbled and now it’s just a gap. I guess I was hoping for “Thanks to EmilyG for maintaining this tree that we all enjoy and doing the legwork to find sidewalk contractors since we need to do our sidewalk too!” But I suspect he was thinking “Why should I chip in for you to be in the top 5% of scrupulousness in a city where no one seems to care about this?” I wish there were a cheap way to get from the bottom 5% to the average, but I either replace the sidewalk or not–I don’t see a middle ground.

        1. fposte*

          My reasoning was twofold: 1) it’s cutting the Gordian knot here and 2) if it wasn’t a street tree but a backyard tree and his fence or patio that was being damaged, it might well be legally on you anyway. So just think of it as a backyard tree in front.

          1. The Mayor of B*

            Sorry, but not correct. If your tree’s roots or overhang are damaging the neighbor, he can cut back the overhang, or dig up the roots, but not YOUR responsibility. The tree is a natural object, you cannot control where it grows, so you are not responsible for how it affects the neighbor. Now, if it would fall due to you negligently allowing decay to not be treated, then yeah, you are likely responsible. I was mayor of our town, and have had to deal with these situations in small claims court.

            1. fposte*

              That’s great, but the law on that is completely dependent on jurisdiction, so what went in your town isn’t necessarily going to go elsewhere. You’re also talking about what the owner of the neighboring property is *allowed* to do, not who bears the responsibility for damage to that neighbor’s property.

              In most places, an unexpected tree fall would absolutely work the way you describe–nobody would have predicted it, trees fall, too bad, so sad. However, if a tree is already known to the owner to be a prospective hazard and/or there’s a failure of usual maintenance, that tips the balance back in a lot of places–you’re not allowed just to close your eyes to the fact that your dead tree is leaning over your neighbor’s garage. A tree that damages a neighbor’s fence can also be required to be removed at the expense of the owner in some places.

              We don’t know Emily’s jurisdiction, we don’t know the history of her tree, and neither of us are lawyers, so neither of us can say for sure. I’m just pointing out that expenses for foreseeable tree impact on a neighbor’s property can be on the owner anyway.

    3. Epsilon Delta*

      So this is the cynic in me talking, but I would worry about my squares and not try to deal with the neighbor’s. This goes for both replacement and shoveling.
      I get that you want to help the people using the sidewalk, but don’t set a precedent for paying to maintain your neighbor’s property, especially if they are going to rent it out.
      Maybe if the city gets enough complaints they will act on your neighbor’s sidewalk (or maybe not), but I think talking to them about it more than fulfills your duty.

      1. EmilyG*

        The problem is that if I get my sidewalk leveled and they don’t, then there is probably an even bigger discontinuity between mine and theirs than there is within mine right now. I’m not sure how to explain it clearly…

        I asked the sidewalk contractor if he could just grind all the edges down and he said it was too uneven for that. I *didn’t* ask where he could grind down just the neighbors’ edges because their sidewalk is messed up enough that I thought maybe they’d _want_ to do it. So that would be one thing to try.

        I’m with you on the principle, though! If the property owner is responsible for the sidewalk, then I’m only responsible for mine…

        1. Reba*

          “The problem is that if I get my sidewalk leveled and they don’t, then there is probably an even bigger discontinuity between mine and theirs than there is within mine right now.”

          But I don’t think that’s your problem, really.

          Do you have to have concrete? Maybe there are some alternatives that would be kinder to your tree, too. Permeable pavement (if allowed) would be more expensive but helps with runoff and would be less costly to repair in future.

          1. EmilyG*

            There is a city grant for permeable pavements (I’ve looked into it for my back patio) so that would be a great idea, but the fact that sidewalks aren’t mentioned as a part of that project probably means it’s not allowed. I will definitely check though! Thanks.

          2. fposte*

            Slight tangent–do you know how well permeable pavement shovels in winter? I’m looking to do driveway work, and I doubt I could go full permeable but might do some on the street end.

            1. Reba*

              No first-hand experience with this, but I think they are good for ice (because of how they drain) but a pain for shoveling and it’s recommended to blow rather than plow.

              My city is currently testing a rubbery permeable pavement around trees that is delightful to walk upon. It’s made out of recycled tires and can be shoveled. Maybe that has driveway potential?

              1. fposte*

                Huh, I’ll look into that. But plowing is essential for me, so you’ve given me good information there.

            2. I'm A Little TeaPot*

              My alley is permeable pavement. The city plows it when it snows. I don’t try to shovel down to bare pavement, just get it so I can drive easily. It is rougher than normal asphalt, but not problematically so. Sweeping dirt off it is a pain, you won’t get it all. I’m happy that it’s helping with drainage back there, and it’s behind the house so not really high traffic.

      2. Quickbeam*

        In my area I would not be allowed to fix my neighbors squares of sidewalk. I would have no legal right to contract work for them.

    4. LCL*

      If the tree has outgrown its space to the point where it is causing the sidewalk to heave, and the tree has to be heavily pruned and root pruned, it’s the wrong tree for that space. Remove the tree and replant with something smaller. And find out who it belongs to- it may be in the public right of way and actually the city’s problem to remove. You say the city doesn’t do much enforcement- they might if they were pushed. I would start by googling an arborist who works in the area and is familiar with the city codes and enforcement re trees. Find out what you are legally required to do.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that’s a good point–this problem is just going to come back down the line.

        However, there are municipalities that shift all the responsibility of such tree maintenance to homeowners, though; it sounds like Emily could be in one of them. (Mine goes the other way–if you plant something in the right of way that isn’t approved, the city will straight up saw it down, and no arborist will touch a city tree on private homeowner request.)

        1. the gold digger*

          Yep. My city owns and maintains the trees between the sidewalks and the street. I would love to cut ours down, as it blocks way too much light and I hate raking, but – it’s not my tree.

          I don’t know who owns the sidewalks here. I am thinking it is the property owner, as homeowners get hit with assessments for certain street and sewer repairs.

          So – I can’t cut down the tree and I probably have to pay for the sidewalk if it has to be replaced.

          1. fposte*

            I think handling of streetside trees is one of those things that seems like there should be one universal rule, but there really isn’t. (See also: whether garbage is private or municipal and whether outdoor cats are legal in your area.)

              1. fposte*

                Yup. Plenty. I live in one, and it’s not a major urban area or anything.

                If you think about it, it’s not illogical to say that pets, period, can’t just run around town here; it used to be the default to let dogs roam free, too, after all.

            1. LCL*

              We handle thousands of tree related calls in a year. As you said, this is totally locality dependent. Here, if it’s in the right of way it’s a street tree and the city is supposed to maintain it. If it’s on your property you are supposed to maintain it, even if it is hanging into the street. If it’s near high voltage power lines the power company will trim it back for safety, no matter who’s property it’s on. If it’s in the low voltage (service drop) or telecomm, it is the property owners’ responsibility. Which may be the city. Which leads to this endless cycle of customers calling us about a “dangerous tree in power lines”, we visit and find out it’s telecom and tell the customer it’s not our issue, and sometime later someone else calls and the cycle starts anew.

              My concern with OP is that what she has described sounds like a street tree. She might not technically be allowed to do what she is thinking of re pruning. She is talking about spending 2k plus for a temporary fix. Tree removal is expensive; hence my suggestion to consult with someone who knows the rules, who isn’t the government. I haven’t addressed the sidewalk part, the tree needs to get sorted first. Her local power company will have a list of approved trees for her application.

              1. fposte*

                I definitely agree she should talk to the city before doing anything; it wouldn’t hurt to check with a lawyer, too. It’s just that some areas don’t really recognize “street trees” the way you’re describing and the way my city does.

      2. EmilyG*

        This is a fair question but it makes me sad! In addition to our crappy sidewalks, our city is pretty starved of trees, and mine is the biggest on the block by a lot. It’s not the prettiest tree but it provides some greenery and shade. I did talk to an arborist who gave me a quote on trimming it (I knew that grinding the roots down could make it tippy from an experience at my parents’ house). He didn’t say anything about getting rid of it, but of course I didn’t ask. I do know that the city will give you a new tree, but there’s a waiting list so it might be a few years. Or you can buy your own replacement tree. Cutting it down and getting a new one could be *really* pricey. The names/dates etched in the current sidewalk are from over twenty years ago so I was hoping that my intended project would buy me a good amount of time.

        1. fposte*

          Ah, okay, this does sound like it’s technically a city tree, then, and just you’ve got a broke-ass city that’s trying to get homeowners to pay for stuff instead.

          1. EmilyG*

            It seems like I need to learn more about this, but I am pretty sure it’s not a city tree! The fact that they’ll replace it muddies the waters, but I think it boils down to, they have some kind of pro-greenery program through the parks department that will give you a tree out of the kindness of their hearts, but it’s really your responsibility, which is why a lot of people just buy their own instead of waiting for the program.

            There are actually a fair number of new trees in the neighborhood (as I said above, the neighborhood has experienced gentification so I think there are a lot of new homeowners wanting to spruce up)–but they are soooo tiny compared to my existing one!

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I think it’s worth checking out exactly the terms here just to be sure. I hate losing mature trees too–I lost a street maple a couple of years ago, and the city rules have changed so I can’t even put up something that will grow to be big there.

            2. TootsNYC*

              which side of the sidewalk is it on?

              Also–if the current plan will kick the can down the road far enough, maybe you should go ahead and do it. Sure, you might have to deal with it all over again, but in how long? And how much money are you wasting w/ a stopgap solution?

      3. super anon*

        My city requires you to get permits to remove trees on your property (and the situations that allow for tree removal are really slim). A lot of citys have their bylaws online, so googling around with some keywords might help figure out where to start with bylaws, etc.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If there are power lines or phone lines running through the branches of the tree you may be able to get the company to come prune it for free. (I am frugal so I think of these things often.)

      Alternatively check with your local (village/town/city) clerk to see if there are grants available. Here we have a sidewalk grant. It pays for the concrete that is it. But it’s better than nothing and it’s fairly simple to get approved to receive the grant. I believe we the person pays up front and the grant reimburses them.

      To prevent contractors from jacking the prices on you, get it in writing. The drawback here is that they may go a little high on their estimate because they don’t want to end up shorted. But at least you would have control over the upper end of the range.

      My next idea is a long shot. If the landowner won’t pay the 400, you might ask the church if they would be willing to go in 50/50 with you. Explain your concern as you did here and see what they say.

      I am not sure where you are, but up here it’s a pain in the butt to do a pour when the nights are cold. Night time temps should be around 45-50 degrees or so. The reason I mention this is because it might help keep your costs down if they do not have to put little “greenhouses” over the concrete to keep it warm over night.

      1. EmilyG*

        Yeah, I’m not going to do any of this right away; I was going to wait for it to be warmer. But I spotted the neighbor outside and asked, because if I got a positive answer I could have started with the tree-trimming next month maybe.

        I don’t think the church is an option, for reasons I didn’t describe in my first post. I would call my neighborhood “gentrifying” except that it is pretty much already gentrified. The neighbors and I are pretty affluent white folks and the churchmembers are mostly older POC who seem challenged physically and financially by keeping up their own large property (but they really try!). So under the circs, I think it would seem tone-deaf for me to hit them up for it.

        Grant, though… that could work! There is a neighborhood group that might care about this, and I could pitch it as “I’m going to take care of mine but just need a little extra.”

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you just want to be nice about it for the sake of the community, I’ve seen a lot of heaved sidewalk blocks ground down instead of replaced recently. Just the edge that’s sticking up is ground mostly level. Is that possible with your neighbor’s sidewalk? That way you can feel like you mitigated the hazard without paying too much for an improvement that is really your neighbor’s responsibility. I might leave it and let them worry about it later, as people have been walking your sidewalk for years like that, I would assume, and while it’s nice to want to fix it, IMO it’s not that dangerous.

      1. EmilyG*

        Yes, I think this may be possible and a very good solution. I originally asked the contractor if *my* edges could be ground down instead of replacing the sidewalk and he said no, it was too extreme. But I didn’t ask whether the neighbors’ part (which is a bit further away from the tree and so not raised as much) could be ground down.

        1. Mary Connell*

          My in laws live in a neighborhood with mature street trees. The city grinds the edges of the heaved sidewalks, even the ones that are heaved a lot. Some concrete guys also have a technique to raise or lower individual concrete squares.

          Related note: one of the most useful pieces of advice someone gave my husband and me when we became homeowners was how to find good contractors. Call around to businesses you trust (flooring, plumbing, whatever) and ask them for recommendations. It hasn’t failed us yet.

        1. EmilyG*

          Yeah, I was definitely thinking that too. :( On the other hand… they’ve been fine for the past year or so (their property is kept up pretty well, probably better than mine so far because I just bought it and it’s needed work that I can’t afford to do all at once). So rather than taking him literally, I hope he meant something more like “I don’t want to pay for needless [in his view] beautification projects.” Fingers crossed, anyway…

    7. Elizabeth H.*

      I guess this is an unpopular idea but maybe just don’t do anything? Is there a sidewalk on the other side of the street people can use instead? Can you put up permanent reflector disc things on the tree or your fence to indicate that it’s an area for cautious walking? Put up a hand railing there? Put down boards that make a mini boardwalk over the uneven part of the paving squares? That seems so much easier than this Gordian knot tree root/tree pruning/sidewalk/neighbor/neighbor’s sidewalk/power company/city problem.

      1. LCL*

        It’s usually easy to figure out who’s responsible, though. Don’t ask the city first, you don’t want any enforcement attention until you know the law.

      2. EmilyG*

        I don’t think this would work well where I live, a city where walking is the primary mode of getting around. I’m a Vision Zero/pedestrian advocate so letting it slide wouldn’t fit in with my values, even that remains the default for lots of people around here. (In fact, we’ve been advocating for a new law that requires construction sites to create pedestrian walkways in the street rather than just blocking the sidewalk, so crossing the street is very definitely an unacceptable solution to me and my friends!)

    8. Florida*

      Call the city and see if they will replace it. Don’t just call the sidewalk dept – call your city commissioner. If you send your commissioner an email, they will forward that email to the sidewalk department. That had more clout than you emailing the sidewalk department.
      Often, cities don’t know which sidewalks have problems until someone complains.

    9. LBG*

      Is the tree in the strip between the curb and the sidewalk? In my city, those trees are the responsibility of the city, not the homeowner. We have a city arborist that we can call when there is an issue. This also means they decide when the whole tree has to go, or if it just needs a trim.

      1. EmilyG*

        It is a narrow old street where there is no strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street (actually, come to think of it, there are hardly any of those in the central part of this city at all). The sidewalk is two “squares” wide and at various points there is a missing square for a tree. The smaller trees have one square and mine is two squares along the street and about 1.25 squares wide.

        Strange as it sounds that I own the sidewalk and the tree, it’s a pretty well known weird thing about our city. The city does take an interest in the trees, which is why the arborist I called about trimming it was chosen from the list of city-approved licensed arborists.

        One thing that has come to my mind since the start of this discussion is that the tree, in addition to being right next to the sidewalk and street, can’t be more than 6 feet away from my house/basement/foundation. I don’t see any evidence of it coming in the basement but maybe I should ask more questions about that before going to great lengths to save it!

  4. Cat Curiosity*

    I’ve read (on the internet, so veracity questionable) that male housecats are more affectionate/mild-mannered than female.

    My own experience is limited to six males who were each the epitome of effusive, snuggly love and one female who was a complete asshole. So far, theory = plausible.

    Does anyone have any anecdata or a better sample size to confirm/refute the “male cat = love” assertion?

    Sub-question: I’m a woman – any thoughts as to whether pets’ and humans’ respective genders affect compatibility?

    1. Red Reader*

      My house has four cats, all female. The most asshole that any of them get is that one will sit at the bottom of the stairs and yell when she can see the bottom of the food bowl. There’s a second one that tells too, but she does it when she’s stoned around a mouth filled with catnip toys. :-P only two of them are particularly lovey – otherwise one is a big scaredyfluff and the other is just kind of neutral about most people.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      We had a male-female pair, male-female pair, female-female pair. I don’t notice any gender things other than that our two current ones have NEVER gone anywhere but the litter box.

      Male 1: Friendly, bonded to my husband.
      Female 1: Very shy, bonded to me, up until she lost her hearing and decided there was nothing to worry about anymore and became quite friendly with everyone
      Male 2: Friendly, mellow
      Female 2: Friendly and draped over your knees
      Female 3: Friendly and cuddly with everyone she encounters.
      Female 4: Cautious on first approach but warms up over time, now regularly sleeps on my knees.

    3. CoffeeLover*

      I have two cats, one girl and one boy. I also have a lot of friends with cats and talked about this with the shelter when I adopted my last cat. My own experience and the experience of everyone I’ve talked to is that female cats are generally less social both with people and with other cats. That’s not to say that you can’t have a nice female cat – I think my girl is an absolute sweetheart, she loves to cuddle, and she gets along with our male cat (now… it was rough at the start). Still, our male cat is definitely more social both with other cats and with strangers. As for your other questions… my girl cat doesn’t like women. She likes me (I’m a woman), but she has only ever befriended my male friends. I’m not sure what that’s about. Regardless, that’s only with strangers and I don’t think your gender dynamics would ever matter since you’re the owner.

      Another anecdote: One of my friends had 10+ cats (long story). I spent a lot of time at his place and there was several male cats that would come hang out with me and only one female. The rest of the female cats were not nice.

    4. Amadeo*

      Plausible, but just like people, cats are individuals. It’s just that it seems that neutered males are more often affectionate snugglebuns than the females are. I have two indoor females, the 20 year old wants nothing more, or less, than my lap and for me to stroke her until my arm falls off. The other one has chosen my dad, and she will, to a certain extent, snuggle him and demand he pet her, but she’s pretty indifferent to my mother and I.

      The outdoor boy (and the one before him) if he’s fed and contented is happy to be held for however long you can, actively offers the top of his head for smooches and kneads to the point of (your) pain when he’s happy. I’d say he’s a little more demonstrative than the girls, for sure.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        You would swear our female dog had lived a long and happy bachelor life with my husband before I came along and ruined things by moving in. Even though we had been married a couple of decades, and it was my son and I who brought her home from the shelter.

    5. Episkey*

      We have a male-female pair. The male is VERY friendly and affectionate, I actually call him my Labra-cat or Labrador in cat’s clothes as he is totally unafraid of new people and will come right up to greet anyone that comes in the door.

      Our current female is a bit more skittish and squirrelly, but she is also friendly after a little bit of time when she warms up to you. She is very bonded to my husband and is extremely affectionate with him. She is friendly with me as well, but if he’s home, she’s in his lap.

      We also had a female that passed away several years ago and she was more of a “normal” cat, but also very bonded with my husband and most affectionate with him.

      I think maybe there is something about the humans’ gender as both of our female cats have definitely bonded more with my husband and “chose” him as their person.

      1. Jules the Third*

        meh – I think it’s a feedback loop more than a gender thing, and I do mean ‘feed’. Mr. Jules3 had 4 cats when I met him, 1 mom, 2 female offspring, 1 male offspring. All four ended up affectionate when they had the chance.

        The mom owned Mr. Jules3, totally. Waited at the door for him, followed him on walks, sat on his pillow if he wasn’t around. Her oldest offspring, female, chose me, after a pretty short time. The other two just hung back, enjoying sunshine but not big into laps.

        When mom and oldest died, younger girl decided she liked my lap. Boy had died, but we had New Boy, who decided Mr. Jules3 looked pretty good. When Younger Girl died, Boy switched to me and I am totally his now. I have been feeding all cats for several years, as Mr. Jules3 is the primary feeder for our child and dog. But Mr. Jules3 was the only feeder for his cats originally.

    6. Landshark*

      I have a pair of a boy and a girl, and it seems to depend on socialization, because these two were always together from birth and are about the same level of affectionate. My Zorro is a cuddle bug, but he’s shy and a bit prickly about strangers. My Zelda is affectionate on her terms with everyone (read: please don’t pick her up, but absolutely pet her whenever she’s within arm’s reach), and especially affectionate to my husband and me.

      Your sex and the cat’s may or may not be correlated. It’s hard to tell because I’ve seen really close bonds with affectionate male cats and men and female cats and women in the past, but it is true that our two picked their favorites in the opposite sex parents–Zelda clearly adores my husband, and Zorro is a mama’s boy.

      1. NGL*

        Aww, I had a cat named Zorro growing up. She was super affectionate with me and my mom (Mom did the feeding, so I think that had a lot to do with it), indifferent to everyone else.

    7. the gold digger*

      We have two female cats, Laverne and Shirley. I call Laverne my puppy cat because all she wants to do is to be with me (she is head-butting my arm as I write this) and sit in my lap or on my book or next to me.

      Shirley is a little more reserved, but she sleeps on my feet every night and, when she is in the mood, she will climb on Primo’s shoulders, wrap herself around his neck, rub his cheek, and purr.

      I think it’s just individual cat personality. Catonality.

    8. Epsilon Delta*

      We have three cats and they fit the stereotype reasonably well.
      The male cat is very social and almost dog-like. He wants cuddles from my female friends, and is always trying to be attached to me (female).
      Female cat #1 is very affectionate with my husband but hides from everyone else.
      Female cat #2 is mean to everyone.

    9. Veronica*

      I’ve had lots of cats (all but one were females), and they have varied in temperament from “I like you quite a bit, but I also need my alone time” to “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! LET’S CUDDLE SOME MORE!” My current boy cat is sweet but a little shy. I think there is a lot of individual variation.

    10. Bad Candidate*

      I always thought that too about male cats. My last cat was male and he was very affectionate and cuddly. The cat I have now is female though and she’s even more affectionate and cuddly. So I think it’s more individual. I’ve also heard that orange males and black or tuxedo cats are the cuddliest. My boy was orange and my girl now is a tuxie. So maybe?

    11. h.cowl*

      I have a girl cat who is basically a puppy, complete with snuggling and drooling (sooooooo much drooling). She likes my husband a little more than me (I’m a woman) but she loves us both and hates when we leave.

    12. Nic*

      I’ve had male cats most of my life, and only female. Take this at what it’s worth.

      The female cat I had wanted attention every. second. of. every. day. The males have been far more relaxed, though still attention hogs. I’ve heard from vets and seen with my own that yellow tabbies tend to be the most laid back.

      A lot also has to do with how you raise them, especially if you get a kitten. The more time you spend being affectionate/playing/whatever the more time your cat will expect and want to be affectionate/play/whatever. And if you’re very hands off, your cat will be more likely to be one of the skittish standoffish ones.

    13. Ramona Flowers*

      Well I’ve only had a male cat (ex male, effectively) and he’s currently cuddled up on my legs under the duvet so…

    14. KR*

      My female cat is bossy and yells a lot but she is also sweet and loving. She has to like you though, and affection for her is usually her loafing on top of you or sitting near you quietly.

    15. DesertRose*

      I think it’s more dependent on the specific cat’s temperament than the cat’s sex.
      I am a cis woman, and I have a spayed female cat who is the Cuddle Monster from Heaven; she loves basically everybody (human! She doesn’t do well with other cats, and she positively despises dogs!) and will get into anyone’s business if I let the person into the apartment. She is particularly fond of my stepfather, but so are a lot of cats. I think his personal pheromones must be chemically similar to catnip, LOL.
      I had another spayed female cat years ago who was likewise VERY sociable and friendly, but the younger female cat was a little more standoffish.
      My parents have two cats now, a spayed female around age seven or eight and a neutered male about age five; the female is a little shy and easily startled, but she likes to be petted when she wants it; the male is very attached to my stepdad (see above about the catnip personal pheromones!) and has a wonderfully funny playful temperament but is also inclined to rough-housing (the female cat is decidedly not amused by that!).
      I think that if you’re looking to adopt a cat, the best path forward is likely to decide what traits are most important to you and what will fit best into your life. When I adopted my Carys (the Cuddle Monster), I knew I wanted an affectionate cat with a calm temperament, and I wanted a young adult cat, not a kitten. (Kittens are adorable, but I can have only one pet per my lease, and solo kittens tend to make mischief!) I didn’t really care about appearance, except that I preferred the cat’s coat length to be short or medium at most, and I didn’t really care about male or female; I was looking for a specific temperament, and I got that with bells on! :D

    16. Lily Evans*

      In my experience there’s no set division. Growing up my family started with two male cats, one was neurotic af and the other was the most mellow cat I’ve ever come across. Then we had two female cats, one was grouchy and only liked me while the other was basically dog-levels of personable. My parents now have one male and one female cat, who are both incredibly skittish and only bonded with my dad. I have a female cat who’s very affectionate toward me but refuses to bond with any roommates I’ve lived with, she’s not mean just skittish though. My last roommate had a female cat who was really chill and friendly with people but hates other cats. And my current roommates have a male cat who is an absolute menace.

      I think that the owner’s personality can affect how a pet behaves toward them more than gender, unless we’re talking about adopted pets with a history of abuse. All of my parents cats (except for the one who only liked me) have bonded more with my dad than my mom and I think it’s because he’s more laid back while she’s super anxious all the time.

    17. Starley*

      Interesting, I’ve never heard this before! Individual cats are always different so it’s hard to say from my sample size of five. Three females, two males. Of the two most affectionate I’ve owned, one was male and one was female. The two least affectionate were also one male and one female so it’s hard to say!

    18. Turtlewings*

      I’m thinking over the handful of cats my family and I have owned and come to think of it, the males have in fact been consistently more affectionate than the females, most of whom we affectionately described as “battle-axes.” Small sample size, but there you are.

      My father has always maintained that with dogs, at least, a male dog will be more protective of/attached to a female owner, and vice versa, and I have in fact observed that to be the case. As an example, my older sister had a male dog for many years who doted on her, and a female that she really struggled with in terms of obedience and attachment. Now she has another male, who had a lot of behavior problems with his previous male owner that my sister has been able to control much more easily. (In addition, this male dog grew extremely protective of his male owner’s wife while she was pregnant, much more so than the wife’s female dog did, though both showed increased protectiveness.) So there’s some more anecdata for you.

    19. Bea*

      My boy is a little psychopath and snuggles only at night! But he’s less than a year and still in need of his neutering, so once that’s done he should simmer down.

      My old tabby is a lady and she’s the most affectionate from the start, that’s how I knew she was my kittymate. She climbed up and fell asleep on my chest while visiting her birth home. She still sleeps on my chest 12lbs and 14yrs later when I visit (she’s with my parents, didn’t want to uproot her when I moved)8

    20. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Oh god, we have Snuggle Bunny in our house – 7 yr old male. In fact, he just took up his usual spot for this time of day on top of Mr. Sprechen’s keybaord/laptop while hes there.

      Usually he starts meowing to either be scratched or put outside (supervised as we are in an urban area and he can get over the wall) Tonight he will wander around looking confused until I decide to lay down and read and then its snuggle time (sits on my chest and his nose is 2 inches from mine while he looks deep in my eyes. If I am not responding then I get the paw to the face). He sleeps on my head, so this morning I woke up to Hair By Martin tousling. Essentially he is attached to either me or the Mister ALL.THE.TIME.

      His sister? She likes to watch tv and play video games on the couch, but the meowing in the morning for me to get up and feed her! She is definitely more self sustaining than her brother, but she will get up on the highest point to say hello/ask for food/complain about something to the nearest human’s face.

    21. MsChanandlerBong*

      I don’t know if there’s anything to it, but every boy I’ve had has been friendlier than the girls. The girls go off and do their own thing, and the boys cuddle with us and glue themselves to our laps/sides. We have four boys and a girl now. The girl is perfectly lovely, but nowhere near as affectionate as three of her brothers. The fourth brother loves us, but he’s not a lap cat like the others are.

    22. Elizabeth M*

      This is actually something that my parents really believe. We only ever get male cats (and dogs) for this reason. However, anecdotally I’ve found it to be more of a trend than a rule. My grandfather had a female cat who sat in his lap for twenty years but never once looked at him. My aunt had a female cat who lived in the closet and wasn’t interested in attention at all. My cousin has two female cats; one is basically a dog and loves everyone and demands attention. The other is much shyer and I don’t see her much. That being said, my current male cat is rather timid (He’s afraid of the TV. And me sneezing. And most cat toys.) and prefers women, even though he was originally supposed to be my dad’s cat.

      1. fposte*

        I also think that there’s a lot of confirmation bias involved in this–if you like pets a certain way and believe you’ve found the recipe, you keep selecting accordingly and therefore don’t encounter contradictory data.

      2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        “That being said, my current male cat is rather timid (He’s afraid of the TV. And me sneezing. And most cat toys.)”

        Ooohhh, he sounds like our boy, Chicken.
        He was most recently afraid of a tub of nuts from Costco.

    23. Struck by Lightning*

      I do rescue…joys of owning the first farm outside the city. My high for cats at one time with free roam was 14 (!!!). I would sat it’s a total myth. They are all individuals. In top of that, circumstances really affect how affectionate any given cat is. For example, Autumn loved loved loved snuggling and being pet but she LOATHED being restrained or picked up. The second I sat down, she hopped on my lap but when my grandma stayed with us for a few weeks, Autumn completely avoided her after the first few days because Grandma always wanted to hold her against her chest. Ditto Elvira who was described as very standoffish with her first adopter, but sleeps tucked under the chin of the second home we found her. Dagon, on the other hand, lives to be carried around (pretty sure he was a purse dog in a former life). He gets bored with you if you aren’t actively holding him and wanders off to beat up the dogs. Out of the hundreds of cats I’ve fostered, there were only a few who didn’t turn into attention hogs and all but one of those were male. I think that had more to do with their previous lives than anything though.

      1. Jane of all Trades*

        I 100% agree with you! I used to foster and volunteer with a rescue and have had several cats myself. All my fosters loved attention and being snuggled. Some didn’t much care for being held, but they were all affectionate. There were, however, two babies who came from a scary situation and would first hiss and make a big show of being scary until they were comfortable being around me. In my experience how affectionate a cat is depends on their character and how secure they feel at home. People tend to forget that cats are not dogs, and they generally want to come to the person on their own terms. The cats that I experienced being aggressive usually were aggressive when they were in, or just came out of, a stressful environment.
        That being said, I have 2 cats right now – the girl is a total snuggle bug and will sleep next to me under the blanket. She also senses when I’m upset or sick and makes sure to be even closer on those days. The male is very friendly but nowhere close as affectionate. He sleeps in the bed only when it’s very cold and he wants some additional body heat, plus maybe once or twice a year when he randomly feels snuggly. He does give kisses tho.
        I think rules about cat genders are basically confirmation bias.

    24. Kuododi*

      DH brought me a girl kitty to help with recovery after my cancer surgery. She was an absolute love muffin!!! Sadly she developed some kind of ghastly intestinal condition and we ended up having to put her down. I also adopted another girl kitty after my first one went to the rainbow bridge….she was an odd creature and was terrified of other humans but adored me. If we were alone in the house she was the Velcro kitty… otherwise she was nowhere to be found. My boy kitties were both out going and friendly… I didn’t see a connection with behavior and breed. Now I only have dogs because age and new allergies have made cats no longer a viable option.

    25. Librarygeek*

      Our boy cat is grumpy and old and only recently got affectionate enough to start sitting in laps. Our girl cat is an unruly hellion, but also SUPER LOVEY and loves napping and rubbing on the humans.

    26. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      I’ve known a LOT of cats, and have come to the conclusion that they’ve got every flavor of personality. Just like humans. There are cats that won’t do well with one gender or the other, and same with humans and cats, but it’s really going to come down to personality.

    27. Slartibartfast*

      In 15 years as a vet tech, I find this holds true about 75% of the time. So yes, it does seem to trend that males are more sociable, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. If you want a guaranteed in your face social cat, look for a Siamese or Abyssinian.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        It also trends that female cats bond with one special human and don’t care about the rest of the world, and males don’t care where they get their lovins as long as someone is paying attention.

        1. Cat Owner*

          This is definitely my experience with my current female Siamese and my male orange tabby. Tasha loves me and only me with everything she has and she constantly has to be on me when I’m home. Rory loves everyone else and while I’m definitely his human, he has been known to sleep with my roommates from time to time.

    28. Panda Bandit*

      I believe they’ve done studies on this and found that there is no correlation between a cat’s gender and personality, the humans are just projecting all over the place.

      Some of my anecdata: we had a lot of cats growing up and the girl cats were always the snuggly ones. Not all of the girl cats were snuggly, but the boy cats were never snuggly.

    29. Lynn*

      If the cat isn’t fixed, there are real behavioral differences in genders. If they’re fixed, especially at a young age, there are very few differences due to sex.

      But there can be behavioral differences for a number of reasons, and people try to attribute them to easy causes, and sex is one of them.For example, my male cat is a snuggly, people-pleasing, adorable, lap cat, and my female is shy, skittish, reserved, and unsocial (with people who aren’t me). But he’s a breed known for being that way, and she’s a rescue who had a very bad start in life. He’s also older, well socialized, and well-traveled, and she’s not. The differences have plenty of causes unrelated to sex, but if someone expected male cats to be friendlier, that’s how they’d take this.

    30. LBG*

      Is the tree in the strip between the curb and the sidewalk? In my city, those trees are the responsibility of the city, not the homeowner. We have a city arborist that we can call when there is an issue. This also means they decide when the whole tree has to go, or if it just needs a trim.

    31. Oxford Coma*

      I have had four females and two males, all fixed. The males were/are territorial, bullying assholes. One destroyed two rooms with territorial urination. The second, who I still have, attacks/rolls my senior female and terrorizes her to the point that she is basically a hermit living in my bedroom for her own protection. No more male pets for me, ever.

    32. fort hiss*

      Over the course of thirty years (I was born into a family with cats), I’ve lived with a pair of female and male siblings twice, and two individual male cats. In the siblings case, the female cats were friendlier than their brothers, although the second brother became much friendlier after his sister died suddenly. After that, we adopted the first individual male cat. He was a little asshole to everyone but my dad, though we all loved him dearly. My current male cat is the nicest cat I’ve met in my entire life, and that includes the female who used to sleep on my face. So my experience has been pretty balanced, I’d say.

    33. TardyTardis*

      We’ve had all girl cats since 1975 and every one was a champion snuggle-cuddler (even Susie, the Mighty Huntress. We had many deceased woodland creatures on our front step as a sign of her love, along with super cuddles when she was inside).

  5. Paquita*

    Should I buy an Instant Pot? DH does most of the cooking (and shopping). He has health issues and is not working right now. Just spent a week in the hospital. He is open to the idea but doesn’t really know what an IP is. We really need to cut back on fast food and sandwiches for dinner.

    1. GoryDetails*

      I don’t have an Instant Pot myself, so feel free to take this with a grain of salt, but they do sound tempting: an easier-to-use pressure cooker with other options, as far as I can tell. I follow the Budget Bytes food-blog, a good source of inexpensive recipes, and the blogger has praised Instant Pots to the skies (one reason I now want to buy one!). If you browse those recipes, you may get a feel for how they work, and whether it’s something that would fit your household.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I also follow Budget Bytes and I’ve made some of her IP recipes, and haven’t been disappointed. I especially like the chicken with rice recipe. Damn Delicious has also started posting IP recipes!

    2. neverjaunty*

      I hate to be one of Those People, but yes, highly recommend the IP. It lets you a lot of everyday cooking much faster, and you only have to use the one pot. Warning it isn’t perfect for everything (it isn’t going to make crispy roast chicken), but it is definitely a workhorse kitchen tool rather than a gimmick.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      I love mine. My favourite thing about it is that it cooks meat from frozen, so it’s great for when you forget to take something out. It makes great lentils and beans, and I use mine for rice a lot. I make yogurt in it every couple of weeks. And you can even make cheesecake :) It’s especially great for cheap cuts of meat, like stewing beef.

      1. Kj*

        I agree! Our IP is very helpful to getting dinner on the table, fast. We use it for rice at least 2x/ week and for other things at least once or twice. Get a good cookbook for it so you have some ideas, but overall, it has been useful. Pintrest has a lot of recipes as well, though you have to sort through to find good ones.

      2. Helpful*

        Wait, you can cook from frozen?! Do you have a link? I may have to get one with this info. Game changer!

        1. Natalie*

          Right? I was vaguely interested in the instant pot but now I think I’ll actually buy one with my leftover Christmas money.

    4. amanda_cake*

      I really like mine. I don’t cook much but it makes things so much easier. I use it for rice, meat, and have ideas for other things (I haven’t had it long enough to have tried everything). I could see myself getting a smaller one for sides and using the one I have now for meat.

    5. Windchime*

      I have one and like it. My first choice is still the crock pot, but I made a *very* tasty roast in the Instant Pot a couple of weeks ago. My first roast turned out kind of gray and unappealing looking, but this last one….YUM. I also use it to make rice quite often.

    6. King Friday XIII*

      Queen Sarah and I bought ours basically as a replacement for a dying rice cooker because Amazon had them on sale and I’d heard good things, but it’s pretty amazing. It’s great for rice, of course, but we use it for lots of other stuff too. Her specialty is she’ll make from-scratch mac and cheese on a weeknight in about the time it’d take to make it from a box. I love that I can pre-sear a roast right in the IP on the saute setting and not need to wash a pan, or make mashed potatoes or applesauce in under an hour, or start with frozen meat and still have dinner on the table before the kid has to go to bed. It just makes a lot of things easier.

    7. chi type*

      I got one for Christmas and I’m liking it so far. If you do get one I recommend the pressure cooker recipes on Serious Eats.
      Pro: less cookware to wash (basically all steps can be done in the same vessel), completely hands off cooking time, rich flavor quickly, large-ish portions for leftovers
      Con: IME the pressure cooking times are longer than recipes lead you to believe (getting it up to pressure can take longer than the “cooking time”), the machine is quite large and takes up a lot of counter space
      This is not exactly “con” but you should also know that (at least with what I’ve tried so far) the dishes are of a “stew-y, meat falling off the bone” nature (some might say mushy) than crispy or carmelized.
      That’s my experience so far!

    8. Overeducated*

      I like it but it really hasn’t transformed my cooking the way I hoped it would. I eat mostly vegetarian and I still wind up making most things on the stovetop. It probably depends on whether the kinds of foods you like to cook and eat are the kinda of foods the IP does well.

    9. Fellow Traveller*

      I got one for Christmas and I am “meh”.
      Things I really love it for:
      – cooking dried beans in about 30 mins without pre-soaking
      -cooking chicken thighs from frozen in 30 mins (though my husband did not care for the texture)
      – steaming veggies oraking rice without taking up a burner on the stove
      – making soup without having to worry about stirring it or having to constantly keep one eye on the stove- it’s the same set it and forget it mentality as the slow cooker
      – unlike the slow cooker, being able to sautéed in it.

      Things that make it “meh” and not the miracle appliance:
      – it is not necessarily faster than stovetop. It can take a while to come to pressure and then to release pressure- so the 7 minute soup recipe that I made, really took 45 mins.
      – steaming veggies definitely had a learning curve- I was following all the directions/ manuals and steaming for 3 mins and things always came out inedibly mushy. I now steam things for zero minutes and they come out ok. But a lot of food was wasted before I figured it out.
      – not crazy about the rice texture- better on stovetop.
      – there is a lack of variety in things you make- it is mostly soups and braises- nothing crunchy.
      – it takes up a lot of real estate in my counter.

      I think it all depends what you are hoping to achieve – if it is just a wider variety of healthy meals, I feel like you would be better served by broadening your cooking rep: quesadillas, roast salmon and veggies, stir fry, etc. if you are looking for something to help you make “set it and forget it” type meals, then you may be more likely to find uses for the Instant Pot.

    10. Nye*

      I love mine, and I’m an avid cook who was highly skeptical initially. It shines for wet foods that typically require long cooking times in or on the stove. Soups, stews, braises, curries, pulled pork, polenta, rice, etc. I don’t try to make it do everything, but what it does, it does well.

      Advantages over traditional cooking:
      * Can be faster, for things that would normally take hours of slow-cooking. (But, as has been pointed out already, NOT as fast as you might think because of pressure ramp-up / release times, which can add 20-30 min.)

      *Keeps moist foods succulent, and meats tender. This is a killer advantage for me. Things that can be tough or prone to drying out when cooked traditionally are better and more foolproof in an IP.

      *Minimal babysitting. This is another sweet feature, especially if you have a lot of other claims on your time and attention. Once everything’s sauteed, etc and you seal it up for pressure-cooking, you can walk away and do other things without having to constantly check that your dinner isn’t scorching / boiling over / drying out.

      In terms of recipes, I’m quite picky about my sources so I just use regular recipes (eg from NYT Cooking) and modify them for the the IP. I pick settings / times based on similar recipes in the little cookbook that comes with the IP, and that has worked really well so far.

      If you decide to get one, and I definitely recommend it, enjoy!

    11. Lindsay J*

      I got one for Christmas and I love it.

      You can basically do easy crock-pot style meals in it, but have them done in less time.

      It’s increased the amount that I cook from maybe once weekly to at least 3 times weekly. And there are tons of easy recipes for it.

      (And you can also use it as a crock-pot and use those types of recipes as well. And as a rice cooker.)

      I’m pretty busy this week, so I just brought some chicken thighs and a couple jars of canned sauces and am going to make those for dinner in it, along with some rice. And probably some rice and black beans at some point (and you can use the dried black beans and make them without presoaking, which is awesome).

      Last week I made butter chicken with rice, meat and sauce for french dip sandwiches, and a tortellini soup with it.

      I don’t really have the time or energy to cook a lot and I love it.

  6. Triple Anon*

    How do you speak out about things? Say someone in a position of power did something awful and you were the victim or the sole witness of it. What would you do to call attention to it?

    Obviously you could go to the police, but that can get complicated because of statutes of limitations and the fact, well, police departments don’t always work the way they’re supposed to. Then there’s social media, but that can be a real minefield if the person you’re accusing has a lot of supporters and no one really knows who you are. Or you could write something and try to have it published, but then you risk prospective publishers letting the accused know or otherwise taking action to prevent it from getting out. When a lot of money and/or people’s careers are at stake, there is a large incentive to cover things up, which can include taking action against the accuser. It’s a very risky sort of thing to do. But there must be some good strategies that people have used.

    1. fposte*

      I think it really depends on what the “things” are and what outcome you’re hoping for. Speaking out can vary from totally pointless to absolutely crucial, and my decision would be affected by where it would fall on the spectrum in this case.

    2. Willow*

      I would recommend contacting RAINN (if the offense was sexual) or if it wasn’t sexual, an organization that deals with whatever the nature of the offense was. If there are legal implications it wouldn’t hurt to have a talk with a lawyer to understand the options.

      1. Triple Anon*

        Thank you. Unfortunately, I have contacted numerous organizations and haven’t gotten good results. Often, they want to help, but the issues like outside of their primary focus so there isn’t much they can do. I’m hoping that things will change in that regard.

    3. CoffeeLover*

      There’s a reason so many powerful people get away with doing horrible stuff. It’s a long, hard and expensive battle to accuse someone of something and there can be pretty big repercussions for you. Let’s look at the recent metoo campaign. I think the women that came forward are really brave, but I also think a lot of them have lampooned their careers (not the actresses that have a powerful independent brand, but the average Janes that came forward). It’s not right, but it’s probably true. No one wants to hire a “trouble-maker” or be associated with past wrongdoing. I took a business law class once upon a time where we looked deeply into whistleblower protection laws and real-life cases. The stories were pretty messed up. A lot of people’s lives were ruined (the whistleblowers) and the perpetrators generally made it out okay. Sometimes the thing that was done and your feelings towards make you feel obligated to speak out. I think that’s very noble, but I also think it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a big chance things won’t go the way you hoped. In general, I believe in a more selfish approach to these things. I think it’s better to focus on moving on than getting justice mostly because I think real justice will never come.

      1. anonsy*

        I’m in this situation right now. I’m weighing whether to go forward and let more people know about a situation or not. I don’t have the clout to make it out unscathed. I’m tired of being treated like this is acceptable behavior though.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      OOOO– very, very good question.

      Be strategic in as many ways as possible. My wise friend used to say, “Look around. Will you stay safe? Remember if you die, your message dies with you. It is better to wait for a different day. And that different day ALWAYS comes around.”
      Typically a good way to protect yourself is to get other people involved. This could be accomplished by joining a citizen’s action group or getting involved in a class action suit. In both of these examples here you have others with you.
      Another thing you can do is look for that one person who will effectively advocate on your behalf. This is a person with an outstanding track record.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I got interrupted there.
        So to continue, keep people around you informed of what you are doing. Don’t let yourself walk alone.

        If you cannot find a way then the answer is “not now, maybe in a bit”. While you are waiting you can write out what you witnessed while it is fresh in your mind. Perhaps you will think of other small things you can do to put information together that will be useful later.

        Here is my story and I have to be vague. A friend went in on a situation, he naively started asking questions that One Does Not Ask. When the death threats started he fled the area. He just stayed under the radar. It was years perhaps 20 years or so? He was approached by a citizens action committee. They said they were going to court and they were going to win. They said they knew he had photos and would he give them the photos. He said yes. They had an EPIC win in court.
        Some times these things take incredible patience and incredible commitment because the time frame is very, very long. But it can be done successfully.

    5. Colette*

      I think it depends what power you have in the situation, how serious the offence was, and what position the person in power was in. Your response to seeing a stranger throwing a coffee cup out the window should be different from seeing a teacher hitting a student, or seeing your neighbour burying a body in the woods.

      I also think that you’re not obligated to make sure justice was done. If it’s a crime and you report it to the police and they do nothing, that’s not your fault. You own (or may own) the burden of reporting. After that, you’ve done what you can do.

  7. Red Reader*

    Discovered yesterday that, in Monday’s accident (that totaled my SUV), I ended up with a cracked rib. I’m leaving on Wednesday morning for a week at Disneyworld, including a registration for the princess half-marathon. :-P I wasn’t planning on running it for hardcore speed, just walk-jogging it, so my doc said to use my judgement as it’ll have been almost two weeks by then. Fingers crossed.

    The other guy was at fault for the accident completely – I was stopped at a stop light and he plowed into my tailgate going 45, didn’t even slow down – and my general research suggests that his insurance may offer a lump sum due to a bone fracture above and beyond the actual medical expenses. I don’t particularly have a desire to muck with lawyers and lawsuits, a fractured rib basically boils down to “take ibuprofen and be careful for a few weeks,” but if they’re gonna go “oh crap, here have some bonus money” for it I won’t argue, hah. But I’ve never been in an accident this major before, so I’m not sure what to expect, and my claims representative is apparently out of the office until Tuesday. Yay limbo!

    1. Life is Good*

      Sorry this happened to you. Besides the injury, the inconvenience of not having your car sucks. Do you know if the other driver’s insurance company is going to give you enough for your totaled car to replace it? I would take the extra payout not only because they might not, but also because other driver’s policy covers your injury. Feel better.

      1. Red Reader*

        It should do, and I have a gap policy as well. I already picked up the replacement car, and I work at home anyway, so it was at least only a little inconvenient to be without for a few days.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Just so you know – if you don’t have a lawyer, whatever offer they make is going to lowball you. That doesn’t mean you have to sue them. But insurance companies don’t take people seriously if they’re self-represented.

    3. Temperance*

      FWIW, lawyers will do the work for you. His insurance company undoubtedly has lawyers on their side, and they will lowball.

    4. OperaArt*

      I don’t know where you live, but in California we have up to 2 years to accept any offer for medical damages. Assuming you have some law like that…
      The other person’s insurance company will try to get you to sign/accept something right away. Don’t do it. Wait almost the entire grace period, because it can take some injuries awhile to show up.

      Soneone broadsided my car at 40 miles per hour a few years ago. I was lucky. No serious or delayed injuries. But the other driver’s insurance company nagged me every couple of months. I ignored them. :-)

      1. neverjaunty*

        This is something to run by a lawyer though – there may be statues of limitations that mean you need to claim pretty soon, and the longer you wait, the more the insurance company is going to pretend something else caused your injuries.

        True story: an acquaintance of mine was in a bad motorcycle accident that was 100% the other driver’s fault, so the insurance company made an offer. We talked him into getting a lawyer. All of a sudden there was another zero added to the end of that offer. He didn’t have to sue at all – just knowing that the person on the other end of the line was an attorney made the insurance company give him more money.

    5. Jen*

      Add my vote to the chorus for a lawyer. You don’t have to go lawyer/she happy, but you were hiT hard- enough to total an SUV! You might have issues crop up over the next few weeks beyond the rib. My mom was rear ended at a slower speed and had all kinds of residual back and neck issues that resulted in missed work, PT above what her own insurance would cover, etc. she ended up settling for something like $25k which sounded like a lot, until she told me it basically covered her costs with like $4k pain and suffering.

    6. Chriama*

      Always get a lawyer for stuff like this. It’s basically bonus money. Their pay will come out of your settlement and you’ll still come out ahead of whatever offer they initially made you.

    7. Miles*

      In a serious case like this, always have a lawyer, to protect yourself from whatever bs the other parties lawyer might pull.

    8. Oxford Coma*

      My husband broke four ribs in late summer and is still suffering. Please be careful and gentle with yourself. If you’ve never done a rib before, know that you will heal in stages: you’ll start to feel better, then backslide. If you start to feel great in a few weeks, DO NOT overdo physical activity. You will regret it.

    9. Former Employee*

      You really do need an attorney.
      1. The insurance company may lowball you without one
      2. You need someone to tell you when to sign off and, more importantly, when not to sign off. (You might sign off once your car is replaced because that’s the end of that, but you wouldn’t want to sign off on your medical just because you seem to feel better.)
      3. There may be ramifications that you are unaware of that only an attorney can inform you of and you might be really sorry later if you didn’t know about something that could have worked to your benefit.

      Best of luck to you.

  8. Handy nickname*

    Hey all! I am moving out for the first time in about a month and looking for packing and moving suggestions. I have a deposit on an apartment and will be signing the lease this week. Furniture is mostly figured out, but I don’t know where to start with packing up my room and other stuff, and trying to figure out how to make a timeline for the next couple of weekends so I can get everything done. I currently work full time, and I’m moving within a half-hour from my parent’s house. Any advice welcome!

    1. EmilyG*

      I’ve moved a lot in the past ten years! Let’s see. Label everything well so you can find and prioritize things as you unpack. Make an “OPEN FIRST” box that contains your radio, coffeepot, a roll of toilet paper and paper towels, some dishtowels, underwear… whatever you need the first few days. Don’t pack books in large boxes because you won’t be able to lift them. Towards the end you’ll end up with some “ummm, other stuff” boxes but at least try to separate them by room (kitchen vs bedroom…) or it will be horribly annoying to finish unpacking. You have to leave a lot of time for the packing at the end of your timeline, because there is only so much you can pack in advance (try to do out of season clothes, books, and less frequently used kitchen supplies).

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        All of that above, especially the open first box. Our usually contains: toilet paper and kitchen roll, a plate, bowl, cup, mug and utensils for each person, kettle/coffeepot, coffee, etc. I don’t even tape it up, I fold the box top down and set the box aside and add if needed.

        For packing books – I will pack a few and then pad with stuff like underwear and socks, towels, etc. For dishes – get yourself some packing paper/bubble wrap and dont overload the box too much there either. I think the last time we moved in the US we went and got some ‘moving package’ special at the UHaul place that included bubbe wrap, boxes, tape gun (DEFINITELY have a tape gun!) etc. Or look at Box Brothers if you have one near you.

        It can seem overwhelming but essentially – just start.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Put your shower curtain in the first open box!

        Wanting to take a shower after a day of unpacking and then having to search through a ton of boxes to find it is not fun. Nor is deciding to take a shower without it and then having to deal with a ton of water on the floor.

    2. Espeon*


      My No.1 packing tip is to give yourself more time to pack than you think you could possibly need, because it will both take longer than you think and be more boring than you’re expecting!

      I think EmilyG has covered the rest.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        And try to do a little bit every day! And you will need way more boxes than you anticipate because you look around and think “I don’t have that much stuff,” but yes, you do.
        Really, I would aim to be done packing a day or two before the moving date, with the exception of stuff that you can’t pack up until you leave. That way you either get a day to relax, or you have extra time to pack.

        1. TootsNYC*

          yes–and don’t pack and move; that’s terribly inefficient.

          Pack, pack, pack, pack. And then move. The moving will be so much faster if everything is packed first.

    3. Landshark*

      One piece of advice that hasn’t already been covered by the thorough comments above: if you need boxes, go to the liquor store. If they’ve got boxes they’re willing to part with, they’re meant to carry heavy bottles, so they’re quite sturdy. It makes your moving boxes look like you’re planning a wild party, but I never had any issue with boxes breaking in any moves I did with liquor boxes.

      1. Life is Good*

        Agreed on the liquor boxes thing. If you can, get some with the cardboard bottle separators, too. You can put glasses, mugs, vases in them without having to wrap separately. Also, apple boxes with the padded separators from the grocery store. Congrats on your first place of your own!

      2. K.*

        Yes! I came here to say exactly this. I have a lot of books and a lot of dishes, so I always use liquor store boxes for those. They’re sturdy and small so you can carry them, and they’re meant to hold heavy things. Odds are good that they’ll just give them to you if you ask. I’ve never been turned down when I’ve asked if liquor stores have any boxes.

      3. EmilyG*

        I got rid of my moving boxes on Craigslist. Liquor boxes are good for some things but tend to be small, so you may be able to pick up some larger moving boxes for lighter/bulkier things (like bedding) on CL.

      4. Natalie*

        If there are pet stores near you, see if you can get fish boxes. They are really durable and easy to close.

      5. Lindsay J*

        Also check the bulletin board in Starbucks if you have one nearby.

        Ours posted on there the day of the week they get their shipment in and what time to come to ask for boxes before they had broken them all down and recycled them, and other people who had moved also posted that they had boxes for sale on there.

        1. TardyTardis*

          If there is Freecycle in your area, ask for boxes (and then pass them along the same way once you’re done with them). I got a bunch of boxes on our local Freecycle to help my son move.

    4. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      I always leave my clothes on the hangers and put the trash bags around them (Pinterest “hack” if you want to see visuals). In the last week before a move I pack up everything but a suitcase, as if I was going on a trip. Enough clothes & backup clothes, toiletries, makeup, hair dryer, medicines, etc. Then I have a designated laundry bag to put those in. That way I can move everything else but still have my necessities. Sure, sometimes I wish I hadn’t packed away that one thing, but it’s really just a week of “roughing it” – and most things if you absolutely need you could dig out or run and replace it cheaply if it’s something it won’t hurt to have too many of – towels, hair brush, razors, Tylenol, etc.

      1. Triplestep*

        I always did this, too, but the last time my daughter packed her hanging clothes to go back to school, she took them OFF the hangers, and just piled them into garbage bags. Same with the folded clothes. Then when she got to her apartment, she hung everything up and ironed as needed.

        I have to say it made packing the car a lot easier. We just shoved in the giant clothes bags around everything else. If you do this, though, I suggest getting colored duct tape to slap on the bags to differentiate them from trash.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          We’ve done both methods and agree about using the clothes to pack AROUND stuff – so much wasted space with just boxes otherwise!

          Colored tap suggestion is a great one – I will have to remember that.

      2. Half-Caf Latte*

        Our movers for the last move provided wardrobe boxes. A metal bar that goes across the top inside the box, just hang all the clothes inside. I’ve seen them for sale at uhaul-type stores, too.

    5. El Rug*

      Label everything. My most recent move I did color coded construction paper to denote which room it was going to. Someone stood in the front foyer with the list of what colors what to better direct where needed. It made for a much faster unload than it could’ve been. I also wrote on the paper with the contents which helped me unpack after.

      I also agree with above- have a first night box including toothbrushes, pjs, cleaning supplies, paper towels, pet stuff, etc. I put that in my car while the husband drove the moving van which helped because I got there and knew exactly where it was.

      Another idea for boxes is to ask at work. My job just recycled them anyway so I was able to grab a whole bunch.

      1. TootsNYC*

        color coded duct tape could work for this as well; wrap a strip around the upper right corner of every box, and write the room or contents on the end part of the strip.

        Ditto the “ask for boxes at work”; a friend was moving and I was able to get tons of boxes for her from my job. So, ask other friends and family to help you round up boxes as well.
        (People love the idea of moving into your first place; I bet lots of people will be glad to help you in this way.)

        (copier-paper boxes are a good size; they’re not as sturdy as they used to be, but they still work)

    6. Earthwalker*

      My guilty and overly time consuming pleasure is reading newspapers and online news blogs, which I can do for hours at a time. I am restricted to just one traditional newspaper for Lent. It was all I figured could pile on top of new years resolutions (one green leafy vegetable and one colorful fruit and 3 cups of milk per day) that are still ongoing – yay!

    7. Windchime*

      Others have mentioned my most useful tip, which is to have a box of first-day essentials. Also, set up the bed as soon as the truck is unloaded. Set it up, make it up with clean bedding, pillows, etc. That way, it’s ready for you when the first exhausting day is over. You can just take a quick shower (because you have soap and a towel in your “first-day” box!) and fall into your pre-made bed.

    8. Natalie*

      My favorite addition to the “open first” box is to pack a suitcase like you were going on a 3-5 day trip. The box is for house stuff, the suitcase lets you get dressed in the morning without stress. Plus it’s distinctive, and you probably need to move your suitcase anyway.

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      So many good suggestions already but I’ll add one – keep some basic tools handy (screwdriver, hammer, Allen wrenches, etc.) especially if you have any furniture that needs to be reassembled.

    10. Ktelzbeth*

      For my last move, I used almost exclusively small boxes from U-Haul. They kept asking if I wanted to buy bigger ones, but buying only small ones made me keep them to a weight that I could lift easily. I did end up with a couple bigger ones for things like duvets that are bulky but light. If you’re doing any or all of the carrying yourself, be sure to keep in mind how strong you are when you pack the boxes.

    11. Slartibartfast*

      Put your bed together first, having a box of essentials is brilliant, and yes keep your basic tools handy. If you have a flat screen TV, between the mattresses is a great place to put it on the truck. The local truck rental place has a spot to take/leave used moving boxes. Label them by what room the stuff is going to end up in. If you have to buy boxes and packing paper or bubble wrap, a home improvement store will have those things cheaper than the truck rental place.

    12. Stellaaaaa*

      Keep a separate box with a few towels, bedsheets, and other things that you know you’ll need right away.

    13. MeghanK*

      You may not want to spend money on decent boxes, but it is so worth it. 20 Staples file boxes and a dozen heavy duty home depot boxes made moving my books/rocks/stuff far easier, without the worries of pests or flimsy boxes. Dont pack closet clothes in anything, pull a large trash bag up around 15 or so hangared items and tie it through the hanger necks. Made setting up my walk in closet full of clothes take like 5 minutes.

      If you have time, pack a box or so a day, don’t try packing it all last minute. And donate/get rid of anything you don’t really need/want to keep. Add some drinks and snacks to that “open first” box.

      Friends will often carry boxes for the pice of a pizza and a peek at your new place.

      1. TootsNYC*

        another big advantage of buying boxes: you can get a uniform size, and they’ll stack more safely, etc.

      2. Cat Owner*

        I’m also moving and I wanted to mention that Amazon has some bankers boxes without separate pieces (SmoothMove) that I’m super in love with (no tape and super study).

    14. the.kat*

      Walk the ground/steps from where you’ll park the truck or cars and be realistic about how much help you’ll need. If it’s going to take several stairs or even just a long walk over bad sidewalk or broken ground, get more help.

      Also, prepare to have a few rough nights. Packing is hard and you might have a few days of “why did I do this?” And “I hate this place.” Don’t give up!

    15. copy run start*

      Spend more time editing your possessions than packing them.

      I don’t mean “throw everything out and embrace minimalism,” but just scrutinize what exactly you’re packing and if it really needs to come with you. Moving for me usually involves a great purge of accumulated crap that I don’t truly need or that I don’t really use anymore. Try to avoid having catch-all boxes. So many times I’ve helped friends move only to open a box they packed that is essentially random papers/broken things/clothes they don’t wear anymore/pictures of ex-ex-boyfriend, etc.

    16. Cheshire Cat*

      Lots of good suggestions that I won’t repeat. Like someone mentioned above, I’ve found that color coding boxes helps a lot. I buy those round stickers that come in 4 or 5 colors and assign one to each room, and make sure to put 3 of the sticker on each box: on the top, on one short side, and one long side. It makes it easier to find the stickers on moving day.

      Also, if you can, go over to the new place a day or so before you actually move in. Do your first walk-through then: make sure the walls & carpets are clean and undamaged. Check the doorframes, too, especially around the front door. You will probably have a few days to finish checking everything else, but if there’s a chip in the paint near the door it helps to know that it was already there.

      Also check that the kitchen & bath are clean enough for you, that the power is on, & the fridge & heat are running. If there’s an automatic ice maker, turn it on, and if not, fill up some ice trays. (Can you tell I’ve always moved in the summer?) Take over some frozen dinners for those first couple of days, & toilet paper and paper towels or sponges for the inevitable messes.

      Good luck!

      1. TootsNYC*

        again, strips of colored duct tape would stick really well (I worry that stickers will pop off)

        And an endorsement for labeling more than one end. I often wrap a strip of tape around the same corner (upper right or upper left) of both ends of every box, bcs when they’re stacked, it’s often easier to SEE the corners than the center of the flat surface of the top, side, or end.

    17. Gingerblue*

      Spring for good quality packing tape and a tape gun. In every move, there comes a point at which I’m standing in Target at 9:00 at night hyperventilating over whether to get the $5 tape or the $7 tape. I’ve always regretted going cheap. Something that says “heavy duty” or similar will spend less time trying to stick to itself as you put boxes together, and you’ll use less of it.

      Moving is exhausting, and I usually hit a point where I’m weepy and filthy and just utterly done for the night. (I’ve usually done long-distance moves, which do amplify this. A local move is probably going to be easier.) Have a plan ready: you want a way to shower, a place to sleep, something to eat, and a way to decompress. Make arranging those things your priority at the new apartment, and then unpack other stuff until you need them.

      Packing and unpacking kitchen items always takes at least three times longer than I’ve budgeted, even after moving repeatedly. You’d think I’d have a better idea of how long this takes by now! But kitchen things are my nemesis–heavy, fragile, and odd-shaped make for difficult boxing.

      If you have a decent number of fragile things, buy packing paper, and get more than you think you’ll need.

      I have moved particularly often (nine times, I think, in the last decade?) and for me, investing in large clear rubbermaid bins has been so very worth it. I use them to pack clothes, knitting stuff, sheets and towels, etc.–anything that isn’t heavy or fragile. It makes packing MUCH faster and because they’re clear, I can find stuff immediately after the move without hunting through boxes. If you think you’ll move again within a few years, it’s worth considering. (And I do wind up using a lot of them for, e.g., seasonal clothes storage when I’m not moving.)

      But seriously, “buy the good tape” is my #1 piece of advice for anyone moving.

      1. I’ll be Lucretia*

        Echoing the advice to buy a good tape gun. I think I’ve had mine for 20 years, use it all the time for moving, storage, mailing gifts.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Seconding the tape gun!

        Get the Tadpole Tape Cutter.

        I had a big tape gun, but it was annoying. It’s hard to lose, so that’s good.

    18. Queen Bee*

      Everyone’s advice here is so great and I wish I had it myself the last two times I moved about 5 years ago. I will add my 2 cents – have disposable gloves and/or a good quality hand cream on hand, rubbing alcohol and bandaids. The two times I moved were in the winter with obviously dry air all around; moving was brutal on my hands (I am a gal with pretty sensitive skin). My hands were dry and cracking and in some cases bleeding after about 3 days of packing. Took WEEKS for my hands to get back to normal. Whenever I move next time I will wear disposable gloves for packing because of how painful this experience was.

      1. Gingerblue*

        Oh, that is so smart. I’ve always moved in summer myself, and I recommend gloves then too. Uhaul sells moving gloves with grippy rubber bumps on the palms, which make it a lot easier to hold onto boxes or furniture if you’re doing your own carrying. (They’re really cheap, too, like a few dollars a pair.)

    19. Pathfinder Ryder*

      Pack bedding and pajamas in your “OPEN FIRST” box (I called mine “first night”) and make your bed before unpacking anything else. You want to be able to fall into bed whether you’re finished unpacking or not.

    20. Lcsa99*

      I wasn’t gonna post cause I think pretty much everything has been said, but I would highly suggest saving vacation time specifically to use immediately after your move if you can. It takes a ton of energy to unpack and get everything in place, and it’s a lot nicer to just get it all done, than to have to live out of boxes for weeks or months while you get settled around everything else involved in your daily life.

  9. Parenthetically*

    Folks who observe Lent! What have you given up/added? I love seeing the range of things.

    Mine: facebook and sugar. ARGH

    1. fposte*

      How did you decide on what you meant by “sugar”? Is it just “anything sweet you enjoy” or did you stick to literal added sucrose?

      (I think you may find that fruit tastes a lot sweeter to you by the end of Lent, btw; the tastebuds really can reset.)

      1. Parenthetically*

        It’s mostly targeting sweets. Like we had char siu last night, and the marinade/rub on the meat has plenty of sugar in it, but it doesn’t push my MUST HAVE SUGAR NOW buttons. But no sugar in my tea or coffee, nothing like, oh, banana bread or cinnamon toast. I’ve done Whole 30 during Lent in the past but it’s just too restrictive for this stage of my life. And yeah, the goal is a tastebud reset; since I got pregnant and worse since my son was born, I’ve had a raging sweet tooth — never did before in my life.

        1. fposte*

          That makes sense. I also think there’s a microbiome component–the day after I have cookies, I crave cookies in a way I didn’t the day before.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yeah, fruit doesn’t spike my cravings — it settles the “hm, I’d like something sweet after dinner” feeling without making me ravenous for more later. Weekends are the toughest for me when I’m not eating sugar. Saturday is our family day and we’ve been doing something low-key but treat-y like hanging out in a cafe for an hour and sharing a pastry, or wandering down to the donut shop and eating an apple fritter in the park on the walk back home, and obviously things like that are out.

        2. neverjaunty*

          I had this with my first. A nurse told me that sometimes when your body is craving one thing, your brain interprets it as another kind of food. She recommended that when I craved sweets, to try eating protein instead. It helped a lot.

    2. Chloe*

      I’m not sure if this counts, but ‘staying up past 10:30’…

      I usually need to be up by 6am and I’m always so tired by the afternoon. Really need to adjust my sleeping pattern so I get enough of it but it’s so difficult! I really need to develop some sort of bedtime ritual, preferably away from the small screen. (Can’t do the ‘no phones in the bedroom’ thing since I live in a studio apartment…)

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I’m experimenting with an earlier bedtime. So far it’s “in bed by 10” but I don’t have to sleep then. I’d like to aim for being asleep by 10:30 eventually. I will probably be much nicer during the day. Maybe it will make it easier to wake up.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Facebook has been wearing me out something awful the last few months so it’s actually not as much of a sacrifice as it’s been in years past. Sugar, though? Oof.

        1. Grits McGee*

          I’m pretty sure that she slept on the plywood base board underneath the mattress (and her roommate got two mattresses for 40 days).

      1. Hobgoblin*

        That’s awesome! My husband is not the same religion as me and he doesn’t really observe Lent so I choose things that won’t annoy his life. I never thought of that one, though!

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      Fast food and buying shoes. A shoe store for my favourite brand opened up here last spring, and they have gotten a lot of my money in the last nine months :p

    4. DorthVader*

      Time-wasting phone games, anything that doesn’t have a turn limit and isn’t PokémonGo because that at least gets me walking around.

    5. Hobgoblin*

      Unnecessary purchases. Kind of vague since I could go super hardcore but I’m just going to try to spend $ on gas and groceries. We’ll see how it goes. I remembered to fast on every fasting day last year so I’m hoping for 2 perfect years in a row!

      1. Grandma Mazur*

        I had said I would give up cake (see post-partum sweet tooth, above). Wednesday: Ate two flapjacks and two slices of chocolate cake at a friend’s house. Have amended resolution to giving up *buying* cake. Going well so far. Have had to not leave the house though.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Man, post-partum sweet tooth is SO REAL for me! It’s incredibly strange.

          I love cake.

          I haven’t messed up yet, not really, but I did have a breath mint in the car when my husband had one, just without thinking about it. It’s the mindless consumption of and dependence on sweet things that I’m trying to address, so I’m going to try not to do it again. Gum, too.

    6. Bug Swallowers Anonymous*

      For Lent, I’m trying to stop interrupting people or finishing their sentences for them. Sometimes I get overeager or I’m trying to indicate that I empathize with someone, but I want to start being a little more comfortable with silence and taking a listening role.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*


          Since Lent has only just started, it isn’t a problem, but I usually find there is a dip around Mothering Sunday when I feel the need for chocolate.

          1. phyllisb*

            Alcohol. Or in my case, wine. Well, I haven’t officially started yet, because we are attending a wedding tonight, and I couldn’t bear not being able to have some champagne. Starting tomorrow though, it’s bye bye till Easter. This will be my third year of doing this, and it really helps me to do this as a sacrifice. The only bad thing is, my birthday’s in March so I never get to have a Birthday toast. :(

      1. anonanon*

        This is really similar to one of the things I’m doing. I have a great deal of trouble being patient in conversations, so I’m trying to slow down, be less excitable and more gentle and warm. I’m surprised by how good it feels so far, and I think it will be easy and pleasant to keep going. It’s nice when a Lent practice/sacrifice ends up having a more general effect on your life.

    7. Elizabeth H.*

      I gave up wheat. (I have stomach problems and it’s not good for me.) The ideal is all FODMAPs which I’m mostly doing too but I wanted to have something more concrete to hold in mind. It’s probably psychosomatic but I totally feel like I feel better already, and I like doing it as part of Lent as something to take more seriously. (unfortunately I guess “my health” isn’t a concrete enough motivator bc the cause/effects are a little more amorphously connected)

    8. Overeducated*

      I don’t tend to give stuff up any more, I usually try (and fail) to add some kind of spiritual practice. This year I am doing a sort of mini course/reflection series called “Atheism for Lent” with a group at my church, thinking of how critiques of religion can change how we approach it.

      But I’m also reading this amazing psychological/anthropological study of evangelicalism that actually makes me want to try out kataphatic prayer. The book is so thoughtfully and objectively written that I think a religious person could read it as a how-to (which I find myself falling into a bit), while a nonreligious person could read it as a revelation of how religion is just a psychological trick.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I also like to add rather than give up. Thanks for this thread as you’ve reminded me that I forgot to decide on a Lent thing.

    9. Jess R.*

      I’m fasting for Lent, so I’m eating an all-vegan, all-homemade, no-sugar diet. My usual diet is vegetarian so essentially I’m giving up eggs, dairy, sugar, and eating out. My theological approach says that Sundays, as the Sabbath, are feast days, which supersedes the austerity of Lent, so I can eat whatever those days, but I don’t know if I will.

      My faith life has been ????? recently so I’m turning to some serious old world traditional practices to ground myself and get myself back into a place where I can connect to my God again, not so much for the giving things up aspect. It’s certainly an adventure.

    10. The Commoner*

      This is meant to be humorous-my best friend and I just discussed how we were giving up a “adulting” for Lent. This has been working out marvelously.

      Honestly, I’m usually so busy with life this time of year that it is a challenge to try to fit in significant lifestyle change. It’s not that I don’t think of it, but the daily tasks to add up. I suppose this year, if I give up anything, it would be crying. Crying takes so much energy. Perhaps by continuing to make myself refocusing the moment, I’ll gain some new coping with less than desirable moments.

    11. Catherine from Canada*

      My husband and I fell down laughing when I asked what we should do for Lent.
      (As background: Our daughter and her 2.5 month old infant just moved in with us because her husband is not daddying up, shall we say.) Hubs said, “Oh I don’t know, how about a corporal act of mercy, we could take someone in…”
      Maybe it was because it was early morning, pre-coffee, but it struck us as hilarious.

    12. ..Kat..*

      I am a pissed-off ex-Catholic agnostic. I practically have PTSD from childhood Lent. My mother would give up caffeine, or milk in her coffee, or something else that really stressed her out. She then took this stress out on me. As a child, I felt that if I was putting up with extra bitchyness and more physical/verbal abuse from my mother that I should not also have to give something up for Lent. Sigh. I would like to think that what my parents did to me when I was a helpless child no longer matters. But obviously, it still hurts. Why do so many people see religion as a cudgel to beat others with?

      1. Observer*

        Good question. But what your mother did to you rings another bell for me. My always used a Yiddish expression that translates to “don’t be religious at someone else’s expense”. That’s what your mother was doing. I’m not Catholic, but if I understand the idea, your mother wasn’t actually doing what she was supposed to be doing.

        It’s especially tough for kids, who generally don’t have too many options or the ability to protect themselves or remove themselves from the situation.

      2. Parenthetically*

        How terrible! Your mother definitely wins the prize for Person Who Most Missed the Point of Lent (self-sacrifice, repentance, self-examination, humility). I’m so sorry you went through that and I hope you are able to find all the peace and healing you desire.

    13. Teapot PM*

      Giving up cheese, I have a real weakness for it. Then when I didn’t have rice Friday to make rice and beans for dinner it was challenging :)

    14. Roseberries*

      Instagram and looking around clothes shops. I don’t even spend that much on clothes, but it’s the constant looking and thinking. I have enough clothes, I should wear what I have before adding more. And instagram is a time waste

      1. Parenthetically*

        I wish I could get my husband to stop looking for new clothes! He’s got tons. But guilt-tripping someone else into giving something up for Lent is probably way up there on the list of stuff not to do for Lent! ;)

    15. Miles*

      In years that I have observed Lent I usually go with the eastern /Russian tradition of giving up all animal products.

      I also recently quit added sweeteners entirely (including the *ose group, as well as the no-calory kinds, because they still affect your insulin levels, and on days I’m feeling really motivated, “natural and artificial flavors” as well) and I’ve lost over 20 lbs in under 2 months with just that change.

  10. Ariel*

    Having one of those seemingly obligatory freak-outs about being over 30 and no prospect of starting a family in the near future.

    The thing is, I don’t even /want/ to start the whole dating thing. I like the way things are at the moment – my time is my own and my space is my own. I’m quite introverted, and when it comes to socialising spending quality time with small groups (or even one on ones) with friends is more my thing than going anywhere where ‘mixing’ typically happens.

    I /don’t/ need the reassurance about how it’s okay to be on your own or learning to enjoy your own company, I’m perfectly comfortable on both fronts. I /do/ worry that I’ll be leaving it late and then suddenly regret not putting in the effort earlier.

    At the moment I have plenty of friends my age who are similarly not attached (so thankfully not too much pressure in that respect…at least not yet) but are actively looking / dating (via online apps or whatever) so it’s like …at least they’re doing something? They’re moving forwards?

    Anyway…I just feel like such an anomaly. I don’t fit in with the group who really want to settle down, but also not in the group who have decided they’d be happy to be single long-term.

    I feel like at this age I really should have a better grasp on being an adult, but even though I have a career and a mortgage etc. I don’t feel like I’ve really grown up or reached some sort of ‘maturity’ when I haven’t really had a long-term, meaningful relationship (one in which spending the rest of your life together was a possibility). Maybe that’s a wrong way to think, but it’s ingrained and I can’t change it.

    1. Buddythefox*

      I think it’s totally reasonable to be happy with your life the way it is and also want to eventually have a family. If you’ve had the same friends & routines for a while though, maybe meeting someone means that you will need to change it up … so like downloading a dating app or going out with friends instead of staying in. Not because you’re not happy with your life now, but because it’s part of working towards a longer term goal of starting a family. Basically exactly what you said about putting a little effort into that area of life. I am like you (quite introverted), so it’s not necessarily comfortable, but having good friends in the same position makes it so much easier!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The loophole here is that there is more than one aspect to adulthood. Just because we do not have ALL the aspects of adulting in our lives does not make us Less Adultlike.

      You seem like a nice person. I don’t think you would tell me or anyone, “Hey, you didn’t have kids/spouse/house/whatever so you are not an adult.” Yeah, it looks a little nasty when said out loud, right?

      Okay so it’s ingrained and you can’t change it. But you can widen your definition of what an adult looks like. One of the biggies is accepting responsibility. Adultlike responsibility is demonstrated through careers/work, holding a mortgage, relationships with family and friends, heck even car care demonstrates responsibility. Another adultlike thing is giving back to the society that shelters us. You probably donate money and things already. Perhaps you volunteer your time. Yet another adultlike thing is to take care of yourself and watch out for those who enter your path in your day or in your life. This can be anything from holding a door for the person behind to bringing groceries to a neighbor who lost their job.

      Most of us have holes in our lives where we feel we have come up short as adults. The trick is to quit starring at the hole and load up other aspects of the adult life. You know, I can’t totally quit starring at the holes in my life. So I make myself get up from the chair and go do something that challenges me or helps someone. Those holes sure do have a magnetic quality about them and all we can do is control our response to that draw.

    3. matcha123*

      I’m a few years older than you and when more wedding announcements came across facebook a few years ago, I do admit I felt something. You know you. But if you are not actively out trying to meet people, it’s going to make it that much harder for you to find someone you really want to be with. If you are fine with that, continue on.

      I know that I am picky about a lot of things and I’m not interested in dating someone just to date them. I also don’t want to use apps to meet people and I don’t have a large network in my city. (I also do not want to have kids, take care of someone else’s kids, or feel pressured to marry…which means I will have a harder time finding a guy.) If I were more active, I might find someone. Basically, if you are aware that you are playing life on “hard mode” that doesn’t make things easier, but does put them in perspective.

      1. Thursday Next*

        I like hobbit-hood’s concept of coming to age at 33. It took the pressure off turning 30 for me. :)

      2. Lissa*

        I was going to say something like this! I think so many people don’t feel like real adults and can find something in their life to confirm it. I am in a long term relationship and regularly don’t feel like an adult because I don’t have a house or much hope of buying one, and am working a job without benefits (contract worker/freelance.) I don’t know if this has always been that way but it sure does seem like most people I know and talk to about this stuff don’t feel like real grownups, and the number of memes etc. along those lines would confirm it. I don’t know if it’s because we all grew up with a certain idealized vision of what adulthood would be based on the media, ie spouse, kids, stable job and a house, and that’s not the reality for so many people these days….

      3. Overeducated*

        Haha, I found my first actual patch of gray hairs this week, I’d better be an adult now or I’ll have to skip it and pass straight to elderly!

    4. adulting is hard*

      I don’t fit in with the group who really want to settle down, but also not in the group who have decided they’d be happy to be single long-term.

      To me, that’s part of the problem. How can you decide either of those things at any age really, but in particular at 30, which I get feels old, but is also not really. I think being cognizant that you want a family and letting that guide your actions is more productive than deciding something impossible. Making a decision on being partnered for example seem to lead either to terrible unhappiness if it doesn’t happen or to accepting someone that is not right for you (which happens a lot).

      I think the thing to look at more carefully perhaps is whether your stated intentions and your actions are in sync. Are you open to getting to know new people (not in a dating sense only) or do you find excuses why you can’t hang out with anyone, including new people? are you open to seeking places inside yourself where you connect with others, or do you focus primarily on your differences? if there’s a lot of contradictions, then I’d suggest therapy as a way to clarify what you want for yourself because maybe you need a closer inspection of the adulting=family many of us grow up with to figure out what those things mean to you in the life you are building for yourself.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        I’m somewhat wary of this perspective. Sure, we all hear about women who successfully conceive at 50, but there are far more women who don’t succeed as they get older. 30 is a perfectly reasonable age for a single woman to be thinking seriously about whether she’ll be upset if her fertility declines before she’s able to have biological children. It’s also not unreasonable for a woman to want to be in a committed relationship with the person who provides the other half of her children’s DNA.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Thinking about it, maybe. But it’s way, way early to get nervous about it.

          The upside of being over 30 when you partner up/start a family is that you’re old enough to know your own mind.

          If you already know you’re looking for a life partner and want babies in the near-term, it really does not take years of dating someone to figure out if the relationship is healthy, if this is a person of good character, if you love them.

          It doesn’t take years of “settling down” before you decide whether you want children.

          Twentysomethings faff about finding themselves, and they can afford to. The advantage of being over 30 is you can skip that part, you did it already.

    5. LAI*

      I was in the same boat as you at 30. I was single, had just moved to a new town and started a new job, generally happy with my life but not giving up on ever having a family. For me, the key was being aware the kids were not essential to me – I wanted to have them, but I would be ok if that didn’t happen. I wasn’t going to force myself into the wrong relationship just to make sure I had kids before I was too old. As a woman, I feel like procreation is the only thing that is really tied to your age. Meeting a partner certainly isn’t, I know plenty of people who have met people and gotten married in their 40s, 50s, etc. At 32, I met the guy who is now my fiance, and we both agree that we’ll probably try to have kids in a year or two – but again, we’re both ok if that doesn’t happen.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Totally my story too, although I’m probably almost a decade older than LAI now. Okay with meeting someone and getting married and having kids, and okay with understanding that one or more of those things might not happen. They all did, before I hit 40 although our first child was nearly an only because of secondary infertility issues. (And that would have been okay too)

        And still, more often than not, I find myself grudgingly doing chores and other house- and life-keeping things because I keep having to remind myself no one is going to do it for me. I *am* the mom, chore-doer, and life-keeper. Not the only chore-doer, but I mean I teenager-level-resent cleaning up my own messes and parenting my own children sometimes. When my 8 year old complains “Why do I always have to ?” it’s exactly what I feel when I have to do stuff I don’t wanna. My inner voice whines about having to make dentist and doctor and car maintenance appointments. That sort of thing, I will never be “an adult” about.

    6. Thursday Next*

      It’s interesting that you’re using what you don’t have—a long-term relationship—as a benchmark of adulthood, instead of the the things you do have—a career and self-funded housing (I think this is more important than home ownership per se). Presumably these are also aspects of adulthood that are deeply ingrained, no?

      Outside of general social customs, what signifies adulthood for you personally? I used to say that for me, it was being able to get ice cream whenever I wanted. It sounds like a joke, but what I really meant was autonomy over choices as personal as what I put into my body was a mark of independence for me, which I didn’t have until I got my first job and moved out of my parents’ house.

      “First job” and “moving out” are general social markers of “adulthood”; “eating ice cream whenever I want” was my personal marker. So what are your personal markers? How do you feel when you consider those, as opposed to more conventional “milestones”?

    7. Dagnabbit*

      For what it’s worth, I’m nearing 30, have a 7 month old and in no way feel like an adult. Everyone is just sort of flailing along doing the best they can with their circumstances.

    8. Thlayli*

      Dating and family aren’t necessarily related though. You could go the sperm-donation route (assuming you have a working womb and ovary), or look into adoption. When I was about your age I set myself a date and was like “if I am single on this date I will do sperm donation”. I think it was about age 33 I set the date at, figuring I wanted to have my first baby by 35 and it could take a year to get pregnant. I found having that date set let me just forget about it and took pressure off relationships coz I knew what my plan b was.

      1. Jules the First*

        Seconding this! I’m about to be officially mid-thirties and am single (with job and mortgage) and no desire to be not single. Having hit my deadline, I’m beginning the process of becoming a parent regardless – yes it’s expensive, but much less scary than you’d think.

      2. Book Lover*

        This is what I did. Realized I was dating to find someone to be a father to my children, decided it wasn’t fair to anyone, and used a sperm donor for both of my kids. No regrets.
        The process wasn’t so expensive (fortunately no fertility issues so basic IUI) but the childcare costs are stunning. Upwards of 30K last year. Being single and childless definitely would have meant more travel and relaxation for me. So while I obviously think becoming a single parent by choice is great, thinking about the loss of sleep, quiet time, and money is a good idea too!

        1. Thlayli*

          Just out of interest why do you think dating to find a father for your children is unfair? I’ve always thought that finding someone to procreate with was the primary purpose of all mammalian courtship rituals since mammals evolved.

          1. matcha123*

            If I were to make a guess, it sounds like she was looking at men as what they could do for her (act as a sperm donor), rather than looking for a partner who shared similar life goals. If she really only wanted a kid, but not a husband and partner, then maybe it’s better for her to literally get a sperm donor.

            In the past, humans had fewer partnering options than today. Not all of us want to live in the past?

            1. Thlayli*

              It doesn’t sound like she was looking for a sperm donor though, it sounds like she wanted a man to be a father to her kids and raise them with her, which to me is a pretty important “life goal” in common. Assuming she was looking for a man who already wanted to be a father, I don’t see how that’s in any way unfair, so long as she was upfront about it.

              Im kind of confused by your “living in the past” comment. Wanting to raise a family with a romantic partner, while not as ubiquitous as it used to be, is still a major life goal for many people, I would guess even still the majority of people. It’s hardly “living in the past” to want what a huge section (probably the largest section) of society wants.

              1. Jules the First*

                I think you and Book Lover are operating off two different definitions of “father”. I think she means “I wanted someone to get me pregnant” and you’re thinking “I wanted someone to love and raise children with”.

                In my case, I would only be dating to save money on the sperm donor and split the costs of raising the offspring, which I see as dating only “for a father”, which I think is unfair. If you are only looking for a partner to procreate (ie, no expectation of a romantic relationship separate from your kids), then you should either go SPBC or you should be upfront about only wanting a co-parent. Whether he wants kids or not, most people date because they want a romantic relationship and raising kids together is a nice bonus.

                1. Thlayli*

                  This makes sense, thanks for explaining it. Obviously we can’t read book lovers mind but if she wasn’t actually looking for what I would call a father, then yes, it definitely wouldn’t be fair to get a guy to impregnate her and then deny him access to his kids and deny his kids access to their father. That would be an awful thing to do, especially if she was also considering getting money off him.

              2. matcha123*

                I’m not her, so I don’t know her thoughts, but when she wrote: “Realized I was dating to find someone to be a father to my children,” it doesn’t sound like she was looking for a romantic partner. It sounds like having kids was her main goal and she was looking for someone who also wanted kids to be a life priority…or perhaps she wanted someone who would be a father in the sense that he gave sperm and then got out of the way and left her to raise the kid as she wanted.
                Since she went the sperm donor route, I think she must have had a set vision for how she wanted to raise her kids, and while dating realized that it would take too long to find someone that matched her specific views.

                In the past, people didn’t have the luxury of having romantic partners in the way we do now. People partnered off to have kids to continue their business or to act as support in their old age. Of course there were people that liked each other before they paired up, or people that grew closer. But behaviors, features, etc. that might get you rejected as a partner today may not have been as big of a deal in the past because people didn’t have that luxury.

                I don’t want kids and I don’t romanticize marriage, so admittedly, I don’t really get the sentiment.

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      I feel similarly. I don’t think I want kids, but I’m sort of worried that if I ever do meet someone and change my mind, it might be too late to have kids easily. I’m also struggling with figuring out what the substance of my life is supposed to be without marriage and kids. Right now 90% of the content of my day-to-day life is knowledge of/conversations about other people’s relationships. Everyone wants to talk about their boyfriends, or they can’t help but bring up their boyfriends even when it’s irrelevant to the story, but they imply that I’m uncool or dragging down the mood if I talk about my complicated feelings concerning single-dom. I don’t have kids to take care of. I don’t have a partner to spend time with. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with my time, and I’m reluctant to fill it up with so much fringe stuff that a partner couldn’t easily fit into my life if I ever found a partner.

      1. Thlayli*

        If you think you might want kids in future you could freeze some eggs now, just in case. Not sure how much it costs though – probably quite expensive.

    10. LilySparrow*

      Having gotten married at 32 & going on 15 years now, I don’t think there’s any “bonus maturity” to being in a long-term partnership or marriage.

      Maturity is the ability to delay gratification for a long-term or higher priority, and choosing to value other people’s needs as much as your own.

      Marriage and childrearing certainly present you with a lot of opportunities to cultivate maturity, and big incentives to do so.

      But they don’t magically make you mature, and they aren’t the only way to practice. Not at all.

    11. Lindsay J*

      I understand the feeling.

      I’m happily coupled for now, but the idea of kids is suddenly on my horizon in a way it hasn’t been in the past.

      I know I certainly don’t want kids right now.

      A couple years ago I was pretty certain I never wanted kids.

      But I’m with someone I feel secure with now, and feel like I might be able to handle kids in a way I wasn’t in the past now that my depression and ADHD are not so debilitating. And all my friends that I grew up with have kids now.

      And, like, if I decide that I want kids later is it going to be too late? Like, already at this point, if I had kids today I would be 50 when the first one turned 18.

      But I’m not having kids today. I don’t want to have kids until I’m married. And I’m not engaged yet. I’m not even near being engaged yet. And from engagement to a wedding is about a year. And then you might not get pregnant right away. So, give it a year until I’m engaged, that makes me 33. Then another year to be married. That’s 34. The if it takes 6 months for me to get pregnant, then I’m not having a kid until I’m 35. And is that too late? And my boyfriend would be 38. And will I regret waiting so long at that point?

      And it’s crazy because I’m still not sure whether or not I even want kids. And I know, intellectually that not having kids is just as valid a choice as having kids. And that you’re just as much of an adult if you don’t have kids as if you do. But there’s like this little voice deep inside of me that’s whispering that I’m not a real adult if I don’t have kids. Or that I’m lazy and selfish for not being sure that I want to give up my current lifestyle, or being afraid of whether I would be able to cope without sleeping much at first. And I know it’s all stupid and not true, but it’s there anyway.

      Anyway, I know it might not help. But you’re just as much of an adult as everyone else, even though you haven’t had a long-term relationship yet. You would be a valid adult even if you never choose to have a long term relationship. And honestly, you are probably doing better than people who jumped into relationships early that were either bad for them because they were with bad people, or with people who were not right for them, or with people with whom they became co-dependent and now they can’t function individually.

      I was one of those people for a long time, and I made a choice when I got out of that relationship (which I basically jumped into right out of high school) to stay single for at least a year. And I think I did a lot more growing up in that timeframe than I had in years before then. It’s much more difficult to survive on one income than two. It’s a lot different knowing that you are the sole person responsible for paying your bills or feeding your dog or whatever. As a female, I found it kind of empowering to know that it was all on me to repair the garbage disposal or change my tires. As a person, it was a little scary but also empowering to figure out what the hell I was going to do when my car broke down on the side of the road in the middle of the night.

      (That’s not to say there aren’t things that you do learn in those long-term relationships – how to compromise, how to be emotionally supportive, what hills you value so much you will die on and what things you will let go, etc. But I was always better at compromising than I was at being independent.)

      You are a real adult.

      When you want to find someone you will most likely find someone. My widowed grandmother found someone at the age of 70 after her husband died. And then reconnected with a high school sweetheart at the age of 77 after the second guy she met wound up with bad dementia. There is no time limit or expiration date on love.

    12. Been there...Am there*

      Commenting a few days after this was posted, so I’m not sure anyone will see it, but I’d still like to add my perspective. I’m several years older but I’m in a similar situation. I’m content with my single life, but I would love to get married and have a family. I’m also an introvert who is perfectly happy at home 8 out of 10 weekends.

      For me the best way to approach this is to realize that there are cycles. Sometimes I genuinely feel a desire to “put myself out there.” I’ll use the dating apps, go to more events and activities where I’m likely to meet new people, etc. But then eventually it will start to feel forced and unenjoyable, so I allow myself to have a break for a while. In time I circle back to being able to have a good attitude toward dating and putting effort into meeting people.

      Even though nothing has really panned out relationship-wise for a few years, I know I’ve put effort forth, so I don’t view that time as time lost. I also haven’t made myself miserable but constantly focusing on my desire to be in a relationship. I’m comfortable with the ebb and flow.

      I hope that helps a little.

  11. Madeline*

    About to meet up with someone I’ve known through an online fandom for about 5 years (in and off). This is her first visit to her hand city I live in so we arranged a catch up…
    We don’t know much about each other outside the fandom space, so no idea what I expect. I think she’s quite a bit younger (possibly early 20s, while I’m early 30s) so I don’t know if it’d end up awkward and then we can’t rwould ally chat online anymore…

    Or I could be overthinking things…

    Anyone ever met up with people they’re met online (not counting dedicated meet-up apps or forums) who have tales to share?

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Yep. I’ve met several people through an online community I’ve been a member of since I was a teenager (early 30s now, so I’ve “known” some of these people for almost half my life). We would usually get lunch/dinner (or, depending on where we were, sometimes do a bit of sightseeing in the area), and most of the time it hasn’t been awkward at all. And the one time it has, I don’t think the person I was meeting thought it was awkward–I think she was comfortable with just kind of…standing there in silence?…even though I wasn’t really. So mostly good experiences.

    2. Rogue*

      Yup! I have, several times. Once when I was younger and got to see the person again, 20 years later (we’d kept in touch online) and another one who became pretty much an instant best friend. I’ve only got one “online only” friend I haven’t met, but when I get the chance, I totally will. A little advice, make sure your first meeting is in a public space, with lots of people, during the day. Safety is important. Be yourself and good luck!

    3. Madeline*

      There’s also a bit of a language barrier, which isn’t much of an issue online since it’s not really in real-time, but in person…not so sure…

      1. Lily Evans*

        I wouldn’t worry too much about that. In my experience, once you start talking to someone for a few minutes you just kind of get into a groove, even if you’re not understanding each other 100% perfectly.

    4. Former art student*

      I’ve met a couple people IRL that I knew through online fandom. And not just for coffee either, we went on a long multi-country trip together the first time we met in real life! And in one case we hung out and had a lovely time then eventually fell out of touch, and in the other she became one of my best friends and five years later we travel overseas to visit each other once or twice a year and talk all the time! :)

      My advice is to remember that they’re the same person as they are online, you just get to learn more about them and about how they interact with the world. It’s the same experience but with more data, and there might be an adjustment period where you think “but their voice isn’t how I expected! But they don’t look how I imagined! But we can’t talk about the same things!” But people are just people and they can surprise you, whether online or not, you just have to accept them for who they are. And there’s no shame in deciding you like someone online but not IRL, you don’t have to stop talking if you don’t get along in person!

      My advice is to schedule something to do together that you have a mutual interest in and try not to overanalyse it, and I think it’ll be fun. :)

      1. Landshark*

        It’s funny that you mention the voice thing. When I met two of our friends we game with last summer, we knew each other’s voices from voice chat, but because my husband and I sound a bit older than we are and they had maybe seen our pictures once, they thought we’d be way older than our mid-twenties. It was a nice moment to laugh about before we got on with hanging out.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        I actually disagree about them being the same person irl as they are online. A lot gets omitted online. I’ve met enough people from online spaces who were vastly different in person, sometimes in great ways and sometimes in not so great ways.

        1. Starley*

          Yeah, I have to agree. Online interaction lets you edit yourself a LOT. I’ve found most people to more or less be the same, but the dude who makes a lot of double entendres and flirty comments could barely make eye contact with me and one guy who came off as being super chill was in fact a bit of a hothead. A super outgoing, talkative person online turned out to have a really noticeable speech impediment and it was like pulling teeth to get him to talk at all until we got a couple of drinks in him. There was one guy who came off like the world’s biggest asshole online and I only met him because it was a big group thing. I honestly almost skipped going because he was so abrasive online. We had an instant connection in person, bonded super fast and when he moved to a city about three hours from mine we became really good friends. We try to meet up at least every couple of months or so and if he lived a wee bit closer we’d probably be dating (we’ve talked it over) and I’m so, so glad I met him.

          1. all aboard the anon train*

            Yeah, if anything, I find that some people tend to be a little more withdrawn or awkward in person than online, but that’s understandable.

            I once met someone in a group meeting who everyone thought was super nice because she seemed really sweet and polite and encouraging online, but she was a nightmare in person. Someone who needed constant validation about everything – like, if you didn’t tell her she looked good or like a selfie on social media she’d get very insecure. That alone I could have dealt with, but she was also very into callout culture. As in, if someone said they loved sandwiches she would say, “how dare you like sandwiches, don’t you know some people are allergic or can’t afford them? It’s rude to bring them up when not everyone can eat them, and some people might be triggered by them so discussing it makes you a bad person!”*

            *An example, obviously. I’m all for callout culture that calls out people’s bigotry and prejudices, but I really hate callout culture that shames people for wanting to talk about having a good/bad day or feeling confident in their appearance, or for something as innocuous as stating they went out to dinner or love a certain food.

            1. Starley*

              I am so on board with you on callout culture, as a vegan I’m all too familiar with the type of people who need to just shut up and let people eat their damn dinner. Berating people for their choices is not a great way to win them over!

              That girl sounds really irritating, that’s too bad. We had one guy who also seemed really friendly and kind, too, but he turned out to be one of those people who’s really into the pickup artist/negging garbage and was just atrocious to me in person. One of the other guys in the group finally told him to shut up or leave. He left, never participated in the online community again and absolutely nothing of value was lost.

              1. all aboard the anon train*

                I have a friend who loves to ask me how me dead animals taste whenever I eat seafood or meat. I finally had to tell her I’d stop going out to eat with her because I didn’t want to keep listening to a critique of my food choices. I’m not even a huge meat lover – I tend to stick to a 1 meat/fish based meal, one vegetarian, one vegan diet – but it’s really annoying.

                I find that most online communities form a hivemind and there’s always that small percentage who thinks life in the online community is how everyone outside the community should also act, and then get upset when life doesn’t work that way. I love online fandoms because they can provide great safe spaces or welcoming communities, but they can also be really toxic. It took me a long time to pinpoint the type of personalities to stay away from.

      3. Typhon Worker Bee*

        Yes, having a definite activity really helps. I’ve taken a couple of visiting online friends kayaking, and if they’re with their kids we go to the aquarium or science museum. It’s much easier and lower pressure than just meeting for coffee or lunch.

    5. Landshark*

      I met up with some gaming buddies while on vacation (I was a few cities away from their home) this past summer. One was a few years older than I am, and the other was a few years younger. The age difference didn’t matter one bit. We already knew each other well enough and had enough in common that it was easy to pick up a friendship and go. Hopefully it’s the same for you!

    6. Myrin*

      I have! In 2011 (which is… a long time ago now, now that I think about it). We were a group of six who’d known each other online for over two years and had in the meantime met up in various iterations of subgroups and then decided it would be fun to finally meet up with all of us together, living for one week with the person who lived most in the middle of all of our homes.

      It went… not well. We found out that a lot of stuff that just gets omitted by virtue of only “seeing” someone online actually made several of us really incompatible IRL. I left there feeling quite disheartened and only really still liking one of the five others. My relationship with these four actually tapered off shortly after but I’m still close to the one person I really ended up clicking with – I’d definitely call her a good and close friend! It really goes to show that in the end, internet people are also just people that you can gel well with or not, just like everybody else. I hope you’ll be having a great time with your friend!

      1. kc89*

        wow six people for a week sounds intense!

        I think that can be hard even if you start off as normal friends haha.

    7. the gold digger*

      Yes! I have met at least five blogger friends in person and they have all been as lovely in real life as they are online. With three of them, we have met more than once. Another (local) one has become a regular everyday friend. Primo and I went to his wedding. With each friend, our online friendship (now taken to facebook) has deepened.

      And I met the brilliant Jamie for coffee one night in Chicago. As you would expect, she was fabulous. I am still waiting for the chance to meet Stephanie and The Cosmic Avenger in person.

      Have fun!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Me too! :)

        Every online friend I have met in person I have enjoyed meeting, although a couple were a little awkward.

    8. Claire (Scotland)*

      All my current close friends (five of them) are people I met online through fandom first. Since then, we’ve gone on holidays, to concerts, spent weekends at each other’s places and we talk every day online. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

      One is quite a bit younger than me, but it hasn’t made any real difference – fandom gave us a lot to talk about, and once we got to know each other IRL we found plenty of other common ground.

    9. Mimmy*

      Are you looking for positive or cautionary tales? I have a couple of doozies, also with people I met through a fan board, but from what you’re describing, you’re doing things more smartly than I did. As long as you’re meeting this person in a public place and that you be yourself, you should be fine :)

    10. Ramona Flowers*

      Yes. Sometimes it’s been great and has led to 20-year friendships. A couple went horribly wrong eg the one who wanted to move into my house after I had met her twice and got her boyfriend to send guilt tripping messages when I said no.

      Oh and one time we eventually ended up getting married :D

    11. Laurin Kelly*

      I’ve been involved with a few fandoms and have traveled to meet online friends multiple times. It’s always gone great and I’ve built several of those fandom-only friendships into deeply personal ones. Some of them are much younger (20’s when I’m in my 40’s) but it’s never been a barrier in my experience.

      When I was pregnant with my daughter in 1997 I was a huge X-Files superfan. Back then there was no Youtube, Hulu or Netflix, so as a fandom we would tape episodes and trade bootleg copies through the mail. I would get shipments with plush aliens and foxes for the baby! These folks also helped me through the long and painful death of my father to lung cancer two years later. I remember chatting online and crying because he’d lost all his hair to chemo and didn’t know what to do to disguise it because he didn’t like hats. One of them had a mom who owned a motorcycle shop where they sold all kinds of cool bandannas and she sent me a box full of fun ones, which my dad loved and wore every day until he passed away.

    12. Hellanon*

      Several times, and it’s been really nice, an excellent addition to my friendships in general. In fact, I am at the airport waiting for one of them to land as we speak. We met on LiveJournal and have been really good friends for more than 10 years now. Have fun!

    13. Lily Evans*

      I’ve met two people from online fandoms! One who lives in the same city, and one who was visiting and they are both really great people! The one who lives here I’ve become pretty close friends with, I’ve even met her other friends that she’d met online who were also nice, normal people.

    14. New Bee*

      I met my husband on a blog ~9 years ago, but that’s an extreme example. :-)

      He met a gaming buddy online once–he was the traveler and there was maybe a 5-year age gap? They had a good time connecting over their shared hobby. I hope you have fun!

    15. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I met an entire group of friends this way! I met up with one guy who I met through fandom on Facebook, and we had a lovely time – and then he introduced me to all of his high school friends, and I am still in touch with all of them! Not in touch with him though.

      This is a little different of course, because we lived in the same city so a meet-up was easy, but I do think more good will come of you guys meeting up then bad.

    16. all aboard the anon train*

      I’ve had enough bad experiences with meeting up with people from fandom that I really take my time to get to know people before deciding to meet in person. I’ve made a handful of really great friends who are now more in-person friends than online friends, but my advice is to go into it cautiously optimistic, but to realize that sometimes people create a persona online that is very different to their real world persona.

      Most of my bad experiences were when I was younger and wasn’t as good at parsing out who to be friends with in fandom and ended up with people who were a bit too much for me (the people who were prone to drama or constant 24/7 callout culture or extreme neediness and were exhausting to be around).

    17. Typhon Worker Bee*

      Yes, I’ve met tons of people after getting to know them on Twitter, through blogs, or via work emails first. The first couple of times, I was surprised that they were so spot-on exactly how I’d imagined them to be, but now I just take it for granted! You can get a really good sense of a person from online interactions, and no-one’s surprised me in a major way yet – I liked all the people I expected to like, and had an OK time with a couple of people who I wasn’t sure of before meeting them. I haven’t had any bad experiences (although I have been somewhat careful as to who I agree to meet, and have had zero romantic interest in anyone – things might be different if you’re looking for a date/partner), and I now count some of these people among my closest friends. A couple of them live in my city and we hang out all the time now.

      Have fun!

    18. Starley*

      I have a bunch of times, because I dearly love a sport nobody in my life is interested in, and I travel a lot for work so if I know someone from a website dedicated to the sport I’ll see if anyone wants to catch a game with me. It’s always been fun, though sometimes varying degrees of awkward because of the nature of nerds. :) I’m a small-ish woman in my mid-20s and most of the people I’ve met have been guys, but usually they bring their wives or girlfriends, or there are other people from the site there to meet up, and we’re always in very public places so I’ve never felt unsafe. I still make sure that I have a friend to check in with by phone or text frequently and I have a GPS app installed so they can see where I am. I always tell the people I’m with I’m going to be doing this and all but one said they understood and thought that was smart, and had no problem with me keeping my phone handy and checking it frequently. The one who DID have a problem made me glad I was doing it, he made a joke-but-not-really-a-joke that I was accusing him of being a creep and was visibly annoyed whenever I sent a text. He had also said he was bringing his wife and one of her friends, but showed up alone and admitted he’d lied about being married. He’d also told me he was 26 but was probably closer to 40. After the game I said I was jet lagged and ready to call it a night (I wasn’t, he was just setting off alarm bells and I wanted to GTFO of there). He got pushy about it and tried to get me to get in his car so he could take me to a sports bar near his place, which I declined because I’m not a total idiot. Then he offered me a ride to my hotel but I said I’d walk because it was just a few blocks away. He insisted on walking me there so I let him walk me to a hotel I’d seen a couple of blocks away on the way there, ducked into a restroom and waited about ten minutes, then got a Lyft to take me to the place I was actually staying. I never talked to that dude again and blocked him on the website we’d met on. That was one bad experience out of a dozen or more, though, so I still do it and usually have a great time. One of the people I met that way lives about two hours away now and he’s one of my closest friends.

    19. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Lots of people from various music forums over the years. Mr SST actually is one of them. Many of these people I still know and hang out with – the added bonus is that they are usually folks that I probably, for one reason or another, wouldn’t have ever met in real life but they are good friends from shared mutual interests online.

      My tips would be to try and move the conversation slowly outside the fandom area you both share and try to find other common grounds of interest, or share a bit of your real life. If its awkward then its only for a few hours, but that doesn’t mean it has to go back to being awkward online. I also tend to recognize that these are relationships that are more likely to be fluid compared to those formed in a more traditional sense.

    20. King Friday XIII*

      I met Queen Sarah by criticizing her fanfic characterization. In retrospect, I was completely wrong, and also very glad she argued with me about it. ;)

      1. fposte*

        Slight digression because of your username–did you know that this year there’s going to be a Mr. Rogers stamp and a Mr. Rogers Funko Pop? I don’t know what I think of the Funko Pop yet but I’m going to load up on the stamps.

    21. Lissa*

      Yup! Not a lot, but a few times. One of my biggest annoyances is how meeting people online is *still* presented in the media – with the person being a likely serial killer or otherwise going horribly wrong seeming to be the only option, so a lot of people *freak* out if you mention it. I mean, with tinder and online dating becoming so common I think this is slowly fading away but there’s a different vibe for “I’ve known this person for ages on the Internet, now let’s meet in real life”.

      Every person I’ve met IRL or experience I’ve heard has either been good/fine, or has been bad in ways that have little to do with the online aspect. I don’t know anyone who has had a “they told me they were a 20 year old man and were actually a 50 year old woman” type of experiences where someone’s wildly different. I think those catfish scenarios have people who, if anything, keep avoiding a meetup.

    22. Rainy*

      I met my fiance on Twitter. We met after a couple of years of friendship. It, uh, obviously went really well. He’s also 11 years younger than I am.

    23. Laura H*


      I hosted my fandom buddy last June for two weeks! Was fun!!

      I had a loose itinerary- took a Saturday to play hometown tourist, a Friday we went to big city with historical attraction that even tho I’d been living nearby for 19 years hadn’t ever been to.

      And of course, we fangirled.

      I’m excited for you!!

    24. Elizabeth H.*

      I’ve met so many people in real life after being friends online! Sometimes with really intense friendships online. I had one batch from a forum I participated in super heavily when I was 14 and 15. There were some international meetups and of course, people who dated, got married, etc. I kind of fell out of that world after a while, but in my last 2 years of college I started commenting on a site where eventually we started making more personal friends with people, mostly via Twitter. I ended up dating and living with somebody I met that way! And a few other partnerships and marriages happened because of people who met via the site. I eventually phased out of that too and don’t really spend time pursuing online friendships, although I felt it was really valuable to me at the time. I found that when I was younger the initial meeting was quite awkward, especially if you’ve had a really intense one on one friendship. But as I’m an adult it’s gotten less and less so. Just kind of like meeting any friend of a friend.

    25. Librarygeek*

      Yep! I was on a trip to Bath (England) and posted on a community board to see if anyone localish wanted to meetup. Some acquaintances took me up on it and we had a nice wander around sightseeing. No deep connections made, but it was pleasant to have someone to hang out with since I did the rest of my trip alone.

      I’ve also met up with a couple of friends I’d roleplayed and written fan stuff with for a number of years – one after she moved to the Twin Cities, where I frequently visit friends. I told her I’d be in town if she wanted to meet at a bookstore. We did, had a great time chatting after brief initial awkwardness, and meet up again whenever we both go to a con up there. The other one was coincidentally in Chicago for a work thing the same weekend I was and posted online about it, whereupon I pounced and we arranged to meet after dinner at her hotel because I had a vehicle and she didn’t. We had a great talk and if I’m ever in her area, I’ll definitely be looking to meet again.

    26. Elizabeth West*

      Oh yes! I’ve met up with various people from my music chat. We tend to meet at events (film music concerts, because we’re all about soundtracks), but also it’s common to say “Hey, I’m going to be in [City]; let’s visit,” when we’re in the area where another chatter lives.

      When I first joined, way back in 2003, people there were very reluctant to share names, locations, etc. But later, when Facebook became more of a thing, and the old guard sort of faded away, the younger chatters were more likely to connect outside the chat room.

      I have friends from all over the world in there–most are European–and also all parts of the U.S. Two friends from the Netherlands and Poland who often travel together visited during the eclipse, and we invited them to my mum’s to see totality. We had a lovely visit. I’m really bummed right now that there is a huge gathering planned in Chicago in April and I cannot go. It’s for a John Williams concert and tickets/lodging, etc., are completely out of my reach. :'( I’ve already seen JW twice in L.A., but it’s the social thing that I’m upset about missing. And every year, there is a gathering at the Film Music Festival in Krakow–I’ve been trying to get there for AGES. Grr!

      So far, I’ve not regretted meeting up with fellow online peeps, except for the one time I dated someone from the chat and it did not go well. Never again. We’ve had a couple of marriages come out of it, but I was not one of those! We’ve had loads of fun, however. Last time we went to a concert, before the eclipse, was in London so there was plenty to do.

      You’ll have your fandom to talk about, if nothing else. If you’ve arranged lunch or something with a definite end time, then if it turns out to be mega awkward, then you can escape. Or if you connect, you can hang out more. :)

  12. Emily*

    I have a dilemma: I have too many fun things going on in my life (terrible, I know!) and am wondering how to decide when/if I should drop or scale back on one of them (probably pottery – it’s the newest and most expensive).

    I’ve been taking pottery classes for four or five months and I really like it! I’ve improved a lot from where I started, have made some nice mugs and bowls, and still have things I want to make and design choices I want to try. But between pottery and all of the other things I do (ultimate frisbee, indoor bouldering, community orchestra), I have very few free evenings. If I want to do things like cook or catch up with friends, I have to do them on specific nights at specific times.

    Idk…a few weeks ago, I was thinking I should take a break, but now that my class is almost over, I think I might want to sign up for the next eight-week session. I feel very fickle and don’t know if I should listen to the me of a few weeks ago (who was rightly thinking that she was a little over-scheduled) or the me of now (who gets a lot of enjoyment out of pottery and wants to continue doing it).

    Alternatively, if you are a very busy person, any strategies for keeping up with basic needs (food, cleaning, laundry, etc.) and non-scheduled fun activities (reading, time with friends, television, etc.)?

    1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      It seems like you’re really enjoying pottery, so I’m not sure I would quit it cold turkey. Can you work on refining what you learned in this session and maybe even finding somewhere to practice for a bit and then sign up for the session after this next one? Basically just skipping a session to regroup. That way you have a little break but don’t need to give it up all together.

    2. Bigglesworth*

      Why don’t you take a break for this one class and see how you feel after that? It’s only two months, so not that long at all. :) After taming one break you may never want to take a break again and that’s ok! But you’ll never know unless you do it at least once. :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Well, if I gave it some thought and still came up with no answer, then I think I would be strategic about it. Which activity bolsters up my shorter term goals, which activity supports my longer term goals? It could be that I decide I do not see myself doing X in 5 or 10 years from now, this maybe a clue to my answer in current time.

    4. friends*

      I have something most evenings. It makes it hard to plan things with others but I find that it’s not as if on those days I am doing nothing, I am with others so I try to build a satisfying life that I can sustain on my own. Also, I meet people over the weekend. I don’t have a lot of friends and most of my friends are partnered (I’m not) so depending on your situation maybe that is different.

    5. LCL*

      I do my fun activities in cycles. When music gets too much I drop guitar class. Fitness class comes and goes. Skiing is seasonal. I have to drop things from time to time. For you, it sounds like you really still want to do the pottery class, so do it again and drop something else. You can always come back.

      If you are so busy with fun you are over scheduled, do your chores at weird times. Laundry will always wait for you.

      Disclaimer-OP said nothing about responsiblities for other humans or animals, so I’m assuming that isn’t an issue.

    6. Victoria, Please*

      That sounds like a good problem to have. :-)

      I really appreciated Laura Vanderkam’s “168 Hours: You have more time than you think.” It may give you a way to think about your choices.

    7. HannahS*

      One thing I’ve done is just to remind myself that I don’t need to engage with all of my interests all of the time; I’m trying to remind myself that life is long, and I’ll have time for many things. As a somewhat anxious person, “life is short, seize the day” is not the right message for me, so I’m deliberately going in the opposite direction. For example, I’ve been knitting, but I haven’t had time to sew for, oh, at least half a year. Probably more. I still haven’t made a sewing blog. I haven’t been in a choir or practiced singing much for close to three years. Right now, I’m trying to move away from the time-wasting part of the internet and towards sewing–just mending and alterations so far, not full garments–and even though I know I don’t have time for blogging, I got Instagram to motivate myself to just learn a bit about basic picture-taking. Baby steps. But my sewing machine didn’t run away when I wasn’t using it, you know? I didn’t forget how to mend a sweater, or alter a pair of jeans. And sure, right now, I don’t have the time to make music, but that won’t always be true. I may sing in choirs for decades of my adult life. I just can’t do it Right Now if I also want time to take care of myself. Right Now is a period of a few years where all of my extracurricular activities are solitary and flexible. In three years, maybe the music-making phase will begin again.

      If you’re feeling overburdened, don’t sign up for the class. The most probable worst case scenario is that you miss it, you’re bored home some evenings for eight whole weeks, and then…you sign up for the next one! Or if it doesn’t run again for six months, you’ll take it again in six months! There’s no rush. Opportunities may pass you by, but similar ones, equally fulfilling ones, will cycle around. FOMO is anxiety-provoking, but it won’t kill you, and it’s worth answering the question, “Am I happier when I have more time?”

      1. Blue_eyes*

        This is such a good way to think about it. I haven’t been knitting/crocheting much for the past year, but you’re right, I have time. I taught myself to knit over 15 years ago, my needles and yarn aren’t going anywhere. I can (and will) come back to knitting/crocheting at some point.

    8. Sunshine&IcedCoffee*

      As a fellow busy person, I’ve embraced the schedule everything approach.

      I schedule my housework/life stuff around the other fun stuff. So I know that after my yoga class is a grocery run and then after my volunteer shift, I’m doing laundry. That way, I don’t stress too much cause I know the essentials are somewhere on the schedule.

      I also designate evenings for “non-schedule” fun i.e staying in and bumming around the house and that works for great for me

      But YMMV as always :)

  13. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

    Speed dating was created by a Jewish rabbi. Bees can fly up to 15mph. Some of the earliest fashion marketing included dressing up mini “fashion babies” (child size mannequins) in smaller versions of the goods being sold and shipped across the world to the intended target.

    I’m on an interesting fact kick. Anyone have any good ones or good sources for them?

      1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        It was supposed to be a method to help match up the single Jewish people, so I’ve read.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This is interesting to me because so much modern advice seems to boil down toward “Get off that device and meet in person. Soon. Keep it short, like coffee. You will know very quickly whether there is enough in-person spark to be worth a real date.” The rabbi was onto something.

    1. fposte*

      Watch QI. Lots of episodes available on YouTube, and it’s really good fun. Sometimes they’re a little misleading (okay, arguably wrong) but often they correct later on.

      Not from QI:
      Horseshoe crab blood is copper-based, and the crabs are “milked” for their blood to use in testing the sterility of medical instruments.

      1. Me2*

        We love QI. 9 Out Of 10 Cats is also enjoyable but it’s current events based so the older episodes do feel old.

        1. fposte*

          Tangentially, I have gotten weirdly obsessed with 8 Out of Ten Cats Does Countdown. Deeply irreverent and often super-filthy comedy mixed with random absurdity punctuated by math and word challenges.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, there is just something about this very lovely, scholarly, middle-aged woman being rather delighted to be down in the mud and give as good as she gets now and then that is so charming to me.

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        I love QI but I think the No Such Thing As a Fish podcast is the best medium! The books don’t really do it for me. I like the back and forth.

      3. Madeline*

        Haha I have QI on in the background right now!
        Much as the main content of the show is entertaining, I do love it when they have moments where Sandi (or Stephen* in the old days) completely loses control of the panel and they spiral into some crazy tangents.

        *’they say of the Acropolis where the Parthenon is…’

    2. Bigglesworth*

      If you like video games at all, check out Game Theory on YouTube. MatPat uses science to figure and support different game theories.

    3. Emily*

      I really like this article on why we color our cheese orange: https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/11/07/243733126/how-17th-century-fraud-gave-rise-to-bright-orange-cheese

      TL;DR version: Some cows naturally produce yellowish milk after eating grass high in beta-carotene (an orange pigment). However, most of the pigment is contained in the fatty parts of the milk, so when you skim off the cream before making the cheese, you end up with a whitish cheese. In order to make more money, 17th-century English cheesemakers started skimming off the cream to sell separately and coloring their lower-quality cheeses yellow. This practice carried into today, when we (at least, many people in the US) have come to expect the yellow-orange color (although its presence or absence is no longer indicative of quality).

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Wasn’t there a whole discussion on a recent open thread about how carrots didn’t used to be orange?

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              According to the World Carrot Museum (who knew that was a thing?!) they were originally purple or white!

              1. LilySparrow*

                I’ve grown purple & white heirloom carrots – they’re very tangy.

                I seem to recall seeing purple carrots in the original Peter Rabbit illustrations.

    4. Random Comment*

      I don’t know if this counts but I just learned yesterday that Alexander Dumas (The Three Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo) was black. I can’t remember any of my English teachers ever mentioning it.

      1. fposte*

        I love The Unbelievable Truth! And Americans can listen to it too, which is nice; the BBC site usually has some episodes up.

        The only downside is that I will sometimes be unsure whether what I’m remembering ended up bring a truth or a lie.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The Brain Scoop on YouTube is pretty good, it’s done by someone at the Field Museum in Chicago.

    6. Librarygeek*

      Victorians are indirectly to blame for the “boobplate/metal bikini” armor that decorated many a terrible fantasy novel cover.

      Norse women wore brooches at each shoulder as part of the fasteners for their dresses. These were round or oval, metal, and highly decorated for the wealthier women. Victorian England enjoyed Wagner’s “Ring of the Nibelung” opera, about Vikings and Norse gods and all that. The costume designers weren’t exactly sure what the large round metal things on the ladies’ dresses were for, but when the Valkyrie showed up, well, they’re sort of warrior ladies, right? Must be armor! What’s it doing up there by the shoulders? Not much to protect up there! And so the brooches gradually grew (got to be seen from the cheap seats) and shifted further south… And the rest is, predictably, history.

    7. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      My favorite Fun Fact: The flavor of “bubble gum” is a blend of vanilla, cinnamon, peppermint, and spearmint!

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Related (ish) fun fact: I always assumed that Blue Raspberry was a made-up/artificial flavor, but its a real natural flavor from a fruit called the Blue Raspberry (which isn’t particularly blue IRL).

    8. DrWombat*

      Ooooo biologist fun facts to the rescue!

      Humans, certain primates, and guinea pigs cannot synthesize vitamin C and must get it from their diets

      Guernsey goats were almost driven extinct when the island of Guernsey was occupied by Nazis during WWII, but their owners risked their lives to hide them in caves, instead of turning them over to occupying forces as food

      Because of their split upper lips, sheep and goats can pick around the spiky parts of plants cattle can’t, meaning they can eat a wider variety of shrubs and plants and can be used to get rid of invasive or noxious species

      Jacob sheep can have six horns, and both males and females can be polycerate (>2 horns)

      Jersey cows are known for investigating things with their tongues, and some have even figured out how to open locks as a result!

      Sideshows used to exhibit Silkie chickens and claim they were the result of rabbits and chickens mating

      Peacocks are feral in South Florida

    9. phyllisb*

      Did you know at one time it was legal to mail children?? I tell you no lie; look it up. I saw a picture a few years ago of a child standing in a mailman’s bag that the mailman had slung over his shoulder. Looked to have been taken in maybe the 1890’s? I’m sure that was staged, but what parents would do is put postage stamps on their children and take them to the mail train to be “delivered” to another city. (A cheaper way to send them to Grandma?) The practice was finally outlawed.

  14. Bluebell*

    Raleigh travel tips? Spouse and I are here for the long weekend plus one day, visiting friends, but still looking for a few fun things to do. Any suggestions welcome, from cultural attractions to outside activities to undiscovered but interesting options. (We were joking about the tuba museum but probably won’t make it there. ) Thanks so much!

    1. I NC You There*

      The NC Museum of Art is always worth a trip, and it’s free (though special exhibitions are ticketed). The museum park is an absolutely wonderful walk, with sculpture throughout and lots of cool things to discover (look for the camera obscura). Of course, the weather may not cooperate!

      There’s probably a festival going on downtown. There is always SOMETHING going on downtown.

      We’ve lived in the area for almost four years and have never heard of this tuba museum! So thanks for the tip. :) We like to go to various breweries in the area, and there are soooo many. Raleigh Brewing is good for just hanging out. Bond Brothers in Cary has the best beer. Mystery in Hillsborough (a bit of a drive, near Chapel Hill) is pretty cool. One of our favorites is Haw River, out in Saxapahaw, which was recently kind of built up so it has restaurants, condos, an amphitheatre… It’s a nice drive if the weather’s good (which… sorry it’s not this weekend!).

      If you’re willing to venture out, you’ll find a lot more in other parts of the Triangle. There’s a lemur center at Duke; they require tickets/reservations, but at this time of year, you shouldn’t have a problem getting in. Also the Sarah Duke Gardens are really pretty. Out in Pittsboro is the Carolina Tiger Rescue; I haven’t been, but I hear it’s something to behold! Also requires a ticket for a tour. If there’s a concert at Duke Chapel tonight (there usually is), it’s a really beautiful venue, and downtown Durham is pretty close. There are excellent restaurants in Durham and Raleigh, at all kinds of price points.

      In Raleigh proper, we have the Raulston Arboretum on the State campus, which is lovely and a nice walk. There’s also a newly opened art museum on the State campus, right on Hillsborough Street, which looks pretty cool (I haven’t been yet). And the Contemporary Art Museum, or CAM, which is conveniently right downtown.

      Enjoy your weekend! I keep feeling like I ought to apologize for the weather. Yesterday it got up to 80 degrees.

      1. Bluebell*

        Thanks for all of the great advice! We did make it to the Art Museum and the CAM today. And the weather was much nicer than Boston.

    2. Tarheel*

      You probably wouldn’t be able to do this with time constraints, but the zoo in Asheboro is anazing. However, that’s basically a whole day affair.
      If you’re into museums, there’s several grouped together in downtown and an art museum in west Raleigh.

    3. NCSU alumna*

      If you like hiking, Umstead State Park is about 20 minutes from downtown Raleigh. It has many well maintained, well marked trails. I agree with I NC You There about the NC Museum of Art. There are a few other museums downtown, too.

      Lots of food options around – Mitch’s Tavern on Hillsborough Street is a favorite among students at NC State. :)

    4. Emily*

      Other people have already given great suggestions, but to touch on a few things I haven’t seen yet:

      – There are so many parks/trails for walking and biking! The last time I was in Raleigh I went to Umstead Park to look at the chainsaw sculpture (er, a tree trunk sculpted using a chainsaw, not a sculpture made of chainsaws) and walk around the wooded trails, but you could also go to Shelley Lake, Durant Nature Preserve, etc.
      – Videri Chocolate Factory (high-quality chocolate bars and bonbons in a smallish shop downtown). In addition to buying chocolate, you can see their factory floor through windows and learn about their process, but even with the self-guided “tour” I wouldn’t expect your visit to take more than an hour at most.
      – I can’t speak to the majority of the breweries/beer stuff in Raleigh (other than that if you like that kind of thing, you can find it there), but I enjoyed visiting Bull City Ciderworks in Durham a few years ago.

    5. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      Oh gosh, I just saw this! I hope you’ve been enjoying your time in Raleigh. I highly recommend Trali Irish Pub (get the sticky toffee pudding!), Duke Chapel, Lake Lynn (though EVERYONE was there today, my gosh) and/or Lynnwood Grill, particularly the upstairs patio during the sunset.

      Enjoy your time here! So happy to see so many AAM readers are local to me. :)

  15. Drive like you stole it*

    There was a commenter on the DeVry post this week who said they’d attended Maury tapings. Please tell us about being in the Maury audience!

  16. Lost and Wanting to Help*

    I have a mental illness question – my spouse has anxiety and depression. She may also have a few other issues, but we’re not sure. I love her, but I frequently do everything to keep the house running. Additionally, I’m a full time student and don’t have a lot of spare time do to fun things once all the chores and schoolwork/research is done. She works full time, which I’m very appreciative of since it allowed me to return to school. She also says she’ll take care of the house (mostly bills and cleaning – I tend to do the cooking). However, bills haven’t been getting paid, the house is a wreck, and I’m at my wits end. Finally, she keeps missing her doctors appointments and I think they’re about done rescheduling for her.

    Question: How do I keep my sanity while still helping her? She’s told me to go do something fun for myself, but I don’t have time for hobbies once I’m home from school and still have to take care of the home front as well as any homework.

    1. Bigglesworth*

      I know this may not be helpful, but just know you’re not alone, Lost. I’m still figuring this out myself, so I don’t have a lot of helpful advice. It helped me when my husband got his own hobbies and friends outside of me, but your wife may not be there yet.

    2. Forking Great Username*

      Try to make the time to do something fun for yourself. I know you say it’s too hard to manage time wise, but in stressful situations like this, sometimes for your own sanity you need to let your housework standards fall for a bit so that you can get a few hours of chill time.

      1. Lost and Wanting to Help*

        How would you recommend me doing this? Even when I’m trying to relax, I can’t help but think about the time I could spend studying or getting stuff done. I can’t turn off my brain unless the to-do list is done.

        1. Koala dreams*

          Can you put the things you need for your mental health on the to-do list? Things like watch favourite tv program, listen to music, go for a walk, call a friend… There are apps where you can customize your to do lists, or if you have a paper list you can check them off. I feel it always make me feel better when I can check off things of lists.

        2. Observer*

          That’s really the key. You DO need to “turn off” that part of your brain. Putting on your to do list as “health maintenance” or something like might be useful. Or maybe a session FOR YOU with a therapist.

          Also, figure out what NEEDS to be done, and then do ONLY that, nothing else. And, don’t do stuff for your spouse. If laundry takes the same amount of time whether you do hers as well as yours, sure. But don’t spend extra time. Don’t set up her appointments, etc. It’s not about “teaching” or anything like that, but you need to be in a mode that is sustainable, and what you are describing is not sustainable.

    3. Nic*

      I feel like this is incredibly similar to a question that has been answered over on CaptainAwkward’s blog. I don’t remember the specific answer, but I hope if you choose to look you find the question easily.

    4. Dead Quote Olympics*

      It seems like there are three related issues, with possibly different strategies, that might help you with the stated problem – keeping your sanity. What does that mean to you, though? Being able to cope better in a practical sense (dr appts, bills, house, time management)? Seeing progress and hope for the future (drs appts)? Or stress relief ( fun, hobbies)?

      1) if it’s the first and second, prioritization might be a strategy. Having her keep her appointments is key, because the situation is not likely to get better without her getting her conditions more well controlled. Bills need to be paid or bad things will happen. Housework? Less of a priority unless it’s a major stressor for you. Can you outsource some of it some of the time? Laundry drop off once a week or as a splurge? Do you have a good friend or relative that could come over and help for a couple of hours and do housework or a particular task (cleaning out a toxic fridge) as a bonding activity (stress relief) while you listen to loud music or watch something together, or a work swap (I help you do unpleasant/hard job this week and you help me next week)?

      The other issue is what would actually make you feel better that you can control? Is that doing something fun? Or would it actually be more beneficial to your mental state to lift some of the daily strain — money spent on a hobby, or on outsourcing laundry/cleaning/food prep/other? Time spent socializing during a fun activity, or time spent socializing with a trusted social circle doing something of practical benefit?

      Only you know the answers to those questions, and of course it depends on your friend/family/financial/relationship dynamic, but it sounds like you have a lot going on and it may repay some thought about what would actually relieve your stress that is achievable, and it might not necessarily be escapism or fun.

      1. Lost and Wanting to Help*

        I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that what was most beneficial to my mental state is doing something productive. I think figuring out how to prioritize what things should get done and what should slide is going to be difficult. I wish I could ask our families for help taking care of stuff. We actually moved across the country and left our family and friends behind so I could attend one of the top schools in my field. I normally have no problem asking them for help, but our social circle is still limited in this city.

        My wife has been trying to prove to herself that she can keep her own appointments without my help, which means that I am frequently left in the dark when she is supposed to be there. I understand that she wants to prove she can “adult”, but I’m at a loss of how to help her if she won’t let me.

        1. Observer*

          That’s actually a GOOD thing. She absolutely needs to be the one who makes sure that keeps her appointments. It might be worth an appointment for both of you where you talk to the therapist about your role.

          There are other ways to be supportive and helpful without getting her to her appointments. And getting her to her appointments is actually not so helpful.

        2. Dead Quote Olympics*

          I’m a “do something productive” strategist, too. If your family could help financially, could you/would you ask them? Three months of a house cleaner, laundry service, meal service or similar to buy you some breathing space? Something to help ease or simplify your schooling — better internet at home, a pass for closer parking, etc.? Sometimes throwing money at minor but stressful problems for a limited amount of time works if you can afford it or your family can help, especially if you are cut off from social networks. Or temporarily stopping something that you feel you ought to do but that eats up time or energy. The suggestions to simplify your life in any way possible are good ones. You might find it useful to think in terms of activities that help yourself in the short term versus the long term and invest more heavily in the short term. Physical activity (gym, running, walking) always helps now versus general networking in your academic program, which is a long term investment that maybe you can put on hold right now.

          Wishing you all the good luck in the world – it’s exhausting to start school in a top program at the best of times.

      1. Turtlewings*

        Seconding this! I also think you need to take charge of the really critical things — bills, getting her to the doctor — and accept that some things, also important but not as critical, you might just have to let go for a little while. You’re only one person, you literally physically can’t do all the work of taking care of two people when there’s only one of you. Accept that there are some things neither of you are capable of doing right now. If possible — as in the suggestion for a housekeeper — find ways that maybe other people could do them for you. (Ask friends for help, too! Maybe not with cleaning the house, but help with getting Spouse to the doctor, help with giving you opportunities to relax, whatever they can help with. They love you. They want to help.)

      2. TootsNYC*

        even if you don’t hire them often, and just have them come in every two months to clean more broadly (and you keep up with wiping down the bathroom and kitchen counters).

    5. Natalie*

      This kind of stuff is hard, and can be a relationship killer. One of the best Captain Awkward thought exercises: assume this isn’t ever going to change. How long do you think you can stay in this relationship? 3 months, 5 years, forever?

      I am the (mostly) healthy spouse with a partner with some health challenges and it’s exhausting. It’s normal to have a lot of mixed feelings about your partner’s health – positive ones like empathy and caretaking urges but also negatives ones like frustration and resentment. Don’t feel guilty about this. It might help to talk to a counselor yourself as you need an outlet for negative feelings that isn’t your partner (the “silk ring theory”).

      On a practical level, you have to get the bills issue straightened out since that can cause pretty significant consequences. You and your partner should have a clear eyed conversation about what’s realistic for getting bills paid – maybe set up more reminders from the companies, maybe you take it over, maybe you set up autopay. No matter what you decide to do, her just promising to vaguely do better isn’t an option.

      For other household stuff, look at simplifying where you can. That’s going to look different for every person – it could mean paying to outsource things, or accepting that you’re going to eat the same 5 meals over and over, or rearranging your home to make tidying easier. Your partner might also like the suggestions for cleaning with health challenges over at Unf*ck Your Habitat.

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I’m pretty much echoing everyone else. Getting someone in to clean even once a month will help keep your space at a healthy level of clean. You could do some purging and reorganizing to reduce clutter which will help the house look cleaner as well. Or even just put things you don’t need into storage for a while. They say clutter affects mental health. (Not saying it’s a cure, just that there’s more than one benefit.) Take back the bills and automate as much as possible. I think some banks have some sort of look-up feature so even variable bills can be paid automatically. And you can often put your utilities on a plan where you pay the same amount each month. For credit cards, you could schedule some sort of minimum payment to happen automatically each month and then check the balance when you can to make up the rest. You’ll pay some interest, but you’ll save non-payment fees and dings to your credit rating, and if your spending is predictable you can get pretty close. Batch cook and use cycle menus to help automate the cooking as well, since you’re taking on more of the household stuff. Have groceries delivered. You won’t be in school forever, so this is just to get you both through this period and then you can make a new plan. And hopefully you spouse will be in a better and healthier place.

      And if you don’t have time for hobbies or fun things, try and get away time. Do your homework in your favorite coffee shop or a different library than usual. Do the grocery shopping somewhere you don’t normally go. Exercise in different gyms or parks. Even taking a different route to school could help. Get yourself outside the spaces you normally inhabit.

      The really big piece though, is to mind your boundaries. It is so easy when you have a family member with mental health problems to want to try and fix it for them and you just can’t. You need to pretend your spouse has a very bad cold. You can drive her to the doctor but you can’t manage her appointments. You can pick up orange juice, but you can’t make her drink it. You can take on the tasks that will ruin your lives if ignored, but you have to let some balls fall if she drops them.

    7. Kuododi*

      One thing I would suggest is looking at NAMI.org (National Association of Mental Illness). They are a very good place for information and resources. Best wishes…you are in my thoughts…

      1. Mary Connell*

        Ditto. I just met a woman who teaches NAMI classes to families of those with mental illness. She said finding the organization was a lifesaver for her family.

    8. Oogie*

      Stay strong-you are not alone. I have had mental health issues for about 20 years and my husband (the “normal” one) had a nervous breakdown this week and spent 2 days in the psych ward. He said it might not have gotten so bad if he wasn’t trying to protect me from his feelings since I already struggle. Long story short, we had some really good honest conversations about underlying issues I hadn’t really thought too much about in our marriage. You need to ask her point blank why she isn’t invested in keeping her appointments and getting help. Just my opinion.

    9. Ramona Flowers*

      On the doctors appointments I think it’s reasonable to expect her to go if she needs to but first try to find out what the issue is.

      I would ask her why she isn’t attending – is she worried about something, did she have a bad experience, is she struggling with crowds in the waiting room, is she afraid of doctors, etc? Ask why and really listen to the answer. Then ask her to figure out a solution that would work. The current one isn’t working.

      I have some links coming in a follow up comment.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I am in the UK so I’m mainly aware of UK resources but some of this advice is universal:

        https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helping-someone-else/carers-friends-family-coping-support/#.WolpQ3CnyEc (this is more focused on support for you)

        https://www.nopanic.org.uk/help-for-carers/ (Ditto and some of the advice doesn’t travel but it still felt worth posting)

        https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/supporting-someone-mental-health-problem (this is more focused on how to support the other person)

        What support are you getting? Is there a counselling service at your university that you could use? It’s ok to use this to talk about supporting someone else. Also does your spouse’s job have an EAP – if so they may be able to help both them and you.

    10. Koala dreams*

      I also have a history of mental health problems and missing appointments is a super common problem in this situation, it’s strange that her doctor isn’t more aware of that. In my case I changed to a clinic with drop in appointments, so I can just go there and wait in the waiting room until the doctor has time for me.

      Is it possible for her to work part-time instead? It sounds like she has too much on her plate. I live alone, so I have to work part time, to ensure having enough energy to make breakfast and do laundry (can’t work without breakfast or clean clothes). If that’s not possible, can she hire someone to make her parts of the house chores?

      As for you, do you have any support just for you? A therapist, a counsellor, a group for people with ill spouses/family? It’s very stressful to deal with illness in the family, even if you are the healthy one. I also think you need to put your health first, even though it maybe feels selfish. Neither you nor your spouse is helped by you being exhausted all the time, and it’s much easier to recover from a dirty house than from longtime exhaustion.

      1. Observer*

        I also have a history of mental health problems and missing appointments is a super common problem in this situation, it’s strange that her doctor isn’t more aware of that.

        Not strange at all. It may (or may not) be the right thing in this situation, but some therapist specifically are on the more rigid side on appointments because they find it to actually be helpful. That doesn’t work for everyone, and it could be that the OP’s spouse needs to find another doctor. Otoh, it doesn’t matter how often the doctor re0schedules appointments if the new appointment gets missed as well. So, this needs to be addressed anyway.

        1. Koala dreams*

          Yeah, it makes sense for therapists since it takes a lot of motivation to get something out of therapy, but it’s strange for a doctor, since the effect is making it harder for really ill people to get treatment. Around here you generally have to pay a no-show fee, but there’s no problem to get a new appointment. Sometimes the doctor might squeeze you in later in the day, sometimes you have to wait a few weeks. I live in Sweden, so maybe this is yet another of these cultural differences. Thank for explaining!

    11. Miles*

      Make sure she gets to the doctor’s appointments even if you have to physically drag her out there, if those appointments are for a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.

      If that’s the type of appointment she’s missing, her lack of motivation or energy to do housework is because her symptoms aren’t being managed and that’s the first step to overcoming behavioral health struggles.

      1. Observer (1)*

        Absolutely NOT! Sure, it’s true that if her illness isn’t being managed, she’s not getting better. But physically dragging her to her appointments will NOT help her to manage her illness – and that’s the best case. Worst case, it seriously damages her treatment.

  17. Candi*

    Book recommendation: Lost to Time: Unforgettable Stories that History Forgot, by Martin W. Sandler.

    First chapter is about Ziryab, a ninth century freed slave with a heck of a brain and serious ingenuity. He served the ruler of Cordoba, creating innovations that have affected multiple cultures through the centuries.

  18. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Via a message board I follow, I have discovered Renters on Netflix. It’s a reality show out of New Zealand about property managers. I don’t know why, but I LOVE IT. It has also inspired me to spend my long weekend cleaning this house. In the last 90 minutes, I have cleaned the second bathroom and all of the surfaces in the kitchen (you know, the stuff that required moving and rearranging). Anyone else watched this lovely gem (or, as they say in NZ, “gym”) of a show?

    1. Triplestep*

      I have not seen this, but it sounds like something I’d like. (I working Facility Planning, which is a cousin to Property Management.) Thanks for the tip!

    2. BravoMessenger*

      Yes! It’s very good and the property manager with the flaming red hair from The Good Girls is a total hoot!

    3. NZ Muse*

      I do not (because I have no desire to even think about this stuff after 10 horrific years of renting – PMs are the devil as far as I am concerned) but I just wanted to say how amusing/awesome it is that our wee reality show is being watched elsewhere!

    4. Mary Connell*

      Yes … it’s a fun way to get a glimpse into another culture, even if it’s a dysfunctional little slice of that culture. : )

  19. Cat*

    Anyone have experience with paying someone to pack for you? I’m moving in a couple of months and am starting to wonder how much this option costs. I like the idea of someone who knows how to pack things packing them so that they don’t get broken cross-country plus, you know, it’s just a miserable experience to do it yourself.

    1. anon scientist*

      I had packers for my last move. It was both amazing and annoying. The amazing thing was not having to pack, of course. But the downside was that the boxes were just labelled with the room (e.g., Living room, kitchen), so unpacking was kind of annoying because I couldn’t have an unpacking strategy such as unpacking the glasses and plates as priority over the decorative platters. My move was supposed to include unpacking as well, but that sounded awful – I want to figure out where to put stuff, not have to rearrange everything after the movers unpack. I also probably didn’t get rid of as much stuff as I would have if I was packing myself, because I didn’t stand there and think “do I really want this thing?” as I was packing .

      So, overall it was probably worth it to not have to pack, but it did make setting up rooms on the other end more difficult.

    2. K.*

      My best friend and her husband did it when they moved cross-country for her job. She had no choice, as her company was handling the move for her. She hated it because nothing was organized the way she would have organized it. For example, all the kitchen stuff was jumbled together rather than being separated by glasses, plates, small appliances, etc. And the boxes weren’t labeled. After hearing about her experience, I don’t think I’d ever do it because I like things to be organized a certain way, and having someone pack for you doesn’t really enable you to do that.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Following with interest — we’re looking at a BIG international move in a few years and I’ve waffled about whether it’s worth it to save up and shell out the extra couple grand for full service.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        How big of a move? Also a thing to consider with international is that your stuff will have to be trucked to a depot and loaded onto a ship and there are customs clearances and the like to consider = paperwork. A reputable end to end mover could make this much less of a hassle, especially if you have a lot of things like pets/kids/immigration stuff to sort out as well.

        1. Parenthetically*

          To Australia from the midwest. Yes, I’ve gotten some quotes from dedicated international movers who handle all the paperwork for you. It’s actually a lot less expensive than I figured it’d be, and it’s certainly much less than replacing the entire contents of our house! Most of them have a sort of two-tiered pricing structure, one that includes all the packing up of your house and one that doesn’t. Everything else is included by default though.

          1. anon scientist*

            Make sure to look into insurance. For my international move, my goods were only insured if they did the packing. Makes sense, since they should supposedly know how to pack things correctly.

    4. EmilyG*

      Hi, it’s me from the thread above. I have moved five times in the past seven years (uugghhhh) and three of those were full-packs. Two were employer-sponsored moves across the country, and one was to my new house, literally less than a mile, but I just couldn’t face doing it again and found out that it wasn’t going to cost *that* much because I have a pretty edited 1-bedroom-apt worth of stuff.

      In my case, there was always pretty decent box labelling and they also did a good job packing some specialized things that lots of people have. For example, somewhere along the way I ditched the carton for my TV, but it still got packed well, and they always packed my dishes upright, like in the dishwasher, which is apparently safer for them. Also I have a lot of pictures, mirrors, and stuff, and that was always done well. They had a small box clearly labeled “CORDS AND REMOTES” so none of that got lost.

      But, I think each time they managed to mess up something kind of unusual. The first team of packers put some of my books upright in the boxes and then put other boxes on top so that some covers got bent. The second team had a guy who was probably 20yo pack my closet, and when I was unpacking I realized he’d chucked all of my purses at the bottom of a box with various awkwardly shaped heavy things on top (I was able to reshape them, so in the end this was funny). I don’t recall any casualties from the third time because I think I had my eye on my delicate stuff.

      Overall, I’d recommend it if your move has other stressors involved.

      1. Casuan*

        It is worth it.
        For many things I used post-its to tell the packers what to write on the box. Still there were boxes that were generically marked, although that inconvenience was worth it to me.

      2. Nacho*

        Wow. I know you probably have a bigger house than me, but I’m about to move right now, and I can’t imagine paying $1500 for people to pack my shit. Maybe a couple hundred since it would double as cleaning my place, but that’s really high.

    5. Horizons*

      We’ve had packers do the kitchen and done the rest of the house ourselves. That has worked really well, because I’m not patient enough to wrap each glass/dish/mug carefully. (I’ve unpacked it myself.)

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      My parents had this as a perk when they moved to Alaska in the late 70s. They have never had anyone pack for them since, partly because my dad actually ran a business packing art for shows and has some sort of obsession over optimal packing structure, and partly because the movers broke/misplaced some stuff. They are truly the ultimate U-Haulers having moved the other three times across the US themselves. You never have to ask my parents twice for help moving – they love it when one of the kids asks for moving help, but especially packing the Uhaul!

      My buddy just moved house and since he and his wife are really busy at work and have a toddler and mother in law to deal with, DID pay someone to come in and move for them. The way he was telling me about it – Friday the movers came in and put everything in a box, then Saturday they physically moved them and set up the bed first and unpacked everything. The last text I got from him it sounded like the unpacking bit was mayhem with stuff everywhere that they still had to put away a week later. Frankly I think that would have driven me nuts, more than just unloading boxes per room.

      In our most recent move we packed stuff and then paid someone to come load it into the truck, drive it across town, and unload it. We still have boxes we havent unpacked and that was almost a year ago. But I liked this option a lot as I just packed per room, labelled the boxes, added Up or Down (for the new place) and told them to unload based on the Up or Down instructions. Worked great!

    7. Amanda*

      We’re military, and so move every couple years, and I find that having someone else pack and unpack seriously helps save my sanity. For me, the nice thing is that it happens so quickly. I don’t have to start packing things up a month ahead of time. We have 4 kids and a ridiculous amount of stuff, and it took the last team 2 days to pack everything and 1 day to load the truck. You have to do some organizing ahead of time, but once they get started your main job is to stay out of the way. It feels very luxurious at what tends to be a pretty stressful time.

      1. Lynn*

        I went through a military move when I was married, and it was the easier one ever. I spent a weekend organizing, decluttering, and packing the things I wanted to have while in transit, and everything else was packed, transported, and half unpacked (furniture put in place, all boxes in the right room and opened, and all the trash and boxes picked up later) for me.

    8. TootsNYC*

      My brother had a movers contracted by the Army for packing up their last move. He said it was awful; they just wandered around the house with stuff in their hands.

      I wonder if you could get someone from TaskRabbit, or a professional organizer type person, to help. And then you can control it, but you have a second set of hands.

    9. PickyD*

      I absolutely hated the one move I made with packers. We decided we’d be moving (husband’s company had a literally once-in-a-lifetime opening) from Florida to Minnesota with 4 weeks notice. I wasn’t “working,” but I had three kids ages 2, 4, and 6, and other obligations like buying a new house, selling the old one, taking care of a family emergency out-of-state that coincided with the move, so I had no choice.

      The only thing that kept me sane was doing a little pre-packing/organizing of my own.
      – I packed a full-size suitcase for each of us with 2 weeks of clothes. (I knew I wouldn’t be able to find anything quickly.) All of my jewelry went into mine at that point, and since I don’t have a lot of expensive stuff, it was fine. Half of the kids’ suitcases were filled with toys that I knew would keep them occupied in the new space.
      – I had several categories of items that were in multiple areas of the house, so I put them together. For instance, I had books in several rooms, so I moved all of them into our study. Same thing with DVDs/CDs, electronics cables and gadgets, office supplies like pens/tape/rulers, etc. I didn’t pack them, but I did make sure they were together.
      – Anything I was particular about, like a special vase or bowl or collectibles, I packed myself. I also packed all my shoes, purses, accessories and clothing.
      – It’s REALLY easy to pack your clothing! In fact, just take 4-5″ of your hanging clothes from the rod, fold them gently in the middle, then lay them in a large box just like that, still on hangers. Repeat. It’s really easy to unpack them like that, too. There’s no need to buy special wardrobe boxes with a hanging rod. For clothes from dressers, just lay them in a box. Don’t get fancy lol!

      They did plenty of things that made me crazy.
      – Imagine lifting a HUGE box (24x24x36) that weighed NOTHING and finding a single intensely-cushioned lampshade and a single comically-overwrapped dusty lightbulb inside. The lightweight base of the lamp (probably 18” tall) was in another identical box that had been otherwise packed with wrapping paper. Keep in mind the lamp was $25 from Target.
      – They packed the shelves from my oven and the glass revolving tray from my microwave. Both the oven and microwave were obviously built in and part of the house. I had to spend a frantic hour ripping apart “Kitchen” boxes, and wasted $120 shipping those items quickly back to my old house when the realtor called in a panic.
      – They didn’t seem to care what went in each box. They just started on one side of the room and grabbed miscellaneous stuff until they filled the box, then moved on to the next box. Someone mentioned everything was “jumbled” together and I would say that’s an understatement. Books with knick-knacks with coasters with tissue boxes…
      – They made no distinction between something that was obviously good quality and something that was obviously junk. The used the same amount of wrapping paper on my heirloom serving pieces as they did on my crappy plastic bowls. The amount of wrapping paper on useless, impossible-to-damage plastic kitchen items alone was INSANE.
      – They didn’t care if anything was dusty or dirty. Everything was treated the same. I’m not suggesting that I expected them to clean every little thing before they packed them, but the muddy shoes by the back door could have used a clap before they were put in a box with the umbrella stand and wicker basket.

      I was lucky we were able to afford the movers, and I felt a bit like a princess when they were there. However, the month I spent unpacking the jumbled mess wasn’t worth it.

    10. Lindsay J*

      We had a pack-and-move paid for by my spouse’s job for our most recent move.

      It was so much better than having to pack all the things ourselves.

      I will have to get with him and find out how much the service was worth. I would definitely recommend it, though.

      Though, FWIW I don’t think they packaged the things better/more safely than we would have done. They did package them quicker/more efficiently, though.

  20. Me2*

    Did anyone else get addicted to Best Fiends after Alison recommended it last year? I spend way too much time playing it.

    1. Handy nickname*

      Oh man I have. I got out of it for a while since my phone is kinda small to play it on, but I’ve had more time at home lately and have spent lots of time playing on my tablet. Prolly my favorite game on my tablet once it took I er for Angry birds blast. I play the We Rate Dogs game on my phone

        1. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

          I don’t find it sucks me in as much, but it’s really nice for when you just want a brain break smacking slugs :)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I tried it (some YouTubers I followed rec’ed it) but I guess I suck at it, because I kept running up against a paywall and so I ditched it. :( I’d rather just pay once for something and then be able to play it all the way through. I don’t like in-game purchasing.

      1. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

        for what it’s worth you don’t have to pay, you just wait until the ‘energy’ replenishes (it goes up 1 every 5 min I think) and merrily keep failing until you succeed (repeat as necessary…that’s a lot, for me :D )

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

    Allergy (?) question:

    My eyes start burning whenever I’m in the room with a smoker, be it cigarettes or marijuana. I’m a public librarian and frequently have to stand right next to heavy smokers to demonstrate a database or show them how to use the catalog or set up an email account — so this is a problem. And I find that my sensitivity has gotten much worse over the years. My library has very poor ventilation, the mechanism to open windows is broken and cannot be fixed, and there’s no way to improve the heating/venting/AC at this time, so those options are out.

    Is this something I could go to an allergist or other doctor to treat? Is this something I just have to power through? (There’s talk that my state is considering legalizing marijuana, so this is adding a whole new layer of stress – I’m worried about having a room full of people who absolutely reek, with me having no recourse.) Thanks in advance.

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

      I apologize if this came out sounding too close to work-related — I edited out a paragraph for length that this issue also affects me all the time in any other place with tight quarters. Subways, elevators, etc.

    2. Thursday Next*

      I feel you—I have the same problems with my eyes; I also get headaches from it. Can your library set up HEPA air filters, particularly around the public terminals?

      I’ve also found a bit of relief from eye drops (like artificial tears).

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

        Eye drops are a good thought. I’ve used them for other seasonal allergies with good results. And I get headaches too.

        I got a good laugh at the HEPA filters. Our facilities department is totally recalcitrant when any type of request is made. It’s hard enough to get a wastebasket here.

        1. Thursday Next*

          Oh my. There’s recalcitrance, and there’s…whatever your workplace is doing; that must be so frustrating! Since an air filter wouldn’t require any infrastructure work, as ventilation would, could you raise it as a medical accommodation?

          Love your user name, btw. The first Librarian movie is one of my favorite pick-me-ups, since I’m always overthinking things. It’s just Portuguese!

    3. EN*

      Yes, you can absolutely go to an allergist for this! I found out I have a tobacco allergy when I got tested for seasonal allergies that kicked in terribly in my mid-twenties. It turns out I’m too sensitive to do the desensitization shots, but I think most people who try it respond better than I did.

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

        Thank you! It’s treated by taking shots? I might try to power through it for a while longer if that’s the case, at least until it is totally impossible for me to handle it. I can only handle the drinking type of shots :-)

        1. EN*

          If you want to go the desensitzation route, they make a custom serum of all the things you’re allergic to and gradually up the dose you get injected with over several months. I had bad reactions to even low doses, so I just take a daily Zyrtec and sometimes a nasal spray to manage any symptoms. You definitely don’t have to do the shots to get some relief :)

    4. Thlayli*

      Wow. I’m actually gobsmackedthat it’s legal to smoke in a library anywhere in the world. Wow.

      Would it be possible to get your library made smoke-free? For the health of staff and non-smoking patrons?

      1. Lcsa99*

        I read it as people who smoke enough that their hair and clothing are saturated with the smell. I get watery eyes around that sometimes, though not as bad as it sounds like it is for the OP.

        I like the idea of eye drops, posted above. I am sure if you talk to a doctor they can also suggest pills or something to try before shots.

      2. Natalie*

        I don’t think the patrons are smoking in the library, but if they’re heavy smokers they will be basically covered in smoke particles and it could definitely set of someone’s allergies.

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

          Exactly. They’re not actually lighting up in the library, but they might as well be from how much of a smell of smoke they carry on them!

    5. Rainy*

      As someone with a lot of allergies–yeah, an allergist can probably at least come up with something to help you. I second rinsing the eyes with sterile eyedrops (keep them in the fridge for extra cooling power).

      Just as a side note–as someone who lives in a state with legal recreational pot, the people who already reek of pot are the only ones who are going to keep reeking of pot. Most people aren’t going to smoke enough for it to saturate them, just like they don’t now. :D

    6. Woodswoman*

      As someone with allergies including a significant sensitivity to smoke, I empathize. I think it’s important to get treatment that is customized to you. It’s a good idea to see an allergist to get a baseline and learn about options, and then you can decide for yourself how you want to treat your symptoms. For me, a combination of western and alternative medicine has worked well. My health has improved with the guidance of both an allergist and an acupuncturist who gave me herbal tablets that also help. Sorry you’re having to go through this, and hope you feel better soon!

    7. Observer*

      Please talk to your doctor. Even if your workplace gets its act together (which is SHOULD!) you’re still going to have problems in all the other places you mention. So, exploring some relief would be useful.

    8. LilySparrow*

      I live in a place where pollen season ends just in time for mold season to start. A daily OTC antihistamine pill is just part of the routine for me and my older child.

      I checked with my doctor to find the best options that wouldn’t interact with other meds we take, and have low side effects.

      If you’re allergic to things you can’t control, sometimes you just have to compensate.

  22. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Question 1:
    When setting boundaries with a narcissist, how do you deal with feeling like “the bad guy?”

    Question 2: #1stworldproblems
    Between paying in full for a wedding (SO and I, no family contribution), funding a 2017 IRA, and 401(k), how do you balance all of that?

    The budget breakdown of my paycheck:
    -15% my paycheck goes to the wedding (SO contributes too),
    -40% go to my savings (a house/future kids/rainy day)
    -5% go toward my money market account
    -9% toward adding to the IRA (nondeductible, though :/)
    -1% matching 401(k) contribution
    -30% to utilities/rent (SO and I pay).

    If I increase my 401(k) percentage now, it’s less money for the wedding, and I have rent, utilities, phone bill, groceries to cover.

    Is there any “ideal” percentage allocation? Especially if the IRA is nondeductible? Should I bother contributing to an IRA in that case?


    1. Random Comment*

      For Q1 I think that you just have to keep reminding yourself that making you feel like you’re the bad, unreasonable one is exactly how this type of person operates and it’s how they get what they want. Their feelings about whatever boundary you’re setting are theirs to manage.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. In healthy relationships people don’t make each other feel bad. They lift each other up, inspire each other and support each other.

        OTH, you could decide that you may feel bad but you will proceed with your boundaries anyway because it hurts too much if those boundaries are not in place.

        Your mom is pretty intense. It would probably be a good idea to collect up a number of tools for processing the guilt/upset she tries to make you feel. If one tool is not working today, then grab another tool and use that one.

        1. Tris Prior*

          This! I have decided that the guilt I feel over holding my boundaries with my toxic parent actually feels better than the way I feel when I’m in more regular contact with them. Because – even when in more regular contact, I STILL felt guilty and awful. Whatever I did or said, they were never happy. I guess if I had agreed with everything they said and done everything they wanted me to, that might’ve made them briefly happy, but that would’ve meant completely losing myself, so I decided not to live my life for their pleasure any more.

          1. Big Person*

            No, it wouldn’t have made them happy. They would have continually found other things to be unhappy about.

      2. Triplestep*

        I had a narcissist boss, and a close family-member who was just really manipulative, but I applied the same techniques to deal with them. I just treated it as a question of WHEN they would act up – not “IF”.

        It was a given my family-member was going to try to throw a monkey wrench into any family event where she feared I might get any positive attention, so I just planned that it would happen. Then when the other shoe finally dropped, I could laugh about it with my husband or sibling who were both in on the joke, so to speak. So it wasn’t an outraged “can you believe what she did this time?” but a knowing “Ah, there it is! We knew it would be something, and now we know what!”

      3. Update on he wants a baby*

        I find it tough too. I’m almost completely done with having to deal with my ex-husband, but I think he was somewhere on the narcissistic scale. I keep telling myself that the things I’m expecting out of him are the same that I would expect out of any other functional adult. It is reasonable to expect an adult to be an adult. I’m not sure it always makes me feel better, but I haven’t come up with a better solution.

    2. fposte*

      On the money stuff: never leave free money on the table; contribute to the match in your 401k over doing the other stuff, including the IRA.

      Are you doing a traditional IRA instead of a Roth because your income exceeds the Roth max? I’d consider doing a backdoor Roth then rather than leaving money in the nondeductible tIRA then. You may run afoul of the pro rata rule if you have other money in your tIRA, but look up “backdoor Roth” to see.

      If you can’t do a backdoor Roth and your 401k isn’t extortionate in its costs, I’d contribute the $5500 to the 401k instead and let the IRA go.

      1. Rainy*

        Also r/raisedbynarcissists which has a lot of people coping with narcissists.

        Honestly, though, it’s just practice with feeling comfortable having and expressing your boundaries. The guilt definitely goes away with practice.

    3. Kuododi*

      I have mentioned before that my mother is very self centered, homophobic, a raging racist and all sorts of other problematic issues. All of that is complicated by her current dementia. Needless to say “setting boundaries” in the traditional therapeutic sense isn’t going to fly with her bc her ability to remember short term is almost completely gone. I just tell myself this isn’t a situation I have any ability to change and giving myself a case of useless guilt only makes me ill. When she pops off with her nonsense, I just nod and move the conversation along as quickly as possible. Some times I do have to walk into the kitchen if she’s particularly difficult. When I get back in two or three minutes…she’s on another topic and life goes on….you have my sympathy. Best wishes….

    4. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Visit reddit, they have a raised by narcissist section, and the justnoMIL may also be helpful. Read lots and lots.

    5. nonegiven*

      By non deductible you mean a Roth IRA? You can take Roth contributions, not earnings, out of the account at any time without tax or penalty.
      Earnings can be withdrawn for a first home purchase, as long as the account has been open for at least 5 years. If 9% is less than your contribution limit, you can increase it to the limit with some of your home down payment savings and use it for a first home purchase and a few other exceptions, as long as the account has been open for at least 5 years, before that if you’re only taking the amount you contributed or less.


    6. Observer*

      On the finances, Max out whatever your employer will match, and cut back the IRA to balance it out. You’re doing a reasonable job of saving, as it is. Keep in mind a house is a saving for your retirement, too.

    7. Miles*

      I would consider shifting the Ira payments into the 401k. Those deductions make a big difference overall, even if there’s no employer match past the first 1%

  23. Forking Great Username*

    I have been miserably sick for two weeks now. It started with a cold and losing my voice. Then, with my immune system lowered, I caught the flu from a student. I ended up in the ER at one point because my fever was dangerously high and I was very dehydrated. Now the flu is gone, but I still have a terrible cough and congestion. My whole body feels like a giant bruise and my temperature STILL keeps spiking. I’m at a loss. None of the doctor’s advice has helped and I desperately need to be back to normal soon, because I’m so behind at work right now.

    1. fposte*

      I’m not sure how you’re defining “the flu is gone” or whether it really matters, but you’re clearly still sick. Some viruses just take weeks to run their course; we just don’t run into those as often as the others, but think of mono, for instance. There’s no Virus-B-Gon to give you, unfortunately, so the doctor can mostly just suggest ways to palliate the symptoms.

    2. misspiggy*

      Now is around the time to get checked out for a bacterial chest infection, in case you need antibiotics. But if it isn’t that, unfortunately rest and chicken soup is pretty much all you can do. Rest is really important to avoid pneumonia.

    3. Casuan*

      Hopefully you feel better soon!!

      A request to you & others who are ill?
      Please don’t go back to work or anywhere else [except for medical appointments, of course] until you know you’re no longer contagious. Some of us are highly susceptible & it takes us much longer to recover than most people.

    4. Madeline*

      Like others said this is something you’ll probably just have to wait for to run its course. In the meantime, is there any way you can delegate some of your work to others so as not to be so overwhelmed with the backlog once you’re well again?

  24. Lady Jay*

    Recommendations for a styling foam/mousse? I have a medium-length pixie and currently use something from Aveda to style it. I love the Aveda product, but it’s $20/pop (couple times a year) and can be difficult to find. I’d like to have at least a backup that I can grab at Target.

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      I wish I knew! I use Aveda’s Phomollient, and have been looking for a cheaper alternative for months. But nothing else feels and works as well, and they absolutely do not smell as good, so I end up not using them and buying more Phomollient. I just decluttered six mousses I’ve bought recently and do not use. It’s a problem!

      1. Lady Jay*

        YES! It’s the Phomolllient that I use (I was recommended it when I first got the pixie) and love it. Bummed that there doesn’t seem to be a more cost-effective brand. :)

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Ive got stick straight hair that I cut short (I WISH i could rock a pixie but no can do) and then “enhance” so it has some sort of body to it. I typically use Play Paste from Onesta (its $21 for a little tub but that tub lasts me 9 months) and its far stiffer than Phomollient (I have tried and it doesn’t quite work for me). Stuff it in at the roots and it will hold forever and a day, but wash out well. Unfortunately thats an order online or go to the salon thing.

      Have you tried dusting powders at all? I have used both Osis Plus Dust (pricy) and then found that Tresemme of all brands came out with something last year that is way cheaper and just as good – texture style backcomb dust. Its half the price of Osis and lasts forever – just put a little on the finger tips and work into the roots for Big Hair. This should be Targetable, but I am in the UK and can’t tell. But you may want to see if there is a similar dusting powder down the aisle and get one to try and see if that helps.

    3. EN*

      Fellow pixie cut here. My hair has a bit of a wave to it, so I use products for curly hair, otherwise I’ll end up with a lot of fluff and frizz. Herbal Essence’s Totally Twisted Mousse is the only thing that really works well for me. They also have a Bio:Renew line that’s paraben-free, etc.

    4. Starley*

      I haven’t tried their mousse or foam, but I picked up a bottle of Not Your Mother’s hairspray once in desperation and have started using other products from them. They’ve worked great for me, I’ve had no trouble finding them and they’re pretty inexpensive.

    5. BetsCounts*

      I have short fine hair, and hate spending time styling it, so I use L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Air Dry It Ruffled Body Mousse. I brush my hair, toss some of the product in, shake my head around a little and then go!

    6. Lindsay J*

      Not a mousse, but I’ve been using Paul Mitchell’s Neon Sugar twist cream in order to style my hair. It’s $12 and is good for making your hair piecey and texturey. I got it at ULTA.

  25. Ramona Flowers*

    You know how Friends doesn’t stand up well to repeat watching in this more enlightened age? Turns out neither does West Wing.

    It feels almost like blasmphemy to say this but we are re-re-re-watching West Wing and there’s so much to dislike about it.

    Sam treats women really badly. And there’s this dreadful scene where someone points out that the way he just talked to Ainsley was offensive, and Ainsley defends it and like totally shames the person who spoke up.

    Josh needs to get over himself already (but I always thought that).

    British people are always ridiculous caricatures.

    Ambassadors from African countries are always portrayed in a way that makes them seem unpleasant and creepy.

    I could go on.

    1. fposte*

      West Wing Weekly talks about a lot of this. (Also, some of this isn’t about aging–it was an issue when it was aired, too, like Sorkin and his women; that Sam/Ainsley scene pissed me off right away and I’ve alluded to it when making the point that it’s not just about whether the behavior is consensual but whether it affects other people in the office and professional standards there.)

      1. TootsNYC*

        yeah, I noted that in a news story about Doug Manchester, the nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas, and his “problematic” behavior, there were male employees who were really uncomfortable with the treatment of women.

    2. WeevilWobble*

      That’s Sorkin for you.

      CJ was also regularly talked down to in the early seasons despite being obviously smarter and more capable than most of them.

      1. fposte*

        The end of “The Crackpots and These Women,” where Bartlet is musing how wonderful these women are in a way that I think is meant to be feminist and is just freaking condescending, always makes me think of the Bloom County strip where the hacker kid changes a headline from something like “REAGAN CALLS WOMEN NATIONAL ASSET” to “REAGAN CALLS WOMEN ‘AMERICA’S LITTLE DUMPLINS.'” It’s really, really close to “the White House’s little dumplins.”

    3. Tris Prior*

      I actually really enjoy West Wing, still. We tend to watch it after something awful is in the news and then dream of a Bartlet (or Santos) presidency.

      That being said, every time we watch it now we end up looking at each other and exclaiming, “holy @#$%, how is Toby/Sam/Josh not getting busted for sexual harassment in the workplace right now? That is NOT OK!” Or the scene where CJ says, “You want to make out with me right now, don’t you” and Toby replies, “well, when DON’T I?” What? Who says any of that to a co-worker?!

      I really, really hate that scene with Sam and Ainsley, too.

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      I find this is the case with a lot of TV shows in general. Even currently airing workplace comedies and dramas are rife with things that make me raise my eyebrows because it’d be a trip to HR immediately (I love Parks & Rec and B99, but so much wouldn’t fly in a real workplace).

      That Sam and Ainsley scene stood out to me even when it first aired, but Sorkin has never been great at writing women. I still think some of their standout episodes are great TV and I’ll watch them as standalones every once in awhile, but as a whole, I do think it gets problematic doing an episode by episode rewatch.

      As for Friends, I never watched it when it was airing and attempted to watch it last year after so many people said it was the greatest sitcom ever, and I was appalled at how sexist and homophobic I found it (the latter doesn’t surprise me at much because 90s/early 2000s TV was all about thinking they were being inclusive by writing LGBT characters, but doing it in a way that stereotyped them, desexualized them, or laughed at them instead of with them).

    5. Sherm*

      About British people being ridiculous caricatures, as an American I started watching “foreign” movies a few years back, and it struck me how severely they stereotype Americans sometimes. There was one where the American could hardly talk — he was just grunting and prancing around the room. They make a cartoon look nuanced by comparison. So that made me wonder: How badly, then, are *we* stereotyping people from other countries?

      1. Incantanto*

        So badly.
        Brits are always posh idiots/machiavellian monsters.

        And for some reason, often weirdly suave, which is not a bad stereotype, but far from the truth.

    6. PM-NYC*

      While I love West Wing, I agree with all of this. Honestly, from the various Sorkin vehicles I’ve watched, I think he’s just a misogynist who is condescending of women. He can write white, male characters from age 30ish & up, but any other demographic, especially women, he struggles with. Now that we’re (thankgully) starting to be in a media landscape that isn’t as dominated by the white male perspective, watching Sorkin can be so painful at times.

      You mentioned his treatment of C.J., but I also hate how they undercut Donna’s character & use her as the dumb person to explain stuff to for most of the show & she only gets to break away in the last couple of seasons. Sorkin loves to use the device of having an ignorant character around for other characters to explain stuff to, which isn’t a horrible device, but when it’s almost always women, it grates.

    7. Jillociraptor*

      The West Wing is probably one of my all time favorite series…but totally agree. I feel like the show is the absolute epitome of middle-aged White liberal men who have proclaimed themselves woke but have zero actual equity lens.

      Tone-wise, it’s also just painfully precious sometimes, even as someone who basically shares the politics of the show. At the moment in the US, it makes me think of that scene in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt where Kimmy is at Titus’s horror-themed restaurant and starts cracking up, saying, “It’s so funny what people who have never been kidnapped think is scary!”

      I will say that the final two seasons (especially the 7th) have improved a lot in my mind. They’re way less preachy, and a lot of the characters gain a bit more dimension.

    8. Juli G.*

      I kind of think the Josh critique is just the character.

      And I agree with others that Sorkin is pretty problematic with women. Studio 60 in a lot of ways was worse.

      I still enjoy it and sometimes I don’t because so many of the problems being debated 15-20 years ago have made no progress since then. :(

    9. Ramona Flowers*

      I still love Amy though. I am a lot like her in terms of being really sarcastic and really outspoken about people’s rights – except I’m way more diplomatic!

    10. JayeRaye*

      I love the West Wing, and I particularly love Leo, but every time he calls Margaret or CJ a ‘good girl’ I want to punch his wrinkly, loveable face.

      I watched WW as a teenager when it first aired, and I find it funny that back then I really disliked Amy. Now from my grownup point of view I adore her. I think teenage me had a crush on Josh and thought Amy was horribly rude to him. Now I tend to think Josh is an idiot who needs a swift kick to the backside!

  26. Anonybus*

    Dating conundrum.

    I’m a solidly atheist, work in a hard science field, allopathic medicine, show me the double-blind study type person. The person I’ve started dating is a dyed in the wool woo-natic; worships Gaia, natural healing, anti-vax follower of Dr Oz and The Food Babe and lives in a house full of crystals.

    I enjoy their company and the sex is great. But I find myself biting my tongue so I don’t say something like, “Are you F4ing kidding me?!” when they move to the latest thing Gwyneth Paltrow is pushing.

    We’re doomed, right?

    1. nep*

      No real advice here. I just love the way you wrote this. I can really relate to biting one’s tongue so as not to say are you F-ing kidding me?!
      (I don’t think you’re doomed necessarily — I would just see how it goes. If / when there’s a deal-breaker, I reckon you’ll know it.)

    2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Probably doomed, but not because of the atheist/New Age divide. Because you don’t respect their opinions. I’m not saying you need to learn to respect these specific opinions because not all opinions are created equal (and I’d certainly struggle to respect an anti-vaxxer’s views), but that, in general, romantic relationships work better when everyone involved can respect each other’s opinions and beliefs.

      That said, for the future, I think you should think about how far you’re willing to bend. E.g., is it crucial that your future partner be an atheist like you, or are you okay with someone who’s religious but otherwise pro-science? etc.

      1. Espeon*

        This. Respect is vital in a romantic relationship.

        My fiancé is an atheist, I am what you – and many others – would describe as a bit ‘woo-woo’. I mean, 100% vaccinate your children for goodness’ sake(!), but I am deeply spiritual (including crystals, angels etc etc). Our differences don’t matter because we respect each other, and one another’s right to believe what feels right and good to them, in addition to our deep and fun love. We have discourse about these things sometimes because it’s interesting, but there’s no malice or insinuation that “if you believe X you’re stupid.” … if you feel even a hint of the latter toward her, you need to let her go…

      2. Triplestep*

        Yup, this. I would say it’s a bit of both, actually – the divide and the disrespect – but mostly the latter. The OP is just oozing with it. I can’t imagine how you get to the sex part when it’s clear you’re hardly able to tolerate this person talking!

        So that you can respect *yourself*, I would just make sure this person in on the same page you are; that the sex makes all else worth it. I’m hoping they could be writing a post somewhere about the “drawbacks” of dating someone who rigidly believes in science!

    3. fposte*

      I don’t think I could as a life partnership, especially if I were in your line of work; I think there’s got to be some mutual respect that this would make difficult in both directions. But I will say I’ve found there’s often a correlation between people’s interest in alternative approaches and their open-mindedness about humanity in a way I could stand to emulate sometimes. If you’re looking for a path around the things you dislike to some greater respect for your date, maybe that’s one?

    4. Kj*

      Sorry, but likely yes. I get it- I’m an atheist and I am thankful to have a husband that is also an atheist. I was super-proactive on dating sites in rejecting men who identified as religious because I knew it would end badly. If you really are biting your tongue, break up now, before you are more attached.

    5. the gold digger*

      I think so. My husband and I do not agree on politics (left vs libertarian), on religion (agnostic vs pissed-off Catholic), or on bedtime (night owl vs early bird), but we both think anti-vaxxers are idiots, that by definition, “Western medicine” is “medicine,” and that the earth is round. You can overcome a lot of differences, I think, but not your fundamental views of how the world works.

    6. Kat*

      I would suggest you might be better off being doomed, to be honest. Enjoy the sex and then move away from the anti-vax!

    7. BlueBloodMoon*

      Doomed. The number one predicter of failure is disdain and how can you not end up having disdain (if you don’t already). I’m data driven too and eventually these people end up in my “you’re an idiot” column…but in the mean time, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the relationship for what it is.

      1. Espeon*

        *Enjoying the relationship for what it is AS LONG AS they’re both aware of what that is and are both okay with it.

    8. Snark*

      ….Sorry. But….yeah. I dated a very woo-natic type once, and it did not go well. The sex can be rad, but you lose respect for their judgement and intellect, and you can’t sustain it.

    9. Reba*

      Not helpful, but you could certainly pitch a sitcom about it!

      But yeah, if you cannot honor or at least enjoy partner’s hobbies and belief system(s), you’re on the road to contempt, the great relationship killer. FWIW I am open to a great deal of woo but I think Dr. Oz is a vile unethical shill and don’t get me started on Food Babe.

    10. Typhon Worker Bee*

      Probably, yeah. I’m the same type of person as you and I couldn’t deal with the anti-vax thing in particular.

      I heard a little nugget of advice somewhere (Dan Savage maybe?) that a relationship can still be considered a success even if it doesn’t last very long. Be honest (with your partner and with yourself), enjoy your time together, and don’t end things in a jerky way when it’s time to move on.

      1. Typhon Worker Bee*

        A related nugget: a friend of mine posted on Facebook a few months ago about how there was some benefit in every relationship she’s had, even the ones that ended badly – she got introduced to a new band or author, or met some new people she’s still in touch with, or learned a few words of a new language, or got to visit a new city… I like that attitude!

    11. Middle School Teacher*

      I also think you’re doomed, unfortunately. Enjoy it while it lasts, though!

      (You might also enjoy the book Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? by Tim Caulfield. It’s a great examination of celeb “science” and that kind of stuff.)

      1. Typhon Worker Bee*

        I really wanted to like that book, and it was definitely interesting, but overall I thought the writer was just far too smug. (My book club agreed – we call this “the book that killed book club” because no-one could get through it in time, so we cancelled that meeting and never quite got restarted. We’re rebooting in a couple of weeks, after over a year of inactivity!). I liked Bad Science by Ben Goldacre a lot more.

    12. Starley*

      Long term, yes, this is doomed. If you want kids, how is the inevitable vaccine talk going to go? You want to protect your child, she thinks you literally want to put them at risk of long term disability or death. Imagine you are medically incapacitated, and it’s up to your partner to make treatment decisions on your behalf. How comfortable does that idea make you feel? I think different religious beliefs can work most of the time, but when you wander away to disagreeing on how the physical world operates you’re firmly in irreconcilable differences territory.

    13. Lissa*

      Oh man, this reminds me of my good friend’s partner who I like but every so often I just think “…I really hope you’re not an anti-vaxxer.” She’s super nice but highly woo.

      I agree with the others – if you really don’t respect their beliefs at all I think you are doomed. Opposite belief relationships can work, but I think there needs to be a level of at least understanding/respect on a basic level. And it’s good to know that about yourself! For instance I’m liberal but could date a fiscal conservative, but not a social conservative – too emotional and at odds. I am agnostic but could date someone who was religious or atheist as long as they weren’t pushing it on me. Could date a vegetarian happily but probably not long term live with a raw food vegan, etc. (of course I say that and a year from now it’ll be like, I left my partner for vegan Ted Cruz or something.)

    14. MsChanandlerBong*

      I wouldn’t be able to stand it, but maybe you can! The Food Babe/Dr. Oz thing is where I would lose my mind, especially if the person was always waxing on about “chemicals” in food and drinks. Yes, there are real concerns about processed foods and their effects on our health, but the second someone starts harping about “chemicals” is usually when I reach for my blood-pressure medicine. Doubly so if the person tried to tell me, as many have, that I could cure my kidney disease with essential oils, herbs, or black seeds.

    15. Be the Change*

      Not doomed. But something’s gonna give.

      I used to be a devout Xtian, and my husband is a scientist. We were amusing ourselves once by, uh, discussing things, and he was reaaaaalllly scraping on Xtians. I said, “Well, ya married one, they can’t be that bad!” and he actually.shut.up. for a moment.

      Now, all that said, the key word here is, I *used* to be devout. Ultimately, I had to decide that my marriage was more important than my religion. So… I still miss it. However, my husband values and respects me and depends on me and is grateful for me.

      As others have said, your *respect* is the key. If you cannot *respect* your partner, then please end it now.

    16. Casuan*

      We were doomed the moment Gwyneth won the Oscar over Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth.
      Finally I could accept that Shakespeare in Love won for best picture, although I’ve never gotten over the Best Actress winner.
      Even Dame Judi Dench’s win for about eight minutes of screen time couldn’t make up for that…

      Our downfall continues with Dr Oz having a show…
      then Gwyneth persists for our eventual demise…

      I’m sorry. I don’t see how we can get out of this. We are doomed.

      :::making a martini to help me contemplate this further:::

    17. Gaia*

      You’re doomed but not because of the differences. Instead it is your clear, and obvious, disrespect for this person. It is one thing to not agree with them. It is another thing to clearly not respect that they have a different approach to life.

      To be fair, some things don’t deserve respect (vaccinate your kids, people!) but simply being spiritual and having crystals and following natural healing? Eh, that isn’t what I do but I have a few people in my life that follow that path and they are still good and wonderful people that I love and respect.

    18. Emily*

      I think I’m a similar type as you and I cringed reading your description of this person, so…yeah, you’re probably doomed. As others are saying, you don’t have enough respect for this person’s views to make it work long-term.

    19. fort hiss*

      You’re doomed… I think you could handle some woo-silliness for the relationships sake, but anti-vaxxing beliefs? You probably know how harmful those are. Can you really ignore that forever?

    20. PickyD*

      Could you just hang out for the sex? Nothing wrong with that!

      My guess is you’re doomed. I’ve had friendships dissolve on just one of the differences you’ve listed. I can’t imagine forever with someone who has so many… opposite thoughts.

  27. Nervous Accountant*

    I had a better week this week. Have gone 11 days w/o a Xanax…I do miss the deep refreshing sleep I got from taking it though. I have a lingering cough and it only hurts a little when I sneeze or cough, and I’ve gone about 3 days w/o taking any OTC meds. Had the starts of what I thnk is panic attack but it stopped quickly. Just been missing my dad a lot these last few days.

    I saw an ad for better talk therapy. I entered my info and got matched up but haven’t paid yet. Anyone tried it? Is it worth it? Any drawbacks to it? It’s certainly more convenient and cheaper than traditionally going to an office.

    1. Reba*

      You’re talking about BetterHelp?

      My relative who is a clinical psychologist said they were pretty impressed by the online therapy chat one of their clients used (they brought in transcripts).

      Do report back please if you do it!

    2. Catherine from Canada*

      I’ve been working with a therapist on Better Help for about six months now. I’m really happy with it for a bunch of reasons.
      1. I can ponder on what she’s said and reply at my own pace instead of having to be quick enough to respond in the hourlong session.
      2. It’s _way_ cheaper.
      3. It fits my schedule; I work full-time and run a retail store. I don’t have time to go see someone!
      4. It’s private. I don’t particularly want anyone in my life to know that I’m talking to a therapist.
      5. It’s working. Things are changing.

  28. Wobbly Public Speaker*

    I’m a social, outgoing person who finds it easy to introduce myself to people and tell stories. I’m very people oriented and growing up I was in theater. So it’s odd that I get a physical stage fright to public speaking if its in front of a group of ten or more people (ten seems to be the magic number). It happens in situations where I have to prepare a presentation for college or work, and both times it has happened I was not nervous ahead of time. But as I was talking my legs started to wobble and the wobbly-ness slowly moves up my body ultimately my voice starts wobbling.

    It’s very distracting and I can’t make it stop, so by the time my voice is shaking I am nervous because I feel out of control of my body and both times I had to physically sit down and complete my presentation sitting. The most recent time happened was about two months ago and I was so frustrated/disappointed in myself and confused, and its actually caused me to have a slight PTSD for talking in front of other groups and when I conducted a training (that I’ve done before without issue) I started to get really nervous beforehand because I was worried I’d have physical reactions to speaking.

    I’ve tried toastmasters, but I need something more structured. The only other thing I can think of is a speech coach but that may be really expensive. Has what I described ever happened to anyone else? And if yes, how did you combat it? I know there will be increasing opportunities for public speaking in my work role and in life in general but I’m worried about having another wobbly episode.

    1. nep*

      I am super uncomfortable with public speaking. But. The handful of times I’ve done it with no apprehension at all and when things flowed beautifully — I had something I had researched deeply, something I really cared about conveying. So the focus was on ‘I feel strongly about this (or find it fascinating) and I can’t wait to convey it to people’ rather than on ‘oh damn I’ve got to talk in front of all these people.’
      I get that some topics will be more interesting than others — but if you can find a nugget, something unique that you care about or find really interesting and build on that, it could help.
      For what it’s worth.

      1. Wobbly Public Speaker*

        So that is what is so weird about this happening, both times I was very prepared, I knew exactly what I was going to say and they were both things that I found very interesting and was excited to tell the group. I notice that if I’m in a large group I can talk off the cuff super easily, and tell an entire story, but maybe it has something to do with the memorization part of it that throws me off?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Hoo boy, can I relate. I grew up in the theater like you, performed all of my life, started singing in elementary school. Then I started singing seriously in college. I have been a choral singer for over 30 years now; it’s my primary hobby and a huge part of my life. But I can’t sing solos. I have TRIED. In musical theater? Sure. But classical? It’s devastatingly hard for me. Around my sophomore year I developed the wobbly stage fright you describe. And I really enjoyed singing solo pieces, which I did pretty regularly all through college, even as my breath gave out and my legs trembled. I was told after a recital that I should never wear trousers on stage again.

      When I was 32, I went on a chorus tour and was asked to perform a solo. I talked to my therapist at the time and he recommended that I try Inderal, a beta blocker, which is prescribed specifically for performance anxiety. I talked to my GP and got the prescription and it was, honestly, the best thing I could have done. The nerves were still there and I was a little shaky, but I didn’t have the overwhelming physical reaction I had before. I only took it when needed (i.e., before performances) and it really did work wonders. I have only sung solo once since then, at a friend’s wedding, and for that I didn’t take any drugs but I did lean hard against a pillar, which helped a lot. :)

      I know medicine isn’t the answer for everyone, but if you foresee this happening again, it’s worth a shot. In addition to talk therapy, that is. The root of stage fright/performance anxiety is, I believe (and certainly for me), rooted in general anxiety. So if counseling is available to you, you might want to try some sessions and get some exercises that will help.

      1. Wobbly Public Speaker*

        Thanks so much for the advice, it sounds like we have very similar symptoms! It’s so weird for me to wrap my head around because I’m not a shy person at all, so I’m baffled where it comes from. One thing that I’ve been doing covertly is making sure I have a chair available when I present, so I can easily just sit down if needed and pretend that I was planning on doing it all along.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          It’s so odd, because as a performer, you never expect those nerves! In my case, it’s mostly because singing requires so much thought and physical effort, and it generates so much criticism (good and bad). What I mean is… when I was acting, I knew my role, I embodied my character, I had my lines down. The performance part was pretty easy. I got nervous, sure, but nerves kept me on my toes. When I sing, I have to think about breath placement, how certain notes feel, whether they’re right or wrong, whether I’m flat or sharp, AND the meaning of the lyrics I’m singing. Add to that my own confidence; I was a very confident actor and knew that I was always pretty good at it (for a complete amateur, anyway), but as a singer, I know that I have a nice voice and I know that I sing well, but I will always do something that someone out there would have done differently.

          When I present at work, I go through a lot of the same emotions. Am I prepared enough, do I know my topic cold, can I get these people on my side? I used to present a single study to clients all over the east coast, and by the time I’d done ten of those presentations, it was a breeze. No wobbles, no nerves, ever. But just starting out is HARD. Someone will always ask a question I’m not quite sure how to answer.

          So maybe that will help you sort out some of the mystery. :) No matter why you wobble, it’s uncomfortable to wobble! Just know that you’re not alone. You may have to try a few methods, but I hope you find one that works really well.

    3. Helpful*

      I get that for the first 2-3 minutes, then I’m in a better zone after that. Try mindfulness ahead of time and focus on calm breathing. In the moment, perhaps focus on the front row or a certain part of the room for a minute as if they were the whole audience. Then catch your stride. Just a few quick thoughts, I hope this helps!

      1. Wobbly Public Speaker*

        Thank you, Helpful. Just to clarify, do you feel the nervous feeling and it eventually dissipates as you are talking? And – Besides breathing, is there a “knock it off?” mantra you give yourself, or does it just happen naturally?

        1. Helpful*

          It wears off as I become more comfortable — I think my nervous system realizes I’m not actually under a threat and gives me a break. I focus most on my materials, which distracts me from my nerves.

          It’s happened consistently enough that I can now say, “It’ll wear off, ignore it” instead of freaking out that my voice is shaking.

    4. Lissa*

      Good luck! I am your opposite. I have always been comfortable up in front of a crowd, but meeting new people one on one is terrifying for me! I wish I could meet everyone by giving a speech. Too bad we can’t combine our powers…. the only thing that has really worked for me in my case is turning off my brain and pretending to be another person. Which is easy to do because I’m a nerdy roleplayer.

    5. Jules the First*

      I was just listening to Happier in Hollywood’s latest episode which is about public speaking and the expert recommended at-home hypnosis tapes…which might be an affordable starting point?

    6. Finally a Fed*

      I get nervous right before I have to speak in public – even for things as innocuous as having to introduce myself (name and title only) in a large group of people. I think it’s a carry over from having quite a severe lisp as a child and being made fun of. One thing that I read once that helps me somewhat with presentations, is that the physical signs of nervousness and excitement are very similar, and that instead of trying to overcome the feelings (and telling yourself to “knock it off”) you should embrace the feelings as excitement. So my mental prep now as I start feeling those physical signs of nerves is pumping myself up for my presentation – e.g., “I’m excited to share this information with this group”.

      I’m like others above also, I’m much better off when I’m very familiar with the content and I will usually (but not always) shake the nerves after the first few minutes. I almost always practice a presentation out loud several times and try to make it conversational, as though I’m talking to one person, rather than just memorization of content. Over time and practice and many presentations, things have gotten better as I’ve become more confident. However, I recently gave a short (15 min) presentation to a group of about 100 strangers and my voice and hands shook the whole time – I felt NERVOUS. The feedback I received from colleagues and management is that it was one of my best presentations yet (and no one noticed the nerves). I think there’s something to be said for having a little nervous energy to keep your presentations energized. I have a colleague that never appears to get nervous, but honestly, sometimes they just come across as bored.

    7. voice*

      I see a speech coach for different issues but it’s about $70 in my expensive NE city. We started once a week but now it’s less frequent but I know they see some people only when they need to do a presentation/play/speech.

    8. Nic*

      I learned this for test anxiety, but I suspect it can be adjusted as needed for this.

      Name your anxiety; McKenzie for example. Allow yourself to hang out and talk to your anxiety for X period of time before you have to Do The Thing. Then, tell McKenzie that you understand they’re trying to be helpful, but right now you need them to leave you alone. Goodbye.

      Something about personifying the anxiety, sitting with it for a bit, then saying goodbye helps for me.

      You mentioned memorization as well. I do HORRIBLE if I’m trying to memorize, so usually I’ll give myself an outline with some statistics or eloquent turns of phrase called out, but mostly allow myself to free-form what I’m saying.

      I hope these help!

    9. I’ll be Lucretia*

      I have the same thing. I am fairly extroverted, comfortable talking to just about anyone, did lots of theater when I was young. But I can be talking to a group – anywhere from three people to a large room-full – and my voice will start to quaver. It gets so shaky that it sounds like I’m crying or about to cry. I ended up needing to sort of fake pauses so that I can take big breaths of air. I can feel totally confident, totally un-nervous about what I’m saying, but once this physiological reaction kicks in, that doesn’t matter. The thing I’ve found that helps – but it’s impossible to guarantee this – is to make everyone laugh. If I (“accidentally”) say something funny and everyone laughs, it just resets the whole thing and I’m fine after that. Sorry, this is far from a reliable fix, but maybe just thinking about it will distract you a bit the next time it happens?

  29. Mimmy*

    My brain has been on overdrive!!! Between 1) the shooting in Florida, 2) legislation that could negatively impact the disability community passing the House, and 3) lots of back-and-forth career conundrums, I’ve been thinking and thinking, and thinking some more, lol.

    I’d say it’s time for some self-care. Thank goodness for a 3-day weekend.

    1. Thursday Next*

      I’m so upset over the shooting I can’t even muster up words about it. And this administration’s undisguised attack on disability rights and programs is so profoundly at odds with the values I consider American or just plain human. So I’m gonna try to self-care in solidarity with you.

  30. Understandably Anon*

    Pelvic Ultrasounds – looking for advice, and a little ranting too.

    I was scheduled for a pelvic ultrasound this week (third in the last year) for a monitoring conditon. I had to stop on my way and pee because I was not going to make it, so I had to cancel the appointment, reschedule, etc. Can I drink less water, or something?

    Feel free to skip this paragraph if you know this or it squirms you out. Pelvic ultrasound for cis women: two hours before appointment start drinking water, so that you’ve consumed 36 oz by 1 hour before your appointment time. Don’t pee. Get transvaginal ultrasound (I have a friend who calls it the dildo cam), get off table, put on pants, go down the hall to pee, come back, get back on table and get the sensor over the outside qof your pelvis. (Like on a TV show.)

    The first two times I did this I was a wreck by the time I went in, sweating, pain, etc because I had to pee so bad. (I’ve had 2 kids, btw.). This week I had to get off the freeway and go into a McDonalds to pee. Wasn’t going to be able to hold it, especially getting on a table and opening my legs for the ‘wand’.

    I asked the scheduler if I could drink less and was met with a ‘this is the way the test works. Women do it all the time, your Dr ordered it for a reason’. I feel like if me had to do this it would be more advanced by now. Ugh.

    Any advice, or tactics to not have this be a nightmare experience/crap shoot each time?

    1. fposte*

      My experience is pretty similar; one doctor’s office did tell me, when my appointment got delayed, that I could “decompress” a little in the bathroom if I had to. (I was told 48 ounces, btw.) Definitely wear a pad.

      I would love to know from an in-the-know tech how fudgeable this is. How degraded is the picture with people who took only 24 oz., for instance?

    2. nep*

      When I had this, the receptionist who checked me in told me to feel free to go to the bathroom and release a bit — that it wouldn’t mess up the exam. What a relief.
      Anyway, I feel for you. I really don’t have any advice…except maybe ‘clandestinely’ (!) release a little? I wasn’t going to (though I felt awful), but the receptionist suggested it.

    3. Temperance*

      I’m wondering if, instead of you drinking the water before you drive there, you can get to the ultrasound place early and drink there, and just read a book while you’re waiting?

      Schedulers aren’t really helpful when it comes to stuff like this – they have little to no actual medical training.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I wonder if it would be worth it to camp out in the lobby/office until the appointment? Get there two hours before, drink your water, then go in when it’s time. It would at least save you having to drive there with a full bladder. You’d be able to just sit there and not have to move.

    5. Enough*

      I have peed and had no problems. And I did find that as I got older and had more kids it didn’t take as much to feel full. For the vaginal ultrasound you don’t always need to drink that much, depends on doctor, what they are looking for. I suggest you try for 32 oz and start a little later. You could probably start closer to the hour mark if you drink the water quickly. The worst that happens is they have to schedule for another exam if they don’t get a good enough view.

    6. small bladder anon*

      If it were me, I’d just drink less and lie and say I drank the whole amount. I don’t know if I have a small bladder or what, but I pee pretty frequently and one 20 oz waterbottle has me in pain from having to go. If I drank 36 oz in 1 hour, there is NO WAY I would make it another hour without peeing. At this point, you’re already having to cancel because you pee too early, so what’s the worst that can happen? They say your bladder doesn’t look full enough, so they cancel anyway?

    7. Felicia*

      I recently had a bladder ultrasound similar protocol except they’re actually looking at the bladder. I almost didn’t make it. Some people can get away with drinking less some had to drink more. Try emptying your bladder as much as possible before you start filling it and you can usually empty just some of it *as long as you can start and stop * and still be fine. When I haven’t drunk enough they let me drink some more and wait 20 minutes. No real helpful advice just it’s awful for everyone . And I think it’s more flexible than they say. Usually I tell the receptionist I might accidentally make a mess of their waiting room and they try to help.

    8. Mimmy*

      Ahh I feel your pain! I forget how many ounces I was told to drink, but I did most of it on the way to the appointment. Then I had to wait to be seen–I think it ran past the appointment time–and I was DYING! I think my tech did it the opposite way: she did the outside-of-pelvis exam first, let me pee, then do the transvaginal portion. And my bladder kept filling! She said I overdid it in following the protocol. I remember at one point she was having trouble getting a good view on one side during the transvaginal portion, but it wasn’t because I’d already peed.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      “I asked the scheduler if I could drink less and was met with a ‘this is the way the test works. Women do it all the time, your Dr ordered it for a reason’. I feel like if me had to do this it would be more advanced by now. Ugh.”

      Why do people think it is okay to speak to other people in this manner. That answer has nothing informative or helpful for the patient. I wonder if that would be said to a man.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        Yeah. If this is the scheduler at the doctors office, I’d be letting them know how their staff speaks to people.

        If it’s freestanding radiology or at a hospital, I’d be letting the office manager/patient relations know.

    10. Going anon for this one*

      It’s interesting but my experience was the opposite. I drank my water through the afternoon, but they did the external part first, then I got to go pee (the tech was very explicit about “pee EVERYTHING out” and then the internal. It was definitely one of the least fun things I’ve ever done but the tech was good and efficient and super calm, which helped calm me down. Plus she was female, which I think helped me not be as stressed.

      I also tried holding it all afternoon but I couldn’t. I drank enough in the morning that even though I had to pee around lunch time, I was able to top myself off, as it were.

    11. Thursday Next*

      ugh, there’s a reason Liz Lemon used “transvaginal” as an insult meaning “gratuitously difficult.”

      I’d ask your doctor, not the scheduler, about the minimum you could drink. And I second the suggestion to get to the test site early if possible and drink up there. Your anxiety might be heightening the sense of urgency somewhat, and it might be easier on you if you’re not in the road with a full bladder.

    12. Thlayli*

      This is so weird – I’ve always been told I need to have a full bladder for an early pregnancy abdominal ultrasound, but an empty bladder for a vaginal one. The exact opposite of what you’ve been told. Obviously they are looking at something totally different than they look at in pregnancy.

      That said, I think you should ask the actual ultrasound tech if the specific amount and timing of liquid is necessary, or do you just need a full bladder. The first time I went for an US that I needed a full bladder for I did the same as you – followed the rules exactly and wasn’t able to make it. I’m a small person and I think those rules are written for big people because there was no way my body could hold that much water for that long. Luckily the tech was running late so I had time to refill my bladder. I told her what had happened when I went in and that my bladder might not be full enough and she said “oh don’t worry it’s not that you need to follow the rules exactly just so long as the bladder is at least half full. Then she told me my bladder was totally full anyway – this was only half an hour after I had peed. So I think those rules are more what you call guidelines.

    13. Elizabeth H.*

      Just drink less water! Or get there early and drink water there. Or go to the bathroom before the exam but only a little bit. I’m amazed they make a big deal of taking the amount so literally bc everyone processes water at different rates and it’s not like there is anything approaching a precise equation for oz of water to time = degree of good view on the ultrasound.

    14. Jingle*

      I had about 3 years of these every 8-12 weeks and it really sucked. Turns out I’m one of the people for whom the advice to drink ‘x amount’ doesn’t work – it’s not enough water to fill my bladder fully so they can ignore it and focus on my uterus. So for the first half dozen times (cause it took this long to figure this out), I’d go in having drunk the recommended amount, start having the ultrasound, get told off for not drinking enough, and either have to reschedule or be sent back to the waiting room to drink more, with the aim of squeezing me in to try again between other appointments. But squeezing another appointment in means it can be a while to wait, and it’s an unknown amount of time you have to wait, so you’re sitting there drinking as much as you can (because you don’t know how much you need and are feeling guilty for not drinking enough even though you drank the recommended amount), and trying to hold for an unknown amount of time… a couple of times I couldn’t hold it and had to go to the bathroom and then be rescheduled, and both times the receptionist told me off, loudly and publicly so everyone in the waiting room knew what I was there for and that I apparently couldn’t follow drink/pee instructions. I ended up going back to the doctor who ordered the tests and she suggested upping the amount slightly and going in to the facility an hour before and drinking it all there and then. She was also annoyed on my behalf about their behaviour and I don’t know for sure but I think she said something to someone at the practice because after that their manner changed a lot, even though it still took a few visits to figure out the right amount to drink for me for it to work properly.

    15. TootsNYC*

      Can you plan to just be there really early next time? So you’re in the office as the water moves through your system? And ask them if they can fit you in when the biology lines up, instead of the clock?

    16. Miles*

      Refusing to listen to or acknowledge concerns from the person most directly affected/closest to the situation is a huge red flag for incompetence (or at least poor job performance).

      See also the Dunning-Krueger effect.

      Basically the scheduler has no idea what ey’re talking about.

    17. PickyD*

      I’m not a doctor — but I’m married to one — so my comment is worth exactly nothing.

      Still, here’s my philosophy. Plenty of people don’t do the ENTIRE amount of water, or the ENTIRE colonoscopy prep, or whatever it is, and their scans are perfectly fine. If your scan were an emergency and your bladder was fairly empty, they would STILL do the test, and I bet they’d be able to get usable information from it.

      Recently, my daughter had an annual physical scheduled for the afternoon and was told to fast for 10 hours before, for the bloodwork. I was FURIOUS. She has a serious eating disorder and is very, very underweight and this was for an afternoon appointment. But since the scheduler didn’t know that and was working from a script, she told a very sick woman to do something that was unconscionable. (You do not want to know what I said to them, but I’m pretty sure my daughter’s file and my own file now have a note attached, and I am not ashamed.) Just because a scheduler says something, doesn’t mean it is law.

      I say to fill your bladder as much as you can without being in pain.

  31. The Other Dawn*

    I posted last weekend about a former friend who wants to be friends on Facebook after almost 20 years. I’m happy to report that I deleted the request. (I updated my post last weekend, but it was late.) It just didn’t feel right. Rather than thinking, “Hmm, I wonder how she’s doing?”, I was thinking, “Hmm, I wonder if she’s changed?” That, and the fact that I sat on the request for a week and had to ask the Internet and others for advice, speaks volumes, I think.

    So, last night my former Tenant From Hell once again tried to friend me on Facebook. Not sure why she thinks I’d want to be friends after she screwed me so badly. This is the third time she’s tried to friend me. She’s last tried following me on Instagram, but I blocked her.

    Now my questions.

    1. I’m thinking this year I want to start veggies from seeds. If I use one of those seed starter kits along with one of those seed tables that has a greenhouse cover, does it have to stay in the house until it’s warm enough? That probably sounds like a dumb question, but the whole greenhouse setup is making me think maybe it can go outside before Spring. I really don’t have anywhere to put it in the house where the cats won’t destroy it. Plus, there’s just not enough natural light.

    2. Someone said last year that there’s a berry bush people should not plant because it grows out of control. Was it blackberries? I’d love to plant berry bushes, but don’t want something that’s going to take over. Although, I have a field out back so it’s not like I’m planting them in a small space; there’s room for growth.

    3. Anyone know of any good antique stores in the CT/MA/southern VT/southern NH area that carries early American/primitives? My house was built in 1735 and I’d love to start buying some older pieces. Mainly things like cabinets, bowls and kitchen items, possibly some wooden furniture. I’m not looking for frilly antiques, like glassware, knick knacks and things like that. I’d love to have to stuff I can actually use or sit on. We found two big stores (multiple dealers) we like in Sturbridge, MA, and I’d love to find more stores like them. Oh and if anyone wants to see the stuff we got last weekend I posted on my blog. Just click on my name and it’s the first post. (I was raving about my wooden spoons on here last weekend!)

    1. WellRed*

      I bet it’s blackberries. As a kid, I knew if two different patches, and they both seemed wild, overgrown and brambly, unlike the rasberries in my yard.

    2. LNLN*

      Blackberries are very invasive and difficult (impossible?) to control. Marionberries are similar to blackberries but have no thorns and are not invasive. They were developed in Oregon, so I don’t know if they would grow in your climate, but they would be a substitute for blackberries. Good luck!

      1. DrWombat*

        Turns out sheep do great at controlling blackberries, fwiw. I know an experimental site where a whole field was taken over – they split it in half, turned sheep onto half, and a few years later you can’t tell blackberries were even there. But blackberries deserve their rep for being massively hard to control!

    3. Tris Prior*

      1. Yes, you want to keep your seedlings in the house until it’s warm enough outside not to kill them. What are you planning to start from seed? Cool-weather crops like most herbs (except basil) can go out sooner than warmer-weather crops like tomatoes and peppers. You also want to “harden them off” – once they’re a decent size and it’s warm-ish out, put them outside for an hour or two and then bring them in. And slowly increase the amount of time they’re outside, so they can gradually get used to cooler temps, and wind, and don’t go into shock from going straight from warm house to being in cooler ground full-time. (Yes, if you work outside the home this can be a huge PITA.)

      I use a grow light because my apartment doesn’t get enough natural light either. You want to put the light fairly close to the seedlings when they’re starting out, because if they are “stretching” toward a light source that is far away (like the sunlight coming through your window), they will end up tall and spindly and not strong. My light has an adjustable height, and if that doesn’t let me get the light close to the seedlings, I’ll put them on something to raise them up toward the light.

      Re the cats – I had to keep my grow light behind a door that shuts and make that room off-limits to the cat during seedling season.

      2. Yes, blackberries spread and raspberries can, too. I have a dwarf raspberry bush in my community garden bed. Thought that since it was dwarf, it’d stay put. Nope. I’m regularly pulling new shoots of it from the parts of the bed intended for other plants.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        To be honest, I’m not really sure what I’d want to start from seed. I have a 4×8 raised bed that we built last year as a test to make sure I’ll take care of it (I’m known to be a plant killer…). Since I did really well with it and things actually grew, we plan to build a second and possible third bed. Last year I bought the plants and just planted them in the bed: tomatoes, jalapenos, green peppers, pimentos, sage (which I think is perennial), and lavender. I’d love to have green beans this year, more tomatoes, possibly onions, rosemary, and basil. Not sure what else yet. I have a bunch of pots for the patio, which I can use for the basil and something else small.

        1. Natalie*

          Not everything starts well indoors or transplants well. Beans and onions do best directly sowed, and in my experience it’s hard to get tomato plants big enough at home, so I would recommend buying those as sets. Peppers transplant great, though. Peas are an excellent early crop, you can plant them as soon as you can work the soil.

          Both sage and lavender are perreniels.

        2. Tris Prior*

          OK – so, except for the onions and rosemary, those are all warm-weather crops (and rosemary is a perennial – I have not grown it myself but I believe you want to overwinter it indoors, so that might be a good candidate for a container). You don’t want to put them out until it’s reliably at least 50-ish degrees all the time including overnight (I’d wait until mid-50s for basil).

          I’ve tried starting onions from seed and it was a massive fail. I got some green onions but it never formed an actual onion underground. Try getting onion sets instead – they look like tiny little onions but are about the size of a big clove of garlic. They sprout (to give you green onions) and then they make a big onion underground.

          My best advice for what to grow came from the folks who run my community garden – grow what your family likes to eat. :)

        3. Colleen*

          We’re in the western Boston suburbs. Every time I start from seed, almost everything dies or outgrows containers before it’s warm enough to transplant. If I start late enough that things don’t outgrow containers, then it starts too late in the season.

          I’ve had the best luck buying seedlings, even from somewhere like Home Depot, in May and doing a big mother’s or Memorial Day plant-a-thon.

    4. BravoMessenger*

      Regarding the antiques have you ever been to Woodbury, CT? There are over thirty antique shops along the main stretch. It’s very popular and a lovely drive just to see the houses.

        1. BravoMessenger*

          You’re in CT? I would also check out Antiques on the Farmington in Collinsville. A bit of a hike but again lovely drive and you can walk over to Lasalle Market and Deli for lunch.

    5. Natalie*

      Could have been raspberries. I planted 3 canes in fall 2016, and by summer 2017 they had expanded to about 4’ x 10’. I think I’ll need to buy some kind of trimmer this year to keep them in line.

    6. Casuan*

      Dawn, your non sequitur post made me laugh out loud!
      There was the update, then a comment about your former Tenant from Hell, then your questions… about none of the above.
      Just wanted to thank you for the unexpected laugh.

    7. Nic*

      Nothing useful about 1, 2, or 3, but if you don’t delete the facebook request and just don’t answer it, it stays in limbo forever and they can’t send another.

    8. Alston*

      I am a furniture maker in MA. I’ve done a bunch of reproductions of historical pieces. If you end up not being able to find antique furniture that’s in good enough condition for regular use, feel free to hit me up. I might be able to make you something that would fit the bill.

      My Instagram name is grizzzlysquid

  32. Kat*

    Hello! I’ve been a runner for a couple of years now, although I’m still pretty slow and don’t go out too often in the winter. But anyway I feel that my legs are in decent shape and my stamina has improved.

    My question is, now I want to start doing some kind of exercise for my upper body. I don’t want big muscles or anything (and doubt I’d get them!). I would like to be stronger and leaner in my arms. I’ve never been to the gym and don’t know if that’s the best option, or whether to follow YouTube videos at home (if anyone has recommendations?). I heard that using your own body weight is a good way to do it, and if so I just am not sure how often/how long etc to do this for. I do yoga, which I think helps, but it’s not quite the workout I’m looking for. Any suggestions? I am 34 and female, if that makes any difference!

    1. fposte*

      First things first: you won’t be leaner in your arms by working your arms. That’s called “the myth of spot reduction.” What you will get is stronger, and that’s good.

      I recommend two things: the website exrx dot net (look under the “Weight Training” section for instructions on developing a workout) and the You Are Your Own Gym website (and its attendant app) if you want to focus on bodyweight. (I personally think some dumbbells from Target or wherever can be a good investment too, but it’s fine to start without and go the soup-can route for a bit to see if you’re going to keep going).

      Classics like pushups are great for upper body work, but their arm focus is secondary; that being said, it’s quite possible that chest, upper back, and shoulder strength is going to benefit you as much or more than working your biceps anyway. exrx can point you to possibilities for working arms more specifically if you want more.

      1. Helpful*

        You can also use resistance bands for toning upper body on the cheap. Pushups will hit most of what you need to do; start with modified push ups and build from there. Also look up tricep pushups and dips for triceps.

      2. Kat*

        I think I just said ‘leaner’ as a thing to say without thinking about it, as I did already know that. Silly me! Running had great body side effects, and I’d like to keep that going. I don’t have any aim to lose more weight, but toning would be good. I don’t mind if it’s overall upper body strength, at all. I just feel a bit lopsided at the moment! I’ll investigate those apps/websites. Thanks!

    2. Kyleah*

      I go to a HIIT-style gym and a lot of upper body exercises use weights (dumbbells, kettlebells). TRX is also a great workout for the arms, shoulders and back (we do pull ups on the TRX). Some examples of body weight exercises that target the arms, shoulders and chest would be push ups, push up holds, and crab walk. As fposte wrote, you can’t spot reduce – you gotta work the whole body – but these exercieses will certainly strengthen and tone. And when you lose your body weight as a whole, you’ll see definition in areas that never used to exist before, including your arms and back. :) If you do attend a gym, try to go for those that offer classes with a theme (e.g. metabolic conditioning or strength training) so you don’t have to think of what/how to do it and you can also plan which classes to go for according to your target that day/week.

      Btw, I do yoga too, and as far as I know my yoga teacher (whom I met first on Youtube then I met in person and is now a friend) doesn’t do any other exercises apart from yoga and occasionally running, but her arm muscles are to die for. I don’t think it’s impossible to achieve toned arms through yoga, but I suppose one’s gotta be super serious about it and do it all the time, perhaps.

      1. Kat*

        I do yoga most days at home, but yeah, I might not be doing the right poses. I don’t need to lose any weight, but I just want to be a bit more toned, I guess! I shall look into HIIT. I’m sure a colleague does something like this. I’ll ask her.

    3. Effie, who is pondering*

      Push-ups and planks. It’s the fastest way I’ve found to tone and strengthen. I have several push-up/plank series that I used to do (should get back into it once this stupid back pain gets more bearable, actually).

  33. Future Cat Owner*

    I just gave notice at my job and will be taking home the “office “cat. However, he is not an indoor cat and was quite feral when he first began to stop by the office for food and treats. When I first started working I fell in love with him and over time, began accumulating him to human touch and he actually follows some commands. I know that when I am not there he looks for me and when I gave notice, I was asked if I was taking the cat with me (which was a yes; I was actually planning to take him home with or without permission). As someone who has never owned a cat, I was wondering what I need to prepare. Any tips would be greatly appreciated, especially if anyone also took in a former feral cat into their home.

    1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Go to Tinykittens DOT com and poke around there. It’s a group that is working with some feral colonies, and have managed to socialize and get adopted many of them. I think they’ve got some info.

      Otherwise, the standard stuff for cats will apply – litterbox(es), scratching posts, toys, food, etc. And good for you, taking kitty :)

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      The first, and most important thing, is to take your cat to a vet. Please, do that. Learn from my (very expensive mistakes). Get the cat vaccinated, have blood work run for feline AIDs and leukemia (both are prevalent in feral/stray cats), and have the nails clipped – trust me, your thighs will thank you for that. Also, a microchip and neutering are, in my opinion, essential pet ownership responsibilities.

      After the vet visit, and you’ve got him home, be patient. Let him explore. Mine spent the first two days tucked away in a cubby of my desk and then started to venture out. She also didn’t eat much, if anything, those first few days so don’t be worried.

      I recommend that you get cat bowls (at least three: one for dry food, one for wet food, one for water).

      Litter boxes, at least two, one in the bathroom and one in the living room. Eventually the cat will tell you where he likes to pee. And a scooper! I didn’t get a scooper and had to buy one a week later and it makes a huge difference when cleaning the tray.

      If you’re concerned about him being violent or aggressive as he is previously feral, my vet recommends Feliway spray or difusor (purchased on Amazon). It’s a pheromone spray that calms them down and makes them feel relaxed. I haven’t used it myself (I accidentally bought cat nip and, seriously, don’t use cat nip spray to calm a cat down. It has the opposite effect) but my vet swears by it.

      Make sure you’ve got a cat carrier as well. You don’t want a cat in the car loose and terrified. I can only imagine that that will end badly.

      Overall though, the vet visit is the most important thing. 100%.

      Good luck with your cat. Does he already have a name?

      1. Turtlewings*

        Seconding all of this.

        I tamed and brought in three feral cats throughout my adolescence, and one thing that’s important to know is that former ferals may never be as sociable as regular domestic cats. Your cat may remain extremely skittish and fearful of strangers (or anything new) his whole life. He may be prone to extreme overeating because he grew up on the edge of starvation. He may never fully adjust to being indoors. None of which is said to discourage you, but it’s important to know ahead of time. Two of our three became at least moderately snuggly and affectionate; the third never, ever did. She would permit petting in small doses, but would not sit in your lap and permit being picked up. It sounds like your kitty may already be further along than that, but that’s an example of how former ferals may always be a little different.

        Good luck, and kudos to you for adopting the cat!

      2. Future Cat Owner*

        Thanks! He does have a carrier and hates it with a passion. He has already been neutered because the office did adopt him. But I have been slowly getting him used to human touch and now he demands to be petted. His name is Tuxie and I definitely did not think about the blood work and will get it done.

    3. Nic*

      I have a semi-feral, who oddly enough was born to one of my pets at the time. She didn’t get a lot of contact from the human (my roommate) who was her keeper, and I didn’t realize she wasn’t getting socialized. She ended up really skittish and we wouldn’t see her for months at a time.

      I ALSO have a cat I brought home from the office, and he has always been sweet and snuggly and knows commands and Wants. His. Mama! any time I’m home. So I’ll talk about the one who still acts pretty feral.

      The fact that you’ve already acclimated him to human touch and commands will be helpful. The shy one was nearly starved, so food is a HUGE motivator for her. Moving the bowl slightly closer to the door every day really helped get her in the house.

      For bringing home a new one, I’d say give him a room that’s his for the first day, if you can, with litter and food and water and somewhere to hide. Spend some time in the room with him, but also let him be alone in there. Maybe leave some dirty clothes because they’ll smell like you. After he seems comfy in that room, expand it by a room or so.

      It’ll take time, but will be worth it!

  34. WellRed*

    All of a sudden, if I comment here while on my mobile, I wind up back at the top of the page, instead of where I left off. Annoying.

      1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        I totally thought it was normal too, until yesterday’s post on the open thread about it not actually being normal at all. I feel like I actually have more of an ability to comment now, lol

    1. Triplestep*

      You may have checked the box to “Set collapse all as default site-wide” option on your mobile. Look for it right at the top of where comments start. Every time the page refreshes (including after you post a comment) the threads will all collapse if you have this box checked.

  35. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    Dad wants to retire. Dad is one of those men who will retire, sit down, and die. Mom is not thrilled with this prospect. When dad does retire, they will be selling their house and moving closer to me, adult child. They will likely not have the money/credit rating to buy a house (ie, get mortgage), and will not have cash to buy a house. In fact, money is a real problem overall, even now. Mom REFUSES to rent. Dad getting part time work is very unlikely, as he has dementia. Mom’s health isn’t great either.

    So, rock and hard place. Anyone got a magic wand they can lend me?

    1. Helpful*

      It sounds like renting would get them a place and also allow flexibility for the next move (assisted living, etc.). I understand the financial argument against it, but since they don’t have tons of money/can’t qualify for a mortgage it’s a moot point. I would make the argument from a “flexibility and not having to worry about repairs/maintenance/upkeep” standpoint. There’s a real value in someone else fixing the AC or leaking toilet! Can you appeal to those points?

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        Unfortunately, logic is not entering into this. Almost everything is driven by emotion, and sis and I have had no luck getting mom into a therapist to help her work through them. Basically, they’ll go along with the status quo until someone or something makes it change, then everyone will be unhappy. There is really nothing I or anyone can do.

        Lessons: please make good financial decisions so you have good options when you’re old and can’t work. Please be willing to go to therapy to work through emotional crap. and please, please get rid of excess crap so your adult children don’t have to deal with it at some point.

    2. Natalie*

      If they can’t buy a house and refuse to rent, where are they going to live? I feel like there’s an unspoken assumption that they’re going to live with you? In which case, you don’t have to convince them otherwise to refuse. You can just say no to this request.

      With dementia and other health problems, maybe some kind of assisted living is in order?

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        Yeah, I know. I think they’re aware that living with me long term isn’t going to happen (cause I’ve told them). Acceptance of reality just isn’t quite there yet. I think mom is hoping that they will be able to buy a house. Luckily, this isn’t a critical issue yet. It will work out somehow.

        1. Anono-me*

          I am concerned about your statement
          “I think that they are aware that living with me long term isn’t going to happen (cause I ‘ve told them.) “. This doesn’t sound like you are very confident that they will respect your position. I’m also concerned that they might move in with you ‘short term, just until they find a place”; and never ever leave. Please be sure that you are prepared to stay true to what you need.

          Is a sr condo an option?

          Next time they visit; can you take them to a bunch of open houses or to meet with a realtor (make sure the realtor is aware of their finances and dreams)?

          1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

            Oh, they could move in short term, I’m ok with that. The real reason they can’t stay long term is because the only shower is on the 2nd floor, and mom has a lot of trouble with stairs. She’s got an old ankle/foot injury, not fixable and arthritis is just making things worse.

            When I was looking at houses to buy, I was actually hoping for one where I could have mom and dad move in with me (and have their own space so we didn’t kill each other). That didn’t work out, otherwise it would have solved some of these problems.

            Now, I am drawing a hard line of they can’t store all their stuff indefinitely in my house. A very hard line there.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Captain Awkward would probably say you don’t need to manage their emotional reactions in advance or at all really.

      So they can’t afford to buy a house? You can (if you want) suggest they go to a bank to see how much of a mortgage they prequalify for when they want to go house shopping. Or you can not suggest it and they will end up in the same spot eventually. Then they either won’t qualify since banks are pretty strict these days or it will be for less than the house the want. Either way they have to then move on to plan B, which you make sure is not living with you.

      It’s hard but their emotional feelings about their finances aren’t yours to manage. Nor are
      their housing options. Reality will do it for you in its own not so gentle way.

    4. Colleen*

      Well…if you do. I thing, what happens? If they don’t have the cash or credit to buy a house, they won’t buy a house. They can either rent near you or stay out. Right?

  36. DoctorateStrange*

    Reading Ann Rule’s Small Sacrifices. I tried to get into Strayed’s Wild but I don’t think it’s for me. I’m fine with biographies but I have always struggled with memoirs.

    1. Lady Jay*

      If you’re interested in Wild but don’t want to read it, let me recommend the film: it was surprisingly heartwarming and compelling for mostly having one character walking throughout the story.

      1. DoctorateStrange*

        I will definitely check it out. It was actually what interested me in the book. Although I can’t help but smile now, thinking that this means I won’t get to hang out with Lorelai Gilmore.

  37. LAI*

    Has anyone here read Ready Player One? I had heard good things about it and wanted to read it before the movie came out. It sounded like something I would really like and I do like aspects of it, like the treasure hunting and puzzle solving. But the main character’s relationship with the primary female character is really putting me off. I don’t know if I’m just more sensitive to these things after the #metoo movement. But he claims to be “in love” with someone he’s never met in real life, feels possessive toward her before there is any kind of relationship between them, and refuses to accept it (many times) when she says she doesn’t want to see him anymore. Did anyone else get this weird vibe from that book? I don’t know what to call it…

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

      I got that same weird vibe from the book, too. It’s not just you. I tried to read it and just couldn’t get through it. But take this with a grain of salt; I’m really hard to please when it comes to fiction books.

      1. Snark*

        Hell, I actually enjoy derivative, trashy science fiction as long as it’s clever and well done. My favorite sic-fi authors John Scalzi and James SA Corey, and well-executed pastiche is kind of their stock in trade. This was just a retread plot that seemingly existed to serve up “aw yeah, I got that reference to an Atari game” moments.

    2. kc89*

      I read the book and like you enjoyed parts of it like the treasure hunt and the puzzle, but I did not like the romance plot line at all. It should have been scrubbed from the book, it really wasn’t needed.

    3. Snark*

      I thought it was dreadful and borderline unreadable. I share your impression that the main character is a male wish-fulfillment Mary Sue, and not a terribly appealing one at that, and the female character was treated as a worshipful reward for him. And I just thought it was terrible overall – a barely present, standard-issue hero’s quest plot that ripped off a dozen better novels, stripped down to the bare minimum required to link an endless laundry list of self-conscious ’80s references. I gave up halfway through and just reread Snow Crash.

    4. Claire (Scotland)*

      I heard a LOT of similar critiques when the book first became popular, including from friends and reviewers I trust, so I decided against reading it.

    5. Phillipa*

      Agreed! Ready Player One has such a fabulous premise and I was so drawn in, but the writing is so off-putting! It really read to me like a misogynistic nerd fantasy.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Ugh, god. I hate that there is basically an entire genre of books you can categorize with this description.

    6. Fake Eleanor*

      I recently read it, basically because the movie was coming out. At that point I’d heard a lot of critiques of the book, treatment of the love interest role being a major one.
      And yeah. It’s hard to imagine that book being written the way it was even five years later. It’s particularly retrograde that the main character’s major sign of growth is that he can overlook her real-world appearance and see her true beauty.
      But my major issue with it was that it never acknowledges how bizarre and unhealthy it is for an entire society to essentially worship the pop culture from a 12-year span of history. It’s an intriguing premise — but the book doesn’t do anything with it. I’m Gen-X, and I can’t imagine anything sadder than my (grand)children watching WarGames enough to be able to mimic the whole movie. It’d be one thing if that were presented as part of the dystopia, but Cline basically thinks pop culture peaked in the ’80s and is fine with the idea that the future is digging into that as deep as possible.
      (It inspired me to reread The Magicians and its sequels, which remix a lot of pop culture but complicate and explore it instead of blandly celebrating it.)
      All that said, was Ready Player One fun? Sure. Was it memorable? No. It’s generational flattery — and I’m not even someone who’s big on generational clumpings.

    7. Emily*

      I’ve heard many people express that sentiment, so you are not alone!

      I read it maybe five or six years ago and thought it was…okay, but not great. I got some enjoyment out of it while I was reading but didn’t appreciate most of the references and didn’t find that the characters or story left any sort of lasting impression. (All I really remember now is that the main character was a really nerdy guy who won some stuff by knowing all there was to know about War Games and Joust.)

    8. Elizabeth H.*

      I LOVED it and it’s so not my kind of book. I never read scifi, have no interest, don’t play video games and hate virtual reality and all it represents.

      However I just thought the book was so fun and sweet and wonderful. I’ve heard people complain about the representation of female characters. I can understand why, but that didn’t bother me at all. The book uses pretty conventional narrative structure and narrative tropes, but what I say to that is that there’s a reason they are so well worn – they are timeless – look at Star Wars. Did you finish it yet? There’s some cool stuff at the end.

    9. Jen Erik*

      I enjoyed it, despite being the wrong generation to get any of the references. I don’t remember about the relationship though – you may be right and I didn’t notice. And sometimes it just is where and when you meet the book as a reader – we don’t read in a vacuum.

      I remember the book as being visual (which I usually don’t like, because I’m older) like P.J. Tracy’s Monkeewrench or Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz – I always think those books should make good films, because they almost read as movie novelisations.

    10. Librarian from Space*

      If you ever listen to podcasts, you should try 372 Pages We’ll Never Get Back. It’s basically a book club for people who hated Ready Player One. One of the hosts is Mike Nelson, from Mystery Science Theater 3000, so it is hilarious.

    11. TGIF*

      Late to the party but I completely agree. The romance was the worst part of Ready Player One and was definitely a challenge to get through. I’m hoping the movie will tone it down a little bit and not make it so prominent.

  38. Snark*

    Welp, it’s the fifth day in a row I’ve woken up anxious at 4am. This job hunt/impending possible layoff thing is really harshing my mellow, brah.

      1. Snark*

        I’d take advice. I’m just tired of being fine all day and then running smack into a wall of exhaustion at 8pm.

        1. Natalie*

          I know this goes against all the standard sleep health advice where we’re all supposed to fall asleep in perfect silence, but I find a repeat TV show or podcast really helpful in those moments. There’s nothing worse than waking up mid-anxiety spiral, and especially since this is situational I think its fine to do something effective even if it isn’t optimal.

          Those sleep story podcasts are nice, or I like a 90s sitcom that I’ve seen before and is on Netflix. I don’t even watch it, just listen with the screen turned completely off so the light doesn’t disturb me. Since you have a bed partner I assume, get some sleep headphones so you don’t wake her up.

          1. King Friday XIII*

            When I’m having a bad night I sleep on the couch with Joy of Painting episodes shuffling through on Netflix or YouTube and it helps so much.

          2. WonderingHowIGotHere*

            I got a set of those sleep phone thingies, but took the headphone bit out and shoved it into my pillowcase because I found the headband made me too hot, and then I get Stephen Fry to read me a bedtime story (ymmv, but it REALLY works for me!). And, if you have a blue light filter on your phone with a timer to dim your screen, you won’t wake your partner if you wake again at 4am and need Mr Fry to read the next chapter.

            Seriously, whoever mandated that we need silence to sleep, never had their parents read to them as a child. It’s magical how a soothing voice, telling a familiar tale, can help to calm and distract the mind. And if we were meant to have silence, the market for “sleep sound apps” is badly misaimed!

            Sleep well, and best of luck.

          3. Triplestep*

            I do the 90s sitcoms on sleep timer with Zzzquil. I think the Zzzquil goes a long way towards keeping me asleep the whole time I want to be asleep.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Agree with the suggestion to try listening to stuff. Sometimes distraction can be really helpful (I like sudoku for this or games like Plants vs Zombies).

          Also could you have a go at not being fine all day? Is there anything you could do in the daytime to address how worried you are or is the whole point that there’s nothing to do except wait?

          Exercise before bed to tire you out can sometimes help, but ymmv.

    1. anon today*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. Today I woke up at 4am to a text message that launched me into a cycle of anxiously reeling off every bad thing I’ve ever done and every bad outcome that my life could possibly have as a result until I got up to start my day. 4am must be our brain’s bitching hour.

      1. Snark*

        Oh, I adore that. The bitching hour. Brain like, “you stupid asshole you’re gonna get laid off if you don’t find another job, get on that” and me like “oh f*ck off brain I’m tired and it’s 4” and brain like “well at least get up and find someone to argue with on the internet, someone must be wrong”

        1. only acting normal*

          I’m mildly reassured the 4am thing is not just me. :/
          I found MBCT meditation techniques help me stop the brain stew and get back to sleep (sort of an “fu brain I’m not going to listen”). I got a CD on the NHS of tracks to learn the meditation, but the Dr who designed it (Jim White) has a Soundcloud of similar (linked in my username).

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Yes! Can I please quit the waking up at 4 am from stress club? Not a fan. I had no idea it was a common thing though.

    2. DC*

      I’m with you. I’m not sleeping and I’m starting to be cranky in public as a result. (I’m job hunt/job offer decision based though)

    3. PX*

      Sorry to hear that! Think exercise might help? Physical exercise might help your body just be too tired to wake up at 4am? I know you climb, and I always found the fact that you needed to focus on the problem at hand to be a great way of getting out of your head for a while.

      Otherwise Natalie’s advice below about having something to focus on while you try and go back to sleep might help. I usually found BBC Radio4’s In Our Time to be an excellent podcast for that :’D

      Alternatively, would confronting the fear/anxiousness help? I sometimes find if I can just fully embrace/confront whatever it is thats stressing me out, that helps clear my brain. So y’know, plan out/write down/go through worst case scenarios (eg I’m laid off tomorrow!) and then work through what you would need to do, review savings, how long can I be jobless, whats an alternative source of income etc etc.

    4. Starley*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. The 4 a.m. anxiety wake-up call is the worst. After a couple of weeks I gave in and went to the doctor, who put me on prazosin and a low dose antihistamine so I was finally able to sleep a whole eight hours. I hope things get better for you. Lack of sleep makes everything in life so much harder to deal with!

    5. Overeducated*

      That stinks. Can you set yourself a specific time every day to worry or freak out? I find telling myself to stay calm and rational all the time doesn’t work, the anxiety needs an escape valve, but I can tell my brain to wait for its appointment and go back to sleep.

    6. Mrs. Fenris*

      I’ve had sleep maintenance insomnia my entire life, as in when I was 2 or 3, my mom would find me out of bed a 3 AM, matter-of-factly playing with toys. It stopped for a bit in my early 20s and came roaring back a few years later. Lack of sleep makes me so achy and foggy the next day it rises to the level of a chronic illness. Benadryl isn’t an option at 3 AM, not when it lasts 8 hours! It doesn’t work for me very consistently either. So…I don’t love this solution, not one bit, but it turns out that if I *chew up* an Ambien it works every time and leaves my system completely in 3-4 hours.

  39. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    So my work isn’t exactly stable, and after my trip to Hawaii I was unexpectedly out of work for four days. This means that unless I want to starve, I’ll be a few hundred short on rent. I can’t get a payment plan because I already used one several months ago when wife was on disability and my building only allows you to do that once a year. Can’t afford the late fee.

    I will probably have to ask my parents for help, but boy, do I hate that. Shortly after I got married, they wouldn’t help me buy asthma meds even though they could well afford to and we were in a tight spot, because they didn’t like that I was queer. I have never forgiven that.

    Also, my mom is really nosy and would undoubtedly say things like, “well, you shouldn’t have vacation then!” Like I could see the future, and anyway this was the only real vacation we’ve had since our honeymoon. I also have not needed a cent from her in over two years, so I feel bad. I can’t ask the local queer community for help, since I was kicked out of the main online group of 10,000 or so for, basically, holding the moderator’s extreme view that one cannot criticize or argue with another mod of color because I have privilege. (I swear I wasn’t being a f***wad, they’re kind of nuts).

    I’ve thought of lying and saying I need money for a continuing ed class. This just does not feel good. Ugh.

    1. Nerdgal*

      So sorry about this. Have you thought about trying to get a loan through your bank or credit union? Obviously you would have to go an austerity budget for a few months to repay it, but you would avoid the parental guilt trip that way.

    2. NaoNao*

      I’ve had to ask my mom for help before, and although it’s not as extreme and awful as “she doesn’t like [life item]” I have to suffer through a long lecture about financial responsibility every time. Fortunately, I haven’t had to ask in a couple years, but ugh.
      Maybe you could point out that this shortage is a result of the no-work days? I assume the vacation was bought and paid for ages ago, and included stuff like non-refundable tickets, etc.

      As an absolute last resort, you might be able to go to court “against” the building and explain your situation, including the spouse with disability, and get a special circumstances agreement (basically, it allows the building to bend the rules and do a payment plan with you because you followed the letter of the law, while still letting the building retain the right to evict you if you break the payment plan). So you’d have to wait for them to file papers and then show up in court on that date and defend/explain it.

    3. Dan*

      I realize that this doesn’t help you at the very moment, but when you get through this rough patch, I think you need to take a second look at how you manage your finances. If you don’t, I suspect you’ll find yourself in a similar predicament in the future.

      I know you said you were out of work unexpectedly, but I don’t recall what it is you do, and what the potential is for disrpuption to your paycheck.

      What also matters is how much credit you have access to, and what it costs you to borrow from it.

      What I’m getting at is that if life happens and you need to hit your line of credit for $1k and can pay it back in the next month or two, then whatevs.

      But if you have no credit, and family is a pain, then I think you need to retake stock of your fincial situation, especially if the loss of $1k unexpectedly will really mess your life up.

      Options if you’re desperate: Ask your boss for an advance on your paycheck. 2) Pay day loan. (Not saying I recommend either, but paying rent is paying rent.)

      1. fposte*

        I had thought overcaffeinated had said she was a lawyer–I’m guessing it’s something like a doc review pool?

        Overcaffeinated, what about your wife and her family? I can’t tell from what you’re saying if she’s still on disability, so does she have money coming in? And might her family be able to help?

    4. ..Kat..*

      Do you have any local food banks? If you are a member of a church, they will often help. Some congregations will help with a bag of food even for non-members.

      Please don’t do pay day loans. They are an expensive way to get deeper and deeper into debt.

      Are there any organizations in your city that offer utility (or other) payment assistance?

      Can you save some money by drastically turning down your heating for a month or two (and wearing coats and thick fleece clothes)?

      1. JayeRaye*

        Second the food bank idea. Also, if you’re in the U.S. call 211. It’s the United Way number, and they have programs to help. Good luck!

    5. Been there*

      I would not lie and I surely wouldn’t open myself up to asking someone for money who has openly expressed disdain for my lifestyle. To me stable housing > food so I would take the money I have and pay rent. Everything else, including eating, would take a backseat. If your other bills are not in arrears, then being late on them is not going to result in tragedy. As for food: I would eat what I have in my pantry-noodles, rice, peanut butter, water to drink. Going a month without meat or fresh fruit is doable to me. Have any restaurant gift cards to places that allow take out? I would scrounge for change and either roll it and take it to the bank (the person not working has time for that) or exchange it at one of those change machines. If I purchased something and not used it, I would see if it is returnable for cash. I would take clothes to a consignment shop for cash. I would donate plasma. Food bank. Samples at the grocery store.
      Experience: in your situation after divorcing the man my family told me not marry; made irresponsible decisions with money; kept rent current and 3 kids fed without borrowing money from my parents. Being personally hungry did not kill me but did drive me to making smarter financial choices and I kept my dignity.

  40. Junior Dev*

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

    I’ve had a hard week. There was some drama at The Place we Do Not Mention on Weekends and I realized 1) how much my life has been screwed up in a practical sense by my tumultuous work history (money, unpredictably) 2) how much of my self-image is tied to career (and how devastating and stressful it’s been to not have that go as planned) and 3) that there are certain behaviors I feel powerless to change. I won’t go into details on the behaviors but I think just realizing that is really important. I want very badly to be a good person and good at what I do and it’s pretty devastating to me when I feel like I can’t make it happen.

    Doing good on exercise, I biked to work twice this week and did the bodyweight exercises I’ve started doing on the non-biking days about half the time.

    I’m still struggling with social situations. The one friend I see the most frequently is really great and supportive but he’s also cynical and negative in ways that line up with my tendency to be those things too, and so I have to be careful, because on the one hand I feel like I can honestly discuss my experiences with him but on the other hand it’s easy for us to pull each other down the negativity rabbit hole. We both have similar mental health issues–trauma, social anxiety, a tendency to hole up with depression, anxious energy that sometimes borders on hypomania.

    Other social situations still feel overwhelming. I’m supposed to go to brunch and then go see a movie today and it’s scaring me but everyone involved is very kind and understanding and I think I should try being honest with the people I’ll be seeing about how hard it’s been for me.

    I also started biting my nails again, which I had successfully stopped by painting them but I didn’t have the time or energy to paint them these last few weeks. So it’s something I need to do this weekend. Maybe I’ll start looking into getting manicures (not fake nails though, they would make it hard to type and work on my bike and all).

    How are you doing?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m so sorry you’ve had a hard week. I think it’s really good that you’re aware of how your friend affects you and the boundaries you’d like to have there.

      I am a nail biter when I don’t feel so great. Manicures are helpful whether it’s polish or those gel nails. I share your non-desire for fake nails! Also other fiddly things help me like chewing gum or messing around with a bit of blu-tack.

      I’m always amazed by your self-reflection and I really hope you can be kind to yourself about all the things that are hard for you.

      I had my annual review and it went well, and in general I’m doing okay, although I’ve been skipping yoga (the only exercise I have the energy for) and something seems to be messed up with my meds right now. I’m coping much better with change, which is a big thing for me at work.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        And I totally forgot to mention the thing that has been stressing me out all week!

        Friend calls me and I miss it as my phone is on silent. She then messages me. I open it in case it’s an emergency with her kid or something. She is asking: am you free as she’s in Llamaville (where I live) with an hour to kill. It’s WhatsApp so she can see I’ve opened it so I can’t just wait to reply. I reply saying no sorry, I’m not free. She says that’s a shame as she’s outside the front door.

        Which triggered major social anxiety, guilt and stress. Because I still said I wasn’t free but I felt so guilty and also frustrated. I never just turn up as I think it’s rude and presumptuous to assume someone won’t mind and because I have social anxiety. But I also have a chronic illness and I can’t just spend my energy on unplanned things – if I had seen her I wouldn’t have then coped with going out later as planned.

        So I spent the next few hours beating myself up for being unable to just answer the door and also feeling really upset that someone could think that was ok (even though it’s not objectively terrible I guess). I am not going to try to explain – I don’t have the energy for it.

        1. Someone else*

          I completely agree Friend did a jerk thing. You had other later plans and it’s not cool to show up at someone’s door unannounced, especially when they’ve not responded to previous message, and basically just demand to be entertained for an hour. You have nothing to feel guilty about.

        2. RestlessRenegade*

          I think that was rude of her–even if I thought it was okay to show up at someone’s house without asking first (unlikely unless we discussed it previously), if they said they weren’t available, I’d say “Ok, no problem!” And LEAVE. Not tell them I was outside. If it makes you feel any better, you didn’t do anything wrong.

        3. Ramona Flowers*

          Thanks all. I was scared to look at the replies in case you all thought I was a terrible person. I was ok with her asking if I was free but saying she was outside the front door after I said no? Really not fair.

        4. Thursday Next*

          I know some people enjoy participating in a “just drop by” culture, but it’s got to be mutual. Does your friend know you’re not into spontaneous visits? Was she apologetic/breezy—like, “I was just around and thought I’d see if you were around/up for a visit. I’m sorry to have missed you—catch up soon!” Or was she guilt tripping you?

          It sounds like you’re being hard on yourself about this. But you acted totally reasonably.

    2. Elkay*

      I’ve had a bad week, this might be a bit of an outpouring but I don’t have anyone I can talk to in real life about this. This week was the anniversary of a friend’s death and I’ve felt unsettled all week. I can never figure out if this is normal or I’m being overly dramatic. It happened when we were children over 20 years ago but it’s still a big thing in my life. I accidentally came across a website with memories of the town I grew up in and one memory mentioned my friend’s death and annoyed me in a way I can’t put into words, maybe because I felt they weren’t close enough to share that. Logically I know it’s their memory and it was just bad timing that I saw it this week.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m glad you felt able to post here and so sorry you are dealing with this. It’s not overly dramatic, and it is very common, to be affected by a loss years after it happened whether it’s on particular dates (like an anniversary) or at random.

        Even if it wasn’t common, you feel what you feel and that is valid. But it is very normal, just for the record. Also, experiencing a loss as a child means it happened at a time when you were less equipped to deal with it.

        It’s okay to feel annoyed. I’m so sorry for what you are going through and for your loss. Please try to kind to yourself.

      2. DC*

        I’m sorry that happened to you. That can be really hard. I learned this year that people expect you to be fine after a loss faster than it actually happens- be it a few months or years. Let yourself grieve.

        I’ve had an awful week. I’m really struggling in a number of areas, but they all tend to be related to the W word. My current place has really tanked my mental health and confidence, and as a result I’m finding myself crippled deciding if I should take a job I was offered or not.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        You are normal. Some griefs never leave us, they change form perhaps they shift to a longing or a sense of melancholy as the years roll by, but they don’t ever fully go away.

        It’s okay to continue to miss your friend and to be sad about losing this person. If you need to cry, then cry. You are a human being with normal human emotions. You have the added layer of this event happening when you were growing up. Losses in adulthood might seem like they do not hit as hard as this loss. You know, the stuff that we see growing up can impact us for the rest of our lives. I think it’s supposed to shape us and shape our thinking.

        As you are saying here, grief is not always logical. Remember that feeling annoyed and acting annoyed are two different things. If you dashed off an angry letter to the person commenting on your friend’s passing that might not be too cool. However, sitting in your home and feeling annoyed is a benign thing, it hurts no one. Feel the feeling. We are allowed to have feelings.

        I am sorry for your loss. I don’t know why we lose young people. I have never understood it. I am not sure I ever will.

        1. Elkay*

          It wasn’t close to angry letter territory :) It was more a jolt of “these people don’t need to know about this, it’s not your story to tell” but of course it’s that person’s story as much as it’s mine.

      4. ..Kat..*

        Can you do something to commemorate your friend? For example, if you both liked to play a certain board game (say Monopoly), can you buy the game and donate it to a local homeless shelter? Or if you both liked playing with dolls, can you donate some dolls to a local charity for children? Something like this that you do every year at this time in her memory?

        1. Elkay*

          I make sure there are flowers on her grave on her anniversary and birthday. I don’t feel comfortable with any other public memorial actions.

    3. Red*

      I’m probably at the beginning of a manic episode. Just spent about a grand on stuff I don’t need and impulsively got my nose pierced. This will not bode well for my schoolwork or wallet, and I’m prone to psychosis when manic so yeah… Tried to move up the psychiatrist appointment and couldn’t, so hopefully my doc makes time or just sends a prescription when she reads my email because this can’t wait until the end of March!

      1. Red*

        Oh yeah, yesterday I walked into my therapist’s office expecting to talk about a life issue I’ve been having, which we talked about – and then she was all like “what are usually the signs that you’r heading into a manic episode?” and I’m like “uh, exactly my life rn”. So that was a fun time.

    4. caledonia*

      I haven’t spoken with my dad for over a year because he sided with his wife over me. It was something small and not overly significant and after a nice night out.

      I saw my brother today (or rather yesterday my time) and he said that my dad is basically a drunk. His wife is worse. (she is a mean drunk).
      And that makes me sad.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m so sorry, Caledonia. It can be really hard hearing about people you’re estranged from. Are you able to do anything to look after yourself right now?

        Also are you at all familiar with Stand Alone? I know I’ve discussed them with at least one person on here, but I’m not sure if it was you and I’m having no luck trying to find it through the search function so apologies if I’m telling you something you already know. They support people who are estranged from a family member and I’ve found them helpful.

        And I’m so sorry that you’re going through this.

        1. Caledonia*

          It wasn’t me but thank you. I might contact them.

          And hugs to you too Ramona. It seems like things have been fairly rough for you recently and I hope things are on the way up.

          Thank you too to Junior Dev who starts these threads. Always very helpful even if I rarely comment.

      2. Elkay*

        I’m sorry you’re going through this. Do you want to be in touch with your Dad? From my own family history I know it’s a fine line to tread with sadness whichever way it goes.

  41. Backache*

    Has anyone successfully dealt with lower back pain through exercise? How long did it take? Was there something specific that helped the most?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I would see an expert before trying to do this in case you inadvertently make it worse. I have found yoga really helpful but only after having some sessions with an osteopath who helped a lot and also gave me stretches to do that helped. I also needed to adjust my workstation and get a different chair.

    2. Former VISTA*

      Keep in mind I have scoliosis and spina bifida but usually the only thing that helps is yoga that specifically focuses on your core/back. It doesn’t always get rid of the pain but it does often lesson to a bearable degree. Swimming is good too for more general exercise that doesn’t hurt my back.

    3. misspiggy*

      Lots of walking and a standing desk really helped my friend – but she only made progress once she’d got an expert assessment of which particular areas were under strain and how to exercise without worsening it.

    4. fposte*

      Totally agree with Ramona Flowers that you don’t want to fool around with lower back stuff if you haven’t had an assessment by a doctor. I’ll also add, as a back surgery veteran, that there isn’t one single lower-back template, and what helps one person may hurt another.

      That being said, for me it’s glute strength above just about everything. Lower leg strength helps too–anything that can stabilize the body weight before you get to the lower back. I find core strength to be pretty low bang for the buck, despite the commonality of it as a focus.

    5. Kyleah*

      Thirding yoga. Youtube has plenty that target back pain, upper and lower. Tight hips can also cause lower back pain. I’m not sure if I can link to things on here but in case not, look up these titles on Youtube:

      Hips Don’t Lie! – Yoga for Tight Hips & Lower Body Flexibility {60 min} – by Yoga By Kassandra
      Stretches For Low Back & Sciatica Pain Relief – Beginners Yoga – by Cole Chance on YogaTX

      I’ve done these and they really help!

      Yoga By Kassandra has a lot of yin yoga classes too. Poses are held longer in yin yoga, which helps release a lot of stresses in connective tissues. It’s not for everyone – some people are unable to hold a pose for long because it’s physically painful – but if you can, it’s amazing. It puts me in such a relaxed state I could fall asleep. Hehe. Hope you give yoga a try!

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Agree to first get this checked out by a doctor to ensure you dont inadvertently make it worse doing something you shouldn’t!

      Next – essentially just get moving. I swim a lot for overall conditioning and also walk a lot. Anything to get up and get those hip flexors and core engaged. I also weight train now specifically around the hip, glutes (I swear to god my trainer had me doing a modified Bend and Snap! with a weight bar the other week and almost started laughing in the middle of it), and the supporting muscles round the back.

      Also, stretching is excellent – cat/cow and child’s pose are absolutely excellent for stretching things out – I use them a lot. There is also one stretch above all others that makes me feel best and that is the kneeling hip flexor stretch. Hold that two minutes on each side daily and man – that does probably the most of anything for keeping the back pains at low volume.

    7. Girlwithapearl*

      Hard to say without knowing more about you. I’m seeing lots of yoga recs which can be good but I recently also had lots of lower back pain and my chiro said I’m doing too much yoga and not enough Pilates– basically if your hips are naturally flexible it’s easy to “cheat” in yoga and not use your core which ends up hurting your lower back more.

      I’ve started private Pilates sessions (expensive but freaking awesome) and am feeling better. Good luck!

      1. Amey*

        I just wanted to second this. Definitely seek medical advice first, but I was told that my lower back issues (and pretty severe pelvic issues in pregnancy) stem from the fact that I’m slightly hypermobile. My physiotherapist advised pilates rather than yoga for the same reasons that Girlwithapearl mentions.

        I did find that exercise definitely helped my lower back but you want to do it under medical supervision.

        1. Thlayli*

          Are you me? I have hypermobility and lower back pain associated with it and had pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy too. Had Physiotherapy for both issues and core stability is one of the main things they focused on. Also found same issue with yoga – because I’m so bendy I don’t really get the benefit of the exercises.

          1. Amey*

            Ahh, the pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy is killer isn’t it? I’ve had it in both pregnancies and could barely walk by the end. With my first, I continued to have issues for nearly a year after I gave birth which wasn’t fun. Second baby is nearly a year old and I’m only just starting to have problems again from carrying her on my hip now that she’s so heavy. Everything just shifts out of alignment too easily for me!

            1. Thlayli*

              It is very painful. For me though with the belt and exercises my physio gave me it was manageable. One of my classmates ended up on crutches for about a month it got so bad.

              The main problem is most doctors don’t know how easy it is to treat and since it’s temporary they just say “oh well just deal with it” which is ridiculous. My GP told me there was no cure and I should count myself lucky I wasn’t in a wheelchair! *eyeroll* Luckily my midwife got me into the dedicated physiotherapist class in the maternity hospital and it was amazing how much it helped.

            2. only acting normal*

              One of my friends had this problem from carrying her heavy toddler; she got a sort of toddler shelf-seat that you strap around your hip (like a “bumbag”/”fannypack”) so you don’t have to stick your hip out for the baby to sit on. Might be worth a google?

        1. Grace Carrow*

          Thirding Pilates. My physio trained as a Pilates instructor so he would know what he is talking about. He employs a team of Pilates instructors who do group classes and 1:1 . But find someone who has trained properly rather than a gym instructor who has done a 6 week course.

    8. Thlayli*

      See a physiotherapist. They will give you specific exercises to do. An hours visit is about €60 where I live – money well spent IMO

    9. Backache*

      Thanks all, for the advice. I have made an appointment for an assessment with a physiotherapist. (Luckily my insurance covers it.) I really need to get this resolved.

      I love this community – people are happy to pitch in with advice and support on any topic.

    10. nep*

      Seconding, thirding those who recommend checking out what might be the cause before trying any particular moves or exercises. Possible causes are many.
      I get huge relief from slathering castor oil on my back overnight and using a heating pad — and I figure that’s not doing anything too major that I might be exacerbating a problem. (Still you’d want to find out whether heat or ice is called for, or both.) But that’s for my milder pain — when my bad pain takes over for a good week or three, nothing really helps and I’ve got to just ride it out. I’ve yet to be examined for possible cause.