weekend free-for-all – April 14-15, 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: Would You Rather? by Katie Heaney. A funny, honest memoir about love, relationships, and figuring out who you are.

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

{ 1,381 comments… read them below }

  1. Roseberriesmaybe*

    Drag Race watchers: did you not or did you not think that the drama is running high this season? I’m loving it, and also I want Monique to win

    1. BRR*

      It’s running higher than the past couple seasons. While the Vixen is reactionary she seems to be aching for a fight.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      Agree. The Untuckeds are just crazy this season!

      I’m pulling for Aquaria or Miz Cracker, I think.

        1. EXTRAVAGANZA*

          I was so surprised with her wit this episode! I feel like they kept her low for a few episodes on purpose…

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I was so pleased that Kameron did better this week! I’m rooting for her really hard because I LOVE the idea of a muscle queen, but man, was she terrible in last week’s acting challenge. This week I was delighted to see her turn it out, and I hope she gets even better in the weeks to come.


      Had no idea there were so many RPDR peeps here!! I think this season has the most talented people ever. I love Monet’s personality but I could not pick one at this point! Also, so sorry Dusty left!

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Agreed on Dusty. I was really hoping that when Ru admonished the other queens that THAT is how you lip sync for your life, that she was going to spare both of them. Alas!

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      I feel like the drama aspect was intensified with the changeover from Logo to VH1. The producers are clearly encouraging the queens to talk sh!t to and about each other. (That handwritten note during All-Stars 3? COME ON.)

      I also lament the loss of some of the more outrageous mini-challenges. Now the best we get is a photobomb, but I fondly recall the era of drag queens playing golf with their, uh, stockings.

  2. Abe Froman*

    Anybody from Seattle or Denver? My wife and I discussed moving to those cities last night (mostly hypothetical), and I’d love to hear pros and cons.

    1. PB*

      I used to live in Seattle. It’s a great area.

      Pros: Lots of art and culture. Big local culture, especially food culture. If you like nature, there’s lots of it around. Hiking, drives in the mountains, swimming, biking. The summers are glorious. Sunny, warm but not hot, low humidity.

      Cons: Expensive. It was a pricey area to live when I lived there, and it’s gotten worse. The weather in the winter is draining. The constant rain wears on you, and what no one warms you about is the problems with air stagnation. My first year there, I had a problem with chronic sinus infections. And every now and then, an earthquake at Mount St. Helens causes volcanic ash to shoot into the air, which you get to breath. Yay! It’s also not a very diverse city, so mono-culture can be an issue.

      All that being said, I loved living there. I hoped to move back a couple years ago, but it didn’t pan out. I would move back in a heartbeat.

      1. Lived in Seattle 10 Years, Have Pals in Denver*

        I’m reminded that I used to get a throat infection every damn winter in Seattle. Ugh.

      2. Kj*

        Seattle is expensive. It is more diverse now than a few years ago, thanks to the city getting bigger. The south end is the more diverse part of town. I don’t mind the rain, although I understand why others do. Seattle natives are not really friendly- the Seattle Freeze, as it is called, is real. But the city has enough transplants it is less of a problem now- I have been here 8 years and I am only friends with other transplants.
        Hiking and culture are pros. I’d add Seattle is very literary- bookstores are a big part of the culture here.
        I like Seattle- it is a young city with a lot of life. Home prices are high, but more in the north end than south- the city used to be very segregated with north being the white part of town and south where people of color lived. That has changed somewhat recently.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I don’t mind the rain but I do mind the thing where the sun rises at 8am and sets at 4pm but it’s so overcast you barely notice the sun happened at all. I don’t realize how much the darkness bums me out until there’s a sunny day and I suddenly feel invincible.

          1. Red Reader*

            My last winter in Seattle I kept track on my calendar – I went 42 days in a row without seeing the sun.

            1. NorthernSoutherner*

              That wouldn’t be doable for me. I’ve visited Seattle, loved it, but I’m from Florida, the Sunshine State. Enough said. It’s been tough for me in the Northeast, with the early winter sunsets, but even in winter there are brilliantly sunny days and all is right with the world.

            2. Tau*

              I’m from Europe (Germany, but spent a long time in the UK) and we also tend to winters consisting of grey skies and drizzle, so I hear you on this one. :/ I still remember one time I was cycling home in January or something and went “wait, that’s strange, what is this weird glaring bright light shining in my eyes… oh. It’s the sun.

              I also decided that although I love the country, I could never live in Scotland again because the winters were murder. Sorry, Scots. Germany’s not much better, but the ~1 hour extra daylight in December does make a difference.

          2. teclatrans*

            I lived in a gloomy, cloudy place much further north of Seattle one year, and I still carry a bit of trauma from that whole “the sun never rose, did it?” experience (especially bad in November and December). I have a whole new appreciation for light-based winter solstice festivals.

    2. Bea*

      Native PNWer and currently Seattle. It’s wonderful. The weather is not as bad as everyone says it is. You get used to it, just carry an umbrella in your trunk.

      The COL is rising but if you are okay commuting the surrounding areas are very reasonable.

      Lots of entertainment available. Close to skiing or hiking and close enough to the coast. Multi cultural. I’ve never found a place I feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

      I really have no cons because it’s a perfect world from small town PNW where I grew up.

      1. Windchime*

        I’m also a PNW native. I grew up in the rural, Eastern part of the state but I always had an affinity for Seattle. I now live about 30 miles north of the city and commute in every day because–well, because I’m not a millionaire and I can’t afford anything closer. I work in the heart of downtown and I feel safe most of the time, at least in the areas where I walk at lunchtime. The city seems very diverse to me, but that’s probably because I grew up in a very un-diverse area. The people that work in my department of about 100 people are from all over the world.

        The rain is a drag. Winter and spring are indistinguishable from one another; it’s darkness and rain for about half the year. But the summers and falls are beautiful.

    3. ampg*

      Denver pros:

      Amazing weather. Proximity / culture of outdoor activities. Variety of professional sports all in the downtown area. Lively food and beer scene. DIA is a great airport, very easy to get anywhere in US.

      Denver cons:

      Traffic is getting worse every year, as is cost of living. Noticeable lack of diversity. Not much access to water–ocean obviously but also rivers and lakes. If you are used to water recreation this may bother you. High altitude may be a con for some depending on health.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes, Lord, the WEATHER, 300 days of sunshine a year, and summer in the mountains is just too good. I live in the south/midwest now and it’s the thing I miss the most about Colorado. That and the aspens in September.

      2. Middle Name Jane*

        Ha! Yes, I spent a week in Denver for my last job and I didn’t know altitude sickness was a thing. I was nauseated all week and kept getting nosebleeds because my nose had dried out so much. Beautiful city–but my body was unprepared.

    4. Lived in Seattle 10 Years, Have Pals in Denver*

      Seattle is traffic is a nightmare. And it’s getting worse with no relief on the horizon, because Amazon is looking to build a complex by a particular interchange downtown that simply can’t support the influx of cars and bodies.

      Seattle real estate is unaffordable. Don’t move there without a job or jobs already lined up. And even with a job, you may well have to live way, way out of downtown. I’ll also second PB’s point about the air. We had mildew and mold in a number of the places we lived because the damp can be very hard to get rid of. This is partly because, compared to areas of the country with “real” winters, residential construction is not that weather-tight.

      Seattle has a “Minnesota nice” streak that can be hard to get used to. Depends if you’re going to be moving in circles comprising of people who’ve been there for a few generations (lots of Scandinavian heritage), or newer arrivals (Asian immigrants, Latinx immigrants, and tech people from all over).

      Denver traffic is terrible, too. (Bonus: an interchange called the “Mousetrap.”) I’ve never lived there so I can’t speak to residential construction. I do have some good friends there, though. Culturally you’ll see a very strong Libertarian or at least anti-tax streak there, especially if you end up in Colorado Springs (lots of good googleable stuff about that town’s tax adventures).

      The mile-high altitude in Denver is something that you legit have to contend with. Try it out for a week, seriously.

      1. Courageous cat*

        What day-to-day effects would the altitude cause over a week? I’ve never been somewhere high-altitude but have always loved the idea of Denver so I’m curious.

        1. Ktelzbeth*

          I lived there for a year and the first few weeks were the hardest. I have a very mild exercise/illness induced asthma but am otherwise in good health. Every level of exertion felt a step or two harder (e.g. mild felt like moderate and moderate like hard or extreme) due to the lack of available oxygen. I played weekly ultimate frisbee with colleagues and for the first month or two it was really easy to tell which of us had just moved from sea level. A run up the field left us bent over and panting. After that, though, most of us adjusted and it seemed normal. I got back to my usual level of physical activity and maybe even ended up fitter because the outdoor opportunities are so good.

          My parents now live at 7000+ feet and when I visit them, I can feel it. It’s harder to exert myself and I get short of breath more easily, but I can still do household activities without noticing, walk without issue, and hike, though I may have to slow down on strenuous portions. I jog when I visit and that’s hard. If I were to stay there for any length of time, though, I expect I would adapt again, since they outpace me easily, despite being in their 70s.

        2. The New Wanderer*

          If you’re coming from low ground, you’ll definitely notice the hypoxia-related effects in the first week, especially if you do anything more strenuous than walking short distances. I did a group hike up one of the nearby mountains at the end of a week – we were instructed to add small amounts of exercise throughout the week to help overcome the effects. About a third of the group still had to quit before the halfway point because the exertion got to them.

          I considered a job in one of the Denver suburbs a while back. I think that would have been a really nice place to live but I’m a ‘burb girl.

    5. Stacy*

      I’m from Seattle and love it! The weather is really much better than people think, it’s just that we do have a lot of chunks of time where it is grey, damp, and cloudy. I’m allergic to many grasses, and since our weather is so mild it is always allergy season for me, which leads to sinus infections if I’m not mindful (honestly though my body is ridiculously sensitive to lots of things). We dress in layers here, and if you like to get outside to play this is the place to be. Conversely if you like to curl up with a great book and a cup of coffee by a window this is also the place to be!

      Cons: it’s gotten insanely expensive in things like the housing market and, with the latest influx of people the population has really been growing again in the last few years so traffic reflects that. I kind of disagree about the comment about Seattle not being diverse. It is in some ways/locations, but now socioeconomic status is a big one. It’s hard to not feel like tech companies are pushing us out of the area when the only folks who can afford housing that doesn’t feel like you’re spending a million hours commuting each day are the ones making good tech company salaries, especially if you’ve got dual tech salaries. But I’m comparing it to the memories in my head where it seemed like the longest it took to get anywhere was 45 minutes, so ymmv

      Honestly, when it comes to Seattle pros and cons are very much going to vary by person in a way that they might not for other places, and will depend on things like what do you like to do in your free time, what would your living situation look like, what do you do for work and how close/far would you want to be to work and/or play

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I love the Seattle area very much and I grew up in the Los Angeles area so the traffic doesn’t even faze me much, but two things kill me: How dark it is in the winter, and the fact that I cannot afford to buy a house or even a condo anywhere I actually want to live.

        I would not move back to CA if you paid me though (literally — I took a layoff rather than let a job pay to move me back to CA). I like the culture, when the weather’s nice it’s aggressively nice, the traffic and cost of living are about the same as every other city I’d want to live in, so… here I am.

    6. Red Reader*

      I moved from the midwest to Seattle and discovered that it was horrible for my mental health about the time that I got engaged to someone who wouldn’t consider living anywhere else. It’s grey and gloomy and drizzly — not a proper rain, just drizzle — 9 months out of the year. (Other places get more rain in terms of inches of rainfall — Seattle just drags it out so it’s constant over 9 months.) Most of the city shuts down when it snows, because the 10,000 person town where my parents live in central Michigan has more snow removal equipment than the entire Seattle metroplex and local ordinance doesn’t allow them to salt the roads, and the whole city is built on hills so it’s a death trap when it’s icy. When it’s not 45 and drizzly, the city is truly beautiful, and I would’ve loved it if not for the weather. But when I was informed that I was getting divorced, the first thing I did was start planning my escape back to somewhere with seasons.

      Also, when I left in 2012, my last two apartments had been $850/month for a 275 square foot studio and $1600/month for a 2/1 5th floor walkup. I looked a couple months ago out of curiosity, and that 2/1 is now $2800/month, and the website doesn’t make it look like it’s been significantly updated with amenities to justify another $1200.

      On buying: My home-purchase budget here in Indianapolis got me a 4/3 on almost half a fenced acre. In Seattle, the same amount of money would have gotten me a 1br fixer-upper condo, 1.5 hours out from downtown.

      1. Relyan*

        I’m currently in Seattle, and I’ve lived here for 2 years. I love the city, but like anywhere it has its pros and cons.

        Pros: Great culture – arts, music, concerts; there is always something to do. Lots of outdoor activities, like hiking, camping, running, rowing, biking; Seattle is a very health conscious city. Lots of vegetarian or vegan food options, too. It is also easy to get around the city on foot, bike or bus; I sold my car a few months after I moved here and for the most part I don’t miss it. You can rent a car for a few hours or a day if you need one, too.

        Cons: Traffic is bad, and constant construction adds to the congestion whenever a road or lane is closed. Housing and rent is insanely expensive; the local news recently said that the average cost of homes within a 30 minute commute to Seattle is $600,000. Make sure you have a job or at least a place to stay before you move here. And the Seattle Freeze is real; it can take a long time to stop getting the cold shoulder from people.

        As for the weather, it doesn’t rain so much as constantly drizzle. It snows a little in the winter, but usually less than an inch; it’s not like the feet of snow that other cities get. Summer is beautiful – sunny days in the 60s and 70s.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        The summers have gotten longer, sunnier, and warmer the last few years. I’m not sure if it’s luck or climate change but it’s been really consistent. Summer has been starting in May instead of on July 5 (Seattle tradition: It must rain on July 4).

    7. Soupspoon McGee*

      I currently go to school in Seattle, but I’m from the Portland, OR area. I much prefer Portland.

      Cons: Seattle is crazy expensive. I pay $1200 for a tiny studio–more than my mortgage for a home that’s more than times larger. Traffic is worse with every passing year. The food scene is okay, but nothing has blown my mind. The weather is depressing. The Minnesota Nice thing manifests in weird ways — like, everyone rates every restaurant 4/5 unless it’s really horrible, so unless it’s rate 4.4 or above, it’s just okay (This is my unscientific survey). I’ve also made friends with transplants, but not really with Seattle natives.

      Pros: It’s surrounded by water and mountains. It’s pretty. Public transportation is great–I mostly use the bus to get from home to school and to the downtown area. There are lots of food delivery services. There’s a booming craft brew and wine culture, so there are lots of great options.

      If I may throw Portland’s hat into the ring: It’s less overcast and a little warmer than Seattle. Traffic is an issue, but not nearly as bad as Seattle’s. Public transportation is decent (not as robust as Seattle’s), and it would be harder to live without a car in Portland. With housing — it’s easier to find something affordable, maybe in an outlying area. I think the restaurants are better, and the food cart culture means there are lots of options. There are lots of funky, fun neighborhoods in Portland. It’s a very arts, foody, beery city.

      1. Professional-Confrontation-Haver*

        I was hoping someone would bring up Portland! My husband and I honeymooned in Portland last summer and absolutely fell in love with it–so much so that it’s at the top of our list of places to move in ~5 years. I’d be curious to know more about what it’s like to live there. I’ve heard from many natives that it’s getting too popular and losing some of its charm because it’s so busy (plus housing is so expensive!) but I still have such a strong interest in moving there.

    8. Nacho*

      I was born and raised in a small suburb right outside Seattle. It’s a great city with tons of nightlife, a good bus-line, and plenty of jobs, but the housing situation is complete shit. A tiny one bedroom condo is $200k, and houses are $500-1m. Rent is $1200-1600/month for the cheapest places.

      If you’ve got the money, it’s a great city, but if not you’ll end up living about half an hour away in the bad part of town.

    9. Abe Froman*

      Thanks for all the input! I live in Chicago, and my wife and I started a conversation about where we might move. I want similar weather (I can’t handle heat), so Seattle and Denver were strong options. Also Santa Fe (my wife grew up in that area). Any potential places I’m missing? Similar weather to Chicago and has to be a decent sized city. My job is 100% remote so I have lots of flexibility.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Hey, thanks for asking this, Abe Froman — my partner and I have been talking about moving to the PNW or the outskirts of the SF Bay area in 5-10 years, depending on what we feel we can afford at the time. This would be for retirement or semi-retirement if we want to keep teleworking/freelancing/consulting for a while. I’m so with you on the climate, I much prefer the weather in the 40s or 50s than in the 80s, and I can take lots of rain if it’s cool, although I really feel like I have less energy on heavily overcast days, so I’d probably want to look into a mood/SAD light, at least. But then I started hearing good things about CO, mostly from my craft beer friends and newsletters. I wouldn’t mind the sun or even some temps in the 80s if the humidity was low.

      2. swingbattabatta*

        I grew up in Seattle, lived in Chicago for a decade, moved back to Seattle! You’ll be very disappointed in Seattle’s public transit with the El, very please with Seattle’s relative safety compared to Chicago, and shocked at how comparatively cheap the beer and expensive the housing is in Seattle :)

      3. Interplanet Janet*

        I’ve heard good things about Flagstaff, AZ from friends from my neck of the woods in the Sierra Nevada who recently moved there. Similar altitude (6,900′), moderate temps, low humidity, get a little snow to play in, etc.

        1. Interplanet Janet*

          Oops I think I replied to the wrong comment. Sorry for going OT in this thread.

      4. Mallows*

        Denver gets hot. There are lots of 90+ days in July-August, and it doesn’t always automatically drop down at night like you might expect. One thing I didn’t think about at all before I moved here, and which is a thing: air quality. Lots of days when a brown haze hangs over the city.

        Outdoors, obviously, is lovely if you don’t always require water to be part of your view. I paid $70 for an unlimited state parks pass last year and it has proved its worth at least twice over. You don’t have to go to Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park to get great alpine views.

        Also, I’m not sure if this differs from Seattle, but you better like dogs if you move here. I have not noticed a tendency to follow leash laws/regulations. (I might be biased after having seen an unattended unleashed dog poop on the moving walkway at the airport last week.)

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Dogs are freakin’ everywhere in the Seattle area. I see a few every time I go in a store or mall and once at a hair salon. Not enough people seem to follow leash laws or pick up after their dogs, especially on hiking trails with big signs about those things. I know it’s not exclusive to Seattle, but it has gotten noticeably worse in the past ten years around here. And I like dogs! What I don’t like is the attitude that they belong everywhere and hearing “Oh it’s okay, my dog is friendly” as their dog comes tearing up to my kids, one of whom very obviously doesn’t want the dog to be close.

    10. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Not from there, but grew up spending time in Seattle and travelled there often as an adult. Its a city we would definitely consider due to the art scene, tech scene, and the appreciation and acceptance for a lot of diverse music. Lots of excellent food around, good international connections, etc. I am OK with the weather.

      Downsides – the homeless situation always bothered me, as did the traffic.

      Have you also considered Minneapolis?

      1. Abe Froman*

        I have, but they just got hit with another 6 inches of snow, and I don’t think I want that in my life.

        1. Natalie*

          It’s up to about 12” now.

          That said, this isn’t typical for April, for whatever that’s worth.

      2. Red Reader*

        I will say — without getting into the problems that cause homelessness, a lot of the transient population that have choices (those who live in vehicles, train hoppers, hitch-hikers) choose Seattle over other places in part because of the relatively mild weather (it rains, but you’re not going to risk freezing to death on a semi-regular basis) and the high number of social services agencies that make various services available to them. I worked for a nonprofit in Seattle for a year or so while I was there that their primary service to the community was literally to collect information about Seattle’s various social services organizations and compile it to share with both other organizations and members of the community, including operating several different telephone hotlines for the purposes of making that information available to anyone who needed to call in and ask for assistance. My understanding is that the availability of those services is a lot higher in Seattle than in other cities of similar size. (Though it’s been a minute since I was involved, so my information may be somewhat outdated.)

        1. LCL*

          Thank you for posting that information about the homeless traveling here. One of the reasons we are so stuck on this issue is some homeless advocacy groups claim that the homeless aren’t coming here from all over the country. The homeless do travel to where conditions are better, everybody knows that. The other 2 causes of homelessness here are the exploding costs of real estate, and the opioid epidemic.

        2. Where's the Le-Toose?*

          When I was living in Southern California and the last time I had a roommate (somewhere around 2001), my roommate had a collection of friends who would couch surf for a week or so before leaving to go to either Portland (reason: “I can sleep in my car and not get rousted by the cops”) or Seattle (reason: not getting harassed and available services). These were are able bodied kids in their early 20’s who could work but didn’t want to.

    11. Former Chicagoan*

      I lived most of my life in Chicago, also lived in Denver 4 yrs, and now have been in the Bay Area for 4 yrs. What I can tell you, having moved from Chicago to Denver, is that Denver will NOT feel like a decent-sized city after living in Chicago. At least it didn’t for me. It felt like a small town playing dress-up and pretending to be a city. There are some cool things there, but as a lover of arts/music/culture, I felt there was a lot lacking. I also had trouble making (close) friends there, and I’ve lived all over the world and never had trouble making friends anywhere else.
      And personally, I thought it was too sunny in Denver — I longed for overcast days. Some other midwesterners felt the same, but of course lots of people love all the sun, so that’s a really individual thing. I also missed being near the water. Unless your are into snow sports, I cannot recommend Denver as a place of residence.
      I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Seattle, but have never lived there. I love it, though, and if choosing btwn Denver and Seattle, I would choose Seattle in a heartbeat. Not even close. Denver has nothing on Seattle, unless if you are really into skiing or snowboarding.
      Another thing, which a lot of people don’t think about, but the standards for health insurance vary A LOT depending on where you live. Denver’s standards for employer-provided health insurance suck! And this wasn’t just my employer. People from Colorado thought my employer had *great* benefits, but people from the midwest were like, What the hell — these are awful benefits! I had a FT professional job for a large org and didn’t even have proper dental insurance! Health insurance included co-insurance too. (If you don’t know what co-insurance is, you are better off not knowing.)
      I love living in the Bay Area. It’s expensive of course, and I live an hour from San Francisco which is kind of too far from the city. But I still love it here. And I have awesome health insurance, unlike in Denver.

      1. NaoNao*

        Thank you so much for saying this! I’ve lived in larger and smaller cities and I have *never* struggled to make friends like I do here in Denver.
        I also felt it was a one-horse town that is very clearly a stopover on the way to the “real” attractions: state parks, mountains, camping, ski-ing, etc.
        I struggled partly because I’m not outdoorsy (vast mountain vistas all look alike to me), I don’t drink (honestly, beer and wine drinking culture is a BIG thing here) and I am not sporty. Sports teams, including the local minor league baseball team, are *huge* in Denver.
        The city has a youthful, sporty, at times “bro” vibe that I do not mesh with well.
        There are some arts and culture hot spots, but compared to, say, Taos, a city I visited recently, there is no distinctly “Denver vibe” that immediately sets it apart from other 2nd tier (in terms of size before everyone shreds me!) cities. History and historical buildings are not respected at all here, and torn down for *horrible* “slot” condo and apartment buildings that are massively out of scale with the rest of the area in what used to be charming, walkable bedroom communities.
        Traffic is a serious issue: the infastructure is just not there to support the influx of people. The city planners “done goofed” and the city is bisected by the highway (ugh!!) so you can’t use a street level artery to cross town you MUST use the highway in most cases or add 30 minutes and a maze of side streets to do so.
        Many people like the legal MJ, the low key, sporty, playful vibe, and the weather, which is very nice.
        We also have a serious homelessness issue, partly due to drug addictions, and partly due to people moving here to work in the weed industry and not understanding the regulations and hoops you have to jump through to work here. Also, same as other cities with rising housing costs (it’s about 1000 per bedroom or 2$ a square foot here) and few affordable housing options: you get housing insecure and homelessness big time.

        1. Former Chicagoan*

          NaoNao –
          I’m so glad you found my post helpful! As for the difficulty making friends, I’ve heard it from many others too, so you are not alone! Interestingly, I met someone 10 months before I moved away from Denver who quickly became one of my best friends in the world, and still is, but I didn’t meet her until I was already trying to move away!
          I also agree that the traffic and road infrastructure is dumb, for lack of a better word. So many things about it. My sister was there for a visit and quickly had that same impression without me even pointing it out to her.
          That said, I did find some really cool things in the city. Their independent film center (Sie Film Center on Colfax) is incredible (HIGHly recommend the membership — you get invited to so many free screenings!), and their international film festival was, in my opinion, better and more diverse than Chicago’s. I also loved the Bluebird for live music. And lots of other things. But still was never quite happy there.
          If you want to contact me for questions/suggestions, I’m including my email with my username, if it works…

        2. Former Chicagoan*

          Well, the email thing didn’t work, I think b/c I don’t have a gravatar, but if want to get in touch, post a comment here to that effect, and I’ll ask Alison to put us in touch.

    12. Cuddles Chatterji*

      I love Denver. One huge con I have not seen mentioned yet is the current housing market. It’s not Seattle bad, but there is very little inventory , and what’s out there is quite inflated and difficult to get.

    13. LCL*

      Fact 1: Seattle, and Washington state, don’t have an income tax. Tax money is raised by sales and property tax.
      Fact 2: Seattle has seen explosive growth, far beyond the ability of the existing infrastructure to support. We are playing catch up in all areas.

      These two nonpolitical realities drive virtually all our politics. Seattle has a local subreddit for the deep dive. Seattle.WA

  3. Nancy*

    I wanted to say thanks to those who helped me by suggesting places for finding maternity clothes. Macy’s had some (at the store), target online, and J.C. Penney online. I’ll keep looking and report back if I find anything else. Thanks again!

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      I know the Target near me has a maternity section in store. If you’re able, you might be able to find something similar? That’s the extent of my maternity knowledge.

      1. Double A*

        I went to look at maternity clothes at Target and ALL the pants we’re ripped jeans! Like just because I’m pregnant I get to be a beach bum with no job? The only maternity thing I really truly need are work appropriate pants. I’ll just wear leggings and sweats when I don’t need work pants.

        Old Navy also has maternity stuff but it’s online only, which is annoying because I truly have no idea how this stuff will fit. The whole point is my body is massively changing.

    2. Elf*

      I’ve been buying maternity clothes recently. I had an advantage, because I had a giant box from my same-size (on top) cousin (not my best colors, but WGAF). However, none of her pants fit me (too short). I had good luck with ThredUp for it, because maternity clothes are designed to be a bit forgiving around precise fit, and some of the older styles are way better constructed than what’s in the stores today. Definitely a bit hit-or-miss, but I spent less overall than if I’d tried to get just the best pieces new in stores. I kept it all, because one thing people won’t tell you is that the things that fit well when you first start to need maternity clothes will not necessarily fit well at the end, and vice versa. I got 4-5 pairs of pants, a couple of shirts and a few dresses for about $75 (which was just enough for free shipping. That was with the first-time-buyer 40% off coupon.

    3. Lorlye*

      Motherhood maternity clothes worked great for me. The store had laid back clothes, dressy stuff, cute dresses, things I was comfortable wearing in a professional setting. Don’t know how widespread the chain is though. And honestly, I’d buy their tank tops even now, 2 years later. It was nice to have some that didn’t ride way up!

  4. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Super excited! My best friend is coming out for the weekend. We don’t get to see each other often (maaaaaybe once a month, if we’re lucky). No huge plans….watch movies, eat junk food, drink. But it’ll be nice to just sit and catch up.

    Anyone else up to much?

    1. Dopameanie*

      With your username, you might appreciate this: I’m taking my kindergartener to a Princess Ball. It’s a fundraiser for a REALLY good local cause. You get to rub elbows with all the Disney royalty, there’s carriage rides, a dinner, a ballroom decorated like a castle, crafts, etc. we got her Princess Dress last week, VERY exciting stuff.

      1. WellRed*

        On the way to the Cape for long weekend. Hanging at South Station right now with some sketchy looking dudes probably headed to Hyannis.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      That sounds like an awesome weekend!

      I’m trying to muster up the energy to do some spring cleaning.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I’m not either and I have sooooo much stuff. It’s ridiculous. I’m actually considering renting a dumpster for a few days and just tossing a bunch.

    3. Laura H*

      Not much on my end. Hoping to get something posted for my fics (it’s been ages and I do like getting reviews.) But the plot bunnies have hibernated on me and computer is being a bit ornery…

      Also preliminary packing for my church retreat next weekend. String of days off from my (only) part time retail job this week gave me time to do my laundry and now I just gotta pack it.

      And a shift on Sunday afternoon- should be a good weekend though! Enjoy your time with your friend.

    4. Parenthetically*

      We are BABYPROOFING because my kid is finally showing some interest in crawling! And hoo boy our lives are about to get way more interesting and our house much cleaner, I think.

      Apart from that, just our normal weekend things — laundry, sports watching, grocery shopping, hanging out at home, etc.

    5. Stacy*

      My roommate has a 3 year old. It’s his weekend to be with his dad, so that should translate to extra quiet time for me with Netflix and junk food as well. Oh, and doing my taxes because I somehow just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Seems like I get to it either as soon as humanly possible in January, or totally at the last minute in April, which I guess balance each other out. So that should be fun!

      Any good Netflix/Amazon Prime/Hulu suggestions out there? I’ve somehow managed to burn my way through my watch lists recently, so I barely know what to do with myself. I might actually need to get outside and exercise or something ridiculous like that!

      1. NB*

        I love docuseries. I liked these three on Netflix: The Keepers (disturbing, but fascinating); Trump, an American Dream; and The Royal House of Windsor.

        I also loved The Crown.

        Do you like stand-up comedy? There’s lots available. I like Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, and Kathleen Madigan.

        1. Stacy*

          Totally love The Crown, and enjoyed the Royal House of Windsor because of it. I am so excited to see what Olivia Colman is going to bring to it in series 3. She is so fantastic!

          Couldn’t get into The Keepers. I usually don’t mind disturbing or dark, but I just couldn’t do that one.

          I think I’m current on Jim Gaffigan and Kathleen Madigan (who can do no wrong, as far as I’m concerned), but I might need to branch out to other comics. That could actually be a really good choice since I’m currently burning through Homeland and will likely need to unwind once I get all caught up!

    6. Ktelzbeth*

      We’re getting nailed by a blizzard. Lots of the city is shut down. I have to go into work (but will walk the couple of blocks rather than risk the roads) but otherwise my plan is a lot of lying on the couch today.

    7. Red Reader*

      Last week my kitchen cabinets were all pulled out. I got back from a work trip on Thursday night and this weekend we’re painting my kitchen (Dutch Boy’s “Peacock Teal”), in preparation for my new cabinets to go in. White trim and cabinets, orange accents, should look really snazzy with the teal. I’m super excited. On a painting break right now while we wait for lunch delivery, should be able to get at least two coats done today so if we need a third that can be done tomorrow :)

      (Because I also have a presentation I have to pull out of my butt for class on Monday evening. :P )

    8. Nicole76*

      Sounds like fun!

      We had a game night planned with friends this evening but it got cancelled because they couldn’t get a babysitter. I’m bummed because I love board games and don’t get the opportunity to play our extensive collection too often. With the crappy cold/rainy weather expected the entire weekend there’s nothing to do outside and it even makes me hesitant to go out at all. :(

    9. The Other Dawn*

      As I’m typing this, my female orange tabby cat is sitting on my desk staring at me and I just realized she has food all over the whiskers above her eyes. She’s a real pig when she eats. Can’t help but laugh at her. But anyway…

      My friend wants me to go to a bar with her tonight to see two cover bands and I kinda dread it. Bars aren’t my thing and I’m a real homebody, but I’ll go since I don’t usually get a whole lot and I especially don’t get out with her much. But the first band doesn’t go onstage until 9:30 pm. UGH. When I heard that all I could think is how wrecked I’ll be tomorrow, because I’m normally in bed around 10 pm and then I read on my phone for a half hour or so. And then I saw that all the seats are hardwood, which will be murder on my bad back. I can stand, but standing bugs me after a while, too. We agreed to drive separately since her BF is going and can drive her home, and then I can leave whenever I’ve had enough. When did I get so old??

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I’m thinking I’m going to have a cut-off time in my mind. Probably midnight-ish. That way I went and hung out, and should still be functional tomorrow.

    10. Roja*

      That sounds fun! I’m visiting my best friend for a few days too, except we only see each other once a year. It’s nice to have in-person hugs instead of e-hugs!

    11. PhyllisB*

      Treated two friends to a movie and lunch for a Birthday celebration. Then went for coffee afterwards. It was so nice to have some “girl time” The movie was amazing, too. We went to see I Can Only Imagine. If you are Christian or have an interest in matters of faith, you will LOVE this movie. If you work with youth at your church, you need to take them to see this. I wouldn’t take little ones (eight and below) because there are a couple of scenes that deal with abuse. Brief, but still………..but older kids will love it.

  5. All the Single Lady*

    Trigger warning: eating disorders

    I’ve struggled with an eating disorder for the past couple years, and thought I was doing ok until an injury meant I needed to take some time off of excercising. In the past, therapy has really helped and I have an appointment to see a new therapist in a couple weeks (I moved to a new town somewhat recently).

    Any tips for figuring out if a therapist is a good match? Any suggestions for online forums for people in recovery from eating disorders? Thanks!

    1. Bazinga*

      I’m sorry, I don’t have any. I just wanted to say I hope you can find the help you need.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      It took me like five tries to find a therapist who was a great match for me. I have a nasty anxiety disorder, so not an eating disorder but I feel like they’re in vaguely the same family tbh.

      I honestly don’t have a lot of tips except for this: The therapists I LIKED were not a good match for me, because in order for a therapist to be effective with me they need to make me do things that make me uncomfortable so I don’t want to do them, and that makes me uncomfortable with THEM. The therapist who ended up doing the most for me — so much that I am no longer in therapy because I no longer need it for the time being — made me mildly uncomfortable for a long time because she pushed me and held me accountable. I eventually warmed to her but I usually left her office feeling like I’d just had the emotional equivalent of a somewhat rough dental cleaning, because that was how it felt to actually do the work I needed to do.

      So I guess my advice is to lean in to your discomfort and try to determine if you’re just uncomfortable because the therapist is doing their job effectively.

      Internet fist-bumps and hang in there, we’re all rooting for you.

    3. Kj*

      What type of therapy worked for you in the past? What have you liked about other therapists? I tend to like therapists who are older, relational and let me have lots of quiet space with my feeling. Think of the first session as a mutual interview- ask how your therapist would handle certain situations if that is a concern, ask how they think about and approach eating disorders.

      And lots of sympathy- I have an ED history and am pregnant and so am facing all the body changes and weirdness that goes with that. I am so happy to be having a child, but also can’t stop my jerk brain from criticizing my body.

    4. Indoor Cat*

      Re: online forums for ED recovery–

      I’m a huge, huge fan of Kati Morton, a professional therapist who specializes in eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and Borderline Personality disorders. She has a YouTube channel, tumblr, instagram, facebook, twitter, and her own site with free workbooks. All her posts and videos are very positive and recovery-oriented. She even has a video on choosing a therapist and interviewing therapists over the phone.

      Her fans are called “kinions,” and they have a forum on her website, as well as encouraging one another in her facebook group and on other social media. They’re moderated so nobody posts “thinspo”-type posts or fat-shaming posts, only pro-recovery things. Hope this helps! I’ve found the community very welcoming, though my mental illness is not an ED.

      1. Tales from the pillow fort*

        I found a therapist a couple years ago who I love, and I understand it’s easier said than done to find one because it’s a special relationship that truly needs the right fit. I went on an American association of psychologists website (or something like this) and input my zip code, I could select which issues/topics I most wanted to address and then a search results would come up. I had then read all the profiles and came up with an initial list. I called the ones that seemed like a good fit (and not too far or difficult for me to get to) then from the calls, I paid for my first appointments, by the third one I found someone who was perfect. This is because she got right to the root of my issues, very quickly she understood what they were and were to go. The others didn’t we talked about other things. I also asked her style, beliefs, how she works. If you find in a handful of sessions it’s not clicking then move on, even though it’s tough and emotionally draining to start over. It took me a long time even to face getting started on the process. Best of luck!

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

    I’ve been in such a slump with books lately. One bad book after another that I can’t get through.

    Part of the problem is that I’m so picky. I don’t like historical fiction, crime stories, melodramatic stories set in foreign countries… and that’s pretty much all that my library’s New Books section ever seems to get. I’m also not a huge science fiction person–I’m just not smart enough to get it.

    While I love that Alison does book recommendations every week… all of them are too serious for my personal taste! I tend to like lighthearted books about real people in everyday lives (think Tom Perrotta or Rainbow Rowell). I also really get into nonfiction books about my three major interests – music, baseball and running. Given those very limiting parameters… does anyone have any book recommendations for me? :-)

    1. Elkay*

      Tales From Out There: The Barkley Marathons, The World’s Toughest Trail Race is on my list because I’m fascinated by The Barkley Marathon, or maybe Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods (not quite running but outdoors/endurance).

      For the lighthearted stories about real people Sandi Toksvig’s The Gladys Society is a fun non-fiction read, she travels to the US to reunite with people she was in a high school play with.

      1. Relyan*

        If you like outdoor/endurance books, you should check out The Journey In Between and The Last Englishman, both by Keith Foskett. He’s written several books about his long distance hikes. The Journey In Between is about a 1,000 mike hike on the El Camino in France and Spain. The Last Englishman is about his 2,000 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada. All are great reads.

        And A Walk in the Woods is hilarious; you’ll enjoy that one.

    2. nep*

      This might be way out of the range of things you like — but are you familiar with Drew Magary’s Someone Could Get Hurt?
      I’ve not read the whole thing — just picked it up at a used book sale at work and read the first 30 pages or so. Laughed quite a bit. I think especially good if one has kids; but I don’t and I still really got a kick out of it.
      Another — Have you read The Elegance of the Hedgehog?

      1. Alucius*

        Margary’s book is hilarious. I had a number of “yep, been there” moments throughout it. Be warned, the last chapter is heartwrenching.

        1. nep*

          My initial thought when I read your post was: Thanks for the warning — I’m not going there. (I had set the book aside a while back, not planning to read it unless perhaps after a few others I’ve got on deck.)
          But I just picked it up and read the last chapter. Decided to just go there. Glad I did.
          Won’t put any spoilers here in case anyone plans to read it.
          In any case, I really enjoy how he writes.

    3. Alucius*

      Hmm, a few baseball books I’ve enjoyed semi-recently are:

      Smart Baseball — Keith Law. Snarky ESPN columnist takes a sledgehammer to some of baseball’s sacred cows (bunting, RBIs, the save, etc)
      The Only Rule is it has to Work — Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh. Two guys from Baseball Prospectus get a chance to actually run a minor league team for a year.
      Living on the Black and Where Nobody Knows Your Name — John Feinstein. The first one chronicles a season in the life of two mlb pitchers (Mussina and Glavine, I think), while the second chronicles a year in the life of a bunch of mostly no-name minor leaguers.
      Bullpen Gospels — Dirk Hayhurst. Genuine, insightful reflection on life in the minors from a guy who faced a bunch of his own demons and briefly made the majors. It’s much better than your typical baseball biography.
      Baseball Life Advice — Stacey May Fowles. She uses her love of baseball to explore any number of broader issues including her own psychological struggles, the perils of daring to be a female sports fan, and some more light-hearted and humourous stuff. Lots of fun.

      Anyway, I hope that helps!

      1. Sarah*

        I just read Allison’s recommendation Eleanor Oliphant is Perfectly Fine and loved it. There are definitely some serious bits, but it was also really funny. If you like Rainbow Rowell, I think you’d like this.

        Also, do you use Goodreads? It might be worth looking up reviewers who liked books you like and see what else they recommend.

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

        I read both Feinstein books and thought they were terrific. Looking forward to trying the others!

    4. Dame Judi Brunch*

      Hi, I’ve enjoyed “9 Innings, the Anatomy of a Baseball Game” by Daniel Okrent. It details a 1982 Milwaukee Brewers game, and all the behind-the-scenes trades, drama, etc leading up to that game. It wasn’t a dry read and it was pretty interesting.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        As a lifelong Brewers fan, I may need to read this. The ’82 team is the only team that ever mattered… *wipes a tear*

        1. Dame Judi Brunch*

          I feel the same way! Some day it will be our turn. Til then, we have our Harvey’s Wallbangers.

    5. Lilo*

      I assumed you’ve read Wait Til Next Year if you like baseball. If not, I’d check that out.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Ball Four and Moneyball were great reads. I can’t remember if Moneyball was math-heavy, but I do remember there was some great storytelling that I think could overcome any amount of math. :) Anyone read it recently and have an opinion?

      1. Alucius*

        I worked in a bookstore when Moneyball came out. A customer had special ordered it and while we were waiting for them to come and pick it up, I uh, read the whole thing during a slow shift. I can’t remember how math-y it gets, but Michael Lewis is a pretty compelling writer so what math there was didn’t slow me down. It would be fascinating to re-read it now and see how the players that were highly touted there actually did.

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

        I read Moneyball and thought it was terrific. Thank you! And I don’t remember the math being all that much of a thing in the book.

    7. Maya Elena*

      My mom has similar tastes to yours, and really liked Alexander McCall Smith’s books, e.g. “The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency”. Also, “Skipping Christmas” by John Grisham (the book behind “Christmas With the Cranks”). “A Young Doctor’s Notebook” by Mikhail Bulgakov might also suit your tastes – (far superior to and much lighter than the BBC series) I’m sure you can find it for free online.

      Richard Feynman’s excellent “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman?” and “What Do You Care What Other People Think?” are top-notch non-fiction.

        1. WellRed*

          Grisham has several lighthearted books including playing for pizza (football tho) but pretty sure he has a baseball one, maybe Painted House?

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        The Alexander McCall Smith books set in Edinburgh… Isobel Dalhousie and Scotland Street series especially… are great!

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, definitely second anything by Dick Feynman. He’s a great storyteller and character, I’ve reread “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” dozens of times since it came out. Also, not quite the same but another very gripping first-person story is Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston (127 Hours was based on it).

    8. Thlayli*

      “Light hearted books about real people in everyday lives” – when I’m in the mood for that I tend to go for “chick lit”. Stuff like the shopaholic series. It’s real “switch your brain off” stuff but very funny and engagingly written.

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

        Thank you! TNT recently canceled the series. It bothered me as a librarian, but my wife loved it, and I’ll admit it was a clever show.

        1. Bibliovore*

          My favorite part of the show was that no matter how absurd the situation was or place the characters weren’t supposed to be in they would orocksim, we are the librarians, and that woukd make it all okay.

    9. Cruciatus*

      On the baseball front, I bought my dad “The Pitch that Killed: The Story of Carl Mays, Ray Chapman, and the Pennant Race of 1920”. Out of the millions of pitches that have been thrown, only one of them has killed a man. The book investigates the incident and looks into the backgrounds of the players involved. My dad liked it and a quick amazon search shows it’s pretty well reviewed (well, out of 70 reviewers).

    10. Unmemorable Username*

      I am a giant Rainbow Rowell fan too! I always recommend Elinor Lipman’s The Inn at Lake Devine for somewhat escapist smart fiction. It’s a coming of age story/romance and just totally delightful. I’ve read most of her other novels and they have their moments, but the shtick gets a bit repetitive and none of her other characters are as compelling to me.

      I also love Nick Hornby’s novels About a Boy and High Fidelity (both were made into movies that were almost as good) and his book of essays Songbook is about (pop) music.

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

        Hornby is terrific. Oddly I really enjoyed High Fidelity the book, but did not like the movie at all.

    11. Pieforbreakfast*

      I just read “Goodbye, Vitamin” by Rachel Kong while on a beach vacation. Easy, funny read about a woman dealing with a family member with Alzheimer’s. So yes, serious issue but approached with humor.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      Tepper Isn’t Going Out by Calvin Trillin. About a man reading the newspaper in his car.

    13. NB*

      Have you already read Bill Bryson’s One Summer? It’s a fairly light treatment of the summer of 1927. One of the primary threads is Babe Ruth, so . . . baseball.

      Did you like Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

    14. Overeducated*

      I’m reading Schadenfreude by Rebecca Schuman (from my library’s new book shelf!) and it is a lighthearted book about her experiences as a student of German. Very self deprecating humor. It is a nice break from my recent fare of climate change nonfiction and dystopian sci fi….

    15. Lcsa99*

      If you haven’t read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King you should give it a shot. It isn’t his normal stuff and it’s well written.

      The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier might be worth a shot. I read it mostly for The Birds, but the other stories were definitely interesting, character driven stories.

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

        Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was great! And I’ll check out du Maurier.

      2. valentine*

        The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon uses Tom Gordon as racist tropes. Stephen King neither warned nor asked him about using him this way. I can’t think of an African American character in a Stephen King book that doesn’t fit the same tropes, with Bag of Bones being the worst.

    16. Bazinga*

      For a kind of easy read fun series, how about the Spenser series by Robert B Parker? I love them. The characters and their lives carry from one book to the next so as you get Into the series the characters really develop.

      1. aarti*


        Also Robert B Parker wrote one book about baseball (Double Play) and the protagonist of his Jesse Stone novels was a minor league baseball player before he became a police officer.

    17. Aphrodite*

      Oh, oh, oh, do I have a running book for you: Bunion Derby by Kastner. It’s the story of the inaugural Trans-American Footrace, which took place in 1928 starting in Los Angeles and finishing in New York City for a distance of 3,423.5 miles. The range of runners who entered, most of them non-runners but desperate to earn the huge prize money, are fascinating. I wouldn’t call it lighthearted because it is history but it is history at its best and most compelling.

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

      Thanks so much to everyone for the suggestions! I never expected to see too many to respond to individually. So many books to add to my holds list :-)

    19. Mephyle*

      Light hearted books about real people in everyday lives”: I think the books of D. S. Stevenson fit the bill precisely. They were contemporary when they were written (England and Scotland settings, 1930s to early 60s.)

    20. Totally Minnie*

      How do you feel about Romance? Kristan Higgins is my go-to for stories with well written characters dealing with real life issues.

    21. Forking Great Username*

      Absolutely love Rainbow Rowell! I’m with you on preferring less serious booksmost of the time. I really like Emily Giffin, and would especially recommend Where We Belong, Babyproof, and Something Borrowed. Also Jennifer Weiner, particularly The Next Best Thing and Then Came You.

    22. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Ooh, I have suggestions!

      Baseball nonfiction: The Only Rule Is It Has To Work. Two stats guys take over a minor league baseball team to put their theories into practice. SO fun.

      Baseball fiction, which you didn’t ask for but whatever: The Art of Fielding; The Brothers K. Not light but so beautiful about baseball. There’s a passage in The Brothers K about the strike zone that ranks among the best poetry I’ve ever read, and The Art of Fielding includes a lot of philosophizing about the beauty of fielding.

      Lighthearted in general:

      Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (one of the only books I’ve ever laughed out loud at)

      Horse Heaven (written from the perspective of several characters around the racetrack, including several horses)

      Gods Behaving Badly (Greek gods still live among us in London, but their power is diminished because few people believe in them; they engage in various shenanigans)

      The Nix (was well on its way to being a 5-star book for me but then engaged in an annoying trope in the last chapter, but still one of my favorites from last year);

    23. Windchime*

      How about some oldies-but-goodies? Over the years, I have loved the books by James Herriot. He writes about being a veterinarian in Yorkshire in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The stories are heartwarming and funny and very lighthearted. There are four of them, beginning with “All Creatures Great and Small”. I’ve read them all probably a dozen times and they still make me laugh.

    24. Amity*

      Check out Wendy Webb. She’s written some great gothic romances that I’ve loved. She only has 4 books out now, but the 5th one is scheduled for release November 1st.

    25. Baseball Fan & Reader*

      I haven’t read it yet, but just added “Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fan” by Alyssa Milano to my “to-read” list. She’s a huge sports fan, and the book is about her growing up watching baseball with her dad. Seems lighthearted and fun.

    26. Pam*

      While you say not usually SF, I will make a couple of those suggestions- In Other Lands, by Sarah Rees Brennan. What happens when the snarky obnoxious kid goes to Narnia? Also, Space Opera, by Catherine Valente- it’s Eurovision in Space

      For not SF, Find the Good, by Heather Lende- essays, and for fun reads, books by Mary Lasswell, best known for the Suds in your Eye series. (Older ladies in San Diego drink beer, help others, and generally live the good life,)

    27. Alexa*

      I loved Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.” It’s about her time in Sleater Kinney and it’s the book that got me to start reading again after years of being unable to get through anything.

    28. Indoor Cat*

      Space Opera by Catherynne M Valente. It’s about Eurovision– In Space! Aliens agreed to compete in an intergalactic singing and talent show for resources rather than have any more wars, and humans have just gotten roped into it for the first time.

      It’s hilarious. It helps if you love David Bowie- type music or Douglas Adams- style wry observations, but even if you don’t, it’s still fantastic. The two protagonists are wonderful, goofy, surprisingly complex characters. There are puns that go by so fast you’ll miss them if you blink. There’s a sentient zombie virus. There’s a time-travelling hyperactive red panda who thinks Yoko Ono is the best human musician, a planet whose air is 1% aerosolized cocaine, and a bizarre, and bizarrely-sweet m-preg subplot. I haven’t laughed this hard at a book in over a year, I think. I also cried.

      I just finished it four hours ago and I really want to hand copies to everyone now.

      1. Indoor Cat*

        Ach, I misread what you wrote, sorry >.<

        You've got a lot of other good recommendations though!

    29. Lindsay J*

      For baseball books I enjoyed “All My Octobers”, which was a Mickey Mantle autobiography.

  7. U. Peiris*

    Would love for any other fellow bloggers to share their writing schedules. I don’t know why, but I’m so interested in writing schedules! As for me, I wake up really early in the morning (at like 4 a.m.) and write. And write and write while I’m on that caffeine high. So far it’s been amazing.

    Also, a meta-question: I wonder how Alison manages to update this website with quality content but also do it consistently. Like, is some of the content planned in advance? How many words does she write a day? If anyone has any insight, please spill!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I know that Alison schedules posts. Not sure how far in advance she writes them, but when I’ve had letters answered, I’ve gotten an email the night before with the url.

    2. AngelicGamer, aka the Visually Impaired Peep*

      Well, for my blog, I write whenever inspiration hits. It sometimes means that my blog sits empty but it’s kind of the last thing on my writing to-do list. For everything else writing, I try to write mid morning or mid afternoon. So either just after breakfast or lunch because I really don’t do mornings. I’m more of a night owl but that doesn’t mean I want to be writing late at night. Now, I have, when a scene has gotten me in it’s grips and I need to finish it now, but otherwise, mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

      Hope that helps! :)

      1. U. Peiris*

        Yes that helps! That’s so interesting. After meals is probably the worst time for me to write (especially lunchtime when I get drowsy).

    3. Tiny Crankypants*

      I write after work in the late hours, around 11pm to 1am. It is not good for my health, but I am passionate about it. Sometimes, I find a day off to do it. I schedule a post once a week.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I write nearly all the content for the week on Mondays, except for the short-answer posts, which I write throughout the week. That leaves me the rest of the week for other work.

      1. U. Peiris*

        Thanks for the response Alison. That’s so interesting! I’ve always been curious about how the full-time professional bloggers do it.

    5. Turtlewings*

      I’m in the happy position of being able to write throughout the day, in between other things, so I work with an hourly word count of 100-200 words, depending on my goals and what else I have going on. I’m sure that kind of pick-it-up-put-it-down wouldn’t work for everyone, but I have trouble focusing for too long at a time anyway. It’s been working really well for me.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve been struggling with wanting to write on my blog lately. But when inspiration hits and I have time, I’ll write up several posts and then schedule them. Also, I start draft posts and leave them there until I feel like finishing them. Or I’ll upload pictures of products I’ve tried into a new post and leave it there until I want to do the writing. Kind of like a placeholder. My blog isn’t really anything in particular, but tends to be about me, weight loss surgery, products and recipes I’ve tried, my cats, stuff like that. I don’t really target an audience or look to get my readership up. I just write what I feel like writing, which tends to help me be a little more consistent.

  8. Blake A*

    Has anyone moved to a different country by themselves? How was the experience like?

    I’m moving to Scotland in the next few days and I’m getting serious anxiety over having to deal with making new friends, finding a job, finding accomodation and doing a bunch of paperwork that seems impossible to do as a foreigner. Opening a bank account requires proof of address (utility bill, rental contract, bank statement to that address…none of which I have, since I’ll be staying at an Airbnb), renting requires a bank account, getting a job requires both a bank account and proof of address, even getting a national insurance number requires proof of address. I’m completely freaking out.

    1. Mananana*

      Will your rental agreement with Airbnb work? Because, after all, it IS a lease. Just not a typical one. And will you be getting a cell phone acct there? That should count as a utility.

      1. Blake A*

        I’m getting a pre-paid SIM card, so I don’t think it will be of much use. I’ve read elsewhere that Airbnb is not acceptable for setting up a bank account, they want a utility bill or a formal rental agreement or bank statement from a UK bank :/ I’ll try anyway, but I’m not very hopeful. How do people even do this?

        1. Birch*

          The job should not require a UK bank account and proof of address, just proof that you’re legally able to work in the UK! You can explain to them that you’ve just moved there. With the job, then you can get a place to live (I dunno how it is everywhere but I’ve been asked about my employment when finding a flat).

      2. SebbyGrrl*

        Hello Mananana,

        I just started research for my time in Scotland – does one get a UK carrier and switch out sim card, let’s me keep my US phone #?

        Recent survey says TESCO is best overall.

        Do you agree? Good coverage in remote-ish places? Is it better in England but not so much Scotland?

        1. misspiggy*

          Tesco should be fine. Coverage has got so much better from all the major networks recently, but you never know about the particular places you’ll be. You might as well try a month to month contract first and then if the coverage is OK choose a longer contract if you want one.

    2. nep*

      My take: It’s nerve-wracking and scary, completely doable, and worth the experience. There will be ups, downs, frustrations, big and small triumphs, you’ll pull a few hairs out. And in the end you’ll have pulled it off and you’ll be riding a great wave.
      Excited for you.
      All the best and we’ll want to hear how it’s going.

    3. Chocolate Teapot*

      I was lucky, in that I moved overseas to take up a job, so I had an employment contract. In my case, the bank set up my account using the contract to guarantee there would be money coming in.

      However, it is true that there are lots of thing to do when you arrive in a place. In my case (Northern Europe) I had to register with the town hall to get my ID card, find somewhere to live, I paid to use an estate agent, which was more expensive, but then they produced the rental contract and were able to advise on suitable affordable areas. But then there are all the things you might not think about to begin with. For example, public transport passes, and home insurance. Where is the nearest GP? Dentist? Gym?

      When you relocate on your own, it can be tricky. I found I was an object of curiousity, since I hadn’t relocated for husband/boyfriend’s job, I wasn’t working in a specific industry, and I didn’t have any children, so I didn’t fall into any identifiable category. Joining activity groups seemed to help.

      Still, it all came together, and I am quite happy living where I do!

    4. TL -*

      You’re not the first person to have moved to Scotland – there will be systems in place to address situations like yours. Talk to the bank and to the rental agency and any potential job offers (though probably you’ll get this all figured out before that) and ask what they can do once you’re there in person.

      Also, for some things a foreign bank account or foreign address on a bank account will be acceptable. Good luck!

      1. Blake A*

        Thank you! Yeah I keep telling myself that it CAN’T be impossible, because plenty of people have done it before.

    5. Akcipitrokulo*

      Where in Scotland?

      You may be able to talk to airbnb bod about making you a long-term tenant/lodger which could help with proof of address?

      1. Blake A*

        Edinburgh :) That part I’m really looking forward to, I love the city. I’m willing to move to Glasgow if I happen to get a job there, though.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          I have a preference for Glasgow ;) but Edinburgh is also pretty awesome. If you visit Glasgow, check out tchai ovna … brilliant teahouse with lots of events on.

          1. Blake A*

            I have never been to Glasgow, I definitely want to visit!! I’ll check out the teahouse, thanks!!

        2. VIT (Scotland)*

          Edinburgh’s beautiful and I always thought I’d move there but I’m with Akcipitrokulo – I ended up in Glasgow instead and it is a really wonderful city to live in! Even the accents aren’t too bad once you get used to them.

          You’re probably already doing this but Rightmove is a good place to look for flats to rent. I got lucky in that I came over as a student and found a shared room from a private landlord who was happy with me paying my first few months in one wire transfer from my US account before my UK one was set up. It’s a long shot but might be worth asking landlords if they’d let you do that?

          I’m trying to think of other helpful advice because I did do all this fairly recently but honestly it’s hard to remember! If you think of any specific questions, I’m happy to try and help answer them! Scotland is wonderful and I hope you love it here.

    6. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      In England now after having previously moved to Asia (originally from the US). Not sure just how similar things are in Scotland versus England, but bring lots of cash. I had so. much. trouble. paying for things (in the sense that people wouldn’t accept any method of payment I had available, not that I couldn’t afford it). I had to eat an apartment deposit because the first property management company would only accept a bank transfer and my American banks don’t do international bank transfers. You probably don’t have time to do this (and I’m not sure if you’re planning to keep any bank accounts in your home country open), but I have a (US) international ATM fee-free debit card (no fee for the currency exchange and I get reimbursed for ATM fees) that’s been a lifesaver.

      1. Blake A*

        Yeah, from what I’m seeing from the comments is that I have to expect to not get everything sorted out for a while, unfortunately. I’m hoping somehow everything will work out, but it’s scary!

      2. Mephyle*

        American banks don’t do international bank transfers? I’ve received payments from U.S. clients by bank transfer. Not often, not easy, but it was possible.

        1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

          My specific banks don’t do them–or rather, one doesn’t and one would have needed me to go to one of their branches in person (which, uh, not possible because I was already here).

    7. Thlayli*

      I moved to England before and yes it’s a ridiculous amount of hassle. I’m assuming you’re moving from an EU or commonwealth country, since you don’t mention needing a visa. I was able to find a place to stay before I had my national insurance number. Many landlords will understand that you haven’t got one yet. If you are planning on staying in the Airbnb for a while you can use that address to set up an appointment and you will have a letter proving you have an appointment for the National insurance. Definitely keep a bank account open from your home country because it all takes so long! It probably took me 2 months before I had the bank account and national insurance number all properly sorted. And I had a job before I went!

      If you’re in the EU and have an EU account you should have no major problem getting money from an atm or using your debit card. Everywhere takes visa, most places take MasterCard. Cash is used more widely than in other countries where I used to love, but that’s probably region dependent.

      A great source of advice is the citizens advice bureau – the website is really really good and they have drop in centres in all major towns but in some places they have a big waiting list for an appointment.

      If you don’t have a credit card, see if you can get one.

      Also accept the fact that until you get your U.K. Bank account set up you are going to get ripped off on exchange rates big time.

      1. Blake A*

        Thank you for the advice! I’m moving from South America, but I have EU nationality as well, so I don’t need a visa. However, I don’t have bank accounts set up in Europe of anything like that, like most europeans would have.

        I will ask my Airbnb host if she will let me use his address for the NI application.
        Can’t believe it took you almost 2 months! :(

        I hadn’t heard about the citizens advice bureau, I’ll definitely check it out.

        1. Squirrels*

          Had so much trouble here as I wanted to open a bank account but as an automatically pair had no proof of address (and mobile number doesn’t count) BUT HSBC actually accept foreign addresses so if your address on ID and passport match, one can be your ID and one your proof of address! That’s how I sorted it personally. Hope it helps!

          Also yes do check citizens advice bureau and expat orgs in the UK, they’ll have loads of info!

        2. only acting normal*

          Depending how long you intended to live here, keep a very close eye on visa issues related to “Brexit” – Britain is in the process of leaving the EU. :’(
          You’re fine at the moment, and EU citizens /should/ keep their rights to remain under reciprocal agreements. However, in general, England is becoming increasingly difficult for non-brits to stay in (NB driven by government policy rather than the people) and after “Brexit” is finalised that /might/ extend to EU citizens. My EU friends resident here are stressed about it, and keep a close check on the situation.
          Scotland may be more officially hospitable though (as a region they voted to stay in the EU, but are being dragged along by central government – the whole issue actually risks splitting the UK up).

          Good luck with your move though, Edinburgh should be brilliant. :)

    8. Keener*

      I’ve moved to New Zealand and Denmark so I no specific advice on the logistics of Scotland. In terms of meeting people I found meetup.com really useful but not sure how active it is in Scotland. Good luck and embrace the adventure.

    9. Birch*

      Welcome to the UK! Just curious, how did you decide to move to another country without a job already set up?

      I’ve just moved back to England for the 2nd time by myself and the runaround is REAL. Just keep asking questions and making small steps. Focus on the job and housing. Once you have those things, the rest will fall into place. You’re lucky you don’t need to deal with the visa–I just waited nearly 4 months for it and very nearly lost my job and had to self-deport (was not living in my country of origin). Everyone else has already given the advice I was going to give, so I’ll just say best of luck–things will be ok and the experience is totally worth it! Also, invest in some good blankets, scarves, cardigans, a pair of wellies, and possibly an electric blanket or hot water bottle. Homes in the UK are not renovated or insulated as they should be, so everything is CONSTANTLY damp and cold. It takes a huge toll on your emotional wellbeing to feel cold and uncomfortable all the time, so remember to take good care of yourself!

      1. misspiggy*

        …and a light rain jacket! Umbrellas often don’t work because of the wind. Mountain Warehouse is a good generic place to start.

    10. SebbyGrrl*

      Hello Blake,

      I was coming to the forum today to ask similar questions.

      I leave Jue 2 for 6 months in Scotland, 3 EU (primarily Ireland maybe some jaunts to the continent.

      Is the pre-paid SIM car how you keep your phone and number to use a UK carrier, but don’t pay international fees?

      Can any other UK-ers help me with that?

      Because of the duration of my stay, and when using debit or credit for POS one can still be charged an international conversion fee I was looking at having a UK bank account while there.

      It doesn’t seem possible from the research I’ve done.

      Does anyone know – can I open an HSBC account in
      the states and then ‘convert’ it to UK?

      1. PX*

        I dont think converting a bank account is possible, but what you could try and do is see if you can get a card with good rates on international banking (as katamia posted above, a card which lets you do fee free ATMs or doesnt charge foreign transaction fees) is going to serve you well

        1. SebbyGrrl*

          Thanks PX,

          I’ve done the first part.

          My US banks won’t charge for foreign atms (but those atms/bank CAN still charge me) and will reverse some fees charged by the UK bank.

          So it seems using the correct atms and then cash is best bet for no further fees.

          But we all know, ya get in some moment and there isn’t $/atm what have you when expected and one had to use US card, there can still be a 1% fee and over 9-12 months that can add up.

          I’m trying to plan for contingencies so I don’t have to account for those fees often.

          1. VIT (Scotland)*

            Replying to both your comments in one place – I agree that for short term it may not be worth it for you to open a bank account, just because it’s such a hassle – even making an appointment to open one can take a few weeks depending on where you are. Also not many HSBCs in Scotland, though that also depends on where you are.

            I don’t know anything about Tesco’s mobile plans but I’d check out 3 and EE, which have pretty cheap phone options and good coverage, at least I know 3 does. I can’t imagine a way in which you keep your US cell phone number since the country codes are different but if you have a smart phone and use facetime, whatsapp, etc that should all still work the same for you. I’d wander into a Carphone Warehouse when you get here and find someone to help you pick a sim card – though you may want to check with your US provider that your phone can be used overseas – I tried to use my UK iphone back in the states and even though my UK mobile provider unlocked it for me, it still didn’t work there because of some complicated international technical problem that Verizon couldn’t figure out and it was really frustrating.

    11. PX*

      Moved to England alone 2 years ago knowing no one here. Luckily I already had the job sorted, but some of the bureaucracy was ridiculous. If Scotland is anything like England, the biggest thing is going to be proof of address, which officially only counts if its a utility bill (gas/electricity/water/council tax), tenant agreement or certain types of letters from the government (eg Tax code). I had huge issues opening a bank account until I got the last one because they wouldnt accept anything else, so be prepared to keep using your home bank account for quite a while.
      The first thing you need to sort out is a national insurance number as you will need it once you’re employed. As soon as you are in the country, make an appointment to do so and that will help massively once you have it. Personally, I dont think the job requires proof of address or bank account really. Mine didnt (as I said, I was hired when still abroad) and as I didnt have my bank account sorted by the time my first paycheck was due, they simply transferred the money to my international account. So if you have a decent employer, they should be flexible on that.

      Look for rooms on spareroom.co.uk or gumtree.co.uk for private landlords/share houses. Be prepared to get ripped off by letting agents (at least thats the case in England!) and as someone else said, a formal rental agreement with an agency will usually require you to have a job first, so consider which way round you search for things. I actually found reddit a great resource for where to live, so consider checking out the Edinburgh reddit group (Im sure there is one).

      Otherwise good luck and enjoy the ride!

      1. Jennotype*

        INAL but Scotland has different laws on housing. It’s illegal for a letting agency to charge admin fees. It should be limited to holding fee (for the agent to take the job off the market) but this should be deducted from either the deposit or the first month of rent. Sometimes you can get credit check fees but these shouldn’t be more than £5 and are a bit of a grey area as far as I understand.

    12. Bagpuss*

      Could you get your current bank to wrote to you at your new address? A letter or statement from a bank should work as proof of address.
      I’m not sure whether it is the same in Scotland, but in England, employers now have a legal duty to make sure that employees have right to work in the UK, so they would need to see your passport, but shouldn’t normally need proof of address .
      You could also ask the bank what they will accept – if your Airbnb host is prepared to provide it, a letter from them confirming that you are renting from them may work.

    13. AcademiaNut*

      I’ve done it twice (US and Taiwan), but in both cases I was moving for a job.

      In the US I stayed with a friend, in Taiwan in a cheap hotel, while looking for a place to live. One option is to look for a place with roommates, as that tends to be a lot more flexible regarding ID, bank accounts and so on than signing a lease by yourself. Then, when you’re more settled and know the area, you can look for a place of your own.

      For phones, if you have an unlocked US smart phone (or an unlocked quad-band stupid phone), it should work with the local sim cards. If your phone is locked to a particular carrier, or is dual band, it won’t work.

      I’m not sure about the specifics of the UK, but would a bank account with an international bank, like Citibank or HSBC make things simpler?

    14. matcha123*

      I moved to Japan by myself over a decade ago. I started on the JET Program, and lucky for me, my city arranged my housing before I arrived and helped me set up a bank account, gas, etc.
      The first city I lived in had over a million people and I had a hard time making friends. Part of that was me…I didn’t go out much because I was trying to pay off my loans ASAP. The other part was that despite being a large city, it was very “local” and locals didn’t really try to open their friend circles to outsiders. I made better friends with other “outsiders”. I would suggest splitting time between meetup, where you could meet a variety of people and work friends who could hopefully introduce you to other people.

    15. misspiggy*

      One tip for the UK is to make sure you get any correspondence, contracts etc from utility providers/phone companies in hard copy with your current address on it, wherever possible. Very useful for getting the bank stuff set up later, loans, etc.

      You can use money transfer agencies while waiting for a bank account, like Western Union etc. It costs but there are plenty of them in Edinburgh.

      And in Scotland, get outside every chance you get, and take Vitamin D tablets every day. Your mood and muscles will thank you.

    16. Empty Sky*

      I did it for grad school (to the USA, which I had never even visited before). It was about equal parts exciting and terrifying. Approaching it in a spirit of optimism helps a great deal. The human brain is the most efficient problem solving device known to, well, humans. You’ll figure it out.

      Some suggestions: Connect with people who are going through the same experience (or have recently done so) and can offer advice and support. Also keep an open mind and watch what others around you do. Some things won’t be the way you expected, and there will be opportunities and new ways of doing things that you never thought of. Try to embrace the culture and form relationships within it, even if it is tough in the first year or so. Expat networks, clubs etc. can be a useful pressure valve, but try not to make them your primary social focus if you can avoid it.

    17. Sara Smile*

      I moved to the UK by myself. I have made another international move but with a partner. The thing I learned that was most important is that it doesn’t matter what the process for x was in your home country, the process will be y in new country and you have to go with the flow. It will often be harder (simply because it’s different) and if it is ever easier – celebrate.

      So some practicalities with the UK (and this is just my experience). First thing I did was get a UK PAYE mobile phone. Having a UK number was just practical; no one wanted to try to reach me on a US mobile. You can set this up with a passport, AirBnB address and a credit card. Second thing I did was secure housing. I alerted the estate agent I worked with that I would need to pay with a credit card or a US wire transfer (ended up using the credit card option) and that worked out fine. Third thing I did was change some of my US bills to my UK address (like my US credit card and US bank account) so it would count as proof of address. I was then able to immediately print off a bank statement with my new UK address.

      I already had a job so was able to get a “letter of introduction” to a UK bank. If you won’t have a job for a while then I would just try different banks and ask them opening an account without a job — with what I know about UK banks, most won’t let you open one, but you might get lucky. Have a back up plan with credit cards or your home country bank, until you can get a job. I personally found that getting a National Insurance number was low on my list of priorities. My job didn’t need it to hire me and I have the interview to get the number but it was weeks after I had been working (their backlog, not mine). I didn’t have a single problem not having it earlier and can’t imagine what would require you to have it earlier (not needed for banking, NHS, utilities, etc.).

      As far as friends, I made friends through work and then friends of friends. I made a rule that I would go to every single thing I was invited to, no exceptions. I also tried various meet up type groups. The best rule of thumb I can give is invite people to the pub. I started out by inviting people to things like the movies/cinema, and that came off as a little weird, but asking people to go to the pub for a pint is always a winner. The other thing that worked for me is that on the weekends, I would do something touristy — like visit Windsor Castle of Tower of London — things that my new acquaintances would have done on like a school field trip but that I had never experienced. I found that loads of people wanted to go with me for nostalgia reasons or because it was something they never ended up visiting but always wanted to. It was a huge hit and I always had someone wanting to go or wanting to know where I was going next (and we would always end the day at the pub of course!). It was a great way to explore but also make friends.

      Good luck OP! My husband is Scottish and I love it. Edinburgh is totally fabulous and I am a little jealous you are about to embark on this journey.

    18. Simon R*

      I moved from New Zealand to Sweden last year (August ’17) and it was a bit of a mission but I’m glad I did. FWIW, I moved without a job lined up (had some money saved) and it took me 3 months to find the right job, another month to start the job, then two months after that before I had all the tax/insurance/banking stuff completely sorted. (Sweden is notorious for making this difficult, though – most non-Nordic countries shouldn’t be anywhere that bad. Sweden requires non-Nordic EU citizens to have a permanent full-time job offer before you can register as a resident, for example.)

      First major piece of advice: find a reason to get out of the apartment. It’s very easy to spend all day cooped up inside (especially in Scotland because it rains all the damn time), but it’s very hard to make friends that way. If you have interests or hobbies, see if you can find a group near where you’re living to get involved with – and if not, maybe take something up.

      Also, to start the rent -> bank account -> bills -> payment loop, probably the easiest way to start is to rent an apartment on a short-term basis, which you should be able to do without a local bank account (although you may have to do an international money transfer to pay rent). Alternatively if you have local friends ask them if you can get mail sent to their address. (As other commenters have said – ask at the local bank, they’ll either know what to do or have advice on who to ask)

      Also – you’ll probably come close to losing your mind at some point (for me it was when the lift was out of service when I was moving out of my old apartment block, I landed up doing 80 flights of stairs that day), just roll with it and don’t sweat the petty things. As long as you have a roof over your head and food to eat, everything after that is bonus territory. :)

      PS: No matter what the weather looks like when you leave the airbnb you’re staying at, *always* take a rainjacket. Just trust me on this.

  9. Don't touch unknown plants (PSA)*

    Anybody have any stories of run in with weeds and plants that cause rashes? I’m just learning about some really terrible ones such as wild parsnips, queen anne’s lace (wild carrot), giant hogweed or other plants that cause burns, red itchy rash, weeping blisters when the plants juice and sunshine react on skin but the rash shows up a couple days later? My spouse’s leg looks like a weed caused a second degree burn (although I’m not a medical professional so that’s just trying to describe how awful it looks). He was scraped by a prickly vine on his calf while crouched and picking up a pile of weeds, then the rash showed up a couple days later. I don’t know for sure that he touched wild parsnip but I think it looked similar to some of the weeds I was pulling wearing gloves (and that might have been in the pile of Evil weeds he moved).

    It’s on two spots (one on his calf and one on his upper leg — about the same spot as touches his calf what when leg bent to crouch). The rash on his calf is red about 2.5 inches by 1.5 inches and about 3 inches by 1 inch on his thigh. Itchy and huge blisters weeping and been on his leg almost two weeks. Some of the blisters are huge… the size of a m&m or Skittles.

    He went to the Urgent Care to get prescriptions finally yesterday after over the counter treatments and it seemed to be getting worse not better.

    When he walked around on Thursday the area got extra itchy until his whole leg felt itchy. Then the red area extended further around the rash. He took an Epsom salt bath which he said made the leg feel less itchy for brief time. I’ve heard of poison oak, poison ivy, poison sumac and stinging nettles, but hadn’t heard of the parsnip family of poison plants until recently. Just wanted to ask if anyone had plant stories or if anyone had heard of these before (maybe it’s more well known in some areas than others). I’m newer to living in the Southeast but have also lived in Midwest states of the U.S.

    1. MsChanandlerBong*

      Last year, we had to go outside and cut down some crazy weeds (one day they weren’t there, and the next, they were like six feet high). I didn’t think to wear long sleeves because it was 90 degrees. Within 20 minutes, my skin felt like it was on fire. I ended up having to come inside, slather myself with cortisone cream, and take two Benadryl. I ended up sleeping for 14 hours straight because of the Benadryl. Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the plant that caused the reaction.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          Could be! I just looked outside and noticed it’s back again, so I’ll be bundling up next weekend to cut it down before it’s all over the place.

      1. Circus peanuts*

        I have friends who take photos of things that they don’t know what they are and post them on Facebook to crowdsource for an answer. Maybe you could take a photo and post it here? There is bound to be someone here who knows what it is.

    2. Chris S*

      My moment to shine! (I’m an invasive plant biologist who has dealt with both wild parsnip and giant hogweed.) That rash sounds… odd. Parsnip/hogweed reactions aren’t usually itchy, although he could have an unusual reaction. Hogweed does have stiff hairs along the stem; is that what you mean by “prickly?” Certainly the “second degree sunburn” blisters sounds like it could have been either of those plants!

      Speaking just from my personal experience, he may need to see a dermatologist; I had to when I ran into parsnip, since my general practitioner didn’t know what the reaction was. (The dermatologist took one look and knew exactly.) In my case, it took a couple weeks of steroids to knock the reaction down, although I would note that the area was susceptible to getting sunburned more readily for almost two years afterwards.

      Feel free to reach out if I can try to answer any questions!

      1. Cute Li'l UFO*

        Chiming in to say I’m HORRIFIED of wild parsnip/giant hogweed. I once went down the rabbit hole of toxic plants on wikipedia. I’ve never had poison oak and have probably come in contact with it but handled clothing very carefully afterwards.

        That sounds like a great field of work. Invasive plants have always been an armchair fascination of mine.

      2. Sled Dog Mama*

        Yes! go see a derm, for years I’d see a GP when I ran into poison oak/ivy/sumac (I’m totally unable to identify them despite multiple lessons) hubby finally dragged me to a derm and it was life changing! Turns out my contact dermatitis is compounded by plaques of hives. Now I see the derm 1x a year and have prescription at the pharmacy that I can pick-up without having to see them so I can treat at the first sign.

        I had a similar issue with being more susceptible to sunburn although the rash that triggered the sun susceptibility was on my legs (Ankle to mid thigh on both legs) and I got sun-burned on my arms (using sunscreen) but the doctor said that it can make you susceptible to sun-burn all over not just the treated area.

        Also I must highly recommend both Tecnu and Dawn dish detergent. Tecnu makes both a lotion and soap, the lotion you can apply to your skin prior to exposure (or immediately following an exposure) and it denatures the oils that cause contact dermatitis. Both the Tecnu soap and Dawn do the same thing, by denaturing the oil but you need a water source for them to be most effective. These are also great for getting the oils out of fabrics (in case you are wondering how to get contact dermatitis from ankle to mid-thigh just get the oil on your pants on a backpacking trip). I believe that there are other products that work the same as tecnu but I don’t know the names.

    3. LilySparrow*

      Southeast US native here.
      The thing about poison ivy, etc is that there isn’t one “standard” rash reaction. It all depends on your personal sensitivity.
      I have contact allergies to nearly everything on earth, but apparently am immune to poison ivy because I weed my yard barehanded and have never gotten it, while my husband gets it at least once a year. Fresh pine needles, however, will raise blisters on me. Go figure.

      A blistery, weepy rash could be a severe reaction to ordinary poison vines. I’ve had family members react severely to poison ivy/oak/sumac with blisters, rashes that got lasted weeks and required prescription care, and so forth.

      My mom (who had poor circulation due to diabetes) wound up with cellulitis in both legs from a bad case. I hope the prescriptions help and he feels better soon!

    4. Chaordic One*

      I have an allergy to dogwood bushes. (They look pretty with their red branches.) We have a single dogwood in a row of lilacs and when I brush my arms against the dogwood tree when I’m mowing the lawn I always break out in a red itchy rash. It is like nettles or poison ivy to me. I have to change clothes, wash my arms and then apply Benadryl cream on them and then the rash goes away after 4 or 5 hours or so.

    5. Gala apple*

      Sometimes the remedy grows right next to the problem. If you can find any jewelweed or jewelweed juice, that should really help with the rash

    6. LilySparrow*

      Any chance the mystery weed is pokeweed? It grows tall & fast, and some people have contact reactions to it (though not as often as some others)

  10. AvonLady Barksdale*

    We’re away for the weekend. My partner is attending a symposium and he wanted me and the dog to tag along. The hotel is very nice and it’s near a city where I used to live where there’s plenty to do, so it’s all good, HOWEVER.
    – Partner’s schedule is much more rigid than his last few conferences where I’ve tagged along, so I’m completely on my own for most of the day. Not the worst thing in the world– I like to wander and I love dining solo– but I tried to make plans with old friends and everyone’s crazy busy. So I’m a bit direction-less.
    – We’re not within walking distance of anywhere I can take the dog except for a walking trail and a couple of restaurants, and while I could drive him into the city proper, it’s not “dog-friendly” enough where I could, say, take him into a bathroom with me. So my plan is to stay close to the hotel this morning and venture out in the afternoon, which is fine, but kind of limiting.
    – After a very long walk on said walking trail, the dog barfed. Poor bud. Never barfs… except when we’re out of town. I think he just got too hot and ate too fast. Still, it’s never fun when the buddy barfs in a hotel room.
    – I have blisters on my feet from my cute brand-new sneakers. I just need to break them in. But the unexpected heat this weekend in this city is not helping.


    1. Overeducated*

      I wonder if you are in my suddenly warm city, where I am on the train home from a conference…either way, hope you have fun, and drink lots of water!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I might as well just reveal I’m in DC. :-) Spent the afternoon at American History (couldn’t get into the new African-American Museum) and have taken myself to Jaleo for dinner. Not too bad.

        1. Overeducated*

          Ah! It would be funny if your partner is in the same field as me. Wonder hos many big conferences with packed schedules there are in DC this week. Nice day for Jaleo, which my phone really wants to spell Kale O!

  11. Thursday Next*

    Thank you to everyone who commented on my imposter syndrome question last week, and also to those who responded last month with advice about a court hearing.

    The court stuff is all resolved! And I’ve been feeling excited about the situation that had me feeling like an imposter. All in all, a great week!

  12. AMT*

    Throwing this out to the commentariat: what are the rules for talking about social gatherings around people who weren’t invited (but could potentially have been)? I know the general rule is not to, but the details confuse the hell out of me. I’m not from a very polite or tactful family, so bear with me:

    1. The internet. Is it okay to post pictures of a gathering that uninvited people might see on Facebook? Should I hide these pics from those people? I like my extended family to know what’s going on in my life, but I also don’t want to have to go through a lengthy process of picking out the audience for each post and excluding the people who weren’t invited — plus, I don’t always know who was invited and couldn’t make it vs. who wasn’t invited at all.

    2. I know it’s unkind to go on and on about a party to non-invitees, but should I avoid even mentioning it? Can I say, “I tried a great new beer at Keith’s house the other day,” and not be rude?

    3. To what size of gathering does this rule apply? If I had a casual lunch with two other people, should I not talk about it to people who weren’t there? Four people? Six?

    4. Don’t these rules kind of make for a Geek Social Fallacy #5 type of friend group? Can we accept that not everyone in a particular social group will be invited to a particular thing?

    5. Scenario time. A friend organized a day trip of about 15 people from my our city (City A) to nearby City B. Tim, a guy we know who lives in City B, was not invited. Tim knows us through a Meetup group based in City A, but doesn’t usually hang out with any of us outside the group, and no one is too enthusiastic about him, as he is vocal about his political views that are directly harmful to most people in the group. My friend posted Facebook pictures of the outing, which included a place that Tim frequents (small town), and tagged us all in the pics. Tim “liked” the pics on Facebook, probably hurt that he wasn’t invited. Was my friend unkind to have posted the pics? Should he have blocked Tim from seeing them? Changed the audience to just the people in the outing? Something else?

    1. Little bean*

      If the event has already happened and/or you are not the host, I think you should talk about what you want to talk about, and other people can manage their own feelings about it. It’s a little different if you’re organizing it and it’s in the future, because if you can tell they want to come and you still don’t invite them, then it’s potentially a little rude. I definitely think you should never worry about who sees what you post on social media.

      1. AMT*

        This was my initial thought, but I saw a couple of blog posts from people who were annoyed at seeing pictures of parties they weren’t asked to attend and I got worried. Thanks for the reassurance!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I agree, social media is for sharing, and unless you want to block certain people from certain posts, the rules for in-person interaction don’t apply in the same way, really. (And you can limit posts on Facebook like that, so if there is one person whom you’re not ready to cut off but want to keep at arm’s length, that’s not a bad strategy.)

      I think the rules may not be quite the same for social media because plenty of people have hundreds or even thousands of Facebook friends, many of which they may only know online. Even though you know Tim IRL, it still applies that it is probably a logistical impossibility to organize a gathering that includes everyone on social media who is in the area. And his supporting things that are directly harmful to whole classes of people that almost everyone knows or is friends with (I’m assuming it’s not just a prejudice against gay Samoan albinos or something) can, will, and SHOULD limit his social circle, as it’s incredibly ignorant and privileged to support practices that directly harm a whole class of people but expect them to still not just tolerate but enjoy your presence socially.

      The rules definitely don’t apply to one-on-one gatherings, as you have no right to invite someone to Keith’s house, and even a good mutual friend has no right to expect Keith to host a group of people when maybe he just wanted to hang out with one or two other people. If that mutual friend would have liked to be there, they should ask Keith to come over to their house and have some interesting craft beers to try.

    3. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Real talk: if this is a legitimate concern in your friend group, GET NEW FRIENDS. Most well adjusted adults will understand that sometimes you hang out with Keith and drink beer without them and it’s not personal. If it’s legitimately going to cause drama if you even mention that you hung out with X and not Y, then your group is well in the depths of the GSF.

      I think the general rule is to not be overbearing about it – you can mention that you had a cool beer at Keith’s house, but the focus is the beer, not that you hung out with Keith and Roberta wasn’t invited neener neener. You can post on Facebook most of the time without hazard, because that’s semi public. You’re not that close to Tim so you don’t need to invite him to your outing in his area and if he gets mad about it, tough.

      1. AMT*

        Just to clarify, this hasn’t actually been a concern with my friend group — this is more me being clueless about etiquette and possibly slightly paranoid about people feeling snubbed. I’m always a little worried about the politics of who gets invited to what, but it’s good to know that the consensus seems to be that reasonable adults should take it in stride when they don’t get invited to stuff.

        1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

          Great! (I’ll admit that part of this was me bringing my own baggage. Sorry for implying your friends might be terrible!)

          But yeah – I used to worry about this quite a bit myself, but…really, most people don’t really care if you did something without them unless they have something else going on. If it’s a situation where you actually do need to hide that you did something without someone (because you’re explicitly excluding them, or the person is really sensitive), then talking about the event is the least of your issues.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I think it’s mostly OK. Where i think it is problematic is where there is someone who has obviously been left out. e.g. if you work in a team of 6 people, and 5 of you go out without inviting the 6th, it’s not great to then talk about it in front of them, but if you work in a group of 6 and 2 or 3 of you do something together, it’s unlikely to be an issue.

    5. LilySparrow*

      1) Yes, this is fine. Post the pictures and don’t worry about it. The entire world doesn’t have a reasonable expectation of being invited to every event that everybody holds.

      2) This is also fine. Same principle.

      3) The general rule is not absolute group size, but as Bagpuss pointed out, it’s about relative size of group to invitees. So, if you have a friend group of 10 that usually hangs out together, and more than half were invited (say seven) then you are specifically choosing to leave three out. Don’t talk about it in front of those three, because that is rubbing the exclusion in their face. If you only invited 4 out of 10, then it wasn’t really an event *for that friend group*. It’s a sub-group, if that makes sense, and it’s fine to mention that.

      4) You’re right about the Geek Social Fallacy thing. That’s why it’s relative. There are also natural “break points.” For example, if you’re planning a wedding and have 5 aunts & uncles but 20 adult first cousins, you’d want to invite all of a generation or none. So you invite the 5 or all 25, because there’s a logical reason that isn’t a personal slight. (This is assuming you get along with all of them about the same). On the other hand, if you invited all siblings except one, that’s a very pointed snub and should be avoided unless you have a good reason (like personal estrangement).

      5) The Meetup situation is kind of in the middle, because on the one hand it was personal. Y’all don’t like Tim and purposely didn’t invite him. On the other hand, there are some natural break points. The majority live in the same city and Tim does not. You don’t normally hang out socially, and this was a social event instead of a Meetup event.

      I don’t think your friend was unkind, and it would be silly to block Tim. I could understand Tim feeling left out, because he was left out. But it doesn’t sound like he pouted or did anything rude. He just liked the pictures, which is a normal thing to do with pictures of people you know having fun. Don’t overthink it.

      Being polite and kind doesn’t mean nobody will ever have any negative reactions or feel left out. If Tim is vocal about opinions that offend the other group members, I’m sure he knows it. If he has typical adult-level emotional maturity and social skills, he can cope with any momentary disappointment and/or adjust the way he relates to the group if he wants to get along with them better.

    6. HannahS*

      I’m among very discreet and tactful big-city Canadians, so YMMV in the culture you’re living in.
      In my own friend groups, I’d say we don’t talk about group hangs and parties around people who weren’t invited, but we would if they were invited and couldn’t come. By that I mean that we wouldn’t name who we were with and who hosted, but we would definitely say “I was at a party Saturday night and played this super fun board game.” However, we would name names about 1-on-1s, as in “I saw Lucille last week and we ate at…” because there’s an assumption that everyone sees friends 1-on-1 sometimes. But that’s all within friend groups. So if it’s among people who don’t know each other, anything goes, because they wouldn’t have an expectation or desire to be included.

      If I have any concern that the person I’m talking to might feel hurt that I spent time with mutual friends and didn’t invite them, I might just say, “I tried this great restaurant last week, etc.” without saying who I was with. Or I might say, “I went and had a movie marathon with some friends. It was awesome. How was your weekend?” For parties, I’d do the same. The truth is, they might know what I was doing, and I might know that they probably saw pictures, but it’s just about not rubbing it in. If they say, “Oh, yeah, I saw you were with Jessie! What movie did you guys see?” then they’re signaling that it’s ok to talk about it openly.

      It’s tricky when there’s one person in a group that you don’t really like and prefer to exclude. I generally abide by a roughly 20-30% rule–so if more than 20-30% of the people within a group (a study group, a friend group, a young-adult-synaogue group) are spending time alone together AND they’re doing something that the not-invited people would enjoy AND there was not a logistical reason why the not-invited people were not invited AND the 20-30% don’t have a known close relationship outside of the group, then I’d probably keep it very discreet and hide my pictures from them.

    7. Lissa*

      I do think social media has changed the rules on this a bit, because even if I personally decide not to post pictures from a big party, it’s pretty likely someone else will, or maybe I will post pictures because I have no idea that the host’s ex-roommate wasn’t invited and didn’t realize she’s friends with one of my friends so saw the pictures and oh no!

      Most of the time I feel like adults just can deal with the fact that nobody gets invited to everything, 1 on 1 or small group gatherings are good and by their nature mean most people aren’t invited, and sometimes we wish were closer friends with someone who just isn’t feeling it. I’ve been on all sides of these things. Yes, it sucks to realize you didn’t get invited to something you’d have liked to with no obvious reason why not, but it happens to us all.

      *That said* I still think it’s rude to talk a lot about an event when a few other people were invited and one or two weren’t. I feel like it’s rude to have a conversation with someone who was also there and someone else wasn’t invited so is sitting there feeling like a gooseberry.

      Also kind of related, but I really don’t like how so many people will use terms like “snubbed” or “excluded” to mean “wasn’t invited to a thing” in most cases, because that makes it seem like it was Personal, and most of the time it wasn’t. Like, I’m going out for dinner tonight with 3 friends, am I “snubbing” or “excluding” else? No that’s silly! I think those terms should be reserved for things like “I invited all my cousins except for Sylvia” or “I deliberately asked Carol and Sarah to go to lunch with me in front of Theresa.” (this was a peeve that started early with the “Oscar snub” thing, like it’s not a snub if only 5 films are nominated, it’s just being one of the hundreds of others!”)

      1. AMT*

        Re: the “snubbing” thing, I’m remembering Captain Awkward’s “I’m not doing X *at* you!”

    8. TheLiz*

      A note on (2): it’s fine to say “I tried a great new beer at Keith’s the other day”, but less okay to say “Man, that Keith party was such a great party oh man everyone was there…”

    9. Triple Anon*

      I think posting the pictures but blocking the person from seeing them would be more passive aggressive. How would they find out? They probably wouldn’t, but you never know.

      In this digital age, I think we’re all supposed to live with seeing pictures of things that make us jealous or hurt our feelings, unfortunately. The solution is to scale back your social media use or develop a way to deal with it. That applies to both sides in a given scenario – people who might feel hurt and people who are worried they’ll make someone else feel bad. Either untag yourself and use social media less or accept that anything you post might hurt someone’s feelings – you can never know and you can’t control that stuff.

      As for talking about it, I think you just have to go by what seems appropriate for that situation. Some people get hurt by not being invited to stuff. Other people don’t. Just speaking for myself, I get more uncomfortable when someone seems like they’re going out of their way to avoid hurting my feelings. I’d rather people just talked about what they did when/if it comes up in conversation.

      I also think the reason the person wasn’t invited makes a difference. Not your choice? Don’t worry about it. If they ask, you can just say, “I was invited along with a bunch of other people.” If you chose not to invite the person, I think it’s good to be a little more delicate about it. Or just be open about the reason if they ask. I mean it depends on whether the reason is no big deal or if it’s more that you just don’t want to spend time with that person . . . Hard to explain. I hope that makes sense.

  13. Dopameanie*

    Controversial Opinion Corner:

    DC is better than Marvel.

    FIGHT ME!!!!

    NOTE: Those without any previous experience, knowledge, or history with this subject matter are HIGHLY ENCOURAGED to do a 30 second Google search and then defend an opinion to the death. Honestly, even the googling is optional.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I think it depends what “TV” you’re talking about.

        I found Marvel’s Agents of Shield and Inhumans to be a little boring, but the series they’re doing on Netflix are quite engaging (thinking particularly of Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and The Punisher).

        Even with DC, I couldn’t stand watching Legends of Tomorrow, but Supergirl and Krypton are pretty amazing shows.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Blasphemy! LoT is the best show and Sara Lance is my queen.

          Jessica Jones is the only one of the Netflix series I’ve been able to really get into.

      2. Lilo*

        The Marvel TV shows always start really really well and tend to fall apart. Daredevil consistently has its best episodes early one (the hallway fight in episode 2, that Punisher monolgue), but I couldn’t stand Elektra and didn’t even finish Season 2. Luke Cage had a terrific villain, but (without being too spoilery) then they switched focus and I thought the show fell apart after that.

        Then there’s stuff like Legion which is just a nutty mind trip. 8 minute silent movie Bolero sequence? Inexplicable psychic dance battle? Sure.

          1. Lilo*

            Yeah, I don’t know what they were thinking with that one. The Defenders was also just a combination of their worst attributes (Iron First plots and Elektra).

      3. Middle School Teacher*

        100% agree. I don’t know if DC movies don’t know who they want to be, or their target audience, or what, but they tend to be pretty rough. Suicide Squad…. ugh. What a waste of talent.

    1. TL -*

      MCU is better than DC …whatever that crud is.

      DC television shows are better than Marvel’s.

      Marvel’s superhero stable is better than DC’s, even though Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman are the most iconic superheroes.

      “Wonder Woman” and “Jessica Jones” are better than any woman-centric media – oh, wait, never mind, they don’t have any competition.

      However, “Blank Panther” garners Marvel major points and the X-men are brilliant in many ways, so Marvel wins.

    2. Lilo*

      In which context? I’d argue that DC is doing a pretty great job with their TV shows (The Flash, Supergirl, etc.) but I couldn’t stand the most recent DC films (from Man of Steel on), except for Wonder Woman, whereas the MCU films are pretty consistently good to great (Thor Ragnarok, Spiderman Homecoming, Black Panther). The non-Disney Marvel movies are a mixed bag of terrible (Fanatastic 4) to great (Logan).

      Marvel shows are a bit mixed – Legion is a trip, the Netflix shows are a mixed bag.

      If we’re looking further back, Dark Knight is, imo, one of the best comic book movies ever made, and the DC Animated Series I watched as a kid were fantastic. I loved old Spiderman comics as a kid, but lost interest in comics when they went super angsty in the 90s.

    3. JKP*

      Marvel is better than DC, because David Tennant was in Jessica Jones (Marvel). Anything David Tennant is in automatically wins. Debate over.

    4. Meh*

      DC does better animated content. And arguably better comics based on recent sales. But Marvel definitely has a vice grip on the movies.

      1. annakarina*

        True, I really like their animated films. I’m not a comic person, but I’ve rented their animated films if I liked the voice actors in it, so that was how I watched about four-five Batman movies (some to hear Bryan Cranston, Eliza Dushku, and Jensen Ackles), a Wonder Woman movie (to hear Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Rosario Dawson, and Alfred Molina), and a Supergirl movie (to hear Summer Glau). Most were pretty enjoyable, though Mystery of the Batwoman could have just been a two-part episode, it wasn’t interesting enough to sustain for a whole movie.

    5. bassclefchick*

      I like them both equally. Though I agree that Marvel has a choke hold on the movies. I like the Marvel Netflix shows. The DC shows on the CW (Arrow, Flash, and the rest) are amazing. I also agree that the Dark Knight trilogy was the best. Though I do love the Tim Burton films.

      The only complaint I have is Gotham. It was great the first two seasons, third season was OK. Fourth season? Now it’s just silly. And I have never really gotten past the choice to make it look like it’s set in the 1950’s or so, but every one has cell phones.

    6. Temperance*

      Honestly, DC is infinitely better for women, so I agree with you. DC has Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl … a ton of awesome characters. Marvel’s female characters are largely dull, like Captain Marvel and America.

      1. HSavinien*

        Captain Marvel’s current writer doesn’t understand the character (it’s so painful) and they hired a novelist to write the current America and she had trouble adjusting to the format switch. Jason Aarons needs to step away from all female characters forever and especially Jane Foster and Sif.

        Squirrel Girl is a joyful romp, Gwenpool is funny in the way that 4th wall breakers should be, Ms. Marvel is a precious nerd who wants to do the right thing, Moon Girl is a joy for anyone struggling with being the smart weird kid, Hellcat is just hilarious, She-Hulk’s last run did an amazing job discussing trauma and grief, Silk’s a great exploration of family damage, Hawkeye is a wonderful disaster, Ironheart is the Iron Man franchise’s best move in years, X-23 is getting some long-needed healing in, Honey Badger is an endearing murderbaby and her friendship with Deadpool lights up my life, SpiderGwen’s timeline/universe is a little grim but my partner enjoys it, Wasp (Nadia) is an intensely positive and proactive character. There’s some decent stuff going down in X-Men Red. I haven’t yet started reading the Exiles or New Mutants titles that just started, but they look awesome.

        DCU’s Bombshells series is super great, and I’m hoping it keeps going because of found family and fighting for justice. Harley Quinn’s been having some good fun being allowed to exist on her own without Joker’s deadweight. The last Black Canary title was gritty but fun. Gotham City Garage was decent, but the art was really variable. Batgirl (mostly pretty light) and Batwoman (daaark) have been going all right, but Birds of Prey has been struggling lately with things like, e.g., don’t kill off a black guy to make your white ladies angst, and also gender essentialism. Starfire needs to be written by a woman because all the dudes who keep writing her are terrible at it. Wonder Woman’s title *was* good, but I had to drop it because the current writer is bad at women and really only stoked about writing male character he added.

    7. Thlayli*

      I prefer DC characters (with the exception of wolverine) because I feel they tend to be more realistic personality wise than marvel. However a lot of the marvel movies in the last few years have been so great – better than any D.C. movie ever. Though some have been awful too. So I am a fan of both. Wolvie is my fave tho

      1. Lilo*

        I was so disappointed in how they handled Superman in the recent reboot. Superman absolutely can be interesting (he’s very good in the Justice League animated series), but they just made him so very dull.

    8. Marzipan*

      DC movies are a hot mess. They have some of the most iconic, instantly-recognisable characters out there, and they still can’t get it together. I’d actually argue that Marvel’s historic rights issues and the consequent limitations on the characters available to them in the early days of the MCU ultimately worked in their favour – creativity can often be sparked by those kinds of restrictions. But their main thing was to translate to the screen something comic book readers have taken for granted for decades – the idea that everything’s happening together in one world, and any character might pop up in any other character’s story, or they might all cross over into one. DC clearly want to do that in the cinema, but they don’t seem to be prepared to do any of the work involved in getting there. And the infuriating thing is that I want them to be good, and they keep being pants.

      1. Nicole76*

        I couldn’t agree more. I have yet to see a DC film, except for maybe Man of Steel, that I enjoyed. I really wanted to like Wonder Woman because Gal Gadot is a great actress, but I just couldn’t get into it. Batman vs. Superman was absolutely terrible and don’t get me started on Justice League. All the DC sets are very physically dark. I guess that’s how Gotham and the other fictional cities are supposed to look but I find it depressing. Also, Ben Affleck is a terrible Batman! He was a bigger badass in The Accountant. I’d honestly rather watch Lego Batman if given the choice.

        Obviously, I’m Marvel all the way. I love the characters, humor, and sets. It doesn’t hurt that Robert Downey Jr. has been a long-standing crush of mine going back to his Pickup Artist days. o_O

    9. Sylvan*

      I don’t care about Batman or Superman, therefore Marvel is better.

      I also don’t care about Iron Man or Captain America, but I like the Thor movies! DC doesn’t have a fun dumb Thor movie equivalent.

    10. Loopy*

      Okay do we mean overall characters and storylines, comics, animated TV, live action TV, or movies?

      I have very complex opinions on this one, may have to sit this out haha!

      BUT I started doing this (sort of!) with an email buddy this week! We debated the values of condiments vs natural taste of food. It was great fun! Thanks for the inspiration!

      1. MotherRunner*

        Oh, i would be totally down with a condiment show-down next week. Dopameanie, if you’re looking for inspiration, I’ll submit that mayo is disgusting and franks red hot is the nectar of the gods. Just sayin…

    11. Miss Elaine e.*

      We seem to be a Marvel household for whatever reason. I’ll drop a grenade in this subthread by daring to say…

      I am tired to death of superhero movies of any stripe: Marvel, DC, whatever….

      Can’t anybody come up with a character that does not overcome some sort of childhood trauma by donning a goofy looking costume, usually with tights and a cape? Are there no other fun stories to tell?

      Ducking out now….

      1. Lissa*

        tbh I would be really happy to see a superhero who just…has powers, and no major trauma other than the normal stuff. Maybe….two living parents? Or if only one is, make it the mom for once? I know fiction hates women over 40 but come on…

        1. HSavinien*

          No extreme trauma here!
          All parents living and accounted for: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Ms. Marvel, Blue Beetle (Giffen & Rogers run, started 2006), Miles Morales Spiderman, Gwenpool
          Mother absolutely okay: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, The Legend of Wonder Woman

      2. AcademiaNut*

        I’m with you there! I’m getting pretty tired of the dark, gritty reboot approach, not to mention bro-dudes with privilege issues and what few women there are in sexy, sexy costumes.

        I loved the Lego batman movie, though. They were having fun with that. I tend to like my superhero media done with an acknowledgement of the inherent ridiculousness of the whole tights/skin tight armour, bitten by a radioactive spider, secret identity stuff.

      3. Arjay*

        Or folks who overcome childhood trauma the old fashioned way by drinking too much and sleeping with strangers!

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I really liked Batman for years and years, and The Dark Knight is one of my favorite films of all time, but after The Dark Knight Rises, I found myself becoming a Marvel fan. TDKR was awful and I just pretend it never happened. I wasn’t very interested in Batfleck, and I’m not a Superman fan since Christopher Reeve (though Henry Cavill is fiiiiiine.) :) I loved the Wonder Woman film, however. But I’m pretty much all about the MCU. I’m very behind on SHIELD and haven’t watched the other TV programs in the Marvel universe. There’s just too much.

      As for comics, I didn’t read many as a kid, though I did read some Fantastic Four, and Captain America, whom I loved. There used to be little Cap comics in this magazine Scholastic put out called Dynamite, and I read the shit out of those.

    13. all aboard the anon train*

      Marvel comics have more interesting female characters and recently, the storylines for their comics are way more interesting, but DC has the better villains. I will love X-Men until I die and I always appreciated that the characters were diverse and that mutants are a parallel to anyone who has ever been discriminated against.

      DC has the better imprint. I actually enjoy most of the stuff from Vertigo far more than anything from DC comics.

      As far as the movies, Marvel wins, even though I only really like the Captain America, Thor, and Black Panther movies. Ant-Man was enjoyable and the first Guardians was entertaining. I’m pretty fatigued with the movies though and probably won’t see Infinity War in theaters and will wait until I can fast forward through all the Iron Man/Spiderman/Doctor Strange scenes. My fatigue mostly started around AoU and I will always be bitter about what they did with Cap 3.

      But that Marvel fatigue is still better than the general disinterest I have for the DCEU. They’re just bad movies.

  14. Portugal Travel Tips*

    I booked a flight to Portugal! I’ll be traveling there for a little over two weeks this summer. I’ve already done quite a bit of research and my itinerary is pretty set, but I’d love recommendations for what to see, do, and eat. I will be in Lisbon and Porto will trips to Sintra, Cascais, Obidos, Coimbra, Guimaraes, and Braga. Restaurant recommendations are especially appreciated.

    1. Emilie*

      Coimbra is amazing. When visiting the University, do yourself a favor and check out their old zoological museum as well. Bad taxidermy FOR DAYS! Since it’s pretty tourist-y, there are quite a lot of nice restaurants (especially tapas). They’re a bit pricy for Portugeese standards, but Portugal is not an expensive country all in all, so they’re worth checking out.

      1. Emilie*

        … And get your hands on a “Use It” city map for Porto (they had them a the tourist information when I went there last summer. Also be aware of “fake” tourist informations. They have a big, very official one that won’t charge you for city maps). It’s full of recommendations for great restaurants and port bars.

      2. Alicat*

        Ze Manel dos Ossos in Coimbra is fantastic! Cheap delicious local food. We ate there twice. Can be hard to get into because it’s so popular but worth a wait.

    2. Fiennes*

      Don’t miss the Quinta de Regaleira in Sintra! It’s this unbelievably complex, beautiful garden with grottos and castles and underground tunnels. Apparently it was begun in the Middle Ages by the Knights Templar, who meant it to serve as a microcosm of the universe—but most of the imposing stonework was added in the Victorian era. It’s one of the most otherworldly places I’ve ever been. Allow a few hours to really explore!

    3. Close Bracket*

      I loved Portugal! I stayed in Lisbon for maybe five days or a week with one day trip to Sintra to see the big castle ( The one it’s best known for, not the Knights Templar thing, which sounds amazing and I wish I had known about it when I went!). Go to a bakery and try the chocolate sausage! I have no idea what the Portuguese name for it is but OMG, it is so good.
      About eating in the restaurants: some genius invented the 375 mL bottle of wine, and it is perfect for one person at a meal who wants to drink more than one glass but does not want to buy a full-size bottle of wine. Take advantage! Also, before the meal, they will bring you appetizer like things of meats, cheeses, and bread. These are not included in the price of the meal! Eat them anyway. They are delicious, and you will get a nice variety of different cheeses over the times that you get dinner or lunch. You can also send them back, but seriously, eat them. Make sure you order a small meal or you will be so stuffed :-).
      There is a port restaurant in Lisbon that serves like 100 different kinds of port! Go to it! There are so many more kinds of port than are dreamt of in your philosophy, I mean, than you can find outside of Portugal!
      That was a lot of exclamation points! They are all warranted! Holy cats, I want to go back so badly now.

  15. Little bean*

    People with sleep problems, how did you get through having kids? My fiance has struggled with insomnia his entire life and currently takes sleeping pills every night. He is a huge crab if anything wakes him up, or even disturbs his bedtime routine, because it’s so hard for him to fall back asleep. He agrees that he needs to quit the pills if/when we have kids (both because I expect him to actively help care for a baby at night, and because I need him to not be under the influence of drugs if there’s an emergency), but I’m worried this will just mean he gets no sleep and is cranky all the time. I know new parents never get any sleep anyway, but I’m capable of napping for an hour or two a few times a day; I don’t think he is. He also says he can’t sleep through noise or during the day, or under any less than ideal circumstances. He once stayed awake for 36 hours straight because he couldn’t sleep on a long flight. Does having a kid mean he’s going to be miserable, or I’m going to end up doing everything myself?

    1. Bea*

      He needs to be taking any medication that’s necessary to be a healthy functioning person!

      I understand your point but if someone has a medical issue you work around it not just make them suffer so you’re both sacrificing during the infant years.

      This is not a good way to forge a long lasting partnership and he may grow to resent his family given his need for addressing his sleep issues being put on the shelf like that.

      1. Little bean*

        Thanks Bea, that is a useful perspective. However, how do we do that without me being the sole caretaker of an infant for 8 hours every night? I’m not ok with that, and my fiance agrees that I shouldn’t be. We also both work full time. If the answer is that we need to hire help, or that we just shouldn’t have kids, that’s ok. I’m just trying to figure out how other people have navigated this kind of situation.

        1. Natalie*

          I mean, if hiring help is an option for you I would definitely do that! A night nurse would pretty much solve this problem.

      2. Little bean*

        But you’re right that quitting the pills is not necessarily the only solution. I had been fixated on that, so thanks for pointing that out.

      3. Temperance*

        I think he needs to talk to his doctors about this. It’s really not reasonable to expect him to get great, drug-induced sleep each night while Little bean is doing all the heavy lifting.

      4. JamieH*

        Equal is not necessarily fair. You will likely do more of the overnight wake ups because your fiancé has a medical condition that makes that particular parenting job extra challenging. But maybe he will do more sick days and doctor appointments, or maybe he will Ben able to calmly handle more toddler tantrums, or whatever. Parenting is a roller coaster and each phase lasts for only a short time. You’re going to have to try hard to not keep score, even though it is very tempting when you’re exhausted.

        Now, some options;
        1. Could work hours be flexible for either of you? I have had parent friends that slept in shifts. One parent goes to bed as early as 7 and sleeps. The other parent stays up and is responsible for all wake ups until 1 or so. The parent that went to bed first is responsible for all wake ups after 1.

        2. You can definitely hire a night nanny to handle nights. Maybe hire one for the nights your fiancé would be in charge if he didn’t have a medical condition?

        3. Maybe your baby will be a good sleeper! You can always hope. And you might be breastfeeding? Some babies wake up to eat and then fall right back asleep. In those cases, it’s not even really helpful to have a parent do wake ups. Pumping for that is it’s own huge hassle.

        1. Little bean*

          The different sleep schedules is a good idea! I’d still like to have a couple hours a day when we’re both awake and home to see each other, but some version of that could at least be helpful.

        2. swingbattabatta*

          My husband and I alternated every other night. One night, one parent slept nearly the whole night (unless the baby was just inconsolable and then they’d come out to help), and then the next night it’d be their turn. This came about partially because I had some really serious complications from birth and needed a break, and partially because we had to use formula due to said complications (COME AT ME), but it made it easier to get through an exhausting night knowing that the next night was going to be much more restful.

      5. Short & Dumpy*

        I’m your fiance in terms of insomnia & being a crazy light sleeper. My solution was to not have kids. I would have been a miserable parent with miserable kids.

        Granted, I never had much interest in kids to start with but my spouse really really wanted them. The answer was still no because it wouldn’t have been fair to anyone involved.

        One HUGE thing you are not considering in your definition of him being on medication or not…pretty muchall the serious research is showing that each hour of sleep deprivation is roughly equivalent to an alcoholic drink in terms of mental impairment. After just a few nights of missing sleep, your fiance will be making decisions & concentrating as well as a severely drunk person. Do you REALLY want him taking care of a child in that state? Or driving? How long before his job performance is destroyed? Oh, the. There’s the extra fun nuance that sleep deprived people are much more likely to react violently.

        I know this reads as harsh, but IME people who haven’t dealt with it personally truly don’t understand what a horrible thing insomnia is

        1. Forking Great Username*

          Here’s the thing I don’t think you’re considering – almost all parents of a newborn experience sleep deprivation to some extent. If only one parent is handling all of the night wakings, they will absolutely experience sleep deprivation. That’s why I think your response is unnecessarily harsh – you’re lecturing her on all of the negative effects of sleep deprivation when SHE will be the sleep deprived one experiencing all of that if he is never willing to skip his meds so he can help on at least some nights.

          1. Thursday Next*

            +a million.

            It sounds like what Little Bean is trying to work out is a way to respect both partners’ *equal need and right to sleep.* Sleep might be more difficult to achieve and sustain for Fiancé, but that doesn’t mean Little Bean is any less entitled to sleep, or any less affected by its absence.

            Little Bean, while infancy is an intensely demanding phase, it’s possible that demands will continue or pop up sporadically even after infancy. So it’s not a situation that you can decide to power through for the first several months, in the expectation that after that, the rough nights will be behind you.

            I heartily co-sign a visit to a sleep specialist. I’m the family insomniac and the primary caregiver day, night, and in illness. Sleep deficit + caregiving is a rough road.

            1. Little bean*

              thanks guys! This is it exactly. While I fall asleep and stay asleep much easier, I still need sleep! I can’t be awake with a baby, all night every night, and still be functional at work. And i certainly can’t do without being resentful if hubby is blissfully getting his 8 hours every night.

          2. Dan*

            S&D said it wasn’t fair to his partner to make them do all the caregiving so that he could sleep, and consequently decided not to have kids. I thought that was a responsible choice.

            1. Forking Great Username*

              I’m not disagreeing with you there. But if someone else in the same situation does want to have kids, they need to figure out some sort of compromise. S&D seemed to be implying, the way I read the post anyways, that it would be unfair for the partner who has insomnia to ever be sleep deprived. Not exactly a way to achieve a compromise.

      6. Em Too*

        ‘Healthy functioning person’ isn’t an absolute and new borns often mean sleep deprivation. So it’s reasonable to ask how to share the pain, not assume the person with sleep issues gets the medication while other partner gets all the sleep deprviation.

    2. Sled dog mama*

      Hubby and I deal with this by alternating nights (not so easy if you are breastfeeding or getting up a lot with a very young baby) but now that kiddo is 4 (holy cow when did that happen!) she knows what nights are mommy nights and what nights are daddy nights and if she needs something she will wake the right person up. We also took a careful look at her space pretty early on and tried to make it so she could be very independent overnight. She was a very early climber and didn’t particularly like the crib so at about a year she moved to sleeping on a crib mattress on the floor, we covered all the outlets (with the blank plates) and basically moved all the other furniture out. She immediately stopped waking up and screaming for one of us 2-3 times a night, she’d wake maybe move around some and go back to sleep, can’t tell how many times I’d put her to bed on the mattress only to find her sprawled in the middle of the floor directly under the ceiling fan.
      Now her most frequent request is water at 2am so we put a glass next to her bed at bedtime.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Also if he hasn’t talked to his doctor recently (12 months) about the insomnia he should do that. There is always new research and his doctor might be aware of a new technique that would work better for him than the pills.

    3. Green Kangaroo*

      Oof, this is tough. Would it be possible to hire a night nurse to help out during the early months? I’m a firm believer in equal sharing of parenting duties, but fair and equal are not the same thing, especially when one parent has a medical issue that needs to be accommodated.

    4. Yetanotherjennifer*

      This is just my experience, and I think time has dulled my memory of this period more than a little, but it’s not that you get no sleep, it’s that you sleep differently and in shorter increments. And yes, you probably sleep less overall unless you really work at it. Infants are just not compatible with modern life. I have anxiety induced insomnia and that period felt like more of the same but different. Be open to trying whatever helps the family get good sleep. Be very observant about your baby’s sleep habits and how you can maximize sleep for the whole family around them. This period is so short in the grand scheme of things and you can usually break (or modify) “bad habits” when you’re well rested. You and your fiancee could arrange shifts for the nightime. And if you haven’t already, this is a great time to really investigate his insomnia and see what can be done. I’d say the most important thing would be no grumping at the baby.

    5. Thlayli*

      I had really bad insomnia all my life. As soon as I hit the sleep deprivation of the newborn phase my inability to nap disappeared. He will be so tired that he will be able to nap any chance he gets.

      Sleeping tablets are incredibly addictive though – so he needs a plan to be completely off them BEFORE the baby comes

      1. Little bean*

        I am wondering if this will happen! Right now, he never naps and says he can’t. I am the opposite – if I’m tired enough, I can sleep anywhere and under any circumstances (in a car, on a couch during a party, once on some lawn furniture at a Wal-Mart…). At some point, your body HAS to sleep, right?

        1. Overeducated*

          Not necessarily…I never got an ability to nap, I just was more miserable and exhausted than my husband, who could.

          That being said, my sleep deprivation with an infant was awful, but that’s part of having an infant. (I also am not sympathetic at all when women take on all the night wakeups during maternity leave because men “have to work,” I think “suck it up, men.”) I think the one thing my husband could do to keep me from snapping, which you could do for yours, was to occasionally let me sleep longer when I WAS getting good sleep instead of being super strict about a schedule. He would make up for the sleep lost with naps or me letting him sleep more the next day or whatever.

        2. WellRed*

          When someone says they can’t nap, believe them. I am concerned your ability to nap or sleep anywhere under any circumstances is making you think this will work out great. I hope it does and glad you two are taking this seriously.

      2. Thlayli*

        One last thing – check out “I can make you sleep” by Paul McKenna. It is a book / hypnosis cd and if you follow every single rule in the book, he will be able to sleep. But you have to follow all the rules. It’s not easy.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I would assume that he is going to be miserable. The conservative response to your question is to assume if he quits the pills and has NO other plan, this probably will not go well.

      Ask him what he is willing to do to help himself with the sleeplessness and the crankiness.

      It could be just my bias, but I don’t think I would move forward here until there is a working plan in place. Try it before you get pregnant to make sure the plan will work.

      1. Little bean*

        Yeah, that’s why I’m asking this question relatively early. We’re not even getting married until next year, much less having kids yet, but this is the one big issue that I think we need to resolve. He’s said that he would quit, but I’m worried that he either won’t be able to or will be so miserable that we’re both miserable.

        1. neverjaunty*

          He needs to see a sleep specialist. Long-term use of sleeping pills is not a good thing, baby or no, and you are right that this currently isn’t a tenable situation for a baby. Even if you were to agree to split shifts or you take on most of the night shift, what happens when you get the flu or baby decides only Daddy will do?

          1. Natalie*

            A sleep specialist isn’t a bad idea, but it’s not a silver bullet either. Aside from apnea, many sleep problems don’t have great solutions available.

      2. Melody Pond*

        +1 to this. My original response was going to be something like this:

        Does having a kid mean he’s going to be miserable, or I’m going to end up doing everything myself?

        Yes. Probably.

        That’s a little too harsh and oversimplifying – but in all seriousness, it’s something I’d want to be prepared for, if I were in your shoes. I’d want to be prepared for the possibility that it might really suck, and that he’ll be completely miserable, and that it will put a serious strain on our relationship. I know that sounds really dark and gloomy – but I think it’s better to be prepared for that possibility and to know how you’re going to deal with it, than to be surprised by it and feel completely overwhelmed/isolated/helpless/whatever you’d be most likely to feel.

        My own particular worst-case-scenario (I think this says a lot about my own issues and insecurities) would be winding up in that situation, everything being terrible, me feeling completely alone, him being miserable all the time, and the relationship breaking down under the stress of it all, and me suddenly finding myself a single parent with tiny little kids. Again, I know that is really out there and gloomy (sorry!). But I feel most secure and in-control when I’ve considered the absolute worst things that can happen, and then think ahead to figure out: “Okay, how would I deal with this” or “what could I do to steer us away from things getting that bad?”

        I think it’s very wise that you’re thinking about this now, rather than just assuming everything will all work out without planning ahead. :)

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I agree. I don’t think that you can assume that a solution exists that will result in an equitable split of night feedings and a functional husband. Your husband has a medical condition that has inflexible treatment requirements. So he’s not going to be able to simply step up and do what’s required when child care conflicts with it.

          A couple of suggestions – look at resources and advice aimed at nursing, working mothers – they’re doing all the night time feeding while working full time. Second – stop thinking about an “8 hour night” and reframe it as how to get enough sleep in a 24 hour period. With nursing friends, they would do things like crash right after supper and the dinner feed, while their husband did household stuff, then wake up for the 11 pm feed, 3 am feed, 6am feed. They’d get eight hours of sleep, but not in an eight hour period. Or staggered work schedules – one of you goes to bed early, one gets up early. Or your husband does the chores on the weekend while you catch up on sleep.

          Also, think about expanding your support system beyond the two of you. Hiring a night nurse part of the time, for example.

          Another caveat – the thing with kids is that you don’t know what sort of kid you’re going to get until you bring it home, and there’s no return policy. I have friends whose kids slept through the night (ie, a 6 hour stretch) at three months, and others who had fussy sleepers well over a year of age. So be careful not to base your plans around the best case scenario (good sleeper, husband is able to go off pills successfully) but also consider the worst case (your husband goes on as he does now, you and the baby have to sleep in a different room to keep from disturbing him, the baby is a fussy sleeper, and you develop problems of your own (complicated delivery, post-partum depression…).

    7. Ann O.*

      I have lifelong chronic, pretty horrible insomnia and a child. Here are my recommendations:

      If you have the money for it, hire a night nurse. Even if you can only do it a few nights a week, it will help so much to have those nights that you know you’re going to sleep solidly. As a bonus, many night nurses are also good at teaching babies how to sleep independently so they sleep through the night earlier. Friend/family/babysitter can also help with this, but personally, I had too much anxiety (definitely amplified by intense sleep deprivation!) to trust someone who didn’t do this professionally.

      If you can’t do that, alternate nights of which parent is on/which parent is off. Give up the idea of no sleeping pills ever. I went on sleeping pills for the first time because I needed the control of knowing that when I had the opportunity to sleep, I would sleep. Restorative sleep is so important, and if that’s what needs to happen for you both to have restorative sleep, that’s what needs to happen. Odds of a real emergency are low.

      Also, do some research and, if you can, budget for a sleep coach. Sleep coaches can help teach you how to teach your baby to sleep in a way that will work for you (i.e. if you don’t want to close the door and let the baby cry with no parental intervention, you don’t have to pick that method). The sooner your baby is sleeping, the shorter this time period is.

      The method we used with our baby actually alleviated my insomnia for several years. We used a strict bedtime routine, which locked me into having a strict bedtime routine. Good sleep hygiene is the primary recommendation for insomnia, but it’s so hard to do. There were a few weeks where the baby was sleeping but I wasn’t, and I thought I might genuinely lose my mind. But when I got through the other side, I was falling asleep within minutes of going to bed.

      Unfortunately, I’m a hobbyist performer, which is also important for my mental/emotional health. And a strict night time routine is not compatible with late night shows. So I’m back to full-on insomnia. :(

    8. Cambridge Comma*

      We have a six month old. The sleep deprivation was crazy for the first two weeks, so maybe you would need a family member to help out. After than it got gradually better until she was sleeping seven hours at a time at seven weeks. I think we might be quite lucky though. We basically spend 7pm to 7am in the bedroom, and when she was younger and a less efficient feeder we would watch half a film around 4am (headphone splitter). When she has tummyache and sleeps badly we take it in turns to go and sleep for three hours in the living room. We also take it in turns to be responsible for listening out for her, which means the other person can sleep more deeply and ignore the baby pterodactyl noises.
      If you would want to cosleep, a person on sleeping pills can’t do that.
      Probably you would need a solution during pregnancy because at the end he wouldn’t be able to take sleeping pills in case you went into labour in the night.

      1. Little bean*

        That is exactly the emergency situation I was thinking of – that labor could easily happen at night. He can’t drive for several hours after he’s taken his medication.

    9. Onomatopoeia*

      This works for me: tart cherry juice, magnesium, melatonin; jackhammer-noise-level earplugs.

      May I first say with all due respect and gently: the first thing he needs to tackle is his mindset. I know how awful the insomnia cycle is; how desperate one feels. but it must have element of ‘mind over matter.’ May I also respectfully say to you that were I in your situation, I would *not* have children until this issue is resolved. You will be exhausted beyond your ability to cope with shared baby care; if you must face it solo, while your partner chases sleep his bed, it will breed ill will all around. (I speak from experience.)
      So, my regimen:
      An hour before bed, I take magnesium and melatonin with tart cherry juice. (all three have been shown by National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD USA) to promote sleep.)
      follow this regimen, and in about two weeks, you’ll sleep better. I thought nothing was going to help for me, but this did. Another thing: when I d wake up in the night, I immediately became tense worrying over lost sleep. Now, I relax, roll onto my back and think calming thoughts (“my body is getting rest; sleep will follow) deep, slow breathing.
      This may sound hokey but it worked for me (after years of 10mg ambien.)
      In the US, look for ‘smartjuice’ brand tart cherry juice – it is not from concentrate and has no added ingredient.
      good luck! but stay firm in this thought: if this is hard to manage now, adding kids will make it unendurable.

      1. Circus peanuts*

        Oh, I used to drink tart cherry juice after karate class in the evenings to help with muscle soreness and I remember sleeping well after class night. I had attributed it to the exercise. Nice to know that the juice helped :)

    10. Em Too*

      I also found being absolutely shattered is an excellent cure for insomnia – I never developed the ability to sleep on transport but it’s the one time in my life I could nap and also get to sleep very quickly without medication. So quitting pills may not make a huge difference.

      Alternatively, I know two families with extremely poor sleepers where the father did all the childcare at one end of the night, so mum got whatever she could during the night plus a guaranteed 4 hours unbroken (one was 8-12pm the other 5-9am). I think having some unbroken sleep makes a huge difference – I do better on 4 hours and a few naps than 8 hours in 2 hour chunks.

    11. LilySparrow*

      Depending on how easy it is for him to cycle on and off the meds, you could alternate nights or do 2-day “shifts.”
      Also, if he has partner leave during your maternity leave, you could nap/sleep in the day while he is on baby-duty and he can sleep at night.

      Bear in mind, one factor will be if you breastfeed or not. If you’re nursing you probably won’t get a whole “shift” off, ever, unless you’re planning to pump and/or supplement. Which is a fine choice that works for a lot of people. I just mention it because it’s definitely a factor. Attachment parenting/nursing on demand means mom doesn’t sleep through the night until the baby does. So if that’s something you’re considering, then his insomnia treatment might not make a lot of practical difference.

      One thing that worked well for several friends of mine was a bedside bassinett/safe co-sleeper. The baby’s sleeping surface is on the same level as your mattress, and the bassinet is strapped to your bed. So you can just slide baby in for a feeding and back out again.

      And, to be realistic, there are moms whose partners just don’t get up at night with the baby, ever. There are moms who don’t have partners. There are moms whose partners are disabled and physically can’t do nighttime baby care. I wouldn’t consider it ideal, but everybody gets through it okay.

      Definitely work with his doctor to find out what’s in everybody’s best interest.

    12. valentine*

      Don’t rely on his promise to quit. Forecast based on both perpetual pills/husband not on night duty and what you’d do if he could treat his insomnia in a way that allows him to sleep under various conditions. If you can hire three night nannies (main plus backups), you might avoid the problem altogether.

    13. No Name Yet*

      If this is already something he’s tried with a full-faith effort, then just ignore the rest of this comment.

      But if not: cognitive-behavioral treatment for insomnia (CBT-I), or something similar. There is a substantial amount of research that psychological treatments (not therapy the way we think about it) for insomnia are much more effective *in the long run* than medications. Do the meds work faster? Absolutely. But as you’re considering, they’re not always ideal for any number of reasons. Compared to other psych treatments CBT-I can actually work astonishingly fast (within a few months), and I would highly recommend he look into it *with someone who specializes in it*. It’s not terribly hard to do as a provider, but you want someone who knows what they’re doing.

  16. UK Bound*

    We’re preparing to move to the UK. In the big picture, everything’s going well. Now we’re onto details and the one that is driving my son crazy is that per the gov’t website, his guinea pigs need to be in quarantine for four months.

    First, is anyone aware of an airline that will fly guinea pigs from the US to the UK? Second, is there any way around quarantine?

    I can’t believe we’re looking at spending hundreds or thousands of dollars for these critters that together were $15 at the local humane society.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Don’t know about airlines, but no, there isn’t a way around quarantine unless you have a pet passport, and I think that only covers eu countries.

    2. Caro in the UK*

      Hey UK Bound, welcome to the UK!

      Unfortunately there’s no way around quarantine for guinea pigs. There is a Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) which allows appropriately vaccinated and documented dogs, cats, ferrets and horses to bypass the quarantine system. But those are the only animals allowed to use that scheme. All other animals HAVE to do the four months, I’m really sorry :(

      You need to book the quarantine in advance (you can’t just turn up with them) and you need to make sure that you arrive at one of the eight airports authorised to accept animals for quarantine (Belfast International, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Glasgow Prestwick, Leeds Bradford, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, or Manchester).

      I know your son almost certainly adores his guinea pigs, but it’s a big chunk of their lives and will be very stressful for them. Would you consider rehoming them to a good home (perhaps someone you know who can send updates and photos) before you move and adopting again once you’ve moved?

      1. Myrin*

        Now I’m really curious why ferrets of all animals are one of the few allowed to bypass this rule!

        1. Slartibartfast*

          Rabies vaccine is labeled for use in ferrets. Quarantine rules mostly revolve around rabies. It can take up to 4 months for the disease to show symptoms after exposure, any mammal can catch it (including us), it’s virtually guaranteed to kill you (theres a handful of survivors through extremely expensive, experimental treatment) and for an island that doesn’t have it, keeping it out is a huge and serious public health issue.

          1. TL -*

            Rabies in humans is very survivable as long as you start treatment soon after first exposure and before onset of symptoms – treatment is basically vaccination because the virus is very slow to cause infection.

            After onset of symptoms, there’s very little you can do, so it would be incredibly dangerous to have an outbreak and not know it. And it’s rough on wildlife too, so you don’t want to introduce it.

            1. Slartibartfast*

              Yes, important detail. Preventative vaccination immediately after possible exposure is extremely important. Once symptoms appear, it’s too late. PSA: if you ever experience an animal bite, take it seriously and seek immediate medical attention, no matter how minor it seems.

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        A woman at work has 20 of the things – guess I could ask her but then I would have to spend an hour listening to increasingly more far-fetched ferret stories ……

        1. UK Bound*

          Thanks for the background regarding rabies. I was hoping there was something we haven’t looked into. But, it’s looking like we’ll need to rehome them. I appreciate the comments.

            1. UK Bound*

              I know. Actually, I have no attachment to the guinea pigs. Allergies keep me far away. But, he loves them and is having a hard time with the idea of any replacements. I thought I’d ask in case there’s something I’ve missed.

        2. The Director*

          20 ferrets?!? I had one and she was so cute and not-smelly, that I got her a friend. And the smell quadrupled. I can’t imagine 20.

  17. ScienceLady*

    Favorite science puns?

    I’ve used all of mine in emails already; the good ones argon.

    1. fposte*

      Some helium walks into a bar. The bartender says, “I’m sorry; we don’t serve noble gases in here.” The helium doesn’t react.

    2. Lilo*

      A police officer pulls of Heisenberg on the highway. The officer says “Buddy, do you know how fast you were going?” Heisenberg replies “No, but I did know exactly where I was.”

      1. Mephyle*

        When I used to pick up my daughter coming home from late classes, she would call me when she was on the bus or tram and I would calculate what time I had to leave to meet her at the pickup point so that neither one of us had to wait too long in the night for the other. At first I used to ask “where are you?” and “how is the traffic?” (i.e. how fast was she approaching) but then I switched to “give me your Heisenberg coordinates.” She was a physics student, she know what I meant.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Two chemists go into a bar. The first one says “I think I’ll have an H2O.” The second one says “I think I’ll have an H2O too” — and he died.

      Would you like to hear a joke about sodium? Na
      How about a joke about nitric oxide? NO
      Can I at least tell you a joke about potassium? K

      1. ECHM*


        My favorite –
        Johnny was a chemist’s son
        Johnny is no more
        Cause what he thought was H2O
        Was H2SO4

    4. Mephyle*

      Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar. One says, “I’ve lost my electron.” The other says, “Are you sure?” The first replies, “Yes, I’m positive.”

    5. Mephyle*

      Nearly all the good puns seem to be chemistry, plus a few physics ones. I was wondering, aren’t there any good math jokes, so I looked it up and found this: “The problem with math puns is that calculus jokes are derivative, trig jokes are too graphic, algebra jokes are formulaic, and arithmetic jokes are just basic. (But I guess the occasional statistics joke is an outlier.)”

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        Hahaha nice!

        Our chemistry teacher used to tell us that at all the math parties he attended, the popular pick-up line was “hey baby, what’s your cosine?” (He may or may not have been kidding about the parties. He was that kind of guy. But I did see one guy use that line reasonably successfully at a party at university.)

        1. ScienceLady*

          That reminds me of the biology pickup line – “I wish I was helicase so I could unzip your genes.” Oh, science.

      2. LizB*

        Stats joke: Three statisticians go hunting and spot a deer. The first shoots at the deer, but their shot goes fifty yards wide to the left. The second shoots, but their shot goes fifty yards wide to the right. The third statistician jumps up and down and joyously shouts, “We got it! We got it!”

    6. HannahS*

      The Edmonton NHL team is called the Edmonton Oilers.
      What are the mathletes at U Alberta called? The Edmonton Eulers!

      1. ScienceLady*

        What a supremely nerdy one – and I do of course mean that as the highest flattery!

    7. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      A tester walks into a bar. Orders one beer. Orders two beers. Orders null beers.

    8. Jemima Bond*

      One molecule says to another molecule, “I’ve lost one of my electrons!”
      Other molecule: “Are you sure?”
      First molecule: “Yes I’m positive”

    9. Nerdgal*

      A photon goes on vacation. When he arrives at the hotel, the bellhop says, “Sir, do you need help with your bags?” “No thanks,” the photon replies. “I’m traveling light.”

    10. Close Bracket*

      A physicist, and engineer, and a mathematician are all in a hotel at a conference. In the middle of the night, a fire breaks out. The physicist gets a bucket and and starts pouring water on the fire. The engineer designs a system of pipes transfer water from the faucet in their room over to the fire. The mathematician walks over to the sink, turns on the faucet, says, “a solution exists,” and goes back to bed.

  18. TL -*

    My new kitty is helping so much with my homesickness; she’s super cuddly and she fell into the toilet the other, which was pure comedy gold.
    The only problem is that now people are assuming I’m a cat person and bombarding me with cat stuff. I’m not a cat person at all and I’m only sharing stories/pics if asked. I love kitty, of course, but now I feel socially obligated to talk about cats with people who are interested in her *and* other cats. Shudder.
    (I feel the exact same way about babies, actually – the ones I’m related to are great but the rest of them are…eh.)

    What’s bringing joy into your life lately?

    1. nep*

      Absence of back pain.
      Connecting with a great friend after a long hiatus.
      Health/ability to exercise.
      Milder temperatures and no snow on the ground.
      Always, always greatest joy is hanging with the toddler — hearing her laugh, watching her dance…all of it.

    2. Nicole76*

      I find that fascinating. I never considered myself a dog person but once I got one she was all I wanted to talk about. I’m assuming that your friends think the same for you with your new kitty.

      As for joy in my life recently … I’m excited that my favorite band will be releasing some remastered albums soon which will include new mixes of some of my favorite songs.

    3. LilySparrow*

      My garden is coming in nicely, and two sets of neighbors have caught the gardening bug! So now I can talk gardening with more people who are actually interested instead of their eyes glazing over.

      I am probably the garden version of your “cat people,” because I love gardens and will talk about them all the time with anybody. Cats & dogs, on the other hand, I can take or leave. I will pet them, play a bit, and watch funny/cute videos, but a conversation topic? Meh.

    4. Slartibartfast*

      Half way through a course to gain a new certification and expand my employment opportunities. Feeling a lot more confident about myself and my abilities. Hadn’t realized how bored I had been! Change is hard for me, so it’s surprising to find myself excited.

    5. VIT (Scotland)*

      I am right there with you on people assuming I want to talk about cats all the time. Yes, I love my cat. And honestly I love all cats that I meet.

      But….that only applies to physical cats that are in front of me. And if I haven’t met your cat (or your sister’s cat or some famous instagram cat), I just can’t get myself that worked up about it. And because I work with cats people assume I want cat earrings and t-shirts and tchotchkes and people are wrong.

      (I do realise I’m a curmudgeon and that people are just being nice and trying to connect with me and I appreciate that. Just, not all the time)

  19. bassclefchick*

    A dear friend came down to see me last weekend and we saw Les Miserables! Such a great show. Did not get enough time with my friend because she ended up having to work on Sunday. Darn it. We always have so much fun together. The show was awesome, got to catch up, just a lovely time.

    The Arts Center just announced next season’s shows. Something Rotten is coming! Has anyone seen it? I’ve heard some of the songs and they’re really funny. of course, the 2019-2020 season, Hamilton is coming. I really want to go, but I just don’t think I’ll be able to get tickets. The first time Book of Mormon came to town, it sold out within 2 hours. I know Hamilton will go faster.

    1. CAA*

      Yes! My daughter and I saw Something Rotten on Broadway with the original cast. It was hilarious and full of puns. If you like musicals and wordplay, definitely go.

      Hamilton was here earlier this year, but I didn’t attempt to see it. I did happen to be near the theater on the morning that tickets went on sale to the general public though, and there must have been a thousand people waiting a couple of hours before the box office opened. If you want to try for tickets without standing in line, watch for Ticket Master promotions where you can buy seats the day before the general sale, and there are also $10 ticket lotteries for every show. I’d recommend getting on whatever email lists your local theater has so that you get notified of opportunities. Good luck!

    2. Loves Libraries*

      We saw Something Rotten on Broadway. My daughter is a Shakespeare nerd and loved it.

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      Our local performing arts center just released the 2018-2019 schedule, and I am stoked. It includes Wicked, Rent, The Sound of Music, and Cats. Another local group will be doing Elf the Musical, Shrek the Musical, and Footloose, and another group is doing Singin’ in the Rain. I am SPOILED for things to do. We saw Book of Mormon the other night and loved it.

      1. bassclefchick*

        Our theater is saying you should subscribe to the 2018/19 season to guarantee seats for Hamilton in the 2019/20 season. They used to do a 5 (out of 7) show subscription with options for 6 or 7 shows. This year? They got rid of that and if you want to subscribe to the Broadway series, you HAVE to do all 7 shows. Even if I had that kind of money (lots of people in this town, do, however), the only show I want to see is Something Rotten. The other 6 don’t interest me at ALL.

        Yeah, don’t lie to me and tell me it’s a “better value”. I know perfectly well you’re making people subscribe to all 7 shows next year because Hamilton is coming.

  20. BRR*

    I’m looking for an arts and crafts hobby to take up but have no idea where to start. I’m imagining something like knitting but don’t want to knit. I wouldn’t mind sewing but I imagine there’s more of learning curve than I would like. Any thoughts?

    1. TL -*

      Crocheting might be good.
      Or that rug-making thing where you tie pieces of rugs on a pattern and even up with a picture rug.

      Or shrinky-dinks. You really can’t go wrong with shrinky-dinks.

      1. HannahS*

        Seconding crochet! I found crocheting considerably easier to learn than knitting (although I’m primarily a knitter now) and it’s very easy to mindlessly knit a blanket.

    2. Hellanon*

      Embroidery! One of the communities I follow on twitter, @womensart1, always features work from women around the world, and it’s frequently needlework-based. You can do patterns, scenes, or memes, I should think, and it doesn’t require the same equipment outlay that weaving does. Plus the stitches are really varied & require different techniques. My grandmother, a psychotherapist, was a traditional Freudian practitioner (couch and everything) and needlepointed while her patients talked; my mom still needlepoints as well.

    3. Lilo*

      Crochet is a lot simpler than knitting, and if you mess up, you just pull on it and do it again, where that’s tougher in knitting. You can also make a simple hat pretty quickly in crochet.

      1. Red Reader*

        “Where that’s tougher in knitting”

        Unless you’re doing it by accident, in which case when you pull on the wrong end the whole thing will disintegrate before you realize it. *sad trombone*

      2. stitchinthyme*

        How about chainmail? It’s not just for Renaissance fairs; I’ve made lots of jewelry that I’ve given as gifts. You can do some really cool things with some metal rings and a couple of pairs of pliers. You don’t even have to work in silver or anything expensive; they make rings in a variety of cheaper metals and in any color you could possibly want. And most of the learning curve is how to close your rings properly; the rest is just following instructions. There are tons of online resources that can help you get started.

        I also knit and crochet; of the two, crocheting is the more versatile; you can make anything from clothing and afghans to toys, wall hangings, and sculptures. But I love the look of knitted sweaters, so that’s why I learned to knit.

        1. Lilo*

          I will also note that, for me knitting can be a little tougher on the wrist (although it might just be my left one is just the weak one, and since I’m right handed, I don’t use the left as much in crochet).

    4. Short fuse*

      Learning basic stitches for sewing may be easier than you think. I learned to sew some after having my son. I made him baby toys and quiet books from felt. There are also some no-sew things you can do with fleece. I had a lot of fun!

    5. Marzipan*

      I’ve always found crochet easier than knitting, and it’s more straightforward to fix any mishaps (and to carry around with you, if that’s a thing you might want to do). Blocks are a good place to start – you can complete each one quite quickly and put them together into a blanket or what-have-you.

    6. Sylvan*

      Quilling is easy to start learning and paper is way less expensive than yarn.

      You will find like three people to talk about it with, max, though. Knitting and crocheting come with a lot of people sharing tips and patterns in person and online.

    7. Chris S*

      What about weaving? You can start with pretty simple stuff on laptop- or tabletop-type loom, and see whether you like it before tackling bigger/more complex things. And there’s a huge range of possible growth directions if you enjoy it.

    8. Slartibartfast*

      Tatting. My MIL does this, very old skill and not many people do it these days, but it’s knotting thread to make lace. Very portable.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I had to look at this one twice. At first I thought you meant tattooing. (I guess that could be a hobby, too.)

    9. Combinatorialist*

      If you have a sewing machine and the money for fabric, quilting is really not that hard (or it doesn’t have to be — obviously the fanciest stuff requires high skill)

    10. LilySparrow*

      I’d also recommend crochet, because it’s simple to learn and requires very little in the way of startup gear (a hook and a skein of yarn). There are also lots of fun/useful/cute things you can make pretty quickly out of one or more basic squares or small rectangles: coffee mug cozies, coasters, potholders, baby bonnets or booties, fingerless mitts, bookmarks, all kinds of things.

    11. Kuododi*

      Personally I taught myself how to make beaded jewelry ages ago. I had some psych RN friends who were Native American. I used to salivate over their jewelry regularly and then decided I could learn how to replicate those designs. (Couple of library books on the subject, a few trips to the craft store for supplies and I was off to the races!!!) My RN friends took me under their wings and taught me many wonderful beaded patterns. Unfortunately my hands are now eaten up with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome so I’m unable to stay up with the beadwork.

    12. oranges & lemons*

      My general advice would be to think about what kind of things you want to make and work backwards. Personally I am motivated by fun projects, so usually what gets me into a new craft is seeing what kinds of things other people have made. I also don’t have much interest in any crafts that will make me accumulate a bunch of items that I don’t really want.

      One fibrey suggestion I have is needle felting, particularly if you enjoy stabbing things. It’s basically a kind of sculpture where you take bits of wool and stab them into the shape you want with needles. I find it very soothing and easy to learn (although the needles are sharp so if you’re adverse to accidentally stabbing yourself sometimes, this might not be the craft for you).

      1. LilySparrow*

        We tried this with the kids. There are different types of holders & surface pads you can get to make it safer for your fingers. Downside is, the safety gear limits what you can make and how much fine detail you can achieve.

        1. oranges & lemons*

          Yeah, it’s really the small, detailed projects where I’ve had the most trouble with the self-stabbing. It doesn’t really bother me, though.

    13. Jemima Bond*

      Fwiw don’t believe the hype from grumpy old women – sewing is not that hard. Especially not quilting which is mostly straight lines. You just follow instructions; it’s like cooking. My motto when learning was “eh, how hard can it be?” – spoiler alert; the answer is usually, “not very”.
      Also remember if you are making a skirt for yourself or a baby quilt for dewy-eyed new parents, this is not inspected by strict judges. I have a lovely cross-stitch picture made by a friend featuring my motto for happy sewing: “F*** it, that’ll do”!
      But why not go to a large newsagent or supermarket magazine rack and pick up a few examples (the ones with starter kits would be good) and see what inspires you to read about and makes you think, I would really love to do that! I have made some fairly involved beadwork jewellery and I learnt it all from magazines.

    14. The New Wanderer*

      I think it depends on what kind of accomplishment you want at the end. Some crafts allow you to complete a project in an hour or two, and others require investing weeks of effort for one big final project. The skills can be roughly the same, it comes down to how much patience you have and how much of the finished projects you want (I maxed out on scarves about a month after I learned to knit!). Or you can scale up and scale down as you like too.

      For example, I have now done two bed-size quilts. They took for-EVER (about three weeks each of a few hours per day) but the actual skills involved were minimal (straight line stitching). But I also made some curling iron travel pouches and hot pads using quilting skills that took about an hour and a half each.

      For knit or crochet, you could do a lot of little squares where each one is an accomplishment in itself and doesn’t require a lot of time or counting, and later put them together for a blanket or scarf if you want.

      I’ll also throw art out there as a hobby option. Personally I love water colors. You can get water color pencils or crayons for finer control or use the paint sets or both together.

  21. bassclefchick*

    Speaking of musicals, I’ve been listening to The West Wing Weekly podcast. One of the hosts has said he doesn’t really like musicals at all. Which is fine, everyone has different tastes. But then, he said the first show he ever saw on Broadway was Hamilton. I really can’t say why, but that kind of made me mad. Nope, you can’t jump on the Hamilton bandwagon AND say you don’t like musicals.

    Insert “the signal” here! Anyone else listen to West Wing Weekly and have an opinion on this? Could just be me.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I am only up to mid S2 on the podcast, but I’ve heard some of the talk about this and eh. As a life long musical fan, I’m not into the Hamilton hype.

      I do love Josh and Hrishi though.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I’m about to finish season 2. I am also a life long musical fan and am really on the fence with Hamilton. I’ve heard some of the songs, and I know I would enjoy the show. But I’m also willing to wait until the movie comes out.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Same here re: Hamilton. I’ve heard some of the songs and I know I would enjoy it, but the hype is just off-putting.

          Of course, I also only read/watched Harry Potter about 4 years ago because the hype put me off, so do with that what you will lol.

      2. AngelicGamer, aka the Visually Impaired Peep*

        Josh and Hrishi are an awesome duo and I like their interview / recap style. I know they probably write a script to it and all but it’s amazing. As for musicals / Hamilton – I get the hype but I’m not part of it. :) I have a feeling it was made for those people who don’t like musicals considering the style of the songs but that’s just me.

        I’m midway through part 1 of Two Cathedrals. They have Lawrence O’Donnell as a guest and how he came to be cast as President Bartlett’s father is one of the best right place / right time situations. Only because he was perfect for the part and, whenever he wears glasses at MSNBC, my mind will sometimes flash back to that part.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I love the guests that they get. Not just actors, but when they bring on people to talk about various political issues in the context of the show.

          The last ep I listened to was right before their holiday break at the end of 2016.

    2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      There are different kinds of musicals, though. I haven’t listened to Hamilton and also don’t like American/British* musicals in general, but from what people say about it on the Internet Hamilton seems pretty different from a lot of other musicals. It’s very possible that he doesn’t like Oliver, Wicked, Guys and Dolls, etc. but something about Hamilton doesn’t cause the “Ugh, musical” reaction in him.

      *I specify because I’ve met a lot of fans of musicals who have never watched an Indian musical.

    3. Laura H*

      I don’t listen to it, but I do think it’s odd- and simultaneously reasonable.

      Every musical is different. I like Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, The Sound of Music, Singin’ in the Rain, White Christmas, and The Music Man- to name a nice handful. I like them all for different reasons really.

      Some speak to me more than others.

      Some people just don’t like musicals… But that means MORE JOY FOR ME!

    4. fposte*

      I love WWW (found out about it here–thanks, caledonia!) and I’m immensely fond of Hamilton. I have no problem with Hrishi’s general aversion to musicals and liking for Hamilton. I personally suspect that he’d find a lot of exceptions to his “I don’t like musicals” (the trick is, as we all know, to avoid the ones with the hoedowns) but that life’s short enough that I understand his not wanting to keep trying.

    5. Zen*

      Agree with above that there are different types of musicals, much like there are different genres of music in general. I’m not sure if I’d call myself a musicals fan, even though I’m obsessed with one or two shows, and am happy to go watch them, but not in the way some people can be completely hyped up by new shows.

        1. Caledonia*

          Josh looks to be wearing red with a yellow trim. Hrishi I am not sure…Maybe yellow? He is wearing some fab mustard yellow boots.

    6. LemonLyman*

      HUGE TWWW fan over here and even bigger Hamilton fan! (My love for the actual WW TV show and Hamilton are probably equal.)

      I understand Hrishi’s aversion to traditional musicals. There’s almost a formula to them and, let’s be honest, he probably would have a hard time finding a principle musical actor who looked even somewhat like him. The fact that actors of color play the historical figures in Hamilton adds a layer to the storytelling. As LMM has explained, it’s American history from back then told by eople who reflect America today. Hamilton also has influence from a variety of different music, (rap, hip-hop, traditional musicals, Prince, the Beatles, to name a few) so for these reasons it’s found a fan base in different a variety of people – even people who don’t traditionally gravitate toward musicals. That’s why so many people are so pumped on it who don’t usually gravitate to musicals. Let’s be honest, people can dislike musicals and enjoy Hamilton. There’s nothing wrong with that!

      For those who haven’t seen it yet, go to YouTube and search for “Hamilton White House poetry jam” and select the video of LMM performing in the Obama White House. This was the rough draft to the opening Hamilton number!

      P.S. I’m obsessed with the show so if you’re interested in learning a little more, feel free to ask. Also, I can recommend other things to read/watch if you want an additional primer!

    7. all aboard the anon train*

      It’s not really that unusual of a statement. I know a lot of people who say they don’t like musicals, but then say they only like One Popular Musical. It’s sort of like saying you don’t like comic book movies, but the first one you saw was Wonder Woman or Black Panther and loved it. There’s nothing wrong with it.

      You’re allowed to dislike an entire genre aside from one popular component of that genre.

      Honestly – and this isn’t aimed at you personally – I’ve seen this feeling a lot in musical theatre circles and it’s a unsettling kind of gatekeeping. There’s a reason why those big popular bandwagon musicals tend to have a larger and more diverse fanbase than some of the smaller or less popular musicals. They’re geared toward a broader audience and in Hamilton’s case I really do know a lot of people who enjoyed Hamilton but dislike musical theatre otherwise. I don’t think it’s fair to cherrypick their feelings on musicals just because they happen to like one show and not the majority of them.

    8. Totally Minnie*

      Only somewhat related, I tried listening to the first episode of West Wing Weekly after someone recommended it here, and I was sort of put off by Josh. It felt like every other sentence was “have I mentioned I know Aaron Sorkin in real life?” And I know that he does, and I expected it to come up, but it just feels like a lot. Does that lighten up over time?

      And on the topic of musicals, I agree that it’s silly to say you don’t like musicals and then be all about Hamilton. I mean, I can see why Hamilton would speak to a West Wing fan in a particular way, but it does kind of feel like trying to be culturally relevant.

      1. Caledonia*

        Not really, no. There are frequent mentions from Sorkin on from Josh. Maybe re-frame it as Josh has a lot of admiration for Sorkin?

        1. LemonLyman*

          And a LOT of Josh’s career is due to being cast in Sorkin-penned stuff. I don’t get the sense he’s doing it to be braggy. They’ve know each other for a very long time.

      2. LemonLyman*

        I don’t understand why it would be “silly.” I bet there are musical fans out there who don’t like at least one particular musical. For example, say someone tells people they love musicals but it turns out they don’t like Cats. Do they have to now stop calling themselves a fan of musicals? There’s one they don’t like! So they must not be an actual fan. It’s fine for a person to say they aren’t a fan of the genre but enjoy Hamilton (or any one random show). Hamilton doesn’t fit the mold of the traditional musical with show tunes and such.

        It’s not much different than me saying I’m not a fan of country music, but I do enjoy one to two particular songs. I can still call myself “not a fan” of the overall genre but enjoy a couple specific songs.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          This. I dislike a lot of popular musicals a lot of the older staples. It doesn’t make me less of a true fan because I prefer Next to Normal or Blood Brothers or The Last 5 Years over The Music Man or Wicked or Rent. Just as someone preferring all the big blockbusters to Sondheim or lesser known musicals doesn’t make them any less of a fan.

    9. Thursday Next*

      I love musicals. American/British ones, Bollywood, blockbuster, and niche. Hamilton got so much hype that I was kind of resistant to seeing it. But the day after the 2016 presidential election, I said F it, and bought tickets to benefit LMM’s father’s charter schools. I’m so glad I saw it, and the timing could not have been more perfect.

      Seeing a blockbuster musical that turned casting conventions on their head, so people of color were the primary characters, was inspiring. That, plus the musical genre(s), combined to make Hamilton a more accessible and relatable experience than, say, the original 1980s productions of Les Mis or Phantom of the Opera. It makes sense that it would draw audiences outside the traditional Broadway buffs.

      1. LemonLyman*

        Thanks for sharing, Thursday. I think a lot of us who love this particular musical love it not because it’s a musical but because of what it is, who it is, and when it is… it really speaks to some of us in ways that it probably doesn’t or even can’t speak to others.

        Also, sometimes the way a story is told can really make or break the actual story and DANG can LMM tell a story! This isn’t a new story. It’s a founding father of our country. How boring, right? But the way this story is told is done in a fresh new way…

    10. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I hate musicals but I really enjoyed Hamilton. Not enough to jump on the ‘buying everything in the shop and the show recording CD’, but I thought it was extremely well done.

      For me I think I always equated musicals to a lot of jumping down, noise, and campy pop. I mean, I like opera, so Hamilton didn’t seem like much of a stretch from that.

    11. Alice*

      The part about not seeing any Broadway shows before this one does make me think “so how do you know you don’t like X if you’ve never tried it?!” But maybe he doesn’t live in New York, and he’s seen some musicals in other cities, and “Broadway shows” means literally ones being performed on Broadway.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I can’t remember if this is entirely correct, but he did say he’d seen movie musicals and school/college productions, and I totally get why people would be turned off by musicals from movie musicals alone since most of them aren’t great or follow a very standard convention.

        1. LemonLyman*

          I think he also said he wasn’t a big fan of the type of musi typically in musicals…the show tuniness (my phrase, not his).

    12. Grad Student*

      I love TWWW, and I love Hamilton, and Hrishi’s preferences don’t bother me in the slightest. (I listened to the latest ep, about Hamilton with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail, two days before I finally got to see Hamilton on Broadway! It was the best!)

    13. bassclefchick*

      You guys have given me a LOT to think about! I really appreciate it. I LOVE musicals! But even I have shows I didn’t like and/or have no interest in seeing. Some of my friends are the same way. One or two shows they don’t care for or a composer they can’t stand.

      I honestly wasn’t sure about Hamilton myself because I really DO NOT like hip-hop. But, a few songs have come up on my Pandora playlists and it surprised me how much I liked them! I guess my problem with Hrishi’s statement was that he’s so adamant about not liking them, but jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon. Though that could be because he’s gotten to see it and I haven’t. LOL. I also rolled my eyes when Joshua said he’s been seeing shows on Broadway for most of his life. Which, I suppose, is what you do when you live in/near NYC. However, those of us in flyover country don’t have the luxury of getting to NYC, much less going to shows all the time. Again, that’s probably jealousy on my part.

      I appreciate all the comments! This is why I love this community!

    14. Someone else*

      I might be misremembering this, but I think the guys behind that podcast actually ended up friendly with Lin (or already were?) So Hamilton being their first/only musical probably has less to do with bandwagoning and more to do with knowing Lin personally.

  22. Blue Anne*

    Hey folks. Checking in. People here where very supportive when I was having a bit of a mental break a week or so ago and asked me to check back.

    I’m not okay but I’m coping with the help of a freaking awesome community. I looked at my finances and decided it wasn’t really feasible, after all, for me to completely skip out on work until my new job starts. But I talked to my boss and told him that I wasn’t going to be working much more than normal full time for the rest of tax season. I don’t think he was pleased, or necessarily believes my reasons, but he said okay.

    I am blessed to have a bunch of really amazing people around me. I put out the “I’m having really scary thoughts and do not have time to be hospitalized” call and they responded beautifully. My boyfriend came over and helped me prep a week’s worth of healthy food. My assistant picked up all my weekend appointments, and cleared up the worst of the depression-mess around my house. Friends have been messaging me to check in (suspect they organized a rota) and someone left cookies and flowers at my front door. Comrades have been taking updates on my responsibilities and reading them out at political meetings instead of me having to go. Even on my town’s facebook page (which is the main place I get leads for my side business) when people have tagged me, others have commented saying stuff like “Blue Anne is super busy right now! Everyone please leave her alone for a couple weeks!” Again my assistant’s doing I think.

    Biggest deal is actually my mom regularly checking in on me by text and being really happy that I’m doing better but not making a huge deal of it. In the past she has kind of encouraged my tendency to just work myself into breakdown and then pushed me to get back on my feet ASAP with a “if my daughter is suicidal, it makes me suicidal, so you shouldn’t be suicidal” thing. This is way better, and I’m not sure what prompted the change but it’s making a huge difference. My grandma is also only calling me on the weekends, which is awesome because while I LOVE her, we have some business dealings together and I just don’t have the spoons to do anything but make sure they’re not exploding right now.

    I was really embarrassed to show any weakness or let up on any of the stuff I’m doing. Not really sure what possessed me to post about it here other than it being work-related and anonymous, but I’m so glad I did. It genuinely hadn’t occurred to me that it was okay to ask for support from my tribe until people here pointed out that, you know, me surviving is more important than my work. Thank you so much.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I’ve been looking for your updates. Glad to hear from you.

      Sounds like you have some awesome people around you!

      Keep taking care of you. Work is work, but there’s only one you. *internet hug*

      1. Blue Anne*

        Thank you. I really appreciated your email offer, even though I didn’t take you up on it.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I haven’t been around the weekend threads much lately, but I’m glad to hear that you reached out and asked for help, both virtually and in person, and that things are slowly improving.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Thanks for the update — sounds like lots of positive stuff from a genuinely awesome Team You. Not-okay-but-coping (and talking about it) is a good place to be, IMO, when you have people around you holding you up. Sending you good vibes for continued progress. :)

    4. fposte*

      I’m so glad that things are on a slightly firmer footing and that your people are rallying.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      For a difficult situation you have a lot of things going right, like building Team You. I can see where this is still difficult but you have set yourself on a good path. Thanks for the update and I wish you the best. Keep us posted when you can.

    6. Caledonia*

      Asking for help is actually the opposite of showing weakness.

      I am glad to hear you have a good group around you to help you during this time.

    7. Thursday Next*

      I’m so happy to read this update. Hurray for you, for telling your boss what you needed. It sounds like you have a great Team Blue Anne!

      And I’m glad your mother is giving you support that she about you, and not about managing her feelings. That’s a paradigm shift!

      1. Blue Anne*

        That part of it honestly blows my mind. In the past, we’ve had conversations where my mom has said things like “I don’t understand what you mean when you say the word ‘boundaries'” and “You say that thing I did drove you to hurt yourself, but I did the right thing and I would do it again”.

        I kind of wish I knew where it was coming from, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth here.

    8. dawbs*

      I’m glad, and I hope you continue to have good support.
      I hope your work stuff gets easier and I hope you keep good resources.

    9. Belle di Vedremo*

      Thank you for updating us. Good to hear that things are improving if not yet great, that your tribe has rallied around you, and that your boss could listen to reason even without liking it. Sounds like you found a terrific assistant.

      More internet hugs if you’d like them.

    10. Recently Diagnosed*

      A little late here, but fight on, depression-warriors! I’m so SO glad you have a great support system. We’re here for you and rooting for you!

  23. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Hey Dopameanie, first off, I love the FIGHT ME! threads. My real-life friends and I taunt and tease each other gently but frequently. If any of us come up with controversial opinions and want to do a FIGHT ME! thread to banter about them, I think it would be better to start a new thread rather than comment on yours to start a new subthread. What do you all think? (I mostly wanted to ask Dopameanie, but I’m curious what the rest of the commenters think.)

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Personally the FIGHT ME’s aren’t my cup of tea and it would be easiest to skip them if they were all contained in one thread per weekend, kind of like the Best and Worsts that someone (I’m terrible with names) used to start each week (and maybe still does and I’m unobservant). Just my $.02.

    2. Lissa*

      I like the threads, but I think one thread or maybe two would be good, otherwise it could take over and become less fun. Or maybe a theme, like unpopular opinions: movies! or unpopular opinions: food! I think multiple threads might mean diminishing returns.

  24. Parenthetically*

    Any Australian Rules Football fans about the place? We’re not caught up on round 4, but I’d love to talk about round 3! And football in general!

    1. Paige*

      Do you mean the AFL? I used to have a flatmate who was from Melbourne and was mad about it. He tried to teach me the rules but I just gave up lol. The only thing I remember is that Collingwood is evil.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, Australian Rules football is the name of the sport, the AFL is the name of the league… for some reason?

        And yes, that is a good thing to remember! :D

    2. Mouse*

      Go Richmond Tigers! That said, I don’t really follow or watch except grand finals. Did have a couple “tears of joy” last year.

      1. Parenthetically*

        You really did! I love Ben Brown even though he looks like Sideshow Bob. (Cats supporter here.)

  25. Myrin*

    I‘ve thought about posting this in the work thread but I reckon it‘s actually about people being horrible in a more general sense and these experiences just so happened to happen at work. Let me know if it‘s more fitting for next week‘s work thread regardless!

    Okay, first of all, warning for transphobia.

    As many of you know, I work two part-time jobs at the moment. One is in the kitchen of a local inn where I mostly work with the owners, Waiter Boss and her husband Chef Boss.

    So much for setting the scene.

    Now, I actually like both of them (Chef Boss more than Waiter Boss, though). We get along well and even if we don‘t agree on something, there’s never any animosity or bad feelings. They have a strong work ethic, are very good at what they do, and Waiter Boss, who is technically the “real” boss as the business is in her name, always makes sure everything regarding my emplyoment and weird bureaucratic stuff that goes along with it works smoothly and correctly.

    I’ve known them to be friendly and warm-hearted, if somewhat conservative or “behind the times”, if you will. By that, I mean, of the “I don’t understand a lot about The Gays and can’t quite shake the old-fashioned thoughts about them I grew up with but I like him and his boyfriend anyway” variety.

    Now, this past Tuesday, two of the guests were a transwoman and her mother. And I was completely shocked and appalled at how Waiter Boss spoke about them. She misgendered the transwoman, made fun of her mother (who I later met on my way to the toilet and who was perfectly friendly and polite), was shocked that the woman also has kids who apparently viewed it as completely normal that their father is now their second mother which is obviously an outrage and anyway isn’t it appalling how all of that stuff “is viewed as normal nowadays”? (Tangent: I would love to live in a world where being trans is seen as normal, but I digress.) She also used a very nasty way to refer to the woman that doesn’t lend itself very well to translating into English; maybe “the operated-on one” would be the closest, I think? It was mindblowingly insensitive and offensive, to say the least.

    She didn’t say any of that to me, just kinda talked at Chef Boss who kind of non-committally “hmm”ed along. It’s pretty normal for me to just be pottering around in the background and the two of them talking amongst themselves, kind of forgetting/ignoring that I‘m there. I fled to the bathroom as soon as I could because I was so horrified. I almost started crying. I have no idea why that affected me so strongly – I was less upset in the past when people said nasty stuff about groups I actually belong to! As it stands, I’m not trans myself and don’t have anyone I‘m close to who is trans, either, but somehow, I was obsessing about this for the rest of the day.

    I’m wondering if it‘s one of these situations where you find out that people aren’t who you thought they are? I mean, yeah, they’ve not been the most woke people in the past and when I later told my mum about it, she went “And you are surprised by this why exactly?” and yeah, I’m not surprised at finding out that Waiter Boss finds trans people weird but rather at the pure viciousness of her words. I’m still reeling when I think about it too strongly and it’s been five days.

    Now on the one hand, this isn’t particularly likely to come up again anytime soon (unless this woman and her mother decided they liked it so much that they want to become regulars which oh my god please no that would be a cruel irony); I’ve worked there for three years now and this was the first time this topic has come up so I’d say the probability of it occurring again soon is low. On the other hand, I’m really, really disappointed and really, really angry. I’ve lost a lot of respect for her that day.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that’s always hard. You think people are casseroles, so your bite of them is what’s there throughout, but it turns out that you’re just nibbling at the corner of a whole buffet table and there’s a lot of rotting broccoli when you get further down.

      While you don’t have to say anything, you could consider doing that later if you’d be comfortable doing so. I’m reluctant to make cross-cultural/linguistic references about phraseology, but it seems to me the fact that you have respected them and that you have information they don’t is a place to start; you’re not going for changing their minds on the spot, just filling in their picture a little that they way they’re talking is out of date and maybe associated with [groups they don’t like].

      As I said, I’d be thinking of this not so much to change minds now as to plant a seed, and also for you to get a little more resolution. But I also understand why you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that and you just want to back off of the buffet.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        By the way, I really like this analogy.

        It’s really tough when you find out someone you thought was a decent person turns out not to be the person you thought they were. The longer you’ve known them and/or the more established the relationship or the more you liked/respected them, the harder it can be :(

      2. Myrin*

        That’s a very helpful reply (with a great analogy), thank you so much. I’ll see if I can follow your advice in the future – I have done the “seed-planting” before (with them, but also in general) and it always seems to have worked well.

        Another thing about both of my bosses (strangely!), which very certainly added in an unfortunate way to this situation, is that they can be quite moody. Not in a general sense but more like, sometimes every other guest seems to catch them on the wrong foot. Sometimes neither will blink an eye when a customer asks for a three extras and weird combinations and for “more of this but less of that” and so on, and at other times they’ll get so annoyed by someone asking for a sharper knife for their elderly father.

        (Just out of curiosity, what do you mean by the “references about phraseology”? It’s probably super obvious but my brain is very mushy since I just came home from my other job an hour ago. If you mean you’d suggest a specific wording but it wouldn’t work because I’m not speaking to them in English then yes, that struggle is indeed real. So often, I read really great phrasing on here which I basically can’t use at all because there’s no adequate translation.)

        1. fposte*

          Wow, that was really badly phrased on my part; sorry! Yes, I meant there’s not much point in my suggesting a phrase when it has to turn into German, and even the emotional strategies that would drive my word choices might not work in a different culture.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think the strength of your reaction is that it was just so mean. Directly mean to them, and then mean-sounding words expressed elsewhere in your hearing.

      I think it’s very traumatic to witness people being mean. We don’t have to be part of a marginalized community to understand the idea of being mean.

      It makes people feel deeply unsafe. If she can suddenly be that mean, verbally, what other lines are there that she won’t cross?

      If you decide you want to say something, I’d focus more on that–that it was mean, which shocked you because it seemed so unlike her, and it made you feel that this attacking behavior could show up at any time.

      1. fposte*

        A slight digression, in that yesterday in the supermarket I saw the converse: a customer who was clearly struggling with both cognitive function and emotional regulation went off verbally on the checker and the customer behind her, and both of them handled it really, really well. Other customer was cool, kind, and unruffled in the face of being yelled at, neither shrinking away nor pushing back, and the checker, despite being very young, had a nice line in supporting people without throwing anybody under the bus (“I think we’re all just trying to help each other out, ma’am”). I was very impressed with their composure.

      2. Myrin*

        Yeah, I think that’s exactly it. I still would have reacted negatively to the sentiment alone expressed in a different manner, but her biting, scathing tone and mean word choices were what got to me.

      3. Myrin*

        Oh, and just because I might have been unclear on that in my original comment: She was perfectly lovely to their faces. Everything I described happened back in the kitchen. That’s what I found especially heartbreaking (although I’m obviously happy for them that they didn’t have to actually face her negativity), since they actually seemed to really like the establishment, service, and food.

      4. LilySparrow*

        And if you felt comfortable addressing it with her, this would be a way she might understand.

        “When I heard all the mean things you said about that customer, it made me wonder what you say about me behind my back.”

        But personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying anything that personal to my boss. A close friend or family member, or even a friendly co-worker, yes. But not my boss.

    3. Slartibartfast*

      Yeah, I think it’s the disappointment of finding out these people you liked are capable of this hatred. Similar but far less severe, I took a job working for someone top in her field, stellar business reputation and widely respected personally and professionally. At a staff meeting, she lef with “So we’ve hired a Mexican to do the yard work…” Completely shattered the image I had created in my head about what I considered a dream job, and that shift in reality left me reeling more than it felt like it should have. I would absolutely be feeling punched in the gut if I were in your shoes.

    4. Triple Anon*

      I can relate! I also get upset when people say mean things about other groups of people. It really gets to me sometimes. It’s like witnessing an act of violence. And then I have to wonder how much I should judge the person for it. We all have problems, and we’re all a product of our experiences, but we are also all responsible for our words and actions. So when do you walk away?

      That’s something I’ve struggled with. I know a few people who’ve gotten more prejudiced with time. Often it appears to be the direct result of some kind of unhappiness that they’re not dealing with well, and/or getting information from bad sources. So sometimes I try to talk to them about it. But that’s never been productive as far as I know. So I’m getting more judgmental and better at cutting ties with people who are mean, whether it’s to me or someone else.

      I don’t know . . . The way I’ve dealt with that stuff is to be glad I’m empathetic enough to have that kind of reaction, and to try and learn from it – to let it make me more empathetic for the people in whatever group it is and what they have to deal with.

  26. Ruth (UK)*

    So, after my worrying post last weekend, I have decided I’m feeling rather optimistic about my half marathon tomorrow despite the fact I’ve basically done the opposite of tapering. Basically, instead of training for however many months and then easing off in the last few weeks, I have instead not trained at all in the last 6 months or so, but done more physical activity in the last few days than I normally do.

    By the way, this was not some sort of odd tactic. This just happened. An additional dance practice happened on Thursday evening (a night I don’t regularly dance) and then on Friday I ended up being on my feet all day at work (in a job where I don’t sit down constantly, but do normally do more sitting than standing/walking). And I mean, I really did end up walking/standing -all- day.

    But anyway, I plan to just take it easy and I’m feeling fairly confident in my ability to finish, even if it won’t be a ‘good’ time (where ‘good’ here means close to what I got previously).

    1. Bazinga*

      Most runners have that race that you’re not really prepared for. As you said, no worries about pace, just enjoy.

  27. Zen Cohen*

    About a year and a half ago I left my job and a great college town that I loved for an amazing career opportunity for my partner. We moved to a fancy suburb near a big city with a much different vibe. Shortly thereafter I found out I was pregnant with my second kid. I was working in a crummy job with a long commute so after baby #2 was born I elected to take some time off and be a stay at home parent.

    My baby is close to a year now, and I feel so lost. Being alone with kids all day is simultaneously really stressful and SO BORING. Plus I don’t really have any friends in the area and I haven’t really been able to find my tribe. My husband and I are still fairly young and establishing ourselves and everyone around us feels so…fancy. We don’t make that much money compared to most folks in our area.

    I am thinking about going back to work but childcare for two kids would cost more than I make and it would add a huge amount of stress to our home life. There are real advantages to having someone who reliably had time to do the laundry and have dinner on the table!

    I know I probably have to stay home for another year, but I’m struggling with loss of identity, lack of friends, and the loss of self-esteem that comes from having a thankless (from my kids–my husband is incredibly aware of all I do), draining, invisible job that is all about other people.

    I just don’t feel like ME anymore. How so I get through this? Has anyone else taken time out of the workforce that turned out ok? What do I do about the monotony and lack of adult identity?

    1. Short fuse*

      I certainly sympathize with what you’re going through. I’ve been home for three years now, in an area with no friends and just my mom and husband for family. I’m also wondering how to find myself again. Having my son is the best thing ever but I need some adult stimulation! The one thing that always helps me is when we can get a date night. Luckily my mom is an amazing LyLy and encourages us to take time for ourselves. As for going back to work one day I would love to see what helped others after staying home with little ones.

    2. Mouse*

      Maybe you could try taking up a potentially profitable hobby that’s child-compatible? I.e. knitting or crocheting clothing, or cooking classes – you might be able to join up with some adult company in the process by joining a group, don’t lose money on child care, but are still sort of working towards making some money (obviously such things can’t be relied upon, but if it was some form of clothes-making that may save you money in short order too).

      This of course assumes you’re in any way interested in such things!

    3. Loves Libraries*

      I feel your pain. I was a SAHM for my 3 and it was exhausting and boring. Things like Sunday school, book club, and bunco saved me with getting adult interaction and a little wine. This too shall pass. We are now empty nesters.

      1. Windchime*

        I was a SAHM mom for about that long, too, and I also found it exhausting and boring. One day, I was reading a book to one of the kids for what felt like the umpteenth time, and tears started running down my cheeks at the thought that this was all I would ever do. Read books and wipe butts.

        I went job hunting and went back to work after that. But that was in the days before childcare for two toddlers was thousands of dollars a month.

        Could you maybe get a part-time evening job? Just to get out of the house and meet some people?

    4. CBE*

      Working isn’t all or nothing. It doesn’t have to be full time or not at all.
      Find a balance. If you can work part time, teach a class one night a week, freelance, do occasional volunteering/mentoring with high school or college students if that’s a thing in your field, etc.
      I was a SAHM parent for many years, and felt very much like you did at first, but I found my balance with freelance and teaching classes one night a week. It wasn’t about the money, it was about being ME and using my brain professionally.

    5. Bazinga*

      Find something for you. Look at Meetups in your area, classes, any sort of hobby that will get you out of the house sometimes.
      You need to find something to do for you. Weekends, evenings when your husband is working, anytime.
      Maybe find some other moms in the area and trade off some babysitting? I know you said you’ve had a hard time clicking with anyone, but there is someone out there. Some mom group, or even just one or two people, who are feeling the same way.

    6. neverjaunty*

      First, your husband really should show that appreciation in a concrete way – taking the kids for long stretches (to the extent things like nursing allow) so you can Go Be An Adult somewhere. Whether or not you have time to spend with other adults, having a few uninterrupted hours to sit at a cafe or read a book, or even just eat a meal you didn’t have to cook, is gold.

      Also, at least in the long term, “my salary minus childcare costs” is bad math if you stop there. What are the opportunity costs of staying out of the workforce? What benefit in terms of mental health and mood would you get if you worked?

      And a job doesn’t necessarily have to be full-time paid career work; there are lots of options like a half-day in nursery school a day or two a week, or having a regular nanny or sitter for the afternoon.

    7. TootsNYC*

      I’m w/ Mouse–maybe you need a hobby. The best would be one that takes you out of the house a couple of times a week and makes you interact with other people.

      Like volunteering, or a book club (if you can find one for younger folks).

    8. Slartibartfast*

      I got through by playing World of Warcraft after bedtime. Husband worked nights and it was my space to be an adult, far more affordable than any “real life” option and I have virtual friendships that have lasted over a decade now. Never played video games really before I started either.

    9. Forking Great Username*

      I also ended up being a SAHM because it seemed to make sense, and ended up hating it. Loving my kids, but feeling frustrated and bored and like I’d lost myself somehow. My job before having kids had been kind of crappy, so I chose to go back to school. Financially, things have been pretty tight – but it has my mental state in a MUCH better place, and I would definitely say my husband and kids have benefitted from that even through the house is a bit messier and dinner is never anything fancy.

      Is it feasible to work part time? (I know that in some areas, part time childcare is hard to come by.) If not, try to start some sort of habit or activity that just revolves around you! Go out walking/jogging after dinner, take a class, join a group, etc.

    10. Natalie*

      I don’t love the equation of work = childcare costs, ergo work is pointless. I know a lot of couples where at least one person’s income goes to things they could theoretically do themselves (home maintenance, cleaning, food prep, etc). For some reason it’s only childcare where you’re not entitled to work unless it’s a profitable venture.

      Working outside the home sounds like it’s important to you independent of the money you would be making. That gives it intrinsic value.

    11. Sybil Fawlty*

      Hi Zen,

      I was in that position too, for many years. It was hard, there is no doubt! Sometimes it absolutely is the right decision to stay home with children and I’m going to take your word that this is your situation. Others have given you good suggestions, and here’s a few that worked for me.
      Flylady.net saved my sanity. The housework has to get done, or you are in crisis very quickly. Having a plan to get it out of the way quickly and easily gave me options to do other things.
      Another thing I did was meet another stay at home mom at Denny’s at 9pm every Tuesday. By this time, the kids were in bed, and my husband was home. He didn’t really do anything for them during this time, but of course he was there if needed.
      Church has been a big help, it’s free, and there should be other stay at home moms there. Just pick one with the activities and schedule you want. I don’t know about other faith traditions, but I’m sure they have resources and options too. They frequently have playgroups or women’s Bible studies (usually mostly conversation and a few verses).
      And I want to say that it’s such an important job! I know it doesn’t feel that way, but truly this time will pay huge benefits in the future. Building relationships with your children is a life-long process, and you are front and center now.
      Equal parenting didn’t work in my family, and it’s not always an option, so don’t feel like you’re doing something wrong. You’re doing what is best for your family right now, and that will change. Hang in there!

    12. Alice in Crazyland*

      You are in the hardest part of parenthood, in my opinion. The most important thing is to make sure that you have time to be Zen Cohen, not just Mom or Wife. Doing something that reminds you who you are and makes you happy is super important. How much time you need is up to you. Some parents need an hour every other week, some need to work full time. Getting Out of the House is essential.
      The other thing to do is find places to go so you are not staring at the Same Four Walls all the time. One thing I found helpful was memberships to a kid’s museum and a zoo so that I wasn’t “wasting” money if I left after an hour. I would go once a week & try to stay at least as long as travel time. Bonus if I could time it so they would fall asleep on the way home.
      Something else is that finding new mom friends (or SAHD) is a lot like dating. There are a lot of people out there but the finding the right ones can take a lot of time and false starts. Hanging out where there are other parents is a good place to start. My second child was almost a year before I started finding my people. Inviting them to go with me to the above mentioned zoo & museum were low commitment, have me a lot on insight into who that person was, and occasionally bonded us through whatever child induced disaster we survived together.
      These are the shortest years but they are many of the longest hours of your life. It is hard. I love my children fiercely and I always have. Contrary to what people told me, I do not miss babyhood at all. I don’t miss the toddler years either. Life was much more manageable once the baby hit 4.
      Hang in there. It will get better, because you can make choices that work for your family. Happy Mom is necessary for happy family.

    13. JamieH*

      For as long as you’re home, I HIGHLY recommend finding a co-op preschool. They are usually much less expensive than normal preschools, and they are a fantastic way to meet a lot of other parents and find a “tribe.” There are also mostly other stay at home parents that are also eager to meet up at parks and text about melt downs and whatnot.

  28. aarti*

    My period is 10 days late and, after two negative pregnancy tests, I decided to go to the doctor. This is super unusual for me and none of the normal reasons for a late period apply to me (stress, exercise, weight loss, etc).

    My partner and I are getting married next year and we do want kids but the timing is not ideal. So you think I’d be happy when the doctor confirmed I wasn’t pregnant. Instead I broke down crying in the car home.

    So I still don’t know why my period is so late and I’m feeling surprisingly dissapointed/sad. Trying to work through a lot of emotions and feeling lonely since all my family lives in another country.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      That is a lot of emotions to deal with. I think one of the most frustrating things people have to deal with is having a medical issue and not knowing the cause. Even if it’s something bad, at least you know what the next steps are. Fear of the unknown is powerful and overwhelming.

      Could you arrange to Skype some of your family?

      1. aarti*

        I think that’s a big part of it for sure. Also the medical care in my current country is more paternalistic than what I’m used to growing up in the USA. So I get a metaphorical pat on the head and a “don’t worry sweetie you’re fine”. Super frustrating.

        And yes I can and do talk to family but it’s not the same as them being around.

        Thanks for the internet support though, it means a lot just to be heard!

        1. Bazinga*

          Oh, this would drive me absolutely batty. That paternalistic “oh, those hysterical girls” is something I don’t think I could handle.

    2. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I had a similar experience happen to me last year, actually. I was also living in a different country from all my family, and the late period brought up a lot of other feelings (loneliness, etc.) that had been taking a back seat. I also think it’s totally normal to feel disappointed at the negative test, even if you weren’t looking to get pregnant, especially since you still don’t know what caused it. When I was going through that time, it really helped me to talk to local female friends, many of whom had gone through the same thing at some point.

    3. Emilie*

      I’ve tried it as well. I got horrible morning sickness on top, so I was pretty sure I was pregnant. I think it was just all the emotions I went through during the span of a single week, that made me feel sad when my period came. It’s normal to mourn things that never were, since the thought of “what if?!” can bring up some very strong emotions in people. Even if you had no plans on getting pregnant.
      I think you’re reacting in a completely normal way :)

    4. TheLiz*

      Sometimes one can ‘skip’ a period for no reason at all. it’s weird and disconcerting but actually not necessarily a Big Deal. I’ve got a pretty regular cycle of “every four and a half weeks” except that every year or so I’ll have one, three weeks, another, then just not the next month. No idea why.

      As for the sad – the ‘loss’ of a hypothetical baby can be an emotional thing. You’ve had to go through the ‘do I want to be pregnant RIGHT NOW?’ cycle, only to find out that it was never a thing at all. That’s disappointing and sad and lonely. You have every right to be feeling this way! (You have the right to feel your feelings in general, of course you do, but this isn’t just irrational silliness or ‘hormones’ on your part.)

      Hugs – I hope you feel better soon!

      1. aarti*

        That’s super comforting to hear as you are the first person who has told me it’s normal to skip a period every so often. I’ll keep it in mind and see if/when May’s rolls around!

        1. Aonny*

          Yeah and there are relatively benign things that can cause it. Your doctor can tell you more, but sometimes something just goes wrong in your cycle for no obvious reason.

    5. EN*

      This happened to me recently, too, although my husband was the one who was more disappointed after the fact. It’s totally normal, and that much harder when you don’t have an answer. (For me, it turns out my periods are going away on the IUD after being very regular for a year.) If you’re interested in reading up on the ways hormones and outside factors interact with your cycle, I recommend “The Period Repair Manual” by Dr. Lara Briden. It’s helped me understand what a “normal” cycle is and have better conversations with my doctors about birth control, etc.

  29. Terri*

    If you have anxiety and treat it with medication, at what point did you actually decide to go and see a doctor for medication?

    I’ve been struggling with anxiety for a long time and I think it’s time for me to see a doctor about it. I’ve been trying therapy for years, but it’s just not helping. I’ve done CBT, etc. but I am almost always having anxiety spirals so frequently lately, almost all day yesterday I felt my stomach churning, tension, tingly. Breathing exercises are not helping me at this point, I’m sorry! I feel bad for going to a doctor about this, like only if I did more yoga I’d be less anxious, but I can’t take it anymore. It’s just getting ridiculous.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Anxiety is a legitimate medical problem so you shouldn’t feel bad going to the doctor. Something is off with your brain chemistry and you need help correcting that.

      I’ve been on meds for at least 15 years. The past year or so I have finally felt ‘normal’ where my anxiety is not impacting every single thing I do.

    2. Mimmy*

      It took an at-work outburst and subsequent termination (after just 2.5 weeks) for me to finally bite the bullet and seek help, diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, and put on an SSRI for daily maintenance, which I’ve been taking for over 15 years. A few years later, I began taking an anti-anxiety med that I take as needed, although that took a bit of convincing.

      I admit I sometimes feel bad about taking the anti-anxiety med, especially at work, but people remind me that it’s totally okay. I honestly can’t imagine how well I’d be functioning if I hadn’t taken that first step all those years ago. Sure, you may need some adjustments over time–that too is okay.

      Good luck!

    3. Courageous cat*

      As soon as it affected me physically. There’s absolutely nothing to feel bad about. You have a medical condition and you’ll be surprised the change in your quality of life once you get it treated.

    4. Red*

      I saw a doctor when I had a panic attack at work because I thought my (sweet, caring, supportive) boss was trying to ruin my career. I was already seeing a psychiatrist for my bipolar disorder, but for some reason i had never talked to her about the panic attacks before. It was a conversation well worth having.

    5. Sylvan*

      I’ve been in treatment since I was a kid. I wasn’t sleeping or eating. Therapy had done a whole lot of nothing for a couple of years. Obviously, something was wrong physically. I have generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

      There’s nothing wrong with going to a doctor, whether you feel like your symptoms are “serious enough” or not. Think of it like going to a doctor for a physical issue like headaches. It’s worth going whether you have cluster headaches and you need LITERALLY ANY HELP, PLEASE, you have headaches when you read and you think you need glasses, or you have mild headaches more often than you used to and you just want some advice on preventing them.

      1. Sylvan*

        I didn’t mean that as an insult to therapy, by the way, or a criticism of its effectiveness. Therapy is great. I have a therapist and I love her. I am just someone who needs medication to get into a place where I’m able to participate in therapy.

    6. CBE*

      My kids have anxiety. My oldest went when the anxiety became an obstacle she couldn’t function around. I wish I had made her go sooner. She seems to think therapy and meds are either/or and now that she’s on meds she won’t do therapy. I wish she would do both. But she’s in her mid twenties and I can’t make her.
      We’re almost to that point with my teenager now. She doesn’t want it, which is hard, but I think it might be time. She’s in therapy but has hit a wall and is struggling even more lately.

    7. Anonymous Ampersand*

      I waited years.

      I wish I’d started sooner.

      If I was having those symptoms I’d certainly be asking for meds now.

      Good luck.

    8. Windchime*

      It’s a legitimate health issue, so don’t feel like you should just be able to manage yourself out of feeling anxious. I tried for years and it didn’t work for me. I had been on and off an anxiety med (the kind you take when anxiety strikes), but I had lived in such a state of heightened anxiety for years that I couldn’t even identify it. It took a life-changing, terrible time at work and finally the inability to function at all (crying, insomnia, inability to eat, etc) before I went to the doctor and got help.

      The past year has been like night and day. I no longer take the “emergency pill” for anxiety; instead, I take anxiety meds and anti-depressants each and every day. It took time to find the right balance, but I finally have relief from that awful, tight-chested feeling and my thoughts no longer race from thought to thought.

      I’m so happy I went and so happy that my doctor worked with me over the course of several months to get my medications right. At this time, I have no plans of stopping medication because I don’t want to ever go back to that dark place again.

    9. Anonymous for this*

      I was doing CBT and my psychologist recommended it after about a year or so. (The CBT did help some.) My psychologist (who could not prescribe medication) worked with my General Practitioner (who actually prescribed the medication). I think that the medication was much more effective because of the CBT.

    10. Saradactyl*

      I got on medicine almost as soon as I realized I had a problem and I don’t regret it for a second. When I’m not on them I feel like I’m constantly short of breath and like my heart is racing; I also always feel like I’ve got butterflies in my stomach. It’s made a world of difference for me.

    11. mreasy*

      Ironically, the feeling that you could overcome this anxiety if you just tried harder at wellness is part of the anxiety talking. I have the exact same thought process. Thing is, you totally wouldn’t! You’ve done your due diligence with therapy and lifestyle, and it’s doctor time. I avoided meds for the better part of a decade, believing I could “health my way out of it,” but that just meant lots of anxious, unhappy years. Good luck to you with your treatment, and I hope meds help you as much as they have me!

    12. Public Health Nerd*

      I come from a family with anxiety/depression, so the house rule is that if you still feel bad after 3 weeks, you make an appointment with a doctor. I did about 7 years of CBT, and now am just on a low maintenance dose of an SSRI. Doesn’t completely erase my anxiety, but puts it into the realm where I can handle it. Highly recommend talking to your doc about a low dose trial run.

    13. June*

      I would strongly suggest schedule time to see both a doctor and a new to you counselor and here’s why – I went from having daily panic attacks to just being a little anxious before I do something scary like give a presentation in front of 30 people. I could have never accomplished this without both my dr and counselor. It sounds like you might need to change counselor (no shame in that).
      Backstory – I was having 2 – 3 panic attacks daily for a month. My dr heard my story and scheduled a referral to a counselor immediately. Honestly, it was the best thing she could have done for me. My dr ran blood tests and found out that my iron, b, and d were super low. She had me start taking supplements, plus a multivitamin and probiotics. I can tell if I haven’t been consistent with my vitamins/supplements cause I start feeling anxious/edgy (and not in a cool, black leather jacket way).
      My counselor was able to help me look for ways to help lessen my anxiety, such as creating self care routines, watch my diet (caffeine and chocolate are big no-nos for me), and give me tools for keeping my anxiety at bay or during stressful time, lower my levels. Heck, just talking to someone help lessen my anxiety. I call it releasing the fear from my body to the wind. 
      Because my counselor could not prescribe drugs but could recommend them to my dr, I was able to try a few antianxiety drugs to get over the rough times. I later stop taking them after a few years (I know, I was lucky). I only take the occasional 5 – 10 mg hydroxyzine pills (also known as chill pills or baby Benadryl).
      Having both my dr and counselor as part of my support/advisory team, I feel so much better now. So make that appt today, switch your counselor, and know that you are going to be ok. I have no doubt you will get stronger each day.

  30. Mimmy*

    Thank you to everyone who responded to my post last week about going to Pittsburgh by myself. Good news: My friend was able to add me to her room registration – I feel so much better now! She’s a lot more extroverted than I am, so this will be interesting….but at least now I know that I won’t be completely alone.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I know you’re coming out for a work thing, so I don’t know how much time you’ll have for sight seeing, but if you don’t get to do anything else, at least ride one of the Inclines! They are a uniquely Pittsburgh experience. I prefer the Duquesne, but either one is a great experience.

      1. nep*

        The Incline! Yes — if possible, make time for that. It was always the highlight of our trips to see family in Johnstown.

      2. Mimmy*

        I saw something about that! I’m not aware of any conference-sponsored evening activities so, knowing my friend (who lives in Pittsburgh part-time), I will get to do it!

        Just to clarify: This conference isn’t specifically tied to my current job – it’s for my own professional development and networking (though I did mention it to my supervisor, who thought it was really cool).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This is so cool. Well done.

      I have done similar things on a local level. I hunted around found someone else who was going and, “Oh, I am going too, would you like to sit together?” Nine times out of ten all I see is relief in their eyes. They want to know at least one person at the event. I am amazed how often this comes out.

  31. Courageous cat*

    Any women here who deal with alopecia?

    I was diagnosed with cicatricial (scarring) alopecia many months ago and am going through a variety of attempted treatments for it (about to have my second scalp biopsy). Right now my hair is just significantly thinner on the top of my head, and it may never come back, and it may get worse. I am grappling with the idea of losing my hair for life and it isn’t easy. I’m not mentally strong enough for this kind of thing.

    I want a hair transplant.

    1. Fiennes*

      I’ve had one hair transplant and will probably have to have one more. My alopecia is severe enough that I doubt any hair on the very top of my head will remain in 10 years, aside from what’s been transplanted there. At least my thinning is only on the very top—my mother has been almost completely bald for more than a decade. Long story short—I hear you.

      First off: go on and start saving for a transplant. It is worth it. The procedure is not hugely painful—the shots are the worst of it, and you’ll be uncomfortable that night and maybe the day after, but otherwise soreness is minimal. And as of now, it is the only true long-term solution to permanent hair loss.

      For now: are you familiar with Toppik? It’s a sort of powder you apply to your scalp, which coats the individual hairs to thicken them. There’s a fixative spray that goes with it, though in a pinch I’ve found hairspray is adequate for this. Toppik is the single best cover-up I know for thinning hair. It’s not prohibitively expensive and is available via Sally Beauty Supply stores or online.

      One final bit of advice: many people with thinning hair try to grow it out, hoping length will conceal the thinness. However, shorter hairstyles actually do a better job of this, at least for most balding patterns. So consider going shorter. (You’ll want to do this around transplant time regardless, for multiple reasons.) If things are already really severe, there are hats and scarves with false hair attached available for women going through chemo—obviously, those losing hair for other reasons can use these too.

      Don’t feel ashamed. This world is not kind to bald ladies, but you will find a good way to deal.

      1. Courageous cat*

        This is very helpful! I had considered Toppik but didn’t know it worked so well. I also don’t know how it will work with my hair color but I think it will be worth a shot. I might give that a try once it gets harder to hide. You’re also very right about hair length, my next step is going to be going to a pixie cut if need be.

        How is your hair post transplant? Does it look and act normal? Would I be able to have still cut bangs if I got a hair transplant? For some reason I envision the hair growing in one direction only or being difficult to style.

        1. Fiennes*

          There are several different shades of Toppik, so hopefully you can find something that works. (Sometimes brick and mortar places don’t stock all shades, so be sure to check the full range online.)

          My hair looks and acts completely normal post-transplant. In fact, every time I’ve told a hairstylist about it they’ve been shocked; even people who spend all day every day looking at scalps can’t tell it’s been done. There’s a little initial weirdness when the short-short transplanted hair begins growing in, but this is temporary, maybe a month at most. Also be aware that your hair will initially look even thinner post-transplant—the transplanted follicles shed and take a few weeks to begin growing new hair, plus some existing follicles will shed just due to trauma in the area. But I would say that by 3 months after that was working itself out very well, and with Toppik + pixie cut I was able to get through that period without the thinness being obvious.

          1. Courageous cat*

            Wow, that is hugely helpful to hear about your hair post-transplant. I was honestly really scared if I got it I would have to swear off bangs for life (and I have a ridiculous forehead so I can’t do that) or that it would be noticeable in some way. This gives me a lot of hope though, so thank you. Now I just have to hope that the back of my head stays as thick as it is to hopefully one day be a donor site!

    2. Lujessmin*

      I have had alopecia since my early 30s, so almost 30 years. All I have are a few eyelashes. I’ll admit, at first I was devastated by it. I was willing to try almost anything to get my hair back, including traveling to Mexico for some drug we don’t have here (I don’t even remember the name of it now.) About a year into my struggle, a coworker died of scleroderma, and after that, I was fine with the alopecia. Alopecia and scleroderma are both auto-immune disorders, but no one has ever died from alopecia. Do I wish I still had hair? Not really. I do miss my eyebrows and eyelashes, though.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Thank you for your response! Do you wear wigs or anything in place of your eyelashes/brows?

        1. Lujessmin*

          No, I draw my eyebrows on with an eyebrow pencil and a brow kit from Benefit (I think) that has wax and color. They’re not perfect, but the bangs on my wigs cover them a bit. I just use mascara on my few eyelashes.

          1. Courageous cat*

            Any recommendations on what to look for for natural-looking wigs? I hope they are out there!

    3. HannahS*

      I don’t have alopecia, but I do have male-pattern baldness and have lost quite a bit of hair–definitely more than half, probably 2/3? Now, I am fortunate in that I started with a lot, so generally it just looks like I have really thin hair, and I tend to wear hairstyles and headbands that conceal the worst of the loss. I always figured it it started to look really abnormal I’d shave off the remnants and get a wig. I think getting transplants is fine, wigs are fine, hats and scarves are fine, and rocking a bald head is fine, just whatever makes you feel comfortable. If you’re having trouble emotionally, I think it’s important to acknowledge it and, like, either be really kind and talk yourself through it, or speak to someone else if you need support. Becoming a bald woman is not a minor thing; I don’t think it’s disfiguring, exactly, but it’s a major body and appearance change that’s unexpected, really obvious to others, and outside of your control. Some people find that traumatic, and it’s not wrong to experience it that way.

      1. Courageous cat*

        We have a similar situation, I think. I started with a lot too, insanely thick hair, so now my hair on the top of my head is more like my mom’s – very fine and thin. It’s workable right now, I have to use a ton of dry shampoo so the strands don’t stick together and show more of my scalp, but my concern is that it might get worse (as this type does). For me the hardest part are my bangs – trying not to let my scalp show too much through the op of them.

        Do you find your hair loss has slowed over time? The hardest part for me is the daily grind of obsessively checking the mirror to see if it’s gotten worse.

        Anyway, thank you for your response. I agree that it’s valid to find it traumatic – especially since it’s relatively rare, it’s even harder to not feel alone in it.

        1. Courageous cat*

          I also just want to put this out there that I think the hardest part of this for me has been the permanence. I have issues with depression from time to time and the thing that helps me the most to get out of it is to realize that nothing I’m dealing with is permanent, that things will change for the better, etc. And it definitely scares me to realize that this traumatic thing I’m dealing with, contributing to my issues, is not going to get better. I’ll get better at it, but this part is permanent, and I can likely never have it back. It makes it a lot harder to move on emotionally to a healthier mindset.

        2. HannahS*

          Yeah, I have found that it slowed down! I’d say it came on slowly when I was 17-18, progressed rapidly until I was about 21–like, not chunks of hair, but definitely my whole house was littered with hair–and then now in my mid-20s it seems to be slowing down. I don’t find there’s a meaningful difference between now and last year, for example.

          You seem super insightful into why it’s bothering you! It’s a lot like grief; it sounds like you really will get better at dealing with it with time. I know for me, one thing that’s helped is looking at wigs and scarves. It’s probably years until I’d wear them, but it can be helpful to look and see what kinds of styles there are, and to cautiously imagine myself in them. Will I knit myself hats? Maybe I’ll knit myself brown cable-knit hats that are a fun riff on the milkmaid braid hairstyles I used to wear. Maybe I’ll go for a 40s housewife-style headscarf. Maybe I’ll wear gorgeous, elaborate headscarves like my Orthodox Jewish friends and relatives. Maybe I’ll buy a band-fall (a broad, knit headband with half a wig attached on the back). That would be good for work…I don’t dwell on it, but it’s a way for me to dip my toe into the idea, instead of digging in my heels, if you know what I mean.

    4. Sled dog mama*

      I don’t have alopecia but I did know a woman who had it while I was growing up. From the outside I never saw it as a thing and I think that’s because she was confident. She kept her hair short which did make it less noticeable and was always impeccably dressed. I know that my perspective probably doesn’t help (I’ve got my own issues and others opinions really don’t help me feel any better). Seeing this woman who acted completely confident and treated her hair as just another part of herself really influenced my world view.

  32. Paige*

    How do you navigate conversation around friends who are much better off financially than you are (or conversely, worse off?). A friend of mine mentioned thinking about going on a holiday after reviving a ‘small windfall’ (an investment paid off better than she’d expected apparently).

    She didn’t mention the amount, but I later found out (purely by chance, I promise I wasn’t snooping) that this ‘small’ windfall was around the neighbourhood of £50K or so. Sure that’s not enough to change your life (like quitting your job or buying a house) but from my perspective I’d hardly call that ‘small’! I’m assuming she worded it that way to not make it sound like a big deal, but still…

    Anyway, money is such a tricky thing. People who have it never have to think about it, and those who don’t can’t help mentally budget on everything, and sometimes it can be fun to fantasise about what it’d be like not have to think about money so much…although other times it can be a bit depressing too. Argh.

    1. fposte*

      We had a discussion on this on the thread last week or the week before; it’s evergreen, I think.

      I do think one constant is that we are much, much likelier to compare ourselves to people with more money than to people with less money. There really is no “people who have it never have to think about it” level; if you’re the kind who thinks about it, you’ll be the kind who thinks about it when you have more money. It might not be in exactly the same way–you might not check your budget before you buy a pocket comb, but you’ll be in touch with tax rates, and 401k details in the US and pensions in the UK. I personally think that if you thinking about money fruitfully, it’s a good thing, because it helps you become somebody with more money.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. I have met a couple millionaires who live very modestly and you would never know they were worth well into the seven digit figures. One person drove a car older than mine. This person saw no need to replace their old car.
        I found it useful to remind myself that there are people who do not show wealth, yet have it and we just don’t know.

    2. Haru*

      I usually show interest when they talk about the new thing or experience they’re buying. But, it doesn’t bother me that some friends can spend more money than me.

      As for friends that earn less money, if they just want to vent, I’ll listen and if they want advice, I’ll offer it. Most of the things I enjoy are free or low-cost, so there’s isn’t any conflict of going over budget.

      Most of my friends are from high school and college and we’ve always shared out salaries/rent/mortgage/major expense, so it doesn’t feel like a big deal.

    3. Haru*

      “People who have it never have to think about it, and those who don’t can’t help mentally budget on everything, ”

      That’s such a good point. Even though I earn less than most friends, I feel like I have enough money to fulfill my needs and most of my wants, so it’s not something I think about. And, this might be a mistaken belief? I think if I was willing to make the same choices as them, I could also earn the same income as them, but I don’t want to live their life.

      And, as we grew older, we no longer do everything together. Like when a friend impulsively suggested flying to another city for a three-day weekend, some said no and some said yes.

    4. Loopy*

      I really enjoy when people speak in vague terms like that. I had a co-worker talk about getting a paybump and it was so easy to be genuinely, simply happy for her. When I found out exactly what she made, my brain went stupid and made it weird (she’s making about 10-15k more than me).

      I hate that it happened and outwardly nothing changed but I prefer to keep it to generalities so it’s hard to make direct comparisons.

    5. CBE*

      This is so hard. A dear friend of mine lost her house around the same time we bought our dream house. I know she struggled with jealousy, but I also know she was truly happy for me. She helped me move, and I helped her move.
      Our longtime (20+ years) friendship has survived, but we had a VERY firm foundation of trust and love for each other and I don’t know if a more superficial and less rooted friendship could have survived.

    6. Anonymous Ampersand*

      I’m guessing the investment didn’t do £50k better than planned though – I’m presuming she was expecting, say, £45k and got £50k. It might be that she had plans for the expected £45k but the extra £5k was totally unexpected and I’m sure you could have a bloody good holiday with that (….. I wouldn’t know from experience though!).

      It’s hard, anyway. I’ve always felt like the poor relation. My siblings both earn more than me, and I’m the oldest. I hate that.

      There is a slim chance I’m going to be able to apply for a job that would be a £12k pay rise. I literally have no idea what I would do with that much extra money.

    7. Forking Great Username*

      Well, I think one way to avoid issues is to ty to avoid nitpicking the exact words people use to describe their finances. To me, the word windfall would make me think a lot of money – like, pay off my mortgage money. Re-wording it to a small windfall says to me, okay, so not enough to pay off the house, but still a very good amount of money. And yep, 50k meets that description. For me! Definition varies based on location/home prices, obviously.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      If I have done the math correctly this is about $71K. Nice but don’t quit your job, as you say.

      In the past when I have had inheritances, I put the money away. Maybe I spent $1000 on air conditioners or something like that just to get that urge to spend out of my system, but the rest went into an investment.

      As I read this, I thought, “Oh, I hope she puts some away and pretends it’s not even there.” My father lost most of what he owned through medical bills. While we were not as bad off, my husband’s medical bills still left me in a precarious position that I may never totally dig out of. One of the major reasons I am still in my house is because of putting “found” money such as inheritances away and pretending I don’t have it.

      While I can understand feeling envy, but because of Life! I primarily feel concern when I hear these stories of people coming into a bit of money. I will say this to anyone interested, you will never regret taking that extra money and putting it to one side. It might save your butt sometime. And, added side effect, it’s comforting to know that there is some kind of backup plan if you hit a major problem in life.

    9. HannahS*

      It’s really tricky. I don’t talk a lot about money except in the context of “I’m doing XYZ to save some money” or “I’m trying not spend money on ABC.” When I talk about things I’m paying for, I usually just say “I bought these boots! I’m really happy with them” or “I’m going to Israel to visit my grandparents. I’m so excited.” Other people can certainly conclude that I’m spending a lot of money on those things, but the focus of the conversation isn’t about money. However, if we’re talking about the cost of something, I try to give context; I’d never say that a flight is cheap, but I’ll say that my $380 flight from Toronto to Amsterdam was extremely cheap for an international flight, and a great deal. Or I might say that my current apartment is really cheap for a large one-bedroom apartment in our city. Because it is! It’s the cheapest! But of course, that doesn’t mean it’s cheap overall. I’ll admit that since I’m accustomed to being on the wealthier side of my friend groups, I’m more used to being careful about speaking to people who I assume have less money. I probably slip up and sound judgmental of people who have more. Fortunately, among the people I know, everyone’s pretty open about saying things like, “I couldn’t afford it” or, “Nah, I’m on a tight budget” or, “Well, I was ok paying that much for the convenience of it.”

    10. photo organizer*

      I think it depends on the friend and how self aware they are. I have one friend who often complains of the stress of traveling back and forth to their weekend house, driving the kids to all their classes, etc. I’ve had to distance myself because though I know her problems are real to her, she is sort of oblivious to the fact that not all of us have two houses, have to work full time and still get their kids places, don’t have the money for unlimited kids classes, etc. I guess she also complains a lot, which now that I am thinking about it, might be the actual reason I have distanced myself.

  33. the curator*

    Had my last lecture in Japan tonight. Tomorrow is one meeting that is work/fun. We are going to the science museum. Looking forward to one last adventure and also ready to go home even though it is blizzarding in MN.

    1. Ktelzbeth*

      I’m in your blizzard (though the next door state)! There will be lots of snow to welcome you home.

  34. Courageous cat*

    What’s some good stuff to do when you’re sick? I’m on day 6 of the flu and I am obscenely bored and cabin feverish. I get out of the house for short walks and a few errands but it doesn’t help.

    1. NB*

      I watch too much TV. When I had the flu right after Christmas, I found a program on Netflix called Very British Problems. It was silly and cheered me up.

      I sometimes do tedious low-energy tasks like cutting coupons or matching socks.

      And there’s always games on the computer or phone. I play hearts and scrabble.

  35. catsaway*

    This is slightly a rant/asking for suggestions for changing how I view this situation.
    I am finishing my PhD, getting married, and moving halfway across the country to start a post-doc over 10 weeks. While my fiancé and I know we want to get married the date is determined by access to health insurance. Neither of us are into weddings and wanted a courthouse ceremony. We told our families our plans and they wanted to come. We said sure.

    Then things got away from me. (1) My fiancé decided he didn’t want to go to the courthouse because he didn’t like the location for pictures so we found a local public garden that you can reserve. So now we have to plan a ceremony. (2) Because it’s no longer at the courthouse my mom think’s it’s a traditional wedding ceremony and so has been bothering me about doing ceremony things I don’t want – getting flowers, walking down the aisle and walking down the aisle with my dad, and my mom has been adding people to invite so with them and our immediate families we can no longer afford to take people out to dinner – my fiancé is working part time so I’m the high earner in grad school – and now my parents are paying for dinner so I now feel like I need to listen to what they want. (3) Since this is still a smaller event and we are very far (~32 hour drive) from where we’re both from our parents each want to host a local reception in our home states. The way these were originally described I thought one reception would be paired with Christmas time activities and the other would happen before next summer. Nope. Now the reception for my family has to happen in the fall and the reception for his family will happen another month in the fall. Our new location is closer to home than our current one so it’s just a days drive as opposed to a days worth of flying, but not fun for a weekend.

    Now, when I think of everything that I need to get done, the best I can feel about the wedding is neutral, like it’s a just another thing in a long list of things I have to do and I’m not dreading it but I’m not looking forward to it either. I feel like we’re doing the worst of both worlds – a bunch of medium sized events that still require planning or a lot of traveling for us right when I’m starting a new job, i.e. right when I don’t want to be traveling. We won’t be able to celebrate the event in any way – we don’t have time for a honeymoon, we just have to pack up and drive halfway across the country and because we had to plan the wedding around our parents schedules we don’t have time to make the road trip fun. I resent that we have my parents paying for the dinner but the only way that we could maybe pay for something ourselves (and we’re still paying for all non food items) is if I eliminate coffee/meals out and don’t do anything for myself to celebrate finishing – and my wedding overshadowing my dissertation is what I did not want to happen and one of the many reasons I was reluctant to have a ceremony not at the courthouse.

    Tl;dr: I’m getting married this summer at a time and place for the convinces of others when it’s very inconvenient for me, how can I feel more positive about my wedding?

    1. Melody Pond*

      That sounds so stressful! I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. I don’t know that my suggestion is going to be very helpful – it sounds like this is really not what you want. I think it would be better to go back and tell everyone that you’re not doing the ceremonious stuff after all, and just stick to your original plans. No reception, no invitation of family members, etc. People will have some upset feelings (my mother says that there are usually lots of feelings involved around weddings, for everyone), but that’s really not your responsibility. I still think you should do the thing you wanted to do (assuming you can get your fiancé on board).

      I wanted to ask – you said that the date you get married is determined by access to health insurance. What do you mean by that? Is one of you on a group health plan, and you’re waiting to get married until you can both be on it? Like are you waiting for an open enrollment date?

      1. catsaway*

        He’s a freelancer and my new job doesn’t consider domestic partners elegible dependents for health insurance. Getting married before I start my job will save use $$ every month and he’ll have real health insurance, not just pay $300-$400/month for catastrophic coverage.

        We’ve already made reservations and people have bought plane tickets (event is within 4 months, engagement officially started when I got my job a couple of months ago). It’s like I thought it would be ok, but its not.

        1. Melody Pond*

          Ah, I see – that makes sense. I was thinking at first that maybe you were thinking you had to wait until open enrollment at a job you already had. And in that case, I was going to suggest that normally, getting married is a “qualifying event” to add your spouse, effective the first of the month after you get married.

          But I see now that that’s not the situation you’re in. You’re starting a new job, and want to be already married prior to when you’re first eligible for insurance, so that your spouse can join you on your health insurance right at the first available opportunity. Makes perfect sense!

          1. catsaway*

            Exactly, fortunately health insurance coverage will start like a week after I start so we’ll need to be married when I start.

    2. Red Reader*

      Put it all down and step back a second. (Not like, break up with the fiancé or anything. He can take the step back too.) Is there any reason you can’t go back to what you originally planned? “Look, Sam, I know you’re not a fan of the courthouse as a picture spot, but this has snowballed into way more than we wanted. Can we talk about backing off to where we originally were and scaling it all down a bunch?” Your parents (whether that’s your-your or both of your) won’t be thrilled, but it’s not their wedding. If they want to throw a big shenanigans in their state, they can do that …. at a time that works for you.

      My last four weeks of grad school have also encompassed a kitchen remodel and a work business trip, so I feel you — but your life has to work for you, not other people.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Not all judges and not everywhere, but you might be able to find a judge who is willing to come to your chosen place to perform a ceremony.
        Some judges or JPs really get into it and they can help plan a very simple service.

        It’s true when other people pay for things they are buying their rights to be part of the decision making process. The most practical response is not to take the money and keep your autonomy.

        It makes total sense that you feel blah about this. This has stopped being your wedding a while ago. It’s for the people around you, not for you. I had a wedding like this. We got through the day and neither one of us ever mentioned the wedding again. It was not worth all the energy we had to put into it.

    3. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      There’s a pretty easy solution here: get married at the courthouse, and do pictures at the nearby park. That should satisfy both you and your SO, and what your families may or may not want doesn’t really matter.

    4. Bazinga*

      I guess I would say it’s your wedding. Whittle it down to what you want. If people want to pay for dinner to control it, pay yourself and make it what you want. And having inconvenient receptions isn’t for you either.
      Maybe elope? Spend the money on a fun vacation rather than a stressful ceremony.

      1. catsaway*

        Thanks; I wish that was still an option but we’re too close to the date.
        The money we don’t spend won’t buy us a vacation and anyway we don’t have the time for a fun vacation. I still need to work almost right until we move because (1) my advisor will pay me for the extra month and (2) even if he didn’t I still need to turn some parts of my dissertation into a paper because if I don’t do that my PhD is wasted.

    5. neverjaunty*

      It’s interesting that at the beginning, you were talking about what “we have to” plan, and by the third paragraph it was “everything that I need to get done”. Why is this on you, particularly given that your fiance is the one driving some of these changes, and ESPECIALLY since he is working part time while you’re working and in grad school?

      Let him handle the planning. Then it’s not something that you have to add to your to-do list. If he’s the right guy, he will want you to feel like your wedding is important and special, and not a chore.

      (And if he isn’t willing to pitch in… well, let’s just say that “I want a big wedding but I also want you to be responsible for making it happen” was perhaps not the biggest of red flags with my ex, but it was definitely a big one.)

      1. catsaway*

        So he did do the planning – he made the reservations for the ceremony location and restaurant and has said he’ll look at ceremony ideas/make a plan. And the wedding is still small: <35 people, a mutual friend is the officiant etc.
        I’m just getting stressed about the existence of the event itself, and the fact that my mom has more options about it than I’d thought – agreeing to move the ceremony to not a courthouse opened up a bigger can of worms then I thought possible. I agreed to plans but now that I”m thinking about them more and really looking at a calendar everything looks so much more stressful. I need to get rid of something but I don’t know what.

        1. oldbiddy*

          I’m so sorry – I got stressed out about my own wedding even though it was a courthouse wedding/BBQ a few days later. (My PhD defense and moving to start a postdoc were already many years ago by the time I got married ;-)) Could you ask your mom not to ask for any more changes/additions to the ceremony/dinner?
          Also, with the expanded guest list, the ceremonies in your home cities are somewhat less time sensitive, so consider doing them when it works best for you and your fiance. (I got married in 2016 and still haven’t done mine!)

          1. catsaway*

            I think that’s what I’m going to have to do. His family already started planing, I’ll just have to see if we can push it back to Christimas.
            I’m more annoyed with my family thing because I have basically no extended family so it’s like 10 people total, in terms of people I’ve been in the same room with in the last 10 years, so we could invite them to the ceremony but apparently they wont travel to our current location….

            1. TheLiz*

              Weddings around degree-ends SUCK. I had mine two months before handing in my Master’s dissertation and a month before a major conference presentation. It was awful. There are some guns you can stick to, though – pick a priority, like not being “given away”, and stick to it. Or “flowers would be weird, it’s in a garden”.

              You can do this! Worst case, this too shall pass.

              1. catsaway*

                Thanks; yeah I’ve decided to pick my battles. I already told my mom that if she wants flowers she can spend the time and money on them, I won’t. I think I’ll tell her that my fiancé and I will do ceremony stuff together – either walk down together or just be at the front together and the officiant can signal the start of the ceremony.
                I know that one way or another everything will pass, I’m just struggling with feeling like this is just another hoop to jump through/something to politely tolerate while everyone around me thinks they’re throwing me a big party.

                1. TheLiz*

                  There’s a saying that really resonated with me then-abouts: “Your marriage is for you… but your wedding is for your family.” They’re throwing them a big party, not you.

                2. catsaway*

                  @ TheLiz because nesting is over. That is what some friends have said about wedding vs marriage; it’s just difficult because it is currently 3 medium sized events that feel like we’re just half-assing everything/getting the worst of all worlds. I’ve thought about taking the attitude that it’s all for other people but it almost feels a little… passive aggressive of me to say “This is more about what you want then what I want so I’ll go along with it but be unhappy”

        2. Indie*

          It’s so common for ‘we want a small non-wedding’ to snowball for exactly the reasons you describe. Pictures and parents.

          Don’t let parents in particular buy your day off you! If they want to throw a wedding they can renew their vows!

          My sister saw this happen to a bunch of us and had a genius sidestep. She asked the two immediate families to dress up real nice for a family portrait and said she’d buy dinner afterwards as a thankyou. When we showed up BAM surprise wedding. At the town hall with a minimum of fuss. Everyone was charmed even those who weren’t invited and saw it on Facebook.

          Family receptions are pointless. Just wave them off. No time right now! Want to just enjoy staying home and being married! My sister didn’t see relatives for over a year until someone had a barbecue and the catching up was just as much fun as if it was sooner. The unexpected gifts/money she got felt more genuine too.

    6. Circus peanuts*

      I am going through the same thing. My courthouse wedding this summer was in danger of being taken over by my mother so with all the stress in my life right now, I ended up asking me fiance to take over the planning. My parents said they would pay for the lunch and then the manipulating began soon after that offer. Fiance is now in charge of it all and hopefully my mom will get over her dislike of him if she wants any say in the day. He is disabled and does not have a job so he has more time to figure out a nice restaurant with a small banquet room for us to have lunch in and see about hiring a photographer. My mom still wants to pay for the lunch so we will see how it goes with them working together. I am looking forward to just showing up and going with the flow. Honestly, the only thing I am adamant on is having it in a private roomed off area in a restaurant that has cloth napkins.

      Perhaps you can your list of must haves lined up and knowing that they will be done can carry you through?

      1. catsaway*

        Thanks for the suggestions. I guess I do have the must haves lined up and done really, at least what needs to be done now, and as I said above my fiancé did take care of the big logistical things. My issue is more that I agreed to things and now that I’m really looking at a calendar/talking to parents the things I agreed to have ended up being more work than I originally thought and my time frame tighter than I originally thought.

    7. eloped*

      You sound like me! We got married last summer before a big move so that I could get on his health insurance during my job search in a new city. We’re also not into weddings and didn’t want to make it a thing. We called our families (who live in separate states) the day before and had it done privately, promising to have a party in a few years once we’ve saved up some money and are settled with our new jobs. Everyone reacted differently but it took the pressure off of us. Now we can plan a party and involve everyone on our own time! I hope that you end up feeling like you have control over this situation, as it’s ultimately your choice to make :)

  36. Lady Jay*

    I have an old quilt recently given to me by my grandmother. The backing is more recent, but some of the top pieces are from the early 1900s. Some of the top pieces have frayed at the seams, so the stuffing is coming out.

    Any recommendations for where I should look to have it mended?

    1. Parenthetically*

      There are plenty of quiltmakers/preservists online that you could send your quilt to and have it repaired and sent back, but if you live in any mid to large sized city, there will be specialty quilting shops around that you could call for advice, and many (most?) would do repairs of that kind, or could point you to a local artisan who could do it.

      Just a warning that it may be expensive, given the age of the quilt, to have it done properly.

    2. JenC*

      Do you have a quilt guild/group in your town? They may be able to advise you or even help you with repairs. I’m thinking it must be hand sewn? There are definitely textile and quilt restorers, it just depends where you live. However, very often you can mail the quilt to them and they will mail it back when it is repaired. Good luck!

      1. JenC*

        Ha, sorry, Parenthetically! We must have been responding at the same moment. But at least it verifies what we said!;o)

    3. elemvee*

      You could check with local quilting guilds, but you never quite know what you’re gonna get for results if you go that route. What type of repairs you get also depends on what you want the end result to be- do you want to display it? Actively use it? Stabilize it so you can hand it down? My advice as a someone who works in artifact preservation would be to find a conservator on the website of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (the AIC). You can search by zip code and specialty (you want a textiles conservator). There’s also some great advice on their website for how to take care of your family heirlooms.

  37. Green Thumb*

    Sites/stores with affordable large potters? I need two large ones for either side of my bright red door but don’t want to spend a fortune. Open to plastic or ceramic.