weekend free-for-all – May 12-13, 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: Well, let’s make it my book. It is time for you to buy it! Amazon has it for $9.60, which is 40% off the list price, so the time is ripe. (But you can also buy it at independent stores as well, which is an excellent way to support them!)

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

{ 1,290 comments… read them below }

  1. Cute Li'l UFO*

    I’m much on the mend from face-planting two weeks ago. My dentist fixed up my chipped tooth (hooray for narrowly avoiding a root canal and making things pretty with porcelain), my lip is mostly healed (hoping the scar keeps shrinking as it has been!), and my head is doing better.

    I don’t know how to slow down. I really do stay active so recovering from a concussion/whiplash/everything was torture. I’ve had concussions before and I’ve been sidelined for other injuries, but this was like nothing else. It was difficult to try and converse with friends because my brain just got so exhausted.

    It was scary and it was aggravating. I spent about half the time with a neck pillow keeping my head stable and watching MST3K reruns.

    1. Screenwriter*

      I had a similar thing with a wretched slip on a rainy driveway, breaking my ankle and sidelining myself for MONTHS, not to mention gaining a ridiculous amount of weight as a result. I was moving way too fast, hands full, not paying full attention. It was so stupid and with such a stupid consequence, I’ve been trying to be much more mindful, and it has really helped. I try not to “hurry” everywhere, and most importantly, not having both hands full!!! I frame it not as “what an idiot I am” or “I guess I’m just getting old,” but instead I try to say to myself: “I am valuable, and needed, and so I have to protect myself and not injure myself.” I frame “slowing down” as “protecting myself because I am valuable,” and it makes a big difference.
      One other thing that has really helped me is once my ankle was completely healed, I started weight-training and working out with a trainer. It not only helped rehab my ankle, but it is giving me a whole new level of strength and balance. This also makes a big difference in avoiding falls.
      Good luck, and take time to heal and let your body rest when it needs too!

      1. nep*

        Many of the people at a fitness center where I work have made that remark — even after just a bit of strength training they have been able to save themselves from falls; their stability is much, much better.
        Great points.

      2. hollow exuviae*

        Wow, this sounds a lot like what happened to me earlier this year. Down to the struggle of thinking I’m an idiot for it happening and blaming myself. I was considering doing strength training so thank you very much for sharing your experience! It’s convinced me even more that it’s the right choice. So thanks for potentially improving this Internet Stranger’s life, Screenwriter!

        1. Screenwriter*

          Thank you! It has really made a huge difference in so many ways! And I absolutely have had a few “teetering” moments (stepping off a curb I didn’t see, you know the kind of thing) where I managed to actually maintain my balance and not fall, and totally thanked my trainer (at the beginning of the session; during the session I curse at him haha). It feels so empowering, and it’s great to feel so much more agile and balanced and strong. Good luck and you’re totally welcome, Hollow larva friend!

      3. Mimmy*

        I took a bad fall last November, giving myself a GIANT knot on my forehead, scratched glasses and black eyes, because I was rushing. Now I’m a lot more mindful about not being in such a hurry, even in my own house.

      4. Cute Li'l UFO*

        Oh no! That’s awful, Screenwriter. I am a former dancer as well as police explorer and fencer so I feel like I’m generally good with balance and falling correctly. I was crossing a street late-ish (around 9:30 PM) and decided “hey look, there’s my car, I’ll just dart across since there’s no one out here now!”

        I’ve gotten the toes of plenty of other shoes stuck in the light rail tracks before in SF, but never anything when I was darting across the street. I must have catapulted myself into the ground. It was so sudden. You know how usually when you fall you have that feeling of “yep, gonna fall!” and you can catch yourself? My hands weren’t even road rashed. All my clothes were pretty okay, even. Except for blood and tears but I’ll take that over shredding my lambskin leather jacket. I was able to clean the lining of my LV tote with some Tide diluted in lukewarm water and it looks great now. I’ll be spot cleaning my jacket today now that I’ve got the real dexterity back to do so and since the cleaners didn’t want to chance ruining the leather’s softness. My glasses weren’t even bent. The left lens has a couple pits in it but not otherwise too distracting and replacement lenses from Warby Parker are $50. Despite landing on my face and chest I didn’t smash my phone in my pocket.

        I had an interview on Thursday and you BET I gingerly stepped all over those tracks! I’ve been working on some exercises for wrists after injury and I’ve been waiting to get back into my usual afternoon run/walk.

        1. Screenwriter*

          Ouch! That sounds like a real pratfall! Yes, I know EXACTLY that feeling of “welp, falling now, nothing I can do,” and it’s just so hideous! I actually just lay there on the rainy driveway cursing and sobbing. You KNOW you’ve hurt yourself. At least, as a ballet dancer and fencer, I picture you super graceful on the way down haha. I’m so sorry about your wrists. But the most important thing, of course, was your leather jacket and your phone lol!

          It really is a totally different experience to move around more mindfully–I never realized how much I rush around all the time. Those SF streets can really be difficult sometimes–I grew up in Berkeley (which is where my own accident happened). Did you ever dance w/ the SF Ballet? I had a b.f. who played in the orchestra and he snuck me into almost every performance, it was awesome. Glad you’re feeling better. ps I love Warby Parker!

      5. PhyllisB*

        I slipped in my driveway one rainy day and broke my tailbone. I tell you; I had three children without anesthesia and three combined did not hurt as much as that did. Took nearly two years before I could sit or stand without pain.

        1. Cute Li'l UFO*

          Oh man. The tailbone break just sticks with you! I know exactly what you mean–I broke mine when I was 11 and even now I still feel it sometimes.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Glad you’re feeling better!

      Whiplash is the WORST. It sounds so minor, but it’s not. I sprained my neck (and seemingly every muscle in my torso) falling at the ice rink a couple of years ago and it was just exhausting. It was on a Sunday, and I had to go to work the next day anyway . I could not turn my head–I had to turn my whole body to look around, and I had to sort of roll out of bed because I couldn’t sit up properly. Needless to say, I was in a complete fog at work for two or three days. And that was without a concussion. Fortunately it was a light week.

      Rest is best!

      1. Mrs. Fenris*

        Here’s how my day started one morning when I was in college: the alarm went off and I simultaneously lifted my head and flung my hair off my face. I *heard* something crunch and a pain shot from my ear to the tip of my shoulder. I couldn’t turn my head to the side for a week. My roommates thought I was being a drama queen. I had trouble with it on and off for 10 years-if I looked up and to the side too quickly, it would flare up for a couple of days.

  2. Cristina in England*

    Inspired by AAM’s recent chat with Gretchen Rubin I have been listening to the Happier podcast that Rubin does with her sister. There’s a lot of good advice in there for people who are always kind of trying to improve their lives. I also like the categories she comes up with, like the different loopholes we give ourselves as excuses not to eat right/exercise (the tomorrow loophole, the coin loophole, the false choice loophole), and the dichotomies like “are you an over buyer or an under buyer?”. I guess I like categories and labels for messy mental process stuff.

    I’ve kind of avoided her work in the past because, I don’t know, I guess I was avoiding the work of trying to actually be happier and the ensuing expectations, but I like the idea of making small fixes like solving the problem of the chair that catches the clothing that is worn once but not freshly laundered.

    Anyone else listening?

    1. Jingle*

      I just started listening to the Happier podcast a few months ago and I love it! I have learnt so much about myself and some great hacks to help live the life I want, and I’m only about 40-something episodes in. I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts (this one and Allison’s are it right now) but it’s really worth it.

    2. only acting normal*

      Categories for messy mental processes?
      Small fixes to improve happiness?
      *goes to add it to podcast feed*


    3. Overeducated*

      I enjoyed the book, but I unsubscribed to the podcast because it seemed like there were five two minute “shorts” for every longer one. Walking to the metro in winter, I got sick of taking my gloves off every other block to navigate podcasts.

    4. kc89*

      I was irritated when I tried to take her free quiz on her website and then found out they don’t give you the results until you register ugh

      1. Cristina in England*

        Yeah that is annoying. I probably used my mailing list email address.

    5. Turtlewings*

      Okay, I definitely have the Clothing Catcher Chair — what does she say about that?

      1. Cristina in England*

        I can’t remember which episode it was in, but the suggestions were:
        -designate a separate place for this category of clothes that have been worn but are too clean to wash
        -decide that these clothes should be considered clean and go back with the clean stuff

        Then in a later episode they said a ton of listeners had gotten in touch to suggest installing hooks somewhere to keep these clothes from getting dirtier and also keep them out of the way, which I guess is a version of the first suggestion, to give them their own place.

        1. Nicole76*

          That’s what I do. I have hooks in the closet above where my laundry baskets are (yes, plural; there are only two of us but I have multiple baskets so I can sort loads as the clothes get dirty). I hang up stuff that’s worn but not necessarily dirty.

  3. Junior Dev*

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

    I’m struggling with very inconsistent mood and energy levels, and random anxiety for no apparent reason. I felt great on the day’s I biked to work but had no energy left to clean my apartment. On the days I didn’t bike I ended up too anxious to clean. So my place is a mess.

    I’m proud of biking the days I did, and doing social stuff today and making plans for the weekend.

    How are you doing?

    1. Thlayli*

      I’ve been on antidepressants for a couple months now and I keep flip-flopping between “I’m all better” and “I’m not better yet” but on the whole I’m definitely getting there.

      I’m doing ok at work though the few weeks I took off earlier in the year are really coming back to bite me in the ass now because we are nearing a big deadline and I have a looong list of things that need to be done. But I’m keeping it together and trying to prioritise well.

      Home is a bit harder. Counselling is going ok I think. All in all I’m still in the “one day at a time” phase of getting over depression I think

    2. StellaBella*

      Thank you for asking this. I have been having some good times and some tough times in the past year. A year ago I went thru a bad breakup (dated 3 years), left a job with a very toxic environment, then got hospitalised for pancreatitis and had two surgeries in a 10-day period. Since then I have had a lot of brain fog and a lot of issues remembering things and sorting out my university homework (I also moved countries and started an MSc). But now, I am not great – but managing OK. I am over a lot of the hurdles in motivation, feeling better more days than not, and will be climbing a 1085-meter mountain next weekend. But I admit that learning to ride a bike helps (never did well as a kid with this and am trying it out again – terrifying but I can sort of do it), exercise helps, not reading a lot of news helps, working with others helps, and my cat helps.
      I am glad for you that the biking helps with your anxiety. :) Well done!

      1. Bumbly Bee*

        Kudos to you with re-learning how to ride a bike. I thought I was the only adult known to humanity that rides a bike only on straight paths or uphill…cause I am a scared disaster riding downhill, lol.

        All the BEST in your continued recovery

        1. Mrs. Fenris*

          I don’t mind riding bikes if the ground is flat, but I do NOT enjoy it in the relatively hilly area where I live. Uphill is hard work and downhill is terrifying. Nope.

    3. Rach*

      I want to be able to stop obsessively comparing myself to people who’ve achieved more at my age, or younger. Trying to tell myself that people are different and have different paths etc., but really there’s always a voice in the back of my head telling me I’m simply not good enough, not trying hard enough me not ambitious enough.

      1. London Calling*

        I recommend, if you can find it because it may be out of print, a book called Tolstoy’s Bicycle – what people did at all sorts of ages. It takes it’s title from the fact that the author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina did not learn to ride a bicycle until he was 67 years old. There is a great comment on Amazon.com in the reviews –

        “This large tome is well worth the time and focus it requires to read it but you will not be able to put it down once you begin.The main objective is to emphasise the activities of life and general achievements and to link them with age, from birth to 100 years old to prove that we are all capable of great things, regardless of age. The facts and figures make amazing reading and, if nothing else, it will inspire you onward to greater deeds and improve that old self-esteem.”

      2. Marathon Girl*

        I’ve been experiancing this too lately… I’ve stopped looking at Facebook and it has helped. I clicked on it once the other day out of curiousity and instantly saw something that lowered my mood and made me feel ‘not good enough’. I also did a English Degree (which I completed 2 years ago and though I enjoyed it, felt I ‘wasted’ my time as it’s good for nothing but a Masters) and still feel like I haven’t done much with my life so far since graduating. But I feel like I’m finally on ‘a’ track towards a career I’m interested in so that’s raised my mood a bit I guess! I also met up with an old high school friend I haven’t seen since we started university who did a medical degree (I thought she’d be set by now) but no she’s been jobless for nearly a year and struggling to decide what she wants to do so that put some things in perspective. We’ll make it :)

    4. Miss Elaine e.*

      Thanks for asking. I’m doing okay but there are times when I tend to brood over past hurts.

      I have sibs-in-law who I can’t seem to connect with: At family functions (such as one coming up on Sunday (Mother’s Day), they tend to ignore me. I do my darnedest to be pleasant, ask the usual small talk questions (“How’s life?” “How’s the job?” “What’s new?” “Go (sports team)!”) but only get minimal answers. If I message them (whether it’s voice mail, text, Facebook, email, I rarely get a response and only if it’s regarding one of the kids. On several occasions they have actively insulted me:
      “Who would ever ask You to (my profession)?”
      On distributing the latest family portrait, “Some people are just not photogenic.” (True, I’m not, but gee, thanks…)
      When they were trying mightily to get our children involved in a certain afterschool problem-solving organization (i.e., they wanted us to set up a local club for it, despite our knowing almost nothing about it and our kids showing almost no interest in it.) At that time, we could not do so as I had just left a job I loved in order to take care of my elderly, failing mother (may she be resting in peace). So I said (admittedly a bit snarkily), “Yeah, in my spare time.” The response was, “Why, you don’t do anything.”
      If my family were The Office, I’d be Toby Flenderson. Whenever there is a family function, I tend to brood about all this. I wish I could figure out how to stop the cycle.

      By the way, Happy Mother’s Day to all, whether you are one or know one!

      1. Miss Elaine e.*

        I should have also mentioned that, of this generation, my husband and I are the only ones who have remained married. Except for one, very messy divorce, several years ago, the other siblings have not married, or even dated, these many years. So, at family gatherings, I am the only non-blood relative in a quite clannish group. Sigh.

        1. only acting normal*

          I wonder why they’re not all happily married? Because they sound utterly *delightful*.

          On a more constructive note…
          Don’t bother with trying to engage them. Forget the small talk, a polite “hi” is the absolute maximum that needs to be said. Stick to using all your energy on the people at gatherings that are actually worth your time and effort. E.g. the mother-in-law you love and respect.
          If you become the proverbial ‘grey rock’ they won’t bother trying to be wantonly mean to you – they’ll turn their claws on someone else… perhaps each other… take popcorn.

      2. Chameleon*

        That is tough. If you read Captain Awkward, there’s a similar letter this week from someone who is trying to figure out how to get along better with her sister-in-law. The advice is basically “you can’t make someone like you, so maybe just disengage from trying to build the relationship and focus more on the relationships that make you happy.”

        I know it’s hard when family gatherings happen, but honestly if they are that unpleasant maybe you could…just not go? Do something else that will make you happy? Sure, maybe that will make things hard on your husband but honestly he should be doing something about his siblings anyway.

        1. Miss Elaine e.*

          Thanks for the support and advice, Chameleon. I’ve been working on disengaging. Lately, the family gatherings have been non-negotiable, from my perspective at least: For instance, this is likely to be my mother-in-law’s last Mother’s Day. I do love, respect, and get along with her and so give her the honor she deserves tomorrow. Because of her very fragile health, I’m doing my best to not ruin the gatherings. I’ve resolved to stay in the background, smile and nod, and not make waves. I wish I could stop the late-night ruminating about what went wrong in my relationship with the sibs-in-law though.

          1. Bumbly Bee*

            Alrighty Miss Elaine e. – you sound like a lovely person , but you gotta stop saying that you ruin family gatherings…because you most certainly do not. Those sibs in law of yours do. My former boyfriend’s sis was an absolute witch (and I say that kindly) and her mild hostile behavior sounds very similar to your sibs in law. Don’t waste your precious time, health, and energy brooding over people who are not worth it, even if they are ‘in-law’.

            1. Miss Elaine e.*

              Thank you. To clarify, when I referred to “ruining” family gatherings, I meant that I will be making a concerted effort to hold my tongue so as to not lash out in response to any perceived slights or insults. I want my mother in law to have a lovely day and not shadowed by any negative response on my part.

              I also do not want to have to deal with any later response on the order of, “Oh yeah!?! It was our mother’s last holiday and you….”

              Finally, well, it’s my Mother’s Day too — I can play nice for a few hours and then I’ll exit to do something I want.

              Thanks again.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            My wise friend used to say when we can’t let go of something it is because it is an on-going thing. So while you may be thinking of x that happened last week/last month the real driver behind the worry is the knowing that this will probably happen again.
            Take some steps to address that probability.
            Build a plan of how you would like to handle the remarks and the ignoring. You can plan out what you will say and you can also plan an internal message to yourself. I”d do a visual image, where I am wearing a suit of armor and their remarks or not answering me bounces off of me like arrows. That is their poor behavior, not mine. I am trying to be friendly. They can choose to behave appropriately or not.
            You have a good plan in focusing on your MIL. You can tell yourself,” I will do this for a while and then I won’t have to do this.” Sibs see less of each other once the parents pass, nothing ever stays the same.

            Now you also can make plans around each visit. For example, you can set a time limit for your visit. Tricky part, actually stick to the time limit. It’s important psychologically to stick to your plan. If you train your brain that you will get yourself out on time no matter what, then the visit might seem less like an endless drag.

            And as others have suggested plan something pleasant to do after the visit. Again, super important to follow through. You are training your brain that you will indeed put some thing pleasant into your day/week/life.

            1. Miss Elaine e.*

              Thank you. This is all very helpful and what I’m planning to do. I’m also trying to retrain my brain to focus on something else when the middle-of-the-night ruminating starts.
              I’m hoping to be able to duck out early-ish tomorrow, on the excuse that it’s my Mother’s Day too) but as our household usually goes in one vehicle, it may be tricky.

              I can play nice for a few hours but again, it’s mainly the middle-of-the-night brooding that is the main issue right now.

              Again, happy Mother’s Day to one and all, particularly to those who have offered advice. Thank you.

    5. nep*

      After oral surgery it’s been tough having to take it easy. And I can really feel a difference in my mood and energy level during this period when I’m not able to work out as I like, really exerting myself with the weights and kettlebells. Drives home how much I count on exercise to keep me from falling in dark holes. In this period I’ve got to tap into other parts of myself to stay positive and resilient. Helps to think of the things for which I’m grateful. And I know I need to minimise stress to help myself heal.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My dentist does natural stuff along with the usual stuff. He has me taking a lot of vitamin D, that helps with pain but it also helps with mood, too. I did not have a ton of pain so I was not so much worried about the pain, but the stress made me tired. I thought the D might help me bounce back a bit better. He also had me take vitamin K. I think it helped.

        1. nep*

          Cool. I like that approach by your dentist.
          I’ve definitely been making sure I’m up on my vitamins and minerals. I don’t like taking meds so I’ve taken only a couple of low-dose ibuprofens since the extraction.
          So far, so good. I definitely have to actively avoid going down a hole of negative thoughts about missing my workouts; it’s all good. Deep breath.

          1. Autumnheart*

            Maybe think of it not as missing workouts, but engaging actively in optimal healing. Rest between workouts is necessary for building your body’s health, and recovery after an injury (even a controlled one like surgery) is also necessary. Maybe if you think of your recovery AS a workout, it would help?

            Also, can you do things like walking (at a non-strenuous pace) or stretching/flexibility? I’ve had surgery before so I’m familiar with the caution against raising blood pressure, but presumably you could still get some steps in and do a stretching program without exceeding that recommendation.

            1. nep*

              Thanks. Absolutely and great points. Rest is indispensable–to getting strong and fit, and to healing.
              I think that’s one thing that’s keeping me positive about things; it’s all part of optimal healing as you put it.
              I have been doing light exercise, including stretching; feels great and it helps.

    6. Localflighteast*

      Im kinda flip flop ING
      My life is awesome but dad’s cancer is rearing it’s ugly head again.
      That sucks
      Keep wondering if it’s time to stop the anti depressants.haTe bring beholden to them

    7. louise*

      I’m currently med free (about 2 years) and I am most happy to be free of some pesky side effects. But my ups and downs are so much more noticeable this way that sometimes I wonder if it’s the right thing.

      Overall I have reduced stress as much as possible and am lucky to be working only PT (in a job I love) instead of FT (in a job I hate). I really like my therapist and it feels like we’re doimg good work there. This frees up basketfuls of emotional energy I never knew I had (because I was always spending it on terrible people and difficult situations at work). I also quit looking at facebook.

      As a result, these last few months, and especially last few weeks, I have spent MUCH more time with people in real life and happily catching up on life together instead of interacting with curated presentations of lives.

      Now I just have to decide if all that good outweighs the 4-7 days per month (spread out, so not all in a row) where I can’t even get out of bed due to anxiety and overstimulation. My work has plenty of room for that to occur, so I think I’ll stick with the system for now. I tell myself I can go back to medication anytime, so there’s no pressure and there’s no failure—there’s only doing what’s best for right now and it’s okay if that changes.

    8. Red*

      I’m really proud of myself for having ran (most of ) a 5k yesterday! I’m not quite done with couch to 5k yet so it was mostly a “do what you can” sort of situation, and it was glorious.

      However – I am lonely as fudge. My husband is working two jobs and in school, and I decided to take the summer off from school. Kinda regretting that now.

    9. Mimmy*

      This week has been a bit rough due to the very sudden loss of a coworker early in the week. This person was so kind and everybody loved him (though management occasionally had to reign in their exuberance), and I have been hurting for the other staff and our students who will miss him terribly.

      But it’s kicking up my anxiety a little bit – whenever someone young passes away unexpectedly, for no apparent reason, I get really scared about it happening to me or someone close to me. Maybe it’s irrational, but life is so unpredictable.

      I am proud that I was able to keep it together for my students and was able to handle the crazy schedule changes on Thursday and going to the service, even seeing the coworker’s mom sobbing almost uncontrollably, something that usually makes me cry (although I almost lost it on the way back to work afterwards).

      I’m also proud of refraining from drinking. In March, my doctor told me to stop drinking until my next blood test in July due to elevated liver enzymes. I don’t consider myself a heavy drinker, but I have gone overboard on occasion, and I am on a couple of long-term meds, so it’s probably all catching up to me. Anyway… I’ve occasionally caved since March, and almost did on Thursday. But I didn’t have a drop of alcohol. It is going to be REALLY difficult in the next couple of months with several family events and gatherings plus a conference in mid-June with likely evening fun.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Oof, that sounds like a very rough week. Please be kind to yourself this weekend.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, it’s the stuff that blindsides us that is really jarring. I lost a cohort recently too. I found myself in tears. I barely knew the person, I did not even know the person had kids. And there I was crying. It was not helpful that the whole town was crying, either. Sadness can be so infectious.

        The only rebuttal I have ever found for this stuff is to be more grateful each day. Be grateful for the people who are still here, be grateful to see them or converse with them. We don’t think about it too much, you know? But any one of us could just run to the store for a loaf of bread and be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ugh. Who likes to think about the fragility of life?! However, we can think about gratitude more often.

        It’s odd how some people’s passing can just hit so hard. I am very sorry for your loss.

    10. matcha123*

      I am incredibly lonely. I push myself to get out of the house, to eat better, to study, to be a better person, to reach out to friends in my area to hang out, to be a better person.
      Everyday I come back to an empty, quiet apartment…cry in the shower, cry before bed…have restless sleep, wake up in the morning and repeat. I don’t feel like I can connect with people. I realized recently that the internet really can be an echo-chamber of a self-selected slice of humans. If I stop browsing forums, and chatting there, then I would have even less human communication. There aren’t many free activities in my area and walking around by myself has started to lose its appeal.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Have you had a check up lately? I am thinking of heart or thyroid. If one of those are not fully working it can feel like a bottom of a long well.
        Can you get yourself a protein drink to work with, maybe get something extra into you to help you along?

        I have to ask because this is something I had to think about. What does connecting with other people look like in real life? Is a wave and a warm smile a connection? Is lunch or coffee together a connection? What does a connection look like to you? Once I got to thinking about what a connection looked like to me, things looked a little different. I had to deliberately decide that a wave and a smile was a form of connection. I had skated right by this point. Then I found other things that were a form or connection, such as a cohort making sure I had a ride home. This is just something to think about.

        1. matcha123*

          My office has yearly checkups. I was told a few years ago that my thyroid looked swollen and saw a specialist who, after looking at a scan, said it looked swollen due to fibroids (I think). Someone here suggested B vitamins, and I’ve started taking those almost daily. They have helped my mood a lot, so will definitely be keeping up with that!

          I guess for me, connecting feels like being welcomed. As if my presence is not something to be judged or wished away. You are right about the little things that are easy to ignore. Thanks for the suggestions!

          1. Julia*

            Definitely get that thyroid checked out by a good specialist! The loneliest I ever felt was when I was living alone for the first time and my thyroid was weird. It was seriously the worst time in my life and I almost killed myself over it.

            While now, I still sometimes get lonely or sad or depressed (which I see a therapist for – mostly for the trauma from back then), my thyroid being under control makes this so much easier. I also make sure to always have a project, hobby or fandom I can dive into and lose myself in, because passion for something drowns out the loneliness big time. If you can’t feel passion for anything, maybe it’s time to consider you’re depressed (which might be caused by thyroid problems, too).

            I’m sorry you’re going through this. Some environments just feel wrong – I have someone in my grad school who is taking their issues out on me and is trying to exclude me, and it triggers so many old feelings from being bullied in school 20 years ago. There ARE places where you and I are welcome (this is one!), we just have to look a little harder for some reason.

            1. matcha123*

              Thank you! I’ll try to look for some places near me that might be able to test my thyroid. I have been living abroad for years and have struggled to find common ground with local people. I try to be aware of my feelings around the time my period starts, since my mood takes a dive around that time, too. A lot of friends have coupled up and it’s difficult to find people to go out for coffee or dinner.

              1. Julia*

                Couples vs. singles is a huge problem. Reversely, some of my single friends started dropping me after I got married, so with a husband who works a lot and fewer friends (plus also in a foreign country), I am still lonely sometimes. Being immersed in a good book or show helps immensely, and I’m trying to write my own book now. (Well, first I have to write my thesis.)

                When you do see a doctor, make sure you read some articles etc. about normal thyroid function and blood parameters as well as symptoms so you can not just advocate for yourself, but know when your doctor is dismissive or uninformed and you need a second (or third in my case) opinion. Good luck!!

                1. matcha123*

                  I think you might be in the same country as me? But with my foreign friends married to locals, they are more than happy to figure out times to meet up. The ones with kids? I will go to them when the times match up, if not, we still send each other messages.

                  I do donate blood and when I go in, they haven’t said anything to me. But maybe thyroid problems don’t show up in results from bloodwork. Thanks for the tips!

                2. Julia*

                  If we’re in the same country (and city – Tokyo?), we should be friends! Alison, can you make an email exchange happen here?

    11. Parenthetically*

      I’m actually meeting with my counselor next week to talk about some goal-setting for my particular personality and quirks. I’m overall in a really good place, but paradoxically when I’m in a good place I tend to get REEEEEEEALLY introspective and start to overanalyze my flaws. So we’re going to talk through how I can start working on overcoming the inertia that keeps me planted on my backside during my kid’s naps instead of, you know, like exercising or getting stuff done around the house.

    12. Yami Bakura*

      I wish to God I could stop freaking out over sudden disturbances, blast through my adrenaline for 8 hours straight, then crash after it’s all resolved and still feel depressed on top of feeling tired. Yesterday it was a health insurance form that I’d just remembered the day before, that I thought I had to get out yesterday afternoon OR ELSE, but then I called and they said it was the wrong form & everything was handled over the phone then and there. But I STILL felt drained after. At the end of April it was a brief scare with bills. I can’t function like this. I’m able to feel better the day after the burnout, but the day of, especially if it’s something I couldn’t predict, I either worry massively and exclusively about the worrying thing, or just lie down in a complete mess.

    13. Tiny Crankypants*

      Good job with the biking! I am proud that I have improved since being in therapy for a year.

    14. cleo*

      I did a couple very brave and stressful things this week related to doctors and care and I’ve also been pretty shut down around work / job search stuff. My base struggle is that being unemployed / underemployed is not good for my mental health (I have anxiety and PTSD), but my mental health stuff is really making it harder for me to do all of the things I need to do to look for and find full-time work. I know that I need more structure and accountability but I can’t seem to create it for myself.

      I’ve been struggling with anxiety and procrastination around looking for a new job and also completing the freelance work that I have. This week has been particularly hard because of various issues with my two freelance clients.

      I’m very proud of the steps I’ve taken w/r/t taking care of my health. I realized a few weeks ago that I feel like my anxiety is running the show right now and that I need / want to make some changes in my treatment and care. So I came up with a short-term plan and a long-term plan for changing therapists – I’ve started implementing it and I feel good about it! Also completely exhausted.

      I saw my general practitioner Friday for my annual – doctor’s visits can trigger my PTSD and I’m really proud of how well the visit went and how grounded and present I was. And also completely exhausted.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      Struggling with getting back on track with meditation–I’ve been avoiding regular sits and it’s taken me some time to figure out why. Yesterday we were talking about religion after dharma group and it occurred to me that I had been feeling wary of trading one regimented system for another (i.e. Catholicism for a Buddhist practice).

      But I also realized that thinking of it that way is part of the problem. The reason I started doing it in the first place was to deal with anxiety. In interpersonal situations, mine tends to present first as fight (anger) rather than flight (panic). If it’s not an interpersonal situation, then I default to avoidance and nothing gets done. If I’m not doing it, I WILL have anxiety attacks–and indeed had one, with detrimental results, this week.

      I can think about it the way I do with regular exercise–it’s for my health, not to satisfy any arbitrary standards someone else has set for me (or that I’ve imagined they have). I want to be healthy, so that’s good motivation.

      I got ambitious and signed up for a day-long retreat next Sunday so I better be sitting some this week. Oyyy. No pressure, though!

      1. cleo*

        Do you know about MBSR – mindfulness based stress reduction? It’s secular mindfulness and meditation- with an emphasis on the health benefits of practice. Howard Zinn developed it and has several books about it.

  4. Nervous Accountant*

    Someone was asking I report back this week. I feel a little better, not as “swollen”. Although to be fair I don’t know the diff between feeling swollen and feeling fat. Even at my “skinniest” ive never not felt fat. But this was different.

    Anyway been getting daily leg and foot massages which helped a lot but I still get a backache from standing too long and calf pain from walking. Watching my diet keeping low carbs and very little sweets. #s fairly good these past 2 weeks.

    Someone asked about labs-I had blood work done last week, I think he only did lipids & A1c. I didn’t ask about the results yet. EKG was done in April-normal. Chest x rays done in the ER in February (thought I punctured a rib) and were normal.

    I asked PCP several times if I’m at risk right now he said as long as I follow closely w him and the endo I should be fine.

    1. nep*

      Thanks for the update. I don’t recall whether in the last thread Vitamin D came up. Did the doctor include that in the blood test? Not to put everything down to a vitamin or mineral deficiency — but Vit D level is a good one to know.
      Good on ya for making those changes and improving your numbers. Wishing you all the best.

      1. Nervous accountant*

        I don’t think it came up… I was prescribed vitamin d for a while but eventually stopped. I’ll ask the pcp about it though.

        No more crushing chest feeling. Ether I dropped a few lbs or I got used to it. Hoping it’s NOT the latter.

        I’ve had my thyroid checked out st least 3-4 times over the last few years and every time it comes back normal but I’m wondering if I should push back w the Drs about that.

        I had a few meals w heavy carbs but more like….3 out of 15 were? I think that’s good? I think what helps is NEVER BEING ALONE…I realize that I always lose weight on vacation bc my husband watches me like a hawk.

        My endo prescribed trulicity to help w the #s and she said weight loss is common. I’ll start that when I go home.

        1. nep*

          Good the crushing chest sensation is gone — that’s got to be so stressful. (Speaking of stress, I’m sure that will make everything worse–and it sounds like you are under a lot of stress–so that is something to think about. I reckon you already are considering that.)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Calf pain may indicate that you could use some potassium. Back ache from walking might be helped by shoe inserts with arch support. This in turn might help your calves also. You may need to make sure you have a practical walking shoe on when you do a lot of walking. I had to start with practical shoes before age 30.I mourned not being able to wear the cute things other women were wearing. But it was not worth the pain I would go through.

  5. Nervous Accountant*

    How do I explain how I’m feeling.

    I feel homesick for a place that’ll never come back. I feel homesick for my father and the love he had for me. Since that day I knew that there was one less person in the world who loved me but it never really hit me til now.

    I feel really guilty for saying this. But My mom has always been pretty mean and emotionally unstable. My dad was there to take care of her. Now he’s not and it all falls on me to take care of her.

    Everyone’s telling me to stay strong for her and take care of her. I have no idea how to when I can barely handle myself.

    I know she’s been through a lot but her core personality is still the same….very critical and just difficult. I’m not the only one, my relatives who have been staying w her say the same thing. We had a fight a few days ago bc she said my stomach and face were getting fatter and thinks drinking cold water is the cause of all my problems and wanted me to change or stop taking my insulin altogether bc it’s causing weight gain. I told her I’m doing the best I can and constantly pointing out I’m fat isn’t helpful.

    My husband says to let it roll off my back—I know I’m doing what I can and just be bulletproof. Idk how to be bulletproof.

    1. Screenwriter*

      Your husband is half right–yes, let it roll off your back–but the other half is you don’t have to put up with abuse and craziness. You have the right to limit your time with her–and you don’t actually have to “take care of her.” If you can, hire someone to look in on her some of the time, if money’s tight, most cities and counties have social services that offer eldercare. She’ll resist–one trick is to start with someone she likes, and have them come around to cook dinner with her, or something like that, then extend their hours, then add someone else, etc etc. You do NOT have to be a full-time caretaker, especially not of an abusive parent. (Ask me how I know all this!) Allow yourself some respite, and see her as much as you can. If it’s hard to separate (believe me, I know), remember that if you exhaust yourself and burn out, you will actually NOT be able to help her in ways that matter to you as a daughter. You get to set boundaries and limits, and as I’m saying, you really need to, for yourself to remain functional. Decide what you want to do–outsource the rest; decide on your boundaries, and stick to them. I know you want to take care of and help your Mom, and that’s fine. But you don’t have to take abuse.
      Above all, don’t engage with her insanity. Just nod and say “sure, Mom,” and move on. It’s so hard when it’s your own Mom, and you’re missing your Dad, but you are a separate person, and you do get to take care of yourself, and you MUST take care of yourself. Remember that thing everyone says “put your oxygen mask on before helping others.”

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        She’ll be living with me, and I’ll be out of the house 60 hours a week so hopefully that’ll give us the space we need. She can do household work. I know she’ll be wanting company but oh my god i t is so hard to talk to her and to get her to understand anything. Sometimes she’s good but when she’s bad it’s really bad.

        1. Knotty Ferret*

          Try to keep interactions to mutual interests and things that are relatively inconsequential. I have spent so many hours discussing funny pet antics with my parents so I could avoid being the therapist in their divorce.
          Movie dates, if you can more or less agree on a genre, are great because you can say you’re trying to watch the movie when she says something mean.

        2. Bea*

          Omg I’m sorry. You should seek counseling as well and be prepared to handle the strain this can put on your marriage to have an abusive person live with you.

          I have an ex who is an ex due to their relationship with their mother who they couldn’t stop caring for. It’s crippled both of them.

          I could never do it, I’m fully on the side of putting someone in a home and cutting off contact. What a nightmare.

        3. neverjaunty*

          You don’t have to get her to understand things, though? She is who she chooses to be. You can’t make her understand if she doesn’t want to.

          1. Nervous accountant*

            Well some of the things I try to get her to understand—

            -Stop being mean to her relatives who have been with her through thick and thin. Some of them took time away from their work and came to live with her for days/weeks. Some have been staying for months.

            -Stop relying so much on this one particular family. The guy used to work for my dad and he’s OK but I can’t stand his wife and son, the wife comes over for hours and hours and leaves my mom in tears and the son is either an idiot or trying to scam her and she refuses to listen to ANYONE.

            Whenever I try to explain, she says “yeah I’m the worst person in the world I’m dumb and stupid and I am not going to listen”.

            1. The Winter Rose*

              You can’t make her understand. It’s not going to happen. Is it worth the stress to keep trying?

        4. Circus peanuts*

          My mother does that to me every once in a while but not as badly as yours does. I was able to stem it one day by asking her if she wanted me to find things to criticize about her. She still does it but not as much. Good luck.

          1. Nervous accountant*

            We always lived together, my parents just split their time between me my brother in other state and their home country. I can’t leave her alone here much longer.

            I feel super awful for getting angry w her. She says mean things but I have to remind myself that she’s old, she’s not going to change; I have way more independence and resources at my fingertips to be better than she does.

            I really hope being out of the house 60 hrs a week (work + commute) will help.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Please keep in mind that some times us adult kids are not the people who are appropriate to help our parents in their last years. The parent won’t listen, or the parent argues, etc. When the parent cuts us off from helping them, it is time to make a change. You do not have to help a person who will not allow you to help them. Matter of fact, it is not fair to the person that they stay with us. They need to be with people they will allow to help them.
              You may be fine here. Things might go okay or you make it all work somehow. You can do routine re-evaluations of the arrangement as you go along.

              1. only acting normal*

                My grandmother had Alzheimers, and she would not let my mother (her daughter) help her at all without a massive fight / guilt trip (despite my mother officially being her carer). Yet she was sweetness itself to the staff in the care home where she ended up. (She fought tooth and nail against going there, but was perfectly happy within a couple of days – couldn’t remember being anywhere else).
                There’s something about the parent-child dynamic that the parent cannot accept the turn around in power (even if use of that power is very benign and loving): they still see their adult child as a *child*, and because they’re the parent they will *always* know “better”.
                My mother swears blind she will not be the same way for me/my brother… but essentially she already is (even if she doesn’t need our care yet).

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  It takes a massive effort to break the cycle.
                  I have a friend who says, “I am taking notes and I am going to do this to my children.” I have to wonder WHY.

      2. kms1025*

        This will sound awful, but try to have only a superficial relationship with your Mom. Don’t go deep. There’s danger in deep waters. I’m so sorry. Protect yourself and, by default, your marriage.

    2. Mananana*

      Uggghhhh…. that’s a lot to go through. First, I am sorry for the loss of your father. Jedi-hugs for you if you want them.

      I have a difficult relationship with my mom, too. She’s never been abusive, but she uses guilt to manipulate me and my 2 sisters. Thankfully she’s healthy and still able to live on her own (although I wish she’d move to a senior community for the socialization), but she drives us crazy. I’ve been applying Alison’s sentiment about jerk bosses to my mom: My mom’s a jerk and she’s not going to change. And it’s been oddly comforting. Because if I don’t have any expectations of having a conversation with mom that doesn’t include complaining, gossip, or guilt, then I’m not disappointed.

      Please make sure you take care of yourself through all this turmoil. Best of luck to you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Changing our expectations is so very helpful. And at the same time we can look around for people who ARE helpful and supportive. Sometimes a stranger or an acquaintance will do more to help us than a family member.

    3. Belle di Vedremo*

      “Homesick” is a great description, very apt.

      You have said that you “have to” have your mom live with you, and that she has been for a while. That may be culturally true, but isn’t factually true. You do have options. They come with a variety of consequences, yes, but so does having her live with you.

      Learning to be “bulletproof” against the people who built in the system is pretty hard on one’s own. Therapy can help. Talking with your husband about renegotiating ground rules at home is in order. Without your dad there, things will be different and your husband will need to help with giving you additional support and creating some space at home. (And I hope that she’ll be spending some time living with your brother, too.)

      Some people find “energy work” really helpful. If you’re interested in that, look for someone who wants you to be grounded and practical, who can talk with you about practical boundaries, and who is kind. Your insurance won’t cover it, but some sessions to learn a different set of tools might be worth it. If you’re interested and not finding someone to talk with in person, let me know in next weekend’s open thread and I can describe a thing or two to try on your own. If you’re not interested, that is of course fine too.

      Keep us posted.

  6. Buu*

    My housemates started packing at 7am this morning. They are moving out, so I’ll be rid of them next week. But am just staggered at how rude they are.

    1. AK*

      Congrats!!! I had a horrifically rude roommate years ago and it’s turned me off of them entirely for the near future, but I do remember the thrill when they finally moved out.

      Just make sure nothing of yours gets packed up. It was like a hostage negotiation trying to get back all the random things he decided must have been his during packing.

      1. Buu*

        yikes good point, I shall wander into the kitchen and make sure my steamer is safe. They actually apologise about the noise (!!!). I think they are supposed to have gone yesterday as there’s a house viewing today…XD

      2. Lillie Lane*

        I knew a woman once that had some kind of kleptomaniac for a roommate…she would steal random communal stuff like dishes and hide them in her closet. When they were moving out of the apartment, my friend was gone for a couple of hours transferring stuff to her new place and when she came back, her bed was gone. Disappeared. She asked the roommate what happened to her bed and the roommate flipped out, saying she wasn’t responsible for babysitting the bed! She never found out what the roommate did with it.

    2. Ciara Amberlie*

      Rude for packing at 7am? Or something else? Because getting an early start on moving day seems pretty normal.

      1. Caledonia*

        Yes, an early start is quite common. Earlier they start, the sooner they leave.

        1. Buu*

          Generally rude, but they said they were moving out yesterday so it’d have been nice to know I would have gone to bed earlier or stayed elsewhere!

          1. Caledonia*

            Equally, you could have asked them.

            I get it, you haven’t gotten on with them for whatever reason and easier to be angry/irritated with them but I actually think you could’ve asked them so…*shrug*

            1. Buu*

              I did they said they were moving Friday Afternoon when I was at work, their stuff from most of the common areas was packed Thursday but they weren’t about. I got back late Friday and they didn’t seem to be about so I didn’t think much of it. I then got woken at 7am by them packing stuff in the hall.

              I totally agree that communication is best though. We have some people viewing the property this evening so I’ll make sure any potential new housemates are on the same page.

              1. WellRed*

                Interview them like you’d interview a job applicant to ensure fit. As to your rude roommates, moving is a pain and always takes longer than you think. They’ll be gone soon.

                1. Buu*

                  Thanks for the advice, I was just venting a bit. I guess people all have their habits and it just didn’t occur to them to say anything.

  7. Sofie*

    Does anyone have travelling tips for going to Harzen? Must-see’s and so on? We are four people going in a campervan but one of us has to use a wheelchair when outside.
    So far we have decided on the Unicorn cave and the Carillon Bells in Goslar.
    We would be thankful for more ideas and especially places avaible for our wheelchair-user :)

    1. StellaBella*

      I just looked up this unicorn cave and it looks neat! No tips – but I follow a guy who lives in Saxony-Anhalt on instagram and it looks pretty – the whole area. I have been to Germany only a couple of times for weekend visits when I lived in Switzerland…enjoy the food and bring tick spray and where correct clothes to keep them off you if hiking – and check as Lyme’s is prevalent all over that part of the world. Found several ticks on my dog when I visited in June, and also a few ticks on a trip in September.

    2. The German Chick*

      Mobile connection ist bad around the Unicorn Cave, make sure not to split up your group. My friends and I got lost and it took us 3 hours to get back together :)
      I really like Heinrich Heine Wanderweg bin I don’t think it’s wheelchair accessible at all (may be partly?).

  8. Anxious anon*

    I did it! I had the surgeries with no panic attacks nor adrenaline rushes. Thank you to all for the tips, i.e. the ABC game, essential oils, breathing exercises, visualizations, Woebot, etc left on my posts and others. I’m in recovery now, it’s painful, but I’m on the other side. Have a great weekend everyone!

    1. nep*

      Thanks for the update. Congratulations on finding that strength within yourself to get through it. Wishing you a sound recovery.

    2. Case of the Mondays*

      Could you link back to where you received that advice? I could use it too. Thanks.

      1. It’s all good*

        I can’t figure out how to do this. If you know how please let me know.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          I don’t know how people link to a specific comment but if you could just share the URL to the post it was discussed in I can search within it.

  9. Blueberry Sand*

    Does anyone have any experience with getting back together with their ex? How did you do it? Did it work it out or did you break up again?

    1. Thlayli*

      I had an on-off relationship with a guy once. It finally ended. Despite promises the problems were never solved.

    2. StellaBella*

      Yep. And it did not work out for me either, like Thayli says. Any sort of co-dependency on either person’s part should be examined (if it even exists, not saying it does). Also, why you broke up in the first place plays a big part on if it will work out in the future. Examine the whys and how you felt when you broke up and weigh a list of pros and cons.
      For me, this may be TMI, but I turned 49 recently. I am single and a woman, and am done dating. I like my life overall without the presence of another person – I have firends I can be social with and family I like too. I had a FWB visit over holidays and it confirmed this was the right choice for me. I have basic expectations for people I date to be able to interact with other friends (not be mopey and quiet), to fix things they break (toilet doo dad came off – it was a simple fix – if a man cannot do simple plumbing fixes then my life will not be improved by having them around). I plan to get a job, find a house to live in, and get a doggo soon.
      YMMV, but I’d be wary and go in with both eyes open to any sort of return-dating thing.

    3. Terry*

      Yes, I got back with an ex once. Looking back on it though, I think we got back together because we missed the familiarity of the relationship and we had both felt lonely on our own. We fell back into the familiar routine of things, but it wasn’t enough. We broke up for good a few months later.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same thing here. Neither one of us had moved on, so a year later, we tried again, and it just didn’t work because nothing had changed. This was a person who was resistant to change overall, and I knew that, so what was I thinking.

    4. Jasper*

      It’s never worked out for me, and I don’t think I personally know anyone who it’s worked out for either. Generally speaking, people break up as the last step in problem-solving. If any other measures were going to work, they likely would have already.

    5. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I wouldn’t recommend it. In my case, we broke up for good reasons and got back together mostly out of a sense of loneliness and a desire to skip past the early dating phase right into the comfortable relationship phase. I do actually know one person who got back together with their ex, and they seem pretty happy now, so…YMMV?

    6. annakarina1*

      My ex and I tried to get back together six months after our breakup, but the love was gone, I just didn’t feel that way about him anymore. He had broken up with me, then reached out to me much later. Now we are really good friends, but that took time to develop.

    7. Iza*

      I did! We dated on and off in college and broke up for, what I thought was for good. He reached out to me about a year after our break-up and we started things slowly and now, 5 years later, we’re married. I think for us, we needed the time to grow up a little separately since we were still so young when the breakups happened.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I think this is a situation where it could work — when the timing isn’t right. But apart from that…

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I have a similar story of a friend. They were a middle aged couple with adult children. They separated but never divorced. She was spittin’ nails angry with him. I never got the details but I assumed this was so very DONE. It was EIGHT years later they got back together and they stayed together as far as I know. Just my opinion but if couples find each other again it seems to be a long interval of time in between. It’s as if they have to go have life experiences, think about what they want in life and so on.

    8. nep*

      It didn’t work out.
      It depends on what stage the two people are post-breakup, and what each person’s reasons are for wanting to get back together.
      In my experience (and others have touched on this) there are few things stronger than that sense and desire to grab back what you were attached to in a broken relationship, especially if it’s a fairly recent breakup. It can blind us to anything else and lead us to avoidance and believing in easy fixes.
      All that said–every situation is different and outcomes will be too.

    9. Totally Minnie*

      I’ve never tried it, but I know people who have. I think the key is to really think about why the relationship ended in the first place, and whether or not things have changed enough. If nothing’s really changed since the breakup, it’s not likely that a reconciliation will last. But if you’ve both had some time to grow and change, then it might work out.

      1. Future Analyst*

        This. Knowing why it ended, and whether or not that has changed makes a huge difference.

    10. hermit crab*

      I got back together with an ex and now we have been married for a couple of years! But we have known each other for a long time and our story is something like: three years friends, one year dating, three years exes/friends (the kind with standing coffee dates where we talk about our respective relationship woes), three years back together, then we got married. We broke up originally for relatively fixable reasons (untreated mental health issues, uncertainty about future goals, geographical distance, general immaturity) that we each resolved during our time “off” or just that resolved themselves over time. So it can certainly work, but I recognize that we might be the exception that proves the rule.

    11. Ceiswyn*

      Done it more than once. Broke up again each time.

      In retrospect, the reasons we got back together were variations on:
      – Avoiding having to go through the pain of grieving the broken relationship
      – Thinking of being single as ‘failing’
      – Believing that surely the fates/gods wouldn’t let love happen unless the relationship could work
      – Stockholm syndrome
      – Being so depressed or emotionally abused that I genuinely believed my bf was a saint for wanting someone like me and nobody else ever would
      – Missing the sex and drama

      None of these are good reasons for getting back together.

    12. ainomiaka*

      I also got back together with an ex. It was a few years after we broke up. We’ve been together for 10 years, married for 7. I have two friends in similar set ups.
      I think that the time gap was a big part of it. Everyone here has already mentioned about really thinking about why you broke up and what has changed about those situations. In our case we were just figuring out how to order our own adult lives, and coming back together after we had worked that out was notably different. We were different people of necessity.
      I also remember reading-though can’t site-that breaking up more than once dramatically changes the odds that you will stay together long term. Once to let you figure out if that thing you thought was important really is can be clarifying, beyond that you’re just denying incompatibility.

    13. Anonymous Ampersand*

      Yep. Got married to him. Was married for over a decade before realising he was emotionally abusive. YMMV!!

    14. Short fuse*

      My aunt and uncle divorced and remarried each other a few years later. That was probably 25 years ago and they are one of the happiest couples I know. Their oldest daughter actually went through the same situation with her husband. They are very happy as well. I think it’s kind of rare, but it could be great!

    15. Sue Donym*

      Most of my relationships ended up being on again, off again. Apparently I don’t learn from experience, but I would say all except one weren’t serious (as in, headed for marriage) anyway, so it was all about familiarity and drama.

      The one that was potentially headed for marriage, we tried again after being apart for over a year but still close (ambiguously close). The main issue was, I felt that he prioritized being secure and married over being with me as a person. That hadn’t changed. Fortunately, he fell in love with someone else and married her and they’re still together almost 20 years later.

    16. Little Paws*

      Add me to the list of people who got back together and ended up splitting up again. I was in an emotionally abusive/manipulative relationship. I didn’t realize it at the time that I was in it. I’m one of those people who hates giving up and hates failure. I always told myself that I needed to get through the “rough patches” and that the relationship would become happy & healthy again at some point. I was wrong.

      Breaking up is painful. Beyond painful. For me it was like grieving the loss of a deceased loved one. The grief and the pain is unbearable at times. But, I have this motto: I’d rather be alone and content (notice I said content, and not outright happy) as opposed to being with someone and being miserable and having my self worth/self esteem chipped away over time.

      You are more than your relationship!

      You existed and lived and thrived and lived an entire life before this guy. You will still wake up, exist, breathe, live and thrive after him!

      Hugs and best wishes to you!

    17. The Original K.*

      Yes. It ultimately didn’t work out. I have a friend who broke up with the same guy at least three times, always for the same reason (at the core, they were fundamentally incompatible when it came to communication, and their breakups were always due to some communication mishap), until he finally called it quits for good, correctly citing incompatibility.

      I have a high school classmate whose parents split fairly messily (his father had an affair with a much-younger colleague and it damaged his relationship with my classmate and his brother) but they ultimately reconciled and are together now. The father was able to repair the relationships with his sons (grandkids helped). It took years though.

    18. Camille*

      I think it depends on why you broke up – if the reasons you broke up are resolved, then I think it can make sense to try again.
      E.g., you broke up because one of you wanted kids and the other didn’t, and now minds have been changed (of course make sure it’s really changed and not just changed to get back together!)
      Or, you broke up because of long distance, and now you’re closer together.

      I think if the break up was for less concrete reasons and more general “I don’t feel like being with this person anymore/being together no longer brings me joy” then I don’t know how good an idea it is to get back together. But you have to make the choice for yourself!

  10. Language Student*

    Eurovision! Who’s watching tonight? Have you been following the semifinals?

    I never watch the semis, but I’m having a few friends round to watch tonight. I can’t wait!

    1. Buu*

      Yes.. I Skype with friends across Europe to watch. I avoid seeing the acts beforehand.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We may be – Other Half (who a few years ago did a well-reviewed Tableau presentation on historical Eurovision results) is traveling on business and probably won’t be able to watch, which is crushing for him as a Swede. The Swedish Eurovision selection process (Melodifestivalen, or Melo) is HARDCORE – they really get down with that stuff, and its probably no surprise that a lot of song writers, producers, arrangers, stage and lighting designers for this type of Eurocheese come out of Sweden. Besides, what else are you going to do on a February evening other than watch the regional selection rounds?

      Most years past we would fire up the Swedish TV feed and watch the contest with Swedish commentary but with him gone this year I may just skip it or check in on the online updates. Its a bummer its this weekend as he is going home next weekend to see family!

    3. Almost Violet Miller*

      I used to love it! To the point I did research on it in grad school.
      Since they changed the voting I don’t follow it because for me the fun part was seeing the patterns. Now it’s the jury votes they display and just add the viewers’ votes en masse.
      I’m nostalgic about all the viewing parties we had.

      1. Kali*

        I like the new system. It’s like Dumbledore comes in at the last minute and shouts “120 points to Ireland!”.

        At the very least, it’s more exciting than being abe to call the winner from halfway through, like when Emilie de Forest won and they announced it before they even had all the votes.

    4. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      If I can get a stream somewhere I will be watching! I never watch the semis, I like to be surprised by whatever weird act is going on on stage. And if there’s 249376529 ballads I’d REALLY rather not know beforehand since it would kill my motivation.

      1. ainomiaka*

        there is one! A friend here does a giant group watch and streams. I will have to ask where he gets it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ha, I know! I walked around all evening randomly singing “I’M NOT YOUR TOY, YOU STUPID BOY” and laughing.

        She’s getting some flack about cultural appropriation re her costume and props. I remember thinking they looked anime / kawaii, and it kind of fit since the song was very J-pop.

    5. Circus peanuts*

      I don’t watch but I did see a funny Facebook post urging people to vote for Britain regardless of their performance so that the next year they will have to celebrate European unity just after Brexit.

    6. Pam*

      Have you seen Catherynne Valente’s new book, Space Opera? To join the intergalactic community, we have to survive their Eurovision.

    7. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      I hustled my ass to Logo as soon as I realized it was Grand Final time, only to see Logo’s live stream melt down on me. Anyone else having issues?

      1. Jaid_Diah*

        I had YouTube up on my cell going home and it was on song four while song five was playing on the YouTube up on my Roku when I got home. But I was using data on the way home so maybe that’s why.
        Oh, man, they are all so good! But Portugal was the best by far!

        1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

          I panicked for a second, and then realized Logo was also streaming on YouTube – it’s like they knew that their website would defecate itself! Saved me from having to track down a sketchy VPN service.

          I might have started screaming when they announced the televote. But it seems like…this year, they backloaded the most popular acts. Looking back at my running commentary (thanks to my internet friends for not booting me out of the group chat and putting up with my broke-ass commentary), I was generally more favorable to the later acts. Five of my personal top ten (Israel, Moldova, Hungary, Finland, and Ireland) were in the last group of 10 acts, and Cyprus and Italy were the last two. (I wasn’t that favorable to Cyprus because her costume looked like something Beyonce would have been forced to wear by her mom when she was in Destiny’s Child, and I thought Italy would be…divisive, so I withheld judgment.) But the big jury acts were mostly in the middle – Germany and Austria were in the middle set, I believe.

          I’m also…kind of surprised the UK didn’t get more sympathy points! At first I thought the jury vote was a little on the low end based off of what happened, but if I remember correctly the jury votes are actually based off of the dress rehearsal the day before. The song itself wasn’t eye-catching to me and I’m a little dismissive towards the UK (after the two years they sent Englebert Humperdinck and Bonnie Tyler – wait, were those consecutive or was there a year between?), so I turned away from the live stream for a bit. Lesson learned.

          I…have a really odd passion for Eurovision as an American, I’ll admit. (I’m the kind of rando who stans Moldova’s entries because it seems like every year they send insanity.)

    8. Kali*

      If it doesn’t open with a vampire playing an on-fire piano, and end with sobbing “why don’t they love us?!” into a cocktail as UK gets the nul points from all of Europe yet again, is it even Eurovision?

  11. Yumiko*

    I have a terrible habit of eavesdropping. I don’t set out to do it, but if I’m in a public place (e.g. a cafe) and I catch a snippet of conversation that sounded interesting I can’t help but stop to listen to the rest. No idea why the compulsion to do that since I don’t know these people!

    (I don’t do it when I’m with someone though, that’d be even more rude.)

      1. StellaBella*

        No idea – but I have had to learn to be able to tune people out – since I literally can be in a room with many people talking and can tune into several conversations at one and the input is crazy!

      2. Thlayli*

        I think a bigger question is why do you feel the need to stop? Lots of people “people-watch” or listen to parts of conversations and imagine fanciful scenarios explaining them, just as an amusing way to pass the time. So long as you’re not actually jumping into conversations, you’re unobtrusive (not Reacting) and you remember that you’re only hearing a tiny bit of the conversation and don’t jump to conslusions, I think most people probably wouldn’t mind. If they do… well maybe they shouldn’t be having super private conversations in a public place.

        1. Eric Armstrong*

          You should spend time in cafes where the clientele predominantly speaks another language you don’t speak! When traveling last year in Japan, it struck me just how odd it was, being in my English-only bubble, completely incapable of listening in! Pop in some ear buds and turn up your podcast of choice, and listen in to some people who WANT you to!

        2. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

          I was going to say the same thing! I feel like low-key spying on strangers is one of the great joys of life.

          1. PX*

            This. When I used to commute, bus/train conversations were a great thing! I really remember one where a girl was discussing with her friend whether to go to far away country for her internship which she really wanted to do but her boyfriend didnt. The urge to jump in on that one (DO IT! You’re young, do the adventure things now while you still can!) was strong :D

        3. Marathon Girl*

          I agree with Thlayli, I eavesdrop, but not like moving so I can hear or something! Just if I’m sat on a seat on a bus or train and I happen to be able to hear someone why not? I am one of those who enjoy “people-watching”, something about hearing/seeing someone elses small snippets of their life or where they are off too just makes me feel more grounded and connected to the world/those around me? Maybe a bit deep haha but (depending on the conversation) it can put a smile on my face sometimes!

        4. ainomiaka*

          agreed. I mean, no, you shouldn’t be obvious about it, but I don’t think that there is a need to never hear anyone.

        5. Mallory Janis Ian*

          One of my funniest moments with my sister happened when I was eavesdropping on people at the table behind us and assumed that she was, too. The person was talking about getting a big-toe cramp in the middle of the night and how their toe would go up (“woooop!”) when that happened. I said to my sister, “Oh, that happens to me, too! I’ll be lying in bed, and ‘woooop!’ [with accompanying, illustrative finger gesture of a rising big toe].” Well, reader, she had NOT been eavesdropping, as I had assumed, and she did NOT think I was referring to a big toe!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Are you living life through other people’s lives? Maybe fill up your own days more.
        You could go out to eat less also or bring a book.

    1. nep*

      I don’t see it as rude if there is a conversation going on that is easily overhead–you’re just…hearing.
      The writer in me loves hearing interesting snippets and thinking of a story around them.

  12. StellaBella*

    Can people share with me the fun games and toys they have to interact with their kitties? I have the feather toys, long, thick strings (like from sweat pants), ping pong balls, scratching posts all over, a climbing tree, and places for her to sit in the house to watch birds at bird feeders. I just worry that she may need more interaction. So – looking for recommendations for toys and games for kitties. :)

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      There is this stupidly easy toy – the Cat Dancer – that I wish I had come up with. Seriously – its a piece of wire with some cardboard at the end, but it waves around a bunch when you hold it at one end so its more stimulating than a piece of string. Our kitties love them – they are usually less than $5 and I buy multiples because sometimes they can sell out!

      We also have the turbo tube thing – the circular track with a ball in it that they whip around with their paw, and a scratching board in the middle. There are different variations where they have to poke a ball through the tube but depends on what your kitty prefers!

      1. Onnellinen*

        Yes to the Cat Dancer! I used to scoff at it at the pet store, then it turned out my kitty loves it!

      2. teclatrans*

        Cat dancer is the best!! It jumps around so wonderfully.

        My kitten loooved the tube too. I was so sad he lost interest in it when he outgrew kittenhood. *sniff*

      3. DrWombat*

        The small little fluffy mice with something that rattles inside are great – you can toss them, or spray catnip on them and hide them. Also there are some little laser pointer towers you can get that basically move the laser pointer around for the cat to chase even if you aren’t around (assuming the cat doesn’t figure out the source of the dot and then just tackle the tower, which I have seen happen)

    2. Knotty Ferret*

      A couple games I play with cats:
      If your cat is still pretty young, you can probably train her to play with your hands without leaving you a bloody mess. If she uses claws, speak sternly and stop playing.
      A lot of the cats I’ve had love the game where a finger pokes over the edge of the cat tree, couch, whatever they are laying on, disappears, comes back to creep closer, disappears, comes back to poke them… Eventually they start smacking the finger, and you try to poke them and pull away before getting smacked.

      If she’s still too rough for that game, you can try the “there’s something under the rug” game. Slide your hand or a stick under the rug/blanket, and make the rug poke up a little in the middle. Move over a little, do it again. Eventually the cat plays whack-a- mole. Some cats are too aware it’s you and won’t get into this game, but I’ve had some who would sit beside the rug and stare at it until I started the game.

      1. TL -*

        With my kitty, I just screech really loudly like she’s hurt me if she uses claws or too much teeth and now she’s really careful with people – keeps her claws retracted when playing or jumping on them and is very careful about biting for play.

      2. tangerineRose*

        A lot of cat experts say to never let your kitten play with your hand – the kitty will get bigger and may be more likely to accidentaly hurt you. I think it probably depends on the kitty, but better safe than sorry.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      My cats mainly like empty cardboard boxes! The only legitimate cat toy they like is what we call “colored rope,” which is a transparent plastic stick that has a rainbow-colored thick string attached to it.

    4. SciDiver*

      My family cat has a massive box of toys, but the things she likes the best are the simplest–pipe cleaners, the Cat Dancer (it’s seriously great), and little fabric pom-poms you can get in craft stores. She’s an excellent hunter, so she really likes to have something soft or fuzzy she can bite into, chase, and then clean. And don’t underestimate the power of a good window spot for bird watching!

    5. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      My wife made our cats a fort out of two old Amazon boxes! She taped them on top of each other, and cut a cat sized hole in the bottom box, another hole in the middle where the boxes meet, and another on the top so they can get out. The holes aren’t directly under each other, so cat can sit or hide on multiple levels.

      Cheap blanket on top for sleeping perch, place by window. Whole setup cost $3 with a blanket on super sale and the cost of part of a roll of heavy duty tape.

    6. teclatrans*

      I am going to take a moment for a PSA re kittens and string/yarn/ribbons: don’t use these. You may know this or think it’s obvious, but I didn’t and I am not alone in my once-held ignorance.

      I once let my cat play a bit with sone yarn I was crocheting with because, hey, kitties love string, amiright? Turns out they will eat string, which requires an emergency vet visit and they may still die. (Mine was okay.) I was so shocked when my kitty just nommed a whole strand she got away from me. I had forgotten for a moment that we we’re playing a hunting game, and a successful hunt means eating.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        THIS – we had a friend whose kitty ate ANY kind of string and… oh yeah, emergency vet visit. As in they rushed the kitty into surgery at the specialist hospital immediately because the string was wound around the intestines. Kitty survived but it was a HUGE vet bill.

    7. VIT (Scotland)*

      Look into interactive/puzzle feeders! There are all sorts of varieties you can buy, but you can also make some simple ones at home – even just little cloth pouches with food inside (or catnip). It can help mimic natural hunting behaviour too, if it’s the kind they chase around the house.

    8. tangerineRose*

      Sometimes getting a second kitty around the same age is very helpful for the kitty.

    9. Kuododi*

      I have designed beaded jewelry for years. When kitties needed toys, one thing I did was take some mismatched large beads and strung them together with small bells and attached the whole thing to a good length of beading cord. I would then play “keep away” with the kitties using the creation. The bells ringing made the cats just flip out!!!!

    10. oldbiddy*

      My goofy cat really loves the plastic rings from milk jugs and other jars and the trackball scratcher. My serious hunter cat likes little toy mice/birds that squeak when they’re moved. I got them at Walmart. Both cats like the cat dancer and laser pointer.
      When they’re kittens they’re not picky, but once they reach a certain age they get weirdly picky and apart from those things listed above, it’s really hit or miss whether they like a toy or not.

      1. JeanB in NC*

        My cat LOVED those plastic rings from milk jugs! She’d chase them around, put one on her paw like a bracelet, lick her paw then fling it away and start chasing it again. She carried them around in her mouth too. I only ever gave her the closed ones – she’d chew on the open ones and I was afraid she’d eat them. Every time I moved I ended up picking up what seemed like dozens of those things!

    11. Rat in the Sugar*

      I know it’s Monday already but just in case you check back–bubbles!! I was so excited to find out how much my cats love bubbles, as it’s something I can use to exercise them while I sit on the couch. :) If you look at pet stores or Walmart you can find non-toxic catnip flavored bubbles (you need to get nontoxic because they will try to bite the bubbles and get it in their mouth).

    12. sooooo late to the party*

      My cat loves her cat tunnel and charges it back and forth thru it like loon when she’s playing (got it from amazon).
      She also hides in it if she’s being a fraidy cat – cause her tail hanging out the back is so not a giveaway!

  13. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

    We are (likely) headed to Antigua in a few weeks for vacation after a really intense 6 months of work for both of us. This is a last minute choice based on where I could find availability using airline miles, and what was important to us (beach time, ocean views and breezes, time to reconnect with each other away from family, visiting new locales this year).

    Neither of us has been to the Caribbean before so while at first it seemed like Another Thing To Deal With, we are getting pretty excited about this now. I am assuming that food costs will be somewhat higher (we are doing air bnb and not an all-inclusive megaresort), but is there anything else we should prepare for? Be aware about in general, either for this island or the region as a whole? Is car rental a necessity? Any recommendations welcome!

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t know where you live, but I am an east coaster who was shocked by how slow island time was compared to what I was used to. Think, 2 hours for pizza delivery. This was in Aruba.

    2. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I’ve never been to Antigua, but, it is tiny and I’d assume bicycles would be the way to go or walking if in a town. Also, my best Caribbean meals have been from shacks by the side of a road.

      Have you looked at The Rough Guide site? When I go somewhere new to me, I check out what they have to say. Been relying on them since the days you had to buy a book.

  14. Terry*

    Any advice on family who give much pricier gifts than I can afford to give them in return? My sisters and their partners make quite a bit more money than I do (double or possibly triple my family’s income). When holidays come around, they always have much pricier gifts or more gifts for me and my children than I could possibly afford to give them and their children. I appreciate the gifts, but then feel terrible about what I’ve gotten for them and their kids in return. I feel like it’s not good enough or they might think I’m cheap or I wonder if they will ever feel resentful. Mother’s Day is coming up tomorrow and I have a simple gift for the mothers in my family, but I’m preparing myself to have my sisters completely out do what I’ve been able to do. I don’t know how to approach this or feel better about it. A similar thing happens when we plan family vacations or get togethers. They will select a very pricy location or rental home which simply is not in my budget, I’ll have to say we won’t be able to attend because we just don’t have that money, they pressure me, and then are willing to accept me paying less for the vacation than they are so that my family can still come. They’ve always been generous about that and never made a single comment to me that would make me feel badly… but I still feel badly. Ideas to navigate this?

    1. Thlayli*

      Have you spoken to them about it? Look at it from their perspective. Imagine you won the lotto and suddenly had significantly more money than them. They’re your family. You love them. Wouldn’t you want to treat them? To bring them nice places, buy them and their kids nice things? Of course you would!

      Would you be angry with them for not having as much money and not being able to pay their full share? Of course you wouldn’t!

      I guarantee you they are not angry with you or looking down on you for not being able to pay as much as them. I guarantee they just want to give you and your family stuff and subsidise your trips because they love you and they want to spend time with you.

      It’s not like you have lots of money and are jut wasting it and mooching off them – they genuinely have more and want to share because they love you.

      If it really bothers you you need to talk to them. Tell them you want to go on cheaper trips so you can feel like you have paid your fair share. Tell them you want them to give you and your kids cheaper presents for the same reason. Agree budgets with them for gifts and trips. We have price limits for gifts in our family. It’s a normal thing to do.

      1. Nacho*

        What if they don’t want to go on cheaper trips? I’d be more than willing to pay for my kid brother to stay at a nice villa with me if it meant I wouldn’t have to stay in a shitty hotel with him just because he can’t afford anything better.

        1. WellRed*

          Less expensive doesn’t have to mean shitty. Don’t make people feel even worse about not having $.

          1. Nacho*

            It kind of does though. You can’t deny that there’s a correlation between how much you spend on a hotel and how good it is, or that the more popular tourist destinations are also more expensive because they’re so popular.

            1. The Winter Rose*

              Less good doesn’t mean shitty. There are plenty of affordable places that are perfectly lovely. Many expensive places are over-priced anyway, due to extraneous factors.

            2. Gaia*

              I mean there is a wide range between an exclusive villa for $2k a night and a Motel 6. And many in the middle are actually quite pleasant.

              Also I’ve stayed at some very expensive places that were, to my mind, quite shitty. So no, it isn’t a direct correlation.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I agree about talking with them. They may be fine with paying extra so you can go along, they might want to switch between cheaper vacations and more expensive ones, maybe they’d be OK with cheaper gifts.

        In my family, we mostly have a rule about no birthday/Christmas gifts for adults, which is a huge stress relief for me.

    2. Miss Elaine e.*

      I understand where you are coming from. I’ve been there, done that. I wonder if instead of going by price, there’s an item you can give that is uniquely from you. For instance, if you have a shared love of a particular movie or book, give that (or a trinket related to that).
      I also have a gift-giving difficulty — similar but not identical: What to give my clearly failing mother-in law tomorrow for Mother’s Day? She hardly needs more stuff so I’m making a couple of batches of a recipe that I know she loves but rarely makes because she is the only one who likes it and she does not have the strength to cook much anymore. It’s inexpensive, but I know she will appreciate it.

      1. DrWombat*

        This! I am just out of grad school, whereas my older brother is 10 years older than I am and well out of grad school, so he understands the financial situation involved. I tend to give him and my SIL books that I really enjoyed that year/that I think they’d enjoy and then we discuss them, and that seems to have worked out well so far, or I get stuff that plays on our shared love of things like Star Wars (without ANY coordination, our christmas presents to each other last year were all Star Wars themed, haha).

    3. Anona*

      Can you consider suggesting a change in the way gifts are done? A few years ago we switched to doing a swap, where everyone brings a wrapped gift of a presey value (usually no more than $20), and we do that game where you choose a gift and people can steal. It’s really fun, and gets people out of buying a ton of gifts. It took so couple of years for us to come up with a good format, but now it’s more routine.

      Or you could consider something where you’re exchanging names in advance and only buying for 1 person or family.

      Also, can you talk to them about how you feel? It’s awkward, but it may be a situation where they already realize the income disparity and on there end still just want to get you the gifts that they do, even though they know you can’t reciprocate.

      Also seconding the other comment about giving personalized gifts. Some of my favorite gifts from my aunt growing up were themed gifts. On year she got me a cool bowl for salads and wrote some recipe cards with cool salads on it, and then got me a few special ingredients to make the dressings (like champagne vinegar). Another year she got me a relaxation themed gift with nice bath salts, a loofah, and a cozy towel.

      1. Lindsay J*

        This is what my family has done now that the kids are almost all older.

        The under 21s get their own gifts.

        Everyone 21 and up participates in a swap. You buy one gift/gift basket – our limit was $50 – everyone puts their wrapped gifts on the table.

        All names go into a hat.

        A name gets drawn. First person selects a gift from the table and opens it.

        Second name get drawn. They either steal the opened gift the first person has or select a new gift.

        If they steal, the first person then gets to open a new gift.

        And so on. You can steal from anyone. They can’t steal the item back from you directly.

        At the end if everyone isn’t happy they can trade or swap however they agree to it.

        As long as your family aren’t jerks, everyone can get something decent. You don’t have to buy a ton of gifts, and you don’t have to deal with bringing home a ton of gifts.


        For my gift in the swap this year I took home a brownie pan, a Star Wars measuring cup set that looked like R2D2, and a couple Star Wars spatula.

        My little brother got a USB turn table.

        My mom got a Vitamix blender.

        My boyfriend got a Kindle.

        A cousin got a little wristlet with a convenience store gift card.

        An aunt got a waterproof USB speaker.

        My Dad got a couple Yeti tumblers I think.

        Someone else got a set of beer glasses for different types of craft beers.

        Everyone was goodnatured about trading/stealing. Like, if someone who was a known non-drinker had gotten the beer glasses, someone who could use them would have stolen them.

        I actually chose not to steal the brownie pan set from my little brother because it seemed perfect for him, but it turned out he actually really wanted the USB turn table so I traded for it later.

        The only problem the family had was deciding when to transition over. Since I’m the oldest in that generation, I had gotten a few more years of individual gifts than everyone else did. (Though not really that many as I had moved out of state and hadn’t attended Christmas for years.) It was ultimately decided that the difference between a couple years of individual gifts here and there was just something that was going to have happened and that it shouldn’t be a big deal.

        And 21 was chosen as the cutoff so the exchange gifts could be alcohol related/containing and have it not be weird.


        However, prior to that, when everyone got individual gifts, we all understood that everyone had different budgets and that was okay.

        Like, one set of aunts and uncles would get everyone something worth like $100 each.
        The other set of aunts and uncles would get everyone something worth like $15 each.
        My parents were in between the two.

        We understood that it wasn’t that the aunt and uncle with the $15 gifts loved us less, it’s that they were in a different financial position that the ones buying the $100 each gifts. There didn’t seem to be any sort of weirdness between the adults, either.

    4. ..Kat..*

      It sounds to me as if you are overdoing it. Gifts for all the mothers in your family? Get a gift for YOUR mother. Spouse gets a gift for their mother. Even if your sisters are mothers, they are not your mother. Every female in your family who has spawned does not need a gift from you.

      Just say no to vacations you can’t afford. No explanation necessary. You are letting your family decide your vacation budget. And, you are letting them decide how to spend your money.

      1. Natalie*

        I don’t think that’s the case, Terry says “[they] are willing to accept me paying less for the vacation than they are so that my family can still come.” It doesn’t sound like anyone expects Terry to do anything they can’t afford.

    5. Temperance*

      They love you and want you there! It’s honestly okay. I love buying nice things for my sister and her kids, because I have disposable income and I love them. I never bean count, because I know that my sister getting me a $10 gift (or whatever) that my niece picks out is actually really special. Nothing is better than seeing the pride in her little face when she hands me the gift. NOTHING.

      I’m sure it feels awkward, but they are happy to include you.

    6. WellRed*

      I doubt they care that you can’t spend as much. Also, have you thought about diali ng back on the gift giving ocassions? That’s very common as people get older and buying, say, gifts for all the moms in your family seems excessive.

    7. It’s all good*

      Unfortunately not now but years ago we were able to pay for my extended family, including my mom, to go on a Disney vacation a few times. I never thought twice about the finance part of it, just happy that there was a weekend we could all get together. The memories are priceless and since we have a few more kids now I’m hoping we can do it again in the future. – is there something small your sister can use? I was always losing makeup cases so my sister gave me a Mickey Mouse one at the start of the trip and I still have it! – also a nice gift my other sister would give was to take the time to get a really nice family picture then she would frame it and give it to us as a thank you gift. Another priceless gift!

    8. Nacho*

      Gift giving is as much about the giver as the receiver. If you’re making 2-3 times as much as your kid brother, you spend more on their gifts than you expect from them. Otherwise you feel like a cheap asshole who’s vindictively spending way less than you can afford on something that’s supposed to show how much you love them, just because you know you won’t get something of the same quality back, as if it were supposed to be a fair trade instead of a symbol of your affection. I spent $50-60 on all my Christmas presents when my little brother spent more like $20 because the thought of spending less made me feel like an unappreciative tool.

      Regarding vacations, they probably feel it’s worth the extra money to have you along and go someplace nice. They could go someplace cheaper that you could pay your fair share of, but then they’d have to go someplace cheaper and lower quality. Or they could go without you, but see above about going on a family vacation without your kid brother because you’re a cheap asshole.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I had a similar set up. We shopped tent sales and going out of business sales for new items at low prices. We’d hit deals where we could get $20 for $2, etc. We did the bulk of our shopping in the summer when there were more drastic markdowns and it was easier to get out and get to the sales. I remember coming home from one tent sale with $1000 worth of stuff for $250. In an odd turn around they thought we were the crazy spenders.

      Eventually, the gifting thing got tired. We all had too much crap. And we spent too much time shifting it around or donating it. In light of this, we said we wanted just one item per couple. We said, “We have stuff. We really don’t need a ton more stuff.” That seemed to help also.

    10. ladyb*

      Perhaps it might help to frame the amount spent in terms of percentage of income rather than total spent. I’d argue that someone who spends 10% of their income is more generous than someone spending 1%, even if the amount spent is the same.

  15. Kuododi*

    DH is processing today to receive his second Master’s degree. This one is in Bioethics with an emphasis in healthcare issues!!! I am so proud of him!!!!

    1. Miss Elaine e.*

      Congrats to him! That’s a long, hard, stressful process! Bravo!

      And kudos to you for helping him to make it happen. (Surely you’ve been helping him keep the rest of his life going while he fulfilled this very admirable goal!)

      1. Kuododi*

        Thanks…. I told him when he started this process that my job is to help him however I can, ( proofing papers, fixing dinner, even just taking the dogs into the bedroom to watch TV so he can have quiet time to study, whatever he needed). Now it’s time to party!!!

  16. Loopy*

    I always think of something I want to post here midweek, can’t write it down, then forget by Saturday. It is the saddest! I wanted to ask you guys something so bad, how is it now *completely* gone from my head?!

    Unrelated: I posted about Aldi a few weeks ago, the produce held up GREAT after going two weeks in a row. So thrilled.

    Also unrelated: I’m turning 30 on June 5. My giant turning-30 present to myself was both early…. and a 120 dollar electric tooth brush set. I am so boring.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Haha you are not boring. My 30th birthday present to myself was a vacuum!

      1. Loopy*

        That was the first thing I thought of putting on my wedding registry. And I really *wanted* it and it’s not even a Roomba. I feel we are kindred souls :)

    2. Rovannen*

      An electric toothbrush is not only a gift to your 30 year old self, it’s a gift to your future 40, 50, 60, 70 (etc) year old self.

    3. Are you who you want to be?*

      Haha, Electric toothbrushes are great. I also really like using a water pik.

      1. Loopy*

        Ah I still need to look into that! After years of miserable regular dental exams and being unhappy with my dental routine, something snapped and now I’m obsessed with improving my teeth!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      That toothbrush is such an investment. I did not replace mine when it quit. I now regret that to the tune of thousands of dollars. Money well spent, Loopy.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! I am going to keep this in mind when it’s time to replace! Sorry to hear about your experience though :(

  17. Scotland Travels*

    This summer I’ll be traveling to Scotland and we just decided our destinations! They will include Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oban, Isle of Skye, and Inverness. Any suggestions of sites to see would be most welcome for trip planning!

    1. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      The fairy pools in Skye are beautiful! Definitely would recommend those as well as Edinburgh Castle. There’s also a kind of cool house of illusions right near the castle (I can’t remember what the name is, sorry!) Honestly, just walking or driving around, basically anywhere in Scotland, was my favorite part of my trip. Have so much fun!

      1. Claire (Scotland)*

        The Camera Obscura has the World of Illusions, that’s probably the one.

    2. Lau (UK)*

      I grew up in Glasgow and have a lot of love for Scotland. In Glasgow: Kelvingrove museum and park are pretty special, and there are some fab foodie places that are pretty casual nearby – recommend Stravaigin and the Wee Curry Shop v highly.

      If driving up to Oban then leave time and stop at Loch Lomond, you drive up the west shore and Luss is lovely.

      Shop in Glasgow rather than Edinburgh and in Edinburgh venture off the tourist track and you’ll find some gems.


    3. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      Seconding the Fairy Pools! They’re likely to be quite crowded but we had so much fun there. We also very much enjoyed Talisker Distillery/the drive out to Talisker Bay on Skye (there’s a pub right at the water close to Talisker Distillery where you can get great dinner too), and Neist Point is absolutely spectacular.

      Edinburgh, if you’re not going up Arthur’s Seat I’d recommend Calton Hill for views – easy to get to from the Royal Mile and well worth it. I dragged every visitor up there.

      Inverness, I never saw much of the city, but if you get out to the Black Isle, there’s a lovely walk called Fairy Glen which starts in Rosemarkie. We did it in absolutely miserable rainy and cold April weather and still loved it, in summer with good weather it should be even better!

      I’d honestly second the ‘just driving around’ advice, especially on Skye. The landscape is out of this world and after most corners someone in the car would go ‘no stop, I need to take a picture, is there a parking spot somewhere??’

      No idea which routes you’re driving, but if you pass Stirling, consider a visit to Doune – they filmed Monty Python and Outlander at Doune Castle and the audio guide is spoken by some of the Monty Python guys. Also, 3 years on I still dream of the lemon cake at the cafe in Doune.

      My very favourite day in Scotland, in terms of views, was the drive from Shieldaig to Applecross over the Bealach na Bà to Skye, but that might be out of the way for you and you do need a good and calm driver (I could not have driven this bit).

      Also seconding Luss! Very cute, likely to be crowded but there’s some great walks around the village which take you away from the crowds.

      If you like walking, I recommend the Pocket Mountain books for walks in Scotland – they’re small pocket books for just about every region and they took us to some great places we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

      Have so much fun, it’s my favourite country and I can’t wait to go back!

    4. Cookie Monster*

      Climb Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh! Both the little and the big parts. It’s an absolutely incredible hike, and you don’t feel like you’re in a city. Also, go to Mary’s Milk Bar – the gelato is spectacular and honestly the best I’ve ever had.

      1. VIT (Scotland)*

        Seconding this! Edinburgh was built up on itself and the tour takes you down underground into the old streets right in the centre of the city. It’s very cool.

        Also seconding Stravaigin in Glasgow (their Nasi Goreng is amazing), though there are quite a few nice restaurants in that area. Edinburgh’s a beautiful touristy city while Glasgow is more lived in if that makes sense – both great places.

    5. Fiennes*

      Check out Cawdor Castle outside Inverness. It’s not the medieval ruin I expected, despite it being a locale from Macbeth; it’s still a home, albeit one open for tours, and with signs written by the resident family. And those family members are hilarious. “This is a landscape painted by our great-great uncle in 1862. We think you will agree it is horrid.” It’s like getting a house your from Maggie Smith.

      Plus, the nearby countryside is pretty, and I’m pretty sure the Bannockburn site is very close.

        1. Fiennes*

          Yes, that’s what I meant! Serves me right for posting before morning caffeine.

    6. Sled dog mama*

      My home town is sister cities with Oban!
      If you’re into Whiskey at all go to yhe distillery, I went in high school and found it interesting. If you can get to both Iona, Mull and Staffa go! If you can’t do them all go to Iona for sure, and Staffa if you can, Tobermory on Mull is awesome but its a distance from the ferry station. If you like Silver jewelry (necklaces, particularly celtic crosses) ask around about the silver smith on mull who makes beautiful jewelry (he may not be there any more).
      Make sure to head out of town to see the falls of Lorna they are a tidal rapid outside Oban. You used to be able to take a Zodiac tour out to the strait of Coryvrecken (pretty sure I spelled that wrong) which was also pretty cool).
      Don’t know if it’ll be too far out of the way but the one thing my host family was absolutely insistent that I see was Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Scotland, it was gorgeous! There is a lift most of the way up (high enough to get really good views) and a restaurant where the lift drops you.

    7. Reba*

      I just left the Isle of Skye! For the fairy pools–or anywhere popular/convenient to the road–get there EARLY. To be honest the fairy pools are alright but there are many, many beautiful and magical spots on the island, so if it looks crowded just move on and don’t worry. The hikes we did were Corrie Lagan (from Glen brittle, Cuillins) and Quirang (from main parking lot). The Taigh Ailean hotel has great, generous affordable meals (including vegetarian haggis!). I really liked both Dunvegan abd Eilean Dunan castles, more interesting than I thought they would be!

      Assume you are driving–give yourself lots of time to minimize stress and enjoy all the luscious scenery. Positive experience with Arnold Clark rental. I found the stretch along loch lomond in heavy rain to be particularly harrowing.

      Just winding down a gorgeous day of self guided walking tour of Glasgow.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      If you’re going to Inverness, you’re only 14 miles from Loch Ness. :) Look for share-a-tour groups where you can buy seats on a tour. Inverness Tours is a good one. I used them when I went. They were very easy to deal with; I booked everything online. Their website looks like an early-90s throwback, but don’t let that put you off. It was delightful. I’ve wanted to visit there since I was a child, and I even climbed all the way up to the top of Urquhart Castle’s ruined tower despite a strong wind and a fear of heights.

      Also, don’t miss Leakey’s on Church Street. It’s a secondhand bookshop in an old church. One of the best bookshops I’ve ever visited in my LIFE.

  18. Holy cow this hurts!*

    Anyone one out there who’s experienced a slipped/herniated disk? How long before you could walk without pain shooting down your leg? It just happened to me this week. I saw the doctor, and it’s being treated. Doc says I’ll recover from the initial pain in a week and will be able to start physical therapy. However, if anyone has little tips that worked for them in the recovery, I’d appreciate it.

    Things I’m already doing: taking meds (from doc’s Rx), using a cane to walk, spending 5 minutes moving every hour, and doing child and cat poses from yoga to take pressure off my spine. I can get comfortable sitting on my bed, so I’m only in pain when I try to move or if I stay in the same position for a really long time.

    1. Jaid_Diah*

      Time and stretches. Maybe some ice packs because of the swelling in your back. I used to do the cobra and bridge poses and the cobra one really helped.
      I wish you well, HC!

    2. Pollygrammer*

      I have sciatica from a degenerative disc, so I very much feel for you. The leg did slowly start feeling better (although the numb spots are still numb, which is occasionally aggravating. Something weird happens nerve-wise when you get a mosquito bite somewhere you don’t have any skin sensation).

      Cat-cow yoga poses do me a lot of good. Experiment with different sleeping positions–pillow under your knees, feet raised, body pillow, etc. If you can, make sure you have a really good mattress. I hope you feel better soon!

    3. School Psych*

      This happened to my husband and it took about a week with the pain meds before he was able to move around with minimal pain. It took about 2 weeks of physical therapy for him to be back to his normal self. He bought one of these back rollers from Dick’s Sporting goods and it really helped with taking the pressure off his spine during stretches and helping him be more comfortable/supported when sitting :

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I did about 18 months ago, one of my closest friends about a year ago. I never had sciatica but had killer nerve pain in my foot and toe, she had sciatica bad shooting down one leg. Me: no surgery, just nerve pain blockers, strong Rx for pain killers, and some muscle relaxers, MRI to show a piece jammed in the nerve canal, but overall it was healing on its own. Her: morphine and major surgery and walking only for 6 months. She also had to have emergency services come get her off the bathroom floor at Christmas when she sneezed and blew it out.

      What helped for both of us – walking. Seriously, I would gauge my progress by walking to the bus shelter, then to the end of the street, then around the block. My other half would walk me every night :) And when I reherniated at some point, I was walking the one hallway in our flat (22 steps!) back and forth, until I felt like I could try for the bus shelter again. I had a partially dropped foot too which made it worrysome to walk on my own, but that has since resolved.

      The child and cat/cow poses are excellent – I also did that one where you stick one leg out the back and the opposite arm forward (you are on your knees). I used lot of guided mediation to take my mind off the pain (before I could convince the doctor about the nerve situation) – Meditainment has a bunch of different choices. Also – do NOT read about this stuff online, you’ll only convince yourself you will never walk again, etc :)

      You definitely need to move, but try not to push past the pain too far. Your back will let you know when its pissed off and irritated! I now also get the same signals when I haven’t given it enough movement either.

      For me the ultimate cause was due to far too much sitting and stress, which allowed my hip flexors and core to get weak. I now lift weights a few times a week and its INCREDIBLE how good my back feels after lifting! Totally counterintuitive, but you may want to look into this (note: i work with someone who instructs and watches my form) once you have mended significantly.

      Good luck – its a pretty painful situation, but itll pass, dont worry!

      1. Holy cow this hurts!*

        How did you distinguish between the pain in moving and trying not to push past the pain too far? My main problem is being vertical, even if I don’t put weight on it. Basically my back is pissed off the whole time I’m walking, and that’s with the cane to take most of the weight. I’m worried that if I walk until I can’t go any further, I’ve already pushed to far.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Both myself and my friend rested when we needed to – she had a cane with a little seat that would pop out. For me I remember feeling that I HAD to take weight/pressure off the back right away, that I couldn’t move/lift the leg around once more and/or the stabbing nerve pain in my foot was getting to be too much. The first week or two I had to rest three times on my way to the bus stop – it was maybe 100 yards from my flat. And I had to rest after going up two of three stairs to our entryway. When I got home I would lay down and put ice on my back and made sure to always take the painkillers on schedule. But that was it, that was my walk for the day.

          It was all about not doing too much right away – they say walk, but its little, frequent excursions. Its the hall if it needs to be, or around the block, etc. If its the hall then it may be 20 lengths one day, and then 25 the next. Both myself and my friend walked with someone else the first few weeks because I was scared I would get stuck somewhere in a lot of pain,or trip over the bad foot, and not be able to get home. Having someone along was a comfort blanket and encouragement.

          Right now its in a state of constant irritation so it will burn regardless of what you are doing. For me the key was to use the pain scale – with 10 being the absolute top end, screaming (literally, im sure my neighbors loved that) nerve pain, and 1 being normal. Starting out moving I knew would hurt, say a 5, dip to a 4 because I was out in the air, and then climb up to maybe a 7 when I would decide that was it, I needed to stop and rest for a few minutes. Then I would start again and if the pain hadn’t subsided from a 7 after a few feet, then I would know it was time to turn around and go home, that it just wasn’t up to it that day. When I was at the top end of 9/10 getting to the bathroom was an accomplishment, and walking was therefore out of the question. But what got me from that 9/10 situation and to 5/6 where I could start walking was just getting proper rest (finally, once I could control the nerve pain and get the muscles to relax and release) and starting to move within my boundaries (the yoga, the hallway). I think they just don’t want folks being bedbound for two months thinking that will help the back best!

          If your problem is being vertical, you may need to just start slower (say in the house), but frequent, which it sounds like you are doing. Every herniation is different – where and how the disk herniated, how the nerve is impacted, etc all sorts of variables. For some folks it really is that quick where they are over it in 6 weeks and for others it can mean the start of years of surgeries. Most surgeons, however, will take a wait and see and there is a whole ladder of non-surgical options before they even start to think about going in. Your back will “heal itself” in time, most likely, but it will still need time at the start to get going on that process, which rest also helps.

          1. Holy cow this hurts!*

            The scale of pain is super helpful, thanks! I think I can do a little more than I have been without exceeding the limit. And I agree, I’d rather exhaust conservative treatment before surgery options.

    5. Holy cow this hurts!*

      Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I’ll definitely need to try the foam roller and other tips.

    6. Kristie*

      Sorry to hear about the pain you’re in. I had the same thing. I ordered large ice packs on amazon for a reasonable price (several, so I could use one and have a cold one waiting. and wrapped them in dish towels when using so they weren’t so icy)
      I also had several lumbar rolls (one for the car, one for work, etc).
      I got a comfortable desk chair and used that at the dining table (weird, but hey, I was comfortable)
      I ended up getting a micro diskectomy surgery about 1 year after we discovered the herniated disc. Physical therapy and cortisone shots just weren’t cutting it anymore. Recovery was fast. I feel great now. I don’t regret it.
      Good luck!

    7. Camille*

      Best thing for a slipped disc is unfortunately just NSAIDs, time, and physical activity. Move as much as you can, walking is great, and try not to lay in bed too much. (I know how tempting it is from personal experience! And it sounds like you’re already not doing that.)

  19. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

    Any advice for communal living situations? In a few months I’m moving into a house with multiple roommates, and I’m wondering if people have any tips for being a good housemate and/or dealing with the tricker parts of living with several people.

    1. KitKat*

      You’ve probably already thought of this, but definitely have a conversation about expectations up front! Who is doing what chores? Any limitations around parties? Overnight guests? Is it ok to leave your dishes to soak in the sink? Who buys the toilet paper? Is the olive oil communal or private? Are there shower times or is it a free for all?

      Since you’re moving into a pre-existing house, they may have already figured a lot of this stuff out and will tell you. You may also want to think about your weird habits and be up front about them – I tell people that I get up early but am quiet, that I enjoy my alone time, and that I shed a lot but will do my best to clean it up :)

      1. Midwest Engineer*

        I agree with all of the above! I would also add how is food marked communal or private? Is it labeled? On a different shelf? Are there hours that are generally considered times to avoid doing loud things?

      2. Traveling Teacher*

        Also, ask how they do their dishes! I lived with people once who only washed the “dirty parts” of their dishes (like: the “eating end” of their silverware, or the top of the plate, but not the bottom). So gross!

      3. Marion Ravenwood*

        Agree with all the above. I’d also ask about what the split and process for paying bills is if they’re not included in your rent – is there a joint account that they’re all paid from? Do different people look after particular bills and then just pay that person when it’s due? Are all the bills split equally, or do people pay extra (eg if you’ve made a lot of phone calls this month)?

    2. Kate Daniels*

      Be upfront about things that are bothering you instead of expecting people to read your mind. Passive aggressiveness kills!

    3. StellaBella*

      Agree with the comments posted and here are a few of my own – I have lived alone for 16 years now, tho. So… chores – when do they get done and which frequency (every Sunday morning for full house cleaning? when is vacuuming done? how often?) How are bills split and managed in terms of money? Music and noise rules? Open windows in winter – heating rules/cooling rules? How is internet handled? Yard work – if there is a yard how is the space used and managed and cared for? Trash and recycling – how are those managed? Cooking space and time slots – same for laundry – time slots? Yes to quiet hours question above too. And how does one deal with morning vs night people and hours? Good luck!

      As an aside – I am in grad school now and when I came for a campus visit I had a young woman ask a bunch of us touring if “we could all connect on facebook and get a house together as there is a house for 11 people available and it is cheap and we could all live there it would be SO MUCH FUN!” to which I replied… “No, sorry – I am getting my own house and I have a cat and I don’t live with others since I am older…” and she said, “ooooh you are a cat lady…..” Yeah – it’s been a long year having her in class. :-|

    4. Marathon Girl*

      I think cleaning up after yourself is the biggest thing to make sure you do. I had a housemate that left her old cups of hot chocolate and remains of a hotpot for so long they grew mould… I would always cook – eat – clean up. If you start leaving dishes it’ll become a terrible habit and the aim to do them the next day will end up being the next week! Also hide good food well. I shared with 8 people once and food would always be stolen/used (cheese was always a big favourite along with sweets/chocolate). I guess it depends on the people but those 8 people were all lovely yet food still went walking and none would admit it. Once my friend bought some vegan chocolate, expensive stuff that she was super excited to eat- she left it on the counter in the kitchen (and I’m not exaggerating) for 5 minutes tops, she only went back to her room briefly to grab a cup or something, and it was GONE. I swear communal living can teach you to never judge a book by it’s cover haha!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I once had a roommate situation that deteriorated for other reasons (they wanted to move a friend in so bullied me out), but they were pretty good about keeping hands-off with people’s food. We each had our own shelf in the fridge and you didn’t touch what was on someone else’s shelf.

    5. MissingArizona*

      Get a large whiteboard, and a large calendar (I like a hanging desk calendar), and put them both in a very visible place. I had one female roommate, and four male roommates, in a huge house, and it was impossible to keep track of stuff, so we finally started leaving notes for each other. Also, with parking, make sure everyone knows which parking space is theirs, this can cause an insane number of fights.

      And don’t leave your dirty socks on the kitchen counter.

    6. Red Reader*

      As the live-in landlord for a houseful of roommates:
      Clean up after yourself, both in terms of kitchen/bathroom stuff and just general belongings – put your stuff away instead of leaving it laying around public areas.
      If there are chore/cooking agreements, hold up your end of the bargain.
      If you have food that is definitely not communal, put your name on it. Be reasonable with the amount of fridge space you take up with non-communal stuff.
      Paying your share of the rent/bills in a timely fashion goes without saying — but also, assuming that the bills are evenly split, be mindful of them. Don’t leave lights on when you’re not home or leave the water running forever or spend three hours in the shower (seriously, what the heck is she DOING in there….)
      If there’s any pets, know what the rules are. Like, in my house, the dogs can have the occasional pizza crust, and all the carrots they want, but otherwise, nobody gives them people food but me (because I don’t very often, and everyone else would love to spoil them :P ) and the cats aren’t allowed in my office, nor the dogs in the basement.
      Be real specific about the rules on guests — I am a massive introvert and get aggressively cranky face at having strangers in my home, and my housemates (who have all been my friends for ten years or more) know that I’m much more comfortable having people in the house if I have met them at least once outside of the house first.

      1. Red Reader*

        Also I’m a general fan of having an emergency contact for everyone in a designated place, though in my house we’ve been friends long enough that I have the phone numbers for my housemates’ parents anyway. Find out how interactive the house is — if you don’t come home for two days, is someone likely to notice before the rent is due? Are they the type to have an in-out board and freak out if everyone isn’t in by midnight? (I prefer to know if people are going to be out past my bedtime but still come home, just because that way I don’t get nervous when the dogs are all “Hey, the front door is opening!” at midnight.)

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          This was going to be my advice. When I had a roommate, I thought it was super rude for her to not tell me she wasn’t coming home. Not because I’m her mother or something but because I would be worried she was in a car accident if the last I knew she was going to work and then coming home to watch Idol. Especially with texting nowadays, it’s so easy to shoot a text that says don’t expect me tonight or I’m going to be home at 3 am so don’t be startled when I come in.

    7. Just a thought*

      If you are sharing a bathroom either talk about schedules or keep some things in your room in case someone is using the bathroom when you need it. Being late to work because a roommate was in the bathroom is no fun.
      Generally be respectful of different sleep schedules. I have a roommate that goes to bed at 10 and wakes up early, so the TV is extra quiet at night because she can hear it in her room.
      Do your dishes is a big one.
      Also, learn to let some of their annoying habits go. No one is the perfect roommate and no everything is worth a conversation.

  20. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate*

    I’m about to interview nanny candidates. I’ve never done this before, though obviously I’ve read Allison on interviewing.

    What should I ask?

    1. Em*

      I’ve heard before that you should directly ask “have you ever harmed a child” and “have you ever yelled at a child”. I don’t know if I’d be able to do it. I like the questions “what procedures will you follow if my child is injured”. I’m sure there’s lots more good ones.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        Those are interesting. The first I think you could do in a light hearted way and include your own anecdote and ask it in a way that would include intentional and accidental harm. Like I could tell the story of my cousin lifting his nephew up and not realizing he (the cousin) was so tall that there was no clearance between baby and the ceiling fan. There were tears but baby was fine!

        For the latter, I think it could help weed out people who are just telling you what you want to hear. I’d be leery of anyone who said they had NEVER yelled at a child. Anyone who has watched children has on rare occassion had to yell, usually in a safety situation.

      2. Observer*

        What does anyone expect to get from that? Who is going to tell you that they actually harmed a child. And if you think that you can tell from the way they answer whether they are lying or not, you are almost certainly mistaken. Most people who think that they are good at telling who is truthful or not, are not all that good at it.

    2. nep*

      No experience in this and this isn’t exactly addressing your question–but the one thing that comes to mind is I’d surely want a good number of references with first-hand experience with how this person is with children. Reckon that’s already part of your search.
      Best of luck.

    3. Call me St. Vincent*

      How old are your children? For infants, I’d definitely ask about safe sleep. A lot of old school nannies (and grandparents) still put kids on their tummies to sleep which is a huge no no. I would also ask about potty training styles and experience even if they are infants now, it will definitely come up later! Discipline is a big one too. I would ask open ended questions about that and see what they say.

    4. Stacy*

      I love your user name, and adore LTiH! Adore! I recommend it every chance I get. I like to channel my inner Caroline on the tricky days. And regularly remind myself that I have the advantage of having me on my side.

      I’m awfully sad to think that there may never be a full 4th series after the heartbreak that was series 3.

    5. Book Lover*

      I tell them that I won’t have guns in my house and they can’t have guns in their car while my kids are there or in handbag. I also ask and check driving records (you can do a background check that includes this or separately).
      I also tell them about food allergies and what they can’t bring into the house because of them.
      I find that responses to my requirements are helpful in gauging whether it is worth moving ahead.

      Beyond that, I ask about experience (age of kids cared for, what were their duties), I ask for references and I check them.

      I ask what they would do in certain circumstances – kid refusing to do homework, kid having tantrum.

      I do a nanny contract – I used one from online, that includes not sharing photos or information online and so on. Firing offenses being using cel phone while driving. I ask them to avoid excessive use of their phones in general during the day also.

      I do everything aboveboard – nanny tax, unemployment insurance, and also have worker’s compensation. It is for them but mostly for my protection. I find that requiring everything be done that way also eliminates people, which is fine.

    6. Parenthetically*

      I reckon you need to ask about their child-rearing philosophy generally, what they think the broad responsibilities of a nanny are and aren’t, how they see responsibility/authority, etc., so you can make sure you’re on the same page. I had a pretty hellish nannying job for a year or so where the parents basically didn’t provide any structure or discipline for their kids — computer and TV time were unlimited, but I was supposed to get the kids to do their homework, even though I had no authority to go over to the computer and tell the 11-year-old to get off the Harry Potter fanfiction website and get to work, or to take the 7-year-old’s tv privileges away when he hit me. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I’d realized that I was going to have all the responsibility (and all the blame when things went wrong) but no authority.

    7. Hannah*

      I used to be a nanny, so while I can’t speak from a parental perspective, I’ve definitely been through the interview process from the other side.

      Here are things I think are important to talk about in a nanny interview:

      What would a regular day look like? (From both sides, this is really important. How is the nanny going to spend his/her time with your kids? What are the expectations around planning activities, what chores or errands are going to be expected? Where is the nanny allowed to take your kids?)

      How does the nanny handle challenging situations with your kids? (This is highly age-dependent, and should cover things like a baby that won’t stop crying, or a potty-training tot, or a kid who is misbehaving.)

      How would the nanny handle a medical emergency with your kids?

      Some smaller but important things to consider are: is the nanny a smoker? How is payment and taxes going to be handled? Is the nanny available outside of regular hours? (Like for a date night or something). Will the nanny be bringing kids of his/her own along, either regularly or irregularly? Is there anything the nanny is NOT willing to do? (Cook, clean, shop, take the kids to classes, drive the kids around, have playdates with other kids with or without their own parents/caregivers.)

      Also, I really think gut feeling is something that needs to be considered here. You need to be comfortable and confident in this person, way more so than with a regular employee. They are not only taking care of your precious babies, but they are in your home, in your business, and you have to mesh well to be able to work together.

    8. Hired a Nanny*

      I’ll add to be open to older nannies.

      When I was first looking around, I was sure I wanted a college student studying some kid-related field, but the only one I met with flaked on me.

      I ended up meeting with an older woman who’s a career nanny (with great references) and she’s been so professional and reliable — such a relief!

      And while giving her a reference to a second family she’ll be working with, that family shared their experience with younger, college-aged nannies: they would call out with short notice or not show up!

      Certainly it depends on the disposition/track record of the individual, but I’d just put it it there to be open to a wider article range.

    9. Traveling Teacher*

      I would also recommend doing two waves of interviews and making sure that your partner is there for the second wave if not possible for the first. Since you would be entrusting your child’s very life to this person, you can never be too careful.

      Also, I always ask first what their policies on punishment are. What would they do if X or Y happened? Tell me about a time a child did X thing–how did you handle it?

      If they say they physically punish (spank/hit/slap), I end the interview immediately. If they don’t, then I make clear that I do not spank or physically hit my child and that that is grounds for immediate termination and possible prosecution if they do so.

      A couple of things that I don’t see mentioned already:

      Also, I’d ask what they would do if my child got hurt. Would they know what to do if X or Y happened? Who would they call? (example: What temperature warrants a trip to the ER versus home treatment?)

      And, I also ask about preventative things, like how they interact with the child when walking on a sidewalk, crossing the street, etc. And common kid safety hazards, like: What foods cause choking? How can that be prevented? (I have an uncle who died when home alone in his mid-40s because he choked while eating, and there are so many more things that are choking hazards for little ones that people don’t necessarily know about! Grapes, hot dogs, cherry tomatoes…round things that are the perfect size to block a kid’s throat but can be easily cut to prevent choking…)

      Third round is them meeting my child. Only after seeing them interact together do I consider hiring.

      Hope this is helpful to you! I’m really neurotic about safety, plus just the vibes I pick up from the person and how confident they are when answering my questions. (Plus things every employer does: references and background checks! )

      I’d also recommend having a clear contract with written expectations to avoid resentment from either side. I had varying nannying jobs when I was younger, and the best one was for a family who made everything crystal-clear from the get-go and respected their contract to the letter.

  21. Nervous accountant*

    Anyone done solo travelling? There’s a lot of destinations I want to go to that my husband doesn’t want to go to. The most solo I’ve done is a trip to Cali where I stayed with my brother but got to do my own thing.

    Right now it’s just a pipe dream bc my PTO and savings are wiped out from these 2 trips this year, and a future mandatory trip as well so I may never be able to. But a girl can dream.

    1. PolicyChick*

      Yep, I’ve travelled solo on 90% of my trips, and I have been all over the world. I love it! I can see what I please, eat where I like. If I want to stay somewhere an extra day (or head off to the next destination early) I don’t have to consult with anyone.

      It’s wonderfully freeing. Highly recommend!

      1. tangerineRose*

        Agreed. I’ve traveled alone a lot, and I like it. The tough part is that you can’t split up stuff that needs to be done. The great part is that you get to do whatever you want (within reason). I have someone I keep in contact with by text when I travel, just so someone knows something about where I am, kind of a safety thing.

        I like to bring books along so that when I eat out, I have something to read. Or maybe a magazine – they’re lighter :)

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I also travel solo, mainly to Europe. I really enjoy it. My time is my own.

    3. Knotty Ferret*

      I’ve traveled with friends, and traveled alone. I deal with a lot of social anxiety, so having someone else expecting me gets me out of the hotel and out to see the things I traveled to see.
      Alone is good for a relaxing, no expectations trip. The lack of food negotiations led to some fantastic meals.

    4. Dan*

      I’ve traveled solo to six continents. I usually take one multi week trip each year. It’s a blast.

    5. Fiennes*

      I’ve traveled solo many times. Honestly, I love being free to explore on my terms. A little extra safety may be in order, but for most destinations that makes little to no difference.

    6. HannahS*

      I have! It’s delightful, and I’m doing it again this summer. Personally, I’d feel a bit unsafe travelling alone to a place where I couldn’t grasp any of the language AND couldn’t read street signs AND didn’t understand the culture, but I’d probably do a combination of a tour + days alone in the biggest cities–that’s kind of what I’m hazily planning for Japan in a few years. But North America, Western Europe, and Israel are all places I’ve travelled alone and loved.

    7. Nervous accountant*

      Nice!! I feel like I am so weird…..my ideal time is actually just spending time with someone who’s company I enjoy rather than going to any interesting locations….so I don’t know if solo travel is for me. I can have a nice time just hanging out and sitting around as long as I enjoy the people. but why not toy with the idea of travelling til it can be a reality one day.

      Thanks all for the replies.

    8. Traveler*

      I would really encourage you to try it at least once to see if it’s for you. For me, there’s nothing like solo travel. I feel like I’m so much more engaged in what’s happening around me when I’m by myself. I’ve traveled all over the world solo. Recently, for more than year. I have so many stories of wonderful connections with perfect strangers. I never felt lonely. Magical moments just happened organically, while I was busy enjoying myself. You might be really surprised by the sense of community you feel … even when you’re in a foreign country with a language barrier!

    9. Canadian Natasha*

      I’ve travelled solo twice so far; once within the country (as a first step) and once internationally. I highly recommend it! It really is a very different experience than travelling with family or friends. You can be much more adventurous when you don’t have the ability to slack off and let other people make the decisions for you and you don’t have to get anyone else to agree. And you can do everything at your own pace. In my case, I challenged myself to travel alone because I wanted to work on overcoming fears and limitations. I do feel like it worked. Now I have the travel bug! :)

    10. Future Analyst*

      Yes! I go on a yearly solo trip around my birthday (Jan) and I love it. It feels like a good time to discover/remember things that YOU like to do, and I love the quiet– my husband is an extrovert who processes things by talking through them, and I am an introvert. Highly recommend solo trips!!

    11. Lindsay J*

      I do it a lot.

      I enjoy it because I’m generally a people pleaser, so if I go with other people I tend to go along with whatever they want to do. Or I would hesitate to, say, pull over to the side of the road to take a picture of something interesting because I would be holding them up from getting to where they want to be.

      When I’m solo, it’s all me. I can decide what restaurant sounds most interesting and go there. I can decide that I feel lazy and just want to hang out in the hotel room all day, etc.

  22. nep*

    How did I not know about Sudan Archives before last week?
    I am so glad I came across her online and learned of her work. She defies description. I’m glad she exists and is emitting that power.

  23. KitKat*

    Anyone have a dynamic where they are the ones with all the “ideas” for things to do when hanging out? My friends reach out to me about as much as I reach out to them, but when they ask if I want to hang out and I say yes, it sort of ends up being “oh cool, what do you want to do?” and when I reach out, it’s also, “oh cool, what do you want to do?” I don’t constantly mind and I do think I’m good at being creative about fun and low-cost things to do in my city, but sometimes it just feels like work, and I just want someone else to do it! (This happens with my husband too, but with him I’m more comfortable just saying – I want you to take me on a date this weekend.)

    1. Em*

      Just be straight with them. Planning is exhausting! “I’ll plan this time, but next time I want to do something fun that you plan!” Or even be like “I don’t have the time to plan something, could you figure out a plan and I just show up this time?”

      1. HannahS*

        I agree. What I often did as a teenager was have a “default” plan. The default plan was, “Come to my house, we’ll have tea and talk.” So I’d ask people what they wanted to do, and would say, “If we can’t find something that works, you guys can all come here.” Or the default plan could be, “Let’s meet at that convenient local lunch place.”

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          I like this. I will admit I am notoriously bad at planning things to do (mainly because when I’ve suggested things in the past I’ve been told ‘no, that’s boring/stupid’, and so my logic became that if the other person picks what we do then it’ll be something they want to do) and so a default plan would be massively helpful for me! Thank you for the post :)

  24. Ann*

    Is anybody good at furniture layout? I’m struggling with ideas for my bedroom (though it’s a good struggle! I’ve never had room for extra furniture before). Here’s a rough sketch of what it looks like:

    Basically right now I have a bed with two bedside tables, then a storage bench (that I keep blankets in) at the foot of the bed. There are some west-facing windows. I’m trying to figure out what to do with the wall opposite the bed, since it feels weird to have it so empty. I was thinking maybe bookshelves + dresser, since while I have a decent sized closet, it has pre-installed wire shelves w/ hanging rods, so there’s not a lot of room for sweaters and I was thinking a dresser for sweaters + underwear might be nice. But I’m not sure if it would be weird for that side to be asymmetric? Or whether it would be good to do bookshelf | dresser | bookshelf. Or maybe reading chair | dresser | bookshelf?

    Also I’m curious if there’s such thing as a cat tree that’s not completely carpet covered or ugly? I get that it’s a good material for them for practical reasons, but I also lived in enough apartments with stained wall-to-wall beige carpet that I don’t want my more in my life than I have to. Based on her current tree (I’m looking to get another one that I can put in the living room, but blends in slightly better), she likes to sit and watch everything going on or just sleep on it, but avoids the cubbies or scratching elements (preferring a dedicated scratching post). I’ve seen things like this (https://www.tuftandpaw.com/collections/cat-trees/products/torre-cat-tree?variant=27907876113) that I think she’d enjoy, but they’re also really expensive. I think she’d like something like this (https://www.tuftandpaw.com/collections/cat-trees/products/ozzy-cat-tree) but the perches are pretty small and I’d worry about stability. I’ve also been thinking about DIYing one, but I’m not sure what would look good and be functional.

    Here’s a picture of my cat as thanks: https://imgur.com/a/VFmxubK

    1. Aphrodite*

      Ooh, those are expensive. There are others in that same price range but much more interesting, this one for example: http://www.ahiddenhollow.com/

      I’d suggest googling “custom cat trees” in Google Images, which is where I found Hidden Hollow. There are some very talented woodworkers out there who make cat trees in all sorts of interesting shapes and designs.

    2. Ktelzbeth*

      There’s Pioneer Pet SmartCat’s The Ultimate Scratching Post. I think it looks better than some of the carpet covered things and my cat likes it. A perch for the top is sold separately. I also have a couple from Purrfect Post. They are expensive, but I’m in a furnished rental, so the possible expense of her scratching anywhere inappropriate was far higher.

    3. Oxford Coma*

      DIY cat trees can look really good, but the key is patience. You can’t staple the rug to the wood because their claws can get caught, so you need a quality adhesive and clamps to hold the carpet while the glue sets up. Wrapping sisal around and gluing it is also a test of patience.

      If you’re not able or willing to DIY, I recommend looking for homemade ones on places like Etsy. People who are skilled at woodworking can crank them out in no time, since all you need is basic wood shapes and a few carpet remnants.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Furniture. You might want to consider a comfy chair that you can sleep in. I have nights where laying down is painful and sleeping in a chair is just perfect. The chair is also good for putting on shoes or reading quietly before bed.
      You could consider a jewelry armor if you use much jewelry.
      I want a full length mirror on my room but I have no space to hang it and still be able to step back far enough to see.
      I don’t know how much walking space you have between the bed and the windows. I saw a nice dresser, maybe about waist high and it was narrow but long. It would be great for socks, underwear and all those other small things we have to keep track of. You might even just prefer to put it on the wall at the foot of the bed.

      Don’t cram too much in there. Some folks believe that the busyness can distract us from sleep. I have pared down the clutter in my room just to make it feel more cozy and less busy.

    5. Melody Pond*

      For furniture layout, try floorplanner.com. You can insert various different types of furniture by searching for them in their database, and then you can change the dimensions of each particular piece of furniture to match exactly whatever furniture you’re considering.

      Also, here’s the cat tree I bought for our cat. It’s a little spendy, but I think it looks nice, and our cats love the box.


  25. Drama Llama*

    Occasionally I need a reminder that the world is a nice place still.

    What’s a random act of kindness you either observed, received, or gave?

    When I started crying after just missing a train a random stranger gave me $20 to get a taxi. She refused to give me her contact details so I couldn’t pay her. (But I’ve paid it forward since).

    My grandmother basically spent all day today and yesterday cooking for us.

    My dad’s employee needed an advance pay to pay for his wife’s surgery. Dad gave him $500 as a gift.

    1. StellaBella*

      I like to cook for others so made some food Monday for a group of 8 classmate friends. Many of them have little disposable income so we had a potluck and I made a ton of stuff for them to all take home.

      I have also seen folks recently helping each other a lot with little things – crossing the road, lifting a heavy bag, and giving a young person on the street some food (twice).

    2. Marathon Girl*

      I thought I had some change for a homeless guy (he wanted to buy a coffee) but after looking all through my purse it turned out I only had a £10 note so I gave it to him anyway. He asked me, shocked, if I was sure and when I said of course he gave me a friendly hug and was really appreciative. When I was looking in my purse later that day I found about £3 change. Pretty crazy? Yes. I’d like it think it all happened on purpose :)

    3. Peanut*

      A few months ago, I was having a miserable day. I had a very, very bad cold or an undiagnosed flu, had just come from the doctor’s office, tried to return my partner’s bottles/cans to a grocery store but didn’t realize that in the new state I live in, they don’t collect bottle returns at stores like in my old state (also because I only drink tap water or tea, so then I was more frustrated at having to do a task that I hadn’t contributed to) and I was trying to hold it together long enough to finish shopping at Trader Joe’s for my partner and his kids. Also I think I had a fever, so I was getting more and more upset about seemingly minor things (in fact, I totally broke down mentally on my way home and had to pull over on the side of the road to weep).

      I am not much of a small talker even in good days, and so usually I am not chatty with checkout people. For whatever reason, I must have said or answered some things to/from the cashier when I was checking out. I thought I was pretending well enough to be normal, but I guess not, because the cashier (an older woman) suddenly pulled out a roll of Trader Joe’s stickers that she said they have for kids, and gave me a whole bunch of them, saying, “You look like you could use these today.” It made me laugh at the time, but I still can’t forget how kind she was when I was feeling so down about everything.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I had a similar situation a while ago at a fast food drive thru, of all places. It had been a monster of a day and while I was in line I got a text message with some upsetting news and I just lost it. But I was already in the drive thru line and there were cars behind me so I couldn’t get out, so there was nothing I could do but order my food and hope for the best. I pulled up to the window to pay and the person on duty looked like he was probably in high school. He popped his head out of the window and did the cheery “how’s your day going?” thing customer service people do, and I started crying all over again. He panicked a little, but we tried to pretend this was a normal thing. He asked me what kind of sauce I wanted for my chicken nuggets, and when he handed me the bag there were about a dozen little sauce cups there.

        It was such a small thing, but it felt so sweet to me that this kid was faced with a weeping customer and knew that his options for helping me feel better were limited, but he did the best he could.

        1. KayEss*

          Same. I was in the midst of a depressive episode, but I dragged myself out to get a much-needed oil change at Jiffy Lube. I didn’t cry or anything, but the guy who walked me out to my car when they were done with it asked me, “Are you okay? You look really sad.” I assured him that I was fine, because what else are you going to tell your local chain mechanic, but I was really touched that someone noticed I was hurting and reached out.

    4. Stacy*

      Last summer I passed out due to a medical condition and crushed my iPad, essentially my lifeline, in the process. 2017 was a very expensive year for me, most notably with my car being stolen, and I was drowning financially. A friend from high school sent me an apple store gift card to cover the amount of a new one, and specifically asked me to not say anything because it wasn’t about her, it was about ‘all the wonderful things (I) do coming back to (me)’. I was speechless and still find her kindness heartwarming.

    5. Mananana*

      I know a family who had to break the lease on their rental home due to the husband being laid off. The landlords not only let them out of their lease (which had 6 months left on it), they let the family have one month rent-free.

    6. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      One year, my best friend and I went on a trip to the Smoky Mountains. Unbeknownst to us…her gas gauge was broken. We went out to eat. Got back in the car and…….it didn’t start. We walked to the nearest gas station to get a gas can. They didn’t have any. The closest place that had one was on the other side of the mountains. (You’ll notice that’s a hair inconvenient.)

      In desperation, we walked back to the restaurant and asked for our waitress since she was the only person we even remotely knew. We asked if someone would be able to help us out. She said not to worry, they’d figure it out. Several minutes later, she came back up front and said since all the servers were busy nobody could drive us……so why don’t we just take her car. We both protested and she firmly shook her head. As she headed back to get her keys, another server grabbed her.

      Apparently, a man was sitting nearby and overheard the scenario. He had been doing lawn work and happened to still have a partially full gas can in the back of his truck. He asked how much we needed and I joked and said, “Sir, we just need enough to get the damn car started. We’ll push it from there.”

      He gave us way more than that. I ran back inside to try to pay for his dinner because I was do grateful. Our waitress wouldn’t let me. She said the only thing needed from us was to enjoy the rest of our trip.

    7. LibbyG*

      I’m a college professor. Last week a student of mine accidentally deleted a draft paper an hour before an in-class peer-feedback activity. So frustrating for her! I overheard another student quietly offer to provide feedback on her draft after she rewrites it, at a time of the semester when everyone has a ton of deadlines.

    8. Sled dog mama*

      One of my coworkers told me about an elderly lady who lives in her building. Lady had a grease fire, called the fire department who put out the fire and took out her trash because she has trouble walking.

    9. It’s all good*

      I picked up donuts before work, it was about 40 degrees out and there was homeless man and dog out front. On my way in, a guy bought him a hot sandwich and a coffee. Before I left, I gave him a new blanket I had bought for my mom. He was so greatful. A few weeks later I saw him outside wrapped with an old dirty comfortable asking for money. :-( I wonder what happened to the blanket.

      1. It’s all good*

        True. When we travel we always get our leftovers to go and give to the homeless. One time we gave half a pizza to a homeless guy and while we were waiting for our taxi we saw him go across the street, take one slice out and hand the box to a homeless mom and child.

    10. TheLiz*

      I, like a young fool, decided that I could totally manage to get a table and three chairs across Berlin by myself (we’d just moved internationally and had NO furniture). I might have been able to… if the table hadn’t had a detached top to permit it to extend. I was helped by eight separate people, the first of whom insisted on driving me to the U-Bahn station and giving me some bungee cords, then seven more who helped with the transitions on to and off of the various trains and platforms until I finally made it to the bus stop for my new flat (which had a supermarket, and a shopping cart made the rest of the journey a snap). This unprompted kindness from total strangers was a wonderful introduction to a new city! Those who say Berliners aren’t kind are dead wrong.

    11. Kuododi*

      My Dad has done many acts of service throughout my life. The one that really sticks out for me is that he’s faithfully gone to the local School for the Blind every Fri and volunteered to repair Braille Writer devices. (He’s a retired mechanical engineer and has always been able to fix or repair anything!!!)

    12. Turtlewings*

      Couple years ago, I saw hanging around an intersection, with a cardboard sign asking for money. I was broke as anything and didn’t have a dime to give him, but I had an old sweater in the backseat with some stuff I was taking to Goodwill. It was a really chilly night so I called him over to my car and gave him the sweater. I’ve always wondered how things worked out for him.

      This one might be a controversial act of kindness, but I was so flippin’ proud of my siblings… There was a dog that lived near my brother’s house, out in the country where even good pet owners just let their dogs roam. This dog was half-starved and had an infected eye injury that his owners were clearly doing nothing whatsoever about. This had been going on for weeks, and he was gonna lose the eye sure as the world, and who knew what else. Well, the dog just vanished one day, oh no, what a shame. Same day as my sister in another town suddenly turned up with a new dog with an eye infection. How about that!

      (They got him all fixed up, he did keep the eye and can still see out of it at least a little, and is just the sweetest, most loving dog.)

      So yes, the world is still a nice place where people will give what they have to give, and step in to help a neglected dog!

      1. Graciela*

        My neighbor did something similar. The person across the street had two dogs and they rarely bothered to feed and water them, letting them roam. They ended up at her house more often than not because she bought food and set it out with water for them. Eventually the guy got mad over something and decided that to punish my neighbor, he was gonna tie them up in his yard. Still no food or water. So my neighbor snuck over one night and untied them and put them in her back yard. One was almost dead from heat and dehydration. When he came looking a week later, she threatened to call the cops. He moved soon after and she had two healthy happy dogs. I really hate people who harm animals.

    13. Tea, please*

      Several years ago, we were on a flight back from Europe with my 15mo old. We were flying a budget airline who had no record of the ticket (I bought it separately by phone and had the credit card receipt… ) I bought for our son so he had to be held in my lap the entire flight. Security had confiscated all my food for him because it tested positive for something. He wouldn’t eat anything in the airport.
      On the plane, this amazing woman, helped us out so much. She was wearing a head covering and had Middle Eastern food, so I’m assuming she is Muslim. I can’t imagine traveling on planes is easy for her and her family. She gave us snacks my son would eat. She made suggestions about how to help settle him down and was generally very compassionate given our toddler screamed the entire flight (with brief breaks thanks to her). Her incredible kindness is something that I try to pay forward to other traveling families.

    14. anon24*

      When I was younger I hit a pretty rough emotional patch. I was basically just getting through one day at a time, and had been for months. One day I left my house to go to work. I parked my car on the street with a bunch of my neighbors, and someone picked my car out of the whole street to stuff a $15 gift card to the local gas station/convenience store under the windshield wiper with a note to please use it for food or gas. I still have no idea who did it. I was financially ok at the time, but it was such a lovely random gesture during such a difficult time and it made me cry. Someday I will pass it forward

    15. Amadeo*

      I was trying to visit a friend in the UK the spring the volcano in Iceland erupted and halted air travel into Europe. I had booked the flight months before, and it was out of Chicago, 6 hours north, way at the other end of the state from where I live. I had to board the Amtrak train not know if my flight was even going to be a thing by the time I got there. I spent the 5 and a half hour train right kind of stressed out and distraught. It got worse, as not one native person I met in the city was kind, and one CTA employee was downright hateful and treated me like I’d never used a vending machine before.

      So by the time I got checked in and to the gate (for the flight that would subsequently not leave), I was in tears. An older couple trying to get home to Amsterdam came and seated themselves right next to me. The waiting area at the gate was not crowded, there were lots of other seats, but they came to me and sat beside me and struck up a conversation with me while politely ignoring my tear-stained face. The agent at the British Airways desk later on gave me a refund for my fare and placed her hand on my head and the next morning the shuttle driver at the hotel BA put me up in drove me to the train stop to take me back to Union Station so I could catch the 8am Amtrak back home.

      All in all, it was a horrible trip and I’ll not be sad if I never see Chicago again, but those four people where absolutely who I needed when I needed them and I’ll always be grateful for that!

    16. Detached Elemental*

      Many years ago I was part of an online community devoted to my favourite embroidery designer. Some of her designs were out of print, and went for huge sums on eBay.

      I found an OOP leaflet in my local needlework shop for cover price, so I bought it.

      There was a woman in the community who was looking for the leaflet. She was a grad student, and broke, and was trying to save up to pay eBay prices.

      I mailed the leaflet to her anonymously, with a note saying I figured she’d appreciate it more than me.

      A few days later she posted an emotional thank you, which made it all worthwhile.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      Once when I was still at OldExjob, I had had a ton of unexpected expenses around the holidays and funds were very tight. I made an offhand half-joking remark about not having any money. I think it was the next day, I went to lunch and when I came back, there was a $50 Walmart gift card on my chair. I think I know who did it, but nobody would fess up to it.

    18. Finny*

      Back the winter of my last year at Emerson College, in Boston, I couldn’t go home over the month of winter break, as I’d tried to escape my abusive mother that pervious summer, to not the best results. I had nowhere to go, as the school closed all dorms over that month, though they kept one dorm open over both Thanksgiving and Spring breaks. I got a return fair bus ticket to Hartford, Connecticut, as my roommate lived in Windsor, and though I couldn’t stay with her, she though the Hartford YWCA would help (the one in Boston would not, and for everything else I tried, I would have to have been either a child myself or a single mother with a child).

      The YWCA had no room for me, so I ended up sitting in a bus shelter, wearing every piece of clothing I had with me to try and stay warm in the freezing rain. After hours of this, when the buses were near to stopping late at night, a driver got off her bus, knelt down beside me, and asked where I was headed, as she’d seen me there all evening. I told her I had nowhere to go. She told me to get on her bus. I said I had no money for the fair. One of her passengers paid it for me.

      I got on the bus, and the driver and a passenger who was an off duty firefighter (not the same one who paid for me) called all over the place, and found me a spot at Mercy House shelter for until I could return to school.

      I never saw any of those people again, and probably wouldn’t recognize them if I did, thanks to face blindness, but I am so grateful for all they did to help me that night.

  26. Laura H*

    To those of you who may be shopping for mother’s day gifts today: thank y’all in advance for your patience. I know the lines are long, but I know a lot of us are working as quick as we can to get y’all out with the gifts for your moms in a timely manner.

    Store was a busy madhouse yesterday- ah controlled chaos.

    Excited for burgers on a grill tomorrow to celebrate Mom and Grandma.

    Hope y’all have a great weekend!

  27. Dopameanie*

    Controversial Opinion Corner:

    Due to popular demand-Powder/Granulated Seasonings, in order of deliciousness*

    Powdered sriracha
    Sea Salt
    Red pepper flakes
    Celery seed
    Chili Powder
    Black Garlic

    Literal Sand

    Poppy seed

    Licking underneath the refrigerator

    Shallot Powder

    *seasoning blends and un-pulverized plants are excluded due to the infinite potential permutations preventing a thorough ranking


    1. nep*

      I’m going to want to hear more about ‘Literal Sand.’

      The only ones I use are cinnamon, sea salt, turmeric, and black pepper. I’ll rank them all equal as they serve in different ways and all are great.

      1. Dopameanie*

        Your ranking system reminds me of the USSR. How are we supposed to fight properly if you won’t pick a team?

      1. Dopameanie*

        Not for grilling and drinks they aren’t. They are not as good as fresh, but they are able to blend and adhere much better.

        1. Paula, with Two Kids*

          Wait, what? Would love to know about drinks that use garlic.

          And sorry, I’m a dratted poppy seed lover! And Mesquite… necessary for any marinade. :)

          1. Dopameanie*

            You need garlic powder for any permutation of Bloody Mary’s, for a start!

            And poppy seeds will show up on a drug test. Don’t trust them. Those beady lil b***rds are gunning for your downfall. Never turn your back on a poppy seed.

            Mesquite is a substandard wood. Why use it when you can use pecan?

            1. The RO-Cat*

              You need garlic powder for any permutation of Bloody Mary’s

              Uh, sorry, but no. I hate with passion the fakeness, uglyness, shallowness of fancypants, spiced-up, celery-ed “Bloody Mary” tasteless long drink. If you’re strong enough have yourself 2/3 of a shot glass with pure tomato juice, add 1/3 of freezer-fresh vodka without mixing and bottoms up! That’s how you drink a proper Bloody Anything.

              1. Dopameanie*

                I am positive that is a recipe for a Bloody Nose.

                That’s what college kids drink to recover from a Saturday night bar fight and write a paper. While holding a bag of ice over one eye so the swelling will go down.

                Bloody MARYs on the other hand, require a bit more…care.

                1. The RO-Cat*

                  I’ve seen college kids try it. It was an ugly view. You need a stomach made of vibranium and the desperation of a cornered rat to go on after the first shot. Or to be me and like it.

                  But you also need a good Russian or Polish vodka straight from the freezer to pull this up and still live the day after.

      1. Dopameanie*

        I’m pretty sure the Parmesan cheese shakers at your local crappy chain pizza joint are filled with figurative sand, but I’m not willing to go there and eat it to confirm.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Trivia: Most of those are Swiss, mozzarella, or cheddar with cellulose made from wood pulp and don’t have any Parmesan in them at all. The cellulose won’t hurt you but you’re not getting what you think you’re getting.
          I buy a hunk of Parmesan and grate it myself.

        1. Dopameanie*

          Sadly, if you are using cheap dollar store stuff you are probably right. Garlic powder can go down in quality like a rock. I never go cheap on seasonings, toilet paper, or work boots. #wisdom

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      From whence comes this irrational hatred of shallot? Who hurt you, my friend? Who hurt you??

      (I did not know sriracha powder was a thing. I usually use the real stuff. And curry needs to go waaaaaaaayyyyy down the list, speaking of licking under the fridge.)

      1. Dopameanie*

        Uh….Big Shallot, obviously? It hurts us all. I’m just the only one paying attention.

      2. Red Reader*

        I use sriracha powder in place of red pepper flakes in just about everything that calls for them. Also my husband and housemate loooooove the stuff in scrambled eggs.

      3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I’ve got a seasoning mix of powdered sriracha and honey granules that is my New Favorite Thing. It’s like mixing honey and sriracha into a glaze, but with so much less work!

    3. TL -*

      Oh bless your little heart. What a sad list this is.

      If you’d been brought up properly – in Texas – you would understand the beauty of mesquite and poppy seed. Failing that, your parents should have at least tried to develop your taste buds in the South, so you could understand the joys of hickory, paprika, and pecan.

      But as it is, I can see you were brought up in the North and so all you can appreciate is an overbearing, borderline noxious assault of flavor, created by the overuse of garlic and sriracha as to hide a lack of skill and cuisine, because it’s the only things that can make your sad, shriveled little taste buds feel even the faintest glimmer of pleasure in their deadened souls.

      1. Dopameanie*


        This song? This is you. This is what you sound like.

        Mesquite is oppressive and one-note, exactly like Texas in the summer. And I don’t really MIND hickory, if all the pecan is gone. Which would make sense, of course, since pecan is much better than hickory.

        But there is no joy in paprika. Much like dragonfruit, it’s a shallow beauty that hides an empty lack of flavor. A bland uselessness under the hood. Paprika is the spice rack equivalent of a Potemkin village.

        At least in the north (where we have all four seasons and know better than to abuse butter) we understand the value of alliums and the deep satisfaction one gets from a properly seasoned cut of meat.

        And I suspect that MY heart is in better shape than yours, since if you are eating southern cuisine you are gonna need triple bypass surgery before your kids get old enough to realize there are more Chile options in the world than ancho and jalapeño.

        1. TL -*

          Did you just accuse a native born Texican of not knowing her chilis?
          Them’s fighting words and if your laughable assertion that a Northerner could properly season meat hadn’t made me realize just how utterly miserable your culinary world actually is, I would have demanded satisfaction immediately, sirrah.

          As it is, there could be no satisfaction from besting one so wretched as you; instead, I shall pray for your taste buds, that they may accept the truth in their hearts in this life or the next.

          1. Dopameanie*

            Right. Sure. Like anyone who grew up marinating in sweet tea could ever stand a chance against us hardy midwestern types. You’d probably call a statewide emergency the same way you close down your highways when you get an inch of snowfall.

            If you are looking for satisfaction, you should leave Texas, head north, and enjoy a farm-fresh meal with vegetables on the plate picked from the backyard 20 minutes ago, and a chicken smoked with PECAN wood.

            And you can’t even PRETEND that Texas has the best chili game. You don’t even have the best chilis amongst your border started! Does Texas have a Texas Chile? Nope! New Mexico sure does, though.

            But you know what? You SHOULD pray for my taste buds. It is exhausting for them, being exposed to such awesome food so often. Such is the burden of those of us in the Midwest. But don’t worry, it’s not something you’ll have to worry about down in Texas.

    4. The RO-Cat*

      Ok. I’ll bite.
      A. For savory dishes:
      – sage
      – oregano
      – garlic & onion
      – tarragon
      – dill
      – turmeric
      – lovage leaves
      – wood dust
      – any kind of pepper, gound or not

      B. Sweet dishes:
      – aniseed
      – cinnamon
      – poppy seeds
      – vanilla
      – ginger

        1. The RO-Cat*

          Heat in food serves the same purpose as magic used to animate corpses: insuflate a seeming of life into long-gone, shriveled taste buds. On the other hand us, with live and sensitive taste buds, do not need any black magic to enhance the flavors. So, I need nothing on pizza, beside topping. WITH it, a glass of wine or a good stout works miracles, though.

          1. Dopameanie*

            So….like….chili, though. And roasted peppers? And salsa? I just….you are kinda blowing my mind with your denial of piquancy as an acceptable food enhancement.

            I bet this is what my husband would feel like if he went to a vegan restaurant.

            There is just this whole additional DIMENSION to food that you are saying NAH…

            Actually, no, you know what this really reminds me of? This kid in college who was a high achieving senior who had never done drugs of any sort. My other friends were flabbergasted at the entire world of pharmaceuticals that he had successfully avoided.
            Like, I’m trying to come up with fightin’ words, but…I think I just feel sorry for you?

            1. The RO-Cat*

              Oh, my heart goes out to you! You make me sad – so wrong, yet so unaware of it! Piquancy is NOT a “another dimension”. It is a mere “REPLACEMENT dimension”, only poorer, for the worlds of flavors you miss. Like when you look at a postcard of The Old Faithfull and believe it IS The Old Faithfull.

              I have a friend who is all gung-ho on piquancy: ground pepper, hot mustard, jalapenos… you name it, he’ll eat it. I care about him so much I even wanted to share with him one of my best Islay scotches I have, to teach him the majestic landscape of fine liquor. Sadly, all he felt was the bite of the alcohol and a bit of smokiness, such taste-bud-death was wreaked upon his palate by the foul, evil piquancy he claimed to enjoy.

              1. Dopameanie*

                1. After hearing about your Bloody Mary “recipe” I am skeptical you appreciate any alcohol other than grog.

                2. Do you avoid all foods with heat? Grilled jalapeño poppers? Salsa? Curry? Hot wings? Stir-fry? Tacos? Tortilla soup? Chili?! This seems so limiting. Your worldview is so….alien.

      1. Dopameanie*

        I’ve never used either, but what’s the difference between cacao and cocoa?

        1. nep*

          My understanding is the difference is in the processing–cocoa has been processed at high temperatures.

      1. Dopameanie*

        Well la-tee-dah.

        I have no experience with truffles, because I am not a 1%er.

        Be careful not to clutch those heirloom pearls too hard, I hear they can be delicate. I mean, I wouldn’t know (I don’t own any) but that’s what I’ve heard.

    5. PX*

      Lol. I love your controversial opinion corner, but I feel like I cannot contribute anything to this fight as my spice rack is small and humble..

      I’m curious though, what did Paprika ever do to you? Are we talking sweet, smoked or hot? Its such a useful one!

      I also did not know mesquite was a thing and now I must investigate.

      1. Dopameanie*

        If there is anything I’ve learned in my time on the Internet, it is that you don’t actually need to know what you are talking about in order to talk about it strenuously. Feel free to flip a coin to decide how you feel and then defend that feeling to the death. There is no need for humble behavior online.

        Anyway, I will NEVER forgive paprika for ruining my golden garden fresh creamy roasted turnip soup. It was beautiful, it was labor intensive, it was for my Fancy Pants dinner party, it dirtied most of my dishes…..

        And it was. SO. GROSS.

        Unlike that soup (which even the raccoons refused to eat, and instead got into the trash can that night) I am REAL salty about that.

        1. The RO-Cat*

          I will NEVER forgive paprika for ruining my golden garden fresh creamy roasted turnip soup

          That’s on you, not on paparika, though. Used wisely, a bit of smoked paprika imparts solidity, earthiness and a sense of camaraderie to stews, select cheeses, casseroles, but it takes a fine hand (and working taste buds) and courage. Your blaming paprika reminds me of my HS classmates blaming booze for the hangovers and headaches. Booze is good within reason; so is paprika.

          Ginger, on the other hand, is Universe’s punishment for humanity’s sins. Even nutmeg is better than that food and beverage toxin.

            1. Dopameanie*

              Okay, Cooking secret: a….uh….special friend I used to spend time with who is a professional chef taught me this one. The last step in making Alfredo sauce is the SMALLEST PINCH of cinnamon and nutmeg. So small that you think you can’t taste it, but suddenly your cheese sauce tastes…deeper? I was floored.

    6. GladesAllDay*

      You have apparently never had Everglades seasoning. This is a must try. You’ll love it.

          1. Rogue*

            It’s good on beef, chicken, pork, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and basically anything you might salt and pepper.

    7. HannahS*

      ExCUSE me but what is poppy seen doing so low on the list?! Haven’t you had hamentaschen? Or a poppy seed ring? Not the weak, petulant poppy seeds on a bagel–those are just there to get stuck in your teeth. But a rich filling of milled poppy seeds in a flaky pastry, where their subtle nuttiness is the star? Bliss. I made hamentaschen twice this year and they’re just heavenly.

      1. Dopameanie*

        I gave my poppy seed thoughts to Paula with the kids up thread, but to summarize:

        Poppyseeds = NEFARIOUS

        Don’t trust ‘em.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Excuse me where is coriander powder on this list, do you never make Indian food for crying out loud?!

      1. Dopameanie*

        I use whole coriander seeds, so I didn’t want to add them to a list of powders. Seemed like cheating.

        But no, I don’t cook Indian food often.

    9. Loopy*

      Sadly I only want to fight about the evils of rosemary and my love of Lawry’s. Alas, I can respect that there had to be limits. I’ll have to find someone else to fight about Rosemary with.

      But I did not know pecan and powdered siracha were seasonings.

      1. Dopameanie*

        You can make your own powdered sriracha! Spread a thin layer on parchment paper or a silicone cooking baking mat thing and then dehydrate. Super easy, VERY fancy looking, allows for more precision in flavor distribution and decoration.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Not a big cook, or whatever. But in no particular order, I tend to regularly use:

      –Sea salt
      –Hungarian paprika
      –Chili powder
      –Garlic powder (sprinkled on veggies or garlic butter toast; for cooking I use actual minced garlic)
      –Parsley flakes (mostly for color)
      –Mixed spice, which I made per an online recipe, to put in Welsh cakes
      –Cayenne pepper
      –Black pepper
      –Red pepper flakes
      –Caraway seed (when I make kielbasa with bell peppers; it gives it a touch of weird sweetness)
      –Dried basil
      –Dried oregano
      –Nutmeg (on eggnog; I will make and drink eggnog any time of the year; fight me)

      I know you excluded blends but I will throw in a vote for Old Bay (excellent on avocado toast, or anything really).

  28. Em*

    Rockhound thread! Do you dig? Where’s your favorite place for digging? I’m wanting to schedule a trip out to the Georgia area, but I hear there’s great places in Washington.

    1. Rogue*

      Fellow rock hound here! Been all around NM, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Montana. I’d really love to go to Nevada and look for Opal!

    2. rubyrose*

      It’s been a very long time, but I’ve dug in the Mt. Ida / Jessiville Arkansas area a few times. Miss it.

  29. Cruciatus*

    Let’s talk TV! Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been the cancellation that hurt the most this brutal TV cancellation season. But then NBC picked it up. What the what?! Noice! I’m so glad I get to see this show for another season!

    I am bummed about Last Man on Earth which, of course, ended on a cliffhanger. Fox is being really weird this year axing so many things and then reviving, of all things, Last Man Standing (not meant offensively–but usually a show that’s been cancelled, let alone a year ago, does not get to come back). It’s a strange time in TV.

    I watched and liked The Mayor and Designated Survivor but find I’m not too bummed about their cancellations. What are you excited or bummed about?

    1. nep*

      I’d never heard of Brooklyn Nine-Nine before this morning–just a while ago saw a headline in the Guardian about its being picked back up after social media outcry.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I know humor is subjective–but I love it. I love all the characters. They are fleshed out and allowed to be smart and strong and weird and tough or any combination of those things. If you’re looking for something new, definitely try it!

        I can’t seem to convince many people who don’t watch to watch it. They seem to have an aversion to Andy Samberg but he does not take over the show and he’s just the right amount of “Andy Samberg” in this. He doesn’t get to win all the time and he’s not a doof all the time. His character is a team player. I’m really impressed with him in this. And it has Andre Braugher! I didn’t know how he’d be in a comedy but he’s wonderful. And the cold opens to this show are really something else!

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I’ll admit that Jake (Andy Samburg’s character) annoyed me a lot in the first season, but my BFF convinced me to keep going and I am so glad I did.

        2. Red Reader*

          My husband loves Brooklyn-99. I am not a fan at all, but I keep telling him that if they just made it the Andre Braugher and Terry Crews show and got rid of the rest of them, I might change my mind.

        3. Parenthetically*

          “He doesn’t get to win all the time and he’s not a doof all the time. His character is a team player.”

          YES. And he’s not just “goofball frat bro detective,” he’s actually a good cop, a loyal friend, and a very devoted boyfriend/fiance. He’s so much more well-rounded than he seems on the surface.

          And man you could not be more right about the cold opens, they crack me up EVERY TIME.

    2. Quake Johnson*

      Yesterday sure was brutal, wasn’t it?

      I haven’t lost anything I enjoy yet but still biting my nails over AoS and Criminal Minds.

    3. Meghan*

      I’m very bummed that CW decided not to pick up Wayward Sisters. I thought that one was a no-brainer–it’s got a built-in, excited fanbase!

      1. Quake Johnson*

        Personally I thought the concept was kind of ‘meh.’ I love seeing Jody and the girls in their biannual episodes but a whole show of them would get bland, I think.

        I’d still like to see some kind of SPN spinoff though.

      2. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

        I was so heartbroken they didn’t pick up Wayward Sisters. Now I’m just pissed off. What does a group of women have to do to get their own show? There was so much good buzz about it, even before the pilot episode aired. The CW really shot themselves in the foot with this decision.

    4. Lily Evans*

      The past two days sure were a roller coaster for B99, but I’m so happy it got snatched up so quickly! I woke up to the news that NBC had picked it up this morning and it was a great way to start the day.

    5. TV Researcher*

      I came here just to talk the Brooklyn Nine-Nine resurrection.

      Very exciting and it actually makes sense for the network, as Universal TV produces the show and both UTV and NBC fall under NBCUniversal.

    6. CAA*

      I’m also happy Brooklyn Nine-Nine got picked up. The things I kind-of liked that got axed were “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” and “Life Sentence”. Kevin was just on the DVR to use as background noise while doing other tasks, so that’s no big loss; but Life Sentence had been growing on me and I was really starting to enjoy that one.

    7. Oxford Coma*

      WHAT?!?! I did not know B99 was picked up again. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. Husband and I only agree on three shows, and this was one of them!

    8. Anonymous Ampersand*

      Brooklyn nine-nine very rarely actually makes me laugh, but it’s good comfort-watching anyway. I’m glad it got picked up.

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

      I don’t watch much TV, but one of the few shows I watch is NCIS, and I was really bummed to see Abby go. I know it was her choice to leave, but there should not be any such thing as NCIS without Abby. I really hope the ratings tank without her and the show is canceled quickly.

    10. Yami Bakura*

      As much as I love Rick and Morty and (for his art, not his personal characteristics) Dan Harmon, I’m reeeeeeaaaaaaalllllllllyyyyyyyyyy doubtful of Harmon & crew’s ability to chug out 70 more episodes, even if it’s spread out over, say, 7 years. I don’t think they have that much material to work with, because I don’t think people are willing to put up with more than one season’s worth of exploration into Rick’s family life (although I do like the way S3 did it). And I don’t know how much nihilistic science fiction they can do without that getting old either. Plus I get the feeling that Harmon is noooooooooot really the most stable guy.

    11. CatCat*

      I am experiencing epic bummage about The Expanse being cancelled. I should just not watch shows anymore when they are on so I don’t have to be disappointed like this. I just love, love, love the show.

    12. Sami*

      Super bummed by the cancellation of Scorpion (CBS). I really liked it, even with some of it’s more wacky episodes. And the season (series) finale was a rotten cliffhanger.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, if Scorpion had to be canceled, at least they could have ended it on a good note instead of the way they did.

  30. meeting new people!*

    I need ideas on meeting new people and making new friends… Preferably ones that are single/childless…. I tend to connect with them better. I’m 30 years old and while I do drink, I am over the bar scene and want to do something beyond staying out late and going crazy.

    In the past year, I have lost a lot of local friends, a few moved away, one passed away and I am feeling lonely and need to expand my social circle.

    How did you meet your closest friends?

    1. OtterB*

      I met mine singing with a women’s barbershop chorus. Went as a guest on a whim 6 years ago and really enjoy it. Not only is it a great change of pace from my very analytical job, it’s a great bunch of women ranging in age from 20s to 80s (though we do skew a bit older).

      More broadly, a group for any kind of performing art that appeals to you?

    2. nep*

      Purely by ‘accident,’ when I wasn’t looking to make new friends. I’m well past my 30s. I’ve got a few close friend I’ve known for decades but as far as new–I’ve met them via the community-center-type setting I work in and in a class I teach. More meaningful relationships than I could ever have imagined having at this point, yet there you have it.
      I like the suggestion by OtterB to seek a group that’s linked to something that really interests you.

    3. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I had the same problem this year – I moved cross country and knew no one. What I did was join the local young professional group (I’m 26, not that much younger then you, and our group has people upwards of 30 as well) and went to a bunch of their functions. I also joined my library’s bookclub. Once I had a group of people I liked OK, I started making plans with them, which was hard and scary! It’s not easy to say to someone you’ve spoken to once that you enjoyed chatting and would love to get together again, but I made a point to do that and it worked out! We aren’t all besties, but that takes time!

      To boil it down, hunt through Facebook for local events, and go alone, and force yourself to talk to people.

    4. Em*

      I met all my close friends through hobby groups, so I definitely recommend it. There’s a built in activity so the pressure to make random conversation is minimized. I’m thinking things like music groups, movie clubs, book clubs etc. Check out your local Meetup.

      I will say, when I was younger a “close friend” was someone who I saw every week, talked with every day, we had all the same hobbies etc. Now that I’m older and busier a close friend is someone with a pulse that I talk to more than once a month :).

    5. FrontRangeOy*

      Community theater. My best friends are people I’ve met in there. Any decent community theater program has behind the scenes needs with props, tech booth, costumes, etc if **acting** isn’t your thing.

    6. hermit crab*

      Volunteering! Try to find something that you are genuinely excited to do, not something that you feel you “should” do (because it’s the “best” use of your donated time or whatever), and you will automatically be around people who are excited about similar things. That is how I met most of my local post-school/non-work friends, either because we volunteer together or they are the staff hosting/working with the volunteers.

      Also, don’t discount people in different life stages/demographic groups. I am a 30ish person without children, and I often find that I have more in common with the women my mother’s (or grandmother’s!) age that I volunteer with than my peers who have young children.

      1. meeting new people!*

        My currently small social circle does include people of all ages. I have a hard time relating to people with kids, so I have a couple friends with grown kids that are just a few years younger than me!

        I used to do a lot more volunteering, it’s just started to fade away… I should look back into it!

    7. matcha123*

      I met one of my closest friends at work. I wasn’t a local to that city and neither was she. When I moved last year, I made a friend at work. She was also from a different area, close to the city I’d moved from.

      I talk to the first friend weekly, but she lives on the other side of the country. And the second friend from work was transferred to another office a few months ago. We still meet occasionally. I’m in the same boat…very lonely here.

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      Sixth form (basically junior/senior years of high school in the US). But whilst I wouldn’t call them ‘close’ yet – ie they’re not on the deep chat/intimate secrets level – I have made some really great new friends through Meetup, specifically a Harry Potter group. What’s been really helpful with that is that we set up a WhatsApp group for regular members where we chat outside meetups, and then people have posted things they’d like to do and sent a group invitation (eg ‘I’m thinking of going to see this film at the weekend, would anyone like to come?’), which makes it less scary than asking people individually.

  31. Sapphire*

    Daniel Kaluuya appreciation thread, anyone? (Potential SPOILERS for Black Mirror, Get Out, Black Panther, and possibly Infinity War, but I’ll try to keep that to a minimum).

    I first saw him in Black Mirror and was really struck by his performance in that. I mainly saw Get Out because he was the lead, though Jordan Peele did an amazing job writing and directing. How did you become aware of Daniel Kaluuya?

    1. nep*

      Learned of him when I started reading about Get Out and looking at a bunch of scenes. Stunning actor–I’ll have to see more of him. He’s amazing. (Also very much appreciated his take in a couple of interviews I watched.)

    2. hollow exuviae*

      Psychoville! He’s a fab straight man to Steve Pemberton’s oddball comedy character. I was so pleased he got the widespread recognition he deserved after Get Out.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I saw him in Black Mirror first, then Get Out, and then Black Panther. He’s so cute in Get Out. I mean, that movie scared the hell out of me, but his character is just adorable, which made me even more invested in his safety. Interestingly, I also saw Letitia Wright (Shuri) in Black Mirror for the first time.

      I looked for him in Infinity War, but he’s not in it. I do expect to see him in the Black Panther sequel and will be disappointed if I don’t, particularly given that they should deal with W’Kabi taking sides against T’Challa and the romantic connection with Okoye.

  32. Not My Normal Name*

    I posted last week asking about how to know if you’re having an emotional affair or not. I wanted to update everyone who took the time to respond.

    Work BFF did something that made his interest in me undoubtedly clear, and I haven’t talked to him since then. I realized I was being naive/in denial and he was never really my friend, but was biding his time. I also found out he lied to me about having a girlfriend, which was part of the reason I thought he was uninterested in me as more than a friend.

    I took Lehigh’s suggestion and told Spouse about the last time I talked to Work BFF (which I had not mentioned and felt guilty about). Spouse and I have had more than one discussion on this matter and decided that I was not having an emotional affair, but Work BFF was having one with me, but I definitely could have had better boundaries (something I’m working on).

    Finally, despite all the stress we’ve been under, Spouse and I have been better at making more time for relaxation together, which has helped a lot.

    1. Anona*

      This is such a positive update! I’m so glad you and your spouse are communicating about this.

      1. Not My Normal Name*

        Thank you. :) I’m happy Spouse and I are now on the same page about this.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is a great update! I’m sorry to hear that your Work BFF was not so much of a friend as you thought though.

    3. HannahS*

      That sounds really positive! Good for you. I know that creepy crawly feeling of discovering someone’s been having a relationship with you that you’re not having with them. It’s not great. I’m glad you and Spouse are making time for each other!

      1. Not My Normal Name*

        Thanks. :) “Creepy crawly” is a great way to describe it. I feel a bit skeeved out as it made me feel used. And, Work BFF didn’t ring the Nice Guy alarm bells, either. Oh, well…

        1. Triple Anon*

          Ugh. It’s so disappointing when someone you thought was nice turns out to be something else. I always think I can trust my instincts about people, but sometimes you’re wrong. Shame on Work BFF. Good for you and your spouse! I’m glad things turned out positively.

    4. Lehigh*

      Yikes! Work BFF sounds like a lying creepy creeper–“biding his time” is a very gross thing for him to have done. I’m sorry you had to go through that with someone you thought was a good friend.

      Good for you for how you’ve been handling it and I’m glad that you and Spouse are doing better.

  33. bearing*

    How do you politely and lightly correct people in quasi-social situations who call you “Mrs. Lastname” when you don’t want to be a Mrs.? And when is it not worth it to bother?

    I prefer Ms. to Mrs. (and incidentally I have a PhD and *could* be Dr. and secretly I’d much rather be that because gender-neutral but fear it sounds pretentious to use it at all). I have spent years not correcting people and I am trying to get up the nerve to assert myself about how I don’t want to be called.

    I don’t work in a title-using place. This is social. I mostly get it in mixed groups of parents and children; when I answer the phone; in writing; and sometimes when I am sought out by someone who knows my spouse better than they know me, so they aren’t sure how to pronounce my first name. I need a script because I feel super awkward. I don’t want to imply that anyone who uses Mrs. and likes it is wrong, and I am truly at sea about whether I should or shouldn’t express a preference for Dr. over Mrs. (Ms. is ok I guess).

    1. MissingArizona*

      Regardless of the “Ms.” or “Mrs.”, you earned a PhD, I’d rock “Dr.” in every situation. You earned that, so you shout it from the rooftops!

      But I don’t think it would be weird to just say you prefer “Ms.”. And if it’s just too awkward to bring up, and it’s purely social, I’d just ignore it. There’s so many rules about when/how to use those prefixes, that nobody gets them right anyway.

      1. bearing*

        But how do you say it?

        “Makayla, Jack, say hello to Mrs. Lastname.”

        [to little Makayla and Jack] “Hello! Oh, I’m not Mrs. Lastname. You can call me Dr. Lastname.”

        Is that… ok? I feel like it sets a good example for Makayla and Jack [look, kids! you can assert your wish to be called what you want!] but feels awkward with respect to my acquaintance their parent.

        Or on answering the phone: “Hello, is this Mrs. Lastname?”

        Current Me, wondering if it’s someone trying to get me to donate money or if it’s someone I know that’s unusually formal on the phone: “May I ask who’s calling?”

        New Me: “This is Dr. Lastname.”

        Does that work? Will people assume I am a jerk? Does it matter? Should I push through the “I’m being a jerk” feeling because people exploit that to deny others titles they’ve earned or pronouns they identify with?

        1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          I don’t think it comes off as jerky. If you want to soften it slightly, in the example with Makayla/Jack, you could say something like, “Hi Jack, I go by Dr. Lastname.” Then continue on by asking how they’re doing or whatever. I think these things seem more of a big deal if they are conversation stoppers, but they can be added in breezily and you continue on.

          Correcting from “Miss” or “Mrs.” to “Ms.” when speaking is pretty hard, especially for kids. They sound similar and students interchange them (I taught school and have heard it all), but correcting to Dr. is usually pretty easy.

          1. bearing*

            I will have to work on replacing my apologetic/nervous awkwardness with breeziness. That’s a good point, to be ready to move the conversation right along so it doesn’t become *about* that. It feels more weighty for me internally because I feel so unsteady about it. (Who am I, anyway?)

        2. Natalie*

          I always just go with “oh, it’s actually [Name]”, whether for an unwanted nickname, Mrs., or wrong last name.

    2. TL -*

      I would just smile and say “Actually it’s Ms. Lastname” in response.

      You can go by Dr but outside of academia it’s going to be read as confusing and/or pretentious.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I think the tone here is key and not exactly the phrasing. If you smile and make it seem like it’s not a big deal but just information, it’ll probably be fine. If you make it seem as if you’re deeply offended, it’s more likely to catch the person off guard and make her overly defensive or overly apologetic.

    3. Dr. KMnO4*

      I am a married woman with a PhD as well, and I don’t think it’s pretentious to prefer the title Dr. You spent a lot of time, and expended no small amount of effort to get your degree. Don’t feel bad about owning it! Our situations may be a bit different, though Since I got my PhD before I got married I decided not to change my last name, so I don’t generally get called Mrs.

      But really, even if it feels awkward in the moment, just tell people what you prefer and most of the time it will go perfectly smoothly.

      1. Chameleon*

        Yes, this! I usually just go by my first name, but if someone really wants to use my last name I just lightly say “Actually it’s Dr. Chameleon. How is topic we were discussing?” I don’t think it comes off as pretentious if your tone isn’t snooty. Say it like you’d correct someone mispronouncing your name and it’s fine.

        1. Chameleon*

          In a social situation, I would ask them to call me by my first name. That includes kids; I find making kids call adults by last names is kind of authoritarian.

          If someone is going to insist on using my last name, I’m going to insist on the right way to use it.

          1. bearing*

            I don’t mind kids calling me by my first name if they know me, but I’m also ok with kids using titles for adults. I usually defer to their parents’ cues.

        2. Southernbelle*

          In a social situation, if the person has annoyed me, I say “It’s Dr. Southernbelle, but please call me Jane.” If they haven’t annoyed me (my kids’ teachers!) I let it go.

          I live in (obviously) the South so there are complex and unwritten rules about what everyone calls everyone else, especially children, depending on their relationship and their parents’ relationship with the addressee, but if someone wants to call someone by their last name, the correct title isn’t rude. (That whole thing about “PhDs don’t use Dr. socially” is, at least here, incorrect. It may be traditional but so are a lot of other things I reject!)

    4. Lady Jay*

      I’m starting my PhD this fall, and when I get it, I fully intend to be called Dr!!

      Right now, as a single woman in higher education, I prefer my title to be Ms. Because I’ve been working at a small institution with a number of single people, my title is often spelled out Miss, which I hate. Takes me back to being “Miss Lady Jay,” a 16-year-old camp counselor at the church camp I went to growing up. Ms is more professional and is staked on my individuality, not my marital status. I can see how Mrs. could have similar connotations to Miss. Go for what you want!

      1. bearing*

        Thank you for the vote of confidence and best wishes on starting your doctoral studies!

    5. Temperance*

      I would gently correct people. It’s not pretentious to be called doctor; you earned it! Plus, it’s great for little kids to see a woman who is known as “doctor” rather than “Mrs.”. It’s nice for both girls and boys to see women as more than just accessories to men. (Full disclosure, I have a different last name than Booth, and it delights him to no end to introduce his wife, Temperance Brennan.)

      I don’t call anyone Mrs. unless they are an elderly woman.

      1. hermit crab*

        Plus, it’s great for little kids to see a woman who is known as “doctor” rather than “Mrs.”

        That is a great point! You’re not being pretentious, you’re working toward a better society.

        I also did not change my last name when I got married (tbh, mostly due to laziness and not liking my husband’s last name rather than for philosophical reasons, but still) and the only person who is allowed to call me “Mrs. Husbandslastname” is my 92-year-old feminist grandma, who does it in a super-tongue-in-cheek way. :)

    6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If someone introduced themself as doctor so-and-so, I’d expect them to be an MD. Sure, a PhD is also a doctor, but not for social titles, so much.

        1. Ann O.*

          The professors I know have all used Dr. both socially and professionally. I do notice that the people I know with Ph.D.s who work out of academia do not tend to use Dr.

        2. Tea, please*

          I’m in education and people with Ed.Ds are referred to as Dr. professionally. Ed.Ds are much less rigorous than Ph.Ds (fighting words?) and I always find it telling who uses Dr. when they have and Ed.D. (I’m planning on starting an Ed.D in a couple of years–we’ll see if I’ll be eating my words)

    7. Sled dog mama*

      For me if you suddenly started correcting every one to Ms from Mrs I’m gonna wonder when the divorce is final. I was taught growing up that Miss was never married, Mrs was married or widowed, and Ms was divorced. Having learned that as a child I now call everyone Ms because its marital status neutral just like Mr (if someone tells me they prefer something else I’ll happily use that but I default to Ms).
      I only have my masters (in Physics so a lot of people assume I must have a PhD) and if I had earned a PhD you can bet everyone would call me Dr both because I earned it and because of how great it would be for little girls to to see/hear that.
      It used to be that Dr was only used socially by an MD but I think it’s about time that went the same way as the strict definition of who uses Miss/Ms/Mrs

      1. Ferry Fairy*

        I’d never ever heard that Ms specifically signified divorce until I lived in the Southern US. So not sure how try that still is!

        1. Lehigh*

          I think sometimes people associate it that way because it seems like the only sensible option for a divorced woman? (Mrs. Husbandslastname is right out, and Miss sounds wrong somehow too.)

      2. Anonymous Ampersand*

        Ms is equivalent of Mr, not divorced. I’ve been Ms while single and married and I’ll continue while divorced :)

      3. bearing*

        I’m definitely thinking of the little girls—I volunteer in a youth org for girls and their policy is to have adults use Title-Lastname in front of the girls, partly to help reinforce boundaries for youth protection reasons. So there I *definitely* want to be Dr. Lastname.

        How do I correct people who have known me a while but I’ve never corrected them before? I feel like I will need to defuse/acknowledge that I am making a change.

        There’s a lesson here for all the people who are planning to pursue a doctoral degree: If you would like to be called “Dr.,” start using it right away while you’re still feeling motivated by pride in your recent accomplishment! Don’t wait 14 years to assert yourself and feel weird about it like me!

    8. Ferry Fairy*

      You get to choose! And I think it’s excellent and appropriate to enforce use of Dr. with kids. I don’t use mine, but not really
      sure why (it may be because I work in healthcare and have a clinical (non MD) doctorate and it just gets confusing) and I also don’t really know any children.

      I think the judgement about enforcing the use of Dr. is that it’s often about demanding the use of honorifics, versus the Dr. itself. If you wouldn’t insist that I call you Mr. or Mrs. in the situation, don’t insist I call you Dr. THOSE are the people I side eye.

      Over 50% of the people I work with have doctorates, including MD, Doctorates of Pharmacy and Nursing, PhD psychologists and non clinical PhDs. We call each other by our first names, but I introduce them in the professional setting with their honorific. And I would introduce them to kids this way.

      1. bearing*

        So, I would never *insist* on people using a title unless (a) I was feeling particularly frosty toward them or needed to emphasize “we aren’t on a first bame basis;” or (b) in the all-too-common situation where the men are getting introduced as Dr. Scientist and a woman gets introduced as “Katie”.

        It’s more that if someone happens to call me by Mrs., I just don’t like it, it feels like not-me, and I have had such a hard time asserting myself about it.

    9. TheLiz*

      My mother used to say “I damned well got my PhD, so nobody gets to call me ‘Ms.'”. I rather think that the same sentiment applies here – you have a PhD, you EARNED a PhD, so nobody gets to have title confusion. Note the correction and move on, and if anyone thinks it’s pretentious then that’s too bad for them!

    10. Sue Donym*

      I’m also a married woman with a PhD who did not change my last name (PhD came before marriage in my case anyway). So I’m Dr or Ms Mylastname at work or for legal purposes, OR Mrs Hislastname socially and for things related to my kids (schools, their doctors, activities, etc). I could use Dr for the last category but it seems kind of irrelevant for random people to know. And when it’s irrelevant in a social context, I think it risks coming across as pretentious (insisting on being called Doctor whether MD or PhD).

      1. bearing*

        It’s definitely a risk. Part of why I feel weird about it — and never used it even immediately after finishing my doctorate — is that I grew up with an embarrassingly overbearing PhD of a father who insisted on being called “Dr” by everyone and bragged he would get better seats in restaurants if he made the reservation under Dr. Hislastname. I don’t want to be like him — but I don’t want to let my fear of being like him control me, either.

    11. Tea, please*

      The culture in the school where I work is to call any married teacher Mrs. I have never before been called Mrs. And I kept my name. During new staff orientation, mentor teachers lead a session. These teachers told us not to push back on the way things are done in our first year. Generally good advice for a new professional, but the way it was delivered made the district sound like a cult. I was blind-sighted by the use of Mrs. I thought I had misheard for a while, but then saw an email from the principal referring to me as Mrs. I thought “so this is a thing”. Didn’t push back given the warning the mentor teachers gave. I’m still Mrs. and hate it that my marital status is the first thing people see/hear.
      I’m very happy to be leaving this district for a much more progressive one.

  34. Minime*

    If you were hanging out in your office and realized that, every time you click a certain pen, the person nearest to you would shrink down to just 2 inches tall…How would you use your newfound powers?

    1. Epsilon Delta*

      I would visit everyone’s cube and click the pen until everyone was 4’11” like me!

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Ah, damn, reading comprehension. I thought they would shrink by two inches each time you clicked the pen… not shrink to be two inches tall.

        Maybe I would visit everyone’s cube regardless. There is at least one person who I would visit!

  35. Detective Amy Santiago*


    I was all prepared to start a mourning thread today for my show. Now we can celebrate!

    1. Namast'ay in Bed*

      Yaaaaaaaas!!!!!! Thank god, it’s such an amazing show, I have no idea why fox decided to cancel it in the first place.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Because they suck.

        It’s seriously one of the best shows on television. The humor is smart and they weave in dealing with serious topics in a non-heavy handed way.

        1. Nicole76*

          FOX doesn’t suck, the American viewing public does (which is why Jersey Shore is still a thing). I doubt they’d cancel a show that was pulling in the ratings. Not enough people appreciate the show, unfortunately. I too am glad NBC picked it up because it’s currently my #1 favorite show. I went back and binge-watched all the earlier seasons before this latest one and I think my appreciation for it grew even more.

    2. Lady Jay*

      Is this only place to watch this Hulu? I hear such good things about it, and I’d like to watch it – but currently I have Netflix/Prime, not Hulu.

      Also, FWIW, Fox also cancelled Firefly. Fox has a history of cancelling tremendous shows.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, Hulu is the only streaming service where you can watch B99. It’s definitely worth it. Even if you just do the free trial and binge it :)

    3. CanadianUniversityReader*

      Canadian netflix also has Brooklyn Nine-nine. I really love the show and it’s great being able to binge.

  36. Namast'ay in Bed*

    Something I feared for years happened to me – I just found out I’m lactose intolerant :’-(

    I know I’m being dramatic and it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I loooove dairy and now it means I’m practically a vegan at this point, since I was already vegetarian and don’t like seafood or eggs. I have absolutely nothing against vegans or veganism, it just isn’t something I was interested in, I know it takes a lot more effort to navigate the world and eat properly. It was already hard enough being vegetarian sometimes, I’m just apprehensive about how it will go since a lot of vegetarian options have dairy in them.

    Either way, I guess there’s always lactaid. The only bright side in this is that after months and months of feeling sick and miserable I finally feel better.

    Not sure if anyone has any advice on navigating a dairy-free lifestyle, but it feels good to vent about something that seems like it’s worrying me more than it should.

    1. nep*

      Have you tried any of the nut milks at all (cashew, almond…)?
      If you like ice cream, ‘nice’ cream made from frozen/slightly thawed bananas (with any kind of flavouring you wish–cinnamon, other fruits, etc) is A.MA.ZING.
      I get that nothing can really satisfy the same way as dairy when you’re used to dairy. But I really think you’ll adapt more quickly than you even expect.
      Great that you’re feeling better.
      All the best

    2. Casca*

      I have a couple of in-laws who are lactose-intolerant but they just use lacteeze and are fine when they want to eat dairy.
      One of them is vegetarian as well- they do lots of Indian cooking!

    3. Sylvan*

      I’m lactose intolerant, too. Don’t worry about it! It’s not a big deal! Now that veganism and ~clean eating~ are trendy, we have more options. :)

      A couple of things:

      1. Different dairy products contain different amounts of lactose. You might not have to give up all dairy products. For example, a lot of lactose intolerant people can eat aged cheese like parmesan or cheddar. A lot of us can eat other cheese in small amounts, or yogurt, or ice cream.

      2. Like nep said, there are plenty of good ice cream alternatives. Almond and cashew milk ice cream are good. Ben & Jerry’s even makes them. I can also throw in another vote for “nice cream.” Chloe’s banana/chocolate pops are probably as close to a fudgsicle as you can get without dairy.

      3. If you like milk in your cereal or milk/cream in coffee, you are going to need to find a non-dairy alternative like soy, almond, or cashew milk. But you can also get used to those foods without milk. It’s not as bad as it sounds.

      4. If you have kids, they might also be lactose intolerant. Does anyone have an upset stomach a little too often?

      5. At restaurants, yeah, you might find that there is a little bit of dairy in everything. But ordering “X without the cheese” or “Y salad with Z dressing instead of Y” is normal enough that you could still have about as many options as you do now as a vegetarian. I have never had trouble.

      1. Sylvan*

        I realize “it’s not as bad as it sounds” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for black coffee, but really, I mean that I understand how it does seem gross when you’re used to drinking coffee with milk. Black coffee actually grew on me quickly. Now milk in coffee seems gross to me, lol.

        1. nep*

          Same–for a long time I didn’t think I could do coffee without cream (and a sweetener for that matter). Now I love black coffee–wouldn’t want to drink it any other way.

      2. fposte*

        You can also get lactose-free milk pretty easily now in most supermarkets. Additionally, if you’re a maker of things, you can get the lactase *drops* (not the capsules) on Amazon, which you can use to treat dairy yourself; it requires a 24-hour wait to break it down, but it’s more reliable than the capsules, and you can treat whatever liquidy dairy you want (so you can make lactose-free ice cream).

    4. Ali G*

      Goat and sheep’s milk don’t have lactose – enjoy goat cheese, pecorino and my favorite – Manchego! Also Feta – just make sure it says it’s goat/sheep. A lot of feta in the US is actually made from cow’s milk – so check.
      Also you might find that things like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese that has probiotics are tolerable. As others mentioned, you might still be able to eat certain dairy foods. For me, I can’t drink milk or eat ice cream or things with heavy cream. But as I like to say – the farther I get away from the cow, I find I can tolerate more.
      I also buy Lactaid milk to cook with for things like mac n cheese and it works great.
      It’s not the end of the world!!

      1. fposte*

        Goat’s and sheep’s *milk* does have lactose, to be clear; it’s that most hard cheeses, whether from cows or something else, get rid of the lactose with the whey. (If you want a list of the least lactose-y cheeses, the Orthodox Union site’s list of cheeses that don’t require waiting before you eat meat doubles as the cheese with lowest lactose.)

      2. Cristina in England*

        I’m lactose intolerant and we have goat’s milk and yogurt. I don’t know the science behind it but goat’s and sheep’s milk/ewe’s milk products are much easier to digest. Goat’s milk is really mild tasting so though you might detect a different taste you’ll quickly get used to it.

        FWIW, I can still have regular ice cream after a meal just not on an empty stomach. But the goat’s milk ice cream I can get here is delicious anyway.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      If you’re a milk drinker and don’t want to give that up, Fairlife milk is good. It’s lactose free, half the sugar and twice the protein. It’s ultra filtered milk. I use it everyday and it tastes like regular milk. I’m not lactose intolerant, but I have to limit my sugar intake. My husband suspects he is lactose intolerant so he uses it when he has cereal and he doesn’t have the same…issues…he would if he used regular milk.

    6. OperaArt*

      I found out the same thing a few months ago. Lactose-free milk is available in many stores. Lactaid works pretty well for me—it might for you, too. Many cheeses don’t seem to cause problems.

    7. Namast'ay in Bed*

      Thanks everyone for the advice and support! I’ve been dabbling in almond and soy milk, I’ll be sure to check out fairlife milk. I “fortunately” gave up coffee when I was trying to figure out my stomach issues so I won’t have to worry too much about giving up cream in my coffee. I’m so glad to hear that there’s still some hope for eating some cheese! I tried the substitutes and they’re not bad, but they definitely aren’t the same. Ben and Jerry’s non dairy is definitely good, I’ll have to give Halo a try!

      No kids so it’s just me, my fiancé has been very supportive in all this and he loves cooking so I’m sure he sees this as an opportunity to get creative with new recipes. Thanks again everyone, I’m definitely feeling better about this.

      1. C*

        Also, Native Forest makes a powdered coconut milk that makes a great coffee creamer – especially if you don’t have access to refrigeration/when traveling. I usually buy it from vitacost’ s website or a natural grocery store.

      2. Cat*

        Coconut Bliss is another brand of non-dairy ice “cream” that’s actually very tasty as long as you don’t mind the taste of coconut. I think that their chocolate hazelnut flavor is great!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I also get coconut milk ice cream. I would continue eating it even if I did not have to anymore. It’s very rich and such a treat.

          OP, I have been with out dairy for years now and I don’t miss it. I thought it would be hard but it was actually one of the easier things I have had to give up. YMMV, of course, but just trying to pass along an encouraging word.

      3. Unacademic*

        Try lactose free milk! I resisted it for a long time thinking it would taste weird, but nope, the typical brands (Lactaid, grocery store brands) taste just like milk but a touch sweeter. It’s not processed in any weird way either. All they do is use the lactase enzyme (which your own body has stopped producing) to split the lactose into its constituent sugars glucose and galactose.

        You might be able to eat yogurt, because the yogurt making process breaks down lactose (how much is broken down can vary). If not, you can make your own lactose free yogurt. I found a recipe online, and while it took longer than it said, it did work!

        Lactase pills can help a lot too. Again, those are just lactase enzyme – as far as I know, there’s no harm to taking more if you find one or two don’t do it for you. I take them when I want ice cream or soft cheeses or food covered in cream sauce. I’m also vegetarian, by the way, and I’ve found cooking with butter and covering my pasta in Parmesan are still fine for me (of course, everyone’s a little different when it comes to this). And I’ve been eating more and more dairy again as I’ve gotten a better sense of what and how much I can tolerate.

      4. tangerineRose*

        If you like pepperjack cheese, the non-dairy versions are kind of decent because the pepperjack taste is strong enough to overpower the not-quite-cheese taste somewhat.

    8. tangerineRose*

      I’m a vegetarian who tried going dairy free a couple of times, and it was tough! I hope it’s easier for you!

    9. Loopy*

      Reading your post was a crazy experience for me because I absolutely could have written it down to every word. I was having issues back in January and finally when I saw doctor in February, we discussed it and I have been coming to terms with it since. And yes, it is a big lifestyle adjustment and you are allowed to be sad!

      I find carrying a small bottle of lactaid pills in my purse helps me feel less anxious about being out and about and not having dairy alternatives. I find even with lactaid pills- they only go so far with super cheese heavy meals. If I really eat a ton of pizza I won’t be *as* sick but I’ll still be gassy and bloated. If I eat less, I’m really mostly fine. But who wants to eat less pizza?! Still, I’ve figured out at least what I can expect.

      I switched to almond milk in my cereal, overnight oats, and coffee and it took only about a week for it to not even be noticeable. I think powering through a week may help with settling on an alternative.

      I also find with harder cheeses in moderation, I can be pretty okay (like parmesan on pasta). Overall, it took some trial and error and it’s okay to be sad because it’s a pain in the butt and OMG CHEESE AND ICE CREAM. Seriously, I am here to take this journey with you. Don’t let anyone shame you for being super sad.

    10. Gatomon*

      Well you can go dairy-free, or you can just go on as normal with some assistance. You can buy lactose-free milk — it’s actual milk too! Obviously it will be much more expensive than typical milk, but if you can’t live without it, go for it. I was never a milk drinker (found out as a kid) but I do use it to cook with.

      You can also buy those lactaid pills in bulk for huge savings. Amazon has Kirkland Brand for ~$40 and it nets you about 360 pills. I just keep a few in my wallet. I can tolerate butter and yogurt just fine, and small amounts of cheese without the pills, but not regularly. Ice cream and milk I need to use the pills for or else.

      Every few years I have encountered a “bad batch” of the pills when buying smaller amounts in the store, but I haven’t had any trouble with bulk-buying online.

    11. Chaordic One*

      Lots of people have mentioned Lactaid, lactose-free milk and various nut milk substitutes.

      A few weeks ago a commenter said that she had a dairly allergy, but that she was not allergic to the lactose in milk and was, instead, allergie to the casein (a protein) in milk. I recently ran across a milk brand called “a2 milk” that has a casein A1 protein removed from it. It is supposed to be good for people who have casein allergies. If you google it, you can go to their website.

    12. DrWombat*

      FWIW, I was lactose-intolerant for 2 years before my celiac diagnosis (it was probably early stage celiac and I just didn’t notice, tbh). Almond “milk” and pretty much everything from Califia Farms is awesome, but also Coconut Bliss ice cream is fantastic (if you like coconut flavored stuff, which I quite do). Daiya’s dairy-free stuff is really good, and soyfree which is good if you avoid soy like I have to, but I found that some of the cashew “cream cheese” was also very tasty. Earth Balance also makes some good butter substitutes.

      Cabot Cheddar has some lactose-free varieties as well, and their cheddar is fantastic. Really a lot of it is figuring out your own limits, but there are options out there! Cheering you on from here, and don’t ever feel bad for asking/double checking if there is dairy in stuff at potlucks/restaurants. You have to look out for you. ^^ Best of luck!

    13. Public Health Nerd*

      If you’re into cooking check out the Post Punk Kitchen blog by Isa Chandra – awesome vegan recipes that will teach you how to replace the creaminess in your own recipes.

      I love making an awesome bechamel or cheese sauce dupe using a fakeo butter/flour roux, then soy or almond milk, then nutritional yeast for desired levels of cheesiness. I also recently discovered that mainstream pizza joints care not at all if you order pizza with no cheese. Then you can add dairy free cheese if you care, or enjoy your nekkid pizza if you don’t.

  37. Laura H*

    One more shift stands between me and a nice Sunday off. Looking forward to burgers on the grill as we host grandma for our biweekly Sunday meal thing that just happens to nicely coincide with Mother’s Day.

    After I get home this evening, the restroom needs some tlc and elbow grease and I gotta see if I can squeeze in a load of laundry- small load- outerwear needed for this week’s shifts, a few t shirts and underwear.

    And I gotta make a list for somebody else to go shopping.

    Have a great weekend.

  38. nep*

    Choose your N.
    Are you constantly fixated on what’s Next? Or are you living in the moment and enjoying the Now?
    It’s all we ever have.

    1. nep*

      (Not really a matter of ‘choosing.’ Just thinking aloud about how important it is not to miss the Now in endless pursuit of bigger, better Nexts.)

    2. Weird Science*

      That sounds a bit too pop-psych-y to me. It’s a false dilemma. Both are important – I need to think about what’s Next to plan, set goals and know where I’m going so that the Now means something. Being in the Now only works if I am not anxious/scared of what’s Next. Living in the moment is all very well, but it can leave you adrift in Never.

      1. nep*

        I see that. I don’t say this as a prescription or the like. Just thinking aloud…I’ve found that I would talk a lot about ‘living in the moment’ but when I really did that it was different, and powerful.
        ‘False dilemma’ is why I added that I don’t really mean to ‘choose’ between the two. It’s just easy to lose the power of Now when we are hanging on expectations.

    3. SAHM*

      I mostly think about food. Eating food, preparing food, buying food, planning food, cleaning up after food. Right now I’m waiting for food.

  39. MissingArizona*

    I’m going to Kauai tomorrow!!!! I am so excited! I’m going with my SIL, and meeting her mom and aunt. It is going to be SO MUCH FUN! Our husbands have to take care of everything by themselves, so I need everyone to pray for the dogs and (her) kids. But I am so excited for this!

    *The island we’ll be on is fine, no active eruptions, or earthquakes, so far.*

    1. It’s all good*

      My favorite place on earth! I know North Shore got the brunt of the storm but hopefully you can spend some time or if not all of your time there. Enjoy!

      1. MissingArizona*

        We’re on the other side of that island. The “grown-ups” got there yesterday, and said everything is looking great!

  40. Thursday Next*

    I remain unconvinced of the charms of cauliflower “rice.”

    I like cauliflower. I like rice. It seems to me that pulsing the former and calling it the latter is an insult to both. (At least, in my experience preparing and eating it.)

    But I’m open to persuasive arguments from the AAM crowd.

    1. nep*

      I always thought of that as simply a name because of the form cauliflower takes when broken up like that–not as any kind of replacement for rice. No comparison as far as taste.
      I LOVE ‘riced cauliflower’ (that’s how it is on the package at Trader Joe’s) but the severe bloating and discomfort I get after eating it isn’t worth it. I was probably having too much at once. Anyway stopped buying it. Great way to get veg if your gut is OK with it.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I had it yesterday, and it was ok, but I was starving after work. Carbs just help me feel fuller, I think. Plus too much crucifereous does not make me happy, so if I just have more I’d feel pretty gross.

    3. Ali G*

      I actually like it better than rice (but I don’t really like rice). For me, it’s also the added fiber that’s helpful, since my husband is pretty much anti-veg.
      Last night I make pizza with a frozen cauliflower crust and surprisingly we both liked it!

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I tried it as an alternative to rice. I absolutely knew going into it that’s not “rice” and won’t taste like rice. And I always spurned cauliflower, because it makes me think of brains. I bought a bag of the Trader Joe’s riced cauliflower and made a fried “rice” recipe with it, and it was delicious. I wouldn’t make it often, though, mainly because my husband won’t eat it and it will go to waste–I had weight loss surgery and I just can’t eat it up fast enough before it goes bad.

    5. Tris Prior*

      I’m with you – cauliflower rice is a poor substitute for the real thing.

      Not as horrifyingly bad as cauliflower pizza crust, though. Tried one of Trader Joe’s crusts. YUCK.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      the first time I made it? No way.

      I gave it another try this winter, but by frying it first and adding some seasoning and OH and I both LOVED it. Too many carbs make my tummy hurt and this was filling and went with whatever we were eating very well. I would pulse up a bunch and portion it out into bags and freeze to make it easy to make some up when needed. I think the trick is to use it with foods that have strong spices – jambalayas, chili, spicy shrimp, etc.

      That being said, I don’t think would expand anytime soon into pizza crusts and the like with it. And I dont really enjoy cauliflower on its own.

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I don’t like it as the focus of a meal, but it’s just fine as a side, especially for something saucy. I made a coconut chickpea curry and served it with cauliflower rice that I sautéed in coconut oil. Very tasty! I’ve also had it with Trader Joe’s orange chicken too.

    8. Alianora*

      I like it. It’s not the same as rice at all, but I appreciate it for what it is. It’s like vegetarian soy-based dishes that call themselves meat substitutes. They don’t really taste like meat at all to me, but if you go in without expecting them to be meat, some of them are actually pretty tasty.

    9. CAA*

      I’m with you. I like cauliflower and find no need to call it rice, which I also like.

      It’s kind of like the vegan cheese sauce that’s made from cashews. If they didn’t call it cheese, I’d like it just fine, but as soon as you put the word cheese in my mind and then give me something that does not taste like cheese, I’m just going to be disappointed.

    10. Parenthetically*

      I detest cauliflower as a soi-disant “substitute” for rice. I love cauliflower, even instead of rice or pasta or a grain, preferably roasted until richly caramelized with lots of garlic, but cauli-rice is too pale, and either the texture of sand if undercooked or, if overcooked, the texture of, I dunno, something you find on your shoe. Yuck.

      Rice has its own texture and you just can’t really sub for it. I will not be moved!

  41. SpiderLadyCEO*

    Brunch tips! I am having a couple of girlfriends over to watch Outlanders and eat brunch tomorrow, and I am in charge of the savory dish. Does anyone have any delicious recipes to share? Preferably something we can munch on while watching on the couch.

    1. Ali G*

      I am a big fan of frittata’s – they are good hot or room temp, so you can just cook it, cut it up and leave it out.
      My go-to is smoked salmon, goat cheese and asparagus. Top with a little parm or mozz.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Was just about to say frittata! We had friends over last weekend and I did one with asparagus, caramelized onions and goat cheese. I also made diner-style home fries and served strawberries and it was easy.

    2. Menacia*

      Bite sized crustless quiches, you can make them in a muffin tin. That way you can make different varieties very easily. Plenty of recipes online.

    3. Parenthetically*

      An egg casserole (I like the old fashioned ones with bread, tinned green chilies, and sausage best — pure nostalgia and very hearty) is just the ticket. I’d recommend against bacon in one, FWIW. Loses the texture.

  42. WellRed*

    Suggestions for finding a volunteer opportunity? Figuring out what might be a good fit and finding a place that needs volunteers?

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      Check out idealist.org as they have massive lists of volunteer opportunities that are searchable by location, interest, etc!

    2. FrontRangeOy*

      Seconding both of the above links.

      For the good fit part, think about your interests and job skills. If you’re a good llama wrangler who also happens to be good at memorizing and recalling information, you might enjoy volunteering as a tour guide/docent at a museum, for example.

    3. hermit crab*

      In addition to the other suggestions, are there places/institutions in your community that you particularly value – libraries, schools, museums, parks? That might be a good way to narrow your choices.

    4. HannahS*

      Think about what you want to do, other than doing good for your community. Be outside, or inside? Work with animals, or people (children or adults)? Work mainly with your hands or your mind? Work alone or with others? Service the public, or educate them? Are there particular institutions/organizations that mean a lot to you? Are there particular skills you want to develop, and is this partly resume-building? Beyond all that, there are also the logistics of where, when, and how often the org wants you.

    5. Washi*

      I’m a former volunteer coordinator! I definitely have some thoughts about volunteering from the nonprofit’s perspective:

      1. Regular is almost always better than one-off. In fact, many orgs that have one-off volunteering net lose money/staff time on it and do it because part of their mission is educating the public or advocacy. So definitely feel free to try some places out, but if you can, do so with the goal of finding a regular gig.
      2. Orgs that are built around volunteers (like Big Brother Big Sister) tend to have a volunteer experience that’s more structured and often more organized. Orgs that aren’t as focused on volunteers specifically tend to give you more flexibility and freedom.
      3. Decide if, when it comes down to it, you have a specific skill you’d like to hone volunteering, or if there’s a cause you’re passionate enough about to do whatever they need from volunteers. Sometimes you can find both at the same time, but it can help to get clear on what your priority is, because from a nonprofit’s perspective, it’s frustrating to be like “we need help with x,y, and z” and have the volunteer sign up for y but then try to turn it into m because y is boring.

      1. WellRed*

        Washi. Thank you. (And everyone else). I want a regular gig and I am leaning toward something more…hands on, like a food pantry rather than..museum docent say. All causes are worthwhile but I want to balance my rather ivory tower job with really helping.

    6. cleo*

      I agree with all the advice. And I’ll add this – my most fulfilling volunteer gigs have been things that complemented the rest of my life – that used skills I enjoy but wan’t using much in my work life or gave me things that I wasn’t getting any where else.

      I figured this out the hard way – when I was teaching full time, I attempted to volunteer at a senior center and quickly realized that I needed volunteer work that was less emotionally challenging than my for pay work – I ended up doing volunteer gardening with my local park district and it was great.

      One career change later and I’m leading monthly art workshops for young adults at my local community center as my volunteer work. I started at the center volunteering for a few events – doing one-off events helped me get a sense of whether it was a good fit for me and also a sense of where I might fit in for a repeating gig.

  43. AlligatorSky*

    Hey all, it’s been a while since I got involved with the AAM community.

    Does anyone have any advice on coping with depression when your family has an ‘mental health/depression isn’t real’ and ‘people who commit suicide are selfish wastes of space’ attitude? I’ve been battling severe depression since the age of 15, and I’m now 24.

    It’s getting harder and harder, and every single type of medication/antidepressants/counselling I’ve been prescribed for the last 9 years hasn’t worked. I feel like I’m just finding it more difficult to find reasons to keep going on, and I just feel like I don’t wanna cling onto life anymore. I have a bucket list of stuff I want to do in life and yet even that seems pointless to me now. I just don’t care about it anymore, I don’t care about life.

    We had a previous suicide in the family and he isn’t mentioned at all; there’s no photos of him, he’s omitted from family stories; my family act like he didn’t exist. It terrifies me knowing my family don’t care about me when I’m living on this planet, and that I’ll be erased from their minds when I leave this planet. They have NO idea what goes on in my head, and I feel like I’m not making an impact on them/the world now, and that I never will.

    I just feel like there’s no point. Not even visiting places like New York City and Los Angeles, places where I promised myself I would visit at one point in my life, seem like things I care about anymore :(

    1. nep*

      Sorry you are having to go through this. Sorry for your pain.
      Anyone who hasn’t had serious thoughts of committing suicide likely cannot relate in the least–they might see it only as a selfish and cowardly act. But those of us who have had those thoughts know that it is so far beyond that.
      I will just offer a couple of things that come to mind: Your ‘worth’ in this world probably doesn’t correspond at all with how you’ve envisioned it. It’s real but probably different from what you think it is or should be. Your ‘impact’ probably won’t be measured in ways you’ve imagined.
      Is there anything you feel as if you care about?
      I’m glad you shared this today.

      1. AlligatorSky*

        It’s weird, a few years ago when I was like this, I would lose myself in movies, games, tv shows, books ect. Now, I can still watch/read/play these things, but I don’t feel like I can escape as much as I used to. Before, I would completely shut myself off from the outside world. Now, I can still feel parts coming back to me. For example, I went to see Ready Player One 3x because I loved it so much. I did manage to sort of close myself off from the world, but my brain kept bringing me back to my thoughts. I would be watching it, and suddenly my brain would start thinking about how I just feel like I don’t want to be here, and how the 2 hours I’d spent watching the movie was 2 hours less that I had to live. I tried so hard to ignore them, but they just kept coming back. Still managed to enjoy the movie though, thankfully.

        Honestly, I don’t feel like there’s anything I truly care about anymore. I’m getting to meet 3 guys who played the 3 characters from Grand Theft Auto 5 (one of my favourite games) in a couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to it, but I just feel like I don’t care. I don’t feel excited, I don’t feel happy. I just feel empty, like it’s another day of my existence. I can’t remember the last time I felt truly happy :(

        1. tangerineRose*

          Depression is tough, and it’s a liar. Now that you’re 24, you may be able to use (or at least soon use) antidepressants more – doctors tend to be understandably cautious about prescribing antidepressants to people in their teens and early 20’s. I hope that helps.

          Things that have helped me include just taking it easy and crashing on the sofa for a few hours and watching TV or reading when I’m in a “just don’t care anymore” place, chocolate, spending time with people who care about me, spending time with animals, reminding myself that the way I feel right now is temporary.

          1. AlligatorSky*

            Yeah, when I’m in my ‘downward spiral’ as I call it, I just lie in my bed and bingewatch Netflix with Ben and Jerry’s. I have a thing for documentaries, so I spend hours watching them. I recently watched one about the suicide forest in Japan (pre Logan Paul) and loved it so much I rewatched it 4 times. Odd to think that watching a documentary about something I’m battling against could be so enjoyable.

            1. AlligatorSky*

              Also, I was watching TV when I replied to your comment. I have a habit of typing things that I hear. Just as well that I checked my comment before posting, because right at the end I’d written “I like fish fingers” because an advert on the TV had that line! Hahahahah.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’m sorry you don’t have a supportive family. That makes things so much harder.

      Do you have supportive friends? Don’t be afraid to lean on them. Talk to them about how you’re feeling. They will want to help you however they can.

      Also, don’t give up on trying to find the right treatment plan. I know it’s exhausting, but I started dealing with serious anxiety in my early 20s and it took nearly 20 years for me to get on the right medication and be able to function ‘normally’. There were a lot of times I felt like there was no point in trying, that I’d never feel good.

      1. AlligatorSky*

        I have truly amazing friends who I’m so thankful for. I just feel like a burden, because they have their own problems to deal with, and I don’t want to lumber them with mine as well :(

        It’s sucks, I’ve been trying for like 6-7 years to find treatments that will work. I just feel like I’m hitting my head off a brick wall and going round in circles, you know?

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          You are not a burden. I’ve been the supportive friend and also the friend needing support.

          I totally get that. I was on a variety of meds over the years and my anxiety just seemed to keep getting worse and worse. My doctor finally put me on Prozac and that coupled with getting away from a super toxic job vastly improved my quality of life. Don’t give up!

          1. AlligatorSky*

            I’m really thinking of going back to the doctor soon and asking to be put on antidepressants or something again. I’m just worried that a) my doctor will think “Oh god, she’s back AGAIN”, and that b) I’ll be put on something that won’t work for me and the cycle will start all over again :(

            1. PNWflowers*

              As a healthcare provider who spent 10+ years working with acutely mentally ill patients- it’s hard to think of any one of my coworkers who would be annoyed at someone seeking treatment. We geniunely wanted patients to engage in treatment and work towards healing. If your doctor is annoyed- you might need a new provider. But a good provider will want to help you find what you need. And I second the down thread comment about ECT. It’s not for everyone but for some people it can be very very beneficial. I’m also sorry your family hasn’t handled the loss of your loved one well; that’s hard no matter the reasons behind it. Hang in there- I know it’s so hard when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed and your brain is being a giant a-hole- but you matter and you’re worthy of living a life not consumed by depression. Please keep swimming.

              1. AlligatorSky*

                I always feel like my doctors wonder why I keep coming back. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve gone to see my GP. The notes they keep on me must be enough to write a book.

                It’s painful and difficult, but I’m glad I have people out there who care. Thank you so much <3

                1. Southernbelle*

                  I’m saying this as someone who has also taken a variety of meds for depression and anxiety, and gone through a variety of more and less competent doctors: PLEASE find a doctor who is not a GP to help you manage these medications. This is not their specialty! It’s like going to a GP for a complicated bone break: they can only do so much. Maybe they could get you started with something and send a referral to an actual psychiatrist?

                  Sending you thoughts full of hope for improvement.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              FWIW, I am thinking you can take many scripts and your mother won’t change one bit. I am not a doc and it’s just my thinking, but I think getting away from your mother is going to help you a lot.

              I am so sorry about your family being so dense and cold. Stealing your medication, rummaging through your room, etc, is down right abusive. Ignoring the family member who suicided, is absolutely awful. Love is not a water faucet, we don’t turn love on and off like water in the kitchen sink.

              I hope you find this tidbit a bit helpful. My wise friend used to say, rigid people are the most fragile people there are. These are folks who cannot bend, can never yield and can never change their minds. The reason is because they secretly believe that if they flex or if they change their thinking they will break up into tiny pieces and cease to exist. You don’t have this problem, AS. You know there is something better and you just keep looking for it.

              IF, big IF, this is the case with your family, they do not have the skill sets to show you how to thrive in this world. They can’t even show you how to survive in this world. They don’t know how themselves, so their plan is to hold them selves rigidly in place until the storm called “life” passes.

              You are radical to them. You can talk about a person who died by suicide and not bust up into tiny parts yourself. They don’t understand this.

              AS, it’s okay to seek something better in life. And, indeed, you will find it. There’s an awful lot of very, very kind people out there. Take a look at the post this week where dozens and dozens of people offered to help the OP find a new job so she could get out of her toxic situation. This is the way life should be, AS, people rushing to help others.

              I am glad you are back. We have looked for you over the years. If you don’t comment, please keep reading. I have learned so much here, more than I did in college. And I have learned about things about life stuff that I never would have learned any other way. You can let all that you read here remind you of how rich life can be and remind you that this is where you are heading to a rich full life.

              1. AlligatorSky*

                Thank you so much. It makes me feel something that I can’t explain when people recognise my name, and hope I’ve been doing well. It truly means so much!

                I’ve realised that one major step to recovery is definitely moving out. I feel like the root of my issues are definitely due to my family/mother. Getting away from the poison that I’m subjected to every day will definitely be one major step. I wish they would talk about the family member who took his own life. He feels like a stranger to me, because nobody will talk about him.

                Thank you so, so much. I realised that I didn’t reply to a lot of the comments last time, and I swore I wouldn’t do that again. The wonderful comments and support means so much to me. You have made me incredibly happy tonight – thank you!

            3. Yetanotherjennifer*

              I think your doctor will think “oh GOOD, she’s back again. Now I get another chance to help her. I really hope this next thing works.” Your doctors are professionals who took an actual oath to treat the person in front of them to the best of their abilities. This is what they were called to do. And annoying people tend not to be that self-aware. The fact you’re worried about being annoying pretty much guarantees you aren’t. But even if…you deserve good medical care because you are a person and not because you are good, bad, annoying or delightful. You are deserving of good mental health. You are worth it! Please go and get help. It might take several tries to get the right thing, so keep trying. Each thing you try brings you one step closer to the right thing. You’ve got a whole comment section of people rooting for you. We expect to see you here next week.

              1. AlligatorSky*

                I really hope I can find something that works for me, I’ve been wanting this for the past 9ish years. I hope one day I can look back and be thankful that I fought back against my thoughts and didn’t give into them. There’s a quote I often think about: “Killing yourself doesn’t erase the problem, it erases the chance of ever getting better.” – I try to keep that in my head at all times. Death is permanent, once it’s over, it’s over; there’s no second chance or respawn – that’s it.

                Thank you for all the wonderful support, it trult means so much. I promise you I’ll be back next week, you guys are all awesome, and I feel so welcomed, and for the first time, I feel like I’ve found somewhere where I belong, instead of feeling like an outsider.

        2. Parenthetically*

          I have a friend who was in a similar place recently — physical health issues, lots of debilitating mental health issues, unsupportive family, a ton of false starts with the wrong meds and bad docs. It was hard. She constantly felt like the loser of our friend group, and like she was leaning too hard on us. But that’s what we’re for. Friends stick around. I figure, what’s a few years in a lifetime of friendship, when it’s someone I love?

          Anyway she recently found a new therapist and an AWESOME new doctor who really took time to look at her treatment holistically, and things are on the up in a big way. It’s not perfect by any means, but she’s got a lot of reason to hope.

          I’ve got my fingers crossed for you!

          1. AlligatorSky*

            I’m going to call my doctor on Monday and ask if I can be referred to a therapist. Your friend sounds exactly like me, and if she can get through it, so can I. You’ve given me hope and confidence, thank you so much!

            1. Parenthetically*

              Please do pop back in next week and update!! Really pulling for you. You’ve got this. :)

    3. Mananana*

      AlligatorSky, I am SO glad you posted today. And I’m so sorry for your pain. Forgive me if this sounds like a simplistic answer, but please…… talk to your mental health provider about this. For some people, it can take years to find the right combination of anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds/counseling to work.

      And families are weird. And grief is weird. Absence of pictures doesn’t mean your family has forgotten their loved-one who committed suicide; sometimes the grief and guilt can lead to the “erasure” of the one who died. Ideally, you could ask a trusted family member WHY that person’s pictures are gone; work with your therapist on some scripts.

      Jedi-hugs to you, AlligatorSky. Please be well.

      1. AlligatorSky*

        Thank you <3 I'm thinking of going back to my doctor soon (thankfully my work is supportive about doctors appointments and things, so I don't need to worry about leaving work a little early or coming in late). I'm just insanely worried that the cycle of being put on medication that doesn't work and realising I'm destined to feel like this forever will start all over again.

        We don't even visit his grave – nobody does. I haven't been since I was around 16 and even then, I had to beg and beg and beg to be taken there. I have family members in Canada who sometimes will talk about him if I ask, but they stop after a while; I can't probe too much. I probably could get to his grave myself, but it's just a pain to get there.

        Thank you again. Your comment is much appreciated <3

    4. C*

      Also, ask your doctor about getting a blood test to determine which antidepressants are likely to work better for you. They can actually tell based on your genes which antidepressants are more likely or less likely to work instead of continuing all the trial & error.

      1. AlligatorSky*

        Damn that’s cool. Medicine and that industry just fascinates me with the things that can be done today. I’ll make sure to ask my doctor about a blood test. Thank you so much!

        1. Lindsay J*

          Yes! I think this is relatively new since nobody said anything about it when I first went onto mental health prescriptions when I was a teen and young adult. I haven’t had it done yet but my psychiatrist mentioned it and I’m excited by the idea.

    5. hermit crab*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It seems trite to say that you are not alone – but there are so many people out there who have been in a similar place (not the same, because everyone’s experiences are different) and even those who have not but who still feel for you and are glad you’re around. I’m glad you’re around, and I’m just a stranger on the internet!

      I’d like to share a blog post that has really helped me through some dark places; feel free to read it if you want. I’ll put a link in a reply, but if you want to search for it it’s Jennifer Michael Hecht’s Jan. 11, 2010 post on the Best American Poetry blog (thebestamericanpoetry dot typepad dot com).

        1. AlligatorSky*

          Thank you so much for taking the time to read and reply to my comment. It truly means a lot knowing that there’s someone out there who cares! I’m going to read that post now, thank you again <3

    6. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Sorry to hear you’re dealing with all this. I understand it far too well myself.

      Go see your doctor ASAP and see what meds are possible. I took a combination of various meds rather than one single type. Medication itself is like duct tape. It helps you get through the day but it’s not a fix. In my experience a good therapist is far more effective in the long run in helping you overcome the hurdles of living with depression. Ask your doctor for recommendations. A therapist will help you learn how to live with depression and have a normal life. I won’t sugar coat it – it’s not easy. Sometimes all that keeps me going is knowing there are a small group of very dear friends who care very much for me. And that’s enough to keep living for. I don’t see them as often as I’d like but we keep in touch pretty much daily through social media. I don’t fight this all on my own. It’s with their help and love I get through the rough times.

      1. AlligatorSky*

        Thank you! It sounds crazy, but as much as I hate depression and wish it would go away, if I had to continue living with it, I’d much rather have methods of dealing with it, rather than having it consume me, if you get me.

        I definitely want to seek help for it. I’m not proud of it, but previous coping mechanisms have been unhealthy, and potentially dangerous. I won’t say what they are, but looking back, I’m very lucky, as I don’t know where said coping mechanisms came from, or who made them. It could’ve ended very badly. I never want to turn to them again.

        I sometimes feel so low that I end up removing myself from social media. I lock my Twitter down, deactivate my Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Sometimes I feel so depressed I completely cut myself off from everyone. Isolating myself seems to make me feel a litter better sometimes.

        1. Parenthetically*

          The metaphor that really helped me when I was trying to get a handle on how to live with my depression was The Black Dog. Like a very large, stupid pet, depression needs caring for. You have to take the dog to the vet, get it outside for walks, feed it properly, give it its meds, bathe it, pick up its sh!t — and if you don’t, if you just pretend you don’t have the dog, it doesn’t go away, it just becomes a large, stupid, annoying, smelly, angry dog.

          Choosing your coping mechanisms rather than falling into them is important as well, IMO.

          1. AlligatorSky*

            I like that metaphor, it’s a good way to look at it. Depression doesn’t go away – it’s always there in the background. It’s best to deal with it and reach out for help, rather than pretending it’s not there. Sort of like the elephant in the corner of the room. (I guess?).

    7. TheLiz*

      If you’re having severe, treatment-resistant depression (and it sounds like you are), you may want to consider electroconvulsive therapy (https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/electroconvulsive-therapy#1). It’s got a very bad reputation, largely because it was abused in the 1930s, but it can be very effective when nothing else is. You’re also likely to know very quickly whether it’s working for you or not.

      Also, things can get better. Even if there is no treatment that will help you today, there are always medical advances. This isn’t forever! The whole “this can’t ever improve and the world cares nothing for me” is lies your brain is telling you. Don’t listen! We care!

      1. AlligatorSky*

        Thank you so much. I’ll look into electroconvulsive therapy. This is gonna sound weird, but I find my depression comes in waves. I’m always feeling depressed, but sometimes it’s “Ugh I wish I was dead but whatever” and other times it’s “Yeah I don’t wanna go on anymore, if I just did this, I’d be dead very soon”.

        Sometimes it’s so severe that it’s terrifying. The other day I felt so low I stood in my bathroom considering swallowing all the pills I had in the bathroom. Another day I found myself googling bridges that I could throw myself off of. There’s been times when I’ve felt so low and couldn’t sleep that I’ve gone downstairs and sat on the couch with my dog. I would never do anything that could potentially harm my dog (dropping pills ect), so I find that sitting with him makes it better. His little face lights up when I come downstairs and he loves to cuddle up with me and play with me. I always try to remind myself that he would miss his playmate.

        Thank you so much for responding and caring. Makes me feel better knowing there’s someone out there rooting for me :)

        1. deesse877*

          Go to a psychiatrist, not a GP, and ask to be evaluated for Bipolar Type 2. You are not sounding weird; you are sounding like someone who thinks carefully about what happens to them, and this business about “coming in waves” is potentially extremely good data.

          1. AlligatorSky*

            I’ve always felt that I’m going crazy when I describe my depression. I assumed depression was just always there, and that because mine comes in ‘waves’, I thought I couldn’t be depressed and that I must be just sad or something. I have very high ‘highs’ and feel awesome, then I come crashing down and my lows are terrifying. My highs make me feel pretty good and make me glad I’m still here, and my lows make me want to kill myself on the spot. I hate having these ‘highs’ because I know the lows will come back and how vicious they can be.

            I’ll make sure to mention this to the doctor, thank you. One of my close friends is bipolar and when I described this to him, he said it’s exactly what he deals with. I’ve been curious for a long time but always told myself I was being stupid. Maybe not.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              This might be something to start with. My wise friend used to say “Watch the highs and lows. If we go too high that means we can go to low also. It’s important to keep ourselves on an even keel as much as possible.”

              Now this translates into whatever it means to you. For me, I decided 8 hours of sleep every night was mandatory. My life was such that I was cleaning the mouse poop out of the cupboards at 2 AM. Well, it was the only time I had available to do that task. So I decided, “NO MORE.” That burst of energy at 2 AM only set me up for a downer later on the week. I stopped feeding the energy bursts. I decided to set my daily rhythm and control that part of my life, then look to see where that put me.

              1. AlligatorSky*

                I’ve always been a night owl, and seem to be more energetic at night. I’m physically exhausted throughout the day, no matter how much sleep I’ve had. I’m having to consume energy drinks and caffeine just to keep me awake throughout the day. Thankfully it doesn’t affect me at work, (9-5 office job) and I can block it out when I’m working, but it’s frustrating. It’s currently 4.36pm here in Scotland – I woke up at 12.30 after having 8 hours of sleep, and already I’m counting down the hours until I can go back to sleep. I’ve always been like this, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t feel like I’m in an exhausted state.

                Still, at least I’m not cleaning mouse poop out of cupboards at 2am. That can’t have been fun!

                1. Lindsay J*

                  I know the feeling. It really sucks and I’m sorry you are dealing with this, too.

                  I’m not even sad most of the time. I just don’t have the energy or mental energy to do anything or even to want to do anything. If I could just peacefully fall asleep and never wake up again I feel like that would be okay.

                  I keep on hoping that the next thing I try will help – new meds, new vitamins, etc. Nothing has yet.

                  You’re not alone. I hope knowing that helps you maybe feel a bit better at least.

    8. Nynaeve*

      I was just thinking about you the other day! I saw your name in a reply to anther commenter’s post and thought, “Oh, she* pulled through! Good for her!” (Hope I got your gender right; if not, just correct me.)

      So the truth is more complicated. I am sorry to hear this is still a struggle for you, and that your family is a hindrance rather than a help. It does sound at least like numb weariness, rather than the desperation of your initial post, so… small victories? In my experience, the “I am a hollow shell” stage is easier to work with than the “I’m crying on the floor because I looked at some toilet cleaner and now I can’t stop thinking about swallowing bleach and ending it all” stage. Easier emotionally, anyway… but it is a much longer journey and it’s harder to see results, because the changes are more incremental. It’s like… you’re not on fire anymore, but your skin is burnt and itchy while it heals, and you’re still having trouble breathing. It’s uncomfortable and it’s harder to get sympathy.

      Anyway. The point is, I can commiserate. I wish you the best of luck, skill, assistance, and persistence in getting through this stage. I second everyone’s advice to go back to your doctor and to try therapy again. If the medications keep not working (and the blood tests don’t help or you can’t get them), you can also look for clinical trials for treatment-resistant depression. Captain Awkward has good advice/scripts for disengaging from difficult families. You can also try small hacks like writing down good things that happened or small things you accomplished and focusing on those, just as a way to counterbalance the all- pervasive feeling of negativity. Do the small things, even if the feelings aren’t there or don’t follow. “I saw a blue jay. I put on clothes and went to the grocery store. I am drinking my favorite milkshake. It brings all the boys to the yard.

      I’ve gotten to a point where I’m happy and stable. It took a lot of work and time, and it wasn’t straightforward, but I got there. I wish that for you, too.

      Also, I’m in the “Los Angeles area,” so if you do decide to visit, I will brave the traffic and come do touristy things with you. Alison has my email if you want to get in touch.

      1. AlligatorSky*

        Haha no worries, you got my gender right! My name is YMCA backwards without the C :-)

        It’s been strongly hinted that my family member who took his own life had depression. There was a number of issues in his life which probably added up to everything. My family’s attitude probably didn’t help either. He took his life in a horrible, horrible way, and his poor assistant found him. I don’t know what happened to her or where she is, but I feel awful for her. I can’t imagine what she had to go through. I think about her often. I was a pretty happy kid, but I can remember being 8 or 9 years old and thinking about killing myself. I remember it specifically because I had this Pokemon game that came with small ball-like things. I remember sitting on the floor in my childhood bedroom and wondering if swallowing these things would kill me. I did a lot of googling about suicide on the family computer and my Grandma found out and told my family about it. (I was a kid and had no idea you could delete your history, 9 year old me had barely grasped the idea of the internet hahaah). My Grandma (RIP) was concerned, and told my parents to consider getting me to see a therapist. My parents did the usual (still do to this day) “Oh, she’s an attention seeker. She’s doing this because she knows ____ killed himself and she wants to hurt us. She’s doing this on purpose.”

        I resisted the urges to take my own life when I was younger, because I couldn’t put my beloved Grandma through it again. The previous suicide in the family completely destroyed her. Up until the day she died, it broke her, even though she never spoke about him. She was my best friend and my rock, and the reason I kept going. She passed in October 2015, and life has felt meaningless since then. Before, I hated life, but I had something to guide me through it. Now my lifejacket has literally gone, and I just feel like I’m drowning and I want to let go. My mother knows I struggle, yet is furious when I come home from the doctor with antidepressants. (She searches my room). She takes them off me, refuses to let me take them, blasts me publicly over Facebook and Twitter for being a “selfish attention seeker who thinks wasting doctors time is funny” and tells me stuff like “If you want to kill yourself, just do it. Nobody will miss you.” Makes me wonder why I don’t seem to have the courage to just get it over with. Guess I’m just scared.

        Thank you so much! I currently have a temp job in finance – The pay is pretty damn good. Not gonna say how much I make, but it’s a pretty good amount. If I started saving, I could probably afford a week or so in Los Angeles within a few months. I actually find myself looking at flights to LA and NY and even Toronto on a daily basis. I really hope one day I can go. Just nervous though cause my mum is S T R I C T – Like so strict that when I was away in a city 2 hours away for the weekend with some friends recently, she called the hotel I was staying in, messaged my friends on Facebook, commented on every post I’d shared, wrote on my wall and almost called the police to report me missing. My crime? My friends and I went out for a while and my phone died on me. I told her my phone was low on battery and would probably die, but I was okay and would message her when we got back to the hotel. When I did get back, I had (exactly): 34 text messages, 14 missed calls, 67 Facebook notifications and 122 Facebook messages = ALL FROM HER. My friends were stunned and bemused. They knew how ridiculous she was, but they hadn’t witnessed it in person.

        I definitely will be getting in touch, it would be awesome to talk to you. Should I contact Alison for your email?

        1. Reba*

          The things you describe your mother doing and saying are abusive. I’m so sorry that she is cruel to you on top of everything else, and I hope that with some of this sweet sweet finance money you can get out of her home soon.

          The jab about no one missing you is beyond the pale! Your dear friends would miss you. You are a kind-hearted person. Even us Internet Randos would miss you!

          Sending you love and light. Please hang in there and have courage in the search for treatments.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Your mom sound terrible. I’m sorry you have to deal with this. With treatment like hers, could some of what you’re dealing with be situational depression? You may start feeling a lot lighter and freer when you are not living with her.

            Also, some antidepressants take a week or 2 to kick in, and it sounds like she may be preventing you from being able to give them a fair try.

            I don’t know your spiritual beliefs, and I don’t want to presume, but would it help to think about your grandmother looking down on you and wanting you to be kind to yourself?

            1. AlligatorSky*

              It could be! When I’m not at home and away from her, I do feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I tend to feel a little (not a lot, but a little) better.

              I feel like she’s stopping me from getting the full effect of the antidepressants as she just takes them off me before they can kick in. I really wish I had a way of taking them without her finding out.

              It does help, actually. I like to think that she’s up there with our deceased previously member family member and looking down. I really hope she is and that’s in a better place.

              1. Lindsay J*

                Do you have a desk at work you can keep the medication in? Or a handbag or backpack or gym bag or similar that you can keep on you at all times so she doesn’t have an opportunity to search it?

                Your mother sounds terrible.

          2. AlligatorSky*

            You are the best. Thank you for the support, it’s much appreciated. It’s 3.49am in Scotland, and I’m feeling slightly meh. Sitting up watching crappy TV and listening to Shania Twain whilst drinking Budweiser. Your comment made me smile though, so thank you for that <3