weekend free-for-all – May 26-27, 2018

Lucy! On the mend.

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: My Ex-Life, by Stephen McCauley. Two former spouses, one gay and one straight, reconnect decades later when both of their new lives are falling apart a bit. It’s lovely.

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

{ 1,230 comments… read them below }

    1. Kuododi*

      Lucy!!! You are such a lovely lady! It’s a pleasure to see you doing so well!!! Blessings to you and your family both four and two legged.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! Last weekend we had a horrible scare, where I took her to the emergency vet because she’d had her second period of extreme lethargy/sluggishness, and after examining her, the vet told us she likely had cancer and very little time left. After spending 24 hours totally devastated, we got the very good news that it’s probably not cancer and instead is high blood pressure, which is treatable. (He’d thought she had masses in her eyes, but it turned out to be broken blood vessels caused by the blood pressure. That was confirmed by an ophthalmologist this week.) She’s now on blood pressure medicine and doing much, much better (although her blood pressure is still far higher than it should be; she has some follow-up appointments coming up). Meanwhile, we’re coddling her for as long as we get to.

        1. CarrotCake*

          If she fights pills, it can be sent a compounding pharmacy and turned into a flavored liquid. Our guy was spitting his out and we didn’t know until he had some serious issues and switched to liquid.

            1. Damn it, Hardison!*

              They can also make a lotion-like compound that you put on the inside of the cat’s ear. We had to switch from Pill Pockets to the lotion when Little Miss Princess decided Pill Pockets weren’t good enough.

        2. Windchime*

          Ohh, poor baby! I’m glad it’s not cancer. I had no idea that cats could get high blood pressure.

          1. Mrs. Fenris*

            There are DVM ophthalmologists. (Nobody without a DVM is supposed to diagnose or treat illnesses in animals. )

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            There are veterinary ophthalmologists! The emergency vet I took her to is basically like a hospital for humans except that it’s for animals — they have internal medicine specialists, ophthalmologists, oncologists, dermatologists, etc. It’s pretty cool.

            1. Mimmy*

              I know there were vets who specialized in oncology, but didn’t know that the range of specialties that exists in human medicine also existed in veterinary medicine. Very cool indeed!

  1. Quake Johnson*

    Anyone ever read the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix? I enjoyed them in high school but was never able to find them anywhere since graduating. Then just last week I went to our recently revamped bookstore and there they were, plus two new entries I never knew about! I haven’t been this excited about reading in years!

    Any other fun book recommendations?

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      I love the old kingdom series! Of the new books, I enjoyed clariel though not quite as much as the others. Goldenhand I enjoyed a lot. There are also the two short stand alones… Across the wall and to hold the bridge.

      I also loved them as a teen and rediscovered them in the last couple years (I’m late 20s). I was very last year (I think it was last year) when I was in a bookshop in my city and found out that not only had goldenhand come out, but Garth nix was touring the UK and was doing a talk and q and a at that bookshop later that week. Tickets to attend were a couple of quid, or free of you bought his new book there and then (which I did).

      He was great to meet, and he read an extract from goldenhand and also from frog kisser (another new book of his not related to the old kingdom). I liked the way he answered questions etc and he seemed very likeable/approachable. I didn’t ask any questions myself and only said ‘hello’ etc when he signed my book, but he was very good about engaging with the people who did ask questions.

      As for other recommendations I happen to be a fan of most stuff by Trudy canavan (who also happens to write fantasy and be Australian)

      1. Reba*

        That’s interesting, I disliked both the new books and thought Goldenhand was the worser of the two! But I love the original series and especially the first book, Sabriel — to me it is still an example of a near-perfect book, with an unusual, evocative magic system, a vivid world without describing every blade of grass, serious but not preposterous struggle and a wonderful heroine!

        I’m glad we have all rediscovered them, Ruth and Quake Johnson!

        I’m looking forward to reading the new Philip Pullman books at some point.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I always have to recommend the Amelia Peabody series for fun book recommendations. I didn’t expect to love them as much as I did. I’ve never heard of the Old Kingdom series though, so I’ll go and check those out.

      1. Tort-ally Hare Brained*

        I was just about to give up on Amelia Peabody around book 7, but I got sucked right back in. Apparently everyone has awkward teen years including Ramses and Nefret. I think I found them based on a recommendation here, so I if it was you- thanks!

      2. Jules the Third*

        Love Amelia, but very different. Old Kingdom’s a High Fantasy YA series, and probably *the* reason I defended YA in the ‘favorite books that get side eyed’ thread. Far better than most *adult* fantasy these days.

        Amelia’s a mystery series. The lead characters from the 1999 movie “The Mummy” are based on Amelia and Emerson. Author had a PhD in Egyptology, so you got accurate history on top of the funny mystery.

    3. dr_silverware*

      Yes, I love those!!

      Try Martha Wells. I’ve read her series that the book Death of a Necromancer belongs to, though I don’t know the name. I also love the Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson–the first book can read a little young, not least because of many of the names he chose, but it goes down easy, and the final two books are just as good. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin is like reading a dream. But there’s nothing that hits quite the same chime as Sabriel.

      1. JHunz*

        Martha Wells is great. You’re thinking of Ile-Rien, although Death of a Necromancer is actually a standalone in the same world rather than being a direct part of the series. Her Raksura books and standalones are also great, and the new Murderbot novellas are very good so far.

        1. Gingerblue*

          I’m loving Murderbot. Poor Murderbot just wants to be left alone to watch its tv shows!

    4. Dr. KMnO4*

      I have read the first three Old Kingdom books, and I really enjoy them.

      You might like Dark Lord of Derkholm and it’s sequel, Year of the Griffin by Dianna Wynne Jones. They are quite good.

    5. ElspethGC*

      I love the Old Kingdom books! I’ve read up to Clariel and have the short stories collection, although I haven’t read Goldenhand yet. Diana Wynne Jones (RIP) is a fantastic one for children’s/young adult fantasy that is still fun for adults, as well. I haven’t read the Derkholm books, but Howl’s Moving Castle and its two sequels are brilliant, although you might be a bit confused if your only frame of reference is the Miyazaki movie. I also love the Chrestomanci series, although it does read a bit more childish than HMC, but personally I still enjoy them at 20. Also, Terry Pratchett. No fantasy recommendation would be complete without Pratchett.

      1. Reba*

        Great recs. My favorite Diana WJ books are Fire and Hemlock, The Merlin Conspiracy, and the Dalemark Quartet books.

        I recently read some YA fantasy by Rachel Neumeier that I really enjoyed! Many of Catherynne Valente’s books are also fun. (All her books are good, but some of them fall in the category of “fun” more than others.)

      2. Bagpuss*

        I love DWJ. I have a particularly soft spot for the Chrestomanci books, and How, but Deep Secret is also a lot of fun (and the parts set in an SF convention are wonderful, if you’ve ever been to one Not to mention the 2 separate Neil Gaiman cameos!.)

    6. Kj*

      I loved, loved, loved those! I like Garth Nix in general. I also love re-reading the old Tamora Pierce books, plus she came out with a bunch after I stopped following her. My library has them on audiobook as well and I like to listen while I exercise.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        I’m a tremendous fan of the tamora pierce books. They were a very important series(es) for me when I was a teenager. Also, my young brother (around 14 at the time), who otherwise didn’t really enjoy reading any fiction allowed me to read several of them aloud to him and then went on to read many of her books himself.

    7. Caroline_Herschel*

      I love these books so much! I actually just finished re-reading the original three last week, though I haven’t read the more recent entries. So nice to see many people who love them here!

      I’m currently reading The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, and it’s incredible so far. I loved the first book (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms), and am currently on the second one. In some ways a lot of what I love is similar to the things I find most impressive in the Old Kingdom series – it’s a totally different conception of a fantasy world and is evocative without describing every mechanic or place in detail.

    8. Lirael*

      I love those! As you might be able to tell from my user name. I enjoyed Goldenhand more than Clariel, but they were both definitely worth reading. I also love Brandon Sanderson, Tamora Pierce, and Robin McKinley.

      1. JHunz*

        The first half of Lirael is the best part of the series, in my opinion, although I enjoyed them all.

    9. Quake Johnson*

      Thanks to everyone for these great suggestions and replies! And I’m glad so many others love these books like I do.

      “Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” was actually my yearbook quote!

      1. Julia*

        If you haven’t already, check out Tamora Pierce, especially Protector of the Small!

    10. Jules the Third*

      I just finished Abhorsen (again…), yeah, it’s a great series. A lot depends on what you’re looking for. I lean hard towards ‘funny + genre’, which Abhorsen is not, so I’ll note the less serious series with + s

      In YA, high quality fantasy:
      Susan Cooper’s _When the Dark Comes Rising_, 5 books, arthurian / real world, published in the 70s
      Dianne Wynn Jones
      Diane Duane’s Young Wizard series, unique magic system, real world, 80s
      Robin McKinley’s Blue Sword / Hero and the Crown. Her other work is more adult, but still very good
      Terry Pratchett – all ages. +. ++++ even, but there’s a lot of heart in there too.
      Ursula Verson – Castle Hangnail + or Nurk

      For adult fantasy:
      I’m a die hard Tolkien fan, but he can be too wordy for some
      Steven Brust, especially the Jhereg series. High fantasy +
      Jim Butcher’s _Dresden Files_. Very adult, but in a way that really resonates with Nix’s ‘feel’
      Patricia McKillip is High Fantasy, poetic, never what you expect. A lot of ‘retold fairytales’ done well

      Sci Fi:
      Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series is great – character focused, not sci focused. +
      Vernor Vinge is amazing. Everything he’s ever written has been nominated for a Hugo and most have won.
      Neil Stephenson’s Snowcrash is good. Adult.

      Amelia Peabody by Elizabeth Peters is the best mystery series, anywhere. +

      And that’s just the top shelves of my book cases. I like to read. A lot.

      1. John*

        You might check out Steven Donaldson’s “Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever.” Well worth it.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        A couple of other good sci-fi series, if you like Bujold.

        Debra Doyle and James D MacDonald’s Mageworld series – classic space opera with great characters and a good plot. It’s reminiscent of Star Wars (with a mysterious force-like power) without being derivative. Read in publication order, not internal chronological order.

        Elizabeth Moon’s Familias Regnant series – actually one trilogy and a five book sequel series. Sort-of military sci-fi, but character driven and without a lot of time spent on battles, and an interesting society. The overall thematic arc explores the impact of rejuvenation drugs on a society. For fantasy, her Paksenarrion trilogy is excellent and the recent five book sequel series is even better.

      3. Mad Baggins*

        I must recommend The Expanse series by James A. Corey (which is the pen name of two other writers, and each of the book titles are wordy and hard to remember). It also has a TV show that is very good. Humans of Earth, Mars, and the asteroid belt-and the divergent political interests thereof-grapple with an alien encounter. Tone-wise it’s maybe Firefly meets Game of Thrones? Recommended if you like fast-paced sci-fi with diverse, memorable characters!

    11. DoctorateStrange*

      I really enjoyed the Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (aka Sarah Monette). It’s just a feel-good sort of fantasy of an eighteen-year-old orphan learning how to navigate being an emperor. It was refreshing for me because it relied less on outright violence and more on court intrigue. Maia ended up becoming one of my favorite heroes because he is such a genuine person.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I snuck this into my mom’s bag she was taking to the hospital for a long stay (back home now, mostly better) and she called me from the hospital to hope, hope, hope that this was just the first of a series. I knew she’d like it, but I didn’t know she’d love it that much! I felt bad having to tell her as far as I knew it was a standalone book.

        And the spelling feature is telling me snuck is wrong. Should be it sneaked? I was never good at those…

        1. DoctorateStrange*

          Apparently, “sneaked” is a better verb, although, personally, it feels awkward compared to “snuck.” The English language is a rather thorny language.

          Unfortunately, yes, the author seems to have no inclination yet to continue it. I would love to see more of this world, but fanfiction has soothed the wound so far.

  2. Junior Dev*

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

    I’m up and down this week. Thursday night I gave a presentation about a program I wrote to generate funny fake ads and people really liked it. I also got to see some amazing tech projects made by teenagers.

    But that took a lot out of me, plus I just started my period, and the combination has made me both exhausted and anxious.

    I’m also feeling very lonely this week, and also overwhelmed by all the bad stuff happening in the world (we aren’t supposed to discuss politics so I’ll be vague, but I feel guilty for not doing more to help even as I am struggling to do basic self care).

    A lot of things are bad, but in a way that seems to have kind of reached an equilibrium…my apartment is a mess…I get derailed by social anxiety at least once a week and have to lie in bed til I feel better.

    But also, I’m seeing friends, I’m doing creative projects and sharing them with people, I’m volunteering, and I’m exercising at least a couple times a week reliably. So there’s good and there’s bad.

    I think I need to see my psychiatrist soon, I don’t know if the meds I’m taking are helping or making things worse, and that’s quite frustrating.

    How are you doing?

    1. fretnone*

      I see wonderful “good”s there :)

      Stress from place-that-can’t-be-named was awful this week; it’s a toxic environment I know I need to leave but opportunities have been scarce and I’m just trying to do my best to do good work and not let it ruin the rest of my life in the meantime. I’m working up to calling my workplace EAP (employee assistance) to help manage the stress.

      In good news, I finally screwed up enough courage to get past my dental work phobia and made a cleaning appointment at which I am going to ask about numbing alternatives for fillings (I’m a total needle wimp). The receptionist mentioned that they can prescribe an anti-anxiety med to take the edge off so there is hope.

      1. Red Reader*

        If you have a driver, triazolam is a wonder drug for the dental phobic. Much cheaper than IV sedation (like, $10 vs $600), but puts you out of commission for the next six to eight hours. Not only do you not care what’s going on around you, but you won’t remember it after either. (So, uh, give your driver your phone, lest you loopily text post-surgery selfies to everyone you know. Including your boss. Just sayin.)

        1. Nashira*

          Anything involving sedation should also involve phone confiscation til you’ve done it a few times and know how trustworthy drugged!you is.

          1. fretnone*

            Thank you both! I have no faith at all in drunken me so when time came to pick a new dentist, I picked one on my block so I can be rolled up the sidewalk back home if need be.

            I didn’t realize how expensive sedation might be though!! As it’s just fillings this time I am hoping to just wince through it without sedation, but it was really comforting to know at least it is an option if I really can’t face it…better expensive and woozy that letting the teeth fester (says I ten years after my last checkup…)

            1. Nashira*

              Honestly, some valium is very inexpensive! I have a fairly severe medical phobia due to a fairly horrific surgical experience. You do need a driver/escort, but I have successfully used 10mg of valium to get through:

              Nexplanon removal and Mirena IUD placement
              To get me in the office for a hysteroscopy (which was done under sedation because NOT DOING THAT AWAKE)
              An MRI of my head which had me sobbingly terrified because haha maybe I had MS!

              I would still want it for an IUD placement and anything else involving poking my uterus for gender dysphoria Reasons, but it helped so much with the MRI that I think I could do it on my own if I ever needed another.

              Could you ask the dentist to prescibe you a single dose, to help with the anxiety? Or your PCP/psychiatrist as appropriate?

              1. fretnone*

                I checked with the office and they’ll prescribe Ativan for the visit, and then they stick a needle in you anyway… but if the Ativan helps me not think about the needle I’m willing to try!

      2. Teach*

        I’m a big fan of nitrous! My dental phobia got to the point where I hadn’t had a cleaning in 6 or 7 years and my dentist suggested nitrous for my first one. It got me over the hump and now I don’t need it.

        1. fretnone*

          I was hoping for this! I just confirmed that they only have Ativan or sedation so unfortunately it’s not an option this time. I liked the idea of being looped up and happy instead of dreading it!

      3. C*

        I did not go to the dentist for 7 or 8 years because I had seriously no money. I was terrified (!) I was going to have 87 cavities when I finally went. I had one small one which didn’t even need any numbing. My anticipatory anxiety was so much worse than the actual visit. And I got my dentist on the phone, before going in, and laid out all my fears, which took all of two minutes but REALLY helped me actually getting in the door.

        Xanax is way cheaper than Ativan, and your GP will probably prescribe a couple of pills for a single visit. Mine has done that for different but similarly panicky events. But, as others have said, you should not drive on it.

        1. RestlessRenegade*

          I just want to say I am so jealous of you for only having one cavity after several years. Go, you!
          My genetics are terrible for lots of reasons, but one particularly bad bit is that I get cavities from just looking at candy/coffee/anything really. It would be so nice to go to a dentist and not have to sign up for at least 3-4 follow-up appointments for fillings. :(

        2. fretnone*

          Oh that feeling!! I didn’t go for 9 years because the last visit was so awful. Three cavities to deal with now. How did you find it without numbing?

          The drill is one thing but the most painful part for me has always been the needle, feels like it’s sticking right into my skull. I’ve read about some people not needing numbing at all for fillings and I’m tempted to ask but wow, what if you start feeling it halfway through :X

          1. Lindsay J*

            I used to get them done without numbing when I was a kid because I hated the needle.

            It hurt a bit, but it was a dull pain and just mostly vibrating.

            I’m tempted to go back to doing it that way after my most recent dental experiences. (Root canals, which I was not about to do without numbing, but that needle was just as bad as I remembered it. The last office just used a topical goo for anesthesia which was amazing, but this one was back with that damn hook needle in the side of my mouth.

      4. kelly*

        Ativan or Versed are wonder drugs. I fully support having your phone taken away as well. I’ve been known to send text messages after surgery (involving those drugs) to my boss, my mom, random dude friends. No bueno.

    2. Effie, who is happy to be herself*

      Thanks for starting this thread, Junior Dev! Hope your period exhaustion isn’t too bad. I like thinking of it as my body telling me to take my time and be gentle with myself, if that reframing helps you?

      I’m doing ok. I recently reconnected with an ex (we stopped dating because he moved for grad school) and we’ve been simultaneously in limbo (currently long-distance and he doesn’t know where he’s moving to soon) and moving really, really fast. We take turns pumping the brakes, getting scared, diving all in. I know that it could end now and it would hurt and I’d be able to pull myself back together relatively gently, and it’s possible that it’ll end soon, probably with a bang. I just am trying to keep things in perspective (while our strong feelings for each other are valid, it’s been 3 years and we have a lot stacked against us) and drop deeper into being myself whenever I feel overwhelmed.

      On the plus side, I’m also dating a wonderful poly man, I’m happy with work, I have good women friendships, and I’m building up physical strength after a series of injuries!

    3. Roseberriesmaybe*

      I am glad I asserted myself to my aunt this week. All my life she has been trying to shape me into someone I’m not, and don’t want to be. Like presents of things I would never wear (cute little purses), telling me to dye my hair blonde (this was years ago- I told her I didn’t want blonde hair- she told me, “You WILL.”), my weight, my clothing style, my spending habits. We have VERY different opinions on social topics. My belief and acceptance of myself as a bit of an oddball has been very hard-won, and her trying to cut down my confidence is more frustrating than anything. Her attempts to make me like another version of herself have never been successful, but she really does not take no for an answer, so usually I just ignore her.
      But I was visiting her house during the week, and she offered me two scones to take back to my house for my partner. He is a picky eater, so I thanked her and said, “and if he doesn’t like them, I can have the other one.” My aunt then said, “You’ve had enough.” It doesn’t sound like much, but it is another way to denigrate me after a lifetime of such comments, and I had had it up to here.
      So one the way out the door, while I was saying goodbye, I said to her, “This is who I am, I’m not going to change.”
      Aunt: “You might surprise me.” (Means= you might change and I would be pleased.)
      Me: “Do you think I need to change?”
      Aunt: “No…I suppose we’re used to you by now.”
      Me: “I’m happy as I am, I don’t want to change.”
      Aunt: “Ok! Point taken.”
      So this was an epic poem, but I was glad that I stood up to her. I’m not afraid to grow and develop, and shift my opinions about stuff- but the core of me will not change, and I hope she can come to accept that. But if she can’t, at least I know I have a better base to shut down her little comments now.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am impressed here. Good for you and good for her. It sounds like you don’t need to drop a brick wall on her because she seems willing to try to follow along. Over time this might work into a real positive for you.

      2. Windward*

        Wow, good for you! Standing up for yourself in a straightforward way with some success. I’m impressed.

    4. Jules the First*

      I had a really rough week – I’ve been sick and therefore short on stamina and work has been really busy and stressful. I also learned this week that I’m going to have to do a work trip to Hong Kong in a few weeks, which is going to be super stressful (I don’t fly well, I hate hotels, I don’t like eating in front of strangers, and work trips are super group-focused – basically the team business trip is my private hell).

      So when some gear went missing at the stables before my Tuesday ride, I had a meltdown, followed by a bigger one the next morning when someone complained about my meltdown to the stable manager. I then had to explain to the stable manager why I’m a grown adult but can’t just be a grown up and cope when somebody moves my stuff, which was not fun.

      But today has been better. I almost cancelled my equine therapy session this morning because I was so wound up and today was supposed to be about pushing my comfort zone which feels like it has been too pushed already this week. But I’m glad I didn’t – it was a tough morning emotionally and physically and I’m wrung out, but my four legged partner was excited to see me (I don’t usually join the Saturday session) and super well behaved (unusually) even though I was such a mess.

      So I’ve booked in for the next Saturday therapy session before my work trip and texted a friend in Hong Kong to see if I can stay with her for part of the trip instead of in the hotel and I’m going to spend the rest of today on the sofa with a book taking care of myself. And maybe this means it’s time to find a regular talk therapist instead of relying on just the equine therapy. So on balance maybe a growth week?

    5. Detective Amy Santiago*

      You’re taking positive steps forward. Celebrate the wins :)

      I’ve been doing pretty well. I have social things planned this weekend that I’m actually not dreading for a change. I think that’s largely because I am no longer expending all of my “people-ing” energy for 40 hours a week.

    6. annakarina1*

      That’s great that you’re doing creative projects! It helps so much to do work that you are passionate about and can be fun and interesting, it’s very healthy for the brain as well.

    7. Sylvan*

      I haven’t had a panic attack in ~10 days. The last time I had one, medication stopped it and didn’t have a rebound effect. Once medication took effect, I was able to go on with the day like nothing had happened. Cool.

      My mom did something rude (mean-spirited gossip about a woman’s appearance, which isn’t like her) and I, disappointingly, didn’t stop it. I just got quiet.

      She was talking about the woman being too thin. I wouldn’t want anyone talking about my appearance behind my back. I know my mom wouldn’t want anyone gossiping about her looks, either. She’s overweight and quite unhappy about it.

      I’ll bring it up when I see her again. I don’t really need advice: I know what to say. But if anyone can tell me they told their parent to stop gossiping and then their parent stopped gossiping, that would be nice. :/

      I am having some social anxiety. I need to work on this.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Hey, no panic attacks in 10 days is good. Good for you.

        As for your mother’s comments, don’t beat yourself up. You are not in charge of what your mother says.

        1. Sylvan*

          Thanks! I am usually good at stopping appearance gossip, but I didn’t want an argument with my mom.

        1. Sylvan*

          Thanks! I’ve had several-daily phases and I was SO glad when I realized that I was going a week or more without them.

      2. C*

        No panic attacks in ten days is great.

        I had to stop volunteering with strays because I kept having panic attacks on the commute. I don’t know what you do to cope but I do a lot of (now) hacking up weeds, chopping up veggies so I also eat, very long walks, reading, caring for my pet when caring for me seems too much.

        Panic attacks are the worst.

        In re: your mom and her comments about another woman’s body and your dealing with it: one of my favorite quotes from a very unrelated book is (and I paraphrase):

        Life is too short to live small.

        That’s not advice from me, but it is something I seriously need to remind myself to do multiple times a day.

        I’m not small (maybe physically) and you don’t sound like you are, either. I actually write this on my hand on difficult days in marker. You are not small.

      3. Anon for this*

        My parent said some mean-spirited remarks about a stranger and I said basically we don’t know their life, so let’s not comment on it. And it stopped. It might happen again, or when I’m not around, but it stopped in the moment so that’s good enough. Best of luck to you :D

    8. Justin*

      Good week for me. Some struggles with wife early in the week but settled down. Managed not to feel depressed much at all, anxiety was rare, too.

      1. Mananana*

        That DOES sound like a good week — hope the weekend is peaceful and as productive as you want it to be.

    9. Nervous Accountant*

      I just got back from home country and its just mom and me now. So far its been OK but today is my first day off and….yeah. Let’s just say the unnamed place was my safety/safe space/what you wanna call it this week, andI’ll be going in to work on monday as well. Alot of my frustration is at myself for my issues (pain, swelling, diabetes etc).

      I’m looking forward to having my hair done tomorrow, meeting with a friend, and yes going to work.

      I’d have enough at home ot keep me busy but my mom keeps her eye on my stuff and just complains about how much it is and nags me to give my stuff away.

      1. Nines*

        That sounds like a really hard place to be at. Sending positives your way! Try to treat yourself with compassion for a bit, it sounds like you’re maintaining quite a bit within a really hard situation.

    10. seewhatimean*

      Well, let’s see.
      a) Normal layoff benefits period shortened by a month, no one told me. Insurance and work both telling half-truths. Appointments cancelled because
      2) tenant just bailed. which means
      iii) finances are suddenly precariously precarious just as
      4) offspring prepares to launch.not immediately, but soon enough that it feels pressing.
      I thought I had time. I feel like fail, bordered in panic. Finding tenants was awful last time, and the market has slumped. I don’t think I’m doing very well.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Sounds like an extremely difficult week. I’m sending positive vibes your way if they’d be welcome.

        1. seewhatimean*

          Thank you. That was all just yesterday. It cancelled a daytrip I had been really looking forward to, and I do welcome anything positive atm.

      2. Mananana*

        Uggghhh… that’s a LOT of stress for one week. I hope you’re able to find some time to be kind to yourself this weekend.

        1. seewhatimean*

          Thanks. I’m trying, but I worry that I’m at the point where I am just kind of “taking time” when in fact I’m “avoiding engaging with solutions”. It being all on one day didn’t help. I’m trying to remind myself I have managed to sort though stuff before, and I will probably do it again, but it does feel a bit like the motorcycle globe of death atm.

    11. Serious Pillowfight*

      I was looking for this.

      As I said in my standalone comment farther down, I very recently weaned off my antidepressant, Celexa/citalopram. Haven’t noticed any withdrawal symptoms, but I’ve never been great at knowing my body that well. Can’t be certain if things happening are related to that or just happening on their own.

      I graduated with my master’s last Sunday and after the ceremony I felt a pit in my stomach similar to, but not as strong as, the pit of hopelessness I’d constantly feel when I was younger and severely depressed. I drank a lot when I was younger, so that may have been why I was so depressed. I only drink a few times a year now. The pseudo-depression last weekend could also have been from only getting three hours of sleep the night before the ceremony and going to a city I never go to.

      I have a good thing going on regarding the place we don’t speak of on weekends (well, a mix of good and bad) but my brain is turning an opportunity into a source of angst and stress.

      I feel like I’m constantly being negative. “Venting” is tuning into my default mode. Feeling some guilt about a close friendship I’m not that into at the moment.

      1. Mananana*

        Congrats on your Master’s — that’s a big deal. And it sounds like you were at the Place-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named while going to school, which is even harder. I felt a little lost after finishing my Masters. Full-time school plus full-time that other place left me a bit discombobulated after graduation. It was a constant feeling that I “should” be doing something with every minute, like I did for the three years of grad school. Please be kind to yourself this weekend — sounds like you can use some self-care and mercy.

        1. seewhatimean*

          I agree, both with the congrats and with the sense of letdown after such a long, major accomplishment. There’s a bit of withdrawal from the stress hormones and the pressure, and I think it’s like being hungover. Sleep deprivation will just add to it all. Maybe it’s just that, and not fully depression, more of a sag? I do understand the venting as default, and how it can feel worrisome. Are you heard anywhere irl? Does anyone take your concerns seriously, or challenge you if you’re just venting from habit? I think sometimes I vent more when I don’t think anyone has really heard what my concern/issue is – a bit like how people speak louder to someone who doesn’t share their language…volume doesn’t add comprehension, but it seems like it’s all there is…

          1. Gingerblue*

            Total agreement. The post-defense depression was a pretty well known phenomenon in my grad program. A hangover is such a great comparison. Personally, I just admitted I was useless and regressed to a fairly minimal level of activity–I ate, I slept, I did what I was required to do and nothing more. Got really good at Katamari Damacy.

            1. seewhatimean*

              I think that’s part of the “healing”, just allowing that you’re recovering from a marathon, and you need some downtime, and that most likely you *will* recover, after a phase of hibernation. I’d even plan for a lull. I suppose the trendy term is a “staycation” but really I think just hunkering down with something mostly mindless, and actively reminding yourself that you *are* allowed to do frivolous or pointless things now, including just plain old sleeping and walking around in dial-tone mode.

              Milestones are weird. We’re “supposed to” rejoice and feel energised, but mostly the initial stages feel like falling off the mountain you’ve just scaled. (And if you had summited a physical mountain, someone would be encouraging you to rest and heal and recuperate. We’re just not so good at acknowledging that brain-work takes energy and focus and commitment and courage too.)

              I think it’s fair to mark the calendar for a 6 wk check up with yourself and allow yourself to “just get by” until then, unless things get worse instead of just sort of coasting. Back in undergrad psych courses, we looked at the physical lull in hormones and so forth, post-stress, and how important recovery is. That has stuck with me (That it’s better to either get your stress all at once, or have a recovery period long enough, because there’s a sort of delicate period just after stressful situations, vis a vis cortisol recovery.)

    12. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Aw man, I just want to give you a hug and tell you you’re doing great. Because in a lot of ways, you ARE. You have a lot of good things going on, and even though you’re not doing EVERYTHING you want to…you’re just one person!

      I was listening to Gretchen Rubin yesterday – I’ve been going through her Happier podcast, and in one of the most recent episodes, she and her sister discuss the concept of the Season of Stress. I totally identify with that – between my running and my job (lots of extra hours to get caught up and we keep piling on more work) and other things, a few things in my own life aren’t going so great. I’ve been trying to get those fixed up, and I’ve been working with my therapist on those.

      I mention this because…like, maybe I’m reading too much into your post, but it did resonate with me.

    13. Book Lover*

      I was feeling like everything was awful, black cloud over me, everything going wrong and like I was just going to have a nervous breakdown. Things have gotten worse since then in terms of what is actually happening, but I feel more like I can cope, though I am absolutely exhausted. I do hope that things stop being thrown at me right about now, though.

      1. Nines*

        I’m so sorry things are hard right now, but I am so happy that you have been able to get to a place where you feel like you CAN cope. That’s a pretty big accomplishment on its own!

    14. Red*

      Ugh, periods f everything all up. I hope you feel better soon!

      As for me, missing a few days of my antidepressant and Lamictal seems to have had exactly the effect one would think it might – I’m wildly depressed. Oops. Good-ish news is, this’l l probably go away once I’m back on my full pharmacy of meds. Just trying to ride it out without hurting myself. One day at a time, right?

      In other news, I’m starting to resent the fact that I need 5 psych meds to keep me stable and reasonably happy. Ugh. Like, I enjoy stability as much as the next gal, but ugh. Does it have to take so much medication to do it?

      1. Sylvan*

        One day at a time. You can do it!

        In case you have not already heard of this, Google the phrase “urge surfing.” It can be pretty helpful.

        I feel you on the last point. Sure beats the alternative, though.

    15. families!*

      My week got better as it went along. If you’re following along, last week I wrote about some new insights I had about some abuse that happened when I hit puberty, around 8-9 years old. It’s been…interesting? like there are some decisions I’ve made in my life believing a certain thing, and now I have a whole new layer of knowledge to interpret those decisions; I was a bit dizzy from it all. And it’s excruciating painful. I saw some kids in the street and 8-9, even a “chubby” 8-9 is so incredibly small and young, and I am so sad for that kid I was. But I’ve made good taking care of myself decisions and ended up not going down the depressed path. I’m so grateful I can do that more and more and catch myself earlier too. I have some anxiety about the 3 day weekend, mostly reflexive from other times because I do in fact have nice, nurturing plans everyday, but some I think linked to this new knowledge, weekends, long and short, were really hard in my family of origin. Trying to stay in the present and do the next right thing as they say.

    16. RestlessRenegade*

      It sounds like you are doing so, so well, and I’m glad!
      Last week and this week were super stressful at the-thing-we-do-not-name. Skipping workouts and doing overtime type stuff, which wasn’t fun. But! I got a kitten two weeks ago and we are getting along much better than we did initially (I really forgot how much work a kitten can be) and she brings me so much joy. I almost made it to an Al-Anon meeting but chickened out when it looked like no one would show up (and then they did, just after the meeting time, so I guess this group is not too worried about being punctual). So I’ll have to explain that one to my therapist next week. And I am so proud of myself–I’ve been working really hard yesterday and today to get everything done I need to (cleaning, grocery shopping, family obligations, etc.) so that I can take Monday off just for me. No plans, no chores, just relaxing and whatever I want to do. I haven’t had a day like that in a VERY long time. What else are three-day weekends for? ;)

  3. StudentA*

    How do you submit a manuscript to a publisher and not worry about them stealing your ideas? I’m thinking there’s no way around it. I get that they can’t explicitly steal your whole story, but someone could easily come across your manuscript and copy some of the creative assets to the story, no?

    Anyone here had any luck gong through a publishing house? Any aspiring authors wanna talk getting published?

    1. Nacho*

      Not a writer, but my mother is. The biggest thing is to get an editor who submits the manuscript for you. You’ve got next to no chance of getting published without one.

      As far as stealing goes, it’s certainly possible, but I don’t see why anybody would do it. It takes years to write a book. Nobody’s going to read through your manuscript and go “That’s a good idea, I’m going to radically change my own story to incorporate it.” And they’re definitely not going to start a whole new story based on it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Literary agent, rather than editor? Some take blind submissions; carefully follow the instructions. (As with resumes and cover letters–demonstrate that you can comprehend instructions and adapt your submission for each house; do not try to stand out with anything other than your manuscript.)

        For the rest, refer back to the reposting from the college student who wanted to be an ideas person. Any successful author is inundated with people who have a great idea for a book, and want the popular author to take on the minor job–writing it–and they’ll split the money. There is a weird emphasis in the US on having ideas, over figuring out how viable they are and how to bring them about.

        I recall when Harry Potter was coming out, some fanfic writers worried that their ideas would be stolen and incorporated into the story, which would be awesome but also they would want to be given millions of dollars. For the most mundane of literary tropes. The entire existence of literary tropes points to the having of ideas being less important than how they are executed.

        1. ElspethGC*

          The fanfic and ideas thing is why even authors that welcome and encourage fic of their works never, ever read it. Their agent pretty much forbids them. Because if it gets out that they’ve read something, and a trope crops up in their next book that was also used in that fic, it could cause trouble. Bad press. There was one author (I want to say Ursula Le Guin, but I don’t think it was) who had to completely scrap a mostly-finished story for that reason.

        2. Triumphant Fox*

          I really like the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher and it started basically because he was arguing in a writer’s forum that the writing was more important than the idea. To prove it, he asked the crowd to give him two bad ideas and he would write a book based on them. The ideas were Pokémon and the Lost Roman Legion (both of which were super done at that time, but they seem more interesting to me now). These books were the result and I really enjoyed them. They’re not perfect, but the audiobooks read by Kate Reading are great (although she pronounces legionnaire as legion-ah-ray and it drives me crazy).

        3. fposte*

          Yes, definitely agent. There are a couple of good blogs about the experience; Query Shark is the best for learning to draft a query letter.

    2. Teapot PR consultant*

      Ideas are cheap. Execution is hard. Seriously, don’t worry about your ideas being stolen.

      1. Anon 4 Now*

        This. Trust me, the ideas are the easy part. People frequently come up to published authors and say, “I have a great idea! You should write it, and we’ll split it 50/50!” This is completely absurd, because the idea is really at most about 10% of it, probably less.

      2. Turtlewings*

        This. Ideas are a dime a dozen. To be perfectly honest, worrying that your ideas will be stolen is the mark of an amateur. No one wants your ideas. Even if they did steal your idea, they’d end up writing something totally different with it that you’d have no claim to. There’s nothing new under the sun.

      3. LilySparrow*

        This is it, exactly.
        To be honest, it’s highly unlikely that your book actually contains any completely unique ideas. When you read enough, especially if you focus on a particular genre, you see patterns that get repeated over and over, like a kaleidoscope. That’s not a bad thing – it’s just the nature of human experience and storytelling.

        If a publisher, or anyone else, thinks your book will sell, the easiest and most profitable way to make money off it, is to work with you in a legit way.

        Yes, piracy is a problem – but it’s mostly a problem for successful authors who already have a brand name or a popular series.

        Just like it’s possible that someone could kidnap you and hold you for ransom. But unless you have money, what’s the point? It’s hard enough to convince people to buy books with a well-known title or critical accclaim.

        There’s no point pirating a first-time author that nobody ever heard of.

    3. publishing anon*

      To be honest, there are very few original ideas. You have no idea how many manuscripts come into my publishing house with similar plots or ideas. It’s less about the idea and more about how well you can execute it. That’s why you’ll see several books with similar plots or tropes, but some are better received than others. Authors worry about their ideas being stolen, but that rarely happens. The far bigger crime, and worry imo, is someone stealing your language rather than your idea.

      Even a lot of classic lit is stolen ideas – I can’t think of one Shakespeare play, for instance, that was a truly original idea and not adapted from folklore, history, or mythology (and I say this as someone who loves Shakespeare).

    4. Lore*

      Honestly, the difficult part of publishing is not a lack of good ideas or good writing, but lack of clear ways to predict what will sell. If publishers are going to “steal” ideas (or even repurpose and repackage them) it’s going to be from something that sold a million copies already.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Honestly, this is the last thing I worry about. A reputable agent will not steal anything from me. That would tank their career if it ever got out.

      You can’t steal an idea–anyone can take an idea and execute it. For instance, I could say “I want to write a story about a sentient plane that flies to another dimension.” You and I could both write a story with that idea and they’d be totally different. It’s the expression of the idea that is protected, such as characters, etc. If you named your plane Herman McFlappywing and gave him distinguishing characteristics, I couldn’t write stories about him without violating your copyright. I think the current term is the lifetime of the author plus seventy years. So seventy-one years after your death, if no one has obtained the rights to Herman McFlappywing, he will pass into the public domain and my descendants could create works about him with no problems.

      Once a work is fixed in a tangible form (including electronic), it’s copyrighted. So I feel comfortable sending a sample with a query letter if submission guidelines request it. Yes, there are unscrupulous folks out there who do pirate stories; I know of a couple in the horror field because authors in that field have made me aware of them. That’s why you do your due diligence and check people out before you submit to them. SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) has a site called Writer Beware with warnings about bad publishers and agents. There used to be a site called Preditors and Editors that did the same, but it’s being relaunched right now.

      More info on copyright here: https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#protect

      There is tons of advice on how to find reputable agents and small-press publishers and what to watch out for. Here’s some: http://www.sfwa.org/real/. Getting their attention is the difficult part. You do that by doing your best work, polishing the hell out of it, and writing a great query. If that doesn’t work, you write something else and try again. Lather, rinse, repeat. The more you write (and read), the better you’ll get.

      1. Marthooh*

        I thought of Herman McFlappywing YEARS ago, so you owe me 50 percent of any money you make fom this comment.

    6. smoke tree*

      As someone who works in book publishing, I would say that it’s extremely improbable that a legitimate publisher would try to steal your ideas. Apart from what everyone else says about ideas being cheap (which is true), the vast majority of publishing houses are not in the idea-generating game, at least for fiction. We want (fiction) authors to come to us with finished books–the less work we have to put in, the better. So if a publisher really thinks you have great ideas, there is really no reason they would want to steal your ideas rather than just working with you directly.

      Of course, as others have pointed out, it’s much, much easier to get your work in front of editors if you have a literary agent, who will help guide you through the industry and all of its weirdness. I highly recommend Janet Reid’s blog. She’s a literary agent at New Leaf Literary, and a fount of wisdom about how to get an agent, what to do when you have an agent, and basically everything publishing. She’s also hilarious.

    7. StudentA*

      Thank you guys for your insight. I knew I came to the right place :)

      Just to clarify, by “ideas”, I also meant style, not necessarily the plot. And I have to say there are some pretty unique stories out there, modern and classic. It doesn’t mean that literally (ha ha) no one on the planet has conjured up a similar plot. I’ve heard before that there are no new ideas. I think it’s 99% true, but I can’t discount that there are some unique plots, stories and styles out there. And I completely get that execution is the real talent.

      As for style, writers have their unique tones and signature styles, and I’m betting they get stolen. I’m not referring to being inspired by — we all are inspired by something. I am talking about stealing/copying vs. trying to find your unique voice.

      1. LilySparrow*

        I’m not exactly sure what you’re worried about happening. Do you think a slush-pile reader, or some junior employee, is going to become so enamored with your writing style in a single reading, that they somehow complete an entire book of their own that’s such a close imitation of your writing voice that it will render your manuscript unsaleable? I’m not being snarky, I’m trying to figure out what risk you think you’re running.

        I say this with the best will in the world, but I think this is your brain making up reasons not to try.

        My knowledge of the legacy publishing industry is limited, because I’m indie. But by going through that process, I absolutely know how terrifying it is to put your work and yourself out there to be judged and rejected.

        Nobody is going to want to copy your style if you aren’t making any money. Writing the book is only the beginning. Then you have to get it published. Then you have to get readers to buy it. Then you have to write the next one. And the next one. And convince readers to buy them, too. Publishers *aren’t* writers. They aren’t in business to fall in love with anyone’s style. They don’t have time for artistic envy.

        They are trying to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive and disrupted marketplace, and hopefully make a profit.

        When you are published and your books do make money, anybody can copy your style all they want to.

        Do your research on legit agents & houses vs shady ones. Read any contracts thoroughly. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a very helpful blog about all kinds of author business issues.

        But publishing means letting go. If it’s what you want to do, you have to overcome those fears and send it out.

      2. Anion*

        NY-multipublished author here.

        No one is going to steal from you, especially before you’re even published.

        I personally have seen a number of people using the same sorts of characters and ideas I used, after my books were published. Doesn’t mean they stole from me, and doesn’t matter anyway. If someone reads their book and likes that sort of thing, they’ll look for more like it and find mine. Readers are not a finite source. And honestly, there’s a chance you might find your idea out there already simply because it seems that’s how brains and ideas work; I spent two years writing and polishing one book, and just as we were getting ready to submit, a TV show got sold using almost my exact title, with a concept and world similar enough to mine that it basically made my book unsellable–the story and characters were very, very different, as were a lot of elements of the world, but the similarities were strong enough that it would have looked like *I’d* copied *them.* Nobody stole that idea from me, somebody just had a similar(ish) idea and sold it before I did. It sucked, but it also wasn’t the first time that’s happened to a writer.

        I truly, truly don’t mean this in an offensive or insulting way, but being stolen from is something amateurs worry about, because they don’t know enough about the industry and how it works to know it’s not something to worry about. It’s not. Trust me. Just start querying agents–who, along with editors, are probably the least likely people to steal from you on the planet. They have enough on their plates already.

        Best of luck to you!

      3. Lehigh*

        It is not that easy to steal a voice and stay in it. Have you tried? Write a novel that is not a copy but is JUST LIKE a brand new novel from your favorite author. I guarantee it is not so easy as you are imagining. The chances that your voice is going to be copied whole-hog before you make oodles of money from it are very slim.

        For someone to mimic a voice so effectively, they would probably be an already very talented ghostwriter–and, therefore, quite well-paid. Why would they gamble on your voice when it hasn’t even paid off for you yet?

      4. Jada Ryker*

        Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney. I do keep backup copies of all of my work – onedrive, my laptop, and a flash drive. I keep earlier versions, with dates and times. Save your work. I think it’s unlikely, but if your work gets stolen, you’ll have ammunition to fight.

        Put the fear aside and dive in. Check out writers’ groups in person or online. Join the one(s) that offer support, encouragement and, community. Hone your craft by writing. Spring for a good editor to polish your work. If you want to go the traditional route, there are some great ideas in the comments. I say “if” because you could choose a different route. there have been some wildly successful indies (Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking).

        I saw a mention of Jim Butcher. He said, “The only person who can kill your dream is you.” He’s right.

        Good luck!

      5. neverjaunty*

        It sounds like you believe very firmly that having ideas stolen is a risk, even though several people with experience have said it isn’t. Why?

  4. Anon 4 Now*

    For the first time in my adult life, I’m considering ending a friendship. It’s not the usual strife at all. She has been going through rough times the last few years—marital problems, collapse of her mommy friends circle—and although I now live all the way across the state, I’ve tried hard to provide support. But she’s in denial about a lot of her issues, and has increasingly been blaming others for behavior that has become more erratic and, at times, hostile in a way that’s totally disproportionate to what’s going on. I’ve felt uneasier and uneasier as her behavior has worsened—but I’ve also felt that she needed me more.

    However, in the past few months she has become extremely possessive of my time. She directed a lot of anger at my (patient) boyfriend. Her texts have become disjointed, and her questions and demands stranger. Finally, on Monday, she began insisting that it was “past time” I got to know her children better, and she should bring them to me, or maybe she could even send them ahead and then follow a couple weeks later! (I don’t think this was a parent wanting a break; nor do I think she’s suicidal or otherwise planning something dramatic.) These are small children. They do not know me.

    I don’t understand exactly what’s going on—and I hesitate to provide more details, for fear of something identifying. But she’s become fixated on me in a way that’s uncomfortable for me and unhealthy for her. My goal is simply to pull back, but my gut says she’s going to lose it. When she gets angry, she gets cruel. I can live through that but I’m not looking forward to it.

    The worst is that a person who used to be joyful and generous has become bitter and unstable. I think it’s possible she’s mentally ill in a way that goes past depression. And it’s hard to pull back when I know she needs help more than ever. But starting from a month ago, when I had a quick work trip in her city and she became FURIOUS that I hadn’t cleared a whole day of it for us to visit (not even possible), I’ve known I can’t help her get better anymore. Maybe I make it worse.

    I just don’t understand why this is happening. Has anyone else been through something like this?

    1. Thlayli*

      I think you are right about the mental illness. Have you talked to her spouse at all? I think you should tell the spouse about your concerns.

      1. Anon 4 Now*

        Unfortunately, her husband is also very good at denial. I doubt talking to him about it would get me anywhere. However, I did talk to a mutual friend who lives close by, and sees her often. This friend is also uncertain about—let’s call my unstable friend “Maureen”—Maureen’s mental health. She’s (jeez, pseudonyms, close-by friend is “Schuyler”) working on getting Maureen back into therapy. Schuyler says others are concerned as well; even some of the pals Maureen fell out with have been making efforts to rebuild bridges and let her know she has people to talk to. I’m not sure Maureen is in a place to listen but I’m not sure what else to do.

        1. Thlayli*

          I think if you want to cut her out that’s totally your right and there very little you can do to help her from such a distance. However, I do think you should make one call to her husband and tell him you concerns (and maybe explain to him why you can’t be friends anymore). If he is in denial then maybe talk to Schulyer again but at that stage your responsibility ends.

          One caveat – if you are worried she might hurt the kids at all then you need to make that very clear to the husband.

          1. Anon 4 Now*

            As things stand—and as far as I know—I don’t think she’s in danger of physically/deliberately hurting the children. It can’t be good for them to grow up with someone this unhappy and angry, but that’s not anything I can influence beyond urging her to get help.

    2. Effie, who is happy to be herself*

      I think you need to focus on yourself. You’ve been and are being very kind and supportive, maybe at the expense of your own feelings/mental well-being. Don’t focus too much on the “why” this is happening; it’s more important that you leave the friendship.

      If you know she’ll become cruel, block her. You don’t need to put up with it. You deserve to be treated the way you want to be treated.

      1. Effie, who is happy to be herself*

        Full disclosure: I’ve been in the position of the desperate, hurting, going-through-bad-times, clingy friend, and I fully support you ghosting her if needed, or telling her you need time to yourself and then blocking her, or any other measure you take to disengage from the friendship.

        1. Anon 4 Now*

          Thanks for the words of support. I don’t want to block her just yet—I feel like it’s important to at least give her the chance to wake up and realize what she’s doing—but I know this may have to happen eventually.

          1. neverjaunty*

            If she is indeed suffering from mental illness, she isn’t going to “wake up”. Yes, it’s hard and painful, but “giving her a chance” under these circumstances is just being reluctant to admit the inevitable. You can’t fix her.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Some of the weird behaviors I have seen is because of a med or a mix of certain meds. This is like finding a needle in a haystack.
      She has an anger problem and she has small children. She basically has tried to give you her children. I am kind of concerned for those kids. You may want to call child protective in her area. I do know there is a pattern when people know they are going to fall apart they can try to push the ones they love the most away from themselves.
      Perhaps there is someone near her who can take the kids for a few weeks and she can go get counseling?

      You are right though, you cannot help her. It’s going to take a TEAM of professionals to help her, because none of them can do it alone, either.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree. This is about more than stepping back from a friendship. She actually sounds quite ill and with the children thing…can you reach out to her husband to start? How old are the kids? Could she have some sort of post partum depression that was nevee diagnosed? To be clear, protect yourself, but something needs to be done.

        1. Anon 4 Now*

          Although I haven’t reached out to her husband (“Brad”), I have reached out to our mutual friend Schuyler, who is keeping an eye out. And while I think Brad has been willfully deceiving himself about the state of his marriage to Maureen, I also know that he is a very attentive and caring father. He would act to protect them if the situation became more acute.

          There’s nothing to call authorities about, so I more or less have to put my trust in Schuyler and Brad.

          1. seewhatimean*

            I’m sure you trust Brad, but if she is home with the children without him, he may not have opportunity to act to protect them if things get acutely acute.

            1. Anon 4 Now*

              I don’t think things are at that point. The stuff about her kids came across, in that context, less as being about her kids and more about trying to tie me closer to her. Of course it’s questionable that she’s willing to use her kids in that way. But I don’t think Maureen is trying to “rid herself of them” or anything like that.

              1. seewhatimean*

                That’s reassuring. There’s been some awful cases, and some very hurting people who thought they didn’t notice the signs, but it sounds like you’ve got this.

      2. Anon 4 Now*

        “Maureen” isn’t currently on meds, and probably should be. She believes herself to have been suffering postpartum depression for years, until about four years ago, and says she’s only now herself again. Yet it is very clear to those around her that she was much more herself then than now; certainly she was more stable, and seemed to be happier.

        In the context of the conversation we were having, Maureen’s statements about her kids came across as something more about me than them—it’s like she wants me/already considers me to be more like a family interest or even an alternate spouse than a friend. (Maureen is bi, which I think is relevant—she’s never allowed herself to date women, and IMO she sometimes sublimates these feelings in overly intense friendships, although never before to this degree.) I share concerns about the kids, though what I’m worried about is more long-term damage than anything immediate.

    4. D. Llama*

      Are you interacting only by text? Perhaps get on the phone to get a better sense of things. I’m sorry. My main encouragement would be to urge her to find support locally.

      1. Anon 4 Now*

        We’ve talked some on the phone, and since work takes me to that city about once a quarter, I’ve been seeing her periodically. So I’m drawing from a lot of interactions. Maybe more phone time earlier on would’ve been wise, but now I think calling gets me closer to someone I need to pull back from.

    5. Double A*

      My husband just had to end a friendship (and also had to fire the friend, let’s call him Mike). It dragged out for months longer than it should have because Mike became increasingly manipulative and emotionally abusive, so husband felt he was always walking on eggshells and couldn’t spell out exactly the work and friend related problems that were growing. My stance was he shouldn’t just fire Mike without actually spelling out performance issues, but husband was right about how Mike would react when he finally did: blaming, projecting issues on my husband and his parents, refusing to take any responsibility, total denial.

      Mike is definitely having a mental health crisis, exacerbated by drug and gambling addictions. However, from years of experience it is my firm belief that you can’t help someone with those issues until they want help, and when they don’t want help they can be incredibly destructive. A mental health crisis doesn’t give someone the right to hurt anyone else, and often firm boundaries are what will ultimately help them the most. You tell them that you love them, you want nothing but the best for them, but you see them destroying themself and others and you’re not going to be in their life until they commit to addressing their issues, at which point you will help how you can.

      Not everyone has to hit rock bottom to deal with their issues, but a lot of people do, so sadly for many people anything you do to protect them from themselves actually delays their chances for recovery.

      I do think you should spell out your concerns to your friend’s spouse because there are children involved. It may cause your friend to flip out, but that will just be more evidence that she needs help, and that you’re making the right choice in cutting her off until she seeks it, or at least admits she needs it.

      1. Anon 4 Now*

        I’ve asked Schuyler to spend more time checking out the situation and the kids in particular. She apparently had already had this thought herself. Brad is…someone who’ll be vigilant about his own concern, and dismissive of the concerns of others. So I think Schuyler and other friends have to be the objective ones.

    6. LilySparrow*

      I am extremely concerned about the kids. If they are too young to be in school, and now that school’s out for the summer, they don’t have access to outside support.

      If if she’s not an immediate physical danger to them, having your primary caregiver go though a mental health breakdown is bad for kids. Very bad.

      You’re an adult living miles away, and you want to pull back for your own emotional safety. They are children who live in her house and are dependent on her 24/7.

      Please ask Schuyler and Brad, or the grandparents, or any other personal contact you have, to actively check on the kids and give them the opportunity to just talk to & spend time with an adult who is not mom or dad.

      If everything is fine, great – they just got some bonus positive attention, no harm, no foul. If everything isn’t fine, they are going to need a connection to the outside world.

      1. Anon 4 Now*

        I can get Schuyler and some other friends to do this. That’s about the extent of what’s possible—but Schuyler is very aware, and is a good person to be “on point” for this. My gut instinct is that they’re not in physical danger, but even if Maureen is no worse than seriously unhappy, this is affecting the kids for the worse.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Yup. My thoughts exactly — the long-term effects are worrisome, and nearly impossible to help with.

          If Brad isn’t aware that she’s talking about sending the kids away from home (no matter what the apparent motivation), that’s something he should know. That’s an extremely wierd thing for her to say, given the way you’ve described your relationship with the kids. I sure hope she wasn’t saying things like that in front of them, if they don’t know you.

        2. Safetykats*

          In wondering how in the world she is proposing to “send” her young children to you a couple of weeks in advance of coming herself? This seems like something (since you have it in writing) that you could forward to her husband, or CPS. For heaven’s sake, if the kids do somehow show up alone at your house, do call the authorities immediately. Strange as it seems, I do know someone who had a mutual friend give them their kids by email – and then the kids showed up on their doorstep. My friend was sort of stuck, as the (greatly disturbed) parent committed suicide soon thereafter, and the other parent left the state and refused to come back for the kids. Turned out to be alcohol and drug addiction, but (long story short) they were never able to successfully reunite the kids with the remaining parent. It was awful.

    7. Pennalynn Lott*

      I have been through something similar with a friend of mine from grade school who I reunited with 35 years later. She became fixated with me and needed to ensure that my likes were her likes, in everything from music to food to fashion to books. While she doesn’t have children, she does have a dog and she kept insisting that I spend time at her hoarder-ish home just to get to know the dog. She also got angry when I did anything with anyone who wasn’t her. Or just did things by myself.

      Before things went south I was able to get her to seek treatment and she was diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder. People with BPD have a massive fear of abandonment and can become VERY angry when the person they’re fixated on doesn’t respond the way the BPD individual thinks they should. Disagreeing with them about which dressing is best on a chef’s salad sounds to them like you’re rejecting *them*.

      A good book for dealing with people who have BPD (or BPD tendencies) is “Stop Walking on Eggshells”. And a good book for dealing with difficult people who might have cluster-B personality disorders (one of which is BPD) is “It’s All Your Fault” by Bill Eddy.

      Also, while Maureen’s kids may not be in any immediate physical danger, if she’s acting toward them the way she’s acting toward you, then they are undoubtedly suffering emotional and verbal abuse. I hope Schuyler is able to convince Maureen to have a psych eval.

      Back to my friend: Any progress in therapy didn’t come soon enough for me. I needed to protect my own mental and emotional health and had to go “no contact” with her. I hope she continued with treatment and has gotten better.

    8. Mad Baggins*

      Definitely do what’s best for you, but in addition to what others have said about checking on the children, I’d add to avoid putting too much pressure on Schuyler. A lot of your comments have a hint of “I can’t do anything, but Schuyler can do it/Schuyler is closer, they can do it”. It sounds like you’re mentally removing the burden of care off your shoulders and onto Schuyler’s. Certainly it doesn’t mean you can’t end the friendship but I’d avoid putting too much responsibility on your other friends.

  5. Cristina in England*

    I’m going to spend this next week as a kind of staycation, at a local hotel with my kids while my husband knocks down a wall in our house. I’m really looking forward to it. I have taken them away locally a few times before by myself so I know what activities we can do and I’ve packed all our stuff into one 36L duffel bag, including diapers. I am excited and not apprehensive at all (unlike some of our other farther away trips I’ve posted about in the past, but there won’t be any travel sickness in this case)!

    1. Kate Daniels*

      That’s so cool! I always wanted to take a staycation, but never could justify the money spent on the hotel when my own apartment is… right here.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thanks! I hope that someday you have a reason to have a vacation locally (and that it is a happy reason like planned home renovation).

    2. Cat Mom*

      This sounds amazing. My partner and I decided that our next big “vacation” is going to be to take off work for a week to do all the famous, touristy things in our city that we’ve never done because we live here. I love a staycation!

  6. fretnone*

    Anyone have advice on living out of a car and getting through homelessness?

    A friend in Florida (Greater Orlando) is homeless and has been living out of her car with her mom and 5 pets for almost a year. She graduated this year (associates degree, medical clerk) but has only been able to find casual warehouse work. Her mom is waiting on a disability case so income is sparse. They have no family that can help.

    Just today They just got into an at-fault accident today and the car’s doors got smashed in, don’t open, window gone, and I worry it’s not safe for them to sleep in.

    They’ve been trying to make do spending daytimes in public areas, parks, etc., staying in Wal-Mart parking lots overnight and the like but they are starting to get the cops called on them.

    I’m Canadian so I’m not very familiar with social/government and what might be useful there, though I think they’ve got some food stamp help. All I’ve been able to do is search for low-cost accommodations (still not enough income to get those) and homeless/job searching/health resources in their area and send her those links, and search for advice on where else to get the basics, a shower now and then, where to park, frugal tips – I’ve always been frugal but never completely penniless and have always had a roof over my head so I don’t know that my advice is all that helpful.

    Ideas/advice/experiences/resources-references-in-the-area are much appreciated, job or living wise. I wish so much that there were more I could do to help. And I feel so grateful today…

    1. Kuododi*

      She might look at her local Salvation Army to see what kind of resources would be available for her and her family. Full disclosure, they make no bones about being a faith based organization so she should be prepared if that is a concern in any way. Additionally I would suggest checking with local rescue organizations to see if they could put her in touch with some type of foster program for low/no income family while they get back on their feet. That way she can be assured that her four legged babies are safe and well cared for without having to surrender custody. That’s all I can come up with at this hour of the morning while the insomnia has my brain rattled!!! I am about four states away from your friends jurisdiction so I have no local contact information. I am sure she’d be able to track this stuff down on a local library computer. (They are no charge.). Best wishes to you and your dear friend. :)

      1. Turtlewings*

        I agree that looking for a foster home for the pets would be a fantastic idea. They can’t be very happy all cooped up together in a car, and everything would get so much easier for the people without the pets to worry about. And yes, definitely be sure to check out the public library! (Even academic libraries are often open to the public, even if they can’t check out books.)

      2. fretnone*

        Yes – I hate to agree but it could be a lot easier without the pets, especially if they are looking at a shelter situation. I was thinking there must be some shelters that have foster family type arrangements (I think I’ve also heard about this happening through private not-for-profit orgs, but not knowing where to start I suggested they start contacting shelters) so at least they would not have to permanently give up their fuzzy family. I believe a couple of the dogs are aggressive with other dogs so that would be a challenge but certainly still worth a try.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If you can find churches near by, maybe they can help somehow or maybe they can tell you who to contact.

    3. tiny help*

      Animal shelters sometimes have programs where they give pet food to people in financial distress.

      1. Logan*

        Shelters rarely allow pets. So finding a temporary or permanent new home for them is step one. (Much as it would super suck to give up the pets, 5 is a lot to provide for, and it might be time to think about the option)

    4. Erin*

      Hi fretnone, I work with connecting chronically homeless individuals to housing, although not in Florida. Where I am, and in a lot of urban areas, the most direct way to get connected to comprehensive resources is to find an application point for the Coordinated Entry System. The CES system is designed to get a comprehensive assessment done so that the assessor can determine any and all programs that they might qualify for, and they will also have some information on which programs are currently accepting referrals, which have open waitlists, etc.

      A quick google search turned up the CES application points for central Florida (I’ll post the link in a reply), but it looks like there are 2 locations in Orlando, one in Kissimmee, and one in Longwood, and the open assessment hours for each is listed on the website. They can also call 2-1-1 for a phone assessment rather than doing it in person. I am not sure of the hours the 2-1-1 assessment is operational, though.

      If you have any questions, I am happy to try to answer them, although unfortunately I do not know about resources specific to central Florida.

        1. fretnone*

          Thank you so much Erin! I’ve been on Google searching shelters a few times and a lot of the info is on the orgs and programs themselves but not so much from the applicant side and it’s hard to know where to start.

          My friend will start calling Tuesday (figured things were closed over the long weekend) and I passed along this as the start point. Fingers crossed.

      1. FYI*

        Great information. Can I jump in and ask: what ways are effective to help homeless in regards to volunteering? I’d like to get more involved in my community.

        1. Erin*

          If you want to share the city or metro area you are closest to, I might have some specific recommendations. If you’d rather not share that info here, I would recommend googling the closest large city to you + the term “homelessness continuum of care” which will likely take you to the umbrella organization that is coordinating the many smaller service providers in that area, and then searching for volunteer opportunities from there. Hope you find a good fit!

    5. Llellayena*

      My uncle was in a similar situation for a while. He found that highway rest stops (the big ones with chain fast food places) were good places to sleep in his car. They had light, bathrooms, food, gas, and WiFi and not a lot of bother by the cops, since other people would be napping during their road trips there. Also, if they are comfortable with religion, finding a community-oriented church, synagogue or temple is a great resource. Someone in the community may offer to house them during the bad weather months or have job connections they might otherwise not get a chance at. If you or others are looking for a monetary way to help, gas gift cards or funding regular maintenance on the car (or the repairs, but that might be more than someone would feel comfortable offering). Keeping the car functional so they have a place to sleep and a way to get to jobs and job interviews is important. Good luck to them! I hope they’re able to get off the streets soon!

      1. fretnone*

        Thanks! I had read about truck stops as being cheap places to shower, and thought rest stops would be useful as well. My partner has been able to lend them money here and there, but it’s all short term. Friend said she heard of a place that does free/cheap car repairs for those down on their luck so I hope they can take care of the accident damage. I referred her to Dress for Success and they were able to help with clothing and interviewing stuff so that was a great morale booster.

    6. Temperance*

      I work with organizations that help the homeless. Disclaimer: these orgs all operate in major cities. I don’t know how it works in rural areas.

      Your friend and her mother absolutely NEED to get on the waiting list for public housing in their community. They need to reach out to the housing authority ASAP. They should also be eligible for TANF (food stamps), although for two adults, the amount will not be very high.

      Social Security Disability is taking longer than ever, and depending on what her issues are, can be very, very hard to get. Mild mental illness and back pain are hard to prove, for example.

      1. fretnone*

        I think they’re still getting TANF; I also found a few cookbooks that work within that daily allowance so I hope they are still managing, though of course it’s hard not being able to store food and just having a small electric skillet for cooking.

        The disability case has been almost two years I think. The last step looked hopeful, though really, anything that will either get her back to work or on disability – just being able to take that next step instead of being stuck in limbo; if I understand correctly, mom’s not supposed to be working while the case is being decided.

    7. Gaia*

      My sister is homeless (with the added aspect of mental illness and drug addiction) so I’ve learned a lot about resources in the last few years. There are shelters and missions that can help. Unfortunately, nearly all will not accept the cats. It can be a major obstacle for homeless pet owners because they feel they’ve already lost so much – how can they give up their companions? But there are great rescue organizations out there that can help foster the cats. Also, Pet Alliance in Orlando is (or is becoming) no-kill so that may help ease any guilt over relinquishing their cats.

      They need to get on the list for public housing. Those wait lists are long and the sooner they are on it, the sooner they can get stable housing. Everything is easier with stable housing.

      Many schools have homelessness resources. She should check with her school’s student services office.

      1. fretnone*

        Thanks – I’ve passed on the info about Pet Alliance.

        Completely agree about the stable housing – I actually looked up condos for sale in the area to see if it would be potentially possible to buy one to just put a roof over their heads (I live in an area of crazy housing cost so most things seem relatively cheap) and I was completely blown away to see that places could be had for under $65k. I have no idea how this might work as a Canuck but it was hopeful to think that it might be possible. As a pro, friend was motivated knowing that once they do get stable again, a place of their own could be in their reach.

    8. Aphrodite*

      I just googled “homeless shelters for women in Orlando FL” and came up with the following:


      There are more; to find them use the phrase above and start midway down page 2 of the Google results. How kind you are. I wish them well.

      1. fretnone*

        Thank you very much! I found very similar results when they first lost their home last year and I just sent her your list. She’ll start combing through and making calls after the long weekend. Sooner rather than later, I hope, just heard hurricanes are heading into the area.

        I hope having this public could help others too.

    9. Alaskan*

      I don’t mean to be a jerk, but trying to care for 5 animals while homeless seems like a bad decision at best, and animal abuse at worst.

      1. Niese*

        You’ve never been in a situation where you ignore the call of nothingness because of the animal who is depending on you. It’s survival

  7. Teapot cleaner*

    I need advice. I walked at graduation but I might have failed my math class. I feel so ashamed.

      1. Effie, who is happy to be herself*

        Seconded. I failed English. My mother failed math twice when she was in college. You’ll be okay.

    1. Kuododi*

      Sweetheart…you should have seen how gloriously I failed Biblical Hebrew when I was in seminary. If I hadn’t been engaged to DH at the time I would have never passed the second time around! Ten years from now, will anybody remember if you failed a class? Life goes on and it is still good. Welcome to humanity. ;). Blessings

    2. misspiggy*

      Congratulations! Graduating means you got through a key phase in your life. One class score makes no difference to that achievement.

      1. fposte*

        I think the concern is that she walked but didn’t graduate due to the math class score. And that’s not an uncommon thing, that there was a glitch. If it comes up, TC, that’s what you call it: “Oh, there was a glitch, so I’m actually completing in December.”

        1. ket*

          This is the perfect response, and it does happen all the time.

          If you have to retake the math class, get a tutor (sometimes there is free help at the college) and really look at your current strengths & weaknesses so you can pass it. Concentrate on “working smart” instead of “working hard.” This is coming from a mathematician/college math prof. A lot of college students are totally willing to put in the work but they don’t put the work into the high-yield areas because they don’t know how. Being very thoughtful and strategic now can really help you in the future.

          1. fposte*

            I really like this advice; IIRC, TC has been worrying about this class and might be unsure of how to get better results. This is how.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Yep, good advice. I had to redo a statistics course. The second time around went better because the class was not at 8 am with a 25 mile drive to get there. I did okay in the course but I was worried about the final. Instead of taking a look to see an overview of what I should study, I just plowed right in. And I forgot to review the most recent in-class material. And that cost me 10 points on the final. I ended up with a solid B, which was okay to me but knowing that a simple review of the last two classes could have brought that grade up really slayed me. I could have prevented or reduced the number of points I lost.

          3. Teapot cleaner*

            Thank you for the advice I signed up for an extra refresher course while I took the math course. As a result I am given a chance at a retake for the final. However, it’s been two days and I haven’t heard anything. This is supposed to be a great time. However, this predicament is putting me in a stressed out mode. I usually write in this blog about my bad job and how I’m trying to interview to get out of it. I am a hospital housekeeper and I am currently going through rashes on my skin because of bleach use. I work around germs and disease also and it’s taking it’s toll. I put myself through college as a janitor since I was 18. I have many units but no degree. Math is holding me back.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Another suggestion for getting through your math class is to get on youtube and watch videos of people going through the problems. There are a ton and they are very useful.

              Take a deep breath. This is a minor stumbling block and will not hold you back forever.

              1. fposte*

                I had no idea!

                I don’t know if anybody else is familiar with her, but the British comedian Josie Long went back and studied and took her math A-level math (basically an SAT subject test) as kind of a hobby/personal development thing. I thought that was humbling and cool, and a big change from the usual adult learning approach.

              1. teapotcleaner*

                Yes I do wear gloves but either way I am having reactions to the chemicals.

            2. Pam*

              Another helpful site is Khan Academy.

              I’m a university advisor. You aren’t alone in this. I have students who come back pretty frequently. Some of them wait years but it’s best to do it now.

              Good luck!

    3. Red Reader*

      My commencement ceremony was May 5. Grades weren’t due until May 10. I walked with literally 50% of the work in both classes still ungraded and no idea what to expect. But I guarantee you your ceremony was full of people who won’t even technically be eligible for graduation until after summer term. No need for shame. If you need to retake the math class, you don’t even necessarily need to tell people if you really don’t want to, but it happens. (I have two entire transcripts with less than a 0.5 total GPA each. Boy howdy do I get the embarrassment. But nothing to be ashamed of.)

      1. Enough*

        12% of my daughters class graduated Dec 2017, Aug 2017 or are anticipated to finish Aug 2018. welcom to the class of 2018.

    4. LibbyG*

      Lots of people walk at graduation when they still have a few credits to complete! It’s probably more satisfying to cross the stage knowing every little thing is done, but walking when you’re not quite done is totally normal.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yes, I think this is more common than people realize because you really only know your friends’ business, you know? You don’t know the circumstances of everyone in the class. One of my classmates walked at graduation but was a few credits short. He made them up over the summer after we graduated. He’s fine now. The only slight hiccup was that he was supposed to move across the country with his then-girlfriend, now ex-wife right after graduation (she had a job that started soon afterward) but she just went first and got set up and he followed. Other than that it was a non-issue. Teapot cleaner, you’ll be fine in the long run, I’m sure of it!

      2. Windchime*

        Yes, my son did this. He walked in May and graduated the following December. I think he chose to do that because it would be a lot easier for family to make a May graduation than to try to travel 4 hours through ice and snow to the one in winter.

    5. Kris*

      Academic advisor here. Please contact your advisor as soon as possible and they’ll help you figure out the next steps. This happens all the time at my university and can often be fixed by retaking the class in the summer and officially graduating at the end of summer. I would also ask the advisor to recommend any math help resources (tutoring centers, etc.) that may be available on campus. Good luck to you!

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, good idea!

        And many campuses have free tutoring help, especially for math.

    6. Parenthetically*

      Yes, contact your academic advisor ASAP! This is a totally normal thing that happens all the time — absolutely no need to be ashamed. Your academic advisor will be able to tell you what you need to do.

    7. ThatGirl*

      My high school boyfriend failed senior English. He walked but had to complete it at summer school. It was embarrassing at the time but hasn’t affected his life trajectory one bit, in the long run.

    8. Gaia*

      There’s no shame to be had. Math is harder for some people than others. Or sometimes life just sucks and you slip. You can retake it and all will be well again. No one will care as much as you do, I promise.

    9. Gaia*

      Also, I failed math….multiple times. I am literally the worst at it. Not because I don’t “get” it (I never took advanced enough levels to get confused by it) but because it bored me to pieces and so I didn’t pay attention and would get confused.

      I also failed Biology 101. Like…spectacularly. My final grade was like 12%. I was horrified. But now? I work in life sciences and all of my coworkers (literally. ALL of them) have PhD’s in biological sciences. It turns out, that meant nothing in the long run.

      1. Enough*

        Son is a structural engineer. With his grades he would be kicked out of his program if he was in school now.

    10. Dan*

      My undergraduate university had a policy that you could walk if you had six credits or less to complete. I’m all but certain the intent was that you could finish over the summer. I had a “glitch” with one of my capstone courses, which was offered spring only. I dropped it one year, took an incomplete the next year, and finally finished up the “I” the year after that. Yeah, it took me like three years after I walked to officially meet all the requirements, although I think the official records back date to the term in which I was officially registered when I took the “I”.

      My grad program was no better… I walked before finishing my thesis, which I finally got around to four years later. My advisor saw me at graduation and was like “what are you doing here?” I told him I though the same rules applied from undergrad, and he said no. But hey, I was already there.

      I have a six figure job now, so those stunts have had no lasting effect.

    11. Little Bean*

      I am a college adviser and I have seen this SOOOOOOOO many times. Trust me, you are not alone. It’s not even that uncommon! Just talk to your advisor right away, make a plan in case you have to repeat the class. It’s very likely that you can take a class over summer. You might even be able to take a class online at a local community college so it’s cheaper and more convenient. If you already have a job lined up and they think you are getting your degree, talk to them and let them know that you may not have the official paperwork until end of summer – unless it’s some kind of technical job with licensing that requires a degree, there is a very good chance that they will be fine with it. And if you don’t have a job lined up, feel free to keep searching – many jobs will hire you with your degree pending.

    12. Getting Lit*

      Totally not a big deal! Nothing to be ashamed about! I had a friend in my Master’s program who walked even though he had messed up submitting his thesis and had to take an entire semester after walking to wrap it up. Even if you have some loose ends, walking with your friends has its own value and I’m glad you got to take part in that!

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I passed mine but I think the professor felt sorry for me. The school knew I had issues with math, although I didn’t get a definitive diagnosis of dyscalculia until later.

      In fact, that’s how I graduated high school–I never passed or I just barely got a D. That was before we knew I had a learning disability. They didn’t hold me back and just let me go with my class. After four years of trying, I think they realized there was no way I could pass it, and at that point, I had a tutor who recognized something was wrong and informed them.

      It’s no biggie if you have to take it again. Lots of people have to retake courses for different reasons. And congratulations! Finishing school is a big deal!

    14. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Once you have your degree you’ll have it, with no footnotes. You’ll never have to tell anyone about this little hiccup. And that’s all it is. It feels big and public, like tripping just before the finish line, but chances are really good you aren’t the only one to conditionally graduate. And since you don’t know who those people are, they don’t know who you are either.

      Kahn Academy is also a good, free math resource. Your school is probably tying up all their post-graduation loose ends. Talk to your advisor and develop a plan. Meanwhile, review a little bit each day. Focus on the areas you feel are weak. Then you won’t have to power study when you get your test date. Good luck!

    15. Quickbeam*

      Call the professor! I was in a bind and had no idea I’d I passed a senior year calculus class. The professor put my mind at ease.

    16. Thursday Next*

      There’s no shame in this situation—a lot of people walk in commencement ceremonies before final grades are in, so it’s more common than you think.

      Reach out to your academic advisor and class dean, who have no doubt dealt with this before. The dean might also have access to check your final math grade. You can talk about strategies for making up the class/credits if you did indeed fail.

      Please try not to beat yourself up over this. I’ve seen so many students debilitated by shame over situations that there’s help and compassion for.

      1. Gingerblue*

        Nthing this so hard. Trust me, they have seen it ALL before, and they want you to succeed.

    17. Dimity Hubbub*

      Commenting very late to say, please don’t feel ashamed, you have worked so hard to get here! I can’t comment on your specific class problem since i don’t work in a university, but just getting to this point is impressive, especially since you’ve had health problems.

  8. Wendy*

    I think I’m being ‘phased out’ by one of my long-time friends. Basically we use to text all the time and meet up for brunch/dinner frequently, but lately she’s become increasingly unresponsive and unavailable (without bothering to suggest alternative dates etc.).

    My feeling is that she’s moving on to a different stage of life where she wants to settle down with a partner etc. (whereas we’ve both being happily single for quite some time). I’ve noticed (on social media etc.) she’s increasingly spending time with people who are coupled up, and last time we had dinner she kept talking about her other friends’ relationships and online dating etc.

    To be honest, I know I’m at an age where this stuff should interest me a lot more than it currently does, but for whatever reason I’m just…not? So if that’s why we don’t have so much contact anymore then I guess I can’t force the issue. It just makes me a bit sad that someone I’ve been close to in the past can seem to just ‘lose interest’ in the friendship and let it fizzle. These days when we do catch up it feels more ‘polite’ than ‘fun’, like we’re just tolerating each other’s interests and not enjoying them together.

    Anyway, just a little vent on this weekend morning. Sometimes I feel like I buy too much into the ‘friends forever’ narrative from the high school days. Much as it is precious to have such a friendship, I need to accept that people do move in and out of your life and that things change.

    1. dr_silverware*

      Yeah, that’s really tough. I guess the one thing “friends forever” about long-term friendships is the coming back together. I don’t speak nearly as much with my childhood best friend as I used to, but we do still see each other…we’ve been passing through life at different paces, and we need more space from each other now, but we’ve been able to wait out the differences.

      What I’m saying is, it’s ok to quiet down the friendship right now though it may be quite painful, but don’t lose her number.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Let the friendship relax. Give time for both of you to take some deep breaths. As the decades roll by, our differences change from awkward to interesting. I think that has something to do with life experiences, once we know we have some of our own stories other people’s stories are just that, their stories. Hold the door open and grant her the space she wants right now.

    2. Indie*

      You may not be clicking right now, due to lifestyles and goals but you may both swerve back towards each other at a different juncture. I think it’s best to let a friendship rest rather than force it to stumble on.

      1. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

        +1! I think most long term friendships have periods when you feel closer and periods when you feel further apart.

    3. BRR*

      “I know I’m at an age where this stuff should interest me a lot more than it currently does, but for whatever reason I’m just…not?“ I disagree. There’s not an age where you 100% need to be interested in this. Society makes it seem that you have to be interested in coupling up or something is wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with not being in a rush to settle down.

      1. Dan*

        That’s where I’m at. I split from my ex five years ago, no kids, simple divorce. When I got on the OkCupid bandwagon a few years ago and did alright with it, I’ve really been more interested in living the life I want to live without having to “check in” and organize around other people. Should I be married with an actual house (instead of renting an apartment) and kids? I suppose. But when I actually think about it for more than three seconds, that’s certainly not the yardstick by how *I* measure life.

        My yardstick measures things I want to do.

        1. Windchime*

          This is a really good way to put it. I am sometimes almost embarrassed to mention how long I’ve been divorced; it’s been 22 years. I have had a few relationships, but honestly I have come to realize that I just like being single and not having to run anything past another person before I do it. Popcorn for supper? Yes, please! Decide not to vacuum? OK! Wanna change jobs? Sure, go ahead! I love it. I’m past the age where there is social pressure for me to couple up, so that’s something that I’m relieved I don’t have to deal with.

          You do you.

      2. Natalie*

        Agree, and I guess I also find it weird that different desires re:coupling would mean you can’t be friends with people? It’s not like coupled people socialize differently or something, or have to socialize together, or what have you.

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I could not agree with this more. The societal expectation that everyone pair off is baffling. If you’re content on your own, there is nothing wrong with that.

    4. Cece*

      I had something similar happen to me – except that my pushing us to keep hanging out ended up with her talking to me about how I was needy and her relationship was important and I needed to understand that, that she understood it might be “confusing” to me that she wanted to spend so much time with her significant other etc etc. Our friendship hasn’t really recovered from that blow, though I’m not sure I particularly want it to anyway.

      What I wish I had done instead is just let our friendship rest and take a break and focus on other people – I think then maybe we’d have circled back to each other more than we have now. I do miss her company, but even now months later I’m wary to ask her to do things. And I’m not sure I really do want to spend time with her anyway, in the absence of an apology… I just wish the whole thing had been avoided.

    5. matcha123*

      I understand what you are feeling. I have two friends(?) that recently seemed to cut me out suddenly. One who I’d caught up with after a long time, and one who I’d been in pretty constant contact with.
      Really, I think it’s less about you and more about her. Maybe she feels like her image has been too tied to “single” and she wants to remake herself into someone known as “coupled.” By doing that, she is pushing you away because you don’t feel the same longing for a partner in the same way she does?

      Of course friendships can change, but, I think it’s pretty crappy to decide that you’re going to cut someone out because they aren’t desperate for a partner or kids. I wonder if once she has the husband and kids if she’ll then reach out to you to get … something…

      1. dr_silverware*

        I doubt it’s as intentional as that. It can be easy to get totally subsumed in a relationship, especially when you’ve been waiting for that kind of thing for some time; even in healthy relationships, social habits change and not everyone is good at recognizing or fixing when those changes leave someone behind. I think it’s important to have a ton of sympathy for Wendy, because it’s a really really sad situation, without demonizing Wendy’s friend.

        1. matcha123*

          Oh, I wasn’t trying to demonize her friend. I guess I can understand getting caught up in something and wanting to spend time with people who are doing the thing you’re interested in. If they were meeting up as often as she says, and now the friend is like “meh,” I feel like the friend should be more upfront and explain that she’s really into/focusing on relationships now. When I am distracted, I know I’m distracted and I know it can be rude to a friend who doesn’t know what’s running through my mind. When that happens, I try to tell my friend that I have a lot on my mind and usually end up telling them what’s up.

    6. Jack Russell Terrier*

      What do you have in common? Do you hike together or go to museums? You say that recently your get togethers have seemed a bit forced. It sounds like you’re wondering if you actually don’t have as much in common anymore – that has happens to me and it is sad. Taking a breath is a good idea and just let things settle a bit. If you’re not texting much or in much contact, you could keep the channels of communication open by occasionally sending her an article or something that she might enjoy. That’s a low stakes way of just waving hello and sending warm thoughts.

    7. Anon 4 this*

      I’m actually… on the other side of this now, so I’m projecting a bit in #2.

      1) “To be honest, I know I’m at an age where this stuff should interest me a lot more than it currently does, but for whatever reason I’m just…not?”
      >”should”? Who says it “should”?

      2) You say your friend “wants to settle down” and is “increasingly spending time with people who are coupled up.” It’s certainly possible she is choosing those friends because of their relationship status, or that she wants to cool down her friendship with you to make more time for dates. But could there be any other reasons why she is spending time with these people? For example, maybe you used to go out clubbing, and now she wants to stay in and play board games, and her new friends do too. It could also be that her values are changing and the kinds of conversations you have are not really her cup of tea anymore. So instead of inviting her to go clubbing and talk about how boys suck (or whatever less silly example!), maybe you can meet her where she is like you’re getting to know her again, and decide how close friends you want to be with who she is becoming.

      Either way changing friendships suck, but it’s just as important to live and grow, and that may affect your relationships. Best of luck!

  9. A dream is a wish your heart makes*

    Anyone here a morning person?

    I usually get up around 6am on workdays, but because the days are getting longer sunrise is before 5am now (this is the first summer I’ve lived anywhere north enough to experience this) and despite blackout curtains I seem to be awake around that time too. Maybe I’m solar powered (yeah, winters really suck).

    So…any suggestions of how to productively use that ‘extra’ hour? I’m contemplating getting back into trying to learn German, or start doing yoga (or combine the two and listen to a German language podcast while doing yoga…lol)?

    1. Thlayli*

      No advice on how to use it (I am the opposite of a morning person), but if you want to sleep a little longer I recommend wearing an eye mask

      1. Cat Mom*

        Or black out curtains! I am NOT a morning person and I tend to work late on top of that, so early morning sunshine is the bane of my existence.

    2. nep*

      Second eye mask if you’d like to sleep a little longer. (I use an eye mask to go to bed every night; even at night, it makes a big difference.)
      I love the quiet time in the early morning for reading, stretching, sometimes going for a walk or just sitting outside with a book and coffee. I think it would be a great time to work on a language.
      (Are you going to bed fairly early, to be getting up at 5?)

    3. Kate Daniels*

      I am! I get up at 5:30 (every day, even sadly on the weekends) so I usually have an hour before I need to eat breakfast and get ready for work. My apartment building has this nice common area that overlooks the lake is always deserted at that time, so I’ve been going there and spending the hour learning Spanish while leisurely sipping my coffee as the sun rises. It’s a nice, peaceful way to start the day because I feel productive, and I’m usually too tired to do it after work.

        1. Kate Daniels*

          I asked a question below for suggestions, but right now, I’m primarily making my way through a workbook called Easy Spanish Step-by-Step to get a good footing with the grammar. I also downloaded an app to make flash cards so I can start memorizing vocabulary. Eventually, I am planning on incorporating podcasts, Skype chats with my friend who lives in Spain, etc.

          1. ..Kat..*

            Thanks for the information. What is the flash card app? I am trying to boost my Spanish and could use ideas.

            1. Kate Daniels*

              Chegg Flashcards. It’s free without any ads, but there are some add-on features you can pay for, such as changing the color of the text (which could be helpful for feminine vs. masculine words). It’s much easier and more portable than using index cards because I can easily flip through them while waiting in line at a store, waiting for the bus, etc. I do also have a composition book that serves as a vocabulary book where I write down words by hand because writing things on paper has always helped me remember things.

              I’ve also stuck some post-it notes around the house on various objects to help with the visual association of objects to words. And this may sound silly, but as a stress relief activity, I have a sketchbook that I use to draw things and then label the drawings in Spanish!

            2. ElspethGC*

              Another good flashcard app is Quizlet, by the way. Quizzes and flashcards, and you can use the ones other people have created as well.

    4. Arya Parya*

      For me a good eye mask really works if I want to sleep in a little or take a nap in the afternoon. (I’m at the end of my pregnancy, so I sleep a lot now) I have a hard time falling asleep when it’s light out, with an eye mask I fall asleep just fine. This also worked great during a holiday in Iceland in June a few years ago where the sun didn’t set.

    5. annakarina1*

      I wake up early a lot, today I woke at 7 AM. I would love to more easily sleep in on weekends, but between my own early bird tendencies (plus my cat whining if I’m not out of bed yet), I can’t really sleep late. I think the latest I slept in recently was 9 AM on a Saturday, not till noon or something like that.

    6. Parenthetically*

      I actually LOVE quiet mornings. A book, a cup of tea, a leisurely breakfast, some yoga in the early light? Heaven. My mother is an early riser, up around 5:30 every day, and she has a couple cups of coffee and reads for an hour or so, then listens to an audiobook while she potters around the house and gets ready for work.

    7. Tau*

      I discarded this, I have no idea why this posted or why it posted here. Alison, can you remove it?

    8. Tomato Soup*

      taking care of health is good. less visit to hospital and less surgery and less dealing with health insurance etc!

    9. Justin*

      I use the extra time to exercise (my wife uses it for yoga).

      Makes the day feel productive even if nothing else happens.

      We set alarms, do our thing, and by the time most folks get up we’ve done things. Not to shame anyone else!

      1. Green Kangaroo*

        Same here. I get up at 4:15 to work out…I take a class or meet my running partners by 4:45 so by 7 a.m. I’m showered, dressed, fed and gotten the morning chores done. Most people are aghast at this but I remind them that I’m pretty much useless after 9 p.m.

    10. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Enjoy the space – can you sit outside with your cuppa and perhaps journaling? I’m also a morning person and I love sitting on my roof with the fresh day and find that journaling first thing is amazing – the thoughts, feelings, connections just flow! You can simply answer ‘how is my body today’ and ‘how is my mind body today’ for ten minutes or so – or look up journaling questions online. I am a yoga teacher and then I do a short home practice – so of course I recommend yoga. If you are new to yoga, I would do a simple practice with detailed cueing at home. There are some great free online short practices as well as pay ones – I subscribe to yoga international and they have great classes.

    11. Loves Libraries*

      I’m a horrible sleeper but I walk at 6:00am unless it’s raining or cold. I’m in the South so today was muggy. In summer it’s the only time to power walk without dripping. On days I don’t walk I enjoy the newspaper with the wonderful coffee my husband programs to start st 5:55.

    12. Ann*

      I’m definitely a morning person – get up around 4am at this point in the year. The main thing I do is go to the gym – I can get in a solid hour of exercising before work, and I love how more awake I feel and productive I am during the day. If you want to do something at home, I think yoga would be excellent! I sit in front of a computer all day, so I really like starting the day off by moving around. If it’s a stressful week at work, taking the time for meditation is really helpful, too.

      Personally I try and avoid things on the computer or turning on the TV, because then I get very easily sucked into social media and distracted. Sometimes I just listen to podcasts and do simple chores like emptying the dishwashing or dusting. I think I also get a mental boost by knowing my day’s started off by making my home a little cleaner.

      I like to get to work early, too, because we have flexible hours, and I’ve found that getting in at 6am and leaving at 3pm works really well for me as far as avoiding traffic and maximizing productivity in the mornings (when I work best).

      1. Windchime*

        I’m not naturally a morning person, but I’ve had to get up early for work for the past 18 months so now I naturally wake up around 4:30 or 5:00, especially with the birds being so active. I live in the north, so it gets light super early and right now, the sun isn’t setting till almost 9 PM. But I like getting to work at 6 AM and leaving around 2:30–I’m home by about 3:15 so I feel like I have a lot of afternoon and evening left.

    13. nonprofit director*

      Yes! I wake up between 5 and 5:30, even on weekends. I love that quiet time in the morning. I meditate and then I exercise, and it really makes a difference in how the day flows. I avoid my phone, tablet, and computer for the first hour or so after I get up, and that really helps, too.

  10. Gromley*

    I fell in the nail salon and broke my toe yesterday – I was in getting a pedicure for a second date with a guy tonight (summer weather and cute date shoes). He just text me to cancel, saying he’s ‘thought about it’ and he’s not really physically attracted to me. Fine, attraction is a personal thing. But could you not have told me before I dropped some dollars on a pedicure and gained a broken toe? Dating these days is the worst. The whole thing does make me laugh a bit though. Just don’t touch my toe.

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

      That’s horrible! Sounds like a good weekend for a do-it-yourself wine festival. :-)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You have an awful story but a really great attitude about it all. I hope your toe heals quickly.

    3. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      Okay that is terrible! Definitely a great story to tell later though.

    4. Serious Pillowfight*

      Please tell me you responded to the comment about not being physically attracted to you with Alison’s go-to of, “Wow.” Although I haven’t dated in a few years, so maybe it’s OK to say that to someone?

      I hope your toe heals quickly! Enjoy your cute toes for YOU.

      1. Dan*

        While I wouldn’t tell a woman I’m not physically attracted to her, my initial response was a bit of a shoulder shrug. In this day and age, both with job rejections and dating, different people “want to know” reasons and others don’t. It’s always hard to know who really wants (and can handle) what information.

        IIRC, people have written in here on the weekends and asked, “Should I tell a guy I’m breaking up with that the reason is he’s a sexist pig?” I really do think that’s no different than telling a woman she’s unattractive.

        Although the older I get, the more I come to believe that in both job rejections and dating, the proper response is whatever bland version of “sorry I don’t think this is going to work” is appropriate. The reality is, in both circumstances, so much is about personal “fit” — and a rejection is just a “right here, right now” kind of thing, and not a referendum on someone as a person. I mean, if I interview for a job and telecommuting is a deal breaker and I get rejected over it, how much does it matter that the company tells me that’s the reason for rejection? In this day and age, there are other companies that do hire telecommuters, and I’m going to find them.

        Back to the OP, I do think it’s rather dick-ish for a person to point out what they consider to be personal flaws to other people. The reality is, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, so I go with “less is more” with both job rejections and dating.

        1. oldbiddy*

          I agree with the less information is better approach. Back when I was internet dating, if someone didn’t want to see me again after a date or two and did not give specific reasons, my pride was a little bit hurt but I didn’t dwell over what the exact reasons were. I would be more annoyed if someone told me the specifics, especially if it was appearance related.

        2. buttercup*

          I’ve never had a potential date explicitly tell me he’s not attracted to me, but whenever I’ve been rejected, I always assumed this is implied? On the flip side, I would never tell a guy I wasn’t physically attracted to him, but if I opted not to go out with him, I feel like the lack of attraction/chemistry is implied. I feel like a more tactful way of phrasing this is something along the lines of, “I didn’t feel any chemistry.” That way you’re not pinning it on anything specific.

          1. Dan*

            Honestly, there’s all kinds of things that can be going on. I know for me, the physical attraction/chemistry thing is important (and a deal breaker) but it’s not the only thing that matters for an LTR. The other thing I need from a potential SO is someone who is happy and stable in “life”. (“Life” meaning job/career, if we had the dating thing figured out, we wouldn’t be doing it.) I’ve got a great job in a niche field, and I’m not planning on going anywhere.

            And there can be relatively mundane stuff, too — as someone with a 9-5 job, dating someone who works retail/shift work can pose challenges, e.g., trying to get out and do stuff during the day on the weekend. Not to mention that where I live, traffic is a real beast, and there is such thing as “geographically disqualifying.”

            Likewise, I’ve got to imagine that a dude could be a real hunk, but if he lives in his parents basement, has no job, and plays video games all day, it’s unlikely women will be tripping over themselves for him.

            I guess my point is that “it’s not working out” could be for a number of reasons, and the particulars probably don’t matter, because that deal breaker for one person may not be a deal breaker for another, so there’s no need to take “the reason” personally.

          2. Double A*

            Yeah, back in my dating days I would say I just didn’t feel strong chemistry or something along those lines. Though chemistry is all about feeling attracted to someone, it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with their physical attractiveness, which is super subjective anyway. You can’t really argue with someone not feeling chemistry (though many have tried, I’m sure…I’m lucky that I never really had bad reactions from online dating).

            1. buttercup*

              I’ve actually had a guy tell me, “We just went on one date…How do you know this is what you really want??” when I explained I wasn’t interested in seeing him again. Blergh.

              But yeah, chemistry is more about the dynamic between the two people than a commentary on the actual individuals themselves.

        3. Gromley*

          I appreciate the honesty – and physical attraction is a legitimate reason and one that I totally ‘get’ – I’m not always attracted to guys I meet up with for dates and I have no problem with that being the reason a guy doesn’t want to date me. The reason I mentioned it in my OP was that we had been on our first date a little over a week prior – and since then he had been pretty full on with me about how great I was and how he couldn’t wait to see me again. So, I bought into it. Thought he was interested so invested in looking good for the next date and also acquired the broken toe. Then he text to say he’d thought about it and physically I didn’t do it for him. That doesn’t bother me in of itself – it happens. What majorly bothered me was the delay in relaying that to me and the 7+ days of time wasted with kissy faces etc.

          I realise now maybe I should have clarified ;) Blame the toe!

    5. N.J.*

      Thus might be a late suggestion, but there is a Ghanaian hot sauce that’s spicy that is made with some sort of dried peppers and dried shrimp. So not only is it hot, but it has a very pungently fishy taste, in a good way. Not sure if he could taste the fishy aspect but it’s worth a shot. It’s called shito. Try amazon or a google search for “buy shito online.”

  11. Kuododi*

    Hi y’all. I am looking for suggestions about really spicy peppers/flavorings for my Dad who has almost completely lost his sense of taste. (Before the diagnoses come, he’s been tested for everything imaginable and Drs don’t have an answer.) Because of this situation the only flavorings he truly can experience is hot and spicy. Long time ago DH and I got him some dried African red pepper from Liberia. I have also gotten Ghost pepper and Harissa paste for him. I am open to any suggestions! PS If anyone knows where to order dried African red pepper my whole family will love and appreciate you forever!!! The last time DH and I had a connection was a small African grocery store in Atlanta approximately 25 years ago when we were doing our.residencies. Thanks bunches everyone! Blessings!!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Not good with hot spice (opposite of your dad on the supertaster spectrum) but beware of relying on salt as a flavor enhancer. Someone I know had very high blood pressure due to salt (actually pretty rare) and it was because he’d gradually lost his sense of smell and in concert added more and more and more salt to his food to bump the flavor up.

    2. Dr. KMnO4*

      There is a company, Paquí, that has a “One Chip Challenge”, which is a really spicy chip made with the Carolina Reaper pepper. I’ve heard that’s one of the hottest peppers.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t know if there would be a risk of burning his tongue or creating ulcers or anything like that, but I once bought a cheese sample from Whole Foods that had scorpion pepper in it. I had to give it away because I couldn’t stand it. My husband brought it to a guy a work that loves super hot peppers and even he was sweating bullets. I’m guessing your dad shouldn’t eat the pepper by itself (I don’t even know if it’s sold that way), but maybe you can find products that have it as an ingredient.

    4. Reba*

      Sezchuan or Kompot peppercorns! They have an analgesic effect–tingly instead of, or in addition to, hot.

      Online spice sources: Silk Road Spices, Brundo (ethiopian), Bazaar Spices.

    5. Natalie*

      The African red pepper might be pili pili (also spelled pili piri or peri peri). You might be able to buy it online.

    6. Kj*

      World Spice is great- has a wonderful variety of hot and spicy peppers from around the world. Link in my name. Their prices are reasonable as well.

    7. Dan*

      Thai chili peppers should be in the mix. Those tiny little beasts are *hot*. They’re great in soups — mash them up and simmer in the broth, and you will get spice like you wouldn’t believe.

      Depending on culinary talents, I would recommend Thai food in general. On average it’s quite spicy, and even better, most dishes can be made with varying spice levels.

    8. Jemima Bond*

      Have you tried gochujang paste? It’s a Korean red pepper paste, with a slightly fermented taste. It’s really good! You should be able to get it in an oriental supermarket but possibly in a normal supermarket (here you can get it in Sainsbury’s)

    9. oldbiddy*

      Jamaican jerk sauce/rub. You can make your own or buy it online or in a well-stocked grocery store. A teaspoon is enough to cover several pieces of chicken, or add it to burgers.

    10. Unacademic*

      Check out thehotpepper.com. It’s a forum for hot pepper lovers, with discussions of peppers, reviews of hot sauces, and so on. You’ll find some great recommendations there. If you or your dad have a green thumb, there’s also advice on growing your own hot peppers!

      If he’s lost his sense of taste because he’s lost his sense of smell (which is the vast majority of our flavor perception), maybe he can also find some very sour or strong umami flavors enjoyable? I know I loved Thai Tom Yum soup when I temporarily lost my sense of smell, because it’s spicy, sour, and savory, and there are a lot of other Thai dishes out there like that with very strong tongue-flavors.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      For spicy – check out recipes for Ethiopian berbere spice. It’s very spicy and flavourful as well, and there are a bunch of recipes to go with it. You can make harissa at home as well, with dried spicy peppers, garlic, lemon juice and spices. I make it in batches, keep the paste in the freezer, and use as needed. Also African peri-peri sauce, which uses chiles, lemon juice and vinegar.

      For spicy in a non-pepper sense, there’s wasabi, very spicy mustards, and horseradish. Sechuan peppercorns aren’t spicy, exactly, but they produce a tingly-numbing sensation that pairs well with peppers. Chinese mala hotpot can be very spicy, with chili oil and peppercorn oil.

    12. CarrotCake*

      Try pickling peppers.

      100chopped up peppers (any variety or mix) per quarter of vinegar. Into a sealed container, seeds, stems, and all. Stir/shake 1x for 2 weeks.

      This is from a recipe book at a museum I worked at, I think it was an early 1800s book.

      Use for everything. Scoop out peppers for omelets, use the liquid with molasses for BBQ sauce. Just what ever you do don’t have your face over it when you open it. It can’t go bad.

    13. Anne*

      In addition to spice, he may find he enjoys different textures/combinations as his senses change

    14. fretnone*

      Malaysian sambal pastes are fragrant, spicy and savoury (if he enjoys fishy tastes especially), and good for frying with meats and veg: https://www.nyonyacooking.com/recipes/sambal

      In the same vein, chili oils are convenient condiments great for cooking and dipping; two of my favourite are chili crisp (“Old Grandma” is a very popular brand: http://nymag.com/strategist/article/lao-gan-ma-best-chili-sauce-review.html), and a Chiu Chow style is both fun to make (https://thewoksoflife.com/2016/03/homemade-chiu-chow-sauce/) and readily available in Asian shops.

      Happy eating!

  12. Notthemomma*

    I got up at 4:30 in the damn morning to ride for two hours to sit in a boat in 90ish degree weather and hope a fish attaches itself to a hook. I cannot express enough how much I want a nap.

      1. Notthemomma*

        I have them all on VHS cuz my son LOVED the show and took to calling me that way back when.

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

      Fishing never appealed to me for that exact reason. That and my fear that I’d need the bathroom once I’m out on the water. But good luck with the fishing!

      1. nep*

        Brings back memories of peeing in a bucket (life preserver on top as a cushion).
        Love fishing and just being on the water. But it’s been decades and I don’t think I would want to do even catch-and-release these days.

      2. SpiderLadyCEO*

        Yes! My family will be out on the boat all day – 4:00 until dusk. I only go out now when we’ll be swimming. In between dips, I lay out all the towels and read. There is really nothing better then reading in a patch of sunlight on a gently rocking boat.

      3. Notthemomma*

        I have no shame. I lean off the side of the boat and go. If there are other boats around, I will use the ‘little johnny’ which is a guess a urinal adapter for women? We got our fish and Walleye for supper!

  13. Kate Daniels*

    Any tips for learning a new language on your own? I want to learn Spanish. I was thinking of doing a combo of Mango (free through my library), Coffee Break Spanish, Duolingo, and some workbooks, but wanted to see if anyone had any particular suggestions.

    1. dr_silverware*

      Are you learning to be able to speak it? If so, try to find some interaction—there’s nothing like hearing real people speak :)

      I believe there are podcast called “slow Spanish” or similar where people talk clearly and slowly, to boost your listening skills.

      Also make sure that you have material that talks about the basic rules of the language. This is where duolingo falls a bit short—especially as an adult learner it’s pretty inadequate to be told “this is how you say X” without explaining the why—“this verb is in third-person singular conjugation and this tense, and this preposition is used because…”

      1. Kate Daniels*

        My focus is primarily on reading and writing, but yes, I’d love to be able to speak it well, though I know this will be the most challenging part because I have trouble enough as is correctly pronouncing things in English :-P. I will have to look up slow Spanish podcasts. Thank you!

        1. Logan*

          Young children’s shows are often good for language that is easy and spoken clearly. The key is to find one that is tolerable.

          Years ago a very popular man (Ernie Coombs – Mr Dressup) passed away, and I was so touched by the huge number of immigrants and refugees who said that they learned english by watching his show.

    2. FrontRangeOy*

      The combination I use is Duolingo/mango language for vocabulary repetition (the chat bots available on Duo’s browser version are just brilliant for practicing simple common conversations), Pimsueler audio set for pronunciation, and a proper textbook for grammar and short blocks of reading text. My jam is German so the text/work book I use is Schaum.

      Check and see if your library has a Spanish conversation group – ours has just such a group that meets once a week for Spanish language learners to practice.

      1. Kate Daniels*

        Oh, I didn’t know there was a chat bot on the web version. I’ve only been using the iPhone app… thanks for letting me know!

      2. FrontRangeOy*

        The browser version also has Tips and Grammar sections that give a (very) basic overview of the grammar. It’s not much but it’s a helpful start point.

    3. Thumbcat*

      I improved my French by reading Harry Potter in French and English at the same time. I know there’s a Spanish translation as well.

    4. Francophile*

      Seconding the “News in Slow Spanish” and find folks to talk to in person suggestions. Also, for Spanish, telenovelas/similar shows can be really helpful as they’re very expressive; even if you don’t fully understand what’s being said, you’ll pick up on a lot of the context (as well as get used to the speed, etc.).

      I started learning French a few years ago with Duolingo & Mango and after 6 months I took an evening course at a local community college. (It was one of those “continuing education” type classes w/no credit.) If something like that is available, that might help as well, especially if you never took Spanish in high school/college because it can help with learning conjugations and tenses. Also I love Coffee Break French so I’m sure the Spanish one is great as well! But if you’re in the US, I know they do Spain Spanish, which can be a little different.

      Most of all – don’t give up! ¡Buena suerte!

      1. Kate Daniels*

        I am hoping to eventually find a class to attend in person once I’ve been at my job long enough to get tuition assistance. I’m glad to hear that you like Coffee Break French!

  14. amwriting*

    Has anyone ever gone on a writing retreat—either one of those fancy paid ones or one that you set up on your own (just for you or with others)? I never seem to be able to make time to write during the week because I have a full-time job that leaves me exhausted at the end of the day, but I’ve been toying with the idea of using a vacation day on. Friday or Monday and then renting a hotel room or using Airbnb for a long writing weekend.

    1. Fiennes*

      I’ve done this. It can work very well—but the emphasis has to be on “work.” The impulse to turn the getaway into a mini-break can be strong.

    2. Grad Student*

      I tried to set up one for myself just this very weekend! It did not go great. I think it would’ve been a lot better if I had people, or at least one other person, with me who also wanted to work on writing something. (YMMV though; this is fairly specific to me and my own set of motivations!)

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

    Public service announcement: If you have a computer with Windows 10 and it asks you to download an update, don’t do it! The end result of this “upgrade” was a black screen with nothing but a Recycle Bin whenever we turn on the computer. Our four month old laptop is now essentially a $450 paperweight. Anyone else get duped by Microsoft’s “upgrade”? If so, did you manage to get it working again?

    1. dr_silverware*

      If you bring it to a repair place, they’ll likely end up reinstalling Windows and the service shouldn’t cost too much.

      If you want to DIY, google your situation—“black screen with recycle bin icon”—or, honestly, just instructions on how to reinstall windows and back up your data in safe mode.

      If you’re not completely Done with Everything at that point you can google the KB number of the problem update + your computer make and model to see if anyone else has had the same problem. (If you know the KB number already you could do this first.)

    2. ElspethGC*

      Mine (Lenovo Yoga 700) didn’t crash, thank God. I installed the update two days before my hardest uni exam, and all my notes were on there and not backed up to the cloud. I think that would have pushed me over the edge. The people that did have that happen got it sorted by restarting in safe mode and either restoring the old Windows setting or by reinstalling Windows, though.

    3. Annie Moose*

      Ugh, yeah, I’m going to have to see if I can fix my mom’s computer tomorrow. I suspect I’ll have to reinstall Windows. At least Windows makes it easier to preserve your documents these days??

      Still, it’s so frustrating. As someone who works as a developer, I understand that sometimes issues—even major ones—can slip by testing if they don’t occur in all cases… but this is a really, really big issue for Microsoft to have missed!!

    4. Slartibartfast*

      Also check your settings, Win10 likes to just update whenever it feels like, regardless of what you’re doing if you don’t. It doesn’t ask by default. Learned that the hard way.

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

      Thanks, everyone, for the responses. We did end up reinstalling Windows and the computer seems to be working again, though I’m not sure yet if our old files are still there. We’re fortunate we never discarded our old computer and it still worked, because we needed it to download a clean version of Windows 10 onto a flash drive, then load it onto the newer computer.

      My PSA still stands. Don’t update Windows 10 if you are asked to do so. What a hassle!

      1. Someone else*

        A more pragmatic PSA is: don’t update Windows 10 when you’re asked to if you haven’t just taken a backup. There are often problems with major upgrades that mean you need to revert to last known good. It is rare for an update to be so broken that it destroys every machine it touches. What happened to you is common, but not a guarantee.Eventually, the security risks of not patching outweigh the risk of “what if this upgrade bricks my device”. Don’t upgrade just because it happened to prompt you right this minute. Do upgrade, when you’ve prepared to do so.

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

          Fair point. I do wish Microsoft would get these updates right the first time, though. Next time I’m delaying the update by (at least) 30 days so they can work out the kinks on other people besides me.

          1. Dan*

            Windows machines are a curse to an IT department. I was talking to my IT guys once, and thanking them for allowing us an open environment to do what we need to do and install whatever we want. He said that blessing is an IT department’s curse — with all kinds of different systems and configs floating around, it’s near impossible to guarantee that an upgrade/patch will not have some negative effect somewhere.

            My current org is something like 7000 people — a year or two ago, IT pushed out a patch that bricked all the windows machines. They figured out how to work around it within a few hours, but by that point, most people just went home and figured they’d see what’s up the next day.

            Apple took the route of locking down everything an maintaining a lot of control over things. That’s good for system reliability, but makes it harder for new development and that kind of thing.

            There are pros and cons to each.

            But to your point, I have stock Android on my phone, and I always wait a week if not longer to update the latest patch.

            1. Nashira*

              Ugh, an open environment like that sounds like a security and support nightmare. If everyone is able to install whatever they want, that’s how ransomware of happy fun malware goes everywhere.

              A more pragmatic approach to patching may be to avoid patching for the new hotness every month. There are different paths you can take for patching Windows, depending on how out of date your risk profile permits you to be. It also involves not letting users install whatever they want…

          2. Nashira*

            There is a gigantic variety of hardware that runs Windows OSes. Creating patches is quite difficult. Believe it or not, Windows patching is the smoothest and most reliable now than it had ever been before. This is especially true if Windows 10. I do this for a living and we patch thousands of machines a month – the number of problems we see on modern Windows OSes is barely anything, compared to Back in the Day.

            If you don’t patch, your computer becomes increasingly vulnerable to a variety of attacks, which can either a) make it unsafe for your private info or b) allow it to be used to attack other devices, to pick some consequences.

            A better approach is to back up your files, keep a Windows 10 boot disk around so you can run system repair if truly necessary, and patch regularly and patch often. You can often search for a description of your problem and find instructions for fixing it from Windows experts too. Support.microsoft.com usually has very good advice.

    6. WellRed*

      I feel like with any computer, you need to ignore all those download updates. As a mac user, I am currently NOT downloading the Sierra update.

      1. fposte*

        I like High Sierra okay except for one horrible thing–it overwrites my main font so everything I’ve ever typed looks off :-(.

    7. ..Kat..*

      Public Service Announcement: Back up your files before doing an update. That way, if your computer becomes a doorstop, you won’t loose files. But seriously, back up your computer at least weekly.

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

        And I knew that, too. I don’t know what I was thinking accepting the update before I bothered to back up files.

        But I did get all the files back, and I’m backing them up immediately.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      can you turn it on in safe mode? If so, try to run a repair or restore (not sure what 10 calls it). You should also be able to run a repair from a repair/install disk. On another computer, do some googling. I guarantee that someone else has had this problem and there’s instructions.

    9. Nacho*

      I managed to fix it with Microsoft’s help. It took a few hours and a USB drive, but it’s working again.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I’m still on Win 7 because I can’t afford a new machine yet. But this is one of the reasons I do all my writing on a flash drive and also upload the folder periodically to the cloud.

    11. Chaordic One*

      I have both a desktop and a laptop computer. I downloaded the update to my desktop with no problems. However, for some reason, the update refuses to install on my laptop. I keep getting notices about the computer needing to be restarted, but when I do restart it, nothing happens and I continue to get notices about the update.

      1. Nashira*

        When you go to restart, does it ask to Update and Restart or just restart? Assuming Windows 10 here. It’ll need to Update and Restart in order to finish the updates.

    12. Josh*

      I went through with the update and it destroyed my current version of windows. Kept booting me into recovery mode. Had to reinstall the entire Windows OS . 3+hrs of inconvenience

    13. Gatomon*

      Oof, Windows 10 has burned me a few times. It was a year or two ago but it installed one of the major releases and my computer was stuck in a boot loop. Finally had to do a system restore. When I installed the most recent major release, I kicked it off one night about 10 p.m. Came back to the desktop the next afternoon and it was sitting at 50% still. Luckily it finished fine at that point… but it’s enough to make me want to go Linux.

      I habitually put off the updates but it’s gotten to the point that it will now boot my computer out of hibernation to prompt me for the major ones (fall/spring releases) and then will not go back to sleep until I touch it again. This enrages me because it’s a gaming PC, my freaking graphics card alone is like 120 watts. And if it wakes up at 2 a.m. I may not touch it again until after work — that’s over 12 hours of sitting and spinning for no damn reason! I might honestly upgrade to Windows 10 Pro if I can get more control over when the stupid patches install. I’ve lost work because it’s rebooted on me out of the blue.

      I know they’re doing this because people DO put off patches indefinitely and put themselves at risk, but if they’re going to force install stuff they need to make recovering much easier. You shouldn’t have to be an IT pro to fix this stuff.

  16. Foreign Octopus*

    People with cats!

    Have any of you ever experienced your cat having a runny nose? My cat seems to go through phases where she’s fine and then, suddenly, she’ll have snot bubbles coming out of one nostril. I don’t think she has a cold, and she’s healthier than she has been in a long time, but she seems to have a constant runny nose.

    Any advice? Info? Anything?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Allergies? I think I would check her food to see if I could make a change somehow. I’d read the label in search of common allergens.

    2. here kitty*

      I think I’d take the cat to the vet to rule out the cold for sure, especially if the nose is running constantly. Cats are masters at hiding their conditions. If that is not it, then I agree allergies might be something to check.

    3. ElspethGC*

      Check the dates of the runny noses against pollen counts – cats can have hayfever too! If she ever has any discharge from the eyes or starts sniffling and sneezing, though, think about heading for the vet. Upper respiratory infections are very common in cats, and some are more prone than others. The infections normally last from one to three weeks, and you can help by using a humidifier for a quarter to half an hour per day (or shutting her in a steam bathroom).

    4. Slartibartfast*

      Cats are also prone to herpesvirus infections. Similar to what causes cold sores in us, in cats it causes upper respiratory symptoms when it flares up. Extremely common in wild-born or shelter rescue cats. If she’s had any stress in her life, that could cause a flare. It’s usually not a big deal, if the runny nose is clear I wouldn’t worry, but if it’s yellow or green, she might have a secondary infection that would need antibiotics.

      1. Jane of all Trades*

        Was just about to suggest this too – I have had 3 cats so far (all shelter cats), and they all have the herpes virus. Its chronic, so it will never go away, but 95% of the time they do not have symptoms. Symptoms flare up when they are stressed, and are more likely in the winter, and can include runny noses or sneezing.
        The good news is that its really easy to handle – I just make sure that I always have a jar of “viralys” powder on hand, and i sprinkle it on their dry food. Viralys also has a paste that you can put on your finger, and basically all cats except mine seem to like it enough where they will just lick it off your finger when offered.

    5. MissDissplaced*

      Sounds like a mild respiratory infection, possibly allergy related. You should really schedule a visit to the vet for a checkup for her.

    6. Sylvan*

      Ask a vet about feline herpes, especially if she lived in a shelter at any point or with a large number of other cats.

      If it turns out to be feline herpes, the vet will probably recommend L-Lysine. It’s a powder that you mix into cat food. It’s not terribly expensive and a jar of it lasts a very long time.

    7. fposte*

      A friend of mine had an allergic cat; indoor cat only, but still allergic. She was negative for feline herpes and all that other jazz–just was snotty when the allergens bothered her. My friend tried her on antihistamines a few time but they really seemed to dope kitty up, so she decided that a happy snotty kitty was probably the best outcome.

    8. Cat lady*

      Check her teeth, a dental abscess can make pus come out of the nose which can look a bit like snot. Probably not that if she’s eating fine and not pawing at her mouth but worth checking!

  17. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    What are your Memorial Day Weekend plans?

    I’m visiting my mom for the weekend (even though I’m 32, sometimes there’s nothing like going home.). There’s a rock/gem/fossil show nearby that we’re planning on going to. Also, an AWESOME art and craft fair that we might hit. Although, it’s supposed to be friggin’ HOT, so who knows.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We’re going to a concert tonight– my boyfriend’s birthday present, though I’m also looking forward to it. NOT looking forward to the impending rain, but thankful we have covered seats. It’s an outdoor venue. If it gets really bad, they’ll have to cancel, which will suuuuuck.

      But tomorrow afternoon, we leave for a week in the UK! I am VERY excited about this. My birthday is next week and we will be celebrating with a very fancy dinner. Super psyched about that. Just crossing my fingers that the weather won’t stand in the way of our flights.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Oooh whereabouts are you going to?
        *waves from the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty*

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I have been to Surrey, and yes, it’s beautiful! :) This will be a very quick trip, a couple of days each in London, Bath, and Cardiff. I’ve never been to Wales. We booked a tour that will take us all around South Wales so I’ll at least get a taste of it. My partner hasn’t been to the UK since he was a kid, so he’s pretty excited. I’ve made a few trips to various parts of England (studied there in college, then went back for several visits), but my last real visit was about 10 years ago, maybe more, so I’m looking really forward to it. I went to Bath briefly when I was 15, so I’m looking forward to spending some real time there.

          Now I’m packing and trying to consider ALL of the weather, which is, of course, impossible.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I posted below, but I’m headed to NY tomorrow to get my sister and then we’re leaving for Cleveland Monday to see Def Leppard and Journey in concert. We’ll also be going to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. :) Today is paying bills and doing all the last minute stuff before I leave. And yeah, it’s going to be 90 and humid today. YUCK.

    3. Loopy*

      I’m visiting a friend on Cape Cod. Crazy excited! I’ve been home (where I grew up) for the week and will fly home (where I live) Tuesday. So it’s great but also sad that my vacation is coming to an end.

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

      It’s almost 90 degrees, humid and miserable, and I’m sick, so my wife and I are planning to watch TV and enjoy our new apartment’s giant, slightly noisy, but very wonderful air conditioner. :-)

    5. CAA*

      I’m making a Strawberry Balsamic Pie for a potluck barbecue tonight.

      On Monday I’ll go to the annual remembrance ceremony that the VFW holds in the park. It’s just a flag ceremony, the playing of taps, maybe a speech, but it’s always very moving.

        1. CAA*

          It’s from the “Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book”, which is by two sisters who own a pie shop of that name in Brooklyn. I just googled and see that this recipe is all over the Internet, so just look for a post that mentions it’s from the book and you should be good to go.

    6. ThatGirl*

      It’s so hot all of a sudden! Like where did the 90s come from?

      My inlaws moved out of state in January and I really miss their pool right now.

      We’re not doing much, went to see Solo last night, spin class today, seeing friends Monday.

    7. Lcsa99*

      One of our cats likes to burrow under the blanket whenever I use one while lying on the couch, so I am currently lying here with a warm kitty sleeping on my leg. I have no plans beyond that. It’s kinda awesome.

    8. Fiennes*

      Riding out a tropical storm, looks like. Fortunately it doesn’t seem that bad so far.

    9. FrontRangeOy*

      I am hiding inside writing today while my spouse coaxes yard chores out of our children. Tomorrow I have “thing we don’t talk about in this thread” for around 6 or 8 hours. Monday, spouse takes over all housework for a day so I can write.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      My birthday is on Monday. If I wait until then, Alamo Drafthouse will send me a ticket voucher for my birthday (I belong to the Victory Club) and then I can see Deadpool 2 for free. :)

    11. anon24*

      I will be at the place we don’t speak about on weekends all holiday weekend. We don’t have weekends or holidays in EMS ;)

      Everyone enjoy your long weekend, have fun, stay safe, and if you don’t want to stay sober don’t drink too much and please stay off the roads so you don’t get to meet me in person in the back of my ambulance.

    12. Red*

      My husband and I are going to go up to the mountains to my father-in-law’s cabin. It’ll be nice. A friend of mine is going to Allegheny for a trail run and I’m kinda jealous. There’s no way I’m running up and down a mountain, so I don’t get to run until I get back home to my beautifully flat neighborhood park :( And to think I just got new running sneakers!

  18. Jennifleurs*

    I know this is supposed to be the no work thread – I can’t decide where my question would fit!!

    Basically I write short stories (and a permanently half baked novel) and I’m always on the look-out for cool/unusual jobs to give my characters. Latest ones I came across were “scientific illustrator” and, “prosthetic technician” for example. So, if you have a job which people around you think is unusual or cool – or if you know someone who does – would you mind commenting with it?

    1. Reba*

      Public art installation software animator. Art conservator or restorer. (not my jobs but people I know)

    2. CatCat*

      A friend of mine has a family member who works for a company that makes fake cadavers and body parts. Highly realistic ones for educational purposes. Not sure what the person’s title is, but it was definitely one of the most unusual places to work I’ve heard of.

    3. kmb*

      I know some people from museums who used to build dinosaurs (for museums), and one person who is now CEO at a science centre but for another science centre job, went to find a beached whale to collect for a skeleton. That was a great story.

      I do know some people who design 3D printed prosthetic covers, fashion technology designers, hardware engineers for fashion technology, exhibit developers, people who build sets / big fancy building ornaments, costume designers. I know some people who plan a big art and engineering festival every year and bring in all the artists for that, and one of them manages the big event night and stage shows.

      What about like artisans? Like cabinetmakers and leatherworkers? Meadery owners? Or like people doing local versions of fancy jobs – like local actors, improvisers, stage managers, puppeteers, that sort of thing. People working on interactive theatre projects … drag queens or kings, local entertainment promoters?

      What about research scientists for different companies, like working on genetic engineering or nanotech or chemistry applications?

      One thing is there are lots of jobs that are amazing but have generic names that wouldn’t work well for you. My day job is essentially making up weird stuff for adults to do at a science centre, and has involved things like making bros sing Let it Go and trying to find a coffin I can borrow for an evening. My title is really boring.

    4. Turtlewings*

      There’s nothing particularly unusual about working at a library — but I work solely on interlibrary loans, which is a bit of a specialty within the field.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Someone in front of me at the airport cargo center one day was shipping horse semen.

        She was telling the shipper all about the mechanics involved. They did not seem to want to know about it either.

    5. Aphrodite*

      If you want to find unusual jobs, especially those of a scientific bent, I would recommend searching out Mary Roach’s books. She is a wacky, funny writer of weird science topics. Her books include STIFF, SPOOK, GRUNT, and more. She interviews really off-beat but legitimate scientists of all kinds.

      1. Traveling Teacher*

        I love love love her book Stiff! Tangentially, that one’s also a great creep-deterrent (though occasional creep attractor) because it talks about bodies donated to science and the history of burial/cadavers.

        One of the most interesting jobs in that one is in Tennessee (I think?) at a center where they research the phases of decomposition in different conditions in nature (ie: this is what happens when the body has been lying outside for a day, a week, a month in the rain vs the sun…).

    6. Always science-ing*

      I met someone at a party one time who raised leeches that would be used/sold for medical purposes. They never mentioned their official job title but perhaps leech farmer would be an apt description?

    7. MindoverMoneyChick*

      My first job was a lab tech at a taste and smell research center. I put the active ingredients from hot chili pepper, black pepper, ginger and cinnamon on people’s tongues and asked them to tell me how much it hurt.

    8. LibbyG*

      There are those people that deal with the estates of people who don’t have heirs or executors. There was a cool NY Times feature article about it a couple years ago. I’ll try to find it. It always struck me as an interesting job that people just kind of fall into.

    9. Mananana*

      I met a Soldier who was also a composer of music for TV/movies — he was the one who made suspense-filled moments even MORE suspenseful because of the background music.

        1. Lindsay J*

          He seems like a nice guy. I emailed him once back when he was working on BSG, asking about the instrumentation used, and he got back to me quickly and we had an interesting discussion.

    10. the gold digger*

      Thought of more:

      Sat next to a guy on the plane whose designed bras. The engineering that goes into them!

      A friend with a food science degree used to be a taster at Blue Bell ice cream.

      My friend at Kraft told me about a packaging designer who had not considered altitude – a bunch of cheese that was shipped from the midwest to California was ruined because all the packaging exploded over the Rockies.

    11. Mad Baggins*

      I know someone whose job was to buy things/acquire them for movies. Maybe for sets, props, equipment, food, etc…there’s a lot of specialized jobs in filmmaking.

    12. PolicyChick*

      I used to be in the film industry in LA and my favorite post-production person was the Foley artist. These are the folks who do the smaller sound effects that are either not picked up during shooting, or need to be created outright – like the sound of a head being chopped off, or bones breaking. Very fun and creative work!

  19. Dr. KMnO4*

    Why is it that so many wine and cider ”experts” (snobs) insist that the only good wines/ciders are dry? I can’t stand dry beverages. I don’t even like that La Croix flavored sparkling water. Apparently preferring sweet drinks means my palate is “unrefined” or something.

    I understand that Angry Orchard is not the most complex cider. I call it “the Miller of ciders” for a reason. But there are plenty of craft ciders that are sweet and interesting and high quality. It’s not like there’s a dichotomy of dry=high quality and sweet=low quality.

    I just read a book about the history of cider in England, France, Spain, and the US. It was an interesting and informative book, but the author was definitely casting shade on sweeter ciders. I’m not going to judge someone for liking dry wines/ciders, so it would be nice to not be judged for liking sweet wines/ciders.

    Any other fans of sweet drinks out there? Thoughts?

    1. Incantanto*

      Well, at the cider festival I went to recently the sweet ones ran out a lot faster than the dry!
      I’m not a fan of the cloyingly sweet like rekorderlig but a good sweet scrumpy is divine. I also prefer my wines on the sweeter end, having grown up with a lot of german wine.

      It might be part of the whole “sweet drinks are girly ” thing that happens a lot around alcohol choices, which is ridiculous.
      Also, whats the book called? Sounds interesting.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        It’s called Cider Made Simple: All About Your New Favorite Drink by Jeff Alworth. It’s a great read.

        Rekorderlig is… interesting. I’ve only had their Strawberry Lime, and the lime got to be too much for me towards the end.

        What cider festival did you go to? I love cider festivals. My fave is the Cider Summit.

        1. Incantanto*

          Just a medium sized beer and cider festival in my home town. More beer but still about 60 ciders to try. Some amazing some fantastically awful.

          I find pear ciders tend to the sweeter end.

    2. Red Reader*

      I can’t do dry anything, I’m a super taster for bitter flavors (that’s not a technical term, just the best explanation I have) so I can’t do coffee, beer, most teas, most wines, even dark chocolate is too much for me. I can only drink Angry Orchard if it’s super cold – my go-to is Woodchuck (Fall and Gumption are my favorite blends) though it’s hard to find outside of the Midwest I think. But yeah, people get really weird about it. Like, I don’t dislike wine AT you, and I’m glad YOU like it, so quit insisting that I just haven’t found the right one yet. (I have. I can drink some ice wines. And they’re expensive as hell, so I don’t. You buying? :-P )

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        Woodchuck Gumption is amazing! I’m with you on not being able to eat/drink bitter things. Dark chocolate, coffee, tea are all not for me.

        Have you had Iceman by Angry Orchard? It’s found in champagne size bottles, and it’s similar to an ice cider. They also have a cider called Muse that’s in a champagne size bottle as well.

        If you like ice wine you might like ice cider. Also expensive, but a little goes a long way.

      2. FrontRangeOy*

        I can manage coffee as long as I have access to cream (but not sugar, sugar turns even the nicest coffee astringent for me) and tea with milk (very English). Cannot deal with dark chocolate at all and am currently annoyed with the grocery store I usually go to because there’s like 3 types of chocolate in the entire store that I can tolerate and the rest is 70%, 80%, 90%!!! dark chocolate. Yuck.

        But I’m also over sensitive to sweet so there’s a very fine line in the middle with wine and cider. I like perry/pear cider more than apple and melomels (meads made with the addition of fruit, usually berries).

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          Perrys do tend to be more delicate than ciders. You might like semi-sweet ciders. The only trouble I have is that the definition of “semi-sweet” seems to vary by company.

      3. Red Sky*

        Actually, Supertaster is a technical term! And you’re right, those of us who are supertasters are more likely to have an increased sensitivity to bitter flavors than non-supertasters.

        *takes notes for sweeter cider flavors

        1. Red Reader*

          Hah! Excellent. I knew it was a technical term, I wasn’t sure I was using it appropriately for my intent :) so I wanted to clarify that just in case.

        2. Dr. KMnO4*

          If you want sweet cider recommendations I have you covered. That’s my wheelhouse. Though, a lot of my recommendations are US specific.
          Cider Boys – I like most of their flavors, but my faves are Peach County, Strawberry Magic, and Grand Mimosa
          Strongbow – I like everything but their ginger flavor
          Smith and Forge – a bit blander than some of the craft ciders, but I prefer it over Angry Orchard
          Woodchuck – Gumption, Pink (It’s actually pink, and I believe the proceeds go to a breast cancer foundation), Raspberry
          Angry Orchard – Iceman, Muse
          Ace – Pineapple, SPACE, Honey
          Crispin – Honeycrisp

      4. MindoverMoneyChick*

        Supertaster actually is a technical term (see Jennifleurs thread – I used to work in a taste and smell research center). We used to have this paper that looked like litmus paper. But it on the tongue of an ordinary bitter taster like me and it tasted like …wet paper. But the one supertaster for bitter I worked with practically clawed it out of her mouth the second she put it on her tongue. It’s a real thing.

    3. dr_silverware*

      Yeah! I find Angry Orchard has a weird aftertaste for me, but I LOVE sweet ciders. Like, Ace pineapple cider is delicious, and that’s sweet as hell and a kind of novelty flavor as well :D

      I also don’t really like hoppy flavors in beer at all, and so many craft beers are all about the hops. I think there’s a tendency to take some flavor that kids tend not to like and adults tend to like and say, yeah that’s a sign of a sophisticated palate. It’s BS; I like bitter chocolate because it’s strong and I don’t taste very well, not because dark chocolate is ~refined.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I LOVE Ace Pineapple! If you like novelty flavors, you might like SPACE, which is a blood orange cider made by Ace.

        1. dr_silverware*

          That sounds really really good. I had Ace pineapple at a bar years ago, and had no idea what it was until recently the friend who bought me the drink was just like, oh yeah, of course I know what that one was. Now it’s been stocking my fridge pretty regularly. I’ll try the blood orange too, I think I’ve seen it on the shelf!

    4. Cristina in England*

      Ugh, yes, I’m so annoyed by bitterness snobs. Our tastebuds evolved to like sweet flavors, but snobs hate to be like everyone else and have to believe that they’re a cut above. Gross. Maybe I’ll just think of them as “bitter snobs” because that’s what they are and the name makes me laugh.

      Anyway, I like sweet rum and sweet drinks generally, but not sweet pickles, only sour. There has been this huge controversy in the rum world over the secret adding of sugar. Apparently all you need to make a rum taste aged is to add a spoonful or two of brown sugar. Companies are bending over backwards to add sugar or sweeteners that are not detectable with basic tests, so they can market their rum as “aged” but then adding sugar so it won’t be aged quite as long as you might think. Worth a little rabbit hole if you’re interested in googling: adding sugar to rum lab tests
      OR googling:
      adding sugar to rum master list.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        “Bitter snobs” is a great term. I have been told a number of times that, “Oh, you just have to drink X a lot of times until you get used to the taste”, where X is coffee, tea, dry wines, etc. Um, okay, or I could just drink something I enjoy…

        I will definitely check that out! I love learning about the science behind drinks. I can’t drink rum by itself, but I’ve found that spiced rum mixes well with paler ciders.

        1. Windchime*

          Yes, I’m a beer drinker and have come across the Bitter Snobs, too. There are some people who like their beer so bitter and hoppy that, to me, it’s undrinkable. Give me a nice Belgian wheat or maybe a Mexican beer and I’m happy. Get all “craft brew” on me and I might just order a Coors lite to spite you.

      2. Ali G*

        This is so interesting to me. I can’t do sweet anything! Especially drinks. I don’t drink juice, eat desserts, cookies, etc. I didn’t have cake at my wedding because I HATE cake and icing. There was a variety of mini desserts, but I didn’t eat any of them :)
        And I am currently drinking wine (cab) out of a box :)

        1. Cristina in England*

          To me there’s a big difference between people who don’t like sweet things and people who really see it as a mark of distinction to like things that most other people don’t (and tell people about it). You sound like the former. The bitter snobs would be the latter.

    5. Dr. KMnO4*

      I’ll put this out there. I’ve tried a LOT of ciders, so if anyone wants cider recommendations I can probably help.

      1. Temperance*

        I would love some recs for good dry ciders! Commonwealth Cider is my current fave.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          Ace Cider – Joker
          Angry Orchard – Strawman
          Blake’s has a couple of drier ciders
          Van der Mill ciders are pretty dry
          Can’t remember the maker, but the cider is called Anvil

    6. annakarina1*

      I do like Angry Orchard, but totally agree on it being the Miller of ciders, that’s really funny. :)

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I have no problem with Angry Orchard, and if it’s the only cider a bar has I’ll usually drink it with no complaints. I coined the phrase when I was at Disney World and a 16oz can of Angry Orchard was like $8.50 whereas specialty cocktails were like $10.50. I like Angry Orchard but I’m not paying $8.50 for something that’s good but not really anything special.

    7. Indie*

      I completely agree. I do like some dry drinks, and I like olives and dirty martinis,I can identify coffee beans from one sip so I’m safe from ‘unsophisticated’ barbs. Even though they’d let me in their club..no thank you. The best wines and ciders are sweet! In fact the best drink on earth is freshly juiced apples. It’s weirdly joyless and patronising and is a subset of food policing which tries to set rules on what people ‘should’ enjoy.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I can’t stand any food policing, but this to me is especially annoying. Like, how is it affecting you at all that I enjoy sweet wines and ciders? It’s not like they’ve stopped making dry wines and ciders. The only thing people “should” do is keep their opinions to themselves on what other people are eating/drinking.

        When I was a kid my family used to go to this orchard every year where you could watch them press the apples and make fresh juice. We would get samples of the fresh-pressed stuff and it was amazing.

    8. Cookie Monster*

      Unfortunately I am one of those dry, bitter people, but I also love all kinds of cider. If you’re in New England, I’d highly recommend Downeast Cider. It’s an unfiltered cider brand and the original is pleasantly sweet, but they also have a ton of great, different flavors.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I will definitely check them out if I ever head over to New England. Unfiltered ciders are great!

    9. Temperance*

      I find that so weird, personally – speaking as a fan of dry ciders, wines, and LaCroix! I don’t really feel superior because I like Commonwealth Cider more than Angry Orchard (which is fine, but too sweet for me), and I find it weird that some people do.

      I think that part of it comes from the fact that some of the cheaper/lower-qualify alcoholic beverages on the market are sweeter, so those of us who dislike those assume that all sweet beverages are gross.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I sometimes eat at a breton creperie, so of course, it has to be cider! The house ciders are Brut or Demi-sec, but I find the Demi-sec is not too sweet for me. Certainly, as I have got older, I find I prefer drier wine and cider.

        Oh, and I was once in Brittany and was served a Kir Breton. It’s cider with a splash of creme de cassis.

    10. Dan*

      I’m generally on the drier side, but also recognize that so much is about personal taste. On the beer side, someone can tell me that a particular IPA is the best the IPA in the world, but if I don’t like IPAs does it matter?

      On the “snob” side, I’ll throw out one thing: In cooking, if one uses lots of salt or cream, the dish is almost always going to come out tasting good. But I give the chef absolutely no credit for a good tasting cream based dish — anybody can do it.

      The same might be said for sugar in drinks — sugar makes anything taste good, so the “snobs” might be reflecting more on the producers than the consumer when they talk about good vs bad stuff.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I kind of agree with your point about the producers – there are some cider makers that make their beverages sweet by just adding sugar. But generally I find that my favorite sweet ciders are made sweet from the right blend of juices, or the addition of honey, which adds flavor as well as sweetness.

        I think that there are certainly higher quality and lower quality ciders, but I don’t think the lines are drawn strictly on the basis of sweetness. It really comes down to how they are made.

    11. KayEss*

      I don’t like alcohol in general much–I find it hard to finish even an Angry Orchard because I can taste the alcohol, which reads as bitter and unpleasant to me. I got some fantastic mead this weekend to celebrate my birthday, though! It was a little sample 4-pack all by the same place, with flavors like peach and elderberry-blackberry… absolutely delicious. Sweet and hardly “boozy” to my palette at all, despite having a higher alcohol content than cider.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        Mead is wonderful. That little four-pack sounds familiar, I might have gotten something like it in the past. If you are in the US, check out B. Nektar. They do ciders and meads in a wide range of flavors. And I mean wide.

        I used to be the same way with ciders when I first started drinking – I could taste the alcohol. I found that after several years of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, though, I was used to the taste of alcohol in things and I was looking for something a little less sweet.

    12. Lindsay J*


      I have a sweet tooth.

      I do not like dry anything.

      Give me sweet ciders and sweet wines.

      I don’t like coffee or beer.

      There are a couple Texas cider breweries – Bishop’s and Austin Eastciders, that both offer sweet as well as dry options.

      I’m not an Angry Orchard fan, really.

    13. LilySparrow*

      I like the sparkling waters, I like pink grapefruit, and I like coffee & tea with just one spoon of sugar. “Sweet tea” where I’m from is made with simple syrup and makes my teeth ache.

      But I do not like dry wine or cider. You can keep your Cabernet and Pinot Grigio. Give me my Moscato and Riesling, thank you.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        If you like grapefruit you might enjoy a grapefruit cider I tried. It’s called Grapefruit And Chill.

  20. Incantanto*

    Any tips for managing boredom due to injury? I was supposed to spend this weekend at a folk festival but an ankle sprain put paid to that: I can walk but dancing is out of the window. Now I have no plans for the long weekend, can’t travel far, but also can move and aargh I’m annoyed.

    1. Stacy*

      Netflix and junk food binge. The more engrossing the better. I have EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) so I’ve had more than my fair share of injuries that require laying low and icing something. The problem is *choosing* to lay low and chill, and *having to* do so are very different. Hence the engrossing Netflix/Amazon/Hulu binge, because otherwise I feel like I’m sitting around looking at all the things I should be doing instead even though I know logically that if I take a couple of days to rest, elevate, ice in the beginning it should heal faster

      1. Incantanto*

        The problem is I’m trying to lose weight anyway so the junk food binge can’t happen like it used to.

        Ooof my friend has eds and its nasty. My sympathies. I stulidly was stubborn for this one and didn’t rest the first couple of days and am.paying for it now. Sigh.

      2. A (former) Cad Monkey*

        A good one is building lego sets/ models. Video games like Skyrim, Mass Effect, Slime Rancher, and Stardew Valley (anything that has the ability to draw you in for hours) is another good choice.

        1. SpiderLadyCEO*

          Seconding lego sets! Also, puzzles, hosting a board game party with friends. If you want to go somewhere, go to a movie, or lie in the sun at the beach.

    2. Temperance*

      I play a lot of video games and read a ton. Tricky Towers is my current favorite game!

    3. JKP*

      Learn slight of hand magic card tricks. Most people have a deck of cards on hand, and there are books on amazon or videos/sites you can google.

      Craft like needlepoint or knitting or sketching/drawing.

      I find that having something to do with my hands when I can’t move off the couch gets rid of the restless feeling while I watch TV or movies.

    4. Cute Li'l UFO*

      I had to give in and just watch things I always meant to. I was too injured to hold a book and movement was pretty much out of the question. I really hate being inactive but I needed some serious physical recovery and enjoyed quite a bit of MST3K. I was pretty all-over beat up so even writing/sketching was a draining activity for me. I wrote a lot, as in typed. My keyboard is at a height that didn’t hurt or tire me.

      I also gave a lot of thought to things I would do when I was recovered. Granted I was in pretty bad condition so some of them were like “not get dizzy standing up” but being able to hit those benchmarks felt so good.

      I hope your recovery is swift!

  21. The Other Dawn*

    Getting ready for my trip to Cleveland to see my favorite band–Def Leppard! Paying the bills, doing some last minute errands, etc. I’m leaving tomorrow from CT to get my sister in downstate NY, then Monday it’s on to Cleveland. Show is Monday night. We treated ourselves to the front row meet & greet package. Tuesday we’ll be visiting the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and whatever else we can squeeze in before we head back Wednesday. I’m so excited! I just need to figure out what to wear…

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      That sounds awesome! I really want to check out the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame one of these days.

      1. Grumpy*

        We… didn’t love it. But loved the Air Force museum in Dayton.
        Hope you enjoy it more than we did! They do have the coolest souvenirs there.

    2. Mimmy*

      Suuuuuuper jealous you’re getting to meet Def Leppard! I had a bit of a crush on the drummer back in the day *blush*. Have a blast!!!

      Went to the R&R Hall of Fame a number of years ago when we drove to Chicago. Sad to admit that I don’t really remember it. All I remember is walking there with an impending thunderstorm and I was losing my shiz with fear of getting struck by lightning.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Woo have fun!
      When I was a young adult we used to drive around and blast “Pour Some Sugar on Me” while cruising. Heh heh, good times. In fact, that entire album is really good and I don’t typically care for heavy metal; I prefer prog rock.

  22. Loopy*

    I’m staying with friend and her husband today and tomorrow and although I only arrived last night, they have gone above and beyond hosting already. It’s rare I stay with anyone so I’m at a loss as to the best way to thank them.

    Should I try and treat them to a meal this weekend? Get a gift and send it after? Send a gift card with a thank you card?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Treat them to a meal or drinks if you can. If you feel like you still need to do more, send flowers when you get home. Maybe it’s just me, but I would love an unexpected floral surprise. Just don’t get anything too smelly. :)

      1. Loopy*

        I’ve tried and that’s failed. I didn’t want to get pushy when they insisted on paying (for me as well!). They are so gracious! I did manage to get the ferry tickets because they were cash only and I had cash.

    2. CatCat*

      My spouse and I love when we can occasionally host a friend as a guest in our home. We enjoy being thoughtful and generous hosts and do not expect our guests to give us anything in return. If they’re similar, your company is what they’re enjoying!

      I think treating them to a meal or a round of drinks is a great idea if they’ll accept it. I am sure a thoughtful thank you note would be much appreciated.

      1. Loopy*

        Is it normal torrent guests to every meal and snack out? I’ve never had this experience outside family!

    3. Thursday Next*

      A meal would be nice, unless they’ve already planned all your meals together.

      A thoughtful thank you note is always a great idea! Perhaps a parting gift of wine, if they drink it, in lieu of treating them to a meal?

      1. Loopy*

        They seem very intent that they are covering all meals. I’m a plane ride away so I can’t invite them out at a later time either!

    4. Zona the Great*

      My bff recently stayed and was a wonderful guest. Aside from that, she send a sweet little card inside a small gift box filled with very thoughtful little tokens that were inspired by things she saw around the house. I thought that was so cute. A small book of incense mathches, a patch from a local brewery near her, and a Daoist prayer token. It probably cost her less than $15 but it was excellent and so spot on.

    5. Kuododi*

      I try to bring host gifts that are reflective of where I live. For example, in my immediate area there are three places that specialize in local artist stoneware. When I stayed with my friend, and her family while I traveled in South America I brought individual hand painted stoneware coffee mugs from one of those stores. It seemed to be a real hit.

      1. A bit of a saga*

        We have visitors fairly frequently and they typically stay 3-4 days which also means that the expense adds up because most visitors want to go out and do stuff/eat out/have drinks etc. which invariably means money spent! Don’t get me wrong, we’re happy they want to come and are of course covering groceries, ok with spending money on entrance fees etc. but the expense can add up so we don’t refuse an offer to pick up the bill for a meal/buy some groceries. Of course that’d be very different if you only have very occasional visitors.

  23. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    The usual thread from me (a bit earlier than usual since I’m A) not racing this morning and B) had our Saturday long run shifted)!

    This week’s prompt – one of my best friends just decided he wanted to run a half marathon sometime this fall. I know him well enough to know that…uh…he tends to just make huge plans and then magically expect things to fall into place. (In contrast to me, who works really hard at certain goals and COMPLETELY FORGETS ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE in the process.) He’s also more of a beginning runner. Anything I can do to help keep him on track?

    Any running plans you’d suggest? I don’t LOVE structure myself, but I do want to suggest it.

    (Also, A bit of a saga, you racing today or tomorrow? As usual, keep me posted!)

    1. Red Reader*

      First off — does he actually want help? Not gonna lie — as someone who randomly decided I was going to do a half, did pretty much zero preparation and went into it cold, and accomplished it within the goal I established for myself, if one of my more experienced runner friends had started telling me what I needed to do in preparation or set up a training plan for me, I’d have been really annoyed. (I specifically didn’t ask them for help because I knew that I wouldn’t be likely to follow through on taking their advice anyway, hah.)

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        …good point! But I was thinking of…like, if he had asked me for suggestions. Which he might!

        I’m TRYING to be as hands-off about this as possible because you are right that he could end up resenting me for butting in (I’m the same way, in fact). But on the other hand…like I said, I’ve seen this before from him and it hasn’t ended all that well. Granted, that’s my baggage, but it’s valid baggage.

        1. Red Reader*

          Rock on :) Not meaning to cast aspersions on your intentions — I both get annoyed about people trying to help me unasked, and am also a helper. Lots of mental effort spent on not helping people what don’t want it, and also on helping people who said they did want it and didn’t actually, so I feel you on that baggage.

          Actual advice: My grand plan that I had intended to follow (and totally muffed) was, if you go to the Run Disney website (the half I did was the Disney Princess half back in February), they have training plans for half-marathon preparation on there, versions for both complete newbies and semi-experienced runners.

          1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

            I mean…the road to hell IS paved with good intentions. I’ll admit, I (not so) secretly do want to just send him a full plan and just have him stick to it! But I’m pretty sure I know how that would end.

            Actually, I don’t think he’s picked out a race yet – I was going to suggest he do one of the two I was thinking of in September. (I’m still undecided because of Bronx – I want to do Newport again, but that’s only two weeks before.)

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

      No advice (sorry) but I can commiserate. Almost every time I sign up for a half marathon, one of my relatives, a very casual runner who runs three miles maybe once a week, also signs up and says he “swears he’s going to do it this time.” Then life gets in the way and he never does the training or runs the race. He has so many (very expensive) shirts from races he’s never run–it makes zero sense! But to his credit, he’s actually run the last two 10Ks he’s signed up for with me, and despite not training he’s finished without any problem, so maybe there is hope yet?

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        I mean…I’m perpetually broke, but races are EXPENSIVE. Honestly, a huge reason I’ve finished some races is because I shelled out $$ for it and I’m not quitting. After the third one I pulled out of, I’d make sure to never pull out of a race AGAIN.

        With my friend, I think if he does a road one, he’ll be mostly fine. We did a trail one a few years back (I stayed with him, so I don’t count it as one I’ve raced)…it did not go well.

    3. A bit of a saga*

      Hey Llama Grooming Cooordinator, thanks for thinking of me! It’s tomorrow and it’s going to be very hot – around 82 degrees Fahrenheit which is a lot for this part of the world! They’ve already announced extra water stops etc so hopefully it’ll be ok but definitely aware that I need to pace myself. Re: friend with grand plans – I also have that tendency which is why I’m so pleased & proud I actually finished my first half marathon and am on track for the second. I did use a running plan – one of those ‘get ready in 14 weeks’ jobs that came recommended by my brother BUT what really kept me on track was that I sent my brother my run stats every time I had been out. I still do that btw. It’s a big motivation for me because I want to show him I can do this! He’s a more seasoned runner than me but no superman, but he gives me encouragement and pushes me when I make excuses. So if your friend is interested in your help then that could be smth really useful to suggest – that they check in with you. This thread is the same – I look forward to hearing how you’ve all done and I don’t want to tell you tomorrow I didn’t finish.

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        Good luck, and stay safe! It was 82 and humid this morning where I’m at. It was NOT a good time, and I usually love hot weather! (Probably because it went from 50 to 90 in a week. It sounds like you’ll be good, though, and the race organizers have a plan to keep people from getting sick.

        That’s a really good suggestion – in fact, it’s part of the reason I do this thread in the first place! (And it’s also why I got hooked on Strava, for all of its faults.) I might suggest that to him if he’s interested.

        1. A bit of a saga*

          So, I finished (lots of people didn’t!) and I’m really happy with how it went. It was no plain sailing – hot and humid, lots of ups and downs and some cobblestones and tram tracks thrown in for good measure to trip you up BUT I paced myself well, took plenty of fluids throughout and finished standing! I would have liked to be on the other side of 2:30 – I missed that goal by some 90 seconds – but there’s always next time (my next race is another fast one like Berlin and it’s in the autumn so it should be less hot!)

          1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

            I mean…you finished in pretty warm weather for that distance! Being not too far off from your goal time in nearly dangerous weather is very good, I’d say. (I mean, on my end, we did an 8-miler, and I pulled up about a quarter mile from the end because I was not feeling great.) I’m sure you’ll be a lot faster in better weather and on a less difficult course.

            (Like…to use myself as an example, I think last week, I tactically ran a much worse race than I did in March, and still ran a PR by a minute because the course was much friendlier and I wasn’t running into freezing headwinds for half the race.)

            More important, I’m glad you played it safe and finished! I think that’s the most important thing in the end.

    4. Grumpy*

      Wish I was racing in Chicago today, that ten-mile is a definite bucket list race for me. Plan to do a 10k tomorrow to get an idea of where my current fitness level is, followed by eating my feelings and drinking beer because I have to bust my tail hard to be even a slow runner. Sob…
      I loved the 2016 Seawheeze training plan (available free online if you search a bit, that was the year they pretended everyone was a secret agent… whatever, it’s still good stuff) with a weight training plan and yoga video. I pr’d and stayed injury free.
      Project 1:59 seems good too, and there’s always Hanson’s.
      Good luck, have fun!

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        Awesome – I’ll probably Google Seawheeze when I get home (I’m at the place we don’t talk about on weekends). I can’t believe I forgot about Project 1:59, though!

        And good luck on your race! I’m running a 10k Monday (and maybe a 5k – need to check with the above friend, I’m only doing the 5 if he’s doing it). Hopefully you’ll be able to do the 10 miler next year.

    5. Double A*

      I’d suggest signing up for a 10k maybe 6-8 weeks before the half. But if going that if I pay money for something, I’m motivated to do it, so YMMV on that. But maybe you could aim to do it together, if either of you finds accountability to another person motivating. Also how you do at a 10k at that point is a decent indication of how your training is going.

      I’ve also found that if you can run 10 miles, then you can run 13, so that’s the minimum training goal I’d shoot for.

      But I’m someone who

      1. Double A*

        Ugh posting from my glitchy phone, excuse the weirdness of some of my sentences. Don’t know where that last dangler came from.

      2. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        (S0, I completely feel your pain on using AAM on the phone. I actually waited until I got back home to start replying more because I don’t usually read AAM on my work PC – for obvious reasons, if you see some of my other posts – and typing longer comments on my phone and submitting them often ends in tears.)

        I know him well enough that he’ll actually sign up for the race and most likely do the race – it’s just that he won’t train at all (or be really undertrained) and just hate the entire thing. But…you know, part of it is my expectations. I just want him to have fun on race day if he goes through with it, but if the Internet is to be believed, the majority of people do not enjoy running for miles on end just for the hell of it. Which is a huge part of training for races.

        (And I have gone through a VOYAGE in this comment thread. But all of it is true! Like, I really do think it’d be cool to write out a plan, have some runs planned, go through this with him, and make this happen! But also I want him to get his act together already, and this just seems like one small area where I can actually force him to have his act together. But ALSO, I realize that forced interventions are usually resented. However, I’m also a running geek (and a geek that runs), and I can’t help but be a bit excited.)

    6. Red*

      I have a 5k om Wednesday evening. It will be 88 degrees outside. I am unprepared for the heat and may have to just walk lol. Yikes.

      1. Red*

        Just fyi, 88 degrees is about as hot as it ever gets in my neck of the woods. This is one hell of a heat wave for late May.

        1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

          …no shame in walking! Honestly, I’m glad that tomorrow in my area is supposed to be not too bad (mid 70’s as a high), but I know that my next planned race is probably going to be REALLY hot. (It’s the same weekend as NYC Pride – at the end of June – and in the late afternoon. It’s a race that I love, but it’s also SUPER hot.) Good luck, have fun, and keep cool!

            1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

              …damn, y’all have Pride early. Glad to see that Pride isn’t just hot as hell in New York City, though! You planning on wearing any Pride stuff, or just usual running gear?

    7. Morwen the Grad Student*

      I swear by Hal Higdon’s plans! I also swear by using them as a baseline and changing them up to fit however your life is already going :)

  24. writing classes*

    Have you ever taken a writing class? I’m intrigued by it, would love to have more feedback than just from my friends, who are biased I imagined. But many of the descriptions say that you will get a prompt and then write on said topic but this particularly is a bit terrifying – it’s hard for me to get to that “place” where I can write something when I feel under pressure or a bit anxious as I feel I might be in a class situation (and I assume we’ll then share what we wrote in class, yikes). Any words of wisdom?

    1. Teach*

      Yes! With instructors from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop no less, as an outreach to common folk.
      We did lots of free response to prompts, but with those as a starting point. If your writing went somewhere else, no biggie. Then we mined that free response for nuggets of ideas to develop.
      The sharing out had a lot of structure and norms, so you could get feedback, or not, or share on paper instead of out loud, or whatever.

      1. NOT Jenny*

        Read Writing Down the Bones. She offers tips on getting the writing out even the bad stuff.

    1. nep*

      No fight here. When I still ate animal products–margarine always tasted like chemicals and the texture was yuck. No comparison.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I agree, no fight there. Butter! My parents bought margarine for many years, because of the supposed health benefits. I honestly don’t remember the taste.

      1. Becky*

        I grew up with margarine because it is cheaper than butter, but I vastly prefer butter too!

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            My aunt tried to set me up with it, as Hubs and I love flavored olive oils (but like…rosemary thyme and that sort of thing). Apparently you get the flavor of butter but the health benefits of olive oil.

            I couldn’t bring myself to buy a $30 bottle of it to try it though.

          2. nep*

            Second–WHY? Cannot fathom why.
            It’s like…I don’t know…sardine-flavoured chocolate cake.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              She suggested popcorn and fried eggs! Also, steak, which hurt my soul a little, since we only grill steaks.

        1. Sylvan*

          Also, vegan fake butter is fine.

          Olive oil > butter > Earth Balance >>>>>>>> margarine.

    3. Parenthetically*

      AS IF that’s controversial!!

      (When I was a kid, we were poor, and margarine was about a tenth the price of butter, so we ate margarine. My tastebuds were so accustomed to it that I hated butter whenever we had it. I eventually came around.)

    4. The RO-Cat*

      Well, at one time in my (communist-era) college years I got from home one pack of communist “butter” and one pack of deliciously creamy, spreadable, counter-revolutionary decadent-western Rama margarine. I placed them on my windowsill (no fridge allowed in the dorm room) and, a week later, I go to my stash to find that birds chipped about 1/4 of the margarine but barely touched the “butter”. Although that speaks about the quality of the communist “butter” and not about margarine being the rancid ghost of a former hell-spawn butter, I found it… interesting at the time.

    5. KatieKate*

      Growing up kosher with a mother who’s allergic to dairy, I didn’t eat butter until I moved away for college. Game. Changer.

    6. Middle School Teacher*

      Taste wise and cooking, absolutely. Butter is the bomb.

      But on popcorn? I’d go broke if I put real butter in popcorn. Margarine is better for that (but it has to be the right one. I picked up some low-fat, some kinda diet store brand margarine once, and it melted so weirdly. It spattered everywhere and was just messy).

      1. LCL*

        Yes! It allows you to fry in butter without scorching. Try a cheap cut of steak in a cast iron pan, with a few peppers, and a splash of fish sauce or mushroom powder, fried in ghee. Deglaze with sherry or vermouth.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Definitely prefer butter. Margarine is trans fat and horrible for you. Butter is still fat and caloric, but as it tastes better, I tend to use less of it.
      And Irish butter is YUM. Love my Kerrygold. I remember sharing it with someone at Exjob who hadn’t tried it and the look on her face when she tasted it, haha. She went from “Okay, hmm,” to wide-eyed “OMG.” I can’t wait to make it to Ireland someday, damn.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        oh my gosh i LOVE kerrygold. I can only get it in a brick though. Does it come in a spreadable container?

        I also loved the mysterious Country Crock spread..mmm

    8. Windchime*

      Yeah, sorry. I can’t fight you on this because I love, love, love butter and avoid margarine at all costs.

  25. Higher Ed Person*

    Can anyone tell me the name of the toxic parent book that everyone recommends here! I have a friend who needs to manage the relationship with her toxic mother, and I think a good book would help. I remember that someone recommends it on all the parent posts, but I can’t find it!

    1. Captain Raymond Holt*

      There’s a reddit called raised by a narrasist.

      I’m not sure if that would help your friend but it might be worth a look.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Narcissistic parents?

      I think you do not mean me, but my fav recommendation is books about motherless daughters. It’s not about orphans. Your friend or you can google “motherless daughters” and find a number of books on the subject. Just pick the one that resonates the most given your friend’s setting.

    3. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      “Walking on Eggshells.” Saved my life I’m so many ways last year….

    4. KayEss*

      Captain Awkward always recommends “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?” particularly for toxic mothers. Can’t vouch for it personally though, since my mother isn’t toxic that way so I haven’t read it.

    5. WentNCWithFewRegrets*

      Late to the party, but is it Toxic Parents by Susan Forward? She also wrote Mothers Who Can’t Love which digs into case studies as well as overall advice/patterns (still can’t quite bring myself to finish it). They’re both good but hard reads. I started with TP and I remember it being fairly direct about ways to set and maintain boundaries while also being realistic about what successfully managing a relationship looks and feels like. I wish your friend luck!

  26. nep*

    What’s your experience been with waiting too long to buy new athletic shoes? Recently my feet hurt a bit in the mornings (especially after certain kinds of exercise the previous day) and I think it’s time to suck it up and buy new shoes. Better to spend on shoes now than on foot/ankle/other injuries later.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      My husband used to play tennis (very) competitively, and once managed to run a hole in the sole of his shoes before replacement. *sigh*

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

      I change my running shoes at the first sign of them wearing out because I would rather pay a little more than get injured. I repurpose the old running shoes as regular “doing stuff” shoes, so it’s not as much of a waste as it sounds, and it gives me some peace of mind.

    3. TL -*

      One of my cross country teammates got stress fractures in her thighs from running in old shoes.

      Someone else I knew fractured their foot, same reason.

    4. Thursday Next*

      Heartily agree with your last sentence! I wear shoes out quickly and unevenly, and try to replace them before I reach the point where I’m doing my feet and ankles harm. (I go through 3-4 pairs a year.) The difference when I put on a new pair of running shoes is really striking.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I wear sneaks most of the time, so this is probably not that relevant. I find I have to replace them every 6-8 months. I tend to be overly aware though. Low quality or wore foot wear can lead to a bunch of structural problems, back, neck, hips etc. New sneaks are cheap compared to fixing that stuff.

    6. LilySparrow*

      When my shoes are shot, I get foot, knee & shin pain, and I just feel the ground hitting me harder.
      Sometimes it sneaks up with a gradual, growing reluctance to jog or work out at all.
      A fresh pair feels awesome!

  27. nep*

    Trader Joe’s curry cauliflower quinoa salad. Anyone else love it? I buy it once in a while–got some the other day. Oh so good.

    1. nep*

      (And one of these days I’m going to make my own version–even if I mess it up, with these ingredients I reckon it can’t turn out too bad.)

    2. Higher Ed Person*

      Haven’t had that one, but I LOVE mixing their Bruschetta sauce with the pre-cooked lentils. Combine in a big bowl, serve with crusty bread, and VOILA! A yummy and impressive meal.

  28. DanaScully*

    So today is the Champions League Final, Liverpool vs Real Madrid. Houses in every street around the city are flying LFC flags, and there is a real buzz of excitement in the air!

    Is anyone here planning to watch the game? I don’t really do football, but this is a huge event for the city of Liverpool, and every man and his dog will be filling the pubs to watch it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for The Mighty Reds! Hope all of you have a great weekend.

    1. Indie*

      I’m in Liverpool and my boyfriend and I are doing our best to dodge it. At least it’s barbecue weather. Plus it’s a reminder that I may have the only Scouse man who dislikes football. :)

      1. Kali*

        I did not know that was a thing. Does he at least know if he’s Liverpool or Everton, even if he has no interest in following either team?

      2. DanaScully*

        Hope you’re not in the city centre! From videos on twitter, it looks like the whole of town is at a standstill. It looks like a great atmosphere, but I don’t do crowds! I’m not really into football, but I make an exception for important games like tonight’s, which I’ll watch.

        I’m very surprised your other half isn’t into it, I don’t know even one local man who isn’t!

    2. Kate Daniels*

      I am!!! I sadly live in the United States, but I’m obsessed with football in Europe and wish I lived in the UK. I even get up early on the weekends to watch Premier League games during the season. I’ll be rooting for Liverpool!

      1. CTT*

        Hellooo fellow American! I’m an Arsenal fan but I think I’m rooting for Liverpool? I really love Salah.

    3. CTT*

      I’m a little late to it and just started (thank you, ancient Tivo for recording it!) I’m a huge soccer fan, although I have no rooting interest in this game; I’m mostly watching because this is the only soccer until the World Cup starts in 3 weeks.

      Also, I love that the teams came out to DUELING CELLISTS. Soccer is amazing, your fave sport could never, etc.

    4. Candy*

      My husband is Egyptian and he is completely gutted over Salah right now. I’m at work today and I’ve been getting lots of depressing texts. Hopefully it’s not as serious as it sounds and he can still play WC

  29. Environmental Compliance*

    I did the first very scary step of getting help for anxiety & impulse control issues – I have finally set up an appointment with a therapist. Because my brain must hate me, I am now incredibly anxious about meeting the therapist.

    But it’s also beautiful out and we have plans to go to a petting zoo this weekend.

    I also just got a text from Hub’s aunt that they are apparently here for the Indy 500 and want to come visit, so I probably should maybe vacuum, finish the dishes, sweep a little, and maybe put real clothes on. Hopefully they realize that while that’s the same state as us, we are still a couple hours away from Indy. It would be nice to have visitors, though!

    1. Reba*

      Way to go!

      You can tell the therapist that you’re anxious about the appointment. They will know what to do. I really hope they are a good fit for you! Remember though that if they aren’t, it’s ok, and there’s more therapists to try.

    2. Red Reader*

      oh, man. I’m on the north side of Indy and forgot that this is a good weekend to not try to leave the house :P

      1. sharon*

        Heck you’d think Kokomo was far enough away to avoid traffic ( it is). Lol. I’m in Texass now. Miss opening day of qualifications.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      When you can, try to put this under the heading of a life skill. It’s how we respond to problems/crisis that can make or break the quality of our lives… for the rest of our lives. This is a life-long skill we use over and over.

      For the immediate purposes, you can give yourself a good pat on the back. It takes courage to face the monsters under our beds or in our clothes closets. (Many of us were THAT kid who was sure something was under the bed or in the closet.) Also when we let people in to help us with our concerns, we unwittingly have solved half the problem. Walking alone is so hard for so many reasons.

      One little exercise that has worked for me quite a few times, is that I picture myself 20 years out from this Current Concern. I can see me being happy, finding things in life I enjoy and so on. Then Future Me realizes that the past 20 years have been better because of the steps Former Me took to help myself. While those steps were so fn hard, that was “only a moment” compared to the rest of the story. Tell yourself you are making an investment in your Future Self and this is your new life habit.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Thank you. I was struggling a lot with starting the process. I tried a therapist before in college with the campus person, but it really went nowhere and I got nothing from it. It soured me on trying again for a long time. But as much as I’m scared of the whole thing, I don’t feel I can go forwards and move on without it, but a part of me is still sitting there whispering that it’s okay to be stagnant. But at the same time I don’t want to be stagnant any more.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Just my opinion of course, but if you have a part of you who does not want to be stagnant anymore that is enough to move forward with.
          You know. It takes strength to cry. In order to start crying we have to believe we will stop at some point. If we do not believe we will stop sometime, then we are very likely NOT to start crying. Who wants to cry perpetually? no one. In a similar vein, you have something in you now where you are thinking about moving forward. This is strength, this is what strength looks like. Strength helps us to see that there is a tomorrow and there is a long shot that tomorrow CAN be better. (Actually it’s better than a long shot, but we begin with baby steps. The baby steps protect us.)

    4. Kuododi*

      Yes, college/University counseling services are a bit of a c#&+ shoot! I interviewed for a couple myself back when DH and I lived in the Indy area. (We were in Franklin, IN until about 7-8 yrs ago when he got the job offer of a lifetime and we packed up and moved to our current location.). I found them to be one extreme or another. Either they were very helpful, or quite useless! I believe I might have a few connections in the mental health community up there in your area. Feel free to contact Alison and have her pass on my contact email if I can be of any assistance. Blessings to you in your journey. Remember, everyone has little “Gremlins” in their head telling them all kinds of negative things about their lives….(Be afraid!!! Don’t trust anyone!!! People are out to get you!!! etc.. ) Noone ever said we have to listen to those little Gremlins and give them the power in our lives. I will hold you in my heart.

    5. Environmental Compliance*

      Ya’ll making me cry over here. Thanks everyone!

      I’m not telling family about any of this, since there’s this huge stigma with all of them. I had at one point asked my parents point blank why they hadn’t gotten any help for me when I was young with all I had to deal with from my birth mother & her addictions/abuse/issues, and it was laughed at of “why would you need a therapist, you’re fine, just don’t think about it, normal people don’t see therapists” which is a giant load of horse sh*t, but also didn’t help me continuing to seek help at all.

  30. Annie Moose*

    My mom wants me to bring my (newish) cat for Memorial Day weekend, and I can’t decide if I should or not. She really wants to meet him but I’m not sure she’s being realistic about having a cat in her never-had-indoor-pets house, even if it’s just a couple of days!

    For what it’s worth, I think Guinness would be fine with it—he’s five, very friendly, and pretty exploratory—but I’m just imagining litter all over her wood floor, scratches on her couch, someone accidentally letting Guinness outside…

    Siiiigh. I gotta decide before tonight.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I probably wouldn’t bring him just yet. Although Guinness might be curious and friendly at home, he may be frightened at her house. And when you get him back home you might run into issues. Cats don’t like change.

      I’ve thought about it myself, as I have a cousin that loves my cats (I have 11) and is always asking if I can bring one or two when I visit. I do have a couple that are quite chill, but I’d still be nervous about it.

    2. Thursday Next*

      Hmmm…I’d leave Guinness at home. Cats are homebodies, very attached to their space. I think it could be difficult for him, and that’s setting aside the “environmental impact” on your mom’s petless home.

      I had three cats over 18 years, and none of them ever mustered up much enthusiasm for travel…

    3. Kathenus*

      I agree with The Other Dawn, seems like much more potential downside than upside. I’ve also known a number of people whose cats get carsick, so outside of being in a new unknown place there’s the actual travel portion to consider. Maybe try to plan a time for your mom to come visit Guinness at your place instead as the first step?

      1. Annie Moose*

        This would be ideal, but in four years of living on my own, my mom has visited me (instead of the other way around)… one time. I keep telling her, come down (it’s an hour) and I’ll take you out to dinner, but she never takes me up on it.

        But that’s a matter for a different post, haha. Maybe I’ll bribe her with Guinness…

        1. Belle di Vedremo*

          If she’s that close by then yes, she can come meet Guinness at your place instead of asking him to travel for her.

    4. Trixie*

      My cat does travel but destination also has litter box. If your mom kept one for future visits, I would try it. I’ve taken cat in a couple visits (family or friends who just lost cat) and he does fine in car. (PSA, I encourage all kitten owners to take them out early and often on carriers and cars. Vet visits are so much easier. )

  31. Aspiring*

    Does anyone have a side interest/passion that they aspire to be their full-time job? (Not sure if this is a work vs. follow-your-dream question) Or do you know anyone who’s done it? Or have YOU done it? I would love to hear about any stories or experiences you have had.


    -An IT manager always had a knack for drawing and has sold some of his cartoons to The New Yorker. After receiving interest from several publishers, he quits his job and becomes a full-time illustrator.

    -A marketing manager loves to write and manages to publish a few short stories in her free time. She receives a book deal and resigns from the corporate life to become a full-time writer.

    Anyone aspire to do the same thing?

    1. Fiennes*

      I have been lucky enough to do this, and have now been an FT novelist for almost a decade. My main advice:

      1) a job will always have down sides. Basically, if there’s no down side to doing a thing, it gets done for free. I prefer the downs of writing to those of any other job I’ve had, of course! But it’s important to recognize that it won’t always be play the way it is as a pastime. That way you don’t set yourself up for disenchantment.

      2) be financially conservative. A lot of people get that first check/sale/etc and immediately launch themselves into doing the thing full-time. But odds are you don’t fully know the industry yet, and you certainly don’t have enough data to accurately project your future income. I waited to go FT until I knew I had contracts/money that would support me for at least two years.

      3) please know it really can be awesome. Every time Alison posts about how making your passion your job can turn miserable, I want to pipe up, “or it could work!” Maybe that’s true for a minority of people…but I’m both happier and financially better off than I ever was working in regular day jobs. IMO it’s worth looking into deeply. Just exercise care with your money, and be honest with yourself about your strengths, limitations and tolerance for risk.

    2. Dan*

      Yes, although my situation is/was a bit different. I didn’t “career change” from a full time career job + money making side hobby to side hobby = full time job.

      Right after undergrad, I went to grad school to turn a fun hobby into a career.

    3. Anon for this one*

      I volunteered as a first aider while working in a lab. I now work in EMS and have a voluntary thing I do which sees me in and out of labs.

      Life is a strange beast!

    4. tangerineRose*

      I’d like to write and illustrate children’s books, but I don’t think I’d quit my day job to do that. I’d like to do both.

    5. KayEss*

      I studied illustration in school, and I’d rather be an IT manager.

      As I understand it, this is slightly less true with writing (which comes with long-term contracts and advances), but illustration you basically have to be constantly on the hunt for your next job, while simultaneously working on 2-3 current projects. It’s non-stop self-promotion, plus all the business details of being self-employed, plus the self-motivated discipline required when you can’t call it a day at 5:00 and leave work at work for the night. It’s a lot more than “I’m good at this and have received a modest amount of attention for it,” it’s about what kind of work life you’re suited to and the economic needs of yourself and your family.

      As an introvert who loves to draw, I realized halfway through my degree that I would never be able to live that way. Of my dozen or so classmates, I think only ONE of them is a professional illustrator now–and we all knew at the time that it was going to be him, because in school he was already out campaigning hard to do work for local publications. He wasn’t even the best artist among us, but he was the one who decided that was the life he was going to live and geared himself up accordingly. It still took him almost ten years after graduation to break into national-level publications and book covers.

  32. Writing Advice Needed to Help My Wife*

    Ok. New name because this is very personal, but I’ve been around this site awhile…

    So my wife loves to write stories about the video games she plays. Yeah, fanfiction, whatever. It’s pretty good, and it makes her happy. Anyway, lately, she hasn’t wanted to write anything. I can tell she’s upset about it but whenever I ask if I can help, she says no, she’s just having trouble with writer’s block. I want to help her get back into it because she’s happiest when she’s creative.

    Any ideas I can give to her to fight the “block?”
    I don’t write so I have no idea what to do.

    1. Indie*

      I teach Creative Writing and my students have to write to deadlines. But she’s not on one and is clearly choosing to tussle with it (which can be beneficial). I would let it go and distract her with fun. She’ll get her next idea while doing something random. If she ASKS I would either suggest writing something else for a while, or revisiting favourite writers (books feed the writer). But honestly my own cures involve struggling then getting inspiration over the dishes/on a walk or a really great datemovie or dinner conversation about something random.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. I’m not a writer, but I keep a personal blog and I go through phases where I just don’t feel like writing anything. Either I’m being lazy, or I have no ideas, or whatever. Then I’ll be driving to work or talking to someone and an idea just magically pops up. Then I go home and write a few blog posts and schedule them.

        I’d just let it go for now.

        1. TL -*

          That’s what I do with my blog – write when I feel like it but if I need to take some time off, I don’t sweat it.

    2. nep*

      Tough to convey…but for me, ‘fighting the block’ is almost giving more power (and ‘credit’?) to the block–a non-thing, really. In my experience writing/creativity tends to happen in waves and has a lot to do with how I’m feeling about many other things in my life. I’ve had days when I didn’t know how I’d ever strung a sentence together, then other days when I am just busting with clarity and content.
      If she comes up with ways you might be able to help things along, cool. Otherwise, I think you just have to let things go, see what comes in time.

    3. Laura H*

      I write fic. I find that research- indulging in your source material can very much help.

      I’m prolly gonna take my own advice tonight actually.

    4. Fiennes*

      My standard advice: writer’s block isn’t the disease. It’s a symptom. When you sense it, it’s time to diagnose.

      Anyone can have off days/weeks; that’s just life. Longer than that, though—is she stressed about other things in her life? Disquieted by turns in the source material and/or fandom? Burned out? (Or it could be what happened to me in one fandom, which I still loved but realized that, after literally half a million words of fanfic about it, I just had nothing more to say.)

      When she understands what’s blocking her, both of you will understand better how to get her past that block.

    5. Torrance*

      When I’ve wanted to write but the words just aren’t coming, I’ve always had a bit of luck with writing prompts and shorter word counts (100-500). It’s easy to get overwhelmed by stories that you want to tell. Sometimes it’s just nice to take the characters out for a spin– and it’s a good step in the right direction of getting back into their headspace. I don’t really post the short stuff anymore so there’s no performative aspect to get hung up on either.

      Writer’s block in fandom can be tricky because sometimes it’s about the words and sometimes, like Fiennes pointed out, it’s not about the words at all. :/

      I hope your wife can find the way back to the stories she wants to tell!

    6. anonagain*

      You asked her if you can help and she said no. She’s the best authority on what she wants and needs, so I would just let it go. I know it’s hard to see a loved one upset, but sometimes the most supportive thing we can do is nothing.

      Most of us want the people we love to be happy, but no one is at their happiest all the time. That’s okay.

    7. LilySparrow*

      These are all good suggestions.
      The most useful thing for me is to interrogate the block – to ask myself, out loud, what the holdup is. Research/feeding the imagination is a big one. Solving a specific problem is another. Sometimes I feel like there’s a scene I “should” write, or an action the character “should” take, but my subconscious just refuses. Ultimately, letting go of the “should” and writing what my subconscious wants, makes the better story.

      In terms of what you could do, I’d say your best bets would be 1) taking her to enjoy an artistic thing that she likes, like a museum, movie, convention, concert, etc. Or 2) offer to listen if there’s anything she wants to talk out. Just listen. Maybe reflect what she said back to her, but do *not* make suggestions unless she asks for them. Maybe not even then.

    8. you are beautiful*

      no really, it’s sweet that you want to help your wife. i think she’s lucky to have you, OP.

  33. I'm A Little Teapot*

    My parents are visiting this weekend! Dad hasn’t been here for a while, so it’ll be very nice to have him here. And it’s going to be 90ish F, which considering it was 50 last weekend…. we are going to melt.

    Switching my routine around so I can do outside stuff early, before it gets really hot.

  34. WellRed*

    Anyone watch Dr. Foster? Watched season 2 and I don’t know, so much rage, so little actual plot. Weird ending.

    1. StudentA*

      Yeah, Season 1 was better. The whole “chemistry” thing between Dr. Foster and her ex was forced. What I did like was that it could be a wake up call to bickering adults who don’t do enough listening with their kids.

  35. BRR*

    I’m looking for gift recommendations for my husband. His birthday is coming up and I’m lost this year. He’s basically a stereotypical nerd. Past hit gifts have included a fit bit, legos, and a giant fleece blanket. Any suggestions or recent gifts you’ve given that have been a success? Thanks!

    1. Kali*

      How does he communicate affection? Words, touch, gifts, quality time, or tasks? It might be nice to give him a gift that lets him do more of whichever one is most important to him, like a voucher to see a movie with you or a friend for quality time, or getting his car valeted if it’s tasks.

    2. CatCat*

      Does he like Star Trek? I got my spouse a starship Enterprise pizza cutter from Think Geek. It’s actually really nice! My spouse loves it.

    3. hermit crab*

      My parents have gotten my nerdy husband some really cool gifts from Uncommon Goods. They have a lot of things that are, like, fun versions of useful stuff (similar to the pizza cutter CatCat mentions below).

    4. Temperance*

      What’s your budget?

      I bought Booth a Yonanas banana soft serve maker, and that was well received. Another hit gift was the Randall Jr. from Dogfish Head, which is basically a thing that lets you infuse beer.

      If your husband is into streaming at all, a nice green screen and a frame could be a huge hit, too.

      1. BRR*

        Budget would be important wouldn’t it. $150 is probably the limit for something amazing but usually we go much less for gifts. The soft serve maker is a really good idea.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      My husband was a pretty geeky guy. He appreciated things that worked well. It did not have to be expensive but it had to work well. I got him one of those rectangular snow brooms for his van. That went over really great. He could clean his van off in a few minutes no matter how much snow was on it. You can look at things he has to do repeatedly and see if there is something that would make the job easier. The snowbroom was less than $20 so I paired it up with other things.

    6. Serious Sam*

      How about going on threadless,com, there are some very nerdy t-shirts there. E.G. Scooby Do “We’ve Got Some Work To Do Now”, or “Ministry of Silly Portal”.

    7. Mom5*

      Mine is too. He enjoyed the clicky keyboard – you hear it click and your fingers actually press the keys, so there’s no missed key. Also a new gaming chair. Gaming mouse is popular.
      Board games like stockpile, power grid & carcasson.
      High quality plastic beer glasses.

  36. nep*

    Anyone watching #ifidieinaschoolshooting on Twitter? Quite something. There are some powerful lines there. (And yes–to quote a recent headline–when #ifidieinaschoolshooting is trending, we’ve failed as a nation.)

    1. Kali*

      I googled it, and that’s horrific. :( I actually only learned on last week’s posts that these were still happening. I’m in the UK, and I assumed that they would be a really big deal in the news, so the fact that I wasn’t hearing about them must mean they weren’t occurring. Very shocked to learn that it’s actually because they’re so normal.

      1. nep*

        Yeah–we’ll be at a point where it’s pretty much daily (at schools, that is–already daily in other settings). The Onion has a piece it routinely runs (yes, it’s routine) with the headline ‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.

    2. Sylvan*

      We have really let kids down.

      I thought it was bad when I was in K-12, and surely some kind of change would come soon.

      …I graduated from high school in 09.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      As a Canadian my risk is much lower. But we have had (a few) school shootings here and we do discuss them in my class. I told my students I honestly don’t know what I would do. I can’t even fathom being in that situation enough to figure it out. The whole thing just breaks my heart.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is a problem that will take more than one action to solve.
      I grow concerned when people start suggesting one thing will fix all this. Uh, no it won’t. It does not matter what that one suggestion is, we have a deep and broad problem that will need to be approached from many different angles. What we are seeing is the collision of many, many bad ideas and practices.
      Just my opinion but we got on this road in the 1960s or even earlier, this is just more of it and much more often.

      I remember watching the bomb squad disarm a bomb in high school. Bomb scares were pretty regular. I remember trying to talk to my elders about it. I dunno, it was like they were deaf, they did not hear or comprehend the word “bomb”. They would usually change the subject. It was a problem for someone else- over there somewhere. Not their problem. I cannot think of a more incorrect answer than that.

      1. LCL*

        I agree. I’ve pretty much stayed out of these discussions, because it’s not a simple problem. I have my own ideas, starting with the excessive use of electronic media that allows one to disconnect completely from society, but I’m at a loss at what to do. Seeing as I have no children, and very little association with school age kids. I care about them, but don’t interact.

      2. Sylvan*

        While you’re completely right, I wouldn’t mind if we somehow collectively picked any one action to take. At least it would be a step forwards instead of more thoughts and prayers.

  37. TL -*

    I’m heading to China next week – a week in Chengdu and a week in Beijing.
    Any advice/things to see? My schedule is pretty flexible.
    Also, do most places take credit card (I’m assuming so) or should I get local currency?

    1. Reba*

      We went to Le Shan (the Giant Buddha) by bus from Chengdu, and it’s a life highlight for me. We also ate extremely memorable hotpot there. I hope you have a great time!

      I personally have not been to Beijing, but others have said that going to farther-away points on the Great Wall is well worth it for a less-crowded experience.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      In Beijing… go see all of the touristy spots. They’re so worth it. Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, etc. We got audio tours in the Forbidden City and it was great. We went to Ghost Street for one of the first really amazing Chinese meals we had. Also went to Quanjude, which is a duck restaurant and one of the oldest in the world. We also went to the Summer Palace, which I loved, but I honestly don’t remember how far it was from the city center. Take the subway, which is awesome and clean and very fast. I didn’t have a problem with taxis, though we did get cheated once (spent $7 instead of the usual $3). Take a card with the name of your hotel written on it so you can show the driver.

      This was all 10 years ago, so things have probably changed a bit. At that time we only used cash, so unfortunately I can’t answer the credit card question. You won’t go wrong getting some RMB, though, and try to get small bills. Most hotels will exchange them for you. We used ATMs all over China and that was fine, but I brought cash with me from the States and I found it very helpful.

      One more thing: I LOVED the food. If you’re willing to try new things, it’s an amazing experience. If you’re not, there is KFC all over Beijing. Starbucks too. When we arrived, late at night, we found a dinky little restaurant near the hotel where I had a bowl of noodles that I thought were so incredibly delicious.

      Oh, and one more thing: the pollution is no joke. Pack decongestants.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oh wait, I have more tips. ALWAYS carry tissues or toilet paper with you. A lot of places don’t have them. And don’t expect to flush. We encountered quite a few squat toilets, which are fine once you get used to them. Also, carry hand sanitizer. Most Chinese hotels– granted, 10 years ago– turn off the A/C during the day or when you’re not in the room, so if you do any hand-washing of clothes, just know that they might not dry right away.

      Chinese tap water is not immediately safe to drink, but it’s fine if you boil it. All of our hotel rooms had electric kettles, so every day I boiled a pot of water for brushing teeth and taking pills. I don’t remember any of us getting super sick on our trip, though I had one day of brief stomach discomfort that I attributed to stuffing my face with dumplings one afternoon.

      I found Chinese breakfast to be delicious. I ate a lot of congee, and for the first few days I ate it with pickles, then I switched to fruit because the pickles got too salty. Stick to canned fruit and fruits you can peel, like dragonfruit or watermelon. Chinese rice wine is more like brandy and SUPER fiery, not like sake. If someone puts a bottle of wine from a Chinese vineyard on your table, skip it. China does a lot of things very well, but it ain’t wine country. Chinese beer, on the other hand… A cold bottle of Qingdao (Tsingtao) is pretty yummy.

    4. VIT (Scotland)*

      It’s been a few years since I’ve visited but my father used to live in Beijing so I’ve taken quite few trips there over the years, and unless things have substantially changed, you definitely need cash. Especially if you want to eat amazing real local food at little hole in the wall restaurants – although that can be tough with a language barrier. But card machines (in my experience) are pretty uncommon off the beaten track.

      If you’re shopping, make sure to haggle (unless you’re in a legit department store) and accept that you’ll still end up ripped off but that’s okay :) And if you can make even the slightest bit of effort with the language they really like that.

      Definitely seconding the toilet paper/hand sanitiser recommendation. I’ve never considered boiling the tap water but I also have a pretty strong stomach so maybe others have had issues with it. If you’re working with a language barrier it’s worth having a few key things written down, in both characters and pinyin, and trying to get a general grasp of how to pronounce pinyin so you can read place names if you need to.

      For obvious touristy things – all the places on Tiananmen Square are pretty good (like forbidden city) and even the Beijing Planning Museum which is less boring than it sounds, or at least I think so – there’s a massive map of the city which is cool. If you’re into art, the 798 art district has some great stuff. In terms of shopping for scarves/gifts/etc it’s easiest if you can find a market near where you’re staying and make a few visits to get a sense of what’s there and who you want to buy from, because a lot of the merchandise will be the same. If you want higher quality stuff, I think Wangfujing Mall is supposed to be more legit and might even be completely non-haggling though my memory is hazy.

  38. The Other Dawn*

    No question, just a vent.

    For the longest time I’ve been looking at Meetup to see what’s around my area and anything I’d be remotely interested in tends to be several towns away, so I don’t bother. Also, I tend to get on a kick where I’m looking looking looking for something to join, and when I do find something, the desire to join fizzles. I’m a member of Nextdoor and recently I saw two posts that looked interesting. One was someone who wants to form a card game night and the other is someone who wants to put together a neighborhood group to do whatever (potluck, games, walking, etc.). I emailed the first person as directed…then nothing. OK fine, maybe she’s busy or something. Then I replied to the second person’s post, along with a couple dozen other women…and nothing. There are all sorts of great suggestions on this second post for things to do, and that person isn’t answering either. People are clearly interested. I don’t know if maybe they’re all messaging each other privately or what. It’s frustrating that I finally find something and make an effort (granted, a small one) to reach out and get no answer in return.

    1. Trixie*

      Can you take the lead and say “I’ll be going if anyone else is interested. Looks like a great outing!” Imagine others are frustrated as well that the original poster isn’t following up. Organizers should be pretty much committed to events they’ve posted.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I had a look at Meetups in my local area, and for some reason, all the groups which might be of interest to me haven’t had any activity for a year or two!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Am chuckling. We have a running “joke” of sorts around here. “If you suggest something, that makes you in charge of it!” I am wondering if these two people were shocked to find out they were suddenly in charge of their idea.
      I am amazed by the number of people who come up with ideas and expect other people to run the idea.

      The OP on each of those may have intended to have an open discussion on the forum where people would self-select various tasks to start the group. This seldom works out.

      Well at least so far that you have that people see the need to get together and do things. Hopefully that will morph into something in a bit.

    3. Not Alison*

      What about if you took the lead yourself – i.e. “I’m doing _________ on ___ day at ___ time and would love to have others join me”

      If everyone waits for someone else to always take the lead, then there never will be an event to attend.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. I think I’ll need to take the lead.

      The first person asked for people to directly email her and NOT post a reply on Nextdoor, so I’m not sure what’s up with that. Maybe she got a really overwhelming response, or is just busy.

  39. Kali*

    Some updates from last week when I posted about a frenemy that I had agreed to move in with in June but then decided I needed with withdraw from.

    I’ve found somewhere to live! It’s a family home, with a mother and her three children, two eight-year-olds and a two-year-old. I’m really glad to be out of student housing and not to be homeless in June. I know that living with young children will have its own challenges, but I sleep with earplugs and I currently live above a guy doing a music degree (who likes to practice at 2am) and next door to an ambulance station, so I can’t imagine it being more disturbing than that. Plus, my bodily clock is ticking pretty loudly, and I really want to spend more time with small children.

    I’ve told the other landlord and he’s looking for someone to take over my lease. He’s not willing to return my first months rent until/unless he does, which isn’t ideal because I am very poor. Frenemy hasn’t spoken to me much, and we haven’t seen each other in person. I’ve removed her from social media, and she did ask about one thing, but I don’t think she’s realised the full extent. The one thing was our Habitica party, which I said my other friend and I had agreed to disband while revising. That story doesn’t add up, but it doesn’t need to. I actually prefer it if it’s a bit obviously false because I don’t want to gaslight her. :(

    I’ve had two exams. The first one went great, and I predict a good mark. The second one was less great; I confused it with the one I have next week, and when I realised I only had three days to revise. Still, I’m pretty sure I’ve passed. I was able to review all the material beforehand – my weaknesses several times – and I had something to put down for every question and lots of information and examples for the essay. This also means I’m much better prepared for the exam next week, which will be my last one – then I’m going on holiday (pre-booked, so I might as well enjoy it, even if I have to tighten my belt elsewhere).

    1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Dude that’s awesome! Congrats on finding a new place…that doesn’t involve A! Fingers crossed on the exams – hoping that you do decently well enough on all of them! (And hoping that your old landlord finds someone to take over your part of the lease. Losing your deposit is…not great.)

  40. Nervous accountant*

    I’m super frustrated and stressed out. My leg swelling isn’t going down and at times got worse this week. My blood glucose #s are improving and my appetite has decreased so I’m eating less quantities along with healthier foods, but I’m not losing weight. I think I’m not losing weight b/c I’m more sedentary than I was before but honestly, even a walk to my office (10 minutes) is super painful. Even still, I’m about to just force myself to start exercising again (was holding off on it til the pain got better but now thinking I should just push past hte pain and force it).

    Someone mentioned 2-3 weeks ago that I have a renal evaluation & cardiac/EKGs done,. Those were done and the pcp said they were normal. He did say liver function was elevated so he referred me to a gastroenterologist/hepatologist which I am seeing in July (couldn’t get an earlier appt). Otherwise he said continue my regimen, and see a nutritionist for help with my diet (whcih I’m seeing in June).

    I’m just so frustrated and fed up with myself. My leg pain has limited my life for now, I’m still fat/bloated and I’m just frustrated. I have no one to blame but myself for not taking care of myself when I should have..I feel like I have a ticking time bomb inside of me despite the effort I’m putting in improving myself like I’m going to suddenly drop dead any day now. I don’t feel like “quitting” my “diet” and meds but I am desperate to begin exercise again and be pain/swelling-free.

    I feel like I’m doing everything I can. I am not sure what else to do.

    1. WellRed*

      Is swimming or water aerobics an option? Also, don’t know how long you’ve been trying to lose weight, but please be patient with yourself. You are doing the right things; weight loss usually takes longer than people expect.

      1. Nervous accountant*

        My local gym near my office doesn’t have any water sports so if I do that it’d be on weekends. Weekends are tough cz I have to stay home w my mom/run errands but let’s see.

    2. Sylvan*

      You are doing everything you can, and I’m glad to hear you’re seeing doctors about the pain. This happened slowly with an accumulation of habits (and possible medical cause that also had a gradual onset), so unfortunately, improvement will probably also be a slow result of changed, consistent habits. I hope that you start to feel better soon.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Funny thing is….for many years I wanted to end my life and just stopped caring about controlling the diabetes etc and let nature take its course. From age 11 until teens/20s I just had a very immature approach to it (i.e., “it’s not fair, why did I have to get this I was only a kid etc”). At some point I just didn’t want to live anymore. I never attempted it but more than a few times I contemplated injecting an entire bottle of insulin to end my life. Of course I didn’t, but things turned around and no longer had/have the desire to end my life. Irony is that now I want to live as long and well as possible, yet I feel like I’ve done too much damage and Im scared I may get my “wish” after all.

        1. Kuododi*

          I am going to avoid talking about medical issues. (a. Not a Doctor b. That’s way outside my comfort zone.).

          I have noticed in your recent postings, a real tendency to speak negatively about your physical appearance (ie ” I’m fat,” “I am swollen.”) Speaking as someone who grew up with all of those negative messages about my physical appearance being told to me.all my life I can attest to the power of words. I was convinced all of my life that I wad horribly obese. One day not long ago, I was looking at childhood pictures and was floored to realize that I was a healthy lovely young lady who happened to have a more “hourglass” figure than my parents thought was appropriate so I was put on every crazy diet imaginable throughout my life. It was then that I started concentrating on telling myself positive things regarding my body. Had to start small, appreciated the color of my green eyes things like that. As I moved along in my experiment, I was able to be kinder to my physical self and can now honestly say, I believe that I am an attractive woman regardless of numbers on a scale. Just a suggestion, I hope you find it helpful. Grace and peace to you.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            I get what you’re saying I was in the same boat. Convinced all childhood and teens that I was ugly and fat. My mom would constantly say you’re so fat no one will marry you. I come from a culture of arranged marriage, so this cut deep. Now I look back and think the same as you,that I was not as fat as I thought I was.

            But at the same time, I can’t deny that I DO have medical issues and being a healthy weight will help improve my health. Once I sarcastically said “All I need to have an easy life is lose weight, get a job and learn to drive.”….as much as I hated how simple and flippant it was, deeper issues, I have to admit that the last two have significantly improved the quality of my life. Just need to be kinder to myself along the way.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        I posted a response to it, I’m not sure if it didn’t get posted or went into moderation. But I hope it gets better. I know it’s not as bad as what others suffer, but at this age/point in my life, every little thing scares me.

        Irony is that for a long time I just didn’t care. I was diagnosed as a kid and until my teens/20s, I had a really immature approach to it (“it’s nto fair, why do I have it?!”) I didnt’ want to live a long life so I just didn’t care about taking my meds or anything. When it got really really rough I seriously contemplated just taking a whole bottle of insulin to end my life. Of course I never did, and the ironic thing is that now I WANT to live a long and good quality of life. I’m just scared that it’s too late and I’ve done the damage and I’ll get “my wish.”

    3. ..Kat..*

      Can you get a ‘second opinion’? I.e., go to another doctor to verify your diagnosis/treatment?

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I was considering that on the advice I received here. I spoke to a Dr friend and showed her the labs and she said everything is normal and what the Dr said is correct and based on my levels, I shouldn’t even need to see a specialist. I know a friend is not the same thing as an official second opionion but it was a relief to hear another opinion.

        In any case I’m going for a f/u w my endorinologist this week and will bring it up w her and see what/who she can recommend. I mean, in theory I have no issues believing that excessive weight can cause pain/swelling…it’s just personally hard to swallow b/c I know people heavier than myself who are able to function fine and they admit all their medical stats are perfectly fine.

        1. UtOh!*

          Hi NA,

          While it’s frustrating, you should not compare yourself to other people, everyone has a different genetic make-up and so may be able to handle more weight than others. My mother has been overweight for 50+ years (obese), and yet, she’s 83, lives alone, and is very mobile save for painful knees (from being overweight). I too am obese, and have aches and pains but nothing that limits me from doing anything I want. I am trying to get healthier but the stress from school and work don’t help. Just keep focusing on yourself and your goals, and you’ll start to see changes in the right direction.

          1. Nervous accountant*

            I know— that’s a mindset I’ve been trying to break out of. For the most part I feel it’s shifted but I still get spurts if thinking this. I know it’s not right to think this way.

        2. Natalie*

          I don’t say this to be flip because I know it’s not an easy mindset to shift, but it’s way, way more important to be healthy than it is to weigh some specific amount. Please try and keep you focus on more direct health markers like your blood sugar.

        3. Lindsay J*

          I know how you feel.

          My blood-pressure has recently become sky-high.

          And, like, I know I haven’t eaten the best diet and that I need to exercise more.

          But I know other people who are older than me and way heavier than me who don’t have this problem. And it just feels unfair.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I have seen some insulins really screw people up with weight gain and so on.
      Take the name of your insulin and google “name and side effects”. Or “name and bloating”.

      [Not a doc, I went through a couple of decades where I was surrounded by diabetics and I observed a few things.]

      1. Book Lover*

        Most people who are on insulin require it to live. If you need insulin and don’t take it, you spill sugar in your urine and can eat more and lose weight/not gain. With better control, if you aren’t careful with diet, you gain. It is slightly more complicated than that, but please don’t tell a diabetic on insulin that the insulin is the cause of her issues unless you are her endocrinologist.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          There are different insulins that is why I said to use the name of her insulin. And of course her mileage may vary. I would be very surprised if she decided my post said do not take insulin. I thought it was pretty clear that she could do a little research and advocate for herself with the doc to try a different insulin. I am sorry that was not clear.

        2. Nervous Accountant*

          NSNR has commented many times on my posts and always w/the best intentions so no I won’t be quitting my medicine lol :) And yes its true, my Dr confirmed that weight gain is possible. She put me on a second medication Trulicity, that helps with #s and also helps with weight loss. I’m feeling hte appetite decrease.

          A few years back I rarely took my insulin. But I lost a lot of weight.

          As an aside, my mom was a textbook case of… “insulin is making u fat, ur face fat ur stomach fat, stop taking it!” “erm, OK I can just go die then?”

    5. Windward*

      You have so much on your plate, I hope you have ways to be kind to yourself.

      For the swelling/edema, there are a couple things you could add to the mix if they’re appealing. One is finding a manual lymph drainage therapist. I see someone for that when things are not moving as well as they should. The outfit my practitioner trains with is the Chikly Institute. Their website has a “find a therapist” feature. Another is experimenting with reflexology. That seems to work really well for some & not as much for others but you can find info online & experiment at home. Not everyone is interested, but some just don’t know what else is out there.

      Hope you find answers that work for you.

    6. brushandfloss*

      Have you been checked for varicose veins? When I was much heavier I had swollen ankles (basically cankles), my sister being the same size didn’t. I went to a vascular surgeon when I finally had insurance and was diagnosed with internal varicose veins so I didn’t have telltale signs like bulging veins. I was prescribed compression hose which helped a lot.

    7. LilySparrow*

      I suspect that I’m in the early stages (or at risk for) chronic veinous insufficiency, though my doctor hasn’t found anything. My legs swell frequently,sometimes drastically. Sitting at my destination and standing are equally bad. My feet and legs “fall asleep” in a much shorter time than I think they should. I’ll even get my toes falling asleep if I stand around in the wrong shoes.

      I recently bought a bunch of graduated compression socks to help with tjis with, the leg swelling and spider veins. They look stupid (even the cute colors) but they feel Ah-May-Zing. I wish I’d bit the bullet and got them a couple of years ago. They really do help with the painful heavy feeling when walking.

      I also started adding beet powder to my smoothies. The taste takes a little getting used to, but it really does seem to help with my circulation.

      I hope you get some relief soon! Keep trying, it’s got to help. It just takes longer than we want it to. Always.

  41. DietCokeHead*

    I’ve been getting over a cold and the last symptom to go is a cough. Last night, I woke up because I started coughing and just could not stop. Water did not help and I ended up throwing up slightly because I coughed so hard. It was very unpleasant and slightly alarming. I’ve never had anything like that happen before! Has anyone else?

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      As a kid I used to routinely get coughs so bad I would throw up. I even spent time in the hospital for it but they never figured it out. There are some cough syrups I like but it depends on other things. Helixia Prospan is a good one for me but it’s an expectorant, so if your lungs are clear it may not be the best choice for you.

      Coughs that linger are so annoying. Good luck!

    2. Be the Change*

      Yes, frequently, and it started as an adult. Very unpleasant indeed but nothing to be alarmed by.

    3. HannahS*

      Yeah, nearly time I get a upper respiratory tract infection. It’s awful. I just keep drinking water as much as I can, to stave off coughs in the first place. I’m ever so slightly asthmatic, so I assume my airways are just FREAKING OUT when that happens.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I use vitamin D. It’s a slam dunk every time. The cough is over. YMMV, of course.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Yup, has happened to me a few times. Let’s just say, don’t eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s NY Super Fudge Chunk ice cream (it’s a chocolate base), get into your car and then have a coughing fit while you’re driving. And that was the day I had no napkins in my glove compartment like I normally do…

    6. Kuododi*

      Oh my goodness yes…. I have always coughed like a 95 year old chain smoker!!! (even when I was a kid) DH and I both swear by Ricola cough drops. I personally prefer the cherry flavor as I find the original flavor to have a bit of a funky after taste. (However that’s my issue.). Hope that helps!!!!

    7. LilySparrow*

      I’ve always been prone to bronchitis/coughing, and yes those horrible fits are the worst.

      I have coughed until I threw up a little before. All those muscles are connected. If you’re doubled over with abdominal spasms, it’s only a matter of time before your stomach gets involved.

      If your cough is keeping you awake and OTC meds aren’t helping, go back to your doctor for something stronger. You need to sleep to get better.

      If your chest feels tight, burning, or heavy, if you burst a capillary in your face or see blood when you cough, or if you are winded from normal activity, get a dr apt ASAP. Hot rocks in your chest = you probably need antibiotics.

      If it’s not that severe, just crappy, some home remedies that help include a vaporizor or steam bowl; warm drinks; and a spoonful of honey taken as needed. If you can have alcohol, mixing a spoonful of whiskey with a spoon of honey is a pretty good short-term cough suppressant.

    8. sharon*

      I normally use peppermint candy for cough drops. Also wintergreen or peppermint lifesavers work for me. Most cough drops are too strong. 40 year smoker. Also I’ve been known to cough so hard I strain my lower back and pee on myself. Sucks big ones. Mucinex with cough supressant are 12 hour pills. Buy brand. Really do last for 12 hours and you can sleep and breath at the same time without resorting to sleeping in a recliner.

    9. LizB*

      That happened to me a couple of months ago! It happened right when I was headed out the door to work, and I was so alarmed by the thought of it happening again in my car or at the office that I called in sick for the day, even though I pretty much felt fine. Such an unpleasant experience.

    10. Lindsay J*

      Go back to your doctor and see if they have anything they can prescribe. The last couple times I have gotten a sinus infection/bronchitis my doctor has prescribed tessalon pearls. They’re a non-opiod cough suppressant, and they’ve helped me a lot.

      They also seem to only suppress the non-productive coughs, so if you need to cough something up you can but you don’t have to deal with constant coughing or coughing fits.

  42. annakarina1*

    In my writings about being single, I felt upset when my personal and professional life clashed through online dating, and felt awkward about it.

    I met a guy in my industry that I immediately liked a few years ago, and we had a nice conversation about our careers. I’d see him occasionally at industry events, and thought he was cute and smart and well-accomplished, but I would feel awkward about myself and not say anything more to him beyond “hi.”

    Early this year, I got back into online dating, and we got matched. I initially was excited, then realized this didn’t mean anything, and that I didn’t really want to date anyone in my industry, despite my crush. And I also felt embarrassed that he would see that as well. So I left it alone, and we ended up seeing each other at an industry event. We chatted a little, talking about work and how we know each other, and I felt both excited and nervous, and ended up bringing up a mutual guy friend and talking about our connection with him. In retrospect, it felt like a dumb move, and I should have asked more about him. The next day, I sent an email (we have our contact info from group emails) saying it was nice to see him again. I never got a response, and felt so dumb over it, like I messed up.

    Then I also got matched up online with our mutual friend, someone I’ve worked with in the past but don’t have feelings for, and felt embarrassed again. I left the site, and a few months later, that guy reached out to me on FB for industry-related stuff, which was nice. I saw him at an event last week, but didn’t feel at ease approaching him, and he didn’t talk to me either.

    I just really hated how online dating made things feel so awkward to me when talking to two guys in my field. This is all very one-sided of me, and I have no idea how they feel. I just couldn’t stand this crap myself.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I think online dating is incredibly awkward! I’m so glad I’ve been partnered for a long time. I don’t know how the younger crowd does this. But, RE: your crush: In dating I’ve sometimes found that being more direct can be helpful. I mean, maybe he’s not interested, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask! Test the waters with a ‘meet for coffee’ invitation. It’s pretty non-committal and if he does have genuine interest, he will say yes. I met my ‘hubs that way. I invited him to see my boat and go sailing. We’ve been together ever since (no more boat though).
      As to working in the same industry, I wouldn’t really worry about it. Not like you work TOGETHER. And you may not stay in the same industry forever.

      1. annakarina1*

        Thanks for the advice. I’m not going to contact him, and I have gone out with other guys since that time. I just felt regretful and embarrassed about it.

    2. Formeronlinedater*

      I met my husband on-line and did a fair amount of on-line dating before we met each other. I don’t think you need to feel embarrassed about people from your industry seeing your profile and getting matched with people you know from other contexts. A lot of people use on-line dating, so sometimes you’ll see people you know or who have the same mutual friends. If they’re seeing your profile, it’s because they are also looking and using the site, so no need for embarrassment. I would just act as if you hadn’t seen it and go about talking to that person the same way you normally would when you see them in person. I’ve been contacted by people I know from other contexts on on-line dating platforms and it was awkward because they had other ways they could contact me and show interest outside of on-line dating. Definitely don’t e-mail someone you know and might see in person through the on-line dating site. Just chat them up and show interest when you see them. Something I learned the hard way when dating is to mirror the behavior of the person you are interested in. So, if the guy had given you his card or sent you individual e-mails about work, it would have been fine to send him a e-mail, but you probably shouldn’t have looked up his email from a group e-mail. You not getting a response most likely means he is not interested, but you also didn’t send an e-mail that required a response. If you’re going to make the first move, make it more clear that you’re trying to have a more personal relationship, so the e-mail would read something like, “It was nice to see you again. I enjoyed our conversation about(random industry topic) and would love to pick your brain more. Drinks sometime?” Good luck. Dating is a numbers game and it can be hard not to take rejection personally.

      1. annakarina1*

        Hi, thanks for the good advice! I likely shouldn’t have been embarrassed about this stuff, and shouldn’t have been worried.

        Me and this guy had exchanged work emails before individually, so that was why I had felt fine contacting him. I assumed I would get a “thanks, nice to see you too” response, just friendly and lowkey. But without a response, I felt dumb and regretful, and I wish I hadn’t done it.

  43. ThatGirl*

    Last week, through happenstance, my mom and her husband had dinner with my inlaws.

    I’ve been married 10 years and known my MIL for almost 14. While she didn’t super love me at first, I’m part of the family now, right? And we have a pretty good relationship.

    So she told my mom she loved me because I love her son. According to my mom, anyway, who thought this was a huge compliment. But to me it struck me like, really? After all this time you haven’t found any other reason to love me?

    Not gonna cause drama or anything, just… thinking about that.

    1. TL -*

      I love my cousin in law because he loves my cousin.
      Not in a bad way; it’s just the things I admire about him he’s always shown through how he treats her. He’s steadfast, he’s never complained about her crazy and difficult family members, and he accepted all of her baggage as part of the relationship without a second thought or any score keeping – it was just, “I love you and this is part of your life so now it’s part of mine.”

      I don’t think we would be friends if we weren’t related, but since I’ve gotten to know him through my relationship with my cousin, I’ve really grown to like him.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I mean, she and I don’t have much in common, on the surface, but I consider her family and love her for that. And it could be that’s what she meant. Certainly my mom can get things lost in translation and I have my own issues with her ;)

        It was just something I was thinking about, yknow?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Can you try to balance this one out? For example, do you love her? If yes, then why?

      I ended up loving my MIL because she raised and sheltered my husband as a child. If we dig too deep here, we can say that is really not a compliment for my MIL.

      It is however common ground. We both shared the fact that we loved my husband. In your setting, she thought enough of you to look around for what the two of you have in common and she found it. When we find that common ground and we can use that as our foundation to build a stronger relationship as time goes on. Key point: time. Some relationships are more like crockpots than they are microwaves.

      Looking for common ground is a frequently used tool in conflict resolution. What we know here is that your MIL has enough respect for you to look for that common ground and have a peaceful relationship with random enjoyable moments. Check it out. She has basic respect for you, nothing to take for granted to be sure. But, additionally, you also have basic respect and a willingness to just keep working at the relationship. You two are working on the same plane.

      You’re right that this is not ideal, but that is not the same as saying “it is bad”. What you have is slightly less than ideal but very workable.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m not really upset about it, it just got me thinking. My mom is so weird sometimes too, who knows how MIL actually said it.

        I do love my MIL like family, because she’s thoughtful and generous and gets really passionate about things, and she did raise my wonderful husband after all. My inlaws have been my family and always been willing to help.

        I dunno, it’s not like I need her to be my bff, I’m not suuuuuper tight with my own mom, I just thought that was an interesting statement.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This sounds like it could be more about your own mom’s insecurities than it is about your MIL. Trusting what we see can be very freeing. If you see a loving MIL then that is who she is.

    3. Cristina in England*

      I totally get why you have had this reaction to what your MIL said. One thing to remember though is that you’re hearing it second hand, and your mother thought it was a nice thing. Unless she is completely lacking in social perception, try to believe her. Perhaps the way your MIL said it was very warm, regardless of the exact words she used?

      My kids are only little, but I have already said to myself a few times that I like people who like my kids. It isn’t a slight against anyone’s actual character or personality apart from their interactions with my kids, it means that someone being kind to my kids means so much to me, I will put much more focus on that than whatever normal adult to adult stuff we might have in common. It means that I really appreciate when people are nice to my kids and I think fondly of them because of it.

    4. Thlayli*

      I think that’s totally normal. Like if you and your DH break up and you don’t love him anymore, you wouldn’t expect her to still love you would you?

      1. Julia*

        Why not? Depending on the circumstances in the divorce, some people stay friendly with their ex-in-laws. I know I’d miss my in-laws.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        When my uncle (mom’s brother) left his wife, she remained a part of our family and we all happily attended her wedding last fall. My mom considers her a sister.

      3. ThatGirl*

        I wouldn’t necessarily expect an ongoing relationship with her, but I’d hope she had other reasons to like or be fond of me. My BIL is actually divorced and MIL kept in touch with his ex for awhile.

        I mean yes our relationship is because of my husband but that doesn’t mean we can only like each other because of him.

        Side note, I know it’s a very common abbreviation but I have never called him my “dear husband” :P

    5. Basia, also a Fed*

      My MIL says this to me, and I take it as a huge compliment. She is fiercely protective of my husband and didn’t care for his first wife (although my husband wasn’t aware of this until after he divorced her). She tells me how happy I make him and how good I am for him. I’m not sure I’m expressing this well, but I feel like she’s saying how much she appreciates how well I take of the person who is most precious to her (and I don’t mean through housework and cooking, but emotionally). It makes me feel great that she’s glad he ended up with me.

    6. Girl Friday*

      My inlaws and parent share an opinion of me as well, and I am glad they get along well with each other. Most peoples’opinions don’t really mean a lot really.

  44. Anon Pixie*

    Ahhhh! So I got into my new townhouse about two weeks early and was able to paint and it is SUCH a big difference! The wood flooring is going in TODAY while I am at work and I am SUPER excited about it! If anyone’s gotten curtains and curtain rods recently, where did you go for them? What about light fixtures?

    1. Short fuse*

      I’ve been happy with my curtains from Target. They also have a nice selection of rods.

    2. Book Lover*

      I have allergies, so I also went for the honeycomb blinds, though not from Costco but from a local company which was much cheaper. But target does have lots of great options. For lighting I used Home Depot.

      1. Windchime*

        I also did honeycomb blinds through a local dealer. Some windows also have curtains; they are from a variety of places like Ikea and Pottery Barn. The rods all came from Target.

  45. Overeducated*

    I know I’m really really late on this, but I finally saw Black Panther last night and it was awesome! (I watch very few movies in theaters due to the expense & logistics of babysitting.) There is a lot to like but I think my favorite unexpected aspect was how the major female characters were in substantive roles that mostly didnt have to be coded female. They were beautiful and well costumed without being sexualized as characters within the movie, which is not something many (if any) action movies pull off.

    If you saw it, what did you think? This can also be a general movie thread if you have recommendations or reviews to share.

    1. matcha123*

      I enjoyed Black Panther. First, I love action and superhero movies. I liked how the movie was able to effortlessly shake up expectations without being in your face about it. Genius girl? Super strong soldier women? just Wakanda being Wakanda. Basically, it was a “regular” movie that just happened to have a black majority cast. It didn’t feel forced, which made it easy to get into.

    2. Temperance*

      I liked it, but it wasn’t in my Top 10 MCU films. I think the reason why is that I am hardcore into comics, and I never liked Black Panther as a comic character. My favorite MCU film is Dr. Strange.

      1. Overeducated*

        That’s fair. I was approaching it as someone who is not a comic fan, just as a standalone movie. I actually would be less interested in one of the crossovers because I felt like the Black Panther himself was one of the least interesting elements of the movie.

        1. Temperance*

          I think that’s what made the movie so good! It was cool to see so many positive female characters, but yeah, I find the Black Panther himself to be incredibly boring.

    3. Turtlewings*

      Completely agreed, that was also one of my favorite things about it! You could approach Nakia and Shuri and everybody as the person they were and not solely how they related to T’Challa (or anyone else). Another standout to me was M’Baku — bit of a showstealer, that one!

      As a white person I appreciated that they threw in Agent Ross as a good-guy whitey. It was probably executive meddling, it shouldn’t have been necessary and the story would have been just as strong without him, but I think it will smooth some feathers that might otherwise have been ruffled. It was a nice gesture. (And the opportunity to refer to Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis as “the Tolkien white guys” was not to be missed!)

      They had the most-provoking story and definitely the best villain MCU’s had in a while. Excellent movie.

    4. Lirael*

      I really enjoyed it; basically my only complaint was that vibranium seemed to be able to do whatever happened to be most useful for the plot at that moment, rather than there being a coherent underlying theory of vibranium.

      1. Overeducated*

        Haha yeah, my husband and I agreed that not thinking about vibranium as anything other than a plot device was absolutely key. So it’s basically all powerful magic…the point isn’t how it works or how unrealistic it is, it’s the “what if” scenarios that plot device allows.

    5. CTT*

      I’ve stopped regularly keeping up with the Marvel movies, but I made an exception for this one, and I’m glad I did! I really enjoyed it, especially the female characters like you mentioned. I think I liked them a lot more than the actual title character (or, since we’re talking movies, the TITULAR ROLE as Ladybird would put it). I also loved that there was a good villain. First of all, because it was Michael B. Jordan and he is so handsome. But also that’s been such an issue with these movies and it’s nice to see them getting better at it.

      The villain thing is also why I really enjoyed the latest Spiderman, which is the only other Marvel movie I’ve seen in the past few years, and also ranks higher than Black Panther for me in my personal hierarchy of Marvel movies. Mostly because I love that the writers were like “We understand that you’ve seen Peter Parker get bitten by a spider and The Tragic Story Of Uncle Ben twice in the past 15 years” and just skipped all of that. But also the humor was really up my alley; I almost clapped when Hannibal Burress showed up

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Vulture was great. I squee’d so loudly when I found out Michael Keaton was playing him. I expected Spider-Man: Homecoming to be meh–I’ve never been much of a Spidey fan. But I absolutely loved it. I laughed so hard I actually cried, and it was just loads of fun.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I LOVE IT
      I wanted to see it again before Infinity War, but I didn’t get to. I grabbed it at Redbox this week and it was even better the second time around. The score is awesome.

      My favorite Avenger is Captain America, but I really really liked Black Panther and I cannot wait for more Shuri. And Okoye. And I hope we have more W’Kabi because I have a little crush on Daniel Kaluuya. :) And M’Baku!!!

      As for Killmonger, you know a villain is done well when his death makes you cry.

      1. Overeducated*

        Yes! I would actually consider watching it again and I don’t say that often. I just really enjoyed it on an aesthetic level, it was fun to watch and hear.

        Killmonger was maybe a little over the top as a villain but Michael B Jordan has so much charisma he made the character work.

    7. Nicole76*

      I haven’t seen Black Panther yet but this thread is making me think I should watch it this weekend.

      That being said, my favorite Marvel character is currently Deadpool. We saw the latest movie last weekend and loved it. I can’t wait to see it again.

    8. Emily*

      I’m kind of burnt out on Marvel/superhero movies right now, but I saw Black Panther and really liked it! Shuri was my fave (she was so funny and sharp and fun), but a lot of the characters – especially the women – were great. And Killmonger was wrong about a lot of things, but I could understand where he was coming from (also, he had charisma in spades).

      1. Becky*

        I have a thing for sibling relationships so the dynamic between Shuri and T’Challa was my favorite thing in Black Panther. The scene where Shuri makes the “sneakers” joke and T’Challa just gives her this “what is wrong with you” look STILL cracks me up.

  46. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’m turning 40 in a couple of days, so we’re getting the heck out of the country. I intend to milk it as much as I can: “Are you celebrating anything?” “YES, my 40th.” “Any reason for your trip?” “YES, my 40th.” And when people lie and tell me I don’t look a day over 25, I intend to thank them and agree.

  47. Nervous accountant*

    On a lighter note…for those who use the starbucks app… why the heck does the espresso frappuccino have 50 grams of carbs ???? Is the app accurate? I thought an espresso has very little calories/carbs? Basically I just want my coffee blended with the ice, not just over the ice…same texture as the frappuccinno but w/o all the calories/sugar/carbs. I tried to modify it with no sugar pumps etc but the nutritional info stayed the same.

    I went to starbucks, and tried to order a blended ice coffee but they refused and said they can only do frappuccino :-/. I try to look for hacks online to get “healthier” versions of the “fun” drinks but honestly, I get so intimidated at Starbucks with the long lines and crowds that I just stutter and stammer and walk away.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Frappuccinos by definition have a coffee or cream base that’s loaded with sugar, it’s not the same as a blended iced coffee. You probably can’t get a blended drink with no or low sugar, I would look at iced coffee/cold brew/iced latte. (I used to work at Starbucks.)

    2. FYI*

      They are full of sugar. That’s why they are fun. Try an iced coffee instead (not blended).

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      Hello, I work at Starbucks. I’m on my break right now! Frappucinos have a base emulsifier that has sugar and carbs, and are usually made with whole milk. However, blended iced coffee won’t have the same smooth texture since it has no emulsifier. You can ask for a blended iced coffee with one pump of frappucino base, which will have fewer calories, but not zero. They may charge you for a frappucino for that, depending on the store. Unfortunately there’s no way to get that smooth texture without the base.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        THANK YOU SO MUCH. I’m OK with paying for it. I can never get to a starbuck swhen it’s quiet and I can actually speak to a barista and ask them these questions.

    4. fposte*

      As people are noting, you’re not getting coffee and ice. You’re getting a milkshake and ice. The sugar and the carbs and the thickeners are why you’re getting that texture; the ice is a very small factor. Then add the fact that the blended frappuccinos are really big–so, again, 16 oz. of milkshake. You can’t really hack a blended frappuccino to be healthy, especially if you mean healthy for a diabetic.

      Instead of trying to make it just like that but somehow not carby, I’d look for drinks that scratch a similar itch without trying to be identical. You might try espresso in frothed cold milk (I don’t know if Starbucks does it, but it’s easy to do at home with either a purchased espresso or espresso powder and a little battery-operated frother–if you can find a good cold-brew, like Chameleon, that might be a good thing to use as a source at home), which might give you more of that silky texture that you don’t get with plain beans and water. Even the bottled coffee frappuccino is lower-impact than the blended one (and not just because it’s smaller); you could get one and go half-and-half with plain water espresso (that’d be too much caffeine for me; I’d probably go 2 parts bottled frap, 1 part espresso, one part ice or cold water).

      I am curious if you ever drink coffee without sugar, though (including flavor pumps, which are sugar); the sugar is usually a big part of what people like, so you may need to reset your tastebuds a little when you’re looking at something with less sugar.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        When I first started drinking coffee, I would have it black, maybe a little bit of Splenda. (In that year I also lost a lot of weight so I’m sure there’s a connection there). Eventually I started drinking it with milk & splenda/stevia, sometimes sugar free flavors.

        As a rare treat, I would get 1-2 flavor pumps.

        Lately, in an effort to go low carb, I was getting half and half with my coffee/espresso, so while half and half didn’t have sugar…it was still a lot of calories, so now I’m trying to reset and go back to having black coffee.

        1. fposte*

          Then I’d let go of the frappuccinos rather than trying to hack them. (I don’t know how it works for diabetes, but I know for general weight loss the move these days is away from artificial sweeteners, and of course “flavor pumps” are really “sugar pumps”.)

          Getting into some broader conversation–I’m interested that you went straight to half and half rather than whole milk or even 2 percent. Do you know why you made that choice? I’m wondering if maybe you’re wrestling with a perception of scarcity and want to find a way to make coffee some kind of abundance. If so, I’d either develop my coffee snobbery big time, so that I could detect and relish the difference between Starbucks and cold-brewed Illinois Mountain Blue Velociraptor or whatever and get that feeling of abundance from black coffee, or I’d look for it in another food where it’s less likely to mean sugar and a high dose of milk fat.

          I think sometimes also it can help to have a short period of serious restriction, like a week or so, to reset your “abundance” switch. If you’re having half and half every day, 2 percent will feel like orphanage food; if you had a veggies-and-olive-oil only week or something similar, at the end 2 percent will feel like royal luxury :-).

          1. Nervous accountant*

            I was researching keto/low carb diets and a very common modification that came up was that half and half has less carbohydrates than skim/whole milk.

            I’m sure I’ve overdone it, a splash or tbsp shouldn’t make much dent but I was doing 1/2 a cup etc. not great in hindsight.

            1. fposte*

              FWIW, half and half has @10 grams of carbs per cup; milk has 12. It’s not much of a difference. When you get down to a tablespoonful, it’s pretty much identical.

              I’m not a big fan of skim milk for a variety of reasons, and I think it’s acceptable to say “I’m not going to stint myself on everything.” If half and half makes it a treat for you in a way milk doesn’t, I can see sticking to half and half, and either going the whole caffe breve hog now and then or using a splash more often.

            2. AcademiaNut*

              Skim milk will have less carbs than cream because cream has more fat. So calorie wise, a half cup of cream has less carbs than a half cup of skim, but has way more calories (160 vs 40).

              I personally like iced coffee with a splash of half-and-half (about a tablespoon) and no sugar. I only like black iced coffee if the coffee is really good.

              As others have said, frappuchinos are basically a giant coffee spiked milkshake, so there’s only so much tweaking you can do to bring down the calorie count. You can use artificial sweeteners, but there’s no such thing as calorie free milk substitute. I regard them as desserts rather than beverages, in terms of how I indulge in them.

              1. Nervous Accountant*

                Really, that’s interesting. I’ve compared the nutritional info at grocery stores of the two (skim milk vs half and half) and it was always the half and half with significantly less carbs.

                1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

                  Yes, I think AcademiaNut made a typo. Cream has fewer carbs than skim milk, but more calories by volume.

    5. Girl Friday*

      I tried the one pump base fraps for awhile. Your best bet is to switch gradually to iced americano black and leave off everything else. I switched to green Teavano after that. Once I gave up alcohol I couldn’t quit tweaking things. I like going cold turkey now. The one pump bases are good but taste like a malt.
      Also putting 40% coffee, 20% skim milk and 10% water in a freezable cup and putting it in the freezer for 30-45m will give you ice crystals in your coffee. You have to have water in there to freeze quickly and give it that frozen texture. It’s delicious and healthy.

  48. CatCat*

    I’m super excited that Amazon announced it would pick up “The Expanse” after SyFy canceled it. I love that show!

    And I’m freaking out over the latest episode! Anyone else here watch it?

    1. Serious Pillowfight*

      I’m on the second season! I love it too. Steven Strait is eye candy to the max. But mostly I love the entire premise of the solar system being colonized a few hundred years from now.

    2. hermit crab*

      Oh, this might be the encouragement I need to start watching it again. I enjoyed the first couple episodes but was SO CRUSHED when (spoiler alert! albeit for something early in the show) Paulo Costanzo’s character got killed off. I had just finished watching through all of Royal Pains and I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep watching The Expanse if Evan R. Lawson wasn’t part of it. :) But maybe I should give it another chance.

    3. Renni*

      Oh hey, it’s confirmed saved now! There was always that last bit of doubt before the official announcement and not just the credible rumors.

      I started watching the show & then went back and have read most of the books. I really like how even though the plot is adapted differently for the medium, the spirit of the narrative gets preserved, so I’ve enjoyed both versions. I was a huge Battlestar Galactica and Stargate fan and The Expanse taps into that same theme for me, but even better because of the diversity in the characters. The women are all written fantastically, and I love book-Anna, so I’m excited to see more of show-Anna too.

  49. Question Phobia*

    I have a family member who always don’t ask questions if when situations warrant her to do so. Mostly the reason she put off asking questions is embarrassment in not knowing something. No matter if meeting new relatives, attending college classes, or going to work, she has an extremely go with the flow attitude. For instance, she had been working on this new role in her job for two years where she needs to approve employee reimbursement expenses. She doesn’t know if the date of the expenses should be the date of reimbursement request or the date of the receipts made in the employee purchases. She just goes with the dates that are supplied to her and approves, even when there might be some inconsistencies. She put off asking about this because she doesn’t want to deal with her coworkers. But the longer she puts it off the more embarrass she gets knowing that she actually doesn’t understand something for so long. And it might be a bigger concern if the matter is school or work related.

    Is there anything that can encourage her to be more assertive to immediately ask questions when she needed to?

    1. matcha123*

      I feel for your family member. She sounds a lot like me. I don’t know how she was raised or what her interactions with authority figures/others have been like, but I remember always being encouraged to ask questions, and then having the person I’m asking act like I’m wasting their time.
      The thing is that I don’t know what I don’t know. If I’m new/doing something for the first time, the people who know my job better than me (supervisors, coworkers I work closely with) should just tell me what I don’t know. They need to tell me what’s important and what’s not important. If the environment isn’t as open to questions as people say, that makes it even harder.

      If you listen to her and think she should have asked a question at a certain point, just say so and explain why. Help her think of various different scenarios and figure whether they seem like things she should ask about or things that she could probably Google and find out.

      I really feel for your family member because when I train new people, I write up a small manual, walk them through everything I can think of, check in with them often, point out who they should ask certain questions to, etc. I tell them on the first day I’m going to give them a lot of information, and they might be familiar with some of it already and then run through everything. It’s incredibly frustrating to start a new job, have people not tell you what they expect from you, tell you to ask questions, and then make it difficult for you to freely ask questions (either through body language or something).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      There are employers out there who will fire people because of their refusal to ask questions. That is how I got my current job. ;)
      The example you give, she might be able to solve if she thought it through or maybe not. I find it curious that you know about this problem, she must have told you. So she will tell someone she has a problem. I do know people who ask questions in statement form. “I have a problem at work. X happened.” Notice there is no question here, the shear fact that they are mentioning it indicates they are asking a question.

      You can tell her that asking questions is a good life skill to have. The doctor tells you that you have X and you don’t know what X is, you have to be able to ask. Your car breaks and the mechanic says you have choice a, b and c, you have to be able to ask questions to figure out which choice is right for you.
      Encourage her to watch other people asking questions and copy what they do. She should pick people she admires or she thinks are very professional. Watch how they handle themselves and she can create her own version of that. Additionally, you can let her watch YOU ask questions.

    3. Gatomon*

      Therapy would be my recommendation for her, honestly. There could be a number of reasons why this is hard for her. I’m guessing it’s not a big deal (or someone is lax with auditing) if this hasn’t caused her any problems at work so far.

      For me, I have a hard time asking questions/asking for help and I’m a hideous perfectionist. I don’t want to fail, but I also don’t want to let anyone know that I don’t know something. Sometimes it’s easier for me to ask when I feel like the risk of catastrophic failure is worse than the fear of asking, and other times I might just wing it and hope for the best.

      I was raised with a “seen and not heard” mentality, so I tend to be the person who hides in the back corner of the office working themselves to the bone desperately waiting for recognition and hoping it never comes. I was also memorably mocked multiple times by teachers and family members for asking questions that still stings decades later. A therapist has been the only thing that has helped me to so far. People telling me to be assertive has been entirely useless, and I would never dream of working on this with a family member, even if they hadn’t been one who treated me poorly.

  50. FYI*

    Are there any shows similar to Great British Baking Show on Netflix or Prime? I’ve run out of my stiff upper lips while baking. :(

    1. fposte*

      I can’t personally vouch, but a British friend loves Australian Masterchef–it’s around on YouTube.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      On Canadian Netflix, we have the Great Family Cooking Showdown (I think it’s called). It’s co-hosted by Nadiya, who won GBBO a couple of years ago. It’s super cute.

    3. Temperance*

      Have you watched “Nailed It”? It’s a baking show, although I don’t watch the Great British Baking Show, so I’m not sure how similar it is.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I love Nailed It, but it’s not even close to GBBO. People on Nailed It are terrible and know they’re terrible. GBBO is… not that.

        1. Becky*

          I tried Nailed It! and it didn’t mesh with me at all. I also tried Zumbo’s Just Desserts and didn’t like it either. Great Family Cooking Showdown was good.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Yes! I was just going to suggest this show. The only downside is there aren’t enough episodes.

        There’s another garden show that scratches a similar itch: “Love Your Garden” with Alan Titchmarsh.”

    4. Grits McGee*

      If you’re willing to branch out to YouTube there’s the Great British Trow Down, which is just like GBBS but for pottery.

    5. Becky*

      I was wanting a Great British Baking Show fix this week and so I started surfing YouTube to see if anything was there and discovered that there are some episodes from the Comic Relief/StandUp2Cancer/Other Charity celebrity great British bake off series there. The format is slightly different (the judges are a little nicer, rules a little more lenient, and they only award start baker–no kicking off each ep, nor season winner) but they are fun! I am not as familiar with most of the celebrities on it but I do know some of them.

    6. E*

      I just found Lords & Ladles on Prime this past weekend, it’s about a set of 3 chefs who put on recreated period dinners in Irish castles. Very fun to watch!

    7. pur8ple*

      Great British Menu!!! I think it’s on Netflix (although it might be Prime). Basic premise: three chefs compete to create an innovative menu, in an effort to make it through to the championships and have their dish be featured at a grand banquet for Olympic athletes. Each course is one epidsode- appetizer, fish course, entree and dessert. They get points from a judge and then the fifth episode is the two highest scorers remaking their entire menu for three big-time judges, who pick a winner to go on to the championships. Each set of three chefs is from a different region (like, the first three were from Scotland, the next three might all be from Wales or what have you). I’m loving it so far. It’s definitely more food porn than cheery hosts and camaraderie, but there are some good one-liners hidden in there too.

  51. matcha123*

    I broke up with my long-term boyfriend last year and have been trying to get out and meet new guys since then. I have been able to have pleasant conversations with all of the men I’ve met, and there are two that I would be happy to date seriously. But, I’m not really getting anywhere.
    I never dated in high school or college. I was raised in an all-female household where dating was forbidden. My male relatives are all dead and aside from male classmates or coworkers, I didn’t grow up with any close males. I really don’t know what I’m supposed to be looking for in a partner. What makes things harder is that everyone is different and has different things they list as musts. Some friends want a partner that texts them daily, even something simple like “good morning” or “Have a good day” is fine for them. Others want..whatever.

    I don’t know what I want. I don’t want to be abused, of course. And I want mutual respect. But, what else? It takes me a long time to feel comfortable with men, and I’ve been trying hard to show interest through touch (not a touchy person, but feel happy to hug, etc. a partner!), text, trying to look happy when I meet (I have a tendency to look annoyed when I’m concentrating), etc.

    What do you guys or did you guys look for in a partner? For example, if your potential partner didn’t text daily, would you leave them? If their house was messy, would say ‘bye’? I always hear, “You’ll know it when it happens,” but I really doubt it.

    1. Serious Pillowfight*

      When people say you’ll know, I think it just means to pay attention to how you feel when you interact with the person. Starting with a basis of kind and caring is a good place to start. You don’t have to have a list ready of everything you want. That’s what dating is for–to figure out what you do and don’t want. Pay attention to how you feel with the person when they do or don’t do something. Are they sending radio silence for a day or two at a time when you crave more communication? For me, I want daily communication. I was with a guy who thought it was perfectly cool to go days without even a text, and that was a NO from me. Are they still in touch with exes, and are you OK with that? Do you seem to have the same values, or are you butting heads about things like money and talking to members of the opposite sex, or what to do with your free time? Try to enjoy the process.

      1. matcha123*

        I guess I’ll have to sit back and see? I think I am pretty forgiving depending on the person and circumstances. I don’t want some low-effort daily text because he thinks he needs to text daily, for example.
        How do you bring up topics like money or exes? Are these things you talk about in the first or second date, or watching TV together? I’m trying not to read into every little thing, but I don’t want to come off as uninterested either.

        1. Serious Pillowfight*

          You can bring up topics important to you intentionally (a few dates in), or, better yet, wait until you can work them in to conversation. Or often they’ll come up organically. For example, if you’re really frugal and the idea of spending money on random things bothers you, and you see the guy spending all his money on Rolexes or trips to the casino, you can decide that maybe you’re not a good fit. If you’re the jealous type, and you find out he’s still BFFs with his latest ex, you might decide you don’t want to deal with that. Or maybe you go on a few dates and you find him to be really kind and considerate, and you have fun together, and don’t see any red flags…you’re good! Don’t worry too much about having a checklist or someone fitting into it. I don’t have a type, for example. All I wanted was someone who treated me well. He could be black, white, Asian, tall, short, hairy, whatever. He could be a plumber or a stockbroker. Didn’t matter. Issues came up that I didn’t foresee, like a lack of motivation that was a turnoff, or no sense of adventure, but often things can be worked on. Don’t run at the first sign of trouble, but pay attention to how you feel. Check in with yourself often. I recommend reading “The Five Love Languages” and “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

        2. LilySparrow*

          No, don’t bring up money on dates at all! It’s none of your business!

          Observe the way he lives as you get to know him. You can see a lot about people’s values from the way they handle money and lifestyle choices.And when you get to the point where how you manage money affects each other, then it’s your business to talk about.

          Same with exes. If you just met, his exes are NOYB. But if he is always telling stories about how all his exes are evil or crazy, or if they seem to be a big part of his present life is a way that seems wierd to you, or if they are causing present-day conflict – then obviously you’d consider that as to whether you want to get involved.

    2. ..Kat..*

      Have you considered doing more ‘friend’ type stuff? I get the being awkward and uncomfortable stuff. So I would suggest doing fun/friend stuff. Meet up app. Cooking classes. Volunteer stuff. Good luck!

      1. matcha123*

        Finding times that work for both of us is proving difficult. Some of the men I’ve met have been incredibly busy with work, and they legitimately use their weekends to sleep and recharge.
        I get the feeling that other people have a kind of ideal partner, not idealized, but more like, “A good partner does XYZ.” And they are confident and secure in their reasons. I didn’t grow up with that message and I am floundering. Or maybe I’m overestimating the confidence of my friends.

        1. Nicole76*

          I think those people came to those conclusions by dating around. It’s difficult to know exactly what you want, or don’t want, until you experience it. Since you said you haven’t dated much it’s perfectly understandable that you’re feeling uncertain about how to proceed. I think much of this stuff will come to you organically as you meet more people and spend time with them.

    3. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      It sounds like you’re doing everything right! Dating is just super awkward, and I think a lot of it is trial and error. Maybe you’ll date someone who texts you daily, and you’ll realize that you actually prefer less contact. Or maybe you’ll date someone who’s kind of messy, and you’ll realize you don’t mind. I don’t think you necessarily need to screen for those things up front. Maybe you could also think about what you find rewarding in your other relationships and look for that with people you date.

      I also didn’t really know what I wanted when I started dating my current bf, but we worked most of the logistical stuff out overtime. There was also some emotional stuff that I didn’t even realize I wanted until I had it, like dating someone who asks about my interests and likes spending time with my family.

      1. matcha123*

        Thanks! I am so behind my peers that it can be hard for me to put into words what I feel. They have 10-20 years of dating experience and multiple short- and long-term partners that they are able to filter through people faster. I thought I didn’t like getting hugs or other kinds of touch, but when I was with a man that was more touchy, but in a way I felt comfortable with, I realized that I really did like those things!
        I am doing exactly what you suggested by filtering guys based on the positive traits I found in previous relationships.
        My friends say the guy should be more aggressive in perusing me, and I definitely feel like if a guy is interested that he would do that. I also feel like I should also be able to reach out to the guy and set up times to date without it being a sign that I am desperate?

        1. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

          I feel that last point! I do think that when reaching out/getting together feels easy and fun with a particular person, that’s a good thing. Like, when they don’t make you feel like you have to play any games or take tips from Cosmo to get him to text you.

        2. Julia*

          I never dated anyone before I met my husband in grad school, so I get feeling behind and as if you’re lacking experience. I also wasn’t really sure what I wanted other than basic things like “has to respect me and all women”, “no jerks” and “no smokers or heavy drinkers”. It seems like you’re pretty tolerant – if you like someone and they have flaws that aren’t deal breakers for you, and you can talk about them in constructive ways, maybe that’s quite enough? If you find out you do actually want to text every day, you can probably talk about that.
          When you read or watch TV, is there ever something you think, “that would be nice”? I mean, a lot of stuff in the media isn’t super realistic, but maybe some really little thing?

        3. Jojobean*

          I’m in the exact same situation as you, so don’t feel like you’re the only one! Also, thank you so much for having the guts to ask this question because after breaking up with my one and only ex-boyfriend last year, I’ve been pondering the same issues but unsure of how to get the answers. All of these responses are so helpful!

    4. HannahS*

      Let’s say I meet a guy and he’s really disorganized and bad at making concrete plans. That would stress me out and drive me crazy. But if I said, “The fact that you don’t make concrete plans with me really stresses me out and makes me feel un-valued. Can we please make concrete plans together?” and he said, “Sure, it’s new to me but I’ll try” then that would be great. If he said, “Making concrete plans is really hard for me because of ADHD/because I was over-scheduled as a child and it stresses me out/some other solid reason” and worked with me to come up with a solution that has both of us feeling less stressed, then that’s great, too. If he said, “I’m just a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, Hannah. I never like scheduling things–I like to be spontaneous! Live in the moment! Thing just happen or they don’t,” then I’m OUT.

      So it’s really about two things. One is, are our basic values and ways of life similar? I’m not a go-with-the-flow kind of person. Sure, a little more spontaneity in my life would be good, but I want to be with someone who wants to sit down with me and make plans and goals both for next weekend and the next ten years, and not someone who waits for things to happen and then reacts to them. The other is, if I say I’m unhappy about something, does he want to work with me to find a solution? Or is it “No, this is who I am and I’m not changing.”

      1. matcha123*

        That’s a great insight! This is the approach that I’ve been taking. From what I can tell, my friends take a different approach. I’m glad that I’m not alone!

        1. Close Bracket*

          Yes, shared values, and shared lifestyle. I can’t get serious with someone who eats out all the time. I make different choices about how to spend my money, and while I don’t like cooking every day, I do like making things I have never made before, and I like to eat healthful food with an emphasis on vegetables. I need someone who shares my values with respect to eating, cooking, and spending money. Eating out might be a shallow thing to not date someone over, but someone who eats every meal out does not share some of my values.

      2. Parenthetically*

        This is great stuff. I think almost anything can become a dealbreaker if a person is recalcitrant about it, but few things are dealbreakers if a person is happy to negotiate/talk/compromise on it.

    5. Agent Veronica*

      It’s better not to have too strict a list; individuals are unique, and surprise you. (For me, it was a big shock to wind up with someone who never graduated from college. His life story is one I couldn’t have imagined or predicted. If I’d rejected him up front for that, I’d have missed out on the greatest romance of my life.)

      I think, really, the only essentials are: 1) a person who is kind, 2) a person who’s attracted to you and attractive to you, and 3) a person with whom you can be completely yourself. The rest can be worked out along the way.

      1. Nicole76*

        #3 in your list is the one I’ve found to be the most important. I remember the feeling of being with someone where I didn’t feel like I could just be myself and it was awful. My husband accepts and loves me even though I know I have flaws and can be frustrating to be around at times and that makes such a difference to my overall well-being. I hope I never have to date again because finding a person where you can just relax and be your true self is often quite difficult. But when you do find it, it’s truly wonderful.

    6. Thlayli*

      It’s not that specific. I know people who have really specific things like that “he has to have nice shoes” or whatever – guess what they’re all still single! It’s about the person as a whole and how they make you feel. Personally if a guy I was only dating a short while texted me everyday I’d be a bit freaked out! My husband and I texted/called/saw each other every day for years – but only after we’d been dating at least 6 months.

      You might want to put some thought into a list of “dealbreakers” – things that you absolutely will not accept. Eg abuse like you said, or maybe life goals that are incompatible (eg one of you really wants kids someday and the other never wants them), etc. One of you is prolife and the other prochoice. One of you abhors all religions of all types and the other is extremely religious. Basically things that would cause fundamental problems in a relationship. But don’t be too restrictive. Stick to things that you really wouldn’t accept no matter how awesome they were in other ways.

      Then make a list of things they absolutely have to have – eg if physical attraction is important to you then you must find them physically attractive. Maybe they have to be funny, or able to hold an interesting conversation. Again stick to the big things only, things that you think you could not keep a relationship with out.

      It’s about them bigger picture. Deciding not to date a guy because you don’t like the same band, or because you use social media differently, or because he doesn’t have a car or whatever – these are all unimportant in the greater scheme.

      1. matcha123*

        I can definitely see contacting someone near daily after spending a good amount of time with them and getting a feel for their personality and likes. I have female friends that I text several times throughout the week, but they live in other countries and we had spent a good amount of time together initially.
        I have trouble with this early stage where due to work and other life obligations, I cannot meet these men frequently. A lot of the dates fizzled after the first date. I am open to having two or three dates to see how things progress. It’s been hard getting to date two or three, and I do wonder if I should be using the first date to run through questions…although that doesn’t appeal to me at all.

        1. Thlayli*

          Yeah, I’m the opposite. I see first dates as an interview to see if it makes sense to continue dating. Otherwise you’re just wasting each other’s time.

          1. matcha123*

            I got an “interview” kind of date with a friend I wrote about previously and it totally came out of nowhere from me. He had started dating a lot in the last few years, which I didn’t know about, and I guess he assumed I was doing the same. Now that I know there are people who view dating in that way, I feel more prepared to field questions. But when I’m having dinner with a “friend” who suddenly wants to know my thoughts on marriage, weddings, children’s names, and so on, I can’t come up with answers on the spot.

            1. LilySparrow*

              Okay, for the record, the problem there was *not* that you were unprepared, inexperienced, or awkward.

              It was that your “friend” does not human well. What the actual …Who does that?

              You were wierded out by a weirdo being wierd. All your onboard systems are working just fine.

    7. Lcsa99*

      It’s been a while since I dated (met my husband 10 years ago this August) so I have been trying to remember exactly what I was looking for then. I wanted someone who would understand my weird sense of humor. Someone who would support and encourage me. And while I did get that when I met my husband, there are so many nuances that I cannot imagine living without now that incident thinking then. First and foremost he’s easily the best friend I’ve had. We had a comfort level that was seamless right off the bat (our intended couple hours of a first date became 9 hours of exploring the city together).

      I don’t think going into a relationship with a list of things you are looking for works, cause no one really fits any mold; but I honestly think being comfortable to be yourself absolutely is essential to making it work. There really is something to finding someone you can find yourself being friends with.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Read advice columns, like Carolyn Hax, paying particular attention to questions about dating and relationships.
      It can help to read about other people’s experiences and we can kind of sort out some of our own preferences and deal breakers.

      My bestest suggestion is to make men friends first. And also look at your relationships with your female friends that you have currently or in the past. I wish someone had told me this years ago, because it’s a pearl of wisdom: It’s through our friendships that we learn what we want in a life mate and what we want in a marriage.

      And it’s true that some of the characteristics we want grow from childhood problems. My father was very tight with money. So one thing I wanted in a marriage was a husband who looked at money as a partnership, where we each had equal say. This worked really well, because we would take turns getting what we wanted with the discretionary funds. We totally supported each other goals because we each knew we’d have a turn. I understand you did not have men around, however, you can look at things growing up and decide what went well and what needs to change.

      For me it was important that my guy be willing to walk through difficult situations. I had plenty of them and not knowing what to do was not an excuse for avoiding the situation. Another thing that was important to me was that we did not leave broken stuff laying around the house, fix it or get rid of it. It did not matter if he could not fix it that wasn’t the point. The point was to move it out if it was not useful anymore. And I wanted a dog. Of everything on my list if he had to underestimate one, I was okay with the fact that he underestimated this one as he got the bigger issues right. We eventually got the dog but that took a long time.

    9. Parenthetically*

      I think I’m the opposite of you in that I had a massive list of things I looked for for such a long time… but then it didn’t really matter in the end because I found someone I admired and valued and decided to put in the effort to build something great together. And we have, and continue to.

      General non-negotiables I’d advise everyone to have:
      — kindness. This is huge. A person doesn’t have to be bubbly or cheery or whatever, but they need to be KIND at the core. How do they treat you? Their loved ones? Waitstaff?
      — using and valuing words. Even when it’s hard/awkward/uncomfortable/new/strange, do they ask for what they need and listen to what you need, or are they genuinely making an effort to move in that direction?
      — actually likes and enjoys you for who you are.

      My personal non-negotiables:
      — a member of my religious community.
      — single/not polyamorous.
      — attractive to me. (This sounds weird, but I know so many women who dated guys who had awesome personalities but who physically repulsed them??? WHY???)
      — an open temperament. I do NOT do “mysterious” or “complicated.”
      — not only not intimidated by my talkative, opinionated, advanced-degree-having self, but actually likes and values those things about me. I was never going to be with someone who just put up with me. I knew I could love my now-husband when he expressed shock and confusion at a story I told about feeling like I had to hide my intelligence from men — he just doesn’t have a category in his brain for being intimidated by smart women.

    10. Hmmm*

      Since you’ve had a boyfriend it sounds like you must have a notion of what you’re like. What did you like and dislike about your previous boyfriend? That’s a simple place to start. When you imagine your future, what is it like? What sort of traits and interests would a person need to fit into that?

      The way you describe men seems a bit… odd? It reminds me of when some men say, “But how do I interact with women?” when the answer is simple: like they’re a person! If you’re that confused about interacting with men, it sounds like trying to befriend some men might be a healthy and helpful thing as well!

      As a side note, I can’t tell how old you are, but if you’re young, things do tend to get a bit clearer with time!

      1. matcha123*

        I am kind of like that. I am cool with interacting with men as friends or colleagues. When it comes to dating, I freeze up, and I think I end up sending a signal that says “DO NOT ENTER.” I know a lot of men are eager to break the “touch barrier” asap, and I know there are also a lot of women who are fine with hugs and other kinds of friendly touches by new, male acquaintances. I, on the other hand, am not.
        I know logically that every person is different, but I also know that there are many men who do certain actions to show that they are interested in a woman, and I am totally oblivious to those things. If a guy offers to pay for my meal when I’m out in a group, I assume he’s being friendly because he just heard that I make a lot less than him. I would do the same for a female friend. I’m in my mid-30s which is why I admit to feeling frustrated. This is the first time in my life where I’ve seriously tried to date. I have no vision of what my future entails and even talking about it makes me emotional. My peers seemed to have figured all of this out in high school or college. Do I want someone I can spend the rest of my life with? Uhh…maybe? I don’t know. I can’t imagine what that would look like. I’ve spent the time since graduating college coming back to this and trying to think about what I want for my future, but all I draw is a blank.

        1. TL -*

          There are plenty of women who aren’t comfortable with causal touches by strangers and there are also plenty of men who either aren’t comfortable with causal touch from strangers or who prioritize the women they’re with being comfortable than “breaking the touch barrier” (ugh.)

          Look for someone who is comfortable with you, where you’re at.

        2. Julia*

          Aren’t you in Japan? Most of the guys I know here are not touchy-feely, even the foreign ones who’ve been here for a while. Especially not in public.

          1. matcha123*

            It seems like the foreign men I know are very touchy. Most of the western..err…American men I know have been here pretty long (8-15 years) and a good number of them are quite touchy. Japanese men also seem to be more touchy with me. Especially the ones that are interested in foreigners or maybe read that western women like XYZ >_<

            1. Julia*

              That sucks. Maybe they’re deprived of touch and think finally a foreign woman will let them have it. -.-
              I guess you feel that disliking touch and acting like it turns guys off or makes them think you’re not interested? Could you – if you were comfortable with it – switch to a playful “no touching before date 3” and laugh them off?

    11. Clever Name*

      I have no advice as I’m dating for the first time and I’m a 38 year old divorcee with a kid. Ugh. I’m currently dating a guy, and I’m realizing that I want/need more consistent communication from him. I haven’t decided if it’s a deal breaker for me just yet because he has a lot of other good things going for him. But I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in my preference.

      1. matcha123*

        Good luck! I’m trying not to toss someone aside if other aspects are positive, but it’s so hard to know what’s “right.”

    12. LilySparrow*

      1) Character – similar ethics, values, and worldview, and the backbone to follow through on them even when it’s scary, inconvenient, or costly.

      2) Respect & quality communication : listens to what I want, is careful of my boundaries, tells me what matters to him, too.

      3) Has solid, positive, and realistic relationships with family & friends.

      4) Can adult just fine without my help. Is motivated and capable to live intentionally and well, in a way I’d like to participate in or share.

      5) Being with him is more fun than being with other people or being alone. (For me this includes similar senses of humor).

      6) Shows good judgement and insight in ways I respect and admire. This goes beyond being “smart” or intellectual, but also wise, thoughtful, and kind.

      7) Chemistry. Also appreciates me for who I am. We like each other better the more we get to know each other, rather than liking each other less.

      Of course, a lot of these things aren’t going to be immediately obvious. They’re things you find out over time.

      So in terms of first impressions, I’d start with good manners, respect, humor, and consideration of others around you. (Nice to you/nasty to waiter would be a deal breaker, for example).

      FWIW, I met the guy I described above about 17 years ago and started dating him about a year later. Our 15th wedding anniversary is this fall.

      Best of luck to you!

    13. Not a Mere Device*

      The most basic thing is, Do you like spending time with this person? What you do together can vary–hiking, movies, long conversations, knitting… but if you don’t like spending time with someone, you shouldn’t be dating them, because the point of dating is finding someone to spend a bunch of time with.

      A lot of your questions don’t have answers that are true for everyone. For example, it’s fine to make the first move (though that may turn some guys off) or to wait and let other people do so (and risk missing someone who didn’t say anything because he didn’t know you were interested/available).

      A topic like money isn’t something that you’re going to discuss all at once: “let’s split the bill for lunch” is a different conversation than “how much would you spend on a winter coat?” is different from “are you in significant debt, and if so, how do you feel about that?” or “should we have a joint bank account?”

    14. tab*

      I think it comes down to two things. You need to share goals and values. If you have that (and love, of course) then it will work.

    15. Not a Mere Device*

      If you’re still reading, I dug up an old post on the Captain Awkward blog about good signs in a relationship. Definitely do read the comments on this one. (There’s a link there to a similar-themed post by Cliff Pervocracy; that post is SFW, but Cliff’s site also has a lot of NSFW content.)

  52. Serious Pillowfight*

    Hi everyone! Is it horrible that I wish the open threads were every day (along with Alison’s awesome columns, of course)? I feel like I need so much advice in every aspect of my life right now. I do see a somewhat helpful therapist, but I’m not overly certain what I’m getting out of it aside from an $89-copay dent in my wallet. I very recently weaned off of my anti-depressant. Haven’t noticed any major changes, but I don’t think I’ve ever been great at knowing my body. I think I’ve been more irritable than normal and feeling a pit in my stomach for no reason like I used to before I was medicated, but I can’t say for sure it’s related.

    Speaking of my body, I’ve been tracking my calories through the LoseIt! app since April 19 and I’m down almost 9 lbs! I’m dogsitting for a friend this morning and she brought me donuts. I was annoyed because I only hear from this friend when she needs me to dogsit, and she was 45 minutes late when I got up super early (for me), but she brought donuts and coffee! Whereas normally I’d scarf down two, I’m slowly enjoying one. It’s probably 1/3 of my calories for the day and won’t fill me up so I’ll struggle with hunger later, but treats in moderation keep anyone tracking calories sane.

    (Burying the lede) – Seeking advice/a sounding board: My best friend, “Liz” (early 30s) is sweet and caring and struggling with issues in her own life right now. She’s a SAHM with a 2-year-old and a baby due in a few weeks and her husband is a bit of an ass, lacking in the empathy department. I (mid-30s) try to be there for her but I can’t really relate to her struggles (me: full-time job, no kids, kind husband), so I’m not sure what to do or say. I mostly like kids and try to watch hers sometimes so she can get a break (hammering home confirmation of her struggles–kid is a handful for me and I’m usually well-rested and not pregnant!). I think I get why childfree folks/people with kids tend to hang out mostly with others like them.

    I also feel as though I can’t talk to Liz about any of my own issues because she has so much on her plate. My issues (like having to get up at 8 a.m. several days in a row when I work second shift) are not really something I can vent to the mom of a 2-year-old about without getting laughed out of the room! Even substantial issues seem taboo when she’s been unhappy and suffering with her current pregnancy. If I try to share something I get a curt reply, so I stopped doing it. Then I wonder if I’m just a self-centered ass. I care and don’t like seeing her struggle, but I don’t know what to do. She feels like she has to do everything herself and won’t accept help without repeated convincing. I wouldn’t do this, but I’ve thought about “friend breakups” and how if that were a thing, I might have done it by now. But she hasn’t done anything wrong! We just don’t have much in common. There’s no reason for me to drop her. I DO like her!

    I find myself irritated by everything she posts on the cesspool that is Facebook. Everything is, “look at my perfect, wonderful family! here’s yet another picture of my kid with tomato sauce all over his face! here’s a picture of the coffee I made! we’re so happy! BTW my husband is the best husband ever!” ten times a day…and I know that’s not the case. Then I feel like a jerk for judging her, as most people project an edited and exaggerated highlight reel on that thing. It’s just sad, and I wish I could help her. I think she feels trapped but would never admit it to herself so she just tries to find the good and make the best of it.

    I think I’ve been subconsciously pulling away and I feel guilty. She lives five minutes away and I haven’t been over there in a week. I think part of what is fueling my resentment is the fact that she insisted on staying friends with “Jamie,” someone who wildly screwed me over a few years ago even though she knows all the details. And now another of Jamie’s close friends is living with my best friend temporarily. I’m often on edge when I visit that Jamie is going to be mentioned or show up.

    So enough rambling. My question is, how do I recreate fond feelings for my friend? I’ve tried unfollowing her on Facebook but then she asks if I saw a post she made and it’s obvious that I didn’t. I don’t want her to put 2 and 2 together so I end up visiting her page. And rolling my eyes so hard they pop out of my head. I just want us to find common ground again.

    1. fposte*

      I think you unfollow her and own up–“I’m on a Facebook diet right now, since I found it really stressed me out. I hope we can find other ways to keep in touch!”

      And I think it’s okay to take a bit of a friend vacation sometimes, even if you’re not doing a complete friend breakup. She can be a small-doses friend for a bit and then you can reconsider after the baby comes and has been there for a while.

      But I don’t think you have to just let “curt” from a friend go unremarked upon if you think it’s worth exploring. “Hey, I was trying to tell you something important about me and you just waved it off, and that’s happened a few times now. What’s up with that?”

    2. FYI*

      Being friends with different problems is possible; it’s okay if you don’t relate but it sounds like you’re helping her with your kindness and kid watching. She sounds depressed; I might urge some therapy/a doc visit. As for social media, I would either unfollow or exercise compassion about the disconnect between reality and social media : obviously it’s too bad she needs to highlight-reel. This time of life can be a real struggle and you could be a real help to her.

    3. matcha123*

      Congrats on the weightloss!
      As to your friend, it’s not fair for her to vent at you without allowing you a space to vent yourself. I also don’t think that you should say that parents have it harder. We are all struggling with our own problems. I’ve vented on facebook or through the messenger to friends with kids and so far none of them have made me feel like my vent was trifling. Depending on the person, I try to write some words that show I know they are struggling, too. And for some, I just cut back on my vents.

      She probably does feel like you say. She and other parents should feel free to talk more about the crappy and good aspects of parenting. You can think your kid is cute and annoying.

      Two-year olds are hard. I’ve dealt with my fair share of them!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Stomach. Have you seen a medical doc to see if anything is going on with your tummy? Sometimes a stomach flare up coinciding with stress/concern is an actual physical problem. Perhaps you can test this idea by taking some Pepto or your preferred product and seeing if you stomach settles. You may have a digestive track problem that needs attention. When digestion tracks aren’t working correctly we can get irritable. Might be worth checking out.

      Liz. This relationship sounds like a lot of work. Is it worth it to you? Do you think balance in the relationship will be restored later on? Do you get something/anything out of the relationship right now? Can you start getting “busier” so that you see less of her and will that help you maintain some connection?

    5. HannahS*

      Take a break, set some boundaries. It doesn’t have to be total, but withdraw a bit and invest in other friendships. I have a good friend who has a lot of challenging things in her life. This has been true for our entire friendship. I’d say our friendship leans from occasionally equal, to one where she needs an enormous amount of support from me and isn’t able to reciprocate. When we’re in one of those periods, I give her as much support as I feel I can without being drained, but we don’t really continue to see each other socially. If she’s calling me to talk for three hours crying on a Thursday, we’re not going to go shopping together on Sunday, you know? It’s just too much.

      I feel like in the earlier years, my impulse was to be like, “No, we should still have a normal friendship AND the parts where I give her support” whereas now I feel like, sometimes our friendship is me giving her support, and sometimes our friendship is us hanging out–it goes in phases. I’m lucky in that my friend is (usually) insightful and is someone who tries to be a good friend back, when she can. So, I think if it’s the case that this represents a period in your friendship that will change, then maintain the relationship, give support on your own terms, and it may change again. But if this represents how it’s going to be all the time…I don’t know. I feel like unless your friend is in one of these deep crisis points where she’s unable to be compassionate because she’s JUST managing to hold herself together, she should make you feel like you can talk about your problems to her.

      As an example, I have a chronic illness that has resulted in some permanent disability. When I was going through the initial process of becoming ill, I did continue to go through the motions of friendship, but it was really annoying to hear my friends complain endlessly about their boyfriends. Like, oh poor you, your boyfriend is clingy? My life is falling apart and I’m waiting to find out if I have multiple sclerosis! But once things calmed down a bit in my own life, it’s was different. It should be, and is, ok for me to talk to my friends about how much pain I’m in, how frustrated it makes me feel, how sad I am sometimes about it, etc, and for them to then complain about how frustrated they are with their pets, or whatever. Or to give an analogy on wake times, if one of my friends was like, “My back’s been hurting lately” I wouldn’t laugh and be like “I’ve been in pain for a decade! Your problems are insignificant,” I’d say, “Wow, that sucks.”

    6. Ann O.*

      IMHO, friendships need to have honesty and mutual support. I don’t see what in this make Liz’s problems so much worse than yours. Full-time work vs. SAHM are just very different. Being pregnant can be really hard, though. It’s unclear to me from the post what exactly Liz’s struggles consist of–if they’re the general grind of pregnancy + small child or if there’s a deeper issue here.

      So I guess that’s the first question for me. Is it possible that you are in a temporarily unbalanced relationship because Liz has a temporary medical condition (and then will have the temporary state of newborn sleep deprivation) where she really does need more support/sympathy than you do? In that case, it may just be a case of figure out how much you can help her and give what you can, knowing that she’s currently not in a place where she can reciprocate. Or is this bringing to boil a longer term imbalance in the relationship where Liz is maybe not actually that great of a friend to you?

      With regards to Jamie, I would encourage you to have a frank discussion with Liz about making sure she always warns you if Jamie is present when you’re present. That is a very reasonable boundary for you to draw.

      With regards to FB, just mute or unfollow her. FB algorithms means that you won’t always see posts from people you follow. I regularly miss people’s posts. I do think it’s worth probing why it bothers you so much that her FB seems like a lie. Pretty much everyone’s FB is an incomplete picture (and those that aren’t often are overshares in the other direction where it’s like hmm… maybe this is something to discuss with a therapist rather than a relatively open forum).

    7. Triple Anon*

      Honestly, it sounds like you’re just not into this friendship right now. And that’s ok. You can back away. Take some time off.

      The kids vs no kids thing doesn’t seem like it would have to be a big deal, but the Jamie thing is a red flag. She’s friends with someone who wildly screwed you over. That’s not cool. You have every right to judge her and take some time off or end the friendship. By remaining friends with that person, she’s sort of burning a bridge with you. I wouldn’t feel bad about it.

  53. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I decided to take the plunge and try Blue Apron. I got $30 off by using the West Wing Weekly code and I’ll be getting my first delivery next Saturday.

    Anyone have tips, tricks, horror stories to share?

    1. Annie Moose*

      I do HelloFresh and my advice is… it will always take longer than the time given. Also, read the recipe ahead of time and keep an eye on any ingredients that have to be used multiple times or where you only need part of the portion they send! I’ve screwed that up so many times…

    2. foodster*

      A few suggestions (I did hello fresh for a while):

      1. Check all the ingredients as soon as you receive your package, especially if you aren’t planning on cooking the meal(s) that day. I got my deliveries on Monday, and Wednesday at 5pm halfway through preparing a recipe is really not the time to discover the company sent you an extra package of ground pork instead of the chicken breast. (The company was always very good about crediting my account for any issues.)

      2. If you’ve ordered more than one meal and they were all delivered together, as hello fresh does, decide the order of cooking the meals based on the fragility of the ingredients. I found that any meal with salad greens needed to be the first one cooked, because otherwise they were wilted and spoiled toward the end of the week.

      3. As Annie Moose mentioned, read the entire recipe ahead of time. Hello fresh’s recipe cards were confusingly written, so that the same step often contained instructions for separate parts of the meal. I’ve read cookbooks and haven’t had trouble in the past following directions in them – but I always screwed something up with hello fresh because of how it was written.

      Enjoy your meals – I loved not having to think ahead about what to prepare, and having all the ingredients right there.

    3. Little Bean*

      Their customer service is great, if they mess anything up. I’ve had a couple of boxes come with the wrong ingredients, and one time they sent me a rotten garlic. I just send them pictures and they immediately credit you back for the meal (and/or send you replacement ingredients if it’s not too late).

    4. Not Alison*

      We use Home Chef. The recipe cards are great – easy to understand and follow. My husband actually helps cook because everything we need is in the bag for that particular meal (he doesn’t have to go rooting around in the cupboards to find something except you need to provide olive oil which is used in almost every recipe), and he just follows his portion of the recipe.

      It is easy to skip a week if that week’s menu items are not to your taste – but make sure you mark that you want to skip the week, otherwise they will send the box out and you will be charged.

      Our only issue is that the protein tends to be a bit skimpy, so sometimes I’ll go to the store to buy an extra chicken breast or beef to add to the meal and sometimes I’ll make an extra vegetable or potato. But on the whole we are very happy with the service and order meals every other week.

  54. Laura H*

    How do you deal with pre trip stress?

    I don’t have a ton to do to get ME ready but at the same time, I look at the trip to do list and get stressed out. I have a week and a half before the five day trip….

    For now the stress has won and tonight when I get home, I’ll see if my duffle bag can hold my packing list’s items.

    1. Annie Moose*

      Checklists. Everything goes on a checklist! Then, once I’ve checked it off, I can remind myself that it is DONE when I start worrying about it again.

      (but I still stress out a bit haha)

    2. Dan*

      Every year, I usually take a 3+ week trip to far corners of the earth. While many people say you can always buy it overseas so don’t worry too much, I’m a big guy and generally can’t find clothes in my size in Asia. So I really do have to make sure I don’t screw that up. (I once went to London for a holiday weekend and forgot my underwear. I don’t forget that anymore.)

      But taking the trips that I take, here’s the secret, screamed from the highest rooftops as loudly as I can: “DO NOT OVER PLAN”. Second: “DO NOT OVER PACK.” I’m only “allowed” to take what I can carry comfortably with two hands and a back pack.

      I’m going back to South/SE Asia at the end of year, for what will be about a 30 day trip. I’m planning on going to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand. I’ll have a suitcase full of climate appropriate clothing (need to check and see how much cool weather clothing I need). The bills will be paid/scheduled ahead of time. (At least these days, “there’s an app for that” if I forget something.) I’ll have hotels and flights booked, and train/bus stuff if it’s needed to be booked ahead of time. If I’m doing a multi-day tour, I’ll book that and work it into my other plans. I’ll book day trips ahead of time if they’re super popular and known to fill up. If not, then everything else is saved for “when I get there”. I migh