weekend free-for-all – June 16-17, 2018

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner, about a woman serving two life sentences in prison, how she got there, and how she survives. I was riveted from the first page, and it stays with you.

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

{ 1,295 comments… read them below }

  1. Retirement Saving Fears*

    I’m wondering if I can get advice about navigating being an older adult with minimal retirement savings who’s playing catch-up. For reasons that I won’t go into here, at age 60 I have only mid-five figures saved for my retirement. For the first time in my life, I’ve had a decent salary in the last couple of years and I’m pouring as much as I can into my employer matching 401(k) account. I live frugally and I have plans to move to a less expensive area, a place I’m actually looking forward to being, once I retire. But I anticipate working until I’m 70 for financial reasons, so that won’t be happening soon.

    I’m a renter. My landlord has been generous and I’m paying far below market rater in a very expensive market, but if I have to move for some reason, my cost of living will skyrocket. I’m committed to staying in this area because of an aging parent and seeking a new job in my 60s in a new area doesn’t seem like a good plan anyway.

    My challenge is that I see this financial cliff coming, even with my plan in place now and getting professional financial advice. I know my situation is a common one in the US these days. I’m at the age when my siblings and friends are winding down their careers, which isn’t an option for me. I could use advice on how not to let my financial concerns about the future eat at me in the present so I’m not worrying about this stuff that’s in the future now, in the present.

    1. Retirement Saving Fears*

      I will add that I’m fortunate to have a career I love, so it’s not like I’m forcing myself to go to work every day. I’m grateful for that.

    2. Lady Jay*

      You mention professional financial advice, so perhaps you’ve already done this but: You can usually talk to a financial planner for free, and they’re usually able to help you figure out a good way to get the most out of your income and financial situation as possible. You may need to shop around for “fit” (I talked to 2-3 before I found a direction I was happy with), though.

      You also may want to look into seeing a counselor, if only for a limited range of sessions (3-6) in order to save money. I’ve been seeing one in regards to anxiety caused by a major life change, and my decisions around that; and I’ve found that her conversations are helpful in pinpointing problematic thought patterns that cause anxiety. Likewise, a therapist may be able to give you sound psychological advice about tools you can use to minimize anxiety during this time. Requisite note that although counseling is not financially workable for everyone, there are ways to find inexpensive therapy, including the sliding scales many clinics offer and practice hours for therapists in training.

      1. Retirement Saving Fears*

        I have seen an excellent and affordable therapist in the past but it’s been a long time. This is a good reminder to reconnect to get some tools to minimize my anxiety. Thank you.

    3. Tennessee*

      I can’t speak to your questions about how to not let this eat at you. But when I’m faced with something like this, it comforts me to feel like I’ve done my homework so here are some links at Bogleheads to get you started; browse the site for info. My husband loves this site and it’s really helped us get on track. It’s an investment advice site, but not exclusively. They cover lots of financial and related life topics.
      First, go to https://www.bogleheads.org/
      start with https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Getting_started
      then “Overcoming a Late Start to Saving for Retirement” https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=206093
      and this one tells you how to ask questions “Asking Portfolio Questions”: https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6212

      Good luck!

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      First, good for recognizing the issue and taking steps to address it. You are better off than a lot of people, just for that. You’re saving, also do what you can to reduce your expenses. Reduce food waste, optimize bills or cancel things you don’t need/use (I’m looking at you, gym membership that hasn’t been used in 6 months!), don’t buy extra stuff that you don’t need, when you do need something buy it as efficiently (cheaply) as you can. You will be in much better shape if you spend $30k a year vs $50k.

      Don’t assume you can’t move. A lot can happen in 10 years. When your parent passes away (sorry, but it’s a fact of life), that reason to stay in the area will be gone. It might make the most sense for you to move to a LCOL area when you retire.

      Re the anxiety – answer it with “but I’m doing what I can, worrying is only going to make it harder”. But the more you’re able to do, the easier it’ll be for you to face the future.

    5. Nerdgal*

      Have you looked in to what your eventual social security benefit will be? You can do this at ssa.gov if you haven’t done so already. Knowing this might help you do some planning. If you max out your 401k for ten years, added to what you’ve already saved, you might have somewhere in the $300k range in ten years. Combined with SS,you might be in decent shape. Having some specific dollar estimates might help alleviate anxiety.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Similar idea here. I am pushing 60 and will work until the day I die. This is because of paying off medical debt.
      Some random thoughts:

      We lose the present when we are preoccupied with the future. This is a little more serious than it sounds. See, opportunities could be right in front of us and we are so focused on the horizon line that we do not see what is a few yards away from our feet.

      One of my fav aunts had a thing she would say. “If we know there will be a problem in the future then we have been gifted time to figure out how to minimize or perhaps eliminate the impact of the problem.” It’s the stuff that blindsides us that is really scary. You’re not getting blindsided here, you are preparing with everything you can.

      Some amount of self-help gives us some amount of benefit. It’s not an all or nothing thing. More self-help gives us more benefit and so on. We don’t know what the future holds and we have no way of knowing how we will just happen to have the right thing or be in the right place at the right time. We have no idea how our habits now will create an opportunity for us later on. Never underestimate the power of life sustaining habits.

      Friends will bail us, if we let them. And by bailing us I mean with their advice. The tricky part is to pick people who we respect/value and we see they are indeed managing their own setting. My friends cued me in on getting a refi. I was able to knock my mortgage back by 55%. More recently, a friend got hit with a very high insurance bill for his vehicles. I helped him get that bill reduced by 50%. Watch for these pearls of advice as you go along and make it a life habit to watch. There is a back and forth on this advice giving stuff.

      And I have a sad but true story. There was an elderly woman in my life who made it a life habit to be totally penny pinching. When she reached a very old age she received an inheritance of 7 digits. By then her mind was so set on penny pinching she never understood that she had a net worth of 7 digits.

      It was the same as if the money was not there.

      This is mind-boggling stuff. She was rich but she knew for a fact that she was poor. In her mind she died poor. Wealth is not just about money. It’s about mind set. You are wise to look for ways to break that anxiety now rather than letting it eat away at you. If need be keep a running journal of things you are grateful for and the non-monetary ways you are wealthy. You mention things in your post here. Keep going on that list. Not all assets lie in our bank accounts. Know your non-monetary assets and look for ways to leverage those assets. If your mind is busy thinking about things like this it is not feeding the anxiety monster during that same time.

      1. Retirement Saving Fears*

        Good suggestion to dialogue with people who have suggestions for reducing expenses. I haven’t talked about this stuff much because I’ve been embarrassed about it, but you’re right that it’s good to get the input of people who can help by sharing their experiences.

        That is such a sad story about the elderly woman in your life. Great advice about the anxiety monster. It’s time to give that some attention and revive my mindfulness practice. Thank you.

        1. Whatsinaname*

          Don’t be embarrassed to talk about it. A lot of people are in the same boat. I got laid off when I was 47 and that was the best thing that could have happened. I was making good money but not saving anything, never even thinking about my retirement. The lay-off was my wake up call. At that point in time I was working in Europe and with the wrongful termination settlement that the company had to pay me, I moved back to the US and started looking for a job that would provide a pension, which thankfully I found. I also started to actively and aggressively manage my career to maximize my earnings and have money to save and invest for retirement. We decided to do without fancy phone and cable packages and use coupons whenever available. We save about 10% annually on our food bill and 40-50% on drug store items. My husband and I car share and the ‘new’ car we bought was a year old when we bought it. Instead of buying books and magazines we use the library. When we go out to eat, we go at lunch time. We buy all of our clothes on sale. There are certain things I won’t compromise on such as the quality of food, I don’t buy used clothing, that’s just a personal hang-up of mine, and we do spend money on traveling. For a while, I tracked everything we spent and looked for ways to reduce the cost. I calculated our bottom line fixed costs to figure out what we absolutely needed for retirement so we could work toward that goal.
          I also started to actively manage our money and invested in a mix of stocks, bonds and CDs. It took us nine years to accumulate a quarter of a million dollars. Which is nowhere near the much touted million dollar but way more than we would have had had I continued to stick my head in the sand, which is where my husband’s head is when it comes to planning for retirement. So, don’t give up. Start tracking your spending, start saving and make yourself smart on making the money work for you.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Seconding the advice about embarrassment. Shedding that whole concept was the best move for me, as doors flew open. Advice came in from a variety of sources.
            Chose people wisely, not everyone is up to these conversations. Realize, also, that you probably have your own suggestions for people, but you never realized they would be interested in that type of help.
            My friend had no idea that I could help with the car insurance like that. We’ve known each other for years. The topic just never came up until one day the insurance bill caused him to express extreme frustration. We don’t have to wait until we are extremely frustrated.
            The house refi was a whole different set of circumstances which included me being afraid to check it out. In this instance I had to deliberately decide to allow my friends to console/help me in order to move through my fears.

            The best pearl of wisdom I was told is to accept advice regarding small savings on ordinary things. Make it a habit. This is about the habit, not about the $3 you saved on carrots this week. The advice goes if we make it our habit to accept these smaller tidbits of advice, we begin to notice/use larger pieces of advice that DO impact us in a strong positive way.

            1. Retirement Saving Fears*

              Whatsinaname and Not So New Reader, this is helpful and I’m taking it to heart. I have recently dipped my toe into talking about my financial situation with people I trust, and it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be. Reading your responses, I’m thinking I let my discomfort about sharing my situation with my siblings and parent become universal, so I wasn’t sharing with anyone. It’s really helping to post this here and open the door to everything. That definitely is reducing the power of the fear. Thanks for the concrete info.

    7. Miles*

      You might find some useful resources at https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence

      It’s actually a community of younger people, many of whom are trying to retire early or at least be ready for retirement so they can have a less stressful experience (as they see it) at work. Your timetable is similar to what many of them are going for and they have a wiki with a lot of good information you can use to plan or discuss with your financial adviser

    8. MindoverMoneyChick*

      I second Nergal about finding out your eventual social security benefit. What I advise client in that situation is to see what you would have to live on using just social security and trying to get your regular expenses as close to being in line with that as you can. You can do this over a period of years so that you aren’t cutting back on lifestyle all at once. (and I do realize that if you are in a HCOLA area, options may be limited, but look at everything you can find). Try to look at it as a fun challenge as much as possible. that’s much easier if you do it now when you know you have a salary to fall back on.

      As you do that you will be able to save more money which is great, but the more important thing is you will find ways to be able to live within what you have. You will start to feel a lot more in control and less afraid. Then the extra saved is for the unpredictables life will throw at you. And of course keep working as long as you can. That will be the number one variable for you in impacting your security long terms.

      1. Retirement Saving Fears*

        I like this shift in attitude, to make it a fun challenge to see how much more cheaply I can live. I think I’ve got a good head start–drive a car that’s paid for, shop at thrift stores, don’t buy a lot of stuff in general–but I’m sure there are other things I can cut back on even in the expensive area I live in. Thanks for the suggestions.

    9. Retirement Saving Fears*

      First, thanks to you all for such detailed and excellent advice! I really appreciate the encouragement. I think naming it and sharing my concern takes a lot of power away from the anxiety I was feeling.

      A few things in response to comments here. Yes, I’m already planning to move away from my expensive area when I retire. I’m actually looking forward to living somewhere less urban and I’ve narrowed my options down to a few locations where I think I’d be happy. As long as my rent is cheap where I am while I’m making a high salary, staying where I am–even beyond the eventual loss of my aging parent–makes sense. I’m taking in the feedback that I clearly need to let go of being fearful about losing my affordable place, since all is well right now.

      My previous conversation with a financial advisor was a perk through a former job, who reviewed my then lower salary and the corresponding minimal rate of saving. It was basically forecasting. This thread is making me realize that I’ve hung on to the alarm I had then, when in fact I’m now making a higher salary and saving a lot more.

      I looked at the Social Security calculator, which is helpful and reassuring. I will check out the other recommended links. I’ve also learned that my credit union offers free financial planning, so I’m going to make an appointment with an advisor there.

      While I’m responding to some of the comments individually, I want to emphasize that I’m appreciating every single one. All of the feedback is helpful. And it’s so true that in the moment, I’m actually fine and being anxious just undermines being in the present. None of us has a crystal ball about the future. I’m realizing that I’ve fallen away from my mindfulness practice, and returning to it would be helpful.

      Thank you all so much!

    10. Hannah*

      I am not yet at the life stage you are, but I have a low-ish salary in a very HCOL area. Like you, I am lucky that I have below-market apartment (or else I would have to have roommates), but one thing that really has helped me to feel free from financial pressures is to have a VERY specific budget. Decide what amount you are comfortable spending each month, and then spend that without guilt. For me, I would flip-flop from not allowing myself to spend anything (and missing out on stuff like spending time with friends, or enjoying life at all), to saying “screw it!” and spending without looking at my bank account. Neither way is very good. When I sat down and made a budget, I put a little bit aside for “fun” things so I didn’t always have to feel like I could never ever have anything. Now, I can spend that amount, and know it is within my budget and it exists within my broader plan to live frugally. Since doing that, I’ve saved SO much more than I had been saving before (which was hardly anything). In the past six years, I’ve saved up one and a half times my current salary, and I also managed to take several nice trips without thinking “I really shouldn’t be spending this!”

      It is important to save for retirement, but it is also important to enjoy today.

    11. voyager1*

      One thing that can help a lot is going car free esp if you live somewhere with decent mass transit. Replacing a car with a good older touring style bicycle can save a ton of money. Insurance, gas and maintenance of a car really adds up.

      1. Retirement Saving Fears*

        Yes, that would save a lot of money. For many years, I never had a car and in fact didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 40. There is good mass transit nearby but unfortunately not always accessible in my area. I do use it when I can.

        At Old Job, I often took a commuter bus instead of driving. I had to seriously consider whether I could accept my current job because it’s only accessible by car and heading the other direction from commute traffic. It’s about 30 miles each way so that gets pricy, but at least it’s quick highway driving opposite the flow of traffic. In the end, I decided to take the position because it’s an amazing job and I got a huge raise.

        Thanks for the suggestion, much appreciated.

    12. Logan*

      I really enjoy this resource for financial planning advice:

      Most of it is about dealing with debt, but she also talks about planning and retirement. She has books and paid options, but most of what you need can be found in her blog, and Resources -> interactive budget tool (she even says that everything is free but some people need to pay for things, and the books are more organised than a blog).

      She isn’t US, so while some parts may be useful… it might not be as useful to you as to me.

    13. Max from St. Mary's*

      I’m pretty much in the same place, and the one thing that’s helped my attitude is that, like you, I have a job I generally enjoy and (importantly) isn’t physically stressful so I can work into my 70s, which is my financial reality.

    14. NDQ*

      I had your concerns about five years ago. My decision was to start buying rental property and other passive assets while still working a full-time job. I’ve learned to live on half my income and I’m on track to retire in 4-5 years when the rental income will cover all my expenses. Read Mr. Money Mustache if you want inspiration.


  2. Neela*

    Can we talk about skin care? Has anyone used the Sunday Riley Good Genes serum and is it worth the price? I’m tempted to get it but it’s soooo expensive. Are there any better priced dupes?

    1. Claire*

      I found the Sunday Riley Good Genes to be effective very quickly (like I could see a difference overnight!), but I just couldn’t take the stinging it caused. My skin got so red and the stinging sensation hurt more than any other product I’ve used. So now I use The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA2% now, which is slower to show results but much less irritating to my skin. After a month of use my skin is much smoother and clearer, but without the irritation the Good Genes caused.

      If your skin is not sensitive Good Genes might be fine, but unless you want to pay an extortionate amount for faster results, I think The Ordinary one is just as good – and it’s cheap!

      1. oldbiddy*

        I’ve heard you can often get samples at Sephora? I don’t have one near me so I haven’t tried this myself.
        I went on a exfoliating kick last year. I didn’t try Good Genes but I tried the Drunk Elephant one and also The Ordinary’s 10% lactic acid. The Drunk Elephant was nice but not noticably better than Paula’s Choice 10% glycolic acid serum. The Ordinary gave me a horrible rash and sensitized my skin to the point where it took a few months of no product at all before I could go back to my normal moisturizer and Paula’s Choice 2% BHA gel. (FWIW I have been using the 2% BHA gel for 15 years with no problems)
        TL:DR buy a few samples from Paula’s Choice

      2. TardyTardis*

        I found that a little bit of baking soda on a washcloth exfoliates like a charm, and then I hit my skin with a little bit of relatively cheap skin cream. Seems to work ok for me….

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I found Sunday Riley stuff made break out badly. I’ve had better luck with Ole Henriksen for pricier, or a line called Nip+Fab for cheaper.

    3. kc89*

      the sunday riley stuff is amazing, like over night results

      I haven’t found a better priced alternative so I stick with the sunday riley good genes

      maybe get the $28 kit from sephora that comes with a small size of their cleanser and the good genes. It’s .27 oz of good genes which should be enough for you to see if you like it or not

    4. Amaryllis*

      I hated Sunday Riley UFO Oil (they warn you that you will purge…it was a 3-month-long acne farm on my face. That is NOT a purge!). The Good Genes was just meh. I also deeply dislike Drunk Elephant products, so apparently I just don’t respond well to what’s currently popular!

      I’ve been dipping my toe into K-care, though it quickly gets complicated and intimidating.

    5. LemonLyman*

      I bought a kit at Sephora that came with slightly smaller but still lux feeling bottles of Good Genes, C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum, and Tital Brightening Enzyme Water Cream. I like them. Good Genes does tingle a little at first so I use it at night only and the first couple weeks I used it every other day. Now my skin is used to it and I use it every day.

      Remember that everyone’s skin is different so what works for some won’t work for others. But Sephora has a good return policy so I recommend buying from there. That way you can always return it if you decide you don’t like it. (Ulta also has a fantastic return policy, but they don’t carry Sunday Riley.)

  3. Charlotte*

    So umm…how soon is too soon to become discouraged by online dating?
    I finally took the plunge and set up an account on Bumble last week. In the past five days I’ve only had two matches and neither of them replied to my initial message.
    I mean I’m not the most self-assured person to begin with, but I’m starting to suspect this isn’t going to be great for my ego unless I put myself into a better mindset.
    Some of my friends also use the app and while they’ve had a lot of dud dates at least they’re getting offers.
    I know there’s something wrong with me but I don’t know what it is so I don’t know how to fix it.
    Maybe I’m going in with too negative a state of mind already?

    1. Dating Anon*

      I’d give it a little more time, Bumble can be awesome (because you don’t get as many creepy guys on there as tinder) but waiting for them to respond is horrible. I’d say at least 4 out of every 5 guys I matched with didn’t respond, which made me feel pretty crap. So it’s not just you! Talking to my friends who Bumble, most say the same.

      But I persevered and the guys who did message me back were uniformly amazing! I’m now in a relationship with a guy I met on Bumble and it has (so far) been the best relationship I’ve ever had, so it is possible.

      Your friends might be having better luck because they’re swiping right more often than you. Or perhaps they’re REALLY good at crafting that first message. Do you have a friend you trust who could take a look at your profile and messages to see if there’s anything you could tweak?

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          There was a study on speed dating that found people who asked more questions were better liked. So maybe don’t bother trying to come up with something clever but instead just say hi and ask a follow up question about something in their profile?

          1. Dating Anon*

            Yes! This is what I went for, a simple question that was easy for them to answer. Like if they had a photo where they were obviously on holiday, I’d ask where it was taken. Or if they mentioned that they played a particular sport, I’d ask how long they’d been playing for or how they got into it.

            I also got more responses when I put some stuff in my profile that it was easy for them to ask *me* about in response. I put something about liking to eat out, cooking, and being addicted to cheese, so I got a lot of people asking what my favourite restaurant/recipe/cheese was. It was a good way to start a conversation when you haven’t built that rapport yet.

            1. zora*

              Yes. All. Of. This.

              My boyfriend and I met on Tinder (this was right before Bumble came out), so he sent the first message, but I had mentioned in my profile that I like to read nonfiction, he asked what nonfiction I had read recently, we had an awesome convo about a history of New Orleans and we are coming up on 3 years together! Questions are a great way to start.

        2. Mananana*

          Best advice for that first message? Keep it positive. When profiles or messages lay out all the things you don’t want (no game players, no cheats, only honest people, yada, yada) it gives out a “I expect the absolute worst, and I’m trying to weed you out now.” I second the advice to have a trusted friend (one who will be honest) look over both your pics and your profile. If you don’t want to do that, then google “successful Bumble profiles”; there’s help out there.

          Finally, I met my DH online. I did the online dating thing on and off for a few years; had some really good dates, some rather weird dates, and then finally, the last date. We’ve been married for 10 years now.

        3. Teka*

          I’m more familiar with OkCupid so the profile style might be different, but finding a common point of interest such as a hobby or tv series and asking a question is a good way to break the ice. It shows there’s something about them specifically that interests you and you’re not just sending out the same opener to everyone.

    2. Kat*

      There isn’t anything wrong with you, honest! That’s what it’s like, unfortunately. It takes time and you have to keep going because it’s a ‘numbers game’ (so unromantic, but true) and the chances of meeting someone you fancy in one day aren’t going to be high (sure it happens, but I don’t know anyone it happened to!). Just do a bit every day and don’t be discouraged by the number of matches. You don’t know any of those people yet so you can’t be invested in whether it matters that they like you. Just think of it as a bit of a fun game and eventually it’ll be OK.

      And I’m not one of those who has a ‘happy ever after’ from it but I have met lots of cool people and been on nice dates, so just don’t have too many expectations.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      Don’t give up yet! :)

      I’m thinking I had my Match account for 9 months or so before I met my boyfriend, and he was only my second internet date (I only paid when I actually wanted to message someone, it’s a small dating pool in my area).

      I actually had logged in to delete the whole thing and give up forever when I saw his profile . . . We messaged for a week or so before the first date, and now a year and a half later we live together with 3 cats and a giant dog!

    4. Miles*

      The online dating industry preys on insecurities and low self confidence. A lot of the more successful sites/apps are going to subtly make it slightly worse if you’re susceptible (not on purpose but those tend to be more successful even if the creators don’t realize it so the others get weeded out)

      So just keep your head up, practice some positive affirmations and remember that the person you’re looking for is is trying hard to find you too.

    5. Free Meerkats*

      I can’t comment on modern online dating, but back in the early days (mid 90s)it was pretty much the same. After my first wife died I went on both online dating sites. And I only got response rates of about 20%. And I only responded to about 50% of the messages I received. There were no photos, it was all text.

      You’re on Bumble, where the females initiate; if you go on something like OKC, from what I hear, you will be snowed under with messages and be unable to reply to all of them.

      Stick it out for a while, it’s not a sprint. It took some time to find each other, but we just celebrated our 20th anniversary last year.

      1. Anonymosity*

        I got zippo from OKC. But I’m in SW MO where there is nothing, really. Everyone here gets married at twelve. :P

        Well okay, I did get one guy who looked nice but when I went to his profile, the first thing I saw was The most important relationship in my life is my relationship with Jesus Christ. As I am not religious, that was a hard pass. I’m sure he found a nice person, but it wasn’t gonna be me.

    6. Leela*

      Never used it myself but I have multiple couple friends who met with online dating (variety of tinder, bumble, and other ones), several of whom are now married. Based on that I’d say keep at it? And open your horizons, one of my friends almost didn’t meet up with the person she’s now married to because he was doing something weird in his picture (I didn’t see it but she referred to him as “the tree straddler”). I had a friend have to go through multiple bad messages and dates to get to the good ones, post-Harambe some guy even said “Are you a gorilla encloser because I’d love to drop a baby in you”:/

      Best of luck and I hope you start getting some good dates soon!

    7. matcha123*

      I started with online dating in March. I think I’ve met almost 10 men so far. One went out with my three times before ghosting. I have little dating experience and the online dating has been a roller coaster of emotions.
      All I can say is I’m in the same boat and to keep trying. Don’t think of it as life or death. One guy is bad, feel down for a week and keep pushing yourself. Get out and do things that you find interesting. I find that cultivating my friend network helps me feel calm and that will hopefully make me look more attractive to a partner!

    8. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I started online dating in…2011? Maybe earlier, I can’t say for sure. I didn’t stop until 2017, when I met my now-boyfriend.

      I’ve done OkCupid, Match, Christian Mingle, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble…the list goes on. I met now-BF on OkCupid, and that was my personal preference. I tried Bumble, but found I couldn’t start that many conversations (I can be quite shy).

      So…6+ years before I met my long-term BF. I had dates, relationships, etc. all in between, and I’m super picky, so it won’t necessarily take you even a quarter of the time it took me. But like all things, it is an investment.

      Definitely don’t become discouraged, but I would certainly try other apps!

  4. Tired*

    I’ve started systematically deleting my FB posts. No particular reason, just a lot of stuff I’ve posted feel silly/pointless now. I mean yeah I can just deactivate the account, but I’d just prefer it not being out there at all.
    Apparently you can’t just delete your entire account in one go? I mean I probably wouldn’t do that anyway since I might want to check in on other people who still use it, but it’s annoying you can’t just delete all your own posts wholesale. Thankfully I never posted all that much to begin with.

    1. Buu*

      There’s a chrome script you can use to bulk delete old posts, but as always with that kind of thing use at your own risk.

    2. Notapirate*

      I deleted my account 2 years ago and haven’t missed it. It makes you wait 90 days after you choose to do it and of you don’t login during those it deletes.

    3. Miles*

      You can delete your account but it takes some searching. There’s a link in one of the help questions to do it. (and not just the disable feature, which they’ll try to push you to) Technically Facebook keeps the info, and the NSA and all of Zuckerberg’s vague acquaintances will still have access to anything on there if they go looking, but it’ll be off of the site.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’ve done the same thing. It’s interesting seeing the patterns of when/what I posted in the past.

  5. Always Angry*

    Thank you so much to the people who were helpful last week . No thanks to the person who was horrible at the end (although thanks to the person who defended me).

    I’ve had a horrendously stressful week and I’ve managed to keep the anger inside (yay?). I should state that when I say “always angry” this refers to the anger that I internalise towards myself and there was only one incident the previous week where I had got really angry with my kid. I felt at the he time like it was a permanent state of affairs, but it’s not. Again please remember I’m starting therapy soon so I am going to take that step. There are maybe 4-5 instances a year of me taking my anger out on my child. That is clearly far too much and I am personally wounded by my parent doing something like that; it’s both the cause and the effect of my situation with my child, so I know first hand the damage caused. But because I was in such a bad place emotionally last week it might have been that my post read like it happened all the time. It felt like that at the time.

    Anyway. Last night I called my sibling to ask them to come make tea for my child as I was more exhausted than I can say. So I got to shut the door and doze and *not be in charge* for an hour or two and this meant that when child melted down at bedtime for Ridiculous Reason I could just about keep a handle on myself.

    So. TLDR: things are better. I haven’t had a chance to take some of the practical steps suggested in comments yet but they were helpful and it’s good to have that plan.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Hi! I’m glad that you’re doing better and that you found people helpful. I’m really glad that you’re getting into therapy as well.

      As a child who often bore the brunt of her father’s anger when I was younger, I hope you don’t mind if I make a suggestion. My dad never apologised, not once. I really wish he would validate the pain he caused me when I was a child – screaming at me in public, smacking me, tipping cereal over my head etc. – I think it would go a long way to helping me come to terms with what happened but he has a rose-tinted view of the past.

      If your child is old enough, sit him down and tell him that the problem is you, not him (or her). It might help the child.

      Good luck and I’ll be thinking of you!

      1. deesse877*

        Foreign Octopus, I don’t want to tell you how to see your own life, but I would classify the parental behavior you describe as abuse, not merely anger. The distinction is important, because abuse is chosen, over long periods of time, and involves a high level of conscious control (so that the abuser continues to get away with it and avoid consequences), whereas anger such as the OP describes is apparently momentary and involves feeling out of control, and maybe a link to depression or anxiety or simple exhaustion.

        My own abusive parent, when I confronted them around New Year’s (I’m in my 40’s, it took that long), simply stated that they did not remember anything that I mentioned, and therefore they should not be held responsible for it. All in a tone of voice that I’ve known from early childhood indicates a bald lie. Which is ridiculous, of course, but it illustrates the extremes such persons go to, to avoid apologizing.

        Anyways, for the OP, apologies are indeed good, for the reasons Foreign Octopus states–it validates the child’s worldview–and if you can do it, that is really good evidence that you’re going in the right direction. For FO, apologies if my follow-up oversteps, but I really do think that a distinction between anger-from-being-overwhelmed and domestic abuse is important.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          Hey deesse877, no need to apologise for your follow up. I know it comes from a place of kindness, and I thank you for that.

          The reason I described it just as anger was the fact that it didn’t happen consistently. He would sort of blow up at the smallest things three or four times a year – once it was because I couldn’t remember 6×4 – but he would be back to normal the next day and then it would be normal, normal, normal until the next thing. I’m not sure if it was abuse – honestly, I’ve never spoken to anyone about it…professionally or amongst my friends. The one time I raised it with him did not go well. He came from an emotionally abusive family and I think he views any criticism of his parenting very defensively because of it.

          I should say that we have a great relationship now and I don’t want to overstate the problem. I’m aware that it was a horrible thing for a parent to do (and for my mum to just sit by and let it – it’s hard to forgive her that as well) but is it abuse-abuse? I’m not sure. I’d probably need to speak with a professional to sort it all out in my head and come to terms with it, amongst other things (I can’t afford it right now but, when I can, I definitely want to have some sessions).

          I’m probably sounding really confused right now but, rest assured, I’m now 28 and living in a foreign country so no matter what, I’m doing okay.

          Thank you so much for your concern though, and I’m sorry that you’ve experienced bad things with your family. The pain always seems so much sharper when it comes from the people we love.

          1. Lissa*

            Whoa, Foreign Octopus, your experience with your father is really close to mine – totally fine until complete rage, sometimes over the most random things. But then he’d be totally cool about things where I’d be sure he’d flip out. And now he just says he doesn’t remember any of it (my brother tried to talk to him about it). We have an OK relationship now and I honestly have absolutely zero desire to ever try to discuss it with him.

            I think a lot of people are really helped by defining an experience as abuse, but for me that isn’t especially necessary. I feel like there can be a narrative that involves a lot of emotions/catharsis or something and I’ve never really felt like that sort of thing helps me. I’m ok with saying “yup, my dad was shitty when I was a kid but we get along ok now.” Not to say that you wouldn’t be helped by more of a definition or anything! I just think sometimes there can be pressure to decide if something is “objectively” abuse or not but I never really felt like that would change anything for me. If I decide that it was abuse, not anger, does that change anything I’m doing now? Not really, for me anyway.

            1. Ron McDon*

              Same here, with my Dad.

              It’s hard to not repeat the behaviour with your own kids, because instinct/habit makes you react in a familiar way, but not always a way you’d like.

              My husband’s Dad was similarly controlling and bossy when my husband was young. The other month he did say that he looks back at how he was then and feels embarrassed, and that he has mellowed with age.

              I can’t see my Dad ever talking about it; he still has trouble admitting he is/was wrong! But I’ll bet he feels the same as my FIL.

            2. Foreign Octopus*

              Hi Lissa and Ron McDon,

              It sounds like the situation is more common than I thought. Not that I’ve really spoken about it to anyone as I’m not sure how to put it into words.

              Lissa, it’s interesting what you say about putting labels on things because I was lying in bed this morning thinking about just that. If a therapist did tell me it was abuse, how would that change my relationship with my dad? I’m not sure any good can come from me picking at this thread and I just need to accept it like you said – “dad had his shitty moments when I was a kid but now we’re great.”

              Ron McDon, my dad has really mellowed with age as well! Occasionally something will happen that had his shouting and screaming in my youth but now he just shrugs it off. I still get the tight feeling in my chest though, anticipating his reaction.

              I think part of the reason I don’t want to have children is because I’m scared I’d repeat the same mistakes and I really, really don’t want to do that.

              1. Jules the Third*

                Yeah, my dad too, though he never got physical.

                When I did the checklist for ‘Adult Children of Alcoholics’, he pinged every one, and I pinged most of them. His father was an alcoholic, and the learned behavior passed down.

                Therapy can actually help. I never had a confrontation with my dad, but I am now able to say to my dad, ‘not cool. see you later.’ though I haven’t needed to in a decade, and I’m not afraid of his reaction anymore. But if I died, I wouldn’t want him raising my kid.

                Don’t let the fear limit your life – if you don’t want kids, cool, but if you still get that tight feeling, talk to a therapist and role play how you might behave in the future.

                It was abuse, it just wasn’t *constant* abuse, which yeah, makes it more complicated. I don’t want to call it abuse because most of the time he was a good dad, and it didn’t happen that often, and he got better when I got older, and etc.

                But it was abuse.

              2. Leticia*

                One mechanism that might be in play when an abusive parent “doesn’t remember” is a form of denial. I know I suffer from this, some things that are too painful I just bury deep down and don’t remember. If someone tells me about it, slowly, I can make it surface. It’s never pleasant.

                Another is what I call black rage. I had this once or twice in my life – something annoyed me for a long time until I exploded, but I remember only the scene before and the scene after. Once I found myself holding a high school friend by the shoulders and seeing the terror in her eyes. Apparently I shook her while screaming to be left alone. The other time I was about four and I threw a toy that was almost my size at my brother across my mother’s bed. I have no idea how I managed.

                Something like this might explain why a parent really doesn’t remember. Also it might be a flat out lie. I believe in choosing the narrative that hurts me less.

                1. Lissa*

                  I think that is true with my father – denial to the point where he knows it was bad but doesn’t remember specifics. There were some other factors in play too but it’s a long story… he was drinking a lot around that time, and as kind of an opposite reaction…. he was always way way nicer when drinking. My brother and I talked about how weird it was that we’d hope he would come home drunk, because then he’d be chill, listen to music, talk about life and it would be fine. I definitely think he was self-medicating, as part of the reason he is better now is some meds he’s got on. The only time i really see it anymore is when he’s driving he gets road ragey and has nearly got into a couple confrontations with other drivers.

              3. Thursday Next*

                Your last sentence really resonated with me. I spent a lot of years feeling the same way. But after years of therapy, I came to a place where I didn’t feel I was going to make the same mistakes. That was a really good feeling. Just wanted to say, you can learn to be different from your own parents; it’s work, but it’s possible.

      2. Always Angry*

        I always, always, apologise, and I always make it as clear as I can that it’s Not His Fault and that I’m actively trying to do better.

        I don’t remember my parent ever apologising, except occasionally for extremely minor things. It still hurts. I don’t want to be that person.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Not a parent, but early on I made it a habit to apologize to people at work when I was wrong.

          And an odd thing happened. Instead of feeling like I had degraded myself, I found that on the inside my strength renewed itself. You know, the expression of rising above the circumstance? I could feel myself growing on the inside. And for the most part, I got positive feedback for apologizing. I think in some ways it improved the relationships a tiny bit.

          I very seldom saw my parents apologize to me. And if I apologized to them it did not seem to be enough. When I saw how it worked with regular people, it was a very healing thing for me.
          The next odd thing that happened was that it became easier not to make the same mistake again. I can only describe it as I felt freer, I really don’t have words to describe.. I woefully underestimated the power/renewal that comes back to us when we apologize.

          Anyway, OP, you are talking about this. My saying is “If someone is talking about a problem they have solved 50% of the problem.” You are further along here than you may realize. Keep going, you will get to a new and better place on this one.

    2. Thlayli*

      I’m really glad you’re doing better. Your post last week did make the situation sound a lot worse than it is, and the initial post made it seem like you didn’t acknowledge the gravity of the situation. That may explain the reaction you got.

      The most important thing is that you have recognised this as a problem and want to change. Believe it or not that’s probably the hardest bit.

      It’s good you have a supportive sibling. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

      Personally I find getting a break and a nap is the most important thing when dealing with my kids. Can you build some time into your schedule you get a rest – maybe a weekly babysitting slot which you rotate between sibling (as often as they are willing- agree this in advance) and other (possibly paid) babysitters? If you knew for example that you would have 3 hours to nap every Saturday afternoon it would make the rest of the week easier.

      1. Always Angry*

        I wouldn’t agree that my initial post minimised things (I said I’m starting therapy and that i understand I’m being a shitty parent and that he doesn’t deserve it and asked for help). However we can hopefully agree to disagree.

        I don’t know many people I trust to look after him. So many of my friends/fellow parents round here are in abusive relationships and I don’t trust their other halves :( but I am looking to see if I can extend my social circle which hopefully will help at least in the medium term). But he does go to his other parent/my ex part of the weekend and one evening a week which helps.

        1. Ali G*

          Would your child want to see your ex more? Do you trust your ex? Maybe your child could spend more time with their other parent (assumption here – sorry if wrong) to give you some breathing room and time for therapy.
          You seem extremely self aware of your situation and that is a great first step. Keep going!

          1. Always Angry*

            He would. And ex would. But ex is emotionally abusive so I am very reluctant to add any more time to what he gets.

            1. Jules the Third*

              Yeah, don’t do it. You at least feel bad about getting angry, emotional abusers use anger as a weapon.

        2. Thursday Next*

          Sometimes it can be helpful to get a “parent’s helper,” a young teen whom you might not leave your child alone with, but someone who’d play with your child while you’re in another room. They’re cheaper than babysitters, too! Aaaannnd I am reliably informed that they are more fun than Tired Mommy.

    3. Jules the Third*

      One thing I do when Little Jules is getting on my last nerve (oh trolling, clearly you’re an instinct, not learned) is take a breath, and consciously say, ‘I’m gonna go with this’ and *join* him on whatever it is. That might look like:

      If he’s resisting brushing teeth, I get my toothbrush and do mine. No commentary, just a visual for him.
      If he’s not getting up, give him a hug, and give him another couple of minutes in bed.
      If he’s slow out the door to the bus, race him to the stop.
      (Little Jules, like his dad, is Not A Morning Person)
      Let him fail when he tells us for the first time about that project needing 10ish hrs work that’s due tomorrow. He got to spend a few hours on it, so that he had something to turn in, but he is much better about telling us a couple of weeks ahead now.

      The key thing is that it’s a variation on mindfulness that maintains some forward momentum. I am engaging my front brain by consciously stating to myself, ‘I am getting irritated, what different tactic might work right now.’ Yeah, it takes more time, but Little Jules cries easily, which puts everything at a stop, so in the long run it’s faster for us. And can turn into actual fun. I re-read Lois McMasters Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan’s series every couple of year, and it’s really good for helping me remember to think, despite the heat of the moment, or the pressure of deadlines.

      All parents get mad. Most parents snap at their kids a couple of times a year. Apologizing does help. My strategy is noticing your rising anger and turning that energy to a constructive channel, which may help.

      1. Always Angry*

        Thank you. I quite often get him to get dressed by saying I can beat him. I usually throw the race but it works to get him dressed faster :) some other good tips in here, thank you.

    4. Mananana*

      So glad that things are looking up. Getting your sibling to pitch in was a great idea; asking for help can be tough. Good vibes for continued progress.

      1. Always Angry*

        Sibling usually says no. Which is frustrating as that’s my only family within 150 miles. But now they know how much I’m struggling I’m hoping they can build me in a bit more.

    5. They called me crabby*

      You could be me! I was angry all. the. time. I’d yell at people while driving in my car. I thought it was due to depression and being generally overwhelmed, and while that was part of my problem, it turned out the root cause was my hormone levels. I had a major meltdown at my chiropractor’s office one day and he suggested I have them checked. No one else suggested I look into that. My estrogen was basically nonexistent and pretty much everything else was way off as well. I was put on some bioidentical hormones and some neurotransmitter supplements for a year or so, diet change, etc to get everything jump started again. That was two years ago and I feel good now. I still get mad on occasion, but it’s not the ragey, nuke the world and everyone in it anger I was experiencing and couldn’t control. Anyway, just something to think about. Good luck!

      1. Always Angry*


        There is something I haven’t thought of!

        I have also been wondering for years whether I’m peri menopausal, I wonder if that might also relate? I will investigate anyway. Thank you.

        1. They called me crabby*

          Yup, that can definitely relate. I was 35 at the time this all happened. You might have to push for testing. Like I said, my regular doctors never brought it up. I had other symptoms too: weight gain (which I figured was due to lack of exercise because of my back issues), generalized depression, slightly off menstrual cycles, no sex drive, anxiety (all of which were originally attributed to stress). Also, I meant to add earlier, I have kids too. They were also a target because literally everyone and everything ended up being a target when I’d blow. I’d apologize everytime. My kids understand that mommy was sick, mommy took medicine, and now mommy is better. It took some recovery and trust building, but they are fine now. I still feel guilty and ashamed however, even though none of my actions were by choice. It was a reaction I literally could not control.

            1. Belle di Vedremo*

              And, stress can mess with our hormones. You’ve had plenty, lately, and while the stress of the transitions you’re making is real it should have an element of resolution in it as you see the new life you’re creating for yourself and Medium Child.

              I applaud your clear-eyed look at yourself and your situation, and all the steps you’re taking to make this series of changes. You are smart, courageous, perceptive and determined, and you clearly have a big heart. You have a lot on your plate, yes, but your internal resources are impressive. We’re definitely Team You!

    6. PNWFlowers*

      Maybe in addition to your own personal therapy, parent/child or family therapy, play therapy etc that you do with your child would be helpful? Improve communication and interactions, etc. Also might open up some other avenues of support or resources for you all. If you like reading, positive parenting by Rebecca Eanes has a book/workbook/fb page that I have really appreciated as I parent. It’s easy for me to get annoyed or be angry and it’s really been helpful to work on myself as I parent my children. Good luck!

      1. Thursday Next*

        I think play therapy can be great for kids, if it’s feasible for you. Especially as your son is probably processing your split from your ex and issues around separate households…play therapy is a nice way to do that.

    7. Anonymosity*

      It’s a cycle. I’m glad you’re taking steps to break it. It’s hard; so many people can’t or don’t know how to begin. You’re off to a good start. *hug*

      1. Always Angry*

        Thank you. I don’t want my son to get to 40 and have to be dealing with this. That would be failure on my part.

    8. RestlessRenegade*

      Parenting seems so hard and it sounds like you are doing your very best. That’s all we can ask of ourselves!

  6. Foreign Octopus*


    I’m currently reading The Hand of Fatima by Idelfonso Falcones. It’s about a young Morisco man during the Inquisition in Spain in the 16th century. I’m kind of enjoying it but I’m so frustrated by the horrible decisions the characters are making that are only prolonging their misery. I want to put the book down but I also want to know how it ends.

    What’s everyone else reading?

    1. Laika*

      I’m about halfway through Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, and I’m actually pretty impressed with the book so far. It doesn’t read so much like “self help” (even though that’s essentially what it boils down to) and has a lot interesting of theory and practical information. My only gripe with it is that I’m impatient to get through to the good stuff! The author includes a lot of backstory and personal anecdotes that are very relevant – so I understand why it’s all included – but I get impatient reading “I met so-and-so, and we discussed such-and-such…” when what I really want is practical tools and skills. Maybe it’s coming in the last half of the book. So I understand your frustrations about to get through to the end (but for different reasons, obviously!)

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I know exactly what you mean about being impatient to get to the good parts. I have to stop myself flicking ahead because I always get annoyed with myself about spoiling it for me.

      2. LifeOrDeath*

        I am reading Furiously Happy – liking it. Just finished Believe me by Eddie Izzard and liked that as well. Next is Kitchen Confidential if I can find it – I’ll miss Bourdain- what a loss.

    2. Kat*

      I am reading We That Are Young by Preti Taneja, which is a modern-day King Lear set in India. It’s epic and really interesting. Whoever edited the book could have done a tighter job, but the story itself is worth investing in.

    3. Thlayli*

      I’m reading “the stars tennis balls” which a guy in work lent me. He told me it was a black comedy, but i must be missing the comdey. it’s awful. It’s about a couple of 17-year-old kids who unwittingly get mixed up in an international terrorist plot and end up having their and their families lives destroyed. I am not seeing the funny side at all and I’m unsure whether it’s just because I’m depressed and unable to see any humour or if it’s genuinely not funny.
      It’s well written and I’m invested now and want to see how it turns out, so I’ll finish it though.

    4. Kate Daniels*

      I recently started My Oxford Year, which I thought was supposed to be a fluffy, happy romance (it is… so far), but I just read a blurb comparing it to books by Nicholas Sparks or Jojo Moyes, so now I’m worried that it’s not a romance book (where HEA are required). I try to only read happy ending books right now because there is too much bad stuff going on in real life.

    5. Lcsa99*

      I am about halfway through Jim Butcher’s Brief Cases – a collection of his short stories. Some of them I’ve read before, but I never mind rereading stuff I like and I love getting back into that world.

      1. Book Lover*

        I read the first four Codex Alera by Butcher and waiting for the last two. Reading the first Aeronaut book right now, hoping to like it, not my thing so far.

        I liked the Rithmatist (would love a sequel) and Steelheart (plan to finish the series and read some more of his books).

        1. Lcsa99*

          I thought the Aeronaut book was ok, but the problem was he had to cram in too much world building to really allow for a great story as well. He needed a short cut to give us all the info we needed to make that world make sense. I think the next one will probably be much better.

          Love all the Dresden Files books but besides Cinder Spires, I haven’t gone into his other stuff.

      2. Shreksays o*

        Reading the serial novelette “sweep of the blade” by Ilona andrews. They post a chapter every week on their blog. Also good is the magic/Kate Daniels series by same author.

    6. WellRed*

      I started The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll and immediately felt like I made a mistake. So far, the main character is incredibly unlikable.

      1. foolofgrace*

        I generally give a new book 50 pages. If I’m not into it by then, I put it down forever. Giving an author 50 pages seems reasonable to me and i don’t feel bad about bailing. Recreation time is too precious to waste it on unlikable characters or whatever.

        1. PhyllisB*

          foolgrace, I get your point about unlikable characters, but have you ever read a book with characters that you don’t like AT ALL, but you just can’t stop reading? That’s the way I was about Gone Girl and Woman on a Train. I guess it’s a talented writer who can suck you in even though you hate the main characters. :-)

        1. PhyllisB*

          I agree!! I won a book from Goodreads, The People We Hate at the Wedding, and I…hated it. I should have read some of the reviews before entering. I read the blurb and it said it was “screamingly funny” I like humorous books, so thought I would like this one. I lasted three chapters.

      2. Raena*

        I feel the same! I thought it would be great because of all the hype surrounding it but the main character is awful! If I’m not enjoying a book by page 30 I put it down. There are to many great books out there so why waste my time?

      3. Shannon*

        ugh hated that book. I can usually enjoy a book when I dislike an MC but this one was bad.

    7. Jules the Third*

      Louis McMasters Bujold, Miles Vorkosigan series, from Memory to Cetaganda (Late Miles)
      Silmarillion (Tolkien) with Little Jules (He asked for it, I swear!)

      1. wireknitter*

        The Miles books are a series I would like to try. Any advice about where to dive in? (I did the Silmarillion last year.)

          1. Jen Erik*

            I’m just going to add to that that you can get ‘Cordelia’s Honor’ instead, which is a compilation of ‘Shards of Honor’ and ‘Barrayar’ – which are the first and second stories, although ‘Barrayar’ may not be the second published.

            Honestly, if I’d read ‘Shards’ on it’s own, I don’t know that I’d have continued with the series – it’s fine, but you can see a marked improvement between the two books.

            You can also skip both of them, if you like, and start with ‘A Warrior’s Apprentice’ which is where Miles proper starts. (Cordelia’s Honor is basically the story of how his parents met.)

            A lot of the books are also in omnibus editions, so you can buy ‘Young Miles’ instead of ‘A Warrior’s Apprentice’ if it makes sense price-wise and that gets you the next book as well, and a couple of short stories. (Or you could see if you could source an original hardback copy of ‘Cryoburn’ – it included a CD of all the books (bar ‘Memory’ which was left out by accident) in the series up until that point. That’s about a dozen books, so if you’re happy to read ebooks, it’s worth seeing if that’s a cheaper option.)

            1. Jules the Third*

              What Jen said. The ‘Honor’ pair are good, and help you understand a lot, and man, that sewer trip is worth reading the whole series just to get all the times they joke about it (just ran across the joke in Diplomatic Immunity today), but the heart of the series is Miles. I also recommend the _Young Miles_ omnibus instead of the individual books because it puts all the novellas in at the right places, so you don’t have to hunt for them, and _The Mountains of Mourning_ is important. _Labyrinth_ is great and _Borders of Infinity_ – gets summarized later, but the details are… intense.

              Hunh – I did not realize how *many* Hugos this series has won. Deservedly.

              1. Zanar*

                I was introduced to the series by the Mountains of Morning. I thought it summed up the themes of the others – and it’s a short story so it’s a quick read to know if you’re going to like these characters or not. Worked for me!

    8. Middle School Teacher*

      I’m reading The Heart’s Invisible Furies, by John Boyne. He wrote The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas which is one of my favourite young adult books, but this one is definitely for adults. It’s about a boy born out of wedlock in 1940s Ireland and is adopted by a wealthy couple in Dublin (and always reminded of that) and grows up realising he’s gay, which of course was illegal at the time. It’s Pride month so it’s perfect for that.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        You might also like The History of Loneliness by John Boyne. Again, it’s set in Ireland against the backdrop of the Catholic Church scandal and the main character is a priest who is dealing with the fallout.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          Thanks, I’ll check it out! I’ve pretty much all the John Boyne I’ve read, even if The Absolutist made me ugly-cry at the end.

    9. Irish Em*

      I’m reading The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman, part 3 of The Invisible Library series. It’s like a steampunk, spy/thief, literary mash-up that deserves all the accolades. The only downside to such an excellent sci-fi-fantasy mixer is that in the current one giant spiders were used in a kill ploy and… they were *too* well described for my arachnophobic ass. But the author should take the fact that I couldn’t sleep after reading that bit as a compliment and a positive reflection of her talents she’s too good at descriptions!

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Ooof, I had this problem with a sci-fi book I read recently called Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I was a few chapters in when I realised that spiders played a large and very well-described role in the book. I finished it and enjoyed it but I’m now side-eyeing spiders.

        1. Dragonista*

          I loved Children of Time and I follow the author on twitter- he recently announced there is to be a sequel!

    10. The Other Dawn*

      Halfway through the last book in the pandemic series I’m reading. It’s Invasion by MP MacDonald. Good series, but I find the poor editing more distracting in this last book. I’m also finding some of the conversations and writing to be a little confusing. Or maybe redundant is a better word. But it’s a good series anyway.

      Thanks so much for all the “apocalypse/pandemic” book recommendations last week! I’ve added every single one of them to my Good Reads “want to read” list.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Oh, I missed that thread last week, but you might also enjoy The Ending series.

    11. Annie Mouse*

      I’m reading Handmaid’s Tale at the moment. I’ve not seen the TV show and I’ve put it off for ages. I didn’t realise it was a dystopian novel, I thought it was set in the past. I’m enjoying it but I’m struggling to get my head round the mentalities involved.

      1. foolofgrace*

        I’m currently watching the series and it’s rather mesmerizing. As you get farther on, the story tells you how things got to be that way, and it’s frightening how something like that can become reality.

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        Such a good book!

        The thing that really struck me about it was the fact that everything that happens in the book – the subjugation of women, the abortion restrictions, the forced sex – has all happened at some point in history around the world. Margaret Atwood was very focused when writing the book and decided to use only things that had happened in reality in her book. Gilead is an extreme version but everything there has occurred to women around the world throughout the years.

        It always makes me feel cold when I remember that while reading it.

      3. Anonymosity*

        I read it around the time it first came out, and it scared me so much I couldn’t read it again! But I love the TV show.
        Still haven’t re-read it, and I own it. LOL

      4. RestlessRenegade*

        I loved the book but I’m often reluctant to recommend it in case people are expecting a traditional narrative. Atwood is an amazing writer with so much talent, but she is also atypical. (I actually got my copy of Handmaid signed by her!) I hope you enjoy it!

    12. Aurora Leigh*

      Memory of Fire by Callie Bates. It’s the second book in Waking Land series. I love the magic system and the characters are so well drawn!

    13. OhGee*

      I’m reading the third book in N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy, The Kingdom of Gods. I read lots of sci-fi, speculative fiction, and fantasy and was thrilled to discover another fabulous woman writer who works in my favorite genres. I highly recommend her (she has another Hugo winning trilogy out, along with several other books, none of which I’ve read yet)!

      1. smoke tree*

        I just read The Fifth Season (the first in her Broken Earth series) and I thought it was really interesting! Her worldbuilding felt very original, and I appreciated that women of colour were most of the main characters. I thought her geology based magic system was really fascinating.

    14. Igirit*

      I just got done with a rewatch of Downton Abbey and I’m obsessed. So I’ve gone looking for books set in that age among nobility and society and so I’ve read Margaret Powell’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ and I have only now discovered Edith Wharton whose novels are set in the gilded age in America! I’m so happy that I have entire booklist to go through. And I hated Lily Bart- what a frustrating character!

      1. London Calling*

        Fiction or factual? because if you like factual there’s Anne de Courcy, Pamela Horn, the memoirs of Consuelo Duchess of Marlborough ‘The Glitter and the Gold,” Lucy Lethbridge’s “Servants,” “The Housekeeper’s Tale2 by Tessa Boase, “Edwardians in Love,” by Anita Leslie and in fiction off the top of my head “The Edwardians” by Vita Sackville West and “The Shooting Party” by Isabel Colegate. I blogged on this very subject when Downton ended



        Our blog covers the Downton period so you should find plenty in the bibliographies under each article.

    15. HannahS*

      I read Craeft by Alex Langland(s?), one of the archaeologists who does Victorian Farm and it’s associated shows. If you’re interested in some of the crafts practiced in England pre-industrial revolution (centered around farming), it’s really interesting. I like some chapters more than others. He takes a very close focus on the craft–in discussing, say, textile production, he’ll tell you in a lot of detail how it was done at various points in time, but not who did it under what circumstances, who bought and who sold, where those people lived and how much money they made. Really no broader socioeconomic context. It was still really good though, because often he’s talking about these very old crafts from the perspective of someone who’s actually tried them. I also loved How to Be a Tudor and How to Be Victorian by Ruth Goodman, the other person from those shows, who does much more people-centric history.

      1. London Calling*

        And the DVDs The Victorian Farm and The Edwardian Farm with Alex Langland, Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman are very good, plus The Victorian Kitchen Garden if you can still get hold of it*(it came out in the late 1980s/early 1990s).

        *Just checked – available on Amazon.

        1. Screenwriter*

          Not quite the same, but Victorian Slum House on BBC was TERRIFIC–super insightful, informative, empathetic, with a lot of historical information.

          1. Middle School Teacher*

            I loved that! It was on PBS in 2016, I think? I was glued to it. It was SO GOOD.

    16. Gatomon*

      I’m reading the Lord of the Rings – never read or saw the movies before. SPOILERS BELOW!!

      I’ve reached the part where the ring has been destroyed and everyone is picking up the pieces.

      The writing is beautiful but I’m baffled by the lack of character progression or depth to the story. It feels like “first they did this, then they did that, then this happened, and then they did this…” for most of the story. I feel like I barely know these characters despite the thousands of words I’ve read about them. And it seems like there’s always something convenient that saves their bacon, like the mail Frodo was given to wear or the lambas cakes that don’t ever seem to end or Aragorn just happens to have magic healing powers (?? seriously??). The fellowship of the ring was woefully unprepared for this journey, and every time they start to suffer a consequence (Gandalf’s death, Frodo’s death, attack by the Ringwraiths) it’s reversed or averted coincidentally. I’m not feeling any emotion for these characters at all. I’m not seeing why Tolkien is so revered.

      1. The Foreign Octopus*

        Welcome to LOTR, better late than never!

        I think the reason Tolkien is so revered is his master ship at world building. There was simply nothing else like it when he published. He devoted himself to building the world with the languages involved and it set the standard for fantasy to come after it, although (in my opinion) none have measured up. As for the lack of character development, I would argue that it’s there but it is hidden by the way he writes, which is very much of its time – and let’s not forget, he was a don at Oxford in the first half of the 20th century so his English will be a little more florid than we’re used to now.

        As much as I love Tolkien, I feel George RR Martin more accurately represents grand quests and danger – he’s not afraid to kill off his main characters and keep them dead to reflect the reality of the situation; sometimes the hero doesn’t always win.

        1. Jules the Third*

          yeah, a little more florid. You could call it that.

          My class on it in college called it ‘prose poetry’. I agree the character dev is there but hidden.

          Martin – yeah, he’s gritty and real and all, but if I want to read about adventures where people die, I tend to pick history instead of fantasy. David Weber is also like that – a major character dies in every Honor Harrington book. You run a real danger of losing audience – he lost me with Alistair.

      2. anon for this*

        Huh. I don’t care for them either, but now that you mention it… I think it’s simply not a character-driven story. Tolkien was also drawing heavily on traditional Northern European folktales and mythology (e.g., the healing hands of a King), and well… traditional stories around the world tend not to follow modern storytelling standards. At ALL. Also meta-spoilers: divine intervention is a thing in Middle-Earth. Wizards aren’t humans with magic, they’re angels in custom meatsuits.

        None of this is to encourage you to like it! Just explain a bit of why it’s so strange nowadays.

      3. Jules the Third*

        But there is still some character development, you just have to see the internal workings of it in your head. Frodo and Aragorn, not so much, and what there is has become stereotypical (Reluctant Hero!), but Eowyn, Sam, Smeagol and Legolas / Gimli all show evidence of growth. Though I gotta admit, I always saw Eowyn as taking off on occasional adventures, even after she got married – I didn’t buy the last ‘happy wife’ phase one bit.

        The world-building, yes, but also – there *weren’t* a gazillion books with Reluctant Heroes and elves and rangers when this was written. There were a few (Dunsany, ER Eddings, William Morris), but pickings were slim. I think it’s part of why Westerns were so popular in the early 20th century – a yearning for Romance – and the rise of Fantasy and Sci Fi is part of their decline.

      4. Mad Baggins*

        In addition to what everyone has already said, I’d recommend you listen to the radio play by the BBC. One thing that is definitely difficult for new readers is that character feelings and motivations aren’t as spelled out as we are used to in modern literature. So you have to really read into each line in order to see the feeling in it, and that requires already knowing what happens–not very welcoming to a new reader! But in the radio play, all the characters are beautifully acted out with just the right level of sound design to help you picture what is happening. By hearing an actor’s interpretation, I was able to “hear” the emotion in lines I never heard before, and it really made everything *click* in a way a simple audiobook wouldn’t. And Ian Holm, who plays Bilbo in the movies, plays Frodo! If you can find it somewhere I highly recommend it!

      5. Gatomon*

        I know I’m super late to reply, but thank you all for your perspectives! I knew the story was old, but I didn’t realize it was written during the 30s and 40s (I would’ve guessed 50s or 60s at the latest). I think that does impact how it would be received/how it would impact things.

        I agree the worldbuilding is definitely the strongest aspect of the series. It does feel like a large, diverse continent. The sheer amount of time it takes them to get from The Shire to Mordor, and the variety of depicted landscapes, and languages, and cultures, really reinforces that.

        I do really enjoy George RR Martin’s… grittiness? Maybe that’s why I’m struggling a bit. Prose and poetry has never been something I took a lot of interest in. I think for me to really love something of this length, I need a more character-driven story like Martin.

        I think I’ll have to dig deeper on the character development. Legolas and Gimli do get over their dislike/distrust of each other to become friends, and Smeagol/Gollum is a pretty complex… whatever he is!

    17. Cringing 24/7*

      I will always recommend Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor until the day I die. It’s such a great read!

      1. Violaine*

        Just started “The President is Missing” by Bill Clinton and James Patterson while riding the Metro this morning (headed to the Library of Congress to get a reader card, because I can :) ). So far, so good!

        Next up will be The Comedown by Rebekah Frumkin.

      2. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        I’m picking that one up from the library on Monday! Great to hear another recommendation for it. I’m trying to read more books by/for/about women and people of color, and don’t have a lot of real-life people to get such recommendations from.

        Just finished Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. It’s a YA novel set in an alternative 1800’s US where the dead rose towards the end of the Civil War. Interesting story and great world building. Surprisingly believable.

        Also, agreeing with a comment above, I highly recommend N. K. Jemisin’s works. The Broken Earth trilogy was what convinced me that fantasy didn’t have to be all vampires and dragons and aimed at tweens. Amazingly unique story and sooo well written. I’m really upset that Hollywood keeps regurgitating the same stories over and over when absolute gems like this are out there.

    18. Violaine*

      I thought I replied to this, but either I fail at commenting on a mobile browser or it didn’t go through.

      Started reading “The President is Missing” on the Metro this morning, while en route to the Library of Congress to get a reader’s card. So far, so good.

      Next up: “The Comedown” by Rebekah Frumkin.

    19. zora*

      I just finished The Wreath by Sigrid Undset, a Nobel prize winning Norwegian author. Historical fiction set in 14th century Norway… I absolutely loved it and now feel like it went to quickly, so I might be picking up the next 2 books in the series soon!

      Just started Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, a friend of Charlotte Bronte, which is a fun read, I’m really enjoying so far.

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        I love one of Gaskell’s other books, North and South. It was also made into a mini series which was excellent.

    20. PhyllisB*

      Also it seems like I’m obsessed with weddings, but the I’ve read three books with a wedding theme, (with two James Patterson Murder Club books thrown in to keep things interesting.) I just finished Nantucket Wedding by Nancy Thayer, and I read The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauk. About to start The Wedding Shop by her, then I think I’ll leave the weddings for a while and read something else.

    21. Anonymosity*

      Re-reading The Incorruptibles series by John Hornor Jacobs. It’s a sort of steampunk/western fantasy; very unique. Book 2 is Foreign Devils; book 3 is Infernal Machines. I had book 3 but didn’t get to it and I kind of forgot what happened, so I wanted to re-read before I dove into the last one.

      I love John’s stuff. I met him at a local sci-fi con, where he nominated me to judge a gross-out contest with a couple of other horror/fantasy authors (that was my fault, because I told him it’s really hard to gross me out). I never laughed so much in my life. John’s a great writer–he recently had a really good literary vampire story in Apex magazine called “Luminaria.” You can read it here: https://www.apex-magazine.com/luminaria/

      After I’ve read and reviewed Infernal Machines, I’ll read Stephen King’s new one, The Outsider. When I have some money I will get The Pharaoh Key, the new Gideon Crew book by Preston and Child.

    22. MsChanandlerBong*

      I just started book #40 of 2018, so I am almost to my goal of reading 50 books this year. It’s the third book in Dot Hutchison’s “The Collector” series. When I read her first book, “The Butterfly Garden,” I couldn’t put it down, so now I buy everything she writes. I just finished “Dying Truth” by Angela Marsons, which is book #8 in a UK detective series. I think my next read will be “Four Blind Mice” by James Patterson.

      1. RestlessRenegade*

        I have wanted to read “The Butterfly Garden” for so long! For some reason I can never find it in a bookstore. I think I’ll have to get a copy online. I’m glad to hear someone liked it!

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          I absolutely loved it. When I got it, I stayed up until 4 a.m. so I could finish it in one night.

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        I’m really far behind on my 50 books goal, I’m only on 20 or 21. I’m super looking forward to summer holidays so I can catch up. It doesn’t help that other people in my group are flying through the Perry Mason series while I’m ploughing through these 500-page bricks.

    23. RestlessRenegade*

      I’m reading Red Queen, the sequel to Alice by Christina Henry. I LOVED Alice, and I’m enjoying Red Queen though not quite as much. If you’re into very horrifying, very dark re-imaginings of Alice in Wonderland, I highly recommend the first book. (TW for sexual assault and body horror and a whole slew of other things.)

  7. Caledonia*

    The Glasgow School of Art -A Charles Rennie Macintosh building – has been devastated by another fire, several years after the last one. They have spent all of this time renovating it. Terrifically sad.

    1. Cristin in England*

      Oh no! That’s terrible. I remember the last fire (I think I was still living there at the time. )

    2. nep*

      Was just looking at that on BBC website–just awful, especially after the huge investment to rebuild it.

    3. Rosemary7391*

      Yeah :( and it’s spread to other buildings too. There was a fire on Sauchiehall street not all that long ago as well. It’s not like our weather normally encourages this sort of thing!

      1. Cristina in England*

        I was sad to see the roof of ABC collapsed. I’ve seen so many great shows there, some of my favorites.

        1. Daphne*

          Me too! I think that hit me more because I don’t have any ties to the art school, although I’m a Scottish art grad and feel very sad to see the building damaged again. Wondering what caused it….

  8. Laika*

    I’m moving back to North America after 1.5 years living overseas, and I’m so nervous/excited to go “home” and see all my friends and family. I’m worried I’ll fall back into a lot of the same old patterns and habits, but I’m also very much looking forward to some more stability in my life. Has anyone else been through this kind of transition? Any hot tips or words of encouragement? :)

    1. nep*

      Could you give an example of what you’re concerned about–what patterns and habits you might fall back to?
      I returned to the US after many years overseas. Just looking to understand your question a bit better.

      1. Laika*

        Mostly about getting comfortable and not trying to push myself/keep perusing personal growth. My time abroad was really hectic with a lot of uncertainty so I guess I’m worried I’ll come home and everyone/-thing will be the same and I’ll embrace stability a little too hard revert to the same person I was before I left, especially considering I’ll be returning to my Old Job/Company (but that’s not really the focus of my fears, plus this is a Non Work Discussion Zone!).

        1. Jules the Third*

          Travel! The US has a ton of neat things to see or do.
          Get involved – this is a highly polarized, political time, but if you don’t want to go there, people still need help on non-political fronts.
          Start a new hobby – meetup with people who also do it
          Schedule stuff – commit to something like 1 weekend a month Doing Something New

          For me, it’s ‘2 weekends of heavy cleaning, 1 weekend Projects, 1 weekend Fun’

          1. Laika*

            Yes, I love the idea of scheduling and making sure that my weekends have a dedicated purpose. Thank you!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Set goals for yourself. Put it in writing if need be.
          Being away forced your hand, you had to do something because of your circumstances. Maybe giving yourself goals with a built-in, “forced” commitment of some sort would be key for you.

    2. Jess the Kat*

      I spent about the same amount of time overseas as you did, about 15 years ago. It’s great to get home and see how the family has changed since you were gone. I noticed that the family cat even looked different! I had young nieces and nephews who were infants when I left and were toddlers when I got back so we resumed our relationship as if I never left. One thing I remember is the transition mostly from city life back to smallish town USA life and the lack of exercise that came with it. I lost weight from living in the UK in a major city because of increased exercise and a simpler diet, and lots of stress. When I got back to the US it is was hard to be cognizant of that and it was easy to slip back into old ways with richer food options and less exercise and returning in time to a harsh winter.

    3. Cringing 24/7*

      I understand your worry – when I was living overseas, I was always trying new things and pushing myself because my mindset was, “I’m a stranger here and there are so many things I haven’t ever seen or tried before.”

      When I returned to the US, I fell back into old, comfortable habits and felt sad that I wasn’t having adventures anymore. It took a while before I realized that being overseas had changed who I was, so I could view myself as almost a new person and go out into my “home country” with that same, “there are so many things I’ve never tried before” mindset. It takes some concentration and effort, but meditation and being willing to force myself into uncomfortable situations has really helped.

    4. Triple Anon*

      Yeah. Reverse culture shock is a thing. Your home country may seem strange for a while. The good part for me was that it gave me a new appreciation of America and American culture. I used to take more for granted, and I was more cynical. Now I see more things as, “cool American cultural things,” instead of having a more cynical take on it.

      Challenges: If you settled into another country’s society and culture a bit, it may be harder to relate to people who have lived in one country their whole lives; it changes you. Learning to speak like an American again can be challenging. And of course there is a lot to miss, and that can be traumatic (leaving close friends). There can be a sense of isolation because you’ve had life-changing experiences and you’re cut off from the people who were part of it.

      I’ve always been kind of nomadic, but it intensified that for me. Now I want to travel all the time. I think of myself as part of a global community rather than belonging to one place.

      1. Teapot Reader*

        Im currently in this situation and my advice would be to take it easy, because you are going to have a heck of a lot of things that need sorting administratively when you return to a country after time overseas, from local taxes and utility bills to working out where it was you kept the folder with the volunteering paperwork. Everything takes 5 times as long as you expect, shops have moved and closed down, and all your friends and family want to hang out. I have actively had to schedule in quiet evenings and weekends as I am just so tired by it all.

      2. Mad Baggins*

        “If you settled into another country’s society and culture a bit, it may be harder to relate to people who have lived in one country their whole lives; it changes you. Learning to speak like an American again can be challenging.”
        So true, and it feels really reaffirming to hear someone else say that.

        “Now I see more things as, “cool American cultural things,” instead of having a more cynical take on it.”
        I’ve become much more cynical in the last 6 months or so, so this outlook is really helpful. I’m going to try to think this way!

  9. Beesknee*

    Fun question: if you could spend time with anyone historic figure, who would it be and why?

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Isabel of Castille.

      She was a huge force in Spain in the 15th century and although she and her husband were called the Catholic Monarchs, she’s the one better remembered. I’d love to ask her about all sorts of things – why she strove to be Queen (she had two brothers ahead of her in the line of succession and she forced her older half-brother Henry to name her his successor over his own daughter), whether she really loved Fernando (they kind of eloped), and if she had any regrets about some of her actions (the Moorish expulsion and then peace settlement that fell apart nearly a century later under her grandson – or great-grandson – in what we know as the Spanish Inquisition).

      I just think she’s a fascinating historical figure.

      (Great question by the way!)

      1. London Calling*

        And the mother of Katherine of Aragon. Would Henry VIII have treated his wife so badly if Isabella had still been alive to exert diplomatic pressure?

        1. zora*

          omg yes!! I just read Phillipa Gregory’s book about Katherine of Aragon earlier this year and it was the first time it clicked that she was Isabel’s daughter! Such fascinating women!!

          Also, we are so used to hearing the part of the story where Anne Boleyn arrives, but Katherine basically ran England for about 20 years!! I wish we heard about that part more often.

          1. London Calling*

            Henry was actually married to Katherine for longer than all of the other wives put together. Also, fun fact – Henry VIII was distantly related to all his wives.

            1. Foreign Octopus*

              I believe the reason Henry VII pushed so hard for Arthur and Katherine to marry in the first place was that Katherine actually had the stronger claim to the English throne through Isabel. It helped to solidify the Tudors power on the throne having Isabel’s daughter marry the Crown Prince.

              1. London Calling*

                Well it would have been difficult to have a weaker claim than Henry VII. Plus the fact that Katherine marrying a Tudor prince meant acceptance of the ruling dynasty by one of the most powerful ruling families in Europe – Ferdinand and Isabella wouldn’t have allowed their daughter to marry a prince to a shaky throne. It was just the earl of Warwick’s bad luck that he stood in the way of that acceptance.

        2. Foreign Octopus*

          I was thinking about that just the other day! I did the math and Katherine was about 19 when her mother died, just before she married Arthur, I think. There were then five years before she married Henry while her father (Fernando) played politics.

          If Isabel had still been alive, I doubt there’s a chance in hell that Henry would have been able to throw Katherine over. I think the Holy Roman Emperor was her nephew or something and she wasn’t called the Catholic Queen for nothing. The Pope would have had her back in an instant.

          I imagine British history would have been very, very different if she’d been alive when Henry clapped eyes on Anne.

    2. nep*

      There are many. I’ll name a few. (Cheating, I know.)
      Harry Truman. To hear him talk about his life and becoming president and the decisions he made while in office.
      George Eliot. Just find her a fascinating character and writer.
      Not a historical figure, I suppose, but MAN would I love to spend some time with Christopher Hitchens. Miss him.

    3. Irish Em*

      Caterina Sforza.

      I’m reading her biography (Tigress of Forlì by Elizabeth Lev) and she was a kickass lady who loved her family, loved Forlì and Imola and ruled them better than her husband(s). Her appearances in the Assassin’s Creed games do not do her justice.

      1. London Calling*

        Was it Caterina who when her son was captured by the army besieging her castle and threatened to kill him, leapt on the battlements, hoicked her skirts above her waist and said go ahead, she and her husband had the means to make more sons? or is that just legend.

          1. TardyTardis*

            A friend of mine came up with a great phrase about women like that. “She was one of those terrible great-grandmothers, the kind that buried four husbands (though one of them wasn’t hers, and one of them wasn’t dead yet)”. I dunno, I just liked it.

    4. NeverNicky*

      Bess of Hardwick

      Firstly for the local connection – my dad’s family are from the villages surrounding Hardwick Hall and go back centuries. Given how little they move I imagine some of my ancestors worked for her.
      Secondly, she was a powerful, strong woman at a time when it wasn’t expected. She was business savvy, and politically savvy too, managing not to annoy Elizabeth I too much, even though her granddaughter was a claimant to the throne (and a pain in the backside about it)
      Thirdly – she was an amazing needlewoman, and I love seeing her work – and I want to know how she found the time!

      1. London Calling*

        Mary Lovell has written a pretty good account of Bess’s life. Lovell tends to the uncritical where her subjects are concerned, but it’s a good introduction.

        * she was an amazing needlewoman, and I love seeing her work – and I want to know how she found the time!*

        Servants. Lots and lots of servants.

      2. Anonymosity*

        Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall! That place has been on my must-see list for ages.

    5. London Calling*

      Richard III. Did he really believe the princes were illegitimate or was it an opportunistic power grab, and what actually happened to them?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        In a weird bit of timing, I just listened to the Thinking Sideways podcast episode about the princes yesterday!

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        Yes! I have been fascinated by the Princes in the Tower story for years so I would agree.

      3. Foreign Octopus*

        Oooo, this is a good one!

        How can two royal princes just disappear without leaving a trace? I’d love to know what happened to them, and find out more about Richard because his characterisation in Shakespeare is a little grim. I’d like to know what he was really like.

        1. London Calling*

          While I was doing my degree I read an interesting theory – Richard III was written at the end of the 16th century when drama is still a very new form. Richard, this critic contended, is not actually meant to be a developed human character, but is closer to the personifications that appeared in the medieval mystery plays – in this case, the personification of Vice, and Henry Tudor is Virtue – obviously, as he was writing about the monarch’s grandfather.

          Or there’s my theory, that Shakespeare wrote the play as a bit of fun, the company read it and said ‘Will, this is SO over the top, what are you DOING, NO-ONE is seriously going to believe the bloke was that bad.’

      4. TardyTardis*

        Reading THE DAUGHTER OF TIME by Josephine Tey gives one some historical perspective. Plus, my favorite for the villain was the Bishop of Ely, who became a trusted advisor of Henry VII, and was the inventor of Morton’s Fork, a truly exciting principle in the tax arena–if you showed plenty of swag, you were taxed bigly, and if you didn’t show any bling, you were obviously socking it away, *see* you were taxed bigly. (Ely’s execution by Henry VIII was one of the most popular events of the day, needless to say).

        Also, the Bishop of Ely was the tutor of someday Sir Thomas More, and so when Sir Thomas More put forward the Tudor party line on Richard III, he was usually believed.

        1. London Calling*

          LOVE The Daughter of Time! it did show that there are actually more potential murderers – if they were indeed murdered – than just their uncle.

          Ely wasn’t executed, he died in his bed in 1500 and is buried in Canterbury Cathedral. Do you mean Dudley and Empson? because their execution was very popular.

    6. Anonymosity*

      Beethoven. I’ve always loved him, but for a while in the 1990s I had a strange obsession with learning everything I could about him and listening to his music. He was quite popular in his lifetime–thousands of people went to his funeral procession.

      He was a good-looking young man, too. We mostly see him in portraits as an older man, with the crazy hair and a big frown. But when he was younger, he had dark hair and looked a little bit like Ewan McGregor. :)

    7. Thlayli*

      Jesus. To find out the truth. Did he really claim to be the son of God, or was that a false claim made up years later? Could he really work miracles? Was (is) he actually the son of God? Or was he just a really charismatic guy who saw how crap the world is and said hey let’s all try being nice to each other for a change, and this was such a revolutionary concept it started a religion?

      My agnostic-atheist-Catholic dilemma could be solved in one fell swoop!

    8. Jackie*

      I would want to have a visit with Voltaire. I became interested in his life after reading Candide.

  10. A bit of a saga*

    Happy weekend runners! I’m trying out trail running today – that’ll be a first. Hope it’s fun! I need to get back into action after my last long race so thought something different might help me do that. Anybody have races this weekend?

    1. Kat*

      You sound like me! I did a 10k recently and the next weekend went running in a forest on a trail I know well from walking. First time too! It was great fun and I can totally see myself getting into it more. It was a bit harder in terms of terrain but it just felt so nice to be off road. Let me know how you find it!

      1. A bit of a saga*

        I had a great time! I went with a group of people who knew what they were doing so that was good. I’ve grown somewhat tired of the local parks so the change of scenery was great and good to get some different muscles going. I think it definitely supplements the road running nicely

        1. Kat*

          Cool! I went alone but might try to join a group. I forgot how many hills were on my trail (different when you’re walking!) but that’s probably all good stuff to get used to.

          1. A bit of a saga*

            I never thought I would join a running group but it’s really worked out well for me. There’s a coach who is in charge so I know I get a good workout and there’s just an overall good spirit – people are positive and encouraging. I also run on my own (most of the time in fact) but the group is a good boost (it’s also people who are genuinely interested in how those new shoes are working out or how you tackled that hill in the race – I sometimes have to remind myself that not everyone shares my interest so it’s good to know that these people do!)

            1. Grumpy*

              I should get over myself and join a group. I’m so nervous about it though…
              Visiting friends for the weekend, will go for a run and explore the area.

              1. Anon in the city*

                Do it! Are you nervous about meeting people or about your ability to keep up? If it’s the former the good thing about running is that you’re doing something together so you don’t need to talk much and you’ve got a joint interest right there to chat about. If it’s the level: I definitely started out as one of the weakest runners but everyone was so supportive and running with people who are faster than me helps push me

    2. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      …somehow I missed this thread entirely!

      It sounds like you definitely had a good time – how tricky was the trail you ran?

      1. A bit of a saga*

        You definitely have to pay a lot more attention and though my normal routes are also somewhat hilly this was more so – but not too tricky. This is a new group that my usual group has formed so I guess they don’t want to scare us off ;-)

        1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

          Nice! I’ve had similar experiences with needing to be more careful – I’ve fallen on the short trail about a mile from my place more than once (and by short, I mean – it’s half a mile start to finish), and I nearly took out one of my friends trying to cross a stream once. (This was around March, I think, so it was still cold out.)

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

      I hope your trail run went well! I give you credit. I am unlucky with falling over random debris so trail running is the one type of running I don’t do.

  11. only acting normal*

    Any advice for going to a naming ceremony, for a religion you do not share, when last time (at same place of worship) the preacher seemed to take it as a personal affront that non-religion people were present and took it as an opportunity to damn them all to hell?
    Parents of child being named didn’t notice last time.
    There’s a gathering afterwards at the parents’ home that I’ll happily attend, however I’m not comfortable going to the actual ceremony – I’d rather wait outside the place of worship.
    (NB I don’t believe in hell, so he couldn’t actually damn me to it, but I was clearly not welcome.)

    1. only acting normal*

      Forgot to add. My husband is part of the ceremony, I am not. And the parents are not at all devout.

    2. Jules the Third*

      Yeah, meet them after… yeesh. Send the hubs in while you take a nice walk. Don’t mention it unless questioned – parents probably aren’t taking attendance.

      1. Loz*

        Exactly. If they’re not even religious then it’s likely there will be a decent piss-up afterwards.

        Atheists/Church, Children/Pubs, Vegetarians/Social dining. Horrible.

    3. Long Time Fed*

      I’m an atheist from an evangelical Christian family. I’m a master at tuning out everything and daydreaming when I’m attending any function in their very conservative churches.

    4. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      How does the preacher know any particular person is non-religious? You could easily be a devout person who happens to attend a different place of worship.

      Don’t go if you’re not comfortable, but I’d be tempted to sit in the very front row with a big smile on my face the whole time.

      1. only acting normal*

        I think it was the massive expansion of his usual audience with strangers and the fact a lot of people obviously didn’t know the order of service or the hymns etc.
        I’ve been to other services where the not-usual-audience is acknowledged and it’s used as an opportunity to win hearts and minds. This particular place… not so much!

        1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

          That’s still no proof of being non-religious. If someone usually goes to a church that doesn’t have a fixed order of service or has a very different one, they may be very unfamiliar with the one used at that church, even if they were very religious. If we’re not talking about a church that would believe that they are the only ones who are saved and all other churches are false, there’s no reason to jump from “isn’t familiar with our order of service” to “non-religious and going to hell”.

          1. only acting normal*

            It’s not a wild guess to make in the UK: around half the population is estimated to be non-religious. Yet a lot still use churches for “hatches, matches, and dispatches” because ‘culture’ and ‘nice venue’. I don’t personally think that’s a good enough reason if you don’t actually believe, and ironically the preacher seemed to agree with me there.

            1. Thlayli*

              Im kind of confused how he managed to damn you to hell and the parents didn’t even notice?

              I suggest rather than lying about not going, you tell the parents what happened with the preacher last time and let them know that’s why you won’t go this time.

              1. only acting normal*

                The parents were/are just focused on baby being named and didn’t really go deeper into it than ‘family tradition’. Also they were trying to keep a baby happy and quiet during the service – bit of a distraction.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I think you would be fine to let your husband go to the ceremony alone, and join him for the party. If the parents (or anyone else) notice, you can say briefly “Oh, I recall last time that the priest’s address made it clear that he didn’t welcome non believers, so I decided to stay away from the ceremony” which which is truthful but puts the responsibility on the priest, not the parents. And if they hadn’t noticed, lets them know.

    6. I Have Been To Paradox But I Have Never Been To Me*

      the preacher seemed to take it as a personal affront that non-religion people were present and took it as an opportunity to damn them all to hell

      That’s a nice way to leave non-religion people with a positive impression of your faith!

      1. PhyllisB*

        Talk about leaving a positive impression of your faith…years ago my daughter had a young man from Canada visiting her for the weekend and never attended church in his whole life. We invited him to attend service with us and he accepted. Well, as it turned out our pastor was gone that weekend and the man who filled in for him was not an ordained minister (but he did a lot of speaking at churches.) His sermon was about…..chewing tobacco. I can’t remember the details, and he did have a Christian point to make, but the whole service I was sitting there thinking, “Great. This is the first time this young man has been to church, and his first time visiting the South. This just fed into all the stereotypes about red-neck Southerners.” I’m sure he had quite a story to tell when he returned home.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Ignore it, if you want to go that is.

      Maybe you can find a place in your thoughts where you say, “Did you mention to The Parents that you don’t want me here? Well. I am here now. If you want me to leave you will either have to carry me out OR get The Parents to ask me to leave.”

      FWIW, he should not be in charge of garbage never mind a congregation of actual people. He’s an example of why people end up in therapy for years.
      I am a church going person. I found one church here that I will never, ever go to again in my life. So I do understand. Your solution might be to tell the parents you have something to take care of but you will catch up to them at the house. That is probably what I would do.

    8. Jane of all trades*

      I think I may be in the minority view on this one, but if it were me I’d probably decide that this day is about your friends’ (family’s?) naming ceremony, and celebrating the child, and would resolve to make the best of it, and sit through the ceremony with a good attitude.
      I think this one if more about feeling honored that they want you present for such an important moment, and supporting that. And then just don’t attend this place of worship the remaining 364 days of the year. I think it would be different if they had asked your opinion on the venue, at which point, absolutely tell them, because it does sound like the preacher is awful.

      1. only acting normal*

        That is what I normally do for such ceremonies. And most preachers acknowledge guests with good grace and do a winning hearts and minds sermon.
        However, if guests are very obviously not welcome, well I have my limits as far as sucking it up goes, and being directly impugned with the whole “non believers have no morals” bullshirt = a hard no.

    9. Snazzy Hat*

      My devoted Catholic (but also very liberal) mother recently left a parish she had been going to for a bunch of years when the priest had a sermon that basically said non-Catholics are worthless. Both of her adult children are Pagan. She wrote a letter of complaint to the Archbishop about the priest.

  12. TW: talk of depression and suicide*

    This came up in last week’s open thread, and it’s been playing on my mind quite a bit. It’s the question of why do people feel like they can’t reach out for help when they have thoughts about suicide.

    Now obviously I can’t speak for everyone, so STRONG DISCLAIMER that this train of thought applies to me and me alone. If anyone else identifies with it that’s one thing, but I’m certainly not making any generalisations.

    The reason I don’t talk about it is because it passes. I have long stretches of ‘good’ days when I’d feel perfectly normal, even euphorically happy – and those are not covering up anything, when I have good days I’m genuinely happy, genuinely enjoying life and appreciating everything. That’s the version of me that I want people around me to see and to interact with. Unfortunately I can’t control when those start or stop.

    I can’t tell when the bad days will start, I don’t have any particular triggers. Sometimes I’d be facing the exact same issues but on good days they’d seem manageable and I’d even be able to spin negative experiences into positives – e.g. learning something new. On bad days they send me into a headspin and I just want everything to stop.

    It’s like there’s two versions of me, and they hate each other (this probably sounds crazy, I don’t know if split personality disorder is actually a thing, but often I don’t recognise the other version of myself). The ‘good’ one hates the ‘bad’ one for obvious reasons, but the ‘bad’ equally hates the ‘good’ one because they hate everything.

    So it’s a cycle that I can’t predict. In the past when I’d post something one social media about feeling sad I’d get supportive messages and offers of help and that’s all very nice, but as soon as I get them I feel ridiculous about having posted anything in the first place because there isn’t anything concrete in my life that I can pinpoint. If I can’t explain why I feel this way (and how to make it go away) how can I expect anyone else to help? So usually I just downplay it and say I was just feeling down in the moment, which I guess it technically true.

    Then the cycle repeats, and increasingly I realise I can’t keep being ‘sad’ around people. It’s not a problem that can be solved with a hug and a band-aid. It’s something that’s always going to lurk in the background just waiting to surface and I don’t know how to get rid of it.

    People are drawn towards positive people – so many advice lists on how to be happy would include cutting negative people out of your life – and I don’t want to be that negative person. Everyone knows that being lonely is sad but being sad is really lonely too.

    So you learn to stop bringing it up, because when you do people would want to know if you feel better – which of course is lovely of them, but often I can say I do feel better (and I’d mean it, because the good days feel /really/ good). How many times would you be willing to put up with people who go through low mood periods before you decide you don’t need that negativity in your life?

    I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to be that person. Being the way I am I don’t have a large social circle to begin with and I can’t afford to strip away at it. When I think about bringing it up I can hear a voice in the back of my head telling me that eventually, after talking about it too many times, the person I’m talking to is going to /want/ me to do it and just get it over and done with.

    Honestly, I don’t think /I’d/ want to put up with me, but since I’m inside my own head I have no choice. I feel like my psyche is so messed up I don’t even know how to get to the root of things.

    (In case anyone wants to suggest this: I’m not bipolar, the swings aren’t nearly severe enough to classified that way.)

    I’ve given therapy a try, but my inability to pinpoint what’s ‘wrong’ (like I said, there’s nothing external in my life that’s inherently bad) makes it nearly impossible to get anything across. It’s also incredibly expensive (either that or face a huge waiting list with no guarantee the therapist will be useful at all) so I’d rather not have the added financial stress.

    So after all that rambling, TLDR: I don’t talk about it because I don’t know why I feel like this, I know it’ll pass but I also know it’ll come back, and I’m scared of using up the patience of the people I still have around me.

    I honestly can’t tell if I’d ever go through with it (I’m in a ‘good’ mode right now, and like I said, they always feel genuine). You always hear people say that suicide is a selfish thing to do because of the people you hurt, but when I think about going through with it I’m convinced no one actually cares. I’m not sure if anyone will even notice to be honest. But I’d hate to think they’d feel relieved.

    Pretty sure I’ll feel ridiculous as soon as I post this too, but thank you for reading.

    1. Kate Daniels*

      Your post really resonated with me, especially the part about how people are always advising others to cut negative people out of their life. I really don’t want to be the “negative person,” so I frequently just hide how I feel, but this makes me feel more lonely and isolated. I also have a lot of anxiety, so I can’t “just calm down.”

      This week I had major ups and downs in emotions… Wednesday, I felt the lowest of low (under-appreciated at work, hopeless about everything in the news), but then the next day, I felt happy and hopeful (excited about the World Cup, good anticipation about a possible opportunity to make an additional income and travel each year). I think I need to go see someone, though, so I am going to spend the weekend investigating psychologists covered by my insurance plan.

      1. Washi*

        I’m sure there are people who just ruthlessly cut anyone who isn’t positive all the time out of their lives, but I actually feel the opposite – if someone is ONLY positive with me all the time and will never cop to feeling any negative emotions, I start to feel like we won’t ever be close friends because they’re not willing to enter the “I open up then you open up then I open up a little more etc” dance that leads to openness and vulnerability.

        If I’m frustrated with someone for being negative, it’s usually specifically that I feel like they aren’t interacting with me as a human, but as a character in a play they wrote, where they are telling me specific things and then I need to say my lines “it’s ok! you’re great! the other person was wrong!” I’d rather just be asked for affirmation or be told ‘I’m feeling really down on myself” than manipulated into it with constant tales of woe.

    2. nep*

      I’m sure no one would be relieved.
      (I, for one, don’t buy this idea that the one who takes her/his own life is being selfish. That seems to me a gross misunderstanding of what’s going on for that person in that moment.)
      Thanks for sharing all this. I just wrote to a friend earlier in the week–there are days I’m on top of the world and can take on anything and I’m very much at peace and content, and there are days it’s all I can do to walk out the door, so buried am I in self-doubt, sadness, frustration, exasperation.
      I’m sorry for your bad days and how bad it gets. One thing that helps me is to realise I am a presence watching the bad times and good times come and go. There’s something stable through all of it. I don’t quite know how to put it or if that makes any sense.
      Glad you reached out today. I wish you peace.

    3. mreasy*

      Hey. Sometimes we are all negative people. It’s really easy from a place of pain to presume that others are 100% one way (positive/happy) – but we all have bad days. And a lot of us (my bipolar self included) have a lot of them.

      Have you been to a psychiatrist? The dualism you’re describing makes me think you may have more than therapy alone should be asked to handle. I’m not suggesting you’re bipolar, but the swings you’re describing certainly don’t sound unfamiliar to me.

      Ultimately, it comes down to this: you are seeing yourself with an inaccurate and flawed filter. The bad days and bad moods just aren’t such a big deal to the people in your life who care about you. Just as you would be compassionate to a friend going through a rough patch or in a bad mood, they will do the same for you. We are all struggling with something, regardless of the brave front we present to the world.

      Even if you were the grouchiest jerk around, your life would still be valuable and worthwhile and there would be more people than you can imagine who would be devastated to lose you. As a person who recently lost a once-close acquaintance to suicide, I wish he had been able to see that.

      If you are considering self-harm, please don’t ruminate on this possibility. Call your therapist or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255. Even if you disavow these thoughts later, they are something to take seriously in the moment.

      You’re not alone out there, and even strangers on the internet care that you’re feeling ok and that you care for yourself. Please send us updates, ok?

    4. Laika*

      You aren’t alone. :) The way you’ve described your moods here sound so familiar to me that I could’ve written it myself. I’ll have long periods of genuine happiness and optimism, and then for no apparent reason it will feel like someone pushes me into a deep, black void and I’m thrown into a dark depression that can last hours, days, or weeks – I try to keep track of the times I have a passing thought about suicide or self-harm and some days it’s near-constant. As I’ve gotten older I only have gotten better at recognizing that the feelings will pass, but not diminishing them altogether – but I’ve reached a point where I’ve recognized that these cycles are damaging (particularly for my relationships) and that I need to change. Since I can’t afford therapy right now, I’ve been reading Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman (as mentioned above), and recently finished The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman. Both books have helped a lot in reframing my negative thoughts and black moods. Despite the fact they’re branded as ‘self-help’ books, the focus is more about coming to terms with thought patterns. It’s essentially self-guided cognitive behavioural therapy for beginners, and I’m sure there’s plenty of other workbooks and reading out there, but these are the two that have helped me so far (imo The Antidote has a little more ‘fluff’ but made a perfect companion to Learned Optimism for exactly that reason).

      Learned Optimism especially has a wonderful section about how our internal dialogues fall on a scale of permanence (this thing will happen to me forever vs. it’s only temporary), pervasiveness (this thing will affect all aspects of my life vs. it’s of limited scope), and personalization (this thing was my fault vs. it was caused by some other [external] factor). When I’m in my blackest moods, I am utterly hopeless – every passing thought is some version of, “I am bad, I will be bad forever, my whole life is bad, and it’s all my fault”. Even just learning about the three different elements has helped me revisit these thoughts and consciously tweak them in some way, essentially editing them for permanence/pervasiveness/personalization. Even though it’s all an internal process, doing it has really helped alleviate some of the guilt I feel about “using up” the patience of my friends and family. My family and friends don’t get exasperated and impatient when I’m sad; they get exasperated and impatient when I try to convince them that I’m worthless, my sadness will never go away, that the world will be better without me, etc. So if you think reading something could help, I would definitely recommend the two books mentioned above.

      This turned into a much longer comment than I expected (and a little more peppy/”I did it and so can you!” than I intended), so I’ll stop here. But please know that you’re not alone in the way you feel. You know that your moods will pass, and that’s a strength, and if you want to start the long process of breaking the cycle, I genuinely believe that it’s possible. For what it’s worth from a stranger, I hope you find a little more peace in your life. :)

    5. nep*

      One other thing comes to mind–perhaps it’s not even about ‘being that person’…the negative one…but being OK with vulnerability and need; this might be refreshing and something other people in your life might need to see. It takes a certain kind of strength and stability to be vulnerable.

    6. deesse877*

      When you say “not bipolar,” is that your evaluation or a professional one? Because there is more than one type, and no psychiatric disorder is ever as clear-cut as, say, measles. In particular, some versions have periodic lows with none of the extreme highs that one reads about in, for example, Kay Redfield Jamison’s autobiography.

      You may also want to look into physical illnesses, such as hormonal or thyroid issues, since those can also have a periodic pattern.

      Overall, my point is, if you’re really sure this comes out of nowhere, and it sounds like you are, it’s good to eliminate all somatic possibilities before taking it as a purely psychological phenomenon.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        yes, yes, yes. Slow heart rate can really alter people’s moods. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can mess with our heads. Dehydration is a huge topic, did you know that people lose their minds because of dehydration? That comes right before death from dehydration.

        I used to go back and forth between good days and bad days, my own version and not meant to be a comparison to anyone else’s. I had a number of nutritional deficiencies and my eating habits were Lousy with a capital L. I was incredibly dehydrated to boot. So yes, yoyoing.

        The whole internal dialogue of “this is a problem” vs “this is not a problem” and all the sorting that goes with -it: This means it’s a problem. For our own health we need to be as even-keeled as possible. Crap happens in life and we get upset, that is normal. However, if life is mostly okay and we are still yoyoing that means something needs to be checked.

        Do you have recurring nightmares? I read in Ann Landers/Dear Abby decades ago that recurring nightmares means “get yourself to a doc for a full check up”. I have found that to be true in my own life.

        Perhaps you don’t have nightmares but you don’t sleep well either. Lack of sleep is another thing that muddies the thinking, it messes with our heads, just like you are showing here.

        Start with the basics. Good foods eaten in a timely manner each day, proper hydration, exercise/taking walks. Check the basics and see where that puts you.

    7. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I think you had a bad therapist. You do know your problem: it’s your moods. And therapy is the place where you work with your therapist to figure out why, but more importantly, develop skills to help you cope and feel better. You don’t have to have the answers before you walk in the door. Also, split personalities is a thing, but it’s extremely rare, usually resulting from severe trauma, and the dominant personality isn’t aware when other personalities are in charge. It’s more likely that your different moods have developed ingrained patterns of behavior and thinking that are at odds with each other and how you see yourself. I have anxiety and some of my anxiety patterns do almost seem like a different personality is at work. Also, your worry that you will use up people’s empathy sounds like anxiety talking. Most friends, and all of the ones worth keeping, want to help during the bad times, no matter how often they spring up. Think about if one of your friends had a job like your moods. Would you want to drop a friend because they complain every month at TPS report time? And even though you feel like a different person during your low moods, you have the same wonderful qualities as during your good moods. Your friends probably see that even if you don’t. If local resources won’t work would online therapy be possible? I’ve heard good things about woe bot. And I know there are others.

    8. tangerineRose*

      Have you thought about medication? If you’re dealing with depression, it can be cyclical (sometimes I feel OK/good; sometimes I feel overcome by “nothing matters”). It sounds like there’s nothing in your life that would cause the problems, so it could just be a physical thing (not enough seratonin or something) that needs medication.

      Remember, depression is a liar. People would be very upset if anything happened to you. Remember the feeling will pass.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Medication saved my life–I had ghastly sleep issues in peri and regular menopause (also post-partum). If I have decent sleep, I can face lots of things just fine. If not, not. Also, if you’re still the right age to need it, GET IRON. I was one of those 7-day stuck pig people, and iron really, really helped with that part. A good multivitamin with 18 mg. iron in it made a huge difference in my life, and I so wish I could write a letter to my younger self about this. Also, evening primrose oil for sleep issues is wonderful for me, and of course YMMV.

    9. Gatomon*

      The problem with the “think of the people you’ll hurt” argument (for me) is that when I’m feeling truly suicidal, I’ve already convinced myself no one cares or no one will miss me. So that always rings deeply false to me. And it doesn’t do anything to fix the pain that I’m in; if anything it will increase it and drive me closer towards suicide because I feel like there are 0 people who will be hurt if I’m gone. Part of the reason I always keep a pet around is because knowing there’s something that needs me here keeps me here in dark times.

      I missed the open thread last week, but I feel like part of it comes from risk. There’s a risk you open up and people are dismissive/reject your need for help, or try to help in entirely wrong ways (“just cheer up!” or “drink this juice blend!”) that make things worse, or that people overreact (“I feel sad today” = “GET GATOMON TO THE HOSPITAL AND TAKE ALL THE KNIVES AWAY HE’S GOING TO DO IT!”) We really don’t have any protocols for dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts in our society. Instead of asking what the depressed or suicidal person actually needs at that moment to help, we shove a bunch of solutions at them like they’re totally unaware of those options (exercise/diet/therapy/meds/hotlines) and then scold them for still having an issue when they aren’t instantly better.

      1. zora*

        Exactly, for me it’s even a step farther, I’m convinced it will be better for everyone if I’m not around, and they will eventually realize they are much better off. I feel like I’m hurting them more by being a burden on them. I can’t really think of suicide as being selfish, I know how hard it is when you are so sure that there isn’t any other choice right now.

    10. Anono-me*

      First, I want to say thank you very much for this post. I have lost way too many people to suicide, especially two very very dear friends. In addition to the feelings of grief, one of the things that always stayed with me, was the feeling that I had somehow failed both of my friends, by not seeing their suffering and by not being someone they felt like they could trust and rely onto talk to and ask for help. While I’ve tried to educate myself about suicide, that feeling of having been a bad friend as always stayed around. The way you just articulated a possible thought process, really resonates me. It helps.

      Second, I would like to address your comment about eliminating ‘negative’ people from one’s life. I always thought it refered to people who regularly said things like “You (Anono-me) are always so stupid and lazy. ” or were always mean to other people. I never really thought of it as referring to people who were dealing with hard or serious problems.

      As far as no one cares about you. It has been over 20 years and I still miss my friends.

    11. Miles*

      Why not use the good days to improve something in your life? It doesn’t need to be big, just something you can see and make a plan for, then get as far as you can with it, and pick it up again on the next good day, or “good enough” day. Of course you can always pick a new thing to improve if your priorities or perspective change(s) at any point.

      You won’t find that advice in self help books but it’s the best way to get out of a cycle of depression (and also in a way a pillar of every form of depression counseling/therapy I’ve ever experienced)

      1. TardyTardis*

        Yes, even in bad situations, there are almost always some minor changes you can make, even if it’s moving the phone to where you can reach it more easily. And I always felt so dumb when I realized I could do such things, like WHY DIDN’T I DO THIS YEARS AGO, but then realize that I’m doing it now, so I can’t be that horribly stupid.

    12. M.*

      For me, it’s the fact that no one shows up when I do reach out, so why would this time be any different? Why would I even bother to reach out again? It’s been shown time and time again that no one cares. I actually had a melt down last night talking my sister. We both agree, no one I know will “care” until after I’m already dead. I have a horrible new therapist that is Medicare approved, had to stop seeing my wonderful old one that has kept me alive for the past 3 years, because he can’t accept Medicare.

      My mental illness is such that I’m always on some level actively suicidal. Always, most likely since I was 8 years old. People don’t know how to live with someone that is always suicidal. And its stressful. I don’t blame people for not wanting to stick around.

    13. Courageous cat*

      In addition to what others are saying, here is my $0.02: if you can’t pinpoint something external that’s wrong, that’s very common with depression. And I think it frequently means that if talk therapy doesn’t help, medication will – if depression is truly just a chemical imbalance which is essentially “nothing externally wrong”, then the right medication will alleviate that. I’ve tried almost all SSRIs and it’s very much a matter of finding which one works for you, as each one is very different and plenty don’t work for certain people. But I’m always the better version of myself when I’ve been on Prozac. So I highly recommend giving it a try if you haven’t yet.

  13. Completely anon for this stupid rant*

    So yesterday I learned that a localization company made some pretty weird decisions when translating a game I’m playing right now.
    One character’s backstory involves coming from a seriously dysfunctional family (the only thing close to love he ever got was “study hard so you can become a doctor”, and one of the devs even said that he’d be a pretty normal person if not for his upbringing) which leads to a very significant line once you marry him and have a child with him: instead of saying “we’re going to make so many fun memories together”, he says “we’re going to make a loving family together”.
    In the English version, he apparently says “we’re going to make a big, productive family together”.
    I just…What? You literally took one of the most significant lines he ever says and changed it into THAT?
    Not to mention in the Japanese version he’s actually capable of talking like a normal human being, whereas the English version tries too hard to make him be science-y (which led to another line that I’m just not acknowledging the existence of and whoever thought it was a good idea to put that line in there needs to be spritzed with some water ASAP). So they took his character from “traumatized person slowly learning that love is an actual thing that can happen” (he at several times expresses surprise that good relationship are an actual thing) to “Hurr durr science-y science man doesn’t understand feels teeheehee”.
    I understand decisions need to be made when translating things, especially from Japanese to English, but is it so difficult to keep characters as they are instead of as what you think they should be?
    I’m legit contemplating getting a Japanese system and version of the game and learning Japanese just to see the differences between the versions.

    1. Completely anon for this stupid rant*

      Now that I think of it, I have the European version of the game. Might consider starting it up in Italian just to see how they did the localization thing.

    2. JRPG Fangirl*

      I also have issues with some localizations. I’m over 40 and I love these games, but sometimes I think the localizations teams ran it thru Google Translate and didn’t proofread. Reminds me of some stuff that came out in the late 90s that had really, really, terrible translations but are now considered “classics” by the JRPG crowd.

      Anyway, recently, enough fans complained about Ys VIII that they went back and patched a bunch of the translations for PS4, so I would say tweet to the company about it.

      …and yes, I realize that in one of these games I’d be the old hag you have to go get some stupid tool from to fix something to advance to the next town. :D

      1. Completely anon for this stupid rant*

        Thing is, if you run the Japanese text of this one through Google Translate you don’t even get anything close to the translation they gave us (at least not concerning these specific lines), so I’m really not sure where they got their ideas from. Also the game came out in 2017, so I doubt they’re gonna fix it at this point, considering Europe hasn’t even gotten the DLC yet with no word of it on the horizon (probably no one feels like translating 500 lines of dog puns into more than one language XD). Might send an e-mail to them anyway though, just to satisfy my own curiosity.
        Although I think they also did a sort of localization diary, I might look into that too.

        1. Alice*

          There is a video game with 500 dog puns? I am not a gamer but maybe I will have to reconsider!

          1. Completely anon for this stupid rant*

            Yep – Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns, which is a farming sim for the Nintendo 3DS (or 2DS, if you prefer to use that one). The DLC (paid in America, free in Japan but they made the base game more expensive and have a larger player base which allowed them to keep it “free”) adds Woofio the animal trainer (who you only encounter as a judge in the animal contests in the base game) as a bachelor. As his name suggests, he’s a guy in a dog suit with a general “animal mascot” persona (and there’s a very good reason for that which I won’t spoil because holy kibble his backstory is interesting). And, of course, tons of dog puns.
            And before anyone says Story of Seasons is a Harvest Moon rip-off: Story of Seasons IS Harvest Moon, but had to have a name change for legal reasons. Technically, any Harvest Moon game made after A New Beginning is a Harvest Moon rip-off.

            1. Bigglesworth*

              I didn’t know that! I dropped off the HM gaming scene in college and wondered why I couldn’t find any more games when I started looking recently. Now I know!

            2. Marathon Girl*

              Wow, can’t believe I’ve never heard of this game, it sounds great! Well, time to add to the ever increasing pile of games I want to play…

      2. Completely anon for this stupid rant*

        Although I suppose at the very least it’s not voice acting in an early Resident Evil game :P
        I suppose with some “classic” JRPGs the poor translation (I seem to recall one with the localization implying a side quest that didn’t actually exist?) is just as much part of the charm as the poor voice acting in those games.

        1. JRPG Fangirl*

          Agree on the charm of the terribad classic ones…some of my old school faves have the absolute worst translations.

    3. Hmmm*

      That’s annoying! Haven’t played harvest moon in years, but I used to like it. Do they let you play a character as lgbtq yet, or no?

    4. Mad Baggins*

      That sounds like some poor translation decisions combined with poor editing combined with a disconnect between dev team and translation team. I’m having trouble thinking of a Japanese phrase that bridges “loving family” and “productive family” (without making implied cultural values explicit, and I’m not even sure that decision makes sense based on your explanation). There is a website breaking down similar issues in Persona 5, which came to my mind.

      To your question “but is it so difficult to keep characters as they are instead of as what you think they should be?” well…yes. That’s what localization is, isn’t it? You have to take the experience a Japanese person has playing the game, and recreate that experience for an English speaker. Sometimes it makes sense to stick as close to the source material as possible, but a commercially successful localization usually aligns itself closer to the target reader/listener/viewer/player, not the source text. That doesn’t mean there won’t be mistakes or questionable decisions, but the idea that localizers can’t or shouldn’t make artistic changes in pursuit of that goal is counter to a lot of theory and common practice, in my experience.

  14. Moving to LA*

    I’m moving across the country in a couple weeks (for the thing we don’t discuss today!) Anyone have any tips for making the best of long solo road trips? I’m stopping to see friends along the way but driving by myself.
    Also is it crazy to move without an apartment lined up? Rather than rent sight unseen I figured I’d stay in a hotel for a few days while I find a place, but don’t know if that’s being too optimistic!

    1. Loopy*

      I’ve done a cross country solo trip twice. My advice is have options for entertainment- I had audio books and a huge variety of playlists, and people I could call and chat with at different times of day. I was driving 7-11 hours a day so breaking it up helped.

      Also one trip, all my friends made me their ideal road trip playlists and it was so so fun to go through them- they were so different and unexpected! Did love all of them but it was a great gift. If you know of any family or friends, I would maybe suggest this!

    2. Hobbitjedi*

      Oh my gosh, I would love to drive across the US alone.

      Load up all your favorite songs to play as loud as you want, and be that person who’s singing their heart out on the interstate. I have an entire 6 hour playlist of songs related to driving (“Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane, “Behind the Wheel” by Depeche Mode, et. al.)

      Stop at hokey tourist attractions (The World’s Largest Ball of String!) or if you have time/funds, spend a couple of days in a place you’re passing through and probably would never visit otherwise.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, I urge you to research and stop at bizarre roadside attractions. These are America’s treasures. Atlas Obscura and Roadside Attractions can be good resources for this. Take frequent breaks and appreciate the scenery when you can.

        Regarding LA, the hotel thing is a great idea! I used to live in West LA and Downtown, enjoyed them both although DTLA is changing a lot. Interesting things seem to be happening in the so called Arts District too. I would recommend that you do your best to minimize your commute, for the sake of sanity. With more time you’ll figure out the ways you like to get around and where you might like to live more. Driving is just a grind so protect yourself from it initially if you can–seriously think about living in K-town, then your “commuting” will be for social stuff. It is much more tolerable to drive an hour to see a friend than to do it every every day for work. :) We loved living in LA and hope you will enjoy exploring it!

        1. Anonymosity*

          God, I wish I could move to LA. We were talking about winter today and I am NOT looking forward to it again.

    3. Washi*

      Re: staying in a hotel (or Airbnb?) first – that actually makes more sense to me! I live in a city with a competitive rental market, and it can be hard getting an apartment from afar unless it’s in a huge building with constant openings. Plus you could have your perfect neighborhood all picked out and then realize when you get there that it’s not actually what you want. Good luck!

    4. Hellanon*

      LA is both enormous & really neighborhoody, so the best way to figure out where you want to live is definitely to plan to do some exploring before signing a lease. Where will your work be? I can maybe give you some suggestions, having lived in central LA for ages…

      1. Moving to LA*

        My work is in Koreatown, just south of Los Feliz. I’m thinking Silver Lake, maybe echo park? I welcome any advice- I’ve only been a couple times!

        1. Hellanon*

          Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Echo Park: expensive, lots to do, lots of young people, sort of the nexus for cool independent Los Angeles. (Alternate view: overrun with hipsters.) You can also look at Mid-City/Miracle Mile, which will be a bit quieter and features lots of great older buildings as well as newer developments. Closer to museums & transportation as well. Downtown is also an easy commute to K-Town and has its advantages. Slightly more distant: North Hollywood/Valley Village, West Adams, Angelino Heights. Best thing to do when you get here is to do some exploring – check out the bookshops & coffee house scene (Los Feliz & downtown have great independent bookstores), drive around, maybe do some bicycling or walking… get a feel for each area and look at what’s available as far as rentals. K-town has its own subway stops which is a huge advantage as far as commuting goes.

          Good luck! Have fun on your drive!

          1. Screenwriter Mom*

            Don’t forget Hollywood and Hollywood Hills. (Bronson Canyon, Beachwood Canyon, and the areas south of there.) Hollywood is going through what seems like a time-lapse sped-up building phase, with lots and lots of mixed-use apartments springing up almost overnight. It’s another super central neighborhood, right next to Koreatown, and less pricey than Silver Lake or Los Feliz proper.

            Another rapidly coming-up neighborhood, less expensive than Silver Lake or Echo Park, is Highland Park.

            If you don’t mind a bit more of a drive, Glendale is also very pleasant and affordable.

            My last thought is the Park LaBrea complex. Super convenient to just about everything, lots of singles and young families there now, tons of services available, right next to one of our most popular outside spaces, The Grove (movies, activities, events, shopping, and a friendly sense of community) and once they get the Wilshire line finished, it’ll be insanely convenient to working in K-Town. It’s also surprisingly affordable.

            OP, I also suggest, once you get here, joining “Next Door”–they not only constantly list apartments, but also temporary sublets which might be super helpful.

            Have fun! We’re having some great weather right now for you, and it’s a thriving, exciting, forward-propelling city! Enjoy your drive!

        2. Chaordic One*

          Just a bit farther away, but still on the Gold Line, is Pasadena. I really liked the Old Town Pasadena area. I liked Glendale, too, but it is quite quiet and a bit dull.

    5. Alex the Alchemist*

      I semi-regularly drive about 8 hours to see my parents, and I second Loopy’s recommendation for having a lot of entertainment. I usually take this as an opportunity to listen to all the podcasts I’ve gotten behind on recently (recommendations: “Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness,” “Risk!” (warning: can be very explicit but is very good), and Greg Proops’s “The Smartest Man in the World.”). I’m not as big a fan of audiobooks, but love podcasts because it feels like you’re chatting with friends who are on the trip with you, so you don’t feel quite as alone.

    6. Crafty*

      Angeleno here: I think your plan to move here and find a spot afterward is pretty smart (though it may take more than a few days). Even with the competitive market, there’s no moving season here so there are always lots of places available. My husband and I are about to move to a bigger place and even with lots of weird requirements (2 pit bulls, two-bed, outdoor, extra storage space, etc.) it only took us 3 weeks of looking to find the right thing for us. Other major advice is check the commute on Waze or Google Maps (one that takes traffic into account) during the exact time you would be traveling for work because there’s a big difference between the 405 at 2pm and the 405 at 4:30. Good luck from this Dodger fan :)

    7. PlantLady*

      I used to drive 9+ hours each way to visit family, and then last year my husband and I moved made a cross-country move…each of us in separate vehicles. Loading up on entertainment is my #1 recommendation (music got old for me after a while, but audio books and podcasts got me through.) The other thing I discovered was that I could only stave off the “sleep dips” one way – CONSTANT snacking! Unfortunately, I discovered this after we’d left, so was at the mercy of what I could find at gas stations and truck stops. 14oo miles of Gold Peak tea and bagged popcorn…ugh. But, I didn’t fall asleep behind the wheel, so it all worked out.

      Good luck on your move!

    8. Miles*

      Definitely wish I’d done that. Long term hotels exist for this kind of situation. another option is to research a bunch of places and schedule tours for all of them on the same day and visit the city for that day so you can pick the best

  15. Kate Daniels*

    What team are you rooting for during the World Cup? (Iceland here!) I really wish I were in Europe this summer instead of in the United States where it’s almost like people don’t care just because we failed to qualify!

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I’m rooting for Iceland too, despite my country’s team having made it. Mainly because 99% of our team has a massively overinflated ego. Seriously, it’s so bad NO COACH FROM OUR COUNTRY WANTED TO TAKE OVER when the previous coach “left”.
      Meanwhile, there’s the Icelanders, whose coach is a dentist (bet they all have good teeth) and who basically act like kids that get to go to the playground. I was rooting for them during the European Championship two years ago too – and was pleasantly surprised when they kicked England’s ass.

      1. Kate Daniels*

        Yes! I love how the players have other jobs besides playing football and yet hold their own against the pro footballers. And they just all seem so excited and appreciative to be there instead of entitled like some other teams—their joy makes me really happy!

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Shame their commentator from the European Championship isn’t there this time – at one point he was so mad with joy his incoherent screaming could be heard on other comment lines XD

    2. Australia*

      This is my first time living a country that cares about football (England) while the World Cup is happening.

      I don’t support the home side, so this is going to be…interesting.

        1. London Calling*

          Oh really. Not sure where you get that from judging by coverage in the papers and the amount of St George’s flags around the place.

          1. heather*

            They make a good show of it, but they’ll be the first to turn against them the minute they do badly.

    3. Ruth (UK)*

      My workplace is doing a sweepstake (I think you use the term differently in the states though, maybe you’d call this a betting pool?) And I picked Senegal out of the hat so I might as well support them since it’s not like it’s worth supporting English anyway :D

      1. Claire*

        My mum got Senegal in the office sweepstake too, so that’s who were supporting.

        Although I’m Scottish, so the official answer is “whoever England are playing”.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I’m English and I always start laughing when I remember the time that Scotland and Germany were playing a match and the song that rose up in the stands was “we hate England more than you” and each side kept trying to sing it louder and louder so it was just a chorus of Scots and Germans singing their combined hatred of England together.

    4. NeverNicky*

      I’m half Scottish, half English and although I support the England cricket team (although not last weekend…) I support Scotland at football, if I give it any thought at all. I’m not a big football fan!

      Our office sweepstake has given me Peru and Iceland, good job it’s only for bragging rights. Although as I said to the organiser (and my very English boyfriend) I’ll last longer than England!

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Congrats to your boys for last weekend! (Seriously, I think half of the England fans were cheering you on. Our limited overs team is getting a little bit too comfortable…)

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Sweden, due to Other Half, which means we will will also have to ‘hate watch’ Denmark. Also cheering for Iceland because they don’t just try and hold on for a draw.

      Once Sweden are knocked out then I usually back Germany because I have distinct dislike for Brazil or Portugal.

      Unfortunately we have had all the goals spoiled by the cheering coming from the pubs in the area, usually a few seconds before our stream catches up with the action!

      1. Kate Daniels*

        Haha, oh man, that’s the worst! I was talking to someone on the phone this morning and found out that her cable TV is like eight seconds ahead of mind because she spoiled a goal for me!

    6. Loves Libraries*

      Germany. We will be on our river cruise next week. So excited to be in France when Les Bleus are playing and Germany when Die Mannschafft are playing. We have family in Germany so that’s why we are rooting for them. I plan on getting a team T-shirt and being really dorky about it.

    7. Parenthetically*

      My husband is Australian, so they’re our team, but I don’t know how long they’ll last. Husband is a World Cup fanatic, though, so even if/when Australia gets knocked out, we’ll be in it to the bitter end!

    8. Foreign Octopus*

      By dint of living in Spain and how seriously the Spanish take the sport, I’m supporting Spain. However, I’m doing this by only showing a passing interest in the sport and staying out of the bars when there’s a Spanish match on.

    9. Thlayli*

      Brazil. Purely because my DH got them in his work pool so he wins money if they win lol

      I’m not a big soccer fan – I heard a couple of colleagues talking about Russia preparing for Saudi Arabia the other day and my first thought was that a new war had started haha

    10. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      Germany! Don’t have high hopes for a repeat but oh well.

      My eternal no 2 is Belgium because of family ties, but I also want Iceland to do well because honestly how can you not root for Iceland?

      On a general note, I’m so happy it’s World Cup time again – I love being able to watch football whenever I turn on the tv.

    11. JenM*

      Portugal. I want to watch Ronaldo lift the cup. I think he’s a great player and it’ll be fun to watch heads explode all over the world :)

  16. Money question*

    Looking for some advice/tips!

    My husband and I are trying to do better about saving money. I should actually say: my husband is. Out of the two of us, I am naturally frugal/cheap. But I would love any tips that people can share. It’s hard for me, because it just comes so naturally. It’s things I would never think need to be said. Like, a recent example.

    We were buying pizza for a family event. It happened to be on a Tuesday so the place had 2-for-1 Tuesday. But a coupon code had to be entered. My husband didn’t even check to see what deals/coupons were available. And he ordered and paid online, so when he picked it up, they had no idea and couldn’t suggest, “Oh, hey, you qualify for this coupon, do you want to apply it?”

    So I was just flabbergasted. I would never not check for a deal first. I wouldn’t even think to remind him to check that—of course you would. Please note, it’s not about the amount of money per se, but just that we’ve agreed to try and save.

    I’m not expecting him to always do a 30 minutes price check on all the online stores before buying anything, or drive around town (savings would probably be outweighed by gas anyway) or anything like that. Just the little things that can help save.

    So, my question is: Are there any tips that you have that help you save? Because when I try to think of something, I come up blank until he does something, and then I think, “Ooh, wouldn’t have done it that way.” And that’s not helpful and mostly I keep it to myself, since that just comes off as critical.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      This may seem a bit weird, but if cash is at all a possibility I recently read an article by someone who decided to use cash-only for a month (except for things like bills and taxes) to see how their budgeting was. They found that they spent less money when they actually had physical money in their hand rather than an abstract number on a card.
      Alternatively, you could try to set a weekly budget that he is not allowed to go over no matter what (like a pre-paid creditcard that can’t go below zero, perhaps?).
      Other than that, I don’t have any ideas at the moment but I might have some later.

      1. Miles*

        This is a generational thing. Most millenials learn how to always know their balance so the card works better than having to carry around a bunch of paper and zinc and also keep track of the sums without any resource where you can just see a number and know.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          I’m going to disagree. Some people, regardless of age, are simply less able to conceptualize money, and cash may be better for them. I will agree that younger generations have had more opportunity (in that it’s been part of their world all along) to learn how to conceptualize. People who are more borderline in their ability to think this way will be handicapped based on their age.

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Yes, but you can still easily say “oh, it’s just one extra dollar/euro/whatever”, but they tend to add up. With cash (or even a prepaid credit card that cannot go below zero, if you prefer) you have that amount of money and that’s it.
          And, as Little Teapot already mentioned, not everyone is good at conceptualizing things. I know more than one person who grew up with this kind of tech that is regularly surprised by how much they spend.

      2. JKP*

        As a small business owner, I frequently have customers ask me if I’ll give them a discount for paying in cash, and I’ll knock a little off just cause they asked.

      3. Temperance*

        I’m the opposite. If I have cash, I’ll fritter it away on stupid stuff like gum and snacks.

        1. Red Reader*

          Yes. I don’t know where all the cash goes at the end of the day, but the electronic statement tells me exactly where I spent every penny and that’s usually enough to remind me (generally) what I spent it on.

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      This is something I’ve done since my first job when I was 16 but it helps me decide if something is worth the cost to me… So say I’m paid £10 an hour at my job and I see something I want that costs £40, I would say to myself: if someone asked me to work for them (doing what I do at my job) for 4 hours but they wouldn’t pay me, but they’d give me that thing instead, would I be happy (or would I rather get paid). It sounds like the answer would always obviously be the thing (if I’d have otherwise wanted to buy it) but it turns out it’s not, and it does help me stop and think about the cost of things compared to what I make / have available to spend. I still do this though I understand it would be trickier for people in salaried jobs etc. I know my hourly rate so I can do this still…

      1. SophieChotek*

        Yes I do something like this too. Or I think (since I get paid $10 an hour at the coffee shop), I would have to work X hours (accounting for tax deductions) to buy this thing/go to this event — do I want to try to pick up that many hours? Would I still be glad I worked this X hours to buy Y thing.

        I agree – sometimes when I think — I would have to work X hours and only get Y….I decide I don’t need it then.

      2. Lynne*

        I’ve done that hourly-rate thing too and I think it can be really helpful in getting spending down. I don’t use simple income for this, though, because that can inflate my idea of how much money I *really* have available. Instead, I think of my net income after subtracting taxes AND required expenses, because it’s closer to the actual amount I have available for discretionary spending.

        For example, let’s say I make $20/hour, and on the surface, it doesn’t seem too bad to trade two hours’ working time for that $40 item I don’t really need. But! In this scenario my real income is probably $16/hour after taxes. And if I’m paying, oh, $1500/month for housing and transportation (or insert whatever you want here as your obligatory bills*), then maybe I’m down to $7/hour left that’s…truly discretionary. All of a sudden that $40 discretionary item is going to take SIX hours of my working time, and maybe looks much less attractive.

        *In my version of this calculation, I actually do include basic amounts for variable expenses like food, because that’s still a required expense even though it’s variable. Food expenses beyond that basic amount are discretionary, however, so fall into the category of things that should get this level of scrutiny when I’m deciding whether buying them is worth it to me.

        This kind of thinking has significantly modified my behaviour and boosted my savings. YMMV, but I highly recommend sitting down and doing the calculation for yourself of your net hourly rate after subtracting core expenses – it can be quite eye-opening. If you’re salaried and your hours vary, just take an average number of hours and divide your compensation by that; the calculation doesn’t need to be perfectly exact to be effective.

      3. Thlayli*

        When I was a penniless student I used to translate things into the cost of a pint of beer. So like “I can have this, or 4 pints of beer, which would I prefer?”

    3. KatieKate*

      I wonder if it would help at all for you two to check in with each other before you buy anything. That way there can be reminders about coupons, or “honey wait don’t buy more pasta we already have some.” Plus, if you have to call your partner every time you want a Starbucks it may be easier just to drink from the office pot

    4. Jessen*

      If you’re ordering online, there are a couple of apps out there that will automatically search for coupons for that website and tell you what they are. That can make it a lot easier for people like him – all you have to do at most is click a button to find what’s out there.

      1. Alex the Alchemist*

        Seconding this! I use Honey and EBates on Google Chrome (the latter doesn’t really give coupon codes, but the cash back is a helpful bonus), and they’ve been super helpful, especially because they both pop up with reminders for when you’re ordering from a site where you can save money.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You could also try both being on an allowance for “fun” stuff that’s in cash. Say you get $100 or whatever the amount per week is and you can spend it however you want no questions asked – Frappuccinos, movie, lunch out, etc. but when you or hubby use up your money, you are done. No credit card, online or whatever purchases for that period. That way you have to budget for your “toys” whatever those might be, not including regular expenses like rent/mortgage, groceries, gas money, utilities…

    6. Ali G*

      The best way to save money is automatic transfers to a savings account. It’s money you never see so you can’t spend it. Sit down and make a budget and then take a portion of you extra income and set up an automatic monthly payment for that amount to transfer into a savings account.

    7. Victoria, Please*

      Pick your battles and make sure you are okay on the big stuff first. It doesn’t help to save $2 on a pizza if you don’t very carefully consider and shop around for the best price on an expensive permanent appliance.

      You say that you’ve “agreed to try and save.” That’s not very specific, so I wonder if it would help to create a list of actionable changes to work on, maybe one week at a time so it’s not overwhelming? This week it’s “make sure we check for coupons.” Next week it’s “follow the grocery list to the tee.”

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree with this. Unless there’s a plan in place with some specific action items, it’s going to be tough to really put things into action on your husband’s side. I think for a lot of people, my husband included (and sometimes myself), it would never cross their mind to look for a deal or a $2.00 coupon. Probably because it can seem like such an insignificant amount. Shopping for deals is part of who you are and is always on your radar, whereas it’s for him. You’ll likely need to help him out in the department.

        1. LCL*

          Yes! I wanted to post something like this but you said it better. They way I look at it is I do all of the my savings in the planning part of my life, before I buy things. I don’t buy a new car every two years, though I would like to. We got a mortgage we could afford, and chose a place substantially under what we qualified for. When I make a big purchase, I browse online to get an idea of prices. It wouldn’t occur to me to ask about a coupon or two dollar savings, even though I know people that make this a way of life can save a lot of money. It’s just too much effort. Also, some families (not all! experiences vary widely!) teach that it is a point of pride to just go and buy something, and to haggle or try to bargain on things that one doesn’t usually bargain for is disgraceful.

    8. gecko*

      That does sound frustrating—it can be really annoying to watch someone not be good at something that you’re good at.

      You already know that coming in with a bunch of suggestions is going to come off as pretty critical and unpleasant. What I’d suggest is basically…abandon the idea that he’s going to remember to use all the little tricks that you use. Instead, maybe set savings goals and a budget together—though that involves being ok with the fact that you might run up against the edges of the budget a little faster.

      I mean, the alternative is being the CFO of the relationship and managing him like he’s a beloved but not-competent employee. And while plenty of healthy relationships do work that way, idk how pleasant it sounds to me

    9. Sunflower*

      I think you are running into issues of people just being different. It’s like how some people notice and are bothered by clutter more than others.

      The thing with saving money is there isn’t any tips or magic. When I paid off my student loans. Everyone wanted to know the one secret that they could implement that would help them. The secret is not spending money. I don’t think you should harp on the coupon thing – mostly because I think people focus on how to make x a few bucks cheaper (like use a coupon) and not how to not buy x.

      I would make a savings goal every months, and not worry too much about how much you spend as long as you make the goal. I would also start scrutinizing purchase more – like do you order take out when tired? Maybe work on freezer meals. Not to say buying pizza for a family event is an issue or anything, but you will save significantly more if you either eliminate expenses. You will also avoid these value judgement issues if you just have a savings goal and don’t sweat the details.

    10. CatCat*

      I like to read blogs that are oriented toward frugality. I like Two Cents and Lifehacker, Mr. Money Mustache, and The Simple Dollar. I know Frugalwoods is another popular one. The blogs can be helpful to learn how other people do things.

      For money management, I’ve used “You Need a Budget” (YNAB) for many years and it is awesome. You categorize all your money (or in YNAB lingo give all your dollars a job). So some dollars will have the job of saving for something while other dollars will have the job of being spent on something like groceries or eating out. There’s an app, which makes it super simple to check category balances before you spend. For example, you can check the grocery category and if you have $20, you can decide from there what makes sense like buying some staple foods instead of specialty items.

    11. Aurora Leigh*

      I’m the saver and the frugal one and my boyfriend also tends to have an easier time spending money than I do.

      Both of us grew up in homes with tight finances, but we have different reactions. He tends to want to buy stuff without worrying because his family couldn’t do that when he was young and he wants to enjoy spending money while he can. I tend to a more must have a savings, jobs can just evaporate at any time mindset.

      Lately though boyfriend has (entirely of his own idea) started making an effort to save more. He has student loans to pay off and we’re making long term plans.

      Things that are helpful to him — listening to Dave Ramsey, leaving his credit card at home, only using his debit card for most shopping. Taking out a certain amount of cash each week for gas (gas station food is his weakness).

      I am the couponer. When we talk about going out to eat, I’ll tell him the places I have coupons for and he’ll choose from those. I’ve also taught him about open box items (he saved $200 on the 3D printer he wanted) and shopping at Aldi instead of Walmart.

    12. Natalie*

      I can’t really tell from the way you’ve phrased things – is this actually something he wants to do, or is it something you want him to do? And is this something you actually need to do because you’re not living within your means, or is it just something you feel is “better”?

      It’s perfectly fine that couponing or getting deals is something you enjoy and want to do, but (again, assuming you’re living within your means) it’s not actually something everyone has to do. I don’t – I decided a long time ago that the effort involved in clipping coupons and going to 4 grocery stores isn’t worth it to me, so I go to 2 stores and call it a day. If I missed out on $5 of savings available, well, so be it. Can’t optimize everything.

    13. HannahS*

      I think if it’s something he wants to do, he needs to clarify what his goals are–saving money sounds great, but it’s not a plan. Is he thinking frugality along the lines of lowering your fixed expenses, or cutting down on daily spending, or impulse buys of things you don’t really need, or the grocery list? Personally, I’m not a coupon-er, and I’m ok-but-not-stellar at shopping for deals–I’d rather just shop less, eat out less, etc. But I started tracking my spending and dividing it into categories, and my goal for this year is to reduce spending in two categories: hobbies, by using up some of the bins of fabric stored under my bed, and what I call “asocial food” which are meals I buy because I failed to meal plan appropriately (as opposed to going out with friends, which I don’t feel I spend overmuch on), by meal planning and meal prepping. This plan looks different from other of my frugal friends, but it works for me.

    14. Miles*

      I found that avoiding brands that do coupons works better for me for saving money, unless it’s something where I really can’t do without the extra bling of the premium brand

      1. Nicole76*

        I’ve noticed the same thing because even with a coupon the “generic” brand is still cheaper than the name brand. I’m game for always trying the private label item once to see whether it’s comparable. It often is and I save money without negatively impacting my happiness. If not, then no harm done. It’s a good way to spend less on things that don’t matter so you can save more.

        Also, for the OP, maybe after your husband does the shopping you can check apps like ibotta to see if any purchases match to a deal? That way he doesn’t have to worry about it but you still get the savings benefits.

    15. oldbiddy*

      Figure out each of your weaknesses and be creative about how to compensate. My husband’s weakness is the dollar store and random stuff he orders from meh.com. Mine is picking up too much stuff if I go to Target for just one or two things. I’ve learned it’s better to get the random Target things at the grocery store even if they do cost a dollar or two more. The dollar store is under new management and isn’t as fun, so that helped too.

    16. TardyTardis*

      I do most of the major bill paying, which helps, but we also have a certain amount of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell money, that we can spend on any stupid thing we feel like (Candy Crush gold bars, I’m looking at you). That way, he’s free of any judgment about how he spends that money. Also, we split up the mutual money into Hungry Hungry Hippo (money we’re locked into spending, like power bills etc.), the Dead Water Heater Fund, the Bright Shiny money, and Break Glass In Case Of Emergency money. This doesn’t actually address the impulse purchase money, but if you have a budget specifically for it, then it may not bother you as much if he goes for stuff without checking for coupons.

    17. Dan*

      I found I spent more money chasing coupond and going to Costco than I was “saving”, so I stopped doing both.

      I focus on the big things – cars, rent, etc. I don’t sweat the small stuff.

    18. Ginger ale for all*

      Know your size in your favorite brands and check eBay on a regular basis for clothes. I love modcloth brand Bea & Dot but I don’t love the prices until they hit eBay. I set a price limit when I am on the site and I think over my bid for 24 hours before I commit.

    19. Rezia*

      My husband is not a saver in the same way I am. What’s worked for us is using YNAB, which a budgeting app. What I like about it is that it’s proactive, not retroactive, i.e. you budget for the next month instead of realizing at the end of the month you spent more than you had meant to. I set the budget (with his agreement), which goes into categories, e.g. $X for groceries, $Y for eating out, we also each get $Z per month for personal, no-questions-asked spending.
      Every time we make a purchase, we log it on our phones. It seems like a lot of effort, but it soon becomes second nature. You can do it in the time it takes for the credit card reader to scan the chip. I’ve found that action helps me be more conscious of my spending– I’ll notice, hey, we’re down to $50 for eating out this month, and we’ll adjust accordingly, or I’ll be at the grocery store contemplating buying fancy cheese and I’ll check the app to see how we’re doing before putting it in my basket.
      What I like about this is that I’ve set the budget so I don’t have to feel guilty about the fancy cheese when I do buy it! It helps me not stress each individual transaction, so long as I’m staying within my limits for the month.

  17. Loopy*

    Okay, I promise this in’t about work. I’m transitioning from one stressful job to another potentially stressful-at-first job. I’d like to talk about the weekend between jobs.

    My worry is coming in burnt out and anxious. I’d like to take the weekend before and clear it of obligations (if i can manage that) so I can take a deep breath and focus on me. A weekend is probably not enough, but it’s what I have. My questions for the group are: what can I do to feel organized for the week ahead? I’m thinking of meal prepping but I don’t know the fridge situation so I’m trying to com up with make ahead, non-refrigerated, vegetarian options. Any ideas out there?

    Also I’m thinking of cleaning the house, laying out outfits ahead of time, anything else I can do to be as prepped and organized as possible to help with the next week? I’m also minutes away from buying the season of Great British Bake Off not on Netflix… so I’ll be relaxing in-between prep.

    1. Loopy*

      ack to be clear, meal prep was referring specifically to lunches, but dinner ideas also welcome if they are crazy low effort :)

      1. Rosemary7391*

        For lunches, if I’m low on time I’m known to get a bunch of little bits and call it a meal. So a handful of dried fruit/nuts, a bag of crisps, a fruit and nut bar. I wouldn’t make sandwiches in advance, but I do take crispbreads and a mini pot of peanut butter. I often do boiled eggs and bits of cheese too – have you got a cool bag and a little freezer pack? Even if there is no fridge that should keep things cool. Cup soups and pastas are also useful things.

        1. Loopy*

          I’m always so nervous relying on a ice pack for what’s usually a 6 hour period at least. Does a standard one keep something like hummus safe for that long?? Also the ones I have are bulky and take up so much space! Do you have a recommendation for a flexible or small one? :)

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I’m probably the exception here, but I wouldn’t worry about hummus in an ice pack at all. To me, it’s not like it’s eggs or meat. I’ve kept it out on my desk all day with no issues.

            1. Loopy*

              I tend to play it *absurdly* safe with refrigerating foods and now I kind of wishI had more time to test out something like hummus, but the first week of a new job is probably not the best time!

              I had a coworker who wouldn’t refrigerate yogurt from when she left for work until lunch. She was always fine but I still am too nervous to do that!

              1. The Other Dawn*

                Eh, yogurt that isn’t refrigerated from early morning until late afternoon would get the side-eye from me, too. I did it once by accident, and I worried for a couple hours as to whether I’d get sick or not. It was fine, but I wouldn’t do that regularly with yogurt. But hummus, yeah, I wouldn’t blink an eye at leaving it out most of the day (not for multiple days, though, or overnight).

              2. Snazzy Hat*

                My partner and I sometimes freeze yogurt overnight, so when we put it in our lunch bags it’s still partly frozen by the time we have lunch.

          2. Rosemary7391*

            I just have a no name cool bag from the supermarket. And I don’t normally use an ice block either actually! And I’m not vegetarian. Sometimes I take something frozen and let it defrost until lunch, then microwave. I have no experience with hummus though. .

            Bear in mind that, if I remember rightly, food handling regulations in the UK allow for food to be out of the fridge for an hour whilst you’re doing stuff with it (sooner is better ofc, but that’s the limit). So 6 hours in a cool bag should be fine unless you’re somewhere really hot. But you could get a wee thermometer and pop it in the bag if you’re concerned, so you know how cool it is?

            Forgot my other trick – take hot food in a food flask. That should also work for 6 hours if you preheat the flash. I heat the food up as hot as it’ll go and it’s still steaming by lunchtime.

            1. Loopy*

              I’m hoping it’ll be fine. I have a no name lunch bag that’s probably not the best insulation. Pondering if it’s worth getting a really nice insulated lunch bag… I haven’t bought one in years.

              1. TardyTardis*

                A good insulated lunch bag is worth the investment in peace of mind. My husband’s a diabetic, and we had to keep his meds cool while flying (also easy for Homeland Security to inspect) and so between the insulated lunch bag and the cool pack, his meds stayed nice and cool for the whole trip.

                1. Loopy*

                  Thanks- I’ve been poking around Amazon and think I’m going to get a better one with some slim cool packs meant for lunch boxes.

    2. WellRed*

      This is pretty much everything I would do. I’d also add, any little errands or bill paying or filing. If you feel you might not feel like making dinner after a stressful day, would be good to have some quick stuff in hand.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ll have to maybe splurge on stocking the freezer! And plan out any errands for this week. The free weekend is next weekend so I can spread errands out prior to it, fortunately.

    3. Katherine Vigneras*

      I did the same thing recently – ended on a Friday and started a new gig on Monday. I got myself a hot stone massage to release the last stress of my old job (A+ idea, will repeat) and made sure that my kitchen and bathroom were clean and laundry done.

      1. Loopy*

        I wish I liked massages!!! I don’t really have a relaxation/treat go-to for times like this!

        I do need to do some cleaning. That’s been weighing on me a bit!

    4. Jess R.*

      Various kinds of prep are good, but so is some time to breathe. What’s your style of rest and restoration? Can you go spend a few hours sitting by a lake? People watching in a mall? Going to a friend’s house for dinner? Going to church?

      1. Loopy*

        Usually just having free time to putter around the house and not *having* to go out is my favorite form of relaxation. I don’t mind vaccuuming or doing laundry as long as I can luxuriate in doing it at a slow, leisurely pace. So I called off from my volunteering I usually do Saturday mornings. I was honest with them that it was a transition period and I just needed extra time to get things done next weekend. I hope they didn’t mind too much. I felt bad but I really am looking forward to have the extra 5 hours just OPEN!

    5. SpellingBee*

      Wait – what? GBBO not on Netflix? Is this the first season, or the latest, and where are you getting it??!? Huge fan and have watched all the Netflix seasons already. Share, please!

      Oh, and I would absolutely clean the house and figure out an outfit for each day. So nice to come home tired from a new job to a clean and tidy house, and also not to have to fret in the morning about what to wear. In fact when I was working (am retired now) I used to plan my wardrobe every week, so I wouldn’t stand in front of the closet in my morning brain fog trying to decide.

      1. Loopy*

        So last time I watched, they only had four seasons. Today after I posted,Google told me it’s up to all seven seasons, so I guess I am not buying any DVDs after all! Sorry for the false hope. I’m assuming you’ve watched all seven? I haven’t actually checked to confirm that…

        I always have at least the next days outfit put out, but I’m thinking of having the whole darn week lined up! Saves so much time.

        1. SpellingBee*

          No, I think I’ve also only seen 4 (although it’s been awhile). So a provisional yay, I will check. Thank you! And good luck with the new job, by the way.

          1. Loopy*

            I was looking at a UK site. So disappointing. Sorry! Off to search on Amazon now for season 5-7 and see if they are there!

      2. TardyTardis*

        Yes, I did that too–as I took the hang up clothes out of the dryer, I would pair them up on a hanger so all I had to do in the mornings was to grab the outfit.

    6. HannahS*

      I generally don’t worry about food safety at work if we’re talking vegetarian options–especially if we take away mayo. This week my meal prep meal was brown rice with a salad on top–chopped up cabbage and carrots with black beans and green onions, and lime-cilantro dressing. Super good and filling, and I didn’t worry about leaving it in my bag, and it also wouldn’t get soggy and gross if it was next to an ice pack.

      My favourite meal salads are mix-and-match and look like this:
      protein–black beans, chickpeas, baked tofu cubes
      a carb base–brown rice, quinoa, potatoes
      lots crunchy vegetables–cabbage, radish, carrot, cucumber
      herby things–parsley, cilantro, green onion
      lots of flavourful dressing (because it has to cover the carb as well): miso-ginger, lime-cilantro, balsamic

      I find that if I make it on Sunday it’ll keep the whole week in the fridge.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ve never thought of carb based salads. All my salads are the traditional kind. I’ll have to look into some more grain- type salads!

        1. AcademiaNut*

          These make good options, and don’t need to be refrigerated for lunch. I’m fond of chickpea salad – chickpeas, tomato, celery, onion, parsley or mint, lemon juice and olive oil, some feta cheese if you want.

          You can also use pasta for the carbs, or cooked barley, or check out Asian grains (I’m fond of Job’s tears – very hearty, as well as millet and buckwheat (aka soba).)

          For dressings, I like a home-made miso-lemon one. Lemon juice, miso, olive oil, lots of black pepper. You can also use yoghurt based dressings (they will keep find until lunch), and get creative with blended dressings – mix up yoghurt with something like pesto, or harissa, or a handful of fresh herbs plus some lemon juice

          Another option is to make yourself a big pot of a hearty vegetable and bean soup, and take a thermos of that every day, plus some crackers and cheese and a piece of fruit.

          As far as food safety goes, I honestly wouldn’t worry about anything vegetarian between the time you leave for work and eat lunch, unless it’s sitting in a hot car all morning.

  18. Washi*

    So I have a very dear friend who has always had a lot of anxiety (she has always waffled about therapy mainly because it’s stigmatized in our ethnic group and particularly by her husband.) Now she and her husband are trying to have a baby, and she is freaking out particularly about what things have chemicals that could cause birth defects. I love her and I don’t mind listening to a lot of the other things she’s anxious about, but for some reason I CANNOT with the constant stream of “my doctor said which pre-natal vitamins I take doesn’t matter but this one has this amount of vitamin A and also food has vitamin A so what if end up with more than the recommended amount…”

    The one other I set a boundary/noted that I didn’t love something about what she was doing, she then needed reassurance for weeks that I still liked her, etc and she would make constant comments like “I was about to say X but I know you don’t like that so I’ll just shut up now.” So I’m wondering if folks have advice about how to phrase a request to seriously curb the scary chemicals rants but also not have weeks of reassurance about whether I like her? If I want to be a good friend should I just suck it up? (fwiw I have anxiety as well but it presents very differently)

    1. Rahera*

      Hi, Captain Awkward has lots of helpful scripts and advice about boundaries. I would recommend having a look through her archive. at captainawkward dot com.

      Good luck, I think you have every right to kindly and caringly set a boundary on this subject.

    2. Marthooh*

      When something comes up in conversation that I don’t want to talk about, I’m a big fan of changing the subject. You may find it worth the trouble to write down a list of subjects that are non-baby-vitamin-related. Like, your friend tells you she’s not going to talk about chemicals because you hate all mention of chemicals, but do you still like her in spite of the chemicals? You say “Great! By the way, I just started to learn to crochet…” or any topic that seems interesting.

      I’m sorry, your friend sounds exhausting.

    3. Jack Be Nimble*

      You might have better luck redirecting her then by asking her to knock it off, especially if she’s got a history of being passive aggressive in response!

      If you said something like “Well, I don’t know, I’m not a doctor!/That sounds like a question for your OBGYN!” and then cheerily changed the subject, do you think she’d take the bait? You might could listen for a bit and then try to change the subject so she doesn’t feel shut down.

      I feel for her, though, it took me a loooong time to get to therapy (even though I desperately needed it!) because of stigma.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, based on the responses so far, maybe I just need to be better about aggressively changing the subject! And maybe thinking of some good subject changes ahead of time, because sometimes I sort of freeze and can’t think of anything else to say.

        Partly my hesitation is that I’m working on being more honest with people, but this may be a time when practicality comes before honesty. And partly it’s that I would want to know if I was annoying someone, but again, maybe that’s just not helpful here.

        1. zora*

          Yeah, I get why you are working on that, but in this case, she is anxious AND hormonal, so honesty is really not going to help the situation here. So, think of this as an exception to your plan, at least until the baby is born. ;)

    4. Thursday Next*

      It really does sound like anxiety run amok. Trying to get pregnant just gives her new sources and outlets for it. I’d be exhausted listening to it as well.

      Others here have suggested the “this is not my wheelhouse” + subject change. (Sounds like a question for your OB! So I JUST watched the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and…)

      IF you’re so inclined, you could pick a moment when she’s not anxious, and have a conversation about it: Friend, you’ve been expressing a lot of anxiety around birth defects and your diet. I’m not an expert, but it seems like you have a lot more anxiety than what is typical. I think it would be helpful to talk to someone, so when you get pregnant, you can have a less stressed pregnancy and enter motherhood with less anxiety.

      Frame it around potential pregnancy, not her history of anxiety. And if you choose this route, you get to say it only once. But if you don’t want to have this conversation, that’s fine too—it’s not on you to fix this.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, I think I need to have some sort of script like that in my back pocket because I think it’s likely that at some point she’ll notice how quickly I change the subject when she wants to talk about scary chemicals, and a good chance she will ask me about it.

    5. oldbiddy*

      I’m a chemist and live in a crunchy granola college town. You can imagine all the ‘scary chemicals’ talk I hear….
      I like everyone else’s advice about changing the subject/suggesting she ask her OB/GYN, but if that doesn’t work you could try giving her the ‘everything is chemicals’ line and the ‘moderation/common sense in all things’ line. This is not what she wants to hear but maybe she will decide you’re not a sympathetic audience re chemicals without taking it personally. I use when I’m trying to get someone to STFU about scary chemicals and it usually works.

  19. Australia*

    What’s the etiquette of going to a housewarming for people you don’t know?
    I have a new neighbour and they slipped a note under my door to give a heads-up about their housewarming tonight and added I should drop by so we can get to know each other. I’m not sure whether I’d go but if I do should I bring something? If so what’s appropriate?

    1. Washi*

      My safe options are usually Woodchuck cider (unusual but generally well-liked alcohol, I’m originally from Vermont so it’s a conversation starter) or some homemade cookies that they can put out or eat later.

      I don’t think you absolutely have to bring anything, but if you would like to return the Overture of Friendship I think it would help!

    2. Katherine Vigneras*

      Something to share (cookies, brownies, beer) or flowers (maybe a plant since you won’t want them to be scrambling for a vase.)

    3. heckofabecca*

      If you do go and want to avoid food in case of potential allergies… a gift card to a local store/restaurant you like that new arrivals might not be familiar with? I hope your new neighbors are great!

      1. WellRed*

        I’d be uncomfortable receiving this. They probably just really want to meet and be neighborly. Food or wine or a plant.

    4. Totally Minnie*

      I’d go with cookies (no nuts, in case of allergies) or a houseplant. I was raised in a super conservative religious culture that forbade alcohol, so I’d probably skip the beer or wine just in case they’re opposed to it.

    5. Amaryllis*

      A succulent. It doesn’t make pollen, it’s easy to care for, and you can pick up a cute little varietal dishgarden at Lowes/Home Depot/etc.

      Taking food always risks allergies/religious requirements/dislikes.

    6. Screenwriter Mom*

      It sounds like they’re making a friendly “Hi, we want to get along with you” overture and so, for you, showing up with a small token says “Hi, we do too! Welcome!” You only have to drop by for a few minutes and say hi, and bring a small token (something easy for you to get at the grocery store, such as a nice box of iced cookies, or flowers, or a small pot of herbs). It’s the gesture that’s important.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I invited my neighbors to my housewarming. A good chuck of it was out front on the lawn, and it was a wander by and say hi thing. Neighbors didn’t give any gifts. As long as you’re friendly and welcoming, generally chat pleasantly with other people, you’re good. Don’t over stay your welcome of course!

    8. Logan*

      Around here, an invitation to a neighbor’s housewarming is usually “This party might be noisy / go late, but if we invite our neighbors then they won’t complain about us to bylaw.”
      The neighbors are genuinely welcome, but aren’t expected to bring anything.

  20. Minime*

    Hello! I posted a version of this question a few weeks ago and people seemed to enjoy it but anted more “rules” so here it is again, a little expanded:

    What if you were sitting in your office and realized that every time you clicked a certain pen, the person closest to you shrunk down to 2 inches tall (big sized!)?

    A few clarifying rules:
    1. They don’t know YOU are responsible for their new, diminutive lives.

    2. It’s not reversible.

    How would you have fun with your new power? Would you keep some as pets? Would any be introduced to the bottom of your shoes? It would make going to work a lot more exciting!

    1. Not All Who Wander*

      and *click*! Creepy, harassing, misogynistic dudes from the 2nd floor become dog snacks! And every woman in the building under the age of 70 can safely bend down to pick something up for the first time in years. I like this magic pen!

    2. Anonymosity*

      This reminds me of that episode of SpongeBob where they shrunk Squidward with the shrink ray.

    3. Thlayli*

      Is the power confined to one day and to the office? If not, Instead of murdering annoying office mates I would devote my time and attention to Shrinking and possibly killing bad guys.

      1. Not All Who Wander*

        Yes, a walk through the halls of Congress and the White House would be excellent!!!!

  21. Cupcake for Breakfast*

    An incident from my high school years has been playing through my head recently and I’m curious to ask your opinion.

    My family hosted new cadets to the local military school for many years, the hosting program extended to cadets with families out of town, connecting them to local families as a homey off-campus place to go and unwind. We’ve had many cadets and their friends over to our house over the years and there was only one time we ever ran into a problem, which comes the incident.

    My family and I were going out of town for a two week vacation. My parents told our two cadets that they couldn’t come over to the house while we were gone; to wait until we returned. My aunt (mom’s sister) housesat for us, not staying there all two weeks but checking in on the house and collecting the mail every other day; all of our pets were in the kennels. When we returned from our vacation, my aunt was waiting for us, which was odd. It turned out she was there to warn us what we would see inside: broken stereo and TV, my parents’ expensive wine gone, multiple steaks and other meats defrost and gone from the freezer, and bags upon bags of trash by our bins.

    The two cadets we sponsored, again who were told not to come over but knew we left our house unlocked, had thrown a party at our house. They had apparently invited a whole bunch of friends, drank my parents alcohol, defrosted and ate/tossed our stockpiled frozen meat, had sex in most of the beds in the house (including the beds of my two younger siblings), and generally trashed the house. My aunt happened to come by the afternoon of the party, and found the cadets there. Knowing that my parents had told the cadets not to come over while we were gone, she confronted them and the cadets lied, saying my parents knew they were there and were okay with the party. My aunt didn’t call the police or try to force the issue; she just left and came the next day to clean up the worst of the mess.

    That first night was awful. My mom cried, saying she felt violated in her own home. We left the house and stayed in a local hotel that night, so my parents could figure out where to go from there.

    Here’s where the dilemma comes in. I wasn’t involved in the talks about what to do about our cadets; my parents handled that. But I know there was a lot of discussion about whether to tell the Academy. My mom wanted to do so but my dad said to tell the school could get the cadets suspended or even expelled. My father was more sympathetic because he did a lot of stupid stuff when he was the age of the cadets (oh the stories he’s told us) and he didn’t want to ruin their lives and careers because of one bad decision. In the end, the cadets quietly paid the damages and apologized profusely. They were even allowed back into the house after a few months.

    I’ve always wondered how I would handle the situation in my own home. I can see why my dad didn’t want to get the cadets into trouble with their superiors, because even minor offenses are a big deal in a military academy so something like this (trespassing, theft, sexual misconduct, breaking curfew, etc) could definitely destroy their futures. But on the other hand, I feel like my parents went a bit light on them. At the very least, I would never have let the cadets back into my house. Even as a kid, I felt uncomfortable with them there, knowing what they had done, and I wasn’t happy my parents allowed them back.

    What do you all think?

    1. Jules the Third*

      For me, it’s a question of harm – personal versus property.
      They harmed your parents’ property.
      They did not physically harm your parents or you, or your aunt when she caught them.

      As long as the sex was consensual, then no person was directly, physically harmed. There’s a huge difference between people who will harm property and people who will harm people. Kids who are harming property aren’t that bad, if they make reparations and demonstrate remorse, yeah, I’d forgive. I wouldn’t leave my house unlocked when I’m headed out of town, though.

      1. foolofgrace*

        You don’t know that the sex was consensual, there easily might have been underage people there (statutory rape). And what if they had destroyed a collection of some sort, Hummel figurines or baseball cards? What they did, like gutting the wine collection — hard to replace some wines — is reprehensible. I would have turned them in in a heartbeat. I don’t agree that “Kids who are harming property aren’t that bad.” I’m sure many an arsonist started out burning things (destroying property) as youths, for example.

        But, who leaves town and doesn’t lock their house? What did they expect? Even if they expected the cadets to honor their wishes to stay away, I’d be afraid of burglars. I wonder if insurance covered any of the damages, which in itself isn’t great because it might up their payments for making the claim.

        1. Cupcake for Breakfast*

          At the time of this incident, my family lived in a gated community of sorts, where you needed a code for the gate to access the property and the house. We lived there all my life while I still lived with my family, through my college years, and never had an issue of burglars. It was a very safe community and this incident with the cadets was the only time we ever had unwelcome people in the house. The cadets had the codes they needed to get through the gate, as well as knowing the house was unlocked.

          1. foolofgrace*

            My comment about locked doors was no doubt colored by where I’m from — Big Midwestern City. You practically have to lock your door to go take the garbage out. I’m sorry if I seemed harsh.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I mean, I lived for a summer on a farm outside a tiny Amish town, nearest neighbors were a quarter mile away, I still locked my car and the house every time. I understand there are very safe towns and neighborhoods but I’m still not taking chances, especially when leaving town.

        2. Screenwriter Mom*

          I live in Los Angeles and can’t even remotely understand the concept of “not locking your house.”

      2. Triple Anon*

        Eh. They had sex in other people’s beds. They had sex in children’s beds. That’s gross.

        And honestly I think the personal vs property damage line comes with a grey area. Property damage is traumatic, and it has tangible effects. How much and in what way depends on what was damaged.

      3. Totally Minnie*

        But the property damage did indicate a lack of respect for people. That’s an issue. I don’t know if I would have turned them in at the academy as long as they apologized and paid for the damages, but I would certainly not have invited them back into my home when they had showed that level of disrespect to me and my family.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      With the caveat that I am sometimes rule-bound in ways that have not served me well… I would have told the academy. Being a cadet is not the same as being a regular college student. From what I understand, there are stricter codes of conduct to which they agree to adhere, and these cadets broke those big time. For what it’s worth, if they had come to the house without permission and watched TV for a few hours and your aunt had found them there, I wouldn’t have done anything. College kids do indeed do stupid stuff, but, “I misheard when you said not to come over and we really needed to get away” and “you were out of town so we threw a rager and barely bothered to hide the evidence” are very different things.

      And yes, there is NO WAY I would have let those cadets back in my house. That was such a huge violation of trust.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yup, this is where I land. Big difference between inviting some friends to hang out, watch TV or lounge by the pool, and throwing a huge party where they destroy personal–and expensive–property. I would definitely have reported them, no question, and they’d never be sponsored by me or allowed in my house again.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        That’s where I would fall – this has serious consequences because they’re being held to strict standards, and for a reason. If they had come over to watch TV I wouldn’t have reported it, although I would have had the codes changed, but they entered the home expressly against the home-owners wishes, invited a bunch of people, trashed the place, and spilled bodily fluids in the children’s beds. Being expelled is a reasonable and proportionate response.

        I would be more reluctant to call the police, particularly if it would involve felony charges. Getting kicked out of the cadet program is a recoverable consequence, a police record is a lot harder to shake in adulthood.

    3. WellRed*

      First of all, your aunt. WtH?? I see your dad’s point about young people making foolish mistakes but this was pretty serious. They broke in (yes, they did, unlocked doors or not) and caused a lot of damage. I am glad to hear they apologized and paid ip but I certainly would NEVER let them come to my house again. Do you know if, in adulthood, they are fine and upstanding?

    4. Temperance*

      I would have called the Academy that day and not only reported those cadets, but said that I would never, ever sponsor cadets again. This is beyond a “mistake”, this is a crime and a half. I can’t believe that your aunt didn’t immediately call your parents or the cops. I mean, damn.

      They ruined your family’s ability to be safe and comfortable in their own home. IDK, I realize I’m probably a hardass about this, but you do not enter someone else’s home.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Well, if you are I am too. First, call police. Second, call academy. Third, require repayment for everything lost or used (wine, meat, beds–because there is NO way I am getting into that bed again). I don’t know if I would ever host cadets again, but probably, and the reason is that I am partially at fault. Not locking doors? At any rate, no cadet ever again would be able to come and go.

    5. only acting normal*

      I would have told the academy, because they were representing their institution not just themselves, and would never have let them back in the house (WTF?!). They got off incredibly lightly.
      I hope your dad would have been so understanding if you’d had a similar house party in his absence!
      Also, it’s not *one* bad decision – there’s a whole string of them involved in throwing a big party, in someone else’s home, when you are explicitly denied permission to even go in there on your own.

    6. stellaaaaa*

      I would have told the academy. I would also have never let those specific cadets in my house again, and probably would have completely stopped participating in the program, because as helpful as my hosting might have been to some future cadets, I would put the safety of my family above that, every time.

    7. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I’m a very private hardcore introvert and my home is my designated safe place away from the world. I would have immediately reported the incident to the academy, insisted that the cadets clean up and pay for any damages, change my locks, and probably not host another cadet or at least take a break from the program for a while. If I felt the academy took the incident seriously enough, I might host again but not actually give them keys to the house.

      I would have zero guilt if the kids were suspended or expelled from the program.

    8. Bagpuss*

      I would definitely have reported them. They broke into your home, stole things, damaged things, and did so knowing that you / your parents had specifically told them to stay away.
      Also, if they were cadets, presumably they were seeking to become officers? I’m not sure that getting away with criminal behaviour is a good basis for that.
      If I wanted to limit the damage I would probably consider reporting it but saying to the relevant officer that you didn’t want to press charges and would rather that it was dealt with by way of restitution – it wouldn’t stop them facing consequences, including possibly being expelled, but it would give the academy the option of tempering justice with mercy, of they felt the cadets were otherwise in good standing, and worth giving a second chance.

    9. Loopy*

      I would have reported them with no regrets. This was a huge trespass. not only were they in the home without permission, but to bring strangers, use and destroy property? That’s horrendous. I’d have been livid and they Academy would have been notified. They were adults and actions have consequences. End of story.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto from me. I would have dropped the hammer here. If they were worried about their careers they should have thought of that sooner, sorry. This is not just a little careless fun. This is trespassing and damaging property belonging to other people. Not acceptable.

    10. LilySparrow*

      My brother is military, so I’m speaking from that perspective.

      I think calling the police is a judgement call that could go either way, and if the cadets paid the damages I can see letting it go on that level.

      But the academy absolutely should have been told. They have a code of conduct for a reason. There is no way the cadets did not know if they were violating the code of conduct and the possible consequences. Those things are drilled in. And one major reason for having such a code is to weed out people who don’t have the judgment and self control to follow it. Because those are exactly the people we do not want as officers.

      These cadets are being prepared to be military officers responsible for other people’s lives. One stupid choice as a cadet could get them expelled.

      Getting expelled is not going to send them to jail, or prevent them from finishing school somewhere else, or having a successful career doing something else. It just deprives them of a privilege they wanted but did not appreciate enough to be disciplined about.

      One stupid choice as an officer could get all their soldiers maimed or dead. Soldiers who did not have the privilege of attending an exclusive academy in the first place.

      Better they pay the (minor) price for their own mistakes, than let their enlisted personnel pay the price for their foolishness, impulsivity, and bad judgement later.

      1. Ron McDon*

        Great reply, that the rules are there to weed out people who can’t follow rules.

        I would have reported them to the academy, not the police, and they would never be allowed back into my house.

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        This. My dad was career Air Force, though enlisted, so I’m a bit defensive about it. I would not tolerate cadets knowingly damaging the reputation of the USAF like that, and knowingly allow them to escape the consequences. What kind of officer is that cadet going to make? Not one that I want to have in charge of people like my dad. The USAFA (and any other military academy) is hard to get into for a reason.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I would have locked the doors first of all. If you leave your house unlocked and go out of town for 2 weeks, you’re just asking for trouble.

      I also would have called the police and informed the academy, but stressed that you wanted them punished, not kicked out. and I would have banned them from the house or contacting the family, forever. You screw up, you suffer the consequences.

    12. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Seems to me this is a BFD and a very serious lack of judgement that should not be tolerated in a commissioned officer. I would have gone straight to their superiors. They were the ones who decided to basically break into your house, steal and destroy belongings, and lie about it. I don’t have a lot of patience for the line that it could ruin their careers, etc. They knew that before they did it.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Good luck! Don’t be worried if it’s awkward, some people take a few visits to warm up (my boyfriend’s mom . . .). Let us know how it goes!

  22. Environmental Compliance*

    I had my first meeting with a therapist last week. She is referring me to a doctor to 1) set up primary care and 2) get started on antidepressants. I feel so relieved that someone is listening to me and taking it seriously and wants to help me get help. I just want the bad days to stop and for me to come back.

    I always kinda thought I just was an anxious high strung person but tbh now that I think more about what she said, maybe it’s been depression the whole time. Which just sounds awful.

    1. Jules the Third*

      It can be such a relief to hear someone say you’re not alone, and there’s solutions. I feel ya.

    2. Jack Be Nimble*

      Have you ever heard stories about people getting glasses for the first time? They talk about how they didn’t realize trees had individual leaves or they didn’t know houses had the numbers of their addresses. There was a lot of fine detail they’d missed out on, simply because they couldn’t see it.

      I had the same experience when I started antidepressants. It wasn’t a magic bullet or a cure-all, but for the first time in my life, I got to experience my own moods, without the heavy fog of depression. I didn’t know you could wake up in a good mood. I had no idea, none.

      I’m glad you took that step, and I hope you keep feeling better and better!

      1. Jules the Third*

        hahahhaha – from ages 6 – 12, I got new glasses every year as my eyes went from ‘meh’ to ‘omg I can use my glasses as a party trick’. I remember commenting to my mom, ‘yeah, I like when I get the new glasses, it means I can see the tree leaves again.’ Good analogy…

      2. foolofgrace*

        I got cataract surgery a couple of years ago and I swear to God I hadn’t known that the paint in the apartment building’s hallways was white. I always thought it was tan. What a revelation!

        As someone who has suffered from clinical depression for most of my life, I appreciate the comparison, that’s what it was like when I finally found a combination of meds that worked for me, which took quite some time, so don’t be discouraged if the first meds you try aren’t as effective as you would have liked.

      3. Alex the Alchemist*

        I completely agree! I have both depression and anxiety, and when I got on a medicine that worked for both, it made me see things totally differently- getting better wasn’t as scary as I had originally thought. This is something that I feel like I have to mention, because I know for me, recovery was terrifying because I struggled with mental illness since middle school (and anxiety specifically my whole life) and didn’t get good help until college, so I couldn’t quite remember what my life even was like when I wasn’t dealing with it. When I got antidepressants, I realized that hey, maybe this bad stuff didn’t have to be in my life for me to feel like “me” after all.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I’ve felt on and off like this since early middle school, so I kinda thought that’s just how it was. Wasn’t until recently when a low dip got really low that I thought about really trying to get help. I didn’t realize I’ve always been barely treading water when others have been walking on dry land until I started to drown. I just thought that’s how life was going to be for me.

      4. Environmental Compliance*

        That actually happened to my husband! He kept insisting he didn’t need glasses, didn’t need glasses…..got glasses, and on the way home turned to look at me in surprise that you could *see* the individual leaves on the trees. Now we go on hikes and he’s telling me all about the leaves he sees, lol.

        I’m hoping I get my leaves too.

    3. 30ish*

      I also thought I had anxiety when it was depression. I think that might be kind of common since both can involve a lot of ruminating. And it can be kind of hard to connect the dots with depression. I got treated successfully with meds and therapy, good luck to you with your treatment!

  23. I Am Still Furious!!*

    Divorce update. I am so glad I can type all of this out here.

    This has been a stressful week for me. STBEXH called and texted multiple times about his first settlement payment, demanding that he get it NOW, telling me that I left him in the middle of the night, lied to him, ruined his life, and just basically “effing” his life up and he’s sick of it and wants this over. (aside…yes, I left in the night after telling him for several years I wanted a divorce and that I would leave one day and not come back, and he wanted to leave everything go until February 2018, after I moved out on Sept 15 2017, because, health insurance?? SMH!)

    Thursday and Friday were especially bad, I told him to call his attorney’s office so they could let him know when the check, deed paperwork for the house, etc. were delivered, and he went into a rant that if he didn’t have his money TODAY everything was off and we would be going to court. I calmly replied that I’d call and find out the exact time of delivery (offices are 2 blocks apart), and offered my attorney’s phone number so he could call and verify, but this resulted in more ranting, swearing, and stating my attorney is a weasel and he lies too. He went on about an apartment that he wanted, and if he lost it because I was holding things up, I’d regret it, and that he had help lined up to move out of the house and…whatever.

    Yesterday AM he called 4 times and texted that if I didn’t answer, everything was off and we were going to court. I told him that he should call his attorney’s office because the check and paperwork would be delivered around 11 AM.

    That was it. No more calls or texts.

    Yes, I’ve given all of this info to my attorney, and STBEXH may be getting a letter if he doesn’t knock it off. We still have a few more things to hammer out, but after that, texts and calls will be blocked moving forward. There is no reason for him to call or text, if he has a question, he can write a letter.

    When I get to the house, I’m giving it a major purge, as in, getting rid of 90% of the contents. I figure if I haven’t needed this stuff in 9 months, I won’t need it now. Originally, I was going to put anything of his aside, and give him one more chance to pick it up, but he’s acted like such a mule’s behind that I think I’ll just toss it all and to hell with him. Definitely changing the locks, and I’m thinking about a low cost camera that I can mount pointing toward the driveway to check to see if he shows up while I’m at work.

    Everyone, I am SO GLAD that I did what I did. I’m going to get my life back.

      1. I Am Still Furious!!*

        Yes, he does, and that’s how he treated our entire marriage, basically using me as a source of income, health insurance, someone to pay the bills and take care of everything, while he basically did what he felt like doing (including gambling us into 10’s of thousands of dollars in debt) and floating through life without a care in the world. I used to compare him to the grasshopper x2 in the fable about the ant and the grasshopper. Or, it was like being in a rowboat while he dumped water in with a 5 gallon bucket and I had a tea cup to bail it out.

        So the gravy train has now not only stopped, but has derailed fully, and I think his anger is bubbling up from the knowledge that he will have to do all these things for himself now. Once the settlement money is gone, he will no doubt be in a bit of a hard spot if he doesn’t straighten up.

    1. tangerineRose*

      Good for you for blocking his text and calls. He does sound like someone who thinks you’re his ATM.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Every time this guy opens his mouth he proves to you that you were right. He is very good at this.

    3. ..Kat..*

      You are almost out of his control, and he is desperate to get you back under control. Even if you can’t block him now, I recommend not responding at all. He wants to argue, threaten, etc. If you answer, you are teaching him what will get your attention and how to manipulate you. If you answer after the 11th angry message, you are teaching him that it takes 12 calls to you to get what he wants.

      Be careful – this is the most dangerous time for you. He is losing it – his easy life, his control over you – this is when abusive men are at their most dangerous. This is when women are killed by their ex’es. Please be careful. Can you get a restraining order? That way at least you can call the police, and the police will know what they are getting into. These calls are very dangerous for police .

      Keep your cell phone charged, keep it with you, stay in well lit areas around people. Good locks on doors and windows.

      Good luck! You are almost there. Stay strong. Stay safe.

      1. Epiphyta*

        If nothing else, do speak with your attorney about a no-contact order; if they have copies of the texts, they can advise you as to the likelihood of one being granted. Your former spouse should be going through his attorney about these things, not bringing them to you.

        You may not legally be able to throw his things away immediately (or at all), but might have the option of giving him a short window of opportunity to remove them under supervision; again, talk to your attorney about it and get details in the final decree: as my own attorney was fond of saying, “If it ain’t written down, it don’t count”.

      2. Dan*

        I don’t think furious’s ex is the violent type, she’s written a bit about him – she’s always just described him as a lazy good for nothing.

        I had an ex of a similar nature, and I looked at getting a TRO, but in my state, you have to have reason to believe you are in physical danger.

        To furious – it gets easier to ignore this crap after awhile. It eventually stops when they don’t get anything from you.

          1. I Am Still Furious!!*

            I have to admit I am worried about this. He is angry, and he is one of those people who thinks the rules don’t apply to them. A prime example is: in the settlement agreement, he agreed to sign off the title to an old SUV we own together. I told him I’d let him know when the paperwork was at the notary so he could stop and sign off. He said he wanted half the money if I sold it. I reminded him that the agreement we signed didn’t state that, and he said he didn’t care what the agreement said, he wanted half the money, the key words being “I don’t care what the agreement says, I want [insert thing]”.

            I might add, his attorney drew up the agreement, we both signed it, it’s done and filed with the court. The only thing left to end this is for him to sign the waiver of consent or whatever that document is, and that won’t be until Nov 1.

            4 1/2 more months…I can do it.

            1. Belle di Vedremo*

              If you’re worried about this, can you consult with the local domestic violence folks, and talk with your attorney about appropriate safety measures? If he’s saying he doesn’t care what the agreements say, he wants what he wants, those folks will have suggestions about handling him and your interactions. Are you sure you want to go back to the house, if you’re worried about him? What if you just went over and cleaned it out (I like the suggestion from Not All Who Wander of bagging everything so you’re ready once the paperwork is signed), and put it on the market without moving back in? It might be a bit more expensive in the short run, but might buy you time to be somewhere else and let him cool down before you move somewhere that’ll show up in public records.

              You’re so smart, and your instincts have been on target, so addressing this directly might serve you well even if you’re not sure you’d need it. Sure hope you don’t.

              Keep us posted.

            2. Detective Amy Santiago*

              I agree with Belle. Please take steps to ensure your safety.

              Also, can you change your phone number and make sure he doesn’t get the new one? Force him to communicate via your attorney.

    4. Not All Who Wander*

      In the midst of similar divorce myself. From someone I have renamed in my contacts and folders as ‘The Leech”.

      One caution, I was warned by my attorney NOT to get rid of anything that could potentially be argued as joint personal property (or his personal property)….which in this state basically means anything acquired after our marriage…until the judge signed the decree. Up until that point, I could still be required to sell it and divide the proceeds even if it was worth $2. If I had gotten rid of crap before then, the judge could potentially assign the value himself and require me to pay The Leech half. I’d check with your attorney about what the laws are in your particular state.

      My solution is that everything of his is going in trash bags in the garage (sorted by ‘donation’ and ‘trash’). Everything of mine I want to get rid of is going into boxes (“donation” “trash” “sell”). This way I don’t have to look at it, but if things take a turn and I am ordered to sell it all, I can heap in the driveway and accept any offer people give me in a massive garage sale. If that means 10 cents for the really nice air rifle he left, oh well! (And I can also have my friends come over and ‘buy’ my stuff so I can get it back. And if all goes well, it will only take me a couple days to take all the bags/boxes to where they need to go once the decree is signed next month.

      Good luck! (and if you feel like you need to see a therapist to deal with grief, do it…I couldn’t figure out why I was UPSET over such a miserable marriage ending. Only took 2 sessions until I was where I should have been…happy, relieved & looking forward to the future!)

  24. Irish Em*

    I managed some minor housework yesterday and the day before, yay! Now I have less than zero spoons. I need to go food shopping today but I’m pretty sure I’m going to just sit around in my jim-jams and watch crap tv and order a take-away instead. Fairly sure my method of recharging is… problematic at best but I honestly don’t know if that’s because I’m still viewing myself through able-tinted glasses.

    What do other spoonies do when spoons are in short supply?

    1. Laura H*

      I’m not a spoonie, but I find that making lists helps me navigate the tasks I need to do- I have cerebral palsy- and while it’s not applicable to the “spoons” energy model- I do have to approach some things differently. Acknowledging the tasks, planning them out, and completing them helps me not stress as much- and make the after process far smoother.

      1. Irish Em*

        I think I need to start doing that, my brain fog and fatigue definitely impact on my ability to deal with tasks and then I wake up at 3am worrying about stuff, and then they come up suddenly during the day, or I have a few spoons and use them up on stuff that’s been put aside for way too long. Thank you!

    2. HigherEd Person*

      Do you have grocery delivery in your area? If you have access to it, you can usually sign up for a trial and get free delivery for the first use! I find that helpful.

      And your method of recharging is what it is. You do what works for you to build your spoons back up so that you can be okay for tomorrow.

      1. Irish Em*

        There’s three supermarkets, two of which I get delivery, but it’s the one that doesn’t offer it that I need to go shop in, of course. It’s super helpful, especially for the heavy stuff.

        Thank you!

    3. Thursday Next*

      My recharging method is pretty close to yours! You do what you have to.

      I found that it’s helped me to decide, when I’m not out of spoons, what’s necessary and what’s not. So when I’m spoon-deficient, I know it’s okay to order pizza for the kids’ dinner, I don’t need to make them something myself, but kid #2 will still need to be washed and that’s non-negotiable. What are some things you can let go?

      1. Irish Em*

        Nearly everything about housework is unnecessary and is let go.
        Like, I hoovered the day before yesterday for the first time in over 12 months (I have relatives who hoover twice a day who are super judgemental about this but anyway…) but trying to figure out what little (necessary or not) things I can do when I have or haven’t got the spoons is super frustrating today.
        Thanks :)

        1. Thursday Next*

          It sounds like today is not the day for figuring stuff out, and that’s okay. I don’t know about you, but on my hardest days, I make things harder for myself by getting mad at myself for not being able to do more. Which is nonsensical. It’s been a slow process of training myself to accept that some days all I can do is take my medication and watch videos.

          I hope your spoons will be replenished soon. :-)

    4. Hellanon*

      My sister used to call it “taking the network cure” – she’d lie around in sweats & watch crap TV until she was A) bored and B) ready to face the world again.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Not a spoonie, I don’t think. But I went through some health issues years ago and my thinking tanked along with the physical issues. This went on for a few years.
      I forced myself to turn off the tv and get actual sleep. TV can be a stimulate for some people. But I realized with the limited amount of at home time I had, I needed to use it wisely. If I was staring at a tv to recharge then I probably needed actual sleep. Television can also act as a depressant for some people.

      This was the exact answer I did not want to hear. Television was my escape, my time out. In turning off the tv I had to find other ways to take my down time. That was a little rough at first but it got easier.

      1. Irish Em*

        I’ve definitely felt better on the days I’ve cut down on my screen time and gone to bed early. Thank you for the suggestion!

    6. Miles*

      Next time you have a spare spoon on the weekend use it to automate something so that something used to take a spoon just happens on its own.

      Especially focus on things that could really drain your spoons in a disaster (e.g. For me, Automatic bill payments + direct deposit into that account +a separate manually refilled general spending account has really simplified a lot of my money concerns. Most of my bills get paid without my having to remember them, and I don’t have to worry about budgeting because the transaction will get denied if I go over – had to fight my bank on the last one but I finally got it working)

      1. Irish Em*

        Oh, this is great! At the moment all my bills are cash in hand paid at Payzone places because unemployment means I have to juggle the bills a bit, but if I can time it right it’d defo help. Thanks!

    7. Foreign Octopus*

      I had to Google the Spoon Theory because I honestly thought everyone here was talking about an actual lack of spoons (the cutlery kind). I was wondering why so many people kept running out of spoons. You have no idea how long I’ve sat here trying to figure out what you were saying!

      I’m sorry you’re spoonless. Feel better soon!

    8. Teach*

      Grocery delivery
      Fresh fruits and veggies, even if just a raw assortment becomes dinner
      Showering plus clean clothes, basic hygiene
      Doing low-energy things that feel like accomplishments: deleting emails, brushing the cat, puttering around and tidying, sitting and cleaning out one drawer, cleaning out my purse, etc.
      I try not to “double-screen,” I.e. TV on plus phone or iPad because that is a tough hole to climb out of!

    9. Anonymosity*

      I sit around in my jim-jams and watch crap tv. :) That’s a perfect way to recharge.
      Physically I’m okay, but my mental spoons are in short supply lately.

    10. Not All Who Wander*

      I outsource what I can. A local grocery store has free delivery for orders over $75 (and only $5 under!). I’m paying the neighbor’s lawn service to mow my lawn this summer at a bargain price because he only does it when he’s does theirs so no travel/loading time in the rate. A friend has a gal come in to vaccuum & I’m seriously considering adding that (big house, furry pets)

      I know these all cost money, but frankly less than I would spend ordering SkiptheDishes with the bonus that my stress & diet are both better.

      And some nights I have a beer and ice cream on the couch for dinner amd then just go to bed…and the important part! I allow myself to feel NO guilt for doing so.

    11. Snazzy Hat*

      Read comic strip treasuries. Calvin & Hobbes and Get Fuzzy are my favourites; I have the whole collection of C&H and most if not all of Get Fuzzy, plus treasuries of other strips too.
      Put away things that have a known place. Best examples would be hats (I left it on the couch but it belongs on this hat rack), the aforementioned books (left one or two on the table from when I was reading earlier), and potholders from previous hot meals.
      Cereal bowl. Cereal. Milk. Spoon. MEAL.
      Watch the Simpsons, especially an earlier episode that I’ve seen a bajillion times.

  25. WisconsinBound?*

    I may end up moving to Wisconsin this summer – possibly to Eau Claire. Does anyone know much about the cost of living and culture there?

    1. gecko*

      Wisconsin is pretty cheap! I lived in Madison, not Eau Claire, but I liked it a lot (after living in the Northeast). The everyday socialization can take some getting used to, but I came to like it. I was definitely too loud & argumentative for what the culture there is for a while, but was able to notice and adjust.

    2. Lady Jay*

      Lord, I loved Wisconsin. Moving away this summer (eastern Tennessee) and already missing it. Eau Claire is a nice spot: you’re within an hour or two of Minneapolis, so there’s the possibility for big culture; but a couple hours to the north is Lake Superior so there’s also the possibility for getting outdoors.

      Wisconsin’s COL is low and despite its negative political publicity (depending on what side of the aisle you’re on), the people are warm and friendly and the small towns are tidy. You’ll love it.

      1. WisconsinBound?*

        Thank you – glad to hear COL isn’t too bad. That is the biggest concern to me. (And yes, I’ve heard the negative publicity too!)

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Born and (sort of – summers only) raised in WI, got the accent to prove it.

      Most recently we also lived in Madison for 3 years while Other Half finished his degree and it was a solid time. The traffic due to the isthmus was annoying, but it was also possible to get anywhere on a bike most of the year. A great college town for a weekend visit once you have moved.

      Wisconsin has distinct ‘regions’ so to speak that differ from one another. I am from the south central area, which is more influenced by Milwaukee and the pull of Chicago than, say, La Crosse, where it is more influenced by the Twin Cities. Madison is its own island, or ’90 square miles surrounded by reality’ as the saying goes. I have never been to Eau Claire proper but have driven through there (when we lived in MSP and i was headed to my parents) and it struck me as similar to La Crosse in feel – smaller, bit more rural, more conservative than what I was used to on the eastern coast of the state.

      I just checked and Eau Claire is considerably smaller than what I thought and is, in fact, just a bit larger than my hometown. Where I am from there is little to no culture (you need to go to Milwaukee for that) and it can be very much “who your family is” going back generations. However, Eau Claire does have a U of Wisconsin main branch campus there so there is likely to be a few more places to eat that are interesting/cheap and some activities on at the university.

      You are about an hour out of MSP on I94 if you need to head west to get some culture/decent food or airport connections, otherwise it can be a bit isolated. On the flip side there are a lot of outdoor things to do – lots of bike trails and rivers to kayak, etc. Cost of living will be cheap – you should be able to get a decent house for under $250K.

      1. WisconsinBound?*

        Thank you. I agree about the housing – sadly even $250k is out of my budget. =(

    4. Green Kangaroo*

      Yes, Wisconsin is quite affordable compared to many areas of the U.S. Depending on where you are currently, you might find out winters a bit tough. Eau Claire is pretty; it’s a college town so it has that vibe, and yes, Midwesterners are pretty chatty and we tend to be in each other’s business. If you like having four distinct seasons and enjoy outdoor things, you’ll probably like it!

      1. WisconsinBound?*

        I grew up in the Midwest so I think i can survive the winters, if necessary…not my favorite thing, but it probably would not be as much of a shock…

    5. FD*

      Eau Claire is beautiful! I live about an hour away in Rochester, Minnesota. Cost of living is fairly moderate in a lot of the midwest here. Doing a quick check of my instincts, apartments are fairly cheap–looks like almost everything is less than $1,000/mo, average 2BR looks to be about 600-800/mo. One thing I love about living here is that groceries are cheap, particularly dairy. For context, as one person living alone, I spend $25/week on groceries (though I do cook meal batches which lowers the price a bit). A gallon of milk is about $2.50 in my area.

      Kwik Trip is the best gas station and they are EVERYWHERE. They are clean, tidy, and almost like tiny convenience stores. Milk and eggs are crazy cheap there. (Pretty common for eggs to be on sale for $0.99/dozen.)

      In terms of culture, this part of the midwest tends to be moderate religiously. There are a lot of Lutherans and a fair number of Catholics. In my experience, midwest Christianity tends to be more the Sunday social, quilting bee type than the you-are-going-to-hell-if-you-don’t-believe type. One side effect I’ve found is that it can be difficult for people moving in to get to know people if they don’t belong to some sort of group, such as a church, charity group, or school. Midwesterners tend to be friendly, but sometimes a little hard to get to know beyond they surface.

      Biggest downside of course is that outside of the larger cities, there are limited entertainment options. Outdoor activities are popular–Eau Claire is on the banks of the Mississippi. Most towns have a few movie theaters and a mall and a (usually utterly terrible) civic theater. There are usually at least a few reasonably good local choirs and/or symphonies.

      (Fun fact, BTW, Minnesota has much stricter laws about liquor and fireworks, so a lot of Minnesotans cross the border to buy them both.)

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        One side effect I’ve found is that it can be difficult for people moving in to get to know people if they don’t belong to some sort of group, such as a church, charity group, or school. Midwesterners tend to be friendly, but sometimes a little hard to get to know beyond they surface.

        This. I went to college in Wisconsin, and I found it to be incredibly insular even though I was in one of the cities. There were a lot of jabs at “coasties” and non-Midwesterners in general. I moved away the second I was done with college, but I still think I could have lived there for decades and still never been “one of them,” and I suspect that feeling would have been intensified if I weren’t white. Also could have done without the random grocery store conversations (some people say this is friendly, I say it’s intrusive).

        In my experience, midwest Christianity tends to be more the Sunday social, quilting bee type than the you-are-going-to-hell-if-you-don’t-believe type.

        I definitely had people, including “friends,” tell me that I was going to Hell because I wasn’t Christian. I could have just been very unlucky, but they’re definitely there.

        So, uh, yeah, my experience wasn’t so great.

        Wisconsin is much cheaper than the coasts, though, IME.

        1. FD*

          That’s fair enough! There certainly are people who will be jerks about religion, but I’ve found the percentages lower here than other places I’ve lived–but as you say, there’s probably some element of luck in that.

          It’s true about the grocery store conversations. We’re much, much bigger on small talk here than in other places. I like it, but I grew up here so YMMV clearly.

          I would say living in the midwest, you definitely want to find some sort of group or groups to meet people. I think part of it is that we tend to be big on small talk and it’s easy to make casual acquaintances but that sometimes gets in the way of forming deeper connections with people. Joining a group with mutual interests helps a lot, I find.

    6. FrontRangeOy*

      I grew up in EC! haven’t lived there in about 20 years but it’s something of a success story. Has recovered well from industrial closures to become a vibrant creative community. Cost of living is low but wages also reflect lower costs. You may find that buying a house will end up being cheaper than renting or at least more pleasant than renting – much of the rental market it geared towards student rentals around the university.

      Culture is more dynamic than you might expect for upper midwest. There’s a growing Hispanic presence drawn by agricultural work and a large Hmong (southeast Asian tribe largely relocated from Laos/Vietnam after the Vietnam War) minority. I grew up during the last wave of relocations and it was pretty ugly for awhile. But the Hmong families have very much become part of the fabric of the community in all good ways. The university in town is known as Wisconsin’s singing university – if that is your scene, you can easily fill your social calendar with events and programs at the U or put on in town by people associated with the U.

      1. WisconsinBound?*

        Thank you! I have heard that UW has an award-winning music department – and I do like music (in moderation) so that’s good to hear.

  26. SophieChotek*

    May be going to Atlanta 2nd week in July. If I can get the time off, I may try to spend an extra day or two there to look around. I wouldn’t rent a car (though nowadays I guess there’s always Uber, etc.)

    I was in Atlanta over a decade ago and saw:
    the Aquarium
    Margaret Mitchell House
    did a (boring) bus tour
    Coca-Cola factory (?)

    1. WellRed*

      Martin Luther King center
      Botanical garden ( probably too hot though at that time of year)
      High Museum
      Atlanta History Center
      CNN tour

      1. Loves Libraries*

        Also I love Atlanta United, the MLS team. It plays games in the awesome Mercedes-Benz stadium.

    2. LilySparrow*

      The art museum is excellent and gets some great traveling exhibits. We saw the Dutch Masters there a couple of years ago (including Girl With a Pearl Earring). Definitely worth a stop.

      They used to stay open late one day a week, so that might make it easier to fit in.

    3. Maiasaura*

      Piedmont Park is Atlanta’s main urban park and is quite nice; it’s contiguous with the Botanical Garden.

      The Martin Luther King memorial center is terrific, and very close to downtown. The Center for Human Rights is very close to the Aquarium and World of Coke, and is also great.

      Stone Mountain Park is about 30 minutes by car from downtown; it’s a lovely park with miles of hikes and lakes. You can even walk up the mountain—it’s just under a mile, if I recall—and then you don’t have to look at the gross confederate civil war participation trophy carving (barf) on the front of the mountain. There’s a sort of amusement park place there but you can just pay the entry fee for a car (or walk in) and there’s no need to pay for any of the cheesy attractions.

      The High Museum of Art is great, and the Michael C. Carlos museum on the Emory University campus has a world-class collection of Egyptian antiquities. If you’re into airplanes, the Delta museum out by the airport is fun, though I hear their hours are a bit short. There’s also a Porsche factory on that side of town with a test track where you can drive a Porsche, though I don’t have any details on that.

      We have a great restaurant scene, too. The eater.com site for Atlanta is frequently updated and generally very accurate. People will tell you to go to Mary Mac’s Tea Room for Southern food but it isn’t very good, especially for the price. Eater won’t steer you wrong!

      Have fun if you end up coming here! I sure do hope you enjoy our city. :)

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thank you! And I admit I do find transportation interesting – so the Delta Museum sounds interesting too.

  27. Anon Sister*

    I’m trying very hard not to be envious and annoyed with my younger half-sister’s lot in life but I’m having a great deal of difficulty. Now I have a great relationship with my family, my stepmom and I have a fabulous relationship and love spending time together, same with my sister.

    My sister, Meg, is in college, about to finish a year abroad in Scotland. She’s all set on another year abroad in England this next year, her senior year. She’s an art major and already planning on doing an art grad school in Italy. Meg rarely has a job over the summer, she’s allowed to do nothing, just sleep and work on her art. My dad and stepmom paid for her to do a month-long road trip across the United States with her friends while I get questioned on why I waste money on the local geek conventions that are my only getaway. Meg says that after her grad school, she’ll get her own studio to make and sell her art pieces, with the financial help of Dad and Stepmom.

    I am just really frustrated, and yes envious too, that my sister Meg seems to be floating by in life while I had to knuckle down with a job. She gets to travel and practice her art while I’m paying rent with my 9-to-5 job, with little time to pursue the creative passions I have. She gets praised for her creativity and free spirit while I’m expected to make responsible choices. I’m happy to not be relying on my family but she’s happy to take and take, and is continually rewarded for it, rather than being asked to think seriously about what she’s going to do with her life to support herself. When I picked English major, my family constantly asked what I would do with that, would I teach or do office administration, while no one is questioning Meg and her specialty in sculpting. I have even sent her ideas for jobs, like sculpting for museum displays and the like, but she just says she’ll have her own studio when she’s done with grad school. I am not knocking creative careers in the least but all of her plans stem from taking our parents’ money while she does whatever the hell she wants.

    Meg was always the favorite absentminded child when we were younger and I expected my dad and stepmom to give her a harsh dose of reality when she got older. But my stepmom, who is also an artist/homebody-housewife with no job who relies on my father the lawyer to pay the bills, is excited her daughter wants to be an artist too and throw money behind Meg. Again, I know they would help me if I was in trouble (they were ready to give me financial support when I was about to quit a toxic job without a new position to go to, which I ended up not needing because a new position gave me an offer the day after I turned in my notice) but they certainly wouldn’t give me the same support if I decided to quit my job and focus on my creative pursuits, like they plan to do for Meg. I recently went to lunch with my family and the questions for me were ‘What is the next step in your career?’ While the questions for my sister were ‘You’re going to have so much fun abroad, you’ll probably never come back’.

    This is a long and rambling post that sounds worse than it is: I truly do love and get along with my family very well and I know they’d have my back if I needed them. But I’m still frustrated with the comfy cushion lot in life that my halfsister is getting.

    1. Laura H*

      Nothing except commiseration as a fellow English Degree holder who got fielded similar questions….

      Resentment is a hard thing to deal with but good on ya for recognizing it.

    2. foolofgrace*

      This is horrible. I can imagine how terrible it makes you feel. Unfortunately I have no good advice other than to find a way (counseling?) to stop comparing yourself to Meg. The day will come when Meg hits a wall, it’s just not apparent yet. I don’t suppose that bringing up the subject with your parent/stepparent would do any good, might do more harm than good. I’m so sorry I haven’t got anything better to say.

    3. Fiennes*

      Although it’s difficult, I think that as much as possible you need to take your attention away from how your sister is being treated; the real problem here is how *you* are being treated. If you felt good about your relationship with your dad & stepmom, and about your career and their attitudes toward it, the comparison with your sister wouldn’t sting so much.

      So: do you have a creative profession you’d like to pursue? Are you pursuing it? If not, can you do so—or is the prospect of really doing this actually not that appealing?

      Why are your dad & stepmom such nags about your career and expenses? How do you work towards establishing healthy adult boundaries with them? For instance, do they even need to know that you’re going to cons?

      I hope I don’t sound unsympathetic. In fact, my parents heavily favor my younger brother and provide him levels of financial support I find staggering—despite the fact that he’s a gainfully employed man in his 40s. (I suspect he out-earns me, and I’m doing fine.) But how my brother and parents behave, and how they are with each other, is beyond my ability to change. By pursuing my own interests and independence, I finally got to a place where I can shrug about it and carry on.

    4. Lynne*

      They’re not being fair at all. I agree with foolofgrace that bringing up the different treatment isn’t likely to be productive or change your parents’ behaviour, but you would be the best judge of whether that’s so.

      If it’s not changeable, maybe you can come to better terms with it in your own mind, because holding onto resentment can be pretty poisonous long-term. When these feelings come up, I wonder if it would help to remind yourself that you’re standing on your own two feet and be proud of your independence. There have been occasions in the past when I’ve felt envious of friends with emotionally or financially supportive parents. I don’t want to feel that way (these are my friends! I just want to be happy for them!), so I choose something else to focus on – I may not know what it’s like to have parents like that, but I’m strong and independent, and I’m proud of the things I’ve accomplished on my own. And these days I don’t often get those feelings of envy anymore – I’ve basically retrained my mind to focus on something else that’s more positive for me.

      Now, I expect it’s a lot easier to be happy for friends who are getting more parental support than it is for a sibling. But in the long run, if your parents aren’t going to be understanding or willing to change the differences in how they’re treating the two of you…I think you will be much happier if you can genuinely get past the resentment. You can’t get there instantly, but you can in time.

    5. WellRed*

      I suppose your sister could be THE Next Big thing in the art world but it’s unlikely. Combine that with no real world sense or experience and, well…
      I know it’s hard, but you are probably on the better long term path. And, you know they love and would help you. That’s what matters.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, really. I know so many artists who are wondering where their next meal is coming from. OP this is a story line that will have many twists and turns as the decades roll by. Little or no consolation right now and I can see that also. Time will be in your favor.
        Keep building your self and your life- this can be in anyway you think is important.

        While your parents appear to love your sister more or “love her the best”, that is not the same as saying they do not love you at all. Hang on to this thought. They still do love you but it’s very different. Honestly, they are handling your situation better as they are doing what parents should do, give the kid enough leeway to find out what works and what doesn’t.
        In years to come the tables will turn and you sis will be saying, “Well how did you learn to this or that?” Or “When did you become skilled at X or Y?” And all the gaps in her life style will show, which is another whole thing.

        Of the sibs I have seen in a situation like this, they end up not having much of a relationship once the parents are gone. In part that is because they have very little in common. And in part that is because the parents never said, “It’s up to you to watch out for each other after we are gone.” The parents never tried to impress on the kids that there will come a time when they will just have each other. And this can be pretty damaging.

        Not the same situation as yours but in my teens and twenties I had a recurring family situation that got under my skin and festered. Like you, I was justified in what I believed but that did nothing to change the unfairness of the situation. So every time my upset occurred, I did something to improve my future path in life. I used my upset to push me forward with my own life. FWIW, take those recurring feelings of jealousy and do something for yourself. Be a good parent to your own self.

    6. Temperance*

      Have you ever talked to your dad about this, and how it makes you feel? Or have you ever responded to the questions about your career with “gentle” jokes like, oh, why don’t you ask Meg these kinds of questions? That’s what I would do. Make it sound like you’re teasing, but you’re not.

      I’m guessing that Meg is your stepmom’s only biological child, so she wants to spoil her, and your dad backs it up to keep his wife happy.

      1. Anon Sister*

        You’re right about Meg being my stepmom’s only child. Coupled that with the fact that my stepmom had a very bad, abusive relationship with her own mom, I do think she’s desperate to keep a good relationship with her daughter, to the point of giving Meg anything she could want and letting her do whatever she wants. Meg knows this because she always goes straight to my stepmom with any requests she has, rather than our father who is the breadwinner of the house. The few times my dad has tried to set limits for Meg, my stepmom blows right past them.

          1. RestlessRenegade*

            Agree 100%, and with the others who have said that someday, this will catch up with her. I don’t wish her any ill will and I’m sure you don’t either, but there will come a day when the money dries up or she wants something she cannot have, and without the tools to deal with it, things might go very badly for her.

            I also agree that it’s important not to compare yourself to her, although I know that’s difficult when the differences in how you are treated are so stark. I think in your position I would focus on myself, on my relationship with my parents, and especially on my creative work. It is so frustrating to see people skating by and being praised for being creative when you have to work to put food on the table AND find time to be creative (especially when that results in rejection/little recognition, as it often does for me). Personally, I try to fuel all that frustration and jealousy I feel into working even harder on my craft. Living well is the best revenge.

      2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        That doesn’t necessarily explain everything. The story sounds somewhat similar to things going on in my husband’s family, and unless there’s some massive family secret that has been hidden from me, my husband and his sister are full siblings. I think some people just see artists as special kind of people who can’t be expected to do anything except their art.

    7. Loopy*

      How I deal with this kind of thing is to think of how much better I can handle having things fall out from under me compared to those who have it much easier. If it all goes to hell, I have the grit and skills to push through, get myself back on my feet. I know I’m independent, resilient, and capable on my own if I have to be.

      Maybe your sister will never have to face the real world without a cushion, but if she ever does, it’s going to be so terrible and so hard for her. You at least have the comfort of knowing you will be fine with the world throwing shit at you, things falling apart, etc. There’s hopefully some measure of comfort knowing you will be able to come out the other end of difficult times much easier.

    8. Thursday Next*

      I don’t know what the age difference between the two of you is—I guess my response might be a little different if you were 20 years older compared to five or six.

      I think it’s hard when there’s any kind of differential treatment between siblings, and it’s only natural to focus on the extra things you perceive the other person is getting. So as other commenters have said, it’s important for you to focus on your own relationship with your family. It sounds like there’s been friction over your choice of major (Hello, fellow English major! Families sure are hard on us!) and that’s probably something that rankles, given that you’ve been self-supporting. That’s something that you could have a discussion about, along with the constant talk about your professional next steps. “Family, I know my profession development is important to you—it’s important to me, too! I will let you know when I’m making a change, and I’ll be sure to ask for your advice if I want it. Until then, let’s try to find something else to talk about. How about [subject change]?”

      Independence has a value all its own. Sure, it’s nice to have your family send some money your way, but it sounds like your stepmother is compensating for her own childhood demons by lavishing money on your sister. I’d say it’s good not to be part of a compensatory loop like that.

    9. zora*

      A little bit of a 30,000 feet perspective.

      My mom was you and her sister was Meg. They were full sisters, but my aunt was still a kid when my grandmother married a rich man and he paid for her full ride to college, trips to Europe, for her to have a HORSE while at college, etc. My mom definitely struggled with envy and frustration many times over the years.

      Fast forward to 50 years later, my aunt has never been resilient to difficulty, she has tried and quit many different careers, and any time anyone in our family talks to her she basically just complains about her life for hours on end. She seems to never be happy or content with anything.

      My mom definitely had struggles over the years, but in her 70s is still happily married to my dad and built the life she wanted: a career in teaching and two children, and she is completely happy with her life and our family and their house, everything.

      In the long run, this is a very short period of both your life and Meg’s and you never know what is going to happen in future decades. Having a cushy few years might be nice, but you might have a lot more of the things that make YOU happy in your life.

      Also, at some point your parents won’t be around any more (sad, I know), so make sure you are doing what YOU want to do, not because you are trying to deal with their questions and comments. I wish you all the happiness and joy in your choices and your life!!!

    10. Amaryllis*

      I feel your pain. My sister-in-law is 41, lives at home, and hasn’t worked a day in her life. My husband was forced to pay for car insurance/utilities/food starting when he turned 16.

      I was certain this situation would EVENTUALLY resolve itself, but over the two decades I’ve been involved it’s only gotten more ridiculous.

    11. Penguin*

      I expressed a very similar frustration to my therapist recently, after my youngest sister completed a PhD and then “”effortlessly”” jumped straight into a job. My therapist’s response was a question: “When you measure yourself against your sister, how do you feel about yourself?”

      I had to think about that for a couple weeks, but eventually I realized that my anger and frustration had nothing to do with my sister; I was mad at myself for not having achieved whatever special mix of circumstances it was that resulted in her achieving the expectations our parents had for her, when I hadn’t.

      Then I realized that I was still letting someone else’s expectations and way of treating people drive my outlook, and that was the new perspective I needed to step back from it. I still slip back into it, but I’m trying to be better.

      I hope this helps a little… good luck!

    12. Jane of all trades*

      Oh man! I’m so sorry, that stuff is super tough. This may be a complete no-go, but is there any way to bring this up? For context, my siblings and I aren’t terribly close with my parents, but it has always been pretty clear that they prefer me over my younger sister, which makes both of us feel terrible, but understandably it has caused especially her a lot of pain. At some point last summer I decided to bite the bullet and bring it up w/ my dad (this was a lot harder because we aren’t close, and we don’t talk about important but thorny issues). He said that he does not prefer one over the other, but I mentioned a few examples where it justifiably had seemed that way to my sister and I. He then planned on talking to my little sister about it, and I told him that if he wanted to do so, he needed to do it willing to listen to her version rather than just convince her otherwise. I don’t have a perfect ending to the story – he did not call, but I think he took it to heart because the few times they have hung out since then it seems like he has made a sincere effort to be better. So hopefully they can keep on improving their relationship.
      Would it be possible for you to have a similar conversation? Does your sister acknowledge the issue?

    13. smoke tree*

      I think it would be hard not to be envious and frustrated in this situation! I kind of want Meg’s lifestyle just based on what you’ve written here. But of course the caveat to that is that she’s setting herself up to be totally dependent on her parents, and they are enabling that. I’m personally happier knowing that I can take care of myself than I would be if I had to rely on someone supporting me.

  28. HigherEd Person*

    H and I are going to Yosemite next week! We’re staying in the valley, and then near the Mariposa grove area. Any recommendations/must-do’s/warnings?

      1. HigherEd Person*

        When you say “over there” what do you mean? We’re staying in the valley – Half Dome Village, to be exact. Like over to the sites for hiking?

        1. Be the Change*

          Oh, in that case! I’m sorry, I obviously didn’t read your post carefully at all. Well, still, be ready for the hordes. If there’s something you really want to hike, do get up and go early before 5000 people show up for the same hike. Be ready for people breaking rules all over the place (“no dogs” can’t possibly mean MINE), and for lots and lots of noise and car exhaust…ironically.

          1. HigherEd Person*

            This is good to know, thanks!!! I’m a planner, H is not, so I’ve been in charge of our itinerary. I’ll make sure we prep our plans the night before and get up early. It’s going to be HOT some days, so early hiking seems smart anyways.

    1. RestlessRenegade*

      Welcome to my neck of the woods! You are absolutely right that it will be hot–100+ on most days. Obviously, drink lots of water, bring lots of sunscreen, etc. Yosemite gets wicked crowded in the summer, as Be the Change pointed out. Have fun!

  29. Be the Change*

    What’s your “love if the week”? (See my post last week for explanation.)

    Last week mine was my 36 color Staedtler pen set. This week it’s having the house to myself because my husband is away. (Of course I miss him, I’m just taking advantage of the situation to cocoon my very introverted self for a few days of R&R).

    1. Sylvan*

      I had a big day yesterday, but I fit a one-hour visit with a couple of friends into it. Took a walk with them, watched fireflies, felt recharged for the last little bit of the day.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Fireflies! That is one of my favorites parts about my recent move — when I drove home in the evening and see the fireflies in the fields. It’s so beautiful and magical! I had forgotten how much I missed it.

        1. Snazzy Hat*

          When I was a wee sprite, I lived in a house with a sizeable yard (for an area where most houses are separated by only a driveway if you’re lucky, and only a walkway if you aren’t lucky). We had fireflies regularly during the appropriate months. However, when I was about 13, we moved to another part of the city. The yard was smaller, and we didn’t use it anyway since we lived in a duplex & that was the landlord’s yard. Ten years later I moved to where I am now, about a mile from where I grew up. One summer evening after about five years, my partner and I left the house and I noticed fireflies in our backyard.

          I was so happy, I started crying and exclaiming, “We have fireflies in our backyard! Fireflies live here!” and such like that.

    2. Alex the Alchemist*

      I’ve started dog-walking for one of my professors and that dog is one of the sweetest I’ve ever met. He’s a 13-year-old collie and is very stubborn but SO LOVING. I just take him out around lunch time and it gives me such a nice, happy break in the middle of my day to walk and pet a dog, even if we go kinda slow and don’t get very far (he has arthritis). It’s so relaxing and happy-making.

    3. Irish Em*

      My dog’s summer haircut. She still doesn’t quite know how to deal with having a buzzcut after her superlong hair all winter, so she’s hilarious and acting like a puppy :D

    4. Loopy*

      The internet tells me there’s possible three more seasons of Great British Bake Off than there was when I finished binging it. I’m so excited I could burst, but also afraid to check if it’s not true!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I picked up an antique rug super cheap. This week, I got the rug cleaned, the floor washed and I put the rug down. I am thrilled. Tomorrow I will put all the furniture back.

    6. Woodswoman*

      I discovered a bunch of videos buried in my camera that I thought were lost forever, from my hiking trip a couple years back in Badlands National Park. It’s so great to find these images of wildlife and a spectacular thunderstorm, and I’m looking forward to crafting a post featuring the videos for my blog.

    7. Snazzy Hat*

      Young birds at our birdfeeders! So far we’ve seen a baby starling (they sound REALLY angry when they’re hungry) and a juvenile grackle. We have plenty of sparrows, but also we’ve seen the following at our feeders repeatedly so we’re really hoping for little ones soon:
      blue jay
      downy woodpecker
      hoary redpoll

  30. foolofgrace*

    I’m obese and am about ready to go on the Virgin Diet. (The author’s name is J.J. Virgin.) I have a bad knee (can’t get knee operation until I lose enough weight) and most exercise is out of the question, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself, maybe it’s denial. I can’t walk for very far without getting out of breath but AFAIK I don’t have emphysema or anything, I think it’s just my weight.

    My question is whether anyone has done a rough diet. I did this diet once before and lost 35 lbs. in six weeks but fell off the wagon. It’s pretty intense — it’s an elimination diet, so you go for three weeks banning eggs, dairy, soy, corn, peanuts, gluten; then on week 4 you start adding one of them back in for 4 days and be alert for food sensitivities. Of course no sugar or sugar substitutes. Lots of water. I hate water. I know, weird.

    Has anyone else done anything like this? I know I did it before so hopefully I can do it again, I’m going to kill myself if I don’t make a change.

    Oh, on top of it all, I’m between jobs, and would have to focus on proteins and vegetables (with nongluten power shakes), which aren’t cheap, but maybe the money would work out to be the same without all the junk carbs. Sorry if this sounds like Oh Poor Me.

    1. HigherEd Person*

      My 2 cents – take it for what it is, and I’m saying this with a LOT of love and care.

      Diets don’t work. They just don’t. That’s why the diet industry is so huge, because restriction and starvation do NOT work and you keep coming back into the cycle over and over again. Read about the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, and you’ll see patterns of how you’ve felt while restricting. I have found that by placing moral values on food, it made my life harder and lead to bad restriction patterns. Food is food is food. It is neither good nor bad. There are foods that are good, better, and best. It’s about building a healthy relationship with food for a lifetime, not restricting and binging and starting that cycle all over again.

      The diet you’re asking about sounds awful. I’m sorry. It really sounds miserable. I had to do a full elimination diet for a year due to medical issues, and I was so miserable. It left me really really messed up, with regards to food and my choices, for a long time. I recommend that you start looking into some resources for building healthy habits, and long-term food balance. It’s also got a LOT to do with moving towards a place of self-love, and looking at healthy eating as a form of self-care.

      1. Sylvan*

        It’s also got a LOT to do with moving towards a place of self-love, and looking at healthy eating as a form of self-care.


        Diets like this are designed to be temporary solutions that require repetitions or that lead you to buying some other new solution.

        Please see a dietician or your regular doctor for advice and work on building a healthy relationship with food.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I completely agree with this. There’s a reason people fall of the wagon with these diets: they’re too damn hard and restrictive, and make people miserable (in my experience). Build healthy habits and a healthy relationship with food. (I say this as someone who eventually had weight loss surgery because I couldn’t do that. I eventually came to have a much better relationship with food, but it’s still a struggle sometimes.)

    2. Nervous Accountant*

      I am not sure if you have posted about this before so I apologize in advance if I am missing something or Im repeating something that was said before.

      Are you able to see a nutritionist?
      Have you tried diets before?
      What is your current diet like?
      Is there a reason you chose this particular diet?

      In my own personal experience (obese as well, can’t exercise for now), I never went on a “diet” just always tried to “eat healthier”. There are so many diets out there that it’s so overwhelming. Being diabetic, I gravitated towards diets that emphasized low carbohydrates (Atkins, south beach, keto etc). I resisted seeing a nutritionist at first but I finally admitted to myself that I needed the professional help.

      I really wish there was more concrete advice I could give, but I’m at the very start of this journey as well, so lots of good luck to you!

      1. oldbiddy*

        I second the nutritionist recommendation. I’m pre-diabetic and my nutritionist helped me immensely. I assumed she would tell me to cut out all carbs, but it’s more about portion control/low glycemic foods/overall weight loss, as well as lots of really helpful hints and practical advice.

    3. WellRed*

      You are out of breath because you are out if shape, regardless of weight. That diet is not a wagon anyone can stay on. Strict diets don’t work. I assume you want to lose quickly so you can get surgery but a more sustainable plan will benefit your health and knee longer.
      PS. I don’t like water either.

    4. Thursday Next*

      I just posted last week about my elimination diet! It is TOUGH. But let’s talk about words for a moment: you wrote that you “fell off the wagon.” What do you mean by that? It sounds like you completed the six-week protocol. Like Higher Ed Person, I want to point out that it sounds like you’re attaching a moral value to following the diet.

      Temporary diets are temporary fixes, sadly. We alter our metabolisms through temporary diets and yo-yo weight loss/gain, and it becomes even harder to lose weight. So I think looking for something sustainable is important. (I’m doing the elimination diet to identify food sensitivities; weight loss is a welcome side effect, but I know that once I have fewer restrictions that may change.)

      Finding some professionals to talk to about nutrition planning and your relationship with food would be beneficial, if you can swing it. It’s not fast, and it’s not easy, but you’re not alone. Best of luck to you.

    5. Ali G*

      Have you seen a doctor about this? This diet sounds intense and your issues with exercise makes me feel like you should get a health check before taking on something this extreme.

    6. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I don’t have any advice on the diet but my husband tore his PCL and never fully recovered, even after a replacement and multiple surgeries, so I know a little about exercising around a bad knee. Have you looked into swimming, water aerobics, or physical therapy?
      Swimming and water aerobics can help you burn calories and improve cardio-pulmonary health without putting much pressure on your knee. There may be some free or low cost classes if you have a YMCA/YWCA in your area. Depending on your particular knee problem, stationary biking may be an option since it’s low impact and doesn’t require fully straightening your leg.
      If you can swing physical therapy it can make a huge difference it can make a huge difference in how successful your surgery is and how quickly you bounce back. Even just walking a sitting a slightly different way makes a big difference for my husband and helps prevent his knee issues from causing uneven wear on other joints to compensate. If he kept limping the way he instinctively wanted to, he’d’ve ruined his opposite hip. Even if you can only afford one or two sessions, they can show you exercises you can keep doing at home.
      It’s a long road, but you can do this!

    7. Rosemary7391*

      That diet sounds horrible… I’d be wanting off as soon as! Do you think you have food intolerances? If not I’d give that one the bargepole treatment personally.

      I know reasons for being overweight are pretty personal so am aware that this might not apply to you. It’s just me. I was using eating as an emotional crutch; it got many times worse when I got a flat to myself (as I could eat alone every night) and had an unpleasant ongoing saga with someone. Once I figured that and managed to remove said someone from my head (not easy!), I did the best I’ve ever done at losing weight with ready meals. Normal breakfast, normal lunch, any ready meal I fancied for dinner. Oh, and cake/ cake mix when I was baking for other people! It made it easy to get used to normal portions again and I didn’t have whole packets of stuff around to eat. I suspect if I hadn’t let aforementioned someone have another chance I’d still be losing weight instead of trying to start the process over (let’s see if I can avoid making that mistake again!).

      Anyway, I guess that’s a long winded way of saying it’s helpful to figure out why you eat the way you do and what it might realistically take to change it. Maybe that diet is it – when you say you did it before, what happened at the end of it? Why are you ready again now? (No need to answer, just something to think about :) although if you wanna chat about it I’m happy to chat!)

    8. Pharmgirl88*

      Do you know how to swim? If yes, maybe try that for a workout! It’ll definitely take the pressure off your knee, is a great whole body workout, and will help you cool off in the summer :)

      P.S. I also hate water, but for the last week or so I’ve tried to stick to “half your body weight in oz” rule, and after maybe 3 days, I actually started craving water! The first few days were tough, but it got much easier to stick with. One thing I’ve always done, if you’re struggling with water, is to water down fruit juices. You can slowly start increasing the ratio of water:juice, so that eventually you’re essentially just drinking water, but the splash of juice can help add some flavor without too many calories.

      1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        This is great advice! Even better than starting with juice is taking a pitcher of water and adding some fruit. Let it sit in the fridge for a day or so, and you have naturally flavored water. Watermelon+mint, cucumber+lemon+basil, grapefruit+mango, etc. You can even just use peels and such, so you’re not wasting much edible fruit.

        Tea is also great for people who dislike plain water. I drink plain black iced tea all the time, although it’s pretty strong if you’re adverse to bitter. Green and white tea are mild, and there are tons of herbal teas that taste great and have negligible to no calories as long as you don’t add sweetener.

      2. Jane of all trades*

        Totally agree with the water / juice thing. Some days I really don’t want to drink water either, and then I just spritz a little lime juice into the water. It’s super cheap & easy (I use the store bought stuff – buying the actual fruit would certainly be healthier) and it gives the water a little flavor. I also brew large portions of tea I really like, let it cool, and then drink that.

    9. Kj*

      Can you swim or water walk at a public pool? I’m not a huge fan of diets, I agree with previous poster that they don’t work well and can be harmful in a lot of ways. I would suggest seeing if you can raise your activity level, even just a bit, and increase the health of your diet. Does anything suggest you have actual food allergies? I find that most elimination diets ‘work’ in the sense of you cut out low-quality carbs and junk food, so you feel better. But it isn’t that you are allergic to anything, it is that you are eating a high quality diet. Can you focus on healthier eating without the elimination aspect?

      Sorry to be a downer, but I do worry when people talk about elimination diets- they often lead to EDs and other long term issues.

      1. Thursday Next*

        It’s interesting that you said elimination diets work in the sense that they are high quality. I’m on day 16 of mine, and I’ve been thinking about this too. The diet has really shown me how much I rely on heavily processed foods, and how much non-nutritious food I eat. If the reintroduction phase doesn’t reveal any food intolerances, I’ll still feel like I learned something about the way I eat.

    10. Miles*

      What were the last 3 things you added back in before you fell off the wagon? Might want to just skip those this time around.

      That said I’m a firm believer in cutting out all sugar and their derivatives or similar counterparts except for organic non gmo fruit. Should be all you need. Oh, and fried starch as well, that breaks down into sugar.

      As for exercise, hit the swimming pool. It’s a lot easier on the joints and classes for pool exercises are usually pretty easily available.

    11. oldbiddy*

      I tried this, at the advice of my Dr. I had good results after minimizing gluten in my diet (also at her suggestion) so the next year she suggested I try it and see if I noticed any further differences. Long story short – I tried for a month, no weight loss, no additional improvement.
      Longer version – it made me crazy because it messed with my ability to feed myself easily, quickly and cheaply. Many of the things that you eliminate fit into similar categories. It’s not hard for me to stop eating wheat but still eat corn, for instance, or replace dairy with eggs, but it is a huge pain to have to get all my protein from meat or nasty pea-protein shakes.
      FWIW in the past I have followed 1600-calorie, moderate carb diets for a year or more and those worked much better for me personally.

    12. foolofgrace*

      Thank you, everyone who took the time and trouble to comment. I feel the love! It’s just what I needed. I will take your suggestions and recommendations into consideration in finding the right fit for me. I especially appreciated the tips about water consumption. Happy weekend, everyone!

    13. Aquablue4ever*

      I realize I’m late replying but in case you’re still checking, here is my experience:

      I did almost this same elimination diet when I was nursing my daughter. (Note: I didn’t stay away from sugar or sugar subs…) She developed eczema at around 5 months and she was too young for the allergy tests.

      It was tough. Not gonna’ lie. I LOVE dairy so dairy was really the hardest one. I didn’t eliminate all of them at the same time but did them one by one. I read that if you eliminate the allergen from your diet completely, it should only take a few days to notice a change. So I started with eggs first (and any product with eggs) for a few days and then moved on if my daughter’s eczema did not clear up.

      Dairy takes the longest for your body to “purge” the allergen. I think I read it can take upwards of 2 weeks. Of course, dairy was the culprit for us. I was so sad b/c I love dairy. The moment I completely stopped eating dairy, my daughter’s eczema cleared up. Like within 2 days.

      An elimination diet can be tough not only b/c it can involve ingredients that you love (like dairy for me), they can be everywhere. You become an expert at reading labels and all the other names these ingredients are called. Case in point: I was still having non-dairy creamer (the powdered kind) because the label said “non-dairy” so I didn’t bother reading the back of the label. Well, wouldn’t you know…casein is in the ingredient list. Casein is a by-product of dairy but apparently the brand could still call itself ‘non-dairy’. As you can imagine, I was very ragey when I found this out. lol.

      I was like 5 days into the dairy elimination diet and my daughter had this tiny patch of eczema that wouldn’t go away (the rest had cleared up). Within 1-2 days of stopping the “non-dairy” creamer, that patch disappeared.

      So my advice is to read labels religiously. Be prepared to cook most of your meals at home (if you’re not already) because we found 90% of the prepared stuff (spaghetti sauce, bread, crackers, etc..) all had stuff that I was eliminating. The good thing about cooking at home is, you’re also eating healthier (less salt, less butter/oil, you can add more veggies, etc..) And…you find out some recipes are super easy to make and cheaper than buying at the market or restaurant.

      I wouldn’t chose this method but finding the cause of my daughter’s eczema was the only motivation to stick with it. One interesting thing that happened was after not eating dairy for awhile, I found all forms of dairy really rich or salty after my daughter was weaned. Cheese? Super salty. Like unbearably salty. Prior to the elimination diet, I couldn’t stand skim milk. I had a tiny sip at some point and it was like “POW!” to my taste buds. It really opened my eyes to how desensitized I’d become when I was eating dairy regularly. I used to love cheeseburgers but I like hamburgers now.

      If you suspect a food allergy, then doing an elimination diet makes sense. However, if it’s to help with the weight loss, I would recommend getting a food scale and setting a reasonable calorie deficit. In my experience, that’s easier than doing the elimination diet. I got a food scale 2 years ago and was blown away when it showed me how many calories I was over-eating. (I didn’t think I was over-eating but the scale showed I was eating anywhere from 300-800 calories over each day…) Conversely, the food scale opened my eyes on how much I could not eat and still lose weight. I wanted to do the weight loss slow and steady so I picked to eat 100-150 calories less each day. I was surprised how little (visually speaking) that was. I love pasta but when I portioned out the 150 calories I was not going to eat, it was great seeing that I still had a nice amount of pasta left on my plate. Another example: If you normally drink juice or have a coffee drink as part of breakfast, that can easily be 150-600 calories for just that drink. By not drinking that, you’ve already eliminated a significant amount of calories.

      I guess my point is that you can start with small changes. You don’t need to do a “scorch-earth” approach to see noticeable changes.

      Hopefully I helped, even if it’s a little.

      Good Luck! =)

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Water. There is really not much about water that is likable. It’s pretty bland. But since our bodies need water to function I guess we could decide that we like having bodies that work correctly and water just happens to be one of the many ways we get there.
      It could be just me, but most of the diabetics I know absolutely HATE water and avoid it. I have used this insight to sometimes scaring myself to keep up with the water routine.

      When I started be more conscientious about diet and self care someone suggested squeezing a lemon wedge or lime wedge into a glass of water to make it seem more palatable. I did that for a while. Now I see in health food stores there are little bottles of liquid flavors that you can drop into water to give it that extra interest.

      For years I drank cold water out of the fridge. I never enjoyed it that much. I am now using room temp water and that seems to suit me better.

      1. RestlessRenegade*

        See, I find this SO strange! I LOVE water. Especially tap water, ice cold. I actually prefer tap over bottled. I know I’m lucky to live in a place where the tap water is safe to drink and there’s something about the slight chlorine taste that makes it feel more substantial than bottled. I typically drink 96+ ounces of a water a day (in addition to water I get from food and calorie/sugar-free flavored drinks), and if I drink any less, I can feel it.

        OP, I feel you. I am also obese and losing weight is really hard, even if you have perfectly functioning knees. Keep trying, because you’re worth it.

    15. Ron McDon*

      If you are following this food plan to lose weight rather than because you suspect a food allergy/intolerance, it sounds miserable.

      In the UK a tv show has recently been broadcast, confirming that people who are very overweight and have/are at risk of type 2 diabetes lost weight and reversed their diabetes by following an 800 calorie a day diet for 8 weeks, then moving on to eat low carb 5 days a week and fasting at 800 So I don’t necessarily agree with other comments about very low cal diets not working, but it does depend upon what you are trying to achieve.

      I found that Slimming World worked really well for me – I’ve been overweight/obese my whole life, and have a huuuuge appetite! Slimming World have a big list of free foods which you can eat as much of as you like, and still lose weight. I didn’t pay to go to classes etc, just looked up free foods and low syn/syn free recipes online, and adjusted how I cooked my favourite meals to make them healthier. I lost 3.5 stone very quickly and easily. I’ve now hit a bit of a plateau, so am upping my exercise.

      It’s fine to get very breathless when walking, just keep at it and gradually build up your walking time minute by minute. Your body will respond, and you will find it easier over time.

      Essentially, you need to find a way to eat more healthily that is sustainable and works for you over the long term. If you do a short term crash diet you are likely to put all the weight you’ve lost back on when you go back to your normal eating habits. The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to change how/what you eat forever. But finding a plan which works for you is the key.

      Good luck.

      1. Ron McDon*

        My browser is playing up and didn’t post my comment correctly!

        The second para, the plan referenced is the blood sugar diet by Michael Mosley.

        Participants followed an 800 cal a day plan for 8 weeks, then low carb for 5 days a week and 800 cal fast for 2 days per week. It’s thought that regular fasting resets the metabolism somehow.

  31. Bibliovore*

    So,so sick of being sick.
    Thanks for the Netflix recommendations. Expanse was good but not sure how much that I was a wake for.

  32. nep*

    Had my appointment with the PCP. My concern about opting out of weigh-in was unfounded, as many of you said it probably was. Zero resistance or issues.

    1. gecko*

      I’m glad it went well!! A year out I’m already nervous for my next PCP visit—a really bad experience with my most recent visit is just making me anxious. Gotta remember that it’s not normal…

      1. nep*

        I hear you.
        Everything else about it was meh–Typical mainstream medicine being-pushed-through-the-assembly-line experience. Bottom line and what was most important for me, I wanted to see what my blood pressure was (happy with that reading; it was great), and got the script for the blood work/metabolic panel and checking Vitamin D levels.
        All the best. Hope you won’t stress too much.

        1. Sparrow*

          I’m glad the weigh-in was a non-issue! I hope the rest of your results are reassuring too :)

  33. Victoria, Please*

    My sister and I are doing a 30-day “no cussing” challenge. Our rule is that if we say a cuss word aloud, even if no one else hears, we mark it. The kicker is….the penalty goes up by the Fibonacci sequence. Yesterday cost me $143!!! (If I added right.) I think we’re going to have to reset each day, or, man.

    Then we’re going to donate the money to something harmless — for me, it’ll be a particular initiative at my university which I think is sweet but I seriously don’t care about.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Wow! I love to cuss and am not sure I would participate as I would be out of house and home. What prompted your challenge?

      1. Victoria, Please*

        Chuckle. I’m doing it to support her, since she’s deployed overseas right now. She’s doing it because she’s in a leadership position and as she says, “Words matter,” so she resolved to be careful about hers for a little while and see what happened.

    2. Kuododi*

      Ok…silly question. What the actual heck is a Fibonacci sequence? I ask bc I chose my degrees in University/grad schools due in large part to my lack of skills in math and science. ;). Please explain in lay person language!!! Thanks bunches!!!!

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Its a list of numbers. You create each new numbers by adding the last two numbers together. So you start with two ones. 1, 1. One plus one is two. 1, 1, 2. One plus two is three. 1, 1, 2, 3. Two plus three is five. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5. And you keep going. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34…

        As you can see, the numbers get bigger pretty quickly.

  34. Sunday rant on a Saturday*

    Posted a couple weeks back, but it occurred to me there’s something else on my mind, in addition to my anger issues.

    I, a man, do not trust women my age (20s), because I’ve had bad experiences when I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to try and initiate relationships with fellow students in college – nasty rejections etc. Reeeeeeaaaaaaaallllllllyyyyyy nasty, like cold shoulder and gossiping nasty.

    This, when mixed with my depression, sucked donkey balls. As in suicidal depression. In fact, one of the people I went off on was one of these two students, about a year later, because I felt that while I’d been devising various ways to obliterate my own earthly existence, she’d soared ahead in school, and didn’t have to pay a price for being a bitch.

    I get the feeling that they were used to being treated like high school royalty (they were in their early 20s, were incredibly attractive, and gave off a Mean Girls vibe, and I shoulda known better… plus I was a grad student in my mid-20s, so maturity gap).

    I maintain good relationships with middle-aged women in my circle, to the point that I would trust them with my life if I had to. I’ve just decided, out of a desire to defend myself, to write off an entire age group of an entire gender, so that I can’t get hurt by those people again. It’s easier to hate than to let people in.

    Again, I don’t think this is terribly healthy, and even though therapy costs $$, I’ll need to solve it. Just wanted to get it off my chest.

    1. gecko*

      Well, it sounds like the depression and those experiences have combined to give you a pretty misogynistic outlook. It’s not healthy for you, it’s not healthy for the world, and it’s certainly not healthy for anyone you might end up in a relationship or friendship with.

      I’m really glad you’re interested in solving this problem, because it’s actually quite concerning. This kind of anger is very, very dangerous, no matter the tragic backstory. You need to fix it.

      1. Sylvan*

        I don’t want to defend women who were mean to the OP, but it’s often difficult to reject men because their reactions can include threats or worse. A man who was nice and friendly before that can completely turn on you.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          You are bang on. I dated a guy a few years ago who seemed very interested in getting me to isolated places (“let’s go for a walk in the river valley tonight! Let’s go hiking in these woods!”) and it really freaked me out, especially for a third or fourth date. When I finally asked about it, he got defensive and pretty nasty. It was scary.

        2. gecko*

          I mean–I genuinely don’t think it’s necessary to defend the rejecters–it sounds like they were nasty to the OP, and it was really hurtful. I don’t want to minimize that; it feels awful. AND when you’re in a bad headspace like being suicidally depressed, that makes it even worse–distorts it into something very huge and dark and all-encompassing.

          So it’s understandable, OP, that you feel enormously resentful that the girl who rejected you “didn’t have to pay a price for being a bitch”–I mean, considering the comments section on the bully-related posts recently on AAM, most people here understand that–it’s a popular and comforting idea that people who are mean to you should pay. And it’s fine–normal–healthy–to be angry at people who hurt you. I frankly disagree that people have to pay a price for Where it goes wrong is when you extend this to an entire group.

          OP, I know I’m being quite straightforward that I think you are going down an extremely bad path here, and I want you to understand that I think you’re in a deep dark place and I understand how you got there. (And I’m trying not descend into cliche :) ). Therapy sounds really helpful in giving you tools to be vulnerable again and to identify cognitive distortions like “all women in their twenties are bitches”; and more than that, I think you deserve to feel ok again–even though it sounds like you aren’t suicidally depressed anymore, I’m guessing you’re still in a low place without much sunlight. Best of luck.

    2. Temperance*

      Have you thought about why you’re pursuing a certain type of woman – significantly younger, “high school royalty”, etc.? Have you dated peers, women who are around your age and have a lot in common with you? I don’t see anything in here about your achievements, interests, or your appearance, but that you were pursuing women who were likely in high demand.

      Hating all women in a certain group is a form of misogyny, and hating women because some have rejected you is how incels are made. IDK, I know a ton of nerdy guys who would pine after a certain type of woman, and then get angry when said women were more interested in other types of dudes (non-nerdy, basically).

      Therapy could help you figure out why you’re in this cycle. If you’re a grad student, it should be free or low-cost on campus.

      1. Sylvan*


        Also recommending therapy. I had/have issues with relationships for other reasons and it is helpful.

        1. Sylvan*

          …I just want to add, now that I’m thinking about it, that my other reasons include long-term bullying and assault, and not getting rejected by two people. OP, you mention suicidal depression and long-standing anger, so it sounds like there is more to the problem than two people’s rejections. Talking to someone could help you feel better and get a handle on your behavior before the depression or anger issues escalate.

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*


        Did you actually have any common interests with these women? All you say about them is that they were younger than you and good looking. That’s more than a little objectifying.

        Maybe you get along with “middle aged women” because you treat them like human beings not sex objects?

        You might try meeting women you have common interests with and like talking to, then explicitly ask them on dates rather than trying to Nice Guy them into a romance. If a woman is equally interested in you romantically, she will let you know.

        In the meantime, look into sliding scale or student health center therapy. Anger, bitterness and treating other people as a monolithic Other are not good ways to be. If you had a bad experience with 2 African Americans, would you say all black people should be written off? That’s what you are doing with women. Who are just individual humans, like you.

      3. Fiennes*

        Agreed. You have to look at why you asked out these women–who are younger than you, apparently fairly shallow, and not individuals who share your interests.

        Have you ever considered asking out one of the “middle-aged” women you know? Or even–if you have good friends who fit in this category–asking them to keep an eye out for someone they might set you up with?

        This is true for anyone who’s dating: Going after people who have zero in common with you is almost certainly going to end poorly. The things you have in common with them don’t have to include age, but they must include some important qualities, such as sense of humor, common interests, shared goals, etc.

    3. stellaaaaa*

      You do need to fix this and I’m glad you realize you need help. Try looking at this from the other side: you said you got nasty rejections. “Reeeeeeaaaaaaaallllllllyyyyyy nasty, like cold shoulder and gossiping nasty.”

      A really nasty rejection for a woman is a man stalking her, threatening to kill her.

      Also, no one owes anyone else a date. For any reason. “Thank you, but no” is a totally acceptable response.

      To be honest, I don’t know you but I am already terrified of your anger, so I can’t imagine how I would react if I had to turn you down in person.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I read a thread on twitter recently by a woman who was listening in on a group of female friends (I think seated next to her at brunch?) who had all chipped in on a pre-paid phone and gave the number out to guys who creeped them out, instead of giving out their real numbers. Predictably, a lot of responses from men (and some women, sadly) were “why not just say no if you’re not interested? This is why men don’t trust women: because they play these stupid games.” And lots of women pointed out exactly what you just said: for some women, rejecting someone means someone stalking them or worse. And then the shooting in Santa Fe happened, and the news was reporting that the shooter had been pursuing one of the victims for MONTHS and she kept turning him down. And I thought, this is why women hand out fake phone numbers.

        I don’t know if Margaret Atwood actually said this, but even so, it hears repeating: men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.