weekend free-for-all – June 2-3, 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: Calypso, by David Sedaris. David Sedaris’s best writing has always been about his family, and his new book focuses exclusively on them. It’s funny and sad, and I loved it and think it might be his best book of them all, and I want to start reading it all over again.

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

{ 1,347 comments… read them below }

  1. Miso*

    Oh, this thread is early!
    Anyway – I’m going on my first real vacation (as in sun and beach, not just a city trip over the weekend) in years on Tuesday and I’M SO EXCITED!
    Also nervous, because I’m afraid I’ll forget half the stuff, even though I made a list and everything, but mostly EXCITED!

    Another thing: I don’t know if it’s just me, but the “jump to the comments” links often don’t work properly for me anymore. I end up at the end of the page or, if linked to a certain comment, in the middle of the comment section and so on. Thought I’d let you know.

    1. Kali*

      I’m on vacation on Tuesday too! I don’t know where…it’s through a company called Sprs.me, so they’ve booked flights and accommodation and I find out where I’m going on the day. Somewhere in Europe which doesn’t require a visa for UK citizens, not Berlin or Brussels (vetoed those because I’ve been there). I am slightly terrified but quite excited!

      1. Amelie*

        Oh wow, that sounds amazing! I’ve just had a look at their website and I love the idea. I’d love to hear more about your trip if you wanted to share once you’ve been.

      2. Audiophile*

        This sounds really interesting! I’d also love to hear more about your trip once you’re back.

        I’ve booked a lot of time off from work over the next few months, but I currently don’t have anything planned. I have time off this month and August, and I’m currently finding putting a request in for July.

        I really need to find a way to get my passport this year, I’ve had the paperwork filled out for ages and just never submitted it since I had no reason to. Someone suggested that booking a trip would force me to get it done, so I may need to consider that.

        1. Kali*

          I guess so. I’m British, and British Cosmo did a review of several different types of surprise holiday sites, which is where I read about it.

        2. Audiophile*

          Yeah, I noticed that too. It does seem there are companies that offer similar experiences for the US. I found a few in a quick search.

          The first one I found has a starting price of $1,000 per person, which can be paid for by credit card or PayPal.

          1. Kali*

            Mine was a LOT cheaper – my total budget, including spending, is about £500 or $670 -but I guess flights to Europe from the UK are the equivalent of domestic flights within the US in terms of distance/cost.

      3. April Ludgate*

        If it wasn’t for this thread, I don’t think I would have heard of surprise travel websites, so cool! Might try one of those for my next vacation. Love the idea of being surprised and someone else doing all the work of booking things.

    2. MissDissplaced*

      The nicest thing about a beach vacation is that you probably don’t need much! Enjoy!

  2. DNAnonymous*

    One of those DNA surprise things…

    We’re having a family discussion about the kindest thing to do. AncestryDNA is showing a stranger, a surprise first cousin, “Jane” on my father’s side of the family. The next time she looks at the DNA half of Ancestry.com, our 4 family entries will be sitting there like big neon signs.

    There are 25 first cousins in our generation, the offspring of my grandparents’ 4 boys and 4 girls. We are mostly in our 50s and 60s. Most of the previous generation is gone. Jane looks to be in our age range.

    How we found out…
    I received my DNA results last week. I was matched with the 2 cousins already on the site. They are not siblings to each other. I was also matched as a first cousin with Jane, as were my 2 on-site cousins. A couple of days later, my sister’s results arrived, and she also matched Jane. So Jane’s matched with 3 non-sibling cousins, making it a near certainty that she really is a first cousin, and the daughter of someone in the previous generation. No one in our family knows who she is.

    We have reasons to believe that one of my three uncles is the parent. We have a very strong candidate in Uncle “Bill” because of his personal history and because we had a surprise cousin from him before. Uncle Bill was the oldest of my father’s generation and fathered his first child at age 17, so his children were almost a full generation older than the rest of us. They have all died.

    So the discussion questions that no one can possibly have answers to…
    Does Jane know that her Dad is not her biological father?
    If so, is she looking to connect with her biological family, or would she rather be left alone?
    If she doesn’t know, would it be kinder for a total stranger to send a message saying, “Hi, we have this life-altering thing to tell you.” And then let her decide to contact any of us after the shock.
    Or, if she doesn’t know, would it be kinder to let her stumble upon the strong connections when she next looks at the DNA side of the site? And would she then decide we hadn’t contacted her first because we wanted nothing to do with her?

    Who knows?
    I wish her well. This isn’t going to be easy.

    1. WriteyWordy*

      Maybe send her a message along the lines of “so I think we might be related?!” rather than assuming that the DNA is 100% right. That gives her the choice to pursue or ignore it.
      My mum has found a group of cousins she didn’t know about through Ancestry (her grandfather had a very unusual name… and another family she didn’t know about!)

      1. LilySparrow*

        There’s no point speculating about which of your aunts or uncles was the parent – you may have a “surprise” aunt or uncle! Or it could be a strange error in the matching. These tests are not 100% accurate, and neither is the analysis.

        Reach out as neutrally as possible, and let her take it from there.

    2. ChemmeFatale*

      Contact her if you want to be in contact but don’t jump to conclusions until you know her side of the background. You might find out that she was happily adopted or the child of a single mother who chose to go it alone after a one night stand or that one of those is the case for one of her parents (don’t forget that you could have an aunt or uncle that is unknown to the family) and she has completely conservative parentage.

    3. Quickbeam*

      Am in a similar situation with a huge family and a few surprises. I think the fact that Jane took a DNA test indicates she is open to what it finds. Make contact, she’ll figure it out.

      1. Anon for this*

        This. The fact she took a dna test would indicate to me she WANTS to find her birth fathers family. So I agree to send her a message saying “I think we might be related” and wait to see what if any response you get.

        I have two cousins who were given up for adoption by my auntie when she was young. They are back in touch with their birth family now and I get to meet them and their families later this summer.

        1. Someone else*

          Not necessarily. I’ve read plenty of horror story articles about people who gave the tests as gifts because they thought it’d be cool to learn about their “heritage” and didn’t take the time to read through the pop up that says “hey you might find relatives you don’t know about, do you want us to hide that by default?” I do not think it’s safe to assume she took a DNA test she wants to find relatives. Way too many people do this to find ancestors or about their ethnic background and don’t think too hard about the random-siblings-nobody-knew-existed possibility.

          1. Dan*

            I was listening to a podcast talking about these kinds of things. Two sisters sent in their dna samples, and it turns out that “dad” wasn’t bio dad. In the grand scheme of things, this one is pretty harmless: the two sisters were fathered by sperm donor but we’re never told.

              1. Dan*

                Death sex and money.

                It was weird. One of the sisters had a like three half siblings, she touched base and lost interest. The other had 18 half siblings, they have a Facebook group.

            1. Ann O.*

              Washington Post had a fascinating story about a woman who found out her father’s family wasn’t biologically related to her. It turned out to be a case of two babies being accidentally switched at the hospital, so her neither her father nor her father’s family had any idea of the lack of genetic connection. Her father had thought he was ethnically Irish but was really Ashkenazi, and there was interesting musings on ethnic pride, heritage, identity because the (in reality genetically non-existent) Irishiness was really important to her father.

      2. Sylvan*

        Yes. Also, when you use Ancestry DNA, you are able to choose whether you would like to know about possible relatives (and whether you would like them to know about you). She chose that.

        However, I would say that it might be better to let her make contact if she wants to. I don’t know.

    4. Temperance*

      Why not let her reach out to you if she wants? She uses the service, so she will know what it means.

      1. fposte*

        Agreed. I’m on 23andme and I get a lot of connections. They’re not an exciting secret or anything. If I had one that was particularly interesting I’d reach out or respond when somebody reached out to me. I don’t see any reason to take the lead on this one; just be ready to be receptive if somebody reaches out to you.

      2. Triple Anon*

        I agree. Either that or send her a message just stating the facts and leaving things open ended. Mention that you’ve been matched by the service and give her a way to contact you if she’d like to talk.

    5. Artemesia*

      Since she presumably has the same info you have, I would let her take the initiative.

    6. Book Lover*

      I used a donor and we did one of those DNA things so that we can connect with other children of the donor. I know it isn’t 100% true, but most of the time people do them in order to connect or because of suspicions I would think?

    7. tangerineRose*

      I think it would be reasonable to contact her, say hi, and let her decide what to do from there. That way she knows you’re friendly and open to contact but aren’t pushing it.

      1. ZarinC*

        I think it’s pretty safe to assume with all the recent news about DNA sites, she was well aware that there was a real possibility that she would find “secret” relatives. I know several people who are adopted who have been searching using these kinds of sites, and if she is in this group it really would be a kindness to reach out to her first if you are open to contact. Once a DNA test is done, it will be obvious that she isn’t a match with her family members, so that “secret” is already out. She already knows! A friendly “I think we might be related” message and invite to contact you would be the best thing.

    8. Lis*

      I think a friendly “Hi, it looks like we might be related” message on the site itself would just be letting them know you are aware but not pushy, then let them control the next steps. It shows you are open to contact but lets them decide. In pre-internet and pre-DNA test times I worked in a family history society and we had a card system where if we found people were inquiring about the same family we would contact both people and ask did they want to be put in contact with other people about the same family, in my experience no one said no but they could have and they all knew was if it ever happened we would contact them again and ask if they still wanted to. One message essentially saying “do you want to talk” lets them know you will talk if they want to but will leave them alone if they don’t

    9. nonegiven*

      My mom found a cousin. It wasn’t a secret, there had been a divorce and that part of the family had lost touch.

    10. hellion*

      I’m sorry, I don’t have much advice because I wasn’t actually around when this happened and don’t know the logistics.
      But we found out in 2016 that my grandma’s dad was the father of their neighbour’s kids. So she had 3 or 4 half siblings she only found out about at age 93 and the rest of us found out we had new aunts and uncles.
      Hopefully it will help you to know that after the initial shock (particularly on my grandma’s part) the new aunts and uncles visit all the time and everyone is basically best friends (I got a Christmas gift from them and I’ve never even met them). I’m not sure if my family or their family reached out first, but I know that there were no assumptions on either side like “they obviously didn’t want to contact us” so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
      Good luck and I hope it turns out well.

  3. Lara*

    Quick comment for anyone who might read David Sedaris; I think he is awesome and funny, but he characterises one of his sisters, the one who took her own life, in a really unfair manner. For example, at one point he pityingly says “she thought her friends were stealing from her,” as evidence of her deep rooted mental illness. One of her friends piped up at that point and told him that actually, a friend of hers had stolen a bunch of her artwork. Ditto when he said Tiffany left nothing but two boxes of papers – again a friend jumped in to point out that Tiffany asked her friends to take her effects because she was estranged from her family.

    1. Anu*

      Yeah Tiffany actually lived near where I live now and his treatment of her is a sore point. It sounds like it was probably tough to grow up in a family with David and Amy as siblings.

    2. Quickbeam*

      The school Tiffany was sent to (Elan) is now infamous for abuse. I was a probation officer in the 1980s and worked with kids who were sent there. It was super expensive so it was only delinquent kids from rich families. I’ve heard lengthy interviews with David about her and he often does seem more sympathetic that some of the sound bites would show. Sad all the way around.

      1. Mami21*

        I actually came to the comments to talk about this – I LOVE David’s writing, but there is something so very off in the way he talks about Tiffany.

        I went to his stage show, and the first thing he said about Tiffany was that she’d committed suicide on the eve of a big family reunion, because she ‘just had to ruin everything’. Everyone sort of gasp-laughed at the petty cruelty of it, but it seemed to set the tone of his feelings about her.

        I also read an article where he said that he believed Tiffany may have been a sex worker or sugar baby, and I thought… just, why on earth would you say that about your deceased sister?

        1. Music*

          Someone dying doesn’t automatically change your lifetime of history with them. He said that about his deceased sister because he said it about his alive sister, too. The rules don’t change.

          I like Sedaris, but he’s never — especially lately — hidden his failure to be an objectively good perso . He is open about some of the more terrible parts of our brains that some people prefer to pretend we don’t all possess. I think that’s one of the reasons for his popularity. For many of us, we don’t suddenly start feeling warm and fuzzy thoughts when someone dies.

          1. Jennifer*

            I’ve met/seen him several times and I think he is, in general, a public jerk. I obviously enjoy his work, but I don’t think he’s a nice person. Not like in a super vicious way, but I think he does talk like that about everybody regardless of who. He may regret it a bit after the fact (I have heard him say he feels bad about his teacher in “Me Talk Pretty”‘s reaction to his work and he could have done better), but blunt honesty is his thing, as well as sometimes saying rude/weird/bizarre shit.

            1. Music*

              Yeah that’s when I’m so surprised that people who have read him are … surprised? By him being honest?

              1. Mami21*

                I think it’s a pretty shitty move to publicly accuse your dead, non-famous family members of things they have no way of defending themselves of.

                1. Thursday Next*

                  To play devil’s advocate, though, that is the nature of the memoir genre. The author is always going to be presenting his/her personal view of any other person mentioned in the work, and standards for libel are fairly stringent. So if Sedaris wrote that he “thought” his sister was a sex worker, there wouldn’t really be any legal recourse even if she were alive. It seems as though people who knew her have been speaking out to paint a different picture of her, and that’s good.

                  I don’t like Sedaris in any way, so I’m not defending him, per se. If anything, I think what he says about her shows him in quite an ugly light, even without knowing anything about whether his representation of her is accurate.

            2. The Sociopath's Ex*

              Or he may not regret it. My ex also prided himself on his “honesty” and he does not feel empathy or guilt, so he doesn’t feel regret about people he has hurt.

    3. annakarina1*

      I fell off of reading him a long time ago. I used to be a fan from Me Talk Pretty One Day, Naked, and the Santaland Diaries, but he can come off as a mean-spirited snob in his work, and I didn’t find him funny anymore. I’m amazed that his partner Hugh has been with him so long, Hugh seemed to have infinite patience with him.

      And I was turned off by how he wrote about Tiffany as the black sheep of the family, and seemed dismissive of her.

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      I have only ever like his short story “Me Talk Pretty One Day”. I haven’t really liked any of his other stories. Lots of unlikable characters including himself.

    5. Triple Anon*

      Yeah. And there was that whole discussion about his characterization of China and its culture several years back, if I recall correctly.

      Even before that, I had mixed feelings about him. I read a couple of his books. They were entertaining but, if I recall correctly, he came across as stuck up and entitled, and the books weren’t enjoyable enough to make that attitude bearable. He’s funny, but he can be mean in a way that isn’t funny or endearing or captivating to me as a reader.

  4. FaintlyMacabre*

    I have been working night shift and haaaate it. Had I know that the job would require it, I would never have taken it, but that’s another story. Anyway, I really need to get some exercise and get on a regular sleep schedule. There is a yoga place near to me that I like, but their drop in rate is too expensive. Their unlimited monthly rate is reasonable, but you have to sign up for it in 3 month chunks which makes me nervous. Has anyone had success with using fear of wasting money to get them to do a thing they need/want to do? I really don’t want to drop a chunk of change on something that I may not use.

    1. Quickbeam*

      I am a yoga subscriber and it works really well for me. I go to 3 classes a week and it reduces my per class cost to just a couple dollars. It only works if you will go. I worked night shift for 20 years; get on a sleep schedule and stick with it. It’s so easy to get distracted by other things during the day. Room darkening shades and day sleeper signs on your door help.

    2. Blue Eagle*

      I so hear you on this. This would be my suggestion – – go to a couple of drop-in classes and see whether or not they are right for you. If yes, then you can go ahead and purchase the 3 month package. If not, then you have just spent a little extra on just a couple of classes.

      1. Anono-me*

        This is a great suggestion. You may also want to ask if they have some sort of deal where you pay for a couple of drop in classes up front, but if you decide to switch to an unlimited program the drop-in fees are applied to the unlimited and then the unlimited is backdated. Lots of places have some sort of similar program.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      Does the studio not have class packages? Mine has a drop-in rate, an unlimited monthly rate, but I can also buy a package of classes (like 10 for $110) and they never expire. Would something like that work?

    4. JKP*

      I worked night shift a long time ago in some of my first jobs. The trick is that you really have to stick to the same schedule, even on your days off. If you try to go back to a normal schedule of sleeping at night when you don’t have to work, your body never adjusts. I used to do all my grocery shopping on my days off at the 24 hour supermarket.

      Also, black out curtains and a sunrise alarm clock make a huge difference.

  5. Cristina in England*

    We are back from our staycation. None of us wanted to come home! I was actually pretty patient with my kids most of the time, moreso than usual. I think blocking off solo packing and unpacking time on either side of the trip helped my overall mood. I left everything tidy and this morning I will have time to sort out all the random bits of paper and stuff I’ve brought back. I also got some really great pics of the kids together so we will have some photo souvenirs from the week.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      I’m confused. I thought a stay-cation was where you stayed at home and spent the time visiting attractions in and around your home community (or not more than a couple of hours from it)?

      1. Cristina in England*

        We stayed in a hotel in our same city because of house renovation. So we weren’t at home but we weren’t away.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Stone Soup summed up such a staycation thusly:

          Child: “Are we there yet?”
          Mom: “Yup!”

      2. WriteyWordy*

        I’ve also heard it used to mean a holiday in the same country (the U.K. is pretty small and rainy so most people who can afford it will go on holiday abroad when possible).

        1. Cristina in England*

          Most people I know here take their holidays (go on vacation) in the U.K., regardless of income, but that’s probably because everyone I know here has small children. Do Americans really say “staycation” to mean domestic travel? I did not know that, I thought it was limited to same city (or at most same-state) travel.

          1. Anu*

            I’ve never heard Americans use staycation to mean anything but same city. My interpretation of WW’s comment is that since people in the UK usually go abroad they can sometimes use staycation to mean domestic travel. But my interpretation could be wrong.

          2. nonegiven*

            Staycation can mean staying home and taking day trips to nearby points of interest.

  6. Nacho*

    Got some x-rays done today. The good news is that I don’t have arthritis or a fractured bone. The bad news is that means I have no idea why my wrist hurts when I put pressure on it, and I probably spent a couple hundred dollars to not have that idea.

    1. nep*

      Sorry. Wrist pain with no explanation is a drag.
      Well you spent a couple hundred to be able to rule out a fracture or arthritis, so that’s good. I get it, though. So unsatisfying not to know the Why, especially if the pain is getting in the way of some activities.
      All the best

    2. Pollygrammer*

      I’m sorry! Does it hurt more when you move your thumb? I’ve had De Quervain’s tendinosis, and it hurt in my wrist and there were spots that were painful to put pressure on.

    3. Enough*

      Daughter has wrist issue from a sport’s injury. If it’s not a bone issue but tissue it won’t show on an x-ray. You would need an MRI. Although even that is not guaranteed to who every thing. They never found what was wrong with my daughter’s wrist but thought there might be a small tear and she refused to let them do exploratory surgery.

    4. fposte*

      Agreeing with other folks that it sounds like soft tissue. There’s a lot of stuff squeezed into a narrow space there so it’s pretty easy for things to go wonky. Have you tried PT or massage therapy yet? That’s where I’d go next.

    5. Soupspoon McGee*

      Some fractures don’t show up on x-ray right away, so if you got imaging within a few days of a fall, you might not see it. If it’s sore in the divot between your thumb and wrist, talk to your provider about splinting or casting anyway. If you didn’t fall but it hurts, it could be a tendon issue.

      1. SciDiver*

        Buckle fractures especially can be tough to see on x-rays. When I broke my wrist, the orthopedist cleared me, but we sent the x-ray to a radiologist just in case. Sure enough, I got a call the next day that it was broken after all!

    6. Belle*

      I would ask for an MRI. That is how they were able to tell my tendon was torn. It didn’t show on an x-ray but did the MRI.

    7. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Could it be cysts? Those might hurt if they’re somewhere in your muscle, according to my hand specialist (he diagnosed me with them a few years back, although by now I’m wondering if that diagnosis was correct as the problem went away on its own).

  7. Lily*

    Feeling like a terrible person right now (as well as a failure in general).

    Over the weekend two of my close friends announced their pregnancies. Over the past year there’s been about 4 pregnancy announcements and 3 births. This is all very normal, given we’re all in our early 30s.

    But…yeah, these last two somehow ‘tipped’ things for me for some reason. It’s not that I want kids right now, but more that I’m still single and nowhere near achieving that. Plus it feels increasingly like these friends are leaving me behind as they talk about arranging play dates and being on maternity leave together.

    I think partially to because I’ve know a lot of these people since high school, and somewhere I’m my subconscious (as unrealistic as this is) I still want to hold on to that sort of dynamic.

    So, now I want to be happy for them (and of course I send all the congratutory messages and act excited) but I can’t stop feeling sad, and then I feel like a bad person for not being genuinely happy. It’s like a multi-layered feeling of sadness.

    1. Marathon Girl*

      I’m kinda in the same position as you- but I’m in my early 20’s! Those I went to highschool with are getting awesome jobs, great houses, going on holidays, starting families. I’m still living with my parents, graduated uni but haven’t found a career path/job relating to it yet, am definitely no where near close to getting my own place or have enough money to go on holidays. As you said, I want to be happy for them, but it’s hard and I start to get almost bitter, and feel like that’s what I SHOULD be doing. I feel like I’m stuck as a 15 year old (haha).

      I’ve realized recently though (and it’s probably super cliche) that by appreciating my life right now and what I DO have really is the simple answer. I’m content just coming back to a lovely cosy home, enjoying a cup of tea, playing video games, reading, exploring my career options with voluntary roles… all those other things will come soon, but I want to enjoy my freedom and comfort right now! That’s fair enough if that’s what they want to do but my idea of happiness at this moment in life is simply different to theirs and that’s ok! Yes, some of those things would be nice… but I’ve wasted too much energy worrying about what I don’t have.
      I’ve also experienced ‘being left behind’. Plently of those I saw as close friends have gone off with other groups. But, I became content by myself, and when I recently reconnected with new and old people it was lovely.

      Sorry if this wasn’t much help, but your post resonated with me and I thought I’d offer my perspective. I wish you all the best!

      1. Loopy*

        I felt that way with the slew of marriages around ages 26-29. It was very hard to be genuinely happy when I had my own complex feelings to manage. Honestly, this may not be the best advice but I severely limited Facebook and tried to interject other conversation topics if I could do so politely without abruptly cutting them off.

        It’s hard. Be kind to yourself. I’m sure many have had these feelings. I know I have.

      2. Anona*

        I typed a really long comment. Maybe it’s in moderation?

        The basic gist was I have dealt with infertility and struggled with similar feelings. You feel how you feel. It’s ok, and normal.

        Things that helped me:
        *Skipping baby showers, because going to them made me feel horrible. Still sending a gift. Gift cards are even better.
        *Investing in to my friendships with people without kids
        *Cutting down on social media/hiding people, for self preservation
        *Creating a childfree Pinterest board (secret) where I pinned positive childfree articles, places I wanted to travel, and hobbies I wanted to take up

        Don’t beat yourself up. You are not a bad person. It’s a difficult thing! Please take care of yourself.

    2. Anona*

      I very much understand the sadness being followed by being upset/sad that you are sad. I struggled with infertility in the past, and that part sounds really similar.

      First off, you’re not a bad person for feeling this way. And second off, do things to care for yourself, whatever that is. You can’t necessarily change how you feel. If that happens over time, great. But feelings are weird. I found that feeling guilty about it just made it worse.

      Things that helped me. For me, babies were an issue. It helped to quit Facebook for awhile or at least hide people who had the babies. I also stopped attending bsby showers, as they were hard for me (i made excuses, like already having plans). I still gave gifts, but looking back on it, I think doing it now I would give a gift card, as looking through the registries was also difficult.

      I also spent less time with my friends with kids. Again, I felt guilty about it, but it was self preservation. I invested more time in my single/child free friends.

      I also went to counseling. And I made a secret childfree Pinterest board, where I pinned a bunch of positive articles about being childfree, and also cool vacations I wanted to take/hobbies I wanted to take up while being childfree. I also started perusing childfree Reddit boards.

      It did suck. Your mileage may vary with these suggestions. I’m sorry. It’s hard. :/

    3. Quickbeam*

      I am 62 and have no children ( by choice). I keenly recall when everyone drifted off to maternity land. It does stress long time friendships and patterns. I found many came back to me after their kids had launched. Had some lonely years in the middle despite pretty strong efforts to stay relevant to them.

    4. Lora*

      It’s NOT an achievement.

      Am an Old, and I have seen many many MANY friends who got married and had children. Then the marriage fell apart and the kids were stuck in the middle or suddenly abandoned when dad left for a newer model/decided he loved heroin more/had a kid with his next wife. Have seen many friends whose spouses ended up abusing them and now the court forces them to interact with the abusive a-hole became it’s actually super difficult to terminate custody and visitation rights even if your ex beat you hard enough to put you in the hospital. Have friends whose exes will never stop filing ridiculous lawsuits after all parental rights have been terminated by the court for addiction and abuse.

      Of the friends and family with intact marriages, plenty aren’t really thrilled with their kids. Or thought parenting would be not 90% crap and 10% kodak moments, thought it would be more fun and less frustrating. Also have many women friends who didn’t want to sacrifice their careers and thought they had an equal relationship right up until their spouse magically “forgot” to do… whatever…and somehow they got tagged with 90% of childcare no matter how many serious conversations they had.

      It’s definitely not an achievement. It’s just stuff people do and choices they make.

      1. Dan*

        All this. I live 30 minutes from work, 45 in traffic. In reality, the traffic window is rather narrow. I rent an apartment closer in to the city/major employment areas.

        I recently house sat for some friends who have a real house in a price range I can probably afford. But their place is a bit further out on a major commuting artery. The commute off peak is 45 minutes to an hour. With traffic, it can be an hour and a half or more. Plus, the traffic window is a lot wider. The reality is, except on weekends, all i pretty much did was sleep.

        The experience made me realize that a nice house in the suburbs isn’t the be-all end-all, even if that’s the yard stick by which many people measure life milestones. I don’t.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        All this and more. I was married at 23 and widowed by 46. Life is a movie not a snap shot. I hope that none of my friends got too unsettled because I married before some of them. And if life is a race to get married, then that means I went back to square one and have to start over again. (I refuse to believe that for one second.)

        I was married 23 years we were together 27. My husband was a good person. I can honestly say I have never worked so hard in my life every. single. day. I am not a special snowflake, this is what marriage is, it’s work and having kids is MORE WORK.
        Marriage with or without kids, is not a destination, it’s just a continuation of the life journey and that is all. These friends have not arrived anywhere. Life keeps going the story line keeps moving, it’s a journey with other people attached at our hips. And when we travel through life with others, it’s always our turn to give, always.

        Every choice in life gives us a different set of options that no other choice would give us. While getting married and having a family sounds like some ideal, reality is that it’s very labor intensive. But folks with families have options that single people don’t have. And the reverse is true also, single people have options that folks with families do not have. It goes both ways. There is no spot that we can be in where we get all the options life has to offer.

        I think that using marriage and children as a gauge to see how well we are progressing in life is misplaced. There are many other gauges to measure our life successes. If you want to use your friends’ progress to remind you to do a self-check on your progress that is one thing. But if you want the specific things your friends have, in order to feel like you are progressing also, then that means you are living their lives, not your own. You can turn this into a question of, “What opportunities do I have right now that I am not maximizing?” Go at your own life with eyes wide open, see what you may not have noticed before. Then decide which opportunities you would like to pick up on.

    5. Lilo*

      So the timing on this is weird because I found out this week that I’m pregnant.

      And even with the fact that it’s planned and I’ve been married for over 5 years and have a stable job and all that, I’m freaking out very slightly. It became very, very real. All the “what ifs” are flooding in my brain, without really any control. “Is the political environment one I really want to bring a child into?” “Will I ever travel again?” “Will I ruin my body?” “Will this hurt my career?” “Will I lose myself” “What if I raise a psychopath?” What if, what if, what if.

      So if it helps, all those confidently happy people are probably putting on a bit of a show because, you’re supposed to be 100% happy, but oh my god it is so scary. So while you might be envying them, they might be envying you. Seriously.

      1. LifeOrDeath*

        @Lulo – I have two children, have been married for 18 years (to a saint of a man), I have also donated a kidney to a sibling. Many choices change a persons life and some for the worse, unfortunately – I will NEVER regret my kids no matter what and can not imaging regretting my other lifealtering choices and I wish the same to you – enjoy your life and I hope you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby

    6. VioletDaffodil*

      You definitely aren’t a failure or a terrible person. I am in my 30s and the majority of my friends are unmarried; of the married few, only three have pursued/are pursuing parenthood but they are also some of my closest people. It does change your relationship with them, and it does suck. My one friend who is not yet a parent, but likely will be in short order… we already have trouble getting together. I expect after a baby joins in the picture, we will drift further. Not because I don’t like babies or wouldn’t want to be around one, but her life is going to change. It’s crowded and I know time with parent-friends and family will become more important to her.

      The biggest thing for me in dealing with all of this kind of stuff has been to focus on building my life in the current moment. I would like to be married, but I honestly don’t see that working out. When I was younger, I spent a long time sort of passively waiting around for life to begin; I expected that I didn’t have to do any of the big things just yet because Mr. Right would come along and those opportunities would be mine for the taking. When my sister got married, I was honestly jealous of the fact that she was getting all these cool new things for her house, while I was “stuck” with gifts and hand-me-downs. It took awhile, but it dawned on me that I wasn’t stuck with anything. I would have to pay for it myself, but if it was making me feel crappy to keep using my grandma’s old dishes, I could prioritize buying myself a nice set. This seems so small and petty, but it honestly made a big difference. I have nice dishes, nice pots, server ware, and even a Kitchen Aid Mixer, which I always wanted. I just gave those things to myself. I got my own dog. I started making sure to spend time with friends who were single or coupled up but still independent (previously, I had spent a lot of time waiting for coupled friends for whom everything/everyone else was a distant second). I went back to school to get into a job that would better support me on my own (and that I enjoy more). Now I’m starting to focus on traveling, hobbies, and self-care (of the pleasant and not great, but needed kind). It will be great if the love of my life comes along and wants to join me. But I’m not looking at that as a goal anymore. My life is the goal.

      It is so easy to judge yourself against the shoulds and “milestones” of life, but there is no such thing. Everyone has different goals and different problems, and every path has different pros and different cons. If you are wanting that tight-knit kind of friend group, I think the best way to give yourself that is to start looking at what you have already and building on that. If you have people in your circle who you aren’t as close to, but who don’t seems like they are locked on the get married/get a house/have a kid plan right now, maybe call them up a bit more and start planning some adventures with them. If you don’t have anyone who seems to fit that bill, I’m not saying you need to ditch all your friends, but look for ways you can meet some new people to expand your circle. Start doing things you might be putting off for a future version of yourself. Let yourself feel happy about the things you do have, and let yourself enjoy the things you want.

      And let yourself feel sad if you want things that haven’t happened yet! It is okay to be bummed that you are single/haven’t bought a house/aren’t where you want to be in your career/aren’t a millionaire/do not own a stable fully of ponies/cannot spend summers on the Almalfi coast/etc. It is sad when things aren’t the way you want them. But for me, I notice I get stuck there when I think because I don’t have something it means I am lacking somehow as a person. You aren’t. You are worthy of love and care, and of the things that you want.

      I don’t know if any of this novel helps, but I hope it does! (((hugs))) Be kind to yourself!

    7. Ali G*

      Go ahead and be happy for them! They are your friends. Things will change and that’s why you also need to do what makes you happy too. Do you really want to be married and have kids right now, or do you think you “should” because those closest to you are?
      My husband and I are childless by choice. We have one other couple in our group of friends that is choosing not to have kids. Besides that the only other kid free folks are the single ones (but some of them want kids at some point).
      We still see our friends with kids regularly, but yes they do a lot of stuff without us – which is fine with us. Maybe also think about whether they think they are doing you a favor by not including you in baby stuff? If you want to be more involved in their kids lives, then tell them that, and be actively involved!
      As you get older, regardless of the reason, you will drift away and back to your friends – it just happens.

    8. AcademiaNut*

      Those feelings are normal. Actually, you’ve got two things going on right now. One is the feeling of envy/failure when it seems like everyone around you is achieving milestones that you are nowhere near, and effortlessly getting the things you want. The other is worry about being left behind as a significant fraction of your social group is moving into a lifestyle that you won’t be sharing.

      The first is one that pretty much everyone has to deal with at some point in their life, and it has a tendency to hit suddenly when you find your peer group branching off in different directions. It can help to remind yourself that things change a lot, and not everyone’s life goes in the same direction, and that you don’t get to see the inside of people’s lives – that life you’re envying can be very different that you think. For the second – yeah, this is a real worry. It’s possible to keep up friendships when everyone has babies but you, but in my experience, it means you’re going to have to adapt yourself to their lives (ie, not many pub nights, but a lot of hanging out at their place while they look after their kids). And it can take work to remind them that you’re there and want to see them, if they’re in the mode of organizing play dates.

      One thing I’d suggest is to add something new and interesting to your life. Pick up a fun new hobby, take a class, join a team. This has a double advantage of giving you something new to distract your mind from other stuff, and to expand your social network, so that if your friends spend the next decade immersed in kid-stuff, you’ve got people to socialize with. And, as others have suggested, cut waaay back on Facebook and social media. A steady stream of the carefully spun high points of people’s lives can be pretty bad for your mental state.

    9. matcha123*

      I don’t really feel happy for friends who get pregnant. It’s not something I want and I feel like they are taking their lives in a negative direction. But, don’t think of it as being left behind.
      Give them your congrats, that’s the good thing to do as a friend. You don’t have to feel the same way they do about it.

    10. Anion*

      Good lord, honey, you’re not a terrible person for having feelings! Or for thinking about how what’s happening in the lives of your friends makes you feel.

      You have no obligation to be “genuinely happy” for someone, and not being so is OKAY. It’s allowed.

      You did the right thing: you sent your congratulatory messages and acted excited–which, btw, a terrible person would not do; a terrible person would make it all about them and how they’re not feeling happy or whatever. The fact that you acted excited, didn’t start whining “What about meeeee,” and didn’t thus basically spit all over their happy news is all the evidence you or anyone else should need to know you’re NOT a terrible person!

      We all have negative feelings sometimes. That’s human nature. We all feel jealous or left out sometimes. We all feel inferior or selfish occasionally; that too is human nature (you’re not being selfish, I just threw that out as an example of something we all experience). My goodness, we all feel scared or unhappy about change sometimes, or uncomfortable with it, and sad about what we might be losing! We all feel sad or left out. What separates the good people from the awful ones is the way we handle those feelings. Good people understand it’s their problem and keep their mouths shut about it; bad people act like their feelings are the responsibility of others, and those others must somehow “make up for” the crime of having happy news.

      Please stop beating yourself up over this. You’re done nothing wrong, and your feelings are not wrong. They’re natural and normal, and you’re handling them like an adult Good Person does. That should be applauded.

      You should feel good about your behavior, not bad about your feelings.

      And don’t be scared about being left out. You’re a good person, so your friends probably are as well. I bet they’ll find ways to include you, and who knows, maybe you’ll become the Cool Aunt! Either way, it will all settle down, and while it may never be exactly the same, I bet you’ll be surprised by how close it will eventually get. Just hang in there. And let yourself feel how you want; nobody needs to know, and nobody should be judging you for perfectly natural, perfectly understandable feelings.

      I hope that helps.

  8. Newtothisgame*

    I posted here a few weeks ago about joining Tinder for the first time and got some great advice. I’m meeting a guy I’ve been chatting to this afternoon for coffee. We seem to be getting on really well by chat so I’m hoping it’s going to be a good afternoon.

    I’ve got a few friends and my Mum who know where I’m going and when, and my Mum knows most of the details I know about him. I’m meeting in public, at a coffee shop, driving there myself. I’ve got an ‘exit strategy’ as I’m on night shift tonight so if things don’t work out well, I have a reason I’ve got to leave (he knows I’m working later but not what time or where) but I can also stretch the time a little bit if we get on really well.

    I’m trying to think of anything else that it’s smart to do.

    1. Kali*

      Coffee for date zero is a good choice. You don’t want to commit to a meal or a long activity when you might know you’re not feeling it in the first few minutes.

      I have a standard ‘first-date’ outfit, which saves me a lot of time and hassle. I wear that, it looks good, no time spent worrying.

    2. Loopy*

      I think you’re good! Just don’t be tempted to leave the date for a second location even if it sounds fun and romantic. Once I had a first date that thought it would be spontaneous to drive up to the nearby mountain and star gaze after dinner/dessert. Romantic but also dumb- on a first date. That’s a worst case scenario but I just played it cool and we stayed at the public restaurant.

    3. Natalie*

      You’re perfectly fine, those are all sensible precautions but you don’t have to go overboard. Lots of people we meet IRL don’t come anymore vetted than someone from the internet.

      1. Artemesia*

        After I left my first husband (long before the internet) I dated a guy I had known off and on in classes for several years. Didn’t know him well, but he was no stranger. We went out once and someone called me to let me know that he was a. married. b. had another woman pregnant and was out trying to find an abortion for her (before they were legal). Tinder seems scary, but the real world doesn’t necessarily offer the protection afforded by being introduced at a ball in Jane Austen’s England either.

        1. Popcorn Lover*

          Not much protection in Jane Austen’s England either, given the preponderance of cads like Willoughby and John Thorpe and serial pedophile George Wickham….

    4. VioletDaffodil*

      It sounds like you are on the right track! The only other thing I can think of is to send a picture of him to a friend, and maybe ask one to text or call you at a certain time so you can check in with someone.

    5. Clever Name*

      I normally check in with friends after the date is over. I’ll send them a text when I get home, and I tell them where I’ll be. I’m sure everything g will be fine. There’s a lot of scary advice out there about internet dating. The worst thing that’s happened to me so far is a broken heart. :)

    6. Newtothisgame*

      I had a really nice time and it seemed to go really well :) fingers crossed for another meetup.

  9. Cynthia*

    Okay, I think I’m finally going to take the plunge and try dating/friending apps.

    I moved to a new city a few years ago, I knew some people here at the time and I guess I never really made enough effort to branch out of my comfort zone.

    As time’s gone by many of them have moved away, and now my social circle is incredibly thin. I feel like one of those people who talk about being lonely while surrounded by people (it’s a huge city)…surely I can’t be the only one seeking to make a connection?

    On top of that, one of the few friends who are still here has just told me she’s started seeing someone (she’s been doing the online dating thing for a while now), which means she doesn’t have as much time to hang out but does give me a bit more faith in this whole dating business.

    There are a lot of dating apps/websites out there but the only friend app I’ve heard of is Bumble BFF. I’m also in my early 30s so not sure if that’s too old to be on Tindr? Anyone have experience with those? Or just general advise on online dating or friending for someone who’s a complete newbie?

    1. Newtothisgame*

      Meetup can be quite good for finding people with similar interests.

      Tinder, I’ve been on a few weeks and I’m enjoying it. There are plenty of guys in their mid to late 30s and the occasional over 40 who pop up on my list of potential swipes. My settings are up til about 38 so I don’t get many over that age but I know my friend in her 30s has matches that are over 40.
      Hope that helps and good luck with it!

    2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I have friends in their mid-30s (and possibly older friends, too, but those are the ones I know about) who use Tinder and seem to like it, so you shouldn’t be too old for it. Never used it myself, though.

      I’ve never tried it myself (because it seemed like you needed to pay when I looked at it?) but my boyfriend’s made lots of good friends through Meetup.

      1. Natalie*

        Meetup doesn’t cost money that I know of? Some of the groups might charge a little but there are plenty of free ones.

        1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

          Ah, maybe it was just the particular groups I was interested in, then.

        2. Lindsay J*

          Yeah, you don’t need to pay to join groups generally (though some have events that have a fee, or some charge dues to pay for the site, room rentals at restaurants, and other overhead, the ones that charge have always been the minority in the areas I’ve been in).

          You do have to pay if you want to start a Meetup group, rather than joining an existing one. I forget how much it was, though. (I’m thinking $35 a year maybe?)

          1. JKP*

            2 different prices, depending on whether you have a limited number in the group or unlimited.

            If you start a group, but then don’t finish the payment part, after a few days, meetup will send you a 50% off coupon to finish setting up your group.

        3. Ann*

          Mine ask that everybody pitches in a few dollars once a year to cover the $30ish fee for Meetup.com. If it’s somewhere like going to a museum, then you’re also responsible for your admission fee or helping cover gas if we’re driving somewhere far away, but it’s always been very reasonable like that.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Seconding Meetup to find groups of people interested in what you like to do.

      Dating apps seem to vary by city as to whether a specific one is used more for hook-ups or casual dating or serious partner hunting, so bear that in mind when trying to find the right fit.

    4. Perpetua*

      I wish Bumble BFF or something similar was a thing where I live, because I had a mini-breakdown about feeling lonely and lacking the type of friends I’d love to have. I have a live-in partner and he’s great, but I’d like to have a…community as well. Meetups are mostly tech-oriented here, and I’m not religious, so it’s hard.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Do you have a special interest that you could do as a volunteer? Fitness classes? I am starting to look into these. The key I’m told is to volunteer (or go to the fitness class) the same time/day of the week – this is how you see the same people regularly and can get to know them.

        I am trying to decide what I want to try volunteering at – maybe the local library? I tried volunteering at an animal shelter (as a dog walker). I really liked the dog walking, but the commute was over an hour one way in heavy traffic. I hear there are local lists of places looking for volunteers, I guess I just need to google it.

    5. Sylvan*

      I like OKC. Was on an OKC date last night, in fact. People around here sometimes use it for finding friends.

      There is also Her, if you are a queer woman.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Yep, seconding OKC. Met my boyfriend on there. :) I like the questions because I can sort for weird dealbreakers I have, and I REALLY like that, unlike a lot of other dating sites/apps, you don’t have to connect it to Facebook to use it.

        1. Natalie*

          My husband and I met there as well, about 4 years ago. Of all the free apps/sites, it was my favorite.

        2. Lindsay J*

          Yes, my boyfriend and I met on there as well.

          I had some specific screening criteria I used for the questions to ensure I would not wind up on a date with someone I was wholly incompatible with. (Whether they felt a woman had an obligation to shave their legs, whether they would lose respect for a woman who had sex on a first date but also had sex on the first date themselves, and some others I forget now.)

        3. Urdnot Bakara*

          Also met my husband on OKC! This was pre-Tinder and honestly it was just for fun, but like a week after setting up my account, I went on a date with him, and the rest is history.

          So, I guess I don’t have much advice for OP except that since these are essentially super blind dates, take extra precautions. I told my roommate where I was going and with whom and when to expect me to check in, etc.

          (OKC = okcupid for anyone who doesn’t know)

    6. Das*

      I downloaded Bumble for dating and decided to check out the BFF side. I have to say, the whole swiping model feels so strange when applied to making friends! I didn’t know what pictures to choose – what types of pictures attract a friend? If I swipe left, am I saying that I don’t even want to be friends because I don’t like their face enough? If they swipe left on me, do they not like *my* face? Why will Bumble only let me view other women as potential friends? I think it can work, and early 30s certainly isn’t too old, but it seems so much more complicated than dating this way somehow.

    7. matcha123*

      I’m in a huge city. The friends I looked forward to hanging out with when I moved here have coupled up and I haven’t made the connections I was hoping to. I’ve started trying online dating. The men have been kind for the most part, but they don’t message back and they have a lot of women to choose from…
      I’m also 34, fwiw.

  10. Cringing*

    Does anyone ever just randomly remember something you did/said when you were young (usually in your teenage years) that you thought was so cool/deep at the time and now when you look back you just cringe uncontrollably and hope anyone who was in the vicinity at the time has no memory of it whatsoever?

    1. annakarina1*

      I was a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan when I was 13, and they were my first big concert that I attended. A classmate of mine told me I talked about them all the time, but I can’t remember doing that. But now when I listen to their old stuff, Billy Corgan’s voice irritates me, and I’m amazed that I was such a huge fan of them back then and tolerated his nasal whiny singing. I still love the guitar and drum work, I just can’t listen to his singing as much.

      1. Anonykins*

        I have so many pop culture regrets. I was reading my old diaries a few months ago (an exercise in pure humiliation) and it’s just chock full of gushing over various movies, songs, celebrities. I wrote out the lyrics to a lot of Muse and The Killers songs I thought were super deep that are just…not. But possibly the most embarrassing thing in there is my assertion that Arnold Schwarzenegger was ROBBED of the Oscar he rightly deserved for his moving performance as The Terminator….

    2. LilySparrow*


      And not just as a teenager – pretty much any time from 2 hours ago on back.

      1. Teach*

        You guys would love the podcast Mortified – it’s people reading actual unedited diary entries from their teenage years. Completely brilliant.

    3. Khlovia*

      When you were 14 did you write in your diary that you were “in love with life and in love with love”? No? Then you’re fine.

      And if you did, you’re no worse off than I am.

      1. Daphne*

        I think that’s a brilliant thing to be writing at 14 because I certainly didn’t feel that way at the time!

    4. Urdnot Bakara*

      I graduated valedictorian of my high school so I gave a speech at graduation. It was awful, cringe-worthy. I thought I was hilarious, but I wasn’t. So every now and then I think about the fact that there were 500+ people sitting there thinking about how much of a dweeb I am.

  11. Rose*

    I have this friend who’s usually really sweet and can be lots of fun to hang it with, but good lord she likes to humblebrag. Every time we catch up she’s ‘complaining’ about how she’s the only one in her office who knows how to do such-and-such to a high standard, and so she has to do all the things! Or how she’s so tired from having soooo many social engagements.

    Now it could very be true that she’s as high a performer as she claims (I don’t know much about her job), and she does have a huge number of friends on social media, so all of this could very well be true. I’m just never sure what I’m meant to say to stuff like that. Usually I just nod sympathetically and then try to change the subject.

    1. KarenK*

      I’ve got one of those two. I was trying to remember what it was called! Luckily we only work together and don’t hang out outside of work. It’s the one thing about her that bugs me. Otherwise she’s a wonderful person, And she give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. I have no advice, I just wanted to thank you for reminding me that it was called humblebragging.

    2. nep*

      For me this all points to some deep insecurities…or something like a need to cling to all this as defining oneself. Never enough…never doing enough…I’m only worthwhile if I’ve got all this going on and I’d better tell people about it.

    3. Cristina in England*

      I tend to have a different take on humblebragging. It can also be a sign of someone who doesn’t want whatever situation they have, but the situation is something that other people desire and they don’t have the self-awareness or self-advocacy skills to stand up and say that actually it isn’t right for them.

      All that is kind of a long way to say sometimes it’s just a sign of someone who can’t say no.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Your way out, OP, might be to say, “Friend, you sound unhappy with this situation. What do you think you can do to change it into a setting that you actually want?”

        I’ve not been one to think about humble brags too much. I tend to think, “If the situation is making you miserable then change it.” After listening to it for any length of time, I tend to conclude that the person is creating their own problem. Which is not very charitable of me but I don’t do well with chronic complaints, though. That is why I lead with, “Well, how do you think you can fix this?”

    4. just me*

      Sounds like she’s a real nice person and just wants to have a vent – she trusts you to vent to – so that’s a compliment.

  12. Anonielush*

    Has anyone seen the PR fail that LUSH UK have produced this week?
    Their actual message may possibly have been valid but their shop fronts are unclear and how many people are actually going to read the blog to find out what it’s really about?
    And apparently they’re reporting accounts on Facebook who have written 1* reviews as hacked. Which is really not working in their favour!!

    1. London Calling*

      It has backfired because although the situation they are trying to highlight is scandalous (for the people who don’t know, undercover police infiltrated protest groups and started relationships and in some cases fathered children with the women they were targeting), the message targets *all* police in a cackhanded and ill-thought out way.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Exactly. And also, a bit late? That scandal happened at least a year ago if not two.

        I wasn’t sure if there was a more recent scandal about police collecting data on people that I had missed, but either way, it’s pretty mystifying. What response did they think it would have anyway?

    2. LCL*

      It basically fails as advertising, because it doesn’t make you want to go in their stores and buy their things. That kind of shop is all about pampering yourself as a brief break from the real world, not the scandal du jour.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, I don’t know. I have sort of odd feelings about companies getting involved with huge political statements/advertising campaigns, when they’re not generally issues that would affect the business the company is in.

        Like, I get if companies in the outdoors business making statements for or against gun control. Or a company that makes stuff out of steel being publicly against the steel tariffs. Or companies withdrawing ad support on shows they don’t agree with politically.

        One I’m thinking of right now is Penzey’s Spices. Like, I don’t necessarily disagree with what they’re saying. But it’s just so much, politically, after awhile. Do I really need my spice company posting huge political screeds on Facebook in addition to all my friends posting political stuff all the time?

        And like, I don’t have a problem with company founders making their own political statements, or donating profits to causes they believe in, or whatever.

        I really think my reaction is about not feeling like anywhere is a break from the real world anymore.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Wow, I just checked Penzeys FB page. I had it in my head somehow that they were the other way, politically, I don’t know why. You were not exaggerating, every post is political!

          1. Anion*

            I don’t know why businesses think hectoring their customers/potential customers is the way to promote their products or increase their sales. I just want to buy some oregano (or a shirt, or some hand lotion), man, I don’t want it with a side of your opinions force-fed down my throat.

            I avoid companies that do that–whatever side of the fence they’re on–and tell them why. I loathe the over-politicization of our culture these days and wish it would just stop. People aren’t evil just because they disagree with you.

    3. Alternative Person*

      I was disappointed with them since they’ve always seemed on point re: their environmental/ethical stuff so to see such a poorly thought out campaign was a shock.

      Is it just me or has a lot of recent activism on both the left and right been more extreme and dogmatic recently?

  13. Ms. Mad Scientist*

    The Americans finale….wow.

    I keep thinking of the train scene. It’s going to stay with me for a long time.

    1. foolofgrace*

      I listened to The Americans podcast on Slate.com, which was good and a manageable half-hour. I’ve never listened to a podcast before, I feel so 20th century.

      But yes, the train scene was powerful. I am stuck with the image of Paige at the kitchen table with the bottle of vodka.

    2. Nerdgal*

      Fellow fan here! Thought the finale was well done but I really thought someone was going to die. I wish they would do a spinoff with the kids.

      1. PieInTheBlueSky*

        They all died on the inside. I thought someone would die too, but the actual ending felt more tragic.

    3. lapgiraffe*

      Devastating! I burst into tears when they saw her on the platform, I just got chills even thinking about it again.

      I was listening to the watch podcast since Andy Greenwald has always been a big fan of the show and I enjoy his thoughts in general, but where he was somewhat disappointed that no one was “punished” nor any “justice served,” I find the fact that they made it back, just the two of them, having left behind their entire life to be quite the punishment in the end. It wasn’t like a spy on a short mission getting to return home safely, in order for the whole facade to work it had to become real, and what do they do now? Having to live with yourself, with all that you did and all that you gave up, seems far more punishing than a quick death.

      And then Stan… :-(

    4. Thursday Next*

      I wanted something better for Oleg, at the end of it all. Compared to the Jennings and Stan, what he did, he did out of principle, not dogma. Even Stan didn’t grasp by the last episode that Soviet politics really did matter.

      The train scene was really well done. Having the three of them sit apart really signaled how each character was alone for this important and difficult part of their trajectory. Philip had rallied to Elizabeth’s side by the last couple of episodes, but Paige had started drifting away around the same time.

      Poor Stan. For a moment I thought he was going to shoot Philip. For a moment, I thought he should have.

  14. Moneyless*

    What do you like to do for fun on weekends that doesn’t cost any (or much) money? My spending in May was a little bit out of control, so I am trying to put myself on a tight budget this month.

    1. Washi*

      Ooh! I am the queen of free fun. Not sure what you’re into, but here are my go-tos:
      -hiking/walking/biking (I will often Google “best parks in __” or just get on Google maps and scroll around looking for big swaths of green)
      -in my area, the county parks and rec departments have a good number of free or very low cost ($2-3) events/activities
      -free library/university/museum events
      -Try googling “free ___ museum day” because lots of museums have free days this time of year
      -Not completely free, but I did a diy chocolate tasting with my friends where we all brought a bar of chocolate, put the pieces in cups with the names stuck to the bottom, mixed the cups up, and voila, blind taste test
      -Lots of places have a free outdoor concert series this time of year
      -Look for “best swimming holes in ___”
      -Google “hidden gems in ___ ” in your area, a lot of those, especially on Atlas Obscura, will be free
      -If you’re in such an area, look for iconic murals and make a trip to see them
      -If you’re in a large enough city to have a consulate, they often have cultural events

    2. Ann*

      Definitely check out the parks in your area! Here we have some fun free ones, but we also have some with a small admission fee. For example, there’s one here that’s $5 entry and includes a museum and some interesting gardens, but is also free entry on certain holidays. In the summer, a lot of parks here also have free outdoor movies or concerts at night. There’s also art fairs during the day.

      In a similar vein, maybe see what events your local library or community center are running?

      You could also try looking at free days at local museums (or check out smaller museums – especially those associated with universities, since the admission is often just a few dollars).

      Volunteering might push the boundaries of “fun” depending on your preferences, but I usually enjoy it. Some places also give you free admission the day that you’re volunteering so you can use the rest of the time to explore on your own.

    3. WriteyWordy*

      My reservations at my local library tend to drip in through the week and I go to pick them up – and return previous loans – on Saturday mornings. It’s always exciting to see what exactly is waiting for me on the reservations shelf. On Sundays I go for a long run around the city

    4. Lilo*

      I love hiking. National Parks have a fee, but State Parks are often free. I find that being in the woods or a park gives you time away from all the little distractions and noise, which I am a fan of. Obviously, be careful, if you’re in a remote place, you should maybe hike with a friend. Bring plenty of water.

    5. Overeducated*

      I am so used to tight budgets, seems like my spouse and i can never both have good jobs at the same time…we like neighborhood walks, farmer’s market (not free but I buy groceries on weekends anyway so it’s nice to get a few fresher items and buy kid a small treat), bike rides, hikes, museums, picnics. Also hosting board game nights or homemade brunch, doing cooking projects, or having home movie nights if the weather is bad (popcorn is not optional!).

      1. Nicole76*

        How do you make hosting board game nights free? I find myself spending too much money on drinks and snacks whenever we have people over. I truly don’t mind spending the money because I really enjoy the company, and everyone is so busy these days that I’m lucky to have 2-3 game nights per year, but I’m curious what strategies you use to keep the cost down.

        1. tink*

          We potluck! Someone brings drinks, someone brings dessert, two of us either bring entrees or pay for a cheap pizza order.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Giving people things to sign up for can be a big help. Like:
          • Beer
          • Seltzer or other non-alcoholic drink
          • Chips or other salty snack
          • Candy or other sweet snack

          Then the people who have a good rye-bread-with-artichoke-dip recipe and like to cook can do that, and people whose cooking skill or time is more buying three bags of chips can do that. Or they can see someone signed up to do three of the things but beer is still open, so beer it is. Take the guess work out of it.

        3. Nicole76*

          Potluck didn’t occur to me, thanks! How would I go about suggesting this to people who in the past weren’t asked to bring something? I mean, they usually did anyway but sometimes it would end up we had too many desserts or whatnot since it wasn’t coordinated. Perhaps I’m overthinking this, but I don’t want to come across as too cost-focused. I always host (which I don’t mind since I’m more comfortable in my own home anyway) but I could afford to have people over more often this way.

          1. Red Reader*

            “Hey, folks, let’s try something new – game night and potluck nachos! If someone elses can bring (cheese, salsa, sour cream, and chips), I’ll do the protein! Whatcha think?”

          2. Red Reader*

            That is, start with something fairly basic but flexible, people are bringing ingredients rather than dishes. Even the most kitchen-challenged can grab a tub of sour cream or a bag of chips or jar of salsa at the store.

            Also, speaking as the perpetual host – I feel you on the hosting, but also, unless you invite people over TO DINNER, it is also reasonable for you to not take responsibility for feeding them. Very little gets one off my invite list faster than waltzing into my house and asking me what’s for dinner when the invitation issued did not include food. :-P if you feel bad about that, a “Everyone feel free to BYO drinks and snacks, I’ll have fridge space and the microwave available for anyone what needs” covers your butt.

          3. ..Kat..*

            Email a list of what you want people to bring and ask people to sign up: chips and dip, napkins and silverware, something with chocolate, soda pop, etc.

    6. CatCat*

      * picnic in the park with friends
      * geocaching (basic app is free, it’s $30/year to upgrade, but you can have fun trying it out with the free version)
      * see what your library has to offer. My library has free events like lectures and movie screenings, it also offers free and steeply discounted tickets to local museums.
      * check your local government parks department to see if there are free events like concerts or movie night at the park
      * public pools. Ours are not free, but they’re very inexpensive.
      * potluck game night at home with friends

      1. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

        seconding geocaching! It’s a great way to see places you never would have discovered otherwise and I like that it gives you a goal.

        1. NeverNicky*

          Geocacher here too … and in fact hosting an event tomorrow at our holiday location so as well as seeing new places it’s a good way to meet new people too.

    7. nep*

      I’m headed out to grab a good coffee and sit in the park with my book. It helps that the sun’s coming out (after a cloudy morning) and it’s breezy and not too hot. Reading invariably puts me in a better mood.

    8. HannahS*

      Weekend festivals! Many cities have farmer’s markets, street markets, craft fairs, or small block parties on weekends. Sometimes museums have reduced admission on certain days or after certain times–one near me has free admission for the last hour that they’re open on weekdays. One public library system near me offers free passes to major and minor local museums, but very few people know about it. If you’re in a big city, it can be fun to check out a new neighbourhood. If you’re closer to the country, it can be fun to drive to local small towns, walk around and get ice cream.

    9. Jerry Vandesic*

      Free classical music concerts at the local music conservatory. There are over a thousand a year, covering many types of music, including many that don’t get much coverage by the local symphony.

    10. Nervous Accountant*

      I like catching up on my TV shows. I have a subscription to Netflix & hulu, so it’s not exactly “free”, it’s built in to my monthly budget. I also like to read a book…again, I buy books so not free. If you’re in to beauty etc, I also like to do at home face & hair masks. There are many recipes for masks made out of ingredients commonly found in the kitchen fridge/pantry.

    11. Moneyless*

      Thank you all for this extensive list of suggestions! I might print them out and make a “checklist” for this summer to ensure I never get bored. :-)

      1. Hnl123*

        -beach day! With bocce ball or frisbee or volleyball. (Can be in park)
        -bbq, in someone’s yard or park. We send out a group text asking people to bring different foods or drinks or games or tents
        – maybe a friend has a boat or other cool thing and turn it into a fun day?
        – lots of exercise places in my city offer the first class or first week free. Or some places have a regularly scheduled free class taught by the newbie teachers
        – go for a run with friends/ bike ride
        – spa day at home- bring nail polish, extra sheet masks, jars of Beauty products, etc and hang out with the girls
        – bake a bunch of cookies with friends (everyone brings a different ingredient)
        – window shop! :)

  15. Loopy*

    I HAVE A RIDICULOUS STORY. I promise it happened at work but is not about work.

    So, someone decided to play a prank on another coworker. It was bizarre and just got weirder. The prank was to leave a betta fish (in a tiny .5 gallon tank) hidden in the cubicle and the betta hider would text the person after they left- it was their last day so person would be stuck figuring out what to do with betta fish. Ha?

    ANYWAY, person found the betta fish long *before* the end of the day and knew exactly who had done it. So he called her over and proceeded to tell her he was going to eat the fish *alive* to get rid of it. I’m in the next cube over and know everyone so Im there in disbelief. He’s *joking* right? It’s a joke.

    Except he scoops the betta out into his hand and begins shaking his loosely closed fist to get the water off/stun the fish, maybe? I’m an animal lover and am SO HORRIFIED. Just my honest gut reaction caused him to put the fish back in the tank. So he then decides he’ll get rid of it by sticking it with me. He hands me the tank and declares it is now my fish.

    So the ride home was also a disaster due to forgetting about needing to cross a rather extensive set of train tracks that are a bit more raised than usual (very bumpy ride for poor fish). This fish is probably the most stressed fish there ever was.

    Fish is still alive and now I have a betta fish I have zero idea how to care for. I’ve never had any fish. But I’m so dedicated to giving this fish it’s best fish life, it’s ridiculous. Unfortunately, my quick Google search did not, in fact, make me an expert as I got a two gallon tank (too small) and a heater that has terrible reviews for over heating water. Fortunately the prank player did have a starter kit with dechlorination tabs and someone donated a live plant, and the 2 gallon tank came with a filter.

    Any fish/betta enthusiasts out there with advice? I joined a fish forum too, but I’m all ears on recommended products and ways to keep rescue fish alive.

    1. Loopy*

      Edit: when I said “It’s a joke” that was my self denial- should have said it MUST be a joke. I’m still undecided- but think there is a good chance fish may have actually gotten swallowed.

    2. Lilo*

      Wow, that is sick. I am so sorry.

      I had fish as a kid, and my best advice is to just look online and talk to your pet store. Betas really shouldn’t be kept in those little tanks a lot of people put them in.

      1. Loopy*

        Yeah, I was not going to keep him in the .5 gallon- not a chance. But I didn’t realize the 2 gallon was still really not enough. People in RL keep telling me I don’t need to do as much as I’m doing, yet the fish community online keeps telling me i need to do way more.

    3. Knotty Ferret*

      Bettas can be hardy little fish. Keep the temperature steady; in my experience, it was OK without a heater if the room temp stayed between 65-70F, which might be better than an overheating heater. You’ll also want to feed it the Betta specific food.
      And for what it’s worth – I think a prank that leaves some unsuspecting person with a living creature to care for is kind of awful!

      1. Loopy*

        I’m in the Southern US and our house is almost always around 75-78. So I feel a little better. I have the right food at least.

        People at work seemed surprised I took to the fish and ran out to buy it things, one commented “its a fish, not a dog” but I’m pretty attached to all living things being healthy and happy. Insects a little less, admittedly. I wont even own plants because I can’t keep them alive.

      2. Khlovia*

        This! Both people involved were *very* awful–the original prankster and the original victim who just fobbed the prank off onto Loopy, who was entirely innocent of any prankish intentions!

    4. Myrin*

      I’m scratching my head at this prank, tbh. Like. If it was Departing Person’s last day, they could just, you know, ignore the fish that has nothing to do with them? What even.

      But in any case, I laughed heartily at “the most stressed fish there ever was” although I of course feel for the poor thing. Good on you for taking care of it, that’s really lovely!

      In addition to Google and talking to a pet shop or local vet, I’m also a big fan of having One Book about how to treat a certain kind of animal. I find it very practical to have all the information you need in one physical place, but that might just be me.
      Another thing which might be a bit out there – my friend Elodie, who is a somewhat-known blogger, is a lover of animals and a lover of weird stories and also a biologist who knows a lot about both of them (she’s also a fan of betta fish in particular). If you happen to have a tumblr, you might want to contact her? (I could also put you in contact with her, if you’d like! I’m 100% positive she’d be all over this story.)

      1. Loopy*

        Yeah the prank seems puzzling to most because it wasn’t as if there was a “okay after he finds it, Ill take the fish back” sentiment. I have no idea what would have happened to fish has I not been around! I’ll probably not discuss it further here but clearly this is a situation someone would recognize easily!!

        Sadly I do not have a Tumblr D:

        1. Khlovia*

          I would devote the remainder of my tenure at that company to announcing every day to the original prankster how much that fish was costing me.

    5. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Thank you for taking the poor little guy in!

      I’m no expert, but bettas are pretty hardy and I’m sure he’ll put up with some beginner mistakes and be just fine. A basic 5 or 10 gallon (depending on who you ask) set up should do, and with a 10 gallon you could potentially add a few cory cats or something if you wanted to. The most important things are probably clean, warm water since they’re so prone to fin infections, a gentle filter that doesn’t create too much current, and no rough plastic plants. Java moss is a super low maintenance plant they like to hang out in. In addition to a betta pellet, they also love frozen or freeze dried bloodworms and brine shrimp.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! I need to get some additional plant/tank things. I really want to run right out again tonight but I’m trying to take it slower now and plan a little more thoroughly, and also not break the bank!!! So I’ll probably look for a used tank to start and accumulate nice things for it gradually. I do need a water test kit like… today though.

        I have the blood worms but they seem so big for my little fish. I was afraid he’d choke, if that makes sense? How to they swallow a whole worm? He’s a small little guy!

        1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

          They can definitely tackle worms that seem too big, either swallowing it like spaghetti or chewing it up for a while. It’s not a bad idea to skip feeding the next day though, since overfeeding can be an issue. You could also pinch off teeny bits if you prefer to avoid big meals.

    6. Beeray*

      As it sounds like you have figured out already you’ll probably want at least 5 gallon tank with a filter and heater in the long run. But he’ll be fine in the 2 gallon for now so don’t stress too much about it. You’ll want to look up “fish in tank cycle” to make sure you get the filter cycled (full of good bacteria). It can be tricky to keep a tank that small cycled though so that’s one reason to get a bigger tank. Get him a few plants (if they’re fake, go with silk, sometimes they can tear their fins on plastic plants). They also like to have hides, mine has a small jar and a cave made out of a coconut. Definitely buy a water testing kit. You’ll want to make sure the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in the tank don’t get too high. If they do get high just replace some of the water with new dechlorinated water. The test strips will also help you tell when the tank has cycled. Betta fish are really fun pets and I’m so glad you saved that little guy! My coworkers laugh at how much effort I put into his setup, but he’s so obviously happier than the fish I see in little bowls. I’ve even trained him to do little tricks to keep him stimulated, he’s got so much energy!

      1. Loopy*

        I’m most freaked out bout the tank being cycled/ammonia/nitrites/nitrates.

        I’m going to buy a test kit tonight. And someone on the fish suggested this prime stuff, so I plan on getting that. He has no hidey spot, so I’ll get that sooner (tonight probably).

        Right now he has plastic plants :( I was in such a rush on my first go round.

        It’s a tall tank rather than long, so I’m worried most plant things aren’t tall enough. I’ll have to browse petsmart very carefully.

    7. CatCat*

      Betta fish are really easy and fun! Thank you for saving the poor little guy! You’ve gotten some great advice. On cycling the tank, you can buy packets of “instant” cycle to help get the tank cycled. B

      1. Loopy*

        I think I have something like that? They came with a betta starter kit and are fizzy dechlorination tabs for up to 2 gallons. I’m most worried about if the levels are high when I test since he’s in the tank now.

        Can I add those tablets or conditioner to water with the fish in the water and not hurt the fish??? Do I have to take him out?

    8. Nicole76*

      I’ve had more than one Betta throughout the years although it’s been awhile since I had my last one. I kept him in a 2 gallon tank with a filter and he was fine so don’t worry too much about the size and heater. If you can swing getting something better in the future, that’s great, but he’s way better off than in the little bowls many people think are ok for Bettas.

      I got all my info from this site, by the way – http://www.bettatalk.com/

      Good luck, and thank you for taking care of the little guy!

    9. Canadian Natasha*

      I’ve had bettas a few times and the one thing I’d advise is to be very careful not to overfeed them. They will eat til they die if you keep giving them food (not too smart that way). They actually only need the amount of food the size of their eyeball, usually twice a day. Once a week or two you can give them a quarter of a fresh or defrosted green pea (not canned) which helps prevent constipation.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ve read that. To be very careful I’ve fed only once per day, and about 4-6 little pellets. I’m not sure if that’s even too much?

        I didn’t know that about the pea! That is a great tip!

        1. Canadian Natasha*

          Depends on the size of the pellets and the size of your fish, so I couldn’t say for sure. But that’s probably the top of the range for what you’d feed them so I wouldn’t do any more. Also, if you want to vary your betta’s diet a little you can try other treats once in a while: blanched vegetables cut in tiny pieces (cucumber or lettuce), freeze dried bloodworms (which are mosquito larvae), or broken-up pieces of freeze dried shrimp. My last betta was super picky and didn’t like any of the treats but I hear most bettas do. Don’t leave the veggies in the tank more than a day if not eaten or they mess up the water.

          1. Loopy*

            I put a freeze dried blood worm in yesterday and he seemed super interested! I’ve read skipping a day entirely can help digestion so I’m thinking of skipping sunday to offset any over feeding. He seems to be on the smaller side. So would maybe even skipping today and tomorrow offset any potential over feeding over the past two/three days?

            1. Canadian Natasha*

              I would probably avoid skipping multiple days in a row, but you could definitely skip once a week. I think I used to not otherwise feed my betta on the day he got the pea. That way he could just “clear it all out” so to speak on that day. ;)

    10. Bobstinacy*

      I’m so glad you saved the little guy!

      Betas are super tough, a lot of people that don’t know any better keep them in a litre of water with no heater and they’ll keep trucking for years in those miserable conditions.

      Which is to say I don’t think you should stress about having the perfect set up right away. Starting him off in a smaller tank with a few plants won’t do him any harm and you can work on getting other stuff together over a couple months. Betas love hidey holes, freeze dried shrimps, and lots of natural or silk plants to hide in and build bubble nests over.

      You’re an excellent person and I’m side eying your co-workers real hard for bringing a live animal into a prank.

      1. Loopy*

        I’m sooooo worried about being a bad betta owner, even unknowingly. I got some pretty bad advice about them being easy fish and thank goodness for the internet. I want a betta that’s happy, not just alive!

        I’m trying to formulate a right now list and I think an extra plant, hidey hole, water test kit and prime are what I need to keep him healthy. People say they have so much personality and can be super active when cared for correctly so I’m super determined to get there. Right now I think his tank is a bit dull for him.

    11. Book Lover*

      We did a 10l tank, be very careful with live plants because debris can rapidly make the water go bad. Change 20% of the water weekly, use betta drops in the water you are putting in and let the water sit a bit before you put it in. Make sure you clean the sides of the tank and disturb the rocks at the bottom a bit to clear them out. Don’t over feed and remove excess food to keep water clean. I like the moss balls and some people do snails to keep the sides clean. If you get fake plants of decoration (and I do recommend something fish can hide in) then make sure no sharp edges that can damage fish.

      If it survives the first week or so you should be good :)

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! What are betta drops? Is there a brand name you used? If he’s in his tank, do i remove him in a cup while I add anything to the water? I’m getting a test kit tonight, and if the levels are bad, I’ll want to act quickly, so I dont know if I should leave fish in a cup of the bad water, or just add prime/conditioner while he’s in.

        1. Book Lover*

          Betta aquarium conditioner. I think aqueon? Or topfin?

          We actually found he would move to the other side of the tank or into his submarine while we cleaned, so we didn’t move him out.

          I think you want to avoid shocking with sudden water changes, so you could take him out, put him in a bag, clean out your tank, put in the water, then put him in the tank in a bag and then let him out after a while. Ideally you would set the tank up a week in advance, but too late for that, of course. Another option is to just gradually change the water over – 20% at a time, maybe every few days, until you are where you need to be.

          1. Loopy*

            Okay! This is what Im planning on getting tonight. Sechem Prime was suggested to me and got insane positive reviews on Amazon. I’m quite eager to test/adjust the water levels so I’ll probably get the test and water stuff in an hour or two and have an update!

            The next tank I will for sure do the proper tank cycling prior to moving him. I didn’t even know about it when he got put into the 2 gallon But I do think having him in the .5 gallon while a new tank cycled would have pained both of us!

    12. Horrible Fish Owner*

      I used to have a betta fish growing up. I was HORRIBLE to it, and I still feel awful every time I think about it; my family is much better with caring for mammals, I assure you.

      Anyway this poor betta was kept in a small fishbowl with no live plants or oxygenation… I think we just gave it tap water. It got fed food flakes whenever someone happened to walk through the room and remember it was there. (I have no idea how it ended up in the side room or why we didn’t just move it to a central location for help.) Eventually someone would walk by and see the scuzzy water that was evaporating away and change it out. I dreaded doing this because of the smell, so I think my parents did that most of the time.

      It still made it a good 4 years.

      Bettas are tough as nails.

      1. Loopy*

        There are a lot of stories like this and honestly- a lot of bad info seems to be out there about betta care. Just last night I went to Petco and *asked* for a staff member who knew fish. I was told a one gallon bowl is absolutely fine and they dont like lots of water and he seemed miffed I even wanted a water test and said he wasn’t sure I needed it. Most others think I am taking his care waaaaay to extremes.

        Also, mammal care seems MUCH easier. I also have a dog. So easy if you put in the time. Fish are hard!!

    13. Loopy*

      OMG. For anyone still reading my fish saga: last night he CHANGED COLORS. Before he was a weirdly nondescript “dark” color. Like it wasn’t black, but it wasn’t quite a deep purple or navy. It was just…dark colored fish.

      Last night suddenly he’s a mix of what is clearly blue and this VIBRANT RED. I guess they are supposed to be vibrant, especially the males. And so it’s a sign they are doing better if they are more colorful. I was giddy. So giddy. He has colors now!!

      But also I spent an additional 60 dollars and did multiple water tests, a partial water change, and am really really bad at interpreting colors apparently. It was stressful.

      1. thecheapshot*

        I just want to say that I’ve had a very difficult morning and was feeling a little bit of despair about humanity and this whole thread has made me so happy. Loopy – you seem like a wonderful, caring person and I’m rooting for you and the fish!

  16. Flinty*

    Ok, the eternal flaky friends question:

    My friends almost never flake on me if we hang out 1-on-1 or in a group of 2-3, so I am reasonably sure they like me. But every time I try to plan a party where I invite a bunch of my friends from disparate friend groups, about 50% say yes and then I get a text within ~3 hours of the event canceling for one reason or another. But it seems like my 50% of my friends are not experiencing random unexpected problems at any given time because they almost never cancel individually. Is this normal, should I just expect that only 50% of my yeses will come? Anyone have any strategies to get yeses and nos that actually reflect attendance?

    1. Flinty*

      I should clarify that when I have a party, 50% of the people who said yes end up cancelling.

      1. Lora*

        For parties this is normal although will sometimes vary depending on whether there’s a bank holiday/long weekend/holiday where people travel sort of thing. I assume that about 1/3 – 1/2 of any given guest list will show up for an event no matter what they actually tell me.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I feel like this is pretty normal and I’d expect this will happen. It’s certainly happened to me, as well as other people I know. I think when it’s a party and there will be people they don’t know, people feel nervous about socializing. Sometimes they feel like there won’t be anyone to talk to. Some people hate larger groups. And the fact that there will be more people there I think makes people feel more OK with cancelling, like the host won’t notice as much. They just assume they won’t be missed because others will be there. But when you have a bunch of people that feel that way, that’s how you end up with only half your guest list showing up. (Sorry if I’m not making sense; I don’t seem to have the gift for words this morning.)

      1. Alli*

        My thing is, don’t most people already know this about themselves? A lot of events are organized on Facebook, and there’s literally a “maybe” RSVP option that would be perfect if you like the idea of an event but are not sure you’ll actually be up to it when the time comes.

        I have anxiety myself and have an assorted set of guidelines for myself that prevent me from being too much of a flake – I say maybe or probably not to most parties, since I know I rarely want to go to those when the time comes. If I do say yes, I basically never cancel unless it is a true emergency, because that sets a precedent for myself of taking the easy way out, BUT I don’t make myself stay more than 20 minutes if I’m not enjoying it. At least 50% of the time, I stay much longer because it ends up being lovely! I’m open to hearing other thoughts, but I think if it is a priority to someone to be non-flaky, it is usually possible to find a way to do it, and I find it frustrating when others seem to get stuck in this loop of “I’ll say yes because I want to be nice and then no at the last minute because I never actually wanted to do this thing.”

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I think most people know this about themselves, but they ignore it. They say “yes” because, like you said, they want to be nice. I used to be That Person. I wanted the host to think I was interested and didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so I’d say “yes” and then cancel last minute. I just couldn’t bring myself to say, “Eh, probably not. Parties aren’t my thing (and I’d rather be home snuggling with my cats).” It’s a crappy thing to do, so I’ve stopped doing it. I now give a firm yes or no, unless there really is some uncertainty due to something else going on I may have to attend to. And I realized how crappy it feels to have to deal with that as the host, as I’ve had it happen to me a lot, especially with one particular friend; she can’t be counted on to show up. Ever. (Maybe that’s why we don’t talk anymore?)

          1. Dan*

            And for introverts, we may not know ahead of time whether we will be “on” that evening or not.

            I’m not a flaker (as an introvert, I don’t get many invites!) But for large gatherings, I gotta get it. Smaller ones are different.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              I’m an introvert, too, and I’m often not “on” when the event rolls around. I have to go to a gender-reveal party today (cringe). I don’t want to go and I’ve been dreading it for a couple weeks, mostly because it’s my husband’s friend and his wife and I don’t really know the people, but I’m going. I said I would and I will.

          2. Lora*

            As a host, I gotta tell you it’s way, way nicer to just say No. That way I can buy food and drinks accordingly, and if there’s any event thing planned we’re not all hanging out waiting for you. First few times I hosted large-ish parties I had waaaaayyyyy too much food and beer because of all the people who said yes then flaked.

            1. ..Kat..*

              People did this for my WEDDING! I was annoyed. Our caterers took the excess food to a homeless shelter. Which was nice. I hope they enjoyed the fresh mangoes with coconut cream, the thai style chicken satay spears, etc. Actually, it made me smile to think of people who don’t have much in life enjoying our wedding feast. But, our reception would have been thousands of dollars cheaper if all the people who did not show had just RSVP’ed no.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I really like the technique where if you said you’d go, you go but give yourself permission to leave after 20 minutes. And a lot of the time you don’t want to leave. I’ve heard of a similar one with an intro/extro pair–the first few times I wanted to leave an event E was like “Okay. Let’s go.” Once it was clear that this was how E reacted, I relaxed and started staying longer.

        3. Nicole76*

          That reminds me of a friend I had in high school. My grandma once asked me why I wasn’t more like my friend and say yes to everything and just cancel or not go if when the date came I didn’t feel like it, and I said, “because that’s rude, grandma, and I don’t want to be that kind of person”. I totally get the desire not to go somewhere after committing to going, because I get that feeling more often than not even for things I really want to do, but I force myself and it usually turns out ok. At the very least, if things don’t go well it’s an interesting story to tell later (usually).

        4. LPUK*

          I have a similar approach. I don’t say yes unless I know at least 5 people at the party, so I know I can move around but always have a back-up if I am nervous about chatting with strangers. And once I’ve said I’ll go, I always go, because I would hate to be on the other side of that no-show, but I don’t always stay that long. On the other hand, I’ve never been brave enough to have my own party because I don’t have a lot of friend overlap and not that many friends in the local area, so i’m afraid that people won’t turn up ( I still remember my sisters 18th where only half a dozen people turned up and my sister got money back from the deposit my Dad put behind the bar, and the candle party she organised at my house, WHERE NOBODY CAME AT ALL, and we sat and made awkward chat over the snacks trays for an hour before I bought £200 of candles to stop my sister from doing so.) Turn up when you say you will people!

    3. Ann O.*

      I think people expect FB RSVPs for parties to be more like a statement of interest then an actual commitment, especially if there’s a large invite list. If you’re using FB, you could try switching back to something like Evite, which I find people take more seriously and treat like an old-fashioned RSVP. There will always be some last-minute yeses and some last-minute cancellations, but at least for me, I’ve found non-FB RSVPs are way more stable.

      If you’re already not using FB and this is happening consistently, then I’d say go with the “expect that only 50% of my yeses will come” and have a plan to get more food if required.

      1. ECHM*

        I don’t like to RSVP on FB because I’m afraid it will tell my friends that I am interested in the event, which is none of their business. Sometimes I will private message the person to let them know I am coming.

    4. Lindsay J*

      It’s dissapation of responsibility I think. Same reason why in first aid training they tell you to specifically single out someone to call 911/do whatever other thing. If you just should “call 911” everyone assumes someone else will do it, so nobody does.

      If I have plans specifically with you, I know that by canceling/no-showing, I am ruining the social event. You will get to have dinner and talk, or go to the beach with someone, or whatever it is you were planning on doing.

      However, when it’s a party, it’s easy to think that I won’t really be missed. I won’t be there, but Anna, Beth, and Cary will be. So there will still be a party and it will still be fun without me, and I’m not ruining anything.

      However, the problem is that I’m not the only person with the same mentality. So I skip and figure everyone else will be there. And Cary also skips because she figures everyone else will be there, and suddenly the party is half the size it was planned while everyone who stayed home thinks that they’re the only one who did so.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      It might have a little bit to do with disparate friend groups. Inviting a bunch of people who don’t know most of the other people there is tricky. There is a tendency for people to break up into the established friend groups, this can be awkward for outsiders.

      Personally, I enjoy full conversations and I am not much on scattered chatter. I get more out of a group of a few people than a mixed group of people who know or don’t know each other.

      What I would do is see if it’s the same people backing out at the last minute. These might be the people who would do a smaller group rather than a larger group. Be aware some folks think 6-8 people is a larger group.

    6. Traveling Teacher*

      It’s a sign of the times. These days, I only invite people who let their “yes be yes and their no be no” for something where I need a real headcount (dinner, birthday party, etc.). If my numbers are flexible, I sometimes invite the flakes, but not always.

      If people start to ask why you’ve stopped inviting them, then all you have to say is that you thought they wouldn’t enjoy it based on their past cancellations and you would never want to make them feel like they couldn’t turn you down directly. When I used that line, it actually had the effect of a couple of people apologizing for being flakey and giving me honest answers for future invites!

      As a case in point: I will have to bust this line out again, I’m afraid, because out of 4 kids who responded “yes” for my kid’s birthday party, one fell terribly ill and the parents cancelled in advance (poor kid!), while the other two mysteriously became “busy” fifteen minutes before the party started. Luckily, there was still one kid who showed up! The other two sets of parents are on my naughty list, though…

  17. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    Weekly running thread!

    So, to turn it on myself: I’m planning on applying to be a pacer for a marathon. (Even though I’ve done…exactly one marathon.) I’m curious if anyone else has had any experience with pacing – I’m a LITTLE wonky with running evenly (although I’ve gotten better at longer distances – my last half and full had pretty consistent splits for the parts I didn’t screw up).

    In other news:

    -Red, how’d it go Wednesday?
    -About the situation from last week: it’s a possible thing and I haven’t said anything (neither has he). Basically, I’ll just wait for him to bring it up.

    1. runner*

      I used a pacer group for a half one time and it was a great experience (for a BK half). The pacers (there were 2) were certainly comfortable with the pace and distance, so I suggest you pick a pace that is slower than your usual. They started slow and knew when we would speed up or not (hills) even though we were always within a certain pace range. It was nice to not have to worry about the pace, I felt I could just run (I can become a bit obsessed with the watch). Some people dropped out, some people wanted to finish a bit faster and the pacers told them ok now go, and I think everyone was happy.

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        The good thing is that I’m fairly fast (my marathon was sub-3), so I have a lot of flexibility! I was thinking of going in the 3:30 range or thereabouts, which should be comfortable for me.

        The one time I stayed with a pace group actually…kept me from falling apart. (NYC Half. With Brooklyn, I got separated from the pacer I was aiming to stay with, and I think he actually ran slightly faster than his goal pace, since my gun time was exactly his “goal time”. With the NJ Marathon, the fastest pacer was 3:00, so I was running ahead of him the entire race.) I mostly stayed with him, but I think that we did end up falling off a bit (like, I know I was almost a minute behind at the end, and 30 seconds off in Central Park).

        1. Emily*

          I wonder if running slightly faster than the goal pace is common with pacers?

          I’ve only done one half marathon, but I finished that one at 2:07 or 2:08, slightly behind the 2:10 pacer.

          1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

            I mean, probably within 30 seconds is fine, but 2 minutes is quite a ways off – the races I’ve done with pacers have had groups every 5 minutes (1:20, 1:25, so on), so that’s getting close to the next pace group. That said, I’m not sure whether your pacer just took the entire race fast or sped up at the end, and I guess that if you have to make an error in one direction, you’d probably want to go too fast.

    2. Red*

      It was f’ing HOT! Fun times though – the race was part of pride week so there were drag queens dressed as cheerleaders, people were so happy because of course they were it’s pride week, and it was a great walk. Wish I could’ve ran it, but weather is what it is lol

        1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

          …dude. The fact that you still went out and finished period is impressive!

          Also, drag queens as cheerleaders sounds AMAZING. And possibly like even more effort than running 3.1 miles in 90+ weather (I mean, for starters if you’re running/walking at least you don’t have to get dressed up, and you’re done in under an hour).

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        Good luck! You’ll do great! (I say this to a lot of people, but it’s still true.) Have fun, and definitely update!

    3. MotherRunner*

      Kicking around the idea of a full marathon. I’ve done 2 half’s and several 10, 15, and 20 ks, so it feels like the next step. I’ve been looking at training plans, but haven’t actually signed up for anything yet. The race I’m looking at is in December, so i have a little time to decide, and then i need to start building my base (I’m only running around 20 miles a week right now). Feel free to talk me into, or out of, doing this.

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

        You absolutely should give it a shot! Worst case scenario, the pain and stiffness will subside within three or four days after the race. :-)

      2. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        I was agonizing SO MUCH over the response because I read way too far into this comment, but…The Librarian’s right. I’d say go for it.

        To go more into detail, I think you’re definitely capable of doing it. You actually have a decent training base – you say you’re doing 20 miles per week, and that’s about the minimum recommended before considering stepping up to a marathon. (Usually, I’ve heard that you should already be running about three times a week, and 20 miles sounds like you’re running 3-4 times per week.) Most important, you’ve already run fairly long distances – you’ve run a couple of half marathons. So you have some idea of what you’re getting into.

        I think what caught me up on the second read was the phrasing, “so it feels like the next step.” So, I think that what you mean is that you want to try something new and you’re ready to go for a longer distance, which is great – definitely go for it in that case! (It is…an experience. And you get a fancy hunk of metal on a ribbon and sometimes a free beer out of the deal at the end) But I also think another reading (which I DON’T think you mean) is that…well, to be a Real Runner, you have to move up to the marathon eventually. Which I totally disagree with – if you’re ambivalent about your ability to go up in distance, don’t feel like you have to just to please whoever. I can say what I think (based off of what little you mentioned), but you know yourself better than I do.

        All that said, be smart, ramp up slowly (in your case, don’t add more than 2 miles/week), peak at around 35-50 miles/week, block out enough time to do your 20-miler, you’ll be fine if you only do a 20-miler I promise, so on and so forth. Basically, the usual advice.

        About the stuff I’ve learned: the main issue I had was not so much the actual running, it was finding the time to run. Like, I think my peak weeks (back in April), I spent…roughly 10-12 hours actually working out, and then on top of that showering and doing laundry and other things. On top of having my project at the Place We Don’t Mention On Weekends pick up. (As in, I did my 20-miler and went to the office afterwards.) But on the other hand, like – for me – I actually enjoyed a lot of the runs. On the days I was by myself, I just put on my headphones and cued up some music I was feeling. The group/team runs, obviously, we were suffering together and talking. And I don’t think I was really alone for most of my long runs. Basically, you also need to figure out what works for you – like, for example, I really dislike running much longer than an hour by myself because I get bored. Under an hour, though, I can do basically anything.

        And this turned into a total novel, but…basically, go for it, but know what you’re getting into. Good luck!

    4. ..Kat..*

      Ha, ha. I could only be a pacer for really slow people… who ended up using Lyft…and stopping at bars…

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

      I think it’s great that you want to be a pacer. I really admire people who can run consistently enough to be a pacer. In my last NJ Marathon I found the pacing group I was in to be incredibly helpful. And my father found them invaluable when he was running marathons.

      There was only the one weird pacer in one of the NYC Marathons I ran that led his group at FULL SPEED down the Queensboro Bridge and nearly bowled me over while I was trying to run a measured pace and conserve my energy. Like…what are you doing? Every other experience I’ve had with pacers has been positive.

      My gut feeling is that you probably should gain more marathon experience before being a pacer… but I might be off base. Either way, it’s cool that you’re thinking of it!

  18. Kali*

    I’ve finished my exams and I’m going on holiday on Tuesday, then moving at the end of the month!

    I saw A before the last exam and returned a book she’d loaned me. She gifted me another book, and I couldn’t figure out how not to accept it, so I ended up just saying ‘thank you’ and taking it. She followed me back to the group of classmates I’d been talking to, but I carried on the conversation by asking specific other people questions to continue conversations we’d been having before and just replying ‘yes’ or ‘I know’ to A. I also blocked her out a bit with body language. It felt mean. My goal is to have a polite but non-intimate relationship with her. Acquaintances and classmates, not friends.

    1. Thlayli*

      I must have missed your previous post about A. What did she do that was so awful you don’t want to include her in a conversation among classmates on your last day as a group?

        1. Thlayli*

          Wow She sounds like an absolute chore! I think you behaved perfectly and you shouldn’t feel mean at all.

    2. Sylvan*

      Sorry, I think I missed the background on this. What’s going on with A? Sounds like she wants to be friends, you don’t, and you’re kind of icing her out but not saying anything about the issue?

      1. Kali*

        I replied to Thlayli earlier, but my post was stuck in moderation for a while due to the link.

      2. Kali*

        Tbh, I’m still debating whether/what to say to her, but at this point in time, it’s still going “You’ve made it really clear that you think the things you say to me are acceptable and I disagree BUT ALSO YOU DID ALL THESE OTHER AWFUL THINGS AND I MUST LIST THEM ONE BY ONE”.

  19. Ann*

    What salad recipes do people like? I’ve been trying to eat healthier and now that it’s no longer winter (and we’ve got fresh vegetables in grocery stores as a result) I want to try incorporating more salads into my diet.

    I was also thinking that maybe grilling some vegetables or meat in advance might be fun? For example, I don’t like raw onions, but onions seared on the grill then added might be fun.

    1. WriteyWordy*

      I bought a salad cookbook called Salad Love to give me more ideas. One of my favourites so far is dark green leaves plus crumbled blue cheese plus walnuts and a balsamic dressing. Yum!

    2. Lilo*

      I am obsessed with chickpeas. I like to do salad with beets, chickpeas, pickled hot peppers, and spinach, as well as my standard bell pepper and cucumber. The canned stuff isn’t that expensive and stretches to several salads.

      1. Teach*

        Chickpeas with grape tomatoes and a few chopped toasted walnuts in a Dijon vinaigrette is amazing…one of my favorite lunch salads!

    3. Arrnanon*

      For full meal salads, I like to really go all in ( the most recent fine cooking issue basically lays the same thing out if you like physical instructions). So, usually I’ll pick a flavor theme (e.g. greek or whatever), a base leaf, sometimes an accent leaf (endive or frisse or something), a leafy herb, a few different veggies with a variety of crunch and color, a protein (beans, meat), a fat (cheese, olives, nuts), and a homemade dressing. It seems like a lot but if you do the prep in one go then any given day all you have is assembly and you can make slightly different salads each day, and the generosity of ingredients makes it feel more like an indulgence of produce rather than a sacrifice of some other type of meal.

    4. nep*

      I sometimes add roasted broccoli or roasted Brussels sprouts (in both cases cut up) to a salad. So good.

    5. ElspethGC*

      There’s this great pasta recipe that’s soft goat’s cheese, walnuts, and butternut squash roasted with sage that I adore and is light for summer, but I’ve had the same recipe with the pasta switched out for mixed salad or cous cous and it still works really well. Can’t go wrong with those three ingredients, IMO.

    6. Fenns Way*

      My new favorites are:
      – Greek salad but with added zucchini and chickpeas
      – Smitten kitchen’s avocado and cucumber salad (with added zucchini!)
      – Thai steak salad
      – Modified Cobb salad – green salad with kalamata, hard boiled egg and crab meat

      I also add nuts and seeds for crunch (I love pumpkin seeds or make spicy pepitas!), and fresh herbs to everything. Adding cilantro, basil, dill and/or fresh mint (or other herbs) completely changes a boring home salad!

    7. Max Kitty*

      Taste of Home has a couple of salad recipes we particularly like — Southwestern Steak Salad and Wilted Spinach Salad with Butternut Squash.

      We also like Buddha Bowls.

    8. Nicole76*

      A couple of my go-to combinations with or without chicken added:

      Pecans, strawberries, and poppyseed dressing
      Walnuts, apples, cheese, and ranch dressing

    9. Tris Prior*

      My go-to is: greens, some sort of crumbled cheese (blue, goat, Gorgonzola), lots of cherry tomatoes and mushrooms, a sprinkle of nuts, and balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing.

      Also good – mix cut up tomatoes, avocados, and corn in a bowl. Add some Dijon mustard and lemon juice to taste. I add black beans if I have any. Yum!

    10. HannahS*

      My favourite easy fancy salad:
      1 package of spinach or other dark green leaf
      1 handful of toasted almonds
      half a handful of berries or pomegranate seeds
      1 apple or pear, sliced
      a palmful of a salty cheese like feta, less if you use parmesan
      dressing of olive oil, a mild vinegar (like cider or wine), and salt and pepper

    11. Heckofabecca*

      Apples & honey: Greens, apple, dried cranberries, goat cheese, sunflower seeds/other crunch, honey-balsamic vinaigrette.

      Autumnal: Greens, Carrot strips (once you finish peeling the carrot, keep on peeling!), Dressing of choice, Crumbled goat cheese, Avocado chopped (coat in lemon juice to prevent browning if you’re not serving immediately), Dried cranberries, Sunflower seeds

      (Can you tell I hate tomatoes and cucumbers???) You could add chicken to any of these too!

    12. FrontRangeOy*

      Not “salad” exactly but lots of fun and opportunities for veggies:

      Cook a package of tortellini (comes either refrigerated or frozen) according to the directions.

      While that’s cooking, make a marinade of 1/2 C olive oil, the juice of one lemon, salt, pepper, and 1 bundle of basil (chopped finely).

      Also slice baby (“persian”) cucumbers into 1/4 inch discs.

      Toss cooked and drained pasta, cucumbers, and a 1 lb box of cherry tomatoes in the marinade. Eat as is or thread onto skewers. It tastes best if you let it sit for 24 hours before tucking in and will hold for 3 to 5 days.

  20. Thlayli*

    Mental health thread! I’m first one here this week. How are all y’all mentally ill people doing?

    This week I finally realised just how bad my depression is. The pills the doc gave me evened out my mood some, but they seriously messed with my sleep. I have barely slept in the last 2 months. So this week I got the doc to switch me to new pills (which are more than €40 a month sheeesh), which are not affecting my sleep as much. However they come with the lovely side effects of diarrhoea and suicidal thoughts! Yay!

    I talked to my counsellor, husband and bosses in work, and I’m going to drop down to 4 days a week for a month or two (while keeping the Childminder doing 5 days). Hope this helps. If nothing else I can sleep on my day off!

    The doc also told me that since this is my second bout of depression it recommended I stay on the pills for 2 years, by which time I will be 40. My husband and I both agree that we want another baby (this depression was triggered by a miscarriage) but that it would be a bad idea to get pregnant while on antidepressants. The doc says there are pills I can safely conceive on, but it’s more that we think we should wait till I’m all better. But since I’ll be at lest 40, that’s probably not going to happen. So it looks like we probably won’t have another baby. Which I’m pretty sad about. :(

    So it’s been a turbulent week for me. How you doing?

    1. foolofgrace*

      That’s a tough situation, I’m so sorry. Clinical depression is a very stubborn disease. I know because I’ve suffered from it for 30 years (my depression was triggered by having a baby, ironically, and I’ve been a single mom the whole time). Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that the depression is just going to magically lift one day and leave you medication-free. So you might have to find alternatives to meds (which never worked for me but some people have had success with yoga, meditation, etc.) for the short term while you are trying to conceive. Personally, I’d be afraid to have a child at 40 or later. Sorry I can’t be of any help.

      1. Thlayli*

        It’s more that we think it’s a bad idea to even try to have another baby while I’m depressed, not just that the meds don’t allow conception.

        I had it before and totally snapped out of it – went on the pills, felt back to myself in 2 weeks, stayed on pills for 6 months, came off them no probs. I assumed (wrongly) it would be as easy this time round.

        It must be so tough being a single mother. My DH was away for work for 6 months and I barely coped! I can’t imagine doing it full time you have my utmost respect.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      Sorry to hear that your week’s been rough.

      It was a little difficult for me at the beginning of the week. I had dinner with friends of my parents on Sunday after having missed their first invitation (I don’t check my phone a lot, sometimes I don’t even check it daily). It was nice but I spent the day of the dinner feeling stressed out. The very next day, my neighbours from down the road stopped by and invited me around for drinks. I felt like I couldn’t say no because they’ve helped me out in the past and there’s really only so many times I can keep saying no to social things before it’s just rude. I went and I had a good time but I left at 11.30 and felt awful the next day.

      I took the day off from work (I work for myself so this isn’t a problem) and really focused on recharging my batteries and I’m so, so glad I did.

      I get so worked up and anxious over dinner with people, or meeting people. I really don’t like spending my time with people in social settings. I don’t know why. I always need time to recover afterwards. I think the problems this week were exacerbated by the fact that I haven’t had a weekend to myself for a long time and I was beginning to feel the strain.

      I’m happy that I recognised it this time and took Thursday off. I also have the weekend to myself so hopefully I’ll be back to normal next week.

      1. Thlayli*

        Hope you do feel better soon. I’m really hoping dropping to a 4-day week will help me recharge.

    3. Red*

      I’m not doing well. I’m still depressed from having missed some doses of my medication, and I’m still thinking of hurting myself. Thank the stars it’s summer or I already would have. I just need 5 freaking seconds of mot feeling this way, you know? I’m just trying to remind myself that this is temporary and the medications will start to work again. I have a therapist appointment next week and I am honestly just relieved, despite usually hating them.

    4. Sherm*

      My aunt had 2 kids when she was in her 40s, and this was before there was any hint of IVF!

      Been kind of the worst-of-times/best-of-times for me. I was avoiding my anxieties for quite some time, but that just made them stronger and stronger…until last weekend when they blew down my wall as if it was made of straw. Now I have these huge beasts roaring at me. At least confronting them is a positive direction, hence the best-of-times.

      I also think it’s time to go back on Prozac. I’ve been on it 4 times, each time brining wonderful changes, but often eventually bringing some TMI side effects. I think a regular on-again, off-again pattern can help.

      1. Thlayli*

        I suppose never say never re having more kids!

        I hope you get some relief from the anxiety, whether from Prozac or not.

    5. Jules the First*

      Doing better this week but still working too hard which leaves not enough spoons to have a life. Have come to the conclusion that NewJob is stressful enough that I need to put the baby plans on hold and start seeing a human therapist again (as opposed to equine therapy, which has been working) but it’s been long enough that I need to find one from scratch and that’s a big enough and scary enough task that I’m avoiding instead.

      Sending good vibes to y’all, and wanted to say thanks for this thread…it’s very nice to know I’m not the only one who struggles.

    6. Thursday Next*

      Hi Thlayli, Wow, what a rough situation. Hugs if you want them. Depression + work + parenting is a tough load to balance. It sounds like you made a good plan with your therapist and work—good for you!

      1. Thlayli*

        Thanks Thursday. I’m really glad my work was so good about it – they were basically like “whatever you need”. Of course it’s not costing them anything since it’s essentially unpaid leave, but it’s still nice.

    7. Lindsay J*

      Had a pretty bad week the other week. I had texted my mom, and she accidentally called me when she looked at the text. She was out with her friends, they all sounded drunk, and they were laughing at me and my message. That sent me into a not great place for a couple days.

      I’m sort of icing her out at the moment. She texted me back and I wound up responding when she sent one of her “at least let me know you’re alive” messages. I don’t think she knows that the call actually connected and that I heard her. I don’t know if I should address it, or how. Or if I should just let things lay the way they are. We’re not close. We’ve never been close. I see them like once a year, and we text every couple weeks otherwise. And I live half the country away from them for a reason.

      I went to my psych appointment on Tuesday. My blood pressure is under control with meds, so they let me have stimulant meds again. They switched me from regular adderall to extended release, and we’re working on finding the right dosage. I’ve only been on it for a couple days, but I’m hoping that it will help with keeping an even level of medicine throughout the day, rather than before where I could either take just the one pill in the morning and crash by mid afternoon. Or I could take a second dose just a few hours after the first dose but then have more issues with being able to fall asleep and stay asleep than I already do.

      Either the extended release is significantly more expensive, or my insurance didn’t cover it (the doctor said they might because of the way she wrote the prescription because since we’re figuring out dosage I’m taking up to 3 1omg pills a day and they might think it’s really a 90 day prescription and not a 30 day) and the pharmacist didn’t tell me.

      I’m thinking I would like to try seeing a therapist again, but my job is now 70% travel with an inconsistent schedule which will make a regular appointment difficult. I’m thinking of trying one of the online services, but I also kind of liked that going to the therapist was at least actual one-on-one human contact where I could see someone actually focused on and listening to me, and I’m not sure whether texting or video calls can replace that sense of it.

      1. Thlayli*

        Oh that’s awful about your mom. Poor you.

        I don’t know how online therapy works – is it a video call? I think a phone call session might work better for me than video for some reason, and I’m sure texting would do nothing for me. If you previously worked with a therapist you liked do you think that therapist would be willing to do face to fave sessions in weeks you’re at home and phone sessions when travelling?

        1. Lindsay J*

          I’ve seen both options. Some do video calls, some do texting and possibly a short phone call to go with the texting.

          I’ve never really seen a therapist long term. I’ve started a few times but then either decided I didn’t click with them or ran into issues with insurance/affording payments etc before we could really get into things.

          1. Thlayli*

            Counselling is really important for depression isn’t it? I found the counselling really useful last time and this time round. I was told the pills regulate your mood enough to give you a chance to solve it – but the pills alone won’t cure you. The counselling and dealing with the issues that caused the depression is what cures it, the doc and counsellor both told me that. So IMO if you’re depressed the number 1 priority is getting drugs to treat the symptoms and allow you to live normally, but the number 2 priority is getting counselling to treat the cause, so eventually you don’t need drugs any more.

            However for me the depression was caused by life events – it Wasn’t just medical, so maybe you have a different type of depression that wouldn’t be helped by counselling, I dunno.

            It is also really important to find a counsellor and a style of counselling that suits you, which unfortunately can take time. Maybe do some research into styles and types first.

            Good luck, I hope you find a therapist that can work with your schedule.

            1. Thlayli*

              Obv this is just related to your depression – not sure how it would interact with whatever the aderall is for (adhd?).

              But it sounds like you definitely have issues with your family so I think seeing a counsellor would absolutely help with that at least.

            2. foolofgrace*

              There’s depression caused by life events, and then there’s clinical depression caused by levels of chemicals in the brain. Counseling helps just about anyone, but if you have clinical depression, counseling alone isn’t going to cut it for you. I’ve been thru most of the antidepressant meds and have finally found a combo that works for me — there are new meds out there that weren’t available even 10 years ago. Although I’ve been in therapy off and on for most of my adult life, I’m in a place now where it’s just the meds and I’m doing fine — knock wood. Situations still get me down but I don’t crumble and fold the way I used to. However, it can take quite a bit of trial and error to find a med combo that works for you.

      2. Thlayli*

        Oh that’s awful about your mom. Poor you.

        I don’t know how online therapy works – is it a video call? I think a phone call session might work better for me than video for some reason, and I’m sure texting would do nothing for me. If you previously worked with a therpist you liked do you think that therapist would be willing to do face to fave sessions in weeks you’re at home and phone sessions when travelling?

    8. Lindsay J*

      What would they recommend or what would you do if you found that you could never be not-depressed without anti-depressants?

      Like, I’ve been depressed, pretty steadily, since I was 12 or so. I’m now 32 and it doesn’t really show any sign of ever fully going away. I know there are plenty of other people with similar experiences. And I wonder what the recommendation would be there where there’s not a thought of “well maybe in two years the situation will solve itself”.

      Honestly, being depressed is one of the reasons I’ve never really considered having kids – because I feel like I can’t take care of myself, physically or emotionally, so how could I take care of and nurture another living being. Now that I’ve at least got a handle on being able to function to at least the minimal level needed, (and the biological clock is ticking) I’ve been wondering about whether I could do it, and whether I would want to do it (and whether I would want to risk having a kid with probably a pretty high likeliness of mental illness since my boyfriend and I both do).

      But then plenty of people have kids all the time while still depressed, etc, and it works out for at least a percentage of them. So I don’t know.

      1. Thlayli*

        My doc told me if I want another baby in a few months I can go for it. He says he can put me on one of the antidepressants that is safe to take in pregnancy, or even take me off and just see if I get depressed again. He was like “it’s just guidelines”.

        It’s really me and my husband who have decided we don’t want to risk it. We are lucky enough to have two living kids already though – I would probably feel different about trying for another if I wasn’t already a parent.

        1. Thlayli*

          Also it may interest you to know that a friend of mine who was on antidepressants since her teens had a baby a few years ago and seems to be doing great.

          1. Thlayli*

            Although… neither of us has a partner with a mental illness, so I guess that’s a different kettle of fish.

            Obv I don’t know what your partners situation is but I think you’d need to seriously consider what are the odds of you both having a low period at the same time and how that would be for a baby or for the child when they are older. Maybe you would need to arrange having some backup support of some kind in place for a child, though I’m not sure how that would work.

    9. Anon because mental health*

      I finally got myself to a psychologist for ADHD testing. Results? According to the psych, I do have executive dysfunction issues, but “probably not ADHD”. Was also advised to figure out why I’m not “motivated” to fix certain bad habits or poor sleep habits, and that I’m just “choosing” to not do them.

      Sure, fine, buddy. I’ve spent $$ to figure out why in heck I can’t keep to a schedule or get things done like normal people, I’m in trouble at work for being late, I’m terrified of losing my job, but sure, I guess I’m not “motivated” enough.

      1. Emily*

        That sounds super frustrating and dismissive! I hope you can find a better psych or find a way to work with this one to figure out something more helpful (an alternative diagnosis, symptom management strategies, whatever).

    10. Julia*

      I’m surprisingly okay these days, considering my thesis is due in a week, which leaves me wondering if I’ll crash afterwards. But I’ve got a fun project lined up and will finally have time to go see some friends again, so maybe not?

      Anyway, I’m surprised your doctor said you should be on the same meds for two years. I tend to get situational anxiety and depression, and my last doctor said to take some pills for six months. I took them for a year (mostly because they helped me sleep), then went off in March and feel fine. Can you ask your doctor again?

      1. Thlayli*

        The doc told me that the first hour of depression they recommend staying in the meds for 6 months but the second time the recommendation is 2 years. He said its just guidelines though and if I want to I can come off them after a year – he said he definitely wouldn’t recommend coming off them in the run up to winter though!

        1. Julia*

          I see. Mine was at least the second run, and I told the new doctor that, but maybe her guidelines were different? (This was in Germany.) You’re probably right about winter, but I hope you can get off next spring and have the baby you want.

    11. Janeitenoir*

      Today….not good. Anxiety is really high, and I’ve been having compulsions all morning. I’m finally getting in to see an OCD specialist on Wednesday, and I am terrified that she’ll tell me my obsession is true and I don’t have OCD, even though I think I fit all the symptoms and I’ve taken tests from the various centers that indicate it’s highly likely. I just want the fear to end.

  21. nep*

    WordPress question: Anyone have favourite writing-portfolio plugins?
    I’ve got some articles featured on my website–a grid of clickable photo thumbnails with headlines under them. I’m not thrilled with how it looks, though. Just looks a little plain and amateurish. (I am more or less a WP newbie but I’m doing all I can so my website doesn’t scream NEWBIE.) I’m looking for a plugin that lets me put a headline and a little blurb under the feature photo. I’m going to play around and experiment with some today. Recommendations welcome.

    1. LilySparrow*

      Don’t have a plugin recommendation, but I use the Optimizer theme (free version) on my blog and it comes with a selection of widgets you can embed. One is a row of blocks that contain an image plus a headline and/or a block of text. You can add multiple rows to build a gallery grid. You can check it out at optimizerwp dot com. But of course, that would mean installing a new theme that would change the overall look of your site.

      If you see a site you like you can use the “inspect element” function or “show code” in your browser. You may be able to ID the theme, plugin, or widget that’s being used.

      1. LilySparrow*

        I was actually just looking up something else for a friend, and there’s a free theme called “Bard Blog” that has a very slick gallery layout. Worth looking at.

  22. SparklingStars*

    Currently dealing with tendonitis in both arms (yard-work induced) . It’s been about 3 weeks now and there’s really not much improvement. I’ve been using various splints to immobolize my wrists and elbows, and putting heat on my arms a couple of times a day. I know that tendons take a long time to heal, but I’m wondering if I should go to the doctor or just give it a bit more time. I’ve seen various advice on how long to wait before going to the doctor ; the Mayo Clinic website says 4 to 6 weeks of home care should work in most cases. Any one else ever been through this before?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’d give it more time. I’ve had it in my wrists several times, and it just takes time to heal. Resting is the best thing for the area affected, and it sounds like you’re doing that.

    2. Lilo*

      I’d note for me, there was a definite correlation between times when I was stressed and when my wrist would go out. So try to take care of yourself in other ways (reducing stress) to try to help your tendons. Worst case scenario, you just engaged in some extra self care.

      1. nep*

        So glad to hear this mentioned. The connection between stress and pain is real, and it’s often overlooked.

    3. London Calling*

      Yes, in my right shoulder and I sympathise, it’s agonising. I couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment so I went private and they shrugged and said ‘Painkillers,’ which was what I resorted to. Not ideal, because you are only supposed to take those for three days. It does go eventually.

    4. foolofgrace*

      Self-diagnosis can be dangerous. Personally, I’d go see a doctor to rule out anything else, and who knows, you might have something treatable.

    5. Thumbcat*

      If there’s no improvement after 3 weeks, I would go to the doctor. They might just say “yup, tendonitis” but perhaps give you advice on splinting differently, or some antiinflamatory meds. Tendons and ligaments can take months to heal!

    6. BeeJiddy*

      When I was diagnosed with tendonitis in both wrists I was referred to a physiotherapist, and it helped a lot. Though I took it easy for a long while after, I was pain-free in less than a fortnight. He used heat and performed stretching exercises on my forearms and wrists. This may not be an option for you, but if it is I recommend it.

    7. fposte*

      I highly recommend a physio. Total rest isn’t always the best thing for tendinitis–sometimes you can help the tendons heal faster and encourage them to heal stronger with exercise. (For me pushups were key to improving my tennis elbow.)

    8. Three Pines Visitor*

      My experience is six weeks for it to go away. I took antinflammatories but I’m not convinced they did anything but make me loopy; not repeating the piano practice/yard work/trying to revise a 70K-word ms in one week probably did the trick.

      IANAP, but I suspect it’s like treating a cold; if you take cold medicine, you’ll get over it in about 21 days. If you don’t take any cold medicine, you’ll get over it in about three weeks.

    9. Cat Person*

      My experience is that it takes a long time. Once time my dr. gave me arthrotec (painkiller) and it was like a miracle. I was at least able to lift my arms to get dressed without having to crawl my fingers up the wall. Don’t not do anything though – you need to keep the limbs moving to help them heal. Gentle movements. See the dr. if OTC pain meds aren’t helping. Sometimes you just need relief from the pain to help you move.

    10. Thursday Next*

      You might see more relief from ice rather than heat; it’ll help more with the inflammation. And ibuprofen, in scheduled doses if that’s okay for you, has helped me. (In other words, every 6-8 hours, for, say, five days or so, rather than taking it on an ad hoc basis.)

  23. The Other Dawn*

    I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. While it was fun, I really could use a couple days in a row to relax.

    Sunday I drove to NY to pick up my sister, then drove to Cleveland Monday to see Def Leppard and Journey that night, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Tuesday with some casino time mixed in, then back to NY Wednesday and then home. Yes, I drove all the way home to CT from Cleveland in one day. My back was actually pretty good that day, but I definitely felt it Thursday! Thursday was trips to Home Depot, laundry, groceries, etc. Yesterday was a crap load of yard work: husband showed me how to mow the lawn with the tractor, so that was fun (I don’t think he liked my mowing pattern–crazy eights LOL); used the push mower for the front and side lawn (met my step goal!); got two pickup truck loads of soil for my raised bed garden; bought some plants; and then more trips to Home Depot. Today is a gender-reveal party–UGH–and then we need to stop by the old house to fix something. Tenant says the gauge on the oil tank is stuck. Hopefully that won’t take long. And then tomorrow it’s a final grocery trip and some meal prep for the week. And when I get back to work on Monday, the auditors will be there so the next two weeks are going to be jam-packed.

    Even though I need more time off, I’m really looking forward to getting my eating back on track and being in that routine.

    And here’s my vent for today: My sister…UGH. She’s a junk food junkie. She basically lives on a handful of this and a handful of that, supplemented by lots of coffee and cigarettes (let’s not talk about the smoking, please). She hardly ever sits down for a meal. And she has a small appetite on top of this. Part of that is just the way she is, and part of it is working in the hospitality industry where she plans and runs banquets, which means on a banquet day (very frequent during the spring. summer and fall) she doesn’t usually have time for a meal, so she just grabs whatever, whenever. It was such a pain in the ass this week. Our eating habits are so far in the opposite direction of each other! She made dinner on Sunday night, so there’s one real meal. Monday we left early so it was a breakfast sandwich at the local gas station/mini-mart, which was actually quite good–they make them on-demand. Snacks all day while traveling. Nothing before the concert and just some popcorn during the show. We had a fast food meal after the show, since that’s all that was open. I’m really happy I’d ordered a breakfast burrito and saved half of it, because she got up super late the next day and wasn’t ready to eat until about two hours later. (Probably because she filled up on coffee, candy, and snack mix I made.) I ended up eating my half a burrito. She finally went to the coffee shop and got a sandwich, and I, of course, wasn’t hungry by then. She didn’t want lunch, just coffee and cookies. I ended up with a cheese and grape snack cup they were selling at the Hall of Fame. She wasn’t anywhere near ready for dinner so we hit the casino around 6 pm. Finally she was ready at 8:30 pm, so we went back to the same fast food place and I got another breakfast burrito, knowing that the next day there likely wouldn’t be breakfast again (I was right!) and could eat the second half of it. I was dead tired at that point (was working on three crappy hours of sleep due to the ringing in my ears from the concert, a strange bed, and AC making it humid in the room) and didn’t want to go with the original plan, which was to walk over to Wahlburger’s. No meals on the way home from Cleveland, either. So she basically ate those jelly orange slices (candy), my homemade snack mix, brownies, a small box of donuts (Wednesday), drank tons of coffee and smoked a lot of cigarettes from Sunday to Wednesday. Almost no water at all. I seriously don’t know how she survives. It was the running joke all week. So happy I thought to bring some protein bars, bananas, and celery and hummus with me.

    1. LAMM*

      As someone who (on busy days) runs on cigarettes and Diet Cokes, you have my sympathies.

      I’m also a snacker due to work, bit when I’m with other people I try to remember that, yes most people require regular meals. And just because my lunch isn’t typically until 1-2pm and dinner 7 or 8pm, doesn’t mean that everyone is the same. When you work with people who have the same eating habits as you it’s hard to remember sometimes that a lot of people do not operate the same way.

      On a (maybe?) similar note, last time I went on vacation with my family to the west coast, I intentionally did not try and adjust to the local time zone due to the short length of the trip. And I had to keep reminding my family (who’s home time zone is an hour behind mine), that I needed to eat an hour before when they typically did.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        It was definitely a fundamental mismatch between our eating habits. Same thing happened when I went to CA with my cousin last year. My cousin is a late riser to start with, but then she needs to take thyroid meds when she gets up, and then she can’t eat for two hours. All week long, she was eating breakfast when I was coming back to the room during my lunch break (I was at a three-day conference for work). Then by the time I was done with the conference for the day, I was ready for dinner and quite hungry. She wasn’t hungry for dinner because of a very late breakfast and then filling up on tea and junk food all day while I was gone. Dinner tended to be around 8:00 or so, which is really late for me. At least she wanted actual meals. My sister hardly ever eats a meal, even when she’s not working. I’m definitely a three-meals-a-day person. And what adds to the mismatch is that I had weight loss surgery, so my stomach empties a lot faster than people who haven’t had surgery, which means if I’m not drinking water, I’m usually wanting to eat. There’s no such thing (anymore) as eating a huge breakfast and not being hungry until dinner time; I really miss that.

  24. Monica*

    Warning: Family drama ahead…

    I have two brothers, both younger than me. We’ll call them Chandler (3 years my junior; still lives with my parents) and Ross (10 years my junior, moved out about 2-3 years ago). For context, I’m a married female in my forties.

    When Ross was born I was old enough to babysit, so I spent a lot of time with him as he grew up. I moved out when I was 22 and he was 12. I still came over for holidays and whatnot, but he took it very personally when I left. Every few years he’ll bemoan the fact that we don’t have a close relationship and talk about how much it hurt him when I moved out. I’ve already apologized to him more than once and explained it wasn’t personal so I’m not sure why it keeps coming up.

    My issue is Ross has never seemed to care much about me as a person, just as a sounding board and someone to hang out with when it suits him.

    When we were younger, I tried not to let it bother me since we were at different milestones in our lives. For instance, when I purchased my first car all he did was complain how he wished he had a new car (even though he was 15 at the time and didn’t even have a license yet).

    When I purchased my home, he also didn’t show any interest and changed the subject to talk about new t-shirts he had purchased. Since he was 18 at the time I chalked it up to immaturity and figured as we grew older our relationship would become more balanced, but that hasn’t happened.

    Whenever Ross goes on vacation I always show interest in where he went and ask lots of questions, but when I go somewhere he can’t even be bothered to ask if I had fun. And god forbid my parents ask to see photos or videos. I’ll be in the middle of showing them on my phone when Ross will pull up something on his phone and start playing a really loud video to show Chandler at the same time.

    One year (approximately a decade ago), I invited my family to dinner at a restaurant for my stepson’s birthday. My parents and Chandler arrived together and when I asked whether Ross was coming they just shrugged their shoulders. I called him and he didn’t answer, so I left a message. He never called me back.

    Approximately a month and a half later I was at my parents and we were all playing a game. Ross made some flippant remark about how I was being rude and I replied “not as rude as when you didn’t show up for stepson’s party” and the shit hit the fan. He literally started screaming at me about how he has depression (as do I, actually) and he ended up punching the wall in the hallway. My mom kicked me out of the house for starting an argument. I guess technically that was true, but did I not have a right to say anything? Had he called me back I would have mentioned it then, and since he lived at home I couldn’t help “starting sh*t” in my mom’s house (as she put it). I could have been more mature about how I brought it up, yes, but I hadn’t even planned on saying anything until his comment rubbed me the wrong way. In any case, Ross and I ended up not talking for approximately a year after that incident.

    Since then we get along mostly because I don’t call him out on his sh*t. I usually just ignore his rude comments (which he tries to play off as jokes) and try not to let it bother me that he shows zero interest in my life but it’s been really hard.

    A couple of years ago we attended a pool party for Ross’ girlfriend’s birthday the day after I saw my favorite band in concert. She was so sweet asking me all about it (I didn’t bring it up since it was her day) but Ross didn’t say a word to me about it even though he actually likes the band too (although not nearly as much as I do).

    Also, whenever my husband and I would visit my parents (when Ross still lived there), he’d often act aloof. Sometimes we’d be there when he got home and he’d walk right past the kitchen where we all were sitting without acknowledging us at all. More than once he would go to his room, come back out some time later, and leave the house without saying a word. It really hurt my feelings but I never said anything to him about it.

    Ross purchased a house last fall and I was very excited for him and to see his new place. I ended up giving him and his girlfriend $200 in gifts. He said how overwhelmed he felt (in a good way) that my husband and I were the only ones in the family who showed any enthusiasm for this major life event. One of Ross’ biggest gripes about our mother is how uninterested she’ll see when you are excited about something, so I’ve always made a point to show excitement for the things my friends and family find important, but Ross doesn’t do that. It’s ironic that he’s more like my mother than he realizes.

    I bought a new car around the same time Ross bought his house which I was pretty excited about but I didn’t bring it up around him for fear of “talking away his thunder”. It was my first new car since the one Ross b*tched about when he was 15, in fact. When we were out to dinner, his girlfriend showed interest in my new car, however, so I decided to say something to him about his lack thereof by remarking, as he sat there not really paying attention, “pretend you’re excited for me” and he literally feigned interest for about a minute and then changed the subject.

    Fast forward to about a month before Christmas and I asked Ross whether we were exchanging gifts since I had already gotten him something and he said with the recent house purchase he was feeling strapped so he hadn’t planned on exchanging. I told him the only thing I had gotten thus far didn’t cost much so not to worry about it.

    Christmas came along and Ross gave me a bunch of dollar store candles. Ok, at least he tried (I do like candles even though unfortunately the dollar store ones are not very fragrant).

    In January we (Ross, Chandler, me, and husband) hung out at my house. During the course of conversation Ross mentioned how he bought a PS4 on Black Friday. The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me that he didn’t buy Christmas presents for anyone (except the candles) even though he received gifts from everyone, yet bought stuff for himself. Still, I said nothing.

    When Ross’ birthday came around in February I texted him birthday wishes and asked what he was doing for his special day. He said he had nothing planned. I remarked it sounded like my weekend but he didn’t reply.

    A month went by and I didn’t hear from him at all. Full disclousure – he’s been dealing with some health issues (a chronic illness he was diagnosed with last year), so I texted him “haven’t heard from you in awhile, is everything ok?” and didn’t get a response. I texted him again the next day. Nothing. I texted two more days in a row. I’ve yet to get a response.

    In the meantime I’ve learned (via my mom) that Ross hasn’t been working since around February or so, making his silence even more perplexing since his excuse in the past for not replying to my texts was that he was too busy. He has also invited Chandler over to spend time at his house 2-3 times between February and present day.

    Since we haven’t argued, I don’t understand why Ross hasn’t made any effort to contact me in months.

    During one of his earlier visits, Chandler asked Ross why he hadn’t replied to my texts and Ross claimed to have not gotten them, but then added, “I think she’s holding a grudge against me”. That makes no sense in that context if he supposedly didn’t know I had tried to contact him, right? I don’t believe he didn’t receive any of my texts either. I could see maybe one not going through but not all four on four separate days.

    Chandler also let slip that Ross said something recently about how I can’t seem to compromise, but Chandler wouldn’t elaborate and quickly changed the subject. He doesn’t want to get in the middle, so I haven’t pressed him for more details.

    If I had to take a guess, I think the compromise remark is in regards to the fact that I prefer texting while Ross prefers talking on the phone. However, in the past whenever he’d rather talk, he’d either call me in response to a text, or ask if we could chat on the phone and we’d coordinate a time to speak. Personally, I really don’t like talking with Ross on the phone because he dominates the entire conversation (which he also does in person; and his eyes glaze over whenever anyone but him is talking), yet I’d still do it whenever he’d ask. How is that not willing to compromise? If anything, his refusal to text me back is him not willing to compromise.

    It should also be noted that Chandler refuses to talk on the phone, so Ross texts him. So basically Ross is holding me to a higher/different standard than my brother for some reason. Chandler even said that sometimes Ross will send him really long rambling texts too.

    Oh, and Chandler told me that more than once over the years Ross has complained how Chandler and I seem to have a closer bond than Ross and I do. Maybe because Chandler doesn’t ignore me until it suits him like Ross does? He also asks me what’s been going on in my life but for Ross it’s all Ross all the time which can get infuriating after awhile.

    I’m really hurt that I keep trying to have a relationship with Ross while he makes very little effort to have one with me. I’d chalk it up to the fact that he just doesn’t want a relationship with me (since that’s what his actions certainly indicate) if it weren’t for the remarks he makes about craving a closer bond. I’m just tired of putting in the effort, you know?

    Does it make me a bad person if I refuse to give in and call him (assuming that’s what this is all about)? He’s my brother, I love him and always will, but I’m so sick of taking the high road. No one in the family can talk to him about his behavior without him pulling out the health card either. The thing is, that’s not a valid excuse for treating people like crap.

    I wish I knew how to not let this bother me; I’ve been strewing over it more and more as time goes on. I keep thinking about all the selfish and self-centered things Ross has done over the past 20+ years and it makes me angrier and angrier. Not just at him, but at myself too for not calling him out on it. In some ways it’s my fault it’s gone on this long because I kept my mouth shut in an effort to keep the peace and effectively trained him to think it was ok to treat me the way he has. I have a problem with confrontation in general because my family is really good at turning things around and trying to make you feel like an a$$hole for even pointing out something they’ve done that is inconsiderate. I consider myself a very fair person and if I’ve been an a$$ I will own up to it. Not them.

    I’m finding it difficult to focus on things that make me happy lately because I’m ruminating over how unfairly my brother has been acting and mourning a relationship we never even had. Needless to say it’s negatively affecting my emotional well-being which is why I hope getting it out here might help.

    How do I make peace with the fact that Ross will never be the brother I want and just let it go?

    1. Lilo*

      So I think in some ways, you’re still operating at a paradigm that was created when you were children and you were much older. The stuff you talk about with him at 15 and 18 and so on, that makes sense – he was an immature teenager.

      But at some point you both became adults, and he was no longer significantly less mature than you, but the dynamic is still that he’s the bratty kid and you’re the adult in the relationship.

      My oldest brother and I actually went through a rough transition between child dynamic and adult – he’s about 8 years older and our dynamic was him being irritated teenager and me his pestering little sister. The thing that changed for us actually is that we had this horrible horrible fight. Like we didn’t speak for a week. But there was a lot of calling out on the longstanding dynamic, and I think it made the both of us see each other for who we are now as adults – not that 19 and 11 year old we last were when we lived together. Having that big fight ended years and years of passive aggressive sniping at each other. We get along a lot better now.

      My advice would be to stop being the parent/adult in the relationship. Don’t tiptoe around him. Don’t parent or accommodate him. Just be with him like you’d be with another adult. There’s a chance you guys don’t work as friends as adults and that’s fine – but you are owed mutual respect. Break the dynamic of you being the responsible one who does all the work of maintaining the relationship. He’ll either pick up his end or he won’t – but it won’t feel so lopsided.

      1. Dan*

        This is pretty much it. I didn’t get along all that well with my mom, and at my own initiative, I moved out of the house at 17. (There were no threats or anything, in fact, my mom did everything she could to keep me from leaving.)

        20 years later, never mind that I went to college, got two degrees funded with no help from my parents, live 600 miles away and have a six figure job… that dynamic between us hasn’t changed.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Same here. I couldn’t wait to get out of the house.

          Every time I go back my mom acts condescending and controlling. So now I don’t visit unless I have control of the situation (alternate lodging, rental car, etc).

          And there’s a reason I live 1600 miles away from them.

          I still get treated like I’m a kind of ditsy child, and stuff I did when I was in grade school still gets held against me (like, I lost $20 while on a girl scout trip to the science museum one time, and my mom still acts like I will lose any cash handed to me immediately).

          Like, that was more than 20 years ago. Let it go.

      2. Monica*

        I agree with everything you’ve written. I’ve definitely tiptoed around him too much, although I don’t think I’ve really parented him…. but I am starting to think that’s how he views me (which is why he seems to get angrier at me for any perceived slights but Chandler can flat out tell him off and they’re fine shortly thereafter). I am not sure how to change that dynamic, though, because I don’t offer unsolicited advice or ever tell him what I think he should do (unless he specifically asks).

        I’m really starting to think we just can’t be friends because he expects me to keep making an effort despite the lack of reciprocation. Chandler and my mom will complain about how he doesn’t call/text them back but they’ll keep reaching out and I will only do that to a point and then feel like “forget this sh*t”.

        1. Dan*

          My ex wife had a sister ten years older than she. I gotta be honest, I have no idea how to change the big sis/pseudo parent dynamic in the adult years. My ex would complain that her sister would hardly give her the time of day anymore, but the reality is her sister has four kids of her own, and probably is tired of being looked at as a parental figure to a biological adult. It didn’t help that my ex was really immature.

          In some senses, it’s not like my ex could ever be a peer to her sister in many, if any ways. Car? Marriage? House? Kids? Good paying job? Ten years is a hell of a head start.

          BTW, you certainly do have the autonomy to choose to opt out if you want. I mentioned above about my mother – the reality is, I choose to limit contact with her. Nobody can guilt me into changing my mind, and nobody really tries.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            My spouse is more than a decade younger than his siblings, and I think he’s closer to each of them than they are to each other. So it can work. No advice on how to make it work, but I’ve seen it happen.

    2. foolofgrace*

      Wow, is this ever a question for Captain Awkward!

      This is a big subject but all I can say is I agree, you need to step back and stop having unrealistic expectations about something that is likely to never happen. I have two suggestions: one, cognitive behavioral therapy. This involves what you do when the unwanted thoughts come into your mind — you gently remind your “self” that the conclusion (Ross will magically be the person I want him to be) is incorrect and gently replace the thought with something accurate (I’m sad that Ross acts this way but it’s not my fault and I don’t have to let it run my life).

      The second suggestion is to say that they say that a new habit takes three months to form, so you might have to be at this for a few months before the day you suddenly realize that those thoughts don’t come into you head much anymore. I wish you the best.

    3. WellRed*

      You can’t force closeness if it isn’t there. He’s what, 10 years younger? Let go of the hurt you are holding onto from when he was a teen or whatever. That’s what they do. Also, he frankly sounds spoiled and unpleasant and you are partly blaming yourself for his behavior and your lack of closeness. It’s not you. It’s him.

    4. Myrin*

      You know, when I came to this part of your comment: “Since we haven’t argued, I don’t understand why Ross hasn’t made any effort to contact me in months.”, my immediate thought was “Well, because he doesn’t want to, of course.”, but then you actually brought that up yourself and yeah, as painful as that probably is to hear or even think, I’m pretty sure it’s true.

      Or rather, I’d venture a guess that he likes the thought of having a big sister, which is where his “remarks he makes about craving a closer bond” come from, but he isn’t willing or able to deal with the reality that entails.

      My father is very similar to this and thankfully I have zero interest in interacting with him, either. However, the fact that he can’t even be bothered to call about a dinner he promised to take me and my sister to back in December when he clearly texted “Let’s talk about it next week!” a month ago does annoy me. Because I also know that the next time we happen to miraculously talk to one another, he’ll be all “Oh, you didn’t call!” when that’s the same damn pattern that’s happened all my life where he can’t be arsed to do anything on his own accord and just waits for everyone else to do stuff for him and then gets pissed when people don’t do the stuff for him. Believe me, Monica, my father is 56 and is never going to change, and neither are his be-alikes like Ross.

      If it makes you a bad person to refuse to give in and call Ross, then I’m a bad person as well because I’m not doing it, either – I’m dedicated to, the moment my father says “Oh, you didn’t call!”, answer “Well, I thought there was a reason you didn’t get back to me!” (because my usual “Well, you didn’t call either” gets matched with “Haha, but you didn’t call either” and somehow he never gets deterred by my “Well, you could once in your life maybe do something yourself”. Yes, I’ve had that conversation several times.).

      “Does it make me a bad person if I refuse to give in and call him?”, you ask, and I answer: “Well, I know for sure that I’m not a bad person, so neither are you.”

      1. Monica*

        I appreciate the support. It’s interesting how people like my brother and your father can fail to follow-through and somehow turn it around to make that our fault.

        I think you’re right that Ross likes the idea of having a big sister but maybe not so much the reality. He’s very inwardly focused – it’s apparent from his behavior, not just around me, but the entire family. His girlfriend has even commented that he acts completely differently around us than he does normally, so something is going on there.

        There’s no doubt my entire family has some serious issues and resentments toward one another. Maybe it’s time I go back to therapy. I have a tendency to ruminate over things and hate when there’s discord between people which is no doubt related to my parents’ terribly combative relationship that exists to this day. They are still together but so very clearly do not like each other and it’s really caused so many issues with all of us. My husband has noticed how immature we act when we all get together and it’s not healthy.

        I don’t think my brothers and I have ever seen what a healthy relationship even looks like and I consider myself so incredibly lucky that my marriage is nothing like my parents’. In fact, my husband is the only person I can be 100% upfront and honest to about my feelings without fearing he’s going to stop loving me.

        1. zinemin*

          Perhaps you and Ross have such intense feelings about each other because they are fueled by other intense negative feelings inside your family which are not allowed to be in the open. I have a similar list of grievances like you against my sister, so I can sympathize very much. And she seems similarly (irrationally) angry with me as Ross is with you. Not coincidentally, my parents marriage is also very unhealthy, and I’m also very conflict-avoidant and want everyone to get along… Probably we have similar roles in our family. And somehow, this makes us the safest place for our little siblings to place their intense anger at our parents? But when we try to soothe this anger, by being super-kind and accommodating to them, and interested in their lives, they become just more angry because it is still not the same thing as having their parents provide them what they needed as children. My recommendation is to increase the distance to Ross as much as you can. His anger is unfair to you and you will NEVER be able to diffuse it because it is in reality directed at someone else. He might never realize this until you disengage.

          1. Monica*

            You are so very insightful! It never occurred to me that my brother’s anger toward my parents could also be misdirected toward me. That actually makes perfect sense.

    5. Myrin*

      Oh, and I also wanted to add that he simply doesn’t sound like a nice or pleasant person who you want to have in your life. From your post, it seems a bit to me like you feel like you have to have a certain kind of relationship because you’re siblings when in fact, he’s his own person apart from your siblinghood and I’m honestly wondering why you’d even want to spend time with someone who behaves the way he does? The answer seems to be “Because he’s my brother” but, well, I think that’s a pretty weak argument because honestly, he sounds like a jerk. I hope I’m not coming across as too harsh here but honestly, the time you waste with his nonsense could very well be spent with someone who actually likes and respects you and who you can have a great time with.

      (And btw, you were absolutely in the right with the way your reacted at your parents’. You didn’t “start an argument”, you just gave back what he’s been dealing you for apparently all his life.)

      1. Anonymous Ampersand*

        All of this. He sounds like a tool and I agree that he started that argument, not you.

    6. Music*

      It seems pretty obvious that you ARE holding a grudge against him (this kind of record-keeping on who did what to whom is uncommon in healthy relationships; and blaming him as an adult for how he behaved as a child? Eesh), and he’s picked up on that.

      You do a lot of communicating through other people, but it doesn’t seem like you’ve ever had a serious open heart to heart with him. Based on this, I’d suggest you try that. But if you want it to be effective and really save this relationship, you might try a few sessions of personal counseling first, so you can sort of spit out the bile to a neutral party, who will then help you find new and effective ways of communicating with your brother. (If that’s what you want to do. I’m not really sure from this letter if you do? You don’t seem to like him very much, and you seem more interested in cataloging a lifetime of his faults. If that’s truly the case, then maybe just accept that you’ll never be that close, and that it’s not actually all his fault, much as you’d like it to be.)

      But in all honesty, you’ve been holding on to a lot for a very long time, and it’s poisoned your relationship. If this is a pattern that is common in your life — and it seems to be based on your talking about your mom too — I really really encourage you to find a therapist regardless.

      1. Monica*

        I thought I was pretty clear that I didn’t blame him for his behavior as a child. I only used those examples to illustrate how nothing has changed. If he had started showing interest in me I wouldn’t be here venting.

        We did have a serious open heart to heart twice now, initiated by him saying how hurt he was when I moved out, but nothing really changed. Unless he’s the center of attention he’s not happy. And while I dislike a lot of his behavior, I don’t dislike him necessarily. He can be very fun to be around and always makes me laugh, and I enjoy it a lot when he and his girlfriend hang out with my husband and I, but I just can’t let go of the hurt that keeps piling into my mind every time he dismisses something I find important.

        1. Music*

          You’re pretty clear that you SAY you don’t blame him, and then you spend the next thousand words blaming him.

          Seriously, therapy. It helps.

          1. Stardust*

            I mean, that’s blaming in general, though, not blaming him for his behaviour as a child/teenager. That part of his life is two short-ish paragraphs in a very long comment about NOT that.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          But you do sound like you are treasuring up all the petty wrongs and going over them again and again. My brother and I fought like sibling when we were teenagers, and I honestly can’t remember what about. Now, I do tend to forget unimportant things, but those old fights are totally unimportant to me.

          What helped me was forgiving him. I know a lot of people on this site aren’t big on forgiveness, but it works. I actually did it a bit ritually, made a list of every little thing, then went down it and forgave him out loud. “I forgive (brother) for doing (whatever it was). And then every time I remembered the (thing), remind myself that I already forgave him for it.

          The fights stopped overnight. Within a month I realized that he just didn’t annoy me any more. Forgiveness works.

          It’s a truism that there is only one person in a relationship that can change, and that person is yourself. But it is true. My brother didn’t change at all. But the exact same stupid things he did no longer bugged me.

          There are no magic words that will make your brother suddenly care about the things that bother you. You could put up boundaries, wall him out of your heart and your life. Some people that’s the only thing you can do to keep from getting hurt. But if you love your brother and want to have a relationship with him, trying to change him will not work.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      This is going to be blunt, but it’s not meant to offend: I pretty much checked out halfway through this post, because there is so much score-keeping going on.

      You both seem to be holding a big grudge. It doesn’t sound as though you two have ever truly talked about any of this, so how will it ever get better? You’re very much stuck in your head about what he did, what he didn’t do, what he should’ve done, what you want him to do/not do, etc. If you want a better relationship with him, sit down and talk to each other about it. Maybe you both can move past it, maybe not. Maybe you’ll find that he’s holding a grudge from when you moved out when he was 12 and he’ll be able to let it go. Or maybe he’s just too much like your mom and will never change; he is who he is. And why is this all on you to own his feelings as well as your own? You both need to use your words to figure out how to move forward. If he won’t use his words, it doesn’t mean you can’t attempt to use your own. Also, there’s a big age gap there, and I’m sure that plays into this, too.

      Good luck. I hope you can make some peace with the situation.

      1. Monica*

        Is it score-keeping just because I listed it here for context? I thought it better to provide examples than to just expect people to take my word without explanation, but perhaps you’ve hit on something deeper there too.

        I do agree that we are both holding a grudge. I honestly thought we had gotten past it, and even though he did things last year I didn’t care for, I wasn’t tallying it up in my mind. It was just noted and I mentally moved on, until he started ignoring me. Then all these things started coming back to me and I began to realize that I was making all the effort. If I stop making an effort, well, you see what happens.

        If the tables were turned and our brother had told me that Ross wanted to know why I hadn’t answered any of this texts, I would have immediately contacted to let him know I didn’t get them. Oh, and I never asked Chandler to say anything about this by the way; he took that upon himself.

        That being said, I am wavering between reaching out to have a discussion about it, and letting it go. We’ve talked about our resentments at least twice over the past few years and the dynamic largely stays the same. After the discussion he’ll put in a little more effort but it never lasts. I feel so stuck between not wanting to give up and feeling like I need to so I can’t add any more resentments to the list.

        1. Music*

          It’s score keeping because you even remember these things to list them. Most healthy people simply don’t have this sort of recall for the relationships in their lives. You’re holding onto these details because they matter to you, and until they stop mattering — probably with the help of therapy — you won’t be able to see how unhealthy this type of thinking really is.

          1. Cucumber Water*

            I barely have any relationship with my sibling–disparate personalities from childhood to adulthood, and some years back she pulled a “Your spouse failed to tiptoe around my fragile state! I am leaving!” and everyone was like WHEW this is so much more calm and pleasant now that she isn’t speaking to us.

            And even I don’t point to stuff from childhood to explain our relationship. So yes, that is really odd in your post.

            I will note that to eternally resent someone for moving out at 18 is bizarre, unless it’s something like one of the parents was mentally ill and this left the younger child behind with no one running interference or witnessing what happened. For anything short of that–it’s the US norm. Even if your 8 year old self had 8 year old feelings, by early 20s that should be rendered as “Yeah it seems bizarre now, but as a kid I was so mad you left.”

          2. Stardust*

            I mean, that’s your view. I have an excellent memory and even though the general setup of things becomes wishy-washy over time, there are moments/situations that will probably be clear in my mind until the day I die. If something stands out to us in some way, it’s normal to remember it (like when you buy a new car you’re very happy with, or when you get to see your favourite band live, which are two of Monica’s examples.) and while it can be enhanced by unhealthy thinking, I wouldn’t be so quick to judge that “healthy people” somehow forget all that ever happened in their relationships safe for some vague general recollection.

            1. Music*

              The things that you remember are important to you. The things that SHE remembers are important to her.

              the types of things she is remembering are not the things that occupy a healthy mind. She’s fixating on things that make her unhappy, and the reason for that is something that only therapy, not strangers on the internet, can help her figure out why.

              1. Stardust*

                I honestly remember all kinds of crap even from my early childhood that actually never had and will never have any importance–random situations that weren’t outstanding either positively or negatively, but maybe that’s unusual! I’ve never thought about that beofre!

              2. Ann O.*

                I’m perturbed by the statement “the things that occupy a healthy mind.” That seems very judgy and inaccurate. I think you’re projecting an assumption that she’s dwelling at this level of detail every day rather than that trying to write a complete post with full context brings up a lot of details for emotional topics.

                I also don’t find an adult remembering events that happened to her as an adult to be strange or unhealthy.

                1. Music*

                  Yeah you’re right this is totally the post of a person who wouldn’t benefit at all from therapy.

                2. Stardust*

                  @Music, that seems pretty unnecessarily snarky to me. Ann didn’t say anywhere that OP couldn’t benefit from therapy. Also, OP says that she has actually been in therapy for years.

        2. zinemin*

          In this context and short-term, it might be good and healthy to be keeping score like this. It is very hard to break out of your role in this family, which is the too accommodating, too nice older sister who does not stand up to your brother. The score-keeping might be necessary for now to help you to avoid falling into the same trap again. So I think to say that it is unhealthy is wrong. It would be in a normal situation but isn’t in such a toxic family dynamic. The instinct will always be to smooth over, to forgive, to be nice to him no matter how he treats you. The list of grievances helps to suppress this instinct. With time, you need the list less and less and will have learned that this is not a person with whom a mutually pleasant relationship is possible at the moment, no matter how sad this is.

    8. Heckofabecca*

      Losing someone, even if in the way you mean, is akin to grief. I would recommend giving yourself time and space away/apart from your brother, where you can grieve, and eventually recalibrate. Fool of Grace’s suggestions—3 months, CBT—are very good.

      In your recalibration, it might be helpful to recreate your narrative away from personalities and toward choices. (“We were close when we both lived at home, but he’s chosen to focus on other aspects of his life, and I’m now working on doing the same.”)

      I’m sorry your brother hasn’t stepped up. Make sure you’ve got some folks on Team You that don’t feel they have to defend your brother! Best of luck. Time helps heal etc etc

    9. CatCat*

      It took me a long time to accept my sibling and I were not going to have the relationship I wanted. It was all very one-sided with me making all the effort. I clung to it when he had kids, but it was still the same. I’ve only recently accepted its unlikely to ever change and though it makes me sad that I’ll probably never really know his youngest child, I’ve basically matched the level of relationship he seems to want (pretty much zero except for maaaaybe a birthday text). And though I still have some sadness, pulling back this way and accepting my brother for who he is (and isn’t) has evaporated the resentment I had trying to make a closer relationship happen.

    10. Amelie*

      That sounds exhausting to keep track of. I got tired just reading about it. You both seem stuck in a very teenage sibling dynamic, which should really have been left behind decades ago. That score keeping you are doing is not healthy in an adult relationship.

      Have you considered therapy? It might help you process these resentments and move past them. It could also give you some techniques to help you deal with your anger and resentment.

      But for now, no, you are not a bad person if you don’t call him. But please don’t refuse to call him as a way of getting back at him for his behavior/to punish him/to “show” him etc. Don’t call him unless you genuinely want to talk to him. Not to make a point, but to communicate. And if you do call him, or when you do talk to him in future, try to focus on building towards the future relationship you’d like to have rather than trying to right the wrongs of the past.

      1. Monica*

        I went through therapy for many years and the bulk of our discussion was about Ross and my mother. My husband has even commented about them making passive aggressive remarks toward me so I know it wasn’t my taking things the wrong way. Any time I would try to assert myself it was either that I couldn’t take a joke or that I was starting an argument. Basically I am expected to shut up and take it which is why I guess these resentments have built up as I haven’t expressed them. I’ve only just learned that not everyone operates this way and have, in the past, told someone in my life they did something I didn’t like and was absolutely gobsmacked when their response wasn’t to tell me how I was wrong but to actually apologize.

        I’m just not sure how you process and move past something that is still going on currently. If by some miracle my family started treating me more fairly I think it would be easy to let the past go, but when it’s just one more thing piled on the so-called score keeping list it’s much more difficult.

        1. families!*

          I think the thing is that you can’t expect others to change. But you can change, and it will change the whole dynamic. Deciding whether to say something or not is not really a change if you are just not saying it but keeping the resentment; the point is to change so you are not so affected by what others are doing/not doing. You have set up here this dynamic where you are the misunderstood victim/martyr, and they’re doing these mean things, but that is a choice you are making. Therapy can be helpful in changing this dynamic if you are interested in that. What are you getting by putting yourself in this victimized position? That is what you need to figure out – maybe it’s fear your family will abandon you, maybe it’s some idea of what an older sister should do, I don’t know, but that is the thing to find out so you can work on that. Once that is resolved, what Ross and others do just won’t matter. This is a hard process but it can be done (I’ve done it with my own family).

        2. WolfPack Inspirer*

          Monica, the way you process and move past is 1) therapy where you really accept that they’re going to be awful and work on ways to advocate for yourself or truly disengage (so you don’t feel hurt by their actions because you expect them to be awful) and/or 2) you go no-contact or very-low-contact with them and make new family and friends who aren’t narcissists.

          I also suggest going over to Captain Awesome and reading a lot of the posts about families and boyfriends being useless, and maybe looking at some of the /raisedbynarcissists comments on reddit. I think you’ll recognize a lot of what those people talk about.

          You can’t change anyone but yourself, and you have seen that this pattern with your family is pretty solid. They’re probably not going to change how they behave. But you can, and it will make you feel so much happier if you’re not letting their behavior fester in your head.

          Relevant proverb: a pair of shinto monks were crossing a river and a rich snotty lady demanded that they carry her across. The older monk did so, and she complained the whole time and hit him and berated him for being useless, then when they got to the other shore she stalked off without a thank you. The monks continued on their way, but as they walked the younger man just kept getting more and more upset by how rude and ungrateful the woman had been. Finally he couldn’t take it anymore and burst out cursing about her. The older one looked over and said ‘I put her down at the riverbank, why are you still carrying her all this way?’

          Good luck! Crappy families are a pain, but you can change yourself and your reactions and be happier, no matter what they do or think.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Oh my.
      The last time I saw this was with my father’s family. His parents had 10 kids over a 28 year period. By the time the younger kids came along the older kids were married and having their own.

      I stood on the side lines as an observer who was late to the story. What I saw there is the same thing I see here. The younger siblings never lived with the older siblings and therefore did not really know each other. One of my father’s siblings could not even get his name right, this is how poorly they knew each other.

      You and Ross don’t know each other. AT ALL.

      Making matters worse you both have “read my mind” expectations for each other. Ross must do this, you must do that and so on. I saw the same thing in my father’s family. It’s a recipe for failure. You will always fail Ross and he will always fail you. Always. Drop your expectations. Expect nothing from him.

      Running at the same time I see you needing Ross’ approval on things and Ross needing your approval on things. Maybe approval is the wrong word, maybe acknowledgement is the right word. This CAN happen sometimes when the parents do not dole out acknowledgement or approval very much. So siblings turn on each other trying to get out of each other what the parents will not give. Yes, you are parenting your sibling. And in a way you are asking him to parent you. It’s that hunger, that hunger that we all have for approval, acceptance and a sense of belonging. Since you and Ross don’t know each other, this means it’s a big problem.

      Just like in my father’s family the older siblings had to shoulder everything. It was their fault when something went wrong, they had to initiate conversation, they had to give money to the younger siblings and so on. It sounds very similar to what you show here. In some (notice the word “some”) families when parents fail to be, uh, actual parents, the older siblings can be forced or feel forced to step in.

      So Ross is detached from you, he is not connected to you. Likewise, you are not connected to him.

      There is a strong possibility that your parents are helping to drive a wedge between you siblings. That happened in my father’s family. I see the long list of transgressions here, just like some of my father’s relatives do. They have lists like this but their lists go back 60 years or more. My father’s parents were beaters. They beat the older kids. The very youngest kids did not get beaten, for [insert long reason here]. The parents were also verbally abusive and often times very cold people. Instead of standing up to their parents, the sibs all fought and argued among themselves. Their real anger was with their parents. Some siblings stopped speaking to each other and 40 or so years later died, they never resumed speaking to each other.

      My opinion is that their parents created that. Instead of saying, “take care of each other” the parents berated the siblings to each other. “This one is stupid, that one is ugly, that one married a jerk” and so on.

      How do you make peace with the fact that Ross will never be the brother you want?
      My answer is not a good one.

      1) You remind yourself, “and I will never be the sis Ross wants”.

      2) You figure out what you want in your brother and you look other places to get it. Find friends who are reassuring. Find extended family members who are loving and inclusive. Join a group of people and call that group your home away from home. Your desires are legit, but we do not get to pick who fills those desires. They just come along by happenstance.

      3) Recognize that Ross behaving a certain way is a “want” not a “need”. You need food, water, and a place to live. Those are actual needs. Your life will continue on no matter what choices Ross makes. You will have a full life with or without his full participation.

      I’m an only child. I was horrified to see the way siblings can be with each other. And the part about going to the grave without ever speaking to a sibling again, was absolutely mind=bending for me. “How could any one do that?”, Younger Me thought.

      Then a dear person explained to me, “Even a daddy robin pushes the babies out of the nest.” We are supposed to go out into the world and leave our own footprint on this planet. Our family of origin launches us, perhaps we are launched really early such as that little baby who gets put up for adoption. Or perhaps the launch comes later when we have reached the age of 18 and that launch feels more normal but still difficult. We think we need our families and some folks absolutely crave their family, but the hard reality is that we each are supposed to build our own lives and make our own mark on this world.

      Go out into the world and make that footprint. By dwelling on Ross you are missing having a full life and all the different experiences that go into having a full life.

      1. zinemin*

        This is insightful. Siblings wanting each others approval so badly is a sign that something wasn’t provided by the parents. But siblings are definitively not where you will get what you need. You need to find other people who like you for yourself and are generous with you. No matter what you will give Ross, in terms of approval and kindness, it will never be enough to satisfy his craving for parental love and he may always be irrationally angry at you for this (when it fact, the anger should be directed at the parents… ). And you might also need to use some of your anger to distance yourself not only from Ross, but also from your parents.

    12. neverjaunty*

      You are in a dynamic where Ross uses you as his emotional punching bag, and your family enables that role.. When you dance on wanting his approval and he randomly withholds it, he feels powerful and important. And since you’re shaping your life around pleasing him, the rest of the family doesn’t have to deal with him being a problem.

      Please let go. There is nothing normal about a grown-ass man being angry that his adult sister moved away from home and got in with her life.

    13. matcha123*

      Yeah, you’re more like a mom to him than a sister. Or maybe an aunt.
      I had to babysit and mother my younger sibling and I don’t think that helped our relationship.
      I would say to just let it be. Don’t push to contact him. If you find something interesting you think he might like, pass it on without any expectation that he would reply. And see how things go from there.

  25. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

    Looking for recs for romance novels (genre romance, not just romantic novels). Last semester burned me out bad, and for some reason all I want to do is read romance novels now, lol. I’m reading Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series right now (and they’re about 50/50 like/dislike–enjoy the social justice aspects but some of the main characters are leaving me cold, although I really like others), but I’d really like something with a heavier emphasis on female friendship between the heroines (think Lisa Kleypas’s Wallflowers series). I’ve read very few romance novels, so if you’re worried about recommending something I’ve already read, you’re probably not. :P

    I don’t have any money to spare, though, so I’d really need them to be traditionally published so I can get them at the library.

    1. Lizabeth*

      Try some of the Nora Roberts romance series – the Bride Quartet has some really good lead female friendships in it besides the romance with the boyfriends. Most libraries will carry her. Plus she writes a crime series under J.D. Robb that has a great female lead in it if you want something different. Both series are part of my “go-to” re-reads when I want what I call a comfort book.

      1. Kuododi*

        Ooh!!Ooh… A big second for the JD Robb “In Death” series. It’s set in future NYC but the story is not so full of quirky sci-fi details that I am left feeling as if I need a lexicon to truly appreciate the backstory. The relationship between main characters Eve Dallas and Roarke is well written and doesn’t leave me feeling as though I just finished a “cheesy bodice ripper.” I also enjoyed the friendships in the novels. I have never had problems finding the books in my local library. Also, second hand bookstores are a cost effective way to “feed the addiction.” Have fun!!!

      2. Book Lover*

        Nora Roberts is good for competence porn :). I tired of the bride quartet by midway through number 2, but I probably read them too fast.

    2. Red Sky*

      If you’re interested in contemporary romance I’d highly recommend Penny Reid. Great female friendships in the Knitting in the City series and she’s available in both ebook and paper from the library.

    3. TheLiz*

      If you can find them, Georgette Heyer ist pretty good. My favourite is the Spanish Bride.

      If you haven’t read them already I can also recommend Jane Austen. I just love the way she’s continually poking fun at her own characters and everyone gets as happy an ending as they deserve.

    4. Red Sky*

      Not sure if you’re only looking for historical romance or not, but Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series is hilarious and full of female friendship. She’s available from the library in both ebook and paper.

    5. Kate Daniels*

      The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare!!! And the next book The Governess Game, is coming out this summer and the main character in that one is the friend of the main character from The Duchess Deal.

    6. TL -*

      Eloisa James is great for friendships and Julia Quinn does amazing sibling dynamics. Both write likable characters and are great writers.

    7. Dr. KMnO4*

      Meg Cabot has a few:
      -Every Boy’s Got One
      -She Went All The Way
      -The Boy Next Door
      -Boy Meets Girl
      -The Boy Is Back

      4 of those books (the ones with “boy” in the title) are written as a series of emails/texts/diary entries, and they are in the same “universe” (they reference common characters). I like them a lot, they are cute and funny.

    8. Myrin*

      I was just thinking I’d recommend Lisa Kleypas and then I see you’ve already mentioned her! She’s definitely one of my all-time-faves – she managed to turn tropes on their heads in ways I’d never seen before (after having read literally hundreds of romance novels) and I always appreciate stuff like that.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Yep, other than a couple in middle school out of immature curiosity, Kleypas was the first romance author I ever read. And if it had been someone else, I might not have read any more.

    9. Book Lover*

      Check out smart bitches, trashy books. There is a podcast also.


      I always liked the old fashioned Patricia Veryan ones – not quite so easy to find, but libraries usually have some.

      I like the old Amanda Quick romances for historical (not the newer psychic themed ones) and her alter ego Jayne Ann Krentz for modern, and they are easy to get at library.

    10. Jen Erik*

      I’m pushed to think of romances with great female friendships…

      Might be worth trying Courtney Milan’s contemporary series – starts with ‘Trade Me’ – I think they’re really good.
      Other authors I like – Judith Duncan (try Murphy’s Child), Sarina Bowen (I started with the novella Blonde Date), K J Charles (mostly m/m, though Non-Stop Till Tokyo is m/f). Georgette Heyer is the original regency romance writer, and really good, though of course there are a few duds. But you could try Venetia or Frederica. I also like Sherwood Smith’s regency romances. (Danse de la Folie or Rondo Allegro.) Loretta Chase is hit and miss for me ‘Lord of Scoundrels’ which gets great reviews was a miss, but I enjoyed ‘Lord Perfect’. (And now that I’m thinking about Lords, I love Mary Balogh’s ‘Lord Carew’s Bride.)
      Stephanie Perkins ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ is great YA romance, and Rainbow Rowell is also worth a read.
      I also really like Susanna Kearsley, though they are a bit more on to romantic suspense: I have her mentally shelved next to Mary Stewart ( I reread Stewart’s ‘Madam, Will You Talk?’ this week – there’s something about the hot weather that just makes it the right book to read.) And if we’re doing not strictly romance romances, Bujold’s regency romance in space ‘A Civil Campaign’ is great fun, and while it is part of a (great) series, you can read it as a stand alone.
      (Some of these I have on the kindle, so I can’t be sure they’re all traditionally published – but hopefully the majority are.)

      1. ronda*

        re: bujold

        yes to a Civil Campaign. I also like Shards of Honor for the romance (only one couple gets together in this one (vs 4 in CC) and there is lots of other upsetting stuff, but still a good romance)
        and come to think of it, Ethan of Athos has a good romance too.
        but Shards and Ethan don’t do a lot with the female friendship aspect.

        and her Sharing Knife series is a good romance.

    11. Madeye*

      Here are a few more
      Elizabeth Boyle – Bachelor Chronicles series, Rhymes with Love series
      Anne Gracie – Chance sisters series
      Loretta Chase – Dressmakers series
      Sarah Morgan – there are 3 or 4 series

    12. PlantLady*

      From what you described as your likes, Lauren Dane’s Diablo Lake series might be right up your alley. “Moonstruck” is the first, “Protected” is the second. HEAVY emphasis on female friendships, not just between the heroines of each book, but among their mothers and other women in the town as well. They’re just generally heavy on female positivity and empowerment.

      I see this series classed as “paranormal”, which isn’t incorrect since it takes place in a small town founded and inhabited by shifters and witches (the two heroes are wolf shifters, the heroines are witches), but if you (like me) are not really into paranormal romances, I’d still recommend it. The paranormal stuff is there, but the emphasis is really more on the women’s friendships and the everyday stuff that is required to balance all the aspects of small-town life and politics.

      The author has promised there will be a third book in the series, but I’ve seen zero info on it. However, by the end of book #2, most loose ends are tied up, so there isn’t a cliffhanger of any sort.

    13. Pam*

      I’m a Georgette Heuer fan. My favorites are A Civil Campaign, and Cotillion, with The Grand Sophy coming a close third.

    14. New Bee*

      Just finished The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, and I would definitely recommend it.

    15. ronda*

      This author writes a certain kind of book, so if you don’t end up liking it don’t look for more from her.
      This one is big on the girl group (the crows are a supernatural girl gang). They are really obnoxious. I like reading about them, but would not have them in my life.
      They are meant to be funny, so if you are not looking for that, probably not your thing.

      Shelly Laurenston
      The Unleashing
      Call of Crows Series

  26. Sandy*

    I’d be super-grateful if people could chime in with some favourite recipes or food blogs have have great dairy-free options.

    Backstory: I recently learned that after a lifetime of eating dairy, I have a bona fide dairy allergy. Hives and itchy throats and all, confirmed via allergy test.

    I am really struggling with this. I LOVE food, and my default diet has been practically vegetarian. I don’t love cooking meat (although I don’t mind eating it) and googling/Pinteresting dairy free recipes immediately leads me into an unhappy black hole of dairy free/soy free/gluten free/egg free conconctions.

    1. LemonLyman*

      Rather than look for dairy-free recipe blog, I recommend looking for good recipe blogs and skipping the dairy (and meat) recipes. I don’t like cooking meat either (but will eat it when I eat out) and my partner is a vegetarian so I don’t tend to cook it at home anyway. Here are a few favorite food blogs. I typically skip meat recipes or substitute as needed:
      – Simply Recipes
      – Cookie & Kate (which is a vegetarian blog!)
      – Love & Lemon (mostly vegetarian)
      – 101 Cookbooks (vegetarian)
      – Minimalist Baker (vegan, not just baking)
      – Pinch of Yum

      1. Sandy*

        Thanks! Pinch of Yum has been a long-time fave but lately she’s been a taco kick. I get it! I love tacos! You can stick anything in a taco! But we are currently living somewhere with no taco shells and no time/inclination to start making them from scratch :(

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          Oh my! I am also a big taco fan and no taco shells would just… ruin my day, for starters.

          Could you still make her taco recipes and put them on a salad?

        2. Natalie*

          You could make all the taco fillings and then eat them in whatever flat bread is available in your area. Pita, injera, whatever – if it’s flat, it can taco.

        3. Thursday Next*

          You can also put your taco fillings over rice…not the same experience, of course, but yummy on its own merits.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding looking for regular recipes that are also dairy free. I recently got turned onto Smitten Kitchen here. And while the dairy-free tag only has a scattering of recipes, lots of them ARE dairy free.

        I’ll compare this to tofu: My first exposure was college dining, where you had a quivering slab of it on the plate in place of meat or ricotta, which it emphatically wasn’t. Bleah. Then I went to a Thai restaurant for the first time, and hey, incorporated into the right cuisine it was great. So look for Asian, African, South American, etc cuisines that have vegetarian (or -ish) options that are not cheese. And avoid “It’s like cheese, but we put a disappointing non-cheese thing where the cheese should be” recipes. Coconut milk (common in all these) might help you out with the cool/rich note of dairy.

        Are you allergic to milk products, or those plus eggs? If eggs are okay they make a good base for easy fallback recipes–I recommend Shakshuka (eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce) and huevos rancheros. Meringues and olive oil cookies can fill the cookie hole; sorbet for ice cream.

        1. Sandy*

          Thank goodness it is just dairy! Eggs are basically my go-to right now. I think I am making shakshuka twice a week. Sushi from the grocery as my “OMG I just can’t THINK about dinner ignore now”. I have a lead on finding some good Chinese dumplings, which should help.

          1. Lilo*

            One of my favorite quick meals is to cook up some spinach, mushrooms, and tomato in a pan, crack a couple beaten eggs in, and finish it in the oven. I usually add a little cheese but it could be easily omitted.

    2. char*

      I don’t have any specific recipes for you (most of my favorites are also gluten-free because that’s what I need, but I know you don’t need that). But as a general tip, I find that almost all Thai recipes are dairy-free. Even when they’re creamy, they usually use coconut milk instead of dairy. Tom kha gai (a Thai coconut chicken soup) is my favorite, but unfortunately I can’t find the specific recipe I usually use for it online. Chinese food also rarely has dairy.

    3. Natalie*

      This seems super obvious so I’m afraid I’m missing something, but what about vegan food? If you’re allergic to dairy and you don’t like cooking meat, you’re like 95% there already. There are a lot more gourmet or “foodie” vegans around these days, I bet you can find some good ones.

      1. Sylvan*


        There are also a lot of vegans on YouTube. Just stick to the recipe videos or “what I eat in a day” videos and ignore everything else.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Paleo food blogs! Just about every paleo blog is going to have a vegetarian category, and I find most of them are things that are naturally dairy-free rather than weird substitutions. The Domestic Man and Nom Nom Paleo are two with really interesting diverse recipes.

    5. Llellayena*

      Roasted vegetables. You can make enough to last for a week at a time very easily. I’ve even blended them once roasted to make a great pasta sauce. If your dislike of cooking meat is the ew-factor, frozen chicken strips are easy to drop into sauce and veggies with no muss/fuss. Asian recipes don’t often use dairy so that would be a safe place to start searching. As for dairy substitutes, my grandma was dairy allergic and used Tofuti brand products which were actually pretty good. I know they have cream cheese and ice cream. Good luck, that’s a tough allergy to have. Watch out for “whey” in ingredients, they hide milk in things using that.

    6. Jules the First*

      *waves* dairy free soy free gluten free over here…and it sucks. I coped well before I had to give up dairy and the first few years were tough as I rejigged my diet and learned how to cook again.

      Hummus (or bean puree of any kind) is your friend – it plays well in lots of savoury dishes where you’d throw in some cheese. I like it stirred through rice or quinoa with stir fried or roasted veggies, for example, or dolloped on salad.

      Daiya does hands down the best dairy-free cheese (assuming you’re in the US; Violife is the equivalent in Europe) – it has the right texture and it melts but it’s not a brilliant protein source.

      A good mayonnaise (look for a French-style one that’s not sweetened and has a little mustard in it) works well for lightening scrambled eggs or an impromptu skim of something creamy over pasta. Tahini thinned with lemon juice or olive oil is a good alternative for creamy thickeners in salad dressings and the like.

      Learn to do a real carbonara egg sauce without the cream (drain your pot of pasta, crack in an egg on top of the pasta, put it back on very low heat and whip until frothy and cooked) and you can throw together some pretty darn good dinners without much cooking.

      Also read those vegan blogs (especially Minimalist Baker) and pay attention to the ingredients that crop up where you would use dairy. The more you learn, the easier it will be to substitute on the fly.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I’ve found that I can substitute lactose-free milk in almost everything. There is “A2 milk” for people who are allergic to casein, instead of lactose, in milk. I’ve also found it easy to substitute goat cheese in place of cow cheese. And I really love the “Earth Balance” line of dairy and soy-free margarines.

      It takes some effort but it gets easier after you start planning ahead and get used to doing so.

    8. WolfPack Inspirer*

      Instead of looking for dairy free recipes or lifestyles, just use regular recipes for things and google search substitutes for the dairy. Lots of things can sub out with coconut milk or coconut water, or with various juices or oils (applesauce too).

    9. Thursday Next*

      Have you tried nutritional yeast? It’s a common vegan sub for cheese—you can sprinkle it on things like you would with Parmesan, or cook with it. If you search for it on the Whole Foods store website, you’ll get some info and recipes. I’m experimenting with some of the recipes involving nutritional yeast and cashews this week, to make a “cheese”sauce for pasta.

      A couple of days ago I tried Kite Hill’s chive “cream cheese,” which is made from almond milk. It is quite tasty!

    10. dr_silverware*

      If you want something honestly pretty decadent, Revithia sto Fourno / Baked Chickpeas from thegreekvegan is delicious. Takes a while–it uses caramelized onions, and then the chickpeas are just in the oven for ages. I also really like the zucchini fritters from thegreekvegan. Fwiw I’m an omnivore who loves dairy.

      I can definitely second the recommendation for Thai food. Creamy Thai curries often use coconut milk, even the ones with meat.

      For desserts, you can make a hell of a pie crust without butter (especially if you’re willing to use lard, but vegetable shortening is also totally ok), so fruit pies would be on the menu :) Look up the cook’s illustrated foolproof pie dough recipe (there’s a version on Serious Eats) and substitute the butter for more vegetable shortening. Good luck!

    11. Morwen the Grad Student*

      Substituting margarine (I love Earth Balance) for butter and your favorite non-dairy milk (almond, oat, soy, rice, others I’m not thinking of….try them all!) for milk will get you far, particularly in baking. Vegan cheeses have gotten a lot better in the last few years, I think, too.

      Beyond that, browsing vegan recipes will provide a whole world of things! Minimalist Baker and Post Punk Kitchen are favorites of mine but honestly I tend to just google “[ingredient] [ingredient] [type of food] recipe vegan” when I have an idea of what I might want to eat.

  27. The UnNamed*

    I have a big problem – I compulsively overspend on Lotto scratch offs. It destroys my budget and salary, and I’m drowning in overdue bills with late fees, etc. First it was my credit card debt I couldn’t pay, and now it’s inching into my living expenses, like the electric bill. I don’t know how to stop sabotaging myself. I swear this next paycheck, I won’t do this, but then I do. Right now I have $23 left before I get paid again on the 15th, so I will be overdrafting from my bank soon, which deepens that nasty hole.

    Shame, guilt, shame, fear, depression, anxiety, more anxiety. There is no one I can talk to about this. At 47 I’m far too old to be doing this but I can’t seem to stop myself. People who know me would be shocked. I can’t talk to my sister about this because she already despises me enough as it is, she has always considered herself better than I am because she’s the oldest and I’m the youngest. This scratch off thing is how I cope, but it’s killing me slowly.

    1. Lilo*

      Ugh. This is why I hate state lottery/gambling schemes. They hurt people like you. It’s just so wrong for this to be happening. To be clear, I don’t blame you. From what I understand, your brain has actually been rewired, like as if the scratch cards were a drug. You’re seeking that dopamine hit. That doesn’t mean there’s no hope for you. But it does mean that you might need help from someone other than yourself.

      First of all, call someone to get help. I did some googling and found quite a few numbers for gambling addiction hotlines. I don’t know which ones are the best, but I think you could try calling a few to get help.

      For instance, the National Problem Gambling Hotline is here: 1-800-522-4700.

      You are not a bad person. You deserve help. You can get through this.

      1. The UnNamed*

        Thank you! If the state ever voted again about the Lotto, I’d vote no. I don’t think people really think it’s gambling, because it’s such a small entry fee – $1 or $2. But it adds up so very fast.

    2. foolofgrace*

      Check out Gamblers Anonymous if you’re serious about changing. It’s free, as far as I know, and the people there are going thru the same thing and can probably help you.

      I just realized you might be in an area where GA is not available; sorry. Maybe there’s an online chapter, though.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this and sorry I can’t be of more help.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Caveat: I have absolutely no experience with this in particular, but I have family members with other addiction problems.

      It sounds as though you may have a gambling addiction. The fact that it’s causing you to not be able to pay your bills is, to me, a huge red flag that this has become an addiction. It’s not just for fun. You say it’s how you cope. Some of my family members have substance abuse problems, such as prescription drug addiction, heroine addiction, or are recovering alcoholics, and they’ve all said, “That’s how I coped with the world/my depression/(insert whatever problem here).” I think your first step should be to check out the Gamblers Anonymous website (www dot gamblersanonymous dot org). There are hotlines for each state listed.

      Good luck and I hope you can get this under control.

    4. anonagain*

      Do you still have access to medical care? If so, perhaps therapy could also be useful. If you have a primary care doctor, they could be a good starting place. If you don’t have insurance there may be resources for some free or low cost therapy in your area.

    5. It doesn't hurt ME*

      Be kind to yourself, it absolutely sounds like this is in the addiction realm. Imagine if a friend came to you with a similar story. You wouldn’t judge them right? You’d just want them to get help? So that’s the kind of resource you want to reach out to. I agree with the others – gamblers anonymous or helpline would be a good first port. Sending you good wishes. Even writing what you have is a good first step- so keep walking!

    6. Thlayli*

      Do you know about Gamblers anonymous? They may be called something different where you live. Scratch cards are actually a very common gamblin addiction and I can assure you in GA you will find people who understand and commiserate and will work with you.

    7. fposte*

      Definitely time for counseling, but how and when do you buy them? Is there a pattern you can disrupt? That’s not just saying “I won’t go to the corner store” but developing a new habit instead. “I’d usually go to the corner store right now but I’m going to [go other satisfying place or do other satisfying thing].” Make it harder for you–let current you do some work to help later-today you. If you drive to where you buy, put your keys in a top cupboard when you get home and your stepstool at the other end of the house. If you slide it into other errands, start shopping someplace else or during rush hour when it becomes less automatic and more deliberate.

      Mostly I think you’re getting a lift from this that you’re not getting elsewhere, so I’d try to find something new to enjoy to get a reward elsewhere to counter its loss.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        This is what I was thinking. You’re going to need formal help with this, but meanwhile can you crowd out the habit? Avoid those stores, buy online as much as possible, etc. I remember working with someone who took up chewing tobacco in place of smoking because he knew he’d have an easier time quitting chewing. I thought he was crazy then, but there’s been some good studies since that prove him right.

    8. Drop Bear*

      As others have suggested getting help is important, but a few things that you could perhaps try while you find the help are:
      1. Try to identify triggers – what thoughts/events etc precede a purchase
      2. when a trigger event happens – try to break the link to the purchase by;
      a) delaying the purchase – meditation, distraction (reading, tv, dancing, painting and so on), tell yourself (out loud if possible) ‘I’ll wait x minutes, then see how I feel’ (or words to that effect)
      b)preventing the purchase – not carrying cash/cards to places/events that trigger the purchase (if possible)
      c) set a goal you really want and each time you feel the urge to purchase look at pics of the goal (a bank statement in credit, beach holiday, snazzy coat or whatever) and imagine yourself in the situation in the picture – then tell yourself that not purchasing lotto helps you get to your goal faster – along with this comes –
      d) NEVER talk about the lotto as a money making activity – always talk about it as a coping tool that you will gradually learn to replace with different tools.
      e) tell yourself that everyone has coping tools and none are ‘bad’ or ‘shameful’ – some are just more successful in giving you the life you want and deserve – and you are on the path to finding those ones.

      Good luck.

      1. The UnNamed*

        Excellent list – thank you. D. is a strange one. I don’t truly think I’m going to win big, but there is something so comforting and seductive about scratching tickets, you never know what it’s going to be. But it’s so very rarely anything significant.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I used to work in a store that sold scratch tickets, and two people–a clerk and a regular customer–had won big. Think low five figures. And both of them, adding up what they spent over the years vs won–it was a wash. They could have saved up that money and done the same thing.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            It was a big scandal here in our state years ago. They never printed the big winning ticket. So while the ticket said, “win $x” there was no way anyone could win that much.

    9. Thursday Next*

      A lot of excellent advice here, particularly on disrupting your access to tickets, and reframing them as a coping tool.

      It’s interesting that you wrote about the reasons why you don’t want to talk about this with your sister, as if you were anticipating the wurst in, “why don’t you talk to your sister” from commenters or from yourself. I’d say, why DO (or would) you talk to your sister? It sounds like even thinking about her possible response is a way for your to reinforce your own sense of shame while making it seem like it’s coming from outside.

      Who *can* you talk to, who would be kind and maybe just listen? If you can’t think of anyone you’d share this with, can you think about how you’d respond to a person who came to you with the same feelings of shame and financial challenges around something else—like a pen online shopping addiction, or alcoholism? You’d listen with kindness, right?

      Seconding all recommendations of gambling addiction hotlines (sometimes the state lotto commissions run these), GA, and/or therapy.

      Be kind to yourself. We’re rooting for you.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Ugh, “wurst in” should be “question”
        “Your to reinforce” = “you to reinforce”
        “A pen online shopping” = “an online shopping”

        Remember the days when what you typed was what actually showed up on the screen?

      2. WellRed*

        I picked up on that as well. Why would you want to talk to her or see her as the person to talk to about this?

        1. The UnNamed*

          She’s always been kind of a mother figure, of sorts, so her opinion matters a lot.

          1. Thursday Next*

            Gotcha. This makes sense.

            Here’s my take on that: Ten or twelve years ago, I realized there’s nothing I feel bad about that my mother can’t make me feel worse about. And then, maybe a year or so later, I translated that to not telling her about things that I feel bad about. Because she’s not only not helpful, she makes things worse. And slowly, after a while, I stopped thinking about what her reaction would be to my choices or challenges. It’s been a net positive for me.

            Now, I still have that “I want my mother” feeling sometimes, but I know I’m not looking for help from my actual mother, but feelings of comfort, safety, and reassurance.

            I think there’s a book called Becoming Your Own Parent; there are several books for adults working through the trauma of difficult parents. Perhaps some of these may be of use to you? And therapy can be a great resource in learning to find your own voice of self-assurance and self-comfort.

            I’ll be thinking of you.

    10. Aphrodite*

      I don’t know if this will help but there is a 12-Step program called Gamblers Anonymous.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I had a friend who admitted she was getting into a gambling problem.
      I was so surprised I never expected to hear this. But I admired her, she decided that it was a problem and she decided to handle it. It was after that she decided to lose weight also. I barely recognized her, she looked SO GREAT. To me, she is a strong person.

      Since your sis seems to have a huge amount of power in your life, it would probably be wise to get some counseling about your relationship with her as well as checking out GA, etc. See, you have a good running start here because you know what is driving the habit. This means you can work on breaking the habit and work on dialing back that driving force behind the habit at the same time.

      I’ve said it to others and the same holds true for you: You found this website. You are now up and running and underway here. You will find more and more resources as you go along. Remember don’t force yourself to be alone. Think of us here, we all know we can’t go it alone, life is that tough. So we have each other. And now so do you. Let us know how it’s going.

      1. The UnNamed*

        I appreciate the kind support, I truly do. I’ve never told anyone about this before.

    12. Kuododi*

      I worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for both adolescents and adults for quite a while. I’m not, however experienced in providing treatment for Gambling Addiction. There’s quite a bit of good info on this thread particularly from Drop Bear. I would heartily endorse Gamblers Anonymous either online or IRL. You deserve support and care. May the Holy One bless preserve and keep you both now and forever more.

    13. smoke tree*

      I’ve struggled with other addictive/compulsive behaviours in the past, but as others have said: it’s probably a good time to talk to a pro who specializes in gambling addiction. But my two cents:

      One pattern I noticed for myself was a cycle of compulsion leading to shame and social isolation, which fed the compulsion. It seems to give the addiction more power over you when you have lots of time to yourself to brood over it, and a lack of other things to distract you from it. So I would highly recommend making sure you don’t spend too much time alone. Anything you can do to get outside, meet people and stay as active as possible seems to make a huge difference.

    14. LibbyG*

      My warmest sympathies, UnNamed! State run lotteries really are a regressive tax.

      Would credit counseling be a good resource for you going forward? Or are there other services that help people chart the path back to solvency? I’m not very familiar with those services, but maybe other folks have suggestions for how to reduce the stress-impact of your current debts?

    15. Traveling Teacher*

      Oh goodness, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this!

      To try to limit spending when you first get your paycheck: Is there any way you could have your paycheck direct deposited into an account you don’t have easy access to that you could auto-pay your bills from, for the future? Then you could get a small, weekly direct deposit from that account into a checking account to use for food, etc, while you get back on your feet?

      I hope that you find someone you trust and can talk with about this–you’re not alone in this!

  28. Triple Anon*

    Getting my finances in order. It’s another one of those weeks where I have to push my bank account into the red just to stay on top of things. I don’t like it. I feel like a lazy, irresponsible person. And I constantly fear all the worse things that can happen when you have money problems. I don’t want to go into Friday Thread territory, but I’m doing that thing overtime as usual and trying hard to increase my income. I wish I could take a day off and relax or at least clean my house. Or even a few hours off. It’s going to be a tough week, money-wise.

    1. Ella*

      It took me a really long time to find a budgeting system that worked for me. I kept trying to track my expenses and such like Suze Orman and Jean Chatsky recommend, I could never keep up with it, and thought I was a dunce at money. Nope! I just hadn’t found the right system. Turns out the envelope system–or variations of it–work for me. I use a service called YNAB to budget now (I would recommend it, but they recently increased the price to $80 a year and I honestly don’t know if it’s worth that. They do have a 30 day free trial, though). It’s helped me to look *ahead* with my money, instead of trying to figure out where it all went. For the first year and a half I had it, I was only earning about $20k a year, but it helped me to stretch out and plan and prioritize so that I wasn’t always getting down to my last $50 every single month.

      I hope the burdens ease up on you soon, and you can build a bit of a cushion. Constantly skirting the red is stressful as hell.

      1. Natalie*

        If you look at any general “zero based” or “envelope” budgeting system, that’s YNAB with no app. I love and use YNAB, not knocking it at all, but what you’re paying for is the software.

      2. Schmitt*

        Ouch, that’s a lot. We bought YNAB classic, which was a one-time purchase, about 1 1/2 years ago. Don’t know how long they’ll support it, though.

        1. Gatomon*

          YNAB4 is technically out of support already, but the software still works. I still use it; picked it up in 2013 I think and I’m not keen on the new web-based version (for all the reasons that have already been shouted into the void by others). I think there are some competitors in the works, but I haven’t heard of anything that would cause me to migrate.

          Sometimes you can find someone who has an old YNAB4 key they’re willing to give out. The Reddit sub will occasionally have posts.

      3. Persephone Mulberry*

        I’m a YNAB convert, too. Worth every penny of the $80, for me. I really struggle with changing bad habits/developing good habits, in general, and I’m coming up on 5 full months of using YNAB without falling off the wagon for more than a few days. I just keep reminding myself it’s cheaper and more useful than Netflix. ;)

    2. Anono-me*

      Many larger cities have this cool thing called “Fare for All”. It is not charity, it is a cooperative buying program. If you don’t have a lot of food restrictions, this might be something you would like.
      You pay like $35 for a huge box of food. There is a vegetarian (or maybe vegan) option, but you don’t get to choose individual items. It is also great if you hate to grocery shop or don’t have a lot of time.

    3. Kuododi*

      DH and I found Dave Ramsey’s material to be very helpful for nuts and bolts organization of finances including how to get savings started. I didn’t find his information about investing and long term planning to be as helpful but that’s just me. Fair warning, he makes no bones about his Evangelical Christian beliefs. I didn’t find anything to be oppressive or “pushy” about his belief statements. DH and I found the best thing about his material was it made things very easy to open line of communication between us about finances. Best wishes!

    4. Triple Anon*

      Thank you for all the replies! To clarify things, the problem is that I don’t make enough money. I’ve been dealing with some difficult situations that have made it harder to earn a good living. So I work a lot for very low pay. Budgeting and finance management are strong points. I’ve gotten good at that stuff because I’ve spent most of my life in this situation – not making enough to make ends meet.

  29. TheLiz*

    Our flat has a storage basement. Yay! It flooded last night. Not yay. We had all our books in the basement – four and a half boxes were dry to seven and a half wet. Husband and I have triaged the situation- about three books were a total write off, about 2/3 were thoroughly soaked and are now on their third towel drain cycle after having water presses out and a third were damp and are sitting stacked under weights with paper towels between them.

    We still need to get the tools and my fabric stash out of there, because the fire department only drained it to ankle deep. My wedding dress has probably been soaked in muddy floodwater.

    Between the shock of finding out at midnight that this was happening and the stress of waiting for the room to be pumped out,and getting the books out and drying as fast as possible I’ve had two hours sleep in the last 27. I’ve also been having an insomniac week for no good reason. The only good news in all this is that the two literal antique books we own (rather than just obscure and/or expensive and/or out of print) books were only damp and not ruined. They’re drying with paper towels every ~20 pages.

    Anyone got good tips for book recovery? Must be good for about 150 books :/

    1. WellRed*

      Honestly, I would get rid of all but your absolute favorites. They’ll never be the same and I would be afraid of months. As a bookstore worker, water damaged books were a hard no! However, one of the librarian commenters may have more useful help.

        1. Anono-me*

          After reading your first comment, I had a brief vision of being attacked by calendar page people armed with swords. For some reason February was the most aggressive.

    2. Liblady*

      Mold might also be a problem. I try to save books that get a mild soaking, maybe just some of the pages or portion of pages, but go between letting them air dry opened up (and end up with wrinkled, wavy pages) or pressing them flat (and taking really long to dry and either the pages sticking together or moldy, depending on the amount of water absorbed).

    3. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I have a background in archival work, and here are some links that we would utilize to create flood plans:



      Be very careful about what you do keep, and I suggest wearing a mask/gloves while going through anything else in the basement, as well as when you’re working with the books, until you know they’re mold and mildew free.

      Honestly, save what you can, but I encourage you to bag and throw away anything damaged that is not of significant value. Mold LOVES books, and it is a lot of work to dry them properly. Better often to replace them.

  30. nep*

    In the spirit of ‘Bad habits don’t go away by themselves; it’s an undo-it-yourself project,’ I’m going on a week of NOT going downstairs to grab some smoothie or fruit when I wake in the middle of the night. It was just a stupid habit, and I was depriving myself of the fast we’re giving our body between dinner and breakfast. Feels good. (I wasn’t eating something every night (and it was always just fruit or a bit of a smoothie/not junk), but more often than not and that was bad enough.)
    Tell me about your ‘undo-it-yourself’ projects…breaking bad habits.

    1. WellRed*

      Does this count? I have been spending far too much time at the local bar/restaurant. It’s become almost automatic to go there to grab food and drinks. It’s expensive, fattening and time wasting. I need to walk or go to the gym after work instead to break the habit, get healthier, both in body and budget.

      1. nep*

        This is a perfect example. Go, you. You can form that healthier (less expensive in more ways than one) habit. Keep us posted.

    2. Sylvan*

      Yeah, kinda needed something like that this week…

      – Stop impulse-shopping, especially in the grocery store. Shop with a list.
      – Stop bringing my computer into the bedroom. It’s supposed to live on a desk in another room, but I like curling up in bed and reading garbage until 2 am.

      1. nep*

        Second one–yes. I don’t surf in the bedroom, but I will stay on the internet in my ‘office’ across the hall for too long some nights, and that’s eating into my precious sleep time. I’m better off in a million ways when I rein that in.

    3. Ali G*

      Not drinking every day. I need to lose weight. No wine Mon-Wed. Thurs – 2 glasses tops. Fri-Sat – indulge. Sunday – don’t drink enough it’s hard to get out of bed Monday morning.

      1. nep*

        For what it’s worth–when I was drinking too much/too regularly, as soon as I dropped alcohol altogether, pounds just melted off.
        (Now that I don’t drink and I’m much older, it’s so tough to lose even a little bit. But I know I can do better when it comes to food choices/portions.)

    4. Forking Great Username*

      Stop leaving things out/waiting until later to clean up messes when it would just take a minute to do it in the moment. I’m perpetually running behind with our two preschool-age kids and my new job, but I basically always have some sort of excuse for cutting corners and not cleaning as I go. And I’m really trying to stop because it turns our house into a mess…but I’m realizing while making this change that I am super frequently not paying attention to what I am doing when I’m trying to get out the door/get dinner ready/etc.

    5. Pie for Breakfast*

      I gave up sugar for the month of May. Well, sugar in desserts, candy, treats, etc… not beer or alcohol. My candy consumption had gotten crazy.
      The first week was easy, the second week was terrible and then it got easier again. I realized I eat a lot of sugary stuff, especially baked goods, in the early afternoon when I wanted a break from work. So I started taking a walk break, or some other activity instead. Also, when I told myself :you don’t eat sugar” it was easy to pass up the samples in the store or treats in the kitchen at work. It’s June but I’m going to continue with the no sugar plan but maybe with Sunday Treats day or something. We’ll see.

      1. nep*

        That’s great. Well done.
        (I eat FAR too many bananas and I’ve got to cut down. I need to grab a food with some protein and not just that sugary (albeit natural) snack each time. They are just so easy and satisfying.) I always feel better when I cut down.

    6. Thursday Next*

      What a great way of putting it! I am not going to stay up until the wee hours on my iPad. I know I do this because it truly feels like “me time”—everyone’s asleep, the dishes are washed—and it’s when I’m most relaxed. But then I suffer the next day from only having four or maybe five hours of sleep.

      Experts recommend a screen fast a few hours before bedtime; I’m not ready for that yet. But I’m going to give myself a chance to get at least seven hours of sleep.

  31. Laura H*

    Update on the trip prep:

    Duffle is mostly packed, just have to add a casual top and bottom and two dressier tops and a skirt. Before Monday.

    Go bag for in car is washed and hanging dry. Probably will put that together Monday. And then we leave on Wednesday. Rented a ramp van and a power chair for me.

    I’m on the fence about whether I want to take my laptop or not- both same reason towards one way or the other: it’s still relatively new. It’s on the smaller side tho and if I take it, the sleeve/ case should fit comfortably in my go bag. But im realistically gonna not be able to have my eyes on it at all times upon arrival at the hotel.

    And while I’d love to maybe work on some fic…. I’m just not sure whether it’s worth taking.

    1. WellRed*

      I love NOT taking a laptop on non woek tr ips but if you are driving, you won’t have to schlep it through the airport. Are you sure there isn’t a safe in the room?

    2. ElspethGC*

      Re. working on fics – I have mine on OneNote and write both on my phone and my laptop (I don’t have an iPad but if I did I would use that as well), so it is still feasible. If you can be bothered to transfer them onto a document that you can access and edit from your phone and if you’re comfortable typing on your phone, that is.

      Most hotels do have safes, but it’s also true that a lot of hotel safes aren’t big enough for a laptop, so…

      1. Laura H*

        I wouldn’t mind keeping it on my person if I had to! It’s one that’s comparable in size to a paper notebook.

        We’re driving but I am not driving. (That whole no license thing)

    3. Natalie*

      If you’re thinking “I’ll just maybe use it”, I’d skip it. Every time I’ve brought something on vacation because I’ll maybe use it, I don’t.

      It sounds like you might be worried about it getting stolen if you leave it behind? Bluntly, if someone breaks into your house while you’re gone, it’s going to be a huge pain in the ass whether or not that specific item is taken.

      1. Laura H*

        Yeah. I don’t travel enough to know how to uh safeguard it if I leave it. But I don’t know how to safeguard it if I take it either…

        1. LizB*

          It should be significantly less risky to leave it at home, shouldn’t it? Do you have reason to believe someone is going to break in or that one of your housemates would take it or something? I’ve never gone through any particular steps to safeguard my belongings at home while traveling, other than remembering to lock my apartment door and putting a hold on my mail if it’s a longish trip. If you’re really worried, is there a trusted friend or other local person who could keep it for you?

  32. anon24*

    Tl;Dr: it rains every day I have off and I’m super depressed and frustrated
    I’ve been incredibly frustrated and depressed lately. I work a schedule where I work 80 hours in 8 days, and then get 6 days off. So basically I do my 2 weeks of work in one huge chunk centered over the weekend, and then I get the next weekend off.

    It will not stop raining on my days off. It has rained every weekend I have off for months. I am a very outdoor person, and I have lists of things I want to do outside, but I can’t, and it’s really starting to negatively affect my mental health (and I’m starting to sleep all the time which is not healthy). Even if it doesn’t rain, when they’re calling for rain to start any time I can’t start projects. Yesterday I went to visit family and I have things I wanted to do with them outside but it was supposed to rain all afternoon so I didn’t bring any supplies and then it ended up being a beautiful day. I wanted to cry.

    I feel so stretched thin because I’ve spent the last few months unable to get out and do stuff and I’m really the type of person who needs to be able to get out and go places to relax. All I’ve done for months is either work or being stuck inside cleaning and watching Netflix. When I work it’s always beautiful out and it makes me super grumpy and stressed out. I just want a nice weekend off so I can go hiking or swimming or to the damned beach! Is that so hard for the universe to give me?

    If you’ve read this far, thanks. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, I just needed to get this out. I just want to feel myself again.

      1. anon24*

        Theoretically yes. I know this is the no work thread so I don’t want to go into great detail but calling out is actually a big deal because they have to find a replacement for you (I’m an EMT so it’s not a matter of letting the work wait). I contemplated it all last week and I’m thinking about calling out this coming weekend but we’ll see.

        1. WellRed*

          That does make a difference, but I really think you need to take a day. Try t o think of it, as, if you woke up one day with some nasty flu or something, you’d call out. This is not much different.

    1. Thumbcat*

      I grew up in a rainy climate. We just went outside anyway if it was raining, because it was never not raining. It was fun to get all soaked stomping in puddles and then come back to a hot shower. Do you really hate getting wet, or your projects mix poorly with water?

      1. anon24*

        My projects mix poorly with water (I’ve been trying to wax my car for 3 months, it’s one of my favorite warm weather activities). If I’m hiking I don’t mind getting wet but my hiking buddy won’t usually hike in the rain and I hate going alone. I’ve been thinking about trying to go tomorrow regardless of the weather because I need to do something!

  33. Arrrrghhhh*

    I am just so tired, y’all.

    Nothing is working, no matter what I do. Nobody wants my book, nobody wants me, I can’t find a job, and my house is literally falling apart around me. I should probably just give up on this book/series, but I don’t want to, and I don’t feel like any of the other stuff I’ve got is better.

    One of my writer friends was whinging on Twitter, “I wish I knew how you all are getting movie deals,” and I was like, dude, you’re WAY ahead of me. You’re with an agent at a prestigious agency, your books are ten times better than mine, you’re PUBLISHED, you have FANS (including me), yes you still have a day job but you HAVE a day job, you have a family, shut up up up up up. I know it’s bad to compare myself to other people, but damn. If I had anything else going, I might not feel so bad, but it’s really disheartening that the only thing I can halfway do is something that nobody wants to pay me for. And I’m not even all that good at it, apparently. :P

    This stress is really getting to me; I can’t even think. I can’t write. I sit down at the computer and my brain just shuts down. I’m sick of staring at the same room, I’m sick of this town, and I can’t escape. It’s like being in prison. One of my dharma group friends said once that I wasn’t really experiencing my (sorta) daily walks unless I was paying total attention–but I’ve taken the same walk so many times. Same trees; same houses. The only thing that changes is what garbage is on the street at any given time. :P So even taking a walk isn’t stimulation enough. I am inside my head the entire time because there’s nothing outside it.

    I don’t want medication. I don’t want a therapist. I want this deadlock to BREAK. And not in a disaster-y way, please!

    1. anon24*

      *kicks universe back for you*

      I think we both need a vacation (where it doesn’t rain)

      I hope the block wall you’ve been hitting lately crumbles down soon and that the other side is lovely and holds a job and a book deal.

      Not that it matters, because I don’t work in publishing, but I really enjoyed the book of short stories that you sold and I would definitely read another book by you.

    2. Laura H*

      Ok… I can’t help but let me ask you, do you enjoy your book series? Not in the monetary sense- no one enjoys when that part is lacking.

      Are you writing them for you? Do you enjoy the story?

      That’s what matters. The money and such does as well. (And sorry- I’m a major huge idealist….) But your enjoyment of your work is crucial to that sense of accomplishment.

      Good luck.

      1. Arrrrghhhh*

        Yes, I do. I really like it. But apparently it’s not good enough for anyone with any influence to feel the same.

        I do not want to self publish. I don’t. I think it deserves better than that.

        1. Julia*

          I know self-publishing is tricky, but have you looked into Moira Katson’s book on it? It’s cheap and maybe there are some tricks you can use.

          I hope you feel better soon. I’m a writer on the side as well, just not now because I’m writing my thesis, and then I have to job-hunt, but I’m doing it bit by bit. Write what you want to read is what I do for now.

            1. Julia*

              Thank you! Not a PhD, just an M.A., but still, it’s really starting to take a toll on me, and it’s due in one week eek!

    3. It doesn't hurt ME*

      I wish something would go right for you Elizabeth! Like Sara Crewe in a Little Princess, I wish there was a lovely neighbour just about to swoop in and make all your dreams come true.

      1. Arrrrghhhh*

        Thanks. I know this is a slump, and nothing lasts forever, but it doesn’t seem like that when you’re in it. :\

    4. nep*

      So sorry you’re struggling, Elizabeth West.
      Make a promise to yourself not to give up. As long as you’re in a state of not giving up–even if that simply means getting out of bed and taking the walk–the door is open for the unexpected and the next step you don’t see yet.
      Sending you good vibes and putting it out to the universe that Elizabeth needs a freaking break.

      1. Arrrrghhhh*

        Not ready to give up yet; I still have major FOMO, lol. But I’m just so tired….I need to see something happening.
        I really do wish I could get out of here for a while. I think it would jumpstart my brain. This endless monotony, man.

    5. Thursday Next*

      Can I say that, based on comments of yours of months, you’re actually someone I quite admire in terms of writing persistence? (If this is not a thing, it should be.)

      Because I have dealt with rejections badly—BY STOPPING. FOR YEARS. Even though the act of writing itself produces a physical high for me. But I’m so discouraged by the randomness of the industry—why does X have a contract, how did Y snag an agent—and while I’m happy for them, of course it’s hard that these are my friends, not just random strangers.

      Of course you don’t want meds or therapy or friends humble bragging! I get it. I really do. Can you think of one thing you have that is your touchstone? Like maybe your dharma group? (Which sounds awesome, btw!) I am giving you the advice I am trying to implement myself, which is to have something I can turn to, something I can call mine, that feels like a sustaining force in my life.

      Sending many good thoughts your way, if you’d like them.

      1. Arrrrghhhh*

        Yes, I’ll take them. Thanks. <3 Sending them right back atcha!

        Rejection is just a part of it–but I think what's bugging me is that I'm SO CLOSE. I actually had a request for partial/full a couple of years ago and then got a critique rejection. SO CLOSE YET SO FAR. I really wanted this book to be the one, too. I can write the sequels — they're planned out all the way through Book 3 — but they can't be sold on their own without the first book. I probably need new first pages. ARRRGHHHH

        I should work on other stuff, and I have other stuff I can work on. But this unemployment stress and feeling trapped here are just numbing my brain. I really need to make a routine that includes strict writing time and stick to it, even if all I produce is a bunch of dumb throat clearing. Maybe I should just go to the library a couple of times a week. I hate writing in public because I get distracted easily, but I need a change of scenery. Or at the very least, sit at my desk instead of on the sofa!

        Friend wasn't humble-bragging; he was just longing for what should be the natural next step for him. I'm just bummed because he's ahead of me. And better than me, no contest–he deserves everything and more.

        1. Thursday Next*

          Sorry—no shade intended to your friend! Sometimes my own jerkbrain interprets my friends’ good fortune thus. (Cue Morrissey….)

          I’m going to try going to the library a few times this week myself. You have inspired me!

          Good luck with the job search—I’m sorry you have that stress to deal with.

    6. Red*

      *hugs and positive energy* Someday, I hope things are better for you. You are wonderful and deserve it.

    7. HannahS*

      I’m sorry, that’s an awful way to feel. I hope the deadlock breaks soon! I think even a small improvement would feel really good right now :(

    8. LilySparrow*

      Sounds like an artist date is in order.
      Where is your nearest art museum? Science museum? Children’s museum? Local history/natural history museum?
      Where is your nearest locally-owned bookstore?
      Where could you take a picnic?
      Where could you put your feet in the water? (even a creek)
      Where could you stargaze?
      Where could you sit and watch an aquarium or a beehive?
      Where could you swim?
      Where could you dig in the dirt and plant or harvest something?
      Where could you hear some live music for cheap or free? (Bonus if outdoors)
      Where could you dance (any kind you like)?
      Where could you hug people or cuddle pets?
      Where could you hear poetry or book readings?

      Getting outside my routine in delightful ways is really good for me when I get to feeling the way you do. You need some joy! It’s great for breaking mental and emotional deadlock!

      And planning/looking for these type of activities is a project that gives you something positive to think about and look forward to. Best wishes!

      1. Arrrrghhhh*

        I planted some heirloom tomatoes in pots a few weeks ago (for portability, in case I get a job elsewhere and have to move). Very much looking forward to eating them. :)
        These are good suggestions, thank you!

    9. StudentA*

      It sounds like you’re looking for a radical change. Have you thought of the Peace Corps or Americorps? Do you think something like that could get you out of your rut and help you do some healing?

      I’m really sorry you feel stuck. But you’re smart and compassionate (my perception of you on these threads for years now), so I’m sure you’ll climb out of this. Keep us posted.

      1. Arrrrghhhh*

        I looked into that years ago and decided it wasn’t for me. Thanks. Something’s gotta give soon. I can feel it–I
        just have to believe in it.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      A friend and I use an expression with each other in times of hard worry. We say, “It will be okay.” We don’t offer any reasoning or logic for saying that. It’s just a simple statement. I am saying this because I don’t want you to think I am diminishing your concerns. I want you to realize that this is what my friend and I tell each other when the concerns are at their most serious.


      “It will be okay.”

      Just keep going.

      1. Arrrrghhhh*

        The concept of impermanence in Buddhism has been a big help. Yes, good things don’t last forever, but neither do the shitty ones. Thank you for reminding me of that.

    11. Arrrrghhhh*

      This community is the best. Thank you all for the encouragement. You have no idea how appreciated it is. <3

    12. LibbyG*

      You wrote “nobody wants me”. If it’s some small comfort, the AAM community wants you! When I’m scrolling through the comments and I see your flaxen locks I have a pleasant flash of “good stuff ahead!” Thoughtful, empathetic, well written stuff.

      I dearly hope you get some breakthrough soon, on one front or another!

  34. AlligatorSky*

    I was supposed to be going on a long drive with my mum and stepdad. We were supposed to leave at 11, but still hadn’t left by 1. They then announced they were going out for lunch but I didn’t go cause I wasn’t hungry. They’re still not back so I’ve changed back into my pyjamas and I’m going to just bingewatch Netflix all day. Bleh. They can go on their stupid drive if they want, I’m bored of waiting for them to come back. What a fun start to the weekend.

    1. Jaid_Diah*

      I wanted to go for a long drive with my best friend last weekend, but her health issues came up. Normally, I’d stay in, too, but since I have a car, I went by myself.
      Not the same, though and I didn’t stay out long. You have my sympathies

  35. anon24*

    How do you “treat” yourself without food? I have this really unhealthy dynamic where food is really important in helping me unwind or have fun. End of a rough workweek? Go get a milkshake. At the beach having fun? Stop and buy pizza. Had a long hike? Let’s get food. Stuck inside on a cold rainy day? Hot tea and let’s bake cookies.

    So much of my life is centered around food. I posted above about being very stressed out about weather and part of the thing that’s making it worse is that I’m on a strict diet right now and can’t have any of those fun social things I’ve centered my life around. I feel so empty after going for a walk and craving sweet tea afterwards and I’m stuck with lemon water.

    I know that I can’t change a lifetime of bad habits quickly (in fact I’ve been trying for about 2 years now with no luck, because I just plain love food) but this isn’t sustainable. I struggle with my weight so much and am always either gaining or losing. I’m terrified of becoming morbidly obese and unhealthy but I’m so addicted to food to regulate my mental health. When I look back on my life all the fun times included food.

    Any suggestions? What do the super healthy or people who struggle with allergies/medical restrictions do to rewards yourself and relax without spending a lot of money? I wish I could get therapy for this but I don’t think that’s an option financially right now.

    1. It doesn't hurt ME*

      I don’t have any brilliant suggestions but I have found some success in being intentional and considering portion size when it comes to “reward food”. One of my bad habits is unconscious eating, so sitting down with my reward in front of TV or a book or even whilst talking to a friend and suddenly it’s all gone and I didn’t get the “reward glow” so I want more. I try instead to focus on what I’m eating – really savour the chocolate taste/smell etc and enjoy it. But also listen to my body, so if I bought a reward pizza and I feel full half way I stop eating it. Although this is wasteful I also discard food at that point, because I know I’ll eat it later just knowing it’s there. I will put the pizza in the bin instead. Which will encourage me to order less the next time because I feel bad about the waste.

    2. Fiennes*

      My journey on this has been uneven, but for what it’s worth: the best thing has been finding foods that are healthy/lower in calories that still feel like treats. My main one is pho, which I looove. There’s a great Vietnamese place very close to my house. So when I feel that urge to treat myself, I go get some pho. It has less of an impact on my waistline, but I still get the emotional comfort. (Pho has some issues—high in sodium, for one, though for me that’s not a major deal—but the perfect is the enemy of the good.) Are there a few foods/beverages like that for you?

    3. food*

      I try to find out what feeling the food is comforting for. For example, if I’ve had a rough week, maybe a massage would work; if it’s raining and I can’t go outside, maybe reading a book/watching an enjoyable show or even cooking something with attention work as boredom fighters. Often, if I can identify the thing that is going on, I will have ideas on other ways to deal with it. The trick for me is to be able to endure and quiet the brain enough to figure out what is really going on; this goes get easier with practice.

    4. Cristina in England*

      Oh I am right there with you. I don’t have any suggestions, just wanted to say you aren’t alone.

    5. Natalie*

      Is there some small non-food thing you could buy that would feel treat-y? I buy myself flowers a lot, but there’s also fancy lotion, makeup or nail polish if you wear those, candles, small houseplants, etc. You’re still getting something, it’s just not something you eat.

    6. Kate Daniels*

      A new book! Or to save money, put a hold on something at the library and then treat yourself by taking the trip to the library to pick it up.

    7. Sylvan*

      Liking food and liking eating are pretty different things, so I try to think about whether I’m actually going to appreciate the food, or whether I just want to eat whatever. If it’s the latter, then: Am I actually hungry?

    8. Thlayli*

      Having a massage, getting waxed, getting nails done, going for a swim, going to movies (yes you can do this on your own it rocks), buying a book or dvd or a new item of clothing, having a long bubble bath (with a glass of wine if that doesn’t violate the no food rule), candles, music, meeting up with a friend, having a lazy day in bed with Netflix… millions of ways

    9. nep*

      Sorry you’re struggling with this.
      Sometimes it helps me to just use TIME. Just thinking past that initial impulse to reach for something I want to eat. In my experience there is something really powerful in just being still for a moment and moving past it in your mind. Put it down or shut the fridge or walk away…
      I know it might sound too simplistic–‘just walk away’–but I’ve just found that taking a moment can help. I’m still not perfect with it, but I do find it helps and I feel great physically and ‘mentally’ when I succeed in moving past the impulse.
      All the best to you.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Yes, time can be a great ally in this. I got into a habit of telling myself, “It will still be here tomorrow” about whatever craved food item I was reaching for, and that often worked for me.

    10. Ali G*

      Do you like to cook? What works for me is taking on the challenge of making my “treat” foods healthier. So for example, pizza: I make my own whole wheat dough, sauce, use turkey pepperoni, and part skim cheese. OR put the same thing on a cauliflower pizza crust (CauliPower is awesome).
      Meatballs – turkey sausage and ground turkey instead of beef
      Put veggies in everything – puree roasted eggplant into a tomato sauce, add mushrooms to pasta sauce, put spinach in EVERYTHING!!! :)
      Challenge yourself!

    11. Alli*

      This is not a question you asked, but some things in your post stood out to me – struggling with weight, being terrified of being obese, feeling addicted to food – that reminded me of my life when I was yo-yo dieting.

      If you are on a diet for medical reasons, please ignore this, but if you’re just feeling out of control around/obsessed with food no matter what you do, I will just note that the only thing that has ever improved my relationship with my weight and food is just…not dieting. (And reading a lot about fat positivity/health at every size. Let me know if you want recs.) It was SO HARD to let myself eat whatever I wanted, while working on not being afraid of gaining weight. I think it took me 8 months or so for it to feel comfortable. But I finally felt free – I wasn’t constantly counting calories in my head or exercising to make up for eating too much or looking at my stomach to see if it seemed smaller or larger. None of my fears were realized – I didn’t gain 500 pounds, I didn’t stop eating vegetables, I didn’t turn into a slug. I’m so much happier.

      1. another Hero*

        Eating whatever I want has been really helpful for me as well in my relationship with food. If I want chocolate chip cookies (and I have the time to make them), I’ll eat chocolate chip cookies. As a result, when I see chocolate chip cookies, it’s much easier to think “do I want this?” and answer no when I don’t actually want them right then and I know the opportunity isn’t going away. BUT JUST AS IMPORTANTLY, when I do eat chocolate chip cookies, I know that I want them, I don’t judge myself for eating them, and I can enjoy them properly.

        Likewise, if I want chocolate chip cookies (no idea why this was the thing I chose, but I’m going with it) every day for a month, I’ll eat them every day for a month, because my experience is that I’m not going to want something forever if I eat it when I want it; I might want them every day for a month, but then I’ll be over them for a while, and rather than thinking about them all the time, I’ll be totally chill about chocolate chip cookies. I’m a baker with a sweet tooth–less of one, since working as a baker, lol–so I can assure you this isn’t just in theory for me. But it’s not just that the appetite goes away when fed; it’s also that you don’t have to (“have to”) hate yourself for, like, wanting food.

        Obviously time and money both limit the practice of Eating Exactly What You Want At All Times, but still. It also makes it easier for me not to view food as transactional (ie use it as a reward) because I just…can eat when I want to. I still like exercising, I’m still going to finish the task in front of me, etc. It also helps to actually eat when you’re hungry in general so that you’re only, like, a normal amount hungry when making these decisions.

        As Alli says, HAES and fat positivity can help with this, because we do have a lot of cultural baggage about food and bodies and that’s not your fault. Also because (you may already be great at it but) being aware of your body helps with this, and it was definitely only post-fat positivity that I was willing to pay enough attention to my body to notice what I wanted to eat a lot of the time, or learn what being hungry felt like for me so that I could actually eat when hungry rather than waiting until super-hungry, or become more aware of when I really wanted to get up and move around, etc etc.

        As for unwinding and having fun food? I know this isn’t necessarily easy in all kinds of cultural context and when you have habits, but I grew up in a family that does a lot of it so I do have some of those habits myself, and what I tend to do is view those things as a choice rather than a default. Passing a promising bakery I’ve never tried before? Am I willing to spend the money on it, and do I want that food? Either choice is good, but I own it. Or in your example, at the beach and there’s pizza? It could be fun to get pizza. Do I want to (spend money on and) eat pizza? If so, cool, let’s get pizza. If not, cool, I can always do it next time I’m at the beach (or literally anywhere because, well, pizza’s not that hard to find). But treating those things as a decision rather than a default choice probably means I do them less and definitely means I enjoy them more.

        Also, as a baker, “quiet day home -> let’s make cookies” translates easily into “quiet day home -> let’s make something I can eat for breakfast for the next week” [I literally always wish I’d prepped more breakfasts lol once I ended up taking the brownies in my freezer for breakfast for like a whole week and then being like “why do I feel like I’m dying” at 10am for like a whole week; I do not recommend this if it makes you feel like you’re dying the first time] or “quiet day home -> let’s make a batch of cookie dough and bake off a couple cookies to eat and freeze the rest for the next time I have to take cookies to something” or (if you need to be Like This, which I do) “quiet day home -> let’s make soup from the stock up.” Food is fun and wanting and liking food is great! But I get enjoyment from a lot of kinds of food, and I think most people do, whereas culturally we have a really narrow definition of “fun” foods. (This does not mean “give up cookies forever, vegan oat squares are the same thing,” to be very clear. I’m not on the team of health bloggers who are trying to trick themselves about food. I’m Team Eat What I Want, it’s just that…I want a lot of different kinds of food. None of which are vegan oat fake cookies, not sure why I went with that example besides that it sounds sad.)

        Sorry for like writing a novel I just really love food and hate food stigma and have really strong feelings about the goodness of bodies

    12. TheLiz*

      Something that helped me is taking tea absolutely plain, then getting fantastic flavours like spearmint or vanilla chai and making it a comfort go-to. It’s food,and my brain does sorta react that way, but there’s no sugars or fats so I really can drink an entire pot of tea then feel good about hydrating.

    13. HannahS*

      I am very much not someone with super healthy habits, but one thing I do is reward myself with TV and hobby time. I had a very stressful May, so this past week I watched nearly two entire series of TV shows that I like and sewed a dress. I might go to a thrift store and buy something that I like but don’t need (so, not huge amounts of money). I reward myself with wasted time too–which is really something I do too much of and need to stop–but many cups of tea and time reading crap articles.

    14. KAZ2Y5*

      My work offers a…well I will call it a lifestyle program (not a diet) and this is one of the things that are emphasized. How to reward yourself without food.
      You need to look at yourself and recognize things that are vital to your happiness. Things that if you don’t have them, your life is just so stressed out. Pick 6-7 things that you need and write them out to remember them. And next time you want to reward yourself with food, check your list.
      I will give you some of mine as examples –
      I need personal time – that is, time to do whatever I want (it may be by myself or with others). Fun time.
      I need sleep – I work the night shift and my sleep is precious to me. This includes naps when necessary!
      I need time alone – this is different from personal time. This is time to have deep thoughts :-)
      I need financial security – for me this involves saving/budgeting.
      I need to learn new things – for me this can come from news, podcasts, classes, lectures, documentaries, books, etc.
      I need spirituality – for me this comes from church, bible study, fellowship with other Christians, podcasts, etc.

      Look at your life and see what you need to have for your life to be joyful. And realize that some of your life is going to have food involved in it. If one of your needs is companionship with others, sometimes that will revolve around a meal. Just don’t let the meal be the only thing.

      When I did this exercise in my class, this was a real eye-opener for me. I knew all the obvious ways to reward myself (pedicure, new shoes/purse/clothes, etc, other activities I enjoy) but didn’t think about things like my need for financial security or learning new things. I feel like I am accomplishing something and enjoy them just as much.
      Good luck, I know it’s hard!

    15. smoke tree*

      This is totally counter-intuitive, but I actually find cooking helps with this, particularly if I’m making something particularly tricky or elaborate. I love food as well, but for me, making something explicitly for other people can be more satisfying than eating it myself. I usually find I’m less interested in eating something if I see it more as a project.

    16. Traveling Teacher*

      This is going to sounds silly, but what helps me is to brush my teeth right away after I eat. That helps me avoid unplanned food treats/”rewards” because I really like the feeling of clean teeth.

      I try to keep a small list going of things I want to do–going to a certain place, working on a fun project just for me instead of a house project that evening, etc. Or, just going to the library and treating myself to reading the new magazines for a half hour or so :)

    17. Hnl123*

      I found some low calorie options that I enjoy just as much:
      -plain popcorn
      -la croix in various flavors
      -carrots with hummus
      -big bowl of quinoa (I like it plain or with some salsa)
      -or one good really stiff drink :)

      I also switched to non food treats like
      -new nail polish color
      -sheet masks or other beauty product
      – new body lotion products
      -new piece of clothing (doesn’t have to be expensive)
      – a nap!!!
      – a new book
      – different teas
      -a yoga class or other class I enjoy
      – just some cute home decor things

  36. It doesn't hurt ME*

    In the open thread discussion about employers enforcing their “moral code” someone suggested a “discussion on things you should have been taught in sex ed”. My suggestions – female anatomy – which bits are called what and *your own* anatomy for women. As in, have a look with a hand mirror! I wish girls were as comfortable and knowledgeable about their genitals as boys.
    (full disclosure – I’m an OBGYN – so I care about this more than most people)

    1. Heckofabecca*

      Common causes of UTIs—I.e. clean up after sex!!!! I’ve never seen any books or stories with a sex scene that actually shows a good cleanup XD

      Also I’ve been reading “Come as you are”—highly recommend it for no nonsense discussion of female sexuality (including a detailed chapter on anatomy).

      1. the gold digger*

        a sex scene that actually shows a good cleanup

        In heterosexual love scenes, when the woman hops out of bed right after and just pulls on her underwear and then gets dressed – do women really do that? How?

        1. Thlayli*

          If he was wearing a condom and didn’t use any lube and it wasn’t a long drawn out session then Some women can pull knickers on straight away. Not everyone gets super wet all the time.

          If he comes inside the woman she may be putting on knickers but she’s gonna have to change them again pretty soon!

        2. LilySparrow*

          Theoretically possible, especially if you’re not to finicky. But it always makes me cringe when women don’t go pee immediately.

          My sisters, spare your urethra! Void those migrating germs away!

      2. Parenthetically*

        Cosigning on both! I will never not snort at male-female TV or movie sex scenes where they finish and then roll over and go to sleep. And Come As You Are is a must-read for women, IMO.

      3. Artemesia*

        I’ve always thought it hilarious that movies always show a roll in the hay and then people get up out of bed and jump into their clothes or pull up their pants and down their skirts and get on with life as if they were not dripping messes. I saw a European classic film (can’t recall the specifics) where after a roll in the woods, he handed her a big handkerchief or neck scarf and she cleaned up — first realistic post sex scene I have ever seen.

    2. ElspethGC*

      Sex ed and safe sex for queer folk. I learnt about dental dams for WLW from erotica, for God’s sake. I think most people know that men dating men should still use condoms, but there’s hardly anything about what measures lesbians and bi girls should take or what STDs we can catch from other women. Sex-related things that don’t involve penises need to be more discussed!

          1. Thlayli*

            Pretty much the only thing you can get from sex that you can’t get from oral sex is pregnancy.

            It’s a lower risk of catching it than if there is actual ejaculation, but in theory you can get anything from oral.

          2. It doesn't hurt ME*

            Most STIs are spread by mucosal contact so you can catch chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, moluscum contagious or herpes via oral sex, sharing toys or scissoring. You can also get blood borne viruses like hepatitis or hiv if there are small mucosal tears or if you share razors or toothbrushes.
            Safe sex should involve using a dental dam if having oral (basically you stay on your side of the latex) and not sharing toys. Like heterosexual couples, once you have decided to be exclusive (if you do) both should have a full sti screen ceasing those measures.

      1. Autumn anon*

        Yes! And on the subject of sex ed for queer people, here’s my addition:

        You don’t have to want sex. Sexual freedom also includes the freedom to say ‘no’ and to be generally uninterested. Asexuality exists, (and other ace identities under the asexual umbrella) as does sex-repulsion, and the two don’t have to go together, but they can. It’s fine!

      2. anon for this*

        Yup. The sex ed I got at least mentioned that some people will have sex with people of the same gender, but the lesson basically boiled down to “women having sex with women are less likely to get STDs and men having sex with men are more likely to get STDs,” which, as a lesson, is both not particularly informative and also kind of stigmatizing.

        Also along the lines of queer sex ed, it would be great if it was also inclusive of trans and intersex people. My body is not like anything that was ever covered in sex ed, which means I had to research everything on my own and potential partners don’t know what to expect.

      3. Traveling Teacher*

        I actually learned about dental dams in 9th grade sex ed from the local Planned Parenthood rep when she visited our (semester-long, extensive) sex ed course. As we’d only covered gay sex, not lesbian sex (likely not the current correct terms? apologies!), in 8th grade, I was very confused at first!

        I highly doubt that this is still in the curriculum these days, as things trend more and more towards abstinence-only in the US.

    3. It doesn't hurt ME*

      Ooh, and for the love of all things holey and anatomical – the RANGE OF F*ING NORMAL – as in, nope, not all vulvas look like the porn ones and that’s OK, they’re all still perfect and other people will find them sexy!

      1. Thursday Next*

        Yes! Those line drawings in textbooks were never adequately illustrative.

        In fact, actual photos, if possible. I know this is probably difficult to impossible to pull off in a U.S. high school.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      We need to teach teenagers that it’s normal to have sexual urges instead of making it some shameful thing.

      1. Autumn anon*

        And at the same time say that it’s ok if you don’t. A lot of asexual people report feeling ‘broken’ in some way because they didn’t have those sexual urges/feelings that their peers did (me, I just thought everyone else was faking and in on this universal conspiracy, which is a problem in itself because of things like feeling isolated from the norm). We need to talk more about LGBTQIA identities when talking about sex/sexual attraction (as ElspethGC says above).

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yes! And anything else that dismantles toxic masculinity, especially with regard to masculinity being all about sex and how much of it you have and with how many women and with what level of ferocity/intensity, etc.

    5. Parenthetically*

      How an actual menstrual cycle works, including how cervical fluid ebbs and flows throughout the cycle, how body temperature changes after ovulation, things like follicular phase length differences, etc. I cannot understand why we don’t teach girls how they can a) never be surprised by their period ever again, and b) never have a false pregnancy scare because they ovulated late.

      1. Southernbelle*

        I didn’t learn any of this until I was almost THIRTY and I have a PhD in biochemistry and a mother who’s a medical professional and kept a copy of Grey’s Anatomy to answer our questions with! I mean… yes. Everyone. Of all genders.

    6. Thlayli*

      I read somewhere that about 90% of porn includes violence and/or abusive language towards women, but only a small percentage shows similar to men. Sadly many teenage boys and girls are growing up with the idea that most women want to be hit or bullied in bed (and yes I know a tiny percentage of women do want that, but that should not ever be the default assumption).

      I wish teenagers and young adults were taught about how porn is usually not realistic and should not be copied.

    7. Red*

      I still need to be taught how to have safe sex tbh. I’m a bi woman. I know what a dental dam is but I don’t know how to really use one, and I don’t know anything but that.

      1. ElspethGC*

        If you scroll up to where I said about sex ed for queer people, there are some handy additions in later comments. I think the main thing is that if there’s any contact between mucus membranes (genitals and mouths, basically, although also by proxy such as by sharing toys) there’s the same risk as there would be for straight sex, probably minus pregnancy. Same principle as a condom – you have some thin latex, and you each stay on your own side of it!

    8. Candy*

      Strange that you weren’t taught anatomy! Was it not covered at all in any health or science class or just not specifically in a sex ed one? I remember being taught anatomy and the proper names for genitalia in kindergarten and grade 1 (this was in Alberta, Canada in the ’80s) In the older grades (7 and 8) we’re taught about consent and pleasure. I specifically remember my teacher one year telling us how important the clit and the head of the penis are for pleasuring ourselves.

      I don’t remember being taught anything about sexual orientation & gender identity so if there’s anything I missed that I would hope is being covered now it’s that (they probably are, but I don’t have kids so I don’t really know for sure).

      1. Candy*

        Replying to myself to add that this thread is really enlightening. It’s amazing how many people weren’t taught the basics like how a menstrual cycle works or the basics of safe sex. What are American sex ed classes teaching if not all this stuff?

        1. Artemesia*

          I don’t think most kids get any sex ed. The thing that always astounds me is the number of men who think women pee from their vagina. Educated men who have been in relationships with women for years often don’t know this.

          1. Candy*

            Yeah I’ve heard about men like that, but I figured they just weren’t paying attention in class not that they weren’t being taught anatomy in the first place

          2. Merci Dee*

            What astounds me is the number of =women= that think they pee from their vagina. I remember just sitting and blinking once when I read something about a woman’s conversation with her cousin, and how the cousin was astonished to learn that she didn’t have to remove her tampon to pee, since blood and pee came from different places. Now that I think about it, that may have been a post here, a few years ago.

        2. Ms Ida*

          Basically that sex is scary, disease ridden, and you will get pregnant and go directly to hell. We have a lot of abstinence only education.

        3. Thlayli*

          America is so weird. I literally went to a convent school and we got taught correct info about anatomy, STDs and we even had relationship education once a year which was really good – I remember one year the lady who did it asked us all to list off what makes a good boyfriend and of course people weee saying “nice arse”, “has to have transport” etc and she wrote all this frivolous stuff up and then she asked us what makes a good father. It was a pretty good lesson on the importance of birth control!

      2. LilySparrow*

        Surprisingly, I went to a very, very conservative religious school and had a really good sex-ed class in 4th grade (age 9/10). I credit the teacher personally moreso than the administration. She had us not just learn all the correct terms, but practice pronouncing them until we could do so without giggling. She had an anonymous AMA session where you could write any question on an index card and she’d answer it.

        She described what an orgasm feels like. She described how a penis feels to the touch, both flaccid and erect. Anything we wanted to know. She was truly no-holds-barred.

        I’m sure the administration would have stopped her if they knew, but apparently nobody ratted her out.

        1. Parenthetically*

          That is incredible!

          My husband went to a really conservative religious school and I was astonished at how much he knew when we met. Even detailed things about ovulation and different types of birth control. It’s wild. Me, I got “sex will give you diseases and babies which are horrible horrible burdens and then you’ll be used up and tired and hate your life forever so don’t have sex but if you have to maybe use a condom I guess” at my public school.

        2. OhBehave*

          My kids attended a private Christian school. They hosted a class called Your Body, God’s Plan. Along with the purity aspect, it was a very frank discussion/presentation about bodies and functions. Boys went one night, girls the other (with their parent). The correct names of body parts. What sex feels like and how it’s so powerful and wonderful. Why we have periods, how to predict them, etc. Why it’s important to choose your partner wisely because it’s such an important decision, etc. This class became very popular in our community. Boys and girls got the same information. We thought it was a great course.

      3. Middle School Teacher*

        As a teacher in AB, I can tell you there is no way that stuff is in the curriculum anymore. Anatomy yes; pleasure, no. (I teach health, among other things.) A lot of boards have a policy that sex Ed will be abstinence-based, even for non-catholic schools. I think it’s terrible.

        1. Candy*

          Oh wow thats really sad! I think I remember that class about pleasuring yourself or other a so clearly because it was super embarrassing to hear your teacher talk like that but thinking back on it as an adult I’m so grateful we had that instruction

        2. Thlayli*

          Where I live there’s two sources of info in school on sex Ed. First there’s the actual science / anatomy stuff. This is taught as part of science which is obligatory till age 15. So everyone gets taught penis / vulva / reproductive organs etc. As I recall we were taught this in detail at age 13 or 14, though we were taught basic penis and vagina stuff earlier. I can’t believe there are kids in America who aren’t actually taught about the vulva and the difference between a urethra and a vagina. This is taught in a science way as part of the reproductive system module and there’s no emotional aspect to it.

          Then there’s the relationship and sexuality stuff which is a separate curriculum which is government defined and taught in all schools from age 4 in an age-appropriate manner. They didn’t have this when I was 4 it started at 12 when I was in school, so I can’t really comment on that, though my eldest is starting school in a year or two so I guess I’ll find out! There is occasionally uproar in the newspapers when they add something to the relationships curriculum for really young kids (the latest is people complaining about kids as young as 4 being taught about transgender – parents worry this will be confusing) but there’s no one saying we shouldn’t teach them anything at all about consent and love and so on.

          Are you telling me that there are actual approved schools in America that not only don’t teach about love and consent and relationships and all, but also don’t even teach anatomy?

    9. Morwen the Grad Student*

      My biology teacher in high school gave a sex ed unit and one of the things I still remember (besides her explaning circumcision by saying “pretend I’m a penis” and then using a turtleneck sweater analogy) was her telling us that we didn’t have to have sex under any circumstance if we didn’t want to, and to watch out for partners saying things like “if you loved me you’d do it!” because that was manipulative and untrue. I luckily never had such a partner, but it was still really helpful to have a teacher telling us “here’s how sex works and here are all the methods of birth control and std protection and how well they work, but also you definitely don’t have to do any of this until you’re ready or even ever.”

      I don’t think they were allowed to tell us about non-heterosexual sex, though, which was a big fail.

  37. Middle School Teacher*

    So after my fall last week, nothing is broken, thankfully. The ligaments (I think?) are strained and I find wearing the splint keeps everything nice and straight and helps relieve some pain. It turns out having opposable thumbs is important. I’m relieved nothing is broken but I really need to be able to write and type for the next two weeks so it’s annoying.

  38. Dopameanie*

    Controversial Opinion Corner:

    Ok. So. Last week was kind of a dud, so we are getting the BIG GUNS out this week.

    *clears throat*

    Jane Austen is THE. WORST. Her novels are boring and terrible and written in a mechanically unpleasant way.

    FIGHT ME!!!

    1. Agent Veronica*

      This isn’t controversial; that’s what every obnoxious 15 year old says in English class, because they don’t have critical faculties yet and like to think they’re being edgy.

      1. WellRed*

        Except if you put it in a conversation with adults instead of teens that puts it in an entirely different context and people will have different opinions.

      2. Dopameanie*

        I am an obnoxious grown up, and I STILL think Ms. Austen should be tossed. Her books are about people who sit still all day, speak quietly, think about feelings, and attend parties. Stressfully.

        That sounds like a 15 year old’s life.

        1. Parenthetically*

          “Her books are about people who sit still all day, speak quietly, think about feelings, and attend parties. Stressfully.”

          No, they really aren’t. They’re satirical, clever observations of a class-bound society that expects women to sit still all day and punishes them for having opinions and experiences, written in the style of romantic novels. They’re intentionally populated with complicated, difficult characters who inhabit a world that only allows wealthy men (and to a lesser degree wealthy women) to be complicated, and difficult.

          I mean, I don’t enjoy Middlemarch, but I don’t think it’s bad, it’s just not my cup of tea.

      3. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        You can have critical faculties and still dislike an author who is widely considered to be skilled.

    2. ElspethGC*

      I feel like Austen is much better if you have a grounding in the period – but people don’t want to get a history education just to read a book!

      It’s much funnier if, for instance, you know that when Elizabeth says that the Bingley sisters look picturesque, she’s calling them cows. (Picturesque was used to describe how a group of three in a pastoral painting, particularly three cows, is more attractive; since the Bingley sisters had deli