weekend free-for-all – July 21-22, 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: I’m reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh, about a woman who decides she’s going to quit her life and sleep for a year. It’s making me feel a little gross so I don’t know that I recommend it exactly, but it’s funny and getting lots of acclaim and I haven’t been able to put it down.

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

{ 1,402 comments… read them below }

  1. Caledonia*

    My cat likes the cat tunnel too :)
    I am interested to hear more about this book and your thoughts on it – why does it make you feel gross?

      1. De Minimis*

        I enjoyed her novel EILEEN, but have had a tough time getting into her other work.

      2. A tester, not a developer*

        It sounds like a fictionalized version of Cat Marnell – who wrote an autobiography called How to Murder Your Life. I tried to read it and just couldn’t; Cat’s work for xoJane was sad/distressing enough without all the details she gets into in her book.

  2. Thlayli*

    Any goldfish owners? We have 3 goldfish which I’ve never had before. The guy in the shop said to feed them just once a day which we have been doing. We put just enough food in that they all finish eating and leave the food alone so we know they are eating their fill at the once a day feed.

    Yet they seem to be completely starving by the time feeding time comes round again. From about 6 hours before feeding time, As soon as you walk into the room they are straight over to the feeding place in the tank basically begging for food. Also on the back of the Food box it says small amounts multiple times a day. But I’ve always heard and read (and shop guy said) that once a day is all you feed them.

    They seem to be thriving – growing and active and no signs of illness. But I just feel so guilty they seem so hungry.

    Am I just being silly? Anyone feed their fish more than once a day?

    1. Kuododi*

      It’s been ages since I’ve had any fish tanks and DH is really my go-to for care and maintenance info on the subject. I’ll check with him in the morning. Also, I do remember DH always SD stay away from big box pet supply stores (PetSmart, Feeder Supply and the like) if you’re looking for information about keeping goldfish. Those places are usually staffed by silly young high school kids who are no t known as a font of information. Better option for good info in your area is.to locate and talk to someone who works in a shop specializing in fresh water pet fish. (Salt water pet fish has a very involved care, feeding, and tank cleaning routine.). Good luck!!!

    2. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      When I had goldfish I fed them food once a day, but not so much that they voluntarily stopped eating because they’re prone to overeating. I did usually offer a less calorie dense “snack” later in the day though. They can eat the inside of cooked green peas (the outer layer is too tough) and just about any soft lettuce. You can leave a leaf in there to much on all day and pull it out at night without it fouling up the water. (Replacing it with a new leaf every day, obviously.)

      They also love to eat the softer varieties of aquatic plants, but they tend to decimate them and it messes up the water quality. Kinda fun to throw some java fern in the day before a water change though.

    3. Queenie*

      I had a pair of goldfish that lived for about 12 years. I fed them before school and then again after school. I put enough food in the bowl that each fish would get a couple flakes. Seemed to keep them happy. :)

      I’m not sure that the fact that they go to the feeding part of the tank whenever you walk into the room necessarily means they’re hungry. They’ve learned to associate you and that side of the tank with food, and fish are opportunistic eaters, so if they think there’s going to be food they’ll probably want to eat it (hungry or not).

    4. kc89*

      I don’t know if it’s a stereotype or actually real but you always hear that overfeeding is one of the easiest ways to kill a fish, so probably better to be cautious

    5. A username for this site*

      I’ve never had a goldfish, but I have had bettas. Unfortunately, a lot of the information and equipment you can get at standard pet stores is woefully inadequate and results in neglect of the fish (bettas can’t live in a bowl, for example, they need a 5 gallon tank with filtration! Goldfish can’t live in a bowl either, because they release a “slime” that fouls the water.) . I found a lot of good information on a subreddit dedicated to betta fish keeping, and from there I discovered the Seachem line of chemicals and Hikari brand of food. Their websites have information on how to correctly balance your tank and feed your fish their products. I’m sure you’ll be able to find goldfish-specific resources on those sites.

      Good luck!

    6. StrikingFalcon*

      When I kept goldfish (years ago), I fed them a couple pinches once a day. I had fed them twice a day at first but they gained what seemed like an unhealthy amount of weight. I generally just tried to keep them at the same weight, and make sure there wasn’t excess food. Goldfish act like that no matter how much you feed them – they just learn to associate you with food.

      I looked it up, and one general rule of thumb I found on several sites was as much as they can eat in 1 minute, twice a day, or as much as they can eat in 2 minutes, once a day. Either way, don’t leave excess food in the tank, as it will grow algae and clog the filter.

    7. seewhatimean*

      Fish are very willing to respond to operant conditioning, which is what you are seeing. They associate you with feeding, and the reward of it, and respond with enthusiasm to the sight of you. Don’t use that to modify their feeding volume or you’ll have problems. I think you can adjust the frequency of feeds as long as you don’t increase the volume of the total daily amount (in other words, split the daily food into x number of meals, instead of repeatedly feeding the same amount more times a day)

      You CAN use it to train them to do things, if you’re patient and interested. Look up goldfish training and operant conditioning.

    8. Thlayli*

      Thanks all. I might try giving the same amount but split over two feeds instead of all at once.

      1. seewhatimean*

        It’s honestly not going to stop them rushing over when you walk in the room. They’re well-conditioned by now.

        1. seewhatimean*

          And they are not begging for food/hungry…but they have learned that they get rewarded for being in that part of the tank.

  3. Jemima Bond*

    Morning all! I thought I’d pop in and recommend a film I saw last night. I don’t remember seeing any publicity for this, which came out last year, but it was really good; Wind River starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. It starts with a body found on an Indian (Native American) reservation, barefoot in the snow…
    It isn’t exactly feel-good but it resolves things, and it’s really fascinating and evocative; mysterious and thought-provoking without being too arty and self-indulgent.

    1. annakarina1*

      I did like that a lot. I do like crap me dramas and films that have bittersweet endings, and I just found the film to be really sad and heartbreaking.

    2. Pharmgirl*

      Oh, this is in my Netflix queue! Glad to know it’s good, I’ll definitely watch it!

    3. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Seconding this recommendation! Some scenes are pretty hard to watch, but critical to the message and not gratuitous or exploitative.

    4. Thlayli*

      My boss told me yesterday that wind river is one of the best movies he’s seen. He did say it’s a rape case tho so trigger warning for anyone who would find that upsetting to watch.

      1. Melody Pond*

        It’s definitely one of the best movies I’ve ever seen! But yeah, there’s a whole lengthy scene that I just had to skip right past. I got the gist of what was going on, and I didn’t need to actually watch it. :-/

      2. Free Now (and forever)*

        Beautiful, atmospheric, tense, sad, exciting. That about covers it. Saw it with my 24-year-old son. He’s on the Autism Spectrum and lives at home, so that’s not quite as strange as it sounds. We both liked it, although I suspect for different reasons. He, for the action and me, for everything else. I highly recommend it.

    5. Kate*

      Really great movie. The one scene mentioned was too much for me personally but I agree that it wasn’t gratuitous or exploitative. I didn’t resent that it was included at all, just didn’t want to put it in my brain montage. The vast majority of the film is pretty quiet and understated, but all the more powerful for it.

  4. Some Sort of Management consultant*

    I have a petty problem.

    My brother and his partner has been together for six years. She is adorable and they’re a wonderful, loving couple.

    A little *too* loving.

    I am not joking when I say they are a constant stream of baby, honey, sweetheart, dearest.

    It’s an barrage of “sweetheart, can I get you something”-s, “darling, give me a kiss”-s, “honeybun, hold my hand”-s

    I love them both. I love that they love each other. They have a beautiful partnership.

    But the constant cutesiness gets on my nerves. I’ve just spent a week with them and phew!

    I think part of the problem might be that my brother is that kind and gentle with my parents as well but seems to find me kind of annoying at times. I guess the contrast is a little bit hurtful.

    Help?

    1. Margery*

      Sibling rivalry at it’s best ha ha. I think it would get on my nerves too and it’s not that you’re jealous of their relationship just that it can be too sickly sweet.

      Your brother obviously loves you (if you’ve been staying for a week he must want to see you) but you’re his big/kid sister/brother? – you’re ALWAYS gonna be annoying to him – but deep down I bet he’ll always be there for you.

      Try to think of the kindness he has as a really good point – the world definitely needs more kind people in it.

        1. Margery*

          It must be annoying – but think about it – you’re not showing your feelings means that you are a kind person with a lot of integrity so give YOURSELF a big pat on the back for that.

    2. Forking great username*

      My brother and his girlfriend of three years are like this. I don’t really have any advice, I’ve learned to just ignore it and personally don’t think it’s worth saying/doing anything.

    3. LilySparrow*

      Make a drinking game out if it?

      They aren’t being affectionate *at* you. If it were PDA, you could ask them to take it elsewhere. But I think you’re gonna have to learn to tune it out.

      Here’s a thought: if he’s like this with your parents and his SO, maybe the reason he doesn’t talk to you that way is because he knows you don’t like it and you find it annoying. So he is showing you love by trying not to annoy you when he speaks to you.

      If you have a close relationship, you could talk to him about it. I’ve found that you can talk to most people about most subjects if you pick the right non-confrontational moment and preface it with “Can I ask you about something kinda personal?” Or “There’s this wierd thing I wanted to talk to you about…”

    4. NotaPirate*

      Mental bingo or discreetly play on your phone? Give each pet name a square. If you get a row of 5 you treat yourself to something. At least then hearing them would have a benefit.

    5. Book Badger*

      If you weren’t twins with him, I’d ask if you were my boyfriend’s sister. We’re also that level of effusiveness (we can’t help it! that’s just how we feel all the time!) and we know there are some people who don’t like it. XD

      But I’d say that it’s normal for him to not act that way around siblings. It is the solemn duty of siblings to be annoying and to be annoyed in return. If you can, you could try to do a just-you-and-him outing, to hang out without the pressures of Girlfriend.

    6. Engineer Girl*

      You don’t like cutsie so your brother, knowing that, isn’t giving it to you. I’d call that respectful.

      If you want him to treat you in a certain way then **tell** him. But it sounds like he’s treating you how you want.

      1. LilySparrow*

        This is what I was trying to say.

        I understand you are of two minds about this – on the one hand, you find the cutesiness excessive. On the other, you feel left out of the affectionate dynamic he has with others. This sounds like a fairly normal push/pull of siblings, but if something is bothering you, bring it up!

    7. Anna*

      Oh this reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry and his girlfriend kept talking about who was “schmoopy” and had an extensive amount of terms of endearment. Haha

  5. Feeling Lazy*

    I live in the US Southwest and it is so hot here and I have lost all interest in working out. I just can’t get into it! I know how important it is for my health, and I can feel my body craving it, but I just can’t get my butt in gear. The fitness center is just down the hall from my apartment, plus I am paying for Jazzercise (which I LOVE) whether I go or not. What is wrong with me???

        1. Zona the Great*

          If she lives where I live in the SW, the pools all feel like you’re swimming in hot spit at this time of year.

          1. Triple Digit Texan*

            I live near a cold spring. Sometimes it’s the only good thing in town- that and popsicles.

    1. Ali G*

      I’m with you. Sweating just seems so awful right now. And I’ve been getting headaches from the heat so how could I possibly get on the elliptical (which is in my house!!)?
      Agree – if you can find a place to swim that might work. Or wait until it gets dark and go for a walk? Sorry it sucks right now.

    2. OyVey*

      Are you getting a decent temperature drop after the sun goes down? My piece of the southwest crashes by 20 or 30 degrees once the sun drops under the horizon; you might get some milage out of an evening walk if that’s safe/feasible for you.

      1. nonprofit director*

        And on the opposite side of the day, try early mornings. I am also in the southwest without decent air conditioning and I am usually done by 7:00am. If I want to do something outside, I try to get out even earlier, before the sun is visible over the hills to the east.

        1. Anonymosity*

          Yes, early morning seems to be cooler, since the sun has been down for quite a while and the heat radiating up from asphalt, etc. has had time to dissipate a little.

        2. Marion Ravenwood*

          Another vote for early mornings. I’ve switched to going running first thing (well before my plantar fasciitis flared up anyway) during the current heatwave in the UK, because I know otherwise it won’t happen due to the heat in the evenings.

    3. LuJessMin*

      Same here in the OK! High of 106 yesterday and my a/c ran 18 hours yesterday (normal is about 12 hours). And my thermostat is set at 76! Today is supposed to be a bit cooler – only 97!

    4. Kuododi*

      I’m currently visiting family on the coast of SE USA. ( Not Florida!!!!) From the minute we arrived it’s been as steamy and hot as the swamps on the planet Dagobah!!! YEESH!!!

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      I run after sundown (which obviously requires the ability to run and a safe place to run) but I find I really like it. You gotta hydrate like crazy, but the sweat feels good when you’re running – and also it helps your body acclimatize to the weather faster.

  6. Sparkly Librarian*

    Almost 2 in the morning. Sitting in the ER with my wife, who has a badly sprained, possibly broken ankle. Yaaaaaay.

    1. nep*

      Ouch. Hurts just reading that. Sorry to hear. Wishing your wife a sound recovery and both of you some good rest.

      1. Margery*

        Hope it’s just a sprain and not a break (though painful in either case). Good luck

        1. Deryn*

          When I was in high school, I had two separate severe sprains (tore completely through one ligament and nearly all the way through the second on both occasions) on the same ankle and eventually ended up having reconstructive joint surgery to fix all the damage. Ten years on and I’m STILL having issues with it. The doctor told me that breaks tend to heal cleaner and don’t present much risk for re-injury, whereas severe sprains can permenantly weaken a joint. Given my own experiences, I’m praying for either a break or a less severe sprain! Hopefully her doctors will get everything figured out and give her the best of care!

          1. seewhatimean*

            I’d also say break rather than sprain (damage the ligament) because I agree with your dr. I partially tore an achilles tendon about….(maths on fingers, carries the 90s…) 30 yrs ago, and it still makes me cringe if someone gets near it. The exception is the talus bone, but the better scenario is just a badly bruised ankle…I hope it turned out ok. :(

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        You said it. She’s more or less confined to the couch until the pain recedes enough to make her comfortable on crutches. No driving. Stairs only under extreme duress. No work until she can get it casted (first available appointment at the podiatrist), so that’s 4 work shifts missed without pay. Me, I’m at work on 3 hours of sleep.

        1. seewhatimean*

          oooh, so if they are casting it, it’s broken? What a drag for both of you. Crutches are not fun (but get them properly adjusted so she isn’t using her armpits, and that helps a little), no driving is no fun when you can’t walk either. Missed work and groggy work add to the maximum suckage factor. :(

          1. Sparkly Librarian*

            Thanks for the sympathy; I felt like whining all day and it definitely came through here.

            Official word is “we don’t know for sure if it’s broken until the radiologist tells us whether that spot on the x-ray is an older/healed fracture, an extra bone without any real issue, or a fresh break, BUT we’re going to treat it the same either way for now”. So that’s a splint until Tuesday when the swelling should have gone down enough for the podiatrist to examine, and possibly cast, her foot. If it’s not broken after all, I think she gets a boot.

            1. Yetanotherjennifer*

              I’m sorry! This is a long journey and none of it’s fun. I broke my ankle nearly 3 months ago. There’s an awesome Facebook group that’s very informative and supportive and is well-moderated. It’s called “Broken ankle / foot / leg recovery – on a quest for normal!” I hope your wife’s injury is minor and that she has a smooth recovery.

            2. seewhatimean*

              Whine away! No harm in needing to unload the frustration and the worry and the inconvenience and fatigue. Fingers crossed that she’ll get a walking boot, either way (I think those are also called air casts) so she doesn’t need crutches (or needs them less). That alone would be a huge help.

              The facebook group Yetanotherjennifer mentions sounds like it would be a good resource.

  7. Bumble of nerves*

    I’m starting to think online dating isn’t for me. Granted I’ve been at it for less than a month, but it’s already starting to feel like more trouble than it’s worth.

    They say online dating is a godsend for introverts who aren’t comfortable with just getting out there and socialising, but all the same, it’s not great for someone who tends to be pretty anxious and doesn’t have the best self-esteem.

    The only app I’m on is Bumble (I’m female). And geez, it’s bringing all my neurosis to the fore. If no one I find attractive comes up I feel discouraged, if someone I do find attractive comes up I’m insecure (because how could they possibly like me back?). If I don’t get matches I feel deflated, if I do get a match I feel stressed (what do I do now? How do I pretend to be normal)? Repeat last two steps for when they don’t/do respond to initial contact.

    I’ve always been terrible with flirting, with picking up signals etc., and that doesn’t change just because it’s a different platform. I also don’t do well with receiving compliments (although I have no problems giving them) and find then incredibly uncomfortable (there’s a whole other bundle of issues I won’t go into).

    There aren’t many opportunities for me to meet people, and I’m in my 30s so everyone around me seems to be settling down. A lot of my friends are still doing the online dating thing but they seem to be made of much tougher stuff and don’t get into the anxiety cycles I find myself in.

    I don’t know, sometimes I think maybe I have too many issues to be trying to get into a relationship at all, but it also seems to be silly to be putting everything else on hold because I’ve had these issues for a long time and maybe this is the sort of thing I need to do to actually get over them?

    Sorry for the rambling. Like I said I’m still pretty new to this, so maybe new experiences in general can be pretty daunting?

    1. nep*

      No advice here, really–just commiseration.
      I’m quite the recluse…I love my solitude and I’m not looking to date–but if I were, I can’t imagine putting myself out there, in person or online. To me it just seems a fact that I could never be the slightest bit attractive to anyone.
      I salute you for giving it a shot, given your anxiety.
      I guess I would just say look deep in your heart for the why–are you lonely for companionship or do you think you ‘should’ be dating because of some societal conditioning? Interesting point about whether the online dating is a healthy challenge you should go through to help you get past some of your issues; I’ll be interested to read others’ thoughts on this.
      All the best

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Love nep’s reply here, OP.
        Are you doing online dating because YOU want to? or because you think everyone else is doing it/thinks you should too/etc?
        When we force ourselves into a place that is Not For Us we can end up with this awkwardness you are talking about here.
        FWIW, I don’t date but if I did I would find what you are doing to be very challenging for many, many reasons. Give yourself a pat on the back for even trying.
        You may benefit from a plan where you have a bit more control over what is going on. Perhaps you would be more relaxed meeting people through a shared interest such as volunteer work or a hobby. Perhaps you would find meeting people through friends to be easier. Think about environments where you are more comfortable than you are online and see what you can come up with.
        And there is also bigger picture stuff, maybe there is too much going on in life right now to consider dating. So there is that to think about. Consider this thought, if you had to look for a new job/place to live/house pet/whatever would you also find this stuff to be a lot of work or emotional effort on your part? When this happens it can be because there is bigger stuff that needs our immediate attention.

        1. Bumble of nerves*

          I wouldn’t say there was all that much else I’m trying to sort out. Weirdly enough a lot of my insecurity came about because I’d been so unsure in my career for a long time, and now that part’s actually going all right. In a way that sort of focuses my attention even more on my single-ness.

          I keep thinking back to the way job-hunting gets compared to dating, but now the other way around. I mean, all I need is /one/, and yet that’s just so difficult. I’ve already had one person cancel meeting up (which he asked for in the first place) at the last minute, which doesn’t exactly fill me with optimism. I mean it wasn’t like I was pinning all my hopes on this one or anything, but much like being rejected for a job you didn’t particularly want, rejection still stings.

    2. Waiting for the Sun*

      Online dating can be depressing, and there are scammers out there. Wish I had something more positive to say.
      Meetup.com has greatly improved my social life. Not so much by finding a romantic partner (still hoping), but by meeting people I really click with, who share my interests. It helps my self-esteem.
      Best wishes!

      1. annakarina1*

        That has helped me a lot too. I can feel very lonely, and getting involved in stuff like bar trivia, kickboxing, and sci-fi meet up groups has helped me to make more friends and to be more social. I’m naturally introverted, but can be very talkative when I’m at ease with people.

      2. kb*

        Yes! I also recommend Meetup for expanding your friend group, even if you already have friends you really like. I tend to gravitate to making friends with women who also mostly gravitate towards women, so the number of straight men I interacted with was very low. Meetup was a great way to pursue things that actually interest me and meet men who share those interests, rather than taking the advice a lot of older generations had given, like start going to sports bars (not that there’s anything wrong with sports bars– I just don’t care for sports!).

    3. Forking great username*

      I found Bumble to really stress me out because of their rule about the female having to initiate the conversation. I get it, they’re trying to cut down on the amount of creepy messages women get. But I found it a lot easier to sign up for OkCupid and just read through the messages I got to see who I liked.

      1. Bumble of nerves*

        I don’t particularly mind initiating, but I do wonder if that sort of self-selects men who are less assertive. Maybe I’ll give some other sites a go (since I already have a profile set up an all).

        Ugh, why does it seem so easy for other people who can just meet people through completely traditional/convention means, form a connection and that’s it? I’m trying not to feel too sorry for myself but damn it can be difficult sometimes.

        1. CA Teacher*

          Bumble seems to get a higher quality of dude on average than the other dating apps (though I met my wonderful bf on tinder, so there are exceptions). Have you tried hinge? I kind of liked that one because it prioritizes friends of friends and makes you like a specific aspect of their profile instead of just swiping. It seems to make for more interesting conversation.

          The thing about apps is that it takes a LOT to make something happen. You swipe a lot to get a match, you talk to a lot to get a date, you date a lot til you find someone who works. It’s a lot about perseverance, but it really is how just about everyone i know met their SOs!

        2. Clever Name*

          I’ve wondered that too. I met the guy I’m currently dating on Bumble, and he hasn’t been shy about suggesting and planning dates.

    4. CoveredInBees*

      Gah, I hated online dating as an introvert. There was an expectation to be open and chatty with someone I’d never actually met before. If anything, chatting online sometimes created a false sense of who the other person was, so it was super awkward when they were different in real life. Not that they were hiding anything, I just didn’t get an accurate read. Maybe get involved in [online] communities around interests and just see who you meet there.

      Is there any particular reason that you haven’t sought out dating earlier in your life? That might be contributing to your anxieties now.

    5. Dopameanie*

      I left the open market RIGHT before online dating became a thing. I’ve been mad that I missed it ever since. I would’ve been amazing at it. I desperately want to curate somebody else’s online dating for them. Like, call them once a week and be like, these three dudes have passed the baseline tests (no unsolicited D pics, good grammar, etc) would you like to meet any of them? Like a concierge for your heart.

      Got any local friends who might have fun people watching and doing your window shopping/winnowing process on your behalf?

    6. matcha123*

      I’m in the same boat, but I started online dating about 3 months ago. When I first started, I responded to almost every guy that gave my profile a ‘like’ or sent me a message. Sending messages to multiple men within the same general time period stressed me out. When I finally met them, I could get that some were trying to flirt with me, but I feel so awkward trying to flirt that I just continued to try to be friendly. And the majority of them didn’t contact me again, which got me down.
      I don’t know how people do it. I have felt completely overwhelmed and tired, not empowered. Which is why I’m pulling back and focusing on my friends and doing things that make me happy (like going to the movies).
      If I’m stressed or putting too much into it, the guy will pick up on it. It’s so hard to be casual.
      I don’t really have much advice, aside from understanding and being in the same boat.

    7. Gaia*

      Ugh. I hated online dating. I felt like their algorithms were terrible at making matches. They would show me people I indicated I would be interested in, but the interests they listed would be the exact opposite of me. No site ever though to consider whether I matched that person’s interests before showing their profile to me? Only if they matched mine? UGH. It was so demoralizing to feel like there were tons of people I’d like but none of them would like me :(

      This was years ago though, hopefully it has gotten better!

    8. BananaTanger*

      38. Last serious relationship ended when I was 25. I’ve tried online dating on and off before finally giving myself permission to like being single. And I do. I don’t feel lonely. I’m not closed to the idea, but I like my life the way it is, dread the idea of someone else being at my house, and have embraced being the introverted cat lady I was always meant to be. If you WANT a partner/relationship, go for it. But it is ok to be content on your own. Actually lindane awesome.

      1. seewhatimean*

        Agreed. It is OK and GOOD to be single, and I highly highly recommend that everyone live on their own at some point in their lives. You will be a better partner if you can be on your own and be comfortable, even if your long term goal is a relationship.

        That aside…our general culture is SO focussed on a very narrow timeline that says if you aren’t dating someone seriously by X age (late 20s?), or if you ARE dating but you aren’t engaged by X years (about 3 is the outside before questions start), or if you are paired up and have so far resisted the hounding about engagement/marriage, but aren’t producing offspring (which seems to happen endlessly), you can feel SO MUCH PRESSURE, and almost like you need to get things moving for the comfort of those around you.

        If you want a relationship, you can mostly ignore this. I just think that a spell of living alone is not the horrible fate we’re led to believe, and can be very rewarding and create an optimum strength of self to be in a relationship when someone comes along.

        I have met some very nice people through online dating a while back (OKCupid at the time) although no one that turned into a more involved relationship. I stay in touch with a few, but nothing ever came of it, and I got fed up with all the peripheral fuss and time and chaff.

        I wonder if maybe instead of a dating specific site it would be more productive to spend time on an interest-specific site? Still gives the arms length chance to get to know someone a little, but starts you off with at least one thing in common.

        And don’t put things off “until you’re with someone”. Take the trips, read the books, try the restaurant, whatever it is…just be you. Social media is so much headspace, and it’s really bad for connection and being in the world. Don’t pretend to be “normal”. You ARE normal. Someone will be captivated by quirky, interesting, introverted, neurotic You.

    9. Triple Anon*

      I can’t stand it. I don’t feel attracted to people unless we meet in person. Meeting on a dating site tends to take the spark and the fun and the mystery out of it. Then there are the annoying creepy people. And the awkward things like running into friends and co-workers. And I just don’t like all that info about myself being out there. I like to keep my personal life mostly private.

      Meeting people in person can be more challenging, but I think you can get better at it over time. Just remember that a lot of people are socially awkward. Seek out people you have things in common with, keep making new friends, and see what happens.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I tried online dating before there were actually Apps for it and never found it worthwhile either. In theory, it seems a good choice for introverts, but when I actually called/met the guys we didn’t click at all or I found they lied about a lot of things. I gave up!
      I can only imagine it’s gotten worse. Don’t beat yourself up!

      I ended up meeting my husband the old fashioned way. At a bar. And I wasn’t even a bar person.

    11. Lkr209*

      Hi there! I’m doing the online dating thing too and one thing that helps is actually saying in your profile that you’re new at this and worried about how you’ll come off. There are SO many of both genders who will see that and be relieved! I would also HIGHLY recommend match.com, because of the extensive filters. Makes it easier to rule out people. And MeetMe over Bumble, because it has more filters too that you can view before messaging someone and more space to fill out your “about me”. Good luck!

      1. seewhatimean*

        Funny how individual it is. I always read “I’m new at this” as a bit of dress-up for being uncomfortable about turning to online dating at all.

        Filters are good, but one thing I do find awkward or limiting about online dating is that your edited self is meeting their edited self, in ways that are even more intense than meeting in person. There are little tics and habits that I know I cannot bear to be around, and I’m sure there are things I do that others interpret differently to how I see them myself, and there’s no good way to get to the other side of that (Self-awareness is never going to be the same as otherness).

        I guess my other suggestion is don’t stay online with a new person too long. It’s very easy to build up either a slightly skewed understanding due to the self vs other above, or because you get ahead of yourself electronically and then meet and feel a bit askew anyway because you only know each other in your own heads.

        But take me with a grain of salt, because I’m a generally happily single old fogey who has enough relationship disaster behind me to just be glad not to be entangled with it now.

    12. Clever Name*

      I’ve been online dating for about 7 months since my divorce. It can definitely be a slog. I think it feels like online shopping at times. I’ve gotten to a place where I don’t put much weight in any one match or message, or honestly any first date. It’s too emotionally exhausting to think a ton about it. It’s all about getting to know another person. It’s been helpful to me to tweak my perspective from “looking for The One” to meeting people and learning about myself and relationships. And you also have to be okay with potentially getting hurt. I’ve dated a couple of guys who just weren’t right, even though I really liked them, and yeah, it hurt when things ended, but I figure I’m not living if I don’t risk a little heartbreak. :)

  8. nep*

    Was thrilled to find out that a favourite writer, Zadie Smith, has written an essay about Middlemarch. I bought her book of essays this past week and look forward to reading that one. (Thanks again, whoever recommended AbeBooks a while back.)

    Interesting random sentence from a book you’re reading?
    From a Ry Cooder short story: ‘But I wondered–why would a man, an Italian, make all that spaghetti and then jump off the roof?’

    1. nep*

      (I meant I learned of the Middlemarch essay and bought the book mainly because of that.)

    2. Undine*

      No one has ever come across a cat apologizing and if a cat did, it would be patently obvious it was not sincere.
      From Milkman, by Anna Burns.

    3. fposte*

      I used to keep a journal with favorite quotes and passages from books I was reading. I gave it up before I took up a bookish job–it would be too huge to lift by now–but I rather regret stopping given how many wonderful things I’ve subsequently read.

      I know I’m not the only Barbara Pym fan here, so I’ll offer this:
      “There was something to be said for tea and a comfortable chat about crematoria.”

      1. Lore*

        If that line appeals, you should find much to love in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books. (Morbid preadolescent chemist/sleuth, for anyone who doesn’t know them.)

        1. seewhatimean*

          Oh how much I love those. He doesn’t write them fast enough, and they are intelligent and funny, as well as evocative of the houses and places they are set in. fposte, I resoundingly second this suggestion!!

  9. Susan K*

    I’m thinking about buying a Cricut.

    It all started with seeing some cool-looking cutting dies for sale on Wish, which made me wonder how much a die-cutting machine would cost (less than $50 for a small one). I was very tempted to buy one, but I kept thinking about how I would be limited to using whatever dies I purchased and I would have to purchase another die any time I wanted to make a new shape, whereas if I had a digital cutting machine like a Cricut, I could cut all the shapes without ever needing a physical die.

    For about $200, it seems like a no-brainer that the Cricut is a better deal (and I plan to wait until Black Friday to get a good price)… until I found out that I would still have to pay for digital cutting patterns for the Cricut (either individual patterns or a monthly subscription), and, along with all the supplies and accessories I would need, that could get pretty expensive pretty quickly — a lot more than the $50 plus some cheap dies that I was originally considering.

    I’m honestly not even sure what I would make with a die cutting machine, other than cards. I’m not into scrapbooking and I don’t have kids. It just kind of seems like fun to cut out intricate shapes and make stuff with them. But I’m afraid that I won’t end up using it that much, and after I spend hundreds of dollars on a machine and supplies, I will make a few cards and then it will just end up gathering dust. That makes me wonder if maybe I should go with a cheap, manual die-cutting machine and see if I’m into it, and then upgrade to a Cricut if I am — but then if I do upgrade to a Cricut, I will have wasted money on the cheap machine.

    Any Cricut users (or non-users) have thoughts or advice?

    1. Red Reader*

      My mom does all manner of things with hers… that involved buying a zillion other kinds of equipment too. A vinyl heat press and a sublimation machine and I don’t know what all else, but every time I see her, she’s giving me stuff she made me that I may or may not ever actually have a use for. Haha.

      She did use it to cut absolutely gorgeous gatefold cards for my wedding invitations and favor boxes for our reception dinner.

    2. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I’ve been eyeing them myself but I am always wondering how long they would stay sharp.

      1. Susan K*

        Yeah, I noticed that all Cricut items are excluded from coupons at places like Michaels and Jo-Ann, but based on Googling “Cricut Black Friday,” it looks like the Cricut web site itself had big discounts on the machines on Black Friday last year, so I’m hoping for the same again this year.

      2. Chaordic One*

        OTOH, on occassion I have noticed various Cricut things (not the actual machine) for sale in the clearance aisle of my local WalMart.

    3. RemingtonTypeType*

      I looked into them a lot before I purchased and I ended up with a Silhouette Cameo (I bought the 2). You don’t have to buy extra addons, you create it all in your computer. I’ve had tons of fun with it and the software is easy to pick up.

      To be fair, I know that some of the newer cricuts have the same capability but I haven’t looked into them since I went with the Cameo.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Read the customer reviews for the $50 machine and look for the frustration level. If something is not fun, does not work smoothly then the chances are higher that you won’t use it.
      If the machine still looks good, then try it. Yes, there is some redundancy to purchasing a modest machine and then buying something bigger later. You might decide to gift the smaller machine or you might decide to sell it for a modest price to get back some of that $50.
      I will go into detail on another thread. I just picked up a machine to do something for a cheap price. I did not read the customer reviews online before buying. The reviews were BAD. It took me a half hour to get the machine to work correctly. There’s a lot of parts to clean up after using.And there is a lot of waste. I am going to see if I really use it that much and then consider an upgrade.
      Going the other way, I bought a weed whacker that was spendy (to me). I could not use it for reasons 1-20. It slayed me but I sold it for half of what I paid for it. That was enough money to buy a weed whacker that I absolutely LOVE and use the heck out of. All of life is a learning curve and our purchases are part of that learning curve.
      It might help to have a plan to salvage your investment if the idea does not work out for you.

      1. Gingerblue*

        As someone who’s been kicking myself about redundant purchases lately, thanks for this dose of perspective. Learning curve is a much better way to think of it than just calling myself an idiot!

    5. IntoTheSarchasm*

      Not sure if you are interested, but I have seen several Cricut’s of various types on Craigslist and similar sites- including newer models with computer interface. Might be a third option if you like.

    6. Nisie*

      I get 95% of my stuff from searches for free svgs, cricut groups, or online sellers. It’s rare that I actually buy much in the design store. I use mine to make art for my kids rooms, cards, stencils for the house. It was worth it to me to have the machine. It does go on sale black Friday- and very few things you truly have to buy from the namebrand Cricut (and when you do, hobby lobby and Joann’s tend to let you use coupons on the items). And stuff is usually cheaper on amazon.

    7. Ranon*

      Honestly, I’d start with a good xacto knife, a cutting mat and a pack of blades and see if you really get into the “making things from other things” part. And then if you still want one, I’d try to buy used. Craigslist or a creative reuse store if you happen to have one nearby- they resell all sorts of craft supplies for remarkably low prices and you may find they’re a source of paper for you as well (“art of recycle creative reuse list” should bring up a pretty comprehensive list of places).

    8. Lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I bought a Cricut when I actually was into scrapbooking and used it less than 5 times before it ended up in a corner. If you are looking for someone to tell you not to buy it then here I am.

      1. Susan K*

        May I ask why you stopped using the Cricut? Did you stop scrapbooking, or did you not like using the Cricut for scrapbooking?

    9. Amadeo*

      I do not have a Cricut, or a Cameo. I have a BIG, industrial printer/cutter, it takes rolls of vinyl, not sheets, so take my advice for what it’s worth.

      Ask yourself these things before you spend the money: can you/are you willing to learn how to use a vector program like CorelDraw, Illustrator, or if you head the freebie route, Inkscape (or the software that comes with the Cricut or Cameo). If you aren’t, you’ll be relegated to buying/hunting down all of the vector artwork you’ll use to make things (and some of those things need cleaned up big time before they’re good for cutting on any machine, even my big one). What will you make with it? Some craft store heat transfer vinyls sold for these little countertop machines you can iron on, but lots require a real heat press, with the pressure and heat that it generates. Do you like to make decals/stickers for things? Do you like to make shirts? Do you think it’s something you’d be interested in? Honestly if you’re only going to cut paper shapes, I’d go with the die cutter and/or the hole punch shapes that places like Hobby Lobby have in their scrapbooking section.

    10. CurrentlyLooking*

      I have a Cricut and it is a lot of fun. You can use their program to import images so you don’t need to buy anything from their store. You can also find a lot of free (or low cost images) online.

    11. Blue_eyes*

      Could you find someone to borrow a Cricut from for a little bit? That might help you figure out if you would use it enough to be worth purchasing. I have a Cricut (the older kind that uses cartridges, not the fully digital kind) and I don’t use it much anymore. I got it when I was a teacher and it was fantastic for cutting out letters and stuff for bulletin boards. But I never used it much for personal projects, a few cards here or there, and occasionally party decorations. I did make a cool cake decoration banner recently with it.

      I think other suggestions about starting with die cutting or even an Exacto knife are great. If you get really into it, upgrading to the Cricut will be fun. But if you get bored or can’t find projects you want to do, you’ll have your answer.

    12. Sunshine Brite*

      Non-user – but I’d say watch the craft store sales. They’re few and far between for the Circuit machines themselves but happen occasionally.

  10. OnAnonAnon*

    I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who replied to my OCD diagnosis post a couple of weeks ago. All of your replies were really useful for me.

    1. ..Kat..*

      The International OCD Federation has been a great help to me. Glad you are getting good information.

  11. kebs*

    Is there a parenting equivalent of Ask A Manager? Advice columns, blogs, podcasts, even books would be interesting.

    I’ve found AAM such a useful tool for learning how to deal with work issues, from the weird to the mundane. I especially love that Alison gives specific phrases to say. I’m searching for something similar, but focused on parenting.

    So far I have read ‘ How to Talk to Little Kids Will Listen’. I feel like their approach would really lend itself to an advice column format, but their blog only has a couple of letters.

      1. kebs*

        This looks pretty good, thanks! I’m struggling to find an RSS feed so I can keep up to date with new posts, but hopefully I’ll figure something out.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          Ever since they updated the Slate website, there doesn’t seem to be an RSS feed for their posts. Drives me nuts because I have to remember to go to Slate to check Dear Prudence and usually I forget.

    1. Ranon*

      You might like Janet Lansbury – she has a blog and a podcast that lots of people like, and the podcast is an advice column format. She follows a specific parenting philosophy, though, so it’s dependent on whether it alone for what works for you and your kiddo.

      1. kebs*

        I reckon I’d agree with the basic philosophy, although not everything. That’s something else I love about AAM, I almost never disagree with Alison’s advice!

      2. Parenthetically*

        Came here to say Janet Lansbury! Love her brisk, practical, compassionate yet no-nonsense approach. I certainly don’t buy into the whole philosophy but the practical stuff has been a godsend for me in my first year as a parent.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Books I liked, which take a neuroscience approach:

      Magic Trees of the Mind by Diamond and Hopson, about how the brain develops over time. I had this with my firstborn, now in college, and it was such a help to look at the two year old and think “poor thing her synapses are firing” which really did explain how frustrating things were when she turned two and her 20 minute attention span shot right down to 1 minute.

      The Philosophical Baby and The Scientist in the Crib by Alison Gopnik, who does neuroscience and philosophy. One thing I came to appreciate raising kids and seeing their friends was how the brain does become ready for different things at different stages, especially handling more and more abstract concepts. (She has a more recent book, too, which is probably on similar lines; these are the two I recall reading and then calling back to with lots of “aha, yes, this makes sense.”)

      On a more traditional child-rearing advice, along the lines of How To Talk: Raising Resilient Kids by Brooks and Goldstein. A couple of things that really stuck with me–they talk about scripts, patterns we fall into with our kids where we all repeat the same lines over and over, even if none of us like the result. First, they openly admit that while working on this research, and giving presentations on it, including to their kids’ teachers, their families had some negative scripts that they kept playing out despite all that abstract knowledge. (Also, the sample conversations in the book tend to have the kids saying kid stuff like “I dunno” rather than “ah, I see your wisdom and shall adapt my behavior forthwith.”) Second, if you’re stuck in a negative script with someone, and one of you is 7 and one of you is 40, it’s probably on the 40 year old to dig deep, find some maturity, and set about changing that dynamic. Can’t count how many times I’ve been reminded of that, with 40 year olds who wish their 7 year olds would take on that onus.

    3. King Friday XIII*

      It’s a podcast, but One Bad Mother is pretty awesome, and if you miss the commentariat it has a really active community of facebook groups too.

    4. Sylvie*

      I will second Care & Feeding on Slate. They have a podcast called “Mom & Dad are Fighting” that I love. It’s conversation and Q&A/advice with three parents of kids in three different age groups (teenager, tween, and elementary/preschool). I find their advice to be funny but very thoughtful. They also have a great Facebook group that is an extension of the conversations on the Podcast.

      For the pregnancy/baby stage I enjoy the blog Pregnant Chicken, which tends to be more essays than advice.

      I’ve tried Janet Landsbury’s podcast and book and her stuff is so-so for me. She comes across as kind of judgmental and I didn’t find her advice very practical. She does give you some scripts for difficult situation but not much advice about what to do when kids go off-script, as they are apt to do. I did take a few good nuggets away, though.

      Alpha Mom is a great blog with a terrible name. I love the Amalah advice column and her extensive archives are great for advice on all kinds of issues. She doesn’t post very often, though.

      If you’re more research-minded I would recommend the podcast Your Parenting Mojo, which can be a bit dense but is a nice evidence-based look at a variety of parenting topics.

      A blog that seems to be fairly popular among moms I know is Coffee & Crumbs. It’s more essays than advice, but there is some lovely writing there. They also have a podcast which I tried, but I found the hosts vapid and insufferable.

      1. Sylvie*

        One more – I love the site Lucie’s List for babies and toddlers. Their gear guides are great but they also have guides for different stages and situations (ie potty training).

    5. Amey*

      I really love Aha! Parenting which is Dr Laura Markham – she’s gentle parenting with a clear evidence base and lots of practical advice. Her book Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids is really good but her website is a real treasure trove.

      For advice columns, I quite like Meghan Leahy’s column in the Washington Post – I don’t agree with absolutely everything but some of her advice is very good.

  12. nep*

    I reckon this might have come up in past threads–?
    For those who have done intermittent fasting, what’s been your experience? During what hours do you eat and what have been the results in how you feel? weight loss? energy?
    Was just reading an article about a woman who says she feels at her absolute best since she started eating only between 11am and 7pm. (I do know I feel much better when I stop eating several hours before bed.)

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I’ve never done it formally, but I feel a lot better when I don’t eat for several hours after I wake up (grad student, so my wakeup times tend to vary a lot) and at least an hour or two before I go to bed (again, actual times vary a lot). I tend to feel less bloated and “gross” overall when I avoid eating during those times, although what I eat matters a lot there too. I’m not sure if I’m consistent enough about it to actually tell if it makes a difference in my energy levels on a macro level, though. It also seems to take several hours for my stomach to “wake up” after I get up, so unless my schedule’s very busy and I know I won’t be able to eat during my “core food hours” it’s a lot better for me to wait.

      You could look into The Buddha’s Diet (book), which talks about eating only during certain hours. Joe Yonan at The Washington Post tried it a year or so ago, so you might want to see if you can find that series of articles; however, IIRC the focus there may have been weight loss, which I know can be triggering for people.

    2. Oh Fed*

      Hi nep! I have been IF for about 2 months, so total newbie here. I have two different routines: primary is a 16 hour fast 6pm-10am. I have black coffee w/ a tsp of ground cacao butter at 4am before a morning walk. I have a salad around 10am and then some dinner btwn 4-6p. The other routine is stopping at 2pm and eating when I get up at 4am. When I do this, I eat eggs and some avocado and Ezekiel bread, sliced tomatoes with my coffee.
      I started IF 2x per week but mostly keep it 5-6 days per week. Some days I am just hungry and then I listen to my body and eat! But mostly I find that I am usually not hungry at all now that I am not grazing all day. I have more energy than I can ever remember.
      I am a woman 45-50 yo, 5’2”. Weighed 147lbs in Jan, 128lbs this morning. I also stopped eating candy from the candy dish that I set out at work and stopped having 5 cups/day of coffee with creamer. And exercise (30-120min walking) 7 days a week.

      1. nep*

        That’s quite something, eating nothing between, say, 1030 and 5pm. I would surely lose weight doing that.
        Well done on the weight loss and health/energy gains.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think it’s the reverse–Fed has breakfast at 10:30, dinner a bit before 6, and the fast is through the other end of the clock.

          From the WaPo article on this I think it works like any other diet where you restrict how much you eat, and the key is finding a means of doing that that works for you. So start with shorter fasts and as Fed says, not every day of the week, and see what works–a fast that ends at 8 am that you can stick to is better than one that ends at noon that you can’t.

          1. nep*

            Right–I got that the fast is on the other end. Fed said there’s a meal around 10 then dinner between 4 and 6…that’s a long stretch, too.

        2. Oh Fed*

          Correct on all accounts and clarifications. My previous eating pattern was meals at 4am, 10:30, 2p, mindless grazing from 4-8pm with coffee and candy inbetween all day long. I was eating to stay awake and alert despite sleeping 9–11 hours a night. Fasting has really just given me the ability to recognize what being even a little hungry feels like. Most of my weight loss has probably come from ditching a ton of sugar and the calories for the two additional meals that I was eating. Exercise has given me energy to replace what I was grabbing the caffeine and sugar for. Now I sleep about 7 hours a night and go for a walk when I feel like I am going to nod off.

    3. Ninja*

      I do 5:2, so five days a week I eat normally and two days a week I eat 400 calories- all in an evening meal. Yes, you’re hungry to start with but I got used to it, and now I don’t notice it. I don’t weigh myself and wasn’t looking to lose weight, but it’s a nice way to cut back on sugar and booze without giving them up. And it’s very flexible. I shift the fast days around depending on my social life.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        Can I ask what you eat on your two days? I tried the 5:2 and I just couldn’t figure out what to eat those days!

        1. Yet another Kat*

          So for me, I mostly just don’t, because I don’t like to actively count calories. When I do eat things, I make sure that they will end up well under 500 so I don’t have to count to get under that mark. Thge things I do eat are:
          tea eggs (you could also do hard boiled eggs, but my usual post gym breakfast is chinese bakery, so switching up to tea eggs from a noodle cart feels like I’m not denying myself)
          miso soup or bone broth
          draft latte from la colombe or iced americano w cold foam from starbucks (I have a thing about foam)
          11 cherries (they’re my fav fruit and they’re in season, and 11 is approx 50 calories, so I guess here I AM counting…)
          chilled tofu with chili garlic, soy sauce, pickled ginger, etc

      2. Yet another Kat*

        I’ve been doing this as well… Are you doing 24 hours, or 36ish? I’ve been doing 24 (so for example I stopped eating at 2pm yesterday, and will begin eating again at 2pm today, rather than going to bed, then fasting the next day, then going to be, then eating the day after that.) I don’t know if I could make the 36 hours thing work with me social (mostly nights) and workout (mostly early mornings) schedule, but I somehow feel like 24 hours is cheating?

    4. Eloise*

      I didn’t set out to do intermittent fasting, but noticed (because I was tracking meals/calories with a goal of weight loss) that I had fallen into a habit of skipping breakfast, and it works well for me. Basically, I’m eating only between 11 am and 7 pm (ish). I’m not super-strict about it, but more often than not I have coffee in the morning, then nothing else until lunch. I’m no hungrier on those days than on others — in fact, I think eating breakfast leaves me hungrier by lunchtime. And it makes staying within my goal range for calories much easier.

      1. Red Reader*

        I find that once I start eating on any particular day, I have to keep going to stay on an even keel or else deal with blood sugar swings. But if I don’t start eating, I seem to have no problems and can go “oh, it’s 3pm and I haven’t eaten anything today. I should fix that.” So my best way to cut down on snacking is to not eat until mid-afternoon, aye. And then I go to bed at 9. So while IF wasn’t the goal, I do sort of do so in that I generally only eat between about 1-7pm on most days. (Doesn’t help with the junk food though. Hah.)

      2. Gaia*

        I find the same thing about breakfast! On the (very rare) days that I eat early in my morning I am about ready to gnaw my own arm by the time noon rolls around. But if lunch is my first meal, I find I’m hungry but not starving. I’ve always wondered why that was!

      3. The New Wanderer*

        I didn’t know it was known as intermittent fasting but that’s been my eating schedule for years. I have coffee with milk and sugar, so some calories in the morning, but nothing until early lunch around 11 am. I usually have a mid afternoon snack and then dinner around 6:30. Rarely have anything after dinner. I’m never hungry for breakfast (I will make exceptions for waffles or pancakes though!) and I’ve found that eating breakfast doesn’t push my lunch hunger any later so I just end up having an extra meal that I don’t need.

    5. Fiennes*

      My partner and I have been doing this for about 4 months. He’s lost a good amount of weight, but I haven’t. (The disparity is partly that he’s a guy, partly that I’ve had some down time due to sickness and injury, so I’ve been really sedentary.) We’ve both noticed that our appetites have adjusted well, and I’m craving sweet stuff a lot less often. My partner has managed to lose about 12 pounds while putting on considerable muscle, so it’s working for him very well.

      We eat 16/8–all meals are between 1 pm and 9 pm. (His work schedule means we can rarely eat dinner before 8.) I have coffee with some milk in the mornings. After we finish our summer travels, I plan to incorporate two days a week of low calorie intake.

      My main hope is that this is helping my body process things in a healthier way. My dad was diagnosed with diabetes earlier this year, and while I’ve never had his issues with food, I definitely want to make some changes now.

      1. ket*

        Some women report that a longer eating window works better for them (assuming you’re female as you note that partner is a guy). If you run into trouble at any point, search for the experiences of women doing IF. That 8-hour window works well for some and others find it wreaks some hormonal havoc, and find a 10-hour window works better for them.

    6. Undine*

      I don’t do intermittent fasting, but my tendency when really stressed or depressed is to stop eating, so for the past twenty years or so, I have eaten a big lunch and no dinner. I do snack at work, so basically I don’t eat anything after 5 most of the time. What I’ve found for me is:
      If I’m doing this, I need animal protein, it digests much slower and I don’t crash.
      I’m actually hungrier and think more about food if I have three small meals. And I don’t feel as balanced.
      I need breakfast, and if I’m doing something physical it has to be substantial. I have tried eating a big dinner the night before, but it doesn’t sustain me the same way. I’ve only been consistently doing breakfast everyday for the past couple of years, but it makes a huge difference.
      It’s not a miracle, I’m not fantastically energetic, but it works best for me to sustain energy through the day.
      About 10 years ago, I went to Italy with a friend who was very amused by what he called the “snake” diet (because snakes only eat once a month or so), and he claimed that he actually lost weight on that trip. But I think that was because he was eating less and moving more.
      Overall, I think my hunger signals are not great, so what I look for for me, is am I feeling tired or lightheaded, and I readjust for that.

      Food is very individual. I would say, expanding your awareness of how food affects you from just your stomach to your whole body, mood, etc., is probably more useful than any preset pattern of eating. If you can see how food affects you, then you can fine tune it for yourself. But, as I said, I tend to not eat, which means that food affects me more, so I get better immediate feedback.

    7. Middle School Teacher*

      I can’t eat as soon as I get up; it makes me a bit nauseous. And I also find I can’t eat right before bed, but I’m I’m super hungry I can’t sleep. My solution is to eat a late supper (usually around 7pm). In the morning I usually just drink lots of water until I’m more awake.

      I’ve also done juice fasts (the one I do has me consuming 1500 calories over the course of a day) and I do feel better after those three days, but those three days are a nightmare haha.

    8. Gaia*

      I never meant to, but I find I sort of naturally end up in that pattern. I’ve never been able to eat breakfast. The very notion of waking up and eating is….so insane to me. It upsets my stomach to eat even 2-3 hours after I wakeup. I usually wakeup around 5am and my first food will be around 9 or 10am (and even that is usually just a handful of berries or maybe a hard boiled egg). I then have lunch around 12 or 1 and dinner around 6. There is the rare day I wake up starving and on those days I listen to my body and I make a protein smoothie (protein powder, frozen raspberries, Fage 0% yogurt, water).

      Right now everything is a bit off because of the medication I’m taking to help with my weight loss, but this was true even before that.

    9. LCL*

      Not through deliberate attempt, rather over scheduling and the laziness that comes with it, on some days I don’t eat until lunch, and my last meal was dinner around 6 pm the night before. It always makes me weak and sick, and when I finally eat I feel full but sick, sleepy and detached afterwards. So intermittent fasting isn’t something I will be trying.

    10. fposte*

      I’m experimenting with the 16:8 protocol (8 hours a day where you can eat). I couldn’t do the intermittent fasting day by day; I don’t tolerate any of the liquids you can drink and I get superhungry in a day. But 16:8 works really well for me–I basically skip breakfast and don’t eat in the evening. It seems to be helping stabilize my Crohn’s, and I think I’m losing a little weight; I’ll be curious to see in a month or so if it’s had any effect on my cholesterol. And while I don’t get oppressively hungry, I do get some hungry, and I *like* that; I feel like it’s a sensation we’ve practically banished in contemporary America as if it were a medical problem rather than something most people should feel on a regular basis. I also get a lot more excited about lunch :-).

    11. nonprofit director*

      I don’t really call it intermittent fasting, but I am careful to 1) eat at least three hours before I need to go to bed and 2) not eat again until about 14 hours after my last meal from the previous day. I started doing this primarily because it’s part of a larger protocol for some health-related stuff. I definitely sleep better when I give my food plenty of time to digest. And my fasting glucose/A1c is the best it’s ever been, which is something I had been struggling with for the past 10 years; both are now in the “optimal” range. All other blood and urine markers look really great.

    12. Triple Anon*

      I feel better when I wait a few hours before eating after I wake up. When I wait to eat until I’m really hungry. There’s a lot of advice out there saying you have to eat breakfast first thing in the morning, that it’s important for your overall health and to maintain a healthy weight. Maybe I’m weird, but I’ve had the opposite experience.

      As for fasting, I think it can be great. I just try to drink a lot of water and avoid over exertion. When I was younger, I used to do a week-long fast about once a year. Now I only fast for a day or two every so often. It seems to clear out the toxins and re-energize me. I don’t know about the science behind it, but a lot of cultures have some kind of fasting tradition, so there probably are benefits from it.

      1. seewhatimean*

        you’re not weird. My mom occasionally has said to me over the years that I am why they stopped having cooked English breakfasts. I remember being pressured horribly to eat first thing before going to school…and being ill from it. I always had a snack in my school bag for first recess, when I _would_ be hungry.

        My son has been the same way since very little. He drives my mom nuts, because she has never learned to accept that her very rigid food schedule doesn’t work universally. I guess she didn’t learn much from dealing with me!

        My folks and my sister both eat immediately and always have. Very routine, very much the same day to day. I think they are the weirdos. :D

    13. Annoyed*

      Don’t know if this will help at all…

      I eat when I’m hungry, whenever that happens to be. I don’t worry about what I eat because ok grapes now, cheese in a couple of hours, steak on Thursday, I figure it all evens out.

      My numbers (sugar, cholesterol, etc.) are good so I figure I’m ok. I have several autoimmune disorders so feeling “good/well/not well” is a crap shoot on any given day. I never fast.

      Husband is an observant Muslim. He fasts from time to time just because and does the full monty at Ramadan.

      Sometimes he’s fasting upwards of 19 hours. After about the first 9 days he’s no longer a raging grouch, feels pretty good physically, and loses an average of about eight pounds each Ramadan.

  13. TheLiz*

    So my husband’s family are coming to stay with us for a week. It’ll be fun, I’m looking forward to it, but my MIL is on a low-FODMAP diet, I think? She can’t eat gluten anyway, but now avoids onions, raisins and a bunch of other stuff she won’t discuss because she doesn’t want to complain or put people out. Which I respect, but… it’s going to be a week, and trying to eat out in a group of seven with one Jew, three and a half vegetarians and her, in Germany where I don’t trust people not to put bacon in things, is a special kind of Hell and I’d honestly rather cook every meal to her specifications than attempt it.

    Recipe suggestions? I’m happy to cook something separate for her, since making things that will keep literally everyone happy for seven main meals is just not happening.

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Maybe some kind of make-your-own-pasta thing with gluten-free pasta? So have a couple (easy/cheap) sauces and some toppings.

      Also, any chance you (or your husband) can get more information out of your FIL about good things to have on hand if she doesn’t want to ask for herself?

    2. misspiggy*

      Look at miss-south.com. Lots of easy FODMAP friendly recipes. And Cooking On A Bootstrap has some good recipes which avoid onions.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Darn I was going to suggest salad plus cooked chicken breast but that won’t work for vegetarians. Maybe salad plus vegetarian main plus batch cook a bunch of marinated chicken breasts for her (can be served cold) and she can have or not veggie main depending on onion/tomato/etc content?

      1. Natalie*

        I think your salad idea would work just fine for vegetarians, you just need an additional non-meat protein. Hard boiled eggs, cheese, edamame, chickpeas, and cold lentils all go well on a salad.

    4. Red Reader*

      I have a special kind of glower for people who come to my house but refuse to tell me what their food sensitivities are. Like, thanks for actively causing me stress by making it harder for me to host you. “I’m trying not to inconvenience you!” YOU ARE FAILING. Humph.

      Maybe point it out that way, and you can get some useful information out of her?

      Otherwise, lots of assemble your own. Sandwich bar (with GF bread available), baked potato bar, taco bar, pasta bar.

      1. Lady Jay*

        I have a special kind of glower for people who come to my house but refuse to tell me what their food sensitivities are. Lordy, yes. I once hosted a couple new to town. I knew she was gluten free, my roommate was gluten free, and so I had a good sense of how to cater to that particular dietary need. Happy too. Made a beautiful summer salad with lots of bell peppers, blueberries, greens, and gorgeous seasonal corn.

        Come to find out, as we’re sitting down to supper, she’s allergic to corn, too.

        We rummaged through the freezer, found something for her to eat, and overall had a good time. But I get the frustration of having people with easily-avoidable dietary needs not tellyou about those needs. I’m happy to accommodate, but I’m not a medium!

        1. TL -*

          Corn is not an easily avoidable dietary need – it is by far the most difficult of my allergies to manage.

        2. Kuododi*

          That’s one of many reasons I adore my extended family. They all know I have some very minor food “sensitivities”. (Technically, I probably can’t call them allergies since it’s none of the EpiPen type problems. Just ….”gastric distress” shall we say?) If we are getting together, they are fantastic about shooting me a quick text to check about the food plans during the visit and I fill them in on what they’ve listed and if it is going to be alright with my concerns. Like I SD though,
          my food reactions are few and minor. It’s really NBD to work around them and have plenty of good grub for all the visitors. I’m very thankful I don’t have the hard core food allergies and wouldn’t wish that on anyone..Best wishes

      2. blackcat*

        I know one woman like this. I got all of the information from her husband, my long term friend. And then when she showed up, she proceeded to make a Big. To. Do. about how rude my friend was for “dictating the menu.” Hey, I can make a nice shellfish free meal! That’s not even hard!

        Unsurprisingly, she also gets upset if people make requests about eating in her home. So when her husband (again, my long term friend) left her in charge of dessert, she made it strawberry EVERYTHING. When she put it on the table, the odor was so overwhelming I had to immediately leave, take puffs of my inhaler, and down some benedryl. My friend looked HORRIFIED as it happened. He knows my allergies (strawberries are the worst, but I have another few odd ones including mustard) and has been diligent about avoiding them when hosting me.

        But apparently, to her, a guest cannot dictate what is served. So that means she does not warn people she is allergic to shellfish, but also does not believe in accommodating others’ allergies.

        Unfortunately, she also does not believe that people of the opposite sex should be friends, so cutting her out (because, woah, she’s an asshole) has meant I don’t get to see my friend anymore. And that makes me sad.

        1. Thursday Next*

          I don’t understand how someone can want to invite people over, then get offended if they want to discuss serious allergies. That seems like the opposite of being a gracious host.

          1. blackcat*

            It’s so baffling!

            But my MIL was similar–she got pretty upset when I requested that allergies be accommodated but then deeply offended when I refused to eat at her house (for fear of encountering hidden allergens). But with her, it was a combination of her not liking me and not believing in food allergies. She genuinely did not believe I could have them.

            This woman HAS HER OWN ALLERGIES. And is just an asshole about all things allergy-related. And that’s so baffling to me.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Gluten free vegetarian is tough. I think I would aim for have a meat on the table, have a grain on the table, lots of vegetables, and let people assemble around those. And remember not to put bacon/butter/garlic/vinegar as an automatic seasoning on lots of things.

      1. pcake*

        I’m a wheat-free vegetarian. That means I can eat baked potatoes, dairy, omelettes, pizza at Blaze and Disneyland, scrambled eggs, gluten-free pasta (they sell lots of kinds at the store), a wide variety of Mexican foods, mashed potatoes (there are some really tasty gravy mixes to top them with. There are lots of restaurants around me I can eat at (and it’s usually easy to check out the menus online), and Olive Garden has a tasty children’s gluten-free pasta plate you can order with gluten free marinara (their regular marinara has flour in it) that is all the pasta I can eat comfortably.

        They make gluten-free pancake mix, cake mix, corn bread mix (Krusteaz makes my favorites, and they’re also the cheapest).

    6. Ali G*

      My mom has IBSD and is on a gluten free, lactose free, low FODMAP diet. By far the biggest offenders are garlic and onions and some leafy greens.
      My mom typically brings a lot of her own food when she visits, or if that’s not possible, we take a trip to the grocery store when she gets here so she can stock up. Is that a possibility? Maybe not single her out, but take a few people along to get necessities for the week?
      I like the other ideas of “build your own” bars. Tacos – corn tortillas, mushrooms for the veg folk, and keep the peppers and onions separate.
      Stuffed baked potatoes, salads, pasta, rice/noodle bowls all have many options.

      1. Natalie*

        Pet peeve re: mushrooms as a vegetarian substitute – they provide bulk and texture that can be similar to meat but they’re not usually a good source of protein. A grain/legume combo (like rice and beans) would be a better option.

        1. Overeducated*

          Unfortunately the one person i know on a low FODMAP type diet can’t eat beans, soy, dairy, or grains. She basically eats tons of meat and vegetables. I don’t know how much variability there is but I am afraid vegetarian + that diet is just not possible.

          1. Natalie*

            My understanding is that most people only do the super-restrictive version for a few months and then they add stuff back in and see what specific items cause them problems. Even with your friends restrictions you could probably go vegetarian if you were willing to eat a million eggs, but sounds like vegan would definitely be near impossible.

          2. Natalie*

            Also I don’t think the low FODMAP person in TheLiz’s family is vegetarian, it sounds like other people are. So the beans & rice would be for them, and meat for MIL.

            1. TheLiz*

              My MIL isn’t vegetarian but my husband is and I’m Jewish so meat is too complicated. Fish and rice I was planning on, though.

              I don’t really do beans or lentils, but I’m good to start. They’d be on the side, because I *hate* the texture, but I’m happy to cook them for others.

      2. ket*

        Agree with taco bar! Similar ideas: build-your-own bowl (rice bowl, quinoa bowl, spiralized/shredded zucchini bowl). Make your own lettuce wraps — have tofu, meat, shredded carrots, etc.

        Low FODMAP can be so individual. She really needs to tell you what seems ok and what doesn’t. I can’t eat a lot of tapioca starch, but I can eat a whole head of garlic, no problem. My mom avoids onions now. It’s just not straightforward.

        1. Ali G*

          It IS so individual! My mom tried to add some things back in slowly and she couldn’t handle it. Some people can do that in small amounts, but nope, not mom.
          Also – OP if you are still here, I just remembered, there is this spice called asafetida spice that my mom says is a great sub for onion and garlic. It’s…not cheap and very strong. You use no more than like an 1/8th a teaspoon for any given recipe, but a lot of people use it.
          Also some people can tolerate chives and/or the green portions of scallions. But like ket said – she really needs to tell you what she can do and what she can’t. You can’t guess at this stuff. Before my mom got her diagnosis we had to take her to urgent care one night after we ordered sandwiches from the local place we love and she ended up puking for hours.

    7. Thursday Next*

      GF vegan here (though I have a weakness for cheese and ice cream that Must. Be. Kicked.), seconding the ideas for assemble-your-own pasta, salad, sandwich/(veggie) burger and taco buffets. This is the only way we can make family meals work! And the good thing is you can do a lot of vegetable prep that will see you through a couple of those variations.

      I don’t know about the availability of convenience foods in Germany, but if you’re preparing buffets, some amount of pre-prepped foods will help you cut back on work dramatically. So for pasta, maybe prepackaged meatballs, so you don’t drive yourself crazy.

      One note—many vegetarian meat substitutes are built on gluten, so read ingredients if you’re getting veggie burgers and things like that. Canned black beans are great for quick taco fillings or veggie burger patties.

      1. TheLiz*

        I wouldn’t tend to go for meat substitutes because they taste of disappointment :p They’re also not all that common near me for some reason.

        1. Gaia*

          I laughed really hard at “they taste of disappointment” because I found it just so damn true.

          About five years ago I found myself suddenly feeling very strongly about the cruel way animals raised for meat are treated in this country and I decided that meant I needed to not be part of that process and I would become vegetarian. I lasted about two months before I caved in spectacular fashion. The worst part of it was the meat substitutes. I would bitterly eat them but they just didn’t taste the same.

        2. CB in Germany*

          I don’t know where in Germany you are, but I’ve seen vegan sections in the bigger Rewes in Frankfurt. They tend to be in the refrigerated section near the hummus and Frikadellen.

        3. hermit crab*

          I agree that they taste of disappointment — except for Trader Joes fake chorizo.* It’s surprisingly good. Perhaps because regular chorizo is mostly about spices anyhow? It’s soy based, though, so not compatible with everyone’s dietary preferences/needs, and probably doesn’t help you over in Germany.

          *And, weirdly, fake chicken nuggets. Possibly because they take that nostalgic overly processed taste to the next level…?

          1. Thursday Next*

            I hear you on the chicken nuggets! I had similar feelings about corn dogs, which I wrote about below.

            1. A bit of a saga*

              I would never eat real chicken nuggets but it’s true the veggie ones are good! Both Aldi and Lidl have them where I live and as those are German chains I’d be surprised if they don’t stock them in Germany too

        4. Thursday Next*

          Oh, the disappointment potential is high! That’s why I prefer foods that are just food—beans, tofu, e.g.—rather than highly processed substitutes. Although years ago I would eat veggie corn dogs, since that’s a pretty distinctive item, and the meat original is already highly processed.

          I recommend canned beans—I’m too lazy to deal with dried ones. And I’m not big on lentils, but I used canned ones mixed into food in small quantities.

          My MIL keeps kosher & she likes eating at my place or my parents’ because she knows everything will be fine for her. So vegan + kosher is an easy combo, and even vegan + kosher + fish/eggs (served in separate items but at one meal) is relatively straightforward to pull off (I have hosted family meals for Jewish holidays).

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Honestly, my approach to any kind of food restrictions, for ANY reason, is that the person has to help me not screw it up. If they’re not willing to help me, then they clearly aren’t that serious and if they aren’t then why should I be? Definition of help: give me suggestions of ok things, offer to cook a meal entirely, help cook, bring your own food, etc.

      The times this has come up I’ve never had an issue. I have a gluten free friend for medical reasons, and I flat out told her that I was clueless and needed her help. She helped me plan a meal, helped w/brands that were safe, etc.

      Note: obviously, if there’s a medical reason I’ll make an effort, but if you’re telling me you’re vegan then turn around and eat normal cheese while knowing that it’s normal cheese, you just lost my tolerance/respect. And don’t expect me to bend over backwards to accommodate your dietary restrictions that are really hard for me to figure out when you’re not willing to even do the easy parts.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Agreed on effort/information. But there are gradations that people might not want to get into. For instance, I have some degree of lactose intolerance, and a high degree of egg intolerance. So mostly I’m vegan. However, aged cheeses are much lower in lactose than milk, so I know that I can eat X amount of Parmesan in a week with no ill effects. And in the summertime, I’ll admit to a craving for ice cream—so if I “budget” my lactose consumption, I can have it every couple of weeks on one of my daughter’s weekend ice cream outings.

        In general, because I have a lot of restrictions myself, the meals I prepare for guests tend to cover a lot of food restriction bases, so I’ve never felt “put out” by any requests. (Also, I’m making stuff more palatable to my kids, who don’t have restrictions, so there’s a variety.) And if I’m a guest, people who know me well make sure some of what they serve is stuff I can eat, or I choose from whatever they’re serving that fits my needs, or I bring/make my own stuff. It depends on what I think will be easiest for the hosts.

    9. Saskia*

      I follow a low-FODMAP diet, and I agree with other posters that your MIL absolutely needs to inform you of what foods she must completely avoid & what she can eat. Within the low-FODMAP framework there are a lot of individual differences, so it’s not possible to know for sure what MIL can and can’t eat unless she communicates with you.

      It’s not realistic for you to be hosting her without this crucial information!

      I suggest you ask your partner to wrangle MIL. Let them tell MIL that withholding information about her diet is putting you out more, and that it will be doing you a favour to inform you about her restrictions in detail.

      Once you have a list of what must be completely avoided, it’s easier to search for recipes and start shopping. For example, if you bought sauces without knowing she can’t eat cooked tomato, it would be a total wast of effort and money. Likewise if you relied on beans & lentils only to discover she can’t eat them once she arrives.

      If you make a buffet-style arrangement I think that would work the best for your complex needs.

      Baked potatoes are an excellent option if she can eat them, since you can cook a lot at once & use them for salads the next day. Good luck!

      1. TheLiz*

        Baked potatoes were very much “on the list”, and potato salad wasn’t bit should be because I know MIL likes/can eat mine.

        I got an actual list out of my SIL, who lived at home between degrees and thus nobody feels bad. I do like my in-laws, honest…

        Buffet style would work very well, but the English tend to look down on them somewhat. (Husband and I are recovering English, in-laws don’t think they have a problem). Lunches will be shift-for-yourself, though.

        1. TheLiz*

          Thanks, everyone. I’m feeling a bit better now I’ve remembered that I can make kedgeree (smoked fish and eggs with a little bit of hard cheese, served on rice). I’m even good at it, it’s interesting and it’ll do for two days. Combining that with baked potatoes, potato salad and some sort of tuna/rice thing and I’ll muddle through. For lunch, I don’t know, sandwiches on GF bread and some degree of restaurant hell. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, or something.

  14. Barbara*

    Yes I have done things like this. The 5-2, eating only 500 cals 2 days a week. This version didn’t work for me because I was too hungry. The 16-8 version, eating only 8 hours a day, helped me. I was more energetic and lost some weight but it was difficult to follow because I didn’t have a regular schedule so I couldn’t be always on time at home for my early dinner.
    Something I find helpful is to have early and light dinners. I feel lighter, sleep better and have more energy when I wake up. The weight comes back if you stop. It’s a lifestyle to keep all your life.

  15. nep*

    So Slimming pants by Chico’s, anyone?
    I just found some yesterday at the thrift store–like new. Great pants. So comfortable.
    There is a special place in heaven for whoever started putting spandex in pants. Says the menopausal woman with a mid-section she doesn’t recognise as hers.

    1. Lauren*

      Spandex in pants- amen! I’m with you there. I haven’t tried the pants you’re talking about, but I always look for spandex in pants.

      1. nep*

        When I’m looking through casual pants in the thrift store, if I see a pair that I might like, I give it a tug to see whether there’s some give–Bonus if there is spandex/elastane/whatever to give us a little give. They can look really great too–neat and crisp. All the while super comfortable.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Awesome thanks for the suggestion! As someone going through medical treatments that cause abdominal bloat plus some weight fluctuations pants are the worst! My old pants I am constantly popping the tab enclosures because of belly changes. It sucks. But it won’t change anytime soon esp if my medical treatments work and I get pregnant. Elastic is the best.

    3. Fiennes*

      On a similar note: has anyone tried BetaBrand clothing? It all looks so comfy and pulled-together.

      1. nep*

        Just looked it up–had never heard of them. What a cool idea–those yoga pants/dress pants. Too pricey for me currently, but nice and I’d like to try them out one of these days.

      2. Pliant Platypus*

        I just got my first pair of pants from them last week. They are ridiculously comfortable and look quite nice. I bought a medium petite, should have gotten a large. Read the reviews, they are quite helpful. They have fantastic options for tall or petite sizes, are also having a 60% off sale now. Otherwise they are a bit expensive.

    4. Nicole76*

      Gotta have the spandex when you have a small waist but hips and a butt. Otherwise there’s a gap in the back that is not comfortable. I’ve gotten really attached to leggings this past year but am having trouble finding long shirts to wear with them so they look nicer.

      1. Workerbee*

        I have fewer long shirts than I’d prefer, myself! I have taken to using long cardigans instead. I have a couple sleeveless ones (so a cross between a soft flowy vest and a cardigan, I guess) and traditional ones with sleeves, depending on the weather and if the building is freezing or overheated.

    5. nonprofit director*

      I know I am the odd one out, but I just cannot stand spandex in pants. Especially denim. I am menopausal, as well, but I go out of my way to avoid spandex and can only tolerate a maximum of 1%. I find pants with more than 1% spandex actually stretch too much and end up bagging in the crotch. Also, when spandex is used, the remaining fabric is too thin and emphasizes my bulges even more. And finally, particularly when the weather is warm, I am way too sweaty and gross-feeling.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I know what you mean! There is definitely a formula for the spandex/cloth ratio, especially in denim. Some jeans can bag or show all the lumps. Ugh! But I have some black dress slacks from JCP that are my “magic pants” and can withstand anything (bloat, periods, holidays, travel) and still look good.

  16. AlligatorSky*

    A couple of weeks ago I posted saying I felt claustrophobic all the time, and that I wanted to get out of my area. A couple of readers replied saying I was experiencing ‘wanderlust’. I was feeling down about it, because I didn’t have a passport and had no way of leaving the country.

    Happy to say that I had a ‘You only live once, gotta make the most of it’ thought; Cancelled my expired passport, applied for a new one and I now have trips booked to Northern Ireland and Ireland near year! I’m going to Belfast and Dublin to see my favourite band live, and I’m going to make it a fun trip and go exploring!

    Once those trips are over I’ll see if I can expand my horizons and see where else I end up. Thank you to those 2 commenters who have inspired and helped with this trip!

    1. nep*

      Wow–inspiring. I love the way you just own the situation, get things done, and go for it. Wonderful.

      1. AlligatorSky*

        Thank you :-) Planning this also involved standing up to my mother, who doesn’t want this trip to happen. She tried to scare me into cancelling it. I stood my ground, and she’s not going to stop me.

          1. AlligatorSky*

            Yeah, she hates the idea of me being away in another place, having a good time. I’m determined to have the best time ever!

            Thank you nep! <3

    2. RoseberriesMaybe*

      Enjoy yourself! I’m Irish and there’s loads to do in Dublin. Who are you going to see?

      1. AlligatorSky*

        I’m going to see a Scottish band called Chvrches. I’m Scottish too and I’m seeing them play their hometown show in Glasgow. I wanted to see them a couple of times, since I’ve never seen them live before. Since Belfast and Dublin are closer to me than the venues in England, figured I’d make a holiday out of it. Getting to see my favourite band and getting to see places I’ve never been to before – win win situation in my opinion! :)

      1. AlligatorSky*

        Thanks! Wanted to visit those places for years, just never had the time/money or confidence to actually do it. 2019 is the year I actually do them, 2018 being the planning year :-)

    3. Fiennes*

      Yay!!

      In Northern Ireland, be sure to see the Giant’s Causeway (amazing rock formation on a lovely stretch of the coast) and Dunotter Castle.

      1. AlligatorSky*

        I’d add these to my list of things to see – thank you! Always wanted to see Giant’s Causeway!

  17. Kate Daniels*

    Do you splurge on food when shopping for groceries, or do you think this is a waste of money and tend to just pick up the cheapest things? For most of my adult life, I’ve always just bought whatever is cheapest, but I treated myself to some local, fresh food the other week and realized it tastes so much better, so I may have to figure out a way to rearrange my budget to dedicate more to food.

    I bought a bottle of milk from the local creamery instead of the typical $1.50 half gallon from Target and it’s like three times the price, but tastes so, so much better. I am kind of trying to justify doing this as a recurring expense because it’s more environmentally friendly—you rinse and reuse glass bottles instead of recycling plastic. Same with the fresh pasta from Eataly as opposed to the $1 box from the grocery store, or the pint of blueberries from the farmers’ market (but that price differential isn’t too bad).

      1. nep*

        +1
        (though I was pleased to find that the $4.99 bag of plain ol’ Trader Joe’s french roast does nicely when I’m pinching pennies more than usual.)

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I splurge. I have GI issues and general food issues. Plus a lot of my “safe” foods are more expensive and harder to find where I am now, and I’ve had a really hard time finding good substitutes. So when I find something that is both unlikely to make me sick and that tastes good, yeah, I’ll splurge on it, although when possible I try to buy in bulk when it goes on sale (or, for fruits and vegetables, I usually just try to buy whatever’s on sale at the time if it looks fresh) and I still do price comparisons.

    2. Red Reader*

      I usually just buy the cheap stuff/grocery store house brand. My only “must have a name brand” that I can think of offhand are cheez-it crackers, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and totino’s pizza rolls, haha. But I am also not a foodie, much more of a “food is fuel” type. Like, all root beer tastes the same to me, except Barq’s because whatever they put in it to add caffeine tastes super bitter and I’m a super taster for bitters. This absolutely baffles my husband, who can identify all the fancy root beers by taste and of course likes the most expensive ones best, and I’m just like “Yup, tastes like root beer.”

    3. KayEss*

      I eat a lot of peanut butter, so I buy it in the 4-pound jugs, and I spent a while buying the store brand generic because it was cheaper and also frequently on sale so it cost only 50-60% of what brand-name cost… which felt virtuous, even though I could tell the difference and didn’t like the store brand as much. Then I read a post somewhere with a list of things you “should” buy brand-name instead of generic, and peanut butter was on there. Still not sure if they were joking or not, but I took it as permission to just buy the dang Skippy, already. Six bucks a month is worth it to have peanut butter I like enough to eat plain.

      (On the other hand, I also drink a lot of milk, but I’ll buy the rock-bottom ultra-cheap store brand for a savings of a whopping 50 cents a gallon over the slightly-less-cheap store brand, even though I’m pretty sure I can taste the difference. People are irrational.)

    4. yo*

      I prioritize buying local, organic foods when/if possible. It’s not even about splurging on food for me, it’s about the impact on the environment. I don’t want to have a large carbon footprint and I prefer that they don’t use extra chemicals that can have negative impacts on the environment when growing it. If that means smaller, less visually appealing veggies then so be it!

      I also try to only buy local, humanly treated meat on the rare occasions I do eat it – it tastes better and the animal has suffered less in the process of being raised for me.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        I agree with this. I buy meat from a local farm share – it’s about $10/lb but was humanely raised, less transit (and less fossil fuel) and been documented in medical lit to be healthier (fat profile esp). I buy organic lunch meats because nitrates in them and other processed meat like hot dogs or sausage are linked to stomach cancer.

        I mostly try to buy organic of the Dirty Dozen produce – anything with a peel is mostly fine conventional. Dairy I always do organic.

        I don’t buy much processed food (chips, cookies, soda) so I save money that way. Also I figure anything at the grocery store is cheaper than a restaurant meal. Mostly we spend ~$120/week for 2 people for all meals plus meat is ~$80/mo.

      2. Woodswoman*

        Same here. At times in my life when I was on a tight budget, I still prioritized organic food and supporting my locally owned grocery stores. I skimped in other areas to make sure I could still afford this.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      For years I bought the cheapest stuff and then my health tanked. Now I am buying “expensive” stuff. For me I tend to believe I can pay now or I can pay later, either way I am going to pay. If I buy the cheaper foods I know I am going to buy more medical help. Comparing the cost of the “expensive” stuff to the cost of health care, is no contest. The expensive food is much, much more cost effective in the long run for me.
      My husband and I had running commentary on dish soap. We could buy the cheap dish soap and then buy a ton of stuff to fix cracked, bleeding hands. How do you put a dollar value on the pain, inconvenience and lost time fixing the cracked bleeding hands?
      I started doing home cooked for my dog and my vet bills went way down. Factoring in the long term view has helped me a lot.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I went for the ones labeled natural or organic. It’s a little spendy, but my other costs went down so that seems to justify the money. Eventually I started just getting the natural or organic store brand with the soaking system I use, the store brand works okay.
          I did end up keeping a bottle of Dawn for the really bad messes. The bottle lasts quite a while though.
          Also I learned that vinegar does a nice job on loosening up sticky oat, rice or pasta based dishes, no scrubbing, just let it soak for awhile and the stuff comes off by its self.
          I have baking soda in a shaker type bottle and I use that on oily messes first. I shake some on the greasy pan and let it sop up the oil. I can scrape that off into the garbage can which is better than letting it go down the drain.
          Silverware sits soaking in a bowl until I am ready to wash dishes. Usually I have a bowl that needs washing anyway so that becomes my silverware tub for soaking.
          Now a bottle of hand lotions lasts years for me. My hands will get a little dry in the winter but no where near the problems I had before.

    6. HannahS*

      I’m a student so splurging is relative right now, but I come from a family that spends a LOT on food. Good quality fruits and veggies mostly, and decent cheese, which add up. But we almost never eat out–less than once a month, so our overall eating cost winds up being cheaper than most people in the same income bracket. Most people in the Olden Days spent most of their money trying to stay fed; many still live that way. To me, it’s like, what’s money for? I want to feel good about by what I eat. Sometimes that means shelling out for the most expensive kind of apple, or buying green beans out of season, but it can also mean eating bean stews and bread.

    7. Natalie*

      We mix and match, I’d say. My husband snacks like crazy (he’s a giant with a physical job) so he gets the cheapest snacks. (I personally think he’d probably cost the same plus eat healthier if we bought more nutrient dense snacks but that’s a decision he has to make.) We spend more on cheese, meat, and some produce because I really notice the quality difference. I garden a lot as well.

      Where I’d like to spend more but currently can’t afford to is on eggs and dairy. Mostly for ethical, animal rights reasons. But spouse drinks so much milk and needs lactose free so it will be bonkers expensive.

    8. Fiennes*

      It depends. Fresh local produce, good cheeses, free-range organic eggs: worth spending more. With other things, the difference isn’t as substantive.

      I recently read a chef saying you should splurge on the one or two parts of a meal that are the key elements of flavor. The rest doesn’t matter as much.

    9. Overeducated*

      I spent a large chunk of my family’s weekly grocery budget on just farmer’s market peaches, tomatoes, basil, and green beans this morning…so yeah. Key for me is that I don’t splurge on everything every week, I do have a budget so I have to prioritize (like the locally farmed meat and cheese are great, and I’d like to buy greens, onions, etc. from the farmer’s market as well, but I can’t afford to switch entirely and not everything tastes as noticeably different). I think we have to eat every day and good food is one of those sustaining pleasures it is worth making room for in life.

    10. gecko*

      I completely approve of splurging on things you appreciate!! So for instance–I always splurge on getting really good vanilla extract, cause it makes a ton of difference in baked goods (imo) to have good stuff instead of vanilla-flavored “extract.” It’s REALLY good to have super-fresh vegetables, though for that you can pay with your time instead of money–I have a farm store that’s very cheap but a little further away than I usually like. I get good butter, and berries sometimes.

      I feel very, very strongly that it is worth it (“it” being money or time) to eat food that you can savor and enjoy instead of just wolf down until satiated. Both for your health–because then you’re paying attention to what you’re eating–and for your mental health–because then you have these times where you’re just feeling good and that’s incredibly valuable.

      1. Kate Daniels*

        Do you have a recommendation for a particular brand of vanilla extract? I’ve been using McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract for as long as I can remember, but I want to start baking more and improve my baking skills, especially because most of my favorite things to make are vanilla-based like vanilla cake or vanilla buttercream frosting.

        1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

          Butting in to evangelize about Penzey’s Vanillas. I usually get the single-strength. There was a time in my grad school days when this vanilla was the *only* splurge I would make on food. I wouldn’t even buy cheese, but I’d make sure I had the $40 bottle of vanilla. Alas, due to a vanilla bean shortage, the 16 oz. bottle is a lot more than $40 now. But soooooo worth it.

          1. Sylvan*

            I love Penzey’s so, so much.

            They have very frequent sales that you can find on their Facebook page or via email. But, just a warning, they’re not shy about talking politics.

          2. Nye*

            Penzey’s double-strength vanilla is AMAZING. All their stuff is good, actually, and now that I live far from a store I splash out to mail order from them periodically.

            Generally, I put a lot of time and money into my food. I love to cook and eat, and fresh produce and high-quality ingredients really make a difference. On the flip side, I don’t spend much on packaged convenience foods, so I think it does balance out a bit.

            I shop local farmers markets and small butchers / grocers when I can. I don’t worry much about buying stuff marked as certified organic, since that mostly just means the company was big enough to pay for certification. But I do pay more for produce from smaller, independently owned farms when it’s available.

          3. Teach*

            Penzey’s Vanilla is truly the best. There is a bean in the jar, even, which I use to make vanilla sugar when I finish a jar. You should probably also get the almond extract as well and sniff all the cinnamons to get a new kind. Plus Baking Spice. Add Baking Spice to everything.

        2. gecko*

          Agree on the Penzey’s vanilla extract suggested above. I mostly avoid the supermarket extracts that contain coloring and like, vanilla flavoring.

          1. Nye*

            Artificial vanilla extract has an interesting history – it was initially made from clove oil, then wood pulp byproducts, and now (apparently) it’s usually made from a petrochemical.

            Cook’s Illustrated did a taste-off at one point and I believe they found that most tasters couldn’t tell the difference between natural and artificial vanilla in most baked goods. Some even preferred the artificial for its stronger flavor! Exceptions were for desserts where the vanilla flavor was really prominent, I believe.

            Personally, I am devoted to Penzey’s Double Strength Vanilla and will defend it against all comers.

        3. Cat Herder*

          Buy whole vanilla beans. Scrape the seeds into milk or cream for making ice cream or custard (for instance), strain them out, proceed with your recipe. Now the best part: get a big jar, fill it with sugar, plunge in the bean pod. Vanilla sugar! I’ve used one pod, refilling the sugar jar, for almost a year. OMG, vanilla sugar!

        4. CupcakeCounter*

          Penzey’s is good but I prefer Mexican vanilla to Madagascar so I order from Blue Cattle Trucking Company at Mexicanvanilla . com
          I have the Pure and the Traditional and use them in different things (i.e. only use the Pure for things that get cooked like the vanilla cake since it is 35% alcohol and can be a bit harsh in American buttercream but the alcohol bakes out and leaves that perfect vanilla flavor in cake).

    11. Thursday Next*

      I pay more for stuff that matters to me. My daughter is a dairy monster, so I buy only organic milk and yogurt, local small-dairy when possible. We have a great farmers market a block away from us on Saturdays that has fantastic dairy products.

      I love carrots, and find the taste difference between organic loose carrots and carrots in a bag is pretty sizable!

      Breads and cereals for my family—again, local and organic. Organic wheat doesn’t have the synthetic B vitamins that people with a certain gene deletion can’t process.

      And who could say no to anything from Eately? Hands-down, my son’s favorite food destination.

      But when I was a grad student, I had much less money, so my choices were different. I guess it depends on available resources and personal priorities.

      1. Kate Daniels*

        I live less than a mile from an Eataly and it is so dangerous!!! I love all the pastas and breads as well as the butter and other dairy items from nearby farms and creameries.

    12. neverjaunty*

      There are some things you can buy cheap and it doesn’t matter (generic Rice Krispies, say, vs. name brand), but a lot of things it’s worth splurging on. I’ve just accepted that we like food enough that we’re going to blow a rather large percentage of our budget on it.

    13. Thlayli*

      I buy healthy food. But the cheapest brand of healthy food. For example: read the backs of the packs of ham (lunch meat slices). Some are only 80% pork! Some are 98% pork. I buy the 98% pork stuff. But, some of he 98% stuff is 2 or 3 times the price! I buy the cheapest 98% stuff.

      Same for everything else – I get wholeal bread, whole meal pasta etc, but the cheapest of the healthy brands.

      I will also pay extra for fair trade or free range (not organic fresh food tho coz it goes off too quickly).

      Some specific brands I will pay for – knock off cornflakes are gross for example.

    14. Dan*

      Spend money on what *you* value, food or otherwise. Just remember, if there is no market for something, stores wouldn’t sell it.

      My mom was a bad (ok, bland) cook when I was growing up. But I really enjoyed my aunt’s and grandma’s cooking. (They were dad’s side, go figure.) I always enjoyed going out to eat.

      As an adult, I learned what a “foodie” is. And yeah, it’s a budget priority, so to speak. I spend money on the foods I want to spend it on, even if there are cheaper alternatives. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy “the best” everything, but I do spend extra on things that are worth it. For example, when it comes to chicken, I only buy organic chicken thighs. Non-organic usually has saline injections or something, and there is a huge noticable difference between organic and non. I pay for that. I don’t notice the difference in veggies, so I don’t pay extra for that.

    15. SciDiver*

      I grew up in a household that really prioritized good quality food and good cooking. When I went to college, 2 of my 3 other roommates would buy whatever is cheapest since they couldn’t tell the difference/didn’t really care about the food quality. This helped me balance out a little bit, but I definitely still splurge on food (especially good cheese!).

      I also do this to be environmentally conscious and minimize my impact–buying local and fresh helps, and getting creative with things while they’re in season. I eat meat maybe once a week because I’m can’t typically afford more, but the meat I do eat is really good and a worthwhile investment. The Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen lists are also good resources for picking out produce when you can’t afford to go 100% organic produce (I’ll take organic tomatoes over organic avocados or organic oranges every time). I’ll buy other staples like beans, rice, and cornmeal in bulk to save money there. Another thing that’s helped is taking the nose-to-tail approach to find new ways to use as much of what I buy as possible: saving bones and vegetable peelings for stock, reserving bacon grease for later use, re-using cooking liquid that would otherwise be discarded in a new dish.

    16. Ranon*

      We splurge, partially because we really like food, partially because impulse shopping in the produce section is so fun, and mostly because the grocery stores within walking distance are of the co-op/ whole foods style, but locally owned (or at least owned within the state rather than a national chain) and generally good citizens of our city. So we pay more but get convenience, higher quality, and general smugness out of the deal. But realistically I’m going to shop at the one that’s on the way if of my commute, it just happens right now that it’s a local co-op and my commute is on foot.

    17. many bells down*

      Because half my family has celiac disease, I’m usually restricted to specific brands of things that are safe. Like, yeah, this soy sauce is $6 a bottle, but it’s the only one at the store that doesn’t contain wheat. There’s seven types of GF pasta on the shelves, but only two of them taste good.

      I don’t really even check the prices most of the time unless it’s a food I know is safe no matter what.

    18. King Friday XIII*

      My household does a mix and match – I pay for the local organic milk and have a handful of ways to get local, humanely-raised meat and fancy cheese. We go to the farmer’s market every week. But I also get a lot of my produce from Imperfect Foods and a lot of the rest of my groceries from places like Grocery Outlet and Big Lots, where the selection is an adventure but when they show up, the fancy organic Annie’s snacks for my kid are cheaper than goldfish at the regular grocery store. It’s absolutely a balancing act and we don’t always fall the same way depending on the week.

    19. Nicole76*

      I have relaxed our food budget recently because some of it is worth the added expense. Plus I started thinking differently about the expense such as – “well, this bag of salmon is expensive ($22) BUT it will feed us for x number of meals AND it’s still cheaper than ordering salmon at a restaurant”.

    20. ket*

      Where I live, going to the farmer’s market is a way to cut costs, even on meat and dairy. We blew through $25 at the farmer’s market this morning but we got green peppers, tomatoes, zucchini & summer squash, potatoes, tricolor ‘green’ beans, 4 pork chops from a local farmer ($14 of the $25 dollars), and a huge purple cauliflower for $4. At the store the cauliflower is at least $2/lb for organic. Are veggies etc cheaper at your farmers’ market or not?

      1. Kate Daniels*

        The produce is roughly around the same cost as what I’d buy in the grocery store. Sometimes it’s cheaper, sometimes it’s a bit more expensive. But other things, like the dairy items, are typically more expensive and just taste so much fresher and better to me! Unfortunately, I don’t have a farmers’ market near me within walking distance that’s open on the weekends (but have a couple of grocery stores nearby), so I have to factor in the cost for the round-trip bus ride to go there.

      2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        That sounds like an amazing amount of high-quality food for $25 to me! To answer your question about veggies being cheaper at the farmers’ market v. the grocery store, that has varied widely depending on where I’m living. In my East Coast state, the farmer’s market was always more expensive than the grocery store. Even for things like squash, which seemed to grow themselves. But now that I live in the Midwest, the farmer’s market is cheaper for most things. The downside is that the growing season is short so we can only satiate ourselves with veggies from the farmer’s market about 4 months of the year.

    21. fposte*

      Do you have a budget? I like buying the food I like, so my budget is generous on the grocery line. I live a LCOL existence and don’t live near Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or anything like that, and I’m not buying to feed many mouths, so splurges are pretty relative, to be fair. But if you’re buying within your budget, I say buy what you’ll enjoy.

    22. Cambridge Comma*

      We start with the cheapest things and work upwards until there’s no improvement, then go back down one level. For some things, you can’t tell the difference and many supermarket own brands are manufactured by the big name brands.
      Where I live, the farmers market is cheaper than the supermarket, because you’re buying direct from the farmer. I gather that in the US, they are more expensive.

    23. Chaordic One*

      I went through a period where I tried to economize by buying only store and generic brands, but I think that name brands are of a little better quality than store and generic brands. I feel like I don’t waste as much if buy name brand foods. (It’s probably that I’ve been psychologically brainwashed into buying the more expensive things.)

      1. Adele*

        My sister was visiting and decided to make lasagne. She bought generic canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste and a cheaper brand of pasta. The lasagne (my mom’s recipe) was good but you could tell the difference from when made with brand name ingredients. The canned tomates, for example, were watery and everything tasted less tomatoey. We had to cook the sauce longer to concentrate it and the came up a bit short.

    24. Lora*

      I have a weird food thing going on. I’m cheap and refuse to spend even grocery store prices for food, and also fussy about getting organic-ish, heirloom varieties and animals raised on pasture, yard eggs.

      I grow most of my own fruit and veggies. I raise a batch of meat chickens every year. I have dairy goats but only milk about 6 months of the year – the rest of the time I get a local dairy that delivers milk, beef and pork they raise on pasture. Once in a while I join a community fishery share for good quality fish, though I’ve been working crazy hours and traveling for work for a few years so it’s off and on.

      I do some baking, buy a giant sack of flour from King Arthur as they’re sorta local to me, and put bread dough in the fridge, bake a chunk of it fresh when I want rolls. I buy giant sacks of rice and economy packages of rolled oats from Costco. I do canning. Weather is weird in New England, so one year I might have lots of tomatoes, another year I might have a glut of bok choy, it’s not consistent. For stuff like that I buy something in bulk from a local farmer – this year it was strawberries, I got three strawberries and the bunnies ate the rest, so I bought a whole tray of strawberries from a nearby farm and froze most of them.

      That said, I am a decent cook and have a lot of go to recipes for granola, overnight oats, breads, ranch dressing variations, etc. I worked it out a few times, revising for inflation occasionally, and I spend the equivalent of $450/month and spend about 1/4-1/3 less time than I used to spend grocery shopping. Plus, I’d rather spend the occasional afternoon pulling weeds and feeding them to the goats and chickens than get nearly run over in a store parking lot all afternoon.

    25. Whatsinaname*

      I usually splurge on food, but I can afford to now. When money was tight, I weighed what was really important to me, things like coffee and high quality bread versus buying the generic brand of other things. Also, I now have to eat gluten free and that in itself makes certain basic food items a splurge. To me, eating also has a sensual component, but that’s not the same for everyone. Also, a lot of inexpensive prepackaged foods are full of chemicals and anything but healthy.

    26. ..Kat..*

      I selectively splurge. I have found items that are worth the splurge to me and items that are not. One way I afford this is to waste less food. I read that Americans waste 1/3 to 1/2 of the food that we buy. I took a month to watch what I was wasting, and cut back on purchases. This means that I plan more meals. And that I don’t buy that yummy-looking item X if I know I won’t have time to cook it, or if I already have enough food for the week. Plus, my husband shops for sales and coupons that save us a lot of money. He isn’t tempted by coupons for stuff we don’t need.

      My husband and I can afford more food luxuries now than we used to. But even with a tight budget, you might be able to afford one or two quality items that a make a difference to you.

    27. AdAgencyChick*

      For some foods I feel it’s worth it, others not. I am happy to spend $$ on good chocolate, milk, ice cream, and eggs, for example; not so much on meat, which I used to get from a CSA until I realized I was spending a lot more but not getting THAT much more satisfaction than I would out of supermarket meat. Plus, the CSA would always send small quantities of each of a bunch of different cuts, so that I would have to save up two months’ worth of pork chops to have enough to make a meal for my husband and me. (We both lift weights and we eat a lot of protein.)

    28. Pliant Platypus*

      I spurge when I can. I utilize several of the farmer’s markets around my area, try to buy things on sale at my local co-op. The co-op also offer the ability to place special orders and buy in bulk. If there is something I truly adore, I try to buy it in bulk, whether this is a tea, yogurt, or frozen product, and this helps tremendously.

    29. Hannah*

      I splurge on some things. I buy local pasture-fed meat (direct from the farmer) because I feel that is an important choice both environmentally and nutritionally. I never buy beef, pork, or lamb from the grocery store, but I sometimes buy chicken, and always get the kind without antibiotics.

      Other things, though, I will splurge sometimes and sometimes buy on the cheap. When things are in season locally, I try to buy them locally. I sometimes splurge on the fancy glass bottle milk, and sometimes not.

  18. LGC*

    So, guys. It’s actually official now – I’m in! And poorer by $255. I think next time I do this I’ll consider running for charity.

    (For those of you who missed it, I ended up backing into a NYC Marathon entry. Apparently if you get a club invite, you have to decide in like two days.)

    Anyway. So, I’m pretty nervous and excited about this, and one of the things I’m most concerned about is the start! I’ve heard it’s pretty cold usually, and you’re out there for a while. I’m already planning my throwaway strategy. Any other tips for cold-weather races?

    1. Justin*

      Bring poncho(s), old shirt/socks/etc for the many hours beforehand. Garbage bags if raining.

      Though it was warm the last three years.

      As for the race itself, unless it’s 30something (possible, but only once in the last 5 years), I always run in a singlet and shorts. Gloves if 40s, hat if wet out. Wear what you’d wear as if running slowly in 15 degrees warmer weather.

      1. LGC*

        I’m pretty much the same way (shorts, singlet, compression sleeves), although I’m just worried about cramping up! Although I’ve been thinking about it and it’s probably not directly related to cold – I feel less thirsty in cold weather.

        I’m still considering half tights just in case.

    2. CheeryO*

      Congrats!

      I had an insane number of layers on for the wait when I ran two years ago. Think two layers of sweatpants, long sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, and parka, all from Goodwill, plus an old towel and heat sheet to sit on. It felt like overkill for the weather (40s), but I was really comfortable, and a lot of people waiting around in just a coat and pajama pants or a bathrobe looked really miserable. It ended up being pretty mild by race time and I was able to start in just my tank top and shorts, but I remember vaguely wishing that I had kept my gloves on.

      1. LGC*

        Yeah, I made the mistake of wearing just a long-sleeved tech top (that wasn’t long enough) and warm-ups (that also weren’t long enough) when I did NYC Half. If it weren’t for my corral getting squeezed to death, I would have been SERIOUSLY miserable!

        I’ll probably raid my local Goodwill for stuff. It’ll be a loan.

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

      Congrats LGC! I’m super excited for you. There’s nothing like the NYC Marathon.

      Re: clothing, I can’t add anything else to everyone’s good advice here. Just be a good neighbor and shed your clothing BEFORE the cannon goes off. Don’t be that person that tosses your clothing on the ground, right on the course, just as everyone is getting into a trot. I tripped over a discarded shirt at the start line the first time I ran NYC, went flying, and was really lucky I didn’t get injured (besides a laceration) before I even started.

      (Having some Internet interruptions so apologies if this comment ends up posting multiple times)

      1. LGC*

        I’m having SO MANY FEELINGS about it right now. (For starters, I officially comped my NYRR membership, which…is great, I guess, but it’s also kind of disturbing that I’ve spent so much on races this year that paying them $40 actually saved me money.)

        I’ll try to aim for the bins, of course. In my case, I kind of have to get undressed ASAP – I find it hard to get undressed once I’m moving, and I think I’ll end up in one of the first corrals. From what I’ve seen, the bin situation kind of depends on the corral design, so I’m hoping that there are accessible bins. And port-a-potties.

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

          Porta potties definitely won’t be an issue. There are literally thousands of them at Fort Wadsworth. Can’t speak to the bin situation though. And yes, you will be starting a lot earlier as a competitive runner, which was the one thing I didn’t like so much about that race as a slower runner (hearing the cannon, hearing Sinatra crooning New York New York, seeing runners happily on the Verrazano Bridge, and then having to wait another hour was…sucky, though with all those runners there’s really no alternative!)

        2. Justin*

          Yeah there are thousands and thousands of portapotties. Go early, then go again, and you’ll be fine.

          And then there are portapotties every mile that isn’t on a bridge (which is how I saw a lady pooping on the Queensboro last year… just go before that, girl)

          1. runner*

            From what I remember, before hitting the Queensboro bridge there is a large amount of porta-potties and so there was no wait. I’d been needing to go but there was always a wait then a glorious wall of porta potties right before that bridge (this is the kind of thing you can really only talk to with other runners/athletes or people look at you funny)!

            If you can have someone wait for you with warm clothes that is nice too, I finished later than you will but it is November and between the weather and the stopping running I was freezing in no time. I had to ask my friend to go get me a hot chocolate.

            1. Grumpy*

              I did the hard walk for a poncho at the end and I’m picking that option again this year. At the start I had an ugly old parks that didn’t fit, it worked well. Yes, it is waaay too much money but it’s also an amazing experience.
              Glad you’re in. Please post your training updates?

              1. LGC*

                That reminds me, I’ve been meaning to blog!

                I’m actually pretty active on Strava as well, but that’d out my RL info. (Also, I’m…a pretty interesting person. By that I mean my posts get weird sometimes.)

          2. LGC*

            (which is how I saw a lady pooping on the Queensboro last year… just go before that, girl)

            I mean, I’m happy for her that she was able to live her truth in that moment, and sometimes nature calls and won’t allow you to put her on hold, but…

  19. Foreign Octopus*

    I need to clean the cushion covers of my sofa, which has attracted a lot of damp and is a bit mold-dusty from it. I think that just detergent and fabric conditioner won’t cut it. I do have a vinegar solution but I wonder if that’s okay to wash the covers in the washing machine with? I’ll then do another wash afterwards.

    Good idea? Bad idea?

    1. SpellingBee*

      A vinegar solution shouldn’t hurt the washing machine at all, if that’s your concern. Are you sure your cushion covers are machine washable, though? Some are, some aren’t, and it doesn’t always make sense just from fabric content. On a related note, I recently found out that you can clean microsuede (which is what my sofa is covered in) with rubbing alcohol. I was skeptical but it works brilliantly! My cushion covers aren’t removable so it’s a great option for me.

    2. WS*

      A vinegar solution is great for your washing machine – it cleans off remaining soap scum!

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

      Be wary of any suggestions to use vinegar. In my experience, people suggest it for a lot of things (maybe there’s a strong vinegar lobby in the US?) and it almost never works for anything, except for adding a tangy flavor to salads. At least vinegar has the virtue of being cheap, and no, it won’t hurt your washing machine.

      1. AnonAtAllTimes*

        What?? I use white vinegar all the time: to clean off my kitchen counter tops, polish chrome fixtures (it makes them positively gleam), clean toilets, spot-clean spills on the hard-surface floors (tile, laminate, hardwood), and wash windows and mirrors (cuts the crud, doesn’t streak). I keep it in spray bottles in the bathroom and the kitchen. It’s antibacterial, non-toxic and inexpensive, and you can buy it just about anywhere. I love it. I do not, however, use it on fabric. Just on hard surfaces, where it works very well.

    4. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Are they machine washable? I’ve shrunk slipcovers just by washing them. You might want to have them dry cleaned or rent an upholstery cleaner and treat them like they’re not removable. I like Folex for treating carpets and upholstery. You can get it at Home Depot.

    5. Sam I Am*

      I use it in my regular wash instead of fabric softener. I put it in the fabric softener compartment before the start of the wash. It removes any odor from the fabric.
      But…. that’s all stuff that is cool to put in the washing machine to begin with.

  20. PDA*

    This is so silly but- couldn’t my friend just give her boyfriend the love poems she writes about him?? Does she really need to put them up on Facebook?!

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Are they are least comical?

      “Roses are red, violets are blue, I love the way you look in your manly manly shoes”

      Otherwise yup hide posts.

    2. Penguin*

      *sympathetic wince* Yeah, I hear ya. If you want to hide them, I highly recommend FB Purity [https://www.fbpurity.com/]- super customizable FB filter interface. It’s the only reason I didn’t delete my account a year and a half ago.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve been avoiding friending a distant relative because I had the chance to read her blog a few times while she was just dating a guy. A teenager waxing philosophic about the meaning of True Love was not my cup of tea. In the two years since then, they got engaged, married, and had a child. Mutual relatives said she’s still as OTT as in the dating stage and the IG is a constant stream of artsy pics with accompanying deep thoughts. Just not my thing.

    4. Female-type person*

      I have a family member who talks to other family members on Facebook. The ones that are dead. A lot, she does this. Pretty sure dead people don’t check Facebook. At least the boyfriend is alive.

      1. Margery*

        I HAD friend that used to talk to her dead mother on facebook – like every day – or even more.

        Eventually I unfriended her it was just so attention seeking and annoying.

        If you’re that bothered go to church or pray but please not on facebook.

    5. Triple Anon*

      Woah. Yeah. I fear for the stability of relationships that are really gushed over on social media. It always seems to be a bad sign. The person who posts, “My sweetie is so sweet!” with a new picture of them together several times a day . . . Those relationships tend to have problems, in my experience.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      See if you can get her into tumblr or some other kind of ‘artsy’ blog and then encourage her to post the poetry there.

    7. Kuododi*

      Ok… Ick! I have not written love poetry since I was a mooney eyed teenager. That’s a bit scary when I think back to those days. ;(.

  21. Not So NewReader*

    I put vinegar in the washing machine all the time. If the covers are washable the vinegar won’t hurt them.
    And the vinegar will tend to clean your washer tub too.

    Borax is good on mold, if you want to try. I would fill the machine with water, pour in some Borax , add the covers and let the whole thing set all day while I go to work. Borax is in the laundry aisle near the bleach and non-bleach stuff.

    I can’t really tell if you are worried about putting the covers in the machine. Maybe there is a tag somewhere with washing instructions? Or maybe you can just run the washer on the gentle cycle.

    1. Teach*

      I wash all kinds of things on cool/gentle in the washing machine. Backpacks, purses, insulated lunchboxes – and my wedding dress that one time! Hung up to dry, nothing has been ruined yet…

  22. Not So NewReader*

    So I bought a spiralizer because I am loving the veggie noodles.

    I finally tried it yesterday and I am disappointed by the amount of waste. You put in a piece about 2 inches long and the last quarter inch does not process. because everything is so short you end up with many quarter inch long pieces. I can use them on other things, so using them up is not a problem. The problem is I would prefer to have less leftovers and more “noodles”.

    Has anyone had a different experience, is there a model with less waste? If yes, what model did you buy?

    1. Dopameanie*

      So, I either just julienne the leftover bits and dump them in the skillet, or put the waste into my “save for chicken/beef stock” freezer baggy.

      1. Ali G*

        This – I either dice them up and sautee them with the other veggies (onions, mushrooms, whatever), or I toss them in the compost, or in the freezer bag for stock, depending on what it is.

    2. Red Reader*

      Depending on what you’re spiralizing, put in longer pieces? I stick the whole zucchini in mine and just break off the zoodles with a paring knife every couple inches. Maybe shove the last bit through with a carrot stick or something?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Well the instructions say not to use pieces that are longer than 2 inches. Maybe I will ignore that part and just push a whole zucchini through?

        1. Red Reader*

          Huh. Mine doesn’t say anything about that — maybe try a step in between first, like half a zucchini, just in case?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            What brand/model do you have???

            Yeah will try a half zuke to see what happens.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I thought I would make enough for two days each time I used it. That way it’s still kind of fresh and I don’t have to pull the machine out every time

    3. ..Kat..*

      Have you tried spaghetti squash? Yummy, and less work than spiralizing. After cooking and scraping it out, put it in a colander to drain. Otherwise, it will retain excess water.

  23. KayEss*

    Anyone know a good electric hand mixer? My first super-cheap (I actually got it for free from a vendor giveaway) one burned out on some peanut butter molasses cookies, and after having it for a while, I really feel like I actually do want to replace it. I don’t bake often, but when I do it usually involves large batches of cookies with fairly stiff/dense dough that I technically COULD mix by hand (and did, in the past) but it’s exhausting and makes my hand/wrist cramp up.

    Alternately, is a standing mixer really, truly for-real worth the expense and amount of storage space it takes up?

    1. Red Reader*

      I have a $14 Hamilton Beach hand mixer and a $300 KitchenAid stand mixer. I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve actually used the stand mixer in the last five years, and the hand mixer gets used at least monthly, usually more.

      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. Red Reader*

        That said I’ve never tried my hand mixer on cookie dough past the creaming butter stage, I find mixing it by hand therapeutic. I mostly use my mixer on cake batter and the like. That wasn’t a brand recommendation necessarily, just my two comparison points :)

    2. Cruciatus*

      For my mom, the answer is yes, the standing mixer was worth it because of arthritis and standing issues. She actually doesn’t use it all the time, but when she wants to she likes being able to just set it up and walk away (we actually keep ours on a rolling cart against the wall and bring it into the kitchen as needed). But she didn’t buy a KitchenAid one, she bought a Hamilton Beach Eclectrics which is also highly rated (but doesn’t have all the accessories the KitchenAid one does, but she’s not about to make her own pasta so this is not a problem). It’s about $200 but you can likely find it cheaper on sale.

      On the other hand, we also have a hand mixer. It’s just a simple Black and Decker but it’s been pulling its weight for probably 15 years now (though I don’t think we use it on particularly dense things).

    3. Traveling Teacher*

      I think it comes down to what you actually bake versus what you aspire to bake/with what frequency, unless you can get a used one on the cheap! Then, get the used one and re-sell if it doesn’t work out :)

      Personally, I only have a hand mixer, but I would love to have a stand mixer. I currently have a tiny kitchen with a counter that’s about 1.5 feet (about half a meter) square. My super cheap hand mixer works fine, but when I make frostings and meringues, I would love to be able to be hands-free instead of holding the mixer for 10+ minutes. And, whipped cream is truly superior with the power of a stand mixer vs hand mixer.

      I’ve tried out mixers at friends’ houses, as I’m interested in knowing what I’d prefer if I do find a used machine for a good price (though Lord knows where I’d put it!), and my favorite so far is the Kenwood. Much cheaper over here (Europe) than a KitchenAid, and those things are workhorses. They also don’t tip at all when you lift up the head to change the bowl/attachment. Most even come with a blender and food processor attachment and still run you about 100-150 euros less than a KitchenAid.

      I love the look of the KitchenAid, though, which is why I would love to get my hands on a KMix to compare the two. If you do get a stand mixer, make sure you check the bowl size, too. A friend of mine ordered a cheap-ish stand mixer online, but it turned out to be the smallest size that didn’t work with the two attachments or the glass bowl she’d also ordered!

      1. Natalie*

        The tile head Kitchenaid is essentially the consumer version, and it’s not remotely as well designed as the bowl lift models.

        1. fposte*

          Even with that caveat, I still got years of pleasurable use out of my tilt-head KitchenAid. However, that’s the kind of thing that can change quickly over time with manufacturing changes, so I wouldn’t assume the one I got in 1995 is the same as one you get now. Another possibility is to look into refurbs of the professional grade, which tend to be priced very competitively. (It looks like Target carries a bunch of those, interestingly.)

      2. Cambridge Comma*

        I have a KMix and have had a Kitchen Aid (lost in a break up, it didn’t stop working). The KMix works just as well, but on the higher settings it smells like the electrics aren’t going to last forever. It’s survived 6 years of 1–2 weekly usuage, though.

      3. Everdene*

        My mum has a KMix and its fine, good value and does what it needs to. But I don’t find it as powerful as the KitchenAid. If budget is a driver though it’s still a good investment and will last a long time.

    4. Anon Accountant*

      We have a Hamilton Beach mixer that cost about $20 at Target and a previous Black & Decker mixer costing $25/30 and those were great.

      Never had a more expensive mixer.

    5. foolofgrace*

      I got my KitchenAid on clearance for $159 and have no regrets. I end up using it at least a few times a month, and I find myself doing more baking now. I love the hands-off capability, as well as how much my arm doesn’t hurt when I let the KA do the whisking for me. Although I must say I agree with the axiom that “the kitchen appliances you actually use are the ones that are already on the counter.” If I had to lug the machine out of a closet or something every time I wanted to use it, it would get much less use. Also I like all the possible attachments — I used to have the pasta attachments (had to sell them to raise money) and loved them.

    6. sleepwakehopeandthen*

      I use my KitchenAid standing mixer at least weekly, and it is glorious. (Mostly for making pizza dough). I also have a tiny kitchen and I have fully sacrificed half the counter space to it (because tiny kitchen) and for me, it is 100% worth it. Admittedly, I didn’t purchase it myself (wedding present) but it has made my life so much easier. And now making whipped cream is like magic, which is excellent, as well.

    7. Piano Girl*

      Several years back, I needed to bake a bunch of cookies for a school fundraiser. I burned through several hand mixers. I then bought my KitchenAid stand mixer. My KitchenAid gets used at least once a week. The hand mixer got used for the first time in a few years this past week.

    8. SciDiver*

      My little Kitchen Aid hand mixer is great! Durable, easy to handle and clean, and cost maybe $30? Since I bake a lot, I can’t wait until I have a kitchen large enough to accommodate a stand mixer since there are some things that are way more difficult without it and I know I’ll probably use it weekly. If you’re doing heavy or dense dough a lot, the stand mixer beater or dough hook would be really useful, but I wouldn’t shell out for it unless you’ll use it a lot.

    9. Everdene*

      One of the best things I’ve ever bought is my KitchenAid stand mixer. Not only is it a true thing of beauty but it makes cakes, biscuits, pulled pork, mashed potato all so easy. I don’t use it daily or even weekly, but when I use it, it is magnificant. The only disapointing thing for me is a currently only have one bowl so need to keep washing up when having a big baking day. However we’re putting a second bowl on the wedding list so hopefully that issue will be resolved soon enough.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      check for 2nd hand stand mixers. I’m fairly sure you could find one for a LOT less money.

      1. Reba*

        I got my stand mixer refurbished from Kitchenaid. I’m not sure I would feel it was worth full MSRP, at least not at this life stage, but at the lower price, it’s a no brainer. Several years ago I had an ancient, used one for a while, so I had a sense of what I’d do with it. I see them on craigslist all the time, too.

        We use it a lot for cookies, bread of many kinds, frostings and toppings, and fresh pasta (amazing).

        The hand mixer is still useful once in a while (e.g., whipping something delicate and you want to watch it closely) but has hardly been touched since I got the new-to-me stand mixer.

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

      You absolutely need the stand mixer if you are doing tough doughs on any sort of a regular basis. Our KitchenAid stand mixer, a big expense at the time, has lasted 9+ years. But something like FIVE $25 hand mixers quit on us in the year before that. It may be bad luck, or it may be that hand mixers are just not meant to last. Either way, our stand mixer has probably paid for itself, maybe more than once, over the long run.

    12. Cat Herder*

      I’ve had my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for almost 30years (wedding present). I love it. It’s the best for anything thick or stiff. Kneads bread and pizza dough well. I have a Hamilton Beach hand mixer for light things. Mostly for whipping cream

    13. ronda*

      i gave my stand mixer to my sister cause I didnt use it that much and it is big and heavy.
      but I also burned out a hand mixer this year.

      The stand mixer is great if you are making a heavy dough, because that will burn out the hand mixer.
      How often you want to do that and how much space you have are the questions.

      My mom did lots of baking and I bought her extra bowls for her stand mixer. I recommend that if you bake a lot.

  24. Lauren*

    Can anyone describe the personalities of engineers? There is one that I see at the place we don’t talk about here. I catch him staring at me and he tried to joke around with me once with other people, but he rarely tries to talk to me one on one. He is very polite with me though- he helped me move something and laughed when I made a joke. I think he’s very funny and was cracking up when he was talking to someone and he saw me laughing.

    I’m shy myself, so we might just be a lost cause, lol. (He’s also very good looking, so he is probably out of my league anyways.) At first I thought that he was a jerk because he never spoke to anyone and acted rude, but he seems nicer now.

    Any advice or insight is greatly appreciated

    1. Red Reader*

      You’re basically asking if we can describe the personalities of people though. Engineers don’t, like, pop out of a mold.

    2. Dopameanie*

      So. I’ve said many unkind things about engineers, and I mean many of them. But this is an honest assessment:

      Engineers are taught to look at the world through a certain lens, which means they get a LOT of practice living in a world of mathematical hypotheticals, emotionless calculating, intense concentration, solitary HARD THINKING of abstract complicated thoughts.

      Now, all people are different, and so there are all types of engineers. But the people who are drawn to this career field, and the people who make it through the intense college courses and finish the degree, are the people who look at the above description of what engineers have to learn to do all day and are like YEP! Sign me up! Sounds great!

      I know someone in engineering sales who tells a joke about bringing a pie chart with him to meetings so he can explain to engineers what their own feelings are on a project because you can’t trust them to connect the dots otherwise.

      So. That’s what engineers as a group TEND toward. But individuals? They are unique. He is like himself. The only way to find out how he is will be to ask, observe, and get to know him. Good luck!!!!

      1. Mike C.*

        It’s not “emotionless calculating”. If you took a moment to realize that most of those calculations are there to ensure that people in some fashion don’t die, you’d realize this.

        1. Dopameanie*

          Eh, depends on the field. More to the point, the work utilizes the part of the mind dealing with logic, as opposed to emotions. The emotions YOU, or anybody else feels, are incidental to the work.

          Contrast this to, for example, the work a waitress does. Or a politician

        1. Dopameanie*

          THAT’S the term I couldn’t think of!!!

          I wanted to say critical thinking but for whatever reason I just couldn’t remember what the term was.

      2. Gloucesterina*

        “a LOT of practice living in a world of mathematical hypotheticals, emotionless calculating, intense concentration, solitary HARD THINKING of abstract complicated thoughts.”

        Replace ‘mathematical hypotheticals’ with ‘interpretative hypotheticals’ and that pretty much describes training in fields like literature and history. And some engineers do a lot of team-based work, which is far less often the case in humanistic fields, where single-author books and papers are the currency of the land.

        I think it can be amusing to try to horoscope people by training or occupation, but it gets a bit tricky :)

    3. Ali G*

      My husband is an engineer. But I don’t think his career choice defines him. We met and bonded over a shared hometown region and sports team (Fly Eagles Fly!!!).
      But he likes to tell the story about how he came over one night and I was working on my laptop. He asked what I was doing and I said I was looking to buy a new car and I was building a spreadsheet about the attributes of my top choices. He thought that was the cutest thing! We both like Excel :)
      I like to joke that somewhere out there, there is a spreadsheet about me that he made to analyze me good and not so good qualities (obviously I don’t have any bad ones!).
      Anyway, just treat him like any other guy. Hopefully you can find something to bond over and go from there!

    4. Anona*

      My husband is an engineer, and he’s very good at talking to people, very socially confident. It seems like with the people he works with at least, he’s the exception. Many of his co-workers are nice (well, not all) but socially awkward, typically introverts.

      If you don’t think it would be weird to date someone at work, maybe ask him to something low key. Like “a group of us were thinking of getting drinks at xyz place after work, if you have any interest, feel free to join.” Then see how he responds.

    5. CheeryO*

      I’m an engineer, and I can say that the stereotypes have a grain of truth to them – a lot of engineers are socially awkward, nerdy, and overly analytical. But everyone is different, and it’s not fair or useful to lump all engineers into one box. We’re just people.

      1. T*

        Here, here. I’m an engineer too and I work with and interact with a bunch of engineers and mostly we aren’t unsocialized weirdos. With the exception of myself, most of the others in my office are extroverts and we all have very diverse interests, ranging from sports, to cooking, to outdoor pursuits.

      2. Thlayli*

        I’m an engineer and I would agree with this assessment – there is definitely some truth in the socially awkward and or low social skills stereotype, but there are a huge number of engineers who are neither.

        I personally am the opposite of shy but I have low social intelligence in other areas – notably lack of tact.

    6. Rick Tq*

      Show your interest in him! He is probably thinking EXACTLY the same things. I’m pretty introverted, my sister the Rocket Engineer and brother the Power Instrument Tech are both extroverts so there isn’t a single personality for engineers. We are good at math, thinking in 3-D, and following logical chains farther than many people.

      If you like him and think he may like you ask him to lunch!

    7. LilySparrow*

      My observation of various engineers I have known over time is that they are not necessarily inherently awkward or shy, but they do tend to be “late bloomers” socially because they are often engrossed in academic or unpopular interests during high school and college, and may not have a like minded community around them growing up.

      After they’ve been in the grown-up world for a while, where they can choose their own social circle and are getting validation and rewards for their work and interests, the social difficulties even out.

      One common trait I see a lot is that engineering types tend to focus on goals or abstract concepts first. They don’t constantly monitor everyone else’s feelings or group dynamics the way some people do. That can come off as cold or brusque to some people who want that type of engagement. It doesn’t mean they aren’t friendly or polite, but they tend to ignore situations (or people) that don’t directly affect them.

      Very emotive and relationship-driven types might characterized it as being “cold” or “detached.” But from the other perspective, a more goal-oriented person might characterize relationship-oriented types as “needy” or “hypersensitive.” I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other.

      Now that you’ve been introduced and you’re on each other’s radar, just treat him like anyone else you’d like to know better.

      1. Thlayli*

        “Constantly monitoring other people’s feelings and group dynamics”

        That sounds reeeeaaaallly exhausting. Who has the time!

    8. Lissajous*

      As an engineer in an office full of engineers… we’re all different, because people, but one thing I have noticed is that generally engineers will get into their hobbies a bit more than most, although actual hobbies will vary greatly. I think it may be the same trait that has us dive headfirst into a design problem and come up a week later with a spreadsheet full of calculations to say that the exhaust hood size is fine.

      So I like music, I play cello in one of the local amateur orchestras, and I’m on the committee for that as well now. One guy was really into cars, to the point designing and ordering a special unique intake manifold for his and taking it down to the track to measure the horsepower he was getting at the rear wheels. One guy likes kayaking, so he built his own kayak from wood, and then added outriggers as well!

      I think we can also be a bit more direct than other professions – bullet points not paragraphs!

      But the introvert vs extrovert thing… that’s a mix. As always, the stereotype is not the entire truth.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      He rarely tries to talk to you one on one at work. Well, there certainly is fear of seeming harassing in the workplace so many nice men are cautious.
      Just be yourself! Continue to be friendly and funny, and try to initiate conversation. And I like the idea of inviting him to a work group thing like happy hour, sport, or outing if people at your company do stuff like that because it’s the easiest way to get to know people better without too much commitment.

  25. Sled dog mama*

    So my girl’s pathology came back and it’s bad, really bad. Cacinosarcoma, it’s rare and very aggressive, the good part is that we found the mass before it hit 3cm, which is an indicator of better outcomes (so longer survival), the really bad part, it’s associated with 100% mortality (9-12 months tops, usually a lot less). We have no idea if it’s metastatic yet. We’re lucky enough to live 20 minutes from a vet school so we’ll be meeting with a vet there sometime next week but there’s not much to be done as there is no known effective chemo for this type.
    Overall she’s recovering well from surgery and is mostly back to her perky, cheerful self so I’m hopeful that we’ve got some time before we’ll need to make any hard decisions. Only issue we’re having is that she’s gotten widely picky about food, she’s refusing her kibble. So far she will take chicken (torn into small pieces not as whole strips), canned tuna and cheese (her favorite seems to be the Frozen cheese sticks that the four year old talked daddy into). We’re trying lots of things over the weekend so any suggestions on things that might appeal to her would be awesome!

    1. Red Reader*

      Oh no :( my housemate’s waiting on a biopsy result for his cat too, and that’s one of the possibilities :(

      To get the pup to eat – when my grande dame turns up her nose at her meat cereal, a spoonful of cottage cheese, pumpkin purée or peanut butter (make sure there’s no xylitol in it) will often renew her interest?

    2. SpellingBee*

      I’m so sorry! That’s really tough, I know from experience. The only thing you can do is to focus on loving her up and making her life wonderful for as long as you can, and remember that animals live in the moment, they don’t dread the future like we do. Re food, I can tell you what we did for our kitty, which might help. I’d recommend trying really stinky canned food, and try as many types as you can find – you could give it to her by itself, or top dress her kibble with it (even cat food, which is super stinky). When I was in your situation I stopped worrying about whether or not it was the “good” food (as in grain free, organic, etc.), the only thing that mattered was if Miss Moosey would eat it. I had to rotate brands and flavors, because she’d suddenly turn her nose up at something she’d enthusiastically eaten the day before. Bottom line is feed her what she’ll eat; getting calories into her is the important thing. Oh, you can also try sprinkling some dehydrated chicken or salmon treats on top of her food, that often worked for us just to prime the pump, so to speak.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Thanks for the advice to worry over calories in not quality of food. Thos is going to be a stumbling block for me since we’ve spent years finding a food that agrees with her tummy all the time.

    3. Kat in VA*

      Another thing for fur friends that won’t eat is soaking their kibble in beef broth (which can found quite cheaply) and mixing it with wet food.

      1. Windchime*

        My old kitty got really picky in his old age, plus he had hardly any teeth. He was losing weight like crazy, so I started giving him canned food with a little clam juice mixed in. Then I would warm it slightly in the microwave (I called it “kitty soup”). That kept him going for quite awhile; he really liked the clam juice. But man, my house sure stunk.

    4. Ali G*

      Ugh, I am so sorry. My petsitter had 2 dogs that passed from it.
      SpellingBee’s advice is spot on. Let her eat what she wants. I remember dropping my dog at the sitters and his buddy Sport would come limping out to greet us. He was happy right up until the end. Dogs really just live each day as it comes.
      Things that my dog likes when he is sick – beef broth, boiled beef, canned food (since he usually eats kibble), canned pumpkin, eggs, raw meat.

    5. Trixie*

      So sorry to hear this. Close proximity to a vet school is helpful in times like this. May I ask where the mass is? My cat had it on his front leg and at 17 years old, I opted to amputate. He had a strong life after and adjusted very well.
      Maybe more types of dairy (full fat) products like yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. Beef or lamb? I struggle with my cat on this, trying to help him gain weight with high caloric foods.

      I am sure she is happy to be at home again.

    6. King Friday XIII*

      I’m so sorry! That’s really hard news to hear. I hope you have a lot of good time left with her and you’re able to be confident in your decisions when the time comes.

      Also I agree with SpellingBee. In my case, the sicker my cat got, the more she liked cheap, awful food, but I like Hot Pockets when I’m sick so I couldn’t judge her for it. ;)

      1. Sled dog mama*

        What is it about cheap awful food when you feel bad. During my pregnancy I had one craving and only when I had morning (afternoon and night) sickness. Really cheap microwave pizza

    7. Auntie Anarchy*

      Oh, I’m so sorry, Sled Dog Mama.
      My own darlin’ girl PonderRosa also had the worst news on Friday: hemangiosarcoma. It’s similarly aggressive, no hope of cure or remission, likely timeframe 6 weeks to 6 months.
      I’m planning to spend as much time with her as possible and make some more lovely memories before we lose each other. Hope you can do the same. (I’m lucky, I know: I can work from home whenever required and have been able to cancel all off-site meetings for the next couple of weeks while I learn more).
      Love to you from Australia.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        So sorry to hear about your girl. Life is so strange. Our pups already get a much shorter time than we do, why do some get their time cut even shorter?
        Cheyenne and I are sending you warm fuzzies, and she says she’ll even share her belly rubs if that’s something your girl likes.

        1. Auntie Anarchy*

          All the belly rubs! Backatcha, Cheyenne.
          My gal’s sitting at my feet right now, f@rting like all the hounds of hell, so all is well in this moment.
          Warm fuzzies for everyone who wants them.

    8. anon for this one*

      This is late, but I hope you’re still reading. I had a dog diagnosed with untreatable cancer, and the specialist told me cancer thrives on carbs. We switched to a lower-carb, higher-protein food and also gave her frequent meals of chicken breast and/or scrambled eggs, and supplemented with vitamin C and fish oil, on the specialist’s recommendation. She ended up living twice as long as the “best case scenario” prognosis. Coincidence? Maybe. But it can’t hurt.

  26. Chocolate Teapot*

    I went to my exercise class today for the first time in several weeks (holidays) and another participant turned up with her dog, one of those small fluffy breeds, which had its lead tied to the barre attached to the back wall.

    That was strange enough, but then she went and stood at the other end of the room to do the workout.

      1. Kate S*

        They sure don’t! I left a recent Weight Watchers meeting because a member brought her dog. It wasn’t a service dog but a small dog she held. I’m allergic to dogs as a side note.

        Some places pets just shouldn’t be.

    1. annakarina1*

      That is pretty common with professional ballet companies that allow their dancers to bring their dogs since they work long hours, but it’s allowed only if the dogs are well-behaved and not intrusive.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Well it was definitely not a professional ballet class, unless you are thinking of the dancing hippos from Disney’s Fantasia via the Roly Polys!

        I just thought it was strange that having tied up well-behaved fluffy dog, its owner didn’t do the class next to it.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            My animals all definitely have feelings about the yoga mat (aka cat/dog bed) and what I am doing on it (looking to have my toes pounced/needing cuddles).

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I think that’s weird too. I’ve never brought my dog to an exercise class, but he did show up to outdoor yoga once (private session with friends in a park, my partner decided to walk him while I was yoga-ing) and I made him stay right next to me. Because he’s my buddy and I don’t want him bothering anyone else. Also, I get to “help” him “participate” occasionally.

          Doggies do not, as a rule, belong in exercise class. Although now that I think about it, I once had a dance instructor who brought his papillons to class. They hung out in a crate in the corner, though! They were fun.

  27. Falling Diphthong*

    Thanks to whoever last week recommended the Donna Andrews mystery series about Meg Langslow. They are a true delight.

    1. tangerineRose*

      I’ve recommended her mystery series before, but I don’t think it was me last week. They are fun books! Which ones have you read so far?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Started with book 4 (the one at Lawyers from Hell), then figured out the order and read the 1st (3 weddings) and am on the second (on Monhegan). A nasty summer cold giving me lots of time to read, as I can be confident that even if I am foggy the villain will be unmasked in another 200 pages.

        I really like Meg and Michael’s relationship, and the constant reminder that having a large and close knit family means you all spend a fair bit of time forgiving each other your weirdnesses.

    1. Yes I'm British*

      Well, yes but only because everything > coffee. Coffee is the creation of Satan.

      But tea > hot chocolate.

      1. Dopameanie*

        GASP. BLASPHEMY.

        Tea is just water that gross leaves fell in and you were too lazy to fish them out. Tea is gross.

        1. Yes I'm British*

          Tea is delicious leaf juice, delicate, flavourful and soothing. Coffee is just something people consume in a mad frenzy to stockpile as much caffeine as possible in their bloodstream to cope with life. It’s a necessary evil. Tea is a luxury. It’s refined. That’s why Americans don’t understand it.

          And hot chocolate is for children.

          1. Dopameanie*

            I wondered briefly how you could possibly BE so incorrect, until I remembered that the British were too busy running an empire to develop good tasting food or drinks.

            So your position here, though tragic, is understandable.

        2. TL -*

          One of my favorite things about living in New Zealand is that they keep on asking questions about American tea culture and I get to answer them.
          For instance, I recently got asked what was American slang for non-herbal tea.
          To which I, of course, replied “no taxation without representation.”

          Then they were like, “nah, but how do you offer your guests tea?”
          I said, “Y’all want something? I got water, coffee, sweet tea, coke, or juice.”

          They’re still confused…

          1. Dopameanie*

            The above comment takes the award for comment of the day.

            I don’t even care that I’m only 20 minutes into the day.

            Heh…taxation without representation…..*snrkt*

    2. Kate Daniels*

      I am 100% with you! My favorite is Ghiradelli Double Hot Chocolate with whole milk.

      1. Dopameanie*

        I’ve recently become fond of making my own powder blends and storing them in glass canning jars, so when people come over I can offer them some while acting insufferably smug. Like a cross between Martha Stewart and an evangelical vegan.

    3. Mimmy*

      Gonna gently fight you on that one! I cannot go without having my 2 cups of coffee each morning!!

      I do love hot chocolate in the winter, but not the flavored ones. Just give me a cup of classic Swiss Miss and I’m good :)

      1. Dopameanie*

        Have you seen the Deadpool/Celine Dion commercial? She says something like “this voice only goes to 11”

        It’s like that here. No gentleness! No quarter granted! Not even a nickel!!!

      1. Caledonia*

        Hot chocolate is the best and if I am feeling extra fancy, both the cream and the marshmallows.

      2. Dopameanie*

        Marshmallows. I don’t care for whipped cream. It’s a texture thing. I HAVE been known to add a dash of heavy cream to my hot chocolate from time to time.

              1. Dopameanie*

                No joke, during a very unpleasant time in service to America, we took the coffee grounds from MRE’s and put the granules in the corners of our eyes and under our gums to keep awake and functioning a little bit longer.

                I’d prefer the habanero.

    4. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Sorry but I disagree. Coffee is physical, tangible proof that there is a loving and merciful God. Nothing so wonderful as coffee could have evolved purely by accident. Plus I’m lactose intolerant so hot choc is on the banned list for me.

      1. Dopameanie*

        By the time one has added enough cream and sugar to make coffee edible, one could have saved time and effort by just starting the day with ice cream.

        Ergo, coffee is just a substandard breakfast ice cream substitute, consumed by people who are either too concerned with social norms to eat breakfast ice cream in public, OR people who hate their tastebuds and want to punish themselves by way of the mouth. Like oral puritans.

        1. hermit crab*

          This makes me wonder – how do you feel about coffee ice cream? Coffee ice cream is manna from heaven. I will shamelessly eat it any time of the day, with (or in place of) any meal. (Bonus points because my husband hates anything remotely coffee-flavored, so when I buy coffee ice cream I know that it is MINE, ALL MINE.)

        2. ..Kat..*

          Have you tried really, really good coffee? So good that it doesn’t need sugar or cream?

          1. Dopameanie*

            I’ve been offered it, but never agreed with the positive assessment.

            Personal hypothesis: I am a bitter enough person as it is. Thus any extra bitterness in my diet is unnecessary

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      No fighting here. Although coffee can be made palatable with judicious addition of hot chocolate.

    6. LCL*

      Sigh. How can someone so witty be so misguided? Coffee is life’s blood. Hot chocolate is like a cupcake; a fine occasional treat but not serious at all, and whose regular consumption is properly left to small children. I do concede that if one is making a winter adult beverage, hot chocolate is da bomb.

      1. Dopameanie*

        Cards on the table: I am not actually known for my seriousness.

        And why should small children have exclusive domain over the best stuff? The best part of being a grown up is that nobody can stop you from doing the stuff you weren’t able to do as a kid!

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah. Trying to compare coffee to hot chocolate is like trying to compare steak and ice cream. They’re both nice, but entirely different. Hot Chocolate is a drinkable dessert. Coffee is a beverage.

    7. Woodswoman*

      Of course, hot chocolate trumps coffee. Those ground up beans not only taste nasty, but are the source of endless uproar about who pays, what kind, etc. in countless locations of that place we don’t discuss on weekends.

      And to those who undercut hot chocolate by making it with only water–just stop that. Soy milk (or real milk for those who drink it) all the way!

      1. Daphne*

        Haha same here. In a way I’ve always thought of coffee for “grown ups” and mochas are the closest thing to it. Maybe I’ll graduate onto the real stuff one day!

      2. Canadian Natasha*

        No no no. Mochas take the worst of both worlds and combine it into an awful grey sludge. (Possibly exaggerating slightly) You gotta have ’em pure or not at all. ;)

          1. Dopameanie*

            Disagree! Hot chocolate is a gateway to chocolate pudding. Possibly chocolate lava cake.

    8. Earthwalker*

      Hot chocolate first, the richer the better, and then coffee as a palate cleanser. Mmmm.

    9. Thursday Next*

      No fight here. Coffe smells like adulthood, while chocolate wards off dementors.

      The worst part about lactose intolerance is missing out on real hot chocolate!

    10. Canadian Natasha*

      Hot chocolate is delicious but is best in small doses on infrequent occasions. Also it is nearly impossible to find an ethically produced HC that doesn’t taste awful.

      Coffee, on the other hand, is a daily necessity (most likely in several forms throughout the day). Did I mention I am sipping a latte made from locally roasted beans at a favourite independent coffee shop as I type this? ;)

      Tea and tisanes are also crucial to life, but that’s another argument.

      1. Dopameanie*

        Life is too short to save that which is good and delicious for special occasions.

        Drink less coffee, and more hot chocolate.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          It’s not a matter of “life’s too short” but rather “eating a bucket of sweets every day gives you a stomach ache.”

    11. Anonymosity*

      I love hot chocolate. If I had a choice, I’d pick it. Except for first thing in the morning, when I need my caffeine. So yeah, fist bump, not fight.

    12. Windchime*

      No fight from me. I hate the taste of coffee; it’s so bitter that I don’t know how people can stand to drink it. I can’t even eat the coffee-flavored Jelly Bellys in the dispenser at work (yes, we have an M&M dispenser that is now filled with gourmet Jelly Bellys).

      So once again, I agree with your very non-controversial opinion.

    13. Jaid_Diah*

      Vienna Fudge Chunk Coffee Ice Cream by Friendly’s.

      No, seriously, I love me some Mocha. Coffee AND chocolate.

      1. Jaid_Diah*

        Oh, I forgot! I was watching a Simon and Martina video and they made coffee jelly! Apparently, it’s a popular thing in Japan. Brewed coffee, agar agar or gelatin, sugar or other flavoring. Martina hated the instant coffee version and preferred the cold brew style. They even made homemade whipped cream…
        G-d that looked so good.

  28. I Am Still Furious!!*

    Divorce Drama Update!

    Short version…STBEXH blew through the first half of his settlement money, has $1.42 left in the bank (my name is still on the account so I logged in and saw the carnage), and new girlfriend is gone no longer.

    Long version…

    I told STBEXH to make sure he picked up his mail (bills) and that I had several big bags of clothes he left strewn around (complete with fleas, because…you know…share the joy) for him to go through. He stopped by the house mid week while I was working outside.

    He took the mail, said he was too tired to go through the clothes, so I told him he has 10 days to either sort through them and toss what he doesn’t want in the dumpster, or I was going to toss them at the end of that time.

    And that’s when he told me that he wasn’t seeing New Girlfriend any longer. It seems all she wanted to do was go to casinos and gamble. Apparently she had room vouchers for casinos, and since I’ve never been to one, I can only assume they just don’t hand these out unless you actually spend a lot of money there (?). He went on to say how nice the first dates were, walking, talking…ugh…why why am I hearing this I thought? And that she just wanted to go to casinos then, and he told her he shouldn’t do this because he has a gambling problem. And that he thinks that he should give up on women totally and just get a cat. And why did he think he could meet someone to have a relationship with. Oh. My. God.

    THIS IS THE KARMA STICK HITTING HARD! I strongly suspect she helped him blow through the money, and now he’s broke! How does that feel? Really, how does it feel to get taken advantage of? Ask me. I know! It sucks. This has been his modus operandi for years, take advantage, use, whatever, as long as it benefits him. It is not lost on me that this woman may have done the same thing to him that he has done for years to others.

    So, he followed me around while I was working outside, asked me if there was anything he could help me with, and I flatly said “no, I don’t need your help with anything” and reminded him to either pick up his stuff or it was going in the dumpster. He finally left.

    I have a feeling I’m about to get a sob story about no money for rent, or needing food, or gas, or something…NOT. MY. PROBLEM. Go hit up your sister and brother in law. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost. He was supposed to use this settlement money, broken up into two payments 1 year apart, to reestablish his life, not blow it all in 28 days and leave bills unpaid. I am surprised and not surprised at the same time.

    Now I have to decide whether to sell the house or stay there. It’s very hard work clearing everything out myself, a lot of heavy lifting, etc. And to top it off, the dumpster won’t be there until Thursday, so I am limited now on what I can do as I already have a pile of stuff outside. My goal right now is to get rid of everything that isn’t necessary to cook with or sit on (like a chair), kitchen table, that type of thing, and just start all over again, either in that house or somewhere else.

    Off to continue the process. Today I’m stripping my bed. It has the same bedding as when I left last September. Mattress is definitely going to go in the dumpster! Bedding, not sure, I’m going to wash it all up and see what happens.

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I hope these aren’t painful for you to write, but I enjoy (?) the weekly updates in a you go girl! way. Its like a cliffhanger every week, but you keep on plowing through every new pile of bs and flea-ridden clothes like a tornado. Its awesome to read!

      1. I Am Still Furious!!*

        No, far from being painful, it feels good to talk about it. I have kept everything off Facebook, and continue to do so, the only thing that anyone would notice that’s different is that I moved and I’m separated if they look at my profile. It’s cathartic to type this out and get other opinions and comments, and this is a safe community, so it’s been very helpful to me. Thank you for your kind words!

        1. Rovannen*

          I couldn’t read this during the weekend, but specifically came here to find your update today. So sorry you’re dealing with this and glad you’re making progress!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I recall a line from a romance novel, where one character is trying to buy off another character and offers a sum of money that would support any comfortable lifestyle other than gambler.

      1. I Am Still Furious!!*

        I think he could literally have 1 billion dollars and still somehow end up broke.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, I have family like this and there is literally not enough money in the world to fix this problem. Some people are just going to blow through it all as fast as they can, no matter what. It’s like they don’t have the ability to think about tomorrow and paying the rent; it’s all about what feels good this very moment.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I vote for selling the house and starting over fresh somewhere without all the baggage.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Yes. A complete fresh start with even new furniture if possible. Things to show a new start for you.

      2. Anonymous Ampersand*

        YES. I want so badly to get away from all the baggage but unfortunately can’t for another few years. Get away from it all and I can pretend I have your freedom ;)

        My ex doesn’t see cause and effect either. It’s maddening yet hilarious.

        1. I Am Still Furious!!*

          I have to say, the house feels different already. It’s going to be clean with minimal stuff and already I don’t hate going inside. I’m sort of ambivalent, actually, and I don’t have to do anything right now. That’s the best part, I don’t have to do anything right now I don’t want to do.

    4. Anono-me*

      Thank you for the update.
      Someone else could probably say this better, but ….. Every time you update, your ‘voice’ sound stronger and more confident.

      It does worry me that your name is still on account that the ex has access to.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I noticed the change in voice also. In spite of all the suckiness, IASF, you are doing an excellent job of reclaiming yourself, setting your boundaries and pushing forward.
        I am sorry to hear that he spent the money, but I am not surprised. It’s more of the same thing you have been describing right along. It just says you made the right choice here.

      2. Anona*

        Yeah, I’d get my name off that account (or ask your lawyer about it). It just seems complicated.

      3. BRR*

        Now that you did that I also have noticed the change in voice. It’s been amazing to witness.

        Also for what it’s worth some casinos are really generous with free rooms. I’ve gotten offers and I rarely gamble and definitely don’t have high bets.

      4. King Friday XIII*

        Same re: getting your name off the account. First, if he overdraws it or tries any kind of shenanigans, you’re liable to the bank if you’re on it. Second, if he really wants to be a jerk about it he could make all kinds of claims about what happened to the money, since you also had access. Simpler all around if you’re not on it.

        1. I Am Still Furious!!*

          I’m going to ask one more time for him to close the account and open a new one, just because he has direct deposit from his job, but that’s it. If it’s not closed in the next week or so, I’m going to do it and send him a check for whatever was left in the account.

          1. ..Kat..*

            I think you can go to the bank with ID and get your name off of the account. Call and ask first so that you don’t waste your time. Also, please remember to change all the locks on the house when he is no longer allowed access. And put locks on all the windows. Even if you aren’t worried about him physically hurting you, he sounds like the type who would break in and steal stuff to sell (because he thinks you owe him).

            Good luck! I am glad that you are staying strong and doing so well.

            1. I Am Still Furious!!*

              I did go to the bank to have my name taken off the account, and their rule is the account has to be closed by one of us, and then a new account opened. I think that’s stupid, but that’s their rule. I am trying to be kind and not close an account where his direct deposit paycheck goes into, but I may have to just do it anyway.

              1. only acting normal*

                I’d give fair warning of a date I would definitely close the account (maybe a single salary cycle) then no further extensions. He’s dragging it out because it keeps you linked – you’re the one who will have to break the link (same with the clothes). My father did the same nonsense to my mother for years.

              2. Traffic_Spiral*

                Honestly, I strongly advise you do it now. He’s a broke gambler who’s more emotionally unstable than usual because of his romance troubles. That’s a prime recipe for some sort of financial blow up – like, this has the foreboding of a haunted house + scary music + walls bleeding + a spooky kid keeps showing up out of the corner of your eye.

                Close it. Close it now. Getting your direct deposit sent to a new account is a mild inconvenience. Getting held liable for whatever the hell a gambler can do is so much more than you can imagine.

                1. I Am Still Furious!!*

                  It’s his direct deposit, not mine – my name was on the account so we could get a small tax refund check cashed, a check from the auto insurance company, that type of thing that were in both of our names. I haven’t allowed him access to my accounts in years. But you’re right, just close it and let him deal with the bank.

                2. Traffic_Spiral*

                  I meant that you’re not greatly harming him by making him have to move his direct deposit, while you could be greatly harmed by having him on your bank account (and yes, if your name’s on it it’s you account – even if you don’t use it).

                  Heck, assuming he means well, you’re doing him a favor by closing the account for him instead of making him go through the effort of doing it.

                3. nonegiven*

                  I wonder if a direct deposit is something that would trigger a closed account to reopen? I’ve had trouble getting checking accounts closed before. Closing it, confirming the balance and taking the money out, and then the next month getting a statement overdrawn by a monthly fee.

          2. only acting normal*

            Can the bank just take you off the account? They did with my parents divorce (but UK bank many moons ago so rules may be different).

            PS I think you’re generous with your deadlines (he was too tired to go through the clothes then so +10 days of them lying round your house. You didn’t need him to go through them then, you needed him to take them away.). I fear I am hard-hearted: those clothes would already be in the dumpster and that account would be closed.

        1. Temperance*

          Not necessarily! Booth and I get them somewhat regularly, and I wouldn’t consider us huge gamblers.

      1. I Am Still Furious!!*

        I’m not sure if he did or not, but I can see where he deposited the settlement check (minus $3500!!) and then the very next day he was at a casino. And several more casinos…I can tell by the ATM descriptions and addresses. Plus, there were multiple withdraws more than once a day. It’s hard to tell. I suspect she is a gambler too, and “helped” him spend the money. And now that he’s broke, she’s gone. Now he knows how I felt to try to pay bills after he used the ATM card to drain our joint account so he could buy lottery tickets. But, I doubt he’s put two and two together in that regard.

    5. neverjaunty*

      Karma spends a lot of time napping, but when it gets up off its ass and does its job, the results are beautiful.

      You don’t have to decide on the house now, of course.

    6. LCL*

      Wow! I was sure he would squander all of the money, but I thought it would take longer than a month. Glad you are free of him.

    7. Everdene*

      Go you! As others have said, your voice is stronger and you are well rid. Keep going, you’ve got this.

    8. Dan*

      Thanks for the update, glad to hear you’re doing well.

      So… things might get fun for awhile now that he ran out of cash. My ex did the same shit, took the money she was supposed to use to get out of town, and blew it without leaving town. She left me alone when she had cash, and when she didn’t, the pestering happened more often… until she overdosed on some prescription meds and earned herself a trip to the psych ward. She was on my insurance at the time, but thankfully the ambulance co-way ($100) was in her name alone. I heard through the grapevine that the hotel she was staying at “didn’t want damages” but did want payment for the room. How did she get in without payment? She got ahold of some of my hotel loyalty points and booked herself a room. But they cancelled the reservation (after she had already checked in) when I called to inform them that I wasn’t staying in the room and she’s not authorized to use them. Same grapevine indicated the guy she was with was taken away in handcuffs.

      I don’t miss those days, but thought I’d share. Good luck, and fully expect your ex to ask for an “advance” on his next payment.

      Oh, as part of my divorce settlement, I signed over the car to her (I paid for the whole thing, natch). She later sold the car to get cash up front, financed a different car, and got the new car repo’d. When I was a kid, I used to think Jerry Springer was staged, but after having met my ex, I’ve realized that there’s a lot more truth in Spring than some people want to admit.

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        I’m steeling myself for this. He’s already said if I sell our old SUV (2003 with 140K miles), that he “gets half”. I told him I wasn’t thinking of selling it, and even if I did, that’s not in the agreement. He said he didn’t care what the agreement says, he gets half. And that’s the crux of his issues. The rules don’t apply to him, he gets what he wants, when he wants it, and to hell with everyone else.

        I will say that one of my neighbors asked me if I was going to move back in or sell the house, or what was going to happen. Turns out that someone asked him if the house was for sale, and he didn’t know, so I gave out my phone#. Honestly, if I get an offer that will pay the final half of the settlement, and get me out of debt, I’ll ask my Mom if I can move in with her and divest myself of the mess right now. I can find homes for the poor cats. And yes, I’d give him the last half of the settlement ASAP just so I don’t have to be in contact with him in 11 months.

        I am SO GLAD that I did this. Not happy with myself that I waited so long. But at least I can live out the rest of my life free of his nonsense.

        1. Dan*

          The best thing I did was lump sum payments, no excuses for further hassles. Just make sure that if you do pay him early, that you get documentation up the ying yang that makes clear the agreement is satisfied in full. You want to make sure there is no opportunity for any “misunderstanding”.

          I have no idea how these people get through life.

          One thing I learned is that I’m not going to get into an LTR with someone who isn’t financially stable. That’s a non-negotiable for the next go, if there is one.

          1. I Am Still Furious!!*

            Good idea. He received the first settlement check through his attorney. I gave my attorney the money, they wrote a check to him but sent it to his attorney. Papers were signed that he received it in accordance with the agreement. So when the second half is paid, same deal. I pay the small support checks (just 3 more) via check, and note in the comment section “July 2018 Support” and I have front and back scans through my credit union. There’s no question on any of the payments.

            Which brings me to a new thought – wonder where I mail August’s payment? He won’t give me his new address. Huh.

          2. Windchime*

            Dan — They get through life by sponging off other people. Once you close your checkbook and they finally get the message that the gravy train is over, they move on to someone else. And it seems like there is always someone else who is willing to pay, at least for a little while. It’s exhausting.

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          “He said he didn’t care what the agreement says, he gets half. And that’s the crux of his issues. The rules don’t apply to him, he gets what he wants, when he wants it, and to hell with everyone else.”

          Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph, woman – close down that joint account!

    9. Observer*

      Some bleach can do wonders for the linen. It would be nice if everything else were so easy…

      I’d get my name of his account ASAP – you don’t want anyone to consider that you have any responsibility. You also don’t want to take a chance that he’s going to try to claim that you are accessing his account for nefarious purposes.

      As for the rest, lots of luck with the house. I think that once you get things cleaned up, you’ll have a better sense of what your options actually entail.

  29. The curator*

    Question

    The spoucel unit took my car to be washed and as a lovely service to the marriage took it to the body shop to get an estimate on two bullet holes in the frame by the driver door.
    No I don’t know how they got there.

    It’s going to be $2800 to fix.

    They suggested filing a claim with my issuance company for vandalism .
    Won’t that make my rates go up?

    I have the money. Been saving for something else.? Should I just pay myself?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Depends hugely on the insurance. When our car got backed into (by someone who left while I was looking through the glove box for the insurance papers) it turned out our insurance covered all the body shop repair (spouse was surprised to find he’d been carrying that–old car) and there was no change in our rates.

      Shortly after that we bought a new car, got a licensed teen, and bought another new car, and those did all change the rates.

    2. Ali G*

      Do you live in a state that requires you to carry insurance for uninsured drivers? My car was parked on the street last year and someone side-swiped it and drove away doing 4k of damage. Since I filed a police report, insurance treated it as an uninsured drivers claim – and since my premium already included that coverage, our rates did not go up.

    3. Mike C.*

      So long as you don’t have multiple claims already, I think you’d be fine.

      You can always talk to an agent and see what would be best. It’s not like they will ding you for asking.

    4. Rebecca*

      This made me smile, not that you have bullet holes in your car, ’cause that’s bad, but that people here actually get little decals to put on their vehicles to make them look like they have bullet holes in them. I live in rural central PA. Not sure if this is a thing in other places :)

    5. blackcat*

      Depends on your state.

      A neighbor had his car door taken off by a snow plow. Insurance covered it, in full, no rate hike, and sued the city for the money. He was told that as long as the car was parked legally when any damaged happened, he was not considered “at fault” for any damage to an unoccupied car.

    6. Thlayli*

      Call your insurance company to ask. Sometimes vandalism doesn’t affect your rates since it’s not your fault. And they won’t usually charge you just to ask the question (if they do – switch to a different crowd next year coz that would be awful customer service).

      1. The curator*

        Thank you everyone. I will give the insurance agent a call. I was certainly legally parked.

  30. Call me St. Vincent*

    I asked last week but really late so no replies (or no one had any advice, which is also fine!), but does anyone have a Peloton bike? Is it worth it? Other recs for home gym/exercise equipment? Just had my second baby and my husband and I are looking for a way to workout at home that is as quiet as possible and also fun to use and sneak in a workout when the kids are napping/otherwise still asleep. Thanks!

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I hadn’t heard of one of those bikes but wow! That looks really cool! :)

      I would suggest maybe something bodyweight related – TRX bands perhaps? ton of things you can do with them once you mount them, take up less space and can be tossed in a drawer when not using, and I imagine there are plenty of online videos to watch to make up a routing.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        That is really cool! It seems a little intimidating but I will look at it a bit more :)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Not equipment, but I have liked Barre3’s online workouts–there are some free samples on YouTube. Dance/pilates/yoga hybrid. Mat based, optional ball/weights/bands, some you can do standing without even a mat. Two aspects I particularly like:
      • They have a lot of short workout options, like 10 minutes. Something you can probably squeeze in.
      • They emphasize how to ramp up the workout for more intensity or adapt the moves if you have various muscle or joint problems. I have the latter, and find these are similar to physical therapy–lots of small high rep movements, where the first few are easy and the last few you struggle to get through. On days I do Barre3 I find I can skip the PT stretches.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        This is an awesome suggestion, especially as my trainer just moved to a new gym that is far too expensive (and out of my way) to attend so I have switched to training myself, primarily at the gym but some days I just cant get there. He worked in a lot of core and PT type movements as well to help with my back problem, so this would work great!

        I see Peloton is coming to the UK in the fall though… we would probably have to move to a place with a third bedroom and better internet connectivity to make it worthwhile but really intriguing especially as Other Half sits on his behind all day and finding something for him to do is challenging as he isn’t a gym guy.

      2. Call me St. Vincent*

        Neat! I have done Yogaglo in the past and liked it, but the problem was always that the classes were very long (which I love, but just no time). I will definitely look into this!

        1. Justin*

          My wife loves it. I have no patience so she finds 30 minute classes when I do it with her, if that timing works for you.

    3. Ali G*

      We recently bought a used Nordiktrack elliptical from a neighbor who was moving. It came with lifetime accounts to IFit for each of us (me and hubs). I really like it (and it’s pretty quiet).

        1. Ali G*

          Actually, yes. And it’s super heavy. The footprint is probably twice the size of a Peloton.

          1. Call me St. Vincent*

            Really good to know. Thanks! We were thinking of putting it in our guest room/office as there is sort of a nook that it would fit in. It’s on the second floor so we were thinking getting something bigger (e.g. a treadmill or elliptical) would be hard to get up the stairs.

            1. Ali G*

              Ours is actually on the second floor…and it was treacherous. My husband and his friend moved it, and these are 2 big guys and there were some tense moments. I love it now that it is there – it’s very stable so being on the second floor for functional reasons is fine – but it’s never leaving.

              1. Call me St. Vincent*

                Oh boy! Does it feel stable on the floor up there? That’s my other concern, that it will feel like the ceiling downstairs is going to cave in–probably more so a concern with a treadmill.

                1. Ali G*

                  Yes it is stable. We put it on the support beam. We also purposely went elliptical over treadmill for that reason.

    4. School Psych*

      I don’t have one, but I have looked into getting a Peloton bike. I ultimately decided it wasn’t in my budget. It would have been almost 4 thousand dollars for the bike and subscription for the classes. I know a few people who have them and they have gotten into great shape using them. You can get the subscription for the Peloton classes to watch on your phone and just get a regular spin bike. Spin bikes run in the $300-500 range and the subscription for the app is around $30 a month. I’m not sure what your budget is for exercise equipment.

    5. Ranon*

      You might like the Momma Strong workout videos- they’re designed for parents to do with minimal equipment, and as long as there’s a place you can do some amount of jumping without waking the kiddos it might work for you! Plus it’s $2/ month so at least it’s cheap to try.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Thanks! Something I will definitely look into as soon as I’m done nursing. Jumping sounds uncomfortable right now :)

    6. Trixie*

      In addition to TRX, I have also looked up “stabilizer bars” and found some nice DIY options on Pinterest.

    7. Formerly Finally a Fed*

      I have the FlyWheel bike which is essentially the same thing but by a company that also has spin studios with live classes. I honestly love it and think it’s worth the money. I absolutely have to do cardio to maintain my preferred weight and I’ve always found spin classes the best for me – someone yelling at me to do x,y,z for 30-90 minutes makes things go by very quickly! Flywheel has tons of different spin class instructors, lengths and styles, and they’ve also recently started offering other class types like strength training and barre, though I haven’t tried those yet. I find I’m competitive, so I like the leaderboard to track my progress against myself and others (works for both live and recorded classes with flywheel) – which you need a connected bike for. But if you’re not into that (and if you haven’t tried a spin class with a leaderboard, you should definitely do that before buying one of these bikes) you could probably do a much cheaper spin bike and get the peloton or flywheel app. There are some articles online of people who have done similar set ups to the peloton bike for significantly less. Also, set up an alert on craigslist. People do sell used ones for $500-1000 less than what buying the bike new would cost (with deliver, etc.), but in my area they get snapped up really fast. I emailed someone selling one for like $1200 within 5 minutes and it was already spoken for!

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Thanks, this is super helpful! I do really love spinning! The leaderboard is a big motivator. I would rather go to classes (there is a great studio in my town) for the atmosphere and the collective effervescence (and the cool dance studio style lighting!) but getting there is so hard right now.

        Ah yes I know FlyWheel and I looked at that bike too. I’m glad to know that you like it so much! I had looked at the NY Times Wirecutter blog reviews and they liked the Peloton better so that’s why I was more interested in that one. I will look more into the FlyWheel bike!

        As far as Craigslist, I live in the boonies so not a good option for me. I’ve seen a lot listed in NYC so maybe but I would have to pick up and drive a couple hours each way to get it which would probably negate the price difference. The ones I saw were selling for like $2000 which I didn’t think was that great of a discount for the drive for me. $1200 would be something else though!

        1. Formerly Finally a Fed*

          I’d be interested to see why they like the Peloton better. I have a friend who has the peloton and he really likes it – I do sometimes wish I had the Peloton we could ride against each other. It has been around longer so maybe some features are better, but I’m very happy with the flywheel. One reason I opted for the flywheel was because you don’t have to buy the mounted display. I use my iPad and positioned the bike in front of a window so I can look out while I ride. Still not as great as going to a class in person, but I find it very effective and I love that I can get on ride for only 30 minutes if that’s all the time or motivation (more likely) I have that day. If NYC is the closest city, you might not see if listed cheaper than $2000, but remember you are saving taxes and shipping, so depending on your sales taxes, it could still be $300-400 savings.

          1. Formerly Finally a Fed*

            OIC, most of the complaints were mostly about the newness of the technology for streaming classes, and the bike with the mounted tablet doesn’t compare as well to the Peloton (but like their recommendation, I went without the built in table). They’ve mostly sorted most of the streaming issues out (there was a hiccup a few weeks ago with their Verizon streaming provider, but they doled out free months of classes and live studio classes) and there are a lot more classes than when they first started out – including Barre and strength like I mentioned above. I guess if you stop paying for the online class membership the bike does become just a really expensive indoor spin bike :/.

    8. Mike C.*

      Those commercials are so creepy. The one where the gal is crying and her husband tells her to get back on the bike has been roundly mocked in my social circles.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Oh jeez–I haven’t seen that one! That sounds really weird and I am definitely going to youtube it asap. I don’t like that every single actor in the commercials I have seen are like 5’10 100 lbs. Nothing wrong with that at all and they are all very beautiful, but would it kill them to show some diverse body types?

    1. Anono-me*

      Thank you for the update. I’m glad to hear you don’t have cancer. But I’m sorry that you still are not doing well.

    2. Overeducated*

      I’m glad about the cancer! I got good results from a screening as well this week and it is such a huge relief.

      I’m sorry about the other stuff though. Sounds tough.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Congrats on the clean test.
      Perhaps this will launch the start of other things turning the corner for you, so you at least get a little relief here and there.

  31. Queenie*

    Does anyone know any good internet forums/message boards?

    When I was in high school I belonged to a few and had a ton of fun talking to kind, funny, creative, smart people who became my close friends (as close as you can get to people you meet online). I’d probably still be in contact with them if I hadn’t gotten too busy to stay involved in college.

    I miss getting to write/talk with people like that, so I’ve tried joining a few online forums, but they’re nothing like I remember. They seem to have a lot of malicious, small-minded, stupid members, and guys who complain about how horrible women are because they won’t date them. Not sure if the internet has just changed in the last decade or if I’m just inadvertently choosing bad places.

    1. Kate Daniels*

      I wish this site had a way for people who have shared interests in the weekend free-for-all or are in the same industry for work to get in touch with each other! There’s been a few times I’ve wanted to follow up with someone to thank them for good advice, but just have to hope they come back to check for any replies!

      1. Mimmy*

        Same here!! I too have wanted to contact other readers to follow up offline so as not to derail threads. For example, someone will say what their job is and I’ll want to ask them about it but don’t because it isn’t relevant to the discussion at hand.

        1. Mianaai*

          I wonder if folks would be interested in a AAM server on Discord. Servers can be heavily moderated, and are sort of similar to an old school forum or IRC chat; a server can have channels, and people can also talk privately by DM

          1. FD*

            I think that’s a really good idea, in principle. How would it be managed, and how would you keep it from becoming an unruly mess?

            1. Mianaai*

              On the Discord communities I frequent, there’s usually a clear code of conduct and a small to medium sized group of mods; 5-10 depending on the server size. They’re usually also semi-open rather than fully open. For instance, newcomers to the server often have to have a verified email on their account and wait a short amount of time before posting (say 5 minutes). You can also set up servers to prevent rapid-fire posting from a single user. In general, though, proactive modding from a team, based on a clear code of conduct, seems to do most of the trick. It also helps to lay out the server into a straightforward set of topic threads, for instance “applying to jobs” or “general discussion” or “nightmare coworkers” so that people can self-select what they read and which discussions they participate in.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        There used to be an AAM LinkedIn group designed for this but after an initial flurry of usage, it went pretty unused (and I finally shut it down since it was more work to maintain it that was warranted by the low level of use).

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Just that my experience has been that it’s serendipity to find a good group, and that none of them last forever–the host moves on, they switch to the horrid Kinja comment system, the group policing of outside opinions grows over time, etc.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — that’s been my hesitation in giving my blessing to an outside affiliated group when it’s come up in the past (other than the now defunct LinkedIn group). I don’t know that I’d want something associated with the site that I had zero control over and which could become a mess.

      2. A username for this site*

        Because it’s such serendipity to find a good group, people aren’t going to necessarily post on an open website where a really good group is. Too many new members at once really throws off the dynamic, and if the new members are too different than the old ones, you end up with the new members filing complaints with the moderator against the old ones, and the old ones leaving out of frustration.

        I was on a site where that happened, we all had to move out and get our own place, so to speak. And the people left in the old forum? They’re a bunch of cantankerous trolls, and the level of discourse is terrible now.

    3. Barbara*

      I am part of Fanforum but it is for TV shows fans, though you have opportunity to talk about other things too. Don’t know it is your thing. It is a good forum. Each TV show has their own board. Can’t guarantee you would not meet narrow minded people at all, but it’s moderated.

      1. Queenie*

        I’d expect a few less than awesome people on any forum since that’s what I expect from any part of life (and there were some in the forums I belonged to when I was younger), but now it seems like the forums have become like toxic work places. On the few forums I’ve tried as an adult, I got so frustrated with the crappy portion of the membership that I couldn’t stand to stay even for the threads/people that seemed cool.

        The old forums I belonged to were for specific fandoms, and the new forums I’ve tried were more general/massive forums, so maybe I need to go back to the fandom forums. People who like things I like are probably more likely to be less jerky.

    4. Mimmy*

      I belong to a forum for fans of a particular singer. It used to be really active but did sometimes get ugly, so I feel ya on missing the interaction. I’d love to find professional forums, but that’s not relevant here in the weekend threads :)

    5. Book Badger*

      Have you tried Friends Of Captain Awkward? Similar audience to here, but on a message board.

      1. Queenie*

        I lurked the Captain Awkward forum for a few days. There was a member that was triggered and got nasty (they posted a few mean threads and were apparently attacking moderators and other members via private message). Stopped going after that. Was worried about the members being extra sensitive and fragile.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I’ve never really been able to find anything current. On rare occasions I’ve had a few meaningful conversations with people on Reddit, but most of the time when I find something, it is really old and everybody associated with it has forgotten about it and moved on. :-(

      1. Queenie*

        I tired a couple Reddit subforums a while ago. Seems like most of the Redditors are helpful and cool, but there’s always a bunch of trolls around that ruin it. :( Have to keep looking to find my people.

    7. Daphne*

      No real suggestions – there is one I lurk on and won’t name because it might ‘out’ me but despite posting and being a member for years, I’ve never cracked it and formed real connections. I also miss forums on band/singer websites. There was one that I posted on a lot in my teens and even went to a meet up. Lost touch with them when I got older though. Nowadays it’s all Twitter/Insta and doesn’t feel like anyone really converses, it’s just shouting into the aether or single sentence comments “cool song” “so extra” etc etc

      1. Queenie*

        I agree. I made a lot of friends when I was younger, but now it seems more like I’m just throwing words out there and contributing to “noise” instead interacting and building relationships.

  32. Mimmy*

    Anyone ever experience elevated liver enzymes?

    Had a follow-up to routine lab work yesterday, and my liver enzymes were high, and they’ve been slowly climbing for the last year or so. I’m having an ultrasound in a couple of weeks, and a repeat of the test (plus a recheck of something else that was slightly elevated) in a month.

    I feel horrible because my doctor thinks it’s from drinking. Now, I will admit that I have had the habit of drinking more than I should, but I began cutting back on that in the last year or so. I cut WAY back after my numbers came back elevated in March. However, instead of getting better, my numbers are even worse.

    My husband and my parents are convinced that something else is causing the elevated levels. In fact, I think my parents think my doctor is overreacting.

    So now I don’t know what to do. Am I overreacting? A part of me wonders if I should cancel the ultrasound and just do the re-check in a month and take it from there.

    Ugh. I want my 20s back!! :(

    1. dorothy zbornak*

      how elevated were they? the last time I had blood work mine came back slightly elevated but not enough to concern my doctor. I guess the specific enzyme that was elevated was in the mid-30s but high 20s is normal and he said he doesn’t get concerned until it reaches around 100.

    2. Ali G*

      Are you on any medication? I have a nerve med I take that can lead to elevated liver enzymes, so I have to check my drinking when I take it.
      I drink too much and take this med (not together) and I haven’t had any issues. So I think you’d have to drink A LOT to have elevated enzymes from drinking only. I wouldn’t skip the ultrasound – if your doc is worried enough to do that, I wouldn’t ignore it.

      1. Mimmy*

        I’m on several medications – 2 for diabetes (even though I’m technically borderline) and an SSRI. While she needled me a bit about the drinking, she did acknowledge that it could be one of my medications. My follow-up for all of this is September 6 (ugh). Gee doc, thanks for ruining the rest of my summer!!

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          I would get the ultrasound. Also your numbers aren’t too up so whatever it is, is early and not irreversible. The liver is a forgiving organ. Just figure out with your docs what’s going on so you can work on it before it does permanent damage (which would take years…)

        2. bunniferous*

          IIRC drinking is contraindicated if you are on an SSRI. Granted my info is a decade or so old….

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Could be NASH which is usually from being overweight.

      Or medications.

      Or get screened for Hep C if you have any risk factors (being a baby boomer, tattoos, history of drug use, blood transfusion before the 1990s).

      Also make sure you don’t use too much Tylenol – don’t take more than 3 grams per day (6 of the 500 mg tabs or 5 of the 625 mg).

      1. murse*

        Good point. The old guidelines say 4 grams but it has been changed to three. Also double check any medications bottles because they include it in a lot of cough syrups and the like.

    4. Earthwalker*

      I got my liver enzymes back to normal when I quit cod liver oil. Seems that in boosting vitamin D and healthy fish oils, I’d got too much vitamin A. It took about eight months of laying off it to make a difference in the blood workups, though. So perhaps you’re on the way to getting positive results from changing your drinking habits and just need to wait a little longer.

    5. StrikingFalcon*

      You could to keep a log of your drinking, if you feel like the doctor is dismissing the concern under “just drink less.”

      1. Mimmy*

        I actually did create a log after my March test – it’s very simple, just a list of dates, what I had and how much. I started off pretty well, but June was tough because I had a couple of family events and a 3-day conference, and I couldn’t resist. I’ve always stayed with wine, and usually try to keep it to one or two glasses per sitting

        Still, my husband tells me that I’ve never drank enough for any length of time that would cause any damage. Maybe I overdid a bit during my trip last month, but I never had anything hard, and NEVER more than anyone else in my family.

        Maybe my log will make me feel less guilty. I’m tempted to wave it in my doctor’s face next time I’m there lol.

        1. WS*

          Unfortunately, some people are more susceptible to liver problems than others, and a smaller amount may still be affecting you when it wouldn’t affect another person. Keeping a log is probably a good idea in that it will encourage the doctor to keep looking for causes.

          1. only acting normal*

            The effect of the alcohol may also be compounded by the medications – if both are processed by the liver then it’s working overtime. (A good reason not to treat hangovers with paracetamol / acetaminophen, a double-whammy on the liver).

    6. Nervous Accountant*

      I think. I posted about this last week. In my case, I am a long time diabetic and overweight so that was a clear reason for a fatty liver. Forgive me if I am off in my understanding about this. Good luck.

    7. A Non E. Mouse*

      So I’m not diabetic and don’t drink a lot (like, might have 2 beers a month) and suddenly a few years ago my liver numbers we climbing ever so slowly and the most silly thing was causing it:

      OTC meds for allergies.

      Like I was taking a ton of over-the-counter medicine to deal with the symptoms of severe allergies. The recommended doses, sure….but continously.

      I had to switch to allergy shots from the doctor, and quit taking OTC stuff. Liver stuff was all back to normal in 6 months.

      You taking a lot of OTC stuff? Might log it too, just to be sure.

      1. ..Kat..*

        What over the counter allergy medications? I ask because I take Allegra and pseudaphed a lot and my liver enzymes are up.

    8. nonprofit director*

      My nephew, who is in his early 20s and does not drink any alcohol, had elevated liver enzymes, which they eventually said was non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. His diet was pretty bad- lots of soda, fast food, commercial baked goods. He cleaned up his diet and things are looking better.

      Not saying this is your situation, but maybe something to consider. And get the ultrasound. It’s non-invasive and can give your doctor some good information about the state of your liver.

    9. CupcakeCounter*

      My MIL had that and decided to do the Whole 30 (for a variety of other reasons but drinking more than she probably should was towards the top of the list).
      It actually did workout pretty well for her – lost about 1/2 the weight she was hoping to lose, got her blood work back in order, and she was able to cut back on her drinking quite a bit after that. Its been about 18 months and the blood work is still fine…the drinking is almost where it was before though so that isn’t ideal.

  33. CoveredInBees*

    Who wants to hear some irony? There’s a therapist near me that takes my insurance, has hours that matches mine, takes my insurance, and specializes in the area of help I need (post-partum anxiety).

    One of the issues I am hoping to address is general feelings of social invisibility and she hasn’t responded to my attempts to set up a consultation. Womp. Womp. Her website says to contact via an online form or phone call. I sent a short email via the form and then left a voicemail 10 days later. Maybe my feelings of invisibility aren’t so baseless after all.

    1. gecko*

      That is some irony! It’s also the problems that you know you have continuing to mess with you. Finding a therapist is notoriously difficult and this is annoying behavior on her part.

      Your feelings of invisibility are feelings, and your brain is searching to justify those feelings (and our brains are really good at justifying feelings after we have them). Please keep looking for a therapist!

    2. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      Ugh, that has to be demoralizing. If it helps at all, I know that really good therapists sometimes have a backlog of new patients to get to, so it may just be that she has loads of calls and emails to get through. I hope you can get the support you need soon.

    3. Gatomon*

      I’ve had the same problem trying to get connected with several therapists in the past. It enrages me. At least have the courtesy to take 2 minutes to call someone/email someone and tell someone you’re booked solid or whatever the problem is.

      I’ve had better luck going to larger clinics where the patient scheduling is managed by staff and not the therapist themselves. If there aren’t any near you that are covered under your insurance, maybe you can work out a discount for self-pay with them? It might come out cheaper than paying your copay and then getting balance-billed.

    4. Jane of all Trades*

      Oh man, that sucks! I would probably take this as a sign that she is unreliable, and would continue looking around for a therapist who is more responsive, because that is so important!
      I feel you on the irony, as somebody who went to the therapist to deal with my fear of abandonment, only to have the therapist ghost me after 3 months…
      Hang in there, and hopefully you will find a great therapist soon!

    5. Denise*

      Some therapists do this and I am not sure why. I am a primary care doctor and one of my patients had so much trouble getting callbacks that I finally asked my assistant to leave messages with a few of the therapists as well asking them to return the patients call because I was worried. My patient got one callback and that turned out to be a great therapist.

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      How long ago was the message?

      I have found a lot of places with online appointment type items are not great at responding to them.

  34. Amber Rose*

    So last month my friend invited me camping, so I spent a bunch of money on like a sleeping bag and stuff and I was looking forward to going next weekend.

    Then I get a text yesterday that she didn’t actually book it and they’re full up (because of course they are). But they have first come first serve spots so we should just get out there “as fast as we can.” Except I have to work until noon on Friday so we can’t even leave the city until around 1, if we’re quick about it.

    I love her dearly but I’m feeling a bit salty and I strongly suspect we’re gonna get out there then have to come right back. And I will have spent money I don’t have on stuff I’ll never use and food I don’t need. :/

    1. Traveling Teacher*

      Sad for you :( Can you return the stuff for a refund or is it too late? Or, book your own camping trip? :)

    2. KR*

      Are there other campsites or campgrounds? A lot of the ones I know of have lots of RVs and then entire tenting sections with sites for 20-30/night and you usually get access to amenities and electricity which is nice

      1. Amber Rose*

        There are, but not that many nearby. We’re not going long enough to justify more than a couple hours drive.

    3. Overeducated*

      Use it another time! I have tried and failed twice to go camping after buying a sleeping bag (rained out both times) but I still really want to try again. Looks like my beach trip with a friend is gonna get rained out tomorrow too, but sadly that friend is moving away next month….

      Grrr to your friend, bad planning!

        1. NotaPirate*

          Fall camping is my favorite! You have less bugs. Less heat which makes fires enjoyable and not painful. Just pack extra blankets and sweaters (gloves and a hat in case the nights are extra cold). Also the trees get amazing color in the fall. And things tend to be less crowded. (I’ve friends that camp outdoors in winter too but that’s a little intense for me. They have special sleeping bags. I do love snow hiking tho).

          1. Amber Rose*

            Oh, what I meant was I have no more time off this year. I only get 10 days and I’ve used them all.

    4. ainomiaka*

      while the food is a slightly different story it’s not like the tent and sleeping bag will expire. Is next weekend the only time you could go?

      1. Amber Rose*

        Yeah, I have used up all my time off, that’s why I can only take a half day.

        They won’t expire but I am on a budget so tight that it was a bit painful paying, which is worse if I can’t even use the stuff.

        1. Woodswoman*

          Ugh, that must be so frustrating that your friend didn’t book the site. While the food won’t last forever and that’s an expense, the camping gear can be used for years. Any chance you can hang on to it for a future trip rather than “never”, even it’s not until next year? Perhaps you could even go with this same friend, assuming you remain on good terms, and just manage the booking part yourself.

    5. neverjaunty*

      If you can’t even leave until 1 there’s no point in going.

      Why didn’t she book the campsite?

      1. Amber Rose*

        She’s a bit, well, naive? She doesn’t like planning ahead and kind of assumes things will happen on their own.

        1. Thlayli*

          OMG I hate letting other people plan things. I recognise that I can be a bit of a control freak, but there have been at least 3 people I’ve gone on trips with that I’ve delegated stuff to and they are so useless. I juts try to do everything myself now! I have only one friend out of all my friends that I would trust to so much as book a concert ticket!

  35. Cruciatus*

    So last week I wrote about a house that I loved but was a bad school district. Turns out there’s another wrinkle–high property taxes. The millage rate is surprisingly high. The property taxes weren’t posted correctly because the house was built with a program my city has that offers property tax exemptions for 10 years on certain new buildings and the people living in the house now have a disabled veteran who is also exempt from the property taxes but the program has since expired so that won’t come into play for me at all. I told my realtor this was the only house I’ve really had this much interest in in the 2 years I’ve been searching but she basically just said “What can you do?” And that was that.

    So I’m wondering whether to continue pursuing and if there are any solutions available (and I’m also looking into other realtors). Here are the quick details–I actually plan on buying a house outright thanks to an inheritance (I probably wouldn’t be able to buy otherwise). I don’t even yet make 35K (and at this point have faced facts that I will never have a high paying job) but after I use part of the inheritance I plan on using my own salary for everything unless a crisis occurs. The property taxes are $5800 (for a 1600 sq. ft house, .18 acres, 3 bed, 2 full baths. This is about $2300 higher than other similar properties in lower millage districts). I can afford the nearly $500 a month since I won’t have a mortgage, but part of me is thinking about that extra $200ish that I wouldn’t be spending if I lived in another house. On the other hand, this house is 11 years old, shouldn’t (*shouldn’t!*) need much work, is 5 minutes from work (for now), close to the highway, and has everything I want.

    Can a potential buyer get a house reassessed and have the purchase contingent on that? Or can only owners do that? I do think the house is assessed too high and if I did buy I would get it reassessed right away. They are already selling it $15,000 lower than the assessed value. It’s very odd–the other houses around it are all 1960s and then you have this 2007 house in the middle. If anyone has any ideas to pursue or thoughts about the matter, I’d really appreciate it!

    1. Natalie*

      Does your state have property tax refunds for lower income households? It wouldn’t help with the monthly expense but if you could swing it for a year then you could save each year’s refund to pay part of the next year’s taxes.

    2. Been there*

      Be very wary of the bad school district. Even if you do not have/plan to have kids, it will be more challenging to sell when you are ready to move on. Buyers with children may not even consider your area based upon the district alone.

      1. Traveling Teacher*

        +1! If you have this pile of cash, I’d say wait a little while longer. It doesn’t seem that the house is going anywhere fast–if they’re selling it for a lower rate, maybe they really need a buyer but can’t find one, which definitely raises red flags…

        Is there anything preventing you from getting it reassessed before making an offer? (I’m not in the US, but where I am, it’s a normal part of the process before making an offer. My sibling did this for a house in Canada that they knew needed some work. Their house inspector was able to lay out precisely what was missing/not up to code, plus reasonable estimates of costs to repair, all of which they were able to use to bring the price down significantly.)

      2. neverjaunty*

        This. School districts are a HUGE factor in home sales. Even if you have the type of house that would appeal to childfree folks, they’ll also be considering the ability to sell the home. “It’s in a crappy school district” is a major, major drawback.

        The millage also seems weird. Why is it so high in such a bad school district?

    3. Sorry about that*

      Assessed value for taxes does not necessarily reflect market value of the house. Where I live assessments are not done regularly so over time houses will be over or under assessed depending on their age relative to the last assessment.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. We have the same problem here. You may be able to get a reassessment based on what you paid, sometimes that works. But a high mill value is still tough, there’s problems on both sides of that multiplication sign.

    4. Temperance*

      I would keep looking. Bad school district + high taxes is not a good sign. Also, never buy the nicest house on the block. I bought the worst house on my street and am slowly upgrading. I paid $110k less than friends who live in a duplex next to a train.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This isn’t an answer to your question, but are you sure this is the right real estate agent for you? Based on things you’ve written about her in other weeks, she seems … not great. Ideally an agent would be more proactive on your behalf than she’s been and would give you more guidance on this stuff. She seems like she’s been awfully passive and unhelpful.

      1. Cruciatus*

        Yeah, I know. This is advice I got here last year too (same realtor.) Here’s the long version no one asked for. My mom’s health started to decline last fall (pulmonary hypertension–if you have trouble walking 5 feet, go to your doctor immediately, people! Don’t wait 5 weeks!) so I wasn’t searching seriously. When my mom was finally back from the hospital 2 months later I started looking but in that time never found a new realtor since it was winter and not much was happening house-wise and I just didn’t see the urgency. Then something came up and I felt I needed to immediately contact someone about it and went back to the realtor I had been using. So because I did that I’ve just been continuing to use her–but only emails. We’ve still *never met* and I mostly only go to open houses.

        I actually did try another realtor about 2 months ago who was recommended to me but I could tell immediately she wasn’t right for me either. She didn’t ask for any of my housing preferences and basically told me I see what she sees online so just let her know when I wanted to see a house. Seriously, REMAX lady? You never know of any houses before they are posted online? I went to an open house and emailed her what she thought about some things and how motivated the sellers were since it had been 4 months and she said she’d ask the agent some questions. That was 6 weeks ago maybe? I’m still waiting for her to contact me back… And by that point I was like it is not my job to constantly hound my realtor. If she can’t call me back then she’s out (and that house was pending 3 days later, which I was OK with. If it had been an absolute must I would have tried harder). At least the first one emails me back, even if she’s otherwise passive. I have yet *another* name for a realtor but is the 3rd time the charm? I just don’t know what is happening. I don’t know if the realtor community in my area is weird or what. Or I’m not paying enough for a house to be taken seriously? These two people are all super highly recommended people. Five-star reviews everywhere and I know real people who used them. I know what I want, what I want to spend, and, most of the time this house aside, where I want to spend it!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          So here’s a theory and it could be wrong — but I wonder if you’d have better results if you started with someone new and right away asked them to take you out to look at houses. I’m thinking that maybe they’re not invested in you because they’ve never met you and haven’t seen you seriously looking. My experience with agents is that you always go out to look at things together right away, and that builds the relationship and lets them get to know you and what you like. If you haven’t even met in person, I’m thinking they might not think of you as a serious buyer who they should invest time in.

          It might be worth trying a third agent but this time meeting up right away and looking at a few houses together (usually you’d see like 3-4 on the first trip). I’m thinking maybe it hasn’t happened that way because there aren’t enough you’re interested in to make a trip like that make sense, but it could be that picking some that don’t seem *perfect*, just kind of in the general realm of what you might want, would make it doable.

          I don’t know — they should see you as a potential commission and be working to get it, and if that’s not happening, I’m thinking they don’t see it that way for some reason.

          1. Cruciatus*

            That’s a good idea. I actually was going to go out with the first/current realtor right after I contacted her but she somehow forgot she had an open house and an hour later was like “can you just go to some open houses alone?” and that became the new normal. At least I’ve never signed a contract with her. And yes, it was my first (maybe even second) sign all was not right.

          2. blackcat*

            This is great advice.

            When I was buying, my agent specifically said “Let’s go to a bunch of places together so I can get a sense of what you want.” We did a week of like 10 places together. It helped him see what we wanted AND helped build trust/a relationship. The house we eventually bought I found online, went to the open house, texted my agent, who came by after the OH to do a look and offer his feedback.

          3. FD*

            I don’t know — they should see you as a potential commission and be working to get it, and if that’s not happening, I’m thinking they don’t see it that way for some reason.

            IME a lot of agents also take on more clients than they can actually handle and then don’t provide great service to any of them. It’s a low barrier to entry job and the market’s hot, so there’s going to be more of those than normal out there right now.

          4. Connie Reagan*

            Actually that realtor was right that she sees the houses the same time as Cruciatus does. I am in the business (but I do not work with buyers-I just sell foreclosures) and if the poster is hooked up to a good MLS site then he or she should see the houses come online the same time the agent does. Back in the old days the agent had more control of the process but the Internet has changed things considerably. Now that does not excuse an agent from going over the list with the buyer’s criteria and making suggestions of things to see, of course-but these days from what I see (My husband is also an agent working with buyers and sellers) the buyer is in the driver’s seat way, way more than in the past.)

    6. Nacho*

      I can’t speak for you, but for me, $200/month is definitely worth living 5 minutes from work in an almost new house. I say go for it.

    7. not Lynn Davis*

      You might try googling for an “exclusive buyer agent” in your area (assuming US) to see if there are any. In general, even ‘your’ real estate agent has a responsibility to the seller. Here’s a basic explanation:
      https://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/learn-the-pros-and-cons-of-a-buyers-agent

      As first-time buyers, we were much more assured working with a buyer’s agent, and even ended up using the mortgage broker and home inspector she recommended (though did also do our own research on them).

      And maybe check with a tax professional on paying for a house in full vs taking a mortgage anyway (and banking the unused portion to pay the mortgage) – a huge chunk of a