weekend free-for-all – August 4-5, 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: Spoonbenders, by Daryl Gregory, the story of the rise and fall and rise of the Amazing Telemachus Family — a family with supernatural gifts. Someone recommended this here last week, and I’m halfway through and totally sucked in.

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

{ 1,407 comments… read them below }

  1. wingmaster*

    I am so bummed today. I was working on sewing a wedding dress, and made my life hard by using chiffon cut on the bias (for non-sewers, this is hard AF). Everything on this dress looked great except for the invisible zipper in the back. Everything else was pretty much done. I ended up taking it to the tailor today to get the zipper sewn in correctly, and the bride decides to buy another dress. I’m over it now, but now I have a wedding dress.. haha.

      1. Shrunken Hippo*

        I love the Serial Killers podcast! I also like Female Criminals and Unsolved Murders which are also produced by Parcast because they have the same interesting analysis of events.

        And ouch on the sewing front. I feel the zipper pain, there are days when I just can not get one in and look good. You might not have gotten your money this time, but at least you’ve learned and gained the experience of working with chiffon.

        1. wingmaster*

          I will check the other podcasts out! Need something new to listen to at work besides music.

          Thanks for feeling my pain haha. I am definitely using this as a learning experience. It’s interesting because my past experience is in swimwear, which is another beast in sewing. I’ve only worked with chiffon maybe a few times before this dress.

    1. Harriet*

      Nooooooo! That’s just awful, I’m so sorry. Wedding dresses are so hard. I make a lot of my own clothes and I’ve had so many friends suggest I make their wedding dress. People really don’t understand how much time these things take.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Kind of like when people want me to make their wedding cake. They think it will be “WAYYY cheaper!” for me to do it. Um, no. It costs twice as much as you’d pay a bakery because there’s a very big chance that I won’t have the pans I need (my niece wanted square tiers), the frosting colors (gold!), will need to buy all the cake boxes, etc. Bakeries keep all this stuff on-hand because they do these cakes all the time. I do it once every few years. Good example is my niece’s wedding cake. Cost me $400.00+ to make three square (special pans I didn’t have!) carrot cake tiers with cream cheese frosting covered in plain white fondant with purple ribbon trim and silk roses. It was for about 60-75 people. I have to assume with such a simple design it would have cost her less at a bakery.

        1. Rosemary7391*

          I have the most amazing square pan – it folds down flat, and you can set it up for any size square or rectangle from 1” to 12”. So useful! But I also use ganache boards and they need to be in every size.

          I dread to think how much enough gold colour for an entire wedding cake would cost… even enough for a little detail work is pricey! It is a bit off that people assume you’ll do it on the cheap, it’s not a small amount of work. If I offer it’s free – I haven’t yet had anyone ask.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I did my niece’s girlfriend’s birthday cake (three tiers, three different cakes and frostings, but I had all the cake pans and didn’t have to buy too much) and people kept saying, “Oh the bakery costs SO much so maybe I’ll ask you to do one and it will be SO much cheaper!” I told them no, I don’t do cakes except for family and friends and it’s not often at all. This one for 50 people cost about 70.00 to make since I had to buy all the different cake ingredients and such.

            I honestly think people just don’t realize that the bakery cost is actually not bad factoring the labor, special items needed, etc. They don’t realize I have to go buy all the stuff, whereas the bakery likely has most if not all of it on hand.

            1. Rosemary7391*

              I’d just show people my baking cupboard – so many strange devices :P they might get it then? I also tell people it takes me 3 days to make a cake, and that also stops them in their tracks and makes them think.

            2. Tau*

              I admit I don’t bake super-complex cakes, but something that shocked me with other crafts (sewing, knitting, making chocolates) is that the raw materials often cost as much or more than the finished product you can get in a shop.

              1. OyVey*

                I knit and yes! Decent quality yarn and the time spent knitting costs a lot more than non crafters often imagine. If I make you a scarf, that’s love: It’s 8 to 10 hours of knitting, plus the knowledge of stitches, plus the cost of yarn. The value of a (USA) non profit volunteer hour is currently set at $24 and change. There’s a couple hundred bucks in a handmade scarf!

                1. It costs HOW much?*

                  Ive just been replying with material cost + minimum wage. Ive yet to have a taker.

                  Fairly certain I insulted my MILs friend. But hey! Just cause i dont have a “job” doesnt mean i dont have demands on my time!

              2. Jessi*

                One of my friends often bakes fancy cakes – people don’t realize that the butter alone for butter cream icing can cost close to $100 for a big cake, thats without any of the cake stuff

              3. Annoyed*

                People do that with everything.

                I had a former life as a cosmetologist for like 20+ years.

                I really dont know how much someone would have to pay me to get me to agree to ever do another hair cut, nevertheless they still 1) try to get me to and 2) want it for like $5.00.

                Excuse me? I never, ever did them for that, not even in beauty school back in the dark ages.

                It is a professional skill and if it is so easy…go on do it. Let’s just see how well you do that complex grometric, asymmetrical style you saw in Vogue that one time that you don’t have a picture of but can only just vaguely explain.

                Like my skill, time, etc. have no value…

                1. PhyllisB*

                  Annoyed, I understand. My daughter is a (former) hair stylist, and I never expected her to cut my hair for free. I always gave her $20.00 if she came to the house. Her salon rate was $18.00, but if went there, I got a family discount (can’t remember now how much it was) but I still gave her at least $25.00. She never wanted to take it, or would say just give me $10.00 if you have to give me anything, but I told her I respected her time and skill and just because we were family I didn’t expect “freebies.”
                  On the other hand, one of her friends got married and asked her to come two states away to do her hair and the bridal party’s hair. (She had just left beauty school and didn’t know how to mention fees.) She came and (of course had to pay for a hotel room.) She did the bride’s hair, the bridal party, the mother, grand-mother and sister of the bride, and no one gave her a dime. And then, her mother made a snarky comment about my daughter not bringing a wedding gift….some people.
                  She doesn’t do hair anymore. Not even for family who’s willing to pay.

              4. Anonymosity*

                That’s because an individual doesn’t typically buy them wholesale–a shop or a company that makes them can make a deal for raw materials in bulk, and also has a budget that a single hobbyist usually doesn’t have.

              5. Emily K*

                Yes, because the finished product they’re usually price comparing it to was made by someone earning 15 cents an hour.

                1. Tau*

                  Yeah, I view the “I can get a T-shirt for 8 euros in a shop, I just spent 30 euros for the cloth required to make a T-shirt” issue as indicative of how completely effed up our economy is. There’s higher prices for not being able to buy in bulk, sure, but cost of labour should come into it somewhere and it really, really doesn’t.

        2. OyVey*

          My mom did fancy occassion cakes periodically when I was growing up (mainly anniversaries and a few weddings). She solved part of the cost problem by telling people what she could make with the equipment she had on hand and implying they could either get a relative’s generous gift or pay for what they imagined.

          1. louise*

            My SIL asked me to make a fancy carved and modeled cake (well, truthfully, the example she wanted me to match was really horribly tacky) for a baby shower. I make delicious cakes from scratch with special ingredients but flavor is my only skill. I literally can only pipe those rosettes that were all the rage, like, 8 years ago. I told her I’d be happy to make a rosette cake but totally understood if she wanted to go with someone with more skills. She didn’t want to pay anyone, so rosette cake it was. I didn’t bother to tell her how much the ingredients add up to because I don’t think she’d have believed it. I was so glad I didn’t attempt something that would have stressed me out or cost even more in specialty supplies.

          2. PhyllisB*

            Yep. I used to make decorated cakes for family (nothing super fancy, but I could usually do some of the Wilton designs.) Even if you just use a cake mix, get decorative things and make your own frosting, you still run some charges. One time a friend of mine wanted me to make a cake for her manager who loved trains. She asked me what I would charge. I told her if she would just pay for supplies I would be happy. (He was a friend of mine, too.) So I bought all the stuff and made a cake with a train track and a toy train around the perimeter saying, “another year coming around the bend.” Everyone loved it, but never got reimbursed.

        3. Chaordic One*

          My aunt makes wedding cakes and while she has all of the pans, the cost of ingredients for a decent wedding tiered cake and then a couple of large sheet cakes for guests can easily exceed $100. And when she tells people this, they are shocked.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      As a fellow sewist: A moment of silence for our sister/brother who has faced down bias-cut chiffon to no avail.
      She is still paying you for the materials/time used up so far?
      Later today I do battle with net curtain panels, for a friend. Think of me!

      1. OhGee*

        For real, deciding to go with something else AFTER you’ve done all the work (and boy is chiffon a pain) is so so not cool. Ugh.

      2. wingmaster*

        Unfortunately, I had to compensate her. Not the full payment, but more than 50%. At the moment, I just felt really bad that I couldn’t just get the closure in, and she was pretty upset. (Why I had to use a zipper for a bias cut dress is because it’s an empire waist dress).

        I will send positive vibes to you on your net curtain panels! Hopefully your friend doesn’t back out last minute.

    3. Loopy*

      I know nothing about sewing (I’m so impressed by people who create!) but…can someone do that?! Just, decide not to pay for the project when it’s 95% done?! I’d feel absolutely AWFUL doing that to someone :( Luckily, you can probably gift/sell the dress!

          1. Victoria, Please*

            I’m confused on why YOU had to compensate HER. She decided not to buy the dress, but why does that mean you pay her?

            1. wingmaster*

              I could’ve handled this differently…I know I shouldn’t have compensated… At that moment, I just felt really bad. This was actually my second time doing a project like this, so I was still figuring out how to be paid for freelance. Now I know better

          2. bmore pm*

            do you mean you had to partially refund her or are you actually saying you had to pay her? either way, it sucks that your time and effort were wasted, but the latter is especially terrible and I think the way it’s worded is confusing so I can’t quite tell!

              1. Public Health Nerd*

                Bummer. Yeah, one of the things I learned doing custom artwork is what to say no to. No, I won’t make 240 place cards, because each one will cost you $5 and you’ll complain about it.

    4. Lcsa99*

      You poor thing. I would totally sell it on Etsy of something. You worked so hard on it, you deserve some gratification!

      1. Rosemary7391*

        Yes – unless you happen to be similar enough in size that you can alter it for yourself and think you’ll need it! They’re such specialist things, and it’s such a nice thing to do, it’s really off to act out like this :(

        1. wingmaster*

          The bride was slightly larger than me, so actually I could use it for myself. I probably wouldn’t use it for my own wedding though. The dress has a pretty simple, classic shape that can be appropriate for other special occasions. Could dye it a different color too, if I really wanted…Either way, I won’t let the dress just sit in my closet forever. Could use it for the next County fair competition, but then she and I live in the same county. It would be funny if she saw it displayed LOL

          1. Lora*

            You absolutely should use it for the county fair. Hope she does see it. But it would mostly be advertising for your own skills

            1. Anonymosity*

              This–you made it and she didn’t use it. She has no say now over what you do with it.

          2. Nesprin*

            totally do it~! bias cut chiffon is masters level sewing and doing it well is totally worth displaying!

          3. Em*

            I attend our local horticultural fair every year, and I would love to look at a wedding dress!

    5. LilySparrow*


      I feel your pain. If that happened to me I would be screaming into the void for a long, long time.

    6. DataGirl*

      It sucks that you had to compensate her. I agree with the others who said sell it on Etsy, or maybe Ebay.

      I used to have a doll clothes shop on Etsy as a side business. Then I figured out that at the price point people were willing to pay, after materials my labor was coming in at $1 per hour. My time is too precious for that so I closed shop.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        One year at the church summer fete, I volunteered to run the handicraft stall with another person, who dropped out to return to her home country, landing me with a handicraft stall to amange all on my own.

        To make matters worse, there were other stalls which would have competed with my products so no soft toys or jewellery. People kept looking at the goods and walking away without buying, and I was selling the stuff for fairly low sums considering the work and materials. I remember selling a small trinket box to a little girl for EUR 4. (Craft shops often sell simple plywood hinged boxes in various shapes and sizes to be decorated however you want) I had painted the boxes in simple bright colours and varnished them, and then the girl returned with her mother, who told me the girl had changed her mind and didn’t want the box anymore, so refund her!

        Or, trying to sell some homemade lavender bags to another women who cheerfully announced ”Oh no, I don’t want to buy any more rubbish”.

        As you might have guessed, I declined to run the stall in future.

  2. SE Asia travel recs*

    I’m going on a 9 day tour to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand at the end of this month, and I have some questions for anyone who has been before! I’ve travelled solo all over Europe and North America, but this is my first time in Asia and I’m a little nervous to have these days by myself because Asia seems harder to navigate than Europe (I speak several European languages, so it’s easier in that regard).

    1. I have two extra days in Ho Chi Minh City and three extra days in Bangkok before/after my tour ends. Are there any day trips or half day trips you would recommend? I’m looking more for tours than going at it completely solo on these days, even if it’s just a Viator food tour. Any places / activities / events you consider something I must do?

    2. What are some good gifts from each country? I usually get a sampling of foods, alcohol, candies, etc., but is there anything specific you’d recommend?

    3. Any recommendations for high quality jade in these countries? Searching online hasn’t been super helpful, and I know my parents would really love a jade elephant carving, but I’m at a loss. Same goes for figuring out where to buy legit sapphire and ruby jewelry.

    4. This is silly, but I have a huge snake phobia. For anyone who has been, do you see snakes a lot? I’ve seen conflicting info online.

    5. Any packing / travel advice? I already know I should wear clothes that cover my knees and shoulders, but what about shoes? I have sandals and some slip on sneakers.

    1. wingmaster*

      I am Vietnamese American, and have been to Vietnam many times!

      1. If you want tours, I’m sure there are options to tour the Mekong Delta or Cu Chi tunnels.
      2. I’m not too big on souvenirs. But for gifts, I’d do silk or handmade embroidery. MAYBE fish sauce, but that stinks haha.
      3. I actually don’t know about jade in Vietnam…sorry I cannot help you there.
      4. I personally don’t see live snakes…but I know restaurants there that serve snake dishes, including snake wine!
      5. Sandals and sneakers should be fine. You will walk a lot!

    2. JosiePcat*

      For gifts I bought cloth purses. They were really pretty and like a dollar each. I never saw a single snake. Bring (or preferably buy there) a sarong. You can wear above the knee shorts most places except temples. Then you can just tie the sarong around your waist and you’re good to go. Carry toilet paper with you as there often isn’t any in public restrooms. For shoes women can wear whatever you want but many nicer places will not allow men with toes visible to enter. For jewelry I wish I could remember where I bought my rainbow sapphire bracelet. When I got home I was astonished at how good a deal I got after it was appraised. I just remember it was down the street from the US ambassador’s residence in Bangkok (long story lol). In Cambodia I recommend getting a full time driver – it’s really cheap (we paid $25/day) and they can show you some of the cooler out of the way sights. Our guy – Mr Do was awesome. Have fun!

    3. Kathy*

      Oooh, my family is from Vietnam! I loved it when we went but it’s been a while. We enjoyed driving to Vung Tau (could do it on a motorcycle but they didn’t want to traumatize us so we rented cars) for a few days. For gifts, I loved and systematically bought as many tiny animal figurines that I could find. They have really nice glass ones and wood cut ones. And jade ones! My parents bought a pair of jade elephants, but I could not remember where. But there are definitely tons of markets around that will sell stuff like that. It may not be legit, but it still looks amazing imo.

      We didn’t see snakes in the wild but we did see snakes in some restaurants. It’s uh… interesting. I honestly preferred sneakers when I was in Saigon last. It was easier to handle the motorcycles that way. And definitely keep your valuables well hidden. Ugh, I feel like I barely answered any of your questions, but man, I’m so excited for you!

    4. KarentheLibrarian*

      I was in Thailand 12 years ago–Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and various locations between Chiang Rai/Chiang Mai.

      3. While in Chiang Mai, we went to the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which was an amazing experience because it’s on the top of a mountain–amazing views of the city, and the Wat is so beautiful! There was a Jade factory & store on the way up that seemed to sell good quality Jade. I didn’t buy anything, though. I was more interested in pearls at that point in my life.

      4. I don’t remember seeing any snakes. I wouldn’t have handled that well! However, lizards are everywhere! Oh hey, random lizard in the bathroom in the middle of the night! (This was in the countryside.) I do remember seeing lizards at the Buddhist temples we visited & other random places, though.

      5. Thais value cleanliness, or at least that’s what my pre-trip research seemed to indicate, so I would pack lots of moisture wicking clothes and maybe body cleansing cloths for when you’re out and about if you’re prone to sweating. I would be a constant sweaty mess if I went there today! I would also take whatever footwear is comfortable.

      I second JosiePCat’s recommendation to carry toilet paper/tissues with you wherever you go. Also money/change to pay for using the bathroom. I didn’t encounter that everywhere, but there were definitely some places where that was the only option.

      I wish we had gone to the floating market in Bangkok. It was an option included in a tour on our last day, but going would have meant getting up really early, which my traveling companions were against. Anyway, I hope you have a great time on your trip! I dream of going back one day!

      1. bunniferous*

        I have been to Chiang Mai and yes, it is awesome! I also enjoyed the night market there.

      2. Meliza*

        I used to live near Chiang Mai and I loved it. The night markets are amazing there! Also seconding the recommendation to bring toilet paper everywhere, since a lot (most?) public bathrooms don’t have toilet paper.

      3. all aboard the anon train*

        I just extended my trip a bit so I could spend some time in Chiang Mai because it looks like there’s so much to do and see there!

    5. sajohnso*

      I’ve been to Vietnam twice and Cambodia once but haven’t been to Thailand.

      In Ho Chi Minh there many mini travel agencies that you can book day tours from. I did the Chu Chi Tunnels. It’s very interesting if you are into Vietnam War history. There also tours to the Mekong Delta and other places as well.

      I brought back Vietnamese coffee for gifts and everyone loved it. I didn’t see any snakes in Vietnam but they do sell snake whiskey at some of the markets in Vietnam and Cambodia. So keep an eye out if you have a snake
      phobia. They are usually small bottles of whiskey with a dead cobra inside and the whiskey is mixed with the snake’s venom. I would say it’s worth a try (I’ve drank it twice) but not if you have a phobia.

      Cambodia is great but there is so much more to do than just Angkor Wat. If you are in Siem Reap, check out the Military Museum and Landmine Museum. I enjoyed that much more than Angkor Wat.

    6. Thlayli*

      I was in Bangkok. Didn’t see any snakes. I can’t remember the name sorry but there was a tour company I found online that does English language tours with small groups. Google bike tour Bangkok (they do other tours than bikes as well). There’s tonnes of lovely sites to see. When you go to temples you have to cover your shoulders and knees I think but there’s tonnes of places to buy clothes suitable for the weather too.

    7. Yams*

      Sorry to intrude on this, but how have you felt traveling solo through Europe and what does one even do? I have enough money to pretty much do whatever I want, but I never wanted to travel alone (and was willing to pay all. My partner’s expenses) but now I’m staring at my future spinsterhood in the face and it’s time to do everything I ever wanted to do with a partner… But alone. I’m very scared to travel that far alone tough :/

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I haven’t done long trips alone, but I’ve done various short trips after work meetings or conferences, and a lot of getting from point A to point B by myself, not just in Europe but also Asia. It’s definitely possible to do and enjoy as a single woman. I would suggest pre-booking a hotel in a convenient location, and if you’re nervous, you can arrange for a driver to meet you at the airport and get you to the hotel. A major European city is a good place to start. There are often day or half-day local tours that you can pick up locally, which can give you a chance to interact with other people. I’ve done things like a vineyard tour where they picked me up at the hotel and dropped me back off at night.

        To give an example – I spent several days in the Netherlands after a conference. I was staying in Leiden, where the meeting was, and I took a train into Amsterdam (about an hour trip), and spent some time wandering in the city, visited some art museums, and took a boat tour through the canals. Another day I took a bus from Leiden to the famous tulip park, where I did some photography, and came back via a stop in a small town. The third day I did an organized birdwatching tour, as it’s a hobby of mine. I had breakfast at the hotel, and some nice meals at local restaurants. The people there generally spoke excellent English, and google maps has gotten very good when it comes to telling you how to get from point A to point B.

        If I’m on my own I tend to keep a fairly early schedule, as I’m not keen on wandering unfamiliar cities after dark. So for a summer Europe trip, I’d be back at my hotel by about eight, when it’s still light out. I’m careful with my documents, and make sure that I’ve got copy of my passport and ID tucked in an inner pocket of my suitcase (ie, in a different place than the real documents), and use the safe in the hotel and an under the clothing money belt as needed.

        1. Yams*

          That’s great advice thank you! I don’t mind traveling alone in my own country (I live in one of Mexico’s most dangerous areas lol) but the idea of going so far away alone terrifies me. I think programming things before hand so I have an idea of what’s going to happen in any given day is a great way to go for me. It hadn’t occurred to me that I didn’t have to go out at night!

          1. Arya Parya*

            You can always look into group travel, if you don’t want to travel nu yourself.
            I’ve traveled alone a few times and would usually have some day activities planned beforehand. But I’ve also done a group tour around Ireland (because I didn’t want to drive there alone) and that was a lot of fun too.

      2. Cristina in England*

        Start in a country where you speak the language, so U.K. or Spain (you said you lived in Mexico downthread). You could do a tour group then you wouldn’t be alone! If I were you, I would make a short list of places I want to go, then make a separate Weekend post on here asking for advice on 1-3 places. Good luck and go for it!

        1. Cristina in England*

          … don’t want to confuse, I may have meant you referred to Mexico upthread. My thread sense of direction is broken. Elsewhere in the thread!

      3. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

        I am from Europe but I’ve done some solo trips around the continent and done some solo trips to other far off destinations and I would also recommend starting with cities – they’ve got good infrastructure to get around and lots to see in a relatively small area. I will say that I would’ve HATED Paris (sorry Parisians but I have never felt this unsafe in a city ever :/ ) if I’d been on my own, but Edinburgh, London, Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam were all lovely (those are the ones I’ve been haha I’m sure other cities are also great on your own!) .

        If you’re comfortable driving you could also rent a car, either for day trips or a longer road trip. I’m not, so I tend to go by train for longer trips which works well for intercity travel – unless you’re in Germany in which case I would honestly advise against taking trains if you want a comfortable and punctual journey.

        Basically, pick a region/city and if you do a google search for sights you can plan a trip around that, that’s what I do. I tend to not be out long after dark and know at least 3 different routes to my hotel/hostel/air bnb and as someone else already said, physical and digital copies of all important documents.

        My biggest hang up to this day is eating by myself in restaurants- I will never not feel weird doing that.

        I have also often, especially when I was still staying mainly in hostels, met other travelers and then gone on day trips/sightseeing with them.

        1. Barbara*

          I am born and bred in Paris but never felt particularly unsafe unless you go in the north suburbs like La Courneuve which can be dreadful but tourists usually don’t go there anyway.
          However many Parisian are rude to foreigners that’s a sad fact. You’d better speak some French because they don’t like when people assume they understand English. If you make the effort to speak some French they will answer in English if they are able to .

          1. Yams*

            It’s a good thing I speak French as well! I mean, not well, but close enough to good lol!
            Definitely seems like planning everything ahead is the way to go, I will be honest, I was just gonna hop on a plane with some hotel reservations and pray for the best. I’m lucky enough that things usually work out for me. I go to a lot of stuff alone and I always end up making buddies and having a good time but traveling 12 hours by plane and then hoping for the best is probably not a winning strategy.
            I feel you on the eating alone front, it was so hard to get used to it. I travel a ton for work and I’ve gotten pretty used to it but it still feels a bit lonely, my best advice is to get a good book or podcast and listen to it while you eat.
            The worst feeling is going to the movie theater alone, it’s gotten so awkward that I’ve given up and just buy the tickets directly adjacent to me to cut down on the awkwardness.

          2. Middle School Teacher*

            I’ve also never felt unsafe in Paris. But I do speak French well so that helps a lot. Personally I like Paris a lot but I know for a lot of people it’s either, they love it or they hate it.

        2. Rock Prof*

          I lived and traveled in Europe by myself about 6 years ago. I was in Southwestern Germany, so I went to the Alsace region of France frequently. I also spent a long weekend in Paris, and I loved it. Truthfully, I didn’t find Parisians any more or less rude then anywhere else, and I didn’t speak a bit of French, only English, German, and a smattering of Spanish. I didn’t encounter anyone who made me feel weird for doing anything solo, but I might just be oblivious. I also traveled a tiny bit in western Eastern Europe, and I felt completely comfortable.

          1. Rock Prof*

            Sorry, i messed up the nesting with my reply. It was supposed to be under Barbara’s comment.

      4. Barbara*

        Could you join an organised trip for your first time in Europe? Or join some retreat/workshop of something that interests you so you’ll be with other people ?

        1. Yams*

          I’ve tried guided tours and I hate how rushed everything is, and I tend wander à lot so I think it wouldn’t be a great idea for me.
          I’ve never thought of traveling to a workshop though, that could be something to explore since it would have a built in buddies with a shared interest!

          1. Barbara*

            Yes when I went to India I joined a yoga retreat and made friends there then we had some trips together

          2. Teapotty*

            You might like to consider voluntary work whilst you’re in Europe -for example, there are several English language immersion courses for non-Anglos where they recruit English speakers from all over the world to literally speak English all day to the participants. I’ve attended three of these so far and most of your expenses are met for a week, bar spending money (for drinks or other personal items) as it’s all-in accommodation, food and board plus transfer to the venue. It’s a good way to get the lowdown on the country you’re visiting from the people who live there. Be sure to look for the ones that don’t require a registration fee though – they can be expensive.

            1. bmore pm*

              this sounds so cool! would you mind sharing a bit more about this kind of thing, even search terms would be helpful, and I can get googling myself! thanks.

          3. First Solo at Fifty*

            I did my first solo European trip a couple of years ago and only speak English fluently. I landed in Germany and took the train to Salzburg Austria and used a travel guide created by Big Boy Travel (they have many guides for many countries). They help you see all the sites you would get on a guided tour independently. I used the guide to get around the city and see the local sites, then took day tours to some of the outlying areas of interest. Of course, quite a few people there spoke English and that was a great help overall but I still had to figure out the train schedules in German. I lucked out and picked an inexpensive guest house downtown that allowed me to walk most of the old city easily. Traveling alone doesn’t have to be disappointing, especially if you have friends back home that would love to hear from you as you travel. I didn’t post pictures until I got back (no sense letting the world know I wasn’t home) but it was fun to see everything as an adventure. Have fun!

      5. SE Asia travel recs*

        So, I’m American, but I also have Polish citizenship and speak fluent Polish and Spanish (and studied Latin for 8 years), and have passable German and Italian, which means I’m able to pick up a lot of Latin romance languages or Slavic languages, which has made communication super easy.

        I suggest starting in a country where you speak the languages. I always recommend the UK as a good starting place for traveling alone for English speakers, and Spain for Spanish speakers, etc. I liken it to going to New York City alone for the first time, in the sense that no one is going to bother you if you’re a solo traveler and you can get used to being in a foreign area by yourself.

        I usually pick a base of operations when I’m traveling solo. So, say, I’ll pick Barcelona and either travel solo from there to sites I want to see or organize day trips or short overnight tours. There are a lot of tour groups that are focused on English speakers in Europe, and a lot of trips that cater to tourists who want someone to drive them to a certain famous site or location for a day, half-day, or multiple days. I find hiring tour guides to drive me somewhere makes things super easy. That way I don’t have to worry about figuring out local traffic patterns.

        There are some tour groups out there like Intrepd or G Adventures which might rush you from place to place, but they tend to mostly be tours to transport you across borders and let you spend the day as you want. The G Adventures Central Europe tour, for instance, basically just transports you from each country, gives you a short walking tour of the city to let you know where things are, and lets you go off on your own (they’ll hope schedule any activities you want), so it’s a great resource for people looking for help with the actual travel, but want to sightsee at their own pace.

        I find a lot of European countries are good to solo travelers and I’ve had so many people want to talk with me or help me. I’ve had people happily accommodate me, and I think it helps when you’re solo and not in a huge group because a driver will happily bring you to out of the way places or spots only locals know about it that will gladly take a traveler who is courteous, kind, and respectful rather than a huge tour group.

        France is the only country I dislike traveling to because they’ve been consistently rude about solo dining or hotel reservations (I’ve had them try to charge me double for a hotel room because I’m solo or make snide comments if I’m dining solo). Central Europe is my favorite place.

        Honestly, I enjoy traveling with friends, but solo travel is so nice because you can do what you want at your own pace, eat where you want without worrying about other people being hangry or their food issues, and no one is there to mock you if you want to stay in at night instead of going out or spend a day reading in a cafe instead of going on a touristy adventure.

      6. CoffeeOnMyMind*

        I’m right there with you: a single female of a certain age, who also loves to travel. So, I’m used to traveling alone, both in my own country and abroad. I’ve been to Australia, England, China and Canada on my own, and I’m planning a trip to Japan. Traveling to another country on your own is pretty much like traveling with others: use common sense, always have a copy of your passport and visa with you, and have fun!

        It’s okay if you don’t know the language; just be sure you have a map of the city, and you’ll be fine. I don’t know Chinese or French, but I was able to get around Beijing and Paris without any problems. Oddly enough, even though English is my native language, I still managed to get lost in Canada. I took the wrong bus and ended up in a completely different part of Toronto. But I found the coolest little grocery store while I got my bearings.

        My advice: be flexible, keep your sense of adventure handy, and enjoy yourself! One of the best things about traveling solo is that you can do whatever you want, on your own schedule.

        Have fun on all of your future travels!

    8. Reba*

      For gifts, my relatives visited that area a couple years back and brought gorgeous hand woven silk scarves! You will probably see lots of *not* hand woven silk, but there are also quite a few cooperatives and non-profits etc. working to revive the heritage skills and develop sustainable livelihoods with silk.

      Unusual floral teas or Vietnamese coffee are also nice.

      Have a great time!

    9. Dan*


      I’ve traveled solo all over Asia. First things first, English is commonly spoke across the region you will be traveling. The Thais aren’t native fluent, but they are used to dealing with tourists. You’ll be fine. TBH, part of the fun is getting around when you don’t speak the local language.

      Second, jet lag is a real thing, and this tour is jam packed. I wouldn’t travel to this part of the world from North America for vacation for anything less than two weeks. Your tour itself is likely one of those where you’re spending each night in a different city, spending a lot of time on busses, and generally go-go-go.

      Given that, I might suggest you plan for nothing for the beginning and end of your trip. Bangkok has some nice spas that you could avail yourself to, and Ho Chi Minh City may as well. If you do find you have the energy/inclination to do stuff, you can wing it. Bangkok has plenty to keep you busy for a few days, especially if you are a foodie. Ho Chi Minh City is one of my least favorites, I much preferred Hanoi in the north and Hue in the center. In HCMC, you can get out on the Mekong River Delta, see the tunnels as mentioned, as well as the military museums. It’s actually really interesting seeing the war museums, it’s so weird to see a war Amrericans fought in descrbed from something other than an American point of view.

      Gifts. I don’t bring much back other than alcohol. If you can find snake wine, pick some up and bring it back. Just be aware that if you get stopped by customs in the US, then they may confiscate it if you can’t prove the snake is not the endangered spiecies variety.

      Precious gems. Stay away from all of this stuff unless you are a professional or otherwise know what you are doing, or you just want an overpriced souvenir and don’t care about getting ripped off. The reality is that these things are set up to be the worst tourist traps you’ve ever seen, and you’ll get taken for a ride if you open your wallet.

      Snakes. Only when I go looking for them.

      Travel advice — in general, don’t over do it. Take it slow. In Bangkok, I’ve had some of the most fun taking the boat the locals use up and down the Chao Pryah river and getting off at random stops and getting street food.

      Laundry wise, there’s “laundry by the kilo” places all over the area, but you may not have time given the itinerary. Don’t over pack.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        I second the part about precious gems. When I was there in 1996 we toured something that ended in a gift shop/factory selling jewelry and they really played up the “bargains” and greed implying we could sell them for so much more once we got home. I’ve also heard that jade can be dyed to look darker than it is (or maybe it’s that other rocks can be dyed to look like jade) so buy for love of a piece and not it’s supposed value. The jade pendant I bought is lovely and unique and I still wear it all the time so I don’t care if it’s real or not. When I was there we had vendors come to us because we were staying with a friend’s family who organized it. I bought some decorative enamel plates and a couple jade pieces. Then in a market I bought 8 pairs of chopsticks and some lovely embroidered cards.

        Shoes: you definitely want something that covers your toes for temples and fancy hotels. (We couldn’t have high tea in Singapore because we only had open toed shoes. ) And something comfortable for hiking and climbing stairs. Lots of cultural sites are up high. Also, never forget to put sunscreen on your feet. Sunburnt feet are very painful and really limit your activity.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        For English, I’ve found that in major cities and touristy destinations, you can usually find people who speak a little bit of it, but if you head out to more remote locations, it’s less likely. I second the recommendation to not over schedule, particularly in hot countries. You’ll end up tired and cranky, and less able to handle problems that arise. On summer trips, I’m big on afternoon breaks in local parks, lying in the shade under a tree with a book. In Europe I find it to useful to pick a couple of towns in a region over a two week trip, and do day trips from there, rather than moving every night or two. It’s less tiring, and less stressful, and it’s easier to adjust your plans.

        If someone’s willing to be a bit adventurous language-wise, I’d really recommend Taiwan as a solo destination. It’s very safe from a personal safety perspective (I wouldn’t recommend driving, though), and the locals are friendly and helpful and don’t have the ripping off the tourist thing going on, so you don’t have to be constantly on the alert to avoiding being scammed. It’s not as cheap as somewhere like Thailand, but is still pretty affordable, and the food is amazing. It’s also a fairly small island, and the only places I’ve had trouble accessing by public transit and train are some of the mountain recreation.

        Snake-wise, I’ve seen a couple out in the woods, but no more than I’d see in similar circumstances in North America, and just a tail slithering into the bushes. But you’d need to avoid the night markets that specialize in snakes (which is typically one in a town).

        Of all the places I’ve travelled, India is the one where I would be hesitant to go alone. It’s definitely the place I felt most uncomfortable being a female in public. It was also interesting to watch my husband suddenly start displaying totally uncharacteristic protective body language in public.

    10. BetsCounts*

      1- I second the poster who recommended taking it easy once you get there. When I went, we landed in Bangkok and actually spent the first day and a half at the airport hotel just to get through the jet lag. While in BKK we used the water taxis a LOT, and that was great. We took a boat tour to the old capital (Ayutthaya) which was GREAT but remember NOT TO EAT CUT FRUIT. On a side note, the ER was really nice and our travel insurance covered everything.
      2- if you stop in Cambodia, they have an excellent quilting tradition, esp in Siem Reap- we got a giant handmade quilt and they shipped it back for us.
      3- I also agree with an earlier poster- unless you are an expert at precious stones, skip this.
      4- I don’t think I saw a single snake- but there was a bar in Siem Reap that had FLIPPING ALLIGATORS in an OPEN BASEMENT where you could pay to throw them chickens. I was a little tipsy and saw them and sobered RIGHT UP.
      5- oh geez its going to be so hot. since you are going to be on a tour you’ve got to get it down to a large backpack and a small satchel because you are going to be schlepping them everywhere. My husband teases me that we were traveled for 4 weeks out of 2 backpacks and I generally pack more than that for a weekend away.
      HAVE A GREAT TIME!!!!!

  3. Kathy*

    In preparation for seasonal depression this year, I have bought approximately a metric fuckton of houseplants over the past few months. I have a fiddle leaf fig that I found at IKEA. I have a rubber plant. I have baby rubber plants. An army of pothos. Snake plants galore. Succulents on succulents. I am still terrified, because winters have been getting worse, but I had a lot less greenery last year and suffered accordingly.

    So, I want to know about your houseplant situations! I have honestly become obsessed with my plants and love hearing about other people’s plants, and what they’re doing to keep them happy.

    1. Minta*

      My husband has added numerous plants to our home (indoor and out). I’m taking care of them.

      I monitor the watering situation mostly by sight and memory of the last time I watered. Biggest challenge right now is keeping an orchid happy in the necessary, incessant air conditioning. I’m in the US. It is very hot, and our apartment faces south.

      Enjoy yours! It’s a great idea to have plants around in order to help temper seasonal blues or depression.

      1. Kathy*

        Oooh I am so scared of having an orchid! I read that they are super finicky! How is your faring, besides for the air conditioning situation?

    2. Jemima Bond*

      I do not have great luck with houseplants but then again I haven’t tried much! My lounge faces south and the window is a sort of bay window protruding out with small windows at the sides at right angles to the main bit, if that makes sense, so it has a sort of greenhouse effect and everything just gets too hot and dies.
      My big success is an amaryllis (which experts tell me is really a hippeastrum) on my kitchen windowsill (faces the same way but a smaller window and flat) which o grew from one of those kits with a pot, a bulb and those magical expanding compost pellets. It was a gift from a friend and I water it when it occurs to me, and a couple of times a year it sprouts a very rude looking stalk which goes on to flower with beautiful white and apricot-pink blooms!
      One day I will have a house with a garden; I want tubs of herbs and a lavender bush.

      1. Kathy*

        Have you tried putting sheer curtains or even closing the blinds a little in the bay window so that the light isn’t so harsh? My fiddle leaf fig gets bright indirect light basically all day because I have the blinds partway closed and it seems to be doing… okay? But my sliding glass doors are north facing, and I feel like south facing windows get much warmer than the north ones. Maybe you can try succulents? They would probably love that!

        I want a house with raised garden beds to plant tons of vegetables and herbs and other pretty plants too! Ugh, apartment living! I just want to build a backyard haha.

        1. Anonymosity*

          I’ll trade you. I’m SICK of maintaining a huge backyard on my own. If I had scads of money to pay someone else to do it, or a husband who liked doing it himself, fine. But I hate doing yard work other than a little vegetable growing (tomatoes, in pots).

    3. Tau*

      I plan to pick up a bunch of houseplants before winter! At the moment the only indoor plant I have is basil and I’m more focused on my outside plants (three tomato plants, one cucumber, one pepper, four strawberries, chives, peppermint and oregano, as well as miscellaneous assorted flowers. I am drowning in tomatoes, guys). I do have houseplants at the office – my thing-we-do-not-talk-about-on-weekends let us buy them as a perk and then I began picking up strays as people left. Currently I have four, of which my favourite is the zamioculcas – it looks great, it’s extremely easy to care for and doesn’t mind if I’m gone for a week, and I can decorate it in funny ways.

      Oh yeah, one plant where I want to get one off my parents before winter is a Brutblatt, which dict.leo.org tells me translates to devil’s backbone, Mexican hat plant or mother of thousands in English. (Bryophyllum daigremontianum, according to Wikipedia). I’m not sure you can actually buy them anymore – the plant is apparently highly poisonous – but we have some descending from one my grandmother kept. They look super cool because the way they reproduce is to create tiny copies of themselves on the edge of their leaves and then drop them.

        1. Aqua409*

          My mother in law just got one of these plants and we took some of the baby seeds home to see if we could grow one ourselves. It’s a very cool looking plant.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I feel you on the tomatoes, Tau!! We have the same problem, PLUS a ton of basil and chives. After pasta sauce, Caprese salad, and pesto, I’m stumped. Any ideas? The chives I add to eggs or sprinkle on a baked potato. I would love any suggestions.

        1. WS*

          Cut the tomatoes in half (or into big wedges if they’re very large), add olive oil, salt, pepper and any herbs you like and roast in a slow oven. Put them into bags and freeze. In winter, add them to any meat dish for a hit of summer flavour.

        2. Tau*

          I am also stuck on the tomatoes. I am eating a lot of caprese salad, caprese-style pasta and variations (e.g. pasta or potatoes with green beans, feta, onions and fresh tomatoes). Chives or basil can be very nice on bread with cream cheese or similar topping (fresh goat’s cheese, mmm). I’m honestly expecting not to use all of mine up before winter hits.

          I am beginning to really appreciate the fact that my cucumber plant will grow a single cucumber until I harvest it and only then start on the second one!

        3. Elder Dog*

          See if your local food bank can take them. We have two which will take it here, one will pick up.

    4. PX*

      Houseplants! I do not have many at the moment despite loving plants and growing up in a house full of them. I started off with the ubiquitous spider plant and also have a mother-in-laws tongue. Attempting to grow a chili plant (yay its not dead yet!) and will probably get some kind of anthurium next as they are nostalgic for me (had them a lot in my home country).

      My biggest struggle is that my flat does not get a lot of light (basically only the kitchen and living room) and the kitchen only has a small shelf next to the window which can get quite cold in the winter so not sure how good it will be really.

      1. Kathy*

        I just helped my coworker with this! She just moved to a new place where her room is basically a cave, and I told her to buy zz plants, pothos, and YES, sansevierias. I started out with those plants a few years ago when I first moved out because I read that they were virtually impossible to kill and they’ve lasted a lot longer than any of the jade plants that I’ve tried to pick up. Those ones also prefer low light and you can forget to water them for a while and they’ll be fine. They’re very forgiving. Like… leave them in a bathroom that gets no light because you were watering them and forgot to bring them back out to the main room forgiving. Not… that I’ve done that before hahaha.

      2. Climber*

        I had this problem in apartments. Get a full spectrum bulb for the plants. Then you just have to have the lamp near them and on for several hours a day. It worked well for me, I still have 2-3 of the plants I did this with over 10 years on.
        It should be noted I have very basic, hardy plants because I am an absent minded plant lover who doesn’t like fussy plants. But plants like the spider plant and mother in laws tongue should be fine with this.

    5. DanaScully*

      We have a gorgeous moth orchid I bought as a gift for my girlfriend. She adores it and picks it up/looks at it every day. The blooms are just starting to fall, but we did have two big stems with around 15 blooms in total.

      I also have a peace lily which I love. It’s very pretty and easy to care for as it droops when it’s thirsty and perks up straight after a watering. I would have more plants but we live in a tiny home so I don’t want to go overboard!

    6. Lcsa99*

      I can’t imagine how awesome your place must be!

      I could actually use help with ours. We bought new herbs four out new apartment but while we’ve never had a problem in the past, I think the only cat safe window here doesn’t get enough sun so our basil is looking so sad.

      1. epi*

        I would look into hanging the basil from something if possible. Because succulents are so trendy, it’s actually not too hard right now to find adorable hanging planters sized for small to medium plants. I am stalking some on Amazon right now but haven’t decided yet where to put them.

        Lots of people also have good luck with getting their cat something it’s fine for them to chew on. They will often leave other plants alone if they have their own. Mine didn’t really care about cat grass (and it died really fast for me so it always looked bad). They turned out to love chewing on ferns so now I just get them a new one every few months. Most ferns are not toxic to cats but there are a small number of unrelated varieties with “fern”in their common name, like asparagus fern, to watch out for. It helps to just keep the ASPCA list up on your phone while at the store.

      2. Dino*

        Have you tried sprinkling cinnamon on the soil of the plants? Cats don’t like the smell and cinnamon can help prevent some fungi from growing! My cat has eaten so many plants but once I started with the cinnamon she hasn’t touched one.

      3. Kathy*

        Haha my place is full of plants! IT’S NOT ENOUGH I want to be living in the middle of a jungle. My roommate has a cat who loves to treat herself to a green snack and the struggle is going to be so real when I have to bring some of the plants inside for the winter. I plan on building shelves to be able to stick the plants up higher but at the same time, she’s jumped up on the counters to get up above the upper cabinets before so we may just have to invest in more spray bottles. We also got her a catnip plant, and I’m about to see if I can grow her some kitty grass as well.

        I have basil and a pepper plant outside and they were also looking super sad because I wasn’t watering them enough to combat the loads of sun that they were getting! But I second the idea of hanging them from somewhere… I also plant all of my plants in either cactus soil (very well draining) or coconut coir (also well draining, but has the added bonus of being a place that bugs hate to be). Well draining soil will help tons. Good luck with your plants!

      4. Lcsa99*

        Thanks everyone! We have one particular cat who is very determined when he wants something, so I don’t think hanging them would work, but we can try the cinnamon idea! We’ve also had a catnip plant in the past that they loved (it grew like crazy! We tried to trim it and dry the clippings in a barely warm oven like we do our herbs and you can’t imagine how much that stank! But they loved it)

    7. hermit crab*

      Yay, houseplants! Our apartment is covered in houseplants (almost literally — we are running out of flat surfaces — it may be a problem). This may not be what you intended to say, but “what they’re doing to keep them happy” can go either way: what you are doing to keep your plants happy, and vice versa. :)

      Most of my plants are not unusual or interesting, but they all have their quirks. I have a few “family heirloom” plants that belonged to my grandmother, including a little hoya that is generally very aloof but she did flower for me once the year my grandma died (out of guilt, I assume). I dried the flowers and they still smell beautiful, years later! I also have an extremely temperamental avocado sapling that I grew from a pit. She is super needy and has a real attitude, but what can you do, we go way back. Oh and my Christmas cactus that tries so hard, but struggles to interpret the light/temperature patterns in my apartment and flowers at wacky times of the year.

      One thing I’ve been enjoying lately is growing little sanseveria cuttings in coffee mugs. They don’t mind the small space, just put a little horticultural charcoal on the bottom (under the soil) and they’re good to go. It’s a fun way to use mugs that would otherwise be languishing in a cabinet.

    8. OhGee*

      Me and my partner bought a house in March, and we have a sunroom! Like the rest of the house, it needs work – we refinished the floors ourselves and want to put up some fancy wallpaper in the fall, but we’ve already started to fill it with tropical plants. We live less than an hour’s drive from a famous nursery that specializes in tropicals. So far, we have two varieties of hibiscus, a passionflower (which has already bloomed), a desert rose, and a terrestrial-type orchid, plus key lime, blood orange, and Meyer lemon trees! And my mom gave us two fig trees, which are relegated to outside/wintering over in the garage. It has been fun learning more about how to care for these plants, and my partner is delighted because “he’s never met a plant he couldn’t kill.”

    9. Dino*

      I’m doing the same thing! I get seasonal depression pretty badly so I’m collecting a ton of succulents to take care of all winter. I just picked up two big echeverias, a hawthornia window plant, a pitcher plant, moonstones, and a few strays that I don’t know the names of. Plants are rad!

    10. epi*

      I currently have two majesty palms, a large variated rubber, large burgundy rubber, fiddle lead fig, pilea peperomioides, a couple of small ferns, a calathea, the 6 inch tall start of a banana tree, and a small variegated rubber. We also have a larger fern we sacrifice to the cats– it’s nontoxic and they enjoy chewing it so they leave the other stuff alone.

      I think you will really enjoy the rubber plants. Neither of mine grew much the first summer I had them, but now that they’re home and in appropriate long term pots they have grown very fast throughout spring and summer. It’s very satisfying to watch. Fiddle leaf figs can be a little more temperamental– I separated two that came very pot-bound together in a single container and one held on for six months before dying. The other looks great though and has two new leaves this morning. They will grow towards their light source so rotate them occasionally, and try not to prune off the lower leaves to get a tree form overnight– they can continue to feed and thicken the trunk if you leave them.

      You might enjoy the forums at Houzz, which has a pretty active community asking and answering plant questions. This is a good time to figure out if your plants need repotting or anything now to make the most of the rest of summer, or if they can wait for spring (my preferred time if it’s not urgent).

    11. LilySparrow*

      I have a plant in my office whose name I can’t remember. It has dark green leaves with red stems, and AFAIK does not bloom.

      I have a pink anthurium in the kitchen on top of the whatnot. That one probably needs some love and fertilizer, because it hasn’t bloomed in a couple of years. I have several philodendrons here and there, an original and the offspring of its trimmings. And a snake plant. And one lone air plant in the bathroom, after its two companions died.

      I have a few currently getting extra light out in the carport: a ponytail palm originally from IKEA, and an aloe that I split into 4 earlier this year.

      Watering is now a chore for the children, so it gets done once a week. The exception is the air plant, which is hanging on by a thread. It’s soilless, so the kids can’t just water it as they do the others. And we can’t keep the bathroom humid enough for it to never be watered, or everything would mold. So I have to remember to take it down and give it a drink every 2 weeks or so, but I often forget.

      Our main issue is light, because our house has those high, horizontal 1950’s windows. It’s good for keeping out the heat. Hard to get enough light for most plants. In particular, there’s a built-in planter area right by the front door, but that is the absolute darkest area of the house. I haven’t been able to find any plant that can survive there for long, so I rotate them.

    12. Sparrow*

      Oh, on the topic of houseplants, does anyone have recommendations for plants that are easy to take care of and don’t require much sunlight?
      My apartment windows face south but there are trees and a big building across the way so we only get a few hours of gentle sunlight each morning. I also have managed to kill succulents multiple times even though they are supposed to be so easy. I guess they weren’t getting enough sun?

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Pothos or sansevieria / snake plant. I’ve got a pothos that’s been living in office-lighting conditions for years, and it doesn’t seem to mind at all, it just grows and grows. They don’t mind a drought, either, so you can go on a two-week vacation and not worry about getting them watered.

        1. Paquita*

          I love plants but have a black thumb. Yes, I killed a snake plant. We do have a peace lily that someone gave us when my MIL died three years ago. I let DH take care of it.

      2. Canadian Natasha*

        I have your answer! I live in a basement and have managed to keep sanseveria (snake plant/mother-in-law’s tongue), christmas cactus, and pothos alive with minimal light despite being somewhat black-thumbed. Just don’t over-water and they will be fine. (Although my Christmas Cactus only grows leaves and hasn’t flowered in the last year and a half- it may need a bit more sun to go into flower mode)

        1. Canadian Natasha*

          Lol and I see that while I was typing Cedrus Libani already made two of my three recommendations.

    13. Anonymosity*

      My houseplants are kind of like pets, but I am much better at caring for pets, LOL.

      I have three pothos, a variegated umbrella plant, two Chinese evergreens, and a small ponytail palm. I used to have a humongous ponytail palm, but the 2007 ice storm killed it (the house got too cold and it was so heavy I couldn’t take it with me). Pothos are easy for beginners; you’d practically have to jump up and down on them to kill them. They do well in offices with fluorescent light, too.

      ALL of them came from former jobs except the ponytail palm, which I bought to replace the big one. Two of the pothos actually came from my lab job, back in 2001, and the rest I acquired from OldExjob when they decided to stop having a plant service water them and were just going to let them die. I did have a peace lily from there also, but it croaked. The pothos from OldExjob is named Horace–it lived in my cube at Exjob and will return to a desk/cube when I’m working again. The rest don’t have names.

      I just water them once a week and throw some Miracle Gro on them once a month or so during warm weather.
      They seem happy enough. It took me a while to figure out that the umbrella plant is a slow grower and it will not grow in the winter–I thought I was doing something wrong, but apparently that is normal for them. I still haven’t figured out why Chinese evergreens tend to sprawl when they get large, but it’s annoying, as the one in my bathroom is taking up way too much space!

    14. Earthwalker*

      I have the easy ones: an arrowleaf, an ivy that will grow two more feet if you look away for a second, several pothos, a dracaena marginata, a schefflera, and an ancient huge spider plant. Mum loved African violets and got a great deal of winter enjoyment from propagating them. Once we inherited a grand shaggy Boston fern and an epiphyllum oxypetalum from a house’s previous owner. That’s a cactus that looks like a tall gangly stick. Its claim to fame is that it grows one huge waxy white tropical flower for just one night each year. The first time we were amazed but before an hour had passed we were so overpowered by the intensely sweet fragrance that we hid that night, and every succeeding annual bloom night, in the bedroom with the door shut.

    15. BetsCounts*

      I have eight different varieties of mint that are pretty forgiving. I invert wine bottles and keep them in the sun and they grow well. Right now they are seeding like crazy (I guess they know the seasons are changing soon) so I am constantly pinching off the seed blooms. Bonus- I have minty spa water every day!

  4. Stormfeather*

    So… topic that I thought of during last week’s discussions. It sounds like others here read Jane Austen, so I’m curious how others rate the books.

    For me, Pride and Prejudice is one of my two favorite books, period. It’s nice and light with just enough conflict, great main characters and supporting characters that are a nice blend of good people, less than good people, and just the absurd. And did I mention the heroine is just awesome?

    Persuasion, Emma, and Sense and Sensability are all kinda on the same tier for me. Fun reads, generally good, but not quite up there with P&P, and Emma and S&S each have some issues that annoy me a bit.

    Mansfield Park is… good enough that I go back to re-read occasionally but is seriously marred by how annoying the male and female lead are. The words “insipid little mouse” always spring to mind when I think about Fanny. And toward the end of the book turns into a bit of a slog honestly. Still enough good bits to have me come back now and then though.

    Northanger Abbey is just my least favorite. I read it last, and I suspect it’s partly because the tone is different from what I’d come to expect, partly that the main characters just seem bland to me, and many of the supporting cast are just so ridiculous. I’ve read it 2 or 3 times to give it a fair shake and don’t really feel the need to read it more.

    So what do others think about Austen? I’m curious if others share my thoughts on the books in general, or not. I haven’t had any good discussions on her books in ages so I’m curious what others here might have to say.

    1. wingmaster*

      For me, my top 3 would be P&P, S&S, and Persuasion. For me, P&P and Persuasion are more romantic, but I just enjoy the sisterly bond between Marianne and Elinor.

      I’ve also seen most of the film adaptations for Austen. I LOVED P&P with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. I also enjoyed the 2008 version of S&S.

      1. Stormfeather*

        Hmmm, I enjoyed the recentish film version of P&P, but didn’t like the mini series as much, I think in part because Mr. Darcy just really did not do it for me, especially since I tried it JUST after watching the movie version so I was making unfair comparisons. I should really try it again.

        (And to be fair you have to go into the movie knowing it’s going to be seriously cut down and distilled for length.)

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      I loved P&P when I was in high school, but as an adult I found it a bit off-putting and got annoyed with all the characters. I found Elizabeth to be unkind at times and Darcy unlikeable, and there are parts of their romance that just make me uncomfortable.

      Persuasion is my favorite, if only because I think it’s the most romantic of all the books. There’s something about novels about heartache and pining and a slow burn that really get to me, which is why Persuasion is always my go-to comfort read. And oh, Frederick Wentworth’s letter to Anne! I still think it’s one of the most romantic love letters in fiction. I tend to like romantic pairings that either are friends to lovers or together-fall apart-get back together rather than ones that go from enemies to lovers. I also think it’s the most well written of her novels.

      I have a soft spot for Northanger Abbey because it was the first Austen novel I read, and I think Catherine is written in a way that’s similar to how a lot of young, teenage girls approach fiction. It certainly resonated with me when I was 16 because I could see myself in Catherine, dreaming of a more exciting novel-like life instead of wanting to deal with reality. It’s definitely not the best written book and the tone is way more scathing than any of the other novels, but I do like that Henry Tilney is witty, sarcastic, and lively in a way most of Austen leading men aren’t. I also once had to read The Mysteries of Udolpho for a class in undergrad, and it really is a ridiculous book, and I appreciate Austen’s commentary about it in Northanger Abbey.

      TL;DR: My ranking is Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, S&S and P&P tied, Emma, Mansfield Park.

      1. Gala apple*

        Amen to that Wentworth letter! I have it copied in a journal; brings me such joy.

        My ranking:
        The others ;)

      2. GoryDetails*

        I love them all, and re-read them fairly often. From most favorite to slightly-less-most-favorite {grin}:

        Sense and Sensibility
        Pride and Prejudice
        Mansfield Park
        Northanger Abbey

        For extra fun, check out Robert Rodi’s “Bitch in a Bonnet” – he wrote blog posts for full recaps-and-commentary of all the novels, highlighting the ways in which Ms. Austen was considerably more snarky and less hearts-and-flowers than many people think. (The full posts were published in two volumes; I think there are some excerpts still viewable online.) I enjoyed his comments very much!

        1. Stormfeather*

          Ooo, that’s 99 cents for the first volume on Kindle, so I’ll give it a go, thanks!

      3. Stormfeather*

        To me, I think a lot of the faults Eliza shows are what help keep her from feeling like a Mary Sue or something similar. She has faults, but her good qualities (for me) far outweigh them, and even the faults are those I think many of us can sympathize with (either getting too frustrated and saying something she shouldn’t, or letting her desire for a bon mot run away with her in the moment, or just forming an opinion of someone/something and forgetting it’s not necessarily a fact).

        That, and she seems to learn from her mistakes pretty well.

        Darcy I still enjoy a lot, partly because of knowing what his character’s like (ie: shy and feeling awkward at least part of the time), and partly because he also is willing to learn from his mistakes (even if he’s less eager to do so than Eliza).

        Not that everyone necessarily still has to see it that way and enjoy the book. ;) But that’s where I’m coming from in my own readings of it.

        And I wonder if I’d have been more kind toward Northanger Abbey if I’d come across it younger. :/

    3. AcademiaNut*

      For me the ranking is

      Pride and Prejudice
      Mansfield Park
      Sense and Sensibility
      Northanger Abbey

      Thinking about it, the books that feature naive and enthusiastic but misguided teenagers are lower on the list. Emma in particular annoys me. Adaptation-wise, I love the BBC miniseries of P&P. I find that a 2 hour movie just isn’t long enough to do justice to the novels – it can fit the plot, but not the satire.

    4. Erika22*

      My favorite Austen in this order:
      Northanger Abbey
      Mansfield Park

      But those first five are all on the same tier in terms of favorite books, so ranking them in this way makes it look so much more harsh. I do have a soft spot for Northanger Abbey because it’s written as a satire on the gothic novel (and like Kali said, is delightfully snarky at times) plus I just reread it on a trip to Bath, which was the perfect setting obviously.

      I’ve also discovered that while I love Austen and her works, I’m not enough of a fan to go into the Bath museum dedicated to her when there are costumed employees outside and the reviews all say it’s for Serious Austen Fans – I love her but wasn’t ready for that level of intensity, so I skipped it. Maybe next time?

    5. heckofabecca*

      The one I go back and reread most often is Persuasion. Romantic, beautiful… Especially as I’m now 27, I very much appreciate a fully mature heroine!!! After that, I go back to Mansfield Park just because it’s fascinating to me. The main character is so repressed, the dynamics between characters are complex… The Crawfords, while Intensely Problematic™, are super interesting. “Just break her heart… A LITTLE.” Amazing. I don’t reread P&P often, but I really like the 1980 BBC adaptation (despite the very 80’s feel and craptastic cinematography).

      I think my rating would be (from fav to least fav) Persuasion, P&P, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Emma, S&S.

      And of course, one of the best Austen screen adaptation is Clueless :P

      1. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

        I have gotten into fights with people about Clueless being the best Austen adaptation but I 100% will die on this hill. It’s the best one, no contest.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yes Clueless is the best adaptation but the Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a v. v. close second for me.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        I decided to re-read Persuasion not long after my 27th birthday, and I had to laugh at how often it’s mentioned early on that she’s so old and haggard!

        1. Stormfeather*

          Although TBF it sounds like she’d pretty much… maybe not let herself go exactly, but she’d been heartbroken and withdrawn and it seems like maybe it was showing.

      3. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I looooove Perusasion. My absolute favorite. I also think the 1995 movie adaptation with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds and Fiona Shaw is spectacular.

    6. Fiennes*

      Mansfield Park is the one where she doesn’t stick the landing—and Fanny Price is a harder heroine to sell in our era. That said, I find myself rereading it almost as much as P&P, because the flaws make it intriguing.

      P&P, Emma and Persuasion are the most tightly constructed. P&P and S&S are the funniest. What I love most about Austen is the sharpness—her wit, her phrasing, her characterization. She writes with economy and precision without ever being dry or dull. And the evolution in her style is remarkable: parts of Persuasion feel more like late 19th century work than Regency era. It’s tragic she didn’t live longer and write more, because I think her later works might have been incredible.

    7. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      Pride and Prejudice is definitely my favourite. It’s a perfect rom com which is still fun to read even when rereading for the tenth time (I’m… way beyond that oops).

      Emma is a very close second for me, it’s so lighthearted and sometimes ridiculous and I like how flawed Emma is. Also Mr Knightley might actually be my favourite Austen dude.

      Then Persuasion which is well plotted and has soooo much tension between the leads.

      After that I’d put honestly all the other at kind of the same tier? Fanny Price is a bit too virtuous for me, I can’t really get behind either main couple in Sense & Sensibility and I’ve only ever read Northanger Abbey once.

    8. Annie Moose*

      I love P&P. I had read it when I was younger and liked it well enough, but as an adult I reread it shortly after extricating myself from a noxious situation involving a man who Did Not Accept that I was not interested in a relationship. So the entire time I’m reading Mr. Collins’ proposal, I’m going, “YES! EXACTLY THIS! WHY HAVE MEN NOT CHANGED IN TWO HUNDRED YEARS!!”

      So I’ve got a very special spot in my heart for it. Some people don’t like Darcy because he’s a dick, but I think they’re missing what’s so wonderful about his character—he might be a dick, but he also immediately believes Elizabeth when she tells him she’s not interested. He never tried to invalidate her feelings or “convince” her otherwise; she tells him once and that’s all he needs to accept it. And that’s so refreshing from a guy.

    9. hermit crab*

      I have to admit I am not an Austen fan. I think some of that is just her time; most of my favorite writers are from the first half of the 20th century. I vastly prefer Middlemarch (from the 1870s vs. Austen’s 1810s, but with similar themes) to any of the Austen novels I’ve read. Also (and I am kinda embarrassed to admit it) some of my anti-Austen bias also comes from high school, when all the popular girly types were super into her but I wanted to set myself apart as way too cool/tomboyish for that.

    10. AdAgencyChick*

      I adore P&P. Persuasion is a distant second, and the rest I like but don’t especially love.

    11. Liz in a Library*

      Persuasion > Northanger > P&P > Emma > S&S >>>>>Mansfield

      I think Persuasion is truly remarkable in a way that I only feel about a handful of books period.

    12. Parenthetically*

      P&P is my favorite. I think S&S is more structurally perfect, more precise, more Elinor-ish, but it doesn’t hold quite the place in my heart that P&P does. I’ve taught both P&P and Emma, and P&P is far more widely loved by my students, male and female, than Emma — Emma is a harder heroine to love, of course, as Miss Austen said herself! And also… I am Emma. Truly, I have never had such an uncomfortable experience of identifying with a character in a book as the first time I read Emma, particularly her self-assured meddling in and dictating other people’s lives — ALL my worst characteristics are brought to life in that book!

      I know Persuasion is incredibly beloved, but I got into it later and liked it less. Mansfield Park was my first Austen, if you can believe it, and I still love it. And before I read Northanger Abbey I saw someone characterize it as a story about Regency Twihards, which cracked me up and is a PERFECT description, so I cackled all through it.

      The thing I love most about Austen, though, is how she wrote “unlikeable” women without mocking them or using them to teach one-dimensional anodyne moral lessons (of course their growth and change are central to the plot, but not in a simplistic or sermonizing way). Passive, religious Fanny; self-important puppetmaster Emma; old maid Anne; silly teen goth Catherine… even Lizzy was sarcastic, judgmental, and stubborn. But we’re supposed to see them as human beings, to identify with them, care for them, invest in their happiness.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Oh, I love Emma, specifically because, as you say, she’s “unlikable”! I’m not much of one for perfect heroines, and Emma is a great example of a character who doesn’t just have an informed flaw—we see it clearly in her life and how much trouble it causes her. I enjoy characters like that!

    13. the gold digger*

      I don’t like reading Austen, but I loved Clueless, the Emma Thompson movie, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (And I saw a blunderbuss at a fur trader camp re-enactment on Lake Superior last month, so now my P&P&Z experience is complete.)

    14. Another Academic Librarian*

      I’m not much of a Jane Austen fan, although I read all of her novels in grad school. Mansfield Park is definitely the Austen novel I found the most interesting.

      Pride and Prejudice is probably my least favorite–I found it completely insufferable with unlikable characters and an inexplicable cult following. I feel that way about most of the movie adaptations, too, although I did enjoy Bride & Prejudice–in part because it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    15. Marthooh*

      Best Heroine: Pride and Prejudice
      Best Hero: Persuasion
      Laugh-Out-Loud Funniest: Northanger Abbey
      Best Adaptation: Clueless/Emma
      Most Depressingly Realistic Description Of A Family: Mansfield Park
      Best Last Few Paragraphs That Sum Up What Becomes Of All The Main Characters, Including The Villains: Sense and Sensibility

    16. Middle School Teacher*

      I love NA. It was the first Jane Austen I ever read, so it has a special place for me. It’s especially great when you consider just how salty Jane is about gothic novels and how satirical it is. But otherwise, I love S&S, Persuasion, and Emma. P&P is up there too. Really the only Austen I don’t really enjoy is Mansfield Park, because I’m so offended every time Edmund says that Fanny will be the perfect wife because he raised her himself!

      And not a novel per se, but I LOVE Lady Susan. I so wish Jane had finished it! Whenever I watch Love & Friendship I laugh until I cry.

    17. Totally Minnie*

      I ADORE Northanger Abbey. Catherine is so similar to what I was like as a teenager, and all the snarky asides in the narration make me giggle every time.

      Mansfield Park is not great. If you pick up any modern writing guide, Mansfield Park encompasses basically the entire “don’t” list. Fanny doesn’t do things, they just sort of happen. And most of the things don’t even happen TO her, they just happen NEAR her.

      The one I have trouble with that other people seem to like is Emma. Emma herself is kind of a jerk for 3/4 of the story, and Frank Churchill is an enormous a-hole who does not deserve a nice girl like Jane.

      I think my ranking list goes:
      1. Persuasion
      2. Sense and Sensibility
      3. Pride and Prejudice
      4. Northanger Abbey
      5. Emma
      6. Mansfield Park

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I agree with you on Emma, but I like Mansfield Park. Fanny’s totally wet, but but she’s not so much a main character as a lens through which we view the other characters, and the book has by far the most interesting collection of other characters, and watching them interact is the fun of the book.

        I read S&S for the first time as an adult, and it surprised me when I found out that some people regard Marianne as the heroine to empathize with – I automatically regarded Elinor as the central character, and much more sympathetic than Marianne’s teenage gushing (even though I wanted to shake Elinor and tell her that her boyfriend’s a dick for leading her on).

        1. Totally Minnie*

          I am with you on Marianne and Elinor 100%. When you look at S&S in conjunction with Austen’s other work, it’s pretty clear that her MO is takedowns of popular literary tropes she disagrees with. So Marianne is the stereotypical book heroine who takes to her fainting couch, and Elinor is the “normal” woman who feels sad, but keeps going on with her life. And even though we’re in 3rd person limited, Elinor is still very clearly our POV character.

    18. Undine*

      For me, Emma, hands down. It’s the perfect comedy. Emma is so overbearing and so wrong from end to end, even about herself. But then I love books about strong women who somehow don’t get it. As well as Emma, there’s Queen Lucia (and Miss Mapp, even better), Miss Marjoribanks, and of course, The Custom of the Country with the narcissistic and irrepressible Undine Spragg.

      For an actual romance, Persuasion. It’s the only one where you really believe that she and Wentworth have something in common, and that they will have an enjoyable life together. And Anne herself is not the perfect heroine, she’s not beautiful, or charming, or even young, but she’s a good, solid human being. Like Anne, it’s a book that sneaks up on you, and it takes you a while to see how really good it is.

      After that, I think Mansfield Park stays with me more than Pride & Prejudice. P&P is much better done, again with perfect comedic timing, and an archetypical relationship — I think half the romances now written still have a hero and heroine who hate each other on sight. But the romance is too shallow, and Lizzie sails too close to a Mary Sue — not for the author, but for the reader. And I always cringe at the fate of Lydia, who is really just a horny teenager and doesn’t deserve her total and absolute condemnation, even if that was the requirements of the time.

      Mansfield Park — I agree Fanny is drab and an insipid mouse, but she also sneaks up on me. As a deeply introverted, vulnerable person, she still maintains a moral compass that the others don’t have. The scenes in Plymouth are really different from anything else Austen does, the reality of with a large family and a small pension, something that Fanny is even less suited for than life in the big park. I don’t like the Crawfords and I don’t agree with some that Fanny should have had Henry Crawford — she’s insipid, and Edmond is priggish and they are perfect for each other. They could grow up to be the parents of the girl in North and South. The very fact that it’s not exciting, and not dramatic, and not even particularly interesting, is interesting in itself.

      1. Observer*

        Edmond and Fanny are not so “interesting” but they are both good people who have some kindness and try to do the right thing. That’s attracted both the Crawfords – it was just so foreign to them.

    19. ronda*

      P&P is my favorite. All the characters have something to contribute to the whole. and a family of 5 girls and all of them so different in temperment.

      One of my book recommendation that is slightly P&P related is A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold. the dedication of the book is to Austen, Brontë, Heyer and Sayers. I like almost all the books in the series but this is the one that is a regency romance.

      I really liked Donald Sutherlands – Mr Bennet in the 2005 movie. I think this movie was kinder to the Bennet parents than the book really indicates tho.

    20. Traveling Teacher*

      My order pretty much lines up with yours, though I’d rank P&P and Persuasion on the same level. I like how “real” the heroine and hero are in both, character-wise.

      P&P, Persuasion
      S&S, Emma, Mansfield Park
      Northanger Abbey

      Also, reading Mansfield Park gets a lot more interesting when you focus on the hidden social critiques, like that of Lady Bertram, laudanum addict (aka opiate addict). The shade is real…

      Northanger Abbey is only funny to me if read alongside the gothic novels it’s mocking–it’s an in-joke that was more funny back in the day, imo.

      Have you read Claire Tomalin’s biography of Austen? Definitely worth it. Thorough, scholarly, and entertaining. It also goes a long way to debunk the false narratives set loose by Austen’s clergyman brother after her death.

      1. Observer*

        Northanger Abbey is only funny to me if read alongside the gothic novels it’s mocking–it’s an in-joke that was more funny back in the day, imo.

        I think this perfectly expresses my feeling on the matter.

    21. Sleepy Librarian*

      I appreciate Northanger Abbey more in the context in which it was written: when gothic literature was all the rage.

      I have trouble picking a favorite, tbh. I’ve never read Mansfield Park, but I’ve read the others. Persuasion might be tops for me, even if only for Captain Wentworth’s Letter. If I had to choose, I suppose Emma’s at the bottom, just because the main character is frustratingly annoying for most of the story.

      MAYBE: Persuasion, P&P/S&S, NA/MP, Emma.

  5. Family Facebook Drama*

    A few weeks ago, a family member posted on Facebook how her children have been to multiple funerals, but no weddings. And how the observation was made that “several if their cousins are in long term relationships” and one of the children made a comment about how “those guys should get off their lazy butts and propose.” Direct quote. I don’t even care at this point if it someone recognizes the quote.

    I am one of people (if not the person) they were referring to. My partner and I have been together going on 11 years. I was so blown away that someone had the nerve to post something like that on Facebook.

    I wrote and deleted several comments because I couldn’t accurately express my feelings on such post. When I initially saw it there was a lot of “what the everloving f–” coming out of me. This is a family member who I see maybe once every two years… we so not have a close relationship.

    As far as I’m concerned, at this point if we do get married (which eventually is the plan), they better hope to be invited to another wedding, because I’m sure as hell reconsidering if I’d even want them at mine. This feeling also applies to my father who commented “Seriously….” on that post. WTF.

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Eugh. Sympathies. I’ve been with my partner for 15 years and the only reason I’d want to get married is if leaving the country (as recognition of defacto partnerships is patchy internationally, and I see no point in getting marriage-lite in the form of a civil union). I’m fortunate in not really dealing with any attitudes like that personally, but I know there are definitely people who have trouble getting their head around the idea you wouldn’t want to get married. Since defacto relationships (ie: legal recognition as a couple without signing paperwork) are a thing in NZ I think it’s more common not to get married, so that probably helps.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        That’s cool that NZ has defacto partnerships. USA here, and insurance / paperwork / legal stuff was a big reason my partner and I got married. We have very little protections for non-spousal partners.

        OP, sorry your family is being judgemental butts

    2. Jemima Bond*

      Sympathy. I’ve been with my other half six years, and we are currently working on moving in together (we both own flats so it’s not just a case of giving notice on rent; mine is being sold at the moment, I’ll move into his, then we’ll sell that and buy a house). When that’s done I think we’ll get married; I told him it was what I wanted and he’s on board. But we are both planners, once-step-at-a-time people; I for one don’t want to be in the middle of a house purchase (which is like the third most stressful think you can do after bereavement or divorce!) so I can’t enjoy being engaged, planning a wedding. Or the work involved in that!
      None of the above has stopped my mum or SIL (also childhood friend) from verbally prodding me in the runs on a regular basis for the past three or four years. So I can’t offer advice but I can offer the hand of empathy and this metaphorical cup of tea.

      1. Family Facebook Drama*

        I appreciate the metaphorical cup of tea, more than you know.

        I even avoid calling my mother sometimes because I know I’ll get that expecting/almost excited “So…. What’s new?!?” because I know she’s just dieing for an engagement announcement.

        (I’m also pretty sure she has my whole wedding planned with her being married twice and never having a “proper” wedding and me being the oldest child)

    3. Feliz*

      Ha! My very laid back, gets on with everyone, no drama now-husband told my sister-in-law that if she said one more thing about us not being married yet we would never, ever get married :D

      It shut her up – I think it was more the shock of it than anything! Eventually we got married – when we wanted to. I think people have finally given up on asking when we’re going to have kids.

      Honestly, I’m baffled by people. This same SIL also has rants about how rude people are when they ask her & my brother when they’ll have another child. And yet she was one of the worst about bugging us for when we were going to get married & then have kids.

      Maybe wind them up by mentioning how well your eloping plans are coming along ;-)

      1. Aqua409*

        After my kiddo was around 2 years old, my uncle asked me when the next kiddo was coming along. I asked him why is he so interested in my sex life and that put an end to that.

      2. Family Facebook Drama*

        Said family member made a similar comment to the Facebook post at my uncle (her brother’s!) funeral. I basically told her that her kids better start looking for spouses if attending a family wedding is their goal. Her oldest are 14 year old twins. I felt no shame.

    4. Lora*

      What the fk indeed.

      Between my own nasty divorce, the other nasty divorces I’ve seen, and the majority of friends who are either unhappily married or thoroughly “meh” about their marriages, at this point I think nobody should get married, ever. There should just be some legal mechanism for designating someone who is not your blood next of kin to be your heir / executor / health care proxy, that’s it.

      Most people who want to get married, want to have a big party and a vacation. You can have a big party with a cool dress and cake and a vacation any time you want! Without even agreeing to share a bank account or having to be legally responsible for some a-hole’s credit card bill.

      Have a big party. Wear a spiffy outfit. Drink wine. Dance. Eat really good cake (most wedding cake is vile and tastes like cardboard with frosting). Go to Aruba. Do not sign papers.

      1. Dan*

        I’m with you on this. Having been married and divorced, I’m feeling no burning pressure to go through all of that again. This is particularly true if I’m the breadwinner and my partner isn’t financially stable. Love or not, I want ZERO legal obligation to debts you take on and can’t pay. Sorry but I don’t.

        The only thing that’s hard is when partner doesn’t have good health insurance and my job provides me with decent stuff.

      2. Rosemary7391*

        Hm. I have to disagree with this – I think that there is a lot of value in marriage, not so much in weddings. However, I’d never say that in the context of a particular person’s relationship unless they were a close friend and probably only then if they asked. Totally not appropriate for social media and the kids thing was just odd :/ it’s also never appropriate to pressure people into getting married.

        If you do do the big party though – with or without getting married – get some real cake! There is no need for a fancy decorated cake to taste like cardboard.

        1. Erin*

          My husband and I got sheet cake from the grocery store with the best bakery in town and had a little pretty cake for cutting and pictures. I think we spent $50 on our cakes. I believe in marriage, but the wedding party doesn’t need to be extravagant. And you don’t need to share bank accounts if you’re married. I definitely think having separate bank accounts and at least 2 toilets and 2 sets of covers on the bed can make a marriage a lot happier.

      3. Family Facebook Drama*

        My partner and I both have parents who are divorced. And both of us have one parent who remarried, and the other has never had more than casual relationships. So perhaps that’s why we are not in a hurry to get married. I also have a lot of debt and he had none. Why would I want to force that onto someone? We have a joint checking account, which major bills are paid out of since we’ve lived together for the past 9 years or so.

        We would be the ones paying for said big party with spiffy outfits (which I love this description of weddings btw, because that’s pretty much what they are to me). If they want said party, they can throw one themselves.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Ahh, the joys of FB. It’s a great place to go to tell everyone what they should be doing with their lives. Kind of cowardly not saying it directly to the individuals in the concern IRL. Just my opinion, though.

      Eh, post back and tell them they should learn some manners. I’d consider abandoning my account if I had to listen to that crap. And I say this as a person who was married for 23 years. People know what is best for them and they chose what is best for them. Just because some don’t understand why that Thing is best for another person does not change the fact that is still best for the other person.

      Learning to trust other people’s judgement about their own setting is a huge gift one can give one’s self. Going the opposite way, micro-managing other people’s lives will lead the micro-managers to much frustration and dissatisfaction in life.

      I agree with the poster who said to tell them that you are postponing any wedding discussion for x time period every time a comment like this is made. You can add that so far you are up to the year 20xx would anyone care to extend it out any further?

      1. Family Facebook Drama*

        The sad part is they did say it to my face at… their brother’s funeral. I was super proud of myself that I responded that their kids better get a move on it, since if they want to attend a wedding, the next one might be their own.

    6. AdAgencyChick*

      I really friggin’ hate when people use social media to dispense unasked-for advice/opinions without doing so directly. They know full well what they’re commenting on is none of their business. Sympathies.

      1. Family Facebook Drama*

        I appreciate your sympathies. The sad part is they have made similar comment to my face at their brother’s funeral.

        I am choosing to believe that they are so unhappy with their current situation ,(from what I can tell they don’t interact much with their spouse) that they need every little bit of happiness, especially that that comes from weddings. This has helped somewhat.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Erg! Another case of Facebook in the wrong hands! I think just let it pass.
      But I feel your annoyance. At 50-ish, I’ve been with my “husband” for 18 years and feel zero need to marry. We aren’t religious and don’t have kids, like, why bother at this point?

    8. Temperance*

      WOW. That’s so rude.

      I dated Booth for 9 years before we got married. My family was naggy about it, too. Your cousin sucks.

    9. LilySparrow*

      Wow. So it’s not enough that everyone else’s grief and mourning are all about her and her kids, now everyone else’s relationships are all about her and her kids?


      I’m not really surprised that people can be so narcissistic. I’ve known enough people to see it for myself. But I am still shocked at what people feel comfortable saying **out loud in public**.

      Is “Tony & Tina’s Wedding” still playing anywhere? You should send her a link to buy tickets. I mean, if she thinks weddings are just about entertaining her kids, might as well go to the professionals.

    10. NewBee*

      Post something like, “I look forward to your sizeable deposit into our wedding fund. Thanks!!!” (Don’t do this.)

    11. Mike C.*

      Tell her to quit vaguebooking and that if she has a problem she can speak to you and others like an adult.

    12. Anono-me*

      Funerals are not typically invitation type events. Weddings are. Maybe she is not seeing the whole picture.

    13. PhyllisB*

      Okay, not I’m not saying marriage is the Holy Grail or anything; but in the US, the advantages of being married are: If you are seriously ill and need someone to make decisions about your health care, a spouse can do that, a partner can’t. If the family doesn’t like you, not only can they take over seeing about his/her care, they can have you barred from even being able to visit them in a hospital/nursing home. Same with death. If they die, immediate family can override any wishes the two of you had, and not inform you of arrangements/have you banned from any services. Then there’s social security benefits. And retirement benefits from their place of employment. If you have children, you can get (social security) benefits for them, but nothing for you. And I think children’s benefits end at 16 I believe. Employment benefits will not be paid at all. I have seen a number of friends blind-sided by these things. Not to mention a home. If you have bought a home/condo and both names aren’t on the mortgage/deed the family can oust you. I realize this sounds very mercenary, but if you are in a committed relationship, why not make it legal?

      1. Family Facebook Drama*

        My partner and I have talked about getting married for exactly these reasons. But getting married does not equal the big fancy wedding above family members think they are entitled to be invited to.

        Getting married is a legal process. Having a wedding is a social one.

        They ate implying that we should have the social implications of a wedding so their kids can say they’ve been to one. Based on what they have posted and said to me in real life, they ate not concerned with the legal implications of being married. Only the social ones.

        1. ronda*

          tell them you guys actually got married 3 years ago, but it was a personal matter so you didn’t tell others.

          Tell each person a different date that you actually got married, so they will be confused if they compare notes.

    14. Rez123*

      I have a big problem with the notion that all women want to get married and are just sitting home waiting for the man to propose. Like the man is the only person who has a say on the future of the relationship

      1. Name Changed for This*

        I’ve been with my boyfriend for 12 years and we’ve discussed marriage lots of times. I would like to be married but he’s agin it (he’s the sort of person that thinks making a will means you’re going to drop dead immediately) so it’s a sensitive topic. Doesn’t stop our friends from speculating loudly why we’ve not got married yet. I wonder sometimes if they just want to attend a free party or if they actually realise that it’s a person’s private life that they’re dishing publicly.

  6. Arya Parya*

    8,5 weeks ago I gave birth to my daughter. Since then I’ve been having a hard time adjusting to my new life taking care of a baby. The instant bond some people talk about hasn’t happened. I’m finding it very difficult that we can’t really communicate yet. This has let to anxiety and frustration and guilt over the frustration.

    So I went to my general physician with this and he had me tested for postpartum depression last tuesday. The psychologist ruled out depression luckily, but thinks I might have a very light form of autism.

    This doesn’t really surprise me, because my younger brother had Aspergers, so it does run in the family. However I always thought I was just very introverted.

    So now I have to decide if I want to get tested to see if I’m somewhere on the autism spectrum. On the one hand it will be good to know and I might get some help. On the other hand I feel that I’ve managed just fine in life without any diagnoses and over time I’ll get used to my new life and kid and we’ll be fine.

    I’ve discussed this with my SO and mother, who are supportive, but ultimately I have to make this descision. So now I’m mulling.

    Not really asking anything of you all, just wanted to put nu thoughts down for a sympathetic audience.

    1. Sandy*

      Testing for Aspergers/Autism two months after giving birth sounds borderline cruel. Maybe you’ll find it useful and maybe you won’t, but that is a heck of a lot of stress to add on top of having a new baby.

      For what it’s worth, I didn’t feel that “instant bond” with my kid right away either, and I was definitely not experiencing PPD. There just wasn’t anything to bond WITH! She slept, she ate, she slept some more, she pooped. She didn’t have a personality yet, she didn’t really look like anyone yet (unless you can count a turnip as an anyone…), etc.

      It came. It really came. Once we had spent more time together, once she had gotten her first cold and I rushed her off to the clinic, once she started being curious in things rather than just being a lump… now, a few years later, we are very close, we snuggle, I feel very protective of her. It just wasn’t instant.

      Do you have any close mom friends you can talk to? I found that “everybody” talked about the instant bond, and but when it came down to brass tacks, chatting with my friends with slightly older kids, they were like OH HECK NO! and the truth came out ;)

      1. Red Reader*

        Yeah, that seems like asking for trouble.

        I don’t have any kids, but the joke in my family is that they don’t ping as actual people on my radar until about the age of 15; before that I just don’t have any way to relate to them. Which is not to say they won’t ping for you until 15, but more like, it’s not actually unusual to not find babies terribly relatable. Right now the goal is to keep her healthy and whatnot – baby anythings are kind of an emotional black hole. They take in all your energy and practically speaking, don’t really give anything back yet. (Gad. I’m sure this is sounding worse and worse, sorry! There are obviously reasons I do not have children. But other people have said it better than me – baby will eventually become much more interesting and you will have much more material to bond with.)

        1. Steve*

          I have a friend who said that the first 3 years of her child’s life were mandatory effort required for her to have the child that she really wanted. The child whom she could interact with and really enjoy. She loved and cared for her during the first few years, but the relationship was much more of a bond when the baby grew up.

      2. RockyRoad*

        I like Sandy’s wording of “There just wasn’t anything to bond with!”

        I don’t have kids, but I have a niece and nephew. I guess I loved them out of obligation when they were born because they’re family, but I didn’t get excited to see them and genuinely feel any affection for them until they were a year or two old. By then they began getting their own quirks and interests and remembered me (I only see them once or twice a year), and they became fun little buddies.

        I also thought it was difficult not being able to communicate with them before they started being able to say words. It’s frustrating and kind of guilt-inducing when they’re upset or want something and they can’t tell you.

    2. Drop Bear*

      Just a sympathetic ‘Hi’ from someone else who struggled to relate to her children immediately after their birth – I loved them, but most of the time they were as interesting as a potato but a lot more stressful to have around the house! :)

    3. Jemima Bond*

      Try not to beat yourself up. This can be a thing (as you can already see from comments!) and it might not be a big diagnosis like autism. I am not a medical professional but I would say cut yourself slack before deciding there must be something wrong with you. Motherhood is very fetishised in this day and age and it seems like a competition to tell everyone how you experienced this instant rush of love and you never want to leave this fascinating princeling/princess unicorn’s side. But not everyone feels like that and it’s ok.
      It’s kind of like the opposite of birth stories – you basically can’t say, well I went into hospital and had a baby and it was all fine; you can only speak if it’s some hideous SAW-like gore-fest (but you still refused all pain medication!)
      What I’m saying is, try not to compare yourself to others (what they say is probably 75% bollocks anyway) and have faith you’re almost certainly doing a perfectly good job. You are feeding the baby, keeping her comfortable and clean, making sure she is safe, dangling the odd plastic toy about, giving her a cuddle, aren’t you? Well then you’re doing fine! They get way more interesting as they get bigger.

    4. Tau*

      Can’t speak to the motherhood aspect but can to the other part! I’m on the autistic spectrum, self-dxed at eighteen and then got an official diagnosis of Asperger’s in my twenties.

      My main advice would be twofold:
      – seeking adult diagnosis for autism can be really, really difficult, because the majority of diagnostic services and criteria are aimed at kids. There’s also a trend of underdiagnosis in women as autistic symptoms often present differently and the diagnostic criteria and training focus on the symptoms as they present in boys. Basically, you’d ideally want to seek out someone who specialises in adult diagnosis of autism, which can be tricky to manage. I’m assuming you’re not in the UK, otherwise I’d have recommendations.
      – however, you don’t have to have an official diagnosis in order to gain things like a better understanding of yourself, how you think and understand the world and how this might differ from the majority, etc. The five years I spent self-dxed were incredibly, hugely helpful to me. I’d suggest reading things written by autistic people about their life and experiences and seeing if anything clicks/if you find there are similarities and things you can take away. (Multiple autistic people – there’s a lot of diversity on the spectrum, so just because you can’t identify at all with one narrative doesn’t mean there’s nothing there for you.) Sadly, I haven’t really been following the autistic community for a while, so I don’t have any recs on this front right now.

      IMO, the main good reason to pursue a diagnosis (and the reason I eventually did) is in order to access some form of official services. If you’re not planning to do that, no need to put yourself through the rigmarole. Main caveat: people with an autism/Asperger’s self-DX get a serious amount of abuse online and are often spoken about very contemptuously. If you don’t want to put up with that, diagnosis may be the way to go after all.

      1. Tau*

        To clarify, because rereading this I don’t think I was clear at all –

        This is absolutely not something you have to look into if you don’t want to. It’s also absolutely not something you have to look into right now, when it sounds like you’ve got your hands more than full. I do think it may make sense to look into eventually, because if it is true it can be so helpful to know this about yourself, but it’s your choice and since as you say you’ve successfully managed so far without this I totally get why you wouldn’t want to.

        The main thing I wanted to say is that if you do decide to look into it, it’s possible to do this in a very low-effort, low-stress way and you don’t have to start – indeed I’d recommend against – pursuing professional diagnosis right off the bat.

    5. FD*

      I’m not a parent, so I won’t comment on feeling bonded to your child. That said, I’ve helped raise two siblings on the spectrum, and we have a lot of it in the extended family.

      In terms of what we can do for autism, right now, it seems to be a lot of practice, training, and sometimes accommodation. For instance, some of the things we’ve done include planning what to do if someone gets overstimulated, or practicing certain difficult social situations. Autism itself generally isn’t treated, though some associated symptoms sometimes are treated (e.g. autism can often cause anxiety, and so sometimes anti-anxiety medications are used).

      So to a certain degree, when you’re considering looking for a diagnosis, it can be helpful to think about what you’re hoping to get out of it (e.g. need to get a specific accommodation from work, hoping medication can manage symptoms, etc.). Getting a diagnosis can be helpful if you’re working with a doctor/therapist/etc to manage specific symptoms. However, in this case it sounds like the biggest concern (‘symptom’) is not feeling bonded enough with your child, and I’m not sure a diagnosis would help deal with that.

    6. Arya Parya*

      Thanks for the replies (so far). It’s good to read I’m not alone feeling this way. Unfortunately not many of my (close) friends are moms (their either men of don’t have children. But two close friends are pregnant, so maybe I can talk to them in a while.

      What really bugs me is that people keep saying I should enjoy this so much and I really don’t enjoy a lot of this and look forward to getting back to work, so I can have some time for myself and be seen as something other than a mom.

      I guess I should try to be kind to myself and trust the bond will form eventually. I am really looking forward to reading to her, but that’s still a while away. (I know I can read to her now, but I meander when she can understand the story)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Love is a commitment, not an emotion, just my thought.
        You are committed to this child, you are feeding her, diapering her, rocking her and so on. This is love, this is what love looks like this very practical process of doing all these activities. Sometimes love looks like doing what you have to do when you don’t really feel it. I hope you can ease up on you a bit. Perhaps replace the word bond with commitment. “I have made this commitment to this little being and I will follow through on this commitment.”
        Granted, I don’t have kids. But I have taken care of enough sick and dying family members to cause me to think about what love is and what it actually looks like. Sometimes bonding happens through shared struggles and shared successes. Sometimes bonding happens just because of the length of time people are involved with each other. Many times we have to do the work up front and find the bond later. This is why I have grown to favor the word commitment. I can reaffirm my commitment regularly. “I will help this person/animal/plant/whatever.”

        And, uh, maybe move away from the people who say you should be X or Y or Z. They can’t help, they don’t know how, except to point out some imaginary deficit they think you have. Having another being in our lives is a lot of work and sometimes there are periods where it just does not feel like we think it “should”.

        1. Lehigh*

          I am not a parent either, but I agree with this.

          In my opinion, the job you’ve taken on is to provide care and snuggles and all of the tangible needs of this baby. Adoring the baby is not the job–your internal feelings don’t need to be any particular way as long as you’re not “taking out” any negative feelings on the baby. As long as you take good care of her, you’re doing your job as her mom. I’m sure sometimes parents of teenagers don’t feel all the sweet feelings toward their kids either. And I’m sure that you will have plenty of warm feelings and love toward your kid over the years.

      2. Nic*

        I’m childless…but judging from close friends I know who have kids, there are lots of things you look back on fondly about that time, but don’t necessarily enjoy in the moment.

      3. Elf*

        I’m right there in the trenches with you at the moment, my daughter is 4 1/2 weeks. Lots of similarities and differences (and many of the differences are that I’ve done this before; my son is 3 1/2).

        Little babies don’t have a lot of personality and don’t do much. There are moments when the bonding hormone is particularly strong (it tends to happen to me when I am not tired and she is using my boob as a pillow after falling asleep eating) but those are not most of the moments. Having done it before, I think a lot of what people are talking about when they say enjoy it while it lasts is the way you will probably feel sad when stages end even if you didn’t enjoy the stages much themselves. Taking care of a newborn is exhausting and not much fun, but I still remember being sad when I realized my son wasn’t a tiny lump anymore (somewhere around three months).

        One thing I will tell you to take advantage of is portability. Babies under 3 months aren’t very fun, but they are pretty portable (especially if you’re breastfeeding). Pop the kid in a carrier and get out of the house. Go to a concert (not super loud) or a party or out to visit friends or out to dinner or whatever. When the kid hits four months or so that will get much harder because of naps and bedtime. Take advantage of what adult stuff you can now.

        Don’t feel guilty for wanting nonbaby time. You need it, it doesn’t mean you’re failing to bond.

        Also don’t worry about an autism diagnosis. I am also probably mildly autistic and undiagnosed (I thought I was just really close to the spectrum but not diagnosable, but I’ve read some things recently about underdiagnosis of girls and how coping mechanisms make them present differently, and I’m pretty sure that’s me). That is not what makes your baby seem like a weird little alien. Babies are weird little aliens.

      4. Ranon*

        I have a toddler who is so much fun- now. As a two month old he was tons of work and not terribly interactive. Some people live for the helpless infant snuggles but some of us don’t. I liked the snuggles fine but I’m way more into the learning words and interactivity and goofy toddler trouble. And I had an easy infant!

        You definitely don’t need to feel obligated to enjoy it- different people enjoy different ages more or less and that’s just fine! Otherwise we’d never have anyone who wanted to teach middle school (or high school or preschool or what have you).

        A good postpartum group can be hugely helpful, but a bad one can be pretty toxic, so I’d look around if you can but feel free to decide one isn’t for you. You’re doing a great job reaching out for help & screening and I hope things get easier and more fun for you soon!

      5. Parenthetically*

        “people keep saying I should enjoy this so much”

        There are no shoulds! I enjoyed a lot of things in those early weeks, but so much of it felt desperate, scary, frantic… or tedious, exhausting, pointless… It was punctuated with moments of joy and delight — the first smiles were great — but lots of it isn’t pleasant or enjoyable! I think what a lot of folks who say things like that are trying to express is their own wish that they had been more emotionally present when their own kids were small. And you can be emotionally present without having to be blissfully happy about every single moment.

        Love is a choice, a set of actions, a decision you make, not just feelings. You can do the actions of love without feeling the feelings of love, and that’s more than ok, it’s great.

        1. Athena X*

          Oh my gosh, yes. I have 3 kids, now teens. Their first three months were like being on the front lines of a war, crouching in a muddy foxhole. It is exhausting. It’s not “fun”. It WILL get better. Hugs to you, OP.

        2. tangerineRose*

          I think the people who say you should enjoy this have forgotten what this stage is like.

          I don’t know a lot about newborns, but once babies get to the stage where people tend to show them off at work :) the babies are usually very interested in their environment and taking things in, even if they don’t really understand things yet. So you might not have too long before your baby is more interesting.

          Also, you might consider learning baby sign language. I’m not sure how young a baby can learn this, but just a few signs, to indicate hunger, and when the baby feels full, can help you both and reduce some frustration for the baby.

      6. Falling Diphthong*

        Replying to several bits here. (Background–I have kids and find all ages interesting; I also find it obvious this isn’t universal–hey, my kid went to a video game tournament in NYC and had a great time–on an intellectual level, had a great time–and this would not have been my thing. Kind of reflecting what Rocky said about quirks.)

        What really bugs me is that people keep saying I should enjoy this so much.
        Try and view it as reflecting their nostalgia. Some people liked high school and it was a fun time of exploration without the weight of adult responsibilities, and they can’t understand why some people grit their teeth to get through it.*

        I really don’t enjoy a lot of this and look forward to getting back to work.
        My husband and his brother are WONDERFUL uncles and fathers, and both are really clear they would be awful as SAHFs. It is perfectly normal to want to go to work, interact with adults, be seen as more than the transport and food system for the baby, and still be a great parent.

        I guess I should try to be kind to myself and trust the bond will form eventually.
        You should, and it will. Different people respond to different things–it is so, so common to bond more when they become more interactive and easier to understand. I actually do like tiny babies, but my spouse and I agreed that while we loved our firstborn in a hardwired manner when she was born, it was caring for her over the ensuing months that made us fall in love with her. It’s sort of like college–you spend lots of time with this new person, and gradually through all those shared experiences you build bonds. You probably didn’t love your best college friend the instant you laid eyes on them, either.

        I am really looking forward to reading to her, but that’s still a while away. (I know I can read to her now, but I meander when she can understand the story)
        I read to my kids, and the first clearly had a favorite book (Elephants Swim) and favorite page (kangaroos swim but their babies stay dry) by 2 months. (Spouse theorized the kangaroo looked like our cat.) Second would consent to be read to if I positioned him so that he could wave all his appendages throughout the story, and I can’t say he had a favorite book. This varies so widely.

        Do your baby books work as poetry? Which you as the reader might enjoy more, and it also might be easier to see what she’s getting out of them. One thing that struck me with, say, board books of kid books was that you could condense Dr Suess’s ABC such that you killed the poetry, even while retaining most of the words. Or you could condense Dogs That Go such that even though the plot (such as it is) was lost, you kept the strong language and rhythm of the original and much more captured its spirit. So there is a range of quality in those baby books–sort of like you can translate Homer such that the words are technically correct but the feeling of the story flattened.

        *I often note that stories set in high school (Veronica Mars, Buffy) lose something when they move to college, because the show’s metaphor for troubles you can’t escape (because fifteen year olds can’t announce that they’re moving to Canada) doesn’t work anymore. Typing this, I realize parenting through a tough stage is kind of like this–you can’t escape, and the only way out is head down and through and it lasts as long as it lasts.

        1. Thursday Next*

          I think there’s also a certain wistfulness (maybe even selective memory) that leads people to say “enjoy this time.” As you’re watching your toddler run headfirst into the kitchen counter and fall onto his soggy diapered bottom, you think, “wow, remember when he just stayed put?” I don’t think all those people were totally enamored of their children’s infancy.

          For me, going from not having kids to having a baby was the biggest transformation in my circumstances, priorities, and goals that I ever experienced. It’s a profoundly disorienting time!

          I think there’s enormous pressure on parents in the U.S., often expressed through a fetishization of parenthood in which everything is up for collective scrutiny. Do you feed your baby only homemade purées? Are you using un-bleached diapers? Have you started him in Mandarin class yet? Etc.

          So people are often overwhelmed. Maybe they feel like they’re not allowed to discuss their doubts and insecurities. And infancy stands out as a relatively straightforward stage in parenting (though you’re so sleep deprived you can hardly stand up). As my husband’s grandmother used to say, it’s not difficult as much as it is relentless.

          Circling back, I’ll second the other commenter’s suggestion to do as much as you can/want to now. Infants, especially newborns, are much more portable than slightly older babies. There may be local activities for parents and babies, like library story times. The theater a block away from me had matinees every Wednesday specifically for people with small babies. The movies were for adults, but dim lights were on, the volume was lower, and no one complained if your baby squawked.

          Isolation is common among new SAHPs. It can help to connect with other SAHPs of newborns. I joined a new mom’s group facilitated by a nurse at a local pediatrician’s office. It was an incentive to get out of the apartment and talk to other adults.

          One last thing—I remember, so vividly, crying when my husband went back to work, leaving me alone with our first baby. Because I was scared, and scared of being lonely, and I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I don’t know if I was imagining some sort of Madonna and Child scene, but what I was experiencing was far from that.

          Take care of yourself. That is super important.

      7. Jemima Bond*

        I just thought of something about reading – while she’s so little and can’t understand at all, why not read out loud something you like? I mean probably stay away from sex and violence lol but i see no reason why reading out a bit of Jane Austen or another classic wouldn’t be fine. And then you’d enjoy it too! It would be a fun thing for both of you. History or autobiography might work too if you like those.

        1. Ranon*

          I wish I had figured out a bit sooner than I did- if you’re going to read something other than kids books, it helps to pick something that reads well aloud. I wish I’d picked poetry or a play, something that’s really better when you read it aloud. I kept trying to make my normal reading work and it was just slow and aggravating.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Poetry, aimed at kids or adults. Plays are a good thought.

            And the classics, many of which were read aloud. Currently reading a mystery featuring lines from A Christmas Carol, in the context of it being performed on stage or the radio–the style really lends itself to that.

        2. PhyllisB*

          I remember reading about fathers reading the sports page to their babies, and they were mesmerized. It’s just that you are holding them in your arms and speaking to them and they love it. When my youngest daughter was learning to read, she didn’t like reading to me, but she loved reading to the dog. She improved her reading skills and the dog loved the attention. Not comparing a baby to a cocker spaniel, but you get my drift.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I’ve heard of actual reading programs that use this for kids who are trailing–they love reading to a golden retriever.

        3. ket*

          Edgar Allen Poe. Sure, the tinntinabulation of the bells is creepy but dang it put my kid to sleep. Alexander Pope. Mary Leapor (“Mira’s Will’). Basically I went through my old Norton Anthology of Poetry & picked out the rhyming stuff. She hates John Donne as much as I do.

      8. NewMom*

        The first three months sucked. Sucked hard. Baby was one of the only sleeps on people types. At 8 weeks I was SO ready to go back to work. And at 14 weeks (when I did, part time) I was actually less ready because he finally seemed to have a personality. I’m back full time now, and I’m definitely a better mom while working.

        What you’re feeling is 100% normal. It may be PPD or not. I didn’t have PPD, but spend much of the first few months feeling a bit resentful that I still had a parasite (I am breastfeeding) that I am biologically programmed to care for and protect. I am really looking forward to having a 5 year old. And I wasn’t entirely surprised by my response. I have cared for quite a few babies in my family, and I knew going into this that I just don’t like babies. Everyone says its different with your own, and it hasn’t really been for me.

        Things are much, much better now that my kid is just about 6 months old. I definitely have a good bond with him in a way that I didn’t when he was tiny. Also, if it helps, he laughs at his favorite book now! He doesn’t follow the story, but there are totally favorite pages (what makes them favorite pages, I have no idea). But I am still really looking forward to having a 5 year old.

      9. Ann O.*

        People are the worst.

        The newborn time period can be REALLY hard. It is totally normal to struggle and not enjoy it. There’s not much to enjoy! The baby can’t communicate needs, requires constant care, and sleep is closely mimicking conditions that are literally used to torture people. They can be super cute, and there were fabulous moments, but the overall experience was not joyful.

        We were able to sleep teach at 4 months (with the help of an amazing coach, who does an alternative method to classic cry-it-out). Getting reliable sleep made a huge difference to my mental health along with the baby developing the ability to control limbs and better communicate. Things did become enjoyable and even easy. But I was still very excited to go back to work. SAHMing is definitely not my thing!

      10. ket*

        Yes, be kind to yourself. I have a kid who’s just past 1 year now. I’m an introvert with a lot of attachment to my intellectual life.

        * I refer to the first 6 months or so as the “larval phase.”

        * Get out & do stuff now that the kid is portable, when it’s a good time. The kid can sleep at breweries, restaurants, etc. Find an outdoor patio dining situation and time it for sleep — you can park your child nearby in her stroller and you can enjoy.

        * I stay at home a few days a week, stack up my on-campus work the other 3-4 days. Staying home with a kid is hard. It is for me often extraordinarily boring and I feel like my brain is draining out. But then it’s fun sometimes, too. Getting out to the library and the park and all those things seems to be crucial, especially as the kid gets older and more mobile. This kid also loves taking walks and getting outside, and if I remember that she’s mellower and so am I.

        * I have a friend who loves her five year old, is thrilled by that stage of mom-hood — but hated babyhood and cried every day. She said she’d have more kids if she didn’t have to have babies.

        * Try to resist the outside pressure to make all your child’s time programmed and educational and interactive. Kids need their downtime, too, at least my kid does! Sometimes at home we can have a very pleasant time sort of ignoring each other — I have one eye on her, so to speak, but she’s exploring and playing with knobs and emptying out my backpack and she is happy not to be interacting. Then other times she’ll come & hang with me or want attention. That’s fine. She’s very independent and I like that about her. Many people have commented on how curious, observant, and self-possessed she is, and I think it’s because we’ve given her space to do her own baby thing.

        * My kid prefers watching me do stuff (cooking, hanging up laundry, sweeping, gardening) to my attempts to do what I thought parents were supposed to do with their babies. She does like wrestling/roughhousing/physical play, too.

        * It has been fun watching her emerge into being a “real person” :) or rather, watching her emerging personality, preferences, thoughts, etc.

        1. Parenthetically*

          COSIGNING so hard on all this.

          “Get out & do stuff now that the kid is portable, when it’s a good time.” YES! It’s so much harder to go out now that my dude is a 1 year old who Must Be In Bed By Seven Or Let Slip The Dogs of War. When he was an adorable lump and slept when and where he chose, we could much more easily go out to dinner or an outdoor concert or whatever. Or drinks. Have we brought our baby carrier in to a swanky cocktail bar during happy hour and had a negroni or two while he slept? WHY YES.

          And also a massive amen hallelujah to your points about letting kids have down time and “happily ignoring each other.” When my little dude isn’t teething, he’s a very independent guy and I’ve worked hard to cultivate independent play (in no small part so I don’t have to entertain him all the time!). I can often sit and read or have a cup of tea while he dumps out his box of duplo or climbs up and down off things endlessly. You don’t have to be in a baby’s face all the time making something happen.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Museum memberships. I got one to the art museum when my daughter wanted to practice walking (5 months) and I was getting REALLY tired of going up and down our apartment. I figured at the museum I could at least look at something as we toddled. At age 1 she was the belle of the guards and ladies’ committee–they had a tea with live music once a week, and she absolutely loved the music and seeing it performed and it was much calmer than the chaos at the library music hour. Then she turned two and it didn’t work, but it was a great option when she was tiny.

          More broadly, when the kid is a little older: memberships encourage you to use whatever spot just as long as their attention holds, then go home for nap–you don’t have to make it “worth the money” by trudging to every exhibit on one entrance fee. I have seen kids at the zoo staring enraptured at ants, with caregivers with the sense to roll with that.

      11. Natalie*

        “I really don’t enjoy a lot of this and look forward to getting back to work, so I can have some time for myself and be seen as something other than a mom.”

        This is SO NORMAL. I don’t have kids but basically all of my mom friends have said this was their experience.

        It’s also totally normal and okay to not be jazzed by babies. Not everyone loves them. It’s a big world with a lot of kind of people in it.

        As others have mentioned, one nice part about this age is how freaking portable your baby is. Go places! Meet your friends for lunch. Have a barbecue. Bring your baby to a garden party. If you don’t have one, the various baby wearing products (moby wraps, baby bjorns, etc) are pretty convenient, although warm I guess.

        I like the idea of reading something you like to her. You could also just narrate what you’re doing. Even if she can’t understand the words, the talking will help.

      12. Traveling Teacher*

        The first year and a half were terribly, terribly difficult for me. An older friend of mine told me (when I finally told her): “Parenting is rewarding, but it’s not fun.” I deeply resented the people who kept telling me to just enjoy these precious moments. For me, once mine could talk, it was like a switch flipped in my brain, and things became more “fun”, even through the sloggy moments, because she could finally tell me with words what she was thinking about!

        Seriously, props to you for going to your doctor. That’s really awesome and brave.

        I live far away from all family, and I only had a few (dear, wonderful, cherished) friends to help after the blessed event. The only week that I found to be truly fun during that pre-6 month stage was the week we went to a family funeral. Awful timing, I know, but she just lit up at being held and talked to by all of these different people, and I was able to enjoy my baby from afar at varied points throughout the day instead of feeling chained to her. It really does take a village, so if you have any sort of community (religious, sport, new moms, hobby group, etc.) to reach out to, go for it and see what happens!

        Also, if it is helpful for you: It can be really cool to start to read to baby even when it’s unclear what they understand or know. I swear, in those first newborn months, reading to my newborn was one of the things that saved my sanity because it was a Thing I could do from beginning to end and be successful at when I felt like I was failing at pretty much everything else. I read books that I wanted to read out loud, too, not just baby books. A friend of mine even read her thesis to her tiny newborn. They just love to hear your voice at that age, and it’s awesome for building vocabulary and attention span, long term.

    7. only acting normal*

      Re pursuing diagnosis:
      8.5 weeks is no time at all to adjust to such a major life change (while you’re exhausted no less). Unless diagnosis would give you access to additional help now, only pursue it if and when you feel ready.
      Even though I’d been fairly sure for 10+ years that I was autistic, getting professional confirmation at nearly 40 was… unsettling. It took me a while to absorb.

      PS I’m not a mother, but babies are really just vaguely human-like lumps (that nonetheless I would protect obviously) until 3-4 months when they start showing some interaction and become quite fun.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m coming at this from the reverse end–friends having their kids tested for various things when it became clear the kid wasn’t quite progressing as expected–and it brought me to be in favor of testing. That more knowledge can provide a helpful lens for the behavior, which helps you cope–with a kid, that you’re thinking “okay, her synapses are firing in overdrive because they’re so close together, that’s very frustrating for her, and I need to calmly wait out the storm because it’s an exchange of electrical energy not responsive to logic.” With more knowledge, someone might be able to give you tools to adapt to it. For my friends’ kids, there were a lot of treatments that were like a mental version of physical therapy–where the therapist has you do this tiny movement with your shoulder that targets the one muscle that is weak, which your other muscles have been compensating for, and you’re like “Well this is so easy it can’t be… okay, maybe it’s getting a little hard… what do you mean 10 more?!!”

      You’re an adult deciding your own medical care, which is different. But since it seems you have supportive doc and family, I would go for the tests. Best case they can come up with some small tweaks that help–and with kids, so much of what works is small tweaks, like holding your elbow differently while nursing. Worst case they determine that you work a bit differently in a way they can’t easily explain.

      I’d also recommend some sciencey books on childcare–on another open thread I recommended The Scientist in the Crib and The Philosophical Baby, by Gopnik, and Magic Trees of the Mind by Diamond. To make it less frustrating that you aren’t communicating in familiar ways right now.

      1. School Psych*

        I do the testing for educational diagnoses as my job. Testing can provide valuable information on how to support the individual. However, it is always difficult for the parents and the kids to hear officially for the first time that something is wrong. Even when parents have suspected for a long time their kid is not developing typically and want support, it is an emotional experience to have a team of professionals confirm this information. It might not be the best time for her to do this, if she is already feeling more emotional/stressed. Psychological testing can also be time consuming and expensive. Since a lot of diagnoses have behaviors that overlap with Autism, she would probably want to be evaluated by a neuro-psychologist. I don’t work with adults, but 6-10 hours of testing would be pretty standard for a 1st time school-based evaluation. The reports we get from outside clinical psychologists usually involve even more testing than that. I agree with the comment that there is not much motivation for her to do this, if she is not seeking Autism specific services. She can see a therapist or go to a support group without a diagnosis.

    9. foolofgrace*

      There isn’t necessarily some sort of “instant bond”. That’s BS. I didn’t feel bonded with my new baby for a while. I remember the day he was born and they handed him to me and all I could think was “18 years!” I did get over it and we’re very close.

    10. Parenthetically*

      Just adding to the chorus of empathy — some moms “bond” right away. Some moms do not. Everyone’s experience is different.

      My kid is a year old now. He’s great, I’m crazy about him, but I’ve only very rarely had those sort of squishy heart-bursting feelings about him. Doesn’t mean I don’t love him or am not a good enough mom.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This has been my experience (two kids). I love them but I’m not “maternal” by nature (meaning stereotypical adoring mom behavior). I was afraid I wouldn’t recognize my own baby when I went to daycare pickup (I always did, that was a relief). I didn’t feel an immediate and overt bond, like the magical connection it’s made out to be, but I know it’s there all the same because I do get pangs once in a while.

        And I don’t care for comments about how “it goes so fast! enjoy it now and all the time!” Sometimes it doesn’t go fast enough, you know? But I notice they are usually said by parents whose children are older/grown, or by people who only rarely see my kids so their growth is much more noticeable. So I take it as a reflection of their thoughts only, not the order to me it sounds like. A lot of listening to people talk to new parents breaks down to that – it’s all coming from their experience alone and doesn’t necessarily apply to the new parent.

    11. Charlotte*

      This is SO normal. I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old. With the two year old, every new stage has been my favorite (always better than the last). I’m not really an infant person. I love my 3 month old (and of course take care of his needs and spend time with him), but he doesn’t really do much, so most of my attention goes to the 2 year old (he can talk and play and tell me he loves me, all things an infant can’t do).

      Give it some time. She’ll learn to smile, laugh, roll over, sit up, and talk as time goes on. It gets much more interesting, I promise.

      If it was me, I would hold off on testing until she’s 9-12 months and see if you are interested then.

    12. LilySparrow*

      Sympathies indeed! Anxiety, frustration, and guilt are totally totally totally normal in the newborn phase. They don’t mean you’re doing it wrong. You’re just exhausted and overwhelmed and learning a completely new job from scratch with no induction period.

      One of the hardest parts of adjusting to parenthood is that there really is no way to adequately explain what it’s like until you’re there, because it is so complex and so different for everyone. And I think different people are more temperamentally suited to be at their best with children of different ages. I mean, I love my children all the time but there is also a lot that isn’t fun. Newborn time is so exhausting and there is so much sheer physical drudgery. One of the things I noticed early on was that my husband or other visitors were always trying to hold the baby for me, so I could do other things that needed to be done. That meant I got her back when she needed nursing or changing, but other people were getting the lion’s share of cuddle time.

      So I asked my husband and family members if they’d do the other tasks instead. Obviously, if what “needed to be done” was for me to sleep, that doesn’t work. But they could do the diapering and the laundry and pump-washing and sandwich-making while I just rocked and held her. IT HELPED SO MUCH.

      On a purely practical level, in terms of bonding and communication: maximizing skin-to-skin time and smelling the baby’s head really do help with the brain-chemistry component of bonding. If you’re physically able to, wearing the baby helps as well.

      On the most basic level, tiny babies look at or smile at things they like and turn away from things they don’t like or that they are getting tired/overstimulated by. It’s not complex communication, but it shows intent and it lets you understand them better and get to know their individual personality.

      There was a really useful method I came across when my first was a baby, about decoding newborn baby cries based on the initial sound and mouth shape. These “words” help you figure out the cause of the cry – hunger, gas, tiredness, and so forth. It was done by Priscilla Dunstan. It’s observational and anecdotal, not scientific, but I really did find it helpful. And it does feel more like you are communicating. Here’s an article about it: https://canadianfamily.ca/kids/pregnancy/baby-talk/

      And at 8.5 weeks you will soon notice the baby responding to your facial expressions and voice in a “social” way, if you haven’t already. It’s not full 2-way communication, but it’s an emotional connection. The more you talk to the baby, the quicker she will develop the idea of 2-way communication and start responding.
      At first it will be more like play and mimicry, especially when she starts making intentional noises – babbling, blowing raspberries, and so forth. She can learn about taking turns with sounds.

      I also used to play games with the baby, like “What a sweet foot (or hand)! If you put that foot out, I’m going to kiss it!” I think she was able to respond to that, at least partially, somewhere around 4 months. She could also initiate play or ask for more play by reaching, patting, or pulling, shortly after “finding” her hands.

      Babies who can wave “bye-bye” (somewhere around 6-8 months) can start learning baby sign language. My daughter was able to express things like “more music” “drink” “book” and “what’s that sound?”. She kept using signs to augment her speech as she learned to talk, and it was awesome to have an extra window into how her thought processes developed.

      We also got a lot of help from Wonder Weeks. It was a book at the time, looks like there’s an app now and all sorts of other things. It’s about baby’s brain development, when brain growth spurts happen (sometimes separate from physical growth spurts), and what sort of concepts she is encountering or struggling with. It really demystified a lot of what she was doing and “working out” as she grew, or why she was suddenly cranky or had disrupted sleep. https://www.thewonderweeks.com/

      I know that’s a lot, but I hope it helps. I agree with others that it’s probably better not to deal with intense psychological testing right now.

      You are you. The way you think and feel isn’t wrong, it just is. Everybody has to find out for themselves what style of mom they are.

      You will get used to your new life and your kid and you will be fine. Maybe a diagnosis will help. You can also do some reading and maybe try various coping techniques on your own to see if they help, even without a diagnosis.

      I got diagnosed ADHD-combined a few years ago, and it helped a lot. But the biggest change was that it allowed me to accept and work with parts of myself that I’d been fighting against, hiding, and shaming myself for. Most of the changes and helps are just different ways of doing things that I implement on my own. Sometimes I think, “you know, I could probably have had 80% of the benefit, just by accepting myself anyway.”

      You are you. And you are okay. There’s time to work all this stuff out.

    13. Arya Parya*

      Thanks so much for all your kind and insightful replies! I’ve read all of them and they gave me some new things to think about, which is very appreciated.

    14. Jessi*

      Hi Arya – I really hope you see this!

      its really common for moms who have just had a baby to have the “baby blues” after birth. Its completely common and very normal. Something like 80% of moms experience baby blues. Your body is still trying to readjust to not having a baby inside it, hormone wise, and its trying to do it while sleep deprived! I would like to recommend the article ‘100 days of darkness’ – basically the idea that the first 100 days of a babies life are the hardest, you might relate to this.

      In terms of getting tested do you need to decide now? You could choose to evaluate in 3 weeks, 3 months and see how you feel about it then?

    15. Call me St. Vincent*

      Your feelings are SO TOTALLY NORMAL! I had those exact thoughts and feelings with my first baby! Worse, I also had intrusive OCD type thoughts. I was so scared that I was a bad mother that I didn’t tell anyone until much later on and then I found out that like a ZILLION new moms have those feelings. Please cut yourself some slack (so hard to do right now) and just remember that you’re likely doing a fantastic job at being a new mom! I had my second baby 7 weeks ago and it’s totally different for me this time because I know the drill. I think there is a major shock to your system as a first time parent. Your whole life changes and it’s very difficult to adjust, but you will, and if you don’t, you’ll go back to the doctor to talk through things. It WILL get easier! I swear to you. Hang in there!

      1. LilySparrow*

        Oh, my gosh, the intrusive thoughts. I would take the baby out and get blindsided with all these bizarre things that could possibly hurt her in some freak accident or attack. So vivid!

        Thank goodness sleep and hormone changes cleared that up. I really thought I was losing it.

    16. Ermintrude*

      Ooh well with our first, the dr said I didn’t have pnd and I clearly really did (clear in retrospect to me).
      Some people like babies and some like older children. I didn’t really like my poor eldest until she was 1 and could communicate a little. Now I absolutely adore her and she is absolutely wonderful.
      It’s really ok not to feel the rush – be kind to both yourself and baby and it will all turn out ok ❤️

    17. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I remember reading a parenting book that talked about loving every Other minute of it. I also remember hearing a “bad mommy story” about a mom who abandoned her child at age 5 months. Most days I wondered how the mother could just up and leave her child. Then there were the days I wondered how she made it that long. Those first few months are so hard. You put in all this energy and work and they don’t really start responding until 3-5 months in. They’re lucky they’re cute. So please give yourself a whole lot of room right now. Accept all offers of help, get outside every day, and give yourself breaks. It does get better.

      As for the autism diagnosis, you have your whole life to get one. Maybe you’ll find your child has tendencies and you’ll want to get them tested and you can test yourself then. Or you can look-up common traits of autism now and then see if anything resonates. You may find it helpful to look for new ways of doing things. Sure, you’re doing fine, but sometimes you don’t realize you’re doing things the hard way until you learn there’s an easier way. I often have problems understanding when someone is speaking. I’ve had my hearing tested countless times and it’s always nearly perfect and that’s always where it ended. Then one day I was reading a blog post by someone with autism where she was describing her experience with auditory processing disorder and I had this spark of recognition that this is what I’d been struggling with all along. I haven’t been formally tested for it yet, but my child is showing signs of the same thing and now I know what to call it and how to get help. Also look at descriptions for sensory processing disorder which often accompanies autism. You’ll find all sorts of helpful things if you google “heavy work” and “sensory diet.” If you’re in the US, most states have testing for kids under age 3 to catch certain conditions, like autism. Ask your pediatrician how early you can test and do it as soon as you can. There’s so much early help for kids that if your child does have something you’ll both benefit by catching it early.

      Check out the Baby Whisperer book. It’s about 15 years old now but what I really liked was it had a list of physical cues you could look for to tell you what your baby needed. Eg. a hungry baby will often make mouth movements in the early stages of hunger. I had a hard time recognizing those cues in my baby; some babies just don’t give off very readable cues, but you’ll still figure it out. Babies don’t need perfect parents, they just need someone who tries to be a good parent.

    18. Courageous cat*

      If it’s any consolation I hear this stuff *constantly* from new mothers lately. My friend was the same exact way, almost downright suicidal over it and crying constantly, but by the end of 8 or 9 months, she was a new person and is even thinking about having another kid. I guess it partially just takes time for the baby to turn into a small person and interact with you and show you it loves you.

      1. Thursday Next*

        One thing I’m compelled to add (and this is not intended as a slight or nitpick, Courageous cat) is, don’t make your bond contingent upon your baby showing its love for you. This is especially important since you have autism in the family, Arya, and autistic people have different ways of demonstrating affection.

        I’m the mother of an autistic child, and friends with other mothers of autistic children, and this is a topic that comes up, as some of our kids “do affection” differently from neurotypical kids.

        However, it’s an important caution for any parent. We commit to caring for and loving our children regardless of what they show/feel for us. (I’m the child of a narcissistic mother, so this point is from my heart.) While that may sound weighty, it’s actually quite liberating (for me) to know that my commitment and feelings are steadfast and true and independent of anything I “get” out of motherhood.

        Bonds are built over time. Give yourself that time, and space, to connect with your baby.

    19. Waffles*

      Oof! That is a lot in the first few months post partum. Sending good vibes your way, and also wanted to share that I too did not have an instant bond or connection. The growth of our relationship over time has been really nice (kiddo is 15 months), but the early months where I wasn’t sleeping and had so much less free time were hard for me. I can now more easily see how much I will genuinely enjoy parenting as he gets older, and only hearing from other parents about the growth of the relationship vs an instant bond helped me feel more secure about my own experience.

    20. ronda*

      if you think that getting some consuling might help you take care of your kid better and be better to yourself, maybe try some.

      The negative feelings might go away over time with changes in the baby and situation, but you are hurting right now, so trying to address it now might help.

      I don’t have experience with babies or autism diagnosis, so I am not talking about specifics of what kind of steps you should take right now. But I am kind of thinking do you skip the diagnosis and go to therapy for stategies that might help if it is true, and try them out now?

      and maybe getting some more help with taking care of the baby and allowing more rest is what would be most helpful?

      Good Luck and don’t be so hard on yourself.

    21. Arya Parya*

      I didn’t expect so many responses, thanks all! It really made me feel like I’m not alone and crazy feeling this way.
      Right now I’m leaning towards not getting a diagnosis, because it sounds intense and not like it will help me right now. It is starting to het easier, so I’m hopeful that trend will continue. Also want to see what it’s like once I’m working again, which will be at the start of september. (I’m in the EU, so maternity leave is pretty generous here)
      My daughter is doing great by the way. She’s beautiful and very curious. She watches you, looks you into the eye and tries to ‘talk’. She’s been smiling for about a month already and doesn’t cry a lot other than for the obvious reasons. So I’m really happy about all that, because that what matters most.

    22. mmppgh*

      I didn’t truly bond with my son until about 3 or 4 months. We had huge breastfeeding issues–to the point that I didn’t even want to hold him. In my case, once we started formula and he started to show some personality, he became my best friend. And still is at nearly 14.

    23. Em*

      I have four kids. With my first, what I felt was more “I can’t believe I’m allowed to just take this tiny human home with me I don’t know what I’m doing”. And I spent a lot of time thinking that I wasn’t doing a good enough job (still do). However, so far they appear to be pretty decent people (age 7 – 15 right now).

      I had a mother bear kind of protectiveness right away about all of them, but I remember being worried about every single one of them that I didn’t feel that bond. My kids were all about two years apart, and every time a new one came along, I remember having the feeling that I couldn’t imagine my family NOT having the previous kids, but the baby wasn’t part of that feeling yet and something must be wrong with me. I found it takes time to fall in love. It definitely was not instant (the mother bear part was, but the feeling that this kid was part of my family took longer).

      There is a lot of work with babies, and none of mine were particularly fussy or went on long crying jags, so feeling frustrated is pretty normal. You can be frustrated with a kid and still love them.

      Also, not everyone is a baby person. I was, but my mom and one of my SILs aren’t. Kids have all turned out fine. I am NOT a teenager person, so I was worried about that, but one older mom told me early on that she found that whatever stage her kids were in, she ended up liking them. And so far, I find that’s true. Fifteen years ago I wouldn’t particularly have wanted to spend time with any 15 year old, but turns out I like mine.

  7. FD*

    I was inspired by one of the threads in the angry memo post earlier this week, and I thought it would be fun to come up with more.

    What are memos your pets, or other pets you know, would issue?

    1. FD*

      I’ll start it off.

      TO: home-all
      FROM: dog



      1. FD*

        Oh, another one too. (These are both from my sister’s dog, but when she’s out of town, I usually stay at my family’s place to help petsit. She is a big black lab-pit bull mix and is hilariously melodramatic.)

        To: cruel, unfeeling world
        From: despairing dog

        my master is gone. i do not understand how you can fail to remedy the situation. i have been following you around and making loud sighs and falling on the floor dramatically for hours but you do nothing.

        i am consumed by anguish. see? this is the snuggle of an anguished dog too good for this world.

        my soulful eyes try to pierce you but your heart is hardened against me.

        i cannot eat in the depths of despair. stop trying to make me eat dinner first. i cannot eat dinner, only treats.

        i hate you.

        take me for a walk.

    2. Red Reader*

      *posted on the fence in the outdoor break area*

      To Whom It May Concern:

      I did not offerize no bunnies to be in my back yard. Bunnies in my back yard will be assumed to be in league with flossiraptors an sneaky kittens an regarded as hostile aggressors. Pwease go way an stop gettin me in trouble.

      Alannah Jane Sleepyface Corporal Radar Wigglebottom the Froshus, Queen of the Carrot Mafia

      (We memo-from-dog all the time in my house.)

      1. Lora*

        This is my favorite, as I feel certain that my dogs have their own language for other creatures and their own ideas about conspecifics.

        1. Red Reader*

          Bunnies, flossiraptors (which she hasn’t ever seen, but is POSITIVE are out there and very dangeruff) and Sneaky Kittens (of whom we have four inside, one of whom is goofy and constantly trying to drug everyone with catnip in the water bowl) are all tied for public enemy #1 and they are DEFINITELY in league with each other. It is a trial of her existence that she can’t get anyone to truly understand how much of a hazard they are.

          (It’s also Sneaky Kittens’ fault any time it rains, snows, or gets too hot.)

          1. Lora*

            Ha! Mine are certain that even the smallest, tiniest kitten is a 10-foot bogeyman in heavy disguise. They seem to think that it is the height of valor to eat the last few dabs of canned cat food that a one pound kitten didn’t want. Each dog weighs well over 100 pounds …

            Mine do know what a flossiraptor is, and bark at them daily: hawks, kites, geese, ducks, vultures, owls, helicopters, planes, and the occasional satellite. They know that chickens, robins and woodpeckers are not flossiraptors though. Owls are the worst flossiraptor EVER: there used to be a great horned owl that would fly between the neighbor’s pine tree and my barn, and it seemed to get a kick out of swooping low over the dogs to scare them, then go up in its tree to hoot at the world.

            They know foxes are bad and not-dogs. Not sure how they think of coyotes, perhaps just as Bad Dogs. They have howling 4am conversations. They definitely think that goats are just very stupid dogs with horns, as they try to parent the new kids every spring until one of the does gets fed up and butts them hard.

    3. Loopy*






    4. Lcsa99*

      To: the humans

      From: the important cat (not the Other)

      It is not appreciated when closets are closed. Inspection of closets must be allowed at all times, and closed doors will be meowed at. It is also not appreciated when you close doors during inspection with me inside. Close doors at your own risk.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Lol, those mysterious doors, am I right?? Followed on by:

        To: The hoomons
        From: Your fluffy overlords

        Subject: Bathroom

        You are not allowed to use the toilet by yourselves. There are mandatory leg inspections during this time. And patpats. Mostly patpats. And if you do close the door in our faces, stop acting all surprised that we’re waiting outside. We don’t know where you’ve been??! You could have DIED behind that CLOSED DOOR for all we know!!!

        1. ket*

          Running this together with the baby/kid thread above, my 1-yr-old feels the same way. For a while I think she really thought she had to save me from certain death in the bathroom (she got stuck in there behind a closed door once and it made a big impression).

        2. OyVey*

          I’m pretty sure each of my cats thinks he is “the important one (not the Other).” Read this this morning, stilling dying over it.

      2. MsChandandlerBong*

        YES. We just moved. I am thrilled because our old house had literally one interior door–on the guest bathroom. No bedroom doors, no closet doors, no door on the master bath. This house has all the doors…but we can’t close them because the cats immediately panic and start trying to break them down.

        1. Lcsa99*

          Haha our bedroom closet has those slats … one of our cats scratches at it so frantically I am sure he will break them at some point. Those things aren’t strong.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      To: my mama
      From: the buddy

      Mama: you do not take me out enough. I am not talking about walkies, which are administered at acceptable rates. You know that I like to go to out for yummy pizza and yummy beer and see my friends and get rubs from strangers. More of this, please. It is no fair when you and Papa go out without me and eat yummy cheese.

      Also Mama: I require more stuff. I am getting older now and senior doggies require lots of stuff. Do not pretend not to know what I mean by this. One chewy a day does not cut it.

      And also Mama: stop going to the office. I do not like this. I do not get enough rubs when you go to the office. You are aware that when you work from home, I am very happy because I get to bug you and you open the door so I can hang out outside and you give me rubs. It is your job to make me happy. DO YOUR JOB.

      I love you very much, Mama. Gimme stuff.

    6. Lehigh*

      To: All Staff
      From: Doggo

      Your behavior during thunderstorms is entirely unacceptable. This is a time to cower in the corner until the danger has passed. This is not a time for joking and video games. I am confident that you are angering the thunder gods which has led to this unacceptable increase in thunder during recent months.

      Also, no staff member is to refuse food to me. Especially when you are eating something. That food is for sharing. It does not matter if I have recently eaten. Am I eating currently? No. Are you eating? Yes. This is not normal or fair.

      I have very reasonable and few expectations. I have been very kind to you in only doing my business outside AND in allowing you to socialize without jumping on your friends very often. If you desire these privileges to continue, you will do as asked with no grumbling.

      1. FD*

        Well, really, what’s wrong with you, not taking the danger of thunderstorms seriously?! Foolish human.

    7. DrWombat*

      From the barn cats at work:

      Dear humans who work for us,

      You have been organizing the barns ALL WEEK. WHY. You have been moving things from where we liked them and not stopping to give us the appropriate snuggles we demand. Furthermore, the red-haired human PUT A BUCKET OF CORN IN THE PATH OF THE BEST SUNBEAM. THAT IS NOT FAIR. All sunbeams are belong to us.

      You keep telling the assistant barn cat to not climb trouser legs. If you do not immediately stop what you are doing to snuggle her, what other option do you give her? Don’t you understand that this is the highest priority around here?

      The snuggling levels must increase – if we deign to show you our fluffy tum-tums, you are to stop whatever you are doing and snuggle us. This is an order.


      Your overlords

      1. FD*

        So insensitive of you! There’s no excuse for moving things around in a cat’s territory. Unforgivable.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      The giant septic truck has pulled into the driveway. I lazily watch him dig a hole in the backyard. I am chill. No truck that smells like that could be a problem.

      -signed, dog who barks the house down whenever an ordinary car pulls into any neighbor’s driveway

    9. Annie Moose*

      To: the very tall clumsy cat
      From: the sleek and handsome cat who never flops disgracefully when trying to jump off laps

      Re: Birds

      Lately there has been an abundance of birds landing on the balcony. This is clearly a problem requiring immediate attention, but I am unable to attend to it as the screen door is thoughtlessly left closed at all times, even when the sliding glass door is open. I demand this be remedied at once so I can definitively put an end to this bird problem.

      Mr. Guinness Pumpkin Baby, Esquire

      PS: additionally, bedtime is promptly at 11 PM, and if you insist on staying up later than that, you’re going to miss Sleepy Cuddle Time and it’s all your own fault.

    10. OyVey*

      TO: Humans I Live With
      FROM: CAT

      WHY ARE YOU IN THE LITTER BOX WHEN YOU SHOULD BE FEEDING ME! I require food in my dish no later than 8:05. We have discussed this many times on our way down the stairs. It is 8:06 and you are in the litter box and my dish is still empty. NOTHING is more important that my breakfast schedule. You have upset me greatly and I can no longer eat. I will prevent the dog from eating his food instead.

      1. OyVey*

        That cat was particularly bratty today. I ended up taking back upstairs and locking him in the bedroom for half an hour so the dog could eat.

        Old Cat is the opposite. He sleeps under the bed until he hears food in the dish and then strolls down gracefully. None of the sass and back talk the little one has.

    11. Jemima Bond*

      In memory of my childhood pooch:

      To: All family especially Mum
      From:Daisy dog, aka DD, aka Doris Day, aka Heinz fifty seven variety mongrelised dirtbox, miniature schnauzer of this parish

      Message: When you move around the kitchen it is of course necessary for me to follow you to conduct an ongoing inspection and monitor your activity in case you open the cupboard where the dog biscuits are kept. As such please do not step back and tread on me. I have tried to indicate your responsibilities by howls of protest and deployment of my wounded brown doggy eyes but you still fail to meet the standard; please address this.
      Also, please tell Dad to stop doing that thing where he pretends to throw a dog biscuit to me in the garden but does not in fact let go of said biscuit. I run round looking for it and this offends my dignity.

    12. Canadian Natasha*

      To: Magical sky flake provider
      From: Fish

      Help! Starving!

      [Repeat every five minutes in perpetuity]
      To: Thing that moved
      From: Fish

      AAAAH! Hide in plants!!
      (That’s basically it)

        1. Canadian Natasha*

          Haha, I loved that article! Now I need to take up scuba diving so I too can wear a knife strapped to my leg. (And I totally would have kept that lobster. Mmmm insect of the sea!) ;)

    13. char*

      To: Tuna Technicians
      From: Feline Superior #1

      Subject: Tuna Protocol Reminder !!IMPORTANT – DO NOT IGNORE!!

      I believe there may have been some confusion regarding tuna protocols, so let me be very clear: When any member of the household makes tuna, you MUST offer the tuna water to your superiors. It is then up to our discretion whether to accept it or not. If we do not accept, that does NOT clear you of future tuna-related duties. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES POUR TUNA WATER DOWN THE SINK WITHOUT FIRST GRANTING YOUR SUPERIORS A MINIMUM OF TWO (2) HOURS TO DECIDE WHETHER WE WISH TO CONSUME IT

      1. FD*

        I think you win in terms of phrasing this in a way that sounds like a real (obnoxious) office memo.

      2. OyVey*

        Around here, it’s first come first served. Whoever arrives in the kitchen first gets dibs on tuna water. Since the cats like to sleep upstairs on the sunny cushy beds, the dog often beats them to it. :-D

    14. Thursday Next*

      To: Human Caretakers
      From: Your Feline Managers

      We herewith register our disapproval of the implementation of our restructuring plan.

      When the plan for Installing More Sleeping Surfaces was first rolled out, we were optimistic. There were new, soft cushions scattered about the apartment that provided us with diversion and novel napping spots. One was rectangular, with nicely banked sides and a fuzzy velour cover. Another was c-shaped, in perfect emulation of feline posture when exposed to direct sunlight. It was also covered with fuzzy velour.

      We discovered we like fuzzy velour.

      But in the last few days, human caretakers have unceremoniously removed us from said cushions. Worse, you have substituted, in place of the banished feline, a squalling Human Thing that appears to have no caretakimg abilities at all. You regularly place this Human Thing on the velour rectangular cushion and proceed to do something that, frankly, causes a Foul Odor to be emitted. Nothing like the fragrant bouquet of microwaved fish.

      We are putting you on a PIP, effective immediately.

      Now go microwave some fish.

    15. Marthooh*

      TO: Passers-by
      FROM: The Sidewalk Cat

      As part of my managerial duties, I sometimes squirm around on the sidewalk, belly up. It has come to my attention that certain employees take this as an invitation to give me belly rubs. IT IS NOT AN INVITATION TO BELLY RUBS OR BELLY SKRITCHES!!!

      If a passer-by or other employee wishes to give me head/chin skritches, they may OFFER to do so. Always be polite when skritching! Passers-by who forget these simple rules are liable to bites and claws.

    16. Gatomon*

      TO: Stupid Human
      FROM: Your Most Beloved Cat

      Dear Stupid Human,

      Why do you continue to use the shower contraption?? Have you not heard my extensive warnings about the dangers of water?? Did you miss that entire week on the TV where they warn you about SHARKS in the WATER?? What if a shark comes through the water into the shower and I am unable to protect you due to the door you insist on closing?? What if the shark escapes and eats you AND ME??! Who will feed me then?? Clearly you have no regard for our safety with your dangerous behavior!

      If you wish to clean yourself, I would be happy to demonstrate tongue bathing, a much SAFER and NATURAL solution to the foul secretions your skin makes!

      I have taken the liberty of suggesting a few times when I could educate you on the joys of tongue bathing:
      -now on your lap
      -after naptime in your chair
      -before dinner on your clean laundry
      -after dinner pre-nap on the kitchen countertop

      Until you cease this dangerous habit I will continue to howl warnings at you while you bathe. Please respond with the time that works best for you.


      Your Most Beloved Cat

    17. Lcsa99*

      This is coming late but I thought of it this morning.

      To: The Clumsy Humans

      From: Your Feline Master

      It appears that there has been a misunderstanding in our daily processes. When I stand on your chest in the morning, it is not to get scratchies (though they are appreciated) it is to remind you that once again, you have delayed my feeding. Standing on you is the only way I seem to be able to communicate to you that you must feed me on MY schedule. The fact that the clock thingamajig that appears to drive you points at the 4 means nothing to me.

      Please clear up the confusion on your end and begin feeding me on my schedule.

      Much love and purrs.

    18. Public Health Nerd*

      To: The Capitalist Overlords
      From: The Guinea Pig Union

      We present our demands which must be met to avoid a strike:

      – Favorite water bottle must be full. Second favorite water bottle is a tool of the System and is not as good. Third favorite water bottle is a symbol of our oppression.
      – Zucchini, spinach, and carrots which have not been cut into little wedges are not vegetables.
      – We express our resistance to your maniacal adherence to meal times by gnawing the bars of the dominant overculture.

      We expect mediations to begin post haste.

      Yours in solidarity,

      BB8 and Gimli

  8. Bumble of nerves*

    So continuing on with my experience on Bumble: met up with a guy for drinks last week, it was fine, he was nice (and cuter than I was expecting) but there was absolute zilch in the way of chemistry. He asked if I wanted to get something to eat after but I think it was out of politeness than actually wanting to spend more time together. I don’t think it’s going anywhere. Sigh. It’s a bit discouraging when there’s absolute no ‘click’.

    Also, I had dinner with someone I met on Bumble BFF, and I thought we had a nice time. She later added me to another social media platform (but didn’t respond when I sent a message to say hi after accepting). I asked if she wanted to hang out this weekend and she’s been a bit elusive. For some reason this felt more disappointing than with the guy, I really want more girl friends to hang out with.

    Thanks for listening to my weekly frustrations.

    1. Kali*

      Oh, that sucks. :( I’ve had so many bumble bffs just stop replying. One I had coffee with a few times, which was lovely but then I got a new phone and lost her number. She’s deleted her account and I only sent my number in the message chain :(. I hope she’ll be in touch soon.

      I went on an OKC date yesterday. I wasn’t expecting much – I’m still a bit raw after the last break-up (first post break-up date) and I wasn’t sure if we’d have chemistry. We really clicked though. Talked for hours, and I REALLY fancy him. He looks kind of like Alan Cummings with nicer eyes. Only red flag is he’s a trained counselor and I’m already inclined to make other people responsible for my emotions, so that’s something to talk about if we have a few more dates.

    2. PX*

      Good luck and persevere for as long as you want to!

      In terms of dating, I found Bumble awful. Lots of matches but few responses within the time limit. Conversations that fizzled out, and of the few that progressed to dates, 0 spark with all of them. So I personally moved to other platforms but am now taking a break from dating anyway.

      Bumble BFF was very different. Met a fair amount of nice people on it, sometimes it fizzled out but turned a few into decent casual friendships and more importantly for me – people on there were actually keen to meet up in person (aka my personal pet peeve with normal dating – guys who just want to talk and talk…).

      1. Waiting for the Sun*

        What is it with many messages and never meeting? I had several Plenty Of Fish matches like that. “How was your day?” “Fine, yours?” Blah, blah.
        I just hid my free POF profile and am debating whether I should pay for another six months of OkCupid. I like OkCupid’s lists of questions and its inclusivity. I’m expanding the parameters of who I might be interested in, but so far just means more types of people to be rejected by, lol.

        1. Waiting for the Sun*

          Update: Doing OkCupid for another six months. Maybe I should add “masochist” to my profile.

          1. Anonymosity*

            I thought OKCupid was free.
            I don’t do them anymore since I never meet anyone, and I sure in the hell am not paying to never meet anyone.

        2. Dan*

          From a guy’s standpoint, it’s really more of a “I don’t know how to transition this to a real-life thing.” Granted, I do — I’m a computer programmer for a living, I spend all day in front of it. I want my social life to be with real people. So I basically have a three message rule — after we’ve shown the ability to carry on a conversation with each other and have something to talk about, it’s time for real world meeting.

          But when I read stuff from the women’s perspective, I’ve seen some advice say that the conversation should migrate from the platform to email to text to phone and *then* real life. WTF? I don’t have time for *that*. I get that we’re strangers and she doesn’t know me from Adam, which is why #1 date is always in a public place that is well traveled, and an activity (drinks/coffee) that is easy to bail from if there’s no click.

          My take is that *guys* who drag on a conversation are just waiting for the woman to indicate she’s at a comfort level where they can move on to some other phase of dating.

          1. Waiting for the Sun*

            I’m leery of giving out my phone or email. I guess I could give out a throwaway email address. Once gave out my number and got a bunch of texts during the w*rkday. Nothing off-color, Just annoying. The ideal for me would be message on the site, meet in person, then phone number.
            Google Hangout is an alternative.

          2. Anonymosity*

            Woman here, and I don’t want to waste weeks on a damn email conversation either. If someone can’t get together within two weeks for coffee, then I will write them off.

          3. all aboard the anon train*

            As a woman, I liked Coffee Meets Bagel’s approach (I’m not sure if the others are the same or if CMB has changed since I use it) where it only gives you a week to chat before it closes your interactions. I don’t want weeks of chatting before we meet up, but sometimes three messages back and forth aren’t enough for me to get a feel of someone.

            I should also say I’m leery of giving my phone number to someone I haven’t met in person first, so I would do the chatting for 5 or so days, meet up, and then phone number.

      2. Dan*

        For the sake of conversation, your description of Bumble was (is) my male experience with OKC. It’s funny, I think Bumble was created to give women more of a sense of control over the process, but most of the time, the take away is that they now know what guys deal with on the mainstream sites.

        1. Bumble of nerves*

          I’m a bit tempted to give the more ‘traditional’ sites a go, because I keep hearing how women get inundated with messages and guys feeling frustrated about lack of response, but the only app I’ve used is Bumble so I have no frame of reference. I just want to know whether it’s something about /me/ that’s having trouble getting responses or if that’s just the way things are.

          1. Dan*

            I suspect these types of things are feast or famine. The reality is that most of the time, a guy’s definition of “chemistry” is based on pics first. If one is the type who is physically attractive, then she will have her choice of suitors. If she is not, then the inbox will be dry. (This is speaking more to the rest of the mainstream sites than bumble.) The reality is that for any one person, there’s no telling what prompts somebody to respond/go on a date/ghost after things seem to be going well.

            Bumble can have this weird adverse selection thing going on. The “market place” there is vastly different than the way dating has worked since the age of dawn. In a way, there is almost no incentive for guys to participate. On the mainstream sites, women are already allowed to message me first if they want to, there’s nothing about those platforms that requires a guy to make the first move. What’s my incentive to set up a profile on a different platform where all I can do is wait? The main stream sites allow anybody to make the first move; cultural history just suggests that 9 times out of 10, the guy will do it. Why should I give that choice up on a different site?

            At the end of the day, online dating is a numbers game.

          2. all aboard the anon train*

            I used OKC years ago and I was inundated with messages there. It’s easier with dating apps where you’re only talking if you both like each other’s profiles.

            For OKC, I never responded to messages that were just “hey” or “you’re hot”, and I think that’s what a lot of dudes got upset over. There were times someone did send a well-thought out message, but if I looked at their profile and we had nothing in common or there were some red flags, I wouldn’t respond. And honestly, I stopped responding to people I wasn’t interested in after getting some vicious replies in return. Safer for me not to respond to someone I wasn’t interested in than to get a message back calling me slurs.

    3. Bumble of nerves*

      There’s one guy who writes very long/detailed messages, with questions etc. so it seems like he wants to carry on talking, but he always ends the messages with ‘have a nice day’ or something along those lines. I’m never quite sure if he’s expecting me to reply or that’s a way of saying ‘that’s our correspondence for the day’.

      1. Dan*

        I admit, “have a nice day” is confusing. In American English, it’s so often used to *end* a conversation, not to actually literally express that one hopes another’s day goes well and they want to continue talking.

    4. annakarina1*

      I’m sorry, it does stink when there’s no chemistry, and it just feels blah.

      A guy who seemed really into me last week just basically ghosted on me. We had a nice date on Monday, I thought he was nice (though he griped about work way too much), and he would text me during the week and was excited about a Saturday date. Day of second date, he cancels and says he’s sick. I say I understand, and hope to see him when he’s feeling better. The next day, I texted and asked how he was feeling. I haven’t gotten a response since. It felt as if I did something wrong, even though he was all enthusiastic about texting me during the week and seeming into me. It sucked, but nothing I can do about it but move on.

      1. Dan*

        TBH, I just assume that when people are “sick” early in the dating process, that they just want to peace out and not be more blunt about it. If they are really sick, then I expect them to take the initiative when they’re feeling better to suggest something. Or even better, in the moment, if they are sick and they want to see me, then reschedule something on the spot for a week later or something.

        As far as enthusiasm levels go, I think this the corollary is a lot like job hunting — we all fake levels of enthusiasm early in the process, it would seem awkward not to. That said, I’ve dated people I *wanted* to feel “chemistry” with and didn’t — so while I didn’t need to fake enthusiasm, I could see why they could walk away from it with the feeling “things were going so great and then he ghosted.”

        1. annakarina1*

          Yeah, you’re likely right. I had skepticism that he was actually sick, and was just blowing me off, but I wanted to try to stay positive. When I didn’t get an answer after two days, I figured he wasn’t interested, and deleted his contact info from the app and my texts. This guy is 37 years old, that seems really old for this kind of behavior when he’s all into me for a week then just cancels abruptly and ghosts.

    5. HannahS*

      I’ve now been on my second date with a fellow from JSwipe. He’s pleasant company, but I don’t feel any “click.” Despite that, it’s actually really nice to have a pleasant date! I’ve had so many who’ve ghosted, who’ve shown up and expected me to run the conversation, and here’s this very nice guy with similar values to me who actually sends me texts and is thoughtful. It’s a shame I don’t feel more interested. But fortunately I get the feeling he’s in the same place about me.

      1. Bumble of nerves*

        You know, I’d totally be okay if I met someone and we both wanted to be friends (e.g. lots of common interests but no ‘spark’). Like I mentioned I’m also using Bumble BFF but that only seems to let you find people of the same gender. I’d love to just have more friends to do stuff with as well because right now I’m feeling kind of disconnected.

    6. Triplestep*

      I just want to put in a pitch for reserving judgement on chemistry. I didn’t feel instant – or even early – chemistry with the man I’ve now been married to for 15 years. I gave it more of a chance to develop because I was a divorced mother of two who had set up some “policies” around dating, and he checked all the boxes. (Very unromantic I know, but it worked because we are happy and the kids are well-adjusted young adults now.)

      It had always been the opposite for me – I had always *acted on* chemistry, even with men who were not well-suited to me, and tried to make a relationship from that. But I was at a point in life of trying to make more intentional decisions, so I waited and the chemistry came in time.

      I know you can’t always control if you’ll see the guy again – if he’s not feeling chemistry either then he may bail. But I would give it more than one date if you can. Maybe even more than two :-)

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Yes. I feel like in this day and age people want an immediate chemistry, but I find that it’s pretty rare for that to happen. It’s usually something that grows the more you know someone, not a love at first site, all the emotions at once type of thing.

        That said, obviously there are times where you meet someone and immediately know you won’t click, but I’ve had enough instances where it’s nice and pleasant, but there’s no big swooping romantic chemistry, and give it some more time to see if it’ll turn into that. Sometimes an hour coffee date isn’t enough to tell if there’s true chemistry.

  9. PX*

    Early one! Yay.

    Challenge for the commentariat. My oven seems to run quite hot and its a fan oven so it also tends to dry things out. I used to bake a lot but havent done much since moving country a few years ago and definitely not with my current oven situation. However there seems to be a low key banana bread contest developing in our office and I want to at least give it a shot. However my last few attempts have been awful. Claggy/sticky outcome or too dry. Basically it seems I’m always overcompensating in one direction. So please, tips and/or foolproof banana bread recipes?

    1. Kali*

      I really like chocolate covered Katie’s recipe for chocolate banana bread. That’s always come out well for me.

    2. gecko*

      An oven thermometer can be really helpful. Since it’s a convection oven, make sure that you’re adjusting the temperature down from the recipe’s recommended temperature. It’s been a while so I don’t remember the standard adjustment—I think 30 degrees F cooler?

      Also make sure you’re preheating the oven fully. Your stuff can get blasted with a ton of direct heat while the oven air & walls are still relatively cold during the preheating cycle.

      Finally, make sure you’re keeping an eye on your stuff while it’s in the oven! You’ve baked a lot but you can’t rely on recipe baking times (anymore). So keep checking color/doneness and cover with tin foil if necessary.

      1. foolofgrace*

        When using an oven thermometer, remember that the temp in the center of the oven will most likely be different from the temp at the sides of the oven, so make sure you place your thermometer in the center when testing.

    3. Flour's Famous Banana Bread*

      I’ve tried tons of banana bread recipes and I would recommend Flour’s Famous Banana Bread. There’s an initial step where you whip sugar and eggs that seems to make a big difference and banana bread recipes with sour cream tend to stay moist longer. Be careful not to bake it too long or it will be dry no matter what else you do.

      One blog post with the recipe is linked in the username. There is a good Flour Bakery cookbook if you get more into baking and although I wouldn’t generally recommend ebook cookbooks, the Kindle version looks like it’s often pretty reasonably priced and the recipes are definitely worth it.

      1. PX*

        Thank you very much for this recipe! I made it last night and I have my first semi decent banana bread result! Because I am fundamentally incapable of not tweaking a recipe: there was a bit more banana in there (because I had lots to use), some blackberries (they are in season and I had gone picking!) and I used a round cake tin because I only have 1 8×4 pan and couldnt be bothered trying to adjust portions, and some extra spices because why use only cinnamon when you have ginger!

        Oven at 170c and baked it for about 40 minutes and it came out pretty good! It probably needed another 5 minutes in the oven (forgot about the extra liquid from the blackberries) but still edible and pretty tasty! Plus I think this has also given me a good reference for what the right consistency batter should be for a ‘standard’ loaf again.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Do you have an Instant Pot? I’ve seen numerous recipes for banana bread in them.

    5. Hellanon*

      It sounds like you have a convection oven – can you set it to “normal bake” and turn off the fan function? I just bought a toaster oven with a convection setting but don’t have to use it, and it’s possible to do one or the other on the standard size ones as well, I believe.

      1. Reba*

        Banana bread is a legacy food in my family. With convection ovens, I will say that you CAN bake them with fan, but they will never have the moist gooey top that is a hallmark of banana bread (IMO). The top will be a little crisp. You must try without fan! My mom’s oven has optional fan.

        1. PX*

          Thanks Hellanon and Reba but alas, my oven only has 1 setting (ie temperature) and the fan is inbuilt, so no on/off option. To be honest I know that I think be able to get a decent result with temperature fiddling/keeping a careful eye on it, but so far I’ve been a bit blasé about it so probably just need to make more effort…

    6. Jemima Bond*

      All recipes and instructions I’ve ever read say lower the temperature by ten degrees (celsius – I guess about the same in Fahrenheit?) – have you tried that? My oven is a fan one and it isn’t fancy or expensive and it usually does fine with this adjustment. My mum’s too, and she’s a domestic goddess!

      1. PX*

        Yes, I’ve known I need to adjust the temperature down but havent really considered how much and just been kind of winging it so perhaps a more methodical approach is what I need to be honest!

  10. Red Reader*

    Oi. My sense of time is thoroughly screwed up this week. My niece has been visiting and we went to GenCon yesterday and will be again today. I didn’t want to use all my PTO at work, so I’ve been working 4am-noon this week so I still had afternoons to spend with her – she’s seventeen, so self entertaining for a while, but I didn’t want to leave her to her own devices all day. Any rate, I’ve been sleeping about 10p to 3:30a all week, and last night the times I woke up in a panic thinking I had missed my 5:30 alarm were 11:10, 1:19, 3:42, and 4:58. It’s been a good week and I’m enjoying both her visit and the Con (my husband and I met at GenCon umpteen years ago, originally as friends), but “sleeping in” until 6:30 on Monday is going to feel positively indulgent, haha.

      1. Red Reader*

        It’s a blast :) I’ve been going every year but one since 2001, like I said met my husband and both our housemates there. Last year was the first year ever I wasn’t involved in running a big LARP, so that’s been an adjustment for sure. This year has been low key because of the teenage tagalong, but next year I want to get back into doing some events. :)

      1. Climber*

        My husband is there with his 3 gaming friends too! I’m home taking care of cats. In a funny twist I was in the same hotel complex earlier this year for an academic conference.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I’m actually at a family wedding this weekend, but cons aren’t really my thing, I’m happy letting husband go with his friend.

  11. AlligatorSky*

    I didn’t get a chance to post last week cause I was pretty busy – apologies about that!

    My room has been completely redecorated and renovated, it looks amazing. Everything was ripped out, and we started all over again. Brand new paint, wardrobes, got shelves put in and I’m getting a desk too. I booked a few days off work and made sure I stayed home, carefully watching EVERYTHING that was coming out of my room.

    Thankfully nothing has been thrown out. My room looks insane and it feels like I’ve moved house. I’m decorating it the way I want to and not the way my mother wants; this weekend I’m making a list of posters I want to get framed and put on my walls. These include posters from movies I adore, video games I play and bands I love.

    Only downside is that all my books are in the loft/attic, and I can’t reach them. I have a fear of heights and attempting to go up the ladder earlier resulted in me near enough having a breakdown. I’m just terrified of heights and my family know this, but they won’t help me at all :(

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      Happy about your room, sorry about the unhelpful family. Would a different kind of stepladder or a sturdy chair help?

    2. SophieChotek*

      I am glad to hear your are happy with the way your room looks! Sorry about your family….how hard can it bet to get a few books…hope someone will help you out!

    3. Anonymous ampersand*

      Well, great… but will this make it harder for you to move out already? I know all your reservations about moving out but I swear to you, life will be initially hard but in the long run SO EVER MUCH EASIER if/when you get away from the emotional abuse.

  12. LDN Layabout*

    Anyone watching the cricket? If I was a nail-biter, I wouldn’t have fingers left…

    1. Daisy Avalin*

      Definitely a nail-biter! Going to be a fantastic series if it carries on like this, as it should.

      Was a bit torn on Kohli’s imaginary bat-drop, thought it was a little provoking, but can see that if it’s taken in the manner it was (as friendly comp, not aggravation) that it’s good for the game.

  13. Anon ranter today*

    So – please tell me I’m not ‘mental’ ‘mad’ ‘weird’ ‘crazy’ – but if I am – also tell me – because at least I can change that – which would be easier than trying to change my significant other.

    Every Saturday night – or for that matter most nights – my partner falls asleep for a couple of hours – from say 8pm-10pm – he then wakes up and jumps up – come on bed now. I really find this insulting I mean – I’m 60 years old and not ready to go to bed. If I don’t go he sulks and says I’m in a ‘bad mood’.

    On the nights he doesn’t fall asleep he gets upset if I won’t go refill his drink – like am I a servant or somesuch!

    Apparently I don’t fill the washer enough and should wait till there’s more washing – hmmm you do it then is in my head. I don’t put enough effort into some of his meals (sorry didn’t put enough mayo on that sandwich, didn’t make you the most exciting meal tonight).

    He plays country and western music – great – I like all types of music – but every bloody weekend and then it’s ‘who sings this’ – like I actually give a damn. Stop quizzing me I don’t bloody care, OK so you’re mister smarty pants who knows every singer of every song in the world. Oh, and when I don’t play – guess what? I’m in a bad mood! Yes sir I certainly am – I cannot be bothered with this crap.

    Now, I’m 60 years old. Worked all my life had 2 children, gone through deaths of my parents in the past couple of years and sometimes, that music just gets me kinda upset – let’s be honest – ‘Daddy sang base, Mamma sang tenor’ is a happy family song – but can evoke memories and it’s easy to get a down. But it’s like – ‘OMG here we go stop moaning about it – and get on with your life’. BTW I wasn’t moaning just feeling a bit down.

    So – to top all this off when I go to bed he’s wanting sex – seriously – and if I don’t want it – I’m a ‘bad wife’ ‘worst wife in the world’ – ‘did I know I would be like this when I grew up’.


    Rant over

    1. only acting normal*

      You are definitely not mad or wierd or crazy or anything like that. Your husband on the other hand is being a bit of an arse. Personally I would say aloud all the retorts you are thinking when he pulls that BS.
      “You’re in a bad mood”
      “Yes, X puts me in a bad mood, so kindly stop doing it.”
      “Dinner was boring”
      “Yes. I wasn’t feeling inspired. You can cook something more exciting tomorrow. I look forward to it.”

    2. Waiting for the Sun*

      No, you’re not crazy.
      Has he always listened to country music, or is it a new interest? I admit to being a know-it-all when it comes to the classic rock I love, and bonding with those who “get it.” But it doesn’t sound like something you and he bonded over in the past. How about playing some more upbeat music that you like?

      1. WellRed*

        I’ve been wondering if your user name is inspired by The Doors. Now you say you love classic rock, so am I right?

        1. Waiting for the Sun*

          Yes! Gabba gabba hey!
          I am probably annoying about classic-rock lyrics the way the Anon Ranter’s husband is about country music. I know when to shut up about it, though.

    3. Jaid_Diah*

      He sounds childish. He’s a grown man, he can fix his own meals, use headphones for the music, and hey! use his own hand for the nights when you’re not in the mood.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      The only thing I know to do is to identify a cycle and do something to change the cycle. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut in a marriage where couples do the same thing over and over and it doesn’t work. Change something you are doing and see where that puts the both of you. I would pick a change that helped me and was something I actually wanted.

      It’s tough and tiring, I know this too.

    5. En vivo*

      You’re not mental, mad , weird, or crazy. It sounds as if your partner is used to getting his way regardless of how you may feel about it. Can you say aloud to him some of the things you’ve written here? Playing his game is not fun for you(at times maybe), you’re not always keen to fetch his water( he can bring you a drink sometimes ), you want to load the dishwasher your way ( he can do it and also take turns), nor is having sex after watching him doze for a couple hours in your plans( he gets to put in no effort?) Nope.

      The food: when you cook, you cook it your way. When (not if, especially if you both work) he cooks, he can prepare it his way.

      I know what I’ve written will not go over well with someone who’s used to having it his way, but you can attempt to retrain him by making small changes in your own behavior.

      Today, do something small that will make him think ‘oh, I’ve gone too far, I had better stop. I will stop.’

      1. Anon ranter today*

        Thank you to everyone who has commented – I am pleased I’m not bat crazy and I will start saying out loud what I’m really thinking and see what happens.

        Appreciate you all for reassuring me.

        1. Jemima Bond*

          I’ll weigh in and offer a hug. It is not you being weird here, it is him! Put your foot down. You deserve better.

    6. Beatrice*

      You’re not crazy!

      Bedtime – you are not a child and do not need to be sent to bed like a child. If he is tired, he can go to bed. You control what you do, not what he does, so if he wants to sulk, there isn’t much you can do about it except not indulge him.

      Laundry and cooking – if he has strong opinions about how it’s done, maybe he can do it. Seriously, just stop doing it and see how long it takes him to notice, then tell him why you’ve stopped. I presume he also knows how to make sandwiches and do some basic cooking, and if not, assemble a stack of takeout menus for him and leave him to his own devices.

      Don’t answer quiz questions. He’s just looking for an ego boost by demonstrating that he knows more than you about something. Call him on that and tell him to knock it off or find someone who’s interested in the music to talk to about it.

      You don’t sound like you’re in that bad of a mood, it sounds like that’s just his response to you anytime you stand up for yourself. Maybe he hasn’t seen what a bad mood really looks like. Maybe you should show him. You know it’s not your responsibility to be in a good mood all the time or change your mood to suit him, right?

      I like country music, but some of the songs aren’t my taste and I want to skip them, and sometimes I’m just not in the mood for the genre at all. That’s normal and it’s not unreasonable to say it. It’s annoying that he dismisses your reasons when you give them. Maybe try to give him reasons for things less often? Stick to “this is what I want/need, can we do that?”

      Guilt is the ultimate anti-aphrodesiac for me. He is not a child. Of course his life isn’t what he thought it would be when he grew up – literally no adult in the world has the life they dreamed of as a child, and yet here we all are making our way through life, and most of us are doing just fine. I am sure you didn’t dream of being married to a whiny man-child when you were a girl. He needs to get a grip – and you shouldn’t feel bad telling him to. Don’t have sex with him unless you want to, and definitely not when he whines for it – train him out of thinking whining will work. And if he’s not doing things in the bedroom to make sure you’re having at least as much fun as he is, call him out on that.

      Stop worrying about whether you’re acting crazy. You haven’t gone crazy enough, that’s the problem. Go crazy. Tell him off. Make life uncomfortable for him for a while. Go on strike. Stop caring about what he says or thinks. Leave the laundry and make yourself a plate of nachos and watch Fried Green Tomatoes

      1. June*

        Haven’t gone crazy enough – love that statement!!
        This whole posting is so full of great advice and suggestions!!

    7. George*

      Maybe the only crazy part is that you put up with such nonsense. Imagine your close friend said those things about her partner. Wouldn’t you at least think ” why is she with him?”

    8. E*

      You don’t say if your 2 children are his kids or yours from a previous relationship. My mom spent 20 years with an infantile man baby like this man you describe and it drove a wedge between her and her children (both from a previous relationship). I visited her house 4 times while she was married to him. Now that I am middle aged I can’t imagine dealing with this kind of behavior. Unless your financial circumstances are dire you may want to ask yourself why are you subjecting yourself to this kind of treatment. Your last sentence regarding his attitude about sex is particularly alarming. Best of luck to you.

    9. Canadian Natasha*

      I don’t think it’s weird or crazy to be annoyed by your spouse’s behaviour. And I agree it would be helpful to talk to him about your frustrations and the negative dynamic that seems to have become a pattern in your relationship. Gotta throw a plug in for a book I really find helpful: Dance of Anger by Dr. Harriet Lerner. It’s got very practical examples and advice about how to best communicate and change negative patterns of behaviour in relationships.

    10. LilySparrow*

      You are not bad, wierd, or mental. Your husband is being really, really annoying.

      OTOH, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt a little bit (just a little bit) because I don’t think you would have married him if he were just a horrible jerk. Something’s gone wrong.

      What I see going on a bit here, is that he wants your attention and to connect with you. But everything he’s doing to try to get it irritates you and alienates you. Then when you show your (very normal – totally understandable!) irritation, he feels hurt and rejected. So neither of you feel loved and connected. That can put everybody in a permanent bad mood.

      So what could he do to get your attention in a positive way, put you in a “good mood,” and make you want to be intimate? He must have done some of those things at first to get you married, right?

      He wants to play “name that tune?” Well, that game drives you crazy. Focus on the first part of the sentence – he wants to play. What could you play instead that would actually be fun?

      He likes to play music that makes you sad. So what kind of music makes you feel good?

      He wants you to “tend” to him and pay him extra attention with food and drinks. That makes you feel like a servant, not like a partner. So what kind of “tending” and special attention would you like to get from him? What kind would you enjoy giving to him?

      Would he do stuff like that if you asked him to? Maybe it’s just listening to how you feel and showing that he understands. You can say those things out loud. You can ask for what you want and need.

      I mean, if you do ask for your needs and express your feelings and nothing changes, then yeah he’s being a hardcore selfish jerk. But if you clam up and only tell other people, he’s kind of flailing in the dark, you know?

      I’m not trying to be dismissive, because this is obnoxious behavior. No doubt. I’d be a screaming wreck after about a day of it.

      But I grew up in a house where this dynamic went on all the time, and I was in the middle. My dad is not a sensitive or intuitive person at all, but he loved my mom and he loves us. But when he wanted her time and attention, he could be super annoying, kind of immature and demanding. She would get exasperated because she never felt he understood her feelings or listened. And he felt frustrated and criticized because he was always “doing it wrong.”

      But my mom never, ever, told him how to do it right. I think she felt that if he *really* loved her, he’d “just know” how to make her feel loved. She told us kids all about everything he was doing wrong and what she wished he’d do instead. But she never told him. Guess what? He’s kind of an emotional idiot and he never figured it out. He would have done pretty much anything she told him to, up to and including jumping off a bridge. But he was incapable of figuring it out for himself.

      I may be projecting and completely off base. You may have told him a thousand times what you want and how you feel and he won’t listen no matter what. Your husband may be just a giant selfish jerk-baby. But it is very possible for someone to be a decent person and still need like, remedial emotional connection 101 lessons.

      I know this is putting more of the emotional burden on you. I don’t think women should have to do all the work in the relationship. But you are the one who is asking, and so you are the one who can cause change. I mean, if I could reach through the screen and smack your husband upside the head and say, “Hey stupid, ask your wife what she’d like!!! Show some respect for her feelings!!! Give her a little romance if you want to take her to bed, ya caveman, were you raised in a barn!!!” I totally would. My hand is itching to deliver that smack.

      But I can’t. So there it is.

      1. Thursday Next*

        This is a terrifically thoughtful comment.

        I know for myself that reacting to something is easy—saying I don’t like this, I don’t want that—but asking for what I do want is hard. Part of the difficulty is that I might not know what I want. Maybe this is happening to you?

        Perhaps you can start by establishing some clarity around sleep and/or meals. “Partner, I am happy to make dinner for both of us with X frequency, but when I do, I need you not to nitpick it. Obviously I will not make anything with Y or Z, because I know you hate those foods. When you make dinner for us, with Q frequency, I promise I won’t nitpick your efforts.”

        I shy away from marital confrontation. It’s not an easy thing to undertake. Perhaps you and I should both come to see it as marital clarification instead?

    11. Jessi*

      Why are you in this relationship?

      It sounds to me like you are with a man who talks down to you, ignore your feelings, wants you to wait on him hand and foot and have sex you don’t want (I wouldn’t want to have sex with anyone who did the above either).

      Have you tried talking to him about it?

      1. Anon ranter today*

        Wow – thanks once again everyone – I really do appreciate all your comments and am glad I’m not crazy. I think the relationship needs a very very long look at ‘cos I’m absolutely fed up of it – and interesting that most of you agree, which makes me stronger and more willing to do something about it.

        1. Courageous cat*

          100% support this, I think you may be surprised by how much happier you’d be without having to deal with that on a daily basis. He sounds like, frankly, more trouble than it’s truly worth.

        2. Quandong*

          If you have access to counselling for yourself, it may be something to consider as you examine your relationship. I also want to assure you that your feelings and reactions are completely valid, and don’t indicate that you are mentally ill.

          Your husband is acting like an entitled, rude, mean person who is taking you for granted and making a lot of assumptions about how he can treat you. His attitude towards sex is particularly infuriating.

    12. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      You are not crazy. 61 here. All the advice here is good. And your feelings are very accurate. I should change my name to “one who is there too”

    13. Sam Foster*

      If he were my partner, I’d either have divorced him or smothered him with a pillow for this behavior.

    14. Bagpuss*

      A little late, but just chiming in to say that you are not being remotely unreasonable or crazy, and if he is suggesting that you are then that’s a bit of a red flag.

      Have you tried talking to him about how he behaves, possibly at a time other than when it is actually happening.?
      Is it new behaviour, or has he always been this way?

      If it is new, then talking to him about what has changed, and why, may be helpful. If it isn’t, then you any find it more helpful to think about what the positives are in your relationship, and whether you are willing to to challenge or tolerate this sort behaviour, if he is unwilling or unable to change.

      I think with things like the food it would be entirely reasonable for you to actually say some of things in your head “You’re welcome to do the laundry (or dish washing) if you don’t like how I do it” or “If you don’t like the meals I prepare, I suggest that you start making more of our meals”

      couples counselling might be helpful if he is willing to go with you, and if not, you might find it useful to see someone yourself.

  14. Loopy*

    Thanks to everyone who helped me with some snack ideas and exercise encouragement last week. I’m back to admit, though several people warned me against pushing it and advised that I ease into it…. I totally over-did it. I have no one to blame but myself. I tried a weightlifting class (les mills body pump) and tabata (a HIIT class) back to back (in terms of days, not hours!). I can’t even walk without soreness to the point of pain. Never mind sitting, getting up, or stairs. I’ve been miserable (but again, it’s ALL on me).

    Does anyone know of a good fitness, wellness, getting healthy type forum? I’m hoping to find a weekday community to help me from being dumb (if such a thing can be done) and talk to people about progress and tips. I find it’s all I want to talk about and I don’t want to be obnoxious to coworkers, friends, and family.

    As thanks for everyone’s wonderful help last week, I’ll share the recipe I’m making this week, maybe someone will like it: https://ohsheglows.com/2012/01/16/lunch-this-week-chickpea-salad-wraps/

    1. Jessi*

      myfitnesspal is primarily a weightloss site/app but it has forums where you can comment – one of those is dedicated to fitness and exercise

    2. ket*

      Some people really like the Nerd Fitness forums.

      Don’t let this week of soreness get you too down! It’ll pass, and getting moving again will help it pass more quickly. Try stretching or foam rolling or getting a backrub to help. Don’t be afraid to scale things way back in a class, and ditch any instructor who is pushing you really hard without knowing your background. (I trust some instructors to push me when they know me and what I can do. As I’ve gotten older, being able to show up to work out next week has gotten much more important than pushing things this week, and I’ve learned how to ease into things after a break — it is a skill!)

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! I was scaled way back in class! Luckily most instructors give a “low option” which i assume is low impact and also is easier (usually just takes out the jump) and I always do that. I definitely regret pushing myself as I then had to take three days off! I start again on Monday and will try to avoid making the same mistake.

    3. Free Meerkats*

      Around our office, jumping into getting (back) into shape too fast and injuring oneself is called “Jeffing yourself.” Named after the guy who has consistently done it to himself at least 5 times over the last 20 years. One led to surgery and put him out of commission for almost half a year.

      Take care of yourself and exercise intelligently.

      He’s now retired, but his legacy lives on.

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

    Those of you who workout outside in hot weather: Is there a brand of clothing out there that’s particularly good at wicking sweat? I’m a runner and I’m having the problem that even though I wear “technical” shirts as I’m supposed to, they’re getting drenched with sweat within 10 minutes. I’ve worn tech shirts from Road Runner Sports, Nike, Fila… all the same result. Yesterday you could have literally wrung out the shirt I was wearing. Granted, with the weather being what it’s been when I’ve had to run lately (upper 70s F temperature, 80s to 90s humidity) the problem might just be that it’s too hot and humid for any shirt to do its job when faced with a runner who does not handle heat especially well.
    If it makes a difference, I’m a man. Thanks!

    1. SP*

      Merino wool. Companies like Icebreaker and Ibex make very lightweight tanks and tees for athletic activity. It’s pricy, but they can wick more sweat than synthetics. As a bonus, they are machine washable and naturally anti-odour. Don’t work for either company, I’ve just been a merino convert for years!

    2. runner*

      Well the shirt is getting drenched because it is wicking your sweat? i.e., your sweat is not on you? I find that to be somewhat true with me, but primarily I think the technical shirt dries quickly once I stop the exercise.

    3. acmx*

      I run in just a sports bra. It’s way too hot and humid for more.
      Oh, I just saw your last line. Just run without a shirt! Seriously.

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

        Thank you for the biggest laugh I’ve had in awhile! Sorry, no sports bras for me. For various reasons, I’m just not brave enough to go shirtless.

    4. LGC*

      No advice, just sympathy. Honestly, it’s probably that the past couple of weeks have been extremely humid (not insanely hot, but I’ve found myself ending up drenched).

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

        The humidity has been really, really bad lately. Spirit-crushingly bad. But I guess I’ll take it if we both get perfect weather days in November.

  16. Lcsa99*

    So I watch a lot of TV (probably too much) but unfortunately my husband doesn’t like most of my shows. We would love if we could get some recommendations for stuff he might actually enjoy. We do have cable (including showtime/hbo/cinemax) and we CAN watch on hulu or Amazon prime, though we prefer traditional cable.

    He loved stuff like Orphan Black, Eureka, early seasons of NCIS (until maybe mid Ziva, and now not even almost without Abby). He also likes Doctor Who though he says most of what goes on is way over his head. Anything that you have to pay very close attention to nuances is probably a no go cause he gets distracted easily. He also likes cooking/baking competitions and the like, though he prefers ones that a straightforward like The Great British Baking Show over stuff like The Next Food Network Star that will make them jump through hoops. He doesn’t mind supernatural stuff, as long as it’s more about them as people, I think, over what they can do.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Criminal Minds and Bones are similar to NCIS. They are both available on Netflix, but are also in syndication and there are a lot of channels that run marathons frequently.

      Nailed It is a hilarious baking show on Netflix. My favorite cooking show is Chopped.

      Psych is fun and hits some of the same type of absurdity notes as Eureka.

      1. Lcsa99*

        I think he liked Bones (except for the “gross” parts). Criminal Minds was too serious for him.

        I loved Psych but he thought it was way too dumb. Only thing he hated more was Monk (which I also loved).

        Unfortunately we don’t have Netflix. But we do watch Chopped!

    2. Be the Change*

      Burn Notice, although it’s not on Netflix any more. MacGyver? For a blast from the past, Knight Rider?

    3. Cruciatus*

      Warehouse 13 is kind of Eureka-ish.

      And what about something like Leverage? I was having trouble describing it so here’s the internet’s description: Former insurance investigator Nate Ford and his band of cohorts act as modern-day Robin Hoods, pulling elaborate scams targeted against the greedy and the corrupt. Nate was inspired to begin his con business when his former employer refused to pay for treatment that could have saved his son’s life. It can be serious at times, but is generally fun to watch to see how this group of very different people with different skills pull one over on those deserving of it.

      1. Lcsa99*

        Leverage sounds great to me but he interrupted halfway through reading the description with an “eh”. Its hard to get a feel for what will interest him. He mostly liked Warehouse 13 (I loved it).

        I think he’s really interested in something other than “cop or lawyer shows” as he puts it.

        1. Ninja*

          Maybe let him do the work of finding something instead of presenting him with your ideas (and ours) that he shoots down.
          However, if you can find these, then I’d recommend Peep Show, Black Books, and Spaced for some British humour.

          1. Lcsa99*

            The problem, I think, is that he doesn’t care. I’m the one that wants to be able to cuddle and watch something with him.

            Will look into those you’ve suggested!

        2. Cruciatus*

          I agree. If he’s this picky about it to become uninterested a sentence later then maybe it’s time for him to find a show he likes that maybe you’ll like as well since your tastes are more broad. You shouldn’t be the one putting all the work into this. Watch what you like and maybe eventually he’ll find something he’ll like that you will like too. If not–oh well.

        3. Trixie*

          Leverage is a great and yes, very hard to describe. Sneak an episode in and if anything, you at least have a show you will enjoy even if he doesn’t.

        4. Ann O.*

          If he liked Warehouse 13, I would try the Librarians. In summary form, I think it would sound too thought intensive for what he’s looking for in a show, but in reality, it’s not thought intensive at all. It’s just a fun, lighthearted fantasy show. There were movies first, so you could always start with a standalone movie to see if you guys both like the general vibe of it.

      1. Lcsa99*

        This might be worth trying. It might end up being one that he watches two or three episodes and then just doesn’t care if he watches more or not, but it’s worth trying!

    4. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I recommend Supernatural. The first few seasons are very “monster of the week,” sort of like a procedural, but after that there’s a bit more overarching story line. It’s a nice mix of funny, serious, and campy, and definitely not overly cerebral or something you have to avoid blinking to be able to follow.

      Other suggestions: Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Six Feet Under, Sneaky Pete, The Fades, Justified, Shameless, White Collar, Scandal, i-Zombie.

      If he’s anything like my husband, maybe don’t run the descriptions by him before trying them out. It’s easy to dismiss a synopsis, but there’s a lot of qualities that make a show enjoyable to watch other than plot. Would he agree to just try starting a few shows to see if he likes them?

    5. MCL*

      We’re watching iZombie, Brooklyn99 (for police/crime oriented stuff on the sillier side), The Americans (spy drama), Jessica Jones (private eye/superhero drama), Drunk History and Nailed It for silly fluff. The Man in the High Castle (alternate history drama), which now has a new season out.

    6. Totally Minnie*

      I don’t have cable, so my knowledge of current TV is pretty limited. I mostly binge-watch shows that have already finished. If you think that might be a route you’d like to try and you don’t want to get a Netflix subscription, take him to your local library and put him in front of their DVD section. You can check out a couple seasons of something as a trial run to see if you’re both into it.

      If he likes supernatural stuff with good character development, the DC Comics shows on the CW are pretty good. I especially like Supergirl and The Flash.

      I know you said he’s pretty much done with crime dramas, but have you ever tried some more historical themed ones? He seems to be more interested in the characters than the process of crime solving, so maybe something like Grantchester would be fun for him. The main character is a vicar who gets caught up in an investigation and ends up forming a really close friendship with the police officer involved. It’s a different spin that might work.

      Also, for foodie type shows, there’s a YouTube series called Man About Cake. The host is hilarious and he creates some truly amazing and artistic pieces.

    7. Mike C.*

      Get him sucked into Person of Interest. The first season starts as a pretty typical CBS procedural but after the first season slowly morphs into something really crazy.

    8. Basis, also a Fed*

      My dad and I binge watched Death in Paradise, a murder mystery series set in the Caribbean. It has a really quirky humor that you either love or you don’t. I find it to be hilarious, interesting, and fresh. Plus they switch out the characters a few times, as people move on to other jobs, so it’s not necessarily based an a few personalities. I love the strong ensemble nature of it.

    9. Piano Girl*

      Have you worked through all the NCIS iterations? My husband and son (and occasionally me) have enjoyed both the New Orleans and LA versions of the show. They are currently watching Hawaii 5-O (the new one). They have also enjoyed Bull.

    10. Rez123*

      We have the same problem. Neither of us like the same shows. We both got into the swedis-danish show The Bridge. It’s a scandi-noir police show that is very interesting and less obvious than American shows. We also like to watch Ramseys kitchen nightmares (British version) and Australian Masterchef.

      Bones and Castle are some of my favourites so I’d reccomend Designated survivor, scandal, how to get away with murder. My bf liked (I was a bit meh) Marcella, Luther and The Americans.

  17. annakarina1*

    Thanks for your health advice from last week! I limited or cut out breakfast, and do feel better physically in eating later. I worked out a lot with weights on Monday, Muay Thai four times this week, took a beginner modern dance class yesterday, and yoga yesterday and this weekend. I also started to take fish oil and St. John’s Wort for depression, since my mind has been feeling anxious and negative lately. So thank you for the kind responses!

    1. nep*

      Sounds wonderful, annakarina1. You’re doing great things to take care of you.
      All the best.

    2. Courageous cat*

      How do you like Muay Thai? I did kickboxing for a while and enjoyed it for the most part, but want to do a martial art eventually,

  18. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Amusing story.

    I sleep with the TV on and I was watching a show on Hulu the other night. In the middle of the night, I woke up and could hear this voice talking that definitely wasn’t on the TV. After a few minutes, I realized it was my Echo Dot. Occasionally, I’ve had it get activated when someone on a TV show says Alexis or something similar, so I didn’t think much of it and turned it off.

    A couple of hours later, I woke up again and could hear the voice. Now I was a little freaked out. As I was lying there trying to fall back to sleep, a commercial came on Hulu for Reese Witherspoon’s Audible book club. In the commercial she says “Alexa, play my audible book”.

    My Echo Dot was picking this up and the last audio book I listened to was the Ask a Manager book, so I was getting subliminal messaging from Alison while I slept!

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

      That’s cute but also creepy! I absolutely refuse to get one of those things. I’m convinced they’re used to spy on us.

      1. annakarina1*

        I don’t like them either. It feels like the origins of sci-fi stories of self-aware technology turning on humanity by initially presenting itself to be “cute” and “helpful.” My mom compared them to HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

        1. Red Reader*

          My housemate once asked me, “Why do you always say thank you to Siri? It’s not registering anything.”

          I told her, “So that when the robot uprising happens, she’ll remember that I was always polite and maybe return the favor.”

          I still haven’t decided how much of that was joking.

          1. Thursday Next*

            This week, I caught the tail end of a “conversation” between my daughter and Siri.

            Daughter: “I don’t have to respond to that.”
            Siri: “If you don’t, you don’t.”

            I wish I knew what Siri said to her to provoke such indignation.

            1. Red Reader*

              Conversely, after Alexa randomly informed me and my housemate out of the blue that “No, I don’t work for the CIA,” I offered her a new spot with a lovely view of the backyard. Alas, it does not happen to be within range of an electrical outlet.

      2. SophieChotek*

        I agree. (Really, you’re not a Librarian from TNT?)…

        I have avoided getting one of those things too for similar reasons…I am sure eventually I will (?) but right now I still hear way too many stories like this!

    2. LDN Layabout*

      One of my old coworkers was married to an Alexa (uh…woman, not the machine) and I always hoped someone gave them one as a wedding gift because I’m a terrible person.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        My friend’s daughter is named Alexia and they changed their wake word to “computer” because it kept getting tripped when they talked to her.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        The woman who lives in the apartment next to ours is named Alexa. Our Echo dot is mounted on the wall we share with her apartment. So we re-named it to “Echo” so she wouldn’t hear us calling her name through the wall!

    3. Mimmy*

      The Echo is cool (we have two Dots and one full-sized Echo), but I have to admit that it is starting to creep me out a bit, especially when the unit randomly just starts talking with no clear reason.

  19. Lora*


    I will be going to Singapore for w**k for 1.5 – 2 weeks. Never been there, but I’m planning to go to:

    1. Haw Par Villa / Tiger Balm gardens. Apparently this is awesome and I must take many pictures with plastic statues.

    2. Various and sundry botanical gardens. Left to my own devices, I would live year round in a greenhouse with a toilet and a leafy grotto to take showers in, and sleep in a hammock strung between two banana plants, eating nothing but fruit and croissants, so I am excited about the botanical gardens.

    3. Concert at the Esplanade

    4. Eat the many noodle dishes and the spicy crab and have eggs and coconut toast for breakfast

    Anything else I should do while I’m there? I will have a weekend there other than after-work time.

    1. nep*

      Cool. Enjoy Singapore.
      So is coconut toast ‘traditional’ toast with coconut, or toasted coconut, or…?

    2. Not a Mere Device*

      The Tiger Balm Gardens in Hong Kong was delightful in a slightly run-down and definitely surreal way twenty years ago–my friend and I were there on a weekday and there weren’t a lot of other visitors, which was fine.

    3. Nerdgal*

      Chinatown and Little India. Also there,are several good museums of you like that sort of thing.

      1. Lora*

        I do! Any in particular? I’m very interested in historical stuff, especially the ones that document the grungy icky parts of humanity that otherwise would have been glossed over – I like to be challenged to think about stuff, although “admire the aesthetically pleasing thing” is nice too.

      2. Strike Spare*

        Looooove Little India. I’ve been to Singapore 3 times and each time I buy what I call “elephant danglies” in Little India. They are basically door hangings.

        More Singapore recs when I get back…

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I am just laying out our trip to Asia for November and deciding how much time for Singapore. We land early in the morning and I figured two days, but perhaps we should schedule three? I dont need to do high end shopping, but I like to do off the beaten path shopping, and I love just wandering around too.

      Also, I’d like to keep the traveling around weight to a minimum as we fly out of a different airport – recommendations for mailing souvenirs back home from Singapore?

      1. Lora*

        Yes! The only one I don’t think I will be able to fit in is the tree top walk, on account of it takes a half day till all is said and done. But the national botanical gardens, national orchid garden, gardens by the bay are definitely on the list. Anything else I should check out?

    5. Lemonworld*

      A trip to the night safari is quite fun and you’ll see animals that you typically never see.

  20. Student Moving Out*

    Searching for travel tips as well – London!

    I might spontaneously spend up to a week in London. I’ve never been there (German here) and I’m up for suggestions to do!
    I’d prefer not to do typical tourist stuff the whole time, but I’m not completely opposed to doing some touristy things.

    I like cool comfy cafés, talking walks around interesting neighbourhoods/buildings/parks and maybe those cute roofed (night?) markets they had in Melbourne and Sydney? No idea if they have a specific name.
    I’m also eyeing a show or two; Hamilton mostly, although the remaining available tickets are insanely expensive. So if someone can recommend another show in particular that would also be great.

    1. Serious Sam*

      This question has been asked before, I suggest you search the archives. There are many good suggestions there.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      Go to the half price ticket booth in Leicester Square to get cheaper tickets for shows on the day.
      I don’t know of any night markets but if you are a foodie go to Borough Market near London Bridge station on a Saturday, you’ll love it!
      Park-wise, i’d be betraying my neighbourhood if I didn’t say get a short train or bus out to Crystal Palace – the station is right next to the park. This is imho the best park ever – wonderful views from the upper end, lovely walks among the trees, a little lake with aquatic birds…and dinosaurs. I’m not even joking; we have dinosaurs. Google Crystal Palace Park; you’ll see!

      1. London Calling*

        Many many years ago I lived in West Norwood and we loved going to see the dinosaurs. Crystal Palace is on my list to revisit soon.

        1. Jemima Bond*

          They are rebuilding the cafe in the park but there are lots of nice places for refreshments if you do come. It’s a good bit more hipster-trendy than it was when I moved here nearly 16 years ago!

    3. Thlayli*

      Camden lock market! Shakespeare’s globe. Go wandering along the south Bank. If you’re tall you might like to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace. (If you’re short don’t bother you can’t see anything.)

      There is great nightlife and shopping in London. Something for all tastes. London dungeon and Jack the Ripper tour if you’re into that sort of thing. Harry Potter Warner brothers tour.

    4. Tris Prior*

      We were there a few months ago, and our British friends took us to Spitalfields Market, an outdoor market. It’s nearish Brick Lane, where there are lots of Indian restaurants, and on Sunday there is also a food market nearby with literally every sort of ethnic food imaginable. It was a fun arty section of London that we would not have known to visit on out own. The Ten Bells pub is nearby; it is centuries old and supposedly frequented by Jack the Ripper.

    5. Erika22*

      This may be considered touristy, but I like walking along the south bank and perusing the book stalls, getting a drink at one of the restaurants, and just people watching really. Also go to the Tate Modern and go up to the observation level (like level 10?) You’ll get fantastic views of the river and St Paul’s, and it’s free! I personally think the Natural History Museum is one of the most stunning buildings (the room with the whale skeleton leaves me in awe and there’s an escalator that takes you through a planet that’s super cool.)

      For shows, I recommend just seeing what’s playing at the National Theatre (or any theatre) when you’re there and getting cheap tickets – the first few rows sell at £15 because the view is “obstructed” but from row 3 back its totally fine. I think the nice thing about theatre in London is that it doesn’t have to be a huge name production to make for a nice evening out (and the view from the balconies of the Olivier Theatre are stunning!) Check out TimeOut for some “best of” lists and recommendations, and a few weeks before your trip for unique events happening around the city.

      And for your cozy cafes, I highly recommend looking through Instagram – I follow @londoncoffeeshops and @breakfastlondon for places to try, but really you can just keep your eyes peeled and will find something. It also might be nice to just grab a few things from a takeaway chain or grocer and have a little picnic in a park somewhere for a break from the city :) Have a fantastic trip!

    6. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      Go to the Crypt Cafe, in St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is literally located in the crypt, and is very cool. There’s also a gift shop.

      The public museums in London are free, so take advantage of that if you like museums. St. James’s Park is very nice, too.

      Buy a multi-day subway pass; it’s the cheapest and easiest way to get around London. Carry a bottle of water with you, and some snacks in case you find yourself far from food when you’re hungry.

      Also, look up spots to check out before you go – London has so many cool things to do. Have fun!

    7. Bagpuss*

      ‘Spamilton’ is supposed to be very good (it’s a spoof on Hamilton, made with Lin Manuel Miranda’s blessing). I haven’t seen it but it’s had very good reviews. Keep checking the site for Hamilton they do sometimes have returns available. Don’t buy tickets for Hamilton from resellers or sites like viagogo: the theatre does check ID and you won’t get in unless your ID and credit card match the booking.

      If you are coming before 8th September then ‘The Lieutenant of Innishmore’ is very good, (very dark, and very, very, funny). Othello, at the Globe Theatre, is excellent. You can get standing tickets as a ‘groundling’ for £5. Some productions at the National theatre have tickets from £15 as part of the ‘Travelex’ sponsored scheme. ‘A Monster Calls’ at the Old Vic (until 25th Aug) is also extremely good, although it may have you in tears at the end. And if you like Shakespeare and can afford it, Ian McKellen is playing King Lear at the Duke of York’s theatre and it is an amazing production. I think that it sold out but if you are in London for a week it would be worth seeing whether they have any day tickets (and there are a few returns on the official website (agt tickets)

      Highgate cemetary is interesting to visit and walk around (although they do make a charge for entry)

      If you’ve never been to London before then I would suggest you visit the British Museum (free, but due to security checks you may have to queue to get in. If you pre book for any of the paid for exhibitions there is a separate, much shorter queue!)

      The Monument (to the Great Fire of London) is fairly cheap and gives some pretty good views.

      Westminster Abbey is worth seeing, particularly if you like Gothic Architecture. If you prefer Baroque, visit St Paul’s instead.
      The Royal Courts of Justice are open to the public (be aware, they are working courts so photography is strictly forbidden, and can constitute a criminal offence) but they are interesting. It is free to go in to the public areas, or you can book paid for tours. Another lesser known place to visit is the Guildhall, which has a magnificent medieval hall, and a slightly less magnificent Roman ampitheatre in the basement, plus a small at gallery. The hall itself has somewhat erratic opening hours as it may be closed to the public if there are events going on.

      Time Out is quite good for finding what is on the week you are there, and free copies tend to be available at tube stations and in hotels etc.

      Enjoy your visit

  21. Penguin*

    Hi AAM folks! Does anyone have any suggestions on helping parents of adult children adjust to/learn about invisible chronic/mental illness in order to offer useful support without requiring the adult child in question to do the bulk of the emotional labor?

    1. Photographer*

      So, effectively, how you can help me without me helping you help me?

      I would recommend a book / books / web resources to read. They can take it in on their own pace without much hand-holding at all. If you mention the specific disorder some commenters may have specific recommendations.

    2. HannahS*

      Literally the only thing I’ve ever tried that works is offloading that emotional labour to someone else. It’s not the best solution, but sometimes I just give up and tell my mom that something my dad is doing is driving me up the wall and SHE finds a way to gracefully ease him into whatever idea he’s being resistant to. Do you have a sympathetic sibling who’ll take up the sword in your defense?

  22. ahhhhh!...moving*

    Looking for a little internet love and maybe some advice.

    I live with my husband outside of the US (I’m American, he’s not), we’ve been in current town for two years. It’s taken me a lot time and effort to carve out a community here (I’m introverted and not a native speaker of local language). Husband just got a great job (benefits, more money, prestige, etc. etc) in a different part of the country. I can’t currently work in this country, so we decided if he got a better job we’d move. So we’re moving and I’m dreading it. New Job is in a big city in a completely different part of the country. I’m nervous about leaving my support system, having to learn another new language, new area, etc etc. It’s stressing me out. Husband had to start new job right away, so I’m at our home packing stuff up and moving us by myself. Basically I’m drinking a lot of wine and trying not to throw myself a 24/7 pity party.

    Another thing, is I’m a supportive person and a good listener and always the one that my family and friends come to with problems. So I’m great at holding space for other people going through crisis but they rarely return the favor and I guess I’m bad at asking for it. And especially my family was not thrilled about me marrying Husband and moving to the other side of the world, so I’m hesitant to talk about this much with them. Husband is the kindest, most supportive person ever but he’s super stressed about the new job and feels guilty about moving us and I just don’t feel like I have a good outlet to just sit on the phone with and cry.

    Anyone have any advice for making friends in a new city when you a) can’t legally work there and b) are a foreigner? Or general mental health/self care advice?

    Thanks internet people!

    1. Rosemary7391*

      Are there any local groups of English speakers? Somehow my colleagues seem to find other native speakers of their language in the city so that seems to be a thing! Alternatively, you might see if anyone wants to practice English with you?

      How are your language skills? Could you take a class?

      Do you have any hobbies/interests you could find a local group for?

      1. Reba*

        Definitely look for English speakers’ groups. Of course, you want to the learn the language and make friends from the country where you now live — but IME sometimes it can be a real relief to spend time using the language in which you are fully expressive, among people who have a shared cultural baseline with you. You might look for “Americans and Friends in {your city/country}” or if you are a fitness person, Hash House Harriers is a network of running clubs usually full of expats.

        Volunteering with a place that could use a native English speaker?

        Signing up for a language-learning class?

        So sorry you are feeling lonely. Moving is hard no matter what.

    2. Steve*

      I worked overseas for a bit, which helped me realise the importance of a good community. Hopefully a bigger population might result in more english speakers?

      The best bit of advice that I ever heard was ‘pick a project’. Either go to school (someone got their uni degree and another became a wine expert) or have babies (not suggesting them unless one is keen, but some folks had planned on kids so this became the right time for them) or travel a lot (I went himing nearby every weekend) or…

    3. Be the Change*

      No advice but lots of sympathy. My husband is from another place and I (shamefully) don’t even enjoy visiting due to the kind of thing you are talking about.

      It’s wonderful that you were willing to make a change like this for love. I don’t mean in a mushy way, but an I-promised way. How long have you been married?

    4. Sparrow*

      It sounds like you’ve already done this once, so I hope that gives you confidence that you can do it again!
      A few thoughts: Can you plan visits back to your friends in Current Town? Or can you set up systems to stay in touch via texting/Skype/social media?
      Second, I would say don’t be afraid to let your husband help you. If my partner were moving because of me and was nervous, lonely and worried about making connections, I would want to do whatever I can to help them with that. He may be stressed because of his new job, but don’t let that keep you from being honest about your worries and let him work with you to problem solve. Can he meet couple friends through his job? Can he ask around about how to find places/groups of people that can stand in for what you had in Current Town (language classes, meetup groups, gym, whatever)? Can he spend time with you on evenings or weekends helping you get used to navigating around your new place? Basically what I’m saying is it’s ok to lean on him a bit here, so that he can channel that totally reasonable guilt feeling into practical support for you.

    5. Jessi*

      can you ask your current community if they know people in new city? Even if you just meet them for coffee or a drink that might be really nice!

      I like meet up, but also: can you take a class in the new city (ice skating, crafting, painting ect), could you get involved in volunteer work – both something to do and a bit of structure in your life, have you googled for expat groups in Newcity? If you facebook also search facebook for American’s in NewCity as they may be a group.

      Could you make it easy for your friends to help support you? Text a couple and ask for a bit of support “Wanna come round for a glass of wine and listen to me complain for a bit?” “Do you have 20m to chat? I’m panicking a bit about the move and could use a calming chat.” “If I make dinner would you come round and keep me company while I pack some stuff one night this week?”

    6. Ann O.*

      You say “we decided,” so there must have been something about this choice that was an upside for you at the time (because it doesn’t sound like you want to move at all now!). So can you focus on whatever there was about the choice? Is there a hobby or passion project of yours that the extra money can help you with?

      In terms of general mental health/self-care advice, you’ve done this before successfully so it’s hard to know what may be good advice that you don’t already know! But what I did when I lived in another country with no previous friends was first, find a reason to leave my house and have conversations in the local language (which was HARD! I was in an urban area and everyone wanted to practice their English with me, so I would often have conversations in which person would use English and I would use Arabic because we were both stubborn). Second, I planned a travel trip/escape every few months. Third, I connected with some local English teachers, which let me have a mini-expat community of people around my age.

    7. Academic Editor*

      A big city might actually be nice for connecting with other English speakers! One way to find people is to look for ex-pat businesses. When I lived overseas, the capitol city had a cafe owned by ex-pats, and it was amazing to have a place where I could get familiar food, use my English, and meet other people!

    8. Traffic_Spiral*

      Facebook. As much as everyone likes to shit on facebook as the root of all modern evil, it’s a godsend for expats who want to keep in touch with faraway friends and family. Plus social groups in the new city (which might have more expats) and also maybe some kind of useful education/volunteering thing to keep your professional skills up to date.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Is the American Women’s Club a global network? There is a branch where I live, as well as other womens’ clubs (not necessarily tied to a specific nationality) From what I gather, these clubs are a way to help newcomers in a different country, especially for ”trailing spouses”.

    9. ronda*

      in the car today, Rick Steves was having talk with a woman who wrote a book about traveling solo. It gave a couple suggestions that might work for you and a couple people mentioning the great experiences they had because they were alone.

      Maybe some of the ideas mentioned are doable for you … the one that came to mind for me first was meetup type event of locals who want to practice english, so they are inviting tourists.


  23. nep*

    Peppermint oil is magical. (I use it just topically and man oh man I’m glad this stuff exists.)
    Good weekend, all.

      1. Handy Nickname*

        I put it on my temples when I have a migraine. Doesn’t fix it, but usually makes it let up long enough for me to breathe.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I’ve heard of people putting a dab of it on their upper lip when they have sinus congestion, sort of like a menthol ointment, only it evaporates faster.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You might like peppermint soap if you have not tried it yet. I use it for cleaning tough stains, getting rid of bugs, and as a hand soap. Peppermint is good stuff.

        1. Nye*

          Ha! I don’t think sponges can be relaxed in that way, but a former colleague of mine used it for some polychaete worms. It was one of the few nice smells we got in the lab, so I remember it fondly. (Also her worms were very cute, and I enjoyed getting to see them.)

  24. heckofabecca*

    Good problems to have: on Tuesday, we had an ice cream sundae party. Maybe 10 people came? Well, we severely underestimated how generous our friends are, and now we have 10 cartons of ice cream in our freezer (plus some vanilla ice cream mochi…) and a bunch of sundae supplies.

    What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Mine’s chocolate PB swirl :3

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      What a great idea!

      My always favorite is butter pecan, but I’m also partial to cookie dough. When I’m having reallllly good gelato, I go for pistachio and bacio (chocolate/hazelnut).

    2. hermit crab*

      Oh that is a great idea! Can I steal it? I have been wanting to have a party, but more low-key than a dinner or cocktail party, and this sounds perfect.

      My favorite flavor is “vanilla with stuff in it.” Also: coffee ice cream, and mint chip (even better: mint cookie). But I mostly only buy coffee ice cream, because my husband HATES everything coffee-flavored, so I know that when I buy coffee ice cream, it will be all for me. :)

      1. heckofabecca*

        omg of course!!! It’s a ton of fun! Especially in the weather I’m having now XD

        There’s a Friendly’s flavor called Vienna mocha chunk which is coffee with chocolate bits in it… It’s apparently very good! I don’t do coffee myself but my husband loves it.

    3. Jemima Bond*

      Pistachio, or rum and raisin if I’m feeling a bit eighties!
      In France – blackcurrant. More a sorbet but so so good!

      Related – I read recently that in the US purple sweets (such as skittles) and drinks are grape flavour not blackcurrant like they are here, and that blackcurrants aren’t really a thing on the USA? Say it isn’t so!! I feel like this is basically a humanitarian crisis and I should start shipping jam.

    4. Lcsa99*

      We are willing to take any of your ice cream! My husband loves ice cream. He might even have it in his blood…maybe that’s why his hands are so cold (though I tell him its cause all his warmth goes to his heart).

      Anyway, all my favorites have a vanilla base cause I like sweet. So cookies and cream, cookie dough, fudge swirl and especially anything with caramel!

    5. Kate Daniels*

      This is amazing!!!! I love the basic flavors (chocolate or vanilla) and cookies and cream. If I’m getting specific about particular brands, my favorites are Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough or Talenti caramel cookie crunch.

    6. Nicole76*

      I have a few favorites depending on the brand. For Baskin Robbins it’s the chocolate peanut butter and for Market Pantry it’s Java Chip. It also depends on my mood but I enjoy mint chocolate chip, Oreo cookies and cream, and Pistachio (Halo Top).

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Ooh, I had caramel macchiato Halo Top and cinnamon bun Halo Top – those were amazing! Low cal and low sugar (I think) compared to ice cream.

        For ice cream, straight up chocolate, but also anything with a caramel swirl and nothing crunchy gets my vote.

    7. KayEss*

      Chocolate peanut butter is my favorite, too! Had to warn my husband off from my pint the other day–he doesn’t even like it, but he’ll consider eating anything in the house when he’s hungry. Caught him contemplating the freezer and was like DO NOT EVEN. D:<

    8. Totally Minnie*

      Link to one I used to have a job where I worked every Saturday, and every now and the. We would have Saturday Sundaes. I highly recommend it.

      My favorites are either mint chip or Neapolitan.

    9. Canadian Natasha*

      Haagen Daaz’ pineapple coconut ice cream and Black cherry amaretto gelato are my current faves. <3

    10. Overeducated*

      Graham central station, and if any of my friends from grad school read this comment section, I have just doxxed myself. Can’t find that flavor anywhere else.

      Next best are coffee fudge and mint oreo.

    11. Aphrodite*

      Ice cream, yum!

      I adore beyond measure Ciao Bello’s Blood Orange Sorbetto. It is so fantastic that I have not touched any other type of ice cream for several years; just no longer interested. (The brand is important because Talenti makes the same blood orange sorbet but it tastes a lot weaker and is less interesting.)

      However, I have recently taken to green tea mochi. I usually buy it at Trader Joe’s but it’s expensive for what you get. Last night I checked out recipes for it and there is a YouTube video made by a Japanese blogger who shows exactly how to do it. Looks easy so I think in a week or so I might just give it a try.

    12. ECHM*

      Michigan Pothole: described as “thick black tar fudge and chocolate ice cream with chunky chocolate cookie asphalt pieces.”

    13. Anonymosity*

      Mine is plain chocolate chip (not mint, not disgusting oreo cookies and cream). But apparently, they do not make it anymore. I can’t find it anywhere.
      So I just make my own.

    14. Red Reader*

      I do love chocolate peanut butter, but my FAVORITE favorite is Mackinac Island fudge. I think about the only way you can get it outside of Michigan is if you are in the Midwest and have a Meijer nearby — they have it in their house brand ice cream.

    15. Tau*

      It used to be stracciatella, although lately I’ve been branching out. There’s a place near my work that does a great buttermilk and lemon, and I’ve been meaning to try their yoghurt and pomegranate. I like yoghurt-based ice creams a lot in general – I’ve been trying to cut down on my sugar consumption and many of the standard flavours strike me as too sweet these days.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I went to a fantastic ice cream parlour over the weekend and had their strawberry sundae. Best strawberry ice cream ever. Plus it counts as one of my 5 a day.

    16. Earthwalker*

      I try to eat light and healthy in the summer so I can clean up my plate quickly and have an excuse for a giant sundae, which is the actual point of eating in summer. I love chocolate and vanilla with whatever stripes and bits they might come with, or mint chip, or cherry nut, but my favorite is Baskin Robbins Mandarin Chocolate Sherbet, an intense orange sherbet so filled with chocolate that it’s almost black. Ever try plain orange or raspberry sherbet with Hershey syrup all over it? Oh, yum.

  25. matcha123*

    For those of you that came from low-income backgrounds/didn’t have any financial knowledge, how have you/did you start saving?
    I am finally at a place where I am not expected to be responsible for my family/parent’s living expenses, and I am trying to save a bit of my paycheck every month. I am not in the US now, so I can’t ‘invest’ or contribute to a 401k. Reading books and blogs about financial planning helps a bit, but I’m interested in hearing about other people’s journeys. I feel like I’m a decade or more behind where my peers are. Most of them come from immigrant families where the parents worked hard to make sure their kids didn’t and were pretty serious about having emergency savings, etc. I am pretty good at finding deals and making clothing and other purchases last for years, but it sucks for me that I’m playing catch-up.
    Personally, my biggest issue is finding a balance between being a hermit (which I’ve been for decades) and finally getting connected with other humans and possibly getting connected to a better job (connected means going out to events that typically cost some money to meet people).

    1. Lora*

      After grad school was the first time my income actually exceeded my living expenses, so I saved like crazy. I was exceedingly dumb about it, but at the time there were only library books of wildly variable quality, so I picked an accountant out of the phone book and did exactly what he told me.

      It didn’t help because husband at the time was the world’s most annoying spendthrift, but generally it was decent advice for someone who didn’t know crap and had never had stock options before.

      As soon as I got divorced, my family decided that I should go back to giving them every spare dime, which will continue until my mom dies. I guess treasure your moments of “don’t have to give my family money” and maximize them and never tell anyone about your savings accounts? Because for me those moments are few and far between.

      It’s one thing to pick up the tab for someone’s college tuition when they’re bright, or help them out when they get sick and their crap job has no benefits. What my aunt and cousins (who are similarly successful) and I hate so much is when we have a relative who is just feckless: has an okay job, but then always needs money because they spent the rent on clothing or a new car or paying drunk driving fines or gave the money to a con artist who was blatantly, obviously, a con artist.

      My mom is feckless like this, has some serious health problems, and it’s just crazy making. Even when I was in college, she would steal credit cards out of my wallet and run them up on crap – my then-husband and I were living on $16,000/year between the two of us, she was making $80k (this was the 90s in a sort of suburban metro area, $80k was good money) and she would run up MY credit cards. But faaaaaaaamily! You can’t cut her off, because faaaaaaaamily! I cut her off for almost my entire marriage, 15 years. Didn’t speak to her except for a Xmas card, didn’t visit. As soon as I got divorced and then had a second cancer Dx, she descended like a fking vulture “because you need help!” It’s totally a growing up poor thing, I completely understand where it comes from psychologically, but it’s crazy making when you have stopped your own brain from doing that and you’re made to suffer from other people’s compulsions, who don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

      So, I don’t know. It just sucks.

      1. disney + coffee*

        The best advice I can give is to meticulously tracking your spending. Every month, I make an Excel spreadsheet where I can see literally every single cent I spend. I have it organized by food, gas, household items, clothes/makeup/hair, and extras for week-to-week expenses. Everything I purchase fits into one of those categories. I then have a section for monthly expenses like rent, car payment, metro card, etc. It’s really eye-opening to see exactly where your money is going and exactly how much you’re spending in direct comparison to how much money you have coming in. It takes some getting used to but it does make you think about every purchase and eventually just become second nature. Best of luck to you!

      2. matcha123*

        Oh, wow! I have had a joint account since opening my first bank account (it’s still a Junior Account despite me being in my 30s!), and any money in there would be transferred to be used for bills, etc. Opening a new account was never an option (what mailing address would I use?). Being overseas is helpful in that way. I am sure my sibling has a good bit saved up, but they are tight-lipped about it, which is fine because I’m not looking to borrow from them. I only have a small amount saved, and it has been hard to break my habit of buying something for myself before the money gets claimed for “family.” I can really relate to your last sentence!

      3. Temperance*

        I’m so, so sorry. Can you work on distancing yourself now, on saving money and living your own life? I’m sorry that your mom is such a beast that she felt the need to swoop in when you were dealing with some awful stuff.

        My mother stole my identity, too. We don’t speak, though.

        1. Lora*

          I wish! She is now elderly and unfit to live completely on her own lest she burn the house down. It’s frustrating because there’s no legal way to stop her from taking out new credit cards or giving out her account numbers on the internet until her dementia progresses to the point where she needs round the clock care. She’s at that weird in-between stage where she can manage with daily help and a lot of technology so she doesn’t have to cook or clean much. Just microwave and instant pot things. I tried getting her siblings to help, and they did for a little bit, but aren’t willing to do more. They have their own problems.

          Oh well. I am truly envious of people whose family isn’t constantly hitting them up for money…

    2. Hellanon*

      Pay yourself first – set up a savings account or two (one easily accessible, for *your* emergencies, and one a tax-advantaged index fund through Vanguard or Schwab, or your credit union’s investment arm) and do a set-amount automatic deposit in each. For years – even when I was freelancing and renting out a room to make rent – I dropped 10% of pre-tax dollars into each. If you take that money off the top you’ll never miss it. Another tip is to, if you can, drop any raises into savings so that you are living on your pre-raise salary and saving the rest. Beyond that, another jedi mind trick is to count all the money you don’t spend on consumer purchases and add that to savings – or, if you are disciplined, just watch your checking account grow.

      My parents (dad grew up poor, mom grew up around people who were much, much wealthier) have poor impulse control and all the financial sense of voles. They have “borrowed” money from everyone in the family, mostly to recover from impulse-driven decision-making. My sister & I have learned how not to do things – and part of that is protecting your savings except in case of dire emergencies (medical, not the “I need a vacation” kind!) But budgeting money to support your career makes sense – buying clothes that make you look like a manager, paying the dues to your field’s networking groups or taking skills-based classes/completing relevant degrees are all good, important things that will help you leverage more money in your career. Just, budget it from the after-savings money….

      1. matcha123*

        I have 2 accounts now; one that the majority of my paycheck goes to and the other that I’m mainly trying to use for savings. I may open a third account since both of my accounts have various automatic payments coming out. I just did a calculation and it looks like I’m putting away about 10% pre-tax per month. My only frustration is how slowly it seems to be going.
        Glad to know that doing a bit of mingling isn’t the worst thing! I moved to a larger city last year and I am trying to get out and use any opportunity I can to meet new people and tell them about what I do/hear about what they do, too.

        1. Beatrice*

          I do what you do, with the 2 accounts, and the savings-ish account is something I use for planned big-ticket purchases. I have a list of things we could use that we have to save for, and use that to prioritize what the money in the savings-ish account is for. I also have a third account, at a different bank, that’s for long-term savings. Having it at a different bank helps me think of it as completely separate from the part of my finances that I use for spending, and makes it a little more inconvenient for me to access the money – there’s a separate online banking login that I’m always forgetting, and transferring money from there to my regular accounts is a little bit of a hassle and takes a couple of days. I have done it when necessary – most recently to replace an appliance that suddenly died – but it’s easier to make it a last resort.

    3. Thlayli*

      The way I do it is I have a totally different way of looking at it than most people. Most people seem to think “I’ll save x per month and spend the rest”. I think “I’ll spend as little as I can and keep the rest.” I never have a “saving goal” I have a spending goal. The rest of the money stays in my account and once my account gets big I transfer it to savings. It’s like that old saying “look after your pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”. Just spend wisely and you’ll be grand.

      It is tricky trying to figure out how much to spend on social life. There are ways to have a social life frugally. When I was in college and totally broke I used to give up alcohol for 3 months at a time and drink for 3 months at a time – when you go back on alcoholyou will have a really low tolerance and can get drunk on about 2 drinks! It’s really cheap.

      1. matcha123*

        I am trying to get myself more into the “spend as little” mindset as possible. And it’s true about reducing alcohol. I cut out alcohol in the lead up to my period and to keep my fitness gains on point. Sipping a beer or red wine while others have more is totally fine with me. I will have to try what you do with your account and look for more ways to cut spending!

      2. Annie Moose*

        Mmm, this is me. My family jokes that I’m such a miser, but… I have a terror of not having enough money. When I was a kid, my parents tried to hide how close to the line we were from us kids; of course I realized money was tight, but not how tight until one day I lost a twenty dollar bill that was supposed to pay for my piano lesson, and my mom almost had a breakdown. She was trying really hard to hold it together, but that was when I realized that she literally did not have another twenty dollars to give me (and I don’t know where she got the twenty dollars for the lesson in the first place!!). And since then, I’ve always told myself I don’t care what I have to do, I cannot let myself get to the point where twenty dollars is that crucial.

        So, I’m a miser. I have a good job and have quite a bit of savings now, so I’ve loosened up a bit and am trying to teach myself how to buy things when I need them (rather than constantly making do without, when it isn’t necessaru), but I still don’t like spending money unless it’s something I’m convinced I need. I have certain things I’ve gotten comfortable with spending money on (e.g. I pay the nice college kids at a salon to do my eyebrows, such a luxury!), including going out to eat occasionally with friends, but I still buy store brand rather than pricier brands, I still don’t buy clothes unless I desperately need them, and I still NEVER buy anything unless it’s on sale!

        1. Annie Moose*

          Oh, another thing I do related to this–ALL of my paycheck goes in my savings account, and I have an automatic transfer to put an “allowance” in my checking account to be used. I think very carefully before I transfer any additional money from savings to checking!

          1. AnonAtAllTimes*

            I’m like you. And after forty years of doing this, believe me I’m glad this was my approach. Young and poor I’ve been. It was not that bad. Old and poor I do not want to be. And the only way to avoid growing old is to die young, which not many people are lining up to do.

            Don’t change your ways. Continue to save and invest. Your older self will thank you.

    4. wingmaster*

      Always put money in your savings before you pay for other things like bills. I usually put 20% of my paycheck to savings. I have an Excel sheet showing my monthly budget that I am sticking to. I also have the app Monefy downloaded onto my phone to keep track on my spending and where I could cut back. I set aside money for entertainment/going out, because you should always have some fun every month. There was a post on Pinterest that I saw where you can save $5000 in a year, so I am also following that in my second savings. I do admit that my weakness is buying food/alcohol, so I’m slowly starting to meal prep to save more money.

      I just graduated college in May, so all this is new to me too. I was lucky that my sorority sister is a financial adviser and helped me create this budget that I am following. And as far as maintaining a social life…still working on it, but my friends and I enjoy outdoor recreation like surfing and hiking. Those are already free for us.

    5. Lissa*

      Similar situation. Grew up middle class-ish but never learned much about money, family tragedy/financial disaster hit in my mid teens though I wasn’t fully aware of the scope of it till way later – regardless, never learned good habits. Worked a barely above minimum wage job through most of 20s, and now am working something better, but not really sure what to….do. I have an emergency fund and I now am able to do a lot of things I never wasn’t before – not even anything extravagant just go out for dinner without having to worry, or buy a new video game and be OK.

      I’m still far far away from being able to own property if that’s ever even an option considering, so I have a mutual fund account (also not American) I contribute to every month. I’d really like to buy some riskier stocks and not put a lot into it, but (this sounds really dumb) I don’t really know where to start. Everything I read gives different advice – go through my bank, don’t go through my bank, you can do it online, don’t do it online, etc.

    6. Persephone Mulberry*

      Plug for YNAB (You Need A Budget). It’s a web-based software subscription with a phone app (and also a book), but it’s also a budgeting method/philosophy, the core idea of which is “give every dollar a job.” Saving is good, but what are you saving FOR? Is your spending in line with your short and long term priorities? Etc. I’ve been a YNAB convert for seven months and it’s changed the way I think about money.

    7. Jessi*

      I have an excell spreadsheet.

      I get paid and then use a budget to divide my income up into different categories – this is what I can spend on food, this is for saving for a vacation, this is for saving if I ever want a house someday and this saving is for retirement. We grew up very poor so I kinda had to learn on my own too. I think the biggest big is living within your means (don’t spend more than you make) and learning how to save for an emergency and then save towards bigger purchases

      I really enjoy the blog frugalwoods (dot) com

    8. frockbot*

      Like Disney + Coffee, I have an Excel spreadsheet for my budget, with a built-in Savings slot. If I’m saving up for something specific and I want to save a set amount per month, I’ll go ahead and enter that into the Savings slot so it’s accounted for first thing. Otherwise, I’ll just put anything left over at the end of the month into savings. It’s weirdly satisfying to get to the end of a month and put a nice big number into that row, so having that empty cell staring at me all month encourages me to be more careful with what I’m buying!

      I’ll say, though, that as someone who grew up in a low income household, I am REALLY anxious about spending money even when I know I can afford it. Having the spreadsheet has helped cut that anxiety down a lot. But I have one arbitrary rule in my head that I can’t shake: everything in my checking account has to stay there UNLESS it’s being spent on something I deem necessary, like groceries or rent or X consumer item that I agonized over before buying. That meant that I never spent any money, which was both fiscally useful but also paralyzing, because then I couldn’t–or didn’t feel like I could–do anything fun. You might find, as you wade into the wonderful world of savings, that you start to do something like that to yourself. My solution was to open an actual savings account and to tell myself that anything in my savings account was fair game for “fun” stuff. And it worked! So, you know, if you start to get sucked into an anxiety spiral, maybe try breaking up your funds a little between different accounts, or otherwise find ways to give yourself permission to spend.

    9. Rosemary7391*

      I’ve found the website moneysavingexpert.com to be very very useful – it’s UK based, but even if you’re not there the general ideas will apply. The forums are great too :)

      My Dad always told me to pay myself 10% first – ie put 10% of my wage in savings. That’s a nice rule of thumb, but you can also start costing out more specific financial commitments. I have a spreadsheet where I break down my savings balance into several categories, with an amount allocated to each and the % full that fund is. Most important is the 6 months living costs fund, but I also have yearly things like a holiday fund, an amount to replace my computer after a few years, and other long term funds for house stuff, new car, musical instruments etc. It’s a nice motivator especially when I put some money against something fun :)

      You say you’re not in the US now – does that mean you’re a US citizen? You should be aware that some financial institutions are reluctant to take on US citizens as customers because of FATCA. Major banks are usually okay, but I’ve been a bit disheartened by stock dealing platforms, the ones with cheaper fees don’t want the expense of dealing with US citizens. I decided to delay starting my pension because of it – just wasn’t worth it with the amount I could put to it from my stipend.

      1. matcha123*

        I am a US citizen. The banks here are fine with me, I just have to jump through extra hoops when I need to do an international wire transfer.
        I don’t think I’ll try and look at investing or stocks until I can get back to the US. I am frustrated because I don’t have enough money to move home now. When I do save enough to move back, I’ll be starting from 0 again in the US.

        1. ronda*

          Since your goal seems to be getting enough money to move back to the US. Separating the savings account and not telling folks about it is probably the best strategy (other people’s emergencies are not your emergencies when you have one of your own to deal with). Maybe you can ask for money or other help from some of the people you have been helping to get you back to US. Track your spending in detail to see what you can cut out and make sure you are paying what you need to avoid fees on late payments etc if possible.
          Set up alerts on the travel websites to get notified if travel cost fall to a level that will let you make the move.

          From an interview with Lisa Servon’s book is “The Unbanking Of America.”
          This is a women writing about why people use check cashing services instead of traditional banks. It is an interesting read & I thinking you are making the best decisions you can.
          A quote from the interview:
          “combined with my knowledge that, you know, my feeling and my experience that low-income people do make smart, economic decisions when they can.”

    10. purple otter*

      One thing jumped out at me – you say you “can’t ‘invest’ or contribute to a 401k.” True for now, while you’re abroad, but you can take the money that you might have invested and put them in a savings account. Every bit of savings now will help you in the long run, even if the interest rate on a savings account is practically zero compared to investment funds.

      One piece of really good advice my parents gave me when I first started working is – consistently saving 5% (even if it’s $10 or $25 USD or something most financial advisors think of as pennies) of your paycheck now is better for your retirement than trying to save 30% of your paycheck when you’re in your 40s or 50s and much closer to retirement.

      Other than that, I agree with everyone else who says track your spending. I’m in a decent place financially these days, but I remember the rough days where sparing $30 going out to eat was special for me while my peers talked about investing $1,000 USD in stocks like it was easy money.

      1. matcha123*

        I am almost 35, so I am quite far behind. Until recently, a large chunk of my salary that should have gone into savings was used to help family. I am discouraged that I am so behind, when I have been so disciplined. With that said, getting my savings together bit by bit is my only option. Although I don’t ever picture myself retiring, I do prefer to have some money in the bank!

    11. June*

      I would suggest reading the book by Dave Ramsey called The Total Money Makeover. It has great advice on getting out of debt, saving, etc.

  26. hermit crab*

    This summer, my immune system has declared war on mosquito bites. I now get giant swollen, super-itchy welts that I find fascinating from an immunology perspective, but they are so uncomfortable. Combined with the fact that I live in the DC area, aka mosquito paradise, and my lifelong mosquito-attracting blood/smell/whatever (I’m that person who goes outside with a group and gets all the bug bites for everyone, you are welcome), and I am an itchy mess.

    Upside: I have done a thorough investigation of the available prescription, OTC, and home remedies. If you would like recommendations, ask away.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      From a fellow swamp-dweller, my sympathies. Especially with all this rain we’ve been having, it’s gonna be a mosquito buffet. Apparently Fairfax county reported a case of West Nile already.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Ugh, that STINKS. Mosquitoes love me too. Especially my ankles. Allegra works for me (I take it daily for seasonal allergies anyway) and before I figured that out, I would scratch myself bloody.

      1. hermit crab*

        Ah yeah, I try to stay away from the oral meds because I find they mix weirdly with alcohol (for me, anyway) and I value being able to drown my sorrows. :)

        Totally hear you on the ankles! I was dumb and sat outside for a while on Thursday evening wearing ballet flats. Of course now my ankles and the tops of my feet are like one big bite. I am literally sitting here with my feet draped in damp washcloths that I stuck in the freezer — much easier than using ice packs!

    3. Nicole76*

      My sympathies – you sound like my husband. I bought a Benedryl stick that you can dab on them as soon as you notice them. It’s at Walmart for $2. It provides a bit of relief from the itching.

    4. Ranon*

      As near as I can tell this year I react differently to different types of mosquitos (but badly to both!). And I now have a walking commute.

      I have found that picardin is more compatible with fabrics than deet (because it’s not an oil), so when I remember I mostly don’t get eaten alive. But every time I think “oh, it will be fine”? Not fine.

    5. DrWombat*

      I seem to be very reactive to the mosquitoes around here. I’ve been going through Bigel Oil like mad to ease the itching (yes it’s technically for horses but it works great for humans). Idk if there’s any truth to the “type O blood attracts mosquitoes” thing or not but it sure feels like it

    6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      One thing I want to get for my dad’s next birthday is permethrin spray. Its used as a fabric treatment, kills mosquitos and ticks on contact, and LASTS THROUGH 6 WASHES. Or you can get factory pretreated clothes that last 70 washes. My military brother gets issued clothes with it and recommended it.

      1. MCL*

        The only thing with permethrin is that it is extremely toxic to cats in its liquid form, so be really careful with it if you have cats. Once it dries it should be okay.

        1. hermit crab*

          Yeah, I think permethrin is an insecticide rather than a repellant, so it’s designed to kill stuff.

      2. hermit crab*

        My mom swears by self-treating her clothes with permethrin. I haven’t tried it yet because I don’t have any outdoor space where I could do the actual spraying — but to hear her talk about it, it’s magical!

    7. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Are you me? I’ve always had terrible reactions to mosquito bites. Giant angry itchy welts that stick around for a full week. If I get bit in a particularly delicate spot, like the back of my knees, the welt is so bad that it literally leaves a bruise. Benedryl helps if I get a ton of bites all at once, although it makes too sleepy to take during the day. A big glob of benzocaine ointment under a bandaid is the only thing I’ve found that keeps me from scratching my skin off in my sleep.
      Mostly I wear pants or don’t venture off the screen porch around dusk. I worry about dousing myself in insecticides eight months out of the year, but I did find a rub-on repellent that’s basically a lotion bar heavily infused with essential oils. It works okay if I remember to reapply frequently. I’d love to try anything you’ve found that works for you.

      1. hermit crab*

        Benzocaine is good. I recently got some lidocaine cream and that’s even better! I use a prescription steriod lotion for the really swollen ones (that and ice).

        If you’re worried about long-term exposure to insect repellants, you could try the permethrin spray people are talking about above, since it goes on your clothes instead of your skin.

        I have a DEET-based roll-on stick that I like — obviously, don’t use it if you don’t want to use DEET, but since it’s a solid stick (1) you can apply it in really targeted places instead of all over yourself, (2) you don’t use your hands to apply it, and (3) it is super portable/won’t spill in your bag/you can take it in your carry-on since it’s not a liquid. I think it is Repel brand.

        Also, my coworker recently recommended finding something with lemon eucalyptus as the active ingredient. Is that what’s in your lotion bar?

        1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

          I believe it’s rosemary, lemongrass, sage, and citronella. The other herbs far outweigh than the citronella so it smells strongly herbal, but not in an unpleasant way.

      2. Triple Anon*

        Me too. They swell up and ooze yellow puss. It turns into a big, infected-looking area (green and yellow puss) and it leaves a scar. I’ve started treating these with Neosporin and Band-Aids. I know the infection is from scratching, but it’s gruesomely severe with certain mosquito bites.

    8. RockyRoad*

      Mosquitoes love me too. In the summer I basically only spend time outside relaxing or gardening in the morning or early afternoon, otherwise I’ll get eaten up and have to cover myself in bandaids to keep myself from itching. I use Avon’s Bug Guard if I have to go to a party or something in the afternoon. It works very well, but still not perfect since I’m not perfect in applying it. (It comes in a spray. I think a lotion form would be easier.)

    9. fposte*

      Ugh, me too. I’ll be interested to hear what suggestions people have. For me it’s topical hydrocortisone and, if I get really nailed, oral benadryl. Has anybody done a side-by-side with hydrogen peroxide, which I’ve been hearing championed?

      1. hermit crab*

        Personally I still think hydrocortisone is the best topical treatment (except for ice, but that not always convenient; lidocaine cream is close but it doesn’t seem to last as long). I love the idea of a side-by-side comparison, though. Maybe I can find a few people to help me do a double-blind investigation…

    10. Jessi*

      Me too :/ I’m investing in a company who are making a bracelet that makes a sound that mosquitoes hate – so I’m really hoping that works for me

      1. RockyRoad*

        A bracelet would be so much better than slathering on bug repellent! Do you know if the sound is something humans can hear too?

    11. Anono-me*

      As a partial solution, can you treat your outside spaces for mosquitoes? We have found spraying and using fertilizer type granules really cut down on the mosquitoes in our yard. (Especially if you offered to help while at your most painful looking, maybe your friends would be willing to do their yards also.)
      Permethrin treated clothing and soaking in oatmeal baths followed by calomine lotion to address the bites you get everywhere else.
      Prepermethrin, lots of people swore by Avon Skin So Soft or one of the VS perfumes as the best way to repel mosquitoes.
      And thank you for being the sacrifice to the mosquitoe plauge.

    12. Indie*

      Apparently the SAS use Avon’s Skin So Soft oil spray. This could be totally an urban myth but I took a look at the inci list when on holiday with my friend and it was heavy on extracts from aromatherapy oils like citronella and geranium that would usually be used as insect repellents. It worked for her. Though this was a while back and im not sure if they changed the formula.

    13. Windward*

      For the swelling I’ve had good luck with arnica gel. Helps with the itchiness, too, but not quite as much. Once I’ve scratched one open, I switch to antibiotic ointment & a bandaid on it.

  27. Be the Change*

    Love of the week?

    Mine is Overdrive and its downloadable audiobooks. If you saw my post yesterday, that wee sma’s drive was only possible because I could instantly get an audiobook to keep me company.

    1. Laura H.*

      My love is all the showering with pleasant birthday related shenanigans. I don’t make a big deal of my birthday, but this year… pretty sure I absolutely needed the extra love! One more bash tomorrow and then everything goes back to normal.

    2. Totally Minnie*

      My love of the week is inclusive picture books.

      Prince and Knight by Daniel Haack — the dashing prince and brave knight defeat a dragon together and fall in love and live happily ever after.

      Lulu is a Rhinoceros by Allison Flom — everyone thinks Lulu is a dog, but she is not. She is a rhinoceros.

      La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Ella — written in Spanglish with a really good meter and rhyme scheme, and adorable art.

    3. Anonymosity*

      I just finished Season 6 of Orange is the New Black and was looking for a show to binge. My nerdier friends online could not stop talking about Attack on Titan, so I started watching it on Hulu. OMG I love it. It’s SCARY!! The titans are SCARY!! After the first night’s viewing, I fully expected to have a nightmare. I didn’t, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I do at some point!

      I finished Season 1 last night. One friend is hugely into Captain Levi. He’s interesting so far, but I think Mikasa is a total badass. The only thing I don’t like is that it’s dubbed. While I can tolerate a good dub, these voice actors seem to mistake screaming for being expressive. They yell all their dialogue. It’s sooooo loud.

    4. Star Nursery*

      Overdrive is fantastic for reading library e-books. I like Hoopla too. It allows library loans for movies, audiobooks, e-books but for a limited number of check outs per month.

    5. Earthwalker*

      Wow, thanks for the pointer! Overdrive looks wonderful. I’ll contribute a golden oldie as a love-of-the-week since I just found a copy I’ve been looking for: Roadside Geology. Buy the book for whatever state you’re in, hand it to the front seat passenger to read aloud from the section that covers your route, and your road trip is a geology tour.

  28. Em*

    Excited to say I’m starting up a tech conference for diversity in tech in Alabama! (Link in the header). I’m working with a great group and we’re excited for it!

  29. Not So NewReader*

    I’d work on having emergency savings and I’d allot a modest amount to bettering my situation in life. I am kind of doing that now. I paid off medical bills, schooling is paid for and the house is almost paid for but that beat up my savings pretty good.

    I think being strategic about spending money on connecting with others is helpful. I limit how many things I can go to that cost money. I make sure I have a reason for going, the reason might be a particular goal or it might be more general. Never underestimate the value of carpooling. Some of the best conversations happen on the ride to and from the event. Happily, there are a good number of people out there who don’t want to go to an event alone. People pair up easily most of the time.
    In a recent example, a board I am on had an event. No one wanted to go, finally one person said they would go. I wanted to go but I was clear I did not want to go alone because of Reasons. Later, that person told me if I had not gone along they would not have attended the event. A good piece of the problem there was there was so much info to take in that it would be an information dump for just one person. Speak up, say you are interested in particular things and see who responds.

      1. matcha123*

        No, thank you! Building up my emergency fund is my big goal now. I’ve noticed that I have been holding off on larger purchases until the latter half of the year. Which is maybe a good thing. Telling myself “You have enough, you are fine.” Has helped my anxiety levels a lot!

  30. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My partner’s father is getting a divorce. We are not shocked by this, as their relationship has not been great for a few years and they haven’t been married that long. My partner is sad for his dad but looking forward to strengthening their relationship (we moved an hour away from his dad four years ago, but the wife strongly discouraged her husband from seeing his son on his own because she sucks). The whole thing is a lot of drama that I won’t get into here, but suffice it to say neither one of them comes out looking like a rose. To make matters ridiculous, she is now dragging her feet on moving out (he bought the house before he met her) for reasons I find eye-roll-worthy, but that’s their business.

    Anyway. Adding to this uncomfortable situation is my partner’s sister’s wedding in the fall. My partner made a comment to his father about how the now-ex won’t be getting her week in the Caribbean (they were planning to make the wedding an anniversary trip), and his dad said that his ex’s attendance is between her and the bride. And the bride, who dislikes this woman but doesn’t ever want anyone to be “mad” at her, is refusing to disinvite the now-ex. And the ex is just the type of person who will show up to such an event, get drunk, and tell everyone how horrible the bride’s father is, and probably how horrible my partner is, and maybe even how horrible I am. Adding to this drama, the bride invited their father’s previous wife (the man gets married a lot), she is expected to come, and the two ex-wives HAAAATE each other and, from what I understand, have at several times expressed their mutual distaste loudly. In public.

    I would really love to hear some stories of insane wedding guest drama so I can a) have a laugh and b) prepare myself for this potential disaster. Or maybe I should just expect to drink a lot.

    1. Jemima Bond*

      I reckon, as sibling to the bride, your partner can throw the ex the hell out, the minute she causes a hint of trouble. I’m sure the hotel/venue security will help if needs be!
      Tbh she may not bother to come; it’s a long expensive way to go to spend time with people you don’t like (anymore) and kick off.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Nope, we have already mutually decided that we are not taking any responsibility for this inevitable clusterfudge, so if anyone’s going to kick her out, it won’t be us. To your second point, though, I agree that it’s a really long and expensive way to go, but she’s spiteful enough– and bad enough with her money– to show up anyway… and tell everyone what a sacrifice it was for her. Though I do hope she musters up some sense.

        1. Jemima Bond*

          In which case drink a lot!
          It’s kind of a shame it’s in the Caribbean. I’d happily pitch up at the reception (in an impeccable dress and hat of course) and use my ninja assassin skills to kick her out of the place. I’d even buy my own drink after!

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          This really seems like the best solution. It’s not your wedding or your divorce – and not even your parents. Stay out of it except to offer sympathy to your partner, and plan to avoid them. If the bride’s mom and soon-to-be-ex-sister-wife get into it that’s really not your problem – and is probably going to be hilarious.

          Enjoy the show!

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            One thing– NOT her mom. Her previous stepmom. You see why this is such an… interesting event. :)

            1. Middle School Teacher*

              Oh my, tw ex-stepmoms! That is complicated. Is her biological mom still in the picture too?

              1. Traffic_Spiral*

                I think it’s just the bio mom and the new soon-to-be-ex-step-mom. Who apparently hate each other. This gun be gooood.

                1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  See my comment above. Two previous stepmoms. Their mother passed away a long time ago.

    2. Temperance*

      This is so, so awful. Your FIL needs to be an adult about this, and tell his wife not to come. I’m so, so sorry for your SIL, whose wedding is going to be a huge shitshow.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        My FIL and SIL are cut from the same cloth. Neither one of them will stand up in a situation like this because neither wants to be “the bad guy”. But yes, I do think my FIL should be the one to say, “I’d rather you didn’t come to my daughter’s wedding.” I also think the ex should be a grown-up and tell the bride she won’t be attending.

    3. heckofabecca*

      Man, I disinvited my ACTUAL father* from my wedding 2 weeks before it happened!!! I’m flabbergasted that TWO ADULT PEOPLE would rather suffer the presence of someone they both dislike (who incites drama too??) than just say, “Sorry, since the situation has changed we’re rescinding our invitation.”

      I’d prepare some scripts so you can put a foot down if either your SIL or FIL makes any fuss to you—if they’re not going to set boundaries, they shouldn’t also get the catharsis of venting to people who now have to deal with their bad decisions too!

      * He’d been emotionally abusive all along, I just didn’t realize it was so bad until my now-husband witnessed the full extent of his bad behavior… Trust me, having to have conversations with his 2 sisters about cutting him out of my life when I was already distraught (again, TWO WEEKS BEFORE MY OWN WEDDING) was NOT fun. Also, I was on a (thankfully mostly deserted) college campus since DH hurt his neck and couldn’t drive but still had to go to cert classes for AP teaching—so I couldn’t just go cry in my bedroom XD

    4. Aphrodite*

      Don’t drink! I know you are kidding but this is one wedding at which I wouldn’t even have one sip of alcohol. I could try to be funny and say that you need to be the person who remembers all of the drama and is able to share it, but–seriously–this sounds like it has the potential to be really, really, really nasty. And I think you will deal with it better if you are completely sober.

      1. Observer*

        I have to agree with this.

        You know it’s going to be a mess. You’ve also made the very sensible decision to not get involved. It’s going to be a LOT easier to stick to that if you stay sober. And also keep up an “interested anthropologist” attitude.

    5. Anonymosity*

      If I were the bride and reluctant to disinvite guests, I would at least designate someone to be on drama/removal patrol that day.

    6. Anon for wedding*

      My SIL (husband’s sis) invited their deadbeat, abusive dad, whom they hadn’t seen in 14 years at the time, to her wedding, which their mother was paying for. Hoo boy, it was awkward. I wound up being the person he talked to most of the evening, because everyone else on my ILs’ side was exercising all their self-restraint in not clocking him then and there.

      I know people aren’t supposed to dictate who’s on the guest list, but this is one time I wish someone had said to my SIL, “Look, this is not a good idea. It will be extremely hurtful to your mother and her family, who took you in when you bolted across the country in the middle of the night to get away from him.”

  31. Roseberriesmaybe*

    I was watching Good Will Hunting with my partner. English is not his first language (and neither of us are American). When Will says, “Do you like apples?…How do you like those apples?”, my partner asked me to explain what it meant and I was stumped! How would you explain it? And what are some bizarre phrases in your culture that are hard to explain?

    1. Roseberriesmaybe*

      I’ll give some examples from mine:
      “Sick of being got at?”
      “They stitched him up like a kipper”
      “I had to reef it off”