weekend free-for-all – September 8-9, 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: French Exit, by Patrick deWitt. Reviews have called this a “tragedy of manners.” It’s dark but funny, and there is money and the loss of money and scathing comments and a cat who might not be a cat, and you end up liking characters you shouldn’t like, and it’s basically a delight.

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

{ 1,355 comments… read them below }

  1. Sami*

    Any Madam Secretary fans here? I started watching it a few weeks ago (thanks Netflix!) and I really like it. Interesting and informative. I appreciate that Henry and the kids are fully fleshed out characters with storylines all of their own. My favorite characters are Henry, Blake, and Nadine.

    1. Sandy*

      I love(d) Madam Secretary! The later seasons have lost my interest a bit, but it is still a solid bet.

    2. PetrabyDay*

      I think it got a bit bland. Only watched the 1st season.
      I only tried it as I like movies where women are starring.

    3. SemiRetired*

      Yes, it’s kind of like West Wing in that it’s a fantasy of how a presidential administration should function. I was particularly impressed by a last season story arc where the pres was removed from office because his functioning was impaired due to a brain tumor. The cabinet got together and invoked the 25 th. I was like…. wow, they can do that? What a great idea…

    4. CAA*

      We DVR it and usually binge it a few times a year. I like the relationship between Elizabeth and Henry and I really loved when Madeleine Albright was on. She’s never going to win an Emmy for her acting, but she’s someone I’ve always admired.

    5. Tookie Clothespin*

      I love Madam Secretary! It’s one of my favorites. All of the characters are well developed and it shows a side of government, we don’t often see depicted.

    6. seller of teapots*

      I love that show! It’s also my go-to Netflix binge show lately. (That and Kim’s Convenience.)

      My only real complaint is that she’s always packing her own bags. No way she has time for that. Ha!

      1. TardyTardis*

        Once you do that much traveling, it becomes a quick routine. Our family could get packed for a week’s trip in an hour if we really had to (we did a lot of road trips).

    7. Nobody Special*

      Yes love it. I particularly like that they do not say what political party the president belongs to. I continue to enjoy it over the seasons though of course not all are equally good. Spoiler from the end of last season: looks like she may be running for president. We’ll see.

  2. Hello Sweetie!*

    Adventures in parenting
    I’m up at 3 am caring for my smallest child who has the worst case of Hand, Foot, Mouth diseases that the pediatrician has seen in years.

    On the plus side, she’s learned a new word, “mine” that she says when she grabs something of mine and runs away with it. And despite the sickness her mischievous smile is back, so she must be feeling better

    1. Legalchef*

      HFM is insidious and awful!! I hope she gets better soon!

      Also I hope you don’t catch it from her! I got it from my little one, and it’s miserable.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      All sympathy. A friend’s 4-year old had such a dramatic Lyme bulls-eye that the doctor called in the rest of the medical staff to learn from this classic presentation of the disease.

    3. LilySparrow*

      Oh, I’m sorry! That is such a nasty thing to deal with.

      My kids developed a lifelong penchant for frozen fruits & veggies straight out of the bag, after their bouts with it. It was the only way I could get food into them.

      1. Owler*

        My 11yo still prefers her peas and corn frozen and not cooked. Unless they are picked from the garden, which she eats raw. At least she eats veggies?

    4. Quackeen*

      I had a terrible case of HFM when I was 5 or so. It was excruciating. Hope your little one feels better soon.

  3. Amylou*

    There was a thread yesterday about office kitchen sponges, and when/if how to throw away. It made me think of a roommate who got angry with me because I threw out a “perfectly good” sponge that had been lying around there and used for 4 weeks or perhaps even more. It was one of those cheap multipack sponges and it was looking gross! I’d even bought a whole new pack, but even then she just thought it was perfectly fine to use the old sponge and a waste to replace it already. I ended up “replacing” it by starting to use the new one and leaving the old one for her to use and she did keep using the old one rather demonstratively… sigh, roommates. Glad I live alone now.

    1. Woodswoman*

      I keep my sponges for a long time, using the trick of pouring boiling water over them when I’m draining something I’ve cooked. It works great and keeps them from getting funky.

        1. Jenny*

          I am pretty sure I’ve read somewhere that those tricks only kill the mild bacteria leaving planty of space for all the strong dangerous ones to reign supreme..
          Sigh. My parents use them for under bars of soap for /months/ and it frustates me so much.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Boiling water is not something bacteria can survive.

            If you’re purifying water for drinking you have to boil them, so that the cell membrane ruptures. But for funkiness of a sponge, these should work.

            1. fposte*

              Sure it is. For one thing, different bacteria have different tolerances; some create endospores that allow them to survive unless they’re autoclaved. For another, boiling water doesn’t penetrate a sponge evenly and equally and the water isn’t necessarily boiling when it hits the bacteria. Recent studies looking at the growth suggest that boiling and nuking really don’t make much difference to the bacteria population and recommend chucking the sponge after a week.

              1. Anonymosity*

                Four weeks in a month; one sponge for each week is perfect. But annoyingly, a lot of sponge packs only come with three in a pack instead of four, thus forcing you to buy more and ensuring you’re always a week behind. Grrrr.

                1. TardyTardis*

                  I use the green *of many colors) scratcher pads from Dollar Tree that usually come four to a pack (but you have to make sure you get the good ones, and not the thin ones that last for two days).

      1. Nancy*

        I spray (soak actually) both sides with bleach cleaner, let it sit and then blast it through with the sink sprayer (pre-running the water so that it is too hot to even touch).

    2. Loopy*

      Is there a good rule of thumb for this? I’m…. not the best at remembering and my fiance usually is in charge of it so we aren’t using a nasty sponge or anything, but I’d love to know so I can be a bit less reliant on his superior observation skills.

        1. Old Cynic*

          I toss the sponge every week. They’re cheap! Why try to get 6 months out of one?

          For a while I microwaved the wet sponge for a couple of minutes, but then I read that wasn’t effective.

          What really gets icky on mine is the scrubber side…bits of old food lodged in it… so I sometimes toss sooner than weekly.

      1. A Non E. Mouse*

        In our house, Sunday is Cleaning Day.

        Which means the Kitchen Sponge becomes the Bathroom Sponge (then thrown away when all bathrooms are clean), and a new sponge is put out in the kitchen.

        We probably waste sponges, but 1) they are cheap and 2) in a week’s time a sponge gets a LOT of use in our kitchen, and those dang bathrooms have got to use up whatever life is left in them. (life with mostly boys is….gross).

    3. Kelly*

      I always cut my sponges in half when I get them, you never really need a whole one and then it doesn’t feel quite as wasteful. We usually use a fresh one each week.

    4. Courageous cat*

      I only use a dish brush and have never ever used a sponge to do my dishes. Too gross and constantly damp in my experience. I wonder what keeps people from the dish brush option?

      1. Birch*

        Was coming here to post exactly this. People use rubber gloves, complain about not wanting to touch dirty dishes or the water or the nasty sponge… use a brush! Solves literally all of those problems! I think people just have this idea that sponges are the “right” way to do it because they’re (ironically) constantly hearing about it due to all the complaining.

      2. SavannahMiranda*

        Brushes, for me, get even more of the food particles stuck in them in a way that can’t be gotten out. And they feel to me as if they waste a good amount of soap. When using a brush I find I have to soap it constantly. It doesn’t hold the soap the way a sponge does. Sponges also allow a ‘feel’ that brushes don’t, for me. I can feel through the sponge if a certain spot came clean or needs more attention. Brushes are more removed and don’t have the tactile feedback.

        I use brushes for certain tasks. Nothing gets inside glasses or bottles like a brush. And pots and pans are brush time. But otherwise it’s sponge all the way.

        My sponge also hangs overhead in one of those three-tier fruit basket type things. It holds only a few sponges and brushes and brillos. They drain into the sink, if they drip at all. And they get 360 exposure to air the rest of the time and dry out thoroughly. No rancid sponges sitting in their own water!

      3. TardyTardis*

        The brush I love is the little vegetable brush that Fuller Brush gave out decades ago as a freebie promotional item (husband tried to sell Fuller Brush as a student, was much happier as a chemistry teacher instead). I found a sack of 9 of them on E-bay at a fairly reasonable price. A short handle and very sturdy brush material means one last a long time, especially if run through the dishwasher on occasion.

    5. Aphrodite*

      I couldn’t read any of that thread yesterday because I just didn’t want to feel as sick as I knew I’d get if I read it.

      Sponges are dirty, reportedly dirtier than toilets according to many reports ( https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2017/08/05/study-your-kitchen-sponge-has-more-germs-than-your-toilet/#6954996b5a0e ) so I am very, very particular about mine. I buy the natural ones from TJ’s, replace it once a week, and in the week it is used I microwave it not for one minute but three. I do make sure it is sopping wet when it goes in the microwave.

      As for work, it is why I would never use any dishes or cups in there and I will not touch the sponge. Many of them haven’t been replaced since Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne. But seriously, I do not understand why they are not replaced on a regular basis. At least I don’t have to deal with them.

      1. pcake*

        I either wash mine in the dishwasher every couple days or thoroughly saturate my sponges with boiling water. That TAKE, germs!

        I didn’t know TJ’s had natural sponges. I’ve got to find those on my next visit.

    6. ket*

      Totally understand about hating nasty sponges…. but don’t people think about how much waste they are generating by using a new sponge a week? 52 sponges a year, for the rest of your life? I can’t take it :(

      I’m a brush person, true, but even if you’re a sponge person, think about our landfills and see if you can come up with a less-wasteful option. Cutting up the sponge is a fine start.

    1. kerlin*

      I had never heard of him but just read the profile of him that was published in Vulture yesterday and he really seems like he was a remarkable guy. Far, far too young.

  4. wingmaster*

    Bumble BFF: Has anyone had actual success in finding good friends on this app?

    So I’ve been on Bumble BFF for about 3 weeks now to meet potential female friends. I’ve only met one in person over a movie date…didn’t really talk to her much, but the movie was good. After, we texted over the weekend, and it just all went downhill after that. She starts talking about her relationship problems. Her girlfriend, who needed space from this person, dumps her the next day. I tell her, “I’m sorry to hear about that,” and she jumps to discuss about their BDSM relationship and even told me she asked her now former girlfriend to promise not to rebound…THEN she immediately jumps to ask me if I can teach her how to drive on the freeway. Again, we only met in person once…and she sort of hinted of using my car to practice, since she was anxious to drive her brand new 2018 Honda. I stopped texting her for the rest of the night. The next day, she texted me a couple times…I muted them because I had work. The next text was, “Are we still friends?” …sighs. I’ve only met her in person once…I told her things weren’t working out.

    1. Elisa*

      It’s kind of a weird set-up isn’t it? I’ve met a few people over it and none of them really ‘clicked’. Not that I didn’t have a good time when we were meeting (usually coffee or brunch) but afterwards it’s like…well how frequently should we be in touch? Who initiates? In real life you tend to be around people for a while before you start to connect (unless you’re really lucky, or if it’s between children), not just over a few hours and then hope for something.

    2. Washi*

      I find the Bumble BFF thing fascinating because making friends has always felt like dating – having a friend crush from afar, working up the courage to ask them to hang out, telling them something really personal for the first time, etc. But I’ve always been hesitant to try the app for the reasons you name, that usually I’ve hung out with someone for more than a few hours before we are texting regularly and making a lot of 1-on-1 plans, plus I’ve never met a potential friend “blind” since I’ve usually met friends through other friends or in a context like work where we spent a lot of time together first before moving to the friend stage.

      Does having experience online dating help? I’ve never done online dating, so maybe that’s why it’s intimidating to me.

    3. Lillian not Lilly*

      I haven’t used Bumble BFF, but I did try to find friends on Reddit before (either by messaging people who posted in a friendship subreddit or by making my own post to solicit messages). That didn’t go well. Everyone either ghosted me or I had to ghost them (they got creepy or intense, ended up being very boring or bad at holding conversations, we clicked so well that we were basically writing novels to each other and it was too much of a time commitment for someone I just “met,” etc.). The whole thing felt very forced and unnatural.

      I’m intrigued by the way Bumble BFF is just for women though. It seems like 99% of the people seeking friends on Reddit are guys, many of whom are looking for *only* female friends because they “get along” with them better. Maybe I’d have more luck with female friends.

    4. The Original K.*

      I didn’t even know this was a thing! I’m intrigued because I’m keen to make some new friends, but would you say it’s worth it?

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I’m curious too, but I had also done a lot of online dating over the years (I mean not recently, I’ve been married for 11 yrs to someone I met via online dating). So I haven’t tried the BFF function because I remember what it felt like to meet up with someone and immediately not click – it seems less personal in a way when it’s a potential date (could be chemistry or personality mismatches) vs a potential friend (really just personality).

        But on the other hand, I never did have any weird dating situations to put me off online dating. Okay, maybe one guy but that was more of a funny story than a weird, creepy one. I could see it as just finding someone (or a series of someones) to go out to brunch/dinner/movie with once or occasionally, and that could be worth it.

      2. wingmaster*

        I think it’s worth it to me temporarily. I paid for a month of Bumble Boost, which helps me make more matches. I’ve never done online dating before, so this whole scene was entirely new to me. In a way, I feel more comfortable now initiating and engaging in conversations with random strangers. Just haven’t succeeded in meeting more people in-person.

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      OMG I’m so glad you asked about this! I’ve been thinking of doing this myself, and am wondering how it works. They’ve been plastering ads all over my city the last couple weeks. Because honestly, I am possibly the most boring and low key person lol, I would need to screen for people who are also chill with that. But your experience sounds exhausting and not fun :/

      Can I ask you a question? I’ve looked a little at the site, but I couldn’t find what kind of things it lets you put in the profile/etc without having to sign up. Do you feel like part of the problem is that there’s not enough information provided by you/them to see if you’re a good friend match from the get go? Is it pretty free-form as far as info you can share? I don’t do online dating at all, so I have no first hand knowledge of those platforms to get an idea of how that part works.

      1. Lily Evans*

        When I used it the profile was photos and a small-ish space for text. So you could put some photos of yourself doing activities you’re interested in along with a little text blurb about what you’re looking for.

        1. Lily Evans*

          Which is to say, yes I think the platform was part of the problem finding connections. A lot of people just had minimal info, and a lot of the profiles were nearly indistinguishable (brunch! wine! yoga! all enjoyable things, but since so many people like them it tells you very little about a person’s character). So you really had to message people to get a feel for them. Also it is a “match” style app even in friend mode, so you both had to “like” each other in order to chat.

      2. wingmaster*

        For the information/profile, I found that most of the people had very, VERY generic bios. “I like to brunch, hike, drink sour beer,” “420 friendly,” “new to the area/moved here with my significant other!” Sure, I like brunch and am 420 friendly, but what makes you STAND OUT?

    6. Lily Evans*

      I made one lasting friend from it! Honestly I didn’t use it for that long because I didn’t click with a lot of the people on there. Most of the conversations I had just fizzled out. The one friend I made is the only one I ever met up with in person and we’re still friends almost two years later. She met up with more people than I did, but I was the only one who “stuck.” I’m glad I tried it because I never would have met her otherwise, but I wouldn’t use the app for it again.

    7. MsCende*

      I’ve been on BBFF for about six weeks now, since I saw it mentioned here. We just moved and I hate not having people to talk to… but this isn’t the way to fix that, unless you like (as one other person put it) wine, yoga, and brunch. A lot of people don’t even bother putting in a text blurb (immediate swipe left).

      I’m also signed up for Meetup.com, and I have higher hopes for meeting interesting people with similar interests, and from there being able to form friendships more organically than a dating app.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        I haven’t tried BBFF, but I will say I’ve made some really good friendships through Meetup. It’s taken a few goes to find a group I’ve ‘clicked’ with, so don’t be put off if you don’t meet your new best friend on the first go, but it does have that sort of cushion of having a bigger group to start with and then seeing who you get on with, as well as knowing you’ve got something in common from the get-go.

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        Meetup worked for me to make new friends but what I did was get the number or FB friend a person I liked in the meetup group and started messaging/texting outside the meetup. And asking for their number/FB name was a risk of rejection. But I’ve made a few close friends through meetup that way.

      3. wingmaster*

        I’m glad the Meetup.com is working for you. I have an account, but I find all the Meetup’s I am interested are all groups of older adults. I am in my early 20’s, and most of these groups are in the 40’s-50’s range. Sure, I don’t mind meeting great people of any age, but it would also be nice to meet people around the same as as me.

  5. Hrovitnir*

    I just had a great time on Moltres day here in NZ. Yeah, I’m talking Pokemon Go. :D For the first time, I hooked up with a big walking group of Mystic players and we just missioned it between gyms. I had an appointment in the first hour of the event, but managed to meet up with this group and by the end of it I had 15 Moltres, and 3 shinies. It was cool to actually talk to some other players, normally I just hang with my friend and if we raid with strangers pretty much just wave.

      1. Julia*

        I leveled up to 37 earlier this week!

        In Japan, the first hour was super buggy, and we lost our first raid pass each to a raid we completed that then crashed. But the next went pretty well and I caught a really strong one, and my husband caught a shiny!

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Oh man, that’s an unfortunate start, but congrats! It was buggy here for the first couple of raids (missed out on the first Moltres even, even though we definitely got it), but nothing like an *hour*.

          1. Julia*

            Thank you! To be fair, it might have been less than an hour, but we weren’t willing to risk more raid passes until we saw people raiding successfully.

    1. Book Lover*

      I will be out later today, but just plan to do five, I think. The kids get bored after a bit. Stardust will be nice :)

      1. Book Lover*

        Got my shiny :). Forgot to use the star piece at first, but that is ok. More than halfway to level 40 and I didn’t use a lucky egg either, oops :). No rush, really.

      2. Hrovitnir*

        5 is definitely enough! Still 100 k XP, if you’d remembered an egg. :D

        We had one kid in our group, but he was almost a teenager and full of beans.

    2. kerlin*

      Awesome! I’m stuck at work until the last hour, hoping I can hook up with our local group to at least get a few raids in. 3/15 is a great shiny rate.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Did you manage it? Was pretty stoked with 3 shinies; one guy only got one right at the end, was 0/16 or something before he got it. Another guy got 6 though!

    3. Cruciatus*

      I just got back from our Moltres Day in the US. The first one we beat it in like 20 seconds (probably too many in the group) and then the servers crapped out–but it kept counting down in the gym! I thought I had wasted that pass but eventually it sorted itself out (not that I caught it). I got one shiny and caught most of the others, even though they weren’t “perfect IV”. Some people in the group wouldn’t even try to catch them if they were below the perfect CP number. Well…OK. I was disappointed lucky eggs were only 30 minutes–I only had 2. But at least I got level 36 off to a good start (I just leveled up earlier in the week) and my star pieces really had a workout today as well. Will have to use the final two I have Sunday and Monday before the extra stardust period ends.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Aw, yeah, not even bothering to catch if not perfect isn’t really my favourite attitude. None of mine were perfect, but I’ll take 96% thankyouverymuch.

    4. ChimericalOne*

      I caught 2 shinies!

      It’s funny that this is right below a thread about trying to make friends, as I’ve met a ton of people through Pokemon Go. We’ve got a Facebook page for our city and smaller Facebook Messenger groups for folks who live in different neighborhoods. People arrange raids and meetups (for trading, Community Days, & just socializing). It’s really awesome. I’m level 40 & my husband is right below it (and my mom is not too far below that!)

      1. Book Lover*

        Me too – I always have people I can meet and raid with, or go to lunch and trade with, and go to community day and parks with :)

  6. Khlovia*

    Something a little different: I disagree with the author about a scene in a story I’m critting.

    Alexis, of Gender A, and Brook, of Gender B, have been dating casually for several weeks. Alexis is friendly, cheerful, and popular; Brook is quite opposite.

    Alexis has lots of casual dates with assorted members of Gender B. Alexis has never concealed from any of their dates that Alexis is dating around; Alexis has never pretended to be exclusive or committed to anybody. Alexis is just doing their sociable thing and having fun. From Alexis’s perspective, Brook is just one member of a sizable collection. Alexis and Brook are not a couple. The word “love” has not arisen between them and they have not had sex. They’ve kissed a few times; maybe got as far as second base once or twice.

    Brook fancies themself passionately in love with Alexis, enthusiastically admiring Alexis’s physical appearance and speculating hopefully upon Alexis’s potential sexual availability–but has nothing positive to say about Alexis’s personality. Every trait Brook does not share is viewed by Brook as a fault, a negative. Nevertheless, Brook has unilaterally decided the two of them are going to get married, without bothering to run that idea past Alexis.

    Eventually, Alexis stands Brook up on a date–got the day mixed up, or just forgot, or had an emergency; Brook doesn’t know and doesn’t bother to find out. (Scene is set before cell-phones.) Brook’s next act is to go to Alexis’s home and more or less read the Riot Act, huffily reproaching Alexis for their “disrespect”, and dumping them.

    This scene is a flashback from three years ago. Throughout about two-thirds of the book, Author had led Reader to believe the relationship was deep, exclusive, passionate, committed, and, Brook (Protagonist) believed, mutual. Then the flashback shows that none of these things were true. Nor is it the first time Author claimed one thing but showed another–without seeming to be aware of the disconnect.

    So at this point I kind of lost it in my crits. After yelling for about a page about all the things wrong with the scene, the characterization, and the stalkerish expectations of Protagonist, I add, “They aren’t a couple so there’s nothing to break up. All Brook need do is stop calling. That would be less rude than stomping over to Alexis’s house and pitching a belligerent and presumptuous guilt-tripping hissy. If Brook just stops calling, Alexis may eventually notice, but won’t care a bit, since they have Chris, Dale, Eddie, Frankie, and Gerry in their little black book.”

    So I’m recommending to Author that Protagonist would actually look better to Reader if they would simply maturely accept the fact that Alexis just isn’t that into them, and ghost Alexis rather than stage a melodramatic official dumping. Opinions, please! Is society’s edict against ghosting so absolute I should leave the scene alone, or do the particulars in this case make the grandiose farewell speech superfluous?

    1. Blossom*

      Well, is it in keeping with Brook’s personality? It sounds like it is. And some of my favourite books let the reader assume one thing before revealing the truth. Jane Austen’s Emma is a great example of how the reader is led to go along with the protagonist’s baseless assumptions for a long time.

        1. Khlovia*

          Ideally, that would be the case. Unfortunately, since Brook is very much an Author Avatar, what it really shows is that Author’s view doesn’t match reality. This is why I am seeking opinions on whether ghosting might ever be considered a mature, reasonable response. I am not asking for assistance in lit crit.

          1. SavannahMiranda*

            Oh absolutely ghosting is a mature, reasonable response. In exactly the situation you described. When you are one in a stable of several or many, when the inequality of your investment versus their investment has become clear, and when the target person one is hoping to become exclusive with effectively ghosts first, or simply drops the ball one way or another.

            One wants to scream. Ones feelings demand a nice cathartic tell-off session. But one’s dignity is better served by a strong spine and a stiff upper lip, at least as far as the recipient of one’s affection is aware.

            It’s possible to be as pathetic as one wishes over a bottle of wine and a tub of ice cream in a hot bath playing the same shitty song over and over (not that I know anything about that). But the recipient of one’s disproportionate affections doesn’t really need to know anything about how that went down.

            Ghosting can in fact be very dignified.

            Does our author, via our author avatar, really really need to be validated for their past histrionics and cathartic flouncing? If the author neeeeeds to tell this story in order to, what, vindicate their version of history? Then there’s really nothing you can contribute. It’s not about the story or the characters, so there’s no opening for you to provide improvement.

            Nice story, bro. That may be about all the author is available to hear.

            1. Khlovia*

              LOL. Too much on target.

              My best guess, knowing Author, is that they did *not* stage the big melodramatic dump scene IRL–but always wished they had, because that would have “shown” their Alexis. There are a number of scenes in the story that smell of an attempt to make certain RL events come out more satisfactorily. LilySparrow used the term “therapy book”.

              Author is not stupid. Perhaps I can take the tack of bringing to their attention the notion that not having done an official dump scene IRL was indeed the more prudent and beneficial outcome, and they will feel better. I may even be able to convince them that while DIY therapy must be tolerated in fanfic (if one tolerates fanfic), it is not appropriate in professional writing.

              Dang, it’s annoying to have to be so vigilant about one’s pronouns!

      1. AlphaBeta*

        Yup. It sounds like the scene is in character and the narrative may be intentionally misleading. You can flag it as a question, but I wouldn’t rant about it or make sweeping declarations of how to rewrite it! It sounds like a reasonable take from how you’ve described it here. You not liking or agreeing with it doesn’t make it wrong.

      2. Khlovia*

        To anybody who knows Author (and I do, very well), Protagonist is very obviously an Author Avatar, as well as a MaryGary SueStu. With a superpower, yet. The intrusive omniscient narrator is unmistakably on Protagonist’s “side” throughout the book. We are told, as canon, about how superior Protagonist is to every other character–all of whom are cardboard so thin as to be translucent. All the female characters are either sluts or helpless damsels; all the male characters are either weaklings or Snidely Whiplash. Or both at once.

        In short, subtlety does not seem to be one of Author’s best things.

        By the end of the story, Protagonist has learned nothing, and is still jumping to self-aggrandizing conclusions with regard to their relationships with persons of the opposite sex–they’ve just changed targets. And, three years in-universe after the flashback scene, Protagonist wants to call Alexis up to tell them they forgive them. Man, attempts to gender-muffle do awkward things to English.

        Bottom line: Please take my word for it that Author wants to present Protagonist in as positive a light as possible. To that end: Under the given circumstances, which is better: Dump all Brook’s unreasonable expectations all over Alexis, as though Alexis actually had “done ’em wrong”, and then dump Alexis; or get a clue that Alexis’s view of the relationship is not at all what Brook wants it to be, and Alexis gets a vote–and operate on Alexis’s premise, not Brook’s. My assertion is that ghosting under these circumstances would be more socially acceptable than emoting at Alexis reproachfully for thirty minutes, during which Alexis finds out for the first time that Brook thought they were a couple. I am attempting to reality-check that with the commentariat. Is ghosting = bad an absolute rule regardless of circumstances? That is the only question I am asking here.

        As a matter of fact, I know Author well enough I think I can guess which ex “Alexis” is standing in for.

        And Emma didn’t fool me for a minute. Indeed, I never got the impression Austen was trying to mislead the reader at all; I thought she signaled fairly clearly throughout the book that Emma was kind of a doof. Nice kid and all, but a doof.

          1. Khlovia*

            There are so many things about the book to love! It’s so frustrating! I’m like QUIT SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE FOOT ROWRBAZZLE FRAKKIN’ GRRRR!

              1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

                This is great. I thought I was the only person who routinely uses the word “rowrbazzle” in conversation. Long live Pogo!

        1. Amtelope*

          I think you’re rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. You’re describing a pretty terrible book, and whether Brook is cast in a good light by their behavior in this scene or not isn’t going to fix the problems you describe in this comment. I would seriously consider not critiquing further chapters of this book — if nothing else, feedback from a beta reader/editor who thinks your book is fundamentally terrible isn’t usually very helpful.

          If you really want to fix this scene, though — I think either ghosting or confronting would be OK, but the emotional core of the scene probably needs to be Brook realizing that Alexis didn’t believe they were a couple. If the author wants Brook to be sympathetic and Alexis not to be, there need to be actual reasons for that disconnect. Maybe Brook referred to them as a couple before, and Alexis let that slide without correcting Brook’s assumptions? Or Brook has talked in generalities about how much they want to get married, and Alexis has said “sounds cool” without adding “but not to me, obviously”? I think having there be some reason for this misunderstanding other than “Brook is deluded” is probably more important than exactly how they break up if the aim is to keep reader sympathy for Brook.

          1. Book Lover*

            I was trying to find a good way to say this. I can check grammar and spelling on anything, but fundamentally, I think it is hard to edit a book that you just don’t think is very good. Unless you plan to rewrite it yourself, and it sounds like you and the author are just on different wavelengths.

        2. Amtelope*

          Also: I think if you’re dating someone casually, it’s okay to ghost. But if Brook thought this was a serious relationship and did not get that they weren’t a couple, I’m not sure Brook would be inclined to ghost rather than feeling they had to break up. If the author is open to having Brook understand that this is casual, despite having hopes for more in the future, I think ghosting would make more sense.

    2. Kali*

      I’m agreeing with the other comments; it sounds from the description that what you don’t like is Brook’s actions, though they are in character, so that’s not a narrative problem. I’d love to read that!

    3. Square Root Of Minus One*

      Well, none of us has read the book so we can’t be good judges. (Especially not me since I neither read nor write romance.)
      That being said, I agree with Blossom and Kali.
      IMO, expecting all characters to take the reasonable action every time would make for very boring books. And in your description, as I understand it, the relationship is casual, but Brook does seem deluded about it and might have been upset by the sudden reality check.
      If the reader watches the story through Brook’s lens only, and the book is well written, Brook’s shock is very likely be shared by the reader.
      Seems like not a bad thing, but an interesting twist. More something I’d appreciate than something I’d criticize.

      1. Khlovia*

        Unfortunately, both Protagonist and narrator exit the scene without having learned anything. Brook experiences neither shock nor reality-check. Brook never realizes that Alexis was simply never very into them; for three years in-universe (before getting to the flashback scene) Brook mopes about the great traumatic break-up precipitated by Alexis’s vile, unforgivable betrayal. And Narrator never realizes the implications of two small sentences that completely turn the picture upside down, for any reader who understands a little about how the world works. And, I don’t want to keep harping (see my other replies in this thread), but there is plenty of internal evidence throughout the book that in fact Author does not understand very much about how the world works.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Both Protagonist and narrator exit the scene without having learned anything.

          I think this is a far greater problem that ghosting yay-or-nay. Someone could write a sympathetic character who in the past had gone all-in on a romance that existed only in their head, and learn from it. Having a better-in-our-universe emotional reaction to discovering the engagement was in Brook’s head wouldn’t save the story from all these other flaws.

          There is plenty of internal evidence throughout the book that in fact Author does not understand very much about how the world works.
          This is going to be an ongoing problem in writing compelling characters who respond in believable ways.

    4. Loopy*

      To me this actually sounds like something that could happen in real life. People have different views of the same thing ALL the time and their perspective can vary wildly from the reality of it! I can imagine hearing Brook relaying this to me and having no clue they were not an actual couple, even if I, the observer, could see that a mile away.

        1. Neela*

          Why are you investing in a book when you have such obvious disdain for the author? (I could also ask, why are you seeking input here when you’re disagreeing with everyone who doesn’t reinforce the opinion you clearly already have?)

          1. Khlovia*

            Disdain is not what I have for the author. However, yes, I am invested.

            As for the comments here, actually I feel most have been very useful and informative. Collectively, I’m getting what I wanted from them, a read on the general opinion(s) (and definition) of ghosting out of a relationship.

            I debated whether to present the question without making my own opinion obvious, but I thought it was more important to conceal the genders, and by the time I got done extracting all the pronouns by main strength and determination, I hadn’t any mental energy left for the other endeavor. I decided that knowing my opinion was unlikely to skew the responses, whereas knowing the genders might have.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This is exactly the premise of the great Doobie Brothers hit, “What A Fool Believes.”

    5. AliceBD*

      As long as the author understands that they are making Brook an unreliable narrator and did it on purpose, I think that everything you described sounds good and fine and would be interesting. Unreliable narrators are another layer to books. I would do a single check in to make sure they knew what they were doing but it is a single calm sentence and I don’t think anything needs to be rewritten.

      1. Khlovia*

        Alas, your conditional does not prevail. Author does not seem to get it. Thinks Protagonist is a martyr.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Ghosting has existed for a long time (it’s why butlers would ask if madame was at home)–it’s just that in modern times there are many more platforms on which to ignore people.

      This definitely sounds like a situation where you can fade off. Or have a “look, we want different things, I’m moving on” talk. If Brook is supposed to be sympathetic as a protagonist, this would not be a good reveal.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        After looking at the other comments, I’ll add two things:
        • Like other tropes, unreliable narrator can be executed well or poorly. (“Hiding the gender” is one of those that in English, with gendered pronouns, usually becomes eye-rolly well before the big reveal.) Nothing like a twist that lands as a two-day-old fish. On the other extreme, a reveal can come across as just poorly executed characterization and plotting, rather than a satisfying twist that puts previous actions in a different, but still coherent, light.
        • This stuff would render the protagonist pretty unsympathetic to me. Could be overcome, but only if the silliness is addressed. I’m reminded of the painful last in a mystery series, which I think was intended to land as “Jane achieves perfection” but for me hit as “I am rethinking Jane’s first husband’s convenient pre-series death in a car crash just as he was about to leave her.”

    7. Ender*

      It honestly sounds to me that brook is an unreliable narrator and the author is well aware that brook is lying to himself.

      I think your critique should focus more on the fact that the unreliable narration is being done a little clumsily, so the reader is unsure whether brook is unreliable or it’s just bad writing. With the best unreliable narration it becomes slowly clear little by little without that moment of “well this is awful writing”. but I’ve also read books / seen movies where I’ve had moments like this – so angry at what seems to be awful writing – but by the end it makes it clear that the writer knew what they were doing all along.

      Getting angry at the writer because you don’t like a characters behaviour is kind of pointless. It’s certainly not an unrealistic scene. When I was an adult teenager I was casually dating a guy and asked him if he wanted to go exclusive. He said no, and that weekend I slept with someone else. He found out through a mutual friend and came down to my house and broke up with me. Even though we weren’t going out – even though he was the one who had decided not to go out with me – he still expected me to stay faithful to him. Looking back I think it’s hilarious that I once got dumped by a guy I wasn’t even going out with. But yes people like brook absolutely exist and behave that way in real life.

      The very fact you’re getting so angry about it shows you’re invested in the book which is usually a sign of pretty good writing actually!

        1. Blossom*

          So, I mean, it sounds like a bad book, and the real problem is that your friend has problematic views on relationship norms. Maybe you’ll get more helpful answers if you post it as “settle a dispute – is it acceptable to ghost in X circumstances, or is a formal break-up warranted?”.

          1. Khlovia*

            Yep, I totes should have presented it as an IRL problem. My original post above, long as it is, is actually the TL;DR version. I think I cut too much.

      1. Khlovia*

        Oh, I know they exist in real life. The utter entitlement….

        However, I feel I have good internal evidence in the book that Author is not well aware…of much of anything. See my other responses in this thread.

        The character Brook spends the next several years convinced that they broke Alexis’s heart just as deeply as Alexis broke their heart (because how could Alexis not have been devastated by the loss of such a superlative person). Did you get any sense of that from your Brook?

        And did you find it hilarious at the time, like during the actual dump speech; or were you slightly alarmed by all the unwarranted emotion being poured all over you so unexpectedly; or were you just bewildered, exasperated, insulted–? Asking very nosy questions for a friend.

        1. valentine*

          Can you quit the crit? Maybe you’re too close to Author for them to accept your perspective, or cosigning is what they really want from you. It sounds like you’re not on the same page, such as with Brook or the narrator needing to learn/not having learnt anything.

          1. Khlovia*

            At this point part of me would like to quit the crit; and yep, Author definitely wants cosigning rather than honest crit. But I feel I can’t, for Reasons.

        2. Ender*

          I was pretty taken aback at the time and a bit upset (don’t forget this was a guy I wanted to go steady with – he was the one who said no). But by the next day I was just annoyed – how dare he dump me! We weren’t even going out! Within a year it was a hilarious anecdote.

          Getting “alarmed by unwarranted emotion” isn’t really my style. I don’t even remember if he displayed any emotion during his dump speech. I think I got annoyed with him before the end of the speech though.

          I don’t remember in that much detail tho – it was 20 years ago!

          1. Khlovia*

            Thank you; I hope you realize I’m going to use all of that in an upcoming conversation with Author! It was kind of you to take the time.

            1. Ender*

              Sure tell it to the author. I have actually said it to the guy in question myself years later and he was embarrassed by his behaviour. Especially since I did it in front of his brother and a bunch of our mates (we all hung around in a group). It was very funny.

              I take it from your posts that the author actually did this to someone and you are going to confront them about that?

              If so, this could well be the end of your friendship. Fair warning. You’re going to have to decide which is more important to you – their friendship or that they understand they were in the wrong regarding a casual fling years ago. Personally I would leave it be.

              1. Khlovia*

                I dunno about “confront”; if I address it directly at all with them, it will be with the purpose of helping them feel better about it–because they’re not a confronty type either, and my bet is they didn’t really, but wish they had. If I can get them around to thinking, “Glad I didn’t, after all,” it could loosen up the emotional grip on the scene.

                It’s nice, or encouraging, or something, that your guy achieved the maturity to feel embarrassed about it.

                1. Ender*

                  Well he was only a teenager himself at the time so I think he can be forgiven for not being perfect. It’s not like he hurt me or anything!

    8. Winter General*

      Ghosting is a shitty immature way to treat anyone. It’s always better to speak up. A character ghosting another would come across as a really awful person to me. The charscter’s reaction as written sounds very normal to me.

      1. Ange*

        I disagree. It’s better to make things clear, yes, but if the person you’re breaking up with is abusive or is going to try to harangue/guilt you into staying, then I see nothing wrong with ghosting.
        Plus if you’ve only been on one or two dates, I don’t think you’re owed all that much emotional labour.

        1. Khlovia*

          Thank you, Ange. I don’t think the character Alexis is abusive, but I appreciate your perspective. I believe that the characters are supposed to have been dating for a few weeks (it is not made clear), but the Reader–unfortunately not the Author, as far as I can tell–immediately perceives that from Alexis’s point of view, considering all zeir other dates, it is strictly a casual thing with no great emotional involvement on either side. Alexis would neither provide, nor expect, emotional labor. From Alexis’s POV, Brook suddenly pitched a tantrum, for no discernible reason.

    9. LilySparrow*

      I think that type of scene is actually pretty realistic, as long as a) Alexis’ responses in the scene are realistic, and b) it’s part of a larger story arc about Brook’s self-deception. I mean, a protagonist is supposed to change, so how does this change Brook?

      I see from one of your comments that Brook is an avatar. I don’t think ghosting is more realistic or sympathetic, or makes a better story – it’s just your preference. People do crap like this in real life all the time.

      If I were critiqueing the text, I’d tell the author that this revelation made me lose sympathy & respect for Brook, made me feel cheated, and I’d ask how it changed the character or affected their long-term growth.

      When I’m critiqueing, I don’t think it’s my place to dictate what “should” happen in the plot. I just tell how things affected me, what was believable or not, clear or unclear, and ask questions about story structure, character development, etc.

      If your author is writing a Mary-Sue therapy book, nitpicking plot points to try to make the protagonist more sympathetic is not going to work. Just tell them it reads like a Mary Sue, that Brook’s self-centered delusions make you sympathetic to Alexis, and that if Brook’s takeaway 3 years later is about “forgiving” Alexis instead of learning that Alexis wasn’t in the wrong, that makes Brook look seriously creepy and emotionally stunted.

      The author will take it extremely personally and will not thank you for it. But that will be the case about any less-than-gushing reaction to a therapy story.

    10. Traffic_Spiral*

      Ok, so there’s a serious 300 Days of Summer vibe to it – but if the author doesn’t realize that his character is deluded, there’s not much you can do to fix that. You can write “I realize that you are going for the “unreliable narrator” trope where the reader realizes halfway through the book that the protagonist is wildly mis-remembering the situation, but you should make it more clear.” However, if the author really thinks like that you can’t change a world view.

    11. The Ginger Ginger*

      I personally think a legit ghosting is only ever reasonable if physical or emotional safety is on the line or if the recipient of the break off has been is going to be unreasonable in some way (like, continues to argue about how your reasons for leaving aren’t good enough, yells or otherwise carries on). A simple call to say, “hey – this isn’t working out for me but I wish you well” (or in this day and age a text) is what I think the appropriate level of breaking off would be in this situation. They’re not dating so it’s not an in-person break up level, but this is a person that was at least nominally enjoyable to hang out with and and engendered some positive feelings, so, yeah. A quick conversation/notification is warranted. It can be short and not in person, but a polite heads up is mature and kind. If they try to force continued unwanted contact or something after that, then ghost away!

      But if Brook isn’t a reasonable character? Or she’s not mature or kind or whatever? Then sure, she could ghost. It just depends on what the character is supposed to be like and how the reader is supposed to feel about Brook. That should be the deciding factor in Brook’s behavior.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      So to riff on ghosting as a thing:

      This has existed since it became possible to have a relationship (of some form) with a person that you wouldn’t run across in the flesh at regular intervals. (So if all the people you know are part of your hunter-gatherer tribe of 100-odd, you can’t ghost anyone.) The relationship is instead mediated through letters, through the butler, through a phone, through a chatroom. If people won’t respond through the medium through which you’re trying to reach them, you’ve been ghosted.

      In a non-romance version, online fora often run into “What ever happened to regular commenter?” who has stopped posting. Sometimes they were known to others in the thread through other contexts, and you learn that they passed away, or have gotten busy elsewhere, or were hideously offended and stomped out. But usually they just vanish without explanation, ghosting the forum. And that is often a tad disappointing to those who remain, but not seen as a major faux pas. Nor a circumstance where “exactly why I have decided to spend less time with you people” is a useful post to make.

      At the other extreme is the famous letter that characterized ghosting as “moving out of our shared apartment of several years to a different country while my SO was away, with no note” where it’s commonly agreed that that’s way out of line. Even in pretty extreme relationship circumstances, your departure from a once-close-person shouldn’t be impossible to distinguish from “died” or “was kidnapped.”

      If you want to end a serious and exclusive romantic relationship, it’s considered proper form to give some sort of clear, unambiguous message that this is done on your end–don’t ghost, don’t fade, even though the conversation will likely not be fun. But as the length and mutual intensity slides, opinions sincerely differ as to when there is a relationship to formally end. If someone replies “ha ha cool” to one tweet, they don’t incur an obligation to reply to all your communiques until a formal end-of-relationship talk has been had, lest they be guilty of ghosting. I recall a discussion on here about indirect communication, and how it works fine in a monoculture where the rules are understood. It doesn’t work if people sincerely or deliberately fail to pick up a message. I think most of us have rolled our eyes at someone interpreting a clear–to people hearing third-hand, even–lack of interest as part of an elaborate ruse to disguise the refusing-to-date person’s true ardor for the speaker. That’s where one person’s “ghosting” becomes another’s “don’t respond to your stalker in any way, including negatively.”

      In the hypothetical here, I think Brook’s acceptable responses to discovering that Alexis doesn’t view this as a serious and exclusive relationship include having an “I’ve realized we’re on different pages; wish you well; bye” conversation or just fading–Alexis might not notice, if Brooke had always been the one to initiate interactions. If Alexis contacts Brook, Brook can launch into that speech or just be busy, hoping that Alexis gets the message after Brook is too busy three times in a row. So I don’t think a full on ghosting–refusing to respond to any communication from Alexis–is called for, but neither is a formal “so now we are through, forever, due to your actions” talk.

      1. Khlovia*

        Your thoughtful unpacking of all that is really helpful. I think if I lay it out for Author that way, there’s a chance they might get it.

    13. Ann O.*

      What about Option C: focus your crit in helping the author rewrite ALEXIS’s actions so that the relationship is more in line with what the author appears to want to portray?

      Based on your comments throughout the thread, it seems to be that the author is clearly trying to portray a certain kind of relationship. You believe that the relationship written is not that, which has a negative impact on the character of Brook. So IMHO, the logical course of action is to help the author portray what they want to portray.

      (but also, remember that norms are not absolute… it is very hard to comment on this without having any idea what Author actually wrote about Brook/Alexis’s relationship, but you also want to be absolutely sure your critiques are generally valid. Think about all the critical thought pieces on Edward/Bella’s relationship in Twilight, even though the reality is that relationship was wildly popular with the target readers.)

      1. Khlovia*

        That is certainly one viable way to go, and I will include it in my suggestions to Author. Thank you.

    14. Khlovia*

      Thanks to everybody who participated in this thread. It was really helpful and gave me a lot of food for thought, which is exactly what I was looking for. I appreciate y’all taking the time and letting me pick your brains.

  7. Julia*

    Tokyo Meetup! I think matcha123 aren’t the only ones here, so if you’re interested in meeting fellow readers in Tokyo, please email me (don’t worry, this is my spam email account) under turtle_fangirl23(at)yahoo.com.

    In related news, it looks like we’re staying here for the foreseeable future. I have no career prospects in my home country unless I branch out a little here first (Japan lets you work in other areas as long as you speak the language and seem smart enough), so now I’m looking for jobs at big global companies with lots of PTO and the possibility to request a move to a European branch in the future. I still don’t love it, and I have a lot of dreams about home these days, wishing I could just pop into my grandma’s house for some cake, but I also think that a part of me probably wants to stay here or I’d desperately be trying to move away. All my friends are here (seriously, even my German university friends all live here), it’s safe and convenient, and with more money we can buy more imported food and other comfort from home. But I’m still not sure if I’m making the right choice…

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I think it’s one of those things where you just have to give it x-years. You know what I mean?
      Agree with yourself you will stick it out at least that long, and evaluate at that time. Nothing is forever, but it’s good to try!

      1. Julia*

        Thanks, but my grandma is 96, and I’ve been in Japan for a while, so I know whether I like it here or not, I just have to make some hard decisions while also avoiding job-hopping again.

    2. Anagram*

      Is there such a thing as “lots of PTO” in Japan, unless you are a university teacher, and that’s nowhere near close to a big global company?

      1. Julia*

        I’m actually considering teaching part-time at a university, because my professor (just got my master’s) said he’d introduce me to some jobs, and I’d love to teach. I just worry that I’ll maneuver myself into a career dead end because I couldn’t continue teaching in Europe (no German teaching license, would have to spend five years earning one) and my resume is already kind of spotty…

  8. Anon for this*

    So… is it alright to talk about birth control here? It’s… a bit graphic? (Please delete if it’s inappropriate!)

    Anyone have experience with oral contraceptive woes? I just started the pill 2 weeks ago, and haven’t stopped bleeding. :/ I started with a lower dosage pill, but switched to a higher dosage on Thursday at a doctor’s recommendation because the bleeding started getting heavier around day 10 + mild anaemia issues. The bleeding stopped getting worse, but its still going on.

    Most advice I’ve seen about breakthrough bleeding recommends continuing the pill and that it’ll sort itself out in about 3-6 months… But most imply that the bleeding is irregular, not every day. My boyfriend’s in favour of foregoing the pill and just using a condom, but after a late period scare I thought I should at least give this a shot (we now use both the condom and the pill).

    So yeah, any advice on how to proceed from here would be extremely helpful?

    1. Brelade*

      Was the doctor concerned about the bleeding when they reviewed the dosage? I’ve heard of people having awful issues with intermittent bleeding but haven’t had it myself – just hated the pill after trying a few and came off it.

      1. Anon for this*

        He seemed pretty unconcerned. Said it’s not uncommon on lower dosage. I was hoping the new medication would clear it up, but so far no dice.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I might ask the doctor about a different formulation–I’d had no problems on the pill in my 20s, but then a different formulation in my 30s (post kids) didn’t work well. There’s definitely an aspect of biochemical fit to different balances of the active ingredients.

          1. Anon for this*

            That’s pretty comforting to know. I hope I figure out the right formula soon, my options are cheap medication and a 3 hour (!!!) waiting time for consultation, or an immediate consultation with medication that costs 4x the amount. Sigh.

          2. Old Biddy*

            This – most doctors realize that not every formulation works for everyone. Back when I was on birth control, I got shifted to a new one when my health plan changed their formulary. It made me miserable and things didn’t improve after one month. Dr switched me to a different one that was better for me. A few years later I lost 50 lbs and had to switch it up again.

        2. Epsilon Delta*

          So, from my very layman-understanding, spotting can be normal but it sounds like you are pretty far beyond that if you’re having anemia issues(!). Does the doctor know the full severity of your symptoms and still does not care? If so, I would be looking for a second opinion. If you have been downplaying them or being vague now would be the time to be very clear and descriptive, preferably with numbers. (How many pads a day, how anemic you are, etc)

          1. Anon for this*

            The anaemia is actually not unexpected – I’ve had mild anaemia issues for years (got it from my mother), so it’s more a case of blood loss exacerbating it rather than the pills causing them. The symptoms are still manageable, and I’m being careful to take more iron rich food/supplements as needed.

            If it continues I’ll definitely go back. Possibly on a day the female gp is on shift – the guy was super helpful and earnest, but I do feel like a female doctor would probably understand better if I go into detail about how heavy I consider the bleeding, etc.

            1. Rainy*

              One thing that can help is, if you can use a cup, most cups have measurements on them so you can track how much you are bleeding every 12 hours, note it down, and then take it to your GP and have actual measurements. I’ve heard that this can be compelling for GPs who are otherwise pretty blasé about menstrual bleeding.

              1. Anon for this*

                That’s really good advice, thanks! It’ll probably help for a more accurate diagnosis. I’ve never used a cup before (I’m pretty used to pads) but it may be a good time to look into it.

                1. epi*

                  Tampons also have standardized capacities across brands, if you’re comfortable with them. Keeping track of what size and how many you go through will also make it possible to estimate how much you are bleeding. I’m not sure about pads but since you are familiar with them, you may at least be able to keep track and estimate something like “3 typical periods’ worth of pads.”

                  I hope you get this figured out soon!

              2. The Ginger Ginger*

                Also a cup user, here to say – if you want to look into trying a cup (in general and for this specific purpose) google “Put A Cup In It”. They have a ton of excellent advice, and a great online community, and actively try to be very gender inclusive in all of there content. They are a great resource to help you get up to speed.

              3. Mephyle*

                Any beginner cup user is highly recommended to check out the LiveJournal cup forum. You will find everything you need to know there: first-time problems with solutions from more experienced users who have been there done that, choosing the best cup for your body and where to buy it, and the 8 (or however many) different ways to fold a cup for insertion, so you can try them all and use the method that works best for you.

    2. Square Root Of Minus One*

      Talk to your doctor about that, just what you told us, and see what they say, really.
      We readers don’t know you. We don’t know what age you are, if it’s normal for you to menstruate more than a week, we don’t know anything relevant.
      In matters of health, random people advice on the Internet usually does more harm than good.

      1. Anon for this*

        I’m in my mid-twenties with a normal 6 day bleeding period, but point taken about not knowing about my situation and searching the internet for advice.

        1. Junior Dev*

          I agree with what you said about trying to see a female GP. I think men are more likely to not take women’s health comcers seriously (I mean “the concerns of people who are women,” not “Women’s Health” as a euphemism for health related to uteruses and related body parts).

          1. ket*

            It’s worth a try, but the only person who cut me with the speculum in a pap smear so I bled enough to need a pad was a woman, and my eventual emergency-ish OB-GYN who was fabulous & midwifish was a man. Medical school spares no one.

    3. TL -*

      Keep talking to your doctor. There are lot of birth control methods besides whichever 2 brands of pills y’all’ve tried or condoms, so if it’s really intolerable or if it doesn’t settle down in a few, you can try others.

      1. Anon for this*

        True, though I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about many of the others (I was thinking of trying the implant, but I’m not sure if it’s such a good idea now that the hormonal method doesn’t seem to be working so well).

          1. Anon for this*

            Thats true, it may be a good option. Although after reading the comments about people’s experience with IUD insertion downthread, I’m not sure if it’s the best for me. I’m tiny (5″1) and quite skinny, so there’s no way an IUD is going to go in without hurting (And likely cramping, since I have a history of that too..)

            1. Rainy*

              If you have a history of cramps, the copper IUD is usually a bad fit, as it exacerbates them.

              Mirena and the smaller 3 year progestin IUD might be good. Yes, they will hurt going in, but if you are not in the US or have good insurance or are willing to pay, you can get a local put in your cervix before insertion and the insertion can be guided with an ultrasound. My Mirena was inserted in a country with decent health care and it went very smoothly from the doctor’s perspective and only hurt a teeny bit: I had ultrasound guidance and a local in my cervix and I was super happy with my Mirena for some years. When it expired and I had it out, PP in the US couldn’t get a new one into me, but that’s another issue. I’m really tempted to call the clinic that put mine in in Canada the next time I’m up there for a visit and see if they can fit me in.

            2. Melody Pond*

              Well, yeah, I don’t know of anybody who had an IUD insertion pain-free. But that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your stature – it’s the size and depth of your uterus that matters here.

              One of the hormonal IUDs might actually be worth considering – because they’re placed locally, I believe they need much lower doses of hormones to work, than the pill. And from what I’ve heard, they generally get rid of periods and cramping, aside from some light spotting every couple months or so.

            3. Kj*

              I’m small and I loved my IUD- the insertion wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t horrible either. My doc gave me meds to help it go better and she was very good. I only took it out when I wanted to get pregnant and the day I give birth, I’d scheduling for it to go back in. I had the hormonal Mirena and it got rid of my period for five glorious years and prevented pregnancy. I’d say it is worth a conversation with your doc.

            4. ket*

              Happy with my copper IUD, but it exacerbated my periods & did hurt a bit going in (1 ibuprofen was plenty; less bad than cramps). That was post-partum, though. Loved my NuvaRing. Stopped only due to concerns about DVT as I reached 35 yrs.

    4. Anna*

      I quit one brand of pills because of unusual bleeding that left me anemic. A different brand (linessa) worked for me. Sometimes it’s worth trying a switch.

      1. Anon for this*

        I just got put on yaz/yasmin from microgynon. Its been quite eye-opening seeing how many different brands of oral contraceptives there are.

        1. Ender*

          Yasmin is also a pretty low dose though isn’t it? Weight matters too – if you are in the obese category then most branded pills just won’t work for you.

          When I hit my late thirties my doc told me I could go for a lower dose pill and put me on Yasmin. I actually asked the doc to take me off Yasmin and put me back on the higher dose one because I still felt like I was ovulating (I know my body really well – when I was trying for a baby I could literally feel ovulation happening sometimes).

          Look at the backs of the packs to see actual dosage and google your weight and age and dosage advice on a reliable health website and then go back and ask your doc about trying a higher dose one.

          Definitely don’t stop using condoms until you are sure it’s working.

          And remember I am not a doctor!

          1. Anon for this*

            Well I’m… borderline underweight, actually. But thanks for the tip about the websites! I’ll go check them out.

    5. AliceBD*

      Keep talking to your doctor about it. I’ve had some brands not work well for me and others do fine. I personally have not had bleeding on any of them but have had some other undesirable side effects and my doctors have worked with me over the years to try different ones.

      It’s also fine if you want to discontinue the pill. You can still use other birth control options besides condoms. Your choices are not just pill+condom or condom. Talk to your doctor about your options.

      1. Anon for this*

        I’ve looked at other birth control methods and was pretty unenthused by most of them to be honest… But maybe it may be time to revisit those.

    6. Myfawny Thomas*

      I agree with others- it often takes a bunch of tries to find the right fit for your body’s hormones. I tried 4 or 5 pill types before finding one I didn’t intermittently spot or bleed while taking. I was happy as a clam for 10+ years on that pill.

      When they stopped making that pill, I ended up getting an IUD, which is, for me, THE BEST. But keep talking to your doctor about what works for you.

      1. Anon for this*

        What’s the IUD like? I’ve always thought it sounds pretty uncomfortable but a lot of people seem happy with it.

        The other issue is finding out how expensive it is in my country (non-US/Europe). For some reason, their approach to contraception is pretty tight-lipped unless you’re in front of an actual doctor, and they tend to promote abstinence, which is pretty ridiculous in my opinion.

        1. Regular going TMI*

          You don’t feel it at all post-insertion. A lot of my friends had pain during insertion and bad cramping later that day but after that it goes away. (I got mine at my postpartum checkup so I just felt a small pinch, my poor cervix had been through much worse.) I have a hormonal IUD, so it has different effects than a copper one. It made my period turn into spotting, which took much of a year to become regular. My sex drive is lower than it used to be but i don’t know if that’s because of the BC or the child-induced sleep deprivation and lack of spare time for romantic stuff, I lean toward the latter. If those issues sound acceptable it may be worth looking into.

          Good luck, the bleeding sounds awful and a bit alarming!

          1. Regular going TMI*

            PS i should specify, given your current experience, that when i say “my period turned to spotting” I mean it was much much lighter, less consistent, and shorter. I only even need to use a menstrual product a couple times a year. Not the kind of “breakthrough bleeding” where you worry about anemia.

            1. Rainy*

              When I got my Mirena, I finished out the period I was on during insertion, had a normal period at the normal duration the next month, and the second Mirena period I would have had was 2 days of extralight spotting, and then I didn’t have another period until the Mirena expired and I had it out.

          2. TardyTardis*

            I’m glad they have new IUD’s, the copper one I had gave me totally ghastly periods and I am very happy I don’t need to worry about that any more.

        2. WellRed*

          The IUD is five years of not thinking about birth control. I had mild cramps when they inserted it. That’s it.

        3. AdAgencyChick*

          Getting it put in was horrible. My doctor told me that I could just take a couple of aspirin before the procedure and I’d be fine. Ha. Getting dilated was really painful and then the rest of the day I had what felt like the most intense menstrual cramps ever. I’m told it’s easier if you’ve had a child already (because it’s the dilation of the cervix that hurts so much, and if your body has already done that one or more times, it’s easier for the doctor to do it).

          After that, it was fine.

          1. ket*

            It’s interesting to hear this. I don’t remember the dilation part really at all…. did it even happen?… but I did have a kid first.

        4. blackcat*

          I have had a copper IUD for 7 years. I love it. In most places, it is cheaper than the hormonal one. Lasts up to 12 years.
          Insertion hurt like a b****, and I did actually feel it when I twisted for about the first year, but that went away.
          Artificial hormones and I did not agree with each other. This has been the best. A+, highly recommend.

          1. Julia*

            I’ve heard that copper iuds aren’t recommended for women who already have heavy bleeding or cramps, though.

        5. kerlin*

          Totally agree with everyone else here – I went from oral pills to an IUD (Mirena) and adore it. Getting it inserted was pretty awful – not pain, just weirdness, whole body shaking as hormones were released, cramping. I rested for a day and was back at it the next day and don’t think about it at all now, ever.

        6. Middle School Teacher*

          I got mine done when I was on holidays and I’m glad I did; insertion day was horrible for me but I’m a big wuss haha. Some eight months later my period is still unpredictable and I do get uncomfortable cramps around that time but otherwise I don’t even think about it. Super convenient. I have a hormonal one.

        7. epi*

          I had a Mirena (hormonal IUD) and loved it. The insertion is uncomfortable but it was worth it because I kept the IUD for the maximum amount of time. Also when I say uncomfortable, I mean I started taking ibuprofen a day before, needed a few minutes before I was ready to get up and get dressed, and was able to take the bus home and have kind of a quiet weekend on my own just fine. I’ve probably had worse trips to the dentist. There was occasional cramping the first few months that gradually decreased on its own.

          Hormonal IUDs make many women’s periods lighter and mine stopped completely, which was awesome. They also deliver a much lower dose of hormones than the pill, so I wouldn’t automatically rule them out based on your experience with BC– your doctor will be able to advise you better.

        8. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

          Another plug for an IUD. I’ve had a Mirena for 8+ years (well, two different Mirenas), and haven’t had a period in 8 years. When I had it replaced, the doctor told me that I may see some spotting before it evened out again, but I didn’t; it just carried on smoothly with no difference.

          When I got the first one, I experienced a few days of cramping, a few weeks of discharge, and a few months of light periods/spotting, but they all eased up in a manageable time frame. The insertion (both times) was uncomfortable-to-somewhat-painful, but not excruciating. A nap afterwards and a couple days of taking it easy (the first time in particular), and it was back to normal.

          I recommend it to anyone, honestly; or at least, recommend that anyone who needs long-term birth control at least explore the option with their doctor. It’s been one of the best medical decisions I’ve ever made, and I feel like too many people don’t consider it an option.

        9. Ktelzbeth*

          I also have a Mirena IUD and have not had children. It has cured my menstrual cramps. I do have some light spotting monthly–just a pantiliner’s worth for a couple of days. I’ve had three put in, because the first fell out. None have been comfortable and I’d go so far as to say it hurt, but the last was the best because my doctor (a male) has a policy of not using a tenaculum (a pincer to grab the cervix) unless he actually and absolutely has to. He didn’t for me. My female doctor before him used one as a matter of course. Just one of the reasons I love my current GP.

        10. Reba*

          We have had open thread discussions in the past about IUD experiences (I can think of at least two times)–so maybe give the site a search for those.

          There are lots of IUD horror stories on the internet. Obviously, nothing is risk free and I have a lot of sympathy for those who experience device failure or injury. But my feeling is that the positive, no-problems perspective is not as well represented out there online–no surprise, if people have nothing to report! They are almost 100% effective and I love, love, love mine (Mirena, now on generic Mirena). I have had no periods for 7 years–this is amazing not only for convenience but also because I was frequently borderline-anemic before. I often bled a lot on the pill(s).

          Although this wouldn’t help you with price and availability in your country, you might get some good information about all your options by looking at the websites of Planned Parenthood and Scarleteen (aimed at young adults but very informative). Sorry if that’s obvious or you have already done the research! But there really are a lot of options to explore.

          Good luck!

    7. Pharmgirl*

      When I first started birth control I also had extended bleeding – I think it got to 3+ weeks. My NP actually told me to stop the birth control for a week (i.e. just let my period happen), and then restart with a new pack. It actually worked for me, and this might be something to ask your physician about, but please keep in mind that you will NOT be protected from pregnancy for up to 7 days after you restart the pack.

      Either way, definitely reach back out to your doctor! There are many, many options of birth control pills, and it may just be a matter of finding out what works for you. Most OCPs are combinations of estrogen and progesterone, and different people need different doses of each, depending on when breakthrough bleeding occurs. It can certainly take up to 3 months for the body to adjust, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask to switch earlier if you don’t feel like what you have is right for you.

      1. Julia*

        Is it possible that in your case,, you started the pill mid-cycle? Then that doctor’s advice makes sense to me.
        That said, I started a pill (Visanne) mid-cycle because I could not bear the thought of another period from hell, and barely spotted for a few days. Haven’t had any bleeding in over two years now.

        1. Anon for this*

          Hm well I switched over at the 13 day mark with this one because of the bleeding, so maybe I should get to month 2 before I decide on this one?

          I’m kind of dreading my next period at this point though. I’ve got another week before I’m due to stop the pill for my period, but the non-stop bleeding is really tiring (literally, since my energy flags from less iron in my body).

      2. Anon for this*

        Thanks! It good to know my experience isn’t unheard of. I’m a but resigned to this being a bit of a trial and error to find what fits for me, but hopefully it’ll clear up once my body adjusts.

    8. Rogue*

      One other thing to consider…were both pills made with the same kind of progestin? I cannot take pills made with levonorgestrel. They cause the kind of bleeding you’re talking about. If you decide to switch, you may want to change progestins if these two pills had the same one.

      1. Anon for this*

        Microgynon has levonorgestrel, I believe, but I’m not sure about yasmin. I’ll go check, thanks!

      1. Anon for this*

        Wow, that’s quite a lot (Though fro. This thread, I’m thinking it’s not actually that uncommon now…) . Thanks! I’ll keep trying to find one that works.

    9. Dr. Anonymous*

      Totally call your doctor. Options are to ride this out a few more weeks, change pills again at your next cycle, consider Mirena or Nexplanon, etc. It’s fine to call your doctor to discuss what you want to do next. This is why doctors have phones.

      1. Anon for this*

        Alright, thanks!

        Do you know if nexaplanon can cause similar issues though? One of the reasons I’m on oral contraceptives is to see if there are any side effects, and consider the implant if all goes well. It has… not gone smoothly, and since both methods are hormone based, I’m wondering if the same side effects might occur.

        1. Indie*

          I had Implanon for ages and loved it; irregular to begin with but settled down into no symptoms, a mild regular period, five years of not thinking about it. Replaced it three times. However I had friends who tried it and hated it.
          They discontinued Implanon and replaced it with Nexplanon. It was godawful for me. Yet I had friends who swore by it.

        2. Dr. Anonymous*

          The first three months of Mirena and can be heavy or light or otherwise weird, and then you tend to settle down into whatever rhythm you’re going to have. Because they are steady state progesterone only with no estrogen you may not get a good preview of how you’ll respond based on the pills.

    10. Videogame Lurker*

      My first month had an extended period, but the second and beyond had a nice, scheduled six day pattern. May have been because I started on Day One of that lovely week because cramps hurt/emotional spinning dart board is awful/have them every month but not in the same week with little to no warning (at the time, my doctor was convinced I just needed to go out and exercise more, but I get my energy drained over that week and when I have work, I generally Fake Absolute Energy before coming home and sleeping for an hour or more, the monthly but not schedualable thing was chalked up to me being in my teens despite having periods since I was thirteen or so and had PMS while menstruating instead of the weeks before).

      TLDR, I take a low dose for PMS, and in my first month I had an extended period. I didnt go to my doctor at the time about it because I was sure it was because I started taking the pills while on my period, or because it was my first month.

    11. DrTheLiz*

      I have a copper IUD. Having it inserted is jusf awful – don’t eat first and take the rest of THW day off so you can sleep. After that it has made my periods heavier and my cramps worse, but if I’m diligent with taking ibuprofen as soon as I feel a twinge (and whether or not I do every 6 hours during the period proper) I do all right. Sometimes need a heat pad ad well but usually not. It’s also worth starting on a 5 year copper coil as it’s smaller.

    12. Indie*

      My mother and sister rave abut the coil and have been using them after all other methods failed; its been going happily for them for a number of years. When I mention this to people they repeat all the old horror stories about the old-style IUDs but it bears absolutely no relation to that anymore. I so hear you on the anaemia issues, and I ended up taking on my own boyfriend’s suggestion of just using condoms. It was always something with the oral stuff, I tried loads and am so happy now that it’s just me again.

    13. Phoenix Programmer*

      For peace of mind with condoms – fill with water after your done cuddling and glowing with each other. If it drips you know you need planB.

      Hubby and I used this for 5 years no issues. It’s also nice that you can immediately attempt pregnancy if you ever want to. Plus the pill is clearly wrecking your body. It’s also a little known fact that most of the hormone is excreted in the toilet and NOT cleaned by sewage treatment. All these hormonal based pills are worse for the environment than rubbers.

  9. Kali*

    So, I have an update on the drama I posted about last week. Feel free to go back to last week’s post and search by my name to find out more, but I don’t think you’ll be missing much if you don’t. Last week I didn’t understand what was going on, and I theorised a lot based on my own issues, which was confusing. Now, I have a better grasp on the situation.

    BF’s friend’s wife’s birthday dinner is tomorrow, and BF asked her to add me to the table as a plus one, assuming it was just a formality. She refused, saying she’d found me rude. This seemed to come out of nowhere, and we racked our brains about what might have happened but genuinely couldn’t think of anything serious enough to provoke this reaction. Mr A put it down to a personality clash, but, yesterday, finally told BF what it was. I study biology, and, about a year ago when we had dinner together, I talked about one of the modules I was taking, and this was related to a personal trauma they were going through at a the time. Think a medical student excitedly talking about a human dissection they’d just done to someone who’d come from their grandparents wake. The topic was so normal amongst biology students that I didn’t stop to think that laymen would be less comfortable, which, yes, was absolutely insensitive, and I am truly sorry for being so thoughtless. I didn’t know about their personal trauma, but I still should have been more sensitive about the topic in general and read the room better. I was definitely in the wrong for that.

    Unfortunately, what prompted Mr A to confess was a post of mine on another site where he has apparently been stalking me for about four months. I exaggerate a bit because I’m upset; BF once shared a post of his with Mr A which I commented on, and I imagine Mr A hit follow and then didn’t really think about it, until he spotted I was writing about an event he was linked to. That said, he’s purposefully disguised his own username as he only uses his account to follow people he knows, so it is a bit creepy.

    Short version is, the whole issue triggered some of the PTSD from growing up with an abusive mother, who told me no one would ever love me or want me around. That’s what my post was about. A long explanation of why my rejection issues had been triggered, and then my question; am I allowed to stop wracking my brains and thinking of myself as a horrible person, and just accept they’re going through something and be prepared to issue an apology when appropriate?

    Knowing what I actually did definitely helps with my rejection issues and PTSD; I completely understand why Mrs A doesn’t want to be around me, and why neither of them wanted to talk about it even to the extent of explaining what the problem is. I also know that I wasn’t intentionally cruel, just thoughtless and insensitive, and those are things I can definitely work on, they’re not arbitrary “no one will ever love you because you’re trash as a human being” factors, like my mother told me for most of my life.

    The As thought that I knew Mr A was reading, and that I did know what the problem was, so therefore my post is lying and being manipulative. I guess it was so traumatic for them that they can’t imagine it not standing out to anyone else involved. They’ve convinced themselves that my post about my abusive childhood and mother issues is full of coded digs at them, and just trying to manipulate strangers on the internet to be on my side. BF pointed out the holes in that theory to Mr A, but I have, unbeknown to either of us, been in full BEC territory with Mrs A for the best part of a year, and the fact that I exist is now a source of annoyance to her. I mean, I did step on her recent and ongoing trauma pretty hard, so it’s not totally un-understandable. She’s now saying she will never talk to me again, which, again, if that’s what she needs to do not to be triggered, sure. Looking back, she did that at her wedding, but I just assumed she was too busy with her new husband and her family rather than the best man’s plus one, and it didn’t bother me. It won’t be a big deal to do that for the rest of our lives, it’s not like they have a group get together more than once every six months. I would still like to apologise, but, as I said, the fact that I exist is now a source of pain for them, so probably best not to remind them unnecessarily.

    The next event at which we might all be together will be BFs birthday, so it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. BF has decided not to go to the dinner tomorrow and let the dust settle instead. There are so many politics and triggered traumas involved that I think him managing this friendship entirely on his own is the best option.

    1. Julia*

      I have a hard time imagining a topic that comes up in regular biology classes that is so traumatic for A that she would never ever speak to you again. Unless you made a comment like, “women suffering from infertility aren’t really biologically women anymore, haha”, which I doubt, it’s really hard to know whether A is just over-reacting or whether something else is going on here.
      Anyway, I’m sorry you’re having a rough time. :(

      1. TL -*

        Yeah, I’m a biology major and worked in disease labs and basically get grossed out by nothing ever … and still, I don’t think I’ve ever had anything more than someone say, “Oh, can we not? We’re eating/that’s a big graphic/that’s a sensitive subject.”

        I mean, maybe someone has and I’ve just never noticed them never talking to me again, but that seems a pretty extreme reaction to what was presumably an academic discussion.

        1. Kali*

          I’ve thought about it, and decided to reveal what it was, on the grounds that they can hardly be any more mad at me at this point.

          I was talking in detail about feotal development and interesting experiments in development biology, and possibly interesting effects of chromosomal re-arrangements, and they’d recently gone through a miscarriage. They’ve presumably been trying since then, and may well have gone through more miscarriages within that period. Again, I genuinely had no idea, but it is something I should have been more sensitive to.

          1. Kali*

            I didn’t remember the conversation, but I was going based on what I was studying at the time. BF has just reminded me, I was talking about clonal experiments, for instance, splitting frog embryos with hairs and sticking albino embryos to those with normal colouring to show that the growth continued as normal.

            1. Jenny*

              Without having any experience with either pregnacies and miscarriages, this subject would squick me. And I am in the health service and used to talking about feces over the finner table and would find the subject of decomposing bodies interesting and likewise willing to discuss that while eating. That being said I don’t think I would still cease all contact with you.

            2. Ender*

              To be clear – you were talking about experimenting on human embryos? Or just animal ones? Did you make it seem as if you don’t think of human embryos as people? That you think it’s ok to split living human embryos and combine them with animal or other human embryos?

              If you had just lost your dog, and then someone started talking about all these experiments they were doing cutting up living dogs and sticking them together, you’d be pretty BEC with them too!

              1. Kali*

                Experiments with human embryos are unethical and can’t be done. I was describing historical experiments on frog embryos. As I said, I don’t recall the conversation, but I might have touched on modern cloning techniques, and on three-parent embryos, which are human. Those embryos are born and raised as normal children though – it’s a technique to increase fertility, not an experiment. We also don’t typically experiment on dogs; the limit is usually mice. As species get closer to humans there are, rightfully, more and more restrictions on the experiments that can be done, balancing the usefulness of the experiments for techniques to improve the health of humans vs the ethical restrictions.

                As I said, based on what might have been discussed, I was out of line. It’s totally understandable that people might be made uncomfortable by those topics. I just didn’t stop to think because it is such a normal thing to discuss in my field (genetics), and BF didn’t notice because it’s a normal thing for me to tell him about. Definitely something to be aware of in future though.

                1. Ender*

                  Well if you made it clear that you don’t think it’s ok to experiment on human embryos, then yeah I can see why you think she was overreacting. Experimenting on frogs is no worse than eating meat after all!

                  But as I said in a post below in her head “embryo” probably means “baby I loved and had bonded with” so I imagine that meal was extremely excruciating for her.

                  FYI in other countries that are not so strict there are plenty of experiments being done on human embryos. Some human-animal chimeras have even been produced. I’ll see if I can find the link.

                2. Ender*

                  Actually I don’t even need a link – if you google human animal chimera you’ll find tons of articles – from pigs that have had human livers growing in them, to human embryonic stem cells that have been combined with animals.

                3. Kali*

                  I may not have made it clear; like in my post above, I may well have assumed it was obvious and didn’t need saying. Also, there is definitely a little scientist in me going “I get that it’s bad…but did those experiments work?!?!?!”.

                4. Ann O.*

                  Honestly, I don’t think you were out of line. To me, this is a perfect example of something I often think in social justice circles: just because someone was hurt, doesn’t mean someone else did something wrong.

                  You had no way of knowing that they had a personal trauma. I also think not all people who had gone through their personal trauma would have had a problem talking about animal embryos and cloning experiments. Your topic is an interesting topic to a lot of people. If no one asked you to change the subject or expressed discomfort with the topic, how could you have known? At most, you may need to work on reading the room better to pick up on signs of lack of interest or discomfort, which is a general skill that many of us can always work on because it can be easy to get caught up in our own passion for a topic and not notice that we’ve turned a conversation into a monologue.

                  Maybe this is a general personality clash, but they sound narcissistic to me (in the common sense of the word–not Internet diagnosing them!). They should be capable of understanding that you weren’t doing anything to them–you just didn’t know all the information.

                5. Kali*

                  Ann O., I think you’re right. The phrases “you hurt me” and “I didn’t mean to hurt you” aren’t contradictions, and I think people would communicate better a lot of times if that were better understood. A lot of discussions I observe online seem to devolve into versions of those two statements being repeated because they don’t actually address one another. The two states of intent/not-intent and hurt/not-hurt are related – it’s easier to hurt someone if you intended to, and if I truly didn’t meant to hurt you, then knowing that did should modify how we interact in future – but they don’t equal each other.

                1. Kali*

                  I agree, and the experiments she’s referencing really aren’t that bad. They’re using other organisms to grow human organs for transplant. Another option would be to create a stem cell, either by converting the persons own skin cells into stem cells or by using a human embryonic stem cell, and inserting that in the correct location, with the instructions to grow into the right kind of organs. Highly controversial research that has to be handled delicately. The ideal solution would be converting adult cells back into stem cells, but it’s really, really difficult. Anyone who manages is likely to be a shoo-in for the Nobel.

                  All that said, I can see why someone might be upset by the topic if they’d recently gone through a traumatic experience involving embryos, and I do know lots of people aren’t particularly interested, or have strong anti-abortion feelings which the topic would trigger. I just didn’t know any of those things were the case in this specific scenario!

                2. Ender*

                  Well you are of course entitled to your opinion, but telling a woman who’s just lost an embryo she considered to be a child that her embryo was not a person is exactly as rude as telling a woman who just took the morning after pill that she’s killed an innocent person. You are entitled to your opinion, but it is very rude to shove it in the face of someone with the opposite opinion who’s just suffered a traumatic event.

                  If you are truly pro-choice then all that you would care about is the opinion of the pregnant woman on the matter of whether her embryo was a person or not, not your own opinion.

                  Of course, in this case OP didn’t realise that mr and Mrs A had just suffered a miscarriage, but from their perspective the hurt was just as bad.

          2. Julia*

            It was probably not the best topic if you knew that they’d had a miscarriage. But as a woman who has a potential diagnosis of infertility, talk about embryo experiments wouldn’t bother me that much. I might consider you somewhat insensitive if I knew that you knew, but if not, I guess for me, the more biology advances, the more chances we have to produce healthy babies?

          3. Not So NewReader*

            You are taking all this quite well, I think.

            Here is a person who basically believes that you must mind read what her upsets are and diligently avoid those topics. If it had not been a blow up over this, then it would have been another blow up over something else later.

            There’s dozens of ways to handle this, they were not without recourse. Mr. A could have whispered to your BF, “There’s been some problems here, warn your GF to avoid talking about babies.”

            OR Mr A, could have said in the moment, “eh, let’s talk about something other than babies, kids, okay?”

            There were quite a few times that my husband cued me in as to which topics to stay off of, likewise there were times I would be the one “in the know” and I’d tell him, “Let’s not mention X.”

            It’s a good life skill to have, very useful.

            That said, very seldom have I seen a medical conversation at meal time go well. Whatever the medical topic is someone gets upset, that seems to happen more often than not. I have a pretty strong stomach. I was sitting at a dinner with family/friends and the topic turned to a particular surgical process. I think of myself as fairly resilient with these things. The topic went on and on, we got down in the weeds and went over minute by minute how this is done. About 20 minutes into it, I had to stop eating. Later the group did agree no extensive medical talk at the table. Stuff comes up, “I have to have a test or a surgery”, and that is fine. It’s the long, detail conversations that seem to kill a meal for some folks. Had this not happened to me personally, I probably would have been much less aware of the impact of these conversations for some folks.

            1. Kali*

              To be fair to Mr A, I think he’s pretty devastated over the issue as well, but finds it harder to admit to that. I do understand why it’s been so hard for them to handle it well., as it was pretty insensitive of me to discuss that topic amongst laymen, even not knowing the issues they were dealing with. I would rather have been told “don’t discuss that” than “you’re a horrible person and we don’t want to be around you”, but I do get it. It’s taken me years to be able to handle it well – or even just not-horribly – when people accidentally step on my parental trauma, so I can hardly blame them for not being able to handle this perfectly.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                In very general terms everybody did the same thing. They touched a subject or action that upset each other.
                To be honest, I would not trust her to be my friend, if were me. That opportunity would be over. I would always be walking on eggshells wondering when the next bombshell news item would drop and how much crap did I step in now.

                And if I am being fair, I have done something similar myself. An acquaintance said to me after my husband died, “You’ve been moping around here for two months. You need to get over it and go get another man.” Thinking quickly, I realized there were so many things wrong with this statement the only solution was to distance myself from this person. I just did not want to deal. And I suspect you may not want to deal even if a friendship was offered at this point. It’s too much work. She can be an acquaintance and retain that status in your life.

                I do think that it is good that you understand what is going on with you and how this dragged stuff out of your past. Every time we look at this stuff, we reframe, rethink it to some degree and we grow a little stronger even if we don’t see it in the moment.

          4. Nita*

            Okay… you are not a horrible person!!! I cannot put enough exclamation points on that. With all due respect to the A’s loss, they are extremely touchy and slightly insane, and if you can say good riddance to them that will probably be a good thing.

            Yes, miscarriage is sad. Yes, some people take it harder, or at least have a harder time mentally separating their loss from other things in life. No, life does not stop while they grieve. No, there’s not going to be a blanket ban on discussions of biology, babies, or parenting anywhere they might find themselves. No, no one can be extra sensitive around them if they haven’t told them what’s up.

            1. Juxc*

              I agree. I have my own triggers and sensitivities but it’s so exhausting to have to constantly walk on eggshells in all social situations lest you offend someone, especially if they haven’t made their triggers known to you. Policing other people’s speech all the time (even with friends!) is just not right. OP sounds like an awesome and interesting person and I would love to hear her stories, especially since I have a rather boring job.

      2. Kali*

        I think there’s a healthy dose of not really liking me in the first place. BF suspects that there are other factors we don’t know about.

        1. Triplestep*

          When I first read your OP here (didn’t see last week’s) the first thing I thought of was that this couple was dealing with infertility, miscarriage or late term loss.

          But now that you’ve done on to describe it further, I think you are right that there may be a healthy dose of just not liking you in the first place. I am not a scientist, but I used to work in Big Pharma creating workspaces and labs, and I currently work in healthcare doing the same. Having worked around and for scientists, I think you may be the kind who is regularly “not reading the room” and perhaps that is why they do not like you. I like hearing about what the scientists and doctors I work with are doing when I’m at work – I actually need to as part of my job – but even I would not want to hear about fetal development and developmental biology in a social setting.

          In fact very few people want to hear industry-specific in-the-weeds details of other people’s work in a social setting, and if they do want to know, they will ask. (I get lots of design and construction questions, and then people’s eyes glaze over when they hear about what they *thought* they wanted to hear!)

          I’m not saying you’re a terrible person – I am sure other scientists would love to talk to you about this stuff. And while I’m not quite sure I understand all that happened with the online drama, I do know that the other couple is guilty of not using their words. Seems like there’s room for improvement on both sides, but in your case, I think you just need to get better at picking conversational topics and improving social skills. You’re hardly alone in that, though – just ask your scientist friends!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Totally agree with this.
            Or it could be that she decided not to like you from the start and just keep looking around for reasons to validate her decision. Unfortunately, because of the legitimate huge sadness in her setting, it’s not clear exactly where her intentions were. I’d chalk it up to getting started on the wrong foot with no opportunity to set things back on track. Sometimes stuff goes this way. It’s sad.

          2. Kali*

            I think that’s a fair read. It’s a bit of a mind-bomb for me to hear that some people aren’t absolutely fascinated by developmental biology. Like, I believe you, but I don’t really get how that works. Something I’ll just need to remember by rote rather than understand intrinsically, I think.

            1. Forking great username*

              Yeah, if that’s a mind bomb…I’m sorry, but it’s probably hurting you socially. I find the details of this stuff to be a strange combo of gross and boring to listen to. Not that I would tell you that if the topic came up at a dinner party! But everyone has different interests. I’m in education and will sometimes tell funny anecdotes from the classroom, but I realize most people not in the field are not going to enjoy listening to me go on about IEPs, LREs, different kinds of classroom management, student-centered classrooms, “I can” statements, etc. The inability to realize that others aren’t as interested in a topic as you are is commonly going to be construed as rude. That doesn’t make you a terrible person! But probably means you need to focus more on being aware of others in social situations – trying to listen more than you talk (especially in a group!), reading the room, etc.

              1. Kali*

                I’m really not as socially unaware as you appear to have gathered from this one specific topic. I just generally hang out with other scientists, and I was being a lot more tongue-in-cheek in that last comment than I guess came across in writing.

                For additional context, I do remember Mr A graphically describing his bowel movements at that dinner, as an attempt to get a reaction from me. Thinking back, I may have been more inclined to discuss biology as an attempt to show him that he wasn’t going to embarrass me with that sort of thing. That’s not really a situation that’s likely to arise again.

                1. Nita*

                  Just… what?! Yeah, they’re not great dinner company and I think I might have reacted similarly. If leaving the room wasn’t an option, I’d say something to show how not-grossed-out I am by all things biological. If it seemed like the discussion of body functions is an attempt to make me uncomfortable, I’d be very clear I’m not uncomfortable in the least, just to shut it down for future meetings.

              2. Triplestep*

                Yup, if it’s a “mind bomb” to find out that not everyone is interested in your stuff, you have a lot of work to do. Essentially what you’re saying is “everyone would be just like me if they only could – they would study what I do, want the career I want, etc.” And from there people can assume you think it’s a shame not everyone is as smart you are, and they need you to put things in layman’s terms for them. If you are searching your memory for a time you’ve ever said anything like this … don’t. You needn’t have to have said those words to be coming across that way. And if it’s a revelation that others might not be interested in your academic and professional interests, then yes, you probably do come across that way.

                There are a lot of posts here telling you that you did nothing wrong because you could not have known Mrs. A had suffered a loss – don’t listen to them. What you did wrong started a long time before the incident you described. That was just the last straw for a couple that finds you to be self-absorbed. (And I still don’t understand all the online stuff totally, but I would say that putting intensely personal history out online for others to read and comment on is the act of a self-absorbed person and probably solidified Mr. A’s opinion of you.)

                Again, you are not a terrible person an all is not lost. You can *learn* social skills. When I met my husband about 18 years ago, he had spent way too much time reading SciFi and not enough time talking to people. Lucky for me I met him at a time when he had intentionally set out to be more comfortable around people and develop social skills because the lack of them was seriously impacting his life. My husband today would hardly recognize that guy from 18 years ago (and he still likes SciFi!) You can do this – you really can. But first you need to own your level self-involvement.

                1. Kali*

                  I think you’re reading far, far too much into a single, tongue-in-cheek comment. I don’t find the armchair diagnosis or the advice appropriate, accurate, or helpful. I would like you to stop.

                2. Ender*

                  FWIW I think triplestep is probably accurate in her interpretation of mr and Mrs A’s opinion of you. Lots of people do think that if you talk about your work assuming everyone else is as interested as you are, that you are self-absorbed. And lots of people do think that posting personal info online publicly and non-anonymously is very attention-seeking and self-absorbed.

                  I don’t really agree with all that myself. I think so long as you’re not actually hurting people do whatever you like. But I definitely know a good few people who would consider both those actions to be really self-absorbed and attention seeking. I’d bet good money that mr and Mrs a are like that and hold that opinion of you. I don’t think you guys are compatible at all as friends.

                  But hey, that doesn’t have to be a big deal. Life would be very boring if everyone liked each other!

                3. Kali*

                  I don’t think it is an accurate interpretation, though I can appreciate how it might look that way based on the limited information I’ve chosen to share. Remember that this is my real life! There are other things happening, such as other interactions I haven’t described, and BF’s 10+ year history with the pair, that mean I’m confident in stating that this isn’t the case, while also being aware that I, like everyone else, always hold bias when it comes to myself. It’s the insistence that this must be the only right and true interpretation that I’m not enjoying.

              3. Bibliovore*

                Forking! Me, me, me!!!!! I wat to sit next to you at a dinner party. Mr. Bibliovore coaches me before we go out. “No one wants to hear any funny stories about the kids at school”

            2. Bibliovore*

              Its that reading the room thing for me too. How can anyone not be fascinated by children’s books, children’s book art, child development, pedagogy, and research? Sad.

              On the other hand, this does give me an opportunity just to sit back and listen to Mr. Bibliovore’s friends talk about Bob Dylan, the ’60s, beat poets, and independent presses.

              1. Bibliovore*

                oh and yes Kali, I did get that you were being tongue-in-cheek about the “mind-bombing” hence my own exaggerated wonder.

      3. SavannahMiranda*

        I may be reading into this based on personal experience, but I also jumped to infertility and particularly miscarriage. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope so! That or some kind of cancer, or a chronic disease.

    2. Waiting for the Sun*

      Sorry she’s treating you this way. I wonder if she’s just envious of your interesting work and sees you as a threat.
      People often have friends of friends whose company they don’t especially enjoy, but they don’t ban them unless it’s something really egregious, which doesn’t sound like the case.
      Mr. A sounds creepy, BTW, following you online like that.

      1. Ender*

        The woman had just lost a child, she may well have had to have a d&c and literally have the embryo split apart. Whether she had a d&c or not she probably went through a lot of physical pain as well as the mental pain of losing her embryo. In her head most likely the word embryo = “baby I had bonded with and loved dearly and then had tragically ripped from me”.

        She then had to listen to someone explain in detail how embryos are split apart and put back together and how this is so cool and exciting and isn’t that awesome.

        “She’s just jealous” is an extremely unlikely reason for her hatred of OP.

        OP, I actually find the topic interesting myself, but I think that bridge is well and truly burned. There’s no coming back from that.

        Also, Mr A seems to be under the impression that OP knew he followed her, especially since he thinks she wrote he post aimed at him. There’s nothing creepy about following someone on social media. There’s also nothing creepy about using a fake name on social media. I mean, your parents didn’t name you “waiting for the sun” did they?

        1. Kali*

          It is helpful to hear a lot of different viewpoints on the subject.

          I do find it a bit disquieting when I remember all the things that Mr A now knows about me. It’s not like I think the internet is private, it’s more that I assumed that there was a small chance that people I know personally would find me, and that, even if they did, they would care about the specific topic I was talking about. So there were things that I probably wouldn’t have shared with him, had I known I was doing so. That said, he probably has a totally different idea about what the internet is for – people do.

          1. SpiderLadyCEO*

            I think the fact that he was following you on a website and assumed you knew about it, and is making judgements about you from things you posted that you had no clue he was following bizarre. Like, yes, we do post things knowing other people will read them, but he was internet stalking you and not giving you the chance to do the same thing by letting you know what his username was, and then expected that you knew. How on earth were you supposed to know who he was?

            To be honest, this couple sounds a little unhinged to me.

        2. Waiting for the Sun*

          No, they didn’t, but they should have.
          I thought the guy was following her anonymous blog anonymously, but he knew it was her blog, if that makes sense.
          I posted my reply about possible envy early, before Kali the OP filled in the embryo talk / miscarriage details. Of course sorry for Mrs. A’s loss, and I’m sure Kali is too and wouldn’t have spoken about embryos if she’d known.

        3. Juxc*

          Sorry, but equating frog embryos with your miscarriage is BS. That’s like equating your problems with your period with a hen laying eggs. That’s being ridiculous.

          Also, I haven’t heard of embryos being split apart during a DnC. Even if it happened, why would doctors tell you that? I have zero idea what happened to my embryo after my abortion.

          Also, she expected OP to magically know that the topic of animal embryos is somewhat painful to her. OP is not a mind reader and can’t possibly know about every possible trauma or trigger someone might have.

          1. Ender*

            D&C stands for “dilation and curettage”. A currette is a sharp instrument. The procedure of a D&C is literally to scrape the embryo and placenta out of the womb in pieces. It is literally cutting/ripping the embryo to shreds. I thought that was common knowledge. Did you think they took it out in one piece or something? Of course, depending on the age and size of the embryo it might come out in a single piece. She may also have passed the baby naturally and actually seen her embryo – with my last miscarriage I was 8 and a half weeks and I could see the upper half of baby through the sac and see her head and eye. I was literally holding my embryo in my hand crying over the loss of my much hoped for child. If someone had started telling me about testing on embryos very shortly after that I would have been very uncomfortable.

            Also, OP says above that she probably didn’t make it totally clear that she thinks experimenting on human embryos is not ok and is ethically different from experimenting on frog embryos. It sounds like OP went into some detail with the description of splitting up albino embryos and splicing them with Non-albinos. OP didn’t mention in her initial post above that she was talking exclusively about animal embryos, and I got the impression from OPs post that she was discussing human embryos that she or her team had separated and spliced. It’s possible Mr and Mrs A got the same impression.

            1. Kali*

              I am finding all this quite disturbing, which is very helpful to understanding where Mrs A is coming from, and in picturing how someone could be disturbed by something that’s a routine part of my day. Which isn’t to imply that this is a routine part of anyone’s day.

              1. Ender*

                I’m glad you understand how upsetting she must have found it. Grieving a miscarriage is a complicated thing. I’m still on antidepressants and my most recent loss was 6 months ago and we haven’t tried since. It sounds from your other posts that the A’s are still going through infertility and possibly repeated miscarriages.

                When people are going through such an emotionally difficult time they often conflate emotions. I’m sure when you were discussing it they gave off non-verbal signals that you should stop, which you didn’t notice. Many people think not noticing these non-verbal signals is itself rude. How many letters do we have here where the OP is really annoyed with someone for doing or saying something, and thinks they are really really rude, but they haven’t actually asked them to stop. Personally I am awful at reading non-verbal queues so I would not consider someone rude for that. If I was in Mrs As place I would have said “this is kind of grossing me out can we talk about something else”. But she clearly is of the other mindset. In her head it was probably obvious from her body language that she wanted you to stop, but you continued regardless. So she really thinks you were being rude that night. Even though we know you weren’t intentionally being rude.

                I suspect with that coming so close on top of losing her own embryo (and either seeing it/seeing the sac or else knowing it was ripped apart in the hospital) she has conflated her upset at your perceived rudeness with her upset over the loss of the baby. It’s a common grief thing to blame someone else and to get angry over random things when you are grieving.

                It’s an outside possibility that she even remembers that dinner party whenever she thinks of the baby. The grief is feeding the anger and vice versa. Of course this may not be the case but it would explain their over-the-too anger towards you.

                I think with time she’ll get over it. However in my experience she may not fully get over the miscarriage itself until she either has living children or many years have passed. I suspect once she does fully get over it, she’ll probably look back at how angry she was at you and realise it was way out of order. But she needs to focus on getting over the loss of her babies right now (and if they are having infertility issues then they need to deal with all that too which is completely overwhelming).

                If you are seeing her at this party I think you should say “I’m so sorry for your loss. I had no idea.” And leave it at that.

        4. Owler*

          The creepy part is if my friend Joe follows me, Owler, under a username that I don’t know to associate with Joe. There’s an unequal balance of knowledge for him to know I post under a username, but I don’t know the same about him.

    3. Overeducated*

      Having read this and all the comments, I think I would write a short, simple apology note for the thing you said last year that bothered them, now that you’re aware and sound like you actually regret it and empathize with them. Don’t get into explanations, self-recrimination, or anything about them disliking you, just “I’ve recently learned I said something that hurt you at a traumatic time, I’m so sorry for what you went through and that I reminded you of it at a hard time, and I’m doing a lot of introspection about how to be more sensitive in conversations.” Then you will have done the gracious thing and closed the loop on that specific interaction by dealing with them directly, cutting out the weird online drama aspects. That’s literally all you can do and you can consider that putting it to rest.

      If they still decide not to ever interact with you, that’s really on them and they have to consider how it will hurt their friendship with your partner. Excluding just you while inviting him to stuff along with other people’s partners is not socially acceptable. And you don’t need to explain a history of trauma to be hurt by outright rejection, that would upset anyone!

      1. Triplestep*

        Totally agree with everything here. Kali, you might not notice that the script for a written apology provided above does not contain the words “if’ or “but”. Apologies should never contain either (as in “I’m sorry but … or I’m sorry if I offended you [when you clearly did]).

        And I would just add that after you write “I’m doing a lot of introspection about how to be more sensitive in conversations” you should actually do this. They may invite you to social events with your partner again and you should do your best to remain quiet while you’re leaning what others are/are not interested in to the extent you are.

        1. Kali*

          I’m not sure what image you have of me, but I do know that apologies don’t contains buts or ifs. I’m also not as socially unaware as you appear to have gathered.

          I’m not planning on reaching out to the As because I don’t believe it will help at this point. I’m also not particularly interested in attending social events they host, nor do I expect to be invited.

          1. Triplestep*

            I would have no way of knowing what you know about apologies – plenty of people (including some people who pay PR professionals to advise them) do NOT know apologies shouldn’t contain “if” or “but”.

            And on the question of social skills, in all your protests that you indeed have them, you prove more and more that you are not terribly socially skilled. For example, Overeducated described above that how it would feel awkward and socially unacceptable if Mr. and Mrs. A continue to invite your partner – and the partners of other friends – but not you to social events. That’s very true, and yet you’re willingly signing up for that exact scenario, proving to your partner, the As, and everyone in their social circle … what exactly? That you’re willing to make things uncomfortable rather than own anything about how they came to their impression of you? Frankly that makes them correct in their assessment.

            1. Kali*

              I’ve repeatedly owned that I unintentionally made them uncomfortable, and that I was in the wrong. I’ve decided not to reach out to them because they’ve made it very clear that they don’t want that, and it’s obvious that it will make them more uncomfortable. It’s good advice, but I don’t think it’s the appropriate action for my personal situation. Mr and Mrs A are not comfortable around me and don’t want to be reminded that I exist, and I think it’s best if I respect their wishes on that. We’re not going to reach a scenario where we’re all best friends, and that’s okay.

              You’ve very clearly already made your mind-up about who I am, to the point of ignoring anything that doesn’t fit your pre-conceived notion. There’s nothing I could do to change your mind on that, and I’m not particularly inclined to try, especially since you’ve been incredibly patronising and rude in asserting that you see my life more clearly than I do, based on a single comment thread.

              1. Lissa*

                If it helps, I also don’t really understand where a couple people are getting the really uncharitable impressions of you they seem to be – I would guess that it’s because you are trying to be extremely fair to the couple involved, so you are saying things that don’t paint you in the best light, whereas many times people write these questions out and really slant them towards themselves. Your explanation of the situation seems to be like you are trying to be as fair and balanced as possible.

                I think you are right not to reach out. These people have decided to think the worst of you, and believe that you deliberately wrote a post on a forum about emotional issues and your work, and won’t believe that you didn’t realize they were reading.

                These people are very likely to never give you the benefit of the doubt. Whether or not it’s because you triggered their trauma so badly that they are now incapable of doing so, or because they are just kind of grudge-holdy to begin with probably doesn’t help you much. I guess I feel a lot of sympathy to you because I’ve been in a position where it’s like…ok, everything I do to try to fix a situation is just going to make things worse. Once you’re there with someone I think all you can do is nothing, which is what you have chosen to do anyway.

                Good luck navigating this. TBH these people sound exhausting to me, and I understand they went through something bad but very few people haven’t by mid-adulthood, so that doesn’t hold a ton of water for me when it comes to refusing to even consider the other person’s perspective.

            2. ket*

              Triplestep, you’re getting weird here. What’s so wrong about saying partner can go to stuff and Kali won’t? At some point, if Mr & Mrs A are so upset about that, it is their problem. From this point of view, Kali should just cease to exist or dump partner in order to spare Mr & Mrs A’s feelings twice a year. That’s bizarre and a total overreaction. If your friend’s partner has rubbed you the wrong way, are the only two possible acceptable answers 1) friend dumps partner & declares fealty to you, or 2) partner dumps friend in recognition that their proximate existence is inappropriate?

          2. Ann O.*

            FWIW, I think it’s a mature response to not want your partner to tank his friendship because of a personal conflict between you and the As.

            1. Kali*

              Thanks for saying that. :) He deserves a lot of credit there; he’s been so riled up on my behalf that it’s a lot easier to say “no, let’s calm down and wait, these are your childhood friends and now we know they’re going through something tough”.

        2. Overeducated*

          I think she is engaging in that introspection here and now by seeking out all of our perspectives on it and taking other views seriously, and I think that is admirable.

          1. Forking great username*

            I’m not seeing much introspection in those responses though. When multiple people tell you that your comments could be perceived one way, and the response is just to say that they’re wrong and don’t know you and need to stop…that seems to be pretty much the opposite of introspection.

            1. Kali*

              I’m not disagreeing with that. I’ve repeatedly acknowledged that I was in the wrong for not being more sensitive. Despite not knowing the specific situation, it’s not surprising that some people would find the topic upsetting and I should have stopped to remember that.

              What I disagree with is the very specific interpretation that this one event means I must have trouble being social in multiple fields, particularly the insistence of one person on trying to force me to agree with it, and insisting that my refusal to agree is further proof of my poor social skills.

            2. Kali*

              I’ve been thinking about this, and I had a potential insight into why the confusion has arisen. I can see how a third party could use this story to illustrate that someone [me] was generally social awkward, if this story were an example of a common occurrence in my life. That isn’t the case though – this is an incredibly unusual event in my life that I’m trying to make sense of. I think the former story is more common on the internet, so it’s quite easy to apply that kind of analysis to this one, even though it’s not appropriate.

              1. Triplestep*

                See my impression is that it *IS* a common occurrence in your life. Not that you go around offending people, but that you geek out over science in social situations with people who are not interested. Yes, you have owned that you unwittingly stepped in it with the As the time you talked about embryos; I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by focusing on that one episode however.

                What prompted me to post here at first was your supposition that this couple already did not like you by the time the embryo episode took place. I think you’re right. The picture you have painted of yourself is of someone who gets into the weeds when she talks about her scientific work, studies or interests and as I said, THAT is probably why this couple did not like you before that night.

                I’m sure that your science buddies find the excited discussion about developmental biology endearing and probably give you a run for your money! But if you are unwilling to even entertain that it might be a problem in other social settings (in general – not just the embryo episode, but before that) then yes – that shows an unwillingness to be introspective that some here are pointing to.

                You seem to prefer the posts that focus on that one fateful night and what’s happened since and how badly the As behaved. But that is not what I’ve been talking about. If the night in question was the first time you geeked out about some science you were excited about to people who could not have cared less, then OK – I am wrong. Only you know for sure.

                Lastly to reiterate, I think the As have behaved poorly as well. I think they were hurt over their loss and over-reacted because they already didn’t care for your style much. They engaged in some pretty juvenile behavior. Ultimately you can only control your actions and your responses from here out.

                1. Juxc*

                  I don’t see why OP has a problem, really. Just because some people prefer to talk about the Kardashians and are bored by science talk doesn’t mean OP is wrong talking about whatever excites her. Common interests help you make friends. Dominating a conversation is a different thing but you can’t conclude that OP is doing that based on the information you have. Also, people prone to dominating these conversation do it no matter the topic, so this is irrelevant

                2. Kali*

                  “THAT is probably why this couple did not like you before that night.”

                  You are factually incorrect and inaccurate in your assumptions based on a single post of my life. I am confident in saying that based on actually living my life, having met the people involved, and on multiple interactions which you were not privy to. I find it completely bizarre that you continue to insist that you must know more than I do and that there is something wrong with me if I don’t accept that.

            3. Overeducated*

              There are several comments where she responds saying, “oh, I can see why they would feel badly,” or “thanks for that different perspective,” which I think shows an effort toward empathy rather than trying to be right. It can be very hard to try to understand others’ feelings and learn how you could do things differently when you feel hurt and defensive instead of insisting others must be wrong. There are some ungenerous leaps of assumption about Kali’s personality here and I think pushing back on those doesnt cancel out the introspection.

    4. WellRed*

      You did nothing wrong and have nothing to apologize for. Apologize, briefly, if you like but with the understanding it won’t fix this relationship. She obviously just doesn’t like you. That happens. Frankly, they both sound weird, unpleasant and exhausting! And they BOTH think you should read minds!

    5. neverjaunty*

      Frankly, everything you’ve said about Mr. and Mrs. A make them sound like shunning you is actually doing you a favor. They reacted to a faux pas with being passive-aggressive and weird, and have continued to play dumb little social games with you and your boyfriend (and the “oh I thought you knew we were stalking your posts?!?! thing is horseshit).

      1. Overeducated*

        Agreed. That’s why i think a direct, unqualified apology is the way to go, it is kind but it also puts all the weirdness back in their court.

      2. valentine*

        Yes, the As are the stars of their self-produced melodrama and they’re gaslighting you and moving the goalposts. First, you were rude and they were matchmaking for your BF. Now, you were deliberately hurtful, in a particularly sharp way, like a soap villain. I don’t buy that someone who treats people like game pieces is too timid to say the single sentence that would’ve stopped your wonderful discourse, which is the sort of thing I would love to discuss. I wouldn’t connect science/frog embryo to an unrelated miscarriage, so I hope you’ll stop feeling bad about it. I wonder why BF hasn’t cut them off for treating you like this, but you don’t have to tolerate them. If you do decide to be in the same space with them, make sure you have a separate space to gather Team You members to remind you the real world isn’t the As’ bubble and you’re not what anyone else makes of you.

    6. OhNo*

      It sounds like you have the right idea to just step back and let BF handle this all on their own! As tempting as it can be to explain yourself, or apologize, or just generally correct some incorrect assumptions, it sounds like Mrs. A at least is just in BEC mode towards you right now. The only thing that might solve that is time.

      It might suck for a while, if BF wants to hang out with the A’s and you’re not welcome, so you might want to have a chat about how you both plan to deal with that. Speaking from experience, it can get a bit fraught if there’s any disconnect about how the situation should be handled – especially if BF gets defensive on your behalf.

      Can you block Mr. A on whatever social media he was following you on, without it being a Big Thing? That way at least you know for sure that you’re not going to accidentally start the whole problem over again.

      1. Kali*

        I can’t. The website it’s on – the name of which tends to get my comments sent to moderation – doesn’t show who your followers are. If I knew his username, I could block him, but he’d still be able to log out, go to my page, and look at my posts or comments that way. I could just start a new account, or compromise by continuing to use my main account but using a throwaway for anything personal. Debating options atm.

    7. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yeah, I’d just stay away from them for a while. If they’re only around every 6 months anyways this seems like an easy thing to do. Maybe in a few years she’ll be over it, but in the mean time this whole seems like one huge bucket of snakes you don’t need to stick your hand into.

    8. L-cJ*

      hang on
      So during a dinner where one host was literally describing their bowel movements you were expected to know that talking about the (admittedly potentially squicky, but bowel movements) research in the field you are studying was somehow related to an issue that you had no way of knowing they were going through and no one who did know bothered to guide the conversation away from it?
      And then followed you from an anonymized account without even a courtesy ‘following you on [social media]’ headsup and expected you to know that he was reading your posts?

      That is expecting entirely too much magic knowledge. Letting BF manage this friendship on his own is a very, very good call on your part.

      1. Lissa*

        +1 I really don’t see the OP talking about it in that context to be the horrible social faux pas that others do. It doesn’t sound like she was doing it at an event where it was totally out of step/sync with what everyone else was talking about.

      2. Book Lover*

        Yes, at least from what I have read so far, they are behaving quite badly. It sounds like you are trying to encourage your partner not to blow up his relationship with thenm, but honestly, I would let him take the lead on this. If he doesn’t want to go out with them without you, perhaps to events where they might make comments about you (that may be uncharitable to them) then I wouldn’t push him to. And if he wants to tell them they have behaved poorly, that is his choice to make.

      3. Ender*

        I’m kind of confused now whether you’re talking about a different dinner. You do know faeces and embryos are different things right?

        1. Ender*

          And embryos have nothing whatsoever to do with bowels. (Except that they develop their own bowels between 8 and 10 weeks).

        2. Reba*

          L-cj’s comment about bowels is a reference to another comment by Kali in which she provides the detail that Mr. A was discussing his BMs for reasons probably best known to him. It’s context that the graphic/bodily nature of Kali’s input was not totally out of place, even if the subject matter hit a nerve.

          1. Kali*

            Yup, I very distinctly remember that part of the conversation. BF had told me that Mr A often tried to make people uncomfortable, that it was funny for him, and he’d probably try to do it to me. I do wonder if my own part of the conversation was an attempt to show that I was comfortable with biology, while deflecting to something I found less squicky, without considering the fact that they might have reasons to find it more uncomfortable than the initial topic. Complete conjecture though – as I said, I don’t actually remember my part of the conversation. I mean, I am sure it happened, it sounds like me, and I don’t think BF would know anything about the topic if it hadn’t come from me, but I don’t actually remember it in any detail. I think that’s another problem with the situation – it’s based on memories from 9-12 months ago, which have become somewhat warped with time.

    9. Bethany D*

      I try to remember that anything I post on the Internet may be seen by my best friend, my most distant relative, and my worst enemy. Even if it is unlikely it could still happen. Thanks to random rabbit trails of links & blogs, I know that a (male) friend from highschool was molested by a family friend as a child; our intermittent interactions now have a tinge of awkwardness because I don’t know if he knows that I know that about him. And privacy settings aren’t always enough! One time I read a gut-wrenchingly honest post about an adopted friend processing the first contact with her bio-family and another time I was hit with a rather critical review of my own wedding – but it seemed that they both had accidentally clicked the wrong privacy setting, because each time when I had finally finished writing & re-writing & re-re-writing an appropriate comment, the original post had ‘disappeared’. So I had to pretend I hadn’t read it – easy to do with the first, hard to do with the second. :/

      My sympathies are with you though; I recently wrote a single sentence in the middle of a Facebook status intended mostly as self-reflection that (unintentionally) could be interpreted as a criticism of another person. Said person immediately took it as an Intentional Personal Attack and was calling their daughter & discussing ‘how I done her wrong’ with one (or more?) other friends. Two of her friends took it upon themselves to tell me how Hurt she was and that criticizing people like that was Not Okay. I ended up apologizing for unintentionally hurting her and editing the post to make it clear that it was not me being a meanie-pants. BUT – several other people had also read the post and responded/commented in the way that I had intended it to be taken. So, I think that objectively speaking it is reasonable to say that it did not HAVE to be taken personally; and now I feel a lot more wary of her & her two friends because they were not willing to give me the benefit of the doubt before jumping to such an extreme conclusion.

    10. LGC*

      …I had SO MANY THOUGHTS about your followup, and the followup to the followup.

      So anyway, to start off: I think you’ve been roundly told this by everyone, but – yeah – that can be a pretty sensitive topic. And, obviously, this isn’t something to discuss in front of Ms. A. And, more to the point, I think both of them had really frayed nerves because of their stress and then – yeah – you just (unknowingly) stepped on the landmine.

      I mean, to be honest, her response wasn’t great (to put it way too mildly). And you had no idea of knowing she’d suffered that sort of trauma. And I think the logical next step is for her to calm down, realize that you weren’t trying to assault her and almost certainly wouldn’t have said that if you’d known, and actually deal with you because you weren’t being malicious at all.

      But on the other hand, I can get why she just wants to have nothing to do with you at all after that, and that she was really secretive about why. There’s often a lot of shame that goes into miscarriages, and it’s viewed as an extremely private thing. So she just took her frustrations and lashed out at you – I don’t think it’s personal, it’s that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

      This also reminded me of what I was going through last week, which was…kind of similar, actually. (Although I’ll admit, I was much more at fault in my situation.) Just know – I think that, yeah, it’s something that can’t be forced. It’s really on Ms. A to decide that she wants to deal with you – which is terrible and awkward on multiple levels, but I think that’s the only way this will get resolved. It sounds like you’re ready – she just needs to get there herself.

      And also, you’re not just this situation. You’re reflective enough to not assume that she was just crazy – you also looked at yourself. Just because she doesn’t like you for her own personal reasons doesn’t mean that you’re unworthy of love. Learn from this, but also – be kind to yourself. (This is easier said than done.)

        1. Ender*

          Embryos are a sensitive topic to someone who’s just lost one. It really wasn’t clear from OPs post she was talking exclusively about animal embryos – I thought she was talking about human embryos actually and it’s entirely possible the A’s thought so too.

          Also testing on embryos is a very sensitive topic in general and people hold very strong beliefs about it. Google animal human chimera and you will see that human-animal hybrids have been developed – and at the stem cell stage too, not just the “ear on a Mouses back” or “human liver in a pigs body” type. Testing on animal embryos will inevitably lead to testing on human embryos and already happens in countries with less stringent rules. We already have the technology to develop half-human, half-chimps. It could be done in as little as 10 years if you threw enough money at it. Probably won’t, but it is inevitable within the next hundred or so years, because people are crazy and will do stuff just to see if they can.

          People who actually understand the technology have genuine concerns, and people who don’t really understand it probably have much bigger concerns though less well founded.

          Regardless of ethics, lots of people would find it unpleasant dinner conversation even if they hadn’t just lost a baby.

            1. Ender*

              Statistically it is waaaay more likely that you would have a miscarriage before 10 weeks than between 10 and 24 weeks. So it’s far more likely to have been an embryo.

              Up to 10 weeks it’s an embryo, after that a foetus until birth, after 24 weeks it would be a stillbirth, though some countries use slightly different cut-offs for mc/stillbirth. The 10 week cut-off for embryo-foetus is internationally agreed on and is down to the fact that by 10 weeks all the major organs are in place and basically all that’s left to do is grow. Although minor organs appear throughout pregnancy with the latest to appear (tear ducts) not fully grown until about 6 weeks after birth, which is why newborns don’t create tears when they cry – just lots of noise!

          1. Ender*

            This article gives a good overview of the different research that is happening and the ethical considerations


            Of particular interest is the “geep” – a goat/sheep hybrid that was created at the embryonic stage and grew to live post-birth. Roughly speaking Chimps and humans are about as genetically similar as humans and sheep.

            Another experiment of interest is where they injected embryonic human stem cells (produced by destroying living human embryos – which is a very sensitive topic) into embryonic mouse brains. They grew a mouse embryo with a partly human brain and the human cells formed human structures within the mouse brain. Most people would be really freaked out by finding out that this has already happened.

            Personally the scientist in me finds all this fascinating, and I don’t personally believe that very early stage embryos are people, but the bereaved mother in me would be really upset hearing about these things right after a loss. And I do feel that growing an animal with a part-human brain is extremely unethical and I wonder if it had a human or a part-human consciousness. How did it experience the world? Who can tell.

            It’s a very sensitive topic.

          2. LGC*

            Thanks – that’s kind of what I was getting at (although to be quite honest I admit I’d be interested and it wouldn’t put me off!). I think that for a lay-person, fetus and embryo are basically the same thing, and it would have been pretty easy for someone with raw feelings (like…I don’t know, someone who had just had a miscarriage after trying hard for a baby) to misinterpret things.

            And I don’t think this is Kali’s fault – she’s not responsible for the A’s miscarriage. It’s just that people can get touchy about things that have to do with fertility (or that they think have to do with fertility). It’s a bit like talking about babies at work.

      1. Kali*

        Thanks. :) I’ve noticed that Mr A’s trauma is often not thought of, both IRL and here. Toxic masculinity definitely plays a role there, as he would never admit to being traumatised. I suspect that they both are, so they’re riling each other up in defending each other. At this point, I think it’s probably mentally easier to double-down and label me as a bad person so they don’t have to think about the issue, than to actually think about the issue. Which isn’t to say I didn’t do anything wrong – I could definitely be more sensitive – but the response is so out of line with that that there must be something else going on.

        1. Juxc*

          They sound rather self centered and dramatic. Everyone goes through something hard in their lives but you can’t expect the world to cater to you and for people to read your mind about what makes you uncomfortable. I remember how heart breaking it was when the man I loved was using me for sex and seeing any wedding on Facebook made the wound fresh and real. Guess what – I didn’t stop contact with anyone who kept on talking about their engagement or happy relationship because they weren’t being rude to me by talking about something that excites them. My sadness was my own to deal with.

        2. LGC*

          I think part of the reason we’re not really thinking of Mr. A on here is because it seems like Ms. A is “leading the charge,” so to speak! It seemed like he was less hostile to you from your first post. This post makes him look crazy, but…not like he’s refusing to speak to you. (Just that of course you know about his following you on your professional posts because you know everyone who reads everything you write on the internet.)

          But – yeah – you’re right, he’s definitely going through stuff himself. He (for very obvious reasons) didn’t have to deal with the physical issues directly, but I can’t imagine that this was much easier for him. So my take was…really hard to express in a way that didn’t sound like it was attacking either of you, because while I think that they’re both being irrationally hostile to you, I also kind of understand why they have issues with you. But also, they should really get over it because it’s not like you went out of your way to hurt them. But also, grief is weird and twisted, and I get the sense that their animosity is a part of that. That’s the “something else” – and I’m not sure if it’s a “something else” that can be fixed by anyone other than them.

          1. Kali*

            I agree with you; they were hurt by me, even if I didn’t intend that, and people often can’t handle their hurt very well, by nature of, you know, being hurt. In a weird way, I think it gets more complicated when we try to explain the hurt and label it. I’m trying to work on just feeling my emotions and letting them run their course before trying to define them or figure out why I’m feeling them, in terms of handling the leftovers from my parental abuse. I’m still not great at it, but it’s definitely reducing the little outbursts of rage.

            1. Juxc*

              That’s an interesting technique. Labeling your emotions is a way of regulating them and it has been shown to help. I’m curious how you know about this technique of just feeling your emotions? I’ve never seen it recommended anywhere except for some new age “advice”

              1. Kali*

                Ahh, sorry, was in a rush so that came out very brusque!

                It’s not about not labelling the emotion. It’s about just letting yourself feel the initial wave of emotion before trying to label it or explain it, since if I try to do so immediately, it can end up as “I’M MAD AND ITS YOUR FAULT BECAUSE RARRRRAAARRRARRRGH”, when a more truthful story might be “I’m hungry and tired and irritable”.

    11. ronda*

      it sounds like you are really ok with not seeing these people after learning why they don’t want to see you.
      good for you.

      The problem now seems to be mostly your boyfriends problem. What kind of relationship can he have long-term with people who want to pretend his girlfriend does not exist? What does he tell mutual friends about why you are not there? etc………

      I do kind of wonder why they are not mad at him too…… aren’t they thinking that he knew too and was encouraging you in your awfulness to them?

      1. Rayne*

        I actually don’t think this is a problem at all. Do you not have different friends from your partner? He wouldn’t pretend Kali didn’t exist, just that they weren’t currently at the event. He could just say Kali was busy so they couldn’t come. It’s not really that unusual for a couple to have separate friend groups.

  10. Babyfrenzy*

    Any tips/advice for a woman trying to get pregnant? After 4 years of marriage, we’re finally feeling ready. We’re on vacation abroad in late September where I’m planning on having my last hurrah (e.g. loads of Italian wine) and after that, going off the pill. For the ladies with babies out there, is there anything that you know now that you wish you knew then?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Anona*

      Just prepare yourself- it could be a quick process, or it could take a year or more. Depending on your age, consider reaching out to your obgyn if it takes awhile. I believe the general guideline is 6+ months for over 35s and 12+ months for under 35s. I’d always err on talking to them about your options sooner rather than later.

      Also, if you decide to buy pregnancy tests in bulk, wondfo (available on Amazon) are great/cheap.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Flip side, if it’s been 3 months your doc is not likely to have any advice beyond keep trying.

        And maybe the obvious “Are you having sex, every other day or so, throughout the possible fertility window every month?” Sometimes people are so used to worrying about any small chance of pregnancy while they are carefully avoiding it that they go off the pill and expect that to be enough, not factoring in how business travel is limiting the opportunities for conception. 10% chance of pregnancy this year sounds way too high for a form of birth control, but way too low when you want to become pregnant.

      2. Smarty Boots*

        I was 39 when I got pregnant. It took less than three months. Good to know there was a point to being on the pill all those years :P

        1. SavannahMiranda*

          I was 42. Two months. We were prepared to spend 12-18 months rolling the dice. Two cycles later…ooof. I was not prepared!

          That would be my only comment. Be prepared for it to take a lot longer. But also be prepared for it to be a lot shorter. Both are a head trip. In different ways.

        2. TardyTardis*

          I was 24 the first time, and 28 the second (and both times only took one month, there are reasons my mother had the three of us all in a row till Something Was Done in the 1950’s. Don’t know if Mom went to the vet or Dad did, but it sure worked). But it was a bit of a surprise both times, though I made sure not to mention it around my SIL, who went through various miscarriages etc., to the point I almost volunteered to be a host mother. I could have written the True Confession “I Carried My Brother’s Baby”–but then they were able to adopt a surprise new family member from extended family, and it all worked out anyway).

    2. Ender*

      Just relax and don’t think about it for the first 6 months. Don’t even track ovulation. Just have sex about every 3 days – so the sperm has time to grow healthy and you always have living sperm inside waiting for the egg to appear.

    3. Ranon*

      If you’re planning on getting extra life insurance, do it now, insurers don’t distinguish between “weight because pregnant” and “weight because normal baseline”

      Most midwife and ob practices have privileges at specific hospitals/ birth centers/ etc., if you have strong feelings about where you would like to deliver it may make sense to choose a location first and a practice second.

      Might as well start on the folic acid now, too. And good luck! May the timing be exactly what you want.

      1. Ender*

        Oh definitely be on folic acid! Everyone who had even the slightest chance of getting pregnant should take folic acid every day, just in case. You need to be on it for at least 3 months before conceiving for it to work fully.

      2. ket*

        If you want to be super geeky check out folic acid vs methylfolate. Some people can’t quite process folic acid normally (MTHFR gene) so methylfolate is better. Not a big deal; tiny chance it’ll improve your kid’s possible life; different prenatal pill.

    4. Overeducated*

      Well i happened to get pregnant immediately before my last hurrah Italy trip so you’re already doing it better than me, I missed out on the wine :) No advice! Enjoy the trip and good luck!

      1. TardyTardis*

        I know, I remember my first pregnancy–I was at my due date, and we went through a tornado warning and spent much of an evening in the closet hoping for the best. And when it was done, my MIL and husband got to have a drink and I didn’t. Waah…but I have probably made up for it by now.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I recommend The Girlfriend’s Guide, which is older but reads like what your friends would tell you if they’d had kids before you–I was the first in my cohort to get pregnant and appreciated some down-to-earth advice from a source not my mom, and not the overwrought What To Expect. (Example: Your belly button will flip inside out, like the done button on a turkey.)

      Enjoy anything that requires free time or energy now. Tongue-in-cheek advice for dads that actually had a lot of logic at its core was to gradually switch to watching everything on Netflix, as you will not have these stretches of uninterrupted time to watch regular TV or go to movies. I also recall that we were taking a really fun ballroom dance class, and stopped because it involved being upright after 6 pm and that was a no-go for me. It’s hard to overstate the exhaustion of the newly pregnant–even though the baby was the size of a poppy seed, or a grain of rice, or a pea, I felt like Fred Flintstone trying to prop my eyelids open with toothpicks.

        1. Parenthetically*

          YES. I tried to explain it to my husband but the man literally does not get jetlag, so I was out of luck! :’D

      1. Lemonworld*

        The exhaustion of the first trimester is unreal. If I hadn’t been trying to get pregnant, I would’ve thought that I had a serious illness.

        1. Ender*

          In the first trimester you are creating the placenta which is fully grown by the end of the first trimester. The placenta has 4 pints of your blood in it! You literally produce an extra 50% of your blood in the first trimester, which is the equivalent of giving blood every 2 weeks. (The first trimester is actually only 8 weeks long because by the time you miss your period you are considered to be “4 weeks” pregnant).

          When you think of it this way – that you are producing an extra pint of blood every two weeks – the tiredness makes a lot more sense.

          Eat lots of iron-rich foods and take iron tablets and vitamin c (most Pre-natal tablets have both in them). This helps, but it’s still exhausting. The good news is that the placenta is all done by the start of the second trimester, so the second trimester is nowhere near as tiring as the first!

    6. Muriel Heslop*

      Find out when you ovulate! Definitely a difference if you ovulate on Day 7 versus Day 16. This was a game changer for me and it’s helped quite a few of my friends who were struggling as well. I got a kit from Target and had clearest results with name brand vs store brand.

      Have fun! Don’t stress yourselves out about it. Do lots of fun things that may not be possible once you are pregnant/have a baby. It’s not a goal to hit for work – timing is different for everyone.

      If you aren’t already doing some exercise/healthy eating, now is a great time to start. It’s much easier to do it before you are pregnant than when you want to lie on the couch, inhale noodles and bingewatch Downton Abbey.

      Good luck! Have a great trip to Italy!

      1. Smarty Boots*

        Just have sex every day, lol, at least once a day. Then you don’t have to worry about when you’re ovulating.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Well, except that if you ovulate very late, you could have a really hard time staying pregnant, but it’s a relatively easy fix. And daily sex can negatively affect sperm count.

        2. Ender*

          Having sex every day doesn’t give the sperm time to grow properly.

          Of course, if you’re in a poly relationship with three guys and not fussed about which is the father, this would definitely be the best way to do it!

    7. Cambridge Comma*

      Start any exercise programme that you want to be doing during the pregnancy before you conceive as you shouldn’t introduce new strenuous exercise when pregnant. Strengthen your back, it will have a lot of work to do.
      It can take a long time to settle down after stopping the pill so don’t expect too much.
      Ramp down the caffeine slowly so you don’t have to go cold turkey.
      Get super organised at work and home because the first trimester tiredness is an absolute killer. The organisation will be good for before and after your maternity leave too.
      Don’t expect pregnancy to be easy. I coukdn’t work from 7 w owing to complications.

      1. Kj*

        You don’t have to stop drinking coffee. The evidence on caffeine is mixed and you can safely have coffee through pregnancy in moderate amounts. I like Expecting Better as the pregnancy book that dispells myths and gives you facts

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          If you don’t currently drink moderate amounts of caffeine, you’d need to cut down and it’s easier to do that gradually.

        2. Ender*

          I did a lot of research on this and even tiny amounts of caffeine does increase the risk of mc – but only by tiny amounts. Above 200mg of caffeine a day the risk increases quickly, so most docs recommend keeping it to 200mg. That’s only one cup of Starbucks-type coffee so it’s very easy to be above the “moderate amount” without realising it. A cup of instant coffee is 100mg, a 250ml can of red bull is 90mg, a cup of tea is about 10mg, and a chocolate bar is about 10-20mg depending on the chocolate. It’s really really easy to go above the recommended limit if you don’t pay attention.

        3. ket*

          Loved “Expecting Better”. I read a ton of original research papers because I’m an academic. One cup of reasonable coffee a day is fine. So are saunas, though maybe not hot tubs.

          Most of this decision-making actually relies on, if something random and not your fault goes wrong, will you blame yourself or fate? I’m a blame fate person, so I took my (short, cooler) saunas, had 1 cup of coffee a day, had a sip of wine (<1/2 glass once a week), and didn't stress. This is not most peoples' personality apparently.

    8. Intel Analyst Shell*

      Don’t put your life on hold while trying to get pregnant! Drink the wine, eat the sushi, dye your hair, eat raw oysters, make plans. I started trying to get pregnant at 26 and it took almost 2 years, but then I have a coworker who started trying at 35 and got pregnant first month. Everyone’s trying to conceive journey is different and until you start trying you won’t know what your journey will be. Also, depending on your age (and some might disagree) you may have to fight to be heard if you are having trouble getting pregnant. Because I was so young when we started, it took 4 obgyns before someone actually stopped and listened to the symptoms I was having.

      Also, find an OBGYN you love now. You don’t want to be 12 weeks pregnant making important decisions and realize you don’t 100% trust your doctor.

      1. ainomiaka*

        yes, this! You’ll make yourself worn out and cracker bananas putting everything off because “maybe” if it then takes 3 years (my story). I actually kinda wish I’d pushed my husband back harder than this.

      2. CaitlinM*

        Drink ’til it (aka the line on the pregnancy test) is pink. You don’t have to stop drinking just to start trying.

    9. LilySparrow*

      Start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid now. Just enjoy each other – don’t turn your sex life into a “to-do” list.

      If you’ve been on the pill for most of your life since puberty, take time to observe your periods, and get a sense of what is normal for you as far as cramps & bleeding. This is anecdata, but of the group of women in my childbirth prep class, the ones that went straight from pill to preggo all wound up having horrible panicky labors with emergency C-sections, and the ones who were more familiar/comfortable with normally unpleasant uterus behavior had much better birthing experiences.

      Don’t get super-granular with tracking and timing, or take pregnancy tests as soon as you might possibly be a day or 2 late. A lot of fertilized eggs fail to implant. You will cause yourself a lot of unnecessary heartache if you insist on knowing things you didn’t have to know. There’s nothing that needs to be done or checked, medically speaking, until you’re 6-8 weeks along. So if you don’t test until you’re a week late, you still have plenty of time to make an appointment.

      Best of luck and have fun! It’s an exciting, happy time.

    10. Raguu*

      Start taking folic acid, start temping and tracking your cycle and stop any drinking or smoking. You’ll be better off knowing when and if you ovulate because if for some reason you don’t you’ll have wasted several months.

      I recommend you the Natural Cycles app. It was recently approved by the FDA for contraception but it can be used while trying to get pregnant. It does all the calculation work for you, you just need to get good about measuring your temperature. Good luck

    11. NB*

      I recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. It helped me learn a lot about my body and enabled me to collect data that was useful to my doctor when it became clear that I might need a little help getting pregnant. I think the most recent edition is from 2015.

  11. Lady Jay*

    Went to the Candide operetta (Leonard Bernstein) with some friends last night. Late night, but really good – such good music and acting! And funny, in a really dark way; Voltaire is a perfect misanthrope.

    1. ElspethGC*

      I’ve always wanted to see Candide – I may or may not obsessively watch Kristen Chenoweth’s Glitter and Be Gay. Those notes are insane, and I think it would be even better in person!

    2. candide*

      I love the music, and have played in the pit for several productions of Candide before actually viewing it as a member of the audience (different production, several years later). It’s the only opera I’ve played that made *LESS* sense to me after watching it.

    3. OyHiOh*

      I saw Candide when I was far too young for it to be appropriate – my parents are fans of Bernstein, it was a symphony end of year field trip, what could possibly go wrong?!

      My first professional performance, almost thirty years ago, and I LOVED it. That was probably the afternoon I really fell in love with theater.

      Shared What a Day for an Auto de Fe with my spouse a few weeks ago. He was all ::eyeballs:: over it. Commented “and people say **I** have a dark sense of humor! I don’t have anything on this!”

  12. Loopy*

    Is anyone else prone to getting sucked into weather hype? I’m not the type to panic, but I follow it obsessively and love to speculate and chat about it. It’s the worst distraction because being on the coast in the Southeast US, I really can’t just tune it all out. So inevitably, I expect this week to be difficult. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with storm tracking. Tell me I’m not alone in my complex weather feelings!

    Also, any ideas for healthy snacks/easy meals aside from fruit and PBand J when the power is out? So no heat source, nothing refrigerated. My biggest annoyance in a more minor storm is losing power and being bored with all our junky snacks after a day.

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      I’m more a “The weather is here, wish you were beautiful” type. I get information overload with weather reports and just note whether rain is forecast or not. Luckily I don’t live in an extreme-weather area.
      Maybe energy balls for snacks? Sorry you power is out.

      1. Loopy*

        Oh it’s not out yet, I’m just trying to prepare. For normal weather I don’t pay any attention at all, just have a rain jacket stashed in the car.

        It’s the extreme storms that get me. I’m in hurricane land!

    2. Not a Mere Device*

      You’re not alone. Back in 2005, I was paying close attention to hurricane tracking and blog posts, and carefully not refreshing when the bad ones got close to land, to not overload the servers for people on the Gulf Coast who needed the information in real time.

      My girlfriend’s power-out food stash includes a high-protein dry cereal (Kashi), which I should probably get a box or two of for my own kitchen.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think it is a lot of hype. There are too many times where the level of PR does not match the severity of the storm.
      I did notice when a bad storm is predicted that the store shelves empty out quickly. I have often wondered if there is something nefarious there as in using storm hype to increases retail sales.

      Snacks. They make soups now that you can drink right out of the container, no heating. They are a little spendy but gosh they have good flavor. I picked up some to keep in the drawer at work, for when the munchies hit and I cannot leave to get something.

      1. Loopy*

        Oh I know it’s 90% hype for sure! I don’t panic, I just can’t look away! It’s a guilty pleasure I guess. I hate that gas prices also jump. Very annoying!!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      If you want to feed the obsession, I like the blog on Weather Underground. It scratches an itch for those who like to read all about the storm and sort of marvel at anything interesting it does (“it’s performing a loop-de-loop and coming back for another pass!”) but from a reality- and science-grounded viewpoint, with a fair proportion of the commenters being knowledgeable and disinclined to the extremes of “we’re going to be in the direct path of the eye–I can predict that 5 days out because one map showed that” and “hurricanes always go around me, so I’m just relying on that.”

    5. Parenthetically*

      Totally there with ya! I’m a weather nerd and a bit of a weather prep nerd.

      They sell shelf-stable milks of various kinds which could make a bowl of cereal more palatable! Can you get a little chafing dish that runs on sterno (like at a thrift shop)? I wouldn’t want it for everything but it’s a pretty safe/easy way to heat up a can of soup or the like. (Ignore if you have pets or small children!)

    6. Bethany D*

      Food, glorious food! A lot of fresh veggies will do okay without refrigeration for a few days, like carrot sticks, cucumber, bell pepper, broccoli, & cauliflower. Pepperoni, canned chicken, and tuna all pair nicely with hearty crackers or a loaf of French bread and only have to be refrigerated after opening (so eat up quick!). IMO a block of cheddar cheese is not super risky to eat even if it has technically been above 40 degrees. Clif Protein bars are delicious! Dry milk powder can be mixed with water so you have something to put on your breakfast cereal, or use small boxes of shelf-stable milk/non-dairy milk. Hot chocolate packets and juice boxes taste sweet even at room temp. If you have enough warning to prep some ice in a cooler then at least for the first couple of days you can have regular milk, Ranch, mayo, hardboiled eggs, lunchmeat, and cream cheese available too.

      1. Alice*

        Canned beans that you can have as salads – chickpeas etc. Make sure you’ve got some olive oil and vinegar to use with them, and salt and pepper plus other spices. Canned oysters are a great snack too.

      2. Loopy*

        Thanks to both Bethany and Alice. I need to perfect a bean salad for sure. I dont eat meat or fish, so the glorious tuna option is out, alas. I really am thrilled with the milk powder idea though, is it sold at most grocery stores? Sadly, we are already in hype mode here despite not really being in the current direct line of Florence, so it may be gone if others have the same idea.

    7. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      I grew up on the North Carolina coast, and I’ve been through many hurricanes and tropical storms. My family had a well, so when the power went out we also lost water. My advice is to make sure you have plenty of water on hand, and a weather radio (you can charge your phone using your car if you need to, but a weather radio will work without WiFi).

      For food, be prepared to eat your perishables first (who doesn’t want ice cream for breakfast!). Stock up on Gatorade, peanut butter, crackers, spam, apples, protein bars, canned tuna, cereal, instant soup or noodles, and canned milk.

      I also strongly suggest getting a generator and gas to run it. At the very least, you can keep your refrigerator running during a power outage. Also get some board games and books to keep you entertained during the storm; the days are long when there’s no electricity.

      I hope the storms are few this year! Be safe!

      1. Loopy*

        I am in south SC so hurricanes will be a thing, pretty much forever for us! We have a full generator on our wedding registry :P

        Right now we have this really neat small solar powered/hand crank/battery run charger/light/radio combo thing and it’s perfect for small things like phones! It was our best purchase of the year. Doesn’t help with food, but it’ll keep our phones going, and provide the weather radio. One little gadget but it’ll make so much difference.

        Luckily my fiance is a native and we are well prepped with water and food. I just wanted to try and get more creative ideas since eventually we will be hit and have no power (I dont really think that’ll be this time, but it never hurts to have ideas stocked up!)

    8. E*

      Make sure you have jugs of water for when power is out. Canned or dried foods are great to store for emergency meals. Jerky to munch on, canned ham mixed with beans, canned soup with crackers. Applesauce and canned fruit are nice too.

  13. families!*

    We hear a lot about when to stop therapy. I want to talk about when the therapist ends the relationship because of retirement or personal issues (or, I suppose one can get “fired” from their therapist). Has this happened to you? how did the conversations go? how did you handle it? Any suggestions on how to handle it / things you would do differently / things that worked well?

    1. epi*

      I have had two trainee therapists, and advanced PhD student and a postdoc, and eventually their rotations ended. For most issues, the therapist knows this ahead of time and will start preparing you for it. If you’re not ready to end therapy, they should refer you and help you make a transition, and process the end of this relationship. If you are ready, or might be, they should be checking in with you to prepare you for post-therapy and making sure that is still what you want.

      In one case I was ready to stop, so my last visit was near the end of my therapist’s time there. In the other, she helped me transfer care to someone else in that practice. Both worked out quite well.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      Do you mean from the therapist end or from the patient? Hopefully, the therapist is offering recommendations/referrals on other service providers so the client can continue elsewhere. If they’re not, the patient should definitely ask for some.

      1. families!*

        I think I mean more emotionally. I have been working with my therapist for over 10 years now and she might retire in the near future. I am having lots (and LOTS) of feelings about that. We do talk about them, but I wanted to know how others managed, got through it.

    3. Woman of a Certain Age*

      Well, when I had been in counseling for several years, I had definitely made significant progress in dealing with a variety of issues and kind of reached a plateau. He used a lot of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques and they seemed to help me. Over time it seemed my most pressing issues had been resolved, and although it was nice to talk with the counselor, there was no longer any sense of urgency to our conversations. The counselor gently suggested that after having made progress and resolved the most urgent issues and said that there wasn’t much more that he could do for me. We agreed to have several more sessions and set a date for the final session. It was sad to leave the counselor, but it was time to move on and I did, and it didn’t seem like too big of a deal.

      Later on, like a good ten years or so, I found myself having some problems dealing with stress and anxiety at work and school (which were different issues than what I dealt with when I saw the counselor). In retrospect, I do wish that I had found a counselor to talk about those subsequent issues that came up. That said, I’m glad for the time I spent with counseling and with what I learned from the counselor.

    4. Nines*

      I’ve ended with therapists of mine and have done endings with clients as well.
      One of the really beneficial things (I’ve found) about going through an “ending” with a therapist, is that you can, kind of, *manage* the ending. Few people ever have the chance to manage the end of such an intimate relationship. It’s hard, and it really sucks, but it can be really therapeutic in it’s own right. It can also be really powerful for clients that struggle with abandonment, neglect, etc. If you are feeling abandoned, you can talk it out with a therapist in a way that it would rarely be safe to do in another relationship. You can get angry, and sad, and process through it. For a lot of clients it can be really empowering as well. As you come to an end it’s kind of like doing a life review, what have you accomplished? What do you want to continue to work on? It is refreshing to take a step back from processing issues to see that you’ve come a really long way and put it a ton of work. For people I didn’t refer on, we usually talked a lot about their improvements, what they plan to do on their own and how they’ll “know” when they might want to return to therapy. I think it can be helpful to think that through.
      I could probably talk about this for hours. =D But, yeah, endings in therapy are really tough, and uniquely special in a number of ways. Good luck! Enjoy the rest of the time you have together. And if you don’t feel like you can manage without them, make sure you have a plan in place. What happens when you feel that way? Who will you be working with moving forward? How would you like to build that rapport with someone new?

  14. Brelade*

    Calling all plus size ladies!

    As a plus size lady dating I’m finding (depressingly so) that the vast majority of men I encounter on various mediums are either fetishists or think big girls = big everything and well….you know the rest. I know it’s hard for anyone to meet anyone these days but being bigger adds a different dimension to it. I’ve tried plus size dating sites, regular sites, apps, mixers and am toying with going to a few plus size party nights. My own experience is that regular sized guys aren’t typically into me (‘oh wow you’re bigger in person’ etc etc) and it’s pretty tough going.

    Any advice? Where did you find your lobster!

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      Lost my lobster by being too forward; scared them off :(
      I suggest going to lots of social events not specifically set up for dating/looking. I’m in a movie-buff group and there’s a good ratio of men to women- sometimes more men than women at get-together. I’m not there just to meet a romantic partner, but I’m open to it. Namaste.

    2. Ms Cappuccino*

      I am a big woman (I hate the term plus size). I also found it difficult. I tried bbw dating sites, but like you it only attracted fetishists so I gave up.
      When I travelled in India, my weight wasn’t a problem. Many men found me attractive. It seems that the problem is partly cultural.
      Like waiting for the sun, I attend social events where I meet many people but the purpose is more to make friends. Try meetup.com.
      Do you feel happy with yourself? Self acceptance is important. I practice mindfulness. It helps me to be happy being myself, with this body.

      1. Brelade*

        I’m not unhappy in myself but for health reasons I am losing weight at the moment. I find that men admire me to a point and my confidence but then descend into fetish territory – no matter where I managed to find them! The other thing I get here (Europe) is men assuming that because I’m a large woman I must be easy or dumb, and I’m neither ;) The quest continues!

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I’m plus size now, but I wasn’t always so. I was not when I met my lobster, but both of us are now going portly as we grow into being old lobsters together. LOL!
      I have to say, I’ve never met a guy who was fetish about big. I’m sure exists, but never met anyone like that. A friend of mine once said European guys like bigger curvy gals. Maybe, but not sure if that’s still the case. When I lived in Los Angeles even the most dumpy guys thought they deserved a model and boy, that was some tough town even being a normal size! You have my sympathies in trying to meet and date anyone nowadays though! I have some younger friends and it just seems to be getting harder all around to date.

      1. Ms Cappuccino*

        I have lived in Europe all my life. France, Italy and now the UK. European men don’t like big girls.

      2. TardyTardis*

        My husband likes me heavier, and I swear, it’s a struggle to stay on my diet because he keeps wanting to feed me. I still have 10 pounds to go instead of 20, but it’s really hard sometimes.

    4. Kuododi*

      I actually met DH in seminary. I asked him out on our first date. (Dinner and tickets to a musical). He invited me over for dinner a week later and we’ve been inseparable ever since. At the time I was at the beginning of a mysterious weight gain that wasn’t able to be treated until years later when we discovered my thyroid had given up.

      When I was in the throes of wedding planning, I started yet another useless diet program. DH asked me what that was about, I gave him the standard answer about fitting in the wedding dress. His response was that he didn’t fall in love with some skinny size 0….. he fell in love with me…. needless to say that was the last diet program I have ever attempted and we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary in January. Best wishes to you!!!

    5. Clever Name*

      While I’m not plus size, I have been online dating for a while. As in life, I do think honesty is important, so I think showing prospective dates an accurate representation of you (personality and s body type) is important. Mostly to avoid going on disappointing dates. I went in a date with a guy who must have used old photos of himself in his profile. When I got to the restaurant, I could barely recognize him! I was not pleased. So I think having at least one photo showing your whole body is important. And no, I don’t mean a bikini pic. My full body photo is of me in a puffy jacket, but it gives men an idea of my body type (not model thin).

    6. Waitingfor EarlyRetirement*

      I’ve only found frogs and crabs, not found my lobster, and have given up hope on doing so. Dating is so hard, even harder when you are big, throw in being 40+ and it is impossible.

  15. ElspethGC*

    Last weekend I actually met people who had the job titles “llama groomer”, “llama handler” etc – I went llama trekking in the Yorkshire Dales! (Highly recommended if you go hiking/trekking – llamas are super cute and surprisingly affectionate, and don’t spit at people at all if they were raised properly by their mothers rather than being hand-reared.)

    I felt as though I’d been dropped into an AMA story, and I kind of desperately want someone who works at a llama trekking centre to write in with a problem. “I’m a llama groomer (no, seriously)…”

    Anyone met a chocolate teapot maker? We need to collect the full set of AMA fake job titles!

    1. Loopy*

      Haven’t met a chocolate teapot maker, but I believe rice sculptor was another of the fake job titles I’ve seen, if I’m remembering right!

  16. Lady Jay*

    Favorite words? For a long time, my favourites have been “defenestrate” (to throw out a window) or “abscond with” (steal furtively). But they got dethroned this week in favor of “fantods.”

    I encountered “fantods” years ago Huckleberry Finn. Huck stumbles on the melodramatic (and very badly done) pencil drawings of the young Grangerford girl: a woman clasping her lost lover’s locket to her mouth, another perched on the edge of a bridge, and says that although he thinks the pictures are good, he doesn’t like looking at them, because they give him the “fantods”. Basically it means “uneasiness” but isn’t “fantods” so much more fun to say?

    What are your favorite words?

    1. London Calling*

      Fantod is also used in The Forsyte Saga, when Emily Forsyte tells her husband not to get into a fantod, meaning don’t fuss – James Forsyte being a bit like Emma Woodhouse’s father in some ways.

      Can’t think of favourite ones offhand – ones I dislike, now, that’s a long list…Traybake. Puny. Craggy.

      Oooh, have just thought of one. Mellifluous.

      1. PhyllisB*

        My sister used to use “twitterpatted” (meaning don’t get in a frenzy, or as Bart Simpson would say, “Don’t have a cow!!”) I always found it funny and still use it myself on occasion. Cracks my kids up.

    2. Waiting for the Sun*

      Propinquity (Pro Pink Witty when I’m feeling whimsical), gobsmacked, discombobulated.
      I’m a fan of NPR’s “A Way With Words” and it’s Facebook group.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      This is a bit random, but I like the word ‘ginnel’. It’s a northern English word commonly used to describe a narrow passage between buildings or an alleyway – really any kind of small cut-through. I like how the sound of it fits what it’s describing, in a sort of short and sharp and zigzaggy way.

      1. Nobody Special*

        Yes love it. I particularly like that they do not say what political party the president belongs to. I continue to enjoy it over the seasons though of course not all are equally good. Spoiler from the end of last season: looks like she may be running for president. We’ll see.

      2. Nobody Special*

        So you’ll probably like antepenultimate too. A friend likes pronouncing on December 29 that it is the antepenultimate day of the year.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Palimpsest: a manuscript page where the ink was scraped off so that it could be re-used, but where the initial writing (or multiple layers of writing) might still be made out. There are actually some rather thrilling historical discoveries based on analysis of such things – not to mention its value in mystery stories!

      I also like “defenestrate” and “fantods” – the latter was among Edward Gorey’s favorite words, and his illustrations often produce them.

      1. Sherm*

        I was going to say “lest,” too! I love how it’s a conjunction, and how that small word can connote so much. I just wish it sounded more modern. I don’t use it much, lest I sound like I’m 200 years old ;-)

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      I also love defenestrate. I have a whole list of words I love! Epistolary, callipygian, amanuensis, mere, mercurial… I have well over 100 on my list #englishteacherlife

    6. CatCat*

      Oh, I just learned a really good one yesterday!

      “Gallimaufry”, a jumble or confused medley of things.

      1. fposte*

        Hah, I was going to offer gallimaufrey! Instead I give you “quincunx.”

        If anybody read Edward Gorey’s Amphigorey books, they were great sources for such words, and there was even a nursery-rhyme style poem made of made of them.

            1. London Calling*

              I THINK – and given that the whole thing is packed with hermetic and mystical symbolism about which I had no clue whatsoever, he was arguing for intelligent design. But like I said, it went way over my head

    7. Slartibartfast*

      Bric-a-brac; bamboozle; whatchamacallit (my uncle in the Navy told me as a child this is the official word you’re supposed to use when you forget what an item is called); a fenestration is also what you call a hole in a surgical drape, so defenestrate can also mean to pull through a hole.
      Words are fun :)

      1. fposte*

        IMHO, one of the best words to learn in any new language is whatever the word is for “whatchamacallit” or “thingamajig.” It’s a way to be ignorant in a native kind of way.

      2. PhyllisB*

        If you live in the South, doohickey is the official term for item you don’t know what it’s called. If they still don’t understand, then whatchamacallit was the next official term.

    8. Videogame Lurker*

      Meander is one of my favorite words I can use at work (some creative cussing sequences are my actual favorite, reserved for gaming however).

      I also like the word “squish,” though I suspect that is because I come from a family of people who live under intrrnet bridges and yell at internet goats because a friend of mine *hates* that word and I kind of like it more because of that.

      I also generally like words that sound like sound effects or just a one word fitting description if the definition. Even better if it makes people look up the word to be sure of the meaning (again, bridge dweller).

    9. rogue axolotl*

      I have a million of these but a few that haven’t been mentioned yet: sesquipedalian, avuncular, widdershins, taradiddle. I also enjoy very specialized vocabulary–bookbinding has some good ones, like folio, deckle, quire, etc.

    10. Lore*

      Petrichor! I am just so delighted that there is a word for that very specific thing, and one I only recently learned. (Though I feel like there are more subtleties perhaps than a single word can encompass–like, rain on hot asphalt and rain on dry grass are not the same smell, and what is that distinct aroma of fresh corn that you sometimes-but-not-always get when it rains in the city?–but I’ll take it.)

      1. Lady Jay*

        Oooo, that’s another one of my favourites. I love the way it sounds, and I love what it describes as well.

    11. Canadian Natasha*

      Ooh, my favourite kind of post!

      Some of the words I like are lumous, perispacity, recapitulate, paraphernalia, and aegis.

      1. Reba*

        I love all the words where we have an un- or a mis- version still in use, but the root or positive counterpart has died out. I think the linguistic term is unpaired negatives.

        Uncouth. Unkempt. Ruthless. Disgruntled. Disconsolate.

        I also love contronyms, like weather (to withstand or to wear away) or cleave (to stick together or cut apart — these are actually different words that came to be spelled the same way).

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        The Milwaukee, WI, airport has (or had) a sign over the area after security that said “Recombobulation Area.”

    12. SavannahMiranda*

      Byzantine. As in a byzantine process for achieving something, implying obfuscating mystery and bureaucracy.

    13. Otillie Rae*

      “Anachronism.” Because it packs in so much meaning. It’s like, if you wanted to convey the same information without using that word, you’d need a sentence or more. And it’s just such an **interesting** word.

      I also like “alas.” I struggle sometimes with saying no to people, but honestly? Throwing “alas” into a “nope-I-can’t-do-this” email turns a no from excruciating into almost comfortable: “Your [proposed activity] sounds great! Alas, I won’t be able to take part.” I feel like my life changed a little bit when I stumbled onto the power of “alas.”

    14. PolicyChick*

      I like the word ‘onus’. It sounds funny. A friend of mine and me use it incorrectly, like, “Hey I think you have something on your sleeve.” “Is it some onus?”

      We are easily amused.

    15. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Effervescent & scintillating.
      I just love how they sound, and also the way my mouth feels when I say them!

  17. Kate Daniels*

    There was a comment thread here a few months ago about how to muster the energy to write after work when you feel exhausted, and one of the comments was life-changing! It was so simple, and yet something I had never thought of before: pick up a pen and notebook instead of trying to stare at a screen. Over the past three months, I have developed a consistent writing habit where I have written every day and have made great progress in filling up a notebook—much more than I ever have before (in the past, I’d get a few pages into a notebook and then quit). I set a low goal of just one page a day, but the results have added up over time!

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

      Awesome. I’ve just done the exact same thing. I always write in a notebook. On days I’m blocked, that’s when I transcribe what I’m written before onto the computer. All I’d suggest is just to scan the written pages periodically in case something happens to your notebook (I travel with it all the time and am paranoid).

      1. Kate Daniels*

        That’s a great tip! I will probably spend some time this weekend scanning—it’s a little daunting now, so maybe a weekly scan is a new habit I need to incorporate into my routine.

        1. louise*

          Maybe just snap a picture of each page tobsave effort? Odds are you won’t lose the notebook, but quality of the photos should be adequate enough to capture it if you did.

      1. Kate Daniels*

        Yes! I am now looking into other habits I’d like to start slowly incorporating into my life now that this one has a solid place in my routine. I’m leaning toward something a bit more physical—maybe a morning walk or stretches to build my way up to yoga.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Yep – been doing first drafts on paper ever since I rediscovered fountain pens (used them in elementary school because Europe, stopped in secondary school (middle and high school combined, basically) and now rediscovered them). One of my biggest issues with word processors is that I keep wanting to write perfect lines immediately, whereas on paper I’ll just jot down a crappy line but who cares, it’s there, now I can move on.
      Write on!

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

    Lots of fun music-related threads in the past few weeks. I have one more: What songs do you think would work great for commercials?

    I always envisioned Stevie Nicks’ “Talk to Me” in an AT&T commercial.
    I also have always imagined the Offspring’s “Come Out and Play” being adapted for a Jiffy Lube commercial. “You gotta keep ’em lubricated!”

    1. Lcsa99*

      Haha how about Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire for a Heartburn Commercial?

      Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way for Buger King (you know – your way, right away)

      Heart’s Alone for a mortgage company? “How can I get you a loan?” … sorry, that one’s bad :)

    2. Waiting for the Sun*

      “Keep ‘em lubricated,” yes!
      Back when cell phones were a new thing, I thought “Radar Love” would have worked as backgrounds music in an ad for them.

    3. Waiting for the Sun*

      I’ve gotten over the idea that rock songs in commercials = sellout, for the most part. The exposure probably helps more obscure artists who could use the exposure.
      A few years ago, Target used Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men” in an ad for summer products. I was so taken by the unfamiliar song that I googled it. Actually doesn’t relate to summer fun.

      1. TardyTardis*

        I liked the PlayStation 4 commercial where they used that song by Lou Reed–“Perfect Day”, which is totally different than “Perfect Day” by Hoku (Legally Blonde) and I adore both songs.

    4. LuJessMin*

      Not music related per se, but I think Doritos screwed up in the commercial where the guy asks the dog to fetch him a “bare naked”, and the dog fetches a bear. They should have let him finish with “lady” and then the dog fetches the Bare Naked Ladies. That would have funny.

    5. the gold digger*

      Related in spirit:

      I’ve always thought that the Mars Cheese Castle on the highway at the WI-IL border should get a giant billboard with Arnold saying, “Get your ass to Mars.”

    6. Waiting for the Sun*

      I love music threads and hope they become a free-for-all tradition. I have an idea for next week that I’ll save to prevent derailing this thread.

    7. Waiting for the Sun*

      Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” for any car.

      “Smoke on the Water” for property/casualty insurance or smoke detectors (maybe too obvious, and the surviving band members would certainly fight over royalties).

      Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love” for Our Time online dating.

      1. Waiting for the Sun*

        Heck, Queen’s 1970s separate song by the same name would fit the Our Time demographic, of which I am a member.

    8. Waiting for the Sun*

      Years ago, “Saturday Night Live” had a bit on this topic: “The Night My Cuianart Broke Down,” “Hey, hey! You, you! Leggo my Eggo!”

  19. Triplestep*

    Tell me how you clean your stainless steel appliances and sink, please.

    We’ve had our new kitchen for about 18 months, and I find that stainless steel actually stains! I’m not talking about fingerprints; my husband cooks and bakes a lot, and he doesn’t always wipe food off surfaces when it transfers from his hands, or when it drips down the font of the dishwasher. I have found some stubborn stains – they are tiny and not easy to see when you step back, but I know they are there and would like to remove them without scratching. In the case of the dishwasher, its definitely stuck on remnants of a drip that feel raised. On the fridge, its more of a discoloration.

    Our stainless steel sink came with a shiny finish and a rack that sits in the bottom to presumably hinder scratching. Instead food particles get trapped between the rack and the sink and have created stains that won’t come up using the manufacturer’s instructions to use dish soap. In the old days I would have used steel wool pads, but this is not one of those sinks that comes with kind of a hazed finish – it is a newer more sleek design. We chose it for it’s size and shape to clean up after all the baking, but if I could keep it from getting icky, I’d like it even better.

    Ideas anyone?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      For the sink, get Barkeeper’s Friend. It comes in either liquid or powder. Both are good, but honestly, I haaaate the smell of the liquid (I think they both smell like urine, but the liquid is stronger to me). I put up with the smell because the stuff is awesome. Either that or Bon Ami, which is the same thing. If you don’t have access to either of these, a good scrub with baking soda and water will help. I sprinkle Barkeeper’s Friend all over the wet sink, scrub with a sponge, rinse away. It’s awesome. Also very good for shower doors and floors. I believe Soft Scrub works for this as well.

      For the appliances… I love the look of stainless steel but I hate the fingerprints. I wipe down with vinegar mostly (I use vinegar as an all-purpose cleaner), but every once in a while I put some olive oil on a soft cloth and rub with the grain. Makes things shiny and less prone to stains.

      1. Triplestep*

        I actually have Barkeepers Friend! I have used it on old enamel sinks and tubs, but I was afraid to use it since it has all those warnings on the label.

        As for Bon Ami, shame on me for not thinking of that – my mother has sworn by it since I was a little girl (and that’s like 50 years!)


    2. Cleaning Person*

      LemiShine. It’s a modern miracle! It was originally for rinsing dishes in the dishwasher. I mentioned stains in the porcelain sink from the water to a friend, and she told me about it. I just dissolve it (it’s crystals, which would dissolve in the dishwasher) in hot water, and spray it on the offending area. I use it on my stainless steel sink – I either spray it on, or if I have used it for something else (in a dishpan to clean offending glass and other items – I have horribly hard water that leaves white marks if you splash water and don’t wipe it up) then I pour the dishpan full into the sink and let it sit for a while. The dish rack, which I was despairing of cleaning, sat in the sink too, and a light scrubbing afterwards got all the gunk off. And yes, I get those stains from the bottom of it too! Imperative – you MUST dissolve the crystals as if you just pour some on the sink and start to scrub, they will scratch. You’ll have to experiment with how much to use, but probably not as much as you think!

      1. Cleaning Person*

        Oh I should mention, when I spray it on, I leave it there for a while before I scrub it. And if I fill the sink, again, leave it there for a while. Soak other water stained items while you wait!

        1. Triplestep*

          I will try this for sure – is it available in the major grocery chains? I have never even heard of it. Thank you!

          1. Cleaning Person*

            You might have to check on line because I am in Canada. Here I have found it at Canadian Tire. Which carries more than tires!

    3. CAA*

      I use Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner. It came as a sample with one of the appliances, and I just kept on using it. It comes in wipes or spray. I use the spray, because the one time I bought the wipes, they got dried out before I finished with them, which shows you how often I clean the appliances.

      You cannot keep a sink in a working kitchen looking shiny new. The rack in the bottom will keep it from getting any dents or deep gouges, but it will just naturally develop a more matte finish as you use it and clean it. You can also use the Weiman cleaner on the sink. Barkeepers Friend is also very good, but I like having fewer cleaners and using them for multiple jobs, so I stick with the Weiman spray because it’s more versatile than a powder.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks, I have the Weiman cleaner and found it to be just meh, but I will try it again. I agree with you about the sink ultimately getting scratches. I wish the sink had more of a patina on it – then I’d feel OK about using steel wool.

    4. Slartibartfast*

      Seconding Barkeeper’s Friend, and rubbing a little olive oil on a dry, freshly cleaned stainless surface, then wiping that with a dry cloth gives a nice sheen, like waxing your car.

    5. Old Cynic*

      For me, Bon Ami works better than Bar Keepers Friend.

      It did for 20 years. Then we went on vacation and the MIL stayed with the kids. She deemed it “no good!” since it doesn’t have anti bacterial properties. She went out and bought {something I’ve banished to the recesses of my mind} and scrubbed the sink scratching the hell out of it like sandpaper.

      20 years of care down the drain, no pun intended. And it’s an undermount sink so I can’t replace it without changing the granite.

      1. Triplestep*

        Oh my God, what a nightmare! I also have an undermount and I have actually considered buying a duplicate sink to keep in storage should anything happen to this one. (I was thinking more like huge gash or dent – not scratching). If you do ever want to replace yours, you can get a slightly larger inset sink and have the granite re-cut. You just nee to make sure your sink cabinet will work with it.

        See above where I wrote that I grew up with Bon Ami. It’s practically scandalous that I don’t have any in the house right now!

    6. epi*

      I just cleaned my sink the other day– I use a French press so there were tons of coffee stains.

      A plastic scrubber– they look like the steel wool kind but aren’t abrasive– was all it took. I was actually shocked at how well it worked, I had just been intending to wipe out the sink not make it shine. I was using Mrs. Meyers dish soap but I recommend Bon Ami as an add on if your normal methods aren’t getting the job done.

      1. Triplestep*

        I tried the plastic scrubber, and it didn’t work :-(

        But I have put Bon Ami on my shopping list – thanks!

    7. Blue_eyes*

      After cleaning with one of the methods recommended by others, take a rag and wipr down the appliances with mineral oil. Buff it out with a clean rag going with the grain of the stainless steel. It will stay clean for longer this way. You can also use the mineral oil to condition your wooden cutting boards.

    8. LCL*

      Since I am really lazy about cleaning products, I buy whatever stainless steel polish/cleaner is available in an aerosol can. They all seem to work. One one of these days I will go to bar mart and look for a commercial product that I used at restaurants.

      I have found with stainless, cleaning and polishing are two different things. When I need to clean food off stainless, I put any liquid soap in a bowl of hot water and scrub it off with something soft. That kind of cleaning gets done a lot. Follow it up with a bleach sanitize if necessary. Blot dry to catch drips, then apply the spray per directions if you want that new unblemished look. I like stainless because I learned from my commercial kitchen experience it is easily sanitized, but it never looks really nice unless you have some minimum wage workers around to polish the stuff. And the dog doesn’t have opposable thumbs so I can’t order him to do it.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks, I will try the soap and hot water trick. I came across a youtube video showing someone cleaning his car upholstery this way. He had the spray bottle in one hand and a shop vac in the other, and he just kept alternating. I tried it and it worked great! Maybe I’ll get double duty out of my sprayer the next time I fill it with soap and hot water … thanks!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I use baking soda and add some vinegar to make it fizz, then scrub with a plastic bristle scrub brush. Seems to work well, and it definitely looks cleaner.

  20. Washi*

    This has already happened but I’m curious about others’ opinions. Last week I was having a close friend and her new-ish boyfriend over for dinner, and I asked if he had any allergies or particular food preferences. She told me “we’re trying not to eat a lot of carbs, especially pasta and bread.” Then when I was asking her a bit more about what kinds of things would be ok, she said she recognized that this might be difficult and offered to bring…cheese and crackers.

    I guess that was partly one me for phrasing my question like that (I just meant like, does he really hate raisins or something) but I found that response weirdly annoying. Is it rude to tell your host about your self-imposed and inconsistently adhered-to diet restrictions? Or among close friends is it ok to ask someone not to go heavy on the carbs?

    1. Blossom*

      I know what you mean. Before a recent dinner, I had a friend supply a list of foods their new partner just isn’t too keen on. I found it a little too much (in this case, the friend is a real people-pleaser type who was anxious about everything being just right for the partner).

      I think it’s safer to frame the question as “let me know if there are any dietary requirements” rather than “tell me about your preferences”.

      I have a strict dietary requirement, but beyond that I would cope with whatever I’m served. It’s unlikely that the entire meal won’t be to my taste, and if I dislike the taste of one ingredient I can be discreet about it.

      That said, if I’m cooking for one friend and I know they hate broccoli, I’m obviously not going to make broccoli a feature of the meal, and I’ll probably get their input before starting to cook. It’s when you’re trying to balance the requirements of a dozen people that you really don’t need someone piping up with “I don’t really like carrots”.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I hate this part of hosting. “Is there anything you can’t or don’t eat?” is a fine question and should be answered with, “He’s a vegetarian,” “She’s allergic to fish,” “I don’t tolerate nightshades well.” I can work with that. If you have celiac disease, then tell me, because then I’ll say that I can’t host you in my home and suggest we go out (I have a friend with celiac who loves food and for whom I would love to cook, but it’s way too risky). Beyond that? It’s ok with me if you turn down the roasted mushrooms because they’re not your jam*, but it gets really frustrating to be given a laundry list of preferences. I’d much rather be told, “You know, I’m keeping carbs to a minimum, so why don’t we meet up at Keto House instead?”

      A very good friend of mine came over for dinner and I served roasted mushrooms. She ate them, then told me she hated mushrooms but wanted to try mine and she loved them. I never served mushrooms to her again (and she was always surprised that I remembered), but I appreciated her willingness to try something.

    3. Overeducated*

      Yeah, I asked a friend who visited recently about any dietary restrictions or foods ahe couldn’t eat and she answered something along the lines of “avoid carbs, lean meat and fish, steamed veggies.” Which is sort of the opposite of my family’s mostly vegetarian diet, meat/fish with plain veg on the side is very foreign to us, and I know she’s also very picky about non-western spicing that is a large part of our diet, so I racked my brain for ideas and I checked with her about whether several were edible for her. She suggested making a fatty cheese dip with baguette that she really liked, and then I realized those were NOT dietary restrictions, they were guidelines for her idea of healthy eating. So a lot of worry for nothing. I was slightly annoyed too.

      1. Nancy*

        “avoid carbs, lean meat and fish, steamed veggies.” I would have served bacon. Lots and lots of bacon.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        That’s kind of ambiguous to me, because I’ve never heard of someone avoiding lean meat and steamed veggies as a rule. Fish maybe, because that’s less of a universal taste. Did she mean to avoid carbs, lean meat, fish, and veggies, or did she mean avoid carbs BUT lean mean, fish, and steamed veggies were her preference?

        I went to two separate dinners where the entree was something fairly common but that I really don’t like and wouldn’t be able to eat enough of to escape notice, and it ended up being really uncomfortable for the hosts and me. However, if I’d been asked ahead of time, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it (not an allergy or restriction) unless the hosts specifically said “we’re planning to serve X”. That’s how I phrase it if we have people over, which once saved me from serving a non-paleo meal to a paleo guest. But, sometimes you can’t avoid a food/guest mismatch.

        1. Overeducated*

          She meant the second.

          I guess the issue for me is that I already knew this friend didn’t like much spicy/foreign/”weird” food, and a lot of what we eat is vegetarian and non-American, so most of the stuff we did intersect on previously involved carbs and/or dairy. (We have known each other many years.) Low carb and low fat ruled out a lot of what we used to eat together, and then turned out not to be a thing.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’m not following your objection. Is it that they’re making a specific request? Or that you’re frustrated that they’re being inconsistent because they’re bringing crackers?

      I suppose every friend group has its own norms, but IMO it’s totally legit for close friends to make requests like this — especially when it’s a small group so the host isn’t juggling 25 different dietary preferences. And in this case, you explicitly asked about preferences… so it seems unfair to be frustrated that they offered them.

      As for the cheese and crackers and carbs, I don’t really see much inconsistency there. Perhaps they planned to skip the crackers themselves, or they’re fine with eating a few crackers’ worth of carbs but not a whole plate of spaghetti.

      So overall: I think you’re being unkind. In the future, if you’re not game for accommodating dietary preferences, you could instead invite them over for a specific meal (“Want to come over for spaghetti and meatballs next wrekend?”)

      1. Washi*

        I think my frustration is that it was NOT a very specific request. “Bob hates potatoes” would have been fine, but “we’re trying to not eat a lot of carbs or dairy [forgot to add that part above] but I can bring cheese and crackers” was just not very helpful. She said crackers are ok because they are light and cheese is ok because she can’t live without cheese, which left me trying to figure out what is a light vs. heavy carb and whether I could include diary.

        I guess even with clsoe friends, I only tell them about dietary stuff that’s truly a restriction – I just say I’m a vegetarian and don’t give a long list of the other things I will eat but am not thrilled about, because they are my friends trying to cook me a meal, not a restaurant. But it sounds like for other people, a close friendship means feeling more comfortable listing more preferences!

        1. Courageous cat*

          Yeaaaaaaaaaah but keto isn’t much more of a “preference” than vegetarianism is. If you want to stay in ketosis you literally cannot eat more than a certain amount (like 25ish grams) of carbs per day, so eating dinner at a friend’s house could mess that up.

          Idk, I’m obviously biased because I only recently stopped being keto and am planning to go back, but I don’t see the problem here.

          1. Triplestep*

            I think the problem is that the dinner invitation should not have been accepted in the first place if the person was strictly keto, and if she was NOT strictly keto (or even strictly low carb) why mention it at all and give the host the headache? The same friend that requested “low carb” then offered to bring cheese and crackers, so how low carb could she be? (I guess she could have planned to bring low carb crackers?) It’s just not what a host is expecting when she politely asks about food restrictions.

            I’m on a pretty strict low carb/moderate protein diet to lose weight and it’s working well. It means I can’t really have anyone cook for me right now, so I’d opt to go out where I could order a salad with grilled chicken.

        2. Juli G.*

          I get that. “We don’t eat much carbs and dairy – also I’m bringing carbs and dairy.” Okay so… is that your daily allotment? Can I put two tablespoons of milk in the sauce? Can I serve sweet potatoes because it’s low enough carbs on some diets and not on others? Frustrating!

        3. Indie*

          When I was trying to stay in ketosis, and (close friend) hosts asked me this question, I would name ‘things I can eat’ and not stop the suggestions until I saw the lights come on in their eyes. Or I’d ask if the carbs could be put in a different bowl (and I’d have my curry or chilli with sour cream instead of rice)

      2. Cambridge Comma*

        I think it’s rude to cut out a whole food group and make your host’s job that much harder for something you’re just trying to eat less of rather than something you hate or can’t eat. Either help yourself to fewer potatoes or cut down for the next few days.

    5. Kathenus*

      I’ve sometimes given people a couple of choices – hey I was thinking pasta alfredo or tarragon chicken – do either of these sound good to you? In your example it might have led to them saying the chicken sounded great because they were cutting down on carbs. I’ll also sometimes ask if I tend to use an ingredient that tends to depend a lot on peoples’ specific tastes/likes, or have that ingredient on the side. Since you reference her as a close friend, and you asked the question, I think giving more detail seems OK. If it was a more casual friendship, or she started listing likes/dislikes (versus dietary restrictions) without prompting, then it might have seemed a bit more out of place to me.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      I suppose that among close friends you can get a little more specific about your likes and dislikes, but personally, picky eaters don’t get invited to my place for dinner. If someone’s gonna be a PITA about food, then I’m not cooking for them – same as not travelling with a bad traveler (don’t travel with a picky eater either).

    7. Parenthetically*

      I’m one of those weirdos who plays best in the kitchen when I have some restrictions and love finding a way to work within them for the sake of my friends. I have a friend who’s allergic to eggs, dairy, wheat, corn, soy, and turkey, of all things… so I make Thai curry whenever she comes over. I have some dear friends who are vegan. I don’t do well with picky adults (or indeed picky teenagers!), but I also love to show love to my friends by ensuring they can eat with abundance at my house.

      That being said, anyone who said “can’t eat much dairy or carbs; will bring dairy and carbs” would definitely grind my gears!

      1. DataGirl*

        I have so many allergies it’s overwhelming to tell people all the things I can’t eat, so usually I just pick and choose from what they serve. That being said, now that I’m gluten free on top of everything else I would mention that but everything else just freaks people out.

      2. Bluebell*

        I also enjoy working with people’s preferences. Usually we only have one or two groups of guests at a time and try not to overlap the picky eater couple with the friends who love Indian food. Often I’ll run a menu by guests and ask for feedback !

    8. Chaordic One*

      There’s a big difference between having an actual food allergy and having a preference for some foods. I’ll eat at least a small portion of almost anything that I’m not allergic to, and I think of it being a good guest.

      Obviously pasta, potatoes and rice were out for your friend, but if I were in your friend’s position and you weren’t offering suggestions I might interject with chicken or beef or fish or ham or pork as a main dish and then much some sorts of vegetables and/or salads taking care to avoid the things I’m allergic to. I try to let the host have as much freedom to fix whatever she wants and how she wants it.

      With food allergies I do find that I have to give a lot of people more detailed information because most of them don’t realize that most mayonnaise and salad dressings contain soybean oil, or that butter and most cheese are made from cow’s milk and are considered dairy. Then if they’re puzzled about how to proceed I tell them about things to substitute, like lactose-free milk and cheese, or goat’s cheese, or soy-free margarine like some of the ones made by “Earth Balance.”

  21. SparklingStars*

    I posted a couple of weeks ago about possibly having to cancel my trip to Italy b/c my cat Lilly had suddenly become seriously ill. Unfortunately, I did have to cancel the trip – I looked at all of the available options, but I think I made the right decision. Even more unfortunately, it was too late to get any of my money back, so now I’ll be saving up again for a while. I did learn a valuable lesson – if you get travel insurance, consider getting the cancel-for-any-reason policy, even though it costs a little bit more.

    Lilly is holding her own for the time being. She needs to be coaxed to eat anything, and I have to give her liquid medication in a syringe every day, which she hates – but she still has an amazing amount of energy for a 13 year old cat (especially since she’s not eating much), and she still loves her snuggle times. Most of the time, she doesn’t seem sick at all, except that she doesn’t eat as much as she should. I’m keeping a close eye on her, and I plan to enjoy the time we have left together.

    1. nep*

      Oh, SparklingStars, I feel for you. Sorry you had to cancel but what a beautiful thing you did to spend time with Lilly. Italy will always be there.
      Sorry you’re having to see her struggle. Hope you’ll get in lots of snuggles and as you said, enjoy every moment you’ve got with her.
      Thanks for sharing this.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Good choice. You will forget about the lost money in years to come but you will never forget that you were there for her.

      I am sorry about your trip.

    3. Cruciatus*

      I’m sorry you had to cancel and about your kitty. I don’t know if she’s just uninterested in eating or has trouble eating so this advice may not be at all helpful. I have an 18-year-old cat that I think we just have weeks or months with. She still wants to eat but her teeth/mouth are horrible and she has some sort of constantly bleeding sore on the outside of her mouth (makes it super fun come pill time). Anyway, I found this pureed food for older cats online–Hartz Delectables. It could be sold in some stores, but unfortunately not locally at mine. I bought it at Chewy and had to pay a few dollars for shipping since I didn’t buy enough for free shipping–but my cat loves the stuff! I got the Bisque one–no chunks to get stuck in the crevasses of her mouth. She will still eat her Friskies pate, but when she’s about to give up, I can also add some Bisque on top and she’s interested again. I also use just the Bisque for pills I’m able to crush up for her. Eats it all up! I don’t have to worry she’s not getting her medicines. (I also bought a Tiki Cat Stix with Tuna Mousse flavor as a wet treat. When even the younger cat hears those open she comes running and wants some too! But for the older cat, it helps to know she’s getting a little hydration at least, as well as some calories).

    4. Long Time Fed*

      I’m glad Lilly is holding her own.
      I had to cancel a Disney World trip last month for the same reason – my cat Walt suddenly went into congestive heart failure. It was a rough couple of weeks. Now we know he has cardiomyopathy. He’s on Lasix and it’s helped a lot. We got it in liquid form and if we stir it into his food (and stir and stir and stir) he’ll eat it without a problem. Walt is difficult to medicate so I’m relieved that for now this is working. I hope Lilly continues to do ok.

  22. Lillian not Lilly*

    How honest are you guys when answering depression screening questions from your family doctor or medical specialists (who are not treating you for mental issues)? I’m thinking of when they ask questions (or ask you to fill out a form asking questions) such as how often do you feel hopeless, do you feel like a failure, do you have thoughts of hurting yourself, do you feel tired, etc. Does anyone know what they do with your answers?

    I’ve always just answered as if I have no issues at all even though I do have some issues because I don’t know what they do with the information and it seemed weird and intrusive to be asked these things when I was seeing a doctor about an ear infection or some other totally unrelated thing. I have one to fill out for an appointment next week and I’m not sure what to do.

    1. Ender*

      Is your doctor making you fill out the same form every time you go? That’s kind of weird. Don’t they have you medical history on file?

      1. Lillian not Lilly*

        I actually see a specialist for a chronic illness, and am switching doctors right now. The depression screening questions came with the packet of information they want me to fill out before my first appointment.

        But I’ve gotten asked the screening questions by my family doctor several times, and I’m fairly sure I’ve been asked by other doctors before.

        1. CAA*

          Do you take any medications that can have the side effect of “suicidal thoughts or feelings”? If you do, please don’t lie or decline to fill out that form.

      2. Smarty Boots*

        The thing is, although they have your medical history, your symptoms and/or concerns may change. Also, I’ll bet that people fib, or forget, or get new info. A couple years ago I discovered that my dad and brother have a minor heart condition that can run in families, they’d had it for years but had not mentioned it to anyone else in the family because it just didn’t occur to them to do so — so that was something I added the next time I was at my doc’s office, and she checked for it (don’t have it, whew!) . Asking those questions every time, while annoying to the patient, is probably useful to the doc.

    2. anon24*

      I never used to answer them honestly. Last time I had a regular check up with my family Dr I did answer honestly and it led to a wonderful discussion with her about stressors in my life and coping tactics. I’m glad I was honest, if only because she told me that I shouldn’t feel guilty if occasionally I don’t have the energy to get out of bed and spend a day off laying around. I always felt more depressed for doing that but my Dr pointed out that I have a lot of stress with my job and if occasionally sleeping all day helps me feel better then it’s actually healthy to do. It was actually a relief to admit that I struggle and I wasn’t pushed to try an antidepressant, which is why I was never honest before.

      1. Lillian not Lilly*

        That’s good to hear. Maybe I’ll be honest this time.

        I was worried that admitting that I have some issues might turn it into a big deal where I’d be coerced into taking a medication or seeing a therapist, or where having it in my medical records could come back to bite me somehow. (One of my issues is having anxiety about everything, so over-worrying about something like this makes sense for me.)

        I wouldn’t mind just having a discussion.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Nobody can coerce you into any medical treatment you don’t want. Even if you were put on an involuntary 72-hour hold, the bar for that is quite high and the circumstances are limited.

          Even “I sometimes have thoughts of hurting myself” does not equal “imminent danger to self or others”.

          1. AnonForThis*

            Yes, they can. If you mention suicidal thoughts or ideation you can be placed on a72-hour hold and the bar is NOT high. I went to the hospital with a panic attack and ended up in lock-down for a week. Once you are in the psych ward, you have to either agree to stay as long as they want you to or go to court in which case they can keep you there for a long, long time, so it’s best to agree to stay even if you don’t want to. That may vary by state and I will say that if a person is truly on the verge of killing themselves they are better off locked up where they can’t do it until their meds can hopefully be changed, but in general most of us who have been in that situation have learned to be very careful what we say to a medical professional.

            1. ..Kat..*

              RN here. I am sorry that this happened to you. I hope it was not recently. It is supposed to be very hard to involuntarily commit someone in the USA. They have to have a hearing before a judge within 72 hours, and the psychiatric team better have their ducks in a row (and very good, very specific, highly legalized reasons) to keep you involuntarily committed. There are serious legal repercussions for illegally holding someone without their consent. And this was the case decades ago when I had a clinical as a nursing student in Texas at the state mental hospital.

              You can easily google the law in your state.

              1. AnonForThis*

                That was in 2013, and most of the other people there had similar stories. Anyone who went to the ER and had any sort of reference to self-harm were locked up. In my case, I had a bad panic attack at work and while in the ER was a bit hysterical because in the past 6 months I had three friends die from suicide, but I wasn’t suicidal myself. I was still admitted against my will (handcuffed to the gurney for the ambulance transport “for my safety”). In the for-profit psychiatric hospital were told if we didn’t sign to stay voluntarily, a hearing would go very bad for us so it was better to agree to stay and hope to get out in a week or two, instead of be committed for months. FWIW- I did file a complaint with the State when I got out (there was also abuses of power at the hands of the doctors and nurses) but no one ever followed up.

                1. ..Kat..*

                  I am sorry that this happened to you. It definitely should not have. And more that one person involved in your ‘commitment’ violated the law.

              2. AnonForThis*

                I also know several people, both adults and teens who have been committed after going to the ER with depression or anxiety attacks.

                1. ..Kat..*

                  Unless they are a danger to themselves or others (or in the case of minors, a parent gave consent), this was illegal.

    3. Not a Mere Device*

      I think (not an expert here) that they do two things with those. One is to find possible problems that you don’t mention, because you don’t think X is a problem; e.g., you may think “sure, I feel helpless sometimes, doesn’t everyone?” and have no idea of whether you have those feelings more often than other people. The other thing they do is keep track of change over time, so they can tell whether things are getting better or worse.

      It’s a bit like what they call vital signs, where part of what they’re looking for is change, even within a normal range. For a given person, 160 pounds and 175 pounds might both be healthy weights–but if your patient who weighed 175 pounds last week weighs 160 this week that’s something to be concerned about.

      If it really feels intrusive, you don’t have to fill it out in the waiting room–you can take the blank form in with you and ask the doctor about it. (I tell mine that they’re welcome to weigh me as long as they don’t tell me the numbers; tracking it myself has been bad for my mental health in the past, but I trust this doctor’s office to know the difference between “Ms. Device doesn’t want to talk about dieting” and “Ms. Device has unexplained weight loss, which should be investigated.

    4. Brelade*

      I’m not terribly honest about it but I do say there’s a family history of depression and that I do occasionally go through periods when I don’t feel ok but I tend to bounce back.

      When my mom was being treated for terminal cancer in the last year or two she was open about how she had depression and had had it for most of her life. We’re taught today that times have moved on and people should be open etc. She passed from advanced cancer metastasis that the medical professionals (including hospice nurses) refused to believe she had as she had depression and was probably being dramatic about how much pain she was in. Those words came out of their mouths to me. Off topic I know but my point is that the medical profession is not as enlightened or accepting as we might hope.

      1. Observer*

        The problem here- and it’s a MAJOR, MAJOR issue is that it’s not true that they didn’t believe her because she confessed to depression. What I mean is that they were not telling you the truth. The simple, and extremely serious, fact is that many medical professionals discount women’s descriptions of their pain because “they are being dramatic”, or because “they are REALLY depressed, not in pain.” This is true even for women who have no personal or family history of depression.

    5. Rebecca*

      Not very! I learned my lesson about answering questions honestly a while ago. It was winter, and I had been shoveling snow a few days before, and slipped and fell on the ice under the snow in my driveway. It was just a dumb accident…I wasn’t hurt, should have had my ice cleats on but was too lazy to do it, so down I went.

      Nurse asked “have you fallen in the last month?” and I answered yes, in my driveway, and omg she started in with all these questions about dizziness, shortness of breath, on and on – I finally cut her off and told her that I fell on the ice while shoveling, it had nothing to do with health issues per se, but my clumsiness and having ice under my feet where I didn’t expect it.

      I answer most of the questions sort of generally so I don’t feel judged. It’s bad enough I’m overweight and get the “I see we’ve lost 2 lbs since last time, keep up the good work” or “I see we’ve gained a few pounds since last time, your BMI is blah blah blah…” ugh, I’m here because it’s my yearly checkup…I get it…I’m overweight…sighs.

      If I was truly having issues, I’d tell them, but as a rule, I keep things to myself.

    6. Madge*

      I’m at the point where I’m declining to answer those questions. My clinic (part of a big teaching hospital) has everyone complete a form that includes mental health questions before every appointment. No one ever says anything or even looks at it during the appointment, it just seems like data they collect. I’ve been in there a lot since I had an injury and I just got tired of doing the work of comparing how I feel with their imperfect system of measurement. So I stopped. I’ve figured out where to “drop the ball” in the process so no one gets reprimanded. (take the form and hand it in blank) I know I’m in a situation where, as someone with an anxiety diagnosis on record, they’d really like to know how I’m doing emotionally, but I just don’t have the energy for that. If they want to know they can ask me in person.

      1. the gold digger*

        A lot of those questions are in the None of Your Business category to me. It’s not my doc’s business if I own a gun or if I wear a seatbelt.

        Smoking and sunblock, yeah – but honestly, if at my age, I don’t know that smoking is bad and sunblock is good, there is no help for me.

        I fell off my bike and hit my face. Prescription sunglasses ruined, but fortunately, the helmet was just fine.

        I am sitting there with an enormous bleeding contusion on the entire side of my face. They ask me – with Primo right next to me – if I feel safe at home.

        I laughed and said, “First, I fell off my bike. Second, if my husband was beating me, do you think I would tell you while he was sitting next to me?”

        1. Smarty Boots*

          Well, but that’s you. I do think these questions are helpful for lots of people (especially women) who are not safe at home. That’s a reasonable health question to ask and it can help the doctor help that person. There’s no way for the doctor to know ahead of time whether a patient is or isn’t safe at home, so they ask everybody. And people may be willing to tick off a box that says “no” rather than working up the courage to say to a doctor, face to face, my boyfriend threatens to shoot me.

          Too, even if this time, or every time for the last 15 years, the answer is “yes, I’m safe at home” and so the question is annoying. And then suddenly your circumstances change and the answer is “no I’m not safe.” If the doc stopped asking just because you were ok all those other times, she wouldn’t know things had changed for the worse.

          1. Ann O.*

            I believe that question is helpful to some people, but I find it very offputting when it’s asked in such a rote way. I’m not in an abusive relationship, so maybe what I find offputting is actually the best way to do it.

            However, they shouldn’t be asked when the partner is sitting right next to the patient, which was the gold digger’s main point. They need to be asked when the patient is alone so that it is safe for them to answer.

            1. Lehigh*

              I like that they ask it as a matter of rote. Of course it does seem silly to ask with the family member right there. However, I’m guessing they always have to ask it (b/c of what Smarty Boots noted, it’s probably policy), and yet could see that gold digger had only fallen off of her bike and didn’t want to ask her husband to leave just to get the question done. If I recall correctly, they’ve asked my husband with me in the room, when he was obviously in for something I couldn’t have caused and he (also obviously) wanted me to stay.

          2. TL -*

            Yeah, one of my doctor coworkers asked me if my roommate hit me when I came in with a full face of makeup (I don’t normally wear any.) I laughed really hard and pulled back my hair to show her my ears – I was hiding a pretty bad sunburn, not bruises.

            But in all honesty, I appreciated the concern and the fact that if something had been going on, she was clearly willing to pass on resources or have a difficult conversation with me.

        2. Smarty Boots*

          I was in a car accident and the airbags smashed the glasses off my face and left me with spectacular face, chest, and upper arm bruises. I was grateful to every person (the waitress at the coffee shop, the guy in the grocery story checkout line, my boss) who asked if someone had hit me. I’m glad people were willing to make both of us feel awkward because they were concerned about a woman who looked beat up. Because plenty of people just looked away.

        3. Spearmint Patty*

          I was 8 months pregnant and woke up in the middle of the night with what I guess was food poisoning. I vomited with so much gusto that I broke the blood vessels in the whites of my eyes and my whole face was bruised and swollen. I looked like I’d been beaten. My husband took me to the hospital to make sure that I was OK. The doctor took one look at me, pulled me aside and quietly asked me who had done that to me. I heard someone talking about calling the police! I finally convinced him that it was from the vomiting- the bruises on both sides of my face were perfectly symmetrical, which would be almost impossible for someone hitting me to do. But my poor husband got lots of dirty looks for the few hours we were there!

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I take blood thinners, so I basically bruise if you look at me the wrong way. My poor husband gets looks sometimes, but he would never hurt me. I have a huge bruise on my wrist right now, and I didn’t even hurt myself; it’s from having my wrist on the edge of my desk while using my computer!

        4. ..Kat..*

          RN here. They are supposed to ask that question and two other questions in this vein every time you go to a hospital. It is a requirement in the USA – it is part of every admission data base. BUT you are supposed to be asked privately. And, if a patient replies that they are being abused or unsafe, we have a social worker consult (again in private) where we offer resources and referrals if the patient wants to get out of the abusive situation.

          The depression screening is also mandatory in hospitals (not sure about doctors offices). A lot of people in the USA suffer from undiagnosed/untreated depression. Suicide rates are ever increasing. If you don’t want to fill out the form, just decline to answer. Shame on the providers that want you to fill out forms and don’t read them!

        5. Earthwalker*

          I had to bring in photos of my unusual sport activity to prove my story to my gynaecologist, who had been pretty sure all those bruises on my legs were my husband’s fault. On the one hand, I was glad he was checking. On the other, he was pretty insistent that I ‘fess up about being beaten at home. I don’t know where it would have gone if I didn’t have photo evidence exonerating my husband.

    7. Book Lover*

      It’s a PHQ9, it is kind of like asking about partner abuse, just standard screening so you can help people who need it, regardless of why they are coming in. Especially in a specialty setting, many patients with chronic illness have depression or anxiety and it is just another thing to address. If you don’t want to answer it, then don’t, but I don’t see any benefit in lying. Depression and anxiety shouldn’t be stigmatized and you shouldn’t feel as though you can’t talk about the way you feel, if it is an issue.

      I mean, when I am seen I get a sheet of yes no questions from problems with my eyesight to problems with my bowels. If I am just in for an earache, even if any of those issues exist but are not a problem, I just don’t respond they are a problem. But if I want help with my hearing (or whatever) it can be a prompt to discuss further.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        The PHQ-9 answers are tracked over time in the electronic medical record, so they can follow the ‘trend.’ The thing is, technically, they are only suppose to ask the first 2, as a preliminary screen, unless you have a trigger answer on one of them. If so, you forever more get the full 9.
        And, you have to remember it is a snapshot. One bad day, and you may look like you are headed downhill, and three months later, you don’t even remember what that bad day was about. And what may look like a bad “score” for anyone else can be a good score for “you.”
        In some clinical guidelines / systems, if you are on an antidepressant, they are required to give you the screener every “X” months as part of the follow up.
        It is freely downloadable and if you are interested you can google the “PHQ-9” and learn lots more.

    8. Mimmy*

      I had to fill out a form the other day for a physical – it was just two questions and I answered honestly. My doctor knows I am on medication for anxiety/depression though, so she didn’t make a big deal out of my answers.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      My husband had a doc who vehemently told me, “No one ever lies to their doctors.”

      I would love to show her this thread. But I won’t.

      I lie to the docs. I don’t want a bunch of drugs . I tried that, I got really stoned and could not function. It was worse than the problem I came in for. And if I asked about side effects, I’d hear “No problems, its’ fine.” Yeah. Okay.

      The docs who don’t write a script for every single thing are the ones I can talk with.

    10. char*

      It’s funny, it never occurred to me NOT to be honest on those forms. My clinic asks me to fill one out every time I go in. Honestly, not sure how much they even look at them – sometimes I fill it out but then no one even asks for it and I end up accidentally leaving with it in my pocket.

      I think what Not a Mere Device says about tracking changes over time sounds plausible. I’ve actually found filling these out useful for myself if I notice I’m rating things much differently from the last time I was in. Sometimes my mental health gets worse without me fully realizing it, so filling out the form can be a wake-up call if my scores are significantly worse than when I last filled it out.

    11. Triple Anon*

      That stuff is problematic because in a mental health setting, you would be given the opportunity to provide context. For example, “I feel like a failure but I don’t know why,” is really different from, “I feel like a failure because my partner tells me I am,” versus, “I feel like a failure because I’m struggling to pay my bills.” And even in mental health settings, there isn’t enough attention to this.

      It’s a good thing that people are being screened for mental health issues, but the way it’s currently being done is really inappropriate. People are being pathologized for having unrelated stuff going on whereas people who do have mental health needs are falling through the cracks. I would be skeptical of those questions and just skip them or check “no,” or add notes – whatever seems best.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yes, context is so important. I had to fill out one of these before I was discharged from the hospital. Are you feeling more tired than usual? Well, let’s see, I had a heart attack, but it wasn’t diagnosed properly, so I had to spend six more days in the hospital, all while nurses and aides were coming and going every couple of hours and my IV pump was beeping and my heart monitor was screeching. Yeah, I’m more tired than usual. Have you felt like you would be better off dead? Let’s see…we just spent $3,100 to move into a new house, I used up all my PTO and will not get paid for the time I spent in the hospital this week, I’m going to have a $7,500 bill to pay, and I feel useless because I literally can’t do anything without feeling like I’m going to pass out. Yeah, I had the fleeting thought that it would be easier to be dead. But I don’t feel like that under normal circumstances.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Our systems can be us up pretty thoroughly. It’s always been interesting to me that the docs are not concerned AT ALL about the stress they cause us and how that stress interferes with our healing process.

          1. Observer*

            Actually, one of the interesting side effects of tracking this data has been the beginning of an understanding of medically induced medical problems. To take a small example – “white coat hypertension”. It turns out that it’s a real thing – people get uncharacteristically high blood pressure readings in the doctor’s office.

            Of course, this only works is you have a LOT of data.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I’d love to see a study on this question right here, how many lie to their doctor and why.

            2. TL -*

              Two of my friends have white coat syndrome! One of them got hooked up to a bp monitor for a minor medical procedure and her blood pressure dropped to 90/70 (instead of its normal read of 135/80) just because she was calm and lying in bed and not thinking about the doctor.

      2. TardyTardis*

        If you’re in the military, there are good reasons for going to a private doctor with mental health issues rather than talking to the military doctors–even if you are coping well, and even if you need certain meds to cope well, you can be considered not qualified for certain duties (even if you really are, because you’re not stupid and you’re taking the meds). For one thing, if you are really not coping, you are likely to become separated and thrown into the VA system, which is already not coping terribly well with problems like TBI, let alone non-TBI related meds.

    12. Videogame Lurker*

      I tried to when I came in after a panic attack, but I told the doctor that honestly, it could be possible that I am at a baseline of sad far more than I think I am, but I think it is normal. I explained what had happened before my panic attack, and it as the cause, which I felt was more useful than the paper, because *on paper* I looked to be a healthy person.

      I had undiagnosed depression a few years ago, but didn’t report it while depressed (okay, may still have it because no one “gets over” depression, just have better tools to keep it from interfering with life) because I was just in fo my yearly checkups, and convinced there wasn’t anything wrong with spending hours staring at a flat surface instead of flooding the nearby fast food restaurants with my applications because they hadnt called me back after the last several months of applying every few weeks, or if they did they wanted someone with more experience (nearly five years volunteering at public library didn’t count as work EXP).

      The source of my panic was because I grew up taking on the self-expectation of me being the emotional caretaker if my chronically ill (most likely to be Cause of Death for my) mother (who was diagnosed as a twelve year old kid, so long before I was born), and getting into a really nasty argument where it came out (badly phrased among other things) that I couldn’t deal well with her illness (especially as other conditions cropped up, possibly due to me feeding into them as a passive enabler). This came out with the realization that I was grieving for someone who wasn’t even dead yet, and had taken on the role of emotional caretaker at a young age believing that if I were “good enough” she wouldn’t get sick.

      Oh, and there is a stigma against asking for help that may be a factor against being honest. If honesty will do a person more (perceived) harm than good to themself, a “soft” lie can be the more frequent answer received.

      TLDR- Those forms are biased one way, the human is biased another eay, and one person’s “normal” is another person’s “unusual”.

      1. ..Kat..*

        You might have been grieving not having a loving, normal mother who didn’t force you to be the adult when you were just a child.

        I’m sorry you had to go through this.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Sometime we lose them twice, once in the process of living life and again in death. Death has its finality because up to that point one can hope some day in the future will be wildly different than things are now. The much improved future never happens and then they pass away so the much improved future will never happen. It’s like be adrift at sea in a little canoe and no help is coming. It’s a huge effort to get your bearings and get on a course, any course.

    13. LilySparrow*

      Yes, because some of those things are symptoms/side effects of other diseases or medication problems.

      I think if my mom had been honest about her major depression, the docs might have caught her heart disease much earlier – because they are both co-morbid with long-term diabetes, and they are related.

      She decided she just wanted her insulin prescription and didn’t want anyone to think she was “crazy”. But it was the heart attack that killed her.

      I like and trust my doctor, and I know she knows a lot more about this stuff than I do. I want her to have all the info she needs to see patterns.

      Like when I was worried last year about my daughter maybe having anxiety, our doctor suggested we address her gut health first and then see a therapist if things didn’t improve in a month or so. She was right – the probiotics cleared it up.

    14. mm203*

      Providers/medical groups are given incentive payments based on the “quality of care” provided. If your doctor is a part of a physician organization/medical group, it is likely that they are being monitored for this screening as a quality measure.

      Where I work, there are a couple of quality measures that are monitored that have to do with PHQ-9s. One is whether or not the patient was screened that year and another one is providing intervention to PHQ-9 scores over a certain score, and monitoring that score over time to make sure it goes down with intervention.

      Good practice for organizations is to offer the PHQ-9 at every encounter the patient has (even if not a primary care visit) if the patient is showing up as “overdue” for the screening on their medical record.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        And in some cases have to show they are meeting the quality measures to get full reimbursement from insurance (usually federal programs, if you’re in the USA).

        As a doctor, my advice would be to answer honestly. I can’t help you if I don’t know what is going on. But looking at the current political landscape, I’m terrified that the law requiring pre-existing conditions be covered is going to get repealed, so would be wary about getting diagnosed with something unless I was going to need to use my insurance to get treatment.

    15. Persimmons*

      Very Biased Answer: I never answer them honestly. I was misdiagnosed with depression for YEARS before I finally saw an endocrinologist and got my thyroid issues handled. I don’t trust any of those screening questions because they cost me over a decade of useless psychiatry. GPs should be doing bloodwork and tests, not shuttling you off to a therapist to get you out of their hair.

      1. ..Kat..*

        It is standard practice to test for thyroid function in every person that has a differential diagnosis of depression. You need a better GP.

      2. Observer*

        That’s pretty awful. But the problem here is that you apparently had incompetent practitioners who have zero familiarity with any of the illnesses that can cause the symptoms of depression. Either that, or you are of the female persuasion and you were stuck with doctors who just assume that women are depressed whatever their symptoms may be.

        I’m not being sarcastic. A thyroid screening should be one of the first things a doctor does when this kind of issue comes up. There are others, as well. The place to start is NOT with a psychiatrist, but with blood-work.

      3. LilySparrow*

        I used to work occasionally as a standardized patient preparing med students to take the boards. My “case” was a woman who thought she might be depressed and wanted a therapy referral. On questioning, typical symptoms of classic hypothyroidism would be revealed (but only if they asked.)

        As long as they recommended blood work, they passed, even if they didn’t uncover the thyroid symptoms or explicitly say they suspected it.

        The students fell along the same bell curve as in any other class. A couple were really outlandish, including the one who threatened me with an involuntary psych hold (for being unmotivated and having a hard time focusing at work?) And the one who told me I probably had a brain tumor.

    16. Serious Pillowfight*

      I’m honest, but a few weeks ago I filled one out for my regular doctor, who then told me, after zero discussion or follow-up questioning, that my replies about anxiety mean I have PTSD from having cancer (three years ago).

      I’ve had anxiety my entire life, which she would have known if she’d bothered to ask. I have asked to switch to another doctor.

    17. Kuododi*

      I see a pain specialist among many other MDs. For better or worse, the genius politicians in my state have decided that the way to address the raging opiod crisis is to mandate that all pain specialists have their patients fill out a 6 question depression inventory at every visit. (I’m considering filling them out in random patterns to see if that puts a kink in their day!!!). I am in no way capable of resolving the nation’s drug crisis…the issues are many and varied….. I am willing to bet a pickle that administrative nonsense such as these depression screenings at each visit are not going to be the solution.

        1. Lora*

          I mean… what kind of pickle are we talking about here? :D might be worth more than $0.05. Spicy pickled Thai eggplant, pickled jalapeno peppers, pickled Japanese plums?

          1. Kuododi*

            Teehee… I am a bit of an old school pickle eater. ( Good classic Kosher Dill). That spicy Thai pickled eggplant sounds delightful. DH loves him some pickled jalapeno. Mighty tasty!!! Enjoy…

    18. Observer*

      If you can’t trust your doctor / practice to keep your information confidential, you need to find another doctor. Seriously. Also, if you can’t trust your doctor to treat your medical issues appropriately if they know you may have issues like depression. These are (or should be) deal breakers, even if you don’t have such issues.

      Giving incorrect information to your doctor is always a really bad idea. If you actually have a tendency towards X, a good doctor will factor that in to decision like what medication to give you. So, yes, it’s relevant. If you are actually TAKING a medication, then it’s even more important. Medication side effects and interactions are a big deal.

    19. Hannah*

      I answer those questions honestly, and my doctor asks me about them during our appointment.

      Mental health is part of your overall health, and your PCP should know about any problems, because mental and physical health are closely related. Your doc will be able to be a better doc for you if they have all information about you.

      I reported depression symptoms (even though I was already seeing a therapist) and my doc let me know that if I chose to do so and it was deemed necessary, she would work with a psychiatrist to get me on medication.

  23. Jennifer*

    Does anyone have any tips for preparing to grieve? I am 29 years old and I have hardly any experience which really is a good thing. I realised it when I found out a couple of days ago that an actor, Stefan Karl Stefansson, died last month, and even though I hadn’t really seen a lot of his work (playing the villain Robbie Rotten in Lazytown), I had seen some behind the scenes and liked him as a person. And I just… I was sad and almost cried telling my mother about it. And this was over a guy I hardly knew. A couple of years ago a repeat customer in my shop, a kind elderly man, passed away and I was sad for days. That was the first time I ever mourned a person (and not a small pet I had as teenager.)
    All of this for people I did not really know. So how will I react when someone I really care about and know and love dearly dies?
    My great-grandmother died when I was six but she had dementia and I did not really have a relationsship with her so all I remember is that I insisted on wearing my black dress because I knew that from television. My maternal grandfather died when I was a baby so no memory of him. Now my paternal grandparents are both around 90 and getting worse and I am worried about them dying and how I will react. It scares me when I think about it. They live 5 hours drive from me (no plane possible) so I cannot easily visit them. My mother is now getting worried about my maternal grandmother getting dementia but we live in the same town so her I can visit. I need to do that more.
    I feel selfish being worried about my feelings in the future. I am not the one dying. And they may all live for years before they do die. What do I do? How do I think? Have anyone else felt like this?
    Sorry for bombarding you all with this..

    1. Miss Elaine e.*

      This sounds like a natural reaction. Death is, of course, part of life but we all experience it differently — and differently for each person we lose.
      Perhaps, when those worries take over, try to refocus your mind on the person and try to come up with ways to build your relationship with that person while he or she is still here. Then, when that sad day inevitably comes, you can be a peace knowing that you showed your love for them.

    2. Lunar Rainbow*

      You are not selfish and it’s normal to worry about these things when you have a loved one whose health is declining. No one wants to have to part with someone they love and that’s okay. But, in my experience, no matter how well you feel you have prepared for the passing of a loved one, it still just…hurts. And that is okay! It’s okay to cry and feel sad and to miss them. And it’s also okay if you don’t cry. You won’t know how you will react, really, until you are experiencing it. But don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends for support, or even the services of a professional, if you feel you need it.

      Having said that, though, here is what has helped me the most: Knowledge. I, personally, found comfort after finding a woman named Caitlin Doughty on YouTube (her channel is called Ask A Mortician). She is, as you might have guessed, a mortician and she talks a lot about death and grieving and I’ve found the knowledge comforting, in a way. It has removed a lot of the mystery surrounding death and, for me, that has helped me better cope with the loss of loved ones.

    3. Kathenus*

      One thing you do have control over now is keeping up the relationships with the people in your life, especially elderly ones who are more likely towards the end of their lives, so that you don’t have regrets that you didn’t stay in touch better. You already mention that you can visit your maternal grandmother a lot, which is great, so keep doing that. For your paternal grandparents, start sending a postcard or card (or email if they are online) weekly, it’ll bring them happiness to hear from you regularly even if you can’t visit all the time. Call them on a regular basis, just be a presence in their lives. I think it’s laudable that you’re considering being prepared for the inevitable, but since you can’t control that spend time on keeping the relationships strong while you can so you’ll always be able to remember these times.

      1. kerlin*

        Yes. I was going to comment with this. When my grandparents and my husband’s grandparents got very ill I pushed myself hard to talk to them and see them as much as possible. I sent them cards all the time, or wrote them chatty emails (one of my grandmothers was huge into the internet in her 80s, it was awesome), or called them, or made a point of going to visit them when I could. I didn’t think of it as anything other than feeling joyful that I got to spend time with them.

        It’s been almost 15 years since my own grandparents passed away, and I still visit their graves and update them on things. It’s funny, before they passed I was actually kind of creeped out by cemeteries. Now I stop by whenever I am in the area (two states away from where I am now). I often bring my dog, because my grandfather was a HUGE dog person, and we sit together and chat for a little bit. I always cry, but I always feel better, too.

    4. ElspethGC*

      (Warning: lengthy essay below)

      I always recommend Ask A Mortician on YouTube (the *other* AAM) for anything related to difficult questions about death and dying. Caitlin has some brilliant stuff about coming to terms with your own mortality and helping others through grief, and I think what she says also applies to others’ mortality and your own grief.

      You’re totally not alone on being scared for someone to die. I’m really genuinely not scared of *me* dying (although maybe I will be if/when I have to seriously come to terms with it) but I’m terrified of my loved ones dying. Seriously terrified. It’s completely normal – I think it’s the majority view. People just don’t talk about it.

      Grief is okay. It isn’t wrong to feel sad and angry and frustrated. It’s not a bad thing to grieve, for days or weeks or months or years. People think it is, so they try to hide it and keep it bottled up, and get worried about feeling grief after the accepted mourning period is up, but that’s not how it works. There’s no timeline.

      I’m twenty, and have dealt with the deaths of my grandad (lung cancer, aged 4), my nana (COPD, aged 9), both great-grandparents in the span of a few months (stroke and Alzheimer’s, aged 11), a close friend (suicide, aged 14), a close family friend (stroke, aged 16), and, yes, my cats, who I’ve mourned just as much as my human family members, not least because they’d been in my life for just as long or longer.

      And I’m still grieving all of them, a little bit. Even though I’ve had a over a decade to come to terms with some of the deaths I’ve dealt with, I’m still sad and frustrated when I think about their deaths. But when I think about them, I don’t automatically think of their deaths, I think of their lives. It took a while to get to that point, but I got there. Different timeline for each of them, but I got there.

      It’s normal to grieve for people you’ve never met, as well. I’m still mourning, to some extent, for my favourite author Terry Pratchett – he died three years ago now, and I certainly never met him – because it was stupid and pointless and untimely and there couldn’t have been a more terrible way for him to go than early-onset Alzheimer’s. I cried when I found out he’d died. I cried the other day when I read that the BBC presenter Rachel Bland had finally lost her battle with terminal cancer, after I’d been following her story for a couple of years. That’s very normal if you’re a highly empathetic person. There’s certainly nothing wrong with feeling sad because someone you saw regularly and liked passed away.

      I’d encourage you think about what you’re concerned about regarding grieving. Just that it h