weekend free-for-all – October 20-21, 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: All You Can Ever Know, Nicole Chung’s memoir of growing up Korean in a white family and later finding her biological family. It’s about race and identity and belonging and it is moving and beautifully written.

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

{ 1,169 comments… read them below }

  1. neela*

    What is everyone reading? I’m looking for a new novel to pick up. No fantasy, no sci-fi. I generally like literary fiction better than any other category.

    1. FalafalBella*

      I really enjoyed The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood. It connects a contemporary story with many of my all-time favorite books.

    2. Solaine Dlcrx*

      Elif Batuman: The Idiot (a coming-of-age story of a Turkish American girl in the dawn of the internet and her adventures teaching English in an Eastern European village as an aspiring writer)

    3. The Winter Rose*

      I’m reading The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman. Which is fantasy, so not for you, but I pretty much only read fantasy and sci-fi anyway.

    4. Dainty Lady*

      Pearl S. Buck’s “Children of the Earth” trilogy, about the rise and fall of a family in China in the late 19th century.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Loved Pearl S. Buck. There are some new writers writing similar books about Korea now. If interested I will look it up. Having a Brain Fart now. (My children’s term)

      1. Blue Eagle*

        The library just notified me that my large print copy of Eleanor Oliphant is ready for pickup.

        Luckily I just finished reading three compelling nonfiction books:
        – Jungle by Yossi Ghinsberg – his story of his survival in the Bolivian jungle when getting separated from others in his party traversing the backcountry
        – The Angel by Uri Bar-Joseph – the story of Ashrat Marwan, son-in-law of Nassar who spied for Israel.
        – The Fall of the House of Dixie by Bruce Levine (civil war historian and professor) – examines the social and political aspects of the war between the south and north; very little emphasis on military campaigns, which is what you usually get in civil war nonfiction books.

    5. Sapphire*

      Er, I’m reading An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, but it’s sci-fi. I’m also reading Boss Bitch, which seems to be a career-oriented self-help book for women, but her writing enforces a gender binary so hard that I’m not sure I’ll finish it.

    6. The Grammarian*

      I recently finished A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua. It was quite good! It’s adult contemporary literary fiction.

      1. Lemonworld*

        Have you read her other books? And if so, how did you find this book not being a Dublin Murder Squad book? I love the Dublin Murder Squad books, though I’ve only ever listened to them as audiobooks. I’m wondering whether I should read this one the old fashioned way.

        1. Catherine*

          I have read all the DMS books which I love. Despite the perspective change from cops to victim I don’t find this one so different. It still has the stuff I associate with a Tana French book: memory loss, feigned memory loss, spectacular red herrings, a dude you wanna punch, a woman who’s smarter than everyone else in the room and getting no credit for it for ages.

    7. Tort-ally Harebrained*

      I’m loving the Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander. Light suspense set in the Victorian era.

    8. Kathenus*

      It’s nonfiction, but I’m really loving Born a Crime by Trevor Noah about his life in South Africa. It’s a really engaging story, and you learn so much about the recent history of the country through the story of his life.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Have you read anything by Rainbow Rowell? I love her. My favorites are Attachments and Fangirl.

    10. Lady Jay*

      On a re-read of The Hobbit, because I needed a tale of great-heartedness and courage. Also, it’s funny.

      I’ve also got Born a Crime (Trevor Noah) on audiobook right now. That is *definitely* a book better encountered on audio; Noah does a fantastic job with the range of African dialects-it’s really interesting!

    11. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve just finished The Power by Naomi Alderman – I’m not sure what genre it would fall under but it was incredibly engaging. I really struggled to put it down.

    12. Nacho*

      Working my way through an audio book of Good Omens at the moment, but it’s going slow. I think I’ve still got about 10 hours to go.

    13. Pliant Platypus*

      I am reading Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon- his “series” of books are wonderful and can be read in any order, though I recommend reading them in the order they were published. I also just picked up Robin by Dave Itzkoff, the Robin Williams biography.

    14. Middle School Teacher*

      Check out Amy Stewart’s books! The first one is called Girl Waits With Gun. There are four in the series, about a young woman who becomes a police officer in 1920s New York. Super fun reads!

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I would also recommend A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Super sweet and sad, beautifully written.

    15. Gloucesterina*

      I’m reading Lillian Li’s Number One Chinese Restaurant; just finished Evie Wyld’s Everything Is Teeth (a short graphic novel–more like a graphic short story, in fact!).

    16. Drop Bear*

      I’m (re)reading Breath by Tim Winton – about childhood memories. Just finished Carpentaria by Alexis Wright – she uses the novel to tell the story of her people (the Waanyi) and their land. Both are Australian authors.

    17. Stormfeather*

      Heh, “No fantasy, no sci-fi” knocks out a lot of what I read, but otherwise, some things I’ve been reading recently:

      -Crazy Rich Asians, which was actually one of the books suggested by Alison a few weeks back, so you’ve probably already at least looked at it. But it was entertaining, a little bit realistic, a little bit (okay a lot) sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek, a lot of people that fall completely at different places along the scale of sympathetic-vs.-garbage person.

      -Read the two “Bitch in a Bonnet” books that were talked about in some of the comments here recently, basically a look at the Jane Austen novels through a really bitchy and sardonic lens, with the goal of basically pointing out that Austen is not the sappy romantic writer a lot of people want to peg her as, but was a pretty witty and scathing social commenter. I was torn on these TBH… they entertained me enough to read both of them, and I generally liked the author’s attitude, but a) it’s all basically a summary of the various novels with snarky commentary on the side (and definitely not for someone who hasn’t yet read the books and doesn’t want to be spoiled,) and b) the tone gets a bit overblown and eye-rolly at times (IMO).

      -Been re-reading a bunch of Agatha Christie novels lately, which are some of my comfort go-to books if I’m tired/stressed or under the weather, or just generally standbys for when I want to be reading but don’t have anything new I’m working on ATM. These are classics mysteries, and I don’t really know if suggesting them is helpful since if you like (or can tolerate) mysteries you’ve probably already brushed up against them, but there it is. If you like mysteries at all and for whatever reason haven’t tried Christie, go forth and do so. Some of my particular favorites would be The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, for a good Poirot mystery, or maybe the Thirteen Problems if you like a short story format and want an intro to Miss Marple. Really I could probably suggest more but it’d go on forever.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Love Agatha Christie!! There is a writer who is writing books now in her style (marketed as such) can’t remember her name. Will try to find out and report tomorrow unless someone chimes in tonight with the answer

    18. Villanelle*

      Highly recommend House of Gold by Natasha Solomons – in fact, all of her novels. This one is loosely based on the Rothschild family.

    19. rogue axolotl*

      Highly recommend The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. This is a slight cheat because it does have some Victorian-era speculative stuff to do with time and the ether, but it’s not fantasy in the traditional sense and most of the elements are realistic and drawn from historical events. It’s hard to categorize but it’s fairly literary on a prose and characterization level, plus it has an interesting plot. And a clockwork octopus.

    20. Bluebell*

      Just finished My Ex-life, the latest from Stephen McCauley. I enjoyed it. Also America for Beginners by Leah Franqui. Funny and surprisingly touching at the end.

    21. Portia*

      I just finished Capital, by John Lancaster. It’s set in London 2008, and it’s the interwoven stories of all the residents of a particular street – a wealthy banker, a Polish construction worker, an elderly woman, an artist, etc. Though there were aspects I didn’t like, overall I found it very compelling and beautifully written.

    22. Jaid_Diah*

      I’ve downloaded a lot of books from Gutenberg.com. Oz books, mystery novels by contemporaries of Doyle and Poe, even “Two visits to the tea countries of China”, a travelogue by Robert Fortune.
      I’ve been reading the Oz books, including the ones written by Ruth Plumly Thompson. :-)

    23. Drago Cucina*

      I’m a big mystery reader. Recent great reads include Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison. It’s more of a Why-Done-It. Sarah Bolton’s The Crafstmen is terrorizingly terrific. I’m currently reading The Lying Game by Ruth Ware.

    24. FD*

      It is definitely science fiction, but I’m reading Children of the Star, which is a compilation of three books by Sylvia Louise Engdahl. People might know her better as the author of Enchantress from the Stars.

      I absolutely LOVE it so far. It really speaks to me.

    25. CopperBoom*

      I’m currently reading Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty (of Big Little Lies). I’ve enjoyed all her books so far.

    26. PhyllisB*

      I’m not sure: what literary fiction means. I have asked before and never got a clear answer. Give some examples and maybe I can make some recommendations. I read a bunch, but don’t read sci-fi, war history or porn. No judgement, these genres just don’t interest me.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Literary fiction is a pretty general term that refers to books that aren’t in a genre category. Common/popular genres are sci-fi, fantasy, romance, young adult, etc.

        Literary fiction is outside of that. Generally, literary fiction is going to be what people might consider more ‘high-brow’ novels. This could include books like “The Goldfinch”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Kite Runner”.

        It wouldn’t include: Harry Potter series, Dune series, Twilight series. Very few series. Maybe the Elena Ferrante books would be an exception.

        The reason you’ve never heard it defined clearly is because genres are sort of ill-defined? We can argue, for example, if “The Handmaiden’s Tale” counts as literary fiction or sci-fi. We can argue about whether the whole concept of literary fiction is based on snobbery rather than a meaningful distinction.

        Hope that helps!

        1. publishing anon*

          As someone who used to work in publishing, I can tell you that literary fiction is definitely about snobbery. It’s a term made up for pretentious authors, readers, and editors who think their reading choices are high-brow because they’re not defined by a genre such as sci-fi, fantasy, romance, YA, mystery, etc., which are perceived as lowbrow.

          My way of describing it has always been to say literary fiction focuses on the writing rather than the plot. So, you can have someone like Hemingway who has a great grasp of prose, but his plots are pretty standard. Literary fiction is not typically something like Harry Potter where the plot is intriguing but the writing isn’t great.

          I’m biased, but it’s a pretty awful term that basically tries to shame anyone who enjoys genre fiction. I hate it. There’s also an element of classism in it, as well as bigotry in many other forms since most “literary fiction” is written by the same types of people.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            “My way of describing it has always been to say literary fiction focuses on the writing rather than the plot.”

            Ooh, I love that. I think it makes a lot of sense. And it explains a little why there are certain ‘fantasy’ish novels that feel more like literary fiction to me (like ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ for example).

            But yeah. Just the fact that they call it ‘literary’ fiction, instead of ‘general’ fiction (or something along those lines) implies a sense of superiority. I tend to read across genres pretty often (despite my username) so I can find the term helpful for when I’m craving a certain type of book. But I don’t always find literary fiction to be more challenging than more ‘low-brow’ books anyways.

            1. publishing anon*

              Honestly, the term “literary” fiction was pretty much created to place white straight men and their novels above everyone else, with some token women, people of color, and LGBT authors thrown in for the sake of diversity. They were always critiqued much harsher than white male authors (I had no say in the manuscripts that made it through, but there was a heavy reliance on cishet white male writers).

              I can appreciate a well-written story, but I also read for pleasure and a lot of the time I also want a good story that might be full of mediocre or tropey writing. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s a reason why genre fiction tends to sell better than “literary” fiction in a lot of cases.

              1. rogue axolotl*

                Just to offer a slightly different interpretation–while I agree that the term “literary fiction” and the “literary canon” tends to be pretty loaded and elitist (and full of old white men), I do think the term “literary” in itself has some value. I like genre fiction, but I do think there is a distinction to be drawn between books that are written primarily for entertainment and books that are more focused on the craft of writing, or delivering a message, exploring a theme, etc. I think of it as a spectrum, since plenty of literary books have compelling plots and plenty of genre books are well written and explore interesting ideas. Of course the publishing industry makes it out to be a much starker divide, since the books need to be shelved somewhere in the bookstores, but I can think of plenty of examples of genre fiction that I would consider to have “literary” qualities.

    27. KateS*

      Just read Melmoth by Sarah Perry(also loved her novel, The Essex Serpent) and it’s been a while since I went through a book so very quickly. It’s definitely a bit gothic, so not quite free of fantastical elements but it’s one of the most effortlessly moving books I’ve read recently.

    28. Undine*

      I read Milkman a couple of months ago. It just won the Booker prize. It rests very heavily on the voice of it’s protagonist, so if you don’t like the first couple of pages you aren’t going to like it. I’ve read a lot of books and there are few that don’t feel familiar somehow. I wasn’t completely sold on the ending but this blew me away.

    29. Mystery Bookworm*

      In terms of literary fiction, I just finished “After the Party” by Cressida Connolly and really enjoyed it. Similar(ish) to “Remains of the Day”.

      This year I’ve also read and enjoyed “Swing Time” by Zadie Smith and “The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

    30. Stephanie*

      I’m reading The Divided City: Poverty and Prosperity in Urban America by Alan Mallach. It’s nonfiction that talks about gentrification in the Rust Belt. It’s a bit wonky, but pretty readable.

    31. Dame Judi Brunch*

      I’m re-reading true crime books by Ann Rule. Her books are great because she gives you background on the victim and killer, plus walks you through the investigation, arrest, and trial.
      The victims have a voice in her books.

    32. Marion Ravenwood*

      Help The Witch, by Tom Cox (who used to write for the Guardian). It’s his first short story collection – he’s previously written several books about life in rural England and his various cats. (For cat Twitter, this is the guy who was behind the MYSADCAT account, among others.) There are some supernatural elements to it, so I’m not sure how close that is to ‘no fantasy’, but the way he describes landscapes is really something.

  2. PurpleMonster*

    What techniques does everyone use for kicking a negative thought spiral before it gets out of control? It’s one of my bad habits and gets worse when I’m tired (which, with a toddler, is pretty much always). My particular brand of it is ‘it’s always like this for me’ and ‘I shouldn’t have expected anything better’.

    I feel like if I can snap out of it early I shouldn’t get too far down the rabbit hole, but I can go for days doing it until I get a good pep talk from my husband. It’s not fair to always make him fix it though.

    (Note: I’m fully expecting suggestions of therapy, but for various reasons I’m not interested in that – just looking for self help ideas!)

    1. Ender Wiggin*

      My counsellor taught me this trick. When you notice a bad thought click your fingers beside your ears and tell yourself “stop” then make yourself think about something else. Do this every time you notice the bad thoughts.

      Another thing that helped me was realising that I craved the bad thoughts in a way. I didn’t like them but it was like I was addicted to them. Eventually I realised that even if the thing I was obsessing about got completely fixed that I would just find something else to obsess about. Telling myself “this is more about your desire for obsessing than about [thing I was obsessing about]” also really helped.

      I still have obsessive thoughts a bit but nowhere near as bad.

      1. PurpleMonster*

        You might be on to something with the addiction there…you know when you know it’s not getting you anywhere and should really snap out of it but on some level you’re enjoying the funk? I hadn’t thought about it in detail, but that’s worth considering. Thanks!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Ruts can be comfortable. I think that’s an important insight into breaking out of one.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I was impressed by the line in a song (someone will fill in the blanks here with title and singer), ” We can become addicted to a certain kind of sadness… a resignation to the end…”

        We are all human beings and we do not HAVE TO be victims of circumstance. Take back your autonomy. Deliberately look for the parts that are under your control and you CAN fix.

      3. Parenthetically*

        Telling myself “this is more about your desire for obsessing than about [thing I was obsessing about]” also really helped.

        WHOA. That is a major penny drop for me.

      4. TheBeetsMotel*

        I think that obsessive feeling comes from the idea that the bad thoughts are SAFE. They might suck out loud, but at least you’re used to them; at least you know what to do with them. If they suddenly disappeared, you’d be left wondering what you were missing, because things can’t actually be OKAY, can they? There must be some b.s. lurking around the corner.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The safety of bad thoughts: I remember family members acting All Knowing and being So Sure, So Mature as they launched into why some thing was bad, not good at all.

          Some people can attach a smugness, “See, I knew this was bad before it even started.” They think that makes them look sophisticated/worldly/experienced at life.
          Yeah, okay then.

          It can be a good idea to look at others around us and see if we are just copying what we see without thinking about it.

      5. J*

        “Telling myself ‘this is more about your desire for obsessing than about [thing I was obsessing about]’ also really helped.”

        This is one of the most helpful pieces of advice I have ever, ever received. Thank you.

    2. TL -*

      I don’t tend to spiral but if I’m sulking I give myself 15-60 minutes to think everything is the worst/ nothing ever changes and then after that, I just start listing examples of things that are good/have changed.

    3. Drop Bear*

      Sorry you’re going through this – parenting is hard enough on its own without this! Perhaps the ‘prove it’ approach might work for you. When a ‘spiral’ thought pops into your head, challenge the negative part of your brain to provide some evidence – why shouldn’t you expect better? why are you different from everyone else who does deserve better? etc And when – as is most likely – you can’t provide the evidence, say to yourself something like, ‘ah, this is the old I don’t deserve good things script, but it has no credibility and I [insert your name] do deserve good things/ I [name] am doing my best and don’t deserve mistreatment’ – fit to size as it were.
      Don’t get down on yourself if it takes time – no matter what strategy you use – because it will take time to replace well ingrained scripts – particularly if they have been around since childhood, which they often have been.
      Just want to add – I know you don’t want therapy suggestions but have you been checked for post-natal depression?

      1. CBE*

        This would SO not work for me. My bring would come up with stuff and spiral faster. I do not need my brain to start listing ways I fall short, have screwed up, etc when I am trying to avoid spiraling down!

      2. PurpleMonster*

        Thanks! That’s an interesting way to look at it and I might give it a crack. Yes, I know it’s a long game – just like changing any habit – but I don’t want my daughter to grow up hearing me say the stuff I come out with sometimes.

        I have considered PND but I don’t think it ticks enough of the boxes for that; it’s more a personality quirk/habit that’s exacerbated by tiredness, stress and not enough downtime. So pretty much everything about life with a toddler!!! ;-)

      3. clunker*

        I would actually recommend the opposite? My brain is really good at proving negative facts. But it’s actually also good at proving positive facts. But if I challenged myself to justify my negative beliefs, I’d just successfully justify them. On the other hand, when I challenge myself to disproving at least my worst/most catastrophic beliefs, I do pretty good at debunking those too.

        I think it’s also good to step back any time you are thinking something like that and go “What would I tell a dear and close friend who was confiding these thoughts with me?”. A lot of us are much better at being kind to other people than we are ourselves. I’m aware that this can also go badly, depending on the person. For example, at my worst I’d have said that I’d be just as mean to a dear and close friend as I would be to myself. (Even if it wasn’t true, the desire to be mean to myself was pretty strong back then)

    4. Lena Clare*

      I just try to notice it. I don’t beat myself up for having negative thoughts – I get loads of them, about myself and other people :) I have OCD so here are some useful techniques that work for me:

      I say to myself “this is a thought” and try to watch it pass by like a cloud in the sky, then I pay attention to what I’m doing by saying it in my head and noticing the sensations e.g. “I’m sitting at my desk, the chair is firm, I’m typing a letter, I’m looking for errors and correcting them, I’m printing the letter…” etc. I *do not* try to change the thought by thinking it away!
      I try to do some conscious positive affirmations during the day anyway, so when I notice a negative thought and do the things above, I might then follow up with some positive affirmations about myself.
      I try not to be hard on myself.
      I do mindfulness meditation formally at the beginning of the day, then try to notice my breathing throughout the day too which seems to help.

      1. Ann Non*

        What you describe reminds me of a series of mindfulness meditations I do, which I totally recommend for OP. One of the meditation topics is “can’t sleep” and in particular negative thought spirals. They suggest doing a number of different things, like greeting the negative thoughts like an old acquaintance or playing whack-a-mole with your thoughts. It took me some practice but I have become better at (a) recognizing that it’s happening and (b) engaging with the meditation enough to actually let go of the thoughts.
        (The app I use is called buddhify; I hope it’s not against the rules to recommend it here. I really like that they have a number of different voices, and you only pay once and own the content. Unfortunately they don’t seem to have a trial meditation on their website.)

        1. Julia*

          I also recommend meditation for this! I’ve become much better at letting “bad” feelings pass since I started using Calm before bed.

    5. Loopy*

      This was recommended to me for spiraling stress/anxiety thoughts but I think it may apply. I had trouble switching gears after work- I’d keep thinking and obsessing about frustrations and things to do and a therpist suggested forcing myself to do an activity, even for just 10-20 minutes, that took my whole focus and forced my out of the never ending loop. It has to be something active, where your brain is engaged and can’t continue on the spiraling.

      This might not always be possible, but it’s worth considering when you can grab ten minutes to do something else. I found a few things I could easily stop and do for ten minutes, like reading or a challenging craft project I could pick up and put down easily. Or even online research for something you need to purchase!

    6. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve always lived by something a former manager of mine told me: worry only about the things you can change. I always try to keep this in mind when I’m starting to think a lot of negative thoughts or I’m worrying too much about something. Is it something I can change? If yes, what do I need to do to change it? How easy is it to change? Is it worth the struggle/cost/energy/etc. to try and change it, or does it make more sense to accept it and move on? If I can’t change it, then I just stop thinking about it, or find a way to accept and move on.

      1. Kathenus*

        This is great stuff. I have tried to focus on this as well but you describe it really well here and I’ll definitely steal some of these questions/tools to get better at it.

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        (Scrolling through late Sunday afternoon, looking for bright blue lines.) Great advice. There’s always something new to learn here. Thank you.

      3. Spirals*

        I think that is most of what I worry about. Can I change this? Could I change it if I just worked a little bit harder, or a little bit smarter? Am I working hard enough to change it? What if I hit a roadblock, how would I deal with it… etc. etc. This can be a spiral in itself.

    7. matcha123*

      I do the same thing, and when I realize I’m doing it, I stop, tell myself “you are doing this, again,” and then try to refocus my thoughts.
      I don’t know if I can explain this well, but when I am trying to stop a habit, I think about the times when it is the worst (usually right before my period), make a mental note of those times and a promise to myself to stop and regroup. It doesn’t stop the thoughts, but it does help cut down on the time I spend on them. Especially since I keep reminding myself and being on the lookout.

    8. LadyRegister*

      Mine is a bit more random but I learned there’s a TedTalk that supports it! Look up “Emotional Hygeine” if you’re curious. Basically when I would start ruminating/spiraling, I would find a magazine or news article and read it. On average, that takes about two minutes, which is just how long your brain needs to change gears. Didn’t matter what the article was about though I like the health and science section on google news. After two minutes I’ve created just enough mental distance from the initial crummy thought that I can usually set it aside and move on.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thank you for this – I’m going to try it. There are some other great suggestions here, but I know from experience I’m not very good at Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or similar. I keep a pile of stuff to read by my bed (newsletters, catalogs – usually stuff that comes in the mail) so I already have the raw materials ready to try this!

    9. Ismis*

      I have a good habits app where I can tick things off daily (drinking water, good mental health day, exercise etc).

      When I was down, I would always think “it’s always like this for me” but looking at the app showed me that no, today is the first bad day this month/the last few months. Just having that check would often be enough for me to snap out of it. Sometimes, I’ve had a stern talk with myself “Ok – you’ve had 100 good days and today you’ve had 5 bad minutes. Do you really want to lose your streak or do you want to get a coffee and get over yourself?” It took a while to get into but I found it so helpful for me.

      Best of luck! I know it’s tough to retrain your brain.

    10. Last llama in town*

      Not sure if this will be helpful, but as someone with 3 under 5, I am often frazzled. My toddler is the one that always pushes my buttons though, and I finally found that if I picture whichever kid is making me insane at their best, it really helps me manage them at their worst.

      So when toddler is in full meltdown, I close my eyes and picture her triumphantly pooping in the toilet and grinning ear to ear because she gets to wear her Elmo undies. Or waking me up with a wet kiss proudly telling me she waited until the sun was up to come get me.

    11. LGC*


      I don’t think this works for everyone, but I almost logic my way out temporarily. It’s like…okay, this Bad Thing is happening, but I know it really means X and Y, and X and Y are manageable.

      I’ve also found just…saying what I feel out loud helps. Hearing or seeing what my thoughts are helps me depersonalize it.

    12. BeeBeeAte*

      If I catch it early enough, I pretend the voice is a twelve year old boy making fun of me over the internet (mine is named Kyle, but pick your favorite twelve year old boy name) so I can go “shut up Kyle” and try and move on. Surprisingly, it works!

    13. Catherine*

      1. Headspace meditations

      2. I deliberately schedule feeling-crappy time. When I catch myself in a spiral I can tell myself, “no, crying is on the calendar for 9PM, save it till then.” When the scheduled time comes around I give myself up to half an hour to just obsess, cry, fret. But it’s absolutely key that I keep my promise and give myself that time, otherwise I learn not to trust myself and can’t contain the spiral.

    14. Aphrodite*

      I mentally “grab” the depressing thought(s) as though I could physically grasp them give them a good shake, shout at them and throw them out the door. I actually make myself feel how it is to restrain them. I hear myself shout (not out loud unless I am alone) at them, yelling that they are not welcome, they were not invited and they are to GET OUT NOW. Then I throw them out the door and slam it shut.

      And for the most part it works because I am concentrating on tackling them and throwing them out. It feels so good to take charge, to almost physically fight them and win.

    15. Operational Chaos*

      A small thing that reinforced everything else I did- I’m a compulsive phone user due to my job. I’m always tapping the screen to see if I missed a message, email or call. So, since I look at it so often, I made a reminder to go off daily with my morning alarm that features a phrase related to my bad habit and then I don’t save it as complete until the end of the day when I’m getting ready for bed.

      That way whenever I look at my phone (which I know I’ll do dozens of times throughout the day) I get that little bump of mindfulness to keep me on track.

      Small and simple, but it’s helped having that minor reminder through the day.

    16. Nervous Nellie*

      Happy Saturday, Purple Monster!
      I see a mention of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the comments here – I second that! You can find a very helpful summary with thought-stopping scripts in the wonderful little book Feeling Good by David Burns. It can take a little practice, but his methods can really shut this down fast, and free your mind for happier stuff. I have used this book for 20years for just this – I hope it helps you too! Cheering for you!

    17. Wishing You Well*

      Lots of good comments on this topic!
      When stress gets too high, stand up and do any kind of aerobics for less than 5 minutes – anything that gets your heart pumping. Then you’ll be more interested in sitting back down than that negative thought. This works for me.
      Meditation and yoga work better for some. Repetitive thoughts could be OCD instead of a bad habit. Also, consider you might be overloaded with responsibilities and need relief on a regular basis. It’s okay to ask for it.
      I’m sending good thoughts your way!

    18. TeacherLady*

      A couple things are helping me:

      1) Having recently realized that I am actually using the self-deprecating/negative spiral to avoid something. Either feeling something I don’t want to feel or dealing with something or whatever. For me, it’s an effective avoidance technique. So I’m trying to now identify what it is I might be trying to avoid.

      2) I’ve been working on this with a therapist and it’s been really effective for me: noticing the negative thought, acknowledging it (ie: not doing the anxiety spiral of trying to talk myself out of it, which is exhausting), and then letting it be (rather than clinging to it and running with it). Somehow, this approach lets the thought pass without spiraling into it.

      I don’t know if I’m explaining it well, but it’s been so helpful for me.

    19. Koala dreams*

      Sometimes it helps just to recognize the pattern. I’m often in a sad mood in the evenings, so I just tell myself: this is just the evening depression. You could make a point of telling yourself: Oh, this is just tiredness/this is just a cycle my brain has been stuck in. That wouldn’t take the negative thoughts away, but hopefully make it easier for you to just live with them.

      I also use an imagination technique: I imagine a shoe box. Then I imagine putting all the sad thoughts in the shoe box. Then I imagine burying the shoe box under a glacier in the North Pole. Then I think to myself: the bad thoughts are all far, far away, no point in caring about them.

      A third idea is the diary or worry list. Take five minutes and list everything that worries you. Decide that you will let those things go for the moment, and look through them at a later point, when you have more energy. When you have had a full night’s sleep, you can look at the worries and see that they are not as urgent as the felt when you was tired.

      Good luck!

      1. MommaCat*

        I use a similar imagination technique that you mention: if I find myself stuck in a thought, I mentally wrap the thought in one of those memory-balls like in “Inside Out” and place it on an imaginary shelf in a library of other thoughts like it. Then, I find another memory-ball to enter. This way, I’ve got access to the thought if I need it, but I can set it aside. Hope this helps!

      2. Spirals*

        I do the same. When I go to bed, it helps slow down my frantic brain to visualize writing things down so I don’t forget them (even if I don’t actually write it down). It feels like the burden of remembering leaves my brain, and I find I actually remember it better in the morning.

        I also imagine a box on my body, maybe a big heavy treasure chest. I put all the problems in it, and as I put the reeeally big problems I can feel it get heavier, crushing me a little bit. Then I close the chest and push it off me onto the floor. It makes me feel so much lighter, and I know I can pick those concerns up in the morning if I need them, but I don’t have to hold them now.

    20. ..Kat..*

      When I recognize myself doing this, I take several slow, deep breaths and try to push the ‘reset’ button on my brain.

    21. Double A*

      So I have a rule. It’s “No feelings before breakfast.” It’s shorthand for “no taking bad feelings seriously if there’s probably some physiological reason you’re feeling crummy.” It means I’m allowed to wallow in whatever crappy, angry, negative thoughts I’m having, but I know I can’t take them seriously until I’ve eaten/slept/exercised. Because honestly I enjoy the wallow sometimes, it becomes like a guilty pleasure to just think these ridiculous angry, bitter, negative thoughts in a time restricted way. Now, I’m pretty far along in my self-taught CBT process that I can do this, and my negative thoughts are almost entirely contained, so I’m not sure if you can wallow where you’re at. But I really agree with suggestions that let you entertain the thoughts at specific times.

      And again for me I have that little catch phrase that reminds me basically not to take my thoughts too seriously if I feel myself going off the rails. (This can also help w other people who are spiraling, like toddlers…rather than take their mood super seriously, you ask yourself if they’re tired/hungry/thirsty/ need affection etc. and address that need).

  3. Ender Wiggin*

    Anyone out there who’s been in a relationship with someone who had depression? I’m recovering from a bout of depression and my husband and I have been arguing a lot. I want to understand better how it was for him when I was sick. A view from the other side would be really helpful.

    I think he’s got some anger at me for basically being totally useless for months and him having to take on all the responsibility of house and kids. We both work full time and are usually very good at sharing all these responsibilities but I basically checked out for a few months and he had to do pretty much everything. He completely denies any anger but I’m sure it’s there he’s not very good at showing his feelings. I don’t know if there’s any thing else he would be angry at me for. I didn’t get violent or anything like that so I’m assuming it must be the dumping all the responsibility on him that’s causing it.

    We have an appointment with my counsellor this Thursday. She has helped me with the depression and she also does relationship counselling and she’s offered to refer us to a different counsellor she recommends if husband would prefer. Any idea what I should expect at this session, or any advice for what to bring up?

    1. TL -*

      He is probably at least frustrated with the circunstances. I’m not sure that you’ll be the person he wants to talk to about it – especially right now or if your depression is an on/off condition.
      Having his own counseller or time with friends/ family (whoever he talks to) might be helpful though.

      1. Ender Wiggin*

        I’m still on antidepressants and will be for another few months but I haven’t had a bad day in over a month now. My counsellor reckons I’m better. Its not chronic depression – it was post natal after a miscarriage. I don’t think there’s any reason to believe it will come back. It was one bout of a few months in almost a decade we’ve been together so I don’t think it can be ongoing frustration about a long term condition.

        Unfortunately he is not very open about his feelings. He’s a bit of a macho man that way. He talks to family and friends on the phone and I know he tells them some stuff but I don’t know how much.

        There is no way he would ever go to a counsellor without me to talk about his feelings. He’s only going because I asked him to go. I think he would really benefit from individual counselling but couples counselling is as far as I have got him to agree. Maybe I can get him to go by himself by telling him he needs to go to talk about me. He would do that if he thought it would help me. But he wouldn’t do it on his own behalf.

        1. TL -*

          A month is probably not enough time for him to trust you’re better and/or able to deal with whatever he’s feeling. Even if you’ve known him for almost a decade, it’s going to take a while for him to rebuild your trust. Also, remember he’s not in your head and he has to go off external evidence rather than internal and it’s going to take a while for that to add up for him.

          Definitely work on the fighting/anger and couple’s counseling sounds like a good idea for that, but I know if I was in his shoes, I would just need time and space to get through it.

          I’m really happy to hear you’re feeling better and really sorry about the miscarriage.

        2. Julia*

          I feel like if it was post-natal, so after you carried your husband’s baby, he should cut you some slack. I’d be really annoyed if after I ended up depressed due to carrying our baby, which isn’t fun at all, my husband would give me attitude about it.

          1. TL -*

            My guess is the husband was grieving the miscarriage as well and some of his feelings are wrapped up in having to deal with that without his spouse, who is probably his main emotional support.
            So I don’t think getting annoyed is the right response, though I do agree he shouldn’t be picking fights.

            1. Ender Wiggin*

              There’s definitely some of that going on. Plus I was definitely more in favour of having another pregnancy than him in the first place. We had a previous loss and he was worried it would happen again but I did loads of research on the Internet on statistics and health and age and convinced him the risk wasn’t that high, so he probably feels on some level like the miscarriage is my fault for convincing him everything would be alright.

              I think you’re right maybe I’m expecting him to accept I’m better too quickly.

          2. Observer*

            Which would just make things worse. He’s not angry at her for losing the child. But has anyone AT ALL even addressed HIS feelings? As you point out, the child was his, too. But as bad as people, especially medical professionals, are about dealing with post miscarriage grief with women, when it comes to men they are impossible.

            So, it sounds like hubby has unresolved grief that’s not been addressed and on top of this he’s had to deal with the his wife’s total non-functionality. And, not only does no acknowledge that he has a legitimate issue, he’s also not allowed to feel anger – which is a totally normal reaction in this kind of situation. And, he’s probably also dealing with some guilt, especially if he’s getting a lot of “Well, it’s YOUR child she lost, so it YOUR fault” type of vibes.

            He needs some way to deal with both the grief and anger, of course. And a good counselor sounds like a GREAT idea. But understanding and acknowledging that he’s had his own issues to deal with here is a good starting point.

            1. Observer*

              I just want to make something clear here: I don’t think that the OP is expressing such an attitude. But as another commenter pointed out, this attitude is prevalent enough that he probably feels it himself and he’s almost certainly getting it from others.

            2. Julia*

              He’s allowed to feel anger, but not at OP. She’s suffering physically and emotionally from this, and if he’s angry, he needs to deal with that by resolving it a different way. Apparently he refuses to see a therapist, too. Of course he’s allowed to grieve, but being annoyed at his wife, who has suffered the same loss, and dealt with postpartum hormones and pain, isn’t the way to do it.

              1. Spirals*

                Sure, but I can definitely see him feeling resentment that he also suffered the loss and didn’t get to check out and not take care of kids/chores for months, in fact, he had to work even harder. If he’s not good at thinking through/expressing his emotions, he might not be able to process this resentment, and the guilt for feeling that way, on his own. I don’t think Ender doubling down on how he handled this the wrong way will get him to cut her slack for how she handled it.

              2. TL -*

                He is absolutely allowed to feel anger at the OP – whether or not and/or how he should express are a different conversation, but on some level, he needed her to be there for him and she wasn’t. That is a very reasonable thing to get angry about. There are clear extenuating circumstances that should greatly shape how he responds and what he does with his feelings, but his feelings are not wrong or unjustified.

                And in relationships, this kind of thing happens – life happens and you sometimes can’t uphold your commitments so you do the best you can and then you deal with the aftermath when it comes. This is the aftermath; he has a right to be angry and hurt and annoyed and that is in no way minimized by the OP’s experience. It just means he needs to work it out in a way that isn’t fighting with the OP.

        3. Overeducated*

          How was he after the miscarriage, was he able to talk about feelings then? If he has some anger under the surface it could be related to that, not aimed at you specifically. I think sometimes men turn sadness into anger to express it. Just another possibility. I am sorry for your loss and your illness.

          1. Ender Wiggin*

            There wasn’t really time for him to express his feelings then. I spent three weeks in bed exhausted from blood loss then the depression kicked in bad.

        4. Red*

          If there was a miscarriage involved, maybe he’s grieving too. He didn’t carry a baby like you did, but he probably had some hopes and dreams about the pregnancy. Maybe it would help him to have a counselor of his own.

    2. Drop Bear*

      I’m happy to hear you’re recovering.
      I was in a relationship with someone who suffered from depression. What I recall from the times they were suffering through a bout, is just how tired I was – physically from all the extra work, but mostly emotionally – from worrying about them (including worrying I would lose them to suicide), from being careful about what I said so I didn’t make them feel I was blaming them for how I felt, and so on.
      And sometimes I did get angry – because I was so tired, because I was grieving about what I was missing (the person they used to be), because I couldn’t help them, and, if I’m honest, because occasionally it did feel just for minute that they were taking advantage of their illness ( I knew rationally they weren’t, but our minds aren’t always rational, especially when we’re tired). But I’d say 95% of the time I wasn’t angry at *them* – I was angry because I was tired and felt powerless – angry for them in a way.
      And there were many times when my partner thought I was angry when I wasn’t – it was their jerk brain trying to make them feel bad. And I could tell them I wasn’t angry until I was blue in the face but they didn’t believe me – which sometimes made me angry – their jerk brain’s self fulfilling prophecy as it were.
      So maybe your husband is angry and doesn’t want to tell you, or maybe it’s your depressed brain seeing anger that isn’t there.
      I think there were more ‘real’ anger when my partner was nearing full health again – partly perhaps because I felt a little safer being honest about how I felt because I wasn’t so worried about precipitating a crisis, partly because the exhaustion was becoming too much for me, and partly because I was impatient they weren’t getting better ‘faster’. (Not something I’m proud of, but I did think sometimes they should just hurry up and get better now they knew how to do it)
      We didn’t go to couples counselling – I went and spoke to someone to get things of my chest and learn some coping strategies, and my partner kept seeing their own therapist, so I can’t tell you what to expect, but from my experience I’d say your husband needs someone of his own to talk to. Some people aren’t sharers though – joint might be all he’s comfortable with because he’s doing that for you.

      1. Ender Wiggin*

        I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. He might feel like it’s safe to get angry now that I’m not going to fall apart anymore so all the anger he’s been bottling up is coming out.

        All of this is really hopeful its making me think I just really need to give him time more than anything else.

      2. Nita*

        Yes, this. We went through a family crisis this summer, and my husband was the one dealing with it head-on, while I had to keep everything else together – including taking care of the kids no matter what. I’m not angry at him, at all. I know he did the right thing. But. When it was all sort of over, I had a lot of anger just come rushing out because I thought I could finally stop holding myself together with paper clips. Also because I thought it was all legit over, and… it sort of wasn’t… and I still had to watch them alone for another couple weeks while he ran around attending to things that were not life and death matters any more, and I was completely out of patience. And I was worried, and trying to be understanding but also something inside of me was going “hello, are you blind?! I’m sick and trying to hold down my job and can you at least come home at 6 PM instead of 10???” And sometimes a little of that inner voice would come out and it wasn’t pretty.

    3. Loopy*

      I have a partner who has depression and what I personally would find helpful is coming up with a plan for if it happens again. I feel so helpless and have absolutely no idea how to proceed sometimes. Maybe having a plan for support for the kids, like a modest a savings account set aside to hire temp help for cooking/cleaning/babysitting during difficult periods would put him at ease. Something he knows he can turn to if you can’t be 100%. Even if you don’t expect it again, being willing to both put some plan in place may go a ways to easing his worries.

    4. kerlin*

      My partner is more or less constantly depressed. Some days worse, some days better. Things that would help me:

      – communication: it’s ok if I have to pick up slack, but I need to know that he’s not going to be able to do things, instead of him promising to do things and then…not, which just makes me think that not only do I have to do everything, I have to double-check everything, and notice everything, etc.
      – honesty: tied to the above; if he’s not going to be up to something, he needs to tell me, instead of passive-aggressively snarking about how I’m forcing him to do X or he never does a good enough job or whatever. Or at the very least if he says those things (which, depression lies; I get that he’s blurting out what his jerkbrain is telling him) when he has a moment to reflect, an apology would be nice.
      – owning up to it: oftentimes if I am in “do the things” mode (because that’s how I cope) he gets really angry at me and I have to remind him that I am not doing things AT him. I am simply doing them, because they need to get done. Like, I’m not cleaning the kitchen in some subliminal message that he should not have stacked dishes and ignored them while I was at work, I’m just trying to clean the kitchen. Maybe your husband feels a little bit like while he was taking care of things, you resented him for it because you felt like he was doing it to remind you that you couldn’t.

      It’s really, really, really hard to have a partner with depression. Obviously it’s not as hard as having the depression yourself, and I am so sorry that you’re dealing with your own illness. But it’s REALLY hard because not only do you have to do everything, you have to calibrate everything you say and do, and you’re worrying constantly. You feel like everything you do makes it worse, or at the very least you can try your hardest to make it better but still be unsuccessful. One of my (not great!) coping mechanisms is to shut down emotionally. If I feel less, then that makes it easier to cope with the thousand tiny emotional paper cuts that my partner inflicts while he’s in a bad place. That can often appear as resentment. If you feel better, but he’s still in coping mode, it may seem like he’s angry, yeah. That makes sense to me.

      I mean, he might also feel some resentment because here’s the thing: someone he loves very much is feeling horribly, and making his life more difficult, and there’s no one to blame. Resentment is somewhat natural in those circumstances because the human brain often wants to find some kind of scapegoat, and resentment at the void doesn’t really work, even though that’s where it’s appropriately directed. It’s really hard to be all light touch and understanding and giving someone space and being careful for months. It just is. I’ve had years of practice and I’m still not great at it. It’s really hard mental work, on top of the really hard physical work that can result from taking on all the work in a two person household. (Sometimes, though, you have to take the person at their word: if he denies he’s not angry, then at a certain point you have to say “I’m going to choose to believe you.” And if he does something that is making you think he’s angry, like he’s really short or curt with you, you can say, “I feel like when you phrase things like that/use that tone you’re angry or frustrated with me.” For me, I know I sometimes come across as angry when I’m working very hard to simply appear neutral.)

      Please, please don’t take this as me “blaming” you or anything like that! I’m so, so sorry that you’ve been suffering, and all my love and support to you as well. I’m just trying to give you some of my perspective and experience in as realistic and thoughtful way as possible. I think that couples counselling might be a good option for both of you to air your feelings.

      1. Ender Wiggin*

        Thanks for taking the time to post. Yes I do think he’s still maybe in coping mode. He seems to interpret a lot of what I say as negatively as possible for example. I don’t think he believes I’m better.
        It’s probably not helping that I have really low blood pressure and one of our kids is not sleeping well at all so I’m pretty much constantly tired. I am doing my best to do my fair share of housework now though and I’m definitely doing more than half of the childcare at the moment. But he still seems to think I’m doing nothing.

        1. kerlin*

          That’s really hard, and I’m sorry. <3 You describe your depression as lasting a few months – in some ways, he may have adjusted to a new normal, and it may take time to adjust back. He may also have some adjacent depression because watching people you love suffer is agonizing. You suggested above that he may also be grieving and that seems realistic.

          My partner frequently interprets things I say as negatively as possible. One tactic that has been working recently is for me to say, calmly and in a very matter-of-fact way, "That's not at all what I said." I sometimes restate the same thing, and say "I'm simply trying to say this. It's hard/not fair/makes me sad when you are adding things on to what I say. I love you, and I need you to listen to me and try to hear what I'm saying."

          Please note too that all of my advice is trying to come from a place of understanding and compassion and benefit of the doubt. It's not fair to you if he's just holding on to bitterness and not trying to move forward himself. That's just crappy. He may also be feeling sad, helpless, etc., but part of the deal of being partnered with someone who is depressed is that you have to be willing at times to not keep track of the score, and just let it go. Couples therapy may help you both get to that place as well.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yep, this is good stuff. My husband often interprets things in the most negative light, and I’ve had to learn to stop and ask what he’s reacting to and remind him that I’m a person who loves him and is not out to manipulate/passive-aggressively criticize/punish him. We both deal with anxiety/depression and have spent a good amount of time over the years of our marriage reminding each other to believe the best about each other.

        2. Nita*

          He probably needs time to really accept you’re better. It took me a few weeks after things settled down. Also, low blood pressure and being dragged out of bed are a difficult combination! I hope your bad sleeper improves.

    5. ThatGirl*

      My husband has cyclical depression and anxiety.

      It can really suck to feel like your spouse has checked out, or isn’t making an effort to “fix” things. I know, deep down, that he struggles to just function on his own sometimes so it’s not always fair to assume he doesn’t care or isn’t trying. But it can feel that way. He may not be angry, but he may have other feelings he can’t quite verbalize.

      Communication is so key, honestly. And I suspect your husband could use a break — a gesture of some time for himself or whatever he values. He could possibly benefit from his own counselor too, at least for a few sessions.

      1. nice going angelica*

        This resonates with me too. I am frustrated that my husband can’t shoulder his portion of managing our household, and then frustrated with myself for not extending more generosity of spirit when he’s suffering. I am angry that he seems to be wallowing and doing nothing that improves the situation, and then angry at myself because I know how impossible basic stuff feels when you’re in the middle of something like this.

        It’s really hard to know how to show up, or to even process the dissonant feelings. I feel frustrated and angry, but what am I going to do, yell at my depressed husband because his depression is bumming me out? Therapy really helped me to recognize that it is okay for me to have limits and not want to structure my life around making my husband feel as better as he can feel. But it’s really hard to be in that in-between space, with a lot of feelings that make you feel like an asshole, but also a lot of reasonable needs that you don’t feel like you can ask your partner to meet.

        1. Parenthetically*

          “what am I going to do, yell at my depressed husband because his depression is bumming me out?”

          This is my narrative all. the. time.

      2. Parenthetically*

        My husband too. And tbh I DO get angry when he doesn’t call his counselor to set up his appointments. I DO get angry when I feel like he’s making it my job to talk him through everything, AND when he’s shutting me out and won’t let me talk to him. I recognize that it’s not really fair to do that, but it does make me angry — not always with him but with the situation.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Just a side thought: My licensed social worker friend won’t do both individual counseling and couples counseling for the same person. She would refer you to another counselor for the couples counseling.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      ” He completely denies any anger but I’m sure it’s there he’s not very good at showing his feelings. I don’t know if there’s any thing else he would be angry at me for. ”

      I think this brings you back to square one. If it’s not your depression that is the source of his anger then what is?
      Telling him or surmising what is making him angry will probably only make him angrier because it’s an assumption without real basis and it takes away his autonomy.

      Go back to the symptom. You guys are fighting a lot? Okay, so ask him why he is arguing. I bet the both of you need some real rest. He sounds like he is exhausted and you are, too. It’s really tough for two exhausted people to have a meaningful conversation.

      So my best thought here is rather than deciding what is bothering him, get him to put into words what is bothering him. He may prefer to go to counseling alone to begin sorting this. I think that it would be meaningful in the long run, for you guys to make a plan so you can get some real rest on a regular basis, too.

    8. Ender Wiggin*

      Thanks to all who’ve commented. I don’t have the emotional bandwidth right now to really consider all the responses but I will take the time tomorrow to really read through and think about all you’ve said.

    9. LilySparrow*

      My husband & I took turns being depressed after a major life upheaval and loss.

      When I was the one coping, I used anger as fuel to get me through all the things that needed to be done. It feels powerful to be angry. It gives you physical and mental energy to keep going when you are depleted.

      Sometimes I (silently) used something my husband did or failed to do as the object of my anger. And occasionally that spilled out in pointless arguments or conflict. I realize now that none of it was really about him, it was just my rather dysfunctional coping mechanism.

      Perhaps your husband does have some free-floating anger around the situation, but is self-aware enough to understand it’s not actually your fault.

      Often, “I’m not angry at you” means simply that: “I know it’s not your fault.”

      Unpacking this stuff is a gradual process, and stressful. I see from your reply below that dealing with the emotions of this thread is a lot for you. Of course it is!

      It sounds like he doesn’t want to dump on you, and that’s a good thing.You don’t have to jump up and address everything at once just because you’re feeling noticeably better. Take it slow.

      It made a big difference to us when I just started saying, “I don’t want to fight.” Just because a fight started, doesn’t mean you have to keep on with it.

      Sometimes that intentional de-escalation let us start communicating more constructively. It helped build trust.

    10. Lissa*

      One thing that was frustrating for me, is not feeling like I was allowed to have a bad day myself. Anything I was dealing with was automatically not going to be as bad as what he was, and often my friends would respond with an attitude like I was awful for reacting to it, sort of the “oh, YOU are suffering? Think of how much worse it is for him!” I did, constantly! And some of this was my own jerkbrain but I would say definitely, feeling obligated to bottle up my own emotions and present a happy, caring face all the time. And also? NONE of this came from him. It all came from me, friends, and society.

    11. PrettyMuchALurker*

      One more thing that may be contributing to his feelings is that men don’t often get a lot of support for pregnancy-related issues with their spouses. When I was in grad school, I got pregnant with my first child, and I had a terrible, high risk pregnancy in which both my daughter and I almost died. My professors were extremely accommodating for me and supportive. My husband got nothing, no support, no extra time on assignments, no breaks. Nothing. Even though he was the one doing all the housework because I was on bedrest, even though he was taking care of me all day long every day, even though he was making himself sick with worry about me. I suspect that men also don’t get much support in the aftermath of a miscarriage from sources outside the marriage and that he is probably wrestling with a lot of emotions without getting any acknowledgement/support for them.

    12. Liet-Kinda*

      As someone who has been in your husband’s position, my advice would be to listen to him, validate what he went through and what he’s feeling, and give him the space to express what he’s feeling. That may not be anger; it may be stress, overwhelmedness, frustration, lack of sleep, grief, lack of emotional support and outlet, or probably all of those at the same time. Being responsible for the house and kids for months would take it out of anybody, and grieving the loss of a pregnancy on top of it would be a heavy emotional load to bear. And he may feel that because there’s an organic cause, he’s not allowed to feel or express any of those emotions. As a hopefully relatively conscious guy, he may feel that he just has to silently shoulder them, or that expressing them would be misogynist or unfairly load you.

      And he may not believe you’re better yet! Or he may, but may be waiting for the other shoe to drop, or wondering when the next multi-month checkout might be. Those, too, are valid fears.

      My feeling is that he mostly needs the space and safety to acknowledge and being dealing with what he’s experienced, and for that to be a safe thing for him to do.

    13. Double A*

      My husband has bipolar disorder II which manifests as mostly depression. It’s a little different from your situation because it’s chronic, so coping with it has always been built into our relationship and planning. So some of our strategies might not work that well for you because they are long-term, but I’ll give you a snapshot.

      I have a lot of patience with my husband, in part because he is so apologetic about his limitations. Not that I need him to be grovelling to me, I know he recognizes the work I do. He is also unwavering in his respect and gratitude and love for me, and that in turn is extremely sustaining for me. Like, that is what refills my well and allows me to keep giving. And I’m perpetually grateful for him and what he brings to our relationship. So mutual respect and gratitude gets us through day to day.

      Another huge aspect of what gets us through is that he trusts me. He trusts me to have perspective when he’s depressed (like, he’ll think he’s never felt this way before and I can remind him it’s happened just like this before and we got through the worst of it in a few days). And he’s learned to trust my report of my own feelings.

      I really don’t get angry at him, but if he tries to ascribe to me how I must be feeling in response to him, I do get mad. Because that’s not fair, and a lot of times it’s him catastrophizing in an attempt to prepare for the worst, and it’s making my feelings all about him and that’s also not fair. So my biggest advice is not to make assumptions about how he feels, and don’t push him to tell you how he feels, but do ask him and let him know you’re open to listen and talk.

      Also counselling sounds like a great idea. I’m sorry for your loss, and I hope your family gets the support you need.

  4. anonymous letter*

    I bought a house in a new neighborhood less than a year ago. Yesterday I got an anonymous letter in the mail from a neighbor complaining about what I have kept in my yard and driveway. It specifically named everything that my boyfriend or I ever put outside in the last year, even things in my side yard and things that are no longer there. I do not belong to an association and I don’t believe there are any town rules regarding what can and cannot be put in your driveway or yard. I am checking with the town on this but haven’t heard back yet.

    Regardless of whether the stuff in my driveway is an eyesore or too much or just fine by your standards (because no one will agree), and ignoring whether you would want to live in the same neighborhood as someone who keeps things in their driveway, what would you do in this situation as the homeowner to make yourself feel better, calm down, and think rationally about what to do next?

    Knowing that someone has been watching my house so closely, and pretty clearly harboring a lot of anger directed at me for almost a year makes me feel unsafe. The letter also made it clear that while this kind of stuff is fine in (names of towns that I guess the letter written feels is low class??), it is not okay in (insert my new town name). So I also do not want to live where my neighbors think only certain people are the “right” kind of neighbor, especially since I am not white. I alternate between drafting really snarky, angry response letters to just wanting to sell my house and move out as quickly as possible.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Well, call me paranoid but if you’re not white in a mostly white neighbourhood…I think that might just be the “problem” this letter writer has with you. Consider it the racist version of “bitch eating crackers”, if you will.
      I think you’ve done well to contact the city (just to be on the safe side – who knows, there might actually be regulations you’re not aware of). I’d also keep that letter (maybe write down the date when you received it) in case you get any more, because at that point I think you might have a case for harassment (any lawyers/cops wanting to weigh in here?) – especially if there’s no law or regulation against the stuff in your driveway.
      As for drafting a snarky, angry response letter…You can, but do not show it to anyone. Write it, then destroy it (just to get it out of your system – I find it cathartic, personally). Maybe have a cup of tea/coffee/chocolate milk/whatever to calm down a bit.

    2. Lora*

      Does your neighborhood or town have a Facebook group or something like that? Maybe you could use that to get a sense of whether it’s a sort of Peyton Place or whether this is just one weirdo.

      Most neighborhoods I’ve lived in have at least one nosy jerk who literally has nothing better to do all day than this sort of thing. When I lived in a rural area they had nothing to do because of lots of unemployment, and the uhhh…”economically anxious”… would sit on their porches watching the neighborhood and passing commentary/judgment on various details. Live in a suburban area now and there’s two retired couples and a snooty family across the street who go for walks around the neighborhood and do the same. But, it’s only a few of them and I have other neighbors who are nice people, who made a point of telling me, “yeah, they are weirdos, don’t worry though – come over and have a glass of wine sometimes!”

      I don’t think you’ll find a neighborhood totally bereft of nosy weirdos though. It’s mostly a matter of how many there are. Even when I lived in major cities there was always someone, though usually only one or two in any given apartment building.

      1. Angeldrac*

        I think, given the nature of the details the evil neighbour has recorded and noted in the letter, we can already classify them as weirdos.
        Anonymous, I am so so sorry you have had this experience. It’s awful. It’s an awful feeling to have hanging over you.
        As I said above, this neighbour has already proved themselves weirdos. The anonymous letter, the year long cataloging – these are not the actions of a sane person.
        I think while, mentally, you need to put this away in a box, in your head, of strange things that have happened and try (so easy to say, I know) to move on, mentally. Having said that, it may be worthwhile visiting the local police station to show them the letter, just so they have something on record about it in the unlikely case anything further were to happen. I know that’s sounds alarmist, but maybe you can frame it in your mind as having done something affirmative to deal with it and hand it on to someone else.
        (I hope that makes sense, I can’t brain well right now).

    3. Calmeye*

      Wow, I am so sorry you received such a nasty note! I too would be very, very upset about receiving something like that.

      It sounds like it’s one bitter, unhinged person who knows they are being a nitpicky douchebag. It’s too embarrassing to raise this issue with you in person because they know it’s going to be an embarrassment to themselves.

      Unless you’re a hoarder leaving massive truckloads of items on your yard I have a hard time imagining this would really bother many other people. Just continue doing what you’re doing and let this person stew in their own sad bitterness.

    4. Jemima Bond*

      I too would be upset by such a thing but it sounds like it is very much their (petty weird) problem and not yours. I would give it a thorough ignoring.

    5. Oh Fed*

      I am sorry this happened to you. We have a similar neighbor who is sometimes anonymous, sometimes confrontational and has twice called our city about our property about various things: our lawn which is mostly weeds and not power blowing acorns off of our driveway. There are no race issues at play but we think our neighbors find us “low class.” I guess I tell you this so that you know that these types of people everywhere—they move into neighborhoods and they blissfully can move away as well. My hubs gets riled up and ruminates about their complaints but I tend to frame it as they are people who value different things and haven’t grasped the concept of what it means to be a gracious neighbor. I ignore their complaints, smile and wave when I see them, share backyard tomatoes and do all the regular good neighbor things and figure that someday they will regret being asshats.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      “what would you do in this situation as the homeowner to make yourself feel better, calm down, and think rationally about what to do next?”

      1. Take time. Put the letter away and don’t think about it for a bit.
      2. Remember that anonymous letters don’t deserve the dignity of a response. If they wanted that, they could have the balls to talk to you about it in person.

    7. Last llama in town*

      If it were me, I would (1) throw away the letter and (2) put up a fence. Not so they don’t see your stuff, but so they *cannot.*

      I think it’s odd that they catalog’d your stuff but if it was like, a washing machine that sat out for a month, a boat for a month, etc, those are big enough items for long enough time to remember. Perhaps they give directions to friends like “it’s the house to the left of the one with the burned out car on blocks in the front yard” so it sticks in their mind. If we’re talking like 20 items, that’s a lot for them to be brooding about. I would not feel unsafe, just consider that for some reason your property is getting their hackles up (rightly or not).

    8. Stalked by a Neighbor*

      If you don’t have a video security system, get one now. This crap escalates.

      I lived thru this nightmare with the “crazy neighbor” until his family finally realized that him going to jail over and over wasn’t good and committed him to state care. The guy clearly had some learning disability/emotional disability/IDK exactly what. But he became obsessed with me after my husband and I went over to introduce ourselves. I tried to be gracious and understanding, talking with him about his favorite video games over the fence or when he’d walk his dog and I was outside. I’m a female video gamer, and apparently that made me his soulmate.

      Things spiraled out of control the second year because I came home from work to find him sitting on my couch. He had broken in and wanted to “surprise me” with a new game he had that he thought I would like. I spoke with his mother (he was like 28, but clearly could not live alone) and she apologized and paid to fix the basement window he had broken to climb thru to get access to my house.

      It happened 10 more times that year (that was in the fall), and my husband and I put up bars on the basement windows. This infuriated him and he then took to sitting on my porch waiting for me every night. I couldn’t go home in peace…I would have to see him and he’d want to come in. After two days of that, I went to his house and told his mother he could not do that. When I get home from work, I need my time to take care of things in my life. She said he didn’t have any friends and I was being awful and basically made me out to be some kind of evil person for not wanting to entertain her son after I came home from work.

      The last straw was when he threatened my husband with a hunting rifle. Hubby was out mowing the yard and neighbor just told him that he was there to “protect” me. We called the cops, guy was arrested and I got a TRO that turned permanent. That upset the mother and from then on things worse. Our home was vandalized, our cars were vandalized, the mother posted a sign in her yard saying “haters live next door.” She trashed us on the neighborhood facebook page, saying how we were heartless and her son now had an arrest record and he was a “gentle giant.” She called animal control on us (we had two indoor cats, so IDK).

      The guy did some days (like weekends) in jail about the brandishing a firearm charge. He was given a psych eval and some counseling and he was supposedly “better.” Well, he was “better” until he waved another gun at some kids who were “being loud” (as he said to the cops) walking to the bus stop in front of his house.

      His mother had him committed soon after that and she thankfully sold her house and moved away.

      1. Triplestep*

        I’m sorry this happened to you. It sounds like a completely different situation than the OP, though, since your neighbor did things that were the antithesis of sending an anonymous letter! He wanted to be known – the OP’s neighbor wants to berate her anonymously.

      2. Ann O.*

        That is jaw dropping! I can’t believe the mother got so hostile to YOU instead of taking responsibility for getting her son help/keeping him from harming others.

    9. Zona the Great*

      I would just go about your life in the exact same manner while taking extreme pleasure in imagining what his smug face must look like each time he looks over to see how his note impacted you only to see that it didn’t impact you at all.

    10. The German Chick*

      Do you know your neighbours? Not sure, but over here, I would invite my adjacent neighbours over for a drink in my front yard, become friendly with them, and ignore the rude, cowardly letter. Sorry this happened to you!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I would do this. It’s possible that one of your immediate neighbors is the anonymous writer but the rest are potential allies. You might get a sense from them about what is ‘acceptable’ to normal, rational people (not by anonymous’ standards) in the neighborhood, and whether there are known cranks. My neighbors are invaluable in that way, since most have lived around here for decades and know a lot of the people and the gossip. And in the opposite direction, if you let it be known that you’re receiving anonymous angry letters, they’ll probably keep their ears perked for complaints about you that they can relay back to you so you know what’s going on.

    11. Nacho*

      Fuck ’em. No neighborhood’s going to be 100% perfect as far as neighbors are concerned, and I lost any sympathy I might have had for your anonymous whiner when you mentioned that line about stuff being fine in other towns but not where you live, because supposedly you’re so much better than people in those other places.

    12. Ender Wiggin*

      Without knowing what sort of stuff you have in your yard it’s really hard to tell whether the neighbour has a point or not. If for example you had half a car up on cinder blocks with engine pieces strewn across the yard for more than a weekend, that would be really annoying to most neighbours. Or anything that could attract rats or other pests Or large broken appliances or furniture or scrap or other large items of garbage. That sort of thing does actually affect property values. It’s True there’s usually no law against it, but I can see why a neighbour would think it’s unacceptable.

      On the other hand if you’re talking about bags of compost that you have piled up temporarily until you get around to spreading them, or something like that, then the neighbour is totally wrong that sort of thing is pretty normal.

      Either way, the style of delivery is pretty underhand. No one likes anonymous notes. So I’m sorry you’re feeling hurt from that that can’t have been a nice way to find out.

      If I were you I would 1 reflect on whether there is any substance to the claim and maybe ask independent people like any friends of yours in your new neighbourhood for their opinion. 2 If you hear that the amount and type of stuff you have piled up in your yard is going to upset most of the people in that neighbourhood then you have to decide whether to stay living somewhere with neighbours with very different views about acceptable behaviour than you. On the other hand if you hear that the amount of stuff is totally reasonable and acceptable to the majority of people, then you have to decide whether you want to stay there knowing one of your neighbours is an unreasonable jerk. 3 I personally would try to figure out who it is, but you might not care.

    13. Wishing You Well*

      I am sorry this happened. Assume you have ONE strange neighbor and it’s about them, not you. (I know people who have no boundaries and SO much anger!)
      2 things: SAVE the letter in a file with the date it showed up and get working security camera(s) – seriously.
      Again, I’m sorry this happened.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      If you have a good neighbor that you trust perhaps you can get their assessment of what is going on.

      I have lived in my house for over 2 decades, I have a pretty good idea of where things are at. I would definitely help a neighbor asked me for help with something like this.
      You can check with the town clerk to see if someone in your neighborhood has a history of whining about others.
      You can check the police department to see if there are any previous charges/complaints about anyone in your neighborhood.
      Be sure to show the letter to each person you talk with. They may notice something that is a clue for them. They might recognize word patterns or thought patterns.

      I will say this, I had a neighbor who would bully anyone, regardless of demographic. We thought it was nice the first time he offered to loan us his lawn mower. After the 17th offer we knew he was bullying us into mowing the lawn on HIS time table. This story goes on and on. He even walked up to the appraiser for my refi and told her everything that was wrong with my house. He thought she was doing a tax assessment. If you have one or more good neighbors it might be a solid idea to talk with them. This person could be well recognized as the neighborhood bully.

      I am sorry you are going through this.

    15. runner girl*

      My response would be to pick up the next toilet you see put out for trash pickup. Take it home, scrub it up and place it *PROMINENTLY* in your front yard, nicely planted up with seasonal flowers. Tend to that thing like it’s your baby. Nothing says F-U to neighborhood busybodies like a planted up toilet, IMO.

      Also, I’m sorry you’re dealing with jackasses.

    16. Dance-y Reagan*

      Do NOT throw out the letter. Put it in a Ziplock bag and keep it somewhere safe. We had major problems with a neighbor, and when it escalated to the point of her calling the city council on us, we had absolutely no proof of her verbal harassment and hateful speech.

      Context is everything. All the cops knew in our case was “Neighbor is angry that your yard is mowed less often than she wants”. If I could have proved our previous encounters, it would have escalated to “We explained to neighbor that we’re overwhelmed in caring for a sick parent, and we can’t afford a landscaping service. She called us useless and told us to get better-paying jobs.”

    17. Gingerblue*

      It sounds like you’re struggling at least a little about whether you’ve done anything wrong here. I’m guessing no! As others have said, we don’t know what was in your yard, but even if you’ve installed a rusted-out boat and free-range goats it’s not the reaction of a normal person to send an anonymous letter cataloging every single transient piece of debris in the yard at some point in the last year. I mean, we’ve had neighbors we’ve grumbled about over the years, but monitoring their yard or sending them an anonymous nasty note has literally never occurred to us.

      And it doesn’t sound to me like you’re into free-range goat territory; it sounds like this person is weirdly obsessed with your perfectly normal yard and driveway, and thinks they get to run an impromptu HOA in which their whims are rules. Don’t feel bad, don’t think that everyone around you feels the same, and don’t feel you need to move because of a lone weirdo.

      I do think that if you can afford a security camera or two pointed at the yard, it’s not a bad idea, just for the peace of mind. And if your neighborhood is on nextdoor.com, you might find it useful to look at to get a sense of your neighbors, though my experience has been that it ranges from “active and useful” (my parent’s suburban neighborhood) to “the board is mostly dead” (the more rural area where I was last year) to “Christ almighty, why do only the unhinged ones post here” (where I’m currently living).

      Personally, I might invest in some tasteful lawn decorations to show I care about the neighborhood’s image. Well. I probably wouldn’t. But I’d fantasize about it.

    18. LilySparrow*

      I live in a very nice, friendly neighborhood. But it’s an aging, changing neighborhood, and some of the older residents feel that it’s gone “downhill-” mainly because they don’t understand that “man works and spends all weekend trimming his lawn to a putting green, woman stays home and spends every waking moment cleaning” is no longer a typical, or even aspirational, lifestyle.

      One of the older ladies who was more or less housebound used to issue detailed written instructions to newer residents about all the ways they were failing to keep their property up to snuff. I’m not sure whether it was her declining health or the cumulative effect of being roundly ignored, but she gave up before we moved in.

      Ask around. The other neighbors know who this is, and will have their own stories. Use it as an opportunity to create a bond with your good neighbors, and that will destroy the nasty neighbor’s ability to influence your feelings.

      Trash the letter. If it feels better, burn it.

    19. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I have an interesting neighbor who does all sorts of passive aggressive crap, except they escalated in a major way this year and now I get to sue them for large amounts of money. Yay /s. So, I’ve got some experience.

      Look at the rest of the neighborhood. Specifically, what’s the condition, decorations, etc. Is your house and yard significantly different than the rest? IE, if you’ve got lots of weeds in your grass, and everyone else has perfect lawns, they’re going to be pissed with you. Everyone else decorates and you don’t? No one decorates and you do? Get a sense of what’s the norm. Then, compare your house to that norm.

      You don’t need to be the best house on the block, but you don’t want to be the worst either. Aim for somewhere in the middle. If you’re there, great. If you’re not, then consider doing a bit of work in the future. Because if your property is legit dragging down the neighborhood, then you’re in the wrong, and your neighbor is being rude and childish in how they communicate it, but there is a point. (I get annoyed by my neighbor who sometimes doesn’t mow the grass for several weeks. Like, I’m not asking for perfection. I’m just asking for basic minimum. Mow the lawn. I’m also polite and pleasant to him and don’t say anything. I know why he doesn’t mow the lawn, and its not going to change.)

      Some people are passive aggressive and will write the letter, or call code enforcement, or whatever. In general, ignore them/kill them with kindness. Given that you got an anonymous letter, just ignore it. I would note when you got it, and save it. But in general, assuming your yard isn’t actually a problem, you’ve got a crappy neighbor somewhere and it happens.

      1. TechWorker*

        To be fair, *someone* has to have the worst garden in the neighbourhood by definition. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for you to ask your neighbour to mow their lawn, but at the same time having an overgrown lawn is not a crime and maybe they have other stuff going on that just means it’s low down the priorities list?

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          This neighbor has some pretty serious mental illnesses. They’re mostly under control, but they recently spent about a month in the physc ward. So yes, there are reasons, I know what at least some of them are, and I get it. But when you haven’t mowed the lawn in a month and it’s a foot tall, I’m getting annoyed.

          1. Spirals*

            I mean, does someone else having tall grass in their yard really affect you though? I live in a big city where no one has lawns. If it’s inviting animals then I guess that’s a problem, but… who cares if the grass is longer on the other side?

            1. nonymous*

              My city has an ordinance about grass being no taller than 8″. While I agree that’s an arbitrary number, the motivation for having a threshold is to prevent a fire hazards from forming (in the summer) and a happy home for rodent infestation.

    20. No name*

      About 10 years ago I received an anonymous letter. I say ‘I ‘ because, although it came to my then boyfriend’s flat, it was claiming that he was seeing another woman. (Spoiler : he wasn’t. We are now married. All the details in the letter were false, and I know this because I was there on the evening the letter claimed to be about. )

      I was extremely angry about the letter. So this is what I did. Firstly, I reported it to the police and made certain they recorded it. They were spectacularly useless but I insisted on getting a crime number. Then I went round the neighbours with the letter and asked them if they’d received anything like it, told them it was now a police matter, and gave them all the crime number. Just to be helpful, you understand, not accusing anyone. And because I didn’t know it was from a neighbour, I told all our friends about it, that I knew for a fact that every detail in the letter was a lie, and that it was in the hands of the police.

      I never found out who sent it. I suspect a specific neighbour, but it might just possibly have been one of the husband’s friends. I have no reason to suspect them, but when these things happen you start to distrust everyone. But my goal was to make sure it never happened again, and I was successful in that.

      My sympathy, op. It’s horrible.

    21. Anon Anon Anon*

      I would keep the letter and objectively look at what lines they crossed – keeping tabs on what’s on your property, including the side yard, writing an anonymous angry letter, etc. If it sounds threatening or harassing or anything legally dubious, I would notify the police or another relevant authority or organization (relevant nonprofits etc?). The letter writer should be held responsible for their behavior, or the groundwork should be laid for that in case it escalates. You shouldn’t have to pay the price for this at all. You shouldn’t have to move or communicate with this person. In fact, I would avoid them at all costs. They sound unstable. Don’t worry about the things they complained about – they’re obviously the one with the issues. Reasonable people don’t write letters like what you described.

      If you contact the police and/or others who are in a position to help and they are not helpful, then I would consider moving. But I would definitely treat this as a nuisance neighbor type of situation. It sounds creepy. Be safe!

    22. Asenath*

      I got an anonymous letter about what was in my backyard once – not as detailed and specific as yours, but still it was a nasty feeling to think that someone was spying on me and was too spiteful and sneaky to even come to me directly with any concerns they might have. I despise people who make anonymous complaints. Anyway, I thought it over for a day or two, I think I discussed it with a close friend. There was no way of knowing who sent it – there was no one nearby whose back yard was sufficiently nice that they’d be justified in criticizing mine, and no racial differences – some social/economic ones, perhaps, but they didn’t generally affect our daily life. So I went to the neighbourhood convenience store – family run, by a family who lived in the neighbourhood, very close to me, and told the lady who run it about the incident. I took the “This weird thing happened, I don’t understand why…Anonymous letters are such a terrible thing to send…”. I got some sympathy, and I may or may not have got what I was really looking for – word out on the neighbourhood gossip network that there was an anonymous letter-writer in the neighbourhood and I wasn’t intimidated by her/him.

      Anyway, the problem didn’t recur during the remaining years I lived in that place.

  5. PCV in the Pacific*

    RPCVs – what did you ask for in care packages? I’m located in a big city, so I have access to many little luxuries (it’s just a matter of affording them on a stipend). My care packages so far are mostly American snacks/junk food I can’t get here.

    1. Luisa*

      Pens (locally available ballpoint pens were terrible) and mechanical pencils. An annual update on underwear, regular socks, and those fuzzy socks with the rubber grippy things on the bottom. And books! My now-husband (we met during service) got regular shipments of taco seasoning and ranch dressing packets.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I was in West Africa. Stuff written in English, maybe less a problem now that the internet is a thing. And stuff you would put in a college care package–stable home baking, indulgences that you don’t buy when you are carefully budgeting.

      The greatest care package I heard about contained rice (a local export crop), peanuts (likewise), Laughing Cow cheese (Nigerian version readily available)–all things that were locally available and cheap. What promoted it to a special realm was that the volunteer’s parents assembled this care package at home right AFTER visiting her in country, where they went to the market with her, saw what she had at home to cook with, etc.

    3. Operational Chaos*

      I live in a pretty sceneic place so I always send people local postcards with cute messages. Also, for ladies, I usually hit up a local beauty care store and get some locally made lip balms or perfumes.

      Honey production of all things is big here, so I’ll also grab several different flavors of honey sticks to toss in as well.

    4. Drop Bear*

      I’m curious – what is an RPCV? When I google it, it comes up with a whole lot of things starting with ‘Royal’ but none seem to fit.

    5. ..Kat..*

      Soft, comfortable socks. I am currently wearing a pair of Thorlo socks that are a lovely blend of silk, wool, and synthetic.

  6. Yams*

    So, I’m at a club with the guy over whom I broke my own heart…this is so much fun? Also his friends are here I’m so uncomfortable. Is it OK to make an excuse to go back to my hotel?

    1. Solaine Dlcrx*

      Yes, go. You don’t owe them your presence or anything, just focus on what you need. If it’s removing yourself from this situation then do that.

      1. Yams*

        That’s probably for the best, Im just worried about that dude. He’s way to drunk to make it to the hotel. I have accepted my lot in life about being alone forever, but I’m worried about him. He tends to get black out drunk a lot.

        1. TL -*

          It’s not your problem anymore – he’s choosing to drink, he’s choosing to drink to blackout and it’s on him and/or his friend group to deal with the consequences of his choices.

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          He’s got friends around to look after him, and even if he didn’t, you aren’t his caretaker. Leave.

          1. ten-four*

            Maybe being alone forever (which I don’t think is what’s gonna happen) is better than babysitting a dude who gets blackout drunk all the time? And yeah get out of there – that sounds like the opposite of fun.

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yams, having unreciprocated feelings for someone in no way means that you’ll be alone forever. However, continuing to pine over someone who doesn’t feel the same way about you, especially spending all your time being miserable around them as opposed to looking after yourself, well, that’s definitely going to stop you from finding other friends and romantic partners.

          Take care of yourself – don’t waste yourself on someone who doesn’t want you.

        4. Observer*

          That’s totally not your problem.

          Go back to your hotel and stop thinking about him. Easier said than done, of course. But step #1 is to recognize that you owe him absolutely NOTHING. When you start thinking “what’s going to happen?” answer yourself “I have no idea, and it’s not my problem anymore.”

          Now, I don’t know that future, but it strikes me that disentangling yourself emotionally from this guy might improve your chances of having a relationship with another, healthier person.

    2. sweet potatoes*

      Thanks guys, I was very drunk when I wrote this. I’ve been so sad over him for so long I don’t even know how to move on from him. I really do feel like this guy was my last stab at love and I honestly don’t know how to move forward. Thanks for your advice I will… find a way forward, I guess?? I don’t even know anymore.

  7. Solaine Dlcrx*

    Has anyone discovered any family secrets or learnt something rather huge not previously known to anyone on DNA ancestry research websites?
    I got my report yesterday and it shows a region/ethnicity in a significant percentage (think great-grandparents level) that we cannot trace back to anyone.
    It is a region bordering with where my ancestors are from but some of the origins we know are a lot less present in the report than this new area.
    It’s all new and I’m now investigating but I’m curious about your stories.

    1. Ender Wiggin*

      I know those ethnicity tests are pretty unreliable. They usually get the right area but the percentages are variable. I saw an article where they got identical triplets to go to three different testing places and they all came back with different percentages.

      Also ethnicity usually doesn’t vary much within neighbouring regions. And there are often large groups of people from one cou try that settle in the next country over and marry within their own community. If the country is next door to where you knew your great grandparents came from then it could be 2 or more generations prior that your ancestors came from country next door. There are loads of people in Britain who are 100% Irish ethnicity for example, even though all their families may have been living in Britain for generations.

      1. only acting normal*

        Also the accuracy is reliant on how many DNA results they have from that region. And the fact the “ancestry” is based on current day DNA results. If they only have a few data points from those countries (from how popular their service is in those places), or if there has been a lot of migration in an area in the last few decades, then their results will be less reliable.

        At best the result means you have DNA in common with one or more people currently living in that region (people who have also bought a DNA test from this company). If those people are also migrants or descendants of migrants it will skew the results. Few data points or common recent migration patterns seems the most likely explanation for your neighbouring region anomaly.

    2. Luisa*

      Not from DNA testing, but a few years back my aunt (super into geneaology and family history in general) found out that some of our ancestors were from a completely different part of their country of origin than she’d originally been told by family members. She’d hit a wall tracing that side of the family (as it turns out, because she should have been looking elsewhere for them), and that led to the discovery that further back, our family lived in a completely different country.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I really wouldn’t trust ethnicity reports at that detailed a level. My understanding is that they’re not bad at identifying broad areas (East Asian vs sub-Saharan African vs Pacific Islanders), but within a small area the results are wildly unreliable.

      Part of it is the limitations of the tests, part of it is the limitation of the input data, and part of it is that people don’t tend to stay in neatly contained regions – people move and people travel, which mixes groups.

      Even if you had perfect DNA data, though, I’d still expect to regularly see mismatches between genealogy and genetics, because genealogy tracks stated parentage and DNA tracks biological parentage and these are often not the same thing. Things like adoptions and children who are the result of infidelity or rape are often not recorded and may not even been known by the child (or parents in some cases). And the farther back the mis-match is, the harder it would be to pinpoint.

      1. That's Not My Job*

        Yeah, my test says I’m 13% Dutch but my grandmother was the only one of her siblings born in the US to her Dutch immigrant parents so I expected to be closer to 25%. I don’t think too hard about it, I just use my results to see what broad areas I’m from and occasionally connect with 2nd cousins.

      2. Mazzy*

        The % of what I was came up different from the reality, and the test showed different countries than my ancestors are actually from – countries in the same area but not the same, so that was weird. So if there were completely wild results, I’d probably try a different company rather than assume my family lied about my history.

    4. OperaArt*

      I’m peripherally involved with one of those surprise family member stories that the DNA test companies warn about. The person had no idea that they were related to my large extended family, and more importantly, that their dad was not their biological father. The new relative is old enough that both their parents and bio father have died.
      Obviously, this has been a huge shock for them. I feel so sorry that they’re going through this.
      On our side, we’re giving them as much space as they want, but also talking when they want.

      I have a friend that’s going through the same thing. She found out in her late 60s, and made contact with her bio father’s relatives. Met a half-sister she never knew about. Both of them worked in the same very specialized educational field but in different countries.

      1. CAA*

        There’s a similar situation in my family too. One of five siblings was found to be a half-sib through DNA testing that was urged by the one who’s into genealogy. The sibs are in their 70s and 80s, so there’s no older generation left for them to ask questions of. Ironically, the DNA testing didn’t turn up anything else of use to the genealogist, and I don’t know if it will help the half-sib find any other relatives or if he even wants to.

      2. LCL*

        I’m waiting until my mom passes before I get testing done. It’s very likely I have some half siblings, via my father, somewhere. I’m also curious about whatever is in my background that isn’t the known Northern European. I understand the results will point to a region, not a definite place.

    5. Felicia*

      A friend of mine found a secret half brother doing that. I didnt find anything exciting though did find a distant cousin I could trace the connection with and it helped me complete my tree.

      I think the genetic matches are more accurate and tell you more than the ethnicity estimates.

    6. CurrentlyLooking*

      A few years ago, my elderly aunt told me a family secret and I am not sure if I should do anything about it.

      My grandmother was the oldest of many children and had moved out of state from her family. Her youngest sister (my great-aunt) became pregnant and was sent to live with my grandmother and her family. My father and his sister were already in their teens at the time.

      The baby was given up for adoption and my great-aunt eventually married and had a family. My aunt, father, great-aunt and great uncle have all passed away. I don’t know if my cousins know about their half sibling or not. I feel bad because they are all wonderful people and would probably love to know this and be able to meet their sibling if possible.

    7. CBE*

      I’ve actually had three different companies do it, because a family member has worked for three companies that do it.
      The ethnicity results on all three are very, very different. Take them with a HUGE grain of salt.

    8. ThatGirl*

      I haven’t done one myself but a few of my friends have found previously unknown half siblings that way.

    9. Chaordic One*

      I think you have to take the ethnicity results with a grain of salt. Historically Europe has been pretty unstable with lots of wars and different peoples invading each other (and getting invaded) all the time. Vikings from the north, Moors from the south. Mongols from the east.

    10. Ginger ale for all*

      My father does genealogy as a hobby. He kept finding Jewish names in his research on his side of the family and didn’t think too much about it. His family had been Catholic as far as he knew (until they broke away from the church). He took a DNA test and found three relatives living in Israel who had lived in concentration camps and markers for Jewish ancestry. He still doesn’t think he has any Jewish roots.

    11. Ann O.*

      If it’s a border region, I wouldn’t think much of it.

      I did have a friend find a half-brother through doing a DNA test. It was initially exciting for her, but then he turned out to be an a-hole. :(

    12. Not So NewReader*

      I have dabbled in tracing the family tree on and off for a long time. I kind of came to the conclusion that many of us were adopted at some point, long ago. Wars and other upheavals caused a lot of moving about and shifts. People probably took in distant relatives or friends’ children because there was nothing else that could be done. Additionally, there was a tremendous amount of shame/judgement and that made people very willing to bury lots of secrets. I think there are a lot of layers here.

    13. moql*

      What everyone said about those things being unreliable, but also, has the border shifted? My family says it’s from country x, but on today’s maps it says country y because they were close to a border that moved after ww2.

    14. Wicked Witch of the West*

      I haven’t had DNA done, but my brother did. He said the only thing unexpected was a small amount of “Iberian Peninsula”. We haven’t figured that one out, but may find it some day.

    15. Solaine Dlcrx*

      I had time to look into the results a bit more. I used to work in statistics so I played around a little with the data. Once I changed the confidence level from 50% (speculative) to 90%, I mostly fall into ‘Broadly [1/3 of a continent].’
      It connected me with a woman who’s supposedly my third cousin, most probably through the ancestor from the debated region so we will see what we cam figure out.
      The website doesn’t seem to be really able to deal with minorities. My grandma is from a region that was country X before WWI and that is her ethnicity but the region now belongs to country Y and I wonder if the website registers data from there as distinctly Y – but that is current borders and not her ethnicity. I need more time to figure out if this is built into their algorithm somehow.

    16. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I wonder if it also has anything to do with people getting a garbled version of family history. For instance, one of my mentors who is a historian told me that her family had always thought a great grandmother had been one of the first female music teachers at a particular institution. Turned out she was actually support staff, not a teacher, though she did have an interest in music.

      My own family has various ideas about our ethnicity and ancestry that are probably completely wrong (e.g. Native American ancestors, famous distant relatives, being from a different country). I only know about one side of the family because I happen to have a Mormon cousin who has done the genealogy research, but what she has found is a bit different from what my parents told me. I’m not sure how much difference there is between, say, Germany and Austria or Scotland and England in such a test but that’s the sort of thing I’m thinking of.

  8. TL -*

    I have been fighting a scent-triggered headache all day and my flatmate put cologne on to go out, which normally doesn’t bother me, and I lost the battle.

    Super frustrating but I am waiting on an air purifier to be delivered Tuesday or Wednesday which should work like a charm (the smell that’s triggering it is has been way more prevalent than normal lately)

    What small things are frustrating the rest of y’all?

    1. only acting normal*

      In common with you, I’m frustrated that my father-in-law put on aftershave to come over last night, despite having triggered my allergies multiple times in the past and being told *not to wear it to my house*. Luckily my husband took him straight out to the pub.
      (He didn’t used to wear it, it’s a thing since he met his new lady who also drowns herself in the evil stuff. If they’d stick to a little pulse point spritz I could deal, but it’s clouds of it, I can smell them from the next room.)

      1. TL -*

        Oh that’s the worst! Usually colognes/perfumes are okay for me but air fresheners will give me massive headaches.

        And Kitty is now throwing a fit because the windows are cracked and she wants to go outside (Kitty has been throwing all kinds of fits lately.)

        1. Not so rainy*

          Cranky kitties are so failing at their soothing mission in life! (* end of self pity wallowing). May I respectfully suggest checking whether they might be due for deworming/ flea treatment? If young, they might be teething (the fangs are especially getting them cranky) or reaching good ol’ puberty round six months of age.
          Hugs to all involved!

    2. Jessi*

      I don’t usually get them but if I’m stuck in a small enclosed space with a strong scent – boom. One of the kids I nanny for likes to put it on before we go to school – When I’m stuck in a car for 20m. Makes me feel a little wonky

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing Thread!
    I don’t really have a specific question this week, so feel free to use this one to vent about your writing troubles, your excitement over NaNoWriMo almost being upon us, update people on how your writing is going, or even just to ask advice if you’re stuck on something.

    1. Ender Wiggin*

      Ooo I forgot about nanowrimo. Every year I say I’m going to do it and every year I don’t :(

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        To be fair I only remembered NaNoWriMo was almost here because someone brought it up last week. I personally don’t care for the concept so I never participate and keep forgetting when it is :p

    2. Julia*

      I have a feeling that this year again, I won’t be able to do NaNoWriMo. I’m job hunting right now, so all my writing energy goes into cover letters and applications, and I’m just too exhausted from interviews etc. to plan my story. I have my characters and general idea, but I have a really hard time coming up with a fantasy plot a bunch of Japanese teenagers could get involved in. I could probably write something else, but I want to write about Tokyo while I still live here, plus that wouldn’t help with the lack of creative energy.
      Last year I had the worst semester ever, the two years before that I was on vacation for part of November, and before that I wasn’t in the right mind space to do it. Ugh.

    3. Annie Moose*

      Ahhh, I’m so delighted about NaNoWriMo! Little stressed because I thought I had a good plot worked out, and then I started second-guessing myself—but I usually don’t do extensive outlining anyway, so I probably shouldn’t worry about it.

    4. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I’ve never been able to finish nano, but this year I’m planning to just write something for 20 minutes a day. It’s a really small thing, but I think it will help me get back in the habit. What mostly stops me from writing is perfectionism and wanting every draft to sound amazing, so I always just try to remind myself that editing is a thing. Good luck to everyone doing nanowrimo!

      1. Sapphire*

        One of the things that I’ve been doing is going to a monthly speculative fiction open mic night, because it gives me a deadline to get something down to present (doesn’t matter how good it is).

    5. Sapphire*

      I’m going to try it for the first time this year! I’m a playwright by trade, so I’m excited to try my hand at writing a novel.

    6. ElspethGC*

      I got about 10,000 words into NaNo last year, but I think it’s going to be the same story this year as last year – November is the due date for at least three 3,000 word essays that need to be researched and written, plus this year I have my dissertation to be researching as well. I might dedicate a bit more of my switch-off time to writing rather than AAM Surprise Me (my procrastination of choice) but the bulk of November is going to be switch-on uni work time. Ughhh.

      Life would be so much easier if NaNo was during the summer. I get more motivated to do things when it’s light outside anyway.

    7. Operational Chaos*

      I just bought a new pen set and notebook for NaNo planning.

      How many years has everyone participated? Any first timers?

      1. Annie Moose*

        This is my eleventh year! Been doing it ever since high school and I can’t imagine a year without it.

    8. Dance-y Reagan*

      November is always a crunch for me. I really wish NaNo was in a different month–preferably one that doesn’t have a big holiday. Would any AAMers be interested in holding our own mini-NaNo via four weekend threads during a more convenient month?

      1. Julia*

        That might actually help me a lot! I just wonder how we’d coordinated non-busy months, since we’re in different countries. (I have never had any holiday like Thanksgiving, as stated above, I’ve just been busy during the past few Novembers.) February??

    9. Elizabeth W.*

      I wrote an outline last night for a new project, one I was thinking of NaNoWriMo’ing. I guess that’s what I’ll do, unless I think of something else and then just pants it, haha.

      I’m not really good at pantsing it. But hopefully NaNo will get me back into the swing. I was going to use it to finish the sequel to Tunerville, but I can’t seem to get anyone interested in that, so f*ck it. Yes, I did get another rejection–frustrating, since I just did a major revision that made it SO much better. >:(

    10. Desperately recovering slob*

      I haven’t done much prose writing lately, more little hobby comix zines that I haven’t gotten to scan & publish yet :S…

      …but you reminded me that NaNoWriMo is around the corner, and now I wanna do a William S Burroughs-style cut-up novel, with a bunch of weird parallel strands all strewn in together at random…

      …which I need to outline, somehow, and create characters, somehow…

      …but now I kinda want to. Although that adds cutting up and re-stitching to the mix…

    11. Daisy Avalin*

      I usually attempt NaNo, to catch up on a fanfic (that I’ve been ignoring for well over a year because my muse disappeared!), but we’re moving these last two weeks of October so any and all other activities have been put on hold!
      Think I’m going to call December my NaNo [NaDec?], because I really do need to get the next chapter of my fanfic written if not uploaded soon!

    12. LizB*

      I’m trying NaNo again this year! This will be year… four? five? for me. I’ve won once, and been pretty happy with where I got to the other few times. I’ve been worldbuilding and conlanging for like a year and a half for this one, and I have a rough plot outline but also keep tweaking it and waffling on some major plotting decisions. I figure if worse comes to worse, though, I can just write all the different plot options and see which one I end up liking best. :)

    13. chi chan*

      I have a half finished NaNoWriMo project that I am hoping to finish off this year. What I am stuck on is mostly conversations. I need to get two characters talking and formulate a plan but they are strangers and I cannot really think of a way to get them talking and become a team naturally.

  10. Penelope*

    How do you keep your sanity when dealing with a massive amount of stress and on a time limit?

    I posted yesterday about my contract not getting renewed and having only a few months to find something new. It’s such a short time especially with the holidays coming up etc. (it’s not going to be the most wonderful time of the year this year I can tell you that much now). This post is more about how not to let the rest of my life spiral out of control.

    It’s not so much about the job itself, more that if I don’t find something else I’m likely going to have to move back to my home city. Now I love my home city, I’m just…not ready to leave where I am now, I’ve grown so attached to my life here. You know when you dream about living somewhere and think ‘the reality will never be as good as I’m imagining’? Well, this one was /that/ good, and it makes me feel sick that I’d have to leave it behind so soon.

    I’m trying to get my mind to the right place where I can start applications without having a panic attack and feeling like everything is pointless. I’m in two minds of needing to get on with things ASAP and not wanting to start at all. I’m having massive mood swings between ‘everything will turn out all right (maybe you’ll even find something better than what you have now!)’ and ‘this is all so pointless I should just end my life’. (Not exaggerating, the swings are that severe.) They seem to be worst in the morning (I’d wake up at something like 5am and just lie in bed crying), but tend to get a bit better towards the evenings (I’d almost feel close to normal).

    On top of that I’ve really neglected other aspects of my life. I haven’t been to the gym in over a week. I’m eating takeout because I just don’t want to bother to go grocery shopping. My sleeping patterns are disrupted, I’m getting palpitations throughout the day and it’s just a state of overall misery. I’m so scared.

    So for others who have gone through similar episodes of stress, uncertainty and upheaval…how do you keep your sanity so you’re not ruining everything else in your life?

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      Meditation, and if it’s not too stress-inducing, short walks in your neighborhood. Googling things you do like in your old town. Realize that you may be able to move back to the current city you like.

    2. Julia*

      I feel you. I need a new job as well, and applications are so hard if you’re not in the right mindset. Could you set yourself a limit of one application per day, or do you happen to have a friend who would like to work together, either because they’re also applying places or because they have another project they want to work on while being with someone else?
      For me, mornings are also worse than nights, I guess because I dread what might happen during the day, and then at night I’m relieved that I survived another day. Waiting for the Sun is right, meditation can really help here.
      Please hang in there! If you’re actually suicidal, please call someone you trust and/or make an appointment with a doctor/therapist.

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Second comment thread from the very top (Purple Monster) has some wonderful responses on thinking and worry… I’ve been listening to the ted talk and reading the ideas on stopping thoughts before they spiral. I was awake until 3 am unable to let go (during the week, it was up from 2-4 am)… and so need this too. No personal suggestions, but that is a really helpful set of responses….

    4. Jessi*

      Could you get your Dr to prescribe you a couple of does of an anti-anxiety medication that you could take when you start to feel really overwhelmed? Or maybe take a sleeping pill for a few days?

      I feel like when you are completely off your game its all a spiral – so you didn’t sleep well and now you’ve no energy for the gym, so you eat like crap, and then you feel even worse ect and If you can stop one part of the spiral its so much easier to pull the rest back into place

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Lack of exercise, poor diet and lack of sleep will serve to exasperate symptoms.
      Can you get to a doc?

      Can you use the work thread to tell us a general idea of where you are, perhaps give us an idea of what you are looking for? Maybe someone would have a lead? If you decide to do this post here telling us to go look at the work thread.

    6. chi chan*

      Moodgym got me through a really tough time 2 years back. It was free then, now there is a small fee. You might check it out.

    7. Not so rainy*

      Your description so much echoes my stress levels when I am between projects! The comments give wonderful advise, but sometimes I am so stressed out that I can’t follow any suggestion, however excellent. I am blue on the DISC classification of people, meaning that I loose my mojo between assignment because I am under the impression that I can’t plan. I get back in control by setting myself a priority list and schedule accordingly 1/ 30 min sport or strenuous activity; 2/ health food with nuts, bananas and dark chocolate for a magnesium boost; 3/ 8h sleep; 4/ 1h networking for job search -internet, porfessional and informal networks; 4/ get at least 3 candidacies/prospect ongoing at all times.
      The 3 ongoing prospects are key to get my fears in control, allowing a decent sleep quality, and the ability to meditate etc.
      My best wishes for finding what works for you, finding quickly your next assignment, and a great one to boot!

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

    It’s 5:36 a.m. local time and it’s raining. I should be in bed for at least several more hours. Instead I’m on a bus on the way to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon. The crazy life of a runner.

    Even though it stinks to lose hours of sleep on a gloomy morning… I’m excited about this race. It will kind of serve as a referendum of sorts on my marathon training–that race is in just four weeks. Good luck to anyone else out there who is running or racing this weekend!

    1. runner*

      Good luck! Maybe you’re almost done by now! I hope the trains weekend schedule was kind to you, they always seem to mess me up when I decide to race in Brooklyn.

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

        I live along the R train, and it was replaced by a shuttle bus. To tell you how crappy the R train is on a day-to-day basis, the shuttle bus was actually better! I actually had no trouble with any of the other transit I needed. But yesterday a rush hour commute that takes 45 minutes took 75, so it all kind of evens out in the end. :-)

    2. CheeserCheeser*

      We are at the Baltimore Running Festival this morning… participating in the half. They also do a 5K and full marathon. If you participate in multiple races that day you get a medal for completing the Baltimoronathon! LOL Have fun in Brooklyn!

    3. CheeserCheeser*

      We are in Baltimore at the Running Festival. Doing the half. They also have a 5k and full today. Have fun!

    4. LGC*

      Hope you’re doing well! (You might still be running now – I’m not sure what time the race started, but I think it was 8?)

      Thankfully, it’s probably dried out by now – it’s a beautiful day to race.

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

        The race went really well! If this was a referendum on how my marathon training is going, I think I did good.

        I felt really strong throughout the race. My theory on running is “some days you’re the express train, and some days you’re the bus.” Today, the train showed up right on time. I was put in a pretty fast corral and I think I started too fast — but I didn’t pay for it much. I didn’t feel like I had full power in my left knee after mile 7, but I got it back at the end of the race (my knee has been a bit problematic on a few of my long runs so far). Other than the knee, my gas tank needle never dropped much below “full” all race. The big takeaway, which I think I already knew, is that I will need to be very careful to not run the first half of the marathon too fast or I’m going to run into real trouble.

        The one question is what my actual finishing time was. I don’t run with a watch or any other timing device. The clock at the finish line said 2:01:01 as I finished, and there was about a 60 second delay to get to the start line, which would make 2:00:01. I have been doing my long training runs astonishingly slowly, but I was still surprised that I would have came in slower than I did in the half I ran in April (1:59:39), when I really felt out of shape and sluggish. BUT, the unofficial race results said I finished in 1:57:06, which would be faster than any half marathon I’ve run in the past four years. They were having some glitches with the race start so I honestly I have no idea which is right, or if my time was somewhere in the middle. Either way, the bottom line is how I felt, and I felt terrific!

        1. LGC*

          NYC Runs is pretty new, right? (I think that’s who put it on.) I’m not surprised they had some hiccups!

          I’d probably say that 1:57 is closest to your time, just based off of experience. (Congrats!) This is especially true if it’s point to point (which I THOUGHT it was when I looked at the course map, but that was a while ago) – they could have just goofed and started three minutes early at the finish.

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

            NYCRUNS has been around for seven years. This was their first time taking a Brooklyn Marathon/Half outside of Prospect Park and onto streets, but they’ve done a couple of other street races as well. They generally do a superb job, and they did so again today with the exception of a bizarre start where they yelled “Take your marks!” and then there was no horn. The announcer then yelled “No!” I thought, but it must have been “Go!” because everyone began to run. If there was any confusion with the race time, it may have stemmed from that. But they did a phenomenal job. I actually prefer their races to New York Road Runners because they are far less packed and a lot more runner-friendly, at least in my observation with both organizations. NYCRUNS also does races in more interesting venues.

            1. LGC*

              I keep forgetting because they are a lot smaller! I know you’ve said really good things about their races in general, and I keep getting ads for them…I should try one of their races sometime (even if I have to hoof out to the city for it).

              That said, I’d definitely suspect the unusual start messed things up on the gun time and you probably didn’t run over 2:00. Although, did they sort out the official times yet? I hope they did, since it’s 6:30 now!

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

                The official results came out. The app was wrong. My time was 2:00:07.

                Doesn’t change how I feel about the race. I am thrilled with how I felt running the race. My left knee disagrees with me on that point a bit now, though.

        2. CheeryO*

          Congrats! There’s no better feeling than nailing a tune-up race like that. Best of luck with the next few weeks – stay healthy!

    5. Legalchef*

      I hope it went well! I took the kiddo to the GAP farmers market this morning and saw a ton runners after they finished getting apple cider donuts :)

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

        Apple cider donuts! I wish I thought of that. I even walked through the darn market. Thanks for the kind words!

        1. Bibliovore*

          I was a librarian at the Central Children’s Rooms. How I miss working fall Saturdays at the GAP and stocking up on apples and cider donuts.

    6. Stephanie*

      Hope it went well! Was training for the Detroit Half and then got tendinitis in my foot. Have been watching the full marathon from my living room window.

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

    One more post — iTunes, Windows 10 and iPods. How do you make them work together? Think this was posted before, but can’t remember the responses. In any case, I lost my small iPod recently and had to go on eBay to get a “new” one — the only new iPods Apple makes now are the giant ones that also do podcasts etc. and at that point you might as well get an iPhone, which I don’t want.

    In any case, the blasted thing won’t sync with iTunes no matter what I do. I’ve tried rebooting both the iPod and computer. I’ve updated, reloaded iTunes. I’ve disabled my antivirus software. I’ve updated the software on both computer and iPod. The iPod is still a tiny little brick that won’t accept any of the music on my computer.

    I gave up and bought a $33 generic MP3 player, which is what I should have done in the first place. But I’m beyond pissed that I spent $140 on an iPod that’s completely useless. I think I tried everything, but I miss something that would unlock the ability to sync? Thank you.

    1. Be the Change*

      That was me asking about mp3 players after my beloved iPod Shuffle died. The problem is that the shuffles are now ALL “vintage” and their software will not talk to iTunes any more. So sorry!

      I also tried an mp3 player and could not get it working either so I resigned myself to having to use my phone. Much less satisfactory. :-/

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

        I’m not sure it makes a difference, but my iPod is a Nano, not a Shuffle — most recent generation of it, I think. I couldn’t remember the proper name when I first posted. But either way, technology frustrates me to no end, and I feel your pain.

    2. kerlin*

      Have you tried restoring the iPod to factory settings? It might have been synced to another computer before and that may be tripping it up.

      Have you also tried with a different computer, just to test it out? And have you tried a different cable? (My Kindle started getting picky about which cables I used to sync it, after being fine with any of them for years.)

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

        Thanks for the suggestions! I did try it with my old laptop; no dice. I did not, though, try a different cable. The computer is recognizing that the iPod is there; it just won’t sync any music.

        I even tried manually transferring all the music from the laptop to the iPod. But, ha ha, that doesn’t work with an iPod! It’s sync to iTunes or nothing. Apple is an evil, evil, evil company.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Apple can be very finicky about cables. I work with iPads as part of my job, and I have cables that are official Apple cables and show the iPads when connected (to charge, to view) but when I try to do factory resets with those cables, I get some mysterious error. Switch to a new “working” (also official) cable, and the factory reset goes fine. So it may actually be the cable. Doesn’t make your situation any less frustrating, though.

        2. Liet-Kinda*

          It’s not evil; it’s the assumption that you’re using your computer as a backup for your easily dropped, stolen, or broken iPod.

          1. Observer*

            No, it’s stupid design.

            Itunes actually makes it hard to backup and restore music because of the way the software works. If you are using your computer to backup your ipod, you should just be able to copy back the music and let itunes process all of it. But that doesn’t work. You can only use iTunes to do ANYTHING with your music, and it gets really finicky about syncing with a new computer for an existing ipod and a new ipod from and existing computer.

    3. Ender Wiggin*

      I’ve given up on apple entirely. It seems like a lot of the ipod/iPhone functionality only works properly if you have a mac or at the least a pc with iTunes installed. I shouldn’t need to buy a computer to copy photos from my phone reliably. Now I have an android i can easily copy files from my phone using my work pc without having to install software on it.

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

        Yup, while I have grown to hate pretty much all technology, I have to admit that the Android phones have given me very few problems.

    4. Dance-y Reagan*

      I have an old iPod and I keep an old copy of iTunes on my desktop computer. You have to make sure both iTunes and the iPod are set up to prevent auto-updates and auto-sync. Oldversion dot com is where I got iTunes. To find the right version for you, search by release date and coordinate that with the age of your iPod.

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

        Thank you! I’m going to (eventually) try this. (Eventually because it seems our $33 MP3 player works just fine for now, and I’m ready to throw use the iPod to dent the window of an Apple Store.)

  13. Ms Cappuccino*

    I have done many things to stop overeating : fasting, hypnotherapy, various diets, veganism, eating “balanced”…but the problem always comes back after a few weeks. I am thinking of trying OA (equivalent of AA but for overeating ) but a bit put off by the religious aspect as I have been told it is based on the Bible. Has anyone here tried it ? Did it help?

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      I did a few years ago, off and on for several years. I believe there could be a higher power, but surrendering to it didn’t seem to get me anywhere. Sadly, the program didn’t seem to result in weight loss for many members. For every person at a healthy weight in a meeting, there were a half-dozen obese (including myself) or morbidly obese.
      Wish I had something more positive to say. I struggle with my weight, too.

      1. Barbara*

        Thanks for your feedback, even if not positive. It maybe works better for those who believe in a higher power outside of themselves. I believe the only person who can “fix” me is myself, but I have found the way yet.

      2. Observer*

        12 step programs work for a lot of people. They don’t work for everyone, for a whole host of reasons, some of which really don’t have anything to do with the merits (or lack thereof) of the program.

        Unlike some other approaches, this is worth trying as long as you go in with open eyes, because it’s relatively low risk and it does attempt to address a very real problem that is often at the root of an issue like this.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I was thinking about it at one point, but the religious aspect turned me off as well. I feel there’s a force in the universe that has some control, but that’s as far as it goes for me.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        And also if there is a force in the universe it probably doesn’t care how many twinkies you eat.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Might I recommend food snobbery? If you like chocolate, get snobby about it and only get the good stuff (reddit boards are a great place to completely lose perspective and go all the way down the rabbithole of details about something). If you’re into pasta, learn a ton about what pasta pair perfectly with what sauces, or whatever.

      It can really help to reduce the amount of mindless consumption of a product you do – because you spend so much time paying attention to each bit of it.

      1. Ms Cappuccino*

        I am quite a food “snob” already, only eat the good stuff (I have been raised like that anyway). But I still overeat. I will try a meeting and see.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Dang – that’s tough. It’s way easier to stop when you don’t actually enjoy the food that much. Good luck.

      2. The Original Stellaaaaa*

        This has helped me in a roundabout way. I started drinking ultra fancy coffee that goes down easy without cream and sugar. Drinking black coffee cuts out like 400 calories a day without changing anything else.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      What I’ve heard re AA is that the religiosity of different chapters varies quite a bit. Might be worth trying a local meeting, and perhaps then a different local meeting, and see if it clicks.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        This. Similarly, most private colleges in the US were started by religious organizations… and you wouldn’t know that when attending them.
        And try different ones. It’s the mindfulness and support….

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      I have not tried it but a Buddhist friend was able to make it work for her and has been quite happy with it.

    6. The RO-Cat*

      If you are inclined to experiment, maybe you could give Emotional Brain Training a look (ebtconnect, dotnet). To me, their science page makes sense, but I cannot vouch for anything EBT-related. Still, another avenue to explore.

    7. Ender Wiggin*

      Do you have weight watchers where you live? I know lots of people who have had success with weight watchers to lose weight.

      1. Barbara*

        Weight Watchers didn’t work for me. It made things worse in the long term as it feeds (no pun intended) my obsession with food.

    8. Mazzy*

      I do a 12 step program and the religion fears are overrated unless you’re in a place with loads of Bible thumping already. No one forces you to do anything actually, and the speakers and shares rarely talk about anything religious though spirituality comes up since you’re talking about motivation and personal change and growth. When people talk about surrender, I hear it most when people are surrendering to ideas that are true but they didn’t want to admit. Not to a religion. I’ve read the illuminati and cult articles about 12 step programs and heard of isolated cases of people becoming program fanatics, but I’ve never met someone in real life like that. Yes some people are really into the program, but where would they be without it? Dead or high. So what is the real harm? So I focus on the program as a way to built a social network or at least a network of meetings to go through when I don’t feel mentally well or disconnected.

    9. Dance-y Reagan*

      I am also turned off by the religious aspect of those programs, particularly given what I’ve seen from family members who went through AA.

      I also struggle with my eating habits, and have started intermittent fasting. It’s only been a month, but I feel much more in control of my behavior. Giving myself only a set window in which to consume things has helped my willpower immensely. It’s a load off my back to think “I desperately want chips…but it’s outside my eating window. Too bad!” Creating that finite rule lets me gather my mental strength and concentrate it on that set time of day.

      The first few days were terrible, I won’t lie. But by day 4 or 5, I already felt better.

    10. Ehhhh*

      My mom and her sister struggle with food; my mother is also an addict. My aunt’s realization/acceptance of her overeating as an addiction helped her frame her healing. She didn’t formally do OA but she did get support around addiction, trauma, etc. A decade on, she’s in her 70s, in the best shape of her life, doing long distance races, and really happy. She still very carefully manages her diet (weighing anything that isn’t a vegetable basically), but it’s become a natural part of her life and it works for her. She’s kind if amazing. Best wishes to you!

    11. ..Kat..*

      Eating disorders need special, focused therapy. Since it is free, why not try OA for a month. Then, if it doesn’t work for you, look for a therapist who specializes in eating disorders.

      Good luck.

    12. Knitter*

      I had thought about OA before and also failed with weight watchers. I have been using the Noom app since July and I have seriously decreased my overeating. I have last weight but I’m more happy about feeling I’m in control.

  14. Loopy*

    I’ve seen some serious runners here and was wondering if anyone has tips for someone starting from nothing? I have no stamina and am starting at just a very slow 1.5 mile jog occasionally. We’re talking a ten minute mile here. I don’t really have set goals, I just found it a pleasant alternative to days I don’t have enough time to get to the gym and was surprised at how much I didn’t hate it.

    However, I don’t know at what point I absolutely need to invest in better shoes for such short occasional runs (I’m using a cheap Fila gym sneaker now). Any tips for not hurting myself besides the shoe aspect? I’m running on hard sidewalks but have no interest in switching to a treadmill, which I did many many years ago and hated.

    1. Overeducated*

      I am not a serious runner who is fast and does lots of races, I have just been doing it consistently for exercise for a decade or so. I too got into it to save on time and expense going to the gym!

      In my experience when you’re running just a few miles at a time, a few times a week, you probably don’t need to buy special shoes. Just pay attention to if your feet and legs hurt unevenly, or if your shoes are starting to hurt from wearing out, and replace them then. If you’re currently doing 1.5 miles at a ten minute pace you can just take slightly longer routes to increase endurance, you are already doing well enough that you don’t have to start over with Couch to 5k or anything (unless you want to do speed training or something, in which case there are a lot more serious runners on this board.)

        1. LilySparrow*

          ZenLabs makes a C25K app and a C210K app as well. Free but ad-supported. It’s intervals, with just a ding and instructions on whether to run or walk. Works great for me.

    2. Lady Jay*

      I’ve come to love running over the 6-7 years I’ve been doing it & am excited that you want to take it up! It’s a great ways to be outdoors.

      Here’s my tips:

      Stamina: Starting with 1.5 miles is fine. I did 2-2.5 mile runs for perhaps the first 6 months & it was enough to get me in the rhythm, build up some stamina. When you’re ready to start building up stamina, two things: 1) switch between walking and running, walking and running to get a little distance without overdoing it, and 2) pretend you’re training for a marathon, designate one run/week a “long” run, and go just a little longer each time. So maybe the first week you decide to run 2.5 miles, and the week after that you run 3, and the week after that you run 3.5. All the other runs of the week you stick with a shorter distance that feels comfortable to you.

      Shoes: I’d go ahead and get good shoes now. Having shoes made for your feet is one of the best ways to avoid an injury. If your city has a specialty running store, go there, get fitted, they’ll make recommendations for you. Yes, shoes are expensive, but running has so fewer other costs compared with outdoor activities that it’s worth it.

      Avoiding injuries: I do yoga once a week in addition to running, which I like because it helps me build up strength and stretch out my body (especially legs/hips) in ways that help my running. Some Googling, or a visit to your local studio, could help you turn up good stretches for runners. Other tips: If you get injured, give yourself time to rest, don’t run through the pain; make sure you don’t try to do too much all at once, scale up slowly; maybe look for a smooth dirt path to run on (some parks will have these).

      Other tips: See if your town has a running club; that can be a good way to meet other runners and get tips from them. Plus, runners are often some of the most supportive and encouraging people I know. They won’t care about how long you’ve been doing it, or how far you go. They’ll just be excited that you’re out there, running.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      YouTube some yoga for runners stretches, and pay attention to your toenails. Keep them clipped and stuff a little cotton under the corner of the nail if it starts feeling ingrown.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yes to watching your toenails! I got lazy once and cut the side of my toe with the neighboring nail. Be vigilant about it!

    4. Boo Hoo*

      I used to be a very hard core runner. Number one is that starting on a treadmill helps just to start. I know you don’t want to but it really can help you get your pace. I found it allowed me to control my speed rather than just running myself too hard all at once then losing energy. Also, intervals are key. Walk a few, run slow a few, sprint, back to slow, walk, etc. And yes shoes. Personally I recommend Asics or Brooks as they are some of the most supportive on the market. Also, two pairs so you switch each day. This causes different rubbing points so you are less likely get blisters as well as prolongs their life as they dry out fully between uses.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        When I was first getting into running, I went to a running store and was evaluated, and Asics were the recommendation for my foot shape and running pattern. Fortunately they are pretty affordable (just got a new pair at Nordstrom Rack for $40). So I’d also recommend getting evaluated if you notice any rubbing or pain points after you run.

        My usual run these days is 3 miles on the treadmill but at 11 min pace, so slow and steady. I used to hate treadmills too, but got used to them during the bad weather seasons and found that even on nice days when I’d love to run outside, I’m mildly allergic to something in the air and my eyes constantly water. So it’s all about climate control for me. What I’ve read is to keep the incline at 1 degree to compensate for the flat run – it’s not much but you really notice it at first!

        1. boo hoo*

          Yes I got fitted as well. My sister worked for ASICS for years. I still have numerous pairs of not yet worn shoes. Yah!!

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Any tips for not hurting myself besides the shoe aspect?

      Try to make your motion as circular and forward as possible (think locomotive) and avoid as much bouncing up and down as possible (obviously you do bounce up and down—that’s the nature of running&dash;but try to minimize that). It will put less stress on your knees.

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

      I barely can add to the excellent advice given here. I disagree with one of the comments; DEFINITELY get proper running shoes, as soon as possible, even if running short distances. Shoes make all the difference when it comes to injury prevention. But in my experience, if you are not running distances, $60 Asics (which are often on sale for $40 or less at Kohls or Nordstrom Rack, as mentioned above) will do every bit as well as super duper $150 running shoes.

      My other advice is, if you do build up distance, do so gradually. Go from 1.5 to 2 to 2.5, not from 1.5 to 3 in one jump. This, also, will prevent injuries. Good luck!

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

          They are. I’ve worn Asics exclusively for years now. As a plus, many of their styles are pretty fashionable for running shoes.

    7. CheeryO*

      I would invest in a pair of shoes from a running store that does gait analysis or at least offers fittings by knowledgeable employees. In the future, if you like the shoe, you can buy the previous model online for a discount. A comfortable, well-fitting pair of shoes is key.

      My other major piece of advice would be to slow down. 10 minute miles are actually pretty fast for a new runner. Use the talk test – if you couldn’t carry a conversation, you’re running too fast. It seems counter-intuitive, but the best way to get faster is to run more, and the best way to run more is to run slowly – you’ll be able to run farther, and you’ll be able to be more consistent if you can avoid getting injured. If you’re itching to push the pace, sign up for a 5K race. If you can run 1.5 miles now, you can easily do a 5K within a couple months!

    8. LGC*

      Okay, so: First of all, it doesn’t sound like you’re starting from nothing, since you consider 10 minutes “very slow.”

      Anyway. I’m a relative newbie, in that I’ve been running for about five years (and more “seriously” for about a year and a half). But I really think it depends on what your end goals are – like, honestly, if you want to just go out for a jog on occasion, you’re probably fine. I mean, trainers are made for multiple activities, including running – so you might wear your shoes out a little bit faster, but I don’t think you’re going to injure yourself if you just do the occasional neighborhood jog in them. I’d say if the running bug bites harder and you decide to do a 5k…then look into actual purpose-built running shoes. (And you don’t even have to break the bank! I didn’t for the longest time.)

      Other than that…it seems like you have your head on right about this, but listen to your body, don’t feel like you’ve failed if you have to walk, and…it’ll take time, but push gently. If you want to up your endurance, try going for a mile and 3/4. Then 2. And so on. It takes quite a bit of time to build endurance, and it can’t really be rushed.

      1. TechWorker*

        +1 on all the couch to 5k recommendations – you don’t have to start from the beginning if you can already do something around the middle. I did it during lunches at work run by a couple of colleagues who’ve coached runners before and it was great. The bits of technique I got from them were: trying to make sure your feet point forwards (vs slightly out or in), using arms to help you get up hills (sounds weird but definitely helps!) and if you start to increase your stride then make sure you’re still landing with your foot underneath you (vs in front of you). I’ve had a foot injury all year and I’m just getting back into it :) good luck!

    9. Loopy*

      Wow, all this advice is phenomenal! I wish I had the time to reply to everyone but the weekend is turning out busier than expected!

      I might see how much the jogging bug sticks and then ask for a good pair of running shoes for Xmas. In the meantime I’ll try and keep an eye out for some of the brands people have mentioned and improve what I have at least somewhat!

      I might be ballparking the ten minute mile, I haven’t been keeping close track, but I’ve also been terrible at keeping a steady pace so I may be running faster than I should at some points (I definitely am influence by the track playing on my playlist!). Today is finally firmly in the 60s for the high so I’m excited to try another run with all of this in mind. I love being outdoors more than anything so the treadmill makes my motivation wither and die right off unfortunately. But it does seem like my pace is all over the place so I should try and hope on when I’m at the gym for a different class.

      1. LGC*

        So – if keeping a steady pace is your concern, definitely keep track of that! The good thing is that the vast majority of people have a GPS device already – their phone. And there’s a lot of good apps out there for tracking – Nike, MapMyRun/Endomondo (which is UA), RunKeeper, Strava (which is what I currently use), so on and so forth. A lot of apps have some sort of live coaching, even on the free tiers (the paid tiers are more detailed).

        The problem might be carrying your phone (which I know about since I have a 7 Plus, but even “small” phones now are the size of “phablets” five years ago). Generally, you can get armbands/belts, or if you feel confident enough you can just carry it. (This gets a lot harder with distance. If I’m running more than 45 minutes, I’ll generally put mine in my armband.) At 15-20 minutes, you might be fine with holding onto it.

        (I’m also going to say that I’m a guy, which actually matters a bit for the phone situation thing. Women have the alternative of sticking their phone in their bra, which…if it works, go for it.)

    10. Stephanie*

      It me! I am not fast at all. (10:00/mi is faster than I run.) I would say stay consistent in your training (I have an overuse injury right now because I wasn’t spacing my runs out enough during the week). Yes, get good shoes! Matters a tad less if you’re just running like a mile, but the difference is huge.

    11. Lady Kelvin*

      So 1. Being a runner is not about being fast, so don’t stress out about your pace. Run what works for you. I have been running for 6 years, done ~7 half marathons, and I’m happy when I hit a 10 minute mile.
      2. Focus on the distance more than the pace. Especially when you are starting out running, you want to get your body used to moving longer distances. 3 miles is a good first step goal, as most training plans have you start at 3 miles and build from there. I find that it works best for me to do all the miles prescribed even if I walk half of them. It tells my body, hey we are going to want to move for this long, so get used to it. Then as you run more and get more endurance you will find yourself running more and more of those three miles until you ran all of them.

  15. Laura H.*

    I am so glad that the times I’m home alone (the only human in the house) are rare. Because I stayed up waaaaaay later than I should have- like I did on my weekends in college when the roommate went home and I had the dorm (and use of her tv) to myself.

    Was hoping to watch some cable tv before it gets disconnected, but the fuse/ circuit the actual brains of the box is on tripped and Netflix was functioning (smart TVs ftw)

    The disconnection is my mom’s (The billpayer’s) choice, not mine… we rarely watch it as is and I’m probably the only one who would -if the fuse/ circuit the box is on didn’t trip itself periodically- there are reasons why I don’t watch it that have nothing to do with me, but this isn’t worth pitching a fit over. Honestly if I can catch an airing of Hocus Pocus this month, I’ll be a happy camper. Factors including I don’t wanna disturb dad- both with what I usually like to watch on air (crime dramas and true crime- with some of his recent mental health changes those genres squick him out to put it VERY mildly) and with volume and light emissions from the TV set. Mom also WFHs 2-3 days out of the workweek and her office is connected to the living room/ lounge, and again, the volume emissions are a concern I take into account. Haven’t expressed this tho and at this point it’s not entirely worth it, cutting costs is a good thing and that’s not my bill to pay. (I pay for the Netflix and am possibly considering Hulu, but the prior is adequate for my entertainment wants at the moment. Dad’s mental health has changed a few things and the entertainment thing -rarity thereof- is one of them. But it’s something I don’t begrudge him for- stuff happens…)

    On the bright side, no premature holiday tv commercials or biased news jerks running their mouths. On the downside, I forget to watch stuff through the internet channels so I’m already behind in the serials I followed last year (NCIS and Bull) and there’s only a limited time those eps are accessible.

    Stupidly binged all of Netflix’s “The Dragon Prince” and finished it after midnight on a day when I have work. (Good show but as always my timing is horrible.)

    Anyway I’m up and at em to water the dogs and probably give them some treats in lieu of their usual morning meal. (One is really pushy and it kinda annoys me that she cannot wait and pushes her way into the cramped feeding space.) And then get myself ready for work.

    1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      For about $40 on (insert name of the prime company) I bought as a gift, the wireless headphones. So if the light doesn’t bother, there is no sound. Best gift ever. I work from home, and it let me work with back to TV, in the small house, with zero noise. I’m super noise intolerant, and they were going deaf (or liked the volume way up) and it was really distracting for me.
      Highly recommend it. Even with the laptop, they are great.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you get a Roku, even a cheap used one, starting with the Roku 3 the remote has a headphone jack. Very handy.

  16. GhostWriter*

    Has anyone dealt with a ganglion cyst before?

    I have one on my wrist. I smashed it once, had a doctor drain it once, and it came back. I made an appointment to get it drained again in late November. There’s a surgery to have the cysts removed, but it sounds a little scary, and I don’t think I could get it for insurance reasons and because the recovery time seems so long. Various sources on the internet also indicate there’s a 20 to 60% the cyst will come back after surgery.

    Has anyone had the surgery? Any advice for treating it without the surgery?

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      According to a specialist, I have one in my wrist. He compared it to a mushroom: the bulbous part is in my muscle tissue and if you don’t remove the “roots” it’ll just come back. He also pointed out this is just a genetic thing, so I’ll probably develop one in my other wrist and if the one I have now (not visible, so they can’t even remove it) ever becomes visible I *could* have it removed surgically but it’ll likely come back.
      …I know that doesn’t help at all, I’m just glad to find someone else with these things.
      That said, my now-retired GP also has them, and according to him it didn’t actually hurt once it reached the visible stage so he just kinda…Let it be.

    2. Pharmgirl*

      I used to have one in my left wrist through middle school and high school. I’m 30 now and at some point since then it has disappeared, although I don’t know when. It never really bothered me though. Depending on how uncomfortable yours is and how long you’ve had it you may not want to try my method of just seeing what happens. Perhaps like AN ONyme it’s just not as visible, although I don’t have any pain or discomfort so I tend to think I no longer have one. Sorry I don’t have any concrete solutions – this is just what my experience has been.

    3. Intel Analyst Shell*

      I developed one in high school, went and saw a specialist and he said he very rarely drains/does surgery on them because they come back. He suggested wearing a wrist brace because it would *long medical explanation I have since forgotten*. I started wearing a wrist brace and it helped immensely with the pain, 15ish years later and it’s still my treatment of choice.

      1. ElspethGC*

        The medical explanation is probably that ganglions form on the joints and I think the cysts are formed from fluid leaking from between the joints and into a little balloon structure sort of thing. It makes sense that immobilising the joint might help.

    4. Llellayena*

      I have one. I had it drained once but never had the surgery. I generally just live with it though. Mine aches every once in a while but doesn’t bother me enough to do anything more. I just have to be careful about anything that puts pressure on my wrist the way carrying a tray like a waiter would. Because that hurts.

    5. ElspethGC*

      Following – I have a ganglion (I think, they run in the family, I need to go get it formally diagnosed so I can stop the little niggling voice going “It’s bone cancer!”) at the base of my left ring finger. I can’t see it, but I can definitely feel it, and I think it’s growing and getting more painful than it used to be. I want to know what my options might be if I do decide to do something with it.

    6. CatCat*

      I had one that was drained and came back. Then my doctor drained it again and injected it with steroids. Never came back after that.

    7. Nacho*

      I’ve got one on my leg that makes it difficult to run. It was diagnosed when I was still on my parents healthcare plan, and I’m still kicking myself for not getting it taken care of back then. It’s not causing me any problems besides the running thing though, so I mostly just let it be, since I never really wanted to be a professional runner anyways.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I’ve had a ganglion cyst removed twice. The first time it developed because I injured my hand when it was smashed in between two shopping carts. At first it just seemed very badly bruised, but over a period of six months or so it developed into a cyst. It was right between where my hand and my finger met and the worst thing was that when driving, the cyst pressed against the steering wheel and was painful. I had the cyst removed by a surgeon in an outpatient facility under local anesthesia and I was awake the whole time. I couldn’t look at my hand, but after he removed the cyst I did look down at it as he dropped it onto a plate. It looked like a little white dryed-out pea. After the surgery I had to wear a rubber glove to keep water off it, but it healed nicely and I didn’t have any problems for more than 10 years.

      Then I re-injured my hand at by accidentally slamming a file cabinet door on it. A cyst developed at the same spot on my hand. This time I had to have surgery to remove it at the hospital and I was completely unconscious during the procedure. I was released later that day. The second time I had the surgery I had a bad reaction to the anesthesia, but this was a separate problem from cyst removal. (I felt like a truck ran over me and every single muscle in my body hurt.) The second time I had more trouble keeping the wound dry and it didn’t heal as nicely as the first time. There’s a small raised scar at the surgical site, but it is less noticeable as time goes by.

    9. Ann O.*

      I’ve had two cysts removed. I thought one of them was a ganglion, but reading through the descriptions here, I’m now questioning.

      In any event, removal was a super simple procedure. The doctor administered a local, made a small incision, and did the removal. Full healing did take several weeks, but it was basically bad-cut-with-a-bandaid level recovery. Not a big deal. The scarring is very small.

    10. Elizabeth W.*

      I have one on my right index finger, on the first joint near my nail. That’s the finger that took the brunt of the infection from my cat’s dying bite. The doctor said not to smash it and that draining it would be useless and surgery long and involved and expensive.

      I might try to smash it anyway. I dislike it. The thing about cysts is that often, if you don’t do something about the capsule, it can fill up again. If it’s on a joint, the removal will be more complicated–any time you open a channel directly to the joint, you have the potential for serious infection, which is why trying to drain it at home is not recommended.

      The steroid thing CatCat mentioned sounds reasonable to me. If mine gets any bigger, I’ll email my doctor about that and see what he says.

    11. Old Biddy*

      Maybe? I had pain whenever I put weight on my left wrist. I have no idea what caused it, although I did break that wrist 20 years ago and had been putting a lot of weight on it before it flared up. The hand specialist thought it was a small ganglia cyst, but MRI and X-ray were inconclusive, so I didn’t want to risk surgery. I saw a physical therapist who specializes in hands/wrists. He had me wear a custom made brace for a while and gave me a whole slew of exercises to do every day. He also did ultrasound therapy on it, which felt nice. It’s not 100% but I barely notice it now.

    12. Quandong*

      I have three ganglion cysts that developed in my 30s. They don’t cause me pain or discomfort unless I overuse my wrists in extremely specific ways (mainly related with prolonged sessions of playing the cello). They definitely subside when I put less strain on my wrists.

      If yours isn’t hurting or causing disruption to your everyday life, it’s worth trying wrist supports or strapping. Personally I wouldn’t have surgery unless the benefits far outweighed the risks.

    13. WS*

      I had one on my right hand and one on my left wrist. The one on my left wrist was putting pressure on one of the two major arteries into the hand, so it had to be removed. The surgery was extremely minor and completely successful – my wrist and hand were taped and bandaged to a small plastic splint for a week and that was the extent of it. I still have the other ganglion ten years later but it’s not in a spot that bothers me.

    14. Reliquary*

      I had one about ten years ago. It was huge. My GP drained it, in a quick but slightly painful in-office procedure, and it hasn’t come back thus far.

    15. Public Health Nerd*

      Yes, had a wrist ganglion cyst removed in the 90’s after having it drained 3 times. It was just giant and painful, so surgery was the right choice at the time. Took about 3-4 weeks post op to get out of the splint and back to typical use, and I was able to type and do other tasks with that hand in the meantime. No recurrence, I think my body was just saying No Thank You to high school volleyball.

    16. Fish Microwaver*

      I have had the surgery and am probably looking at another as I have developed another ganglion. It was day surgery. I wasn’t able to drive for several weeks and had hand therapy for a few months, which was probably the hardest part of the whole thing. My range of motion and function returned just fine. As a starting point, get an opinion from a good hand surgeon.

  17. The Other Dawn*

    I started a new workout routine this week and it nearly killed me. (Not really, but it sure felt like it!)

    I finally asked the trainer if I should change things up since I’ve been doing roughly the same workout for at least a year, four days a week. I did a core group of exercises and then rotated a few others in and out, or added weights or a medicine ball to the core exercises. Even though I always felt as though I was working hard, I could tell that I was pretty efficient at it and it wasn’t actually hard anymore. Last time I asked him he said let’s keep it as-is, which was mainly because of my back issues, But this time he caught me off guard and said, “Yes! We need to change things up!” UGH.

    I started it Monday and, wow, it was hard! It’s mainly the core work that was rough (flutter kicks, ins and outs, alternating leg crunches, bicycles) since I’m used to doing mostly body weight exercises and some arm/leg moves with the weights. I was so sore by Monday night and didn’t think I could get through it Tuesday and Wednesday, but I managed. I took Thursday off and then went to see him last night. I’m so not looking forward to next week…

    On another note, I’ve mentioned that my company was acquired and I’m losing my job in February. I use the gym at work four days a week and rely on it to keep myself committed to working out. I eat at my desk and then go into the gym for the last hour of the day. Once my job ends, I’m going to have to either do my workout at home–I have most of what I need–or trek it to the gym across town. I’m so, so worried that I’m not going to keep up with it. I’m also annoyed because they announced at work that they’re raffling off some of the equipment two weeks from now: free weights, kettle bells, and even the exercise mat–all the stuff I use everyday. I’m planning to bring my own stuff in and store it in a corner of the gym so I can at least do my regular workout until February. I get why they’re doing it now–the first wave of people are leaving in three weeks and they want to make sure everyone can participate–but it’s still annoying nonetheless.

    1. Pam*

      My experience is that new workouts, or restarting after a break, are just going to cause a lot of pain and stiffness by the nature of their newness. I think we overdo without realizing it. Assuming no actual injury, it should go away over the next couple of workouts.

  18. LGC*

    Good morning! Getting a jump on the running thread early today.

    So, first of all – thanks everyone who commented last week. Honestly, I did need a kick in the behind to see that I was – as one of my friends put it – “burning the candle at both ends.” (To be honest, I probably just set a flamethrower to it!) I’m a slow writer, but I tried to respond to everyone.

    Anyway, next question – fuel storage! I think I’ve mentioned this, but I’m running the NYC Marathon in…shoot, two weeks. (Time flies.) I’m trying to figure out a way to carry gels which isn’t going to bother the hell out of me for 26.2 miles. I’m thinking of bringing three to five, and I think for my first marathon I just shoved them in my sleeves and pulled them out as needed. (It was awkward. I managed, but it was awkward.) What are the tricks you’ve used?

    And in general, how are you guys doing? I don’t think I’ve asked for the past few weeks!

    1. runner*

      I usually wear a spibelt where I can stuff gels. It’s slim enough that it doesnt’s bother me (much smaller than the water bottle belts). I usually take as many as I need plus one, just in case.

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

      I’m sorry that I have no advice. Gels have never done it for me. So gooey and… disconcerting. I hope you manage to get the rest you need before the big day!

    3. runner girl*

      I’m female, so if you’re not, this may not be workable…. or even if you are, it may or may not.
      I stick one in my sports bra. That said, I don’t need much, fuel wise, and also check out beforehand what will be at aid-stations, and pick up as I go.

    4. CheeryO*

      Ugh, gel storage. I picked up a flip belt recently and I really like it, but in the past I’ve just kind of shoved them in the key pocket of my shorts and in my sports bra (oh, the chafing). I tried safety pinning them to the inside of my shorts once, but it was awkward to get to them.

      I had a great week after a not-so-great week last week. I nailed my MP tempo this week – 10 miles at 8:35 average pace vs. my goal of 8:45 – and it felt really, really good. I have 13 tomorrow to close in on 50 miles for the week, then the real taper starts.

      1. LGC*

        Awesome! That’s basically how this week was for me as well, and hopefully your run went well today!

        (I ended up running the last three or so miles of the NYC Marathon course this morning at about 6:25, so a little bit faster than my goal. And then 13 or so before that in Central Park.)

    5. Stephanie*

      I had an fabric belt that went around my waist–it was pretty form fiting, so it wasn’t too noticeable. I trie the gummies during a half marathon and found those easier to carry.

    6. LGC*

      …and I realized that there were two threads after I posted! Oops! (The more the merrier, right?) That’s why I let the replies slide here.

      So anyway: I’m a guy! (For all the hassles of being a woman, one advantage y’all have is that your sports bra can double as a storage device. I mean, yeah, there’s all the other baggage of being female, but you have that.) But on the flip side…it’s New York in November, so I’m not going to just be in a singlet and shorts. I have options.

      I forgot about the safety pin trick, which I’ll probably end up doing some variation of.

    7. Fish Microwaver*

      You can get a wrist band like a very small SPI belt, with a zipper. It’s big enough to hold gels, key, cash or card. Sorry I am unable to post a link but something similar should be available at running stores. Or use a running top with a small built in zippered pocket.

  19. Dainty Lady*

    What’s an impulse purchase you are glad you made?

    I need some moral support since my husband and I made an impulse purchase that we love but will require a lot of work to fit into our home…a very beautiful table with a lot of character.

    1. TL -*

      My cat was a semi-impulse purchase – I’d been thinking it would be feasible to have a pet for a while but my then-flatmate veto’d a dog. I went to the pet store on a bad day, got the okay to get kitty (who had spent 15 minutes cuddled in my lap) and bought her the next day.

      She’s lovely and I am really glad I got her.

    2. Laura H.*

      A purple Ambercrombie and Fitch T shirt I bought while my Kiwi friend visited- she somehow convinced me to go to a mall with her. My favorite color and makes me think of her. Win win.

      It also has a front pocket and is super soft.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      A dress at a high-end flea market (I couldn’t try it on first). Turned out that with minimal tailoring (a little too long for me) it fit perfectly and I’ve been complimented on it by someone almost every time I wear it.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      A new refridgerator and stove. They arrive in a couple weeks!

      I hadn’t been thinking about buying appliances at all, but then there was a good sale a couple months ago and it got me to looking. I’ve been admiring the French door fridges for quite awhile (several years), but it wasn’t in the budget. Plus I just didn’t feel as though I could justify it since there’s nothing wrong with the one I have now and it seemed as though I got it only a few years ago. Well, another sale came around and I went for it. Got the stove, too, even though I didn’t *need* it. Lead time on delivery was a month+ because of the sale, so buyer’s remorse set in. Then I was looking through pictures of when we did the kitchen remodel at the old house and realized we bought our current fridge and stove more almost 15 years ago! I ceased feeling guilty for making such a big purchase, as I didn’t feel frivolous anymore.

    5. Overeducated*

      It wasn’t quite impulse because I thought about it for weeks, but I bought a new hybrid bike this summer even though I *could* keep on fixing and riding my heavy old used mountain bike. It was several hundred dollrs for a want, not need. I LOVE it and since i use it for commuting, it makes my life better on a near daily basis.

    6. Intel Analyst Shell*

      Instant Pot during Amazon Prime Day. We have ZERO counter space and had to completely rearrange our kitchen to make it fit, but that thing is amazing.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes to the Instant Pot! That was definitely an impluse buy for me and I’m glad I did. I don’t use it as often as I’d planned, but it’s definitely my go-to appliance for big batches of seasoned rice, pressure cooking chicken breasts and hard boiling eggs.

    7. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Not so much impulse as me waiting for the seller to give us the option to pick up at a retro gaming convention he’s organizing in November, but I ordered some retro gaming stuff a few days ago that I’m excited to go pick up.
      Only less than a month left :p

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Ok I need to know…what’s retro gaming and where do I find more about the con if it is what I’m hoping.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Well, it’s in Europe so…If you’re in the US, you’re out of luck on this specific one (although retro gaming is REALLY big in the US too – I recommend MetalJesusRocks on YouTube, he also does buying guides if you don’t know where to start. There’s also Ed’s Retro Geek Out on YouTube, he also collects toys, especially Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.) You can probably find something in your area though. There’s also usually retro gaming stands at things like Comic Con. The specific one I’m going to is basically a local retro gaming store renting a big sports hall and inviting other stores (including foreign ones) and other collectors seeking to get rid of their doubles to rent a few tables and sell their stuff. It’s really fun – he also did a smaller event on his store’s lawn that was basically a flea market but it was only games.
          Basically, it’s ALL THE OLD VIDEO GAMES (although most also collect for modern systems). Things like NES, SNES, and any Sega consoles are obviously considered retro, but where the line for “modern” begins kinda depends on the collector.
          I’m gonna warn you though – some of these games go for really high prices. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the PS1 easily goes for €200 over here, with the Limited Edition easily fetching €300.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Oh well… I’m not in Europe and I must admit I was thinking it would be fun if it were a con for old-rule RPGs.
            Have a get time!

            1. A.N. O'Nyme*

              To be fair, you might find a con for old-rule RPGs in your area. I’d suggest looking for local board game stores, I know mine does a game night every week and occasionally hosts RPGs. Or things like comic book stores or other “nerdy” hangouts might do something of the sort.

            2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

              Yes, old RPGs! There seems to be a surge in games coming out with old RPG rules!

    8. Anonymous Celebrity*

      A pair of needle-nosed pliers. I bought them after I spotted a bunch of them in a bowl at the checkout stand at an AM/PM mini-mart. They’re small, and I use them all the time. Love those things.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      When I was not long out of college and working minimum wage temp jobs after a layoff, I went to an estate sale of someone who collected wood carvings made by an Asian immigrant. I talked them down to $50 for three pieces because I simply had no more to spend and lucky for me they wanted to close up. It meant going into my savings acount to eat that week…but all these years later I still love them.

    10. Windchime*

      This is a very timely question. Short answer: A new sewing machine.

      Long Answer: I took my original machine, which is only a year old and is kind of fancy, to my sister’s house for a sewing weekend. We didn’t set up my table correctly and the end of it collapsed, sending my machine sliding off onto the floor. During the 4 weeks in the shop to have it fixed, I started researching machines in case mine couldn’t be fixed. Well, mine was fixed but it was too late; I had found a machine I really, really wanted and I finally couldn’t resist any longer and I bought it. So now I have two very nice, very different sewing machines. And an old backup machine. And a gorgeous vintage machine that is turquoise.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        congratulations! My ‘newer’ is a few years old, but the old one – the rocketeer… is here to stay!

    11. wingmaster*

      My recent impulse purchase was an online course how to start an online business. It’s taught be a lady, who has her creative studio while doing vanlife. I’ve been following her for a while, because I am interested in vanlife. She had a really great deal with this course, so I just had to take this opportunity.

    12. Elizabeth W.*

      My French press!

      I never used the 12-cup coffeemaker I had. Why I got that I don’t know, probably because it was cheap and I thought I’d need it, but I don’t generally drink coffee by the pot, so pffft. But the French press is perfect. I saw it at Tuesday Morning when I was looking for measuring spoons (didn’t find any). Google Mr. Coffee polka dot press and you’ll find it. It retailed for about $18, but they had it for $11, so I thought, why not?

      I use it every single day. I can brew exactly as much coffee as I want, and it’s large enough to make a morning cup for a guest, should I have one, heh heh. And I can use actual ground coffee. No more instant! My current favorite is Café Bustelo–very tasty and also very cheap at Aldi.

    13. Jaid_Diah*

      A 300$ picture of a what? hydrangea? I’m not sure, but it’s a really nice and big picture that I’ve got on the wall.

    14. LizB*

      A leather jacket at a consignment store. It was not expensive in the grand scheme of things but a lot more than I usually pay for a single item secondhand, but it was in perfect condition, I needed something midweight for fall weather, and I’d been toying with the idea of getting a leather jacket for a while. For me, that purchase marks the beginning of me being more adventurous with my clothing choices, which is a change in my life I’m very happy about.

      1. That's Not My Job*

        Same! I was coming here to say exactly this, are you me? Except I hadn’t been toying with the idea for a while, I just saw it on the rack, decided to try it on, and thought yeah, I could be the type of person who wears a leather jacket. Now it’s my go-to in pretty much every situation and it makes me feel like such a badass!

    15. Pam*

      Getting one big thing you love can be wonderful- now use it as a trigger to get rid of some things about which you are just ‘meh.’

      1. nice going angelica*

        This is such a good point. I feel this way about clothes. Sometimes I just need to buy a couple of things I really love to help recalibrate and clean out the rest of my closet of “this is fine” items.

    16. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      A nice ukulele. I’m a pianist with a university degree in music performance but I never had a feel for guitar. Pianos and keyboards are hard to wrangle for casual performing. My ukulele made it easier for me to perform my songs.

    17. Knitter*

      A Persian rug.
      Pre wedding, now husband and I went to buy our wedding rings. When we were waiting for them to be polished, we went to a going out of business sale at a rug store, naively thinking we could get a rug for a few hundred dollars. $900 later…. we have a beautiful rug that every day I see and smile.

  20. B12*

    Anyone out there have experience with pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency)? This is a new diagnosis for me.

    1. Book Lover*

      Typically just requires oral high dose b12 – 1000 mcg daily. Research shows injections rarely needed, though shots work too.

      Some people would recommend endoscopy to look at stomach if it truly pernicious anemia and not just regular b12 deficiency (i.e. if antibodies are positive).

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I thought that people with pernicious anemia lack the intrinsic factor they need to absorb B12 from food, so wouldn’t oral supplements be useless?

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            Ah, I see. My mother’s doctor told her the oral form would be pointless since she can’t absorb it. She does have the anti-gastric parietal cell antibodies, so maybe that’s why–or maybe their protocol is different. The more you know!

          2. Book Lover*

            Sorry, that should be if, not I’d.

            The antibodies don’t matter. Some doctors just don’t feel comfortable with oral, particularly older ones. But honestly, since anything usually works, it doesn’t matter. Some people prefer a shot and that is totally fine. Just a nice option to have oral for people who hate needles.

      2. B12*

        I did have tests come back positive for antibodies so my understanding is I can’t treat via diet or supplements. Right now I’m scheduled for weekly injections and have to meet with the doc in a couple weeks to talk about long-term plan. I’m not too keen on giving myself the injections down the line so interested to hear if oral supplements would be an option. Fingers crossed! The diagnosis came after tests for something else so it has been interesting to connect some symptoms that I didn’t think were a Big Deal (fatigue, trouble concentrating- who doesn’t have that) as well as some other symptoms that were slightly concerning but could be attributed to other things (numbness in extremities- but I’ve had numbness on and off after a surgery a few years ago). Hoping this diagnosis and treatment help with some of the issues I’ve been struggling with including the reason why I went to the doctor in the first place.

        1. Close Bracket*

          > my understanding is I can’t treat via diet or supplements.

          Not by diet, no, but by supplements, yes. I take 1000 mcg 5x per week. Basically, you bomb your system with so much B12 that even if you only absorb a very small amount, it will get you what you need. There are two steps to treatment- the first step is to get your levels back up to normal, the second step is to maintain them. I get tested yearly when I get all my other blood work. It is possible to have too much B12, and that can also cause nerve damage. So monitor! You will need to monitor more often as you try to find your maintenance dose, but once you are there, yearly should be fine.

          I never got to the point of neuropathy, but I swear I never fully recovered. I get fatigued so much more easily than I used to.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          My BIL isn’t able to absorb it orally, and must have a shot every couple of weeks. He’d much prefer taking it orally. But the shots have been life-changing for him. He tried other treatments for depression, and nothing worked, probably because it was a vitamin deficiency.

    2. Ron McDon*

      I have had b12 deficiency for about 6 months. The NHS website (I’m in the UK) has good info about it here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamin-b12-or-folate-deficiency-anaemia/.

      I was prescribed a tablet by my GP, initially once a day but when blood tests showed my levels weren’t improving this was increased to twice a day.

      I mis-timed my prescription renewal – I was told to have another blood test before renewal, but thought I still had a few weeks’ supply. Oops! I had a blood test a week ago which showed my levels are too low, so need a new prescription.

      I have been feeling really exhausted the last few weeks which I guess is due to the low level, I always feel much better when I’m taking the tablets. I also take iron tablets as my iron levels are low.

      Was there anything in particular you were wondering about?

      1. Ron McDon*

        Sorry, skipped over the pernicious anaemia part in your post – believe that means tablets won’t work, so it would be injections (monthly?).

        My friend who had this was later diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, so if you have stomach/bowel issues it might be worth reading up on Crohns as apparently the b12 deficiency can mimic/hide Crohns symptoms.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I do a lot of alternative stuff, so I ended up on B12 at one point. omg. “So this is what it is like to feel like a human being again!” I take other Bs now and only a little of the 12. I miss the 12, it was great.

    4. Stephanie*

      Yup, I’ve had it! Apparently, this was some of the cause of my premature gray hair. I got on shots for about six months and that got my levels way up. Taking a supplement and occasionally eating red meat when I really feel drained has helped keep my levels at low normal to normal.

  21. Emma*

    I’m moving 4 floors up in my apartment building into my very first one-bedroom and I’m supposed to pick up my keys today. I found out yesterday though, after I was told by the property management company that I need to bring a copy of my renter’s insurance policy for the new unit when I pick up my keys, that my insurance agent never updated the apartment number on my policy even though she told me she would over a month ago. I have a copy of the policy, which I’ll bring with me when I go to the management office, but I’m very (maybe irrationally) worries that they won’t give me my keys until my renter’s insurance policy has the right apartment number on it. Ugh.

    1. the gold digger*

      I’m more concerned that you might not have insurance on *your* apartment. If you file a claim and the apartment number on the policy is wrong, I can see the insurance company denying the claim. Your agent needs to fix that NOW!

    2. Aly_b*

      If you gave the insurance agent an effective date on the new apartment they would wait until that date to make the change; otherwise you would be un-covered in your old apartment prior to that. I would call and follow up with the agent to make sure, but if you tell the property management company that you made the switch and it is effective as of today so you don’t have the new card yet, you should be fine.

    3. Smarty Boots*

      Call your agent today and leave a voicemail, then follow up on Monday. Agent might be able to take care of it quickly.

    4. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      And I’ve had trouble with my agent not updating the actual company… I read the policy paperwork from the company (in my case, Nationwide) and finally called “them” to get the details right, and emailed my agent. I wound up paying 2 extra months of insurance on stuff I no longer have, because he was so busy.

  22. Rebecca*

    So I’m off to the Ford dealership in a few minutes on this lovely Saturday AM. Why, you ask? Recall on the seat belt, something about smouldering, fire, or something if an accident occurs. This was my Dad’s truck, and he passed away in April of last year, so Mom got the recall notice and flipped out. She was convinced the truck was going to burst into flames right there in the garage. It’s not so dire, but she insisted I make an appointment RIGHT AWAY so here I am on Saturday getting ready to take it to be fixed. The technician said about 45 minutes. Keeping fingers crossed that’s close!

    1. Enough*

      I had a Ford Windstar. It finally had 1 too many recalls that they couldn’t/”wouldn’t fix and kept the car. Finding a new car on short notice is not fun. And no negotiation on the price they pay you.

    2. Amadeo*

      LOL, I just got both that and the door latch thing fixed on mine yesterday. I wasn’t really concerned about either, but I don’t think my insurance likes the recalls being open, so I just killed two birds with one stone. My dealership is a gem and came and did a switcheroo at my work (left me a loaner, took my truck, fixed it, brought it back). Only time I was out was going down to the parking lot to switch keys with the driver.

    3. Mimmy*

      We just got a Ford F150 a month and a half ago and right away we got the seat belt recall notice. It shouldn’t take too long to fix.

  23. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    2 very different questions:

    1) The hubs has a bit of student loans (not much). Separately, he has $10k on a credit card, which I consider a lot. Mostly due to life (single mom, no dual income family to help him get a car/necessities early in his career). It used to be $15k, but he paid off some so it’s now $10k, and he pays off more than the minimum every month.

    Should I be worried? Also, I don’t want kids until it’s paid off..

    2. Any good healthy autumn lunch/dinner recipes? Kinda tired of the usual celery, potatoes, carrots…

    1. ten-four*

      It sounds like you are worried, so my vote is to throw some data at it. For our mortgage we have a table showing the dates for each payment, what percentage is paying down the debt and what’s servicing the interest, and a paid off date. In our case the bank actually gave us that info – maybe they do that for credit cards too? It’s helpful to see, and we’ve thrown more money at the mortgage whenever we can because we can SEE exactly how much money that extra ultimately saves us.

      Also, this way you’ll know what the end date is if he keeps on his current rate of pay, which should help you answer the timing/kids question.

      Ultimately you guys should have a plan you agree on for money, credit, and kids and since those are maybe the most emotionally fraught topics ever it’s nice to move the conversation from values and feelings to data and timelines!

      1. CAA*

        That’s called an amortization table. I don’t think a bank will give you one for a credit card, because in order to calculate it, you need to know the loan amount, number of payments and interest rate. Credit card debt amounts and interest rates can change, so a bank can’t really commit to an amortization schedule.

        However, you can calculate this yourself in Excel or Google Sheets based on the current debt amount and interest rate. To figure out when the current charges will be paid off if you don’t charge anything new and the bank doesn’t change the interest rate, use this formula: =NPER(x%/12,-y,z,0,0)
        x = annual interest rate
        -y = amount you’re paying monthly as a negative number
        z = amount of debt, in this case $10,000

        The result of this formula is the number of monthly payments left to make on the debt.

        Once you know the number of payments, you can easily make an amortization table. It’s a little complex to describe in words, so I’ll just recommend googling for an online tool or an existing spreadsheet.

      2. kerlin*

        This, this, this. I also have that spreadsheet, but I built it myself. I did one for my student loans and car loan before I paid them off, and have one for our HELOC right now. It makes a HUGE psychological difference for me “If I pay $25 extra instead of going out to eat, that’s X% and X weeks sooner to getting out of debt.”

        In the scheme of things – and especially considering he’s already paid off 1/3 of it! – $10k is not too much. I would not stress about it. Now, if it were $10k and he was blase about it and it was slowly creeping up…that would be worrisome to me. But he’s clearly taking it seriously and heading in the right direction.

      3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        Actually, my wells card showed how long it would take me to pay off (10 years?) at minimum payment, printed right on the statement. I did manage to throw every thing at it I could and it took a year (and my balance was just over that), then wound up using it all up again. But at least I proved I “could” do it and can do it again. And look at the accrued interest on it for the year (also on the statement)… I was shocked at how much I was paying in interest.
        At the very least, have the communication talk. One of our big disconnects is that we were never on the same page financially and it was just one of the flags I ignored, to my peril.

      4. Lady Alys*

        3rd on the spreadsheet amortization tables. They are so very satisfying to test different scenarios on. Check out vertex42 dot com; he’s got lots of templates for loans and other things to track.

    2. Ender Wiggin*

      Credit cards are usually very high interest. It would most likely be better to take out a lower interest loan and pay off the entire credit card, then pay the loan off. If the loan has a lower interest than the credit card and he continues paying as much as he has been, he will be able to pay it off much quicker.

    3. SemiRetired*

      I couldn’t resist googling around a little bit since $10,000 didn’t seem that bad to me. Turns out the average debt for Americans is now $5,300 so 10 is a little high. Another source said that a criteria for “too much debt” is if the payment is more than 10% of your income, e.g. >$400 if your monthly income is $4000.
      One method I’ve used when I have a debt I can pay off in a year is to transfer it to one of those low or zero-interest offers. There is a charge – usually 3 or 5 percent – so you have to do the math to figure out if it would save you money on interest.

  24. Loves Libraries*

    I had a surprise last night. My daughter told me one of her male high school classmates came out to the class group me as a trans lesbian. These students are now sophomores in college. She said a few haters left the group me without saying anything but there were many kind and supportive messages. The family has been supportive too. Since I know the mother fairly well. I reached out to her too. This is my first experience with this and I was unsure what to say but the mother was appreciative. Any other ways to show support from the readers would be helpful.

    1. CheeserCheeser*

      Just talk to her (the friend/classmate) the same way you did. And be sure to use her preferred pronoun and chosen name. Beyond that it’s just about treating all people with respect. This is no different. (And don’t ask questions you wouldn’t ask a straight cisgender person!)

      1. CheeserCheeser*

        Oh! Forgot to add… and talk to the mother/parents just as you always did. Ask how kid is doing, etc. Just act as you did/would have before.

    2. Llellayena*

      One of my friends transitioned and she said my response was one of the best she got. I said basically: Okay…it may take me a little time to get it all straightened out in my head, but I’m happy for you and is there anything I can do to help? I think the key was acknowledging up front that I wouldn’t be able to make a perfect switchover immediately but that it didn’t mean I didn’t accept the change. Can any other trans people weigh in on how something like this would be received?

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        Honestly, I’d leave the “I might forget sometimes” out. We know you’ll forget. Everyone forgets, because they’re human and humans are kind of bad at instant name/pronoun switches. Just apologize briefly and move on if it happens. Otherwise your response sounds awesome :-)

    3. WS*

      If you misgender her or use the wrong name, don’t make a big deal, just apologise briefly, correct yourself and move on. The fact that you’re trying is very important, and I’m sure the girl’s mother appreciated a friendly comment. One of my friend’s teenagers recently came out as trans and the reactions have been all over the place.

  25. Anon anony*

    *Health Question- Sorry if TMI

    I’m in Canada for business, but I think I might have a yeast infection.I usually take Diflucan/Fluconazole, but I don’t know if I can get it OTC since I don’t live in the country. Could I still get it OTC? Should I talk to the pharmacist?

    1. Not a Mere Device*

      Start by talking to a pharmacist. If it’s an OTC drug in Canada, they’ll ask for an ID; your passport is fine. If a prescription is needed, the pharmacist or your hotel can probably refer you to a clinic.

      Also: Americans use “over the counter” to mean stuff we can just pick up on the pharmacy shelves and take to the cash register (like aspirin). In Canada “OTC” is specifically medications you have to talk to a pharmacist about: they may ask about your symptoms and whether you’ve used the medication before, as well as what other medications (if any) you’re taking and whether you have any allergies.

    2. S.Wench*

      From the WalMart.ca (Canadian extension) site, they carry CANESTEN CanesOral® Combi-Pak with one pill (Fluconazole 150 mg) to treat internally and an external cream (1% Clotrimazole). It looks like it’s OTC, and I think I remember that from my days there a few years ago.

      Best of luck.

    3. the gold digger*

      Oh man. That happened to me in England once. I went to talk to the pharmacist and this guy kept edging in to eavesdrop. I finally had to snap at him, “Do you MIND?”

      The pharmacist was great. She handed me a tube of some stuff that solved the problem.

      (And can’t you use athlete’s foot cream for a yeast infection?)

      1. Jaid_Diah*

        You got me looking this up, because the thought of anything meant for the foot anywhere near the lady part seems very, very wrong. But apparently you CAN use it on the outside.
        But. It’s not something I’d try without seeing a doctor first.

  26. Cosette*

    I guess go to the store and see if they carry it. If you don’t see it, then ask the pharmacist. If you have to see a doc, I think you can… I just don’t know how it’s handled in Canada. When I was in the UK on business I had to go to the ER and they never even asked about my status. Although it may be different now. That was a long time ago.

  27. Cherry*

    Around how long after taking Xanax or ambien the night before can I drive in the morning? Def did not mix the two and def no alcohol involved. Just feeling a little tired but I don’t know if this is regular tired or don’t drive tired.

    1. Windchime*

      I would say that if you aren’t sure, assume it’s “don’t drive tired”, for the safety of both you and others. Better to be safe than sorry.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Ask your personal pharmacist. They should know and they’ll take into account all your other medical info that would factor into the answer. Best of Luck!

    3. ..Kat..*

      Eight hours at a minimum. It is best to try out the medication on a night when you don’t have to go anywhere the next day. People respond differently. You may find you are fine after 8 hours,you may find yourself sleepy still after 12 hours. But if you still feel sleepy the next day, you are not okay to drive.

    4. Not a cat*

      I would say 8 or 9 hours. It took my body some time to adjust to the meds. The first month or so I was really tired all the time.

  28. Myrin*

    I need help finding a song!

    During work at the store today, a song came on which I already heard during my last shift and which I’d like to listen to more often. I had only remembered a few words and couldn’t find it afterwards, so I jotted down some of the lyrics today and I still can’t find it anywhere!

    So, does anyone know a song (sung by a man) with a chorus of “I don’t need to be famours … I don’t need to make movies, drive fancy cars” and then several different parts like “every day gets a little bit harder … I wanna be strong … I wanna be just like (you??) … hold me, never let go”

    One would think that this is actually specific enough for good ol’ Google but there are so many songs with variations of “I don’t wanna be XY” that it seems to be getting confused or something.

      1. Myrin*

        How is it that during all my various searches, this has never come up once?? That is indeed the song, thank you so much, I knew I could count on the commentariat even when it comes to benign stuff like this!

        1. OperaArt*

          Search tip: use quotation marks. I didn’t know the song, but I used quotation marks in my search. My search string was something like:
          “I don’t need to be famous” “drive fancy cars”
          Thanks for introducing me to the song.

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      Glad another AAM-er helped out here.
      The Shazam app will identify a song for you, but you might not be able to use it at work. :)

  29. AnonForThis*

    A friend of mine’s boyfriend was arrested under pretty disturbing charges yesterday. We’re all reeling, no one really had a clue. So my question is, how can I support her in this really awful situation? We don’t live in the same state or talk frequently right now, but we’ve known each other forever and are pretty good friends. I just have no clue what to do for her –no etiquette books teach you how to handle this sort of situation.

    1. ten-four*

      Maybe treat it like any other awful emergency? Which still doesn’t give a lot of guidelines, I know. She might want to crawl into a hole or she might want to talk or she might want something else, so the right thing might be to call/email and say “I’m so sorry and I’m here for you if you need a listener or if you want to talk about something else or whatever else you need.” And then follow up on a schedule that makes sense – like put in a call every other week and an email the off-week with the idea that being there is the useful thing.

      Oh, and if you need to talk about whatever the awful charges are talk to someone else – comfort in, dump out!

    2. Been there...*

      Okay we had a long term boyfriend of a friend arrested for pedo material possession sometimes back. Friend was blindsided, furious/feeling stupid/horrified and still in love, so loads of conflicted grieving. It was a mess to untangle but she said it helped that we called and also still talked about everything other than the situation.

      I’d suggest Call (or text) “oh wow that was awful, want to talk a about it? Want to talk about anything else? Anything I can do? Thinking of you.” And periodically check in (say every two weeks).

      Better be a bit rude/awkward but there than make her feel abandoned by not checking in.

      1. AnonForThis*

        I love the idea of checking back in every few weeks, because I know people forget and things are still bad. For now, I’m just…doing what I can. It’s just so shockingly awful.

  30. Keladry of Mindelan*

    I’m getting married next year- yay! However, family drama is driving me batty. I suppose everyone who’s ever planned a wedding has said that in the past too, and I’m just the latest to join the choir. My aunt really *really* wants to throw a shower for me, but keeps suggesting terrible ideas that I don’t want. She has a steamroller personality and is very hard to re-direct once she gets an idea into her head. We have a lot of out of state family, and she thinks that the best idea is to have my shower at the same time as her son’s wedding, so everyone can be there. I think that’s a terrible idea, because it would feel like I was trying to upstage my cousin’s wedding. After several phone calls (and she called my dad?!), I finally convinced her that timing just wasn’t going to work. All I really want is a small co-ed party with friends and my finance, because I know that things get crazy at weddings and you don’t always have the chance to actually talk to people.

    I called a close family friend to vent about this and general wedding nonsense, and I was shocked that she started out supportive but eventually took my aunt’s side and was trying to suggest ways of making a shower around my cousin’s wedding work. Which I explicitly, repeatedly, said I didn’t want. I started to feel extremely anxious while on the phone-elevated heart rate, shakiness, etc, because no one was listening to me! Sometimes I have trouble saying explicitly what I want, but I was being pretty clear and I still wasn’t being heard.

    I’m so over being stressed about this. It’s stupid, and optional, and I’m tired of the drama. But if I tell my aunt thanks-but-no-thanks I don’t want any shower at all, there’s going to be even more drama. It started as a way to keep her busy and give her a project so that she didn’t interfere with other parts of the wedding planning, but it’s becoming a bigger headache than anticipated.

    1. Julia*

      Congrats on your upcoming nuptials, Kel! (Although I’m a Kel/Dom shipper at heart, lol.)

      Is it normal for your family to have decisions taken out of your hands? Because I’d probably just tell everyone how I wanted my shower to happen, since it was MY wedding. Would you get in trouble with anyone if you did that?

      1. Keladry of Mindelan*

        Thank you! Everyone in my family is reasonable, except my aunt. I know my parents would have my back, but I always feel like I’m walking on eggshells around my aunt. When she’s nice, she’s very nice! When she’s not….everyone suffers. I could say no, but I don’t know what the fallout would look like. I’d have to catch her on the right day.

        1. Julia*

          If you’re confident your parents would have your back, why not just tell her that you’re planning your own shower? What’s the worst she could do?

    2. Aly_b*

      Any chance you can give your aunt these parameters (small and co-ed; give her a date, city, and invite list) and let her pick the details, like specific location and food or whatever? It leaves her something to do but you’ve been very clear what parameters that needs to fall within? Then if she brings those things up, you can kindly remind her that’s already set up and decided, and redirect to ask her what she’d like to serve for appetizers.

      But yeah weddings are always such a thing… but congrats nonetheless and I hope you manage to enjoy yourself!

    3. Triplestep*

      I totally agree with you on the upstaging of your cousin’s wedding. Have you spoken with him? Can he and his fiancé do anything to help you stop this? Maybe go to her as a group, as Alison so often suggests. Either way, in your shoes I would want to keep the cousin and fiancé informed so that they are not blindsided by this (or, heaven forbid, think you’re on board with it.)

      It seems worth mentioning that your aunt could well be following what she perceives to be correct shower etiquette by taking charge. I am 55 and was raised in an era where showers (baby or wedding) were not thrown by the guest of honor or her mother. That would be like asking for gifts for oneself or one’s daughter which is unseemly. Somehow it was considered OK to have an aunt or a close family friend be the host. This may be fortifying your aunt’s usual steamroller behavior. Just something to keep in mind to help you wrestle full control away from her!

    4. Operational Chaos*

      Have you talked to your cousin about their mom trying to steamroll you? A united front could be just the thing with ridiculous family stuff. Chances are, they know how to navigate her better than most people will.

    5. Jessi*

      I feel like you might get the support you need and some really good strategies for dealing with this over on justnofamily

      Sorry she is being such a pain in the butt! Can you call her and say ‘this is what I want’? I feel like she’s going to do exactly what she wants so if having a shower is really important to you I would ask someone else to throw you one

    6. LilySparrow*

      Sometimes when you have sucky family members, “no drama” isn’t an option you get to pick. There’s just a choice between complying and being miserable, or refusing and hearing a lot of noise. It stinks either way, but it does help a bit knowing you have some choice.

      For me, if that’s my choice, I’ll choose the noise. Nobody can force you to attend a party you don’t want. There’s nothing rude about saying “no thank you.”

    7. Theodoric of York*

      Remember: it’s your wedding. You outrank your aunt. If you say no, there’s nothing she can do except get herself in trouble.

      Maybe enlist your fiance to deal with your aunt. I assume your aunt doesn’t have the same effect on him as she does on you. (Note that this volates the “you deal with your family, he deals with his family” rule.)

      Check out the Captain Awkward blog. Half the archives are letters from people trying to establish boundaries. Some are from brides.

      1. Spirals*

        +1 “You outrank your aunt.” She can’t make you go! Pull the bridezilla card if you have to.

        Is there an even less dangerous task you can give her? Say, organizing party favors for the shower/wedding (worst case scenario she gets everyone lots of crazy presents)? Or wildly tacky centerpieces? Picking out the best toaster for your registry? I also agree with enlisting your cousin/other family to shut her down.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Don’t tell your aunt anything. She can’t focus on stuff if she doesn’t know it.
      the shower: “Oh, it’s covered, thanks for offering! did you see *show*”
      in general: “thanks, I’ll think about it. *subject change*” or “It’s handled/covered/under control, thanks for asking. *subject change*”

    9. Adele*

      Just say no to all showers. They are an outdated custom and it is ridiculous to have a party at which others are expected to give two grown-ups gifts, especially since they will already be giving you a wedding present. If you and your fiance want a party to see people, then throw the party yourselves and don’t call it a shower.

    10. Dr. Anonymous*

      Perhaps you could hide behind Miss Manners. It is technically rude for family members to throw the shower. You could have a friend do it and not tell your aunt who it is until the invitations have to go out. No matter what you will do this auntcwill create drama, so you can at least get some practice standing up to her in preparation for the day when you have a kid and she expects to be in the delivery room.

      1. Princess Scrivener*

        ExACTly what I came here to say! This has come up before on AAM, and I thought I’d dreamed it–family aren’t supposed to throw showers. I’d tell my Aunt there’s already shower plans in the works, and my friends are in charge.

    11. ..Kat..*

      Congratulations on your upcoming marriage.

      Might as well push back on the drama now. Otherwise, shower drama, then aunt will have wedding drama, etc, etc. Tell aunt that Miss Manners says that it is in poor taste for a relative to throw the sheer, so you will pass on her hosting.

  31. Soapy Sophie Maybe*

    Does anyone have experience handcrafting soaps? It seems so fascinating to me and I would like to try it. I like the thought of knowing exactly what is in it and also they are so beautiful. I am just not that fond of too much scent… And is it possible to make in small quantities? Just for myself and perhaps as gifts?

    1. CatCat*

      Yes! I make soaps. You have many options. Cold process and hot process are made from scratch, and melt and pour uses premade soap base. You can control how much you make, colors, and how much scent go into each batch. With hot and cold process, you also control the fats that go into the soap. I do hot process soap.

      You can get beginner kits for soap making. Brambleberry has kits.

    2. Book Lover*

      Melt and pour is fun and easy, pretty safe, and not too pricey. Though you will spend more than if you just bought the soap :)

      You can buy smaller or bigger blocks to make more or less soap. Then you need molds, dye, maybe some cute inserts

    3. anon24*

      (going to plug a specific company and soap. I’m not affiliated with them but I just made this soap and I’m ridiculously excited about it).

      I make melt and pour. It’s so fun and easy. Ive found its much cheaper to get my supplies online from a supplier. I get mine from candles and supplies (.com) and I just made a lovely soap out of their honey ale base melt and pour. It’s made with beer and smells wonderful as is (and I don’t even like beer) or you can do what I did and add a hint of apple scented oil for a honey apple ale soap. 2 pounds is about $8 and you’ll get 6-8 bars out of it depending how big your molds are.

    4. Amadeo*

      Yes, I make and sell cold process. You can make batches any size you want to! I’d suggest one or two pounds of oils for you to start off with. Use a stick blender (make sure the shaft and blades are stainless steel, lye destroys aluminum and will ruin your soap), and start with a simple, recipe, say, 80% lard, 20% coconut oil. Anything higher in the coconut oil may be drying if your skin is sensitive.

      Check out places like SoapQueen (dot) com (lots of videos), the Soap Making Forum (lots of super helpful and knowledgeable people) and familiarize yourself with a lye calculator like soapcalc (dot) net or soapee (dot) com.

  32. Ginger ale for all*

    Anyone getting lottery tickets for the one that is over a billion dollars at this time? I keep thinking about it and it just seems like that amount of money would be a huge problem. I would think that I would become a target for so many people. What does everyone else think about winning that size of a jackpot?

    1. Anonymous Celebrity*

      I have no trouble at all saying a firm “no” to anyone who tries to take my money for any reason whatsoever, including people with “great business investment opportunities” or people with sad stories. I’d love to win. My problem – and I consider it a minor one and one I’d be happy to deal with – would be deciding whether to take the money in a lump sum or as a payout over time, and then how to invest the money safely and in the most tax-advantaged way. Also, I’d need to decide what to buy in terms of real estate, because I know I’d want a second home. I’d need to conduct some research and would definitely want to hire competent professional help on a fee-for-service basis (no commissioned agents). Over $1 billion? Yeah, bring it on! Well worth whatever hassle would come with it.

      1. Stan Lee (not the famous one)*

        “My problem – and I consider it a minor one and one I’d be happy to deal with – would be deciding whether to take the money in a lump sum or as a payout over time, and then how to invest the money safely and in the most tax-advantaged way.”

        Payout over time. I don’t know if it’s the same in all states, but here in NY if you go with the annuity it’s one payment each year over 25 years. So $1.6 billion, the current jackpot, divided by 25 is $64,000,000 a year for 25 years. Put aside 50% of that for taxes, and you still have $32,000,000/year free and clear – that breaks down to $615,384.61 a week after presumed taxes, every week, for 25 years. I’m sure you can set aside enough of that to make sure you have a steady income after the 25 years, and still live very comfortably off the rest.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I never buy tickets until it gets to the ridiculous stage, such as now. And only because my husband nagged me. If I won, I think my first visit would be to a lawyer in order to get advice and to appoint someone to present the ticket for me. I’d try to be as anonymous as possible. For that sum of money at least. Then I’d probably visit a financial advisor.

      I can’t fathom that much money but it’s sure fun to dream about!

    3. Seal*

      I am! I live in one of the states where the winner can choose to remain anonymous, so I’m all set. My plan is to give a substantial chunk of it away, after making sure my family is taken care of. Being able to given substantial donations to causes and organizations I believe in would be very gratifying. That is, if the shock of winning that much money doesn’t kill me on the spot, of course!

    4. Thursday Next*

      When I occasionally fantasize about winning the lottery, I realize the amount I actually “need” to win is small. That is, the things I’d be able to address in my life with money are relatively limited. (My illnesses wouldn’t be cured if I had more money, for example. But we’d be able to shorten our commutes.)

      The big thing for me would be the ability to secure my child’s future after I die, and to be able to help other children with disabilities. I’d love to be able to give endowments to special education schools, and fund a kickass co-op community for adults with developmental disabilities.

    5. LNLN*

      My husband bought a lottery ticket yesterday (we don’t usually do so) so we talked about this over dinner. If you win and take the lump sum, you get less than the billion dollars. And then taxes take about half of what you do get. We talked about researching what charities do the most amount of good (by our standards). We definitely would donate most of the money because we really don’t need anything ourselves.

    6. CAA*

      Not so much about winning, but about the psychology of playing … why does everybody rush out to buy tickets when the jackpot goes up? Was it not worth the effort when the jackpot was “only” $10M?

      1. ThatGirl*

        I mean, yeah — people see the chance to win an unfathomable amount of money. Plus I don’t really ever buy lotto tickets unless it’s very high, it seems frivolous to spend money on weekly but I can justify it during these every few years enormous jackpots. And it’s fun to daydream.

      2. Elizabeth W.*

        I think you have a better chance of winning after a big jackpot than actually when it happens. Or say, Lotto vs. Powerball, because less people go for Lotto.

        It’s all a crapshoot, though. The odds are against you.

        1. ThatGirl*

          The odds are the same no matter when you play. More or fewer people buying tickets doesn’t really matter, it’s not like a raffle where someone will win every time.

        2. The Mayor*

          It doesn’t work that way. Your odds are the same no matter the jackpot. How many people play has no effect on whether you have the correct numbers.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        It almost feels stupid not to buy a ticket?
        Hey for two bucks you have a one in a gazillion chances of changing your life and the lives of everyone around you. Why not.

      4. Stan Lee (not the famous one)*

        “Was it not worth the effort when the jackpot was “only” $10M?”

        I know! I guess it’s human nature to dream as big as you can. I’d be thrilled to win $10 million.

        It’s weird to think of the Powerball jackpot as being “only” $620 million (nobody won yesterday’s drawing). A mere bag of shells.

    7. Nancie*

      My first appointment would be with a lawyer, to see about setting up an LLC. That can be a workaround in some states that don’t allow complete anonymity. Next stop would be a financial advisor.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I’ve heard you need a trust (in the U.S.). Your lawyer would claim the prize on your behalf. You might need to sign the back of the ticket with the trust’s name, not your name. Definitely get the lump sum. Otherwise, you’re trusting the lottery to still exist unchanged in rules/laws for 30 years!
        Best of Luck!

      2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        Some states will allow this or a trust if set up before you win. Some states demand a name and no anonymity–that’s in the lottery rules.

    8. Tau*

      I found a very scary article about what happens to lottery winners a while ago – might go see if I can dig it up, but the upshot was that lottery winners have a much higher chance of going bankrupt (yes!), being murdered, being defrauded, having family and friends turn on them, etc. than the average population. The advice was basically to immediately go speak to a lawyer about your situation and how to protect yourself. And to use a reputable lawyer that wasn’t connected to any of your existing social circle, definitely not the friendly family lawyer.

      Personally, giant jackpots have never tempted me even before that article. The “continual income for the rest of your life” ones are far more appealing! But at the end of the day the statistics are definitely not on your side, anyway.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s probably helpful to know how not to act like a jerk and/or not make very poor choices.

      2. Stan Lee (not the famous one)*

        “The “continual income for the rest of your life” ones are far more appealing!”

        I’m with you there! But if you take the annual payment option for Mega Millions and Powerball, you have a guaranteed income for a very long time, and a good financial advisor can help you parlay some of that into additional income after the annuity payments stop.

      3. Wishing You Well*

        The people who went broke almost all won less than $5 million. Most lottery winners do just fine, but those aren’t the stories people want to read about!
        The trick is to stay anonymous. If you can’t, tell your relatives that after you die, it ALL goes to charity. That way, if they want money out of you, it has to be while you’re ALIVE!
        Best of Luck!

    9. Rebecca*

      I’m in the office pool, that’s it. I’d love to have a share of it, so I could provide for my Mom and daughter, and give money to charity.

    10. Ms Cappuccino*

      Not hard to handle. Keep a few millions for you and your relatives, distribute the rest to charities of your choice. Or even create your own charity. It will keep you busy and you will be useful. Having one billion for oneself is useless.

    11. Notthemomma*

      This! Hubby and I have a plan- we both come down with a horrid ‘flu/contagious illness’ and call out from work, make an immediate appointment with a tax attorney, account and create a team to handle the financials. Put ourselves on a strict budget that we cannot acces more than double our combined salaries the first year for anything we haven’t spent money on before excluding the items below. Change our bank accounts to the highest level security so not all bank staff can access them. Change our phone numbers and create new emails. Hire an IT person to lock down our online identities and other electronic access. Hire a security company to audit home security. Have all mail forwarded to a PO Box. This should put a wall between us and the crazies until we figure out the rest of our lives. Once this is bone we will come forward to claim the prize. Oh, and I would probably color my hair first.

      But on the $10 he spent last night, we win $2; so not a plan we will enact soon.

    12. matcha123*

      I would love to win the lotto, just like almost anyone else. The money would help my family so much and really allow us to heal ourselves and focus on our health.
      I would be tempted to help friends, but I would want and need to make sure that I am taken care of first.

    13. Loopy*

      I thought about it and then read the chances of winning and that killed any fun so I’m skipping it. I indulging in some planning/daydreaming prior to that though. My biggest plan would to be secure anonymity and very trustworthy legal and financial counsel- the kind that is reputable and experienced in dealing with clients who have massive amounts of money.

      I’ve actually been quite scared of the many lotto-winner horror stories. I love the previous poster’s idea of not being able to access more than double their salary the first year.I’d definitely want to put safeguards in place. I’d do a lot of planning before I let myself touch the money for *anything*- even charity. I’d force myself to go on living my life as is as the shock and reality sunk in. I’d probably then start considering things like a nice trip out of the country, supporting family, and maybe a very modest house upgrade as my splurges.

    14. msroboto*

      I am willing to take my chances. I am pretty decent with money. I would contact my attorney to set things up.
      I have ideas of sensible things I might like to do. Pay off the house. Replace my 11 year old car. Help some family.
      I think I can handle it.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I would stay anonymous.
      If that’s your plan too, read the rules about staying anonymous BEFORE signing the ticket.

    16. TheTallestOneEver*

      I’m playing on my own and as part of a group at work. For half a billion dollars (after taxes), I can afford a new name, new identity, new face, new everything. LOL!

    17. Dance-y Reagan*

      I’m in a work lottery, which I actually joined merely to make connections as a new employee! There are more than fifty people in it, so every time the lottery gets huge I’m actually mentally calculating everyone’s share.

      Despite the organizer being very organized and above-board with tracking everyone’s contributions, there’s never been a discussion over how winning would be handled. I can only assume we’d all fight over taking the annuity versus the lump sum.

      TL;DR: I tend to assume winning would be a giant pain in the ass.

    18. Elizabeth W.*

      I might or might not buy a ticket. My chances (indeed, all our chances) of winning are almost nil. However, if I did, I have NO problem saying no to people or fending them off, because I have a relative who likes to make up to people whenever she wants something. I’ve gotten very good at deflecting that sort of thing. As charities/non-profit gifts go, it would probably be the same ones, just a larger amount.

      If I did win that or another prize or somehow came into a large sum, first I’d find a good accountant. I’d pay the taxes. Then I’d pay off all my school loans, and my house. Then I’d give my parents some money (no one else until I worked out my own income from investments, etc.). Then I’d sell my house and get the hell out of here.

      I’d live pretty close to the way I do now–I’ve got no desire for jewels, fancy outfits, mansions, yachts, or anything like that. Just a nice, slightly bigger house that isn’t crappy, decent furniture, and more than one bathroom! I’d probably travel a lot, and that is where I’d splurge.

    19. KOKO*

      I’ve never and will never buy a lottery ticket. That amount of money would ruin my life. It can still be fun to think about what you would do though. I’ll buy scratch tickets very occasionally. I would much rather win $10,000 over hundreds of millions of dollars.

    20. Jaid_Diah*

      I’d lawyer up and set up a an LLC/trust, and use that to sign the ticket. That should help preserve some amount of privacy. Also delete my Facebook account.
      I’d pay off my bills and take care of the immediate family. I don’t have kids, my brother doesn’t have kids, so setting up a foundation for underprivileged youth it is.
      The condo in the city and a new car also await!

    21. The Cosmic Avenger*

      No, I’m not buying any tickets, but I think I would handle it well if I suddenly became rich. Those two probably aren’t unrelated. :)

      My partner and I have always been savers, we’ve lived well below our means for our entire lives. The core principle of frugality is not buying cheap, it’s buying sensible. If I could afford a yacht without it having a noticeable impact on my finances…well, I still wouldn’t buy a yacht, because right now I don’t live close enough to the water to be able to use it very often. But I might look into moving to a waterfront property if I could afford it, and THEN see about buying a yacht. I might not want one if I could see the shore from my house.

      So I wouldn’t really change anything except probably giving notice at my job and then taking the time to decide what I wanted to do with my time if money really was no object. I wouldn’t expect to be any happier, because we already have enough money to do any one thing we want, but right now doing one big thing would set back our retirement plans, so we’re mostly choosing to save instead of spend, although we’ve been able to loosen the reins a bit the last few years or so.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        Same here. Chances of me being the winner are so so so low that it’s not worth it.

        On the other hand, I’m sure I’d be fine if I won. I’d help out my immediate family. Retire very early. But the same kind of house I plan to buy in the next few years to stop renting. Might replace my car because I don’t love it but it would be a car that is less than $45,000. But other than that I’d just happily start my retirement early.

        I’m perfectly happy with my current lifestyle and live below my income already. I just wanna retire now and not 11 years from now at the earliest. I don’t need material things; I just want more free time.

    22. Slartibartfast*

      I did. The very first thing I would do, even before telling anyone except my husband, is talk to a lawyer and a financial advisor. I realize I have a better chance of getting struck by lightning while writing this comment, but eh, why not? I also don’t play unless it’s insanely high.

    23. MsChanandlerBong*

      We never play, but we might buy a few tickets. Things we’d do if I won:

      * Start a Volunteers in Medicine clinic in our city to provide medical care to the working uninsured.
      * Donate $1 million to the university hospital to support health initiatives for the homeless and indigent.
      * Start a business incubator in the city that would offer support to entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses (access to marketing expertise, legal advice, app developers, IT consultants, etc.).
      * Donate a bunch of money to the local zoo, botanic garden, aquarium, symphony, and musical theater programs.
      * Create several scholarship funds.
      * Create something called The Freelancer Fund, which would help people who freelance for a living pay high medical bills, veterinary expenses, or other unexpected expenses. It is more difficult to get a loan when you freelance, so this would be an alternative.
      * Start a sanctuary for senior cats and dogs.
      * Quit a job, start a family foundation, and spend our time running the foundation.
      * Travel as much as possible.

    24. Not A Manager*

      “What does everyone else think about winning that size of a jackpot?”

      Every time I’ve won a billion dollars, it’s been a huge hassle. I just don’t bother anymore.

    25. LAMM*

      My boyfriend and I were just talking about this earlier. We also don’t by lotto tickets unless the jackpot is a stupid amount (although we’ve purchased a few powerball tickets as well because, hey, $400 mil is better than nothing and we’d typically start buying tickets at the $400-$500 mil mark).

      He was not surprised to hear that I would most likely not quit my job because 1) I’m a workaholic 2) mostly enjoy my work and coworkers despite how much I complain about them sometimes and 3) I would get bored with myself. He, on the other hand, would start phasing himself out (family business owned by him and his dad) to pursue his various hobbies.

      All I’d want to do is pay everything off, invest a bunch and donate to a few choice charities. And pay for my sisters’ college. Of course the first thing I would do is find a lawyer.

    26. Lora*

      I threw $5 into the work pool. Mostly because I had $5 to spare.

      I would pay off my house, do some repairs, and probably buy a couple of small studio apartments in countries I enjoy visiting and sublet them most of the year. Hire a caretaker for my home Have a financial advisor set up the rest to earn interest and not quit my job and be very quiet about it.

      My aunt and uncle got a large court settlement when one of their children was gruesomely killed in an accident caused by the negligence of a trucking company. They bought a large house to take care of my grandparents for a while but divorced about five years later. The money was almost entirely spent on healthcare, nursing support, room and board and repairs and home/car/etc insurance (multiple car wrecks due to granddad didn’t want to give up his license) for my grandparents; the rest was spent on their younger, shiftless kids who totaled cars driving drunk, had kids they couldn’t afford, etc.

  33. Desperately recovering slob*

    I’m a naturally disorganized person who finally realized recently that he needs to get his life together.

    Been able to coast on memory thus far, and have also largely been in school with minimal life-interference, but I’ve recently done really stupid stuff like forget to pay my copay by mail and end up $250 behind, and come frighteningly close to missing deadlines. Nothing that’ll cripple me because I have the finances, but it’s still a wake-up call.

    I thought up till now that I had “too many better things to do” than to organize my life, but now I wanna grow up. Thing is, I still think writing lists down and checking them is an annoying pain in the ass, so even on the odd times when I get to do it, I don’t do it for a day/week after, because doing so summons up that much energy.

    I’m getting (I hope) better at time management, but that’s largely because of a couple of close calls I had in grad school with paper assignments that were significantly harder than undergrad. I’m trying to get a skeletal routine in place, where I clean my apartment once a week (something I also wasn’t doing, although that was more due to a really bad bout of depression). I’m trying to keep that routine up and build on top of it, starting loose and then tightening up so that I don’t balk early on.

    For those who have faced this challenge, or those who know someone who has: what’s worked? What should I avoid?


    1. Anonymous Celebrity*

      Coming up with a budget for the year (in monthly, weekly, or whatever time increment works best for you), and use Excel spreadsheets to track your income and outgo (backed up in the cloud and updated as needed, then re-uploaded with the most current information every time I change something), signing up for auto-pay, and setting up automated reminders for non-autopay bills. That’s just basic stuff that I think everyone should take advantage of. If you hate using Excel (I love it), there are online budgeting tools you can use (I’ve never used them, but I I’ve read plenty of comments here and elsewhere talking about them). Once you get into the habit, it’s pretty easy, and you may find that you enjoy the feeling of being on top of things. You also learn to stay within your spending limits by constantly looking at where your money goes. And with an annual budget, you can plan ahead – including planning on saving money regularly if you can afford to.

      Good luck! You can do it!

    2. CAA*

      One thing that works for me is to schedule the unpleasant tasks on my Google Calendar so they pop up on my phone. I have a rule for myself that I must do the task when it pops up, but I also do not make it last too long. My personal limit is one hour, but if yours is 15 minutes, then just schedule the 15 minutes of cleaning time more frequently and do as much as you can in that interval. You don’t have to get it all done at one go. I also save my favorite podcasts and only listen to them while I’m doing the unpleasant things.

      1. ronda*

        Google Calendar…. I put the stuff I have to do on the calendar !

        For bills, I put them in the online bill pay as soon as they come and schedule them to be delivered by the due date, but most bills are auto draft, so I dont have to do anything.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I am a naturally organized person (for most things) but don’t let that fact discourage you from these tips.

      First, I think you need to stop trying, if you are, to change everything at once. It won’t work. Relax. Choose a couple of things and take a small but important step. Your bills for one. I suggest paying them the same day you get them. If you get your mail in an outside mailbox can you open it out there and separate out the bills and personal items that you want from the rest of it (circulars, bill inserts, supermarket fliers, political ads, etc.)? If so, do that and promptly dump the unneeded stuff into your recycle bin. Bring in only what you need or want. Then pay your bills that night (or even right then): write out the checks or use your BillPayer. This is essential because it stops you putting it as a To Do for later plus you don’t spend any time or mental energy thinking about having to do it.

      Second, begin to make this your mantra: Don’t put it down, put it away, which goes pretty much hand-in-hand with number one. It doesn’t matter what “it” is. Use a scissors? Put it away where it belongs. Bought groceries? Put them all away immediately, fold and put away the bags or take them back out to your car’s trunk. Have things to go out to the garbage or to a thrift store? Take them out to the car’s trunk. (Then the next day drop by the thrift store.) Empty the dishwasher and put the dishes where they belong as soon as they are clean and dry. The point being is that you never have to search for an item. It will always be where it should be. It takes so little time to put these things away and yet left undone they cause agony and annoyance and are a waste of time. Keep saying “Don’t put it down, put it away” until it becomes an automatic response in your brain when you pick something up or bring something in.

      Third, as far as cleaning goes do you have a particular time of day you feel you might be better at it then others? For example, I get up 20 minutes earlier than I have to on weekdays and spend 15 minutes of that cleaning something. I can scrub a shower, do a quick clean-out of the refrigerator, vacuum the rugs, unload the dishwasher (if I have run it overnight), etc. You may think that 15 minutes won’t accomplish anything but I guarantee you that it does to a surprising degree. Your home will be so much cleaner–and it won’t feel as if you spend too much time cleaning.

      Fourth, because it’s closely related to number three, take 10 minutes before you go to bed to do a sweep of your home and put away any stuff that’s out of its place. De-clutter each room. This is not the time to clean but the time to pick things up and put them away. Make it neat so you like it when you see it in the morning.

    4. Forking great username*

      I have this struggle too. Making it worlds, I have a 4 and 5 year old (aka constant mess makers) and am a teacher, so every night I have papers to grade, lessons to write or create, etc. and I’m constantly forgetting about or falling behind on cleaning, getting bills sent in on time, laundry, and all those other million little tasks that come with running a household. No advice, but I sympathize!

    5. LilySparrow*

      These are things that really help me:

      Automate and delegate everything possible. All recurring bills on auto pay. Automatic overdraft coverage to transfer money from savings if needed. All recurring appointments call or text me to confirm. I absolutely loved the recurring tasks and delay-send emails on Microsoft Outlook, but I haven’t found a program that works quite the same since I left the job where I had it.

      For things like cleaning and home maintenance, the most helpful thing for me is starting my “getting ready for bed” sequence about an hour before I’m actually tired. That gives me a chance to look around and see what needs doing the next day, or pick up a couple of surface items, check my calendar, etc. Then if I want to unwind & watch TV or something, I’m already in pajamas with teeth brushed and can zonk out with peace of mind.

      The second housekeeping thing is to not sit down while I’m waiting for the coffee to brew, or the toaster to pop, or whatever. If I sit down to read or check my phone, I will zone out and wind up late & in a panic. When I use that 3-5 minutes to put dishes away or start a load of laundry, the momentum keeps me going.

      I cycle through different types of planner tools. If I have to interact with something regularly, paper is always better for me than digital. The bullet journal and the SELF journal planner were both helpful for me at different times.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I have had similar problems. For me, the most important thing was to triage. Sure, maybe you want to remake your whole personality and become super organized in every area, but that’s unlikely to happen. What happened to me when I went that route was that I didn’t make any real changes, because everything was overwhelming, and I spent a lot of time in negative self-talk.

      So decide what’s the most important to you. For me, it was finances. I also wasn’t paying bills on time, etc. There were a lot of reasons for that, but the big one is that I have a deep fear of “getting it wrong” about financial stuff and paying bills. So much that I procrastinate and “forget” what I need to do.

      So I decided to hire an assistant to come in once every two weeks and do my paperwork. I’ve had a variety of people with different backgrounds, but they were all able to open my mail or check bills online, pay the bills, files papers, etc. Hiring someone relieves me of the fear of doing something wrong, AND having someone show up at my house also forces me to sit down and go through whatever I need to look at.

      You say that you have some financial resources, so maybe something like that would work for you. Many people hire a house cleaner because they don’t want to do that work themselves. For me personally, I’d rather live in a messy space, or clean it myself, than have to be the one responsible for my paperwork.

      But whatever your most important priority is, address that. If the best solution is outsourcing that task, do it.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Yes, this is a really important point. Focus on outcomes, not process.

        A lot of life org/time mgt/self-improvement advice is all about perfecting a system or process, finding the zen of filing, or whatever. That’s great for folks who like it, but you don’t have to get a personality transplant to get a good outcome.

        Tweaking your process is only useful as long as it’s creating improved results.. So the more specific you can be about the desired results, the easier it will be to problem-solve.

    7. Birdy*

      I use the Apple reminders app on my phone to remember bills. I know when bills come each month, so I set a recurring reminder for the day each one comes and pay it as soon as possible. Every time I open my phone the reminder shows up, so it’s impossible to truly forget.

      I personally love lists, but since that isn’t your bag, maybe try using voice memos or some other voice recording app to quickly record your to dos whenever you think of them and then set a reminder to check your memos once a day or something.

  34. Étudiante*

    Pillowfight, if you have an update about your exchange student experience, I’d love to hear it.

  35. Climber*

    With the holidays coming up does anyone have any ideas on how to tell family and friends that you really don’t want more stuff? And that you’d rather not give a bunch of stuff?

    It feels like each year we are struggling to get gifts for people like my parents who older, established, don’t really need anything. But still. . . .”It’s Christmas! And you HAVE to get something!” My suggestions of “let’s go out to dinner together instead of gifts! Let’s just exchange a bottle of wine! Let’s put a low price limit on things!” are generally not received really well.
    So, I know some people are just gonna buy things and there’s no stopping them. But has anyone used a magic script in the past to tell others who might listen that really, we have enough stuff, please don’t get us more. People tend to ignore the practical and sexy gift of windshield wipers on the amazon wish list. Even the suggestion of “donate to Blah cause for me!” is usually ignored because PRESENTS! XMAS!
    (yes, I am a humbug)

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      While I love giving and receiving presents…Holy shit it sounds annoying to have your wishes ignored.
      What I usually do for people where I’m stumped as to what to get them: either give money directly or give them a gift card for a store/service I know they frequent.
      Alternatively, if you’re handy with crafts and have the time, you could do something handmade?
      …That’s all I got, though.

    2. Anonymous Celebrity*

      Me, I just flat-out told people not to buy me anything for Christmas anymore and told them I wouldn’t buy them anything for Christmas anymore. It was rough at first. The hard part is when your folks get you presents and you don’t get them anything. But after a few years they caught on and stopped with the presents. I loved Christmas as a kid, but it means nothing to me know. I usually travel around Christmas and just have fun.

      I buy gifts for the staff at my dentist because they have saved me money on getting the most out of my dental plan and because they are a great team, and it’s nothing expensive: bars of imported French soap for each person, which they love. They’re all young women, don’t make a ton of money, and really appreciate the gifts (instead of the usual box of See’s candy). Everyone else in my life has enough/plenty of money and doesn’t need anything from me. Since I’m retired, I can celebrate whatever I want whenever I want, and if I spot something I think is perfect for someone I know, I’ll pick it up and gift them no matter what time of year it is. I think it helps if you’re older and your friends/family are, too, because a lot of us as we get older don’t want to be tethered to the “holiday debt/massive outlay and hassle from buying useless, usually unneeded gifts” treadmill.

      However, I did my “don’t buy me gifts” thing when I was in my 20’s and living in my first apartment. A lot depends on your family and friends, and how attached they are to getting and giving Christmas gifts. Also, a lot depends on how willing you are to stick to your guns with people who insist on buying you things while not reciprocating (yeah, it’s hard, but it’s do-able).

      Good luck! It’s a real relief to unshackle yourself from the holiday gift treadmill – and that goes for other holiday-treadmill related activities and expenditures, not just gift-giving.

      1. Climber*

        You sound a lot like me! I really dislike the whole consumer portion of the holidays and the constant obligation. I would love to just travel and avoid the whole thing!
        Maybe I will be brave enough to tell people we’re opting out. Except for getting stuff for the kiddos!

    3. Laura H.*

      I look for things people use often and go through via wear and tear (NOT motor oil tho- that was a gift not well received. I didn’t give that one tho) Mom will appreciate an extra set of corded earbuds, brother will appreciate a new controller for the ps4- his is well used to the point of wear out. Grandy will appreciate a gift card to restaurant x where she goes regularly. I appreciate a gift certificate to get a mani pedi or to restaurants I frequent- or a gift card for rideshares.

      Experiences like theater tickets might be good bets too.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Another useful “big ticket” gift for someone on a restricted income is oil /propane delivery… Especially if delivered before the event so they can relax and turn up the heat.

    4. Drop Bear*

      We haven’t done gifts since all my kids grew up (no grandchildren so no ‘need’ to reintroduce them!). With the family members (aunts and the like) who like to see something unwrapped, we guided them to the charity that gives you a card that says ‘yay, you bought someone a chicken’ or the like – they would wrap the card and give it to us. Oxfam is the one we went with but there are probably others. Might be worth a try. Or perhaps put things on your list that you know you can donate – socks to homeless shelters or the like, but ‘sexy’/fun enough to make them want to buy them.

      1. Climber*

        I like your idea of asking for things to donate. I’ll have to think on that! LEt them wonder why I need 10 dog beds in various sizes.

        1. Red Reader*

          A friend of mine did a family thing where every adult picked a local charity or organization that was important to them, then any presents they got would be donated to that organization. Like, “I pick the local humane society, anything you give me for Christmas is going to be donated to them, so I suggest you shop off their wishlist at (link).” That way everyone still got to wrap, and do the Christmas morning unwrapping tornado, and it wasn’t just the little kids opening presents.

          1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

            I love this. I have encouraged my mom – who is now doing it – to gift to the charities in the names of the adults/families, for a number of reasons.

            One, there are so many great-grands she can’t afford individual gifts of any meaning, and she’s actually getting too fragile to even bake goodies for all of the families (all but 3 in driving distance, and I don’t want her on snowy roads for delivery, either).

            You can upstage a bit by doing by example – give to the charity early, get the notice letter, and send it to them well before Christmas with a card… and say “in lieu of a gift to you, I gave a gift in your name…” and put a wrapped copy of the letter in a box and repeat on the gift opening day. That way, they are warned in advance and have something to unwrap. Mom includes a box of chocolate, or something edible with the family gift. So there is something visible.

            Repeat every year. Consistency. Eventually, they will get it.

            Remember, though, that it is because this may be how they are trying to show their love, and they are trying to do something special for you.

            Similarly, Mom and I “do” pick the gifts to go with the family (sewing supplies/machine for third world women’s group, for the family with a quilter mom; a milk goat for the family with toddlers who drink milk; school supplies for the family with a middle schooler). So it’s not a blank check, but something she can write about “why” she chose the gift in their honor. Sometimes she ties it in with a memory (when I was four, I used to help my grandpa milk the cow in the barn in Pennsylvania…).

            She should just give as she felt like. YMMV. It just helps her not have to shop, too. (or us to have to return!).

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One caveat about charities… be aware of emotions and opinions of the recipient. If there are strong political divides, donations can themselves be a minefield.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      If you find a solution, let me know. I’ve been telling my parents for years “Don’t get me anything. I don’t want anything. Please just donate to this organization.” Then they donate to the organization… and still get me something.

      1. Climber*

        This is what makes it so hard, right? It’s like you’re saying “Stop being so generous, thanks. Signed- Ungrateful” Cultural obligation guilt is a thing.

    6. ElspethGC*

      Asking for charity gifts doesn’t just have to be “donate to this cause in my name”. There are a bunch of places (I know the biggest one here is Oxfam) that do the whole thing where you buy something on behalf of someone else. The Oxfam Unwrapped gifts (www [.] oxfam [.] org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped) mean that they can still choose something that feels meaningful and pick from different price ranges, and they still get to see you open a present(/card) and react to your gift, which is a major part of the enjoyment of gift-giving, but you don’t have any excess stuff.

      Buy a goat! Buy a pig! Buy a beehive! Pay for the school fees of a child! If you know anyone who wants to spend £500 on Christmas, buy safe water for an entire village! (Or, my personal favourite, for £12.00 you can buy a gift that means the card says “I got you a pile of poo”, aka a biodigester that turns animal muck into safe fuel.)

      I can see why people feel weird ‘just’ donating to charity when you ask that of them because it’s very culturally ingrained that when you give presents you need something to show for them, but I know that Oxfam Unwrapped gifts come with cute cards and personalised messages, so it still feels like you’re giving a gift.

    7. Red Sky*

      We made a no gifts except for children rule (4 nieces and nephews) and while the in-laws mainly abide by it they still sometimes slip in an occasional gift card or random coffee mug. Which used to be frustrating and make me feel like we had to reciprocate, but I’ve come to realize it’s my MIL love language and sometimes she just can’t help herself.

      If you have no children in your life you might want to consider sponsoring a foster kid or low-income family and asking your parents to buy presents for them.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        That’s reminds me…UGH the coffee mugs! SO.MANY.MUGS! I really wish people would stop buying those for us. We can’t even fit the mugs we bought for ourselves–that we LIKE–into the cabinet and every year someone buys us more.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      My opinion is that you should tell everyone you’re not buying for them, and don’t buy for you. If they show up with gifts and they get nothing in return, well, it’s not as if they weren’t warned. I mean, if people are ignoring and explicit request to not buy you anything and you’ve said you won’t buy, what else can you do? And if they complain about that, you told them ahead of time. It’s not as if they didn’t know. In other words, follow through on what you say.

      Probably 10 years ago or so I came to the realization that I was really, REALLY tired of always getting perfume/cologne I hated (everyone seems to think I love what they love–strong musky scents or vanilla–barf!), clothes that were too small and/or awful, and little jewelry boxes. So I told my husband that if anyone in his family asks, tell them not to get me these items. Well, they got quite huffy about it because they couldn’t think of anything else to buy. I guess they didn’t know me well enough to know what I’d actually like, and no one wanted to buy gift cards or just not buy at all. (Really, they only bought something for me because they would be seeing me and felt they had to.) They complied, though, although not happily.

      Up until a few years ago, I was all about the giving and receiving of gifts. It just didn’t seem like the holidays if I didn’t spend spend spend (not big-ticket items). But I finally realized one day (maybe three years ago?) that, for the most part, I’m just buying stuff to buy it and feel good that I gave someone something, even though that “something” was something they didn’t need/want/use a lot of the time. As with my in-laws, I was buying just to buy and have something for them since I’d be seeing them, with not much thought about what they would actually like. Finally my husband and I decided that we were only buying for the young nieces and nephews, our parents, and each other. We told everyone. And you know what? They were fine with it. The world didn’t end. Christmas still happened. And there was so much less stress to “get the shopping done” and figure out what to buy everyone. There’s still a person or two that buy anyway, but that’s fine. I don’t feel guilty that I don’t have anything for them because they were told ahead of time and make the decision to buy anyway.

    9. Loopy*

      For people who absolutely have to gift, sometimes asking for a very specific experience (usually tickets to something, a membership, or a season pass) helps at least avoid getting cluttered up with stuff.

      For those that really are stuck on the gift part being an actual thing, suggesting secret santa or white elephant with a group at least kind of minimizes it to one single gift contributed and brought home.

    10. Elizabeth W.*

      Ugh, this is my family. We alternate Christmas and Thanksgiving at my mum’s house –this year, it’s Thanksgiving. Not sure if I can make it since I might be working the day after, if I find a *thing of which we do not speak on weekends*. It’s easier when we’re not getting together. I managed to get/make stuff for everyone last year even without a job, but I can’t do that again this time.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Wont work for afults, but if the problem is childrennn
      The craziest over shopper was my motherinlaw. No matter how often I told her we don’t need so many toys or so many clothes or so much candy, she gave too much. So one year when my child’s bedroom had gotten clutterbombed, I asked my MIL to come help her clean her room because “sometimes we just don’t want to hear it from our mother.”
      It was a hellish day for all of us… but she gave less stuff at the next gift giving occasion.

    12. Aphrodite*

      Well, I am crazy about the holidays. Always have been but especially now that I am taking charge of what I am willing to do and not do. Also, I don’t have many gifts to buy: Mom (who is bedbound in the final stage of her life), two sisters, one brother, a niece, two best friends. I might gift my wonderful boss a small thing like like homemade herb butter.

      Mom will get, at most, a few See’s suckers which she loves (or loved) but I actually think nothing other than a visit from me is what she will love the most. I asked my sister for gift ideas about a month ago and two days ago she sent me a very short list so I ordered one item and it came today. My brother will get a couple of books I know he’ll like. My other sister just likes to shop so she gets a gift card to her favorite store. My niece, on my sister’s urging, sent a short list; she’s a passionate cook and baker and asked for a silicone brush so that’s on it’s way. One friend will get a lovely selection of black teas–her favorite thing is to sit and read with a cup of tea–and my other friend loves the lavender-scented hand lotion she found when she visited me a couple of years ago and we discovered this lavender farm while driving around the valley that had products using its own lavender.

      I am easy to shop for. I keep a folder on my computer where I bookmark things I need or want all year. I often edit this list as I learn I am not as interested as I first thought but when things are on there and stay on there I know I can and will use them. So when she asked I was able to send her about 20 items in her price range or lower. They are all practical and useful and I need them. My mother’s gift to each of us is $400 (though she no longer writes the checks) and I asked my sister to spend most of mine on three sets of bed sheets in nice, crinkly percale.

      I admit I do not like the charity ideas. I’d far rather get nothing than have someone way a donation has been made in my name even to a charity I support. I donate as often as I can to cat rescues and to a lesser extent rape crisis shelters. But that wouldn’t be a gift to me. I’ll do it.

      I actually thought about no gifts this year (other than from the cats to me; they insist). Maybe next year. Shopping for others gives me pleasure. But if it stops being so, then I will stop too, and fortunately I doubt I’ll get any argument as we are all getting older and stuff is, well, just stuff. (That’s why the practical things are so good.)

      A final thought: I was the first child of my generation so when I was born my parents and their siblings agreed that regardless of how many children there would be the families would not gift each other’s children. So I never received gifts from my aunts and uncles and it was several decades I found out how unusual that was. Once my generation started having children I stayed by that same rule, though some people didn’t like it.

      I personally don’t believe Christmas is for children. I take immense pleasure in it. But then I set the tone and do not allow any retail or commercial pressure to influence me. It stays a fun, lighthearted holiday with gorgeous lights, fun community events, good feelings and more.

    13. MsChanandlerBong*

      We used to exchange gifts with my husband’s whole family, but I put my foot down after we were told that if we bought gifts for all the kids, we had to keep them in our car trunk and hand them out as people left because one of the kids gets upset if she sees another kid getting a gift. I’m not going to stand outside in the snow waiting for people to leave so I can slip them gifts like somebody selling stolen goods out of the back of a van, all because one kid doesn’t know how to behave.

      The only people we exchange with now are our parents and my brother. My MIL always wants to buy me something frivolous (her words), but she will usually listen if I say I don’t want anything frivolous and ask for a gift card. This year, I told everyone I want Amazon gift cards because I want to put them all toward an expensive DSLR camera.

    14. skylight*

      My in-laws switched to a draw-names method. Each adult only buys one gift for another adult and we all adhere to the same gift limit. In November, names are drawn, everyone is nudged to update their gift lists. Everyone pretty much sticks to the lists so it works well.

      My side won’t do this so we adult siblings agreed not to buy gifts for adults, only kids. For my parents, I buy them really nice, really warm socks or gloves (they live in a cold climate and will wear socks even after they get holes in them) or coffee. They don’t seem to mind that the gifts don’t vary much. As for them buying for me, well, I can’t get them to stick to my requests/needs, so if they get me something I can use, great, if not I donate it and don’t feel guilty because someone else is benefiting. My mom is the type that asks if she doesn’t see her most recent gift in the house during a visit, so I just say, “oh, I knew someone else who really wanted that so I gave it to them.”

    15. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My magical solution: attempt to return things to stores (remarkably successful); regift; donate, or trash (rare). If someone is upset, then they really shouldn’t have gotten me anything.

    16. Ginger Sheep*

      So, maybe a dissenting opinion. I’m a low-income, single mother. I am not poor, but I definitely don’t allow myself to buy myself any luxuries. And as I am single (and my kid is still very young), I never get any gifts (at all) except at Christmas. I admit that when my family (where everyone has double incomes and comfortable salaries) decided to go no gifts except for the kids, I cried. (Not in front of them.) I am still not quite over it, and not quite over that it was decided without asking my opinion on the matter. I just can’t make myself spend the extra budget on myself – the money just disappears in rent and food and everyday life – and even if I did, it would not feel the same.
      I totally get not wanting more stuff, and not wanting to receive gifts, and of course your wishes should be respected ; it seems however a bit unfair to me to decide for others that they won’t be receiving anything.

      1. Drop Bear*

        Might be too late for you to see this, but I get where you’re coming from. Saying ‘no gifts’ often gives the well off the gift of feeling better about ourselves without any real sacrifice on our part – the reason we don’t need more things is because we can afford to buy whatever we need.
        When we went ‘no gifts’ it was ‘no gifts for us’ not ‘no gifts for anyone’. We encouraged aunts etc to donate chickens if they still wanted to give us something, but we still give gifts to those aunts – because we don’t get to decide what Christmas/birthdays mean for them. So it sucks that you didn’t get a chance to say what Christmas meant to you- majority rules might have meant the same result in the end but your input should have been considered.
        I’ve been a single parent, and I couldn’t bring myself to spend money on luxuries for myself either – (what if I had a facial and then the car broke down, and there wasn’t enough in saving to fix it? I’d feel so irresponsible!) A friend pointed out to me one day that ‘luxuries’ don’t have to cost extra money. So could you give yourself a ‘low cost luxury’ gift? I know it won’t feel the same but maybe it can be your new tradition (your new ‘same’). Christmas could now include giving yourself a gift, and giving your child the gift of seeing that everyone deserves ‘spoiling’, even their mum, and giving them the gift of seeing that you can spoil yourself without spending money you don’t have – let them gift themselves something too perhaps. You could get together with a friend and have a spa day at home – put on mud masks, do each others nails, drink bubbles and laugh – or spend the day by yourself walking through an art gallery, or museum, or make yourself a picnic and spend the day alone reading in the park, or spend time building sandcastles with your child without doing the dishes first! – or whatever you’d like.

      2. the gold digger*

        I am a little bit confused, though, Ginger Sheep. If you would still be receiving gifts, wouldn’t you feel the obligation to give as well? That is, although you are not getting gifts anymore, you are also not having to spend money on giving them, right?

        1. Drop Bear*

          I think I get it – it’s easier to justify spending money on others than on yourself. One is an obligation, one is an indulgence. So while she could use the saved money (from not buying gifts), it doesn’t seem ‘right’ to spend it on herself. (Been there myself!) And of course it’s possible the $ value of some of the gifts she received were greater than those she gave – happens when there is income disparity in families – and in healthy families it’s ok.

      3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        Quite honestly, when my brother died and my sister-in-law and youngish nephew had their first Christmas without him, I quietly went all ‘santa’ on them. I never mentioned to my mom or sister. I did give my sister (who doesn’t have any financial issues) a regular family gift. But I carefully and thoughtfully bought for my SIL and nephew, those gifts I thought my brother would have gotten them had he lived. (A kitchen aid & attachments, a mindstorm robot, etc.)… and some stocking stuffers. Thank you Amazon Prime. Did that until he graduated from high school. I just figured the rules did not mean we had to be ‘equal’ in value across the households… and a single mom on SS was not going to be able to do as much for that first, tough Christmas as my sister. So I just evened out the stuff under the trees (they live states apart) quietly. We’d reached the “no gifts” agreement years earlier… and it seemed pointless. Sending you a hug.

    17. valentine*

      Wrap a massive, open box. Guests put gifts in. (Bonus if you can convince them no wrapping paper, so you can inventory.) Seal the box. Schedule donation pickup.

    18. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      Is there anything you need? A new washing machine or laptop? Same for your parents. My mom would have been delighted with a new dishwasher at any point, but I know some people don’t love getting necessary stuff for funtime gifts.

      Think about asking for Target or Walmart gift cards if you can. You can use them to buy groceries in a pinch.

  36. Blue Screen of Death*

    So, I’ve been getting the BSOD on my Windows 10 PC a lot lately and I’m not sure what’s causing it. I’ve also had trouble installing update 1803, if that might be related. This error usually happens when I’m gaming (which is literally the PCs major function, I rarely use it for anything else – got a Mac laptop for all that) and the graphics card driver is up to date (last time I had this issue it turned out to be a faulty driver). Anything else I can be doing?
    Also I love how the BSOD error code doesn’t actually tell you anything. It simply says critical_process_died. Yeah, no shit Windows, I figured that out myself.

    1. atexit8*

      Most PCs have a built-in diagnostics that you can run.
      For Dells, which I own many, it is F12 at bootup.

      Run the extensive test on the hard drive and everything else.

      This will rule in or rule out hardware problems.

      If there aren’t hardware problems, then it is time to update drivers for you PC starting with the chipset driver.


      1. Blue Screen of Death*

        Huh, I’ll look into that. Mine is custom built but most (if not all) of the components used are ASUS, so I’ll see what I can find.

      1. Blue Screen of Death*

        I’ll keep an eye out for the CPU temperature, you might be right. I’ll see if I can open it up when I have time to see if maybe a fan is clogged or something.

    2. Observer*

      Also, run a malware scan. Tun whatever you have installed, then disable that temporarily and download a different one and run it. Because even the best scanners are less than 100% accurate.

  37. I'm A Little Teapot*

    I went to the ballet last night! It was really good :) Got home about midnight, so only 4 hours past my bedtime. And then while I was sleeping, my leg suffered a series of leg cramps. So now my plans for today are all messed up, because my calf is sore and not working right. Limping is so much fun /s

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      If you have stairs, or a little stool, you can stretch your calves. And I find low potassium causes leg cramps, for me. It might help?

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        it’s getting better. I was just going to do some heavy cleaning and now I don’t want to. Yeah, I’ve wondered if I’m low on potassium. Should remember to ask doctor sometime.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Potassium loss is from the knees down. You can test it out yourself. Eat a banana, if it tastes unusually good then it’s probably potassium. Cantaloupe are also high in potassium.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          The people I know who get muscle cramps make sure to eat a h as lf banana a day …and keep quinine on hand. Vodka tonics are a nice side-effect. ;)

    2. Windchime*

      About 10 years ago, I lived in a very rural part of my state where it was not common for top-notch cultural events to come to town. We got lucky, though, and two years in a row the Moscow Ballet came by; they had a gap in their schedule of several days between Seattle and Vancouver, BC so they booked a show in our tiny local auditorium. It was amazing, the coolest live performance I’ve ever seen. We were sitting very close and the skill and athleticism of the dancers was amazing.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        This was the Joffrey, and they are excellent. I’ve been told that Swan Lake is the most technically difficult ballet, particularly for the Odette/Odile role, and I believe it.

  38. Jules the First*

    I am slowly going crazy…I had a little accident at a team building event and have managed two shred two ligaments in my ankle and tear my peroneal tendon. I have spent the last three weeks on crutches or sitting on my butt and it’s driving me bonkers – in a normal week, I’ll spend about 10 hours walking or running and two or three hours on horseback (the latter being part workout and part emotional therapy). It’s not horrifically painful, my rehab team is amazing, and I’m thankfully getting more mobile day by day, but I’m at least four weeks away from being allowed to so much as sit on a horse and the gym is strictly off limits (anything that activates the calf muscle is a no-go).

    Any suggestions for ways to not go nuts from inactivity?

    1. Green Kangaroo*

      Are you able to go to the barn at all? I can share a list of the things I do to stay connected when I’m grounded from riding…

      1. Jules the First*

        No barn time either until I’m 100% off crutches, but would love to hear suggestions for unmounted bonding – my friends have been great about keeping her fed and clean, but my mare has abandonment issues and is already causing havoc at the yard (last week she attacked the farrier, tried to eat a young visitor, and stole my friend’s phone). She’ll be seriously crabby by the time I make it out to see her so anything I can do to give her some stimulation and non-food-related affection would be awesome.

        1. Windchime*

          Is your barn nearby your house? If so, can someone lead your mare up to the porch so you can spend some time talking to her and stroking her, maybe feeding her her favorite treat?

        2. Green Kangaroo*

          I ride hunter/jumper so I re-read George Morris’ horsemanship books and made tons of notes of exercises to do to improve my seat, leg position and overall equitation, so that once I was cleared I could make up for lost ground as quickly as possible. I also learned to braid for shows by practicing on ponies…it was fun to get really good at the fancy ones.

    2. kerlin*

      Um maybe not physician-recommended but can you sit on a horse without stirrups? I messed up my foot a few years ago and couldn’t use stirrups (could not put weight) but did a lot of riding without them.

      That would make me nuts, too, I’m so sorry!

      Is this further proof that team-building exercises are awful?

      1. Jules the First*

        I like the way you think ;)

        I’m torn between being proud that I made it all the way to week three before I asked when I could get on a horse again and being bummed at the answer…

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          What about working on tricks– i.have no experience teaching horses so I don’t know how much chasing might be involved to try and do some of the ground work.

    3. Mimmy*

      Ouch, I’m sorry! I’d like to know what kind of team-building event causes people to get injured?? Wishing you speedy healing!

      By the way, I like someone’s suggestion of bringing your horse up to your porch. She probably really misses you.

      1. Jules the First*

        Team building was actually rather fun (even with the injury) – we’ve been working on a project that was sports related, so we had arranged an old-fashioned sports day (egg and spoon race, three legged race, sack race, etc). It was fun and gently competitive and this was just one of those freak accidents that happen at inconvenient moments in our lives – at least I got a good story out of it (the most common way to injure this is falling down the stairs).

        I’ve had a good laugh at the idea of someone bringing my mare up to my sixth-floor apartment – I’m sure she’d love the excursion but I’m not sure the hallway would ever be the same! My friends have been carrying her treats in a pair of socks I left at the stables though, so at least she’s getting treats that smell like me. I know it’s silly because she won’t understand it anyway, but I’d feel better if I could at least explain why I disappeared so suddenly!

    4. Jersey's mom*

      For your horse, I’d suggest getting or renting a used wheelchair (check w your local hospital or the web, there areally now places that buy/selk/rent used medical appliances). If someone can get you th the paddock, approach from the outsiDE of the fence in the wheelchair (more stability for your leg, rather than crutches). He may be jumpy at seeing the wheelchair, just take a lot of time talking till he approaches the fence. For now Id suggest some gentle curry combing through the fence while talking. Face time is really important. Focus on this first. If he becomes bored with the talking and brushing, then start to figuread out what other games you can play.

      As for what you can do to keep from going nuts…..Ill be reading for suggestions too. I just ripped a couple of ligaments in my knee (trying to manure out of a ridicuously narrow seat row on an airplane). Standing up and sitting is ridiculous, along with the pain.

      I’m trying to clean out my inbox, download and organize my digital photos, and was actually thinking about starting on my Christmas cards.

      I feel for you!!!! Try to think of the pain in the neck paperwork or digital work you’ve been putting off for too long.

      *fist bump of healing fast*

  39. That's Not My Job*

    I wanted to thank everyone for their suggestions about my trip to Ireland. It was incredible and I had nothing to worry about. The flight was comfortable enough, getting around Dublin was easy, and I had few major cultural clashes.
    I did feel like my American idea of politeness was far from adequate, especially when dealing with waitstaff. In attempting to adjust, I fear I just came off as shy and soft-spoken, which was a little annoying in the moment but feels like valuable information about myself to have.
    Whoever suggested Wild Rover tours, I loved it! We went to the Cliffs of Moher and Galway and had a blast. It was our last day in Ireland and would have been the perfect ending, except that on the drive back into Dublin I witnessed a dark figure materialize from the bushes under a bridge and take aim, then a rock larger than my fist flew through the windshield and straight for our guide’s face. No one got hurt, besides the guide’s phone and a bit of a bruise on the elbow of the woman behind me, but it was hard to unwind after that.
    My most surreal experience though, has to be going to a Subway for lunch and when asked if I wanted cheese, I asked, confused, which kinds of cheese they had available that day, expecting a variety like you’d find in the US. The answer was “plain or spicy” in a very matter of fact way. I gathered from the way those behind me ordered, that having the choice of spicy cheese was a rare treat.
    All in all, I loved the trip and can’t wait to explore more. After our (short) layover in Reykjavik, Husband is already looking up sights to see in Iceland.

    1. Dear liza dear liza*

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the Wild Rover tour- that’s the same one I did, but holy cow, without that dramatic ending. How scary!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Sounds like it wasn’t the cheese question– it was the limited choices of cheese.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Yeah it’s been a long time since I went to subway but I’d imagine you’d have four or five cheese options (e.g. cheddar, Monterrey Jack, something with hot peppers in it, provolone, mozzarella…).

    2. Ron McDon*

      My son went on a school trip to Iceland last year – his photos were amazing! There are loads of sights to see, but eating out is really expensive so bear hat in mind! His School recommended they take lots and lots of snacks (hungry teenage boys!) to supplement the meals provided at their hotel.

    3. AnonInIreland*

      I’m sorry I missed your original request for info but am delighted that you had a lovely time except for one gurrier with a rock.
      I’m curious about this phrase in your comment: “my American idea of politeness was far from adequate” – Can you tell me more about that? What were your concerns or expectations around politeness and how do you feel you came up short?

      1. That's Not My Job*

        I felt like everyone around me sprinkled please throughout their interactions with waitstaff or shop workers, like they’re asking would the person kindly bring them a beer? And I would be more inclined to state that I want a beer. I feel like that is their job, to find out what I want and bring it, so I’m helping them do their job efficiently by stating clearly what I want. I would say thank you when something is put down in front of me or refilled, but that’s the only time I’d use it. After listening to other people use please so much, I started using it everywhere I could. Yes please, no thank you, if you would please, it’s exhausting! And the fact that it’s exhausting to me makes me wonder if I’m normally very rude.
        I think what I saw was a different way of seeing waitstaff and now that I think about it, it might have more to do with the way Americans rush than treating someone with respect. Like waitstaff in the US would be in a hurry to get your order, so adding please to things wouldn’t make them feel more respected, it would make them feel like you’re wasting their time.

        1. the gold digger*

          Is this perhaps region specific in the US? I live in the Midwest and I would feel horribly rude not saying “please” when I give my order to a waiter or clerk. And I would think anyone around me who says, “I want a beer” instead of, “I would like a beer, please” is rude.

          1. MatKnifeNinja*

            I live in Michigan.

            In a rough dive bar, you probably could get away with, “I want a beer.”

            I was out with friends at a sit down place, not upscale, but not Mc Donald’s either.

            One person ordered, “I want a (name brand) beer.”

            Soneone said, “What are you? A caveman? Me want food. Me want drink.”

            OP, at lunch rush at McD, probably no one would notice (where I’m at) “I want a Coke.” I do know in a less hectic setting, people do take note.

            My cousin with ASD found this out the hard way. He thought he was being efficient. “I would like the nachos, and a coke with no ice, please. ” is too many words. He figures if he isn’t bellowing the order, “I want nachos. Coke no ice.” is perfectly acceptable.

            Until is boss pulled him aside and asked him what the hell is up with that. Coworkers commented on my cousin’s lack of etiquette, and they had clients with them. Not fun.

            I’m not tea time and pinky in the air person. Being from the Midwest with an English SO probably gives me the double whammy of being surrounded by “polite”.

            “I want (x).” Without please/thanks/thank, you would be considered crude around here. Crude in as you don’t know any better. Rude would be you know, but dont care.

            Maybe were you live, less words=okay/acceptable. Please/thank you/like instead of want is sort of the standard default here.

            Lucky you to go to Ireland! So glad you had a terrific time.

            1. Lilysparrow*

              Region and context do matter. If you walked up to an NYC coffee cart and said, “Id like a coffee, please, with milk & one sugar,” somebody would punch you for holding up the line.

              It’s “coffee, light, one sugar.” And you say thanks as you’re leaving.

  40. OperaArt*

    Anyone here have experience with Sumissura, a clothing site that offers made-to-measure women’s business clothing? I’ve had good experiences with eShakti.

  41. Lily Evans*

    I need to vent/figure out if I’m overreacting about a weird social situation I ran into last night. I’m pretty good friends with two of my current coworkers (Amy and Matthew) and one former coworker who recently left for another job (Jason). Amy and I were talking the other day and decided it would be fun to get the group back together for a trivia night, which is something we’ve done several times in the past. Yesterday evening Jason texted us to let us know that he was going to bring along two of his new coworkers, which honestly I wasn’t super thrilled about, because I was looking forward to just catching up as a smaller group, but Amy and Matthew didn’t mind so I didn’t say anything. Then somehow those two people turned into a five person entourage and they were all pretty drunk at this very low-key trivia night. And it was kind of awkward because the five people Jason brought just sat at their own table (there was a size-limit for trivia teams) and Jason sat with us, but it ended up being fine.

    Until Jason introduced us to his one new coworker, George, who is apparently temporarily staying with Jason and Jason’s fiance, and George pretty much just openly started groping Jason. At this point the other group had left and me and my two current coworkers just sat there, significantly more sober than Jason and George, giving each other the WTF face. And the three of us and Jason had been talking about moving onto another bar for a while, but then George literally just sat at the end of our table pouting until Jason agreed to leave with him. Amy said something to Jason about how his new roommate was weirdly touchy with him, and he just said, “I know.” And Matthew, who’s known Jason and his fiance the longest, was pretty sure they all had some sort of agreement in place, and I obviously hope he’s right. And I’m like not my circus, not my monkeys, but it was just an incredibly uncomfortable situation to be put in, watching someone who’s not your friend’s fiance put their hands all over him. Like do what you want, but don’t throw your unsuspecting friends into it. In the moment I was pretty pissed off about how the entire night went and how awkward it was.

    1. Jessi*

      That sounds so so awkward! You poor thing. I feel like i need to be able to set my social expectations in advance – so last minute change of plans like ‘oh by the way here are 5 friends I brought’ really throw me off

      1. Observer*

        It doesn’t matter. This is just SOOO inappropriate.

        The truth is, it would be inappropriate, even if they were a couple. The fact that Jason is engaged just makes it worse. Unless Jason is hold a gun to his head, George can stop being a dirty secret by leaving the relationship, assuming one exists, if all else fails. At the same time Jason bears some responsibility here as well. I can’t think of a good reason for him to allow this to go on.

  42. Indigo64*

    I have a weird situation that I’m hoping my fellow readers can offer some advice.

    Back in February, we bought a house (yayyy!) We met the sellers briefly at the closing- they seemed nice and wished us well. They said they picked up the mail that morning, but since they hadn’t been living there in a few months, there wasn’t much and we probably wouldn’t see much mail. Of course, we did get a few letters for them, and we dutifully marked them “Return to Sender, Addressee No Longer at Address”.

    Well the few letters turned into more letters, and it turns out the sellers were running a business out of their home and racked up lots of business and personal debt, and never bothered to change addresses with any of their debtors. They just moved and didn’t leave a forwarding address with the post office (or us). So now we are getting mountains of letters marked “Past Due”, “Final Notice”, “Immediate Action Required” etc addressed to the sellers, and sending them back doesn’t seem to have any effect! Within the past two weeks, the Post Office (USPS) has tried to deliver multiple certified letters to the sellers. We’re getting so much mail that it’s becoming stressful- not to mention that I’m now home on maternity leave with a newborn expecting some important paperwork from my employer- so I have to actually verify that all these certified letters aren’t for me.

    We just want the mail to go away- marking it return to sender hasn’t worked, and neither has sticking a note in our mailbox that says the Seller Family is no longer at this address. Anyone have any advice or experience with this?

    1. BRR*

      I was told by my local post office when I was there for something else that leaving a note in my mailbox should stop the stuff addressed to someone else. I haven’t tried it though.

    2. just an idea*

      I would speak to the mail carrier and/or a supervisor in post office. If they say they have to deliver it, I would escalate to…. the attorney that represented them at the closing. That name, if you don’t remember it, is in your closing papers. Explain the situation and maybe they can push them to fill out a change of address form or suggest another option. Just an idea!

    3. Lcsa99*

      Take a look at your closing documents. Ours had to have everyone’s current address on all the paperwork so if they hadn’t lived in your home for a while it should be listed there.

      If not I might be tempted to collect it all in a box and once a month mail it to their attorney. You should find the attorney info on your closing docs too.

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

        Here’s what I’m wondering: If the poster here was able to find the seller’s new address on the closing documents, could the poster file a change of address on behalf of the deadbeat seller who’s apparently avoiding his creditors? Or is that fraud/illegal/not kosher (as I suspect)? I’d be awfully tempted to do that if I were this poster… and by doing this I *would* be making sure it got to the right person, haha.

        1. Waiting for the Sun*

          Sounds illegal, because then you could file a false change for someone, get their mail forwarded to you, and steal their Social Security checks.

          1. just an idea*

            You were probably being rhetorical there, but fyi, there are no Social Security checks anymore. It’s all direct deposit. To prevent check stealing!

        2. DietCokeHead*

          When I changed my address, there was a minimum, like a dollar or so, charge to my credit card and the billing address on the credit card had to match the new adress. This is in the US.

          1. Natalie*

            That’s only if you change it online, you can still get paper forms at the post office and do an address change for free.

    4. I am still Furious!!*

      That reminds me – I should go out to my old house and check for any collection related mail my STBEXH may be getting. He won’t give me his new address, and he filled out a forwarding address at the post office, but I think he did it incorrectly or something because first class things that are clearly addressed only to him aren’t being forwarded. He’s having his mail forwarded to his sister’s house, and I confirmed with her that she is getting some things. Ugh. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      I had an issue a few years ago where my name was mixed up with another person’s name … same first and last name, same street, but, she was supposed to get all the pregnancy and newborn mailings, samples, etc. Turns out we share the same doctor’s office and they clicked the wrong name to get all this stuff. It got so bad I finally sat down and called each individual sender and it finally stopped. For the certified letters, if they’re not picked up in an appropriate amount of time, I believe they go back to the sender.

      1. Observer*

        Why are you bothering with STBX’s mail? If he messed up, it’s his problem. If someone is coming after him for money, it’s not your issue anymore, assuming you’ve closed the joint account.

        Is there any other place where your finances touch each other?

    5. foolofgrace*

      I believe that when you get mail addressed to someone else, or if you get a “gift” in the mail, you are under no obligation to do anything about it. I would just toss the mail in the trash and forget about it. Not your problem. You tried to do the “right” thing, it didn’t go over well, so oh well. Not your circus.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I believe that’s illegal; it’s a federal offense to tamper with mail, and that includes destroying it (i.e., throwing it away). So… don’t do that.

        My landlords didn’t get their mail forwarded, and almost five years in, we were still getting their mail. One day I was outside when the mail carrier arrived and he handed me a piece of mail for my landlord. I said, “Oh, I’ll have to forward this to them”– meaning I would write down their address and put it in the mailbox– but my carrier said, “No, I’ll take care of it. If she wanted her mail, she should have given us a new address.” I don’t know what he did with her mail or what he’s been doing ever since, but I made it the post office’s problem instead of mine.

      2. Observer*

        There is a difference between a “gift” that you didn’t ask for, and mail that was misaddressed. You’re right about the first, but not the second.

    6. WellRed*

      Complain to the local post office supervisor type. If your names are clearly on your mailbox and the sellers aren’t, the PO shouldn’t be dumping this on you.

    7. Waiting for the Sun*

      I’ve been told that If there’s a barcode on the envelope (on regular mail), mark through it with a Sharpie. It has your address, and the post office scanners read that barcode before anyone reads your handwritten “Not at this address “ message.

    8. Someone Else*

      I’m having difficulty finding it now, but when I had a similar problem I found out there’s actually a very specific phrase you need to put on the envelope. So if you literally put “Return to Sender, Addressee No Longer at Address” that might not be the right phrase? Even though to a human it should be obvious what was meant? But basically…I remember return to sender wasn’t enough/correct. And “not at this address” was also not the right way to do it. You also need to obfuscate the barcode or else the mail won’t actually read dealt with by a human. Normally also putting the label on your mailbox that YOURNAME is here and OLDNAME is not should stop the delivery. The carrier should have to take it back, but if they’re ignoring it, make sure you’re covering the barcode and speak to the post office about the phrase you’re supposed to use on the envelopes, and then once you do that a few times, it still may take a few weeks but the stuff should taper off because by then it should have made its way into the NCOA db, even if the seller’s didn’t ever do an NCOA, it’ll come up as a bad address for them without a correction.

        1. ..Kat..*

          People with debt collectors after them do this also. That is why debt collectors don’t believe it when they get notices sent back to them with this written on the outside.

    9. Slartibartfast*

      Yup, the person we bought from was up to his eyeballs in debt, we didn’t know before we’d moved in. Had to go downtown in person to set up the utilities, with id and proof of sale bc the address was flagged for fraud, the scariest thing was seeing a flashlight in the back yard and a knock at the front door, it was the cops. Apparently he had a warrant for unpaid child support, the flashlight was a 2nd officer watching for a runner out the back. And yes registered mail, ups and fedex mail too. There was a lot of creditors looking for him the first year we were here, but it pretty much dried up after that. It’s just junk mail that we get now, been here 3 years. I did return contact with the creditors explaining we’d bought the house and didn’t have forwarding info.

      1. Cat Herder*

        We still get mail at for the previous owners of our house and for the owner before them, too. We’ve lived here for twenty years.

    10. Mail Carrier*

      Ask your letter carrier or the supervisor to fill out the form noting that the previous residents “moved left no forwarding address” (MLNA). The PO needs to fill out, not you. Theoretically this will cut down on the first class mail that is coming through. Whenever you do get something for them, write MLNA on it and put it in your outgoing mail.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        I would honestly get a stamp with this on it and bring it with you to the mailbox. Stamp. Done.

        1. Observer*

          One good additional tip – when you mark up an envelope to say “addressee does not live here”, also mark out the bar code on the envelope. That forces it out of the automated system and gets someone to actually look at it.

    11. valentine*

      Send it to the real estate agent or return it marked “UAA RTS REFUSED”. See if the debtors are listed on Catalog Choice, which is great at stopping unwanted mail. Put a note in your mailbox with the rejected names. See if the IRS site has any advice.

  43. I Love Thrawn*

    Tallahassee FL here – just emerged from the ever so delightful Hurricane Michael from last week. Five days no power – I was NOT ready – it returned on Monday. What we got were strong tropical storm force winds through here, and it made a mess of our City of Trees. Praise God for all the hundreds of linemen, many of them imported, who restored power.

    We got lucky. Marianna, Pt St Joe, Panama City and Mexico Beach, none of them that far from us, suffered truly severe damage. I’ve seen pics of Marianna… basically a pile of matchsticks now. By a degree of about 30 miles in the storm track, that would have been Tallahassee.

    Spoiler alert: when they publish those lists of things to get before a storm, get them. Seriously.

    1. Elizabeth W.*

      Yipes. Glad you’re okay!

      I’ve been keeping some emergency supplies handy; having a few things really helped after the 2007 ice storm, but they say Tornado Alley is moving further east. This may or may not affect me, so I thought I’d be ready for anything, just in case. I bought one of those family food kits at Walmart–it’s enough for four people for a few days but I’m alone so it ought to keep me going for a while. Right now my emergency stuff is in a container in the kitchen, sort of jumbled together. It’s on my to-do list to actually organize it. And I need to get some containers of water.

      Plus, ya know, in case of anarchy, I’d like to be ready to bug out.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Water is very important also. One gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days is recommended.

    2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Glad you are okay… and good reminder. I just realized all my emergency water is stale and very outdated (had been in freezer, but I defrosted and didnt return). Might be okay for flushing the toilet or bathing, but I wouldn’t drink it. I need to get the emergency kit restocked. (earthquake fault line here)

    3. runner girl*

      Fist bump from a fellow Tallahassean. All my trees got a good pruning, but nothing chainsaw-worthy. It was and is pretty awesome to see how well folks came together to clean up afterward, and how the few days of power outages got folks outside and talking to each other. And now he-that-shall-not-be-named is talking smack about our fair city. That makes me sad.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If y’all are now inspired to prepare for the next emergency, there’s some decent emergency preparedness lists on flylady. Chatty & encouraging for the scatterbrained among us.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        (I mean me when I say scatterbrained by the way. ..they pay me to be organized at work, not at home lol)

  44. Myrin*

    Further proof that my life is weirdly akin to a sitcom sometimes: My neighbour just called us over because she had two of her fingers stuck in the handle of one of her pots (don’t ask). I felt like I was in that one Mr. Bean sketch where he got his hand stuck in a kettle. Thankfully, with enough oil, wiggling, and patience, she got her fingers out and they’re okay now, but oh my god, what a thing to actually happen in real life.

    1. The Marmoset*

      Awww I hope the neighbor is okay! And I am glad you are good neighbor – those are NOT to be underestimated! I’m usually in the sitcom-esque situation, so I know how valuable that is. :)

    2. Windchime*

      Oh wow, that is weird! Years ago, I met my neighbor on the street and she had a serious looking bandage around her wrist. Turns out that her puppy had gotten it’s head stuck in a glass vase and and in the process of trying to free the puppy without breaking the glass (and thus injuring the dog), the vase broke anyway and neighbor got a nasty, scary cut on her wrist. It was a really strange freak accident. The dog was unhurt.

  45. Be the Change*

    Well, tarnation! I dropped my phone, the screen cracked, and now the entire screen is slowlying turning bright purple! I hope this isn’t toxic!

    Guess I need a new phone but since it’s been at least 3 years I don’t feel too bad.

  46. Amber Rose*

    I think I wasted a lot of money by not researching properly and I’m really heartbroken about it.

    See, I really need a new bra. My back pain is out of control cuz the one I have is so old and stretched out. But they’re so expensive to order from my usual place overseas. Stores locally do not carry my absurd cup size. And of course sizing varies brand to brand so who even knows what size I ever need.

    There was an ad for Thirdlove, who sells more reasonably priced bras that seemed to have high reviews and a good fit guide… but after spending so much on exchange and shipping it was still a ton and what I got is HORRIBLE. And now that I look closer it seems the good reviews are paid. I don’t think I can return it. For one thing, the tag popped off while I was trying to get it on. And I’d have to pay to ship it back.

    So I’m out a ton of money and I still don’t have a bra and I feel like crying. I’m too ashamed to admit to my husband why I can’t afford gas this pay period.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      If you’re on Reddit, you might find some help on r/abrathatfits (Link in reply).
      I wish there was more I could do or say to help you, though.

      1. That's Not My Job*

        I second this, although it sounds like you may have already gone there if you’re buying overseas. I research on Bratabase and then buy on Amazon if I’m trying a new style. Then I can return easier and next time I need one I can buy wherever has the best deal because I already know it fits well.

    2. Jules the First*

      Oh Amber! I’m so sorry you’re having such a rough time! Love and sympathy from me and my 30FFs…

      First off, live chat or call third love and return that darn bra. They have some sort of guarantee or something (allegedly) so you should get some money back at least.

      Next, tell us what ballpark size you are and roughly where you are (I’m guessing not US?) and a little about your favourite bra and I’m sure we can find some suggestions for you that won’t break the bank.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I suppose I’m a 38 G American sizing. I usually buy from Bravissimo, where it’s a bit smaller. Like a 36 F I think. It’s not too expensive there but it takes forever to get here and I have to pay customs.

          1. Jules the First*

            It looks like there are a few suggestions down below…but I’ll also say that I’m in the UK and making a Bravissimo run in the next couple of weeks, before a trip to Calgary/Kelowna in the first week of December, if you want something specific.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I just returned something to Third Love and I don’t think I had to pay return shipping. They have a really good return policy and will make it easy for you. I’m sure you can return it if you chat them and explain about the tag. (They have a really easy to use chat thing on their website, and I’m sure they will take care of it for you.)

    4. Windchime*

      Also check online at Her Room. I first bought my style of bra at Nordstrom, where the staff fitted me for it. Now I order replacements through Her Room. Yes, they can be kind of spendy (over $50 each at least), but you deserve to have a properly fitting bra.

        1. Bra Sympathy*

          Do you have any friends that could order for you, but have it shipped to your address? I have also found some of my most trusted bra (Elomi’s Cate) on Amazon in my size. I agree with NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser, too, about buying whatever pattern/color they have in my size, especially if they are on clearance. I mostly wear dark colors anyway, so nothing shows through.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        So use the HerRoom site for “how to measure” and your research. Seriously. Every woman in my family had to change sizes once we realized how to really measure. (And the women in the dept stores -other than nordstroms – have been wrong with me consistently – they just “say” I’m the biggest cup size they carry and then go up the band size, “because that’s the sister size.” Well, no, not really. I have a small rib cage and not small elsewhere.
        Then, pick out two sizes that fit their criteria (I’m a 32/ “D3”) and go on eBay. I have gotten mine there. Women who do make mistakes and can’t return them, or who get pregnant, or have only worn on special occasions, or whatever. I just wash them good and wear them. When I lost so much weight, so quickly, it was the “only” way to go to work supported, unless I washed my one and only one constantly and put it on damp (I rack dry because heat destroys elastic). ugh.
        I’ve had good luck – and some of the UK sellers are very reasonable. I honestly don’t care (unless the shirt is light) if it is a discontinued pattern or color. Just that it fits. Used may help your customs costs too.

        1. Book Lover*

          I have been very happy buying from eBay, also.

          Sometimes not the color I would prefer, but always new at 50% of cost. And wacoal are expensive.

          And to OP, definitely email or chat with the company! I am sure they will try to make it right for you. Otherwise tweet and @ them.

      2. FalafalBella*

        The Nordstrom near us is closing and I am upset because I like their service. Please consider purchasing your additional bras from Nordstrom’s directly (in store on through their online service) so we can all continue to have great service from retail stores.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Coming here to pay it forward…Several years ago somebody recommended barenecessities (dot) com to the bra-wearing commentariat at AAM. It was great because I could find bras for about half the usual retail price. They happen to be having a sale this weekend. I swear I have absolutely no affiliation with them!

      You might also try Target. Their prices are comparable.
      Pro: No need to return the ones that don’t fit because you’re already in the store.
      Con: Target doesn’t stock every model in every size and sometimes you have to rummage through the racks.
      But hey, that’s what we get for not shopping at Nordstrom’s or some independent lingerie store. ;-)

    6. Ron McDon*

      Is there a TK Max near you? They often carry the larger cup size bras at a very reduced price.

      Seconding Amazon – I loved a certain brand’s bra but it had been discontinued and was also £40 locally – I bought 3 from Amazon for £15 each!

      If your local stores don’t carry the right size, it’s worth asking them to order bras in for you – a good bra shop will happily order bras for you to try on and only charge you for any you buy.

    7. Ron McDon*

      I also found a couple of links that may be interesting:


      https://thebra.ca Free delivery to Canada

      https://www.lacyhint.com/28-plus-size-bras Lacyhint offer free shipping to Canada and some of their larger cup bras are only $20

      https://www.brastop.com/t/returning-items Brastop deliver to Canada for £8, and they have up to 80% off normal prices, but sometimes a limited range in the larger sizes. You pay return shipping, but any exchanges are shipped to you FOC.

      Breakout bras offer free shipping to Canada

      As Bravissimo are a European brand you probably won’t find them on sale anywhere with free shipping to Canada; however suggestions others have made above about trying eBay are a great idea.

      Good luck, it’s really hard to find larger cup size bras that fit, look right and feel comfortable. It took me years of looking to find one bra company and style that fits me properly, so now I just buy that style and size – although now I’ve lost some weight I think I need to go through it all again, gah!

  47. Sparkly Lady*

    For those of you who do/have done low-FODMAP diets, do any of you have recommendations for sites for recipes? I’m specifically looking for vegetarian recipes.

    Also, can anyone recommend a food journaling app or template?

    I went to a nutritionist and expected that the nutritionist would be providing this. Nope! I’m now not entirely sure what the nutritionist actually thought the appointment was supposed to accomplish (or what her role was).

    1. Operational Chaos*

      I’ve used a lot of the I Quit Sugar recipes and adapted them for vegetarian needs with some pretty great success. She has multiple recipe books but if you just search for I Quit Sugar/Vegetarian, you’ll get a bunch of results.

      One of my favorites though is sautéed zoodles (or any other spiraled veggie), chili infused olive oil, seasoning to flavor, and tossing on some feta at the very end. Quick, light, simple.

    2. Dr. Anonymous*

      The Calm Belly Kitchen is helpful and she has a specific page on replacing onions and garlic. I agree with her not to waste time on asofoetida. Once you have a good set of substtitions, you can probably use more regular vegetarian recipes. Sorry your nutritionist was such a waste of time.

      1. Chaordic One*

        This is a wonderful website. Thank you very much for the suggestion.

        (These kinds of little gems of information make the weekend free-for-all on the AAM website so very worthwhile.)

    3. Quandong*

      I’m sorry your nutritionist didn’t provide these tools for you, that’s such a waste of your time!

      In the past I used the myfitnesspal app as a food journal, it suited my purpose well.

      For recipes I’ve been very happy with recipe books by Dr Sue Shepherd – I don’t tend to use websites much. I hope other posters have good recommendations for you.

    4. ..Kat..*

      A Registered Dietitian (RD) is the way to go. There are no quality standards for calling yourself a nutritionist. An RD has to meet specific education standards and pass a formal test. If you decide to try an RD, call and tell them what you want from your appointment. Check their websites. Some specialize in Fodmap, gluten free, other such stuff.

  48. Elizabeth*

    I can now say that I’ve smelled microwaved fish. Or, at least microwaved fish sauce. It smells at least as bad as it sounds.

    I was at the nail salon and one of the techs was heating up her lunch. Wow. The smell cut through all of the chemical smells.

    I like cooking with fish sauce, but there is something about microwaving it that is just stomach-churning.

    1. wingmaster*

      I do a lot of cooking with fish sauce, and I always make to to never, NEVER bring those lunches to work ahahaha. I must’ve cleared out the whole office that day I brought my lunch with fish sauce.

  49. Red faced*

    So, I saw a derm yesterday and she confirmed hat I do have rosacea. My whole face looks like it’s been mildly to badly sunburnt. And it hurts. She gave me two perscriptions, one that should stop it from getting worse ($$$!!) and a second that’s supposed to reduce redness but isn’t for sale in my country?! (So, super helpful?!!).

    I came home and cried for a long time. I’ve been battling a lot of random illnesses this summer and this one just tipped me over the edge. At 32, I was just really hoping for an easier time of it health-wise. I feel so self conscious and honestly am pretty depressed.

    Anybody else deal with this and have tips or online resources you can share?

    1. HannahS*

      I have rosacea, and I find that an ivermectin cream and daily sunscreen (plus no makeup and gentle soap) keeps my very pale face pale instead of angrily red. It’s the best skin I’ve had in a long time. I found that no OTC or old wives tales or anything worked.

      1. Red faced*

        What brand of sunscreen do you use? I’m having a hard time finding one that doesn’t aggrevate my redness and burning.

        1. HannahS*

          Shiseido urban something. Tiny white bottle. It’s a very liquid sunscreen and is stupidly expensive, but I use less than 1 mL a day and the bottles last of for a couple of months. When I need sunscreen for my neck and body, I use that neutrogena sensitive skin one. That one actually doesn’t irritate my face either, but it’s not as matte.

    2. Dr. Anonymous*

      Laser or intense pulsed light therapy can help reduce the redness in many people. Metronidazole or azelaic acid may reduce discomfort. I use a Cover Girl trio green, yellow, or lavender (use the green)or Maybelline green cover stick applied lightly with a foundation brush to cover it up so I feel better about my looks fast.


    3. Curly sue*

      I’ve had rosacea since my teens, and the best thing I’ve found is to avoid alcohol and being out in the cold as much as possible. Light moisturizers occasionally (though I haven’t found a perfect one yet), and a sulphur-based drugstore cream called Prosecea deals with my flushes much better than the metro gel/metro cream prescription stuff – I found those to be incredibly drying, which made me need moisturizer, which caused another outbreak. And sunscreen, always a very light /liquidy sunscreen. Anything too creamy clogs my skin up and can trigger the bumps. I’ve given up on wearing any kind of foundation entirely.

      Rosacea’s annoying but manageable once you find a routine that gets the flush under control.

  50. I am still Furious!!*

    Divorce Update – happily there are no updates. Everything is sort of going along OK with Mom, she insists on roaming around in the dark, I keep turning on lights, she turns them off, it’s frustrating. My cats have adjusted well, my cat I left behind is warming up to the new owners and neighbors at my old house, so that makes me feel good. I put a stand next to the windows overlooking the yard and woods at the side of the house, and the cats love to sit there, watch the birds, and cars as well, so that keeps them entertained.

    If it would EVER STOP RAINING FOR A WHILE (OMG here in PA it’s been miserable!!) I could sort out the rest of my stuff. I have been working on looking through things here in the house, slowly organizing, making a donation pile of clothing, that type of thing. I messaged our local homeless shelter today and provided the size shoes my Dad wore. I have a bunch of sturdy shoes and boots, plus heavy socks, so I’m hoping to donate them.

    A post today reminded me I need to go back out to my old house and look in the mailbox. New owners have gutted the house, so none of their mail is going there, and I need to see what’s there. My STBEXH owes several people money, and that’s part of why he won’t give me his new physical address because he (correctly) realizes that I would make sure to give his address to anyone and everyone so they could try to collect.

    Last night I visited my cousin who lives a few houses away. I’ve been here for weeks and we texted!! So I actually walked to her house and we had a nice visit. We plan to get together more often.

    Oh my goodness, only 11 more days then the paperwork goes to the courthouse on Nov 1. I can’t believe it. Then I can change my beneficiaries, etc. on my w-o-r-k stuff. That will be satisfying.

    1. Luisa in Dallas*

      I love your updates!

      A small idea for your mom’s house: plug-in nightlight(s) with motion sensors. We have them in the hallways and in the bathrooms for helping us navigate at night without jarring our senses by turning on the regular lights. Ours include flashlights that come on if the power goes out, which is very handy (you don’t have to fumble in the dark to find your flashlight). The only downside is that the cats set off the sensors, so you have to remember that it is “only the cat” not an intruder coming down the hall to get you!

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        +1 on these nightlights. Costco had them last year. Best Christmas gift ever. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them myself…and mom loves them too.

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          PS: Congratulations on the ever forward progress, and I’ve been reading your updates for awhile. I’m rooting for you. Should have divorced mine.

    2. Woodswoman*

      “Happily there are no updates.” It’s good to hear that the drama of the divorce process is behind you and that you and your cats are settling in. While the divorce is not quite yet official, clearly you’ve already started your new life. You made all that happen and can be proud of yourself!

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        Thank you for your kind words. Some days I feel so alone. It really helps to put all of this on the open thread on the weekends. And I think the loneliness is the worst part. It’s not a new feeling. I was lonely for years. I didn’t have a real husband or partner, just someone who leached off me and I had zero trust or interaction with past passing each other going from one room to another, if he was home.

        I try to be positive each day, find something positive – like, it’s raining but at least it’s not snowing! that type of thing. And I hope to find someone to share my life with.

    3. I am still Furious!!*

      And I have an update about the mail. Went out to my old house. The mailbox had quite a few political adverts, the local “penny saver” paper, and…4 things that should have been forwarded to my STBEX. One from his attorney, one from the electric company, and 2 from what have to be collection agencies. I’ll text him on Monday and let him know I have his mail. Or I could write on it “no longer at this address” or whatever, and just put it back in the box. I haven’t decided.

      1. Woodswoman*

        Here’s my suggestion. Put the whole batch of mail in an envelope and mail it to his attorney. Include a letter saying that since you’re now divorced and no longer responsible for his financial affairs, you won’t handle his mail anymore, and you wanted to alert the attorney so that s/he is aware.

        That leaves STBEX to sort all this out with the appropriate person who he has a relationship with–his attorney. It should not be *you* for a single day longer. The house where the mail is coming is no longer yours. And if you still have that joint bank account, close it (maybe he did, I forget). You’re divorced. It’s not your responsibility to text him reminders about his mail, etc. That’s up to him and his attorney.

        You are all done. He can clean up his own mess, and you can free yourself from that role. That’s something to celebrate!

        1. I am still Furious!!*

          That is an excellent idea! And I’ll take a photo copy of the fronts of the envelopes, and a scan to save to my cloud before I send them. I should probably pay a bit extra and get the read receipt thing from the post office, too. That way, no one can say they didn’t get them.

          The house is being completely renovated, so the new owners don’t get mail there. They said I could stop by periodically to look in the mailbox in case anything of mine still showed up. I took care of all of my stuff when I moved out in Sept 2017. Yesterday they gave me a tour, it was sort of astounding to see everything torn down to the studs and just completely gutted – it was a whole different space. I’m really happy for them, and happy for me that I can put those bad memories behind me.

          When the IRS, Commonwealth of PA, and local tax office catches up with him for his unpaid 2015 taxes, I’m fully ready to block any communications. I did my part. I gave him 200 chances or so to do his part, he refused to do anything, so he’ll have to deal with the consequences on his own.

          1. Observer*

            Yes, that’s the best thing you can do.

            You don’t eve really need to do even that much – NONE of this is your responsibility. But, given this guy’s history of trying blame everyone else for his problems a bit of insurance is a good idea.

      2. Slartibartfast*

        I doubt he’d take care of it. If it was me I would just put it back in the box. No longer your monkey :)

        Although, if he hasn’t been paying his electric at the new place, the bill would be sent to the last known address. Should you accidentally open it not realizing it was for him, you might accidentally see his new address….

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Sending you good thoughts!
      Be sure to get his name off everything: old utility bills, car titles, odd insurance policies that pop up once a year, credit/debit cards, your will (if you have one), etc. Maybe there’s a list out there that goes through all the possible accounts/paperwork that need to be looked at. (In my family, a divorced and remarried in-law died suddenly. It was a big mess because he didn’t update his insurance and left no will. It was ugly.)

  51. Relationship help*

    Love. Why is it so hard?!

    So I’ve fallen for, and am so sure about this person that I’m seeing. He isn’t there yet. Should I cut my losses or give it more time? It’s confusing because he shows up in this relationship in a way more loving, present, amazing way than anyone in my past that claimed they “loved me more than anyone else ever would.”

    Help, my poor little heart doesn’t know how to feel.

    1. Lcsa99*

      If you’re really sure, I say go all in. If you hold back he’s likely to feel it and be less likely to go all in himself.

      Honestly, this could be the easiest way to get hurt, but you can’t have a good, honest, lasting relationship if you hold back or if you give up too easily.

      Good luck! It’s scary, but if he is the right one it’s very worth it.

      1. Relationship help*

        That’s generally what I’ve been thinking. It feels so scary and vulnerable though.

      1. Relationship help*

        Yes. I feel like he’s what I’ve been looking for this whole time. I mean, eveyone has their flaws, and he obviously has his. But, man is he fantastic.

    2. LilySparrow*

      How much time are we talking about? A few months? Hang in there.

      Multiple years? This is what it is, decide accordingly.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      He isn’t there yet. Should I cut my losses or give it more time?

      I think a lot of this will depend on how much time you’ve already invested and how old you are. If you’re in your early 20s and have invested 6 months or a year, I’d say go all in and see if he’ll go all in, too. If you’re in your 30s or 40s and have invested 3 years, I’d say cut your losses.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        And maybe you’re even in your 40s or 50s or 60s. I have no idea. I just threw out a couple of scenarios.

    4. Victoria, Please*

      If my nieces would be interested in my advice, I would tell them six months. If a guy says “I love you but I’m not ready,” then give it six more months all in and then full stop if he’s still not ready with no reason. YOU walk away, take your power and go. Courteously, kindly, but for sure.

      “I need to finish med school and then let’s get married,” is fine. Definite reason, definite timeline, definite. “I’m just living my life and can’t figure out if you fit in or not,” is not fine for more than a few months.

      You can perhaps tell I’ve experienced waffling. I’ve also *been* the waffler, and that’s very bad behavior that I regret.

  52. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’ve had sad news this week: Sam (pictured above) has been rapidly losing weight. At first we thought he was just eating less because of a recent dental surgery, but after getting him an ultrasound earlier this week, we found out that he has a fast-moving cancer. Fast-moving as in “he has a few weeks at best.” He has gone downhill quickly in the last few days, and we are trying to keep him comfortable and eating. And trying to figure out when it’s time to help things along. He is a really good cat and it sucks.

    1. Elizabeth Bennet*

      So sorry. Its difficult when our pets are sick because they can’t tell us what they need. They may be small, but they take up a lot of space in our hearts. Enjoy the time you have.

    2. Myrin*

      Oh no. Oh Alison, I’m so sorry. Sam is my favourite of your cats because you always speak of how gentlemanly and lovely and kind he is. I can’t express how sad I’m feeling for you and your husband and your little boy. I’m sending all of you the very best, heartfelt wishes.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Aw, I’m so sorry! It’s so hard knowing we will lose our furry friends and then trying to figure out when it’s the right time.

      I’ve had to make that decision many times. Usually we know it’s time when they stop eating completely and then become too weak to really do anything. Or in one case, he would sleep way more than usual and when he walked around he would walk a few feet, stop and rest for a few minutes, walk a few more feet, then stop again. He was also panting or had labored breathing from the exertion. He was in heart failure, which meant it was time for him.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, we are agreed that we will act right away if it gets to the point that he seems to be in pain or is hiding or like what you described. None of those are the case right now; he seems generally alert and present, but he definitely seems to feel a bit sick/not great and is eating less (but we have an appetite stimulant that’s helping). And the thing I’m struggling with is — is it actually less kind to let that go on, when we know it won’t get better, and are we doing that for ourselves at his expense? And I don’t know!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Oof, that’s really hard. I know exactly how you feel. I’ve had, and do have, lots of cats and it never gets easier, although my determination of what to do/not do and when “it’s time” has improved over the years and I’m better at figuring out what’s in the cat’s best interest rather than my own. Obviously we want our little buddies around as long as possible because we love them, they add so much to our lives and they’re just so damn adorable. But they can’t tell us what’s wrong so it’s up to us to make the decision, taking into account their quality of life. I guess over the years I’ve been able to inject a lot more logic and objectivity into it, even though it’s completely heartbreaking nonetheless and I hate being logical about it.

          My personal opinion–and it’s just how I myself would proceed–I wouldn’t continue with an appetite stimulant knowing that this is a matter of only weeks. If he had a few months, sure, I’d continue on with it since that’s a decent chunk of time. I would just let nature take it’s course and you’ll very likely know when it’s time. Otherwise, you may not know it’s truly time because the stimulant is making him want to eat when otherwise he would have given up on his own. (Does that make sense? I’m know what I’m trying to say, but it’s not coming out the right way.)

        2. Animal worker*

          Changing my name for this one. I work with animals for a living in a zoo, and the discussion you are having on this is really responsible and important. One thing that vets always say when we are discussing this dilemma with zoo animals, is that they can never remember a situation where an animal was euthanized for quality of life reasons due to illness and they thought afterwards that they had done it too soon. It’s more likely to be the ‘right time’ as best they can tell, or afterwards the condition proves to be more advanced than anyone knew.

          One suggestion is to make a Sam-specific quality of life checklist. What are the indicators that tell you he appears to be having a good day or a bad day (i.e. jumping/climbing, eating well, choosing to socialize with animals/people, whatever specific indicators that make him Sam). Then every day rate him on those, individually – maybe 5 is how he acted when he was completely healthy. Then you have some more objective information to track each day to look for trends that might not be as easily noticed without some type of documentation.

          I’m sorry. My animals mean so much to me and I know how hard this must be. You’re asking all the right questions, especially realizing that you need to evaluate what you’re doing for Sam versus what you’re doing for yourselves – that’s an insightful way to view it. Spoil him rotten in the time he has left, and condolences on how difficult this time is.

        3. Dr. Anonymous*

          I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I think any decision you make out of love will be a right decision and there is no perfect time.

        4. Gaia*

          I think this is one of the hardest questions we ask ourselves and we rarely ever talk about it.

          My Ludo was sick for a very long time. For years he had health problems that cost me a lot of money, a lot of fitful nights, a lot of stress. But he was happy and healthy and living his best life so it was never a question. Then, in January of 2017 he ate a sock (as he did all the time) but this time he didn’t throw it up. He ended up having to have surgery and he just never seemed right again after that. His health issues amped up. But again, he was still happy and enjoying life. In early May I took him on a drive to go on a hike. The road was windy and he slipped on the seat a few times but he seemed to be enjoying himself. Then I opened the car door and he wasn’t excited. He didn’t want to play. His tail was tucked down. I took him home and thought it was just a bit of motion sickness. He didn’t get better. Four days later on Wednesday we went to the vet for tests. His results showed he was very, very sick. Friday it was so bad I had to give him pain medication. The meds did nothing. I spent all Friday night up with him pacing as he whined and tried to get comfortable. I knew it was the end. I called the vet as soon as they opened Saturday and in the comfort of his favorite room, at his favorite vet (one of the places he loved most in the world), he took his last breath just after noon that day.

          I know it was the right decision and still, I tortured myself with the question “was it right for him, or was it right for *me*?” Was I just sparing myself the heartache? Might he have gotten better? The reality is, I’ll never know. But I do know I did everything I could for him, I know I did it because I wanted him to stop hurting. I know I did it because he was not enjoying life anymore.

          And when you decide it is time for Sam, that is why you’ll be doing it: for Sam. You can’t know what the future might have brought. Maybe Sam would get better. But maybe he would get worse. The best advise I ever heard was it is better to be a few days too soon than even an hour too late.

          I’m sorry.

          1. Amadeo*

            I felt this way about my dog when I put her down. I second guessed myself for a long while. I was very fortunate with my cat I lost in August. She’d been having seizures for a couple of weeks and I came home to one that just…hadn’t stopped. She was covered in urine and drool and non-ambulatory. She couldn’t even stand, she didn’t know what was going on (the lights were on, but nobody was home), I think she sort of recognized me, but that was the only bright spot. It was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, time.

            It’s rough no matter what.

        5. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Honestly, I don’t think there’s a real way to know. When I lost Her Fuzzy Highness, she’d made it clear her jaw hurt the day before (which for cats is a rare thing to do – usually they hide it when they’re sick/hurt). At first the vet thought she had an abcess in her jaw, but upon closer examination it turned out to be a tumour. I was told that the tumor in her jaw was inoperable and my choices were basically “take her home for a few days with painkillers to say goodbye, then bring her back to put her to sleep” or “put her to sleep immediately” (option 3 was “do a biopsy to see what exactly it is – benign/malignant – but the tumour was already so big it didn’t matter anyway. Had it been discovered sooner they could’ve removed part of her jaw to save her. Occasionally I still blame myself for not noticing sooner.). I ended up choosing the latter option as she’d already suffered enough before we adopted her, so I didn’t want to make her suffer more. But, again, she was showing visible signs of distress. It sounds like your cat is still enjoying life, even if he’s not feeling 100%. I agree with The Other Dawn that once it’s clear their quality of life is suffering, it’s time to let them go.

        6. Ali G*

          I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of pets in my life. Here are my considerations:
          1. If you are stressed, he might be stressed. This isn’t good for anyone. If it becomes too taxing for you, it’s OK to make the decision sooner rather than later.
          2. I’d rather let a pet go a week early than a day late. Sometimes we don’t realize we are hanging on for us, not them.
          3. Building on above – think about the things he likes to do on a daily basis – is he still doing them? And don’t discount dignity – I am a strong believe that pets have dignity and when they are soiling themselves, can’t properly clean themselves, etc. they suffer for it.
          4. Have a plan – do you know how your vet handles this? Would your cat prefer someone come to you (if going to the vet is too stressful)? Sometimes the vet wants a consultation because they won’t take “walk-ins” – so make sure you know how you can let him go when the time comes.
          I know how hard this is. Just do the best you can for yourself and for your kitty. He loves you and that won’t change, no matter what happens. All the hugs your way.

          1. ooffooClaire*

            So sorry to hear your sad news. This has been a particularly rough year among my family and friends for saying goodbye to pets, so you have my sincerest sympathies. I would like to also suggest #4 from above – having a plan and talking as much in advance with your vet as possible about when to make decisions, if you have not done so yet. For two of my friends who each lost a cat this year, their assessment of the timing wound up being different from the vet’s (two different vets in two different states). It was something I had never heard of happening – both cats were very old and quite sick, and of course it made what was already a hard time even harder. For my family and friends, focusing on the good that our pets brought to us and we brought to them has been a comfort. Wishing you comfort as well during this time.

        7. LuckySophia*

          Aw…my heart goes out to you and Sam. As for the “when” of it: when my beloved cat Dante (who was a big love, affectionate, sociable, an on-the-couch-with-you cuddler) was in his final days, he withdrew to the far corner of the living room floor and made it clear he wanted “his space”. He did not want to be snuggled, petted, etc. That dramatic behavior shift told me he preparing himself for his transition. So it’s very possible your Sam will let you know when he is ready, too. But as long as he seems to appreciate the comfort and affection you offer…maybe, let him keep enjoying that?

        8. StellaBella*

          Oh Alison I am so sorry.

          24 July 2011 I had to say goodbye to my Loki, malamute of 12 years, my lovely fuzzy buddy.

          You will know – and the caveat – better a few days early than a day late applies. Do what is best for the kitty.

          The other kitties will feel his stress too, and will miss him. Be prepared for that.

          Sending a hug.

        9. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          Lots of good advice here. I knew only because my sweet one told me with her eyes that she was done (and she had quit eating). I just knew. Keeping her here long would have been for me – not for her. Loved the advice from the zoo, and others. You have many of us supporting you here. It’s a very hard thing.

        10. Damn it, Hardison!*

          I’m so sorry, Allison. I went through something very similar with my baby just a few weeks ago. She was 22 and had health issues but everything was being treated and she was doing well for her age. Then, she wasn’t doing so well, and was uncomfortable and anxious some – but not all – of the time. We decided to say goodbye because there really wasn’t anything else we could do for her but make her comfortable because she wasn’t going to get better. We had a “bucket list weekend” for her, which meant all of her favorite foods and non stop snuggling. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but ultimately the right one. I read in several places that it is better to say goodbye a minute too soon than a minute too late, and that really reasonated with me.

        11. Bibliovore*

          In Minnesota, we have end-of-life care. mnpets dot something. They had a social worker who talked me through the evaluation of quality of life for two pets. One dog, one cat. They recommend pallitive care meds that you get at your regular vet. They do home visits for the final procedure. Each time I was so grateful. Perhaps there is something like this near you.
          I am so sorry, kisses for all your kitties.

        12. ..Kat..*

          The hard thing is letting go before you are ready, but when he is ready. See whether he seems to be getting enjoyment during the day. Or does he just seem to be enduring his time, breathing in and out. Has the vet said that this starts being painful at some point? How much pain does she think can be realistically treated?

          Last but not least, can you get a home vet visit when it is time to assist him to cat heaven? This usually costs more than taking Sam to the vet. But, going to the vet is stressful for most pets. It is a strange place where unpleasant things can happen. It is a place where they remember hearing the anxious/distressed/scared cries of other animals. So, even if you go after hours and no one else is there, Sam will remember how awful he felt listening to those other distressed animals. And he will feel scared again. I recommend letting Sam go to heaven at home where he has been loved and happy.

          Even humans in the hospital who are dying just want to go home and die in their own bed, with their own comforts and people around them.

          Hope this is helpful.

          1. ..Kat..*

            And of course, I am so sorry for your pending loss.

            Would it help to share some of your favorite Sam pictures with AAM?

        13. WanderingAnon*

          Coming to this a little late after being away this weekend. As I was rolling through the past posts, I saw the picture and thought, ‘What a sweet picture of Sam.’

          Thank you for sharing pictures of your companions over the years. While we’ve all watched Eve grow, I don’t think any of us ever thought Sam would pass.

          He is so lucky to have someone care so much about him and be with him until the end. Condolences on your loss.

    4. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Oh no! All the hugs to all of you!
      I lost Her Fuzzy Highness rather unexpectedly to cancer too last year, so I know how it feels.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        (Hit send too soon)
        There’s never really anything that can prepare you for that. Sending you all my best wishes.

    5. Mazzy*

      Sad face. My parents got the best dog ever right before I turned 30 and now he is an old man. He has lumps under his hair and pants heavily when I walk him too far and has problems with stairs. It sucks. My nieces are so close to him because he’s good with kids. I’m also a little sad because my parents are probably going to be too old to get another dog and my lifestyle won’t allow me to get one for at least a few more years, so there will definitely be a void when he’s gone. He was the cutest puppy ever, he has the oversized feet and fuzz on his head and ran in circles if you said boo to him.

    6. Free Meerkats*

      So sorry to read.

      I’m dealing with the same (see below) and the stopping eating was my sign. We’ve controlled his pain, so he’s getting around better. But it’s like he just shut off.

      It sucks, but it’s what we have to do.

    7. Lcsa99*

      I am so sorry. This type of thing is just so hard to go through. You love those furry things as much as anyone else in your life and they can’t communicate what they are going through. But from my experience if you do everything you can for them as long as you can, you’ll know when it’s time and it’ll help you grieve if you know you did everything you could for him.

      1. JaneB*

        I am so sorry. At least you have these few days to love on him and prepare yourselves as you can – nuch empathy

    8. Windchime*

      Oh, I am so sorry. He’s such a regal, calm looking soul. You’ll know when it’s time.

      I’m very sorry.

    9. Trixie*

      Hate to hear this, and so fast. Hope it’s some comfort that he is surrounded by fur siblings and his humans.

      Times like these, I wish my vet could come to my house.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      So very sorry, Alison.
      One vet told me something that helped a little. Cats are very good at hiding what is wrong. By the time we figure it out, the problem can be large. With their bodies being little, compared to other beings, something can go through them pretty fast, so there is that factor too. This helped me to realize that this is the nature of things and that this was probably not because I missed something along the line.

      It still sucks, though.
      Every animal I have had has taught me something about animals, about myself and about life. I think it’s their job to do this for us.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m so very sorry…he looks a total sweetheart who KNOWS he is worshipped. Which means you gave him a good life.
      I hope it helps a little to think on that.

    12. Kuododi*

      My heart aches for you all at this time. He has such a kind face and reminds me of my dear orange tabbies from when DH and I were first together. Y’all are in my heart.

    13. Wulfgar*

      I’m so sorry. He’s beautiful. They are never with us long enough. I hope you enjoy what time you have left with him.

    14. Jean (just Jean)*

      Oh no! He looks so smart and wise and kind in the picture. He looks really soulful, like he’s connecting with the photographer.
      Enjoy him while he’s here. It’s hard when you can’t go on loving someone in the present and the future, but it doesn’t invalidate your shared love in the past.

      1. FalafalBella*

        Our dear kitty got sick last Thanksgiving. It seemed she stopped eating and was just lying down. To my regret, I took her to an ER vet service. They keep her for a few days and did some intensive tests. When I came to get her two days later, they said she could live a few more months or so. I brought her home and she got sick again very quickly (not moving, but letting us pet her). We took her to our regular vet, said goodby and she had a gentle death with the aid of the vet. My biggest regret is taking her to the ER and leaving her there for two days. I still tear up when I think of her alone in that cage.
        My suggestion to you Alison is to let your wonderful kitty rest at home with you and then as soon as he appears in pain or not able to move, that will be the time to let him go. Condolences.

    15. Slartibartfast*

      In moderation is a link to a pdf for a quality of life questionnaire. It’s so hard to be objective in this situation. Giving a number score, and seeing if it’s changing over time can help you with the decision. My deepest sympathies to your household.

    16. Melody Pond*

      Oh, Alison, I’m so sorry. That’s so hard. It never gets easier. Even though I exclusively adopt elderly/geriatric cats, when that stage comes, it’s always the hardest thing, trying to figure out when their quality of life has gone down enough that it’s kinder to end their suffering. I always have heartache about it, even when I was confident that my cat wasn’t enjoying being a cat anymore. :(

    17. Lore*

      So sorry to hear this. I went through it just about a year ago. The particular cancer my Trixie had didn’t affect her personality or behavior or energy level much at all, which made it harder. But she started to find it hard to swallow, so. The hardest thing for me was worrying about whether I was making decisions based on my convenience and anxiety rather than her needs. Don’t let that torture you. You love Sam and he loves you and it’s not wrong to include your needs and mental and physical health as part of the decision.

    18. Typhon Worker Bee*

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear this. We lost our sweet Saba two weeks ago to cancer. She was an exceptionally nice cat (even my Dad liked her, and he hates cats) and only 11 years old. Hugs to you and your kitties

    19. Princess Scrivener*

      I am SO late for this, but we were out of town, off line. I have never been a cat person. Ever. But I came here to say that you’ve got a beautiful cat, and someone took a beautiful picture! I’m so sad and sorry for your family.

  53. Ruffingit*

    Something a little different this week.

    CONFESSION THREAD! Confess something big, small, whatever. Only rule is that no one can be judgmental about your confession.

      1. Kate Daniels*

        Along these same lines, it’s been hard for me to have a (married) friend who was able to quit her job and can now sleep in every day, spend all day writing in coffee shops, go to the beach or whatever anytime she feels like it, etc. My confession is that I’ve lost a lot of respect for her because she doesn’t contribute financially to her household or to society (she doesn’t volunteer in her copious free time), but that feeling may be a result of jealousy or envy because I am so freaking exhausted by work. I’d love to cut down my hours, but I can’t because I need the full-time hours for health insurance. I, too, am tired of having only myself to rely on.

    1. Mazzy*

      I hate the healthy at any size movement and think it should be renamed. I think we need to be honest about what standards of beauty we ourselves truly like, and I think it’s more productive to find out why certain foods lead to rapid weight gain than to just accept it. For example, the recent low carb craze has made a huge improvement in the lives of some people I know. Much more than if they felt helpless in their bodies and felt unable to change.

        1. Observer*

          This has nothing to do with fat-phobia. It’s a real thing and has serious implications and effects. But, the way to combat it is NOT to pretend that weight is not a serious issue.

          As someone with a weight problem I find that this movement makes it much harder for me to do what I can to get my weight under control. Even just on an emotional level – I REALLY, REALLY do NOT need your (healthy at any size activists) condescending “accept yourself” chirpyness.

          1. ANON*