{ 1,202 comments… read them below }

    1. Jess*

      I’m so sorry about Sam, Allison. He was such a beautiful, gentle boy from your stories. There’s no pain quite like losing such a beloved companion.

    2. StudentA*

      Allison, I am so sorry about Sam. He was a member of the family and it’s a painful loss. I am sending my love and condolences.

    3. Lcsa99*

      I am so sorry Allison. Bit you gave him a good life.

      I hope the other kitties are taking it ok. It’s difficult cause you can’t explain to them why he isn’t there. Sending hugs for you and the kitties.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        This is what I like to say. Remember what a great life you gave him; even if it wasn’t easy, anyone who has cared for an animal has probably improved its life immeasurably over being a stray or in a shelter. (We’re dealing with new medical issues for both of our cats, and I have to keep reminding myself of this.)

      1. Bibliovore*

        Please accept my condolences on the loss of your dear Sam. I know that your many sweet memories of him will be a comfort in this time of grief.

    4. matcha123*

      He was very much a loved member here. I’m sorry for your loss and hope you guys are holding up okay.

    5. Lore*

      So sorry to hear about Sam. I hope you & your husband and the other cat members of the family are holding up.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thank you, all.

      I wrote a little about what was going on with him last weekend. He went downhill very fast and we had a vet come to the house on Sunday to euthanize him. We let Lucy smell him afterwards so she’d know what happened (and not keep looking for him) and she sniffed him and then immediately licked his head, which she never does, so I think she knows. Olive and Eve seem to be oblivious (they wouldn’t come out while the vet was here so they didn’t see him) although they’re being a lot needier than usual, so who knows. Anyway, we miss him and it feels unbalanced here without him. He was a great cat.

      1. Animal worker*

        It seems that you did everything you could, and handled this really well for Sam and the other cats. We let animals here at the zoo say goodbye when we can, depending on the situation and species. I think it can be really important for animals that have a social bond or even less close relationship. Sincere condolences on your loss, and hope your other cats can give you some extra comfort right now.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        That was really smart letting her see for herself like that.
        They do look for each other and they look for their humans too. It sounds like Lucy knows, so that’s good.

        They leave a hole, that’s for sure. RIP little Sam.

      3. Cindy Featherbottom*

        I’m so sorry about your loss :(. We lost our little guy at about the same age as Sam and he went downhill quick too so I know how you feel. Its a hard loss to bear. Sending hugs and condolences.

      4. Mimmy*

        Aww the image of Lucy licking Sam’s head is making me tear up. I bet Olive and Eve know that Sam is gone – they just reacted in a different way. But like you said, who knows. Sending everyone extra snuggles.

      5. Rainy*

        I lost my 22yo boy last month and it was pretty awful. Our younger cat seems to be adjusting okay, but I’m glad that your other kitties have each other–and you guys, of course.

      6. IrishEm*

        I’m so sorry, Alison. It’s always hard, but he loves you and knows you did your best for him.

      7. mimsie*

        “he sniffed him and then immediately licked his head, which she never does, so I think she knows.”
        *crying* Pets are so special. I’m very sorry for your loss, Alison.

      8. Always "anon just for this"*

        I’m so sorry for your loss, Alison. It’s tough to lose a furry family member. Condolences.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      One of the things I love about this site is that many of us love and share about our kitties.
      So sorry about Sam.
      Losing a beloved pet is one of the hardest things in the world.

    8. Myrin*

      I’m crying. My heartfelt condolences go out to your and your family, Alison. Your beautiful boy was loved not only by you guys but by all of these internet strangers and I’m sure he felt that love all the time.

    9. nep*

      What a beautiful, beautiful photo. Thanks for sharing that.
      So sorry, Alison. The pain is like no other.

    10. Chylleh*

      I am so sorry. Sam looked like such a happy, beautiful boy in the photos you have posted. What a wonderful life he must have had.

    11. cat socks*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so heartbreaking to lose a member of the family. Rest in peace, sweet Sam.

    12. MatKnifeNinja*

      So sorry about your horrific days/week, and your sweet kitty.

      It is hard when they leave because they rip a chunk of your heart with them.

      Sam was a gorgeous boy, and is very much loved. You can see that in his sassy face. I’m sure you did all you could for him. Do not second guess yourself.

      Me, my feathered and furry friends send you love and gentle hugs.

    13. Aphrodite*

      I am truly sorry, Alison. Sam was a great beauty. I’d bet his years with you were very happy ones.

    14. Sherm*

      I’m so sorry. How I wish cats could live as long as we do. I know his time here was filled with joy.

    15. JaneB*

      Very sorry to hear this. He had wonderful people, and I hope the others don’t miss him too much.

    16. Dr. Anonymous*

      I’m so sorry to hear about Sam. It’s so hard to decide when the cat is telling you it is time, and so hard to go through your day and the moments you expect to hear that little voice.

    17. Elspeth*

      Aww, so sorry for your loss, Alison. It doesn’t matter how long you have cats, they always manage to worm their way into your heart. Much love to you and yours.

    18. Sorority Woman*

      I’m so sorry to see that your kitty has passed. You undoubtedly gave him a wonderful life!

    19. Environmental Compliance*

      So sorry for your loss. Many internet hugs for you & husband and your other kitties.

    20. Hope*

      I’m so sorry Allison. There’s nothing I could possibly say to make it better, but I know he was loved and had a good life.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Beautiful kitty, so sorry he’s gone. I lost my two old cats in the last 18 months and it’s so hard. But Allison, I do love all your cat photos so please keep sharing them!!! <3

  1. wingmaster*

    RIP Sam :(


    I started my online shop last week, and I finally got my first sale this past week! I was so excited and gave myself a pat on the back. It’s a Spoonflower shop, and as someone who loves chicken wings, I’ve been uploading some fun chicken wing digital prints.

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      Seconding your RIP to Sam. What a striking photo. <3
      With Spoonflower, sounds like you can get your own design put on fabric. Wow.

  2. Tort-ally Harebrained*

    Y’all, this baseball game. We are now in the 18th and 6+ hours. The World Series is crazy, sad my Astros aren’t in it, but glad it has something interesting.

    Sorry to here about Sam. He looks so very regal.

    1. Weekend Worker*

      I, against my better judgement, stayed up to watch the whole thing and am feeling it at work today – at least Saturdays are slow. Who are you rooting for?

      1. Tort-ally Harebrained*

        My allegiance seems to wobble. When it started I was for Boston and Alex Cora given his Astros history. But now I find myself cheering for the Dodgers underdog, Kershaw to get a ring and Kike Hernandez who played on the minor league team where I live.

    2. Marge Gunderson*

      I cannot. Believe. That game! I watched the whole thing, my husband eventually fell asleep on the floor and only woke up to the sound of neighborhood fireworks :)

    3. Bostonian*

      I fell asleep during the 12th and kicked my husband out of the bedroom (where we were watching the game) in the 14th. He resisted, saying, “it can’t go on that much longer…” It went on for another hour and a half.

  3. Marzipan*

    Oh, RIP Sam. I’m so sorry.

    I called my fertility clinic recently to check in about where I am on the waiting list for an egg donor (it’s been like a year at this point). And they basically said ‘wow, you must by psychic, we have your potential donor’s paperwork on the desk in front of us right now’! Not sure when things will actually get going; it might not be until after Christmas. But still, things are happening…

    In other news I got my hand shut in the van door at work yesterday and now have two of my fingers taped together. So, swings and roundabouts!

    1. Random Commenter*

      Congratulations on the progress with the donor! I understand these things are stressful and anxiety-inducing so it’s great to hear there’s progress.

  4. Jemima Bond*

    Crafters; assemble! OH just gave me a belated birthday gift of a Star Wars amigurumi crochet kit, so I can make my own yoda and stormtrooper (the kit contains yarn for these plus instructions for several more characters). Twist: I do not yet know how to crochet. I know YouTubf is my friend – any other tips or general encouragement would be welcome!

    1. Marzipan*

      You can do it! I honestly find crochet much easier than knitting. If I were you, I’d start by learning to make granny squares; they’re a fairly straightforward starting point.

      One thing to be aware of – in the US and the UK, crochet stitches may be known by different names. Some of which are the same names as other stitches. (So, for example, ‘double crochet’ means one thing in a UK pattern and a different thing in a US pattern.) This honestly isn’t as awkward as it sounds, but just be aware of it and if you’re watching videos or reading instructions try to find ones that tell you if they’re using UK or US terms, so you can follow what’s happening.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        That’s a good tip!! I’ve checked out exactly what the uk double and the us single is and I’m pretty sure the book is in UK-speak, which makes sense as although appropriately licensed, the patterns were written by an English person.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      YouTube is super helpful here. Definitely get some other yarn and play around with making small swatches to get used to different stitches and such before you start using the yarn from your kit. Are parts of the amigurumi crocheted in the round? If so, make sure to practice that as well. Even as a more experienced crocheter, sometimes a pattern just doesn’t seem to make sense, but when I dive in and just follow the instructions faithfully, it works out in the end.

      Come back here if you want help or need specific advice! I’ve been crocheting for probably 10 years now and I really like it. Right now I have two projects going – a kippah (Jewish skullcap/yarmulke) and a lap blanket I’m making from a kit left by my husband’s late grandmother (that she bought in the 60s or 70s!).

    3. Jack Be Nimble*

      Seconding what others have said about starting by using other yarn to make granny squares until you have a feel for it! See if the kit says what weight and material the yarn is, and buy some of the same. Working with polyester fingerling yarn will be different than working with a chunkier wool blend. Using the same size hook and same kind of yarn included in the kit will help you get up to speed faster.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      Starting out, look st several different YouTube videos to find a way to control the yarn tension and hold the hook and yarn that don’t make your hands hurt. Establish a healthy habit now.

    5. a good mouse*

      I’ll caution that those kits are great but more aimed at advanced beginner/intermediate crocheters. So don’t get discouraged if you’re having trouble! Just practice the stitches from YouTube a little longer. You can always pull it all out and use the yarn again for the dolls :)

      If you want to see some of the dolls I’ve designed and made, I post them as hookedonfandom on Instagram.

    6. Ehhhh*

      Part of crocheting is finding a mistake a few rows/rounds back and pulling all the work out. Accept it as part of the process – don’t try to make it work.

      Have so much fun!

      1. Red Reader*

        Also, it’s string. You have higher brain power, opposable thumbs and scissors. No matter what, you will not lose in the end. :)

        1. Thursday Next*

          Thank you for this. I’m gearing up to knit in the round for the first time, and feeling unequal to the task!

          1. MarieAlice*

            On a circular needle or on 4/5 needles?
            To me, knitting on a circular is rather easy (as long as I don’t forget to tap the counter and move my marker every round), but with 4 or 5, I just keep dropping stitches, needles, and even everything while I’m trying to catch the falling needles…

            1. Drop Bear*

              Urgh, I hear you. When I have no choice but to go with multiple needles, I stick little cork like things on the ends – in theory having to move the corks should slow me down , but in reality the time saved not having to rescue stitches puts me into the black!

              1. MarieAlice*

                I tried, but those corks seem to magically attract 2 cats, who then have the time of their lives catching those things and pulling stitches off or getting caught in the yarn.
                They don’t do this with other needles (although, the 15-25mm range seems to intrigue them too), but the little ones for knitting socks with the corks are irresistible apparently…

                1. Drop Bear*

                  I had the same issue with the ones I bought (they were like little hats), so I made my own – I make them so they are doughnut shaped and slide down onto the needle (so the point sticks out) – they are a little slower to slide on and off. but the cat doesn’t seem to see them as prey!

              2. Nita*

                Great tip! I’m knitting a hat on the go, and have reached into my bag a few times and pulled out a single needle… leaving the stitches behind.

              3. Blue_eyes*

                Try Magic Loop method! You can knit at any size with only a circular needle, and no need for DPNs. It totally changed my knitting life. I bought a set of different sizes all with long flexible plastic cables and know I’m ready for any pattern!

            2. Dr. Anonymous*

              I got much happier with double pointed needles when I switched to bamboo. There’s enough extra friction that the needles don’t slide out of the stitches and fall on the floor all the time, and on the rare occasion when they do, I don’t have to listen to the bright, steel ring of failure.

              1. Red Reader*

                And if you sit on them, they break rather than impaling you. (Which is still not great, but I have seen more than a few ER charts for people who got severe injuries from sitting on metal knitting needles.)

              2. MarieAlice*

                “The bright, steel ring of failure.” I have to remember that one. :)
                Interesting, I might try those next time!

            1. Thursday Next*

              Thank you! My son (whom it’s for) asked whether it will be ready in the next year. I told him I certainly hoped so. :)

              1. Red Reader*

                Haha, oh bless. I have a quilt upstairs that my mother made. It was for my sixteenth birthday. I mean, my 18th birthday. I mean, my 21st birthday. I mean, my 25th birthday. I finally got it when I was 30. :) And it seems to be a family trait; I have a couple of knitting projects in my craft pile that have been on needles for five or six years or longer.

                1. Thursday Next*

                  :) That’s a sweet story…makes the quilt so much more memorable once you finally got it. And yay mom for seeing it through!

    7. Shrunken Hippo*

      Always remember that the best thing about crochet is it’s easy to take out a few stitches and try again. Never be afraid to stop and start over. Also when you feel confident doing general crochet don’t let crocheting in the round scare you, once it clicks it’ll be a breeze. It just takes time and patience. Besides, some of my cutest amigurumi were the ones that look nothing like I was hoping they would turn out but I still love them.

    8. Gingerblue*

      Are you on ravelry.com? If not, it’s a great resource for knitters and crocheters; it’s a combined pattern archive, yarn database, personal notebook to which you can upload pictures and notes on your projects, and social forum. Everything is cross-linked, so if you find the pattern you’re working on (and they aim to catalogue every pattern ever published), from its page you can look at the project pages of everyone on Ravelry who has made that pattern. I mention it because people’s project notes, work in progress photos, etc. are often really helpful if you get stuck; you can even sort all the project pages for a pattern in order of helpfulness. The forums can also be great, and you can find discussion groups ranging general site discussion to amigurumi-focused groups. And if you want to continue with crochet past this kit, definitely get on Rav! It’s free and totally invaluable.

      (If you are already on Ravelry for knitting or something, sorry for the advertisement!)

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        Ravelry addict here. I don’t know how I was able to survive before I discovered it!

        1. Gingerblue*

          Summer is my season, but one of the great joys of fall is that we’re back into knitting season! I’ve been rearranging my queue all week. Surely one more WIP wouldn’t hurt…

    9. nonegiven*

      I taught myself to crochet from a cheap dime store pamphlet at age 8. It’s really not hard, especially with all the Youtube videos out there.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you haven’t yet found Ravelry, go check it out. There is info about local crafting groups. In case you like me find it easier to learn in the real world than from books or recordings.
      Random thoughts…
      If you are lefthanded, look for leftie-specific materials and teachers.
      If you’re teaching yourself don’t skimp the “how to hold the hook” part…I did, and years after I learned the basics, someone at my local stitch-n-bitch suggested another way of holding it. Not only is it much easier on my hands, my results are nicer.

    11. Emelle*

      I can’t read a crochet pattern if my life depended on it, so I watch the crap out of YouTube videos til I find something I like. Right now blankets and scarves are my only projects, but I did make one shawl that I was proud of. (My kid wanted to look like Abigail on When Calls The Heart.)

    12. Lazy Crochet*

      Two words for doing amigurumi or any other crochet in he round: Stitch markers. You will only be sorry if you don’t use them

    13. rogue axolotl*

      As someone who does a fair amount of amigurumi, I would suggest starting with simple amigurumi first. I’ve done those kits before and they would be pretty challenging for beginners. Amigurumi also is fairly distinct from other kinds of crochet–it’s almost always done in the round, for example, so learning to crochet in the round will probably help you more than practicing flat crocheting. And it helps to be able to decipher a pattern because, to be honest, I didn’t find the instructions in the kit very clear. I’d recommend something really easy like a crocheted cactus to start, and work your way up to the kit.

      1. rogue axolotl*

        On a more supportive note, it really doesn’t take long to improve your amigurumi skills, because there are a lot of small, easy projects to practise on and most of the skills required are the same across projects. When I first learned, it only took about a month before I could work on fairly challenging projects.

    14. Princess Tayla*

      I have both of the Star Wars Crochet kits and I’ve made pretty much all of them more than once. I think C3PO and Chewbacca are the easiest in the book. Crochet is really easy to pull out so don’t be afraid to try things and pull them out and try again until you have something you like.

    15. BetsCounts*

      I found this book to be **incredibly** useful.

      ReCrochetions Presents: Rowan’s Learn to Crochet Sampler Afghan, Right-Handed Edition Paperback –
      by Laurinda Reddig (Author)

      I know how to knit and had taken a crochet course through my college extension, but struggled with making the right number of stitches on a row. This book has tons of pictures and at the end you have enough squares to make a baby blanket! I wanted to make a larger one so I knit additional squares to make it big enough. Good luck!

  5. Beth Jacobs*

    I started this week super annoyed. I live in a flatshare and the heating isn’t working in my bedroom and in the adjoining kitchen. The rest of the apartment is just toasty, as is apparently the rest of the building.
    Anyways my landlady is great and has been trying to do everything she can – a workman came last week, but couldn’t determine the cause. On Sunday, my landlady brought me an oil filled space heater (my rent already includes all bills, so I don’t have to worry about the monstrous electric usage). But I was still annoyed – space heaters are inconvenient, since they’re not really good for autoregulating the temperature to stay at a constant level and can’t be left unattended. My room is not cold (it’s also only 10 C = 50 F outside now, not too bad) but it’s annoying to come home to a really cold room and wait 30 minutes for it to warm up, then having to turn it up and down throughout the evening, unplug it for the night because of safety and wake up cold the next morning…
    But on Wednesday, my landlady texted me that they’ve got another workman coming AND to skip the next rent payment as compensation for the inconvenience. I can really use this financial boost right now and a whole month’s rent is definitely worth it having to push a button a couple of times day. So I went from annoyed to super happy :)
    I still hope the second workman sorts it out though. Winters can get really cold here, January averages around 0 celsius (32 F) and gets as low as -12 C (10 F) and I can’t imagine going through that with just the space heater. It’s not that it’s not powerful enough, but it can’t be left on when I’m asleep or out of the room, which means coming home or waking up to a very cold room.

    1. Julia*

      I’m sorry you have to deal with that. At least your landlady sounds nice and competent, so I hope you’ll have a solution before it gets even colder. Using a different room for a while might be an option if she has an opening?
      I spent some time in a cold room with a drafty window and no central heating, just a small electric oven, when I was an au-pair, and I know how subpar those things are to get you really warm.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        Yes, I do this as well. My bedroom gets super cold in winter and I have a space heater on a timer. It runs a bit before bed so I don’t go to sleep in the cold, and a bit in the morning so I don’t get up in the cold.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I have a couple of the cheap oil filled radiators from argos that I use sometimes in a particularly cold room and this is what I do. Just plug them in to a timer and set it for a few appropriate times. If yours is like the one I have it doesn’t really get hot enough to worry about it coming on by itself for half an hour.

    2. Boo Hoo*

      There are some great space heaters. We have one that has setting for turning on and off, has a remote control, temp settings and turns off if it tips or even if you stand in front of it (so meant for if something is in front of it blocking it) and it is made to look like a side table. Love it. Keeps out heat bills down since we don’t have to heat the whole house all night in the winter.

    3. Brisque*

      Could you have your door open during the day, and maybe even run a small fan to push the heat towards your area of the home during the day? Maybe then it can at least be a little better when you get home.

      1. schnauzerfan*

        Hope it gets fixed soon! But if not I’d be looking for an electric blanket or mattress pad. Could at least keep your bed toasty at night.

      2. Thursday Next*

        Yes, that’s one awesome landlady. It’s great (and rare) to have someone so concerned and willing to work with you.

    4. MsChanandlerBong*

      Wow, your landlady sounds nice. When we lived back east, we had a cracked sewer pipe in our basement, and the house was filled with sewer gas. It took six days for my landlord to get a plumber out to look at it, and then once the plumber diagnosed the problem, the landlord was too cheap to pay to have it fixed, so he did it himself (cheaply and shoddily), and then it cracked again right when we were moving out. We didn’t get a penny off our rent despite having headaches and being unable to sleep because the house was permeated with the smell of sewage!

    5. Chaordic One*

      Yes, your landlady sounds like a peach. I once lived in a apartment and a pipe broke in the apartment above me. The water damage was inconsequential, but the dust from when they knocked out the plaster to get to the pipes was terrible and they didn’t do anything about the terrible mess the workmen left behind in my apartment.

    6. JSPA*

      I thought the main point of the oil filled radiators is that they are much safer (lower surface temperature, hard to tip over) and can therefore be left on, unattended, so long as they are not next to anything super flammable / have proper clearance from drapes and paper. Maybe check with the landlady and the manufacturer, in case you’re making things harder on yourself than they need to be, by following rules for the old-style, heating element space heaters (which were a menace)?

      1. Gaia*

        They are safer, they are not safe. No space heater should ever be left unattended and on. Probably the “safest” ones are not “space heaters” at all. They are those fans that blow warm air and turn off automatically if they tip over. I probably still wouldn’t leave one of them unattended but that is because every winter our town has several homes lost to fires caused by “safer” space heaters.

  6. Junior Dev*

    Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I had a pretty rough week. Between worrying about politics and work i have been pretty stressed out (not supposed to discuss either here so I’m not going into detail). To the point where I’m burned out and depressed and stayed home from a conference I had planned on attending today.

    I just went out dancing with my friends, I had texted one of them a funny video and he invited me. I’m really glad I did. I’ve been isolating myself and spending a lot of my free time at home in bed. I don’t want to keep doing that.

    I also biked to work remotely at a cafe on Thursday, I think that was good for me. The trees were very pretty along the way.

    Struggling with realizing i need make some changes to my life due to things that are exacerbating my depression. But i barely have the energy to do a lot of those changes due to depression…

    Proud of socializing and exercising and cleaning my apartment.

    How are you doing?

    1. Julia*

      I was doing pretty well considering I keep getting nothing but rejections in my job search and won’t be able to move home anytime soon or at least find some semblance of a career here (it’s one or the other anyway), but just now my husband was all, “I want to move to Korea” or “how about doing this boring job in Paris so I can apply for a job there?” and I just can’t deal anymore. He just doesn’t understand what my life has been like these past few months, and I’m mostly surviving because I have a lot of friends here, and now he wants to take me away from those as well. I don’t know how many more ways I can try to explain to him what I want when he just won’t get it. He’s also still not making any effort to study or use German at all, and earlier today he was all, “well, if you want me to find a job in Europe, I’d need to learn French for a lot of them in my field, so choose which language I should pick” when obviously the job comes first, but he was supposed to have kept us his French independently if it’s part of his job, and not guilt-trip me over having to study German when he promised me he would.
      Some days I’m just so exhausted from living and job-searching in two languages that aren’t my own, and then having a husband who still doesn’t try to make my life easier…

      1. Waiting for the Sun*

        Job search is tough enough for in one’s native language.
        Not sure what country you’re in now. Maybe a boring job there just to have a job would help. Best w.

        1. Julia*

          Thank you. I’m proficient enough in the local language, and just got a master’s, so I really want a career job, but keep being rejected for various reasons, and obviously wondering why I’m even looking here if husband is actively looking in other places all over the world.

      2. Washi*

        Can you remind me what your situation is? You live in Tokyo but are German, your husband is Japanese, you want to move back to Germany and he also wants to move, but to elsewhere in Europe? I’m confused about the “choose which language I should pick” – it seems like you would obviously pick German if you want to move back there, but maybe I’m not understanding.

        Anyway, it sounds very stressful, especially if both of you are job searching at the same time and both stressed.

        1. Julia*

          You got everything right! I’m also okay with staying in Tokyo as I have friends here, but I definitely won’t be moving to Korea or wherever where I know neither people nor the language! My skills don’t translate well to other countries.
          Husband was supposed to have been studying German all along so I wouldn’t have to interpret everything for him, but has slacked off horribly, and now he wants to take a apply for a job in Germany that requires knowledge of French (not German, as it’s an international org) and is trying to get me to tell him that he doesn’t have to “study” German anymore. Even my therapist rolled her eyes…

          1. Myrin*

            I honestly feel like your husband needs a reality check: leaving aside how totally arschig his behaviour is towards you, your language, and your relationship, er soll sich doch nicht einbilden, dass, nur weil für seine Arbeit französisch ausreichen würd, er ohne Probleme in Deutschland leben könnt, ohne zumindest grundegende Deutschkenntnisse zu haben (unless he’s planning on taking you literally everywhere and have you do literally everything for him).

            1. Julia*

              Tell me about it. But he thinks if we move there, he’ll miraculously start picking up as much as “necessary”, even though he still thinks “ich will” means “ich werde das tun” and “was?” is how you politely ask someone to repeat themselves. I don’t know what to say so that he’ll finally get it, and he just keeps asking what he’s supposed to. You’re supposed to put some effort into studying German, dude! I literally just got my master’s in applied linguistics, and he still won’t listen when I tell him that to learn how to speak a language, you have to try to speak it.

              1. Julia*

                Sorry, I meant: He keeps asking what he’s supposed to DO, as if I haven’t told him at least ten times this weekend alone.

      3. Jean (just Jean)*

        Please give yourself loads of credit for job-searching in your second or third (or…?) languages!!
        That’s a metric ton or two more difficult than searching in one’s original language and culture.
        Maybe you should be applying for jobs with organizations that help people adapt to new circumstances? No offense intended to your original professional ambition and recently-completed master’s degree.

        1. Julia*

          Thank you! Considering languages are my speciality and the only thing I’m good at (other than people stuff), I never even considered the effort this took, as I’ve been working at Japanese orgs overseas before. I am applying for all kinds of jobs remotely in my field or doable with my skills, but something like the one you proposed hasn’t come up yet.

    2. frystavirki*

      I’ve been better, but I’ve been worse — I have started taking a very low dose of melatonin at night and it’s helped me get enough sleep to handle my class schedule. I have a very delayed sleep schedule naturally due to ADHD things and so getting 1-2 hours of sleep a night and then being on campus from 7:30am – 5pm led to a lot of sleeping in public. It’s mostly been helping when I remember to take it early enough. My individual therapy is hard as hell (she makes me name 7 things I did well every week and it usually takes me like 20 minutes and is like pulling teeth, because I keep trying to tease out her ‘rules’ of what ‘counts.’) My teeth are actually done with for now! I scheduled a new dentist’s appointment to get some of the fillings taken care of and they redid the X-rays and declared me as needing no new fillings assuming I kept up with the Fancy Prescription Toothpaste, which was apparently strengthening the borderline areas well. 3 root canals/crowns and about one regular filling. My 25th birthday is Monday, and that’s weirding me out, because it’s like time has stood still since I was in high school.
      P.S.: RIP, Sam :c I hope you have lots of happy times in cat heaven. That’s a beautiful photo.

      1. MarieAlice*

        Happy almost birthday! *insert confetti and balloons*
        Maybe you can set an alarm on your phone for the melatonin?

    3. arjumand*

      I’m in year 2 of dealing with my recently diagnosed immune disorder (ITP) – in recovery from 6 months of steroids, which, I’ve realised, is the carpet bomber of medications, as it deals with the problem by leveling your immune system – so still dealing with a lot of after effects, plus the ever present fear that my platelets will go down again.
      After having lost my own ginger furball to cancer 3 years ago, now the other family cat (17 years old) has developed a tumor in her tongue (the symptoms of which looked like gum disease) which is inoperable (tongue, y’all). The prognosis is not good.
      I’m working full time, which means I’m exhausted and in pain most evenings.
      And then I rear-ended a driving instructor yesterday.
      So, not having a particularly good week (month? year?).

          1. Julia*

            When my family cat died, the time between knowing she would and her actual passing was the worst, even worse than the time right after her passing. Anticipatory mourning and feeling helpless can do a huge number on you, as can seeing someone you love suffer. Please be kind to yourself, cry if you want to, and take some photos of your kitty if that’s your thing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh man. I hope you catch a break in all this, I hope something really good happens for you very soon.

      2. AnnaBananna*

        The driver probably deserved it. ;) I’m kidding (I think).
        I’m so sorry about the kitties! And I feel you on the chronic illness and painful evenings. I’m working ‘only’ part time but even that is incredibly painful. I remember one time driving on the freeway in stop-n-go traffic and legit falling asleep while my car was stopped. I was like ‘ya….I can’t work FT anymore’. So keep your wits about you and think hard about your needs, both short and long term. I fought for three years before I finally went to part time and i’m so glad I did. It’s been rough, but parts of my life have improved.

    4. Sh’Dynasty*

      Doing pretty well here! Continuing to look at the positives, or at least try to. I can’t help but feel I’m on an upswing right now.
      Slowly getting a hang of this new motherhood dealio.
      The company I contract for has been working overtime to pull me in for full time employment, where I would work from home at least a couple times a week.
      Just had a couple date with my bestie and her boyfriend at her house, and we didn’t go overboard with drinking and ate healthy.

      A little nervous about potentially running out of anti anxiety meds, as I am waiting for the new job (and therefore new insurance) before I go see a psychiatrist for the first time. I’ll probably be a week or two without them for the first time in a couple of months. So gotta watch that real close! Any advice on this is more than welcome :)

      1. MarieAlice*

        I don’t know how things work in the US, but can’t you get a prescription from your GP or family doctor? Just a refill for those couple of weeks?
        If you have been taking anti-anxiety medication (which I presume, are benzodiazepines) for a couple of months and you stop taking them cold turkey, you might end up with some nasty withdrawal effects, both psychologically and physically.
        So I would suggest you contact a doctor or your pharmacist and ask for either a refill, or a regimen to lower your dose gradually if you can’t get a new prescription. Just to keep you from falling out of that upswing you’re on now.

      2. Boo Hoo*

        If the doctor you were seeing has already prescribed them there usually isn’t a reason they won’t call them in. You likely will feel really ill if you just stop. I’d at least ask if they will. I know mine did when I moved for three months because that’s how long it took me to get in with my new Dr in this two horse town.

      3. Observer*

        See if the doctor you saw will call it in. If not, as your GP to prescribe. I good one won’t want to do that indefinitely in most cases, but if you explain that it’s a hopefully one time thing till you’re back with a new psychiatrist, most will do that for you.

      4. Erin W*

        When I moved a few years ago, I slacked off on finding a new psychiatrist so I went without meds for about a year. I did not have bad withdrawal effects (maybe it depends on how high your dosage is or something else) and I didn’t immediately feel depressed or terrible. But there was sort of a slow eroding of my goodwill towards the world and towards my self, if that makes sense. I wasn’t in any danger, thankfully, but I had to pay more attention to myself and how I was reacting to things.

        There’s a great book by Emily Gordon called Super You about managing your mental health. There’s one section where she describes looking at yourself at a remove, as though you are a character in a TV show. If you find yourself yelling at your spouse/child/computer/the sky, try to step back (mentally) and think about what you’d say if that person was NOT you and you were a spectator. “She’s just tired. She just needs to eat. She is actually angry about that thing this morning.” I actually find this to be a really helpful exercise.

        If you can’t get a refill to cover the gap, just try to be extra aware of yourself and your moods and how your mind might start tricking you.

    5. thankful for AAM*

      I posted here b4 about adult son and his anxiety/depression or something that requires therapy but he has not sorted it out and I was struggling with how much or any intervention I should do. I got great advice and support here, thanks all!

      He did ask for help finding a therapist and did go, which is awesome. But he found fault with the guy. Good news is he did ask me for help finding a new person. I think he thinks it is like needing a filling, go to a dentist and they fill it. Maybe they mess it up but the next dentist will get it right. You dont have to like the dentist for them to be skilled at dentistry. You have to have some connection with a therapist but mostly it is not like filling a cavity. It is not like you say, x happens in my life and the therapist says, right, do y and it is all fixed. I think he thinks it is like that and I assume he will get that eventually. Another life lesson that he has to figure out on his own.

      Dad and I have offered to pay for a therapist not on his plan (his plan has pretty limited choices). But he seems determined to be independent. Send good thoughts that he finds someone to work with!

    6. matcha123*

      Don’t know if this really fits here, but I’ve been reading more about “parentification” and a lot of the examples and case studies given in articles match up with how I grew up.
      I have a lot of conflicted feelings because I never had anyone I felt safe turning to at that time, and I also was afraid that even if I did tell an adult, they would never believe me because some of the incidents sound so outrageous.
      Even now it is hard to talk to people about anything family-related, not because I hate my family, but because my peers grew up comfortably surrounded by caring family members and just can’t begin to understand.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So I had to google parentification. Emotional parentification resonates with me.

        I thought of my setting this way: Family was out. I needed to be a good daughter. This was a huge heading the covered just about everything you can think of, regardless of whether it was reasonable or not.
        Friends were out because they had no idea.
        I gravitated toward older people, they seemed to have that quiet knowing, without too much judgement. I had a pair of retired neighbors who took an interest in me. Later on, I tended to pick out older people at work, because they knew what I was talking about. At first I thought I was a bit weird, but as the decades have rolled by I realize it’s super important to keep people of all ages in our lives. Each age group offers something of value that we can use. I still have older people in my life who are dear to me.
        What I have found interesting is that a) 9-10 years is enough of an age difference where both people can add something to each other’s lives and b) this works for women AND men. Men can benefit from having a friend who is just a bit older than them. I watched my husband light up like a Christmas tree when my father or uncle spent time talking to him.
        This works into that I have friends who sit and talk about the meaning of life with me and I have friends who go and do volunteer work, shopping, etc. Each relationship has unique things about it.
        I framed it as “I grew up fast.” At 20 my friends were sitting in bars looking for a life mate, at 20 I was sitting in the nursing home spoon feeding my mother and praying she would actually swallow instead of putting the food in her check.
        Time is kind. As I age some of the stories have gotten less weird as others are seeing similar things. I think reading is powerful. Knowing that others , who we haven’t even met, have been through their own version of things. What is good about reading also, is that it’s totally private. We can learn about things in the privacy of our own homes.
        I’m going to say something that is kind of a shot in the dark here. I bet you are a very good problem solver. You think fast on your feet. You know how. This will be nothing but an asset for you as you go along.

        1. matcha123*

          I’m starting to see some of them ‘catch up,’ if you will. And I am trying to remind myself that nothing is as perfect as it seems on the surface.
          I think that parentification is quite common across many countries and cultures, but in the US we don’t expect that kind of relationship between the parent and child.

    7. Random Commenter*

      Oooh bless you. Thank you for this. I need to vent a little.

      So a lot of things have changed in the last year or so in my life. I survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma a year ago, and changed jobs and moved in with my partner (and his many pets) within the last few months. I have always struggled with anxiety and depression but I think that my mental health is starting to catch up to me now. I’m starting to have the heaviness in my chest that I hadn’t felt for years and I’m not sure how to deal with it long term right now. Every other time it’s happened before there was something fundamental in my lifestyle that I was able to change that made me better, I found THE THING that was at the bottom of all the spiraling thoughts and desperation. But I think that this time I’m dealing with the aftermath with so much change so soon so I don’t really know how to start to address it other than suck it up and give it time.

      I can’t fit therapy in my new schedule. And my partner (while ridiculously amazing in every other single way) is not great at listening about mental health issues because he has a complicated family history in that respect. I think I got to the point where it’s been long enough that my friends and family are getting tired of hearing me talk about the cancer, but my mind is just getting around to processing what happened (I have talked to other patients on forums online and this is common). From the perspective of my friends I’m among the ones who has her life the most together so it’s hard for me to whine to them. So I’m kind of… Lost? Been trying to keep busy which isn’t hard. But still. The pets do help a bit, as well as being on a happy relationship to begin with, but still.

        1. Random Commenter*

          Thank you! This article is really good and very much what it is like, yes.

          TW below: depression, suicidal thoughts

          The difference to me is that I’m not just thinking about death in the sense of fearing it, but that when my depressive feelings are stronger like they’ve been lately, I actually feel like I want to die. A lot, like whenever I have the smallest mistake or frustration. Then I have to remind myself that I have just fought so much to stay alive in the first place. It’s hard for me to forgive myself for feeling that way after everything that’s happened. And after making everyone so worried about me it’s hard to remove the “I’m fine” face, I feel like everyone’s worries enough already.

          I’m sorry for going to such a dark place. Apologies if it’s made anyone uncomfortable or uneasy.

          1. Sparrow*

            You don’t have to apologize-this is the mental health thread! And putting the content warning was thoughtful of you. While I’ve never had a major medical illness, I also hate asking for help and work really hard to show that I’m always “fine,” so I hear you there.
            You deserve help for your mental health the same way you deserved medical help for your lymphoma. I know you said you’re too busy for therapy, but could you reach out to your medical team? They are familiar with how major illness affects people, and there may be a social worker or counselor who can be a good listener for a one-time appointment or phone call. Or maybe calling a hotline or doing video/virtual therapy could be helpful to you.
            Please be kind to yourself and take care of yourself; you deserve it.
            And the US suicide prevention hotline number is 1-800-273-8255 if you need it.

      1. Julia*

        I hope I’m not overstepping, but do you think you could fit remote therapy into your schedule? Some therapists (like mine) offer Skype sessions or chat.
        If you can’t, can you lean on your online communities more and maybe start some mental health apps like Calm (meditation, I really like it), Pacifica (I love my hope board) or Anxiety Relief (hypnosis, it works for me to some extent, and it’s free)?
        I’m side-eyeing your friends a little. Having your life together doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to vent, and considering you apparently almost died just a year ago, I’m not sure your life is all that great compared to theirs.

        1. Random Commenter*

          Not overstepping at all! I don’t know if remote therapy is an option in my area/with my insurance, but I’ll look into it. If not those apps sound great as well, thanks for the suggestions.

          You do have a point about my friends. I do at times feel that way too. But i cut then some slack because (1) a lot of this is my own projections, I’m sure and (2) it’s something that is hard to deal with for everyone and it’s a first for quite a few of them… honestly I don’t think I would be doing so much better in their place either. I think they could do better but I could do better at communicating too. I think I’ll give it another try.

          Thank you.

          1. Julia*

            I hope you find something that works for you, and that your friends find some understanding for your situation!

          2. Random Commenter*

            I was able to talk more candidly with my partner last night. It was good and very needed. He was supportive. I think opening up here gave me the preparation I needed to be able to open up irl. Hopefully things start looking up a little from here.

            1. Lala*

              That’s so great to hear! You’re not alone; I went through the same thing after my treatment was over. I actually used to wish the cancer would come back so I could just die. For me, it was partly the medication I was on and partly situational. It was very difficult being expected to bounce right back and be who I was before the diagnosis when in reality, I’ll never be the same. Not better, not worse, just not the same. I changed my meds and it made a world of difference, but I still had to work through the rest. Having your partner hear what is happening, validate your feelings and be supportive is huge! I wish you the very best.

    8. BeanCat*

      I’m…trying. Trying to be kind to myself as I navigate OCD. I understand it in theory but boy is my brain rude when I try to say “[X] isn’t me, it’s my OCD.”

      Brain: But what if it is you…?

      It’s hard. I hope you’re all doing well.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        OCD is so awful in that respect – even full awareness doesn’t necessarily disarm it. I read an article in Time years ago that found that when people paused, took a breath, and focused on reminding themselves ‘this is just nonsense that faulty brain wiring is generating’, over six months about two-thirds of them saw a big improvement. That, and a really good round of cognitive behavioral therapy, helped me so much. I hope you’re able to find peace of mind as well! Thinking of you.

        1. BeanCat*

          Thank you so much! I’m actually far better off than I have been thanks to therapy and reading the book “Brain Lock”. I’m so happy you were able to get help – thinking of you as well! :)

          1. NeonFireworks*

            So good to hear! I’m going to remember your recommendation – I’ve never quite gotten around to reading it but have been really curious about it.

            1. Janeitenoir*

              I’ve read Brain Lock too, and it did give some decent basic info. I know that it’s not as popular now as when it came out, since “it’s not me, it’s OCD” can really easily become a reassurance compulsion (kinda does for me), but if it works for you, then it works!

      2. Janeitenoir*

        I also have OCD, and boy, I get this hard. Even when you’re diagnosed and every account you’ve read matches up with your experience, “what if you’re the exception?”

        I’ve improved through lots of ERP therapy, but man, those lingering doubts are the killers.

    9. Alpha Bravo*

      This past week included the (first) anniversary of my spouse’s death (which is also our daughter’s birthday). It was a hard day for both of us. But I spent a lot of the week dealing with contractors on my barn construction project. Being busy and distracted is a good thing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A year already. wow. You have done a lot in one year. I think the first year is in a category by itself. The brain drain is incredible, everything has to be rethought and modified for some reason. It gets exhausting. I did not think the pain diminished that much the second year but the second year definitely was less mentally demanding for me. I had worked out plans for dealing with some stuff and gotten rid of stuff that I could not take care of or no longer had use for.

        Your barn project sounds like a good project. Is an old barn being fixed up or are you putting up a new barn? (Don’t answer if you don’t feel like it.)

        1. Alpha Bravo*

          A very old barn was torn down (preferable to falling down) and I’m putting up a new building on the old foundation once it’s leveled. That’s in process now. I’m hoping to have a new barn in the next few weeks.

    10. Tris Prior*

      I am assuming this is hormonal – perimenopause, probably. But, I now can hardly sleep during my period. I get maybe a couple hours of broken sleep per night, in between waking up drenched in sweat, having hot flashes, or – new development over the past couple months – menstrual migraine that OTC pain meds barely touch. Hooray.

      I have a doctor’s appointment in a few weeks – but meanwhile, this has been going on all week and not sleeping is completely destroying my ability to cope. Brain fog, crying spells, severe anxiety. I know it’s the lack of sleep talking but I just cannot keep myself on an even keel because I am so tired. I’m forgetting things. I have new(ish) kittens who are into everything and I have to be super hypervigilant about not leaving things out that can hurt them, closing and latching doors, etc. I’ve forgotten a few times, and found things destroyed, chewed, or smashed on the floor. Thankfully they weren’t hurt.

      I wasn’t able to take any sick time this week due to deadlines and people being on vacation; I think that would have helped if I could have.

      I’m wary of sleeping pills as they make me feel drunk the next morning but I am desperate (although That Time of the Month ended yesterday so I am hopeful that I’ll sleep tonight.)

      When I find myself freaking out, I’ve been trying to remind myself that this is the lack of sleep talking and that surely this cannot go on forever.

      Now, off to accomplish all the things I did not accomplish any evening this week – laundry, cleaning, groceries, cooking – because I was too tired. :/

    11. Sparrow*

      Long time reader, first time commenter on this thread. Thank you for keeping it going Junior Dev!
      I’m feeling a little worn down and burnt out. I’m reaching the end of one phase of my degree program and preparing to start another and I feel like I am burning the candle at both ends. I’m still enjoying what I’m learning, keeping up with work, and getting little bursts of energy, but they dissipate so rapidly and then everything feels like a slog again.
      I took a weekend trip to visit friends last weekend that was very joyful, but set me behind on studying, so I am using this weekend to catch up. I’m proud of saying no to a potential commitment that would have taken up all day today and been very emotionally draining. Tomorrow I plan to grocery shop and meal prep so I have healthy food for the week (I haven’t been eating well recently either).

    12. Panda Bandit*

      Relatively well. Thanks to everyone who responded to me last time I posted in this thread. I did a lot of cleaning last week, laundry, started a new painting, continued to nurture my relationships with people, stepped outside of my interaction comfort zone a few times, and made a doctor’s appointment. I’m on top of most of the things I need to do.

      I have a habit of dismissing small changes as not important and I’m working on that. I tend to compare everything to big top-of-the-mountain accomplishments and then feel bad because what I did wasn’t the enormous achievement.

      I hope things get better for you soon, Junior Dev. I’m sorry I don’t have any advice to offer but I wish you well.

    13. Environmental Compliance*

      Been yo-yoing more recently. But I do have an upcoming appointment with the Dr, so I’ll bring it up with her and see if maybe I need a medication adjustment. I’ve realized that 90% of my episodes are brought about due to anxiety, so addressing that fully probably would help.

      It’s funny to me (in a morbid sort of way) because I get comments/compliments? at work rather often of how laid-back I am, and calm. Uh, have you seen the inside of my brain? I’m good at pretending all’s okay. I’m getting significantly better at internalizing the calm too, and not just projecting, but still. The brain is going AHHHHHHHH while the face is going Yup, all’s good, no worries here, don’t mind me.

    14. Janeitenoir*

      Ehh. OCD is at the stage where it’s mostly unease and lingering doubts, which leaves me feeling disconnected, which leads into difficulties connecting with the SO, which feeds into OCD….a vicious circle. This probably has something to do with the fact that I’ve barely done ERP in the last week and a half – got a little complacent. I’ve only started feeling a little better after D&D last night, as I got to step out of my skin and into a high elf ranger who gives no s**** and has a promising new romance….

      I’m lucky in that I have an incredibly understanding SO who I love very much, and is willing to roll with the issues, especially since OCD hit at the 6-month mark in our relationship, which obviously threw things off. Still, I wish it were easier. I’d like to not feel like I’m lying all the time, when I know I’m not.

    1. HBucket*

      Before you say it, stop and take a pause. If someone starts speaking before you, take it as a sign that you aren’t supposed to say it. At least it works for me most of the time!

      1. Julia*

        Same! I guess taking a deep breath or counting to three in one’s head may work some times, or letting someone else speak first if there are more people involved. I still do it a lot, though.

    2. alex*

      LISTEN. That’s the best advice I ever got for social awkwardness. Listen attentively and patiently, and ask questions.

    3. misspiggy*

      These days I do a lot of rehearsing what I was going to say and then deciding not to say it. And planning in advance what topics not to mention with certain people.

    4. the gold digger*

      It’s exhausting. I have to remind myself all the time to keep my mouth shut. We had a work lunch yesterday and I spent pretty much the entire lunch telling myself silently, “Stop talking. STOP TALKING!”

      And for the past two years, I have had a note taped to my computer that says, “Por que no te callas?”

      I think about it all. the. time.

      And? I still talk too much.

      1. Amelia Pond*

        It’s so hard because our thoughts move so much faster than our mouths so it’s impossible to get out all the things you want to say! Or that’s what it’s like for me. Hurray for non-medicated ADHD! Man, give me a physical keyboard and I can get those thoughts out dang fast. Too bad it’s not so easy on a cellphone keyboard…

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Totally agreeing with those who say “slow down”.

      Remind yourself that you do not have to have every answer, every funny story, or every bit of news.

      Make yourself repeat in your mind what the other person just said. “Oh, they just told me they had a flat tire on the way to work.” This will slow you down some and it will also direct you to what was actually said, not what you THINK they said. (Misinterpretation causes foot-in-mouth situations.)

      Watch others who you admire as they interact with people. See what points you notice that you find admirable. Then look at the person they are talking with, when does this person seem to show that they appreciate your admired person’s words and thoughts?

      Years ago my biggest fear was the double entendre, especially if something could be interpreted as something sexual or something was a huge put down and I did not realize. One good thing to do is once you realize you have made a mistake, apologize immediately. You do not look like a jerk for apologizing, the opposite is true, you look classy and sincere. Ironically, you only have to go through this a few times and you will feel yourself getting stronger and more confident about how you speak. The reason for that is because you take immediate ownership of your mistakes.

    6. fposte*

      In addition to what others have said, I’ll go to my favorite theory again, and that’s the notion of being a Good Ender. Sure, some people are blurters, but a lot of us start fine and get into trouble when our sentences drift off the path and we begin to flail. For that, I recommend both knowing where you want to land when you start your trajectory, and, more conveniently, having some go-to quick-exit phrases in your pocket that you can interrupt yourself with. “Whoa, I’m losing track there–let’s let that go. [Turn conversation back to them.]” The trick of this is that it’s totally polite to interrupt *yourself*, so you can even yank that out mid-sentence. If it’s more of a quick situational exchange, like, with a cashier, you don’t even have to go that deep, because they don’t really care–just go for “Well, never mind. Thanks–have a good day!”

    7. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Acceptance can help. This is a thing you do and while it’s awkward and perhaps sometimes hurtful, it’s ok. You’re ok and no worse than anyone else for it. Nobody remembers your gaffes as well as you do. If you go into social situations all self-conscious and stiff, expecting to be awkward and hating it, then you’re more likely to be so, which makes you more self-conscious and so on. If you can lovingly accept this tendency in yourself, and accept the awkward things you say and the thoughts you have about them when you review your behavior, you are less likely to be awkward and you’ll create a positive cycle.

      Also think about when you tend to do it. Do you hate gaps in the conversation, meeting new people, do groups of more than 3 people make you uncomfortable, do you hate it when all eyes turn to you? If you know your weakness, you can better address how to handle those situations more as you’d like.

    8. Anon Anon Anon*

      There’s some good advice here. And I think another part of it is to acknowledge that most of us are awkward. It’s a common experience and it’s kind of funny. It’s ok to acknowledge it in the moment. It can be kind of a bonding thing. Just say, “Yikes, that was so awkward. I swear I mean well,” or something like that. Because chances are the other person has been there or they are feeling awkward at the same time as you. So it shouldn’t be a big deal. And I know that sometimes it is a big deal, and sometimes people don’t understand, but at least it’s a common type of experience. So forgive yourself, write about it as a funny thing that happened, and it probably will get better as time goes on.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is a really good point. OP, notice how many times we read in the comments section or in an original letter,”oh this was so awkward!”. Decide to be comforted that others also feel awkwardness.
        Actually this is part of how rules of etiquette became so important. It was to make human behavior more predictable and make interactions less awkward, with the idea that this would help people build more relationships with each other.
        I think too many rules made it too hard but that is a problem that evolved gradually.

    9. LGC*

      Hi, fellow awkward person!

      A lot of people have given really good advice, which is to stop and listen. Be okay with some silence, if you feel the need to talk to fill it out.

      And learn! Are you making really similar missteps all the time? Maybe that response doesn’t work so well.

      But also, accept that you’re going to be awkward sometimes. I’m sure you’re not just the embarrassing things you say. And it’s not the end of the world if you say something regrettable! (I mean, look at all the terrible posts I’ve made on this site, and I still show up here.) Especially on the Internet, a LOT of people make it seem as if you make a faux pas, it’s this HUGE issue and you’re a Bad Person for your terrible judgment (or it can at least feel like that, having been on the receiving end). To put my foot (or at least my toes) in my mouth: not quite. You don’t need to wear a hair shirt because you said something awkward – just apologize and remember not to say or do the awkward thing.

      (And sometimes, it might even be the other party making things awkward!)

    10. matcha123*

      We are all awkward and never say the right thing at the right time. I know I don’t. But if I get home and think I said something that may have hurt my friend, then I will find a way to apologize later.
      People who are your friends or know you well will be able to respond faster to misunderstandings and that can help you to figure things out earlier and prevent them.

    11. PhyllisB*

      My former pastor’s wife used to say she only opened her mouth long enough to change feet. That gave me hope because if she felt that way (I didn’t think she had foot-in-mouth disease at all.) There was hope for us regular awkward folks that blunder through life.
      Like others have said, if you listen, pause, and take a breath, that will eliminate a lot of bad moments.

  7. Perpetua*

    Issues with sore breasts – looking for remedies :/

    My breasts seem to be quite sore for almost half the month now, from around two weeks before my period until I get it, and it’s quite annoying, painful and distracting. I think it’s gotten worse with years, I don’t remember feeling this frustrated before (I’m 30 now).

    I’m taking primrose oil capsules daily (recommended by my gyno) since the beginning of September, and it seemed to help last month, but this month it’s back to the same old pain. I’ve also switched to mostly wheat, sugar and dairy-free diet in the past few weeks (partly in hope that it would help with my hormones in general, including this), but no improvement so far.

    Anything else I can do to help myself?

    1. frystavirki*

      I had a similar issue with mine, which was definitely giving me dysphoria issues (trans guy, so I have Boob Problems) and I was wondering if you were on hormonal birth control of any kind? I ended up going off mine since I don’t need it for actual birth control reasons, just hormone reasons, but if you can’t go off yours, it might be worth trying out a different kind, either a different pill or a different method altogether. The pain was essentially there all month and went down to just PMS-related after I stopped taking that pill.

      1. Perpetua*

        Nope, no hormonal birth control for 7 years now, and no plans to go back on it either. And this seems to be PMS-related, but two weeks out of every month is too much for me :/ Glad to hear it’s better for you now!

    2. Kuododi*

      Sorry love but any changes in overall breast condition means go to the Dr. Time for a mammogram and depending on those results also a breast ultrasound. That’s not something on which to wait. Not trying to be an alarmist…. just want you to be safe and not delay an appropriate assessment of the situation. Best wishes.

      1. Perpetua*

        Thank you for your concern! I mentioned this to my gyno last time, she had me do a full hormone checkup and recommended the primrose oil, and she didn’t seem to be concerned. She’s regarded as an expert and my friends have had great experiences with her, and she seems to have a holistic approach that I like, so while I know that one should be their best advocate, there are no indications that I shouldn’t trust her judgement.

        I did some additional research and it seems that breast pain, especially dull/sore like mine is almost never related to breast cancer.

        But I’ll bring this up with her again the next time I see her. This is not a drastic change in my breast condition, I think it’s more the fact that I’m less willing to live with the pain and take it for granted.

    3. Lena Clare*

      Magnesium supplements helped me.

      Also: cutting out sugar (which you’re already doing) and stopping drinking caffeinated drinks. The caffeine was the main thing that made a massive difference although I do miss it :/ decaffeinated coffee and tea have a small amount in, so not even that unfortunately, but the pay-off is more equilibrium in my hormones.

      1. Perpetua*

        I forgot to add, I’ve been taking magnesium and zinc with primrose oil daily! Maybe I need to give my body more time to adjust…

        Hmm, caffeine. I can add it to my list of elimination experiments and see how I feel, thanks! I drink one coffee a day usually 4-5 days a week, so I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but I guess it doesn’t take a lot if that’s the culprit.

        1. HBucket*

          Caffeine was my issue back in the days when I was that young! I cut back but didn’t quit it altogether because… you know.. COFFEE!!

        2. Rainy*

          I tried caffeine elimination for my breast pain in my early 20s and was off it for most of 5 years with absolutely no reduction in pain, so if it doesn’t work in the first few months that’s probably not it. :)

            1. Rainy*

              Age and hbc worked for mine, btw, but it sounds like yours has come on with age and hbc, so I got nothing. :) Good luck though, it *sucks*.

    4. only acting normal*

      I found a well fitting bra helped me a bit with this. Not eliminate it, but make the difference between ‘generally sore’ and ‘scared to brush the side of my boob with my arm because of the pain’.

      1. Perpetua*

        Was it because of increased comfort or something else? Because I wear only sports bras and I would hope they fit as well as they can. :D

        1. only acting normal*

          More the correct support. I’d been buying ever softer bras in an attempt to help with the pain, but stopping that course and instead going for better ‘scaffolding’ in the *right* size helped more. (I was wearing the wrong size – 36B instead of 32DD – because I was using the old “add 4 inches to your rib measurement” method, which is soooooo wrong.)

    5. MissMia*

      I’ve been having this problem for over three months now, continuous pain and discomfort, but mine have also grown a cup size as well. At first my gyno was concerned that I was pregnant and just not coming up on the tests, but it’s not likely, so she’s a bit stumped. No scans or anything beyond a basic exam. She suggested a sports bra, but I haven’t been able to afford one. Short of icing them, I haven’t come up with a solution yet.

      Good luck! Hope you find a solution!

    6. Nerdgal*

      Ask your doctor about vitamin E. Mine told me to take it. Agree with the poster below that you need to see the doctor.

    7. Valancy Snaith*

      Has your gynecologist done a series of blood tests on you? Because primrose oil, etc., could be useful, but sore breasts around a certain time of the month could speak to out-of-balance progesterone or estrogen levels. Ask for those tests.

      1. Perpetua*

        I’ve done a series of blood tests, but not progesterone or oestrogen. I do think it might be a progesterone issue, since I have longer spotting before my period as well. I’ll bring it up with her next time, thanks!

        1. Gaia*

          This sounds like what I dealt with with my progesterone levels were off. One thing I’ll caution you: it took 4 years to diagnose this with me because I don’t naturally fall into a “normal” range for progesterone levels to begin with so my levels were “normal” but not normal for me. As always, listen to your body: you know when something isn’t right and sudden dull breast pain two weeks out of every month may be your body telling you something has changed.

        2. Dr. Anonymous*

          Because hormone ranges are pretty broad, it’s not clear all the time how useful the tests are, but it’s wirth having the discussion, certainly.

      1. Perpetua*

        The relationship between caffeine and breast pain somehow did not cross my mind, but now that several of you have mentioned it (and a quick Google search finds other examples of it), I’ll try going without it for a while, it’s worth a shot. Thanks!

    8. Middle School Teacher*

      I found on months when I didn’t exercise enough, they felt worse, to the point I had to wear a sports bra to bed because sleeping was just impossible. I was the same, two weeks out of every month.

      I did find it went away when I got my iud and off the pill, but you said you’re not on hormonal bc. Maybe it is time to chat with the MD, just to be sure.

      1. Perpetua*

        Eh, exercising is my sore (haha) spot, I keep planning to get back into it, but never do.

        This might be a good additional motivator! :)

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Radically reducing red meats helped me with a lot of period issues.
      Make sure you are drinking water each day. Hydration is a good scatter-gun for many pain issues.

    10. Becky*

      Sore breasts before your period are caused by hormone induced fluid retention, so cutting back salt might help, as well as caffeine (as suggested below). Midol has a diuretic in it so you could try that on particularly bad days.

  8. Sundown*

    TW for some talk on abusive relationships.

    Okay so I’ve been a reader for many years but have never posted anything but people here seem to be super helpful so here goes.

    Many years ago I was in a relationship with a guy who was physically and emotionally abusive… I won’t go into details but it’s safe to say it screwed me up for a very long time, and even though I’m over all of it now there are still some things that people to (unconciously) that bring me back to that time.
    My problem is, a couple weeks ago I found out that this guy has been arrested 3 times for domestic abuse. He has a child with one of his ex’s that he is only allowed to see under supervision. Now for some reason I cannot get this information out of my head. I think about it every day and feel.. guilty? Angry? I don’t know. Part of me feels like I need to tell my current partner but I don’t know why as it’s old news and doesn’t affect our relationship. I just feel a little lost and confused and I keep having memories of our relationship and I feel bad cause I never did anything about it.

    This is all a bit of a jumbled mess, but I don’t know what to do! Or how I should feel! Can anyone shed some light on why I feel like this is all my fault, even though logically I know it isn’t.

    1. This Daydreamer*

      Most people who are abused blame themselves. It’s partly because of the mind games that abusers play and, I think, partly as a coping mechanism. If you feel that the abuse is your fault, then you can believe that you can do something to stop it.

      Those mind games really mess up the head of everyone who has been abused. Everyone. If it weren’t for emotional abuse and gaslighting, no one would put up with being physically abused.


      He is the one who chose to be abusive. Your responsibility was to yourself. Whether or not you had chosen to press charges (I’m guessing you didn’t) there wouldn’t have been much of a punishment for him, and the process of going through trial can be real torture. Not everyone can do it.

      There is absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent him from finding more victims. Abusers are really good at spotting people they can control.

      You’re angry because he hurt you in many ways, You’re angry because he did the same thing to other women. You’re angry because it’s still having an effect on your life and I’m sure you just want to forget him.

      Oh, and you did do something about it. You left. That really is a significant achievement. I work at a domestic violence shelter and I have completely lost track of women who call us and plan to come in but don’t show up, and those who come in, but end up going back to their abuser and then have to return to the shelter. Every single one of them blamed themselves.

      You might find it helpful to join a support group (your local DV shelter probably has one) or seek therapy. This guy has been making you miserable for far too long. As to telling your current partner, do what feels right to you. You don’t owe him the whole story, but he might be a valuable source of support.

      1. Sundown*

        Thank ok for this.. alot of what you said did make sense. I guess I just find it hard to be rational with myself if that makes sense. You’re right that I didn’t press charges, honestly it took me probably far too long to realise that how the relationship was isn’t how a relationship should be. I was only 16 and very naive and didn’t realise that it wasn’t normal.

      2. Gaia*

        Even if you had pressed charges, he would have gotten out (if he ever even actually got convicted and sentenced) and when he did…he would have found more victims. That is him, not you, Sundown. You are not responsible.

    2. Kim*

      Echoing what This Daydreamer is saying. It was *not* your fault.

      You do not have to disclose if you don’t want to.
      If you have the means, please consider therapy.

      1. Sundown*

        Unfortunately I don’t have the money for therapy. My work offers 8 sessions with a therapist which I’ve taken advantage of before but 8 sessions isn’t really enough. There are some places that do free or discounted therapy but none in my area which is annoying but such is life!

        1. Woodswoman*

          Repeating what others have said but I don’t think it can be said too much–this is not your fault.

          A suggestion for therapy–if your work offers 8 sessions, you might consider finding a therapist who offers EMDR therapy. It’s designed specifically for trauma and the concept is that it helps rewire your neurological system faster than traditional talk therapy alone. I’ve benefited from EMDR myself in just a few sessions. There’s lots of info about the technique online, as well as an EMDR website that I believe lists practitioners.

          1. boo bot*

            Cognitive behavioral therapy is also designed to help “rewire” the way you think, works pretty quickly, and can actually be done with or without a therapist (you can get workbooks and do it on your own), so if you use the 8 sessions to get started, you don’t end up stuck wherever you leave off when the time runs out.

            Another possibility is that remote therapy via text or chat is becoming increasingly common, so if you can’t find free or low-cost options in your area, you might see what’s available remotely.

    3. Anna*

      Your a user probably spent a good deal of energy making sure you felt that his behavior was your fault, either overtly or subtly. When you heard news about him, old feelings about the situation might have bubbled to the surface, and coming out as “this was my fault, I should have stopped him.”

      His behavior is 100% his own fault. There really wasn’t anything you could have done, except get yourself away from him, which you did. I hope you can release yourself from this guilt in the same way. If not, it might be time for some therapy.

    4. Llellayena*

      If you’re comfortable with your boyfriend knowing, tell him. If only in a “I’ve got something affecting me right now so I may seem off for a bit.” And please find a therapist to help you through this, some of the domestic abuse hotlines can probably help find someone. If you feel comfortable with this, you might consider sharing your experience with the prosecutor to help them establish pattern (I watch SVU too much), but ONLY do this if you’re comfortable AND have support. Good luck.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That is true, though. How many women come forward once an abuser is prosecuted? We see this in real life all the time. Exes come forward to say, “You know… back in the 90s I dated this person and……”
        The prosecuting attorney may or may not use your information in court. She may use it in building up her case in some manner in the background. Likewise you can give your same information to the police. This way both parties know.
        You can start at home by making an outline of the points you want to cover.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Some times things happen and the events tear open old wounds, that we thought were knitted over and closed. It’s not unusual. You are human, you have emotions, it’s okay to have emotions. I think you know that.

      And confusingly we can have a bunch of emotions at the same time. Grief is well known for causing anger, sadness, depression, hyper-activity, numbness and so on. Just a whole mixed kettle of emotions. My suggestion is to respect each emotion, it’s okay to have this mixed bag and each emotion happens for a different reason. You maybe experiencing a form of grief. Dunno, not a doc.

      You could not protect those other people, no more so than anyone could really protect you. It’s really amazing how vulnerable we can be. It’s kind of scary to think about it.

      Look for ways to take back your power/autonomy. It might be as simple as making a donation to a group who helps folks in DV situations. Or it might be really understanding that you got yourself out of it, it’s no longer happening to you. (Flash backs can really catch us off guard.) Everyone has something uniquely theirs that resonates with them as their response to loss of power.

    6. Emmie*

      I’m sorry you’re going though this. It wasn’t your fault. Abusers continue to abuse and it never was or is your responsibility to change him. I can see how this would be triggering for you. I left my abuser five years ago and have not responded to his outreach in maybe three years. Every year, I feel better bit then something happens that makes me realize I still have work to do. The passage of time has probably helped you, but it’s normal to still be impacted by this. Your choice to tell your bf is yours. You may be off, and he may be supportive. You can choose to tell the prosecutor too. Your story may help them see a pattern instead of an isolated occurrence. Sending hugs to you. I’m proud of you for leaving and for building a better life.

    7. Not A Manager*

      If you trust your partner, you might think about sharing this with them. I’ve had some things in my past that felt very big and weighty. I felt that I couldn’t disclose them to other people for various reasons. Not so much that they were secret, but they felt shameful, and I was afraid of being blamed, and I was even more afraid that the other person would minimize my experience. I didn’t “really” feel like I “really” had permission to be traumatized, so I was very tender about being scolded by someone else for it.

      My actual experience was that naming the thing, and saying it in words out loud, almost immediately removed a lot of that secret internal power that it had. I’m not saying that it fixed everything, but it was a big relief. Also, the loving and reasonable people that I spoke to did not think it was no big deal and that I should get over myself. So I silenced some of that self-talk as well.

      Best wishes to you.

      1. Gaia*

        This. A big reason many survivors of abuse don’t disclose is shame. They are embarrassed that they “let” this happen. They are embarrassed that they were “weak.” They are embarrassed that they didn’t leave (or didn’t leave soon enough).

        There is nothing to be embarrassed about. You certainly do not have to disclose this to your current partner – or anyone – but if you want to, you should. It may feel like “old news” but it is part of who you are, it likely forms a part of the way you behave in relationships today (for the good or for the less than great).

        1. Sundown*

          I think that’s part of my problem.
          Even though I tell myself over and over that it wasn’t my fault and it was all on him. There’s still that small niggling part of me that is saying ‘why in God’s name would you let anyone treat you like that? You’re stupid and pathetic’ blah blah blah. It’s annoying and I tell myself to stop. But… I can’t

          1. Not So NewReader*

            A good response to that nagging/annoying feeling is to learn more about how these things happen. I am sure you know what to watch for, but you can seek out other information to round out what you know.

            This practice, of reading up and learning more and more, is a good response to many of life’s nightmares that don’t shake off easily. I have had problems with family members that have caused me to dive a bit deeper into topics than I would have otherwise. Some of the info is redundant as you read on and on but it’s good to see so many authors saying similar things. It can grow something inside of us.

    8. Observer*

      Think about this – he was arrested three times! In other words he WAS reported, and nothing happened several times! You were 16, you can be sure that unfortunately your concerns would have been brushed off.

    9. Gaia*

      People who are triggered by discussions of abuse may not want to read this:

      My father was abusive. I have very few memories of my childhood, but the earliest (I have no idea how old I was but i must have been sub 2) is of my father throwing a microwave, presumably at my mother. He never abused me, which is why when my mother fled with my older sister (not his daughter, she left when he hit her for the first time) she left me with him until she could get settled. We spent my childhood moving around our city every few months . His parents still lived in the city, although I think he moved away. My next memory is several years later and is of their attempt to kidnap me.

      I recently learned that he has another daughter, a few years younger than me. She somehow found me on facebook (I’m guessing she knew my last name from him as it is my mother’s maiden name) and sent me a massively long message about how he abused her during her childhood and she’s worried because he now has another child. The amount of guilt I instantly felt was so strong and so horrible. I felt responsible for what this girl endured and I didn’t. I felt like if I had allowed him back into my life the multiple times he tried to contact me, maybe it would have been different (it wouldn’t have, I know).

      I know none of this was reasonable because it wasn’t my fault, it was his. But that is the power of abuse, the victims are made to feel responsible for the behavior of the predator. YOU are not to blame for HIS actions. Only he is to blame. Only he is responsible. Not you. Not anyone else.

  9. This Daydreamer*

    So, is anyone else going to do NaNoWriMo? I’m planning on it and really hoping I can succeed, unlike the past few years. I’m stoked about the story I’m writing this year, and I certainly have the time, so I feel like I’ve got a good chance.

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

      I mistimed it. I spent all of September and much of October writing up a storm, because that’s when my inspiration hit. Now that it’s almost November, my inspiration is about gone and I’m blocked. Oh well, I still have some time to get my mojo back… or we could say that September was my November :-)

    2. Julia*

      I really want to, but my story prep isn’t done, and I’m also job hunting, which takes a lot of time. If I don’t receive any offers this week (I’m waiting to hear from some places), I’ll send in my last few applications on November 1 and then take November off to be an unemployed writer.

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      I am! I need a major distraction this November so I’m going for it. I did it several years ago and succeeded (that was a year they were doing a special where winners could get a free bound copy of their book, so I have tangible evidence that I have never ever ever opened), but I won’t be too bothered if I don’t manage it this time. I’m excited!

    4. King Friday XIII*

      I am! It has been an uphill battle every year since Tuesday was born but I’m feeling pretty good right now.

      1. Turtlewings*

        I was just saying that to another writer friend, that November is really an awful time for it! Only December could be worse, and of course that’s supposed to be Revisions Month. She says she does it in January; I might try that this year.

      2. merp*

        Have you/others ever done Camp Nanowrimo? I never have but I’m curious about how it differs, since I also could never swing November.

        That being said, the unofficial, whenever works best method is totally valid!

    5. Shrunken Hippo*

      I want to but my schedule is too crowded. Instead I’m hoping to do one writing prompt a day from different character’s point of view. I will still working on my writing, and exploring different potential aspects of my characters should be fun.

    6. Best cat in the world*

      I am but I’m not aiming for 50,000, I’m aiming to finish the story (never hit 50,000 anyway!). Going to try a children’s book this time and then see how it goes.

    7. OyHiOh*

      My plan has been to finish a not-a-novel writing project during the month but an idea dropped into my lap this morning and I might run with that instead. I haven’t done any prep at all though so might be better off sticking with plan A.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I’m planning to give it a go again this year. Last year did not work out for me–I got the worst cold EVER and lost an entire week and it just collapsed in a heap of nothing.

      I’m not sure what I’m going to write, however. A project I’ve been sitting on for a while seems likely, and I wrote an outline, but I’m very unsure about it.I’m feeling a lot of pressure to hurry hurry hurry and write something that will actually sell but I have no idea if anyone would want anything I produce. :P Plus, it’s clashing in my head with another concept and I don’t know if the two are compatible.

    9. Kowalski! Options!*

      I wasn’t going to, but I saw that a couple of friends of mine are planning to do it, so I said what the hell and signed up. I’m actually taking off for a research trip on Tuesday (2 weeks in Spain researching…uh…architecture of palaces…) so since I gotta get to it at some point in time…

  10. TL -*

    My flatmate has a new girlfriend; they’ve been dating for less then a month but spending lots of time together at our flat because hers is noisy. This week, Girlfriend invited a friend over to drunk-watch their favorite TV show and I got told after friend had arrived.
    Then same friend swung by to drop off a loaf of bread last night and came in the door without knocking at 9 pm at night.

    I am not happy (our open door policy has been cancelled and I will be chatting to my flatmate about boundaries) but just like…who thinks this kind of behavior is okay?!

    1. Julia*

      His girlfriend invited a friend to your apartment?? That’s really not okay. I hope your flatmate sees reason on this soon.

      1. TL -*

        Yeahhhh…not sure if he suggested it or she did, but I am really not cool with her entertaining at our place (and didn’t feel that this was a boundary I had to preemptively put into place?)

        In line with what WellRed says below, I get the feeling she thinks that I am living in Flatmate’s place, rather than that Flatmate and I are splitting a place.

        Also update – she used my towel, which was hanging up on the bar, rather than the folded, clean, guest towel on our little towel rack. And I heard Flatmate tell her, “Oh, there’s a clean towel in there.”

        1. Julia*

          Even if no one told me not to, I would never in a million years think to invite someone to a place I don’t live. But maybe she does think that you’re the guest in her boyfriend’s apartment, as you say. If so, he needs to make it clear to her that it’s your space just as well as his, and she needs to respect that. Holy moly.

    2. WellRed*

      They’ve only been dating a month and GF acts like she owns the place. Maybe this relationship will burn itself out quckly, but set boundaries, fast! Otherwise, she will be living there rent free.

      1. Ender Wiggin*

        I used to agree with flatmates that if someone stayed over 4 or more nights in a week they had to pay rent for that week. No one ever ended up staying over 4 nights

      2. TL -*

        Luckily he travels a lot for work and I’ve already mentioned that if stops travelling, then it’s not okay that she stays here all the time.

        Her flat problems are not something I care about and it especially irks me because I actually really prioritize having a clean and quiet flat and she does zero to help out when she’s here; she won’t even take dishes to the sink. That isn’t a big deal in and of itself, but it gets really irksome when it starts to feel like she’s taking advantage of all the work I put into keeping our place nice. (Flatmate definitely helps but he travels at least 50% of the time and pays half the bills so I really don’t care how much housework he does.)

        1. ..Kat..*

          Wait, is she coming over when flatmate is not home? And inviting others over? No no no no no. Put a stop to this now. And, lock your door. And don’t give her a key.

          1. TL -*

            she doesn’t come over when flatmate is not here, no! That would be a hard no. She’s just here whenever he is here. (Which has felt like a lot this week because he’s been home more than normal.)

            And yeah, the door has always been locked lately, which neither of them are happy about but oh well.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Yes, it’s rude.
      Yes, set clear rules and boundaries about who can stay and how long and the invite policy.
      Yes, it can be kinda normal (especially if you’re young).
      I’ve had roommates where the apartment was quite open with people crashing all the time. But that was back when I was in my early 20’s and much more tolerant of such things. I was also happy to get my own place when I was older.

      1. TL -*

        We definitely don’t have an ‘super open people come by whenever’ type of home (one of my brothers did and, nope, that is not my lifestyle). Flatmate parties outside the home and I tend to go out for entertainment/social time. If someone comes over, it’s just one or two and they’re always invited.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Do YOU leave the door unlocked or did one of them do that? That’s a huge security issue in my book.

      I long ago shared a house with 2 other people and one had her BF over often–but not only did he help with housework, he cooked bisquits on weekend mornings. To share.

      1. TL -*

        I grew up in a small town and usually if I’m home during the day I leave the door unlocked. Flatmate is the same way (though I’m better about locking it at night.)

        But now door is locked any time I’m home because it actually really freaked me out that a stranger felt that comfortable just walking into my house.

        1. Gaia*

          I’m not gonna lie, I would have lost it if my roommate’s girlfriend’s friend (!?!?!) just strolled through my damn door. There would have been a SCENE.

  11. Flash Bristow*

    Oh, Alison, I’m so sorry. Sam looks like a gorgeous, amazing cat. What lovely markings on their chest and paws. 15 is a good age, but it’s never enough, is it… My sympathies.

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

    Philadelphia AAMers! I’m heading to Philly in a few weeks and my wife and I be using the mass transit system when there. I’ve just learned that tokens were eliminated and now there’s a “Key” system.

    So here are my questions:
    –Can two people share a “Key,” the same way two people could use the same MetroCard in NYC? It costs $4.95 to buy each Key and we probably won’t be in Philly for another five years after this, so it would be lovely to not have a double expense.
    –If we don’t use a “Key” and just pay cash, do the subways and buses have fare boxes, and do you just use quarters etc? It sounds like the buses do, but there’s contradictory info about the subways.

    My wife and I will probably use a total (between the two of us) of five or six rides over two days on the buses. There’s a $9 one-day pass, but no two-day option. What makes the most sense as far as how we do the fares? Thanks in advance from this Philly transit novice!

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Dig the link in my handle to see about the Independence Pass and the One-Day Convenience Pass. I’m pretty sure you can get the Convenience Pass on a card rather than having to buy a Key.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Honestly, if it were me I’d just pay cash for all your rides, because 6 x $2.50 = $15.00, where 2 one-day passes will run you $18.00. See this second link. The operators won’t give change, so have the exact fare ready so you don’t pay a 50-cent “SEPTA tax” with your $3.00 payment. :) The buses and trolleys have fare boxes. Most of the subway stations will have a human operator in a booth that you’ll pay your fare to.

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

          I somehow missed your other comment re: paying cash. Thanks so much! It’s good to know the subways still have a human presence (at least, hopefully the stations I’ll be using will!)

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

        Thank you, I appreciate it! The only problem with the One-Day Convenience Pass (which, to be fair, happens in every city with one-day passes, not just Philadelphia) is that ideally I’d need something to work for a 24 hour period from (say) 2 pm Saturday to 2 pm Sunday, and the Convenience Pass expires the same calendar day you buy it. So I’d need to buy two sets of One-Day Convenience Passes. At that point, perhaps it makes more sense to just buy two Keys and find some excuse to go back to Philly sometime (it’s a great city!)

    2. phillyphilly*

      “Effective May 4, 2018, the cost to purchase a Key Card is $4.95. If you Register your Card within 30 days of the purchase date, the $4.95 purchase fee will automatically be applied to the Card Travel Wallet (only valid for Cards purchased on or after May 4, 2018). The $4.95 can be used to pay for an individual ride or toward the future purchase of a Weekly, Monthly, or One Day Convenience Pass. This reimbursement will be limited to two cards per customer account.”

      Protip register your card online and you get your 5 bucks back as fare

  13. Loopy*

    This is a stretch but I need recommendations and I’m so at a loss! I decided to start Christmas shopping early, go me! BUT my grand idea for my fiance is proving to be a struggle.

    He has found himself increasingly interested in stock investing in the past few years. Not to the point he wants to be a day trader but to the point where he actually really loves following the market and is much more knowledgeable and active than the average person. I wanted to get him some tool or gift that would help him do more with his own investments since this has become his main interest.

    My initial thought was to get him software that had more functionality more than the bank website he uses now (though TBH what they provide seems pretty robust), but I’m at a loss because I don’t know enough to know what’s extra useful and what mirrors the site his bank provides. He absolutely has no need for consolidating everything in one place, which was a main feature I kept seeing. I thought about books but he’s already read so much to learn about the market that I felt it was likely they’d repeat what he already knows. A class is out because his work schedule varies week to week wildly.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for tools/software/gifts for someone super interested in the stock market and is already well versed?

    Also…. Unrelated, if anyone could recommend a mascara that’s affordable and at someplace like CVS that doesn’t clump… That would be appreciated too :)

    1. HBucket*

      I have no recs for the stock tool but I know the world’s greatest mascara is not available at CVS and is not super cheap but well worth it!! If I could post a before and after pic of my eyelashes you would be totally sold! It’s called Better Than Sex and you can get it at Sephora or Ulta. It’s about $23 I think. But you really don’t need as much as you do of any other brand I have ever used in my whole life and I am old!!

      1. Cosette*

        Not to knock any of the less expensive mascaras, because a lot don’t clump… but the Better Than Sex will really make your lashes pop with very little product compared to the others. It’s amazing. (I don’t sell it, I just love it!) But I also get that $23 can be a lot of money for mascara!

      2. Loopy*

        Ooooo I will get this someday but money is *so* tight I’ll need to skip it right now. I definitely appreciate the recommendation though! I *only* do eye makeup so I love getting something that really makes them pop!

        1. tink*

          L’Oreal Lash Paradise is the drugstore dupe of Better Than Sex and it’ll run you $10. You may also try the Elf waterproof lengthening and volumizing for $3. :)

    2. HeatherB*

      You might look into getting him a subscription to Morningstar. Check out their website for details but it lets you track your own investments, fund ratings, managers, webinars, etc. They have a 14 day free trial. I second the Better Than Sex Mascara. It’s not cheap but it’s amazing. I also like the Milk Makeup Kush mascara. Ulta usually has coupons available and I think sephora has their annual sale right before/around the holidays???

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

        As a business librarian, I’ll co-sign the Morningstar idea. Morningstar is fabulous! If you’re very lucky, your local library might already have a subscription, though :-)

        1. Loopy*

          I’ll look into Morningstar, thanks! He’d definitely use it more at home than the library so it’s still a great option. It’s just so hard to figure out what is worth pay for that you can’t get for free as someone who does *not* care for following the market and has no clue what’s out there (except that there’s a lot!).

          Also I am definitely writing down that mascara name! Alas, money is super tight so it’ll be a while (I have a 40% coupon off for CVS).

          1. Cambridge Comma*

            I don’t know if US libraries do this but in Europe often when the library has a subscription to an online resource, library members can also access it from home, so that may be worth looking into.

          2. thankful for AAM*

            If your library has a subscription, you can most likely access it from home with a library card. At least in most of the US.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The only thing that comes to mind is a session with a Certified Financial Planner who specializes in stock investing, maybe? I’ve learned everything I know on personal investing by reading a lot, asking questions on forums, and then occasional checkups with CFPs where I ask new questions. It might be expensive, and a CFP usually helps with an investment plan, but some must know more about stock trading than others.

      The Early Retirement forums (should be the first results for those three words) has a lot of people who know a LOT about investing, and there’s a lot of investment discussion there that doesn’t necessarily even mention retirement, it’s just about strategy and planning in general, because of the obvious connection there.

      1. fposte*

        Garrett Planning Network (the main network devoted to fee-only financial planning) does have an investment equivalent, Garrett Investment Network. I’d start there (they don’t have a ton of advisors but consultations don’t have to be in-person); however, I note that while GPN planners all adhere to the fiduciary standard, I’m not seeing that as a standard for GIN, so I’d ask any prospective advisor if they’re fiduciaries and pass if they’re not.

      2. Loopy*

        Thanks to both Cosmic Avenger and fposte. I know he’s seen someone before and so again, I’m worried about duplication. It’s hard to try and buy something for someone who’s at an advanced level with any interest! But I’m determined to at lease make an effort!

    4. Justme, The OG*

      No idea about stocks but the best mascara I’ve ever used is Essence in the blue tube, around $5 at Ulta.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! I don’t know if I have an Ulta nearby but I’ll keep a mental note, thats a great price!

        1. SansaStark*

          I second this – although I love the one in the green tube. It’s called Lash Princess and it’s amaaaazing.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      Can’t help with the stock trading but for cheap mascara, L’Oréal voluminous is a great option, as well as the original Maybelline (pink tube, green lid). Both no clumpy and the L’Oréal is on par with the pricey stuff. For expensive, if you want to splurge (or during the Sephora sale), Benefit, either They’re Real or Rollerlash, or Tarte Maneater, or the original Buxom, or yes, Too Faced Better Than Sex. All awesome mascaras, around the same price point ($28-36).

            1. Boo Hoo*

              Oh. Funny the brush is the best for me. The Too Faced ones the brush sucks for me, which also sucks because my sister works for Too Faced so I get massive amount of free makeup. I did just use a sample of a YSL one that i loved, not sure exactly which.

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        Try going to beautypedia and looking at their recommendations. I currently use a mascara designed for volume but I think the ones that are designed for length clump a lot less.

    6. FalafalBella*

      If he doesn’t already get it, a year’s subscription to the Wall Street Journal (delivered daily) might be a great gift. (If you are affiliated with a school or university, there is an amazingly inexpensive deal… we pay less than $5.00 a month)!

      1. Loopy*

        This is a great suggestion. Do you know if they have an electronic option? He hates clutter and we already get way too much paper magazines delivered!

    7. Kat in VA*

      No recs for stock tool (we have someone do that for us), but stupidest-name-ever Clump Crusher by Cover Girl doesn’t clump. It doesn’t give you ginormous or super long lashes, but for a basic mascara that doesn’t give you globs or those weird little balls on the tips of your lashes, CG is good. It also washes off pretty easily, isn’t waterproof but can withstand watery eyes, and is a good all-around mascara that won’t break the bank.

    8. Simonkitty*

      Look at the American Association of Individual Investors (aaii.com) for news letters and groups. The money budget software such as Quicken Deluxe has the stock tracking software.

  14. Erika22*

    Has anyone gone to Tokyo and have recommendations on cheap accommodations? A couple friends and I have wanted to go for ages and made it a goal to go next year. After looking at flights I’m just like AHHHHH and am now seriously considering hostels (though I haven’t done hostels since college) just to afford the trip as a whole, since I want to have a few good meals and do a little shopping. Suggestions?

    1. Julia*

      Unfortunately I’ve never needed a hotel in Tokyo (either lived there or stayed with friends), but I’ve used hostels in other Japanese cities and found them clean. If you’re a group, you can rent a room for four or eight and be among yourselves only. Stay away from AirBnB, they’re cracking down on violations right now and your accommodation might get cancelled with no notice (or reimbursement).

    2. K*

      When I traveled in Japan, I was usually able to find ok hotels that were a bit cheaper than a comparable American hotel. (Using booking .com fwiw.) But I also know a lot of people who have stayed in hostels and had a good experience, so I think you will have a great time no matter how you end up doing things.

    3. matcha123*

      When I traveled to Tokyo from a different prefecture, I would stay in “cheap” business hotels. APA Hotel or Toyoko Inn are other options. Also Sakura House if you don’t mind the hostels.
      If you are female, there are not many cheap capsule hotels for women. Most are aimed at men, and can be so cheap…
      For business hotels here, “cheap” is usually about 5,000 yen a night. For hostel-type places, about 3,000 yen a night is cheap. But many of these places advertise in Japanese only and if you can’t speak Japanese, you won’t be able to communicate with the staff. Also, the super cheap places don’t have showers in the rooms. There is a shared bath with hours for men and women or for-pay coin showers.

      1. and her hats are ugly*

        I would try to avoid APA if possible because despite their cheap prices, the lady who owns them is a crazy right-wing nationalist who puts racist right-wing pamphlets and books in every room. Basically the equivalent of a Holocaust-denier :(

    4. Dan*

      How cheap is cheap?

      Depending on how you feel about credit cards and how your credit score is, Tokyo is a great place to use hotel loyalty points. Right now, Chase is running a promotion with Hyatt where you get their credit card and you’ll get 60,000 points after meeting some minimum spend requirements. This will get 3-4 nights (depends on which hotel). If you have a couple of friends and you all do this, you’ll save quite a bit of money and have a blast.

      Marriott/SPG is also an option, but I’m not as up on the particulars since Marriott took over SPG.

      This is how I travel Tokyo on the cheap. It’s expensive otherwise, unless you really want to sacrifice your accommodations.

    5. Catherine*

      I really love APA Hotel but if you can read any Japanese you can often find cheap ($40~/night) inns on Jalan.net.

    6. Erika22*

      Thank you all for the suggestions! Especially the heads up about Airbnb (which is my go-to). I’d say I’m fairly well traveled, but between cost of flying to Tokyo and my brain short circuiting when looking at Tokyo on google maps, finding accommodations suddenly feels like a much bigger task than it usually is!

  15. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread!
    For those who plan to participate in NaNoWriMo: how are you preparations going?
    For those who don’t: how’s your writing going?
    And for those who like spooky things: feel free to share your own spooky writings here! And for the non-fiction writers/not all that creative writers: feel free to share a work/school Halloween-gone-wrong story.

    1. Dance-y Reagan*

      I’ve just finished two poems. Working up the nerve to submit somewhere…I use Writer’s Market/Poet’s Market but it feels a bit like closing my eyes and throwing darts.

    2. poetry writing*

      I went to a poetry workshop today and it was really great. It was focused on using images as starting points and I realized I tend to start with feelings and not images, which explains some of my difficulties in some other classes/workshops I’ve taken. I also felt really good that I had this poem/idea that I wrote and wrote on but it just wasn’t right, you know? and then finally! I hit on how to structure the poem and I think it turned out good – I had to discard all the previous writing but I got to what I wanted to. I really love that feeling.

  16. Loopy*

    Okay posting twice this week. I think this community is a good place for this issue I’ve been having.

    –>TW for body image issues.<–

    So, I got engaged 10 months ago. Before engagement and in the early months, I always said I'd never be that bride who spent the months up to the wedding miserably dieting (in other words, not the healthy kind of diet but the Must-Have-Flat-Stomach-Food-Is-The-Enemy type). I watched a coworker go through it and she spent months alternating between salads and ellipticals. I even said I had no interest in a slim, form fitting dress because I knew I'd be self conscious. The thought of dieting and exercising to be the perfect barbie doll bride really always sounded miserable and unhealthy to me and I was sure I wouldn't fall into that- I hadn't owned a scale for years.

    I also jumped on the wedding boards because I love forums and I was over the moon about getting married. Well, after ten months of looking at brides in the forms, being around bride talk, and seeing model brides posted on every single wedding related website, and here I am, miserable and utterly body obsessed.

    One part of my brain knows this is mostly a product of the media showing me endless pictures of what a bride looks like, and that being model perfect. Another is seeing younger brides who have followed the same model looking radiant image and also, well, they look gorgeous.

    The thing is- I didn't have these issues before getting involved in wedding planning. And it's like I've been obsessed. I look at my body so differently now and everything I eat is framed in relation to The Dress. I know therapy is probably the answer but right now I dont have the time or money due to other, more pressing medical issues.

    So, has anyone else had any success undoing this type of shift where you suddenly feel you need to adhere to a certain image? My wedding is four months away and I'm so tired of obsessing about food and feeling panicked because I can't do cardio (due to health issues) and missing obvious what I *should* be excited about and focusing on- the marriage!!!! Any tips for battling this are so welcome.

    1. TL -*

      Try searching around for non-media ideal brides – smaller photographers (or those interested in a diversity of looks) or websites with plus sized, ect… brides. Look at those and you’ll stop training your brain that media ideal = pretty.

    2. Student*

      I successfully rejected the diet-wedding thing, and it was by reminding myself a lot that I was attending the wedding as one of its two subjects, not a decorative object. It wasn’t about me *looking* pretty or skinny or anything else. It was about me *choosing* my husband and making promises to him.

      Women are given this pervasive message that part of our job is to please the eyes of anyone who might deign to look at us. That’s a standard worth rejecting. We are completely acceptable and valuable and lovable in the bodies we’re wearing right now. Dresses are fine and all, but even the most expensive one you’ll ever buy (this one) is not a thousandth part as valuable and beautiful as you yourself. Your fiance is not looking for someone to occupy a beautiful dress. That isn’t the point of the exercise.

      Wedding sites and magazines are terrible about reducing the bride to a decorative element, and the best practical advice I can give you is to find a website blocker that can limit your time on them to five minutes a day. At this point, you’ve got the important stuff planned and you don’t need to get step by step instructions for creating your own craft color-coordinated wedding-theme cocktails for the bridesmaid thank-you brunch. So do yourself a favor and stay away from the pictures of models and the terrible weight loss advice. It’s cheaper than therapy.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks for your comment. I so thought I was in the rejecting-diet-wedding club too. I started exercising and eating healthy about 4 months ago to be healthier and more fit and I think that was just a whole lot of denial. I *though* I was in that camp and it’s been really hard to be honest with myself that I’m not.

        I definitely think I need to stay off wedding websites. It got really bad when work was slow and I’d have time to browse way more than I used to. My brain was in wedding mode for hours and hours and hours but not in a positive way. I wish I had realized the damage it was doing sooner. I really need to re-focus on what this is all about.

        1. Kat in VA*

          Your husband will think you look lovely in whatever dress you wear – bodycon, floaty, figure skimming, or super tight. he’s marrying YOU, not your figure or your dress or how you look.

          Well, maybe in a little bit as men generally tend to be visual, but he’s not expecting you to change into a bridal-magazine cover girl who are, by the way, PhotoShopped within an inch of their lives. He wants to marry YOU.

          As was said above, you’re not a decoration – you’re one of two focuses of the wedding. It’s natural to want to look as lovely as you can, but you don’t need to be miserable about your weight, your size, or your perceived figure flaws. People know what you look like. They’re not expecting a huge transformation on your wedding day!

          1. Observer*

            SOOOOO much the Photoshop thing. But even without that, posing, lighting and makeup make a HUGE difference. We tend to think that if a photo has been retouched it’s an accurate representation of reality, and that is so not true. Just as the wrong lighting or camera angle can make you look terrible, the right angles and lighting can make you look more “perfect”. Which is all good and fine if you’re asking your photographer to get the best pictures of you. But not so much when the photographer’s work over-rides everything else, it makes you look like someone you are not or it makes you think that “everyone else” looks so perfect – even though that’s not true!

            And 100% on the “not a decoration” thing.

      2. anong*

        genius comment. The most important thing about your wedding dress is that you *feel* beautiful and special. If it makes you feel bad or not good enough, then it’s not right for you.

    3. Erika22*

      I’m sure you’ve found A Practical Wedding – they were my go-to wedding resource when I was engaged. Incredibly body positive (and feminist focused on all aspects of the wedding). Look at all the real life weddings they have there – so many kinds of people getting married with all kinds of bodies. And look at all of their faces! They’re all so happy! I find when I look at photos like that, I just see how happy people are, not whatever body insecurities they may have – and that’s all others will see as well.

      Honestly, I was somewhere in between the “eat well and exercise to be healthy not skinny” and “if I lose a dress size I’ll enjoy my wedding more”. I’ve always been what I (now) consider chubby in a cute way, and I was terrified of shopping for a dress because I just thought of shopping for my prom dress where I had to get a larger size than expected and couldn’t find anything I liked and my mother just kept commenting on how she never had this problem in high school. So I had to make sure I was happy with how I looked in my dress whether I toned up or not, which I think was key. If you think “wow this dress will look great after I lose ten pounds” but you’re not happy with it now, you won’t be happy even if you do lose the weight. If you love your dress and it fits you well, whatever your size, you’ll be far more comfortable and happy than wearing a dress you challenged yourself to fit into or one you only got because it’s “right for your body shape” or whatever else the wedding industrial complex makes you think you have to do.

      1. Loopy*

        I really love that site. I also love that lately they post life-things too, not just all weddings all the time. They focus on feminism and healthy relationships and self love, and positivity and aren’t afraid to post about things not strictly related to The Wedding.

        The thing is when I got my dress, I loved it and it was my favorite style of dress- A-line. I wear A-line for all my dresses, in all seasons. I loooooved it and it was the right style for my body. Yet now I feel less in love with pictures of it and realized I’m focusing only on my torso (read: stomach area) and it just makes me so so sad to realize this has even changed the way I feel about a dress I adored 8-9 months ago!

    4. Washi*

      I think the suggestions above are all good, and I would also add to maybe schedule some time for you and your fiance to hang out where there is no wedding planning talk allowed. When my now-husband and I were able to do that it really helped us step back and get some perspective, plus we really needed to spend some time together that wasn’t us lobbing wedding questions at each other and getting super stressed.

      1. Loopy*

        Ah, fortunately he’s really not that into planning and this happens quite often :) It’s mostly when I have downtime/breaks at work that I find myself drifting to wedding planning mode.

      1. Overeducated*

        Seconded! This was the primary wedding-related website I read and I think it really helped me feel good about being me.

      2. Loopy*

        I think from now on I will strictly limit myself to this site and A Practical Wedding. I really hope I turn my thinking (and feelings) around over the next few months!

    5. Blue_eyes*

      I would recommend taking a big step back from the forums and other media that got you to this place. Continuing to look at forums and such that promote these values is going to keep you from being able to reject them.

      Try to actively consume media around brides (or just people) who are larger to help recalibrate your sense of what bodies can look like. I did this with Instagram and it was super helpful to me – I follow some plus-size yoga instructors, plus-size fashion bloggers, etc. Seeing women everyday on my feed with larger bodies being fit, fashionable, fun helped change my perceptions of myself over time.

      1. Loopy*

        This is great advice. I have a les mills fitness class instructor who is so strong and so fit and yet she’s quite a bit larger than most would expect for someone in that role (apologies if that phrasing isn’t ideal, I’m not sure how to put it). I think she’s super amazing and an inspiration and you’re right, seeing her in such a positive role is wonderful.

        1. Gaia*

          It isn’t offensive, don’t worry. It is accepting that there is a media stereotype that says “strong, fit women” are also “small and petite” but with muscle definition. While that can certainly be true, it turns out that strong, fit women come in a lot of sizes and shapes! And that is great!

    6. Rollergirl09*

      When I was engaged as soon as I purchased my gown David’s Bridal sold my info and I started getting emails for plastic surgery, weight loss, and other body related stuff.

      I had to step back and remind myself that I’m getting married to someone who already loved me the way I was and I didn’t need to change that to be a picture perfect bride. It really helped me push away those negative messages. I also bought a dress that made me feel like a million bucks.

      1. Loopy*

        I remember being horrified that when I walked into my first bridal show there were weight loss booths and plastic surgery booths, right as soon as you walked in. I was so angry about it. They also had legit models walking around in wedding dresses. It was *awful* all around. And yet somehow I still fell into the trap.

        1. Thursday Next*

          Yikes. Along the same lines, after I went shopping at a maternity wear store, I started getting info about buying life insurance for children. It was morbid.

    7. Cait*

      Remind yourself while you are looking that the wedding industry is built around trying to sell you (very marked up) things. Making you feel like something about yourself is lacking is EXACTLY what they want, because then they can sell you “$olution$”. Comparison is the thief of joy! You are valuable and can find happiness at any size or shape, no matter what those (photoshopped) wedding models (whose JOB is looking good) make you feel. Your favorite pictures will be ones where you look HAPPY and in the moment. Focus on what makes you feel joy and spend less time on those wedding sites. I hope you can refocus and have a fabulous day and wonderful marriage!

      1. Loopy*

        This is such a useful perspective. As thrilled as I am to be getting married, I have such a disgust for the wedding industry. Most of it is really superficial and stressful. And you’re right, I plan to tell my photographer to focus on getting candid shots. I really want to see myself in the moment with my loved ones. Poses don’t evoke anything emotional for me.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes obsessions are avoidance. Is there anything you are avoiding?

      Other than that, why not just decide to have damn fine tailoring. Pick a dress and pay a tailor to make sure it hangs nicely on you. Make the dress fit you, don’t make you fit the dress.

      1. Loopy*

        I don’t think so?

        I am hoping alterations are good. That’s a whole other ball of wax (Omg what if I gain weight after the dress is altered??? panic).

    9. StrikingFalcon*

      I gained a bunch of weight from some health things I was going through shortly before we started planning our wedding, and yeah, I had this problem too. The extra weight was already a symbol of some tough things in my life, and the wedding industry is *SO* image obsessed.

      I eventually just constrained myself to only Offbeat Bride and A Practical Wedding, where you find lots of people who look different. It helped some. I also bought my dress from David’s Bridal, which has a nice selection of plus size dresses. I mostly tried to consciously cut off all such thoughts as they popped up. I did not diet, and enjoyed my wedding.

      1. Loopy*

        I’m so so glad you were able to enjoy your wedding!

        Those two sites are really amazing and I wish I had limited myself to them off the bat. I’ve been on WeddingWire and people are so judgmental and opinionated over there (if you do a dry wedding or cash bar, oh my goodness, the rage and judgement). I should have stayed away.

          1. Observer*

            I’m going to disagree on “dry” weddings. The idea that you can’t have a nice event without alcohol is toxic. And I say that as someone who does NOT have any real problem with alcohol. I’m also someone who eats chicken and fish and is happy to serve others meat (I avoid meat because of health issues I have), but I simply can’t get on board with people who freak out over a vegetarian event – even >gasp< a wedding.

          2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

            Dry weddings are fine. Not my choice, but an acceptable one.

            Cash bars are just a way to make your guests subsidize your reception. If you want alcohol you should cut back elsewhere in order to provide it.

            1. Epsilon Delta*

              To be honest, cash bar never bothered me much, and now having gone through the planning and budgeting process for my own wedding last year… I am more than happy to pay $5-15 to “subsidize” the reception. And if I’m not feeling that way about this particular couple, well, I’ll stick to water.

            2. Someone Else*

              The times I’ve seen cash bar it wasn’t so much subsizing the reception. It was more like the couple doesn’t drink and would’ve been fine with a dry wedding but had enough guests who kvetched that they decided “fine you want booze, here’s your option.”

    10. Cher Horowitz*

      Everyone before me has beautiful loving comments that I whole heartedly second. Just wanted to send you virtual hugs, if you’d like, and lots of good wishes for the planning, the wedding and married life!

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you. I’ve been in denial and haven’t really talked to anyone about this, so it’s really nice to have a community to turn to for support. I’ve just been letting myself be so miserable and self hating and I’m so tired of it!

    11. Parenthetically*

      Yes, get off the boards/websites/forums you’ve been frequenting (which are, ultimately, marketing tools sponsored by companies who DESIRE your dissatisfaction because people will pay lots of money to try to end dissatisfaction) and get thee to Offbeat Bride. I also find mantras helpful for obsessive thoughts — maybe stuff like, “Future Spouse isn’t marrying a Dress, but me!” and “My body is good and fine and I exist in it and am grateful for that, and I appreciate ______ about it.”

      Also, have you talked about this with Future Spouse? I think it’s really vital to let them in on this struggle. There are lots of free online courses for premarital stuff, which you might find helpful purely as something meaningful to focus your mind and energy on INSTEAD of the size of your body in relation to a particular item of clothing which will be worn for a few hours on a single day.

      1. Loopy*

        I wish I had abandoned those sites so long ago. I just wanted to be surrounded by wedding wedding wedding for a while and refused to see that’s…. actually not always a good thing.

        I haven’t talked to future spouse because I know I’ll get two words in and burst into heaving sobs. I know I should but I’m just not ready to. It’s been bottled up until just really these last few days and I’m trying to get myself to a place where I can do more than cry when I think about my own feelings towards my body, because they are so negative and cruel and I’m so devastated about that.

        I never thought I could be so cruel to myself. It’s an odd revelation but I… think that’s what I’ve been doing.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Oh gosh, cry!! Or go dancing or something! I totally know what you mean, and I think sometimes we just need to have a really cathartic physical experience to be ABLE to process our emotions.

        2. Gaia*

          I think you should talk to him, even through sobs. It will be a good reminder to you that he loves you, he wants to marry you, and he finds you insanely beautiful.

    12. Nines*

      I definitely also said I would *never* be the diet obsessed person and then quickly went down the rabbit hole. The thing that enabled me to pull back from that narrative was similar to many of the comments here. I actively searched our body positive and plus size models. I read somewhere something about how we are allowed to like the way we look, even if we aren’t skinny. Which sadly, hadn’t ever occurred to me before. It won’t help everyone, but for whatever reason it really hit home for me and helped a lot to change my expectations for what I wanted to look like for my wedding.
      And I also agree about focus on the things that will make you feel beautiful!! Love your dress. Get help with hair and makeup. And splurge (whatever that will mean for you) on a really good photographer. I just got married about a month ago and I’ve seen one of the pictures from the photographers and I almost cried because *I* think I look beautiful! And it’s mostly because they totally captured how happy I am. =)
      But don’t beat yourself up about being concerned about body image either. Weddings in general are really hard on people for this reason (among others). It will all work out in the end and will be so much fun. Mine was!

      1. Loopy*

        I both would never wish this on anyone, ever, and simultaneously feel comforted that I’m not alone. I want so badly to be this confident, take-no-shit, bad-ass bride/woman/person who doesn’t fears carbs (which is so silly, whhhhhhhhy am I doing this?). It’ll take some work though. And some definite adjustment on my media consumption. I so appreciate everyone’s comments. I needed this so badly.

    13. Melody Pond*

      Have you ever watched any videos by Adam Ruins Everything? They’re on youtube, and I think even on Netflix now. He’s got at least one Youtube video on weddings, and it might be a helpful wake-up call from the standpoint of… realizing that the culture of big weddings today is really a way to advertise your supposed wealth and high-class/privilege. Not that you shouldn’t celebrate in whatever way is meaningful to you, but perhaps it might help shatter some of the illusions that are being sold by all those models in white dresses?

      I’ll look for the link and reply if I can find it.

        1. Loopy*

          I hadn’t seen that- thanks! I’ve had great success keeping those other aspects of the wedding industry in check, well, mostly. No Pinterest rabbithole for me! It’s also why I’m SO floored that this part of it all got me. I have zero problem nixing traditional things I don’t care about- florist, what florist? Videographer, photobooth, top shelf ultra premium open bar? Nah.

          My table centerpieces are assembled from dollar store things. My shoes are 15 dollar flats. But still, that video hits home, so much upcharge when you have to include a vendor (and you can’t hide it’s a wedding).

          1. Melody Pond*

            I think for me, the reason why it clicked, is that the whole idea of the model-thin-body-in-the-white-dress is itself seems to be its own display of wealth and status. If you’re model thin and beautiful/glamorous, it suggests wealth – because you can afford to eat super healthy food, and/or a gym membership, and/or a personal trainer, not to mention all the leisure time you’d have to have available to spend working out and possibly preparing said super healthy expensive food. Conversely, people who are lower on the socioeconomic ladder and who struggle to meet their basic needs, are probably more likely to be overweight or obese (if I wanted to be really diligent here, I’d look to see if there are any reputable studies on this idea, and cite my sources – but I’m just going to be lazy and speculate).

            So, if it helps at all – I really think the image of the beautiful thin model in a fancy white dress is just another way of displaying wealth, like in the Adam Ruins Everything video. And I think this image as a display of wealth/privilege/high-class is so deeply ingrained that we automatically, even subconsciously, idealize it as “beautiful.” And again, it’s something that the wedding industry is marketing hardcore, to try to get you as a consumer to spend more money on various products and services related to losing weight, so that you can also show off that image of wealth and success.

            So, in my mind, it’s all just an illusion to try to sell this idea of wealth and upper class status – even the glamorous thin models in fancy white dresses. And seeing it that way helps me reject the silliness of it.

    14. Rainy*

      My wedding is in 63 days (thanks TheKnot for the running stressor–I mean countdown) and I struggled with disordered eating (calorie restriction/fasting) through most of my adolescence so I absolutely cannot engage in any kind of restricted eating because it takes me right back into that place and it takes a year or more every time I relapse to get my head right about food again. I’ve been through this before, and I don’t intend to do it again.

      What I did/do: I bought a dress that fits me, not an aspirational dress. I have maintained my usual routine as far as food/activity/etc. I try not to look at too much mainstream bridal imagery. Those people are not normal humans, they are models, and they eat 10 almonds a day. I consume empowering and realistic media and imagery as much as possible, and I ignore (and block, and unsubscribe, and delete) the shit that is trying to make me self-conscious and then sell me bullshit.

      This cultural BS only exists because if you make people feel bad about themselves and then offer them shit that doesn’t work (or actively makes them miserable), they will give these companies money, and then a significant fraction of those people will, when it doesn’t work, do it harder, and keep giving these companies money. Thassit. That’s the only reason this stuff exists: to separate you from your money. The rest is just the poopy icing on the bullshit cake.

      1. Loopy*

        I’m so glad you’ve been able to find those empowering images. I think I need to binge on that kind of positive media really hard right now. Ive never policed my media consumption before and now I’m realizing it’s really valuable. I definitely bought a dress that fits and not a must-lose-weight-dress too, which helped at first and less so later on.

        I get crazy when I count calories too and I’m finding it hard to get back out of this type of thinking at the moment. I just went to the grocery store determined to get myself the dinner I *wanted* and left defeated after staring at what I wanted to eat in various aisles, and meandering back and forth between the options trying to force myself to buy them. I ultimately left without any.

        1. Loopy*

          I just belatedly realized the phrasing “I get crazy when I could calories too” is really problematic and was thoughtless; it was more how I think of my own issues with calories in a very informal way and I want to apologize for applying that to your statement with the “too” and in general. Basically I did NOT mean at all to attach the term crazy to everyone who has issues around counting calories.

          1. Rainy*

            It’s okay. Disordered eating is a *disorder*.

            Your tailspin sounds sadly familiar, as well. Honestly, this is one of those things that you are going to have to work hard at, and it’s probably going to take some time, and that’s okay. For most other things I’d suggest professional help but this one is tricky because if you end up with a therapist who harbours biases about weight and size, they’re actually going to make it worse and then you have twice as much to undo. If you seek therapy, be EXTREMELY vigilant so you don’t end up with a fatphobic therapist.

    15. Smarty Boots*

      Have you already been fitted for your dress and had it altered? If you are at a weight you can maintain without going crazy til the wedding, get your fitting and alterations done now and then don’t worry about losing more weight because it will fit and look good.
      If you’re at a weight that you can’t really maintain by just eating sensibly — then talk to the person doing the alterations and let them know you are likely to put on weight.

    16. Aphrodite*

      Remind yourself that he fell in love with you as you are now / were then. He isn’t looking for thin, he wants YOU. Your pictures should reflect the YOU he fell in love with rather than some “bridal image.”

    17. Basia, also a Fed*

      I recently went to San Francisco for vacation. We stayed about a mile from Giants stadium, because we wanted to be able to walk to a baseball game. It was terrible – the smell was everywhere. Lots and lots of people were openly smoking on the street and in the stadium. Every restaurant smelled like it, even if we didn’t see someone actively smoking. My allergies and asthma has never been so bad in my entire life. My eyes were swollen partially shut the entire time and I blew my nose every few minutes. I have always been a supporter of legalization. I still am, but this experience took me by surprise and really lowered the quality of my trip. I think it should be legal, but not in public. Just like no open carry laws for alcohol.

    18. Observer*

      One really important thing – get off those boards! Whatever else you do, you want to make sure that the toxic imagery and messaging stops or it will keep reinforcing all the negative stuff you are dealing with.

      It’s incredible how freeing it can be to get away from a really toxic place that skews your perceptions. Especially since you already do know that this is toxic and essentially out of touch with reality.

    19. Ursula*

      Everyone else has great suggestions, but I wanted to add something that my mom always says. She is a professional costumer designer for theater, and has always been appalled at the idea that a person should change their body to fit clothes. The entire purpose of clothing design should be the exact opposite – to design clothing that will make their wearer look at feel good about the body that they have. The idea that we should ever change ourselves bodies to fit clothes rather than the other way around is toxic. People don’t fail clothes, clothes fail people. It’s cloth! It has no feelings! Prioritize people!

      Anyway, that’s always been something that stuck with me, and I thought it might help.

    20. Galahad*

      Weddings are about the couple, your commitment, and family and friends.

      So — Go ask your invite list to send you a copy of their wedding photo (bride/groom). You can make something nice out of it for the reception.

      AND, you will get many, many images of happy, healthy people that you love, looking great despite the fact that they were not a “perfect” bride.

  17. riverbflat*

    I got a new job earlier this year, went to a temporary living sitch a little later to shorten my commute….. and I’m still here. I’m in a small room and share it with some storage, my second air mattress is coming apart, and even this commute is taking a toll on me. So:

    Any tips on finding an apartment? I’ve been looking at listings. Called about one and never heard back before the listing was pulled. Called about another, and after three days of phone tag I found out I haven’t been earning enough for long enough to qualify, and my co-signer doesn’t live close enough. Still looking but getting disheatertened. Especially need tips on finding low rent housing, preferably with no credit check, though I have someone willing to co-sign if necessary. How do I make sure I’m not getting scammed? I’ve rented a room from a friend before, and split a 2 bedroom at a complex in college, but my requirements now have me looking mostly at, in my area, small, one-building deals run by a property management company. I’m out of my element here.

    I love my job which helps, and I’m grateful for the place I’m staying now, but I need a change!

    1. Boo Hoo*

      The only way you will find a place without a credit check is a roommate situation, and some will check your credit. That said if your credit is poor they’d likely just make you give a larger deposit. Sorry but thought I’d be honest about that one.

    2. thankful for AAM*

      My son finally had success on a website like roomates.com I think it was. It cost $8 a month and he was thinking it could be a waste but bc the landlord also has to pay, it screens out people who are not serious.

      He has a great room in Miami for a very good price and is very happy. He found it the first month so only paid $8 for the service.

    3. Washi*

      Are you using craigslist? I’ve had good luck with people renting out their own condos, where usually the paperwork goes through the management company, but the person is looking for a tenant on their own. Often they are more responsive since they are really motivated to find someone and when I’ve lived in a condo, it’s often been cuter and with fewer rent increases since the person is mainly trying to cover their mortgage, not keep up with the market (which is increasing at an insane rate in my area.)

    4. Just me*

      Every apartment I’ve found has been through driving through the neighborhood I want to live in. If there was a building that caught my eye, I called the number (I don’t rely on company websites, some aren’t great at keeping it updated).

    5. Alex*

      I’ve found every place I’ve ever lived (as an adult) through craigslist.

      Rules to avoid scams: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. If it has been posted 100000 times, it might be a scam. I’ve had better luck with landlord-posted listings than with agents, because agents, IME, lie in the listings to get people in, and then when you are disappointed that 1/2 of what was said in the listing wasn’t true, they try to take you to see other apartments that are out of your price range or desired area. At least, that has been my experience. Also, they tend to rent more on “gut feeling about you” than official stuff like credit checks, background checks, etc. I actually don’t think I’ve ever had a credit check run on me to get an apartment.

      I’ve just searched my price range on craigslist, looked on “map” view, and pretty much contacted every place that looked like it could work for me. Make sure you follow the contact instructions in the listing (some want emails, some want calls, etc.) There will be a lot of no-call-backs–it’s kind of like job searching! But hopefully someone will respond.

    6. Lady Jay*

      I found my latest (which is working out really well) on something like apartment ratings . com. I had to rent from a distance, without seeing the place (cross country move), and so it was important to me to get a highly rated one. I then filtered by what I could afford to pay.

      That said, 1) I live alone whenever remotely possible, because I don’t like having roommates, and 2) I was okay with a credit check, so YMMV.

  18. Gone to pot*

    Folks who live in US states where marijuana has become legal: Have you noticed a big increase in the number of people publicly smoking pot since legalization?

    Word has it that marijuana will soon be legal in New Jersey, and if NJ legalizes, NY may not be far behind. I live in NYC and have respiratory problems. Pot smoke is a huge trigger for me, and with marijuana now decriminalized (but still technically illegal) in NYC, I’m beginning to smell it basically everywhere I walk. The smell makes my eyes and lungs burn, it gives me a headache, and not to mention, it stinks!

    I’ve been pretty anxious about marijuana becoming legal because I fear everyone around me is going to start smoking pot and I’ll never be able to breathe. This is irrational, right?

    1. WellRed*

      I definitely smell it more frequently, which I don’t like. But, I haven’t seen a huge difference otherwise. Caveat: I don’t get downtown to the bar scene all that much or anything like that.

    2. Boo Hoo*

      Not really…but, I was at a Rockies game in Colorado way back and a guy was smoking right in the stands, which surprised me. Never have really seen anyone other than at concerts but that was also before it was legal.

    3. Seattleite*

      Sadly, no, it is not irrational. I am affected the same way you are. Pot was legalized here a while back. I work downtown and live in an adjacent urban neighborhood. It smells like pot all the time. In the parks, on the sidewalks, all times of day or night. I love the pedestrian lifestyle and it’s a big part of why I chose my current home. But the day i realized I am now actively avoiding walking places, and must drive for the sake of my health, was a sad day indeed.

    4. Mike C.*

      From WA here and not at all.

      It helps that smoking in public places has been banned for a while now, so I wouldn’t worry.

      1. SignalLost*

        Not true. I’m also in WA, and I’m allergic to pot. There are places I basically have to hold my breath to go through – I’m not sure if there’s a manufacturing facility there or what, but a couple of major intersections just reek. I don’t go out to clubs or bars, so haven’t noticed it there, but I’m kind of pissed that something so aromatic isn’t better controlled.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        What’s your opinion on that? On the one hand, people don’t like pot smoke in public. On the other, people are saying that it’s yet another way to harass the homeless.

      3. Windchime*

        It really depends on where you are. I live 30 miles north of Seattle. There are pot shops all over but I never smell it or see anyone smoking it. Downtown is a different story; I work in the middle of downtown (near the library) and I smell or see it every time I step outside to walk to Starbucks or grab lunch. It doesn’t bother me all that much but it’s definitely something you will see and/or smell if you are in downtown Seattle.

    5. Not a Mere Device*

      It didn’t seem to make much difference in the Seattle area, when I lived there. Which is to say that the people who had been hanging out downtown smoking skunkweed before legalization didn’t stop, and most other people seem to have bought our marijuana or edibles in the shops and taken them home to use. Where “home” might be a back yard or balcony, but not most streets or parks.

    6. LGC*

      So like – incriminating myself because I have inhaled (many times) and this is an area of interest for me, but as I understand it, in a lot of areas consumption is limited to certain areas (I believe that’s what Colorado does). I’ll have to look up what NJ is planning, but I think it’ll be similar because it’s New Jersey and we are VERY Democratic establishment.

      One advantage to marijuana is that you don’t have to smoke it. So you might see an uptick of people using edibles instead of smoking (because…you know, smoking). This might be a problem if you live near the Times Building, but otherwise you should be good.

      1. Rainy*

        I’m not sure what you mean by “limited to certain areas”. Like, smoking in parks/just randomly on the sidewalk etc is illegal, just like with booze.

        1. LGC*

          That’s basically kind of what I meant – if I remember correctly (and people who actually live in CO can correct me because I’m probably wrong on this), you’re only legally allowed to smoke in set-aside areas, right? (Although Boo Hoo noted that a dude sparked up at a Rockies game, so THAT’S not stopping people…)

          1. rubyrose*

            Colorado here – public consumption is illegal. Every year, on April 20, there is a major marijuana rally in downtown Denver and there is not supposed to be any smoking there. A Rockies game would definitely be out. Because of a change in the law, we are now just starting to see cannabis lounges, where you bring your own. When hotels say no smoking, they typically mean both tobacco and marijuana, and make a point of telling you that when you check in or make the reservation.

            I’ve not noticed a major increase in public consumption.

          2. Rainy*

            I live in Colorado, and no, you aren’t legally allowed to smoke in public at all. There are not “set-aside” areas. Do rude people spark up in public? Sure. But rude people do a lot of illegal stuff in public because that’s what makes them rude people. I have honestly had more trouble with people vaping tobacco in public spaces than with people smoking marijuana via whatever modality (joint, blunt, pipe, one-hitter, bong, what-have-you).

          3. CheeryO*

            I’m not sure how well those laws are enforced. I visited Denver a few weeks ago, and the smell of pot was… pervasive, especially around the train station where people were loitering about.

            1. TL -*

              Yeah, I think a lot of how much you notice is going to depend on how sensitive you are and/or if you smoke. I’m way more sensitive to smoke (pot or cigarettes) than a lot of people and I’ve definitely smelled it when others haven’t.

    7. Bluebell*

      Sadly, I can confirm that walking around downtown Boston is definitely worse now. I have asthma and notice it a lot more. I’m much more likely to need to keep walking in subway stations and change seats.

    8. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      I’m in WA, and smoking marijuana in any form in public is illegal. I’ve seen police officers arresting people for smoking marijuana at a bus stop. But for the most part, people do not smoke in public. However, that doesn’t stop everyone, and I have walked past people on the sidewalk who are definitely smoking marijuana. It’s a very distinctive smell.

      What I don’t like is when the people in the apartment next to mine light up because I can smell it in my apartment. It is so annoying. I’m not against people smoking pot, I just don’t want to smell it in my apartment. I usually just open my window to clear out the smell.

      Overall I don’t think it’s anything worth getting too stressed out about, since for the most part people obey the law and don’t smoke in public. I think there’s not too much for you to worry about if your state legalizes recreational marijuana.

    9. Chylleh*

      My state legalized it and I smell it more often. It could be much worse, but the smell makes me almost sick to my stomach so I have to avoid some areas if they’re smoking (such as the local park).

    10. Ann O.*

      I’m in the CA Bay Area, and I find it’s neighborhood dependent. Outside of the city, I very rarely smell anything unless I’m in an entertainment district. In the city, it’s more common to randomly run into clouds of smoke (but that’s always been the case for as long as I’ve been here).

    11. Nita*

      I’ve been smelling it everywhere for a long time. Since before it became less-illegal. Yuck, I don’t know how it’s possible to smoke that – to me it smells like a combo of stale sausage, old socks, and something chemical burning – so not looking forward to an increase in public smoking. If, that is, there will be any increase.

      1. Ursula*

        I’m from a rural area, and my brain immediately thinks “Someone ran over a skunk!” anytime I smell someone smoking marijuana and I have to remind myself there probably aren’t skunks to run over in the downtown of a major city. I kinda wonder if it’s ever going to switch over to “someone is smoking pot” as the default explanation. I’ve never smoked myself because ugh, that smell.

        But yeah, it’s legal where I’m at and I haven’t really noticed a difference in frequency between before legalization and now.

    12. Slartibartfast*

      It’s only medical here, but recreational is on the ballot Tuesday. I already smell it more often with it being medical. I am anxious about it too. I’m not anti marijuana, I just don’t want to smell it in public.

    13. Gatomon*

      I actually haven’t noticed a problem. My city is very strict with no smoking indoors and rules about how close you can be to a building/entryway and smoke. I’m very very sensitize to pot and cigarette smoke since my parents smoked both around me growing up. It’s only legal here for medical purposes, but when they first changed the law it was kind of a free-for-all — they had video doctors giving people medical marijuana cards for any old reason.

      Only places where I’ve been exposed have been outdoor concerts (not much way around it but moving away from the smoker) and on the university campus. Neither my workplace or apartment is anywhere that interests people who smoke, apparently.

    14. Rainy*

      Not really. I smell it more frequently around my complex, because people smoke on their balconies, but I’d rather smell pot than tobacco, because tobacco smoke irritates me–and I can’t be around people vaping at all. The vape fumes are an asthma trigger.

      I smell it way less on the street here where it’s legal than when I lived in British Columbia where it wasn’t, when you literally couldn’t walk down a sidewalk without encountering someone smoking a joint.

      The other thing to remember is that once it’s legal, a lot more people start using edibles. :)

    15. Anon Anon Anon*

      I really wish people would stop going to extremes about the marijuana issue and acknowledge that there is good and bad about the stuff just like with anything else. It seems like if you point out the negative, you’re accused of being 100% against it, and vice versa. In reality, it’s just a plant that people consume in various ways, and it has various affects, some good, some bad, and some in between.

      1. Rainy*

        One of my least favourite manifestations of this is the people who scaremonger about pot edibles. Thing actually said to me on Twitter by a (presumably) real live adult human: “I am allergic to marijuana and if my state legalizes I might buy it on accident at the store!”

        I think it exceedingly likely that you will walk into a clearly marked dispensary that only sells pot, hand your ID to the security guard, wait in a waiting room reeking of pot where the menus have only pot on them, go to a back room, be helped by a budtender who does not speak in any but the most explicit of terms about the marijuana products the shop stocks, buy something covered in pot leaf emblems and warnings that it contains marijuana, and then consume it by accident.

        That seems like a thing that would happen, yes.

    16. anonagain*

      “I’ve been pretty anxious about marijuana becoming legal because I fear everyone around me is going to start smoking pot and I’ll never be able to breathe. This is irrational, right?”

      It’s not going to be as bad as your anxiety is telling you. It sounds like it’s already a challenge though. Can you talk to your doctor about how to handle the symptoms you are experiencing?

    17. OyHiOh*

      No I haven’t noticed. But my state (one of the first couple to legalize) wrote in a provision against public use that’s well enforced.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know yet. Missouri actually has it on the ballot this year. If it’s legalized (and if people vote for the right amendment and not the stupid one), then I guess I’ll find out.

      I don’t like weed. It does nothing for me, I don’t like the way it smells, and I don’t like being around people when they’re high because you can’t even have a conversation with them. I don’t want it in my house, legal or not, and I don’t want to date someone who smokes anything–I’m a tobacco addict and I can never ever smoke again or even be around it because if I smoke even one cigarette, I’ll be back on it.

      But I’m okay with people using it as long as it’s treated like alcohol and tobacco. Non-smoking areas should also be weed-free, because no kind of smoke is good for your lungs. People should not drive under the influence of weed. We should be able to grow industrial hemp. People who need CBD for epilepsy or smoke it if they’re on chemo (or whatever) should be able to use it.

      And above all, we should be able to conduct extensive research on it, because NOTHING is a cure-all. Marijuana is not magic.

    19. rogue axolotl*

      Up here in Canada marijuana has just been federally legalized as of about a week and a half ago. I think it’s pretty regional–I haven’t noticed any difference but I live on the west coast so there’s been a weed haze hovering around for decades. I have been loving the government-sponsored informational pamphlets explaining what weed is, though.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        Yes, I would agree with you. My neighbourhood has embraced legalisation whole-heartedly, but the neighbourhood where I work doesn’t seem to have jumped on the bandwagon.

    20. Anonomo*

      I was in Oregon when they legalized and honestly I didnt notice it more then a handful of times from neighbors (apartment life ya know). One thing I did notice was quality- the expensive stuff didnt have a gag me odor like the cheaper stuff. Ive been in Colorado awhile now, a few blocks from a university (Im literally one of 3 families in my complex, everyone else is in school) and havent smelled it once. For the most part, pot smokers know its odorous and arnt going to be jerks about smoking it. A few will, but with the reputation it has most will be respectful.

  19. thankful for AAM*

    Also sending condolences about Sam. And a cat story (maybe I should do NaNoWriMo and start with this, lol)
    Grandma lived with us growing up and she had 15 cats who lived in a “cat house,” as my dad liked to joke. It was a small, cottagy, room/shed with heat and electricity and two enclosed side runs.

    Every morning grandma opened the doors fed the cats then then all walked down to the pond at the back of the 1 acre yard and had a swim.

    Yup, the cats would paddle in the water around grandma, sun themselves for a bit. Then they went off to their day jobs as cats. This was the 70s, cats mostly stayed outside all day.

    At dusk, the cats came back, sometimes with an extra cat. Grandma fed them, they’d all troop inside, and be shut in for the night. The extra cats sometimes took weeks to choose to come in but they mostly did.

    Grandma was pretty cool.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Haha that’s awesome! As a crazy cat lady, I totally appreciate that story. I wish my cats would do stuff like that, but they’re lazy house cats. Only one goes out and what I get from him is a trail of death at my door every once in awhile. Mice, for the most part.

  20. KR*

    What a handsome guy. Alison, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. He seemed like such a great cat from your pictures and stories.

  21. The Babiest Babyface*

    I’m so sorry about Sam!

    Were any of you generally incompatible with peers when you were young? Mostly I’ve found that I do much better around adults, and I’m very lucky that in the culture of my school I’m able to do that because of our frequent community events, but as I get older I become more anxious for the day that my peers and I are the adults. I’m not sure if I’ll be more compatible with people my own age once we’ve all grown up, or if by that point I’ll still have a hard time interacting with everyone.

    Maybe I’m just a snob?

    1. FD*

      Oh my god, yes!

      Between reading waaaay above age level, being generally introspective, and a few family things that made me take responsibility early, I always had trouble relating to a lot of my peers.

      I’m sure YMMV but I’m finding 30ish to be awesome for that–other people my age have mostly caught up by now.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      When I was a kid I was very good at interacting with adults, but not always great at interacting with other kids. I was a very quick thinker and an avid reader and as an only child, I spent a lot of time talking to adults. So as a child, I had a high vocabulary and fairly adult style of speaking. It all evened out as my peers grew up and it probably will for you too. And, once you’re an adult, you don’t have to just be friends with people your age. You can be friends with people who are quite a bit older than you without it being a big deal.

    3. OperaArt*

      Oh, absolutely! I ws far more comfortable with the adults when I was a kid. As an introverted, avid reader, the “grown ups” were much more interesting to me.
      Now that I’m 60, I’m friends with adults of all ages. From 20 to 90, they’re all interesting.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It levels out with time.
        I have one friend who is the type of guy I would have avoided in high school. When I told him this he said, “That’s okay. You’re the type of woman I would have avoided also.” Neither one of us was offended by this, we just laughed.
        Time made me less uptight and time made him less “free-spirited”, I guess? But also over time we both had gathered more and more interests. Shared interests really helps friendships along.

        Like you I wondered if I was a snob. Self-checks are always good. Beating ones self up is not good. Keep it at a self-check level. This means you check randomly but not long periods at a time. And you also check other parts of your life and your approach to life in an equivalent manner.

    4. NeonFireworks*

      This was me as well. I loved reading, loved math, loved GOING TO SCHOOL. This meant I got along extremely well with the teachers and extremely not well with my classmates (even the ones who didn’t automatically decide I was uncool were still baffled). Most of them ignored me, some of then gossiped about me, and a small number unleashed a moderately vicious campaign to make me feel terrible about myself because they saw me as a sickening suck-up. Getting bullied a lot definitely upset me, but the teachers were helpful and my family strongly encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing. When I got to college I found friends EVERYWHERE. I never got over my deep love of learning, so I ended up becoming a college professor, and I’m so happy in my work that sometimes I want to cry. I was fortunate to have a lot of people around to tell me that I was on the right track for me.

    5. matcha123*

      I wasn’t too compatible with many of peers. I had a lot of responsibilities and I found that adults did enjoy my company. But, I actually did not want to be in the company of adults. I heavily preferred the company of my peers…I just wished they would have tried harder to not be…kids…

    6. Nita*

      Yes. And it does get better. I noticed a real difference in college, and even more in the workplace. Maybe I’ve been 30ish for most of my life, and my passport age and my mental age have finally met :)

    7. Rainy*

      I had a lot of trouble relating to people in my grade when I was in primary and secondary. I’ve mentioned this from time to time but I was raised in a cult, and I wasn’t well socialized as a child–my parents took the in the world but not of it thing pretty seriously, so it was hard for me to relate to my peers, and my mother is a narcissist and my dad is essentially checked out of anything that might make him notice what a jerk she is, so I didn’t have a lot of healthy interactions modelled for me as a child. Moving from private school to public school was really hard for me because there was so much less supervision and so much more bullying, and I didn’t really understand how to interact with other children and then teenagers. I worked hard as an adult to figure out what social norms were and how to enact them. It was definitely work, and it took a lot of research, observation, and thoughtful application (and trial and error!) but I think I’m reasonably socially ept now. I hope! :)

      The nice thing about adulthood is that your friendships aren’t constrained by the age strata of school. My close friends range from 9 years younger than me to 10 years older. My wider friends and acquaintances vary even more.

    8. river*

      I was the same when I was younger. You know how some people say your teenage years are the best? Nope! Being an adult is great and just keeps getting better. Even if life throws things at you, you keep get more and more comfortable in your own skin, more confident and sure of yourself, and have a broader view of the world. Being in my 30’s is the best! I love it. You can have friends of all ages and types of people. Variety is wonderful and makes life interesting. I’m 36 now, my best friends are 28, 49, and 63. You can find kindred spirits in all sorts of places.

  22. Washi*

    I’m really struggling with connecting with friends due to my anxiety and depression. I feel lonely and want to talk and want people to reach out to me, but then when I do try to talk about things, I just feel like I’m not explaining it right, they don’t get it, they just feel sorry for me, they’re never going to want to talk to me again….and I often just feel worse afterward and want to isolate myself even more. I feel so needy, and yet I have this urge to push people away.

    Therapy is helping a bit, but I’m just wondering if anyone else out there has experienced this.

    1. Almost Academic*

      Out of curiosity, what kind of therapy are you doing? Those types of thoughts seem really common to go along with Anxiety and Depression – so I definitely think you’re not alone. Human relationships are hard, even when you’re mentally healthy! In terms of the thoughts you’re reporting, they seem like really good targets for some evidence for / against skill use. If you’re not doing CBT, I would highly recommend pickup up a workbook or something at least – it really deals with some of those types of thought errors that are common when you’re struggling with those issues.

      1. Washi*

        I am doing CBT and I know everyone loves it so much but…I kind of hate it. My therapist is constantly jumping in to correct my word choice and she’s good about explaining why, but I find myself spending a lot of effort on rewording things just so I can get through a story/thought uninterrupted and I feel more and more anxious about speaking at all.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Have you looked at acceptance and commitment therapy instead?

          I’ve been through several workshops, therapy sessions, etc where I was supposed to be learning cbt but it never really clicked for me. Last week I read about act, and it takes a different view of trying to control or change thoughts, which was always a sticking point for me. So far it seems to be another take on mindfulness but it might be worth exploring for you.

        2. Jessen*

          I honestly hated it too. A lot of it ended up feeling to me more like telling me my feelings were bad/wrong, or just generally missing the point. The whole thing felt like being in middle school and asking “can I go to the bathroom?” and getting the reply “I don’t know, *can* you?” That and it was never clear to me what the difference between a cognitive distortion and a justified extreme reaction was, and I could never get an answer to that.

          1. Washi*

            That’s the perfect analogy!!!!! (The can I got to the bathroom/I don’t know can you? thing) I’m so glad I posted just for that little nugget of wisdom because that’s exactly what it feels like.

            “This week I was feeling so guilty about –”
            “Was it guilt or regret? Because guilty is when you have done something wrong”
            “Um…regret? Anyway, this week I was feeling really regretful about whether I should have –”
            “Remember that there are no shoulds, just preferences.”
            “Ok this weekend I was feeling really regretful about whether I would prefer to tell my grandparents no again after they asked–”
            “Why did you have to tell them no again? Why couldn’t you say ‘I think I have already answered that question?'”

            1. Kerr*

              That therapist sounds like a bad fit (and a bad therapist). That stresses me out just reading about it!
              I haven’t formally done CBT exactly, but the therapist I went to who specialized in it definitely let me spew thoughts before even suggesting things. Others got weirdly question-y and almost combative (?!) if I didn’t respond the way they expected.

              1. NeonFireworks*

                I did CBT for OCD and agree that this just sounds exhausting and not much like CBT. This sounds like a bad sitcom parody of a therapist. CBT is about giving you a tool box!

                1. Dr. Anonymous*

                  Seconding that what you describe is kind of cookbook CBT done disrespectfully. I bet acceptance and commitment therapy, or dialectical behavioral therapy, or whistle-a-happy-tune therapy would work a lot better with a therapist who is a little more thoughtful.

                  It ain’t you.

              2. Washi*

                These responses are so reassuring. Feeling like I’m failing at therapy has been…not helpful for my anxiety, to say the least! My husband is helping me find a new therapist now, fingers crossed for a better fit next time!

            2. Jessen*

              Yeah, the big one that set me off – I’d described myself as having no choice but to do something that meant putting up with a bad situation. The therapist stopped me and said, I did have choices – which I said, yes, technically, but pointed out what the other choices were – things like ‘be homeless’. The therapist was smiling and nodding and treating it like this big huge revelation that I really did have a choice and I wasn’t forced into doing anything. The whole thing just felt super dismissive to me, like it was just playing word games to avoid dealing with anything.

              1. Washi*

                One of my friends actually had a similar complaint – she told her therapist about how angry and frustrated she was dealing with blatant sexism at her workplace and the therapist told her she could just choose not to be angry. She did not go back for more counseling.

            3. Kat in VA*

              That sounds less like she’s working with you and more like she’s requiring you relate a situation but only to her exacting standards.


    2. Not So NewReader*

      What is it you are explaining to them? And for how long?
      Not snark, I promise.
      Let’s take a benign example. My friend loooves to talk about football/car engines/building construction. I know nothing about it. I can’t relate at all. So he goes on and on about these things. I am left with “hmm” or “ohhh” to say here and there. It’s not that I don’t care about my friend, it’s that I am a duck out of water on these topics. If all he talked about were these things we really would not have much of a friendship because I can’t add anything of any interest or intelligence to the conversation.
      Life is a mixed bag of a whole bunch of things, it’s nice to have a broad range of things to talk about. Not that we have to be an expert on anything, but it’s nice to have a passing interest in numerous things. With my friend I stand a small chance of understanding car engines and building construction so sometimes I ask questions just to broaden my pool of knowledge. (With football, eh, the cars and buildings keep me busy enough.)

      I also know from my past life that who we confide in is critical. Some folks just are not set-up to follow along very well in dealing with life’s harder problems. This happens for lots of reasons, not just inexperience. Going back to my kind-of-stupid example, no one ever calls me up for car advice. Ever. It’s important to look at the people we are talking with and try to figure out if they have a basis to work off of.

      1. Washi*

        I’m usually trying to answer the “how are you question” and, not very long, usually I get about 3 sentences in and panic and spend the rest of the time inquiring about the other person because I’m too scared to talk about myself and then feel sad and lonely after.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Why not just develop several stock answers?

          “Having a good day today!”
          “Eh, hanging in there.”
          “So-so. How are you doing?”

          I found the question “what’s up?” worse than “how are you?” . I settled on telling the person something I did today or within the last few days that I felt good about. This could be getting the kitchen cleaned up or meeting a deadline at work or anything.
          Focus on superficial things for your answer. Good friends will ask a deeper question and you can answer the specific question. It real easy to read the “how are you” as an actual question, but just saying “okay” is totally acceptable. I noticed this when my husband passed. Some people let it go after “okay” but there were a few really good-hearted folks who asked a second question. I made sure I answered their specific question in order to contain the scope of the conversation.

        2. Jane of All Trades*

          Might be too late on this open thread, but do you actually know whether people perceive you negatively? Or maybe it is one of the things your mind does to play tricks on you? I say this because I think sometimes I am in your same boat, thoughtwise, and think that I don’t have things to offer, and that people don’t appreciate my company. But in fact they do, and I usually underestimate my importance to my friends, and overestimate my being an annoyance or a burden. Maybe can you reframe your expectations for interactions? There is nothing wrong with having to explain the point of your story, or maybe having some interests that overlap, and others that don’t? The people you hang out with clearly enjoy your company and enjoy you for who you are. Hopefully this can take away some of the pressure you are feeling when it comes to interactions. Wishing you well and hope you feel better soon.

    3. gecko*

      Ugh, yes. I go through periods of feeling really isolated like that. I can’t deny that the biggest thing that helps is, feeling less depressed and anxious; it’s a chicken and an egg problem cause feeling less isolated can help with the depression and the anxiety.

      What do you think is your favored outcome to the conversation? Specifically–not just “I feel less isolated”–but is it that your friend does some kind of caretaking toward you, like gives you a hug or takes you out to ice cream? Or is it that they reflect their own experiences and show they understand what you’re going through? Or that they just reassure you that you’re still friends? Or that they keep asking you if you’re ok? I think many of these things are OK to ask for, especially with very close friends. For some of the others, finding a support group or a mental health meetup might help (your therapist might have recommendations).

      But it’s true that asking for these things is going to be really tough if you already feel like you’re stepping on people’s boundaries by just telling them what’s going on with you! I suspect that you’re picking up on something real–it IS awkward to talk about this stuff, you HAVE been holding back so much that it’s coming out as a bit of a flood–and you’re distorting that to be a bigger deal than it is.

      Forgive me if you’re already doing some of this, but I wonder if you’ve been holding off–holding off–holding off–and then BOOM it’s time to talk. If so, maybe practice saying small things, but don’t leave it there (like I’d be tempted to) but escalate up to the larger conversation.

      “How are you?” “Having a rough time unfortunately. You?” If they ask about it, try and talk about what’s going on, and see if you can ask for what you want: “It’s been depression–feeling really low for a long time now. It feels weird to talk about, but I’d love to tell you what’s been going on and get a hug.”

      If you find you can’t talk about it, or if you think your friend is steering you away from the conversation, that’s ok. You can directly say, “I don’t think I can talk about it right now, but I’d really appreciate being asked how I am later on,” or “It’s really nice to hang out with you and be a bit distracted! Excited for the movie?”

      I wouldn’t recommend this pushing except I suspect you are calibrated way too much toward not talking about yourself, and I think you won’t have many problems with crossing people’s boundaries since being hyperaware of it is your current state. I hope some of this rings true for you, and good luck!

      1. Washi*

        This rings SO true, thank you for the very, very thoughtful response. And I think you’re right that identifying what I’m looking for out of the conversation would be really helpful – sometimes I DO want a hug or want the friend to tell me they love me or whatever and I think just asking for that specific thing (with my very close friends who I know really want to support me) will help me not feel like I did it wrong or feel worse after it’s over. And yeah, I’m trying not to let things build up so much anyway; it’s definitely a lot easier to share when I’m not suddenly deciding it’s time to be honest and trying to share months of suffering that I’ve kept hidden away.

        I’ve often been the kind of mom friend who takes care of others and pretends to be fine, and just answering honestly (again with close friends) has by itself been a really huge step in letting go of that, but I still get pretty panicky sometimes since it’s such a different way of interacting. I’ve never let myself admit I needed others or express those needs, so it’s surprisingly scary.

  23. Just me*

    Every apartment I’ve found has been through driving through the neighborhood I want to live in. If there was a building that caught my eye, I called the number (I don’t rely on company websites, some aren’t great at keeping it updated).

  24. KR*

    I’m so frustrated. My five year old heeler sheppard mix is having so many accidents upstairs on the carpet. She doesn’t have them downstairs on the linoleum… Nope upstairs on the landing. The whole upstairs smells and the cleaner I use to get the pee smell out bleached a huge spot in the carpet. I went upstairs to bed around 11 last night, they had a walk and got let out multiple times before that, and I got up twice between then and now (6am) to let them out because my older boy kept barking (got to work on reminding him that we get up when Mom gets up and not just because you want breakfast early) and I discovered another spot!! And of course husband is away at school for work and I can’t haul the rug doctor upstairs by myself (nor am I interested in shoving it in my car). I am resorting to crating her but if anyone has any ideas I’d welcome it. When I let her out in the yard half the time she just sits there and looks at me through the slider and doesn’t actually go even though the older boy is. She’s mostly supposed to be my husbands dog and I’m frustrated as always that I have to be the one to deal with this. I feel like even when he’s here I’m always the one noticing she had an accident and the one to treat the carpet and clean it up. And now I’m the one googling remedies to get her to remember her potty training and I bet he’s sleeping peacefully. -_-

    1. Red Reader*

      Is this a new development, like she was fine for a couple years and just lost it recently? If so, I’d take her to a vet to make sure there’s no health issues.

      1. KR*

        We just got her this summer from a rehoming situation. Apparently she never had accidents before this. I’ll have to see about getting her in for a check up, maybe once husband is home.

        1. Natalie*

          It’s not that unusual for dogs to have housetraining issues when there’s been a change. Frankly, they also may not have been telling the truth (deliberately or not). A vet check wouldn’t be a bad idea though.

          If you haven’t used an enzymatic cleaner (Nature’s Miracle or similar) make sure you get one of those. A black light can help you find any spots you missed. And then I’d approach it as though she isn’t fully housetrained yet – crate her when you’re not around, redirect if she starts going inside, praise and reward her for going outside, etc.

          1. KR*

            Thank you both of you! We’re buying a crate this weekend and I’ll start praising her when she goes outside. I’ve been trying to catch her going inside but she’s sneaky. First we thought it was because the litterbox was up here but I’m also wondering if the carpet is tripping her up. It’s not common for houses here to have tile or linoleum through the entire house and she might not have a lot of experience with carpet.

            1. Red Reader*

              In the meantime, can you use baby gates or some such to keep her in the linoleum part of the house? Maybe it really is the carpet that’s throwing her off – “hey, this is like indoor grass!”

              1. KR*

                That’s what we’re thinking. She can’t get upstairs when I’m not home due to a baby gate, but it looks like she might have to sleep downstairs or in the upstairs bathroom if she keeps doing this. Thank you for your support. I apologized to her for scolding her and I think she’s sorry too.

            2. Natalie*

              You have two dogs, right? I wonder if there’s some kind of weird territoriality thing happening as well. Even though he is completely housetrained, my dog will try and pee anywhere that it seems like another dog might have marked no matter how long ago that was. (As in, in a cabin where any other dog would have visited weeks and weeks prior.)

              It absolutely could be the carpet as well – dogs make inferences that make sense to them, not necessarily the inference a human would make. We were at a (different) cabin once where we were hanging primarily in one room because of the heat. One day we were playing chase with the dog so we opened up all the rooms. He apparently decided that since the other bedroom was freezing cold it must also be outside, so he defecated. Literally the only time he’s ever done that inside.

              1. KR*

                That’s hilarious! I could see her doing that. She’s kind of silly sometimes as she’s the youngest one in the house.

        2. Turtlewings*

          If you’ve had her since the summer and it’s just starting now, I’d bet every dollar in my wallet she’s got a UTI. My own dog struggles with getting those CONSTANTLY and boy howdy do I sympathize with your frustration — I’ve had to just accept that my bedroom always smells like dog pee — but when they’re sick like that they physically can’t help it. Best of luck with her!

          1. Rainy*

            Yeah, this was my first thought when I heard it just started–UTI or some other health problem. The first step is definitely to get her to the vet.

          2. nonegiven*

            Cats pee on carpet and other soft surfaces when they have a UTI. It’s like they’re hoping it won’t hurt as much.

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      Rehoming a dog is stressful for everyone, especially the dog. Please don’t blame her for her accidents; try to reframe it as miscommunication between canine and human. Also, remember that dogs live in the moment. If she seemed “sorry” when you scolded her, it was because she sensed you were displeased and that made her anxious.

      Please take her to the vet to rule out a UTI or bladder infection. If the vet says there’s no medical reason, then go back to housetraining 101, like you would with a puppy. Get a crate, and put her in the crate when you can’t watch her. Free roaming of the house is earned, not a right. Have a strict schedule so you are routinely taking her out, especially after naps and feedings. Make sure she’s getting plenty of outdoor exercise, which will encourage her to eliminate outside.

      When you take her out- go with her. Do not simply put her outside and stay inside yourself. (That’s what I think is happening based on your description of seeing her through the slider.) When she potties, immediately praise her A LOT and give her tasty treats.
      If she has an accident inside, clean it up with an enzyme killer like Nature’s Miracle. Again, don’t scold the dog- figure out what the humans can do to keep this from happening.
      Housetraining a dog of any age takes time and patience, so talking with your husband about his role and responsibility in this is essential. If everyone thinks someone else is taking care of the dog, no one is.

      Thank you for taking in an older dog. All the time and energy you invest up front will pay off!

      PS searching in google for “rescue dog” will provide relevant resources.

      1. Red Reader*

        On treating her like a puppy — yes! I adopted my younger dog at 8 weeks old, and she stayed leash bound to a human for the next couple months even indoors so we always knew where she was, what she was getting into, and that she needed to go outside once an hour or so. (If I had to run errands, I specifically requested that my fiancé or housemate take puppy-sitting duty while I was gone.) As she got older she gradually got a little more space — first she was gated into whatever room I was in, then she got whichever half of the downstairs I was in but not the other half, then all the downstairs. We moved when she was about 1 into a house that wasn’t as divide-able, other than downstairs-from-upstairs, but by then she was reliably housetrained. Keep her close to a human while the retraining is going on, and if nobody’s available to watch her, then yes, crate or gate her into somewhere that’s easy to clean up.

      2. KR*

        On “blaming her” I should clarify that about as much as I have to do is stand near the scene of the crime and ask, “What’s this?” and she starts acting very upset and sad, so I’d argue she’s scolding herself lol. All good points, thank you. Husband has taken charge of getting professional carpet cleaning and picking out a crate for her. We’ve already discussed roles and responsibilities when it comes down to caring for her.

    3. ronda*

      i stopped feeding my dog in the morning because she decided it was a good idea to wake me up way early.

      It worked for me.

      1. Mom3*

        Hey, feel your pain! I have a dog who will go in an upstairs bedroom. Seems like it’s the farthest place from her bed. I’ve got a gate across the kitchen since it happens when I’m gone. Also she doesn’t like to go out when it’s raining, although we live in the one& you’d think she was used to it – so I walk her out first thing & make her get off the deck on to the grass with a tiny piece of treat. Same thing right before bed & seems to have controlled the problem. I really like the woolite oxy cleaner. I’ve never had a pet carpet cleaner solution bleach a carpet.

      2. KR*

        My cat might kill me if I started doing that but I’m so glad it worked for you!! It’s the kind of house where if one of them is eating or getting a treat everyone gets one lol.

    4. Doctor is In*

      One of our dogs is banned from our bedroom because she has peed on it when we are not looking. It’s territory marking I think!

      1. KR*

        Oh my goodness!! She hasn’t peed in the bedroom yet thankfully. I’m thinking worst case scenario we have a bathroom that opens up into our bedroom and we could keep her in there overnight with the gate up so she can still see in the bedroom but can’t access carpet.

    5. The Expendable Redshirt*

      As others have mentioned, check with the vet to see if a UTI isn’t the root cause.
      Other than that, you can try spreading some kind of pad on the area that she’s having accidents. Enzyme cleaners are quite excellent, and an absorbent pad may catch any further urine. It takes time for animals to learn new habits after all!
      A black light flashlight is essential! You’ll be able to spot accident sites and clean it up.

      1. KR*

        We are thinking of buying a large cheap throw rug for the landing where all of her accidents happen after the carpet is cleaned. Good idea about the puppy pads though!! We use them when we’ll be away for a while and think there’s a chance they might not be able to hold it, maybe I’ll start keeping one over where she has most of her accidents..

  25. PlatypusOo*

    That is a wonderful picture of your kitty! What a regal posture and handsome face…so sad when it’s time to say goodbye.

  26. Cats Behaving Strangely*

    Cat people: suggestions on my cat’s odd behaviour? She’s suddenly started doing something odd where she’ll poop while running around the house at top speed, leaving 5-8 stools scattered around the house. She’s done it a couple of times now in the past week or two. We’ve been confining her to her room, where she uses the box perfectly every time (has always used it for pee with no issues), and she went to the vet Thursday where they said she was in perfect health but sent us home with five days’ worth of medication to soothe her digestive tract. Well, last night: poop in flight again.

    She’s an only cat, five years old, spayed, very sweet and affectionate and acting completely normally other than this. Eating, sleeping, drinking water, using the box for pee (and sometimes for poo), playing, affectionate, etc. She has another vet visit in a couple of weeks but I’m concerned that my vet did not even pay any attention to her very weird running-while-pooping behaviour and glossed right over it. I live in a rural area so I don’t have a ton of options for vets, and she currently goes to the place with the best reviews, so I’m at a loss. Currently she’s in Cat Jail of her room with Feliway, which will hopefully chill her out a bit, and we’re going to do a food trial to see if it’s her wet or dry food that’s upsetting her stomach. Thoughts?

    1. Slartibartfast*

      Normal stool? Diarrhea? Hard and dry? Is she over-grooming and licking her belly bald? It is difficult to get into the mind of a cat. It could be pain or fear, not just a digestive issue (although that’s certainly possible too). Vets who are good cat whisperers are hard to find.
      In the meantime, I would journal this. When does it happen, what time of day, where was she and what was she doing just prior. If it happens when you aren’t home, set up a camera. Sudden noises are quite scary to a cat, is the washing machine near her room or litter box? Does the furnace thump when it turns on? Any environmental changes, redecorating, construction inside or outside? Is there another animal hanging around outside the house? Look for patterns. Cats get freaked out about weird things that humans wouldn’t think twice about.

      1. Cats Behaving Strangely*

        It’s mostly normal stool, but a few of them have been soft. It seems to usually take place about an hour after her evening meal, but we’ve switched up the food we give her at that time and that seems not to affect it. Her litter box is in a quiet room by itself and there’s no big changes inside or outside the house other than the change of seasons coming into winter. She has been losing some of the fur on the back of her legs, which the vet also didn’t seem concerned about, but I’m hoping the Feliway will help with that.

        1. Kuododi*

          One of the kitties who owned me back before a change in my allergies made serving the feline overlords no longer possible would get into the running poops when the litter pan wasn’t absolutely “spotless”. (Emphasis on spotless.). Very emotionally overwrought that girl was…. She additionally had horrible trichotillomania and would pull out all of her fur to the point she had sores. (Had to give the poor girl medicated baths to keep her from getting infected.). Long story short, the entire problem…both running poops and hair pulling resolved themselves when we brought home a Siamese kitty to be her new pal. Took about five minutes of sniffing and then they were the best of friends. Good luck…

          1. Cats Behaving Strangely*

            We have been debating another cat for a while! We originally had two–my kitty and her sister–and her sister passed away a couple of years ago. She seems to have been much, much more chilled out ever we lost her sister, but it could be that they were littermates who didn’t really get along, and even both vets we’ve had advised that she might get along better with a different cat. It’s definitely something that’s on our radar but I’m just not sure yet.

    2. Crystal Smith*

      My cat sometimes did something sort of like this – she’d start in the box and then start sprinting around mid-event, so to speak. It was always because she was either constipated and got uncomfortable, or once in a while she’d have eaten a long person hair and it would be sort of…sticking all the pieces together so she couldn’t pass them comfortably. Maybe not exactly what’s going on with your kitty, but for mine it helped to mix a little pureed pumpkin into her food and put her box in a really quiet spot.

      1. Cats Behaving Strangely*

        We did have an issue where she had one long hair in her stool, which was uncomfortable, but it’s been going on ever since then and that was a couple of weeks ago now. We tried the pumpkin in her food, which didn’t do much for her, and her box is super clean and already in a quiet room off by itself with no other distractions.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      As someone who has had cats all my life, this baffles me; I haven’t seen this before. I agree that it could be something scaring her suddenly. Another possibility is that one of her paws is hurt and the litter is bothering it. Although if that were the issue I would think that she would also pee outside the box. I’d definitely journal it and check around and in the box to see if there’s something that’s bothering/scaring her. Also, if she’s having hard stools, it could be that she’s trying to get it all out and can’t, so she flees the box. It’s good that all else is normal, so it’s probably nothing serious.

      I have a cat that will race around at top speed AFTER pooping. It’s as if she feels light as a feather and is full of energy.

      1. Cats Behaving Strangely*

        I did wonder that, but we figured the same as you, if her paw was injured she wouldn’t be using the box at all for anything. I just can’t figure it out because when she’s in her room she’ll use her box just fine with no issues, but when she has the run of the house…poop storm.

      2. cat socks*

        I agree that if it’s hard stool, she may be leaving the litter box if she can’t eliminate it completely. Miralax can be used for cats. 1/8 teaspoon mixed in with water.

        Recently my cat with kidney disease had a serious bout of constipation. She’s on Miralax twice a day and another medication called Cisapride. That is a motility drug that helps the stool move through her system. The combination of both have been helping her.

        Good luck! Hopefully journaling it will help you notice a pattern.

        1. Old Biddy*

          My old cat was prone to constipation and wouldn’t eat any food with pumpkin in it. the vet suggested Miralax in her wet food – mix in a little water or low sodium broth to make it soupier.
          FYI – my current cats love getting some broth mixed in with their wet food.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      While you are trying to figure this out, I think I would try setting up a second litter box.

      If you have an open box perhaps try a closed one, or visa versa.

      You mention the litter box being off to the side, so I think I would put the second one in a well traveled area.

      I had two cats. One of them was peeing in the front hall. I was not able to tell which one. I put a second litter box there and that was the end of that problem. Perhaps your cat wants to be closer to the area you are using frequently while using the litter box? Very strange, but that could be the problem.

      1. Cats Behaving Strangely*

        She does have a second box on a different floor in a different area, and that one is open rather than closed. She doesn’t use it, ever, but we’ve moved it around a bit to see if she would try.

    5. Dance-y Reagan*

      Is she your only pet? Based on my experience, this sounds like another animal tormenting her when she tries to use the box.

    6. Nita*

      Has she been checked for worms or other parasites, or some kind of inflammation? If she’s losing hair on the back of her legs, she might be licking or rubbing that area. I’ve only had a dog, but he would scoot when his back end was bothering him. I wonder if the running accomplishes the same thing, less feeling of discomfort.

      You also mention a recent hair incident. I’ve read somewhere recently that some cats, if they’ve been spooked by something, will keep reacting to that thing long after it’s happened.

      1. Cats Behaving Strangely*

        Our vet did a fecal exam and didn’t find anything and she’s a strictly indoor cat as well, which makes me think it might not be that. I almost want to get a second opinion on that, though.

        1. Anonyme*

          We have strictly indoor cats and one had worms. You can bring dirt in on your shoes or they eat bugs that are infected.

    7. nonegiven*

      I’m gonna go with stress or anxiety. Maybe she needs kitty Prozac if there is no parasite or infection.

    8. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Ooooh! My cat did this just last night. He had a turd with a large clump of hair in it stuck halfway out of his butt. I know this because he ran across my lap while he was racing around and I smelled/saw it. So I had to run around after him until I caught him and liberated the turd. A few minutes later he calmed down. If he dropped any others around the house, I haven’t found them yet.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        This happens to my cat occasionally. He is old and has trouble with constipation, so sometimes he will go outside the box. Honestly I think at this point it may partially be due to habit rather than actual constipation in his case. He associates this particular spot in the rug with pooping, so he just goes there when he thinks he will have trouble pooping. I wonder if your cat is starting to develop a habit as well.

    9. Amy*

      Can you ask your vet to do a full neuro exam? Unfortunately because you’re in a rural area there’s probably not a veterinary neurology service near you; if there was, I would recommend that if the problem continues. If your vet doesn’t feel he or she has the skill to do a complete neuro exam then you should seek another vet who can. It involves testing reflexes, pain perception, normal movements of limbs, etc.

      From your description it sounds as though your cat isn’t doing this consciously or voluntarily. Fecal incontinence can be due to an issue with the nerves and/or spinal cord. Fortunately, a good neuro exam by a skilled vet can pretty much rule that in or out, and roughly localize the lesion if it exists.

      1. Cats Behaving Strangely*

        We did wonder about that, but the thing stopping me from thinking that’s it is that when she’s confined to her room she uses her box absolutely perfectly for defecation with no problems, which doesn’t seem congruent with fecal incontinence.

  27. CJ*

    I’m sad and sorry for you that Sam passed away, Alison.

    He’s my favorite kind of kitty: a “creamsicle cat” like my Sunny, who died in June after almost ten years with us. Sunny was around ten when we saved him from his last chance at the shelter. We brought him home and got him on insulin and gave him shots every day. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really wasn’t. He seemed so grateful for our care and attention, and when I think of him I feel a lift and simple gladness that we had each other to love.

    Sending you a hug…

  28. Llellayena*

    Travel question: I’m planning a solo trip to New Orleans for February and I’ve been starting to consider hostels as a cost saving option. I’ve never stayed in a hostel before so I’m hoping for some advice on what to look for, general atmosphere and safety issues. I’m also hoping to meet people who might want to see the sights with me for a day or so, a week traveling solo seems a little lonely to me. Thanks!

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Make sure to read all the details about the hostel’s set up. There are a few different ways they can be configured – large bunk room with many people sharing a room, semi-private room for only 2-4 people, rooms separated by gender or not. Figure out what your personal level of comfort is with all these things. Do be sure to check TripAdvisor or other sites to find reviews from people who have stayed there, sometimes you will find out important details that the hostel’s website doesn’t mention.

      Hostels can be great when traveling alone because you can often meet others interested in doing things together, and get some social interaction during your trip that you wouldn’t if staying at a hotel alone. Most hostels have “common rooms” where people can hang out, cook, use the internet, etc.

    2. Lily Evans*

      Every hostel has it’s own personality, much more than hotels do. What I like to look for in a hostel (beyond just good reviews) is a place that doesn’t bill itself as super party oriented, but still has common areas, small (8 people or fewer) female-only dorms, and a good location. Obviously if you’re looking for a party hostel go for that, but many hostels offer a more low-key vibe, just look for places advertising a homier aesthetic with reviews mentioning how quiet it is. Common areas are important because they’re the best spots to meet people, yet some hostels don’t have them. Look for reviews that mention whether people in the common areas are friendly or if they keep more to themselves. Also a hostel that offers breakfast is great because a lot of people will congregate there in the morning to make plans. A lot of hostels also offer activities and group tours (I don’t think I’ve ever stayed at a hostel that didn’t offer a free, or very cheap, walking tour), and that’s a good sign that you’ll be able to meet people there. And location is important because I like to check it’s a generally safe area, but also that it’s close to the sights I’d like to see.

      For safety, look for places that have 24-hour reception and large lockers. Pretty much all hostels will have lockers, but some of them are tiny and just fit electronics. Having a locking suitcase is also helpful, and if you’re particularly worries you can buy cords that lock your suitcase to the bed.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I agree about reading up on reviews and the hostel website to get a feel for atmosphere etc.
      I used to stay at hostels quite a bit when I was younger and found that they do vary a lot – some are ‘party central’ which is fine if you enjoy that, or can sleep through anything but if not, look for smaller places or ones which don’t pitch to that market.
      Check what is included- it is quite common not to supply towels, for instance (often you can either bring your own or pay a small supplement on arrival)
      Definitely have a bag/case that locks and check out how big the lockers are and how they work (some places you need to bring or buy a padlock for your locker)
      Most places you can choose how large a dorm room you are in and whether it’s single or mixed gender.
      Enjoy your trip!

  29. Tomato Frog*

    Any bird people? Just moved into a house and I set up a finch feeder. No takers yet, which doesn’t surprise me, but I want to know how long I should give it before I try moving the feeder to a different spot. I can see some places to hang it that will probably be more bird-friendly, but they’re less visible from my window so I want to give this spot a fair shake first. It’s been three days now. How much longer should I give it?

    1. Nicole76*

      It usually took the birds a month if not longer to find my feeders so I’d give it more time. I love finches, and you’ll be so thrilled when they finally show up because they’re so pretty! Just note once they do you’ll be flying through seed and unfortunately thistle is not cheap.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I’d give it longer for sure, a month does not sound unreasonable. As winter wears on they will indeed find it. Once they find it, they will come year round.

    3. Kathenus*

      It’s also late in the fall migration season so the birds that are/aren’t around might still be changing. I echo the other commenters that weeks to months is the timetable I’d be looking at to have them find it and make it part of their foraging pattern.

    4. Natalie*

      I think it’s probably seasonal as others have said. The goldfinches around us at least seem to be not remotely picky and will eat from any feeder (even when the cat is in the window) but they’re all gone right now because of the weather.

      Depending on where you are, cardinals might be feeding and they are easygoing as well. Check out the Cornell Ornithology folks, they have a lot of migration info on their website.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Incidentally, because you mentioned goldfinches, they go NUTS over our purple coneflower when it turns to seed, and it’s right outside our window, which drives our cats nuts of course! I have no idea what else they eat, just that they are always around during that one time of year.

    5. Tomato Frog*

      Thanks all! That’s actually encouraging because I really didn’t want to move the feeder.

    6. Rainy*

      It takes weeks for birds to find a new feeder and then tell their friends. I’d leave it up for a month and a half before you move it.

  30. Perpetually Single*

    I had a crush on a guy and I (stupidly) thought that it meant something or that it would go somewhere. Those around me made fun of us and it seemed like there was some kind of interest, but there is a new girl that is around now and apparently he is very interested in her.

    I feel stupid, ugly, and regret liking him. This new girl is very young, pretty, and smart so I get it. The guy acted interested in me, but apparently that was short lived. I know deep down that he wasn’t the right guy for me, but it just hurts so much. It’s stupid because we rarely talked to one another and I am extremely shy, but I just wanted to believe for once that a guy like him could be interested in a girl like me.

    When people around us noticed something and another acquaintance noticed him looking at me and was like, “Her?” But what does that mean? Am I some hideous monster that no one would like? I’m not gorgeous, but I’m not ugly. I’ve had friends tell me that I’m pretty, funny, and smart; I’ve gone out with guys who said I was cute.
    It just hurts very badly and I don’t know why. Maybe I thought something would develop? Maybe I just liked the attention?

    Has anyone been through this? Can you offer any advice or stories of your own?

    1. thankful for AAM*

      I’m sorry that happened to you! My adult son recently had his first date ever and he really thought it was serious but she did not. He was really hurt. You are not alone.

      I feel like AAM’s advice about work and job hunting is helpful here but I am struggling to write it in a way that is clear. It’s like you went on an interview and they did value and like you (but clearly one of the staff did not) but another person seems like she might be a better fit. You are awesome, just not for every guy even if he seems perfect for you (dont we see ppl say that about a job they want badly?).

      I am also wondering if, like ppl on job interviews, you read too much into the interactions you had. It is not clear from your post if these were brief work interactions or actual dating situations and I may be making assumptions. But I wonder if they felt like more to you than he intended?

      Are there ways you can meet people outside of work (it sounded to me like this was at work?)? And find things to do that you enjoy and take the focus off of romantic relationships, enjoy yourself. That is an attraction right there!

      It is so hard to put yourself out there, I see it with my son. I wish you the best and I’m sorry I cannot be more helpful.

    2. fposte*

      Sorry, that’s always really disheartening. But I really like thankful’s point–you got to the interview stage here. But it hurts because you wanted the job–you liked the guy a lot, and you wanted to be his best thing.

      It also sounds like there’s a lot of other stuff going on here about self-worth, and you not being the kind of person that you feel is worthy, or recognized as worthy. You’re at the same time thinking his friends were seeing you as lesser and being offended (rightly, if your assessment is correct) at that, but also assessing yourself as lesser (that he couldn’t be interested in a girl like you), which makes me think there’s a possibility you could be projecting your own anxieties on his friends. Counseling might be worth considering on that front, if you’re not already going, to sort out the difference between individual value and the common disappointment of unrequited crushing.

      1. HannahS*

        I completely agree. There’s no “guy like him” and “girl like you.” Those ideas are so loaded! There’s just him, a human, and you, another human. It hurts when crushes aren’t reciprocated, but when someone does or doesn’t have a crush on you, it’s not a referendum on your essential worth. When you don’t have a crush on a guy you know, it doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy or don’t have good qualities, right?

        I think fposte is really on the nose with the suggestion of counseling. I once missed out on a great guy because he was interested in me but I was too shy to really speak to him much. He’s not The One That Got Away, because there are plenty of fish, etc., but it was a good lesson for me. The type of guy I like isn’t one to pursue someone who isn’t giving strong signs of being interested. And Perpetually Single, if you were too shy to have conversations with this guy, he didn’t really even get a chance to know you. If I can stretch out on a limb, it sounds like maybe this guy represented a fantasy about whatever life you think “guy like him” has, and who you’d be and what life you’d have if you were the girlfriend of a “guy like him.” And so the rejection feels like you’re being rejected from a much larger dream than just going on a date with this guy.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe he’s a fly-by-night, flash-in-the-pan sort of guy and you are a sincere person who values people and values relationships.
      This would explain people making fun, it would explain his fleeting interest in you, and it would explain the “her?” remark.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Oh gosh, I’ve been there SO many times. I’m so sorry! It sucks!

      It’s really been important for me to break down the “guy like him” “girl like me” BS, and it IS BS. It puts guys I like on a pedestal to be worshiped, rather than right on level ground next to me to get to know. I need to discover if he’s right for me, not just if I can attain to his level of amazingness. That’s garbage. You and I and he are valuable and important intrinsically. He’s not a different category of person than you that you have to do or become something different in order to “deserve.” There’s no such thing as “the right guy” for anyone, IMO, either. There are lots of “right people” and lots of “wrong people” and most of us date a mixture of both that work or don’t work for lots of complicated reasons.

      I think it hurts because stuff like this always hurts — you liked him, you thought he was interested (and maybe he was), but then he found someone he felt was more compatible, and that’s not what you were hoping for. Dashed hopes are always painful. And that’s ok. It’s normal to feel bruised about it. You can lean into it, really feel it, and then have confidence that, in reality, he’s just a normal dude like every other dude, with quirks and flaws, and that there are any number of other guys out there you can get to know and enjoy being with, whether for a short time or a lifetime.

      Again, seriously, I’m sorry. It really is awful, and really does throw you for a loop. Wishing you the best as you move forward!

    5. Cait*

      The acquaintance saying “Her?” says infinitely more about them as a person than it does about you! It shows they are unkind and it says absolutely nothing about who YOU are – don’t take it to heart and don’t let their negativity bring you down. Even the people who you might think are the prettiest, smartest, funniest, whatever-est, still have their naysayers and have people who aren’t interested in them. You can’t help how others feel, so be kind to yourself! I think your gut feeling of “he’s not the right one” is the thing to keep focused on. He’s not right for you, and that’s okay. It would be nice to be appreciated, but if he doesn’t see it, someone else will. Maybe take some time to write down or just think about what you like about yourself, and remember that you deserve something that feels right!

    6. Lily Evans*

      The whole situation feels bizarrely middle-school. With people teasing you, and avoiding talking to the person you like, and the “guy like him vs. girl like me,” and the “her?”. If he acted interested in you, but you rarely talked to him, how was that going to ever go anywhere? It seems like you read a lot into a situation that wasn’t all that deep. You both kinda maybe liked each other, neither of you made an actual move, he moved on first. It’s not worth being so cruel to yourself over.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I don’t have much concrete to point out except that you don’t have much context in which to evaluate the comment. This may not be about you at all, but about the guy.
      You’re already speculating, so I’ll give you some more positive possibilities that also fit the minimal info you gave us. Maybe Friend knows that Guy has always dated dark haired women and you’re blonde. Or Guy has just gotten out of a relationship with someone who looks a lot like you. Or Guy steers away from strong-minded intelligent professionally dressing women in favor of giggling barflies.
      It may be tough but I’d suggest continuing to talk with Guy the same way–maybe even more. You might learn context, or one of you might change their mind.
      Good luck!

  31. Be the Change*

    Love of the week?

    Mine is Facetime, Messenger, Zoom, what have you, that allows you to call people and talk f2f.

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      My love of the week is Rap Snacks. I especially like the New York Deli Cheddar and the Honey Jalapeño. Gotta keep them to the occasional treat.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      This–it never really stops but it can change over time.

      I was mowing with the rotary mower last week, since I can’t afford to pay my yard guy right now, and I was over near the shed where Pig is buried. I looked down and there was her favorite ball, which had been lost long ago, lying right next to the wall of the shed. I swear it was not there before; I’ve been over there six million times and never saw it.

      If I’d found that shortly after she died, I would have bawled my face off. Instead, I took it inside and washed it (boy, was it dirty, haha). The rest of her toys are buried with her, but I’m glad she let me have this one back because I was regretting not keeping at least one of them. Maybe it went under the shed and the groundhog I saw recently kicked it out, or maybe she was paying me a visit. :)

      Here’s a video of her playing with it in 2012. Silly kitty. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwHrUSvRxWs

  32. Dainty Lady*

    This is completely boring: opinions on fixed index annuities as an investment? I kind of feel a market crash coming and I’d like not to lose my entire retirement savings.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think unless you’re planning on retiring in 1-3 years you should stick with your current asset allocation (AA). Or, if you really feel you’re too aggressive, then make a permanent adjustment to your AA, but make sure you’re doing it at least as much because it’s time to do so as because you’re concerned about a downturn. Changing your strategy to try to compensate for a downturn is basically trying to time the market, and if you could do that you’d be one of the top investment advisors in the world. It’s pretty much impossible to know when a dip or correction will turn into a recession or depression, or when a recession/depression has hit bottom, and if you miss those you are courting disaster by getting in or out too early or too late.

      I have started rebalancing a lot more often, since to me that’s part of the point of an asset allocation; so if my target is 75/25 (stocks/bonds) and I’m at 75.5/24.5 after an up day and I rebalance, I might miss out on further profits if the market continues to go up, but I’m also taking my profits, even if it’s a bit early. It’s basically a guaranteed way to buy low and sell high, but you’re limiting your missed profits by sticking to a strategy.

    2. Book Lover*

      Yes, this depends massively on when you plan to retire.

      At 40 I am just investing monthly and ignoring the market. If it drops and never rises in the next 20 years presumably there will be bigger things to worry about than money. On the other hand, I would be extremely careful if retiring in the next 5 years.

    3. fposte*

      Strong no. They’re a new way for insurance companies to get money from you, and they’re hugely costly to get out of if you change your mind.

      If you’d like to make your portfolio less aggressive, you can, as Cosmic Avenger says, change your asset allocation to have a greater percentage allotted to bonds or, if you’re uncomfortable with bonds, you could look at stable value funds, CDs, I-Bonds, TIPS, etc. But fixed index annuities are profitable insurance policies with an investing name.

      1. Dainty Lady*

        fposte, can you say a little more? “Profitable insurance policies with an investing name”?

        Btw this is mostly bc my husband will be retiring in about 2 years. I have 7-8 more to go, and then will only be retiring from the place I get a pension; I’ll then get another job.

        1. fposte*

          “Annuities” is a term that covers a huge and hugely different number of things. They’re the most useful when they’re inexpensive and uncomplicated. The ones insurance companies sell tend not to be inexpensive and uncomplicated.

          Here are two good looks at annuities:

          Discussion thread on Bogleheads, which is a forum I highly recommend for use in planning your retirement:

          Wiki link about index-inked annuities:

        2. Natalie*

          How much of your retirement is invested in the stock market at this point? Since you are closeish to retirement you may want to start drawing down that percentage – not because of the current roiling, but because you want to be shifting to more stable investment as you get closer to cashing it out. Day traders aside, stocks are something you want to hold for years.

    4. Mazzy*

      I invest and honestly still don’t know what an annuity is. Maybe they just aren’t offered by Ameritrade.

      I shifted some money to fixed income, i.e. corporate bonds. Verizon had one at 4.5% per year, GM has one at 4%, for example. I also found a 3% CD. The only problem with these is that the value of bonds have also gone down if you plan to sell them before maturity.

      As per stocks, there are many stocks with dividends greater than 4% at this point, if you want to take a little risk and just earn the income. For example, most telecoms besides Verizon are undervalued right now because the same negative news keeps getting re-baked into the price, so you can get a 6%+ dividend. Consumer product stocks also haven’t been doing well even though the companies are. And utilities tend to pay 5% dividends. So if you want income, I’d put money in those certain type of stocks.

      I have one account that is 100% bonds that was worth $37,200 at the beginning of last week, and it was $36,000 this morning, so bonds aren’t safe either.

      1. fposte*

        Dividends aren’t inherently a great thing, though. They were more significant in the early 20th century, when selling shares was a complicated postal-based transaction that would cost you in commissions, so it was an easy way to get money out of your shares without selling.

        But it’s also important to understand that dividends don’t give you more money overall; they’re very different than interest, despite getting grouped in with interest from a tax standpoint. As the common explanation goes, a dividend is as if you had ten singles in your right pocket and moved one to your left. You don’t have more money; it’s just in different pockets. That’s why the value of a fund or stock drops precipitously the day it throws off a dividend (see any financial forum for the panicked “Why did my stock just drop in value?” posts on dividend days)–for the total value to remain constant, the value of the remaining stock has to drop (turns into $9) to account for the dividend (the single you moved to the other pocket). That’s why stocks and funds focused on high dividend production tend to have less growth. (You can always have the dividends reinvested, of course, but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to choose an asset for high dividend production and then set the dividends to be reinvested.) Berkshire Hathaway, for instance, famously doesn’t even do dividends, because Buffett believes that’s not what a stock’s money is for.)

        And now if you want to sell shares to get some money out, it’s the click of a button and free or low-cost, depending on where you’re keeping your funds, and capital gains are taxed at equal or superior rates (depending on whether dividends are qualified or ordinary). So I think dividends sound a lot nicer than they are when you really look at the figures.

        1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

          Hey, that’s extremely useful information! I’ve never seen an explanation that clear and concise about what stock dividends *are* before. Thanks fposte!

  33. very anon for this one*

    So…..awkward topic time!

    I’m 32. I’ve been on my current birth control for about eight years straight, and have been on and off other birth controls for years before that. I don’t have a placebo week where I get periods because my endometriosis is so severe that it would leave me unable to leave the house for a good week and a half each month. So the fix was taking a pill which would prevent all those symptoms as well as my period.

    Now, my sex drive is almost non-existent. Occasionally I’ll get turned on but it’s only when I’m reading porn specifically, and it’s only about half the time. I know the pill makes me as dry as the desert so lube is a necessity when I do anything.

    I haven’t dated in the past ten years years for various reasons. I’m at the point of wondering if this is actually my normal sex drive or if birth control has killed it entirely. I’m trying to start dating again and I really want that to include sex, but I really, really can’t imagine going off the pill because I shudder to have my endo come back in full force each month. I also don’t know if my general indifference to life and doing things and leaving my apartment is part of my personality or a change in mood because of the pill.

    I’m feeling kind of embarrassed that I’m 32 with no sex drive (when I want one) and not much history of dating and sex, and I don’t know whether my current mood and emotional state is due to birth control or if it’s actually me. I can’t remember how I was the last time I was off the pill for a significant amount of time.

    TL;DR: birth control is great, but I wish there was more research and education about it’s side effects because I can’t figure out where I begin and where the hormones from the pill end.

    1. WellRed*

      I can’t speak to hormone side effects, but from personal ecperience, I went through a long phase of no desire early 30s. It came back real quick in my late 3Os when I started meeting men, and decent ones at that! Also, is the pill your only option for BC and endometriosis? (Honest question, I have no idea).

      1. very anon for this one*

        I can’t have an IUD for various reasons, and I’m allergic to something in the NuvaRing and some other birth controls (they give me awful muscle spasms; when I tried it, it hurt to even move). My gyno says the pill is probably the best option for my personal situation.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          Can you try a different pill? I had that with lots of pills except with Yaz. Also weirdly the mini pill (progesterone only) doesn’t interfere with sex drive for me.

          1. EddieSherbert*

            Ohhh, this is interesting. Very anon, I also take dailies and also have basically had it kill my sex drive. My partner an I work around that with “sexy things that are not sex” most of the time.

    2. Not a Mere Device*

      I don’t know about the birth control part of this, but if you need lube, use lube. It took me a while to sort out that “I need lube” means nothing about how turned on I am, or what I do (or don’t) want to do sexually; it’s just the way my body is.

      1. very anon for this one*

        True! To be honest, it took me years to even feel comfortable buying lube for this reason because I had some internalized shame about my body not working right. Which I realize is ridiculous.

      2. Parenthetically*

        YES! There’s even a term for it which I learned once reading Come As You Are — it’s totally normal for our physical responses to be incongruous with our desires and preferences.

      3. Anonymous Lady Story*

        I had a problem with my birth control where I was “dry” all the time. It turned out I had a permanent, low grade yeast infection. No discharge so the doctor wouldn’t believe me that I had one (I got yelled at for “not understanding how my body works”), but when they ran a lab test for it, it would always come back positive.

        Finally I got someone to prescribe probiotic yogurt, applied vaginally, to rebalance things and eliminate the infection.

    3. Greymalk*

      You might want to set up an appointment with your gyno to talk about some testosterone supplementation, or other hormone rebalancing? I’ve had low estrogen my whole life, and was taking bcp continuously to help with that, but found the progesterone in the pills was throwing hormone balances off and had to get all hormones checked so we could adjust things. Adding a testosterone cream helped me; it may be something like that or another adjustment could help with libido…

      1. very anon for this one*

        I have talked about that. There was a period in my early to mid 20s where we struggled to find the right fit with hormones. I now I had some issues with the progesterone, and some imbalances turned me into a monster (and I mean, I’m horrified by how out of whack it made my emotions – I was literally angry at everything). It was a big struggle to find a pill that worked with my endo symptoms and the one I’ve been on was the one that ended up working the best.

        But, I think you may be right about setting up another appointment. I tend to avoid the gyno when I don’t have paps (because they hurt so much when I get them. So much blood and I always faint afterwards from the pain), and I think my bad experiences with paps make me wary to even go to the gyno normally.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, I won’t go on my “SO MANY GYNS ARE MISOGYNISTS IN DISGUISE” rant, but suffice it to say, having a nonexistent sex drive when you used to have one is an… inconvenient side effect to say the least, and one your doc should take seriously and not just brush off as “well, it’s the best we can do, sorry you have to live with this sucky symptom because I won’t bother spending more time talking with you.”

          1. very anon for this one*

            I not really surprised about the brush off considering it took ten years to find a gyno who believed my endo symptoms and didn’t just tell me I was exaggerating or it was all in my mind. I almost cried in the doctor’s office the first time I had a gyno tell me that my period symptoms were because of endo and that she believed me.

            1. Observer*

              How did your Gyno diagnose Endo? Because there are a number of possible causes for serious period pain, so you also want to find the real cause.

        2. Jaid_Diah*

          …Why the hell are you bleeding from a pap smear? That just sounds very, very wrong.

          As for the pain, can you load up on Aleeve or something before you go in for the procedure?

          You have all my feels, hugs and anything else you need.

          1. Nita*

            Yes. Pretty sure they’re not supposed to bleed. Has your doctor ever given you an explanation, or even bothered to notice?

            1. Vic tower*

              Obgyn here. It’s pretty common to bleed from a pap smear. And some women always find them painful, unfortunately. I think the key thing here is how the gynaecologist is with this – do they reassure and explain? Do they let you say stop when you need them to stop? Do you trust them? Not all doctors suit all patients but it’s worth finding one you feel comfortable with. And return to them if what they suggested didn’t work. The majority of gynaecologists (and doctors) really did choose this career because we want to help.

              1. Vic tower*

                Also, your loss of libido could well be due to the COCP and discussion with your gynae is a good idea. However, female libido in particular is very complex, your social and psychological status may also play a big role and as in WellRed’s experience you may find the desire us there when you start dating.

              2. TL -*

                Yeah, pap smears always hurt for me (though no bleeding) – the actual insertion of my IUD hurt a lot less than getting the speculum or whatever in there and opening things up.

                My fav ob-gyn is fast, sympathetic and talks to me to distract me. My least favorite told me “it shouldn’t hurt that bad” and then got annoyed when my response was, “Well, it does.”

              3. very anon for this one*

                My OBGYN is at a hospital where the doctor’s rotate after a few years, so it’s been hit or miss. The worst assume I’m lying and get annoyed when I’m in pain, but the best reassure me and let me take a break when I need them to stop, and actually believe me when I tell them before the exam that I find it unbearably painful. The nurses are always wonderful though and willing to give me a hand to hold when I need it, and I’ll always be forever grateful to them.

          2. very anon for this one*

            This has always happened no matter the gyno I’ve visited over the years, and I’ve been told it’s not abnormal for some women to bleed from a pap or for them to be painful. Just because it doesn’t happen to some women, doesn’t mean it’s wrong because it happens to others.