weekend free-for-all – November 10-11, 2018

Sophie and her kitten, Wallace

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: The Idiot, by Elif Batuman. I don’t know exactly how to describe this book. It’s about early adulthood, but it’s also about language and friendship and love and Russian and trying to find your place in the world. If you want a lot of plot in your novels, this may not be for you, but I really liked it. It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

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

{ 1,390 comments… read them below }

  1. Inver*

    Anyone else affected by the fires in California? I live up by the Camp Fire, and it’s pretty grim. :( It happened shockingly fast. I don’t need to evacuate (yet), but I’m packed just in case.

    If anyone else is affected by the fires, best of luck to you. Stay strong and stay safe.

    1. Aphrodite*

      I am so sorry, Inver. I hope you stay safe. I am not affected but live in Santa Barbara. I have a sister in TO and she has been evacuated. Another, the brother of my best friend, is also there. He hadn’t been evacuated as of late afternoon but I don’t know about now. Those scenes are scary!

    2. Anon Admin*

      Stay safe!

      I’m only affected by the smoke, but my coworker is pretty sure her father & step-brother have lost their homes. At least they themselves were able to evacuate safely.

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Stay safe. The smoke here is making folks outdoors wear masks, but it’s nothing compared to the trauma you who live closer face….

    4. Not So NewReader*

      As an east coast person, I look at these fires in absolute terror. My thoughts and heart go out to any one impacted by these blazes.

    5. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I’m also in the smoke area – I’m a teacher and yesterday it was such bad air quality that we kept the kids inside for recesses and PE. It’s a really tangible reminder whenever I walk outside that people not so far from me are experiencing such fear and tragedy. Fortunately the children don’t really seem to have put that together – they’re young enough that I don’t want them to have that on their shoulders. We had the same (but even more severe) with the Napa fires last year. I hope so much it gets contained soon.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        I met a friend and his kids for dinner last night. The kids are 10 and their school also kept them inside, and HOO-BOY were they both squirrelly last night. They just got no chances to run around outside and they’re kids, so, you know, they need that. I hope they get to do something active and indoors this weekend.

        Yellow sky, dark too early, smells like smoke, and the wind is from the wrong direction. Please, let’s have rain.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Yeah, it’s awful. It feels like being in some post-apocalyptic film. I’m tempted to check out the indoor playground tomorrow with our toddler but expect it’s going to be a zoo, so I don’t know…

    6. Hellanon*

      Nowhere near me but lots of friends who’ve been evacuated. This one is a beast, as one of the newscasters kept saying yesterday.

    7. Chylleh*

      I’m sorry Inner and hope you stay safe. I’m in the Bay area and the smoke from the Camp Fire is really affecting us here. Several of my coworkers’ families and friends have lost their homes. Hoping the best for everyone up north and down south near LA.

    8. many bells down*

      I’m from Thousand Oaks (NPHS Class of 1991), but I live in Seattle now. It’s so awful watching all my friends and family have to evacuate and not be able to help. TO is between two fires and half the town has been under evacuation orders. The first day, my sister’s roommate had to literally run from her job as flames were bearing down on the building. And then she couldn’t get home to Camarillo because all the roads were closed. So she stayed at her boyfriend’s parents house in Newbury Park … which was evacuated the next morning.

    9. jess r*

      I’m in Sacramento, 100 miles south, and it intermittently smells like fire here and the sky was orange yesterday when I left work. I cannot imagine the stress and fear of those who live closer. My prayers go out to you.

    10. fiverx313*

      just getting loads of smoke down here in alameda, and following the horrifying news. i hear it’s 20% contained now, hopefully they’ll continue to make progress on that. :(

      stay safe!!!

    11. OperaArt*

      Just the smoke here in the Bay Area.
      A friend of a friend has not been able to contact her daughter for two days since the fire went through the daughter’s area.

    12. Junior Dev*

      I’m so sorry. I am in a part of the country that got a lot of smoke this summer and it was so stressful just to be near. I can’t imagine what it must be like to also deal with evacuating on top of that. I hope everyone here stays safe.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Me, too. Our whole summer was nothing but smoke–from northern California, from north of us, and even some came down from Canada just to be friendly. Checked my phone every day for the particle count.

      1. Prof_Murph*

        I’m south of Malibu and the air quality is frightening. Very smoky, limited visibility, smells like smoke. I’m hiding indoors but as a person with allergies and previous breathing issues, I’m getting very nervous. My sister lives in West Hollywood so I’m spending the night there but not even sure what the air quality is like there with the Griffin Park fire. Whenever these fires happen, it feels like Armageddon. I’m not in any kind of immediate danger in terms of fire, but this is the closest I’ve experienced fires in my 11 years of living in LA. My heart goes out to those who’ve had to evacuated and/or lost property. I’m trying not to think about the animals.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I know it’s awful but I still want to move back.
          I wish everyone could come here while it’s going on. It’s very quiet and very safe and very not-smoky here. And I would make spaghetti.

    13. Bacon Pancakes*

      Came here to see if any other AAM readers are effected. I am about 20 miles out from the fire, so only impacted by the smoke. Three of my cousins have been evacuated, one for sure lost their house. Two co-workers are evac’ed and one lives just across from Honey Run Bridge so it is unlikely he has a house to return to. My BF has five co-workers evac’ed, three confirmed lost their homes. Several friends have likely lost their homes… and the stories just keep coming.
      The reaponse from Trump is egregious, and for once LaMalfa has something to say.

    14. pcake*

      Be safe, Inver and everyone in the fire areas.

      My husband came home from his job in Santa Monica yesterday puffing and wheezing and pale. Today on the east side of Culver City, our bathroom smells like fire and there’s smoke, but it’s much worse in Marina Del Rey where you can’t see the street lights a black away due to smoke :(

    15. Woodswoman*

      Glad you posted, Inver, and wishing the best for you. My co-worker’s sister and family lost their home in the Camp Fire. They just barely made it out safely, seeing their lawn on fire in their rear-view mirror and driving through flames. Another person I know was able to get out but almost certainly lost the home she had just purchased. Tragic for so many, and no end in sight. Come on, rain!

      The Bay Area smoke is intense and as an asthmatic, I was really struggling to breathe last year. I’ve accepted that extended periods of smoke are the new normal here, so I bought an air filter that’s making all the difference.

      (In case anyone is looking, I recommend the Levoit LV-H132. My criteria in addition to good reviews were that it’s portable, quiet enough to sleep near, and relatively inexpensive. I ended up getting a second one for different rooms, and I can easily take it to my office and back home again. I definitely recommend it. You find a short YouTube review by searching the model number and the handle AwkwardHamster.)

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        Thank you for the air purifier recommendation – just ordered one. And was wondering how you were doing with the smoke…glad to see this.

    16. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      So horrible and terrifying. We had big fires in my home town two years in a row, and it was horrible to stand on the other side of town and watch people’s homes go up in flames. Many people have died in the current fire though, and that is terrible.

    17. LivingMyLife*

      Inver, sorry to hear how much you are affected by the fire. I’m in San Jose, and we are very much affected by the smoke. At first I had plans to go hiking this weekend, but decided not to risk it and work on some painting projects indoors. I’ve also been running my air purifier – it really helps with air quality in my apartment.

  2. Solaine Dlcrx*

    Oh I love The Idiot by Elif Batuman! It was one of my favorite reads this year. I think I even mentioned it on one of the weekend threads.
    Her characters feel incredibly real (I’ve met Iván and Svetlana, I swear, and also Svetlana’s mother and aunt!). The way she describes the villages and their people is so on point and witty that I laughed and cried at the same time. How do these parts feel to someone who is not from the region though? I was wondering if my special connectiom to the book is because I’m from the same country as Iván.

  3. wingmaster*

    I’ve been sewing for the upcoming holiday season. Though it’s still early November, I feel like I’m late to the game of crafting and gift-making!

    Anyways, I’ve been designing this handkerchief with a friend and also sewing pajama pants with a fabric that I designed. I’m thinking of using the leftover fabric to make coasters too.

    For those who have craft projects for the holiday, what are you making?

    1. Jemima Bond*

      I’m making a Christmas mini-quilt for an online swap, and a larger purple quilt with big hexagons and triangles, for a wedding gift (wedding is on NYE).

    2. Anonyme*

      Knitting – mostly cowls, hats, coffee cozies, christmas ornaments. Small things that work up fast.

    3. Red Reader*

      Can you elaborate on “designing a handkerchief “? I’m curious :) like, the printed fabric? I’m imagining an elaborately quilted one, which just seems fiddly with seams.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      My daughter has a new, larger bed and asked me to make her a quilt. (I do patchwork art quilts.)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It is! Largely because I can’t make a quilt for use in our home until the puppy gets through the chewing things up stage, which is lasting a ridiculously long time.

    5. Llellayena*

      I’m finishing the quilt for my great aunt that I mentioned last week. I also have a baby quilt I really should finish before the kid becomes a toddler. I’m usually not so good at ambitious “finish by Christmas” deadlines so I don’t do much Christmas crafting.

    6. Madge*

      The sewing studio I work at is participating in a craft fair next month and I’m making ornaments, garlands, storage baskets, maybe some felt birthday crowns, flannel face wipes, and some project samples for my new classes.

    7. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I’m way behind schedule but I’m knitting my daughter a Christmas stocking. She’s old enough to understand more about what she going on this year so I have to get it done!

      I also learned to embroider this year so if I have extra time (ha!) I’ll embroider some ornaments or such.

    8. esra*

      I bought some skeins to knit blankets for my niece and nephew and man, I better get moving on it. I always start too late, the fall is so busy in my industry. But I’m lying to myself that this will be the year I get all the crafting done.

      Maybe they can be Easter gifts.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        A couple of years running, I started holiday knitting in August. I knit for fewer people now.

    9. Book Badger*

      On my needles right now:
      * A hat for my boyfriend’s sister
      * A hat for myself that I’ve been putting off all year
      * Hats for my sister and brother

      In the works:
      * Something for two online exchanges I’m doing (I’m thinking fingerless gloves for one and a quick and easy hat for the other)
      * I’m going to try to teach myself illusion knitting so I can knit my boyfriend a scarf with a secret message
      * Something for my parents, I don’t know what yet

      1. fluffy fleece*

        Sewing: Gigantic onesies for teenaged daughter and my husband. Daughter’s will be easy to hide the project as she’s often out in the day. No idea how I will hide the one for hubby. Maybe rely that he can’t tell the difference between projects? Knitting: just finished socks. Maybe mittens next? I seemed to have lost one each of a bunch of my mittens.

          1. fluffy fleece*

            it is the same fabric. What I meant was whether it would be possible to stealth sew a 2nd project. I can sew when the teenager is away, because as a teenager she’s both busy and oblivious. But how do I hide the 2nd onesie from the hubby? he’s very home-bound. Anyway, we’ll see, or it won’t be a christmas surprise.

            1. MarieAlice*

              You say nothing, and when he asks, it’s for someone else his size.
              I’ve made my mother try on her new cardigan saying I was knitting one for my grandmother.

      2. Red Reader*

        I just finished an illusion scarf for my husband with the script off the One Ring on it, and oh my GOSH the comments our friends made on it. It’s really straightforward, I thought, but when I posted a video showing the design on Facebook, minds were apparently blown!

        1. Windward*

          Was it you who posted it with the Ravelry link? Sent that (& the Harry Potter one) to a friend who is delightedly knitting them for her kids. She says *thank you!* as do I.

    10. SAHM*

      My fragrances just came in this week and I’ll be starting on my soaps hopefully this weekend depending on my children, lol.

    11. wireknitter*

      I’m working on a Pokémon quilt. I have 8 of the 12 blocks finished, then need to layer and quilt. I think I’ll have time to finish.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Nothing, because my sewing machine needs servicing and I still don’t have a *youknowwhat*. With NaNoWriMo going, I can’t manage crafts until December if I can even think of anything. My family will not do the presents-for-the-kids-only thing, and I always feel stupid showing up with nothing.

    13. Windchime*

      I’m knitting a dress for my little grand-niece (my sister’s granddaughter). It’s a soft purpley-gray and it’s my second attempt. Despite swatching, the first one looked super big and wide, so I started over with a smaller size as well as going down a needle size. That’s the only thing I’m working on right now, although I may also do some slippers if I have time.

        1. Nita*

          I’ve gotten burned on that twice this year! Made hats for both kids, and they both turned out too big. One was shaping up to be the diameter of a big pie tin… I’m lucky I realized it halfway and was able to turn it into a beret.

        2. fluffy fleece*

          how do get stuff to fit? or are you doing scarves or other knitting projects that are forgiving? I understand if you knew your own knitting gauge well enough to not have to swatch, but I can’t imagine it if you change wools. Even socks, which I knit a ton of I need to swatch every time I use a different company’s wool.

    14. Bethany D*

      I have two new teenaged nieces and a new preteen nephew this year, and I was thinking of using my woodburning tool to make name plaques for them. But I need to confer with my SIL first to check whether she thinks they’d like them or whether we’ll be doing presents at all.

    15. Snowberry Kitten Foster, Inc.*

      I’m not really making anything for gifts yet. All my crafty energy has been going to making flannel and fleece blankets/quilts for my fellow foster parents to use with their animals. I foster kittens through the local Animal Care Center. Being we are in a warm climate, kitten season is pretty much year around, though we have been seeing fewer bottle babies lately. I’m also teaching my self to quilt as I’d like to make a nice flannel quilt for my son who just moved to a colder area of the country. It’s slow going as I have a chronic illness that causes profound fatigue and pain. But, even if I can get a few minutes of a project worked on in between caring for my kittens, it’s a good day.

    16. ijustwanttoworksomewherenormal*

      That sounds so cool! Any tips for beginners learning to sew? I knit but would love to add more diversity to my growing DIY wardrobe. I picked up a sewing machine at a garage sale over the summer but haven’t had the courage to set it up yet.

      For gifts this year, I’m working on knitting a little string of Christmas lights (pattern by Amalia Santos if anyone’s curious) for all the relatives I exchange gifts with. I also wanted to make my mom a sweater, but I’m saving it for her birthday in March because I know better than to think I’ll finish it by next month.

      1. fluffy fleece*

        I would actually look into sewing lessons. I’m sure you can learn with youtube (if you can find the 30-yr-old “sewing with nancy” those are good), but for sewing garments I think at some point you get a lot out of having a professional teach you.

    17. Oops I forgot*

      Not this year but posting for inspiration- DH and I made Wizard wands on the lathe for all the Harry Potter fans in our lives. MASSIVE hit and IMHO way nicer than the store bought.

    18. Environmental Compliance*

      I recently finished knitting a hat & glove set for my sister’s birthday (early December), and will be finishing a wedding shawl and a queen size quilt for holiday gifts.

  4. Akgal*

    Sorry if I post this on the wrong thread. But I need some perspective on something with my kids school. It’s been bothering me for a while. Last year I sent my oldest off to kindergarten, and she had a rough year. She got beat up by another child several times. Twice she came home with black eyes. When I complained about her getting frankly abused, I was told that they couldn’t do anything because the other kid had a disability. Frankly as a disabled person that reasoning makes me really mad. The only reason it stopped was because she finally had enough and pounded on the kid. They wanted to suspend my kid because of the fight, but didn’t because I had been taking pictures of the bruises that she received. Only at that point we’re they separated. Why did it have to go that far though? Beating up your fellow students should not be a reasonable accommodation. So now she is homeschooled.
    What scares me is that I have to still work with the school because my son needs speech therapy, and I don’t trust the school anymore. His preschool teacher is awesome and I have worked with her for years, but next year he will be in kindergarten. If he still needs speech therapy how can I get him what he needs but keep him safe.. I don’t expect everyone to like my children but they shouldn’t be harmed either.
    To further complicate things l am aware of several incidents this year where a disabled child has attacked other children and adults and the district is not doing anything about it.
    Can anyone in education help me out a bit?

    1. misspiggy*

      I’m not in education in the US, but it sounds like you should talk to other affected parents and a lawyer.

      1. Gotta be anon for this, the perpetrator reads here*

        Lawyer. That’s the bullshittiest bullshit I’ve ever heard regarding kids w disabilities (parent of a kid w a disability ).

        1. valentine*

          The school has a duty of care to your children. See if their failure qualifies as a reason to send kids to a different school or district. You can report assault to the police.

    2. Waiting for the Sun*

      Sorry your child has to deal with that!
      Not in education either, but that other child definitely needs to be in a more restrictive special-needs class. I suggest talking to the principal, the school corporation ‘s head of special education, and to the school board if need be.

      1. Waiting for the Sun*

        A kindergartner coming home from school with black eyes sounds like something that could make the local TV news. Are other children being hurt as well? Don’t want to demonize the other child, who clearly needs help, but drastic intervention is in order.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, a mentally handicapped five year old hurting the other kids–the problem isn’t any of the five year olds failing to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

    3. lumosnox*

      Try sending your question to Slate’s Q&A section called Care and Feeding. They have some really great columnists who answer questions about kids and could have some good insight here.

    4. Redshirt*

      I work in the disability field (though not education). It is utter nonsense that a kid who has a disability is allowed to bully other kids because there’s nothing* that the school can do.
      Where I live, Canada, there would be major discussions with the school, the other family, and support agencies about updating the Individual Support Plan of their child.

      1. ElspethGC*

        “It is utter nonsense that a kid who has a disability is allowed to bully other kids because there’s nothing that the school can do.”

        Yes, this.

        (Less about education, but) My older cousin has Cri du Chat, a chromosomal disorder that affects her mentally and physically. She can’t speak so uses Makaton to communicate. When I was six through to when I was about eleven or twelve, she would get incredibly frustrated because I was doing things that she couldn’t, and she would sometimes lash out and scratch me or pull my hair. It *hurt*. And her mum pulled her aside and gave her time-outs and told her that she knew she was cross and frustrated but that lashing out was *not okay* and she knew better than that, and make her come to apologise to me. She’s now learnt tools to manage her frustration, including letting her carers know so that she can be removed from the situation before she gets too stressed.

        Anyway. The point of that anecdote. My cousin wasn’t in mainstream nursery/kindergarten because her developmental disabilities were too severe, but she’s perfectly capable of controlling her frustration given the right tools. I doubt the school really is capable of doing nothing to prevent this. If nothing else, they need to be working with the child to give *him* the right tools to manage his anger. It’s pretty insulting to him and other disabled kids to just say “Well, he’s disabled, that’s just what he’s like!” Not necessarily, not if you help!

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        Yes, i agree, but at least in Alberta it would be difficult to find a special education class. Over the last 20+ years (since I was a student myself) there has been a huge push for inclusion and dedicated special needs classes has virtually disappeared.

        OP I would NOT go to the media about this. It would not serve anyone.

    5. Rebecca*

      I personally know a teacher who was injured by her grade school student, in the classroom. He has anger issues, and she needed medical attention. The classroom cameras caught everything. And the kicker is, he wasn’t removed from the class, she was forced to still teach him, and he knows he can get away with whatever he wants. He openly taunted her in class. She took a sabbatical year this year. I don’t blame her. One of my friend’s sons was also injured by a bully. Nothing was done, she asked to have her son moved. Answer was no. Asked to have the bully moved from the class, no, we don’t want to stigmatize the child. Seriously?? She is left with pressing criminal charges when it happens again. I’m not sure what has gone wrong, whether it’s the zero tolerance policy or what, but something needs to be done.

    6. Enough*

      Unfortunately this is not new but should have changed by now. 35 years ago my mother’s neighbor was an aide in a classroom with a student who had a diagnosed disability. He hit her. Nothing was done because he had a learning disability diagnosis. A regular student would have been disciplined in some way. Too often it seems that people think that these students can’t be held accountable for their actions because the are not “normal”. Even more stupid is that if the child had a behavioral diagnosis (which his parents had refused) he would have already been removed and placed in separate classes.

      1. tangerineRose*

        And this isn’t helping the disabled kid either. Everyone needs to learn how to at least not hurt other people, and the sooner this is learned, the better.

      2. Anon Anon Anon*

        Depending on the disability, different consequences might be appropriate. For example, a punishment wouldn’t do any good if the child wouldn’t understand the purpose of it. But they need to be prevented from hurting other kids and there needs to be some kind of intervention, and maybe an investigation into why they’re doing this. The adults here are failing all the kids.

        1. LilySparrow*

          I am an ordinary parent, no expert on developmental disabilities, so this is honestly a question — is it possible for a kindergartener to have enough coordination and intent to punch another kid square in the eye (twice) and yet not have the ability to understand why they are getting consequences?

          I know that there’s a wide variety of developmental differences, and all kids with delays are not the same. But we’re friends with some parents and kids with various needs, and even the ones who can’t toilet train can understand that hitting is bad, and why they get consquences for various things.

          And the kids at that level are not coordinated enough to land a punch in the face of a moving target.

          1. chi chan*

            I would say it is possible. Some disabled kids self harm. Scratch themselves, bang their heads on walls. Pain from doing that should be an incentive to stop, but these kids don’t. Yet they do feel pain, cry during shots and if they get hurt. Low functioning autism for instance.

          2. chi chan*

            Torey Hayden a special education teacher wrote a book “Somebody else’s kids.” about a class she had. It is heart breaking but really good.

    7. School Psych*

      I work in special-education. It’s not true that kids with disabilities can’t be disciplined. They absolutely can. The only difference is that when a student in special-education hits 10 days of out of school suspension in a year, the team has to consider whether additional behavioral or other interventions should be put into place. They also have to consider whether the student needs a change of placement, such as a smaller classroom or specialized school. A student who is physically aggressive towards peers on a daily basis needs more support. The interventions that have already been put into place for this student would be confidential, so you wouldn’t necessarily know what has already been done, but it doesn’t seem like what they currently have in place is working. Most districts have monthly board meetings where the beginning of the meeting is open to parents and other community members, so you might want to bring your concerns that violent behavior in the district is not being addressed to this board meeting. You could also talk with your district’s special-education director or the speech pathologist at your son’s school about what the options are for programming for your son to continue his speech therapy. Unless it’s a very small district, it’s unlikely that there is only that 1 school that has an early childhood program with a speech therapist. We occasionally move students in my district to schools that are not their zoned school, so they can attend a different program. Your district might also have a resource list of outside speech therapists that do sliding scale based on your income and take medicaid.

    8. Luisa*

      I’m a teacher, and my role includes some resource services for mild-moderate disabilities (mostly learning disabilities). From what you wrote here, it sounds like your trust in the school is really eroded (understandably and justifiably). Is there an option to request that your son be placed in a different kindergarten classroom than the one your daughter was in, or that he be moved to another school in the district? That seems like it might be a good starting point for his situation if keeping him in a traditional school (i.e. not homeschooling) is a priority beyond the issue of receiving speech services. If you have a preference for homeschooling him, I’d advise researching what options might exist for receiving the services he needs under those circumstances. (I am not at all familiar with homeschooling, so I can’t advise beyond that.)

      As for the general issues you’ve heard about students with disabilities in your district (you alluded to unsafe situations not directly connected to your children), I would advise leaving those out of conversations you may have with any school personnel. As another commenter pointed out, information about specific student disciplinary issues are and should be shared on a need-to-know basis. You can and should ask about school and district policies in general, but you actually do not have the right to receive information about disciplinary actions taken against children other than your own. Specifically, I advise you to reach out to the district for a written copy of the student code of conduct, disciplinary policies, and any other materials (such as a handbook) the district provides for families about policies. Read those materials, and request a meeting with the principal to discuss any questions you have. You could also use this as an opportunity to ask about what kind of choice you might have in teacher or school assignment (assuming the school/district is large enough to offer a choice of teachers/schools). Questions about speech or other special education services if you opt out of public school (private, charter, homeschooling) would be best directed to a school-level special education coordinator (if such a person exists) or a similar role at the district level.

      If you are dissatisfied with the current homeschooling situation for your daughter, however, you absolutely should speak to school or district administrators, and I would encourage you to take a firm stance in any conversations you have. Based on the information you provided here, it sounds like the school and district really bungled this.

    9. Sick Civil Servant*

      I feel for you!! My youngest daughter has various learning disabilities and has been in a segregated “learning disabilities” (LD) class where there are only 8 kids. (Many parents don’t want their kids in a “special” class. I made the decision based on what was best for her. Please do not question my decision.) She’s very bright but the regular stream did not work for her. She will be able to work and be a successful member of society but it will just take longer.

      My daughter has been in an LD class since grade 2 and she’s in grade 8 now. There’s also a “behaviour” class in her school. The police have been called several times because one boy had one of his “fits.” I suspect the school is creating a paper trail because the child was kicked out of (public) school for a year a while back. His presence was considered a “danger to both staff and students.” He’s been diagnosed as high functioning autistic. (His mom & I chatted once which is why I know. The school is very discreet and NEVER shares personal info about their students.) Being disabled does not give you a free pass to harm others!! If you decise that homeschooling is not an option for your son, please go one step above to the school board office. I had to threaten to do that & it was extremely effective. It might be possible for your son to be homeschooled and still get access to services like speech therapy. Do not stop advocating on behalf of your children! Their safety is your primary concern.

      Good luck & keep going!!

    10. School Inclusion Specialist*

      Special Ed Teacher… Just backing up other posters that the school can’t comment on the other child’s supports. Except for extreme situations (drugs, weapons, causing life-threatening bodily harm), a child with a disability can’t be removed from the general education setting without a parent’s permission. Removal from the general ed setting is moving the student to a classroom for kids with special needs. So, the school could be trying things. They could just not be getting consent for what they actually want to do. As another poster said, the child could be suspended for up to 10 days. That said, they could have already used up the suspension days. (A Note, a child with a disability can be suspended for more than 10 days, but the team has to hold a manifest determination meeting and determine that the behavior that caused the suspension is not related to the disability.)
      Things to consider doing:
      1. Go to the special education parent advisory council meeting or set up a meeting with the principal/special education department chair. Ask what the schools policy is for discipline when it relates to a child with a disability. Your district should have a Special Education Handbook and this is required to have a section on discipline. All parents have to have access, so I hope that it would be on the district website. Reference this. Ask how the policy is implemented in the school. If you don’t get a clear answer, go above their heads (as a teacher I HATE this…but only if the parent doesn’t talk to me first. You gave the school a chance. And they failed)
      2. Given your school’s response, I’m guessing there isn’t going to be a good response for (1). If there is a parent council at the school, use that platform to push the school to hire a BCBA and to push them to write a policy.
      3. In regards to your son, your public school is required to provide services for any child within the district. This means, even if you pull your son for homeschooling, if he still has an up to date IEP that requires services, they have to provide the services. What this would look like is the school SLP would schedule your son at a time and you would have to bring him to the school for that service.

      1. Observer*

        Except for extreme situations (drugs, weapons, causing life-threatening bodily harm), a child with a disability can’t be removed from the general education setting without a parent’s permission.

        In most districts, that’s just not true. It *IS* harder, and the parent has recourse, but ultimately, the school CAN take that kind of action. Especially when the child in question is clearly harming other children significantly.

        It’s also not the case that the school cannot suspend a child for more than 10 days in most districts. 10 days is just an automatic trigger that the school MUST re-evaluate the care plan to see what other supports that child needs.

        1. School Psych*

          Except for extreme situations (drugs, weapons, causing life-threatening bodily harm), a child with a disability can’t be removed from the general education setting without a parent’s permission.

          Yes. Thank you. Not necessarily true. If the parent just doesn’t respond to the proposed change in placement, the district can document the attempts to reach the parent and move the child to a different type of classroom within the same school after a 10 day waiting period. They would need consent to move the child to a specialized school or to do a new evaluation(reviewing existing data doesn’t require a consent). If the parent does respond and says no, the district can choose to go to a 3rd party mediator who will make a decision about whether the child is moved to a new setting. They would also be within their right to pursue an expulsion hearing for an expellable disciplinary offense, if the parent was offered a specialized setting to address the student’s needs and said no. In my district, we’ve done home visits to get parent permission for things and driven parents to see what a new program looks like to help them make an informed decision. It drives me bonkers when people say there’s no options if the parent refuses or doesn’t respond to requests. It’s just not true. There are lots of ways to get parents on board and a long list of legal options districts can pursue for cases where they truly believe the child needs more services and can’t get consent.

          1. School Inclusion Specialist*

            Yes, you both are right. Just trying to simplify and focus on what the parent could do. No matter what is happening behind the scenes, the OP won’t be privy to it and it will take much longer than the OP is comfortable with when worrying about the safety of her children.

            Also, mediation is an incredibly difficult process and I’ve rarely seen a district willingly take a case there—they tend to just settle. If one meeting is out of timeline or a paper is missing, it could jeopardize the case.
            The district could be doing a cost benefit analysis and the “problem” ended when the OP pulled her daughter. Which is why I suggested the OP asking about procedures. She unfortunately needs to stress out the district more than the violent child.

    11. Smarty Boots*

      Make sure you are up on the law re accommodation for your child and get the IEP or 504 paperwork done ASAP. Doctors reports etc as needed. You can have someone come with you to the meeting, as well, if you feel you will lose track of details or get upset. My meetings were always way longer than the school team wanted because I brought plenty of written notes and questions, and insisted on ok’g each step before going on to the next. LOL, I tended to get what I wanted because they were sooooo sick of me.
      And make sure the school follows through on everything in the IEP or 504. Check in regularly. If things are not going as they are supposed to, follow up, politely but firmly. Don’t be afraid to let them know you will go above them i the bureaucracy and don’t be afraid to say “lawyer” if need be.

    12. Yay commenting on AAM!*

      I was bullied and assaulted by bullies in school years ago and had the same experience as your child, though I was in 5th grade. My parents tried to “make nice” with the district since we coudn’t afford private school. The school doubled down in blaming me for it- I got detention every time I reported being assaulted, and I was sent to the guidance counselor to go over “strategies to change myself so I do not upset the bully.” The school said the other student was “troubled” and they couldn’t do anything about it, and that I was under orders to get up and move away from him no matter what was going on so it was my fault if I was close enough for him to harm me. I remember having to disturb the entire class getting up to move during circle time because he came and sat next to me…

      Having been there, I recommend both getting a lawyer and filing a report with the police each time your child is injured. It might sound *insane* to report a kindergartener to the police, and it is, but it is what needs to be done to protect your child and other children. The police can help back the parents in finding appropriate resources for their child, and the school’s fear of liability/bad PR will encourage them to do right by your kid.

      If you’re interested in what happened to my “troubled bully,” I recently discovered that he is a police officer. Yuuup.

    13. tangerineRose*

      Little kids should be able to go to school without being bullied. Seems like the bully should at the least be separated from the victim.

    14. Not Australian*

      Just piling on with personal experience, but I *was* bullied and beaten up as a child by another child with a disability – she wore a leg caliper and carried a stick which she used to hit people with. None of the adults I reported to would take it seriously; all I ever got was “You need to be nice to her, she’s a poor little thing.” Fortunately we weren’t at the same school, just a hobby club, but I got driven out of it by the way she behaved.

    15. Koala dreams*

      I agree that it’s outrageous what some adults will come up with as excuses for bullying instead of dealing with the problems in an adult way! It’s great that you protect your children from these people.

      I will just add to the other advice above, if you reach out to other parents, try to reach out to the parents of the disabled child too and ask them what their child need. Often the parents of misbehaving children know very well what their child need in school, for example more vigilant supervision or a calmer environment, but the school might not listen to the concerns of an individual parent. You will send a stronger message to the school if you can talk to the school together as a group of parents.

      You know best if this suggestion is possible in your situation, of course.

    16. Aurora Leigh*

      Not sure if you’re still reading — but as a homeschool grad — homeschooled kids are in most cases elgible for speech therapy, etc. Through the public schools. Check out Home School Legal Defense hslda dot org to find out more about the laws in your state.

      If you become a member, they provide legal advice, and are super amazing and helpful. My parents have been members for over 20 years, and it was well worth it. They are a Christian originization, and have been around since the late 80s I believe.

      1. This Daydreamer*

        Yay for new kitties! I was adopted by a stray at the end of September and I love having her around. My three others aren’t quite so thrilled with the new addition.

        1. Stormfeather*

          Yay for adopting/being adopted by kitties! We just adopted a six-week old kitten about 5 or 6 months back, either a stray who lost his mother or part of a litter who were abandoned by someone. He’s amazingly hyper now and healthy, but he was a pretty sick little kitten at the time.

      2. Trouble*

        How lovely! I love Wallace’s ears. How many cats do you have Alison? We have four. My husband bought me a t-shirt based on Game of Thrones, a show I don’t even watch or know a thing about, because it has Mother of Cats on the front and a dragon thing with three cat’s heads.

        I’d love to foster but our fourth was a 6 week old feral we caught at my last job who was supposed to be a foster until he was old enough to get a home, but he still lives here over a year later so I’m not very good at it. My husband put his foot down on fostering when Niko stayed.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I am afraid to say that we now have … five. That wasn’t supposed to happen.

          Our logic is that we have a pretty big house now that could definitely have five human children in it, and we figured cats are smaller and quieter. But yeah … five. Whoops.

          And my husband gave me that same shirt!

          1. Pretend Scientist*

            I have a shirt that says “All my other shirts were covered in cat hair”…

            We also have five, and have for some time (not the same five, two crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2017). In my experience, while five sounds like a lot, it’s not as overwhelming as people might think. My mom remarked to me this weekend, “you’d never know there were 5 cats in this house”, and the house is not big. Unless you go to the basement area with the litterboxes, it’s not obvious that there are five, except for when they are in the same room.

            When Max moved in here, I already had two cats and he brought his two, and I had feared it would be overwhelming, but it wasn’t. He found Diego, our original fifth, and that transition also went well. So we figured that we can keep the house open to five and adopt cats who need us–we adopted Schafer after Diego passed, and Charlie after Buddy did. As long as you can keep up with the vet bills and scooping, and don’t get too annoyed by any accidents/territory disputes, five is very doable!

            Congratulations Alison! They look like awesome cats :)

          2. periwinkle*

            You need more. We had 4, then 5, then 6, then 8.

            Or as the poster on the wall next to our cat food stash says: “I’ve got 99 problems– no wait I mean cats. I have 99 cats, please help me I can’t stop.”

          3. Trouble*

            I love that tee shirt. One of my cats is a 7kg Norwegian Forest Cat called Horlicks who sleeps on me. Sleeps. On. Me. I am the mother of cats. And we’re the same, big family home, only fur babies.

            1. hsmith*

              I love Norwegian Forest Cats – I have a 8kg mix named Harry who’s affectionately known as my “little baby kitten boy”. He’s the middle child of 5 fur babies and a total mama’s boy.

          4. I'd have a Doggie too... if they'd let me.*

            Well I thought you mentioned below they are Mum and Kitten, so I wouldn’t feel bad. You got a 2 for 1 deal! I am pretty sure that only equals a Cat and a Half at most.

            Seriously said by someone who adopted a mere one cat during a “get one kitten and we will waive the fees for a 2nd one” extravaganza at the Pound.

            There were so many, they were willing to let me also have a kitten, even though our choice was already an adult and didn’t technically count as part of the deal. Unfortunately one cat was already pushing it with the landlord.

            Even though I had to forego the joy of 2 for 1, knowing that *someone* out in the World had the guts to go for it…

            You made my day!

        2. Stormfeather*

          Hah, as I just posted above, also adopted a 6 week old feral (or abandonee but I think feral) , and he’s also our fourth. It just sorta… happens. *shifty eyes*

      3. Foreign Octopus*

        Alison, they’re gorgeous!!!

        Wallace looks like he’s suspicious of you though, although my cat sometimes gives me the side eye and I’m left quickly replaying what I’ve done to see if I’ve upset her.

        I love their names!

      4. Basia, also a Fed*

        They are so adorable! I volunteer at our local Humane Society – thank you for adopting. How are Lucy, Olive, and Eve reacting?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Lucy took 2-3 months to adjust to both Olive and Eve, and I suspect that will happen here too. She’s still in the “I will make horrible noises if you get too close” stage.

          I thought Olive would be thrilled, because she adjusted to Eve right away and immediately wanted to play with her — but it’s a slower process with her this time. She’s interested in them, but still hisses and growls if they come right up to her. She was three when we got Eve and now she’s five, and maybe that two years has made a difference. I’m assuming that in time she’ll be playing with them though, because she has a really high play drive.

          For the first few days, Eve ran away from them whenever she saw them, as if she was scared of them. And then overnight, she decided they were fine and now hangs out with them. She seems to really like Sophie, but I think she thinks Wallace is a toy and she’s scared him a few times by playing too aggressively with him, so I’m keeping an eye on their interactions.

          The great thing is that Sophie and Wallace really like other cats and aren’t deterred by any of this. They ignore the hissing and still try to make friends. And they play with each other constantly, which I think helps them not care that the others have not fully embraced them yet.

          (For people who don’t know cats: This is all normal and they’ll all eventually get along.)

          1. Asenath*

            I’m glad your new cats have settled in so well! It sounds like they’ve settled in very well. I’ve generally had two cats at a time – initially, to avoid my tendency to become a Crazy Cat Lady, and now, well, I downsized and moved into an apartment building. Of course, I chose a building that allowed pets, but they allowed one per apartment (one small one, although some of the dogs are kind of large “small dogs”, which I think shows flexibility). So I asked if I could have it written into the agreement that I could have two cats, and the condo management agreed. Anyway, over the years I’ve introduced a few cats, and they all eventually settled down, but I nearly gave up with the current two. They now have a kind of armed truce, with each cat ruling over her own end of the apartment and only sometimes growls and hissing if the other one ventures in.

          2. tangerineRose*

            Last time I introduced a new kitty to my other 2, there was some hissing, most of it from the older cat, some from the younger cat when the new guy got too close. I think they’re just setting boundaries. They all get along now, and I hope your kitties will too.

            These new kitties are very cute!

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I follow the Bitches the Cat Twitter account. After Bitches died, they adopted Puff, and BOY were Kiddo and Floof Lion unhappy having a strange kitten around! Then one day, Kiddo (a tortie) was like “This is my son.” They started posting pics of her giving him baths, etc. Floofy took some time to come around, but he did. Now Puff is big and they’re all getting along much better, especially during nip time, LOL.

          4. Not Australian*

            That’s reassuring. We’re a couple of months into a new adoption – a senior male cat who was in need of a home – and our two (younger, female) hate him. At the moment we’re maintaining them in separate establishments but if ever they end up on opposite sides of the same door there’s an almighty hammering as they try to get at each other. I hope we can have them all living in the same space eventually, but I think it’s going to take a long time.

            1. tangerineRose*

              Jackson Galaxy recommends “site swapping” so that they can get more smells of each other. I hope they start getting along soon!

          5. Minocho*

            My (then 14) year old cat did not appreciate the two new kittens that replaced his sadly departed companion. He still doesn’t like one of them – but the one he doesn’t like _adores_ him, and as soon as he’s asleep, his hated enemy is curled up around him and purring. It’s been nearly four years.

      5. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Thanks, all!

        It’s still a bit soon after Sam died to have done it, but I kind of subscribe to the “you are sad and there are cats waiting in cages who need homes” school of mourning.

        I’ve never adopted a bonded pair before, let alone a mother and kitten, and it’s pretty amazing. They play together constantly. And Sophie is still nursing him, which is the most adorable thing. (Wallace is four months, so it’s weird that she hasn’t weaned him by now but she hasn’t. Possibly because he’s her only kitten?)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think you will so enjoy the bonded pair. I have seen sibling pairs interact and it is AMAZING- like, how did I get to be this age and NOT know animals were like this type of amazing. It sure opened my eyes to new levels of appreciation. You are going to have such a good time here. I am very excited for you!

          1. Hellanon*

            My older cats were siblings and yeah, “bonded” is a good word for it. So flipping cute to watch them wrap up together & go to sleep…

          2. Autumnheart*

            Same. I have 3 cats who are siblings, and one who is two years older. They’re all super bonded to each other, which was actually how I wound up keeping all the siblings when I originally intended to adopt one or two of them.

          3. Marion Ravenwood*

            Agreed. My boys are brothers, and seeing them snuggled up together in a big kitty bundle and/or grooming each other (for the few minutes before it turns into a fight at least) is utterly heartwarming.

            Congrats on the new arrivals Alison! (And that Mother of Cats shirt sounds awesome.)

        2. Elizabeth*

          I’ve learned a lot about mom/kitten behavior watching the Tiny Kittens live streams. He’s probably simply comfort nursing at this point & not getting any actual milk. When she gets tired of it, she’ll make him stop.

          She looks pretty young herself. Did the rescue/shelter know if she’s had kittens before or if this is her first litter?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            She’s very young! The rescue group thinks she’s 10 months to a year, so I’m guessing this was her first and only litter. She’s tiny, and she’s still basically a kitten herself.

            1. families!*

              I fostered a mother and her 5 kittens and it was a great experience, it was like having my own private nature show. I did work to make sure the smaller ones got extra alone time nursing because the bigger ones were so much stronger comparatively. But unlike other kittens I’ve fostered because the mother was there they would both eat solid food and also could nurse and they were still doing it at 4-5 months. At some point I think it also had to do with comfort rather than nutrition, especially for the larger ones (kittens will often nurse on non-nutritional things for comfort). But if they spayed Sophie before you adopted her, her milk I think should dry up soon. Congratulations!

        3. The Other Dawn*

          I had a pair of bonded tortie sisters (one passed last year) and I loved watching them. They were so affectionate with each other–mutual grooming, sleeping together, intertwining their tails.

          I’m guessing Wallace is still nursing simply because Sophie is there. So often kittens are separated from mom before four months and they just naturally move on to solid food since there’s no other choice.

        4. Tris Prior*

          Bonded pairs are the best! A couple months ago we adopted a brother and sister pair of kittens. They absolutely adore each other, entertain one another, sleep cuddled up together. This is my first experience with having multiple cats who don’t dislike or barely tolerate one another. I am regularly dead of cute and al so glad we got them.

        5. tangerineRose*

          I don’t think there should be a rule about “too soon”. I’m glad you got new kitties when you wanted to. Getting a bonded pair is really nice, too. A lot of people only want 1 cat, and since you adopted them both, they can stay together.

        6. Trouble*

          Horlicks and Freya, my wegies, are brother and sister. They’re a year almost to the day older than Niko. When he plays too aggressive for them they pin him down and groom him. Because he was so young when we caught him they pretty much taught him to cat. We tried to catch his mom and two siblings but it wasn’t to be and if we’d given Niko back to his mom at 6 weeks he’d have disappeared into the feral colony. I think about them every day but I’m glad we saved him from the streets. He’s a lovely little cat.

        7. Hope*

          We have a now-10 month old kitten that had been weaned (we got her at 9 weeks), but she decided she was going to nurse on our 11 year old cat about a month after we brought her home. It is super weird–the older cat never had kittens, but she’s like “huh, so I guess this is my baby?” and lets the kitten nurse, and the kitten keeps doing it, even though there is no milk at all, never has been, and never will be. The kitten is now basically the same size as the cat she’s nursing on, but that seems to make no difference.

          So even if Sophie weans him, he might always try to go back and nurse (or not; just depends on the cat).

      6. RueBarbe*

        Yea for more kitties!! I scrolled down looking for this before I asking if they were adopted or fostered. Good for you for taking the two together.
        I used to have 5 cats. They needed time to figure out where everyone was in the pecking order. Two were top cats and never really warmed to each other. They tolerated each other, though, and kept out of each other’s way!

      7. Minocho*

        Yay for cats and kittens! Mine were very “affectionate” (read: the temperature went down significantly) this weekend.

    1. Trixie*

      For all who have new or youngish kittens, I suggest taking them out for car rides regularly. Take the fear out of the carriers and the car. So much easier down the road for vet appts, moving, cross country drives, etc.
      Also, I handled my cat’s paws a lot so he wouldn’t freak out when I went to trim his nails. Others got into the habit of brushing teeth which I wish I’d done.

      Enjoy those kitten years!

      1. Zona the Great*

        Seconded! Mine puts her paws up and watches out the window. We can take her 8 hours away to the cabin with no issues.

      2. Hope*

        This! And if you have a long-haired cat, start brushing them right away so they get used to it. Also, rub their bellies all the time to give yourself a chance at belly rubs not becoming traps. Basically, anything you want them to be cool with, start doing ASAP.

  5. matcha123*

    Happy Diwali!
    Anyone here celebrating? A number of my friends are, I am not since I don’t know as much about it. I’m wondering if it will start to get bigger in North America in the upcoming years.

    1. TL -*

      I think Holi is probably going to be bigger than Diwali, at least in the USA. It’s a great deal of fun and easy to get a lot of participants on college campuses.

    2. Karma*

      I live in Australia and Diwali has been celebrated at the company I work at for the last several years. We have food and decorations and professional dancers come and teach us some dance moves and we also get to learn a bit about Indian culture and languages. It’s one of my favourite events at my workplace each year.

    3. MatKnifeNinja*

      We get more decorations for Diwali, than Christmas were I live. I love it.

      It’s fun watching the fireworks without being eaten alive by mosquitoes. Lol..

      When Diwali is over, I have to actually remember that Christmas is coming up. My area is mostly Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist. So zippo holiday decorations and Christmas talk.

      My own oasis in the middle of the over top forced holiday cheer.

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      My elementary school has a Diwali assembly every year! A parent who teaches Indian dance professionally taught the kids some basic movements and we all danced, and at recess the kids got to draw rangoli in the courtyard with chalk and sand.

    5. Roseberriesmaybe*

      Me and my partner! We did the most important part- sweets and chai. We got milk cake and I made some gawar ka halwa. Gonna try making rizgula next year. What is everyone’s favourite Diwali food?

    6. ElspethGC*

      I don’t celebrate it or anything, but it’s always pretty amusing for me here in the UK. Diwali relatively often falls pretty close to Bonfire Night, but I always forget it’s happening because I don’t know anyone that celebrates it. My hometown doesn’t exactly have a large Hindu population, so when I’m here in a bigger city and hear fireworks going off on, say 7/11 like this year, my first thought is “What the hell, Bonfire Night was two days ago, why are you setting off fireworks now? No. Wait. Not Bonfire Night.”

    7. Femme D'Afrique*

      Diwali is HUGE where I live. I’m not crazy about the fireworks (I don’t like the noise) but the sweets? YES PLEASE!!

  6. Heartache*

    How do you recover when you lose your ‘dream’ lifestyle?
    Don’t get me wrong, my life wasn’t perfect, there were a lot of areas that felt unfulfilled and I went through ups and downs in moods.

    But..(.without getting into any identifying details), there was one aspect of my life that I’d always dreamed about having, and achieving it was amazing. It was only recently that I’d started accepting it as my ‘normal’ …right before I found out I’m soon going to lose it.

    So now, I’m having such a difficult time adjusting. I’m sure there are others who have experience similar things – a seemingly ‘perfect’ relationship not working out, having to move away from a city you love, etc…

    I’m just so scared I’ll never feel that kind of happiness over anything again. I’m scared that instead of looking back on this time with fondness and treasuring good memories, all I’d be left with is bitterness of loss, and jealousy over people who still have what I did. I’m scared I’ll always be aching for what I’d lost and won’t be able to find any joy in new experiences.

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      Internet hugs. Recognize the Buddhist concept of impermanence. Distract yourself by making lots of little changes in your routine, explore new places (could be just taking a walk through a new-to-you neighborhood), add some acquaintances to your life who don’t know about the dream situation so you can talk about different things. Eventually another good thing will happen.

    2. Loopy*

      I went through this exact thing! I had a great relationship, job, lived someplace I loved and literally everything fell apart- the relationship fizzled, job lost funding, and I had to move to find a new job. I will be frank- it was really, really difficult.

      From the other side: this is so frustrating to hear, but it took time. The one thing I’m so so so glad I did was keep moving forward even when it seemed like I had no idea what direction to go in and couldn’t picture my future life. I struggled with no having a solid direction/goal/picture in my head a lot. I looked back a lot, I’ll admit. But I forced myself to apply to jobs, join a gym, look for hobbies, meet people- even when I was not feeling optimistic about it. Even when my new life wasn’t coming together quickly, and even when I had setbacks (man, I had one roommate who set me waaaaay back).

      But it comes together eventually with one foot in front of the other. Patience is key, but patience is HARD. I’m so rooting for you and I’m here if you have any more detailed questions about specifics of my transition. I’m in a great place now and I can see several moves that definitely helped along the way (like getting a positive volunteering gig when a new job was miserable, it gave me a positive area of my life that was like a ray of light to hang on to).

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      How sad! Sure, you’ll need time to mourn the loss and the transition. Can you find a way to extend some of the past goodness into the future, in another form–paying it forward but also honoring the original experience/feeling enriched for having had it even if it ended too soon? Or can you redirect your energy into another area of life?

      Examples…? Hmmm. Some of the worst possibilities (Hopefully your loss is not this enormous; if it is, I’m sorry) are people who lose a loved one to illness or a terrible accident. Nothing brings the dead back into this world* but mourners can find meaning in working to mitigate similar circumstances for other people or families.

      * Some people may believe in reunion in an afterlife. I respect this position but don’t deeply share it.

      Again, I’m sorry. Loss is not easy to accept.

    4. StellaBella*

      First, I am sorry this happened and that you are experiencing a difficult time. Internet hugs, if you’d like them.
      Second, yes, I have had this happen a couple of times. In 2001, I lost five members of my family and a close friend who was 32 and passed after a sudden discovery of lung cancer (never smoked), got a divorce and moved house. It was heartbreaking and for over a year after, I relied on my job, other family, and friends to cope. It did get better. In 2017, after a few years of unstable work situations including 2 layoffs, I had this sort of thing happen again – was dumped the same week I got laid off, and then 2 months later got very ill and ended up in the hospital for a week for 2 surgeries.
      In both situations, looking back now, I had what I thought were good relationships, with decent men, and a stable life: job, house, food, car, savings, a bit extra for travel now and then. But, as with many things in life, this was not really true. Both relationships ended because of infidelity (physical in first case, and emotional in second), and the facade of a ‘perfect’ life crumbled. Like you, I was terrified in both cases, I was bitter for a while, yes. But, as with the first time this happened, I went to a counselor for several months, got better emotionally and physically, and refocused on me. I am now nearly 50 years old and while I am not 100% happy, I have done something I always wanted to do: got an MSc. I took the time out to rest, study a lot and work hard on my degree. For me, I needed to get back to seeing my value, and my abilities – including abilities to make a life that I will love, one that will make me happy, and one that is for me and by me. :)
      You will one day feel better. I’d suggest counseling (there are a lot of online, free sources for this too). I’d suggest taking time for yourself. I’d suggest doing things you love to do, and trying to set small goals to get you thru. With time, you’ll feel better, more normal, and even happy.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Agreeing with the whole concept of “everything in temporary”. On the good news side this low in life is also temporary. Trust that life has ebbs and flows, trust that the life the once brought you to that level you wanted, will also bring you to new peaks. Not the same, nor should it be. The high points that come will be different and oddly you might find them better in some ways. You have the ability to get yourself to this better place because you did it once so you can do it again.

      I think it’s a good idea to hold on to the saying, “We can’t have it all at the same time.” I firmly believe that each chapter in life brings us something the previous chapter did not. Carry that expectation that something very different is going to come up very soon and you want to be on the look out for it.

      I think of my father. He lost almost everything with my mother’s illness. He lost the house, the dog, many of his possessions, all of his savings and because he was busy with all this stuff he did not see someone steal all his timber. He was planing on selectively harvesting that timber to get money to fix things at the other (very modest) house he had recently built. This is a horrible story with a few more things that I will skip over right now.
      What happened next was amazing. He looked around and found low cost ways to fix the small house. He got to fill his life’s dream of actually living in the house. And he did all this with a $5 grand a year income.
      To this day he is my inspiration. No, life was not peachy, but there were many surprisingly happy times, that he did not expect to see.

      Take a look at what assets you have left. Don’t forget the intangible assets, such as your creativity, your determination and your ability to find resources. (Can I just say, you have AAM here, which is an absolute power house of ideas and suggestions.) Ask yourself, “How can I leverage what I have left in order to get me to a better spot.” Any time it starts looking bleak, remind yourself, “I am going to work on my situation every day until I get to a better spot.” Build in rewards, such as walks, times with friends, an ice cream cone, whatever resonates with you, reward you for working on things every day.

      And last, decide that you have a finite amount of energy. You have choices to make, you can use that energy to be mad at circumstances or you can use that energy to keep bailing yourself out. You know there is not greater let down than when we fail to bail our own selves out of a bad spot. Promise you that you are going to keep bailing until you do not need to bail any more.

      Keep us posted on how it’s going.

    6. CC*

      This happened with me with one major thing—I lost a bunch of weight (over 100 lbs) then gained it all back. Although losing it didn’t make me happy like I thought, gaining it back sent me into a huge shame spiral. I’m still dealing with it, to be honest.

      I would say look at what you learned from what you had, and also what you learned from your loss. As I said before, I learned weight loss was not the cure all I dreamt about all my life. I also learned to be more empathetic to others in general. We don’t know how much struggle goes on behind the scenes, and we are really quick to think others are being lazy.

    7. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      +1 to the many great reassurances. Don’t let the fear stop you, though. That’s the one place where I’m thinking re-framing, talking to yourself, telling yourself the positive, not the negative (I did achieve “X” so I can attain the next goal I set, just not today..). I won’t add to the encouraging stories (mine is still being written, I’m only a couple months out from having my life nearly shattered). But we are strong, and survivors, and we have the ability to pick up the pieces and build something even stronger…

    8. Nines*

      I have definitely been through this. And it’s just extremely painful for awhile. And then a little bit less. And a little bit less. And so on. I did not think it could possibly be okay. But I’m very happy in my current life. I think most of the recovery period for me was focused on 1) building back confidence. I’m not worthless because of what happened, etc. 2) letting go of that dream. For me, the dream was literally no longer achievable. But that’s okay. I built something else and am happy enough that I can’t say if I would be happier doing the first plan or not and don’t particularly care. But it just Really. Sucks. for awhile. Or it did for me anyways. Driving for some reason was where I had my biggest pity parties. I would literally just cry saying “why Me?!?” over and over again until I was able to be okay with not having an answer to that.

      All this to say, Good Luck! I don’t know of anyway to avoid the pain, but hopefully you can believe that you will be happy again.

    9. Catherine*

      Not to be a downer but… personally I haven’t gotten over it and it’s very much about living around it. I do always ache for what I lost on some level, though the intensity waxes and wanes. There is a hole in my life, and when I experience new joys they are lessened because I know that it would be better “if only.” I’ve had to kind of just acknowledge that this is how it is for me and no amount of therapy, meditation, yoga, etc can fill that hole in.

      On the other hand, because I’ve already come down from the peak, I know that nothing else that happens to me can ever affect me as strongly. I’ve had my highest high and my lowest low and that gives me a certain level of invincibility that I take comfort in.

  7. matcha123*

    I listen to NPR mainly and also read articles online and I notice that increasingly people use “PoC” as a stand-in for “black.” The frustrating part is that while PoC is meant to be more inclusive, it ends up excluding other non-black minorities, since their voices and experiences are not even touched on.
    I am thinking of East and South Asian Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and multiracial people. In the rare occasions that these groups are given a voice, their issues are presented as very separate.

    Do any other PoC here notice the same thing?

    I listened to an NPR segment a few weeks ago where the host and guest used “PoC” a number of times when they clearly were talking about issues that affected the black community. The same with using “ethnic hair” to mean “black hair.” It’s just frustrating in the sense that labels that are meant to be inclusive of wide swaths of people are basically used by people who are afraid? to say ‘black.’

    Since this is the internet, I should add that I am a very brown mixed race person with blood relatives who identify as black.

    1. Jemima Bond*

      I’m white so I could have this all wrong but surely a southeast Asian or a Hawaiian etc is more excluded by “black” than by “person of colour”? Because, well, they’re not black? But cultural differences might be at play – here one only uses black to describe African/Afro-Caribbean heritage – for Asian or Chinese heritage or whatever we’d say that. And nobody says person of colour. We might write BAME for black and minority-ethnic but it isn’t really a conversational term. Hair would be described as Afro or European.

      1. PX*

        I think what matcha is trying to say is that while PoC is supposed to be more inclusive, the reality is that people use it when really they are referring specifically to black/African issues. So then the term itself isnt actually being inclusive because the experiences of anyone who is a minority that isnt black are not being captured in the discussion.

        I’m guessing you are UK based (given the BAME) terminology, and I have to say, I do sort of prefer the breakdown as they give it on forms etc here.

        Your comment on hair is interesting. I had a friend from Japan who complained that hairdressers who only know caucasian/Western European hair had no idea how to cut her hair and she would have to trek to a specialist hairdresser as well. It was an odd thing to find we have in common, but thats the kind of thing where for example, using the phrase “ethnic” hair to stand in for black hair wouldnt work, because if “ethnic” only means “non-caucasian”, then that should also include anyone from Asia/middle-east etc because their hair struggles will also be real!

        Basically, I’m on team specificity! Personally I think lumping all minority ethnicities into one grouping (PoC) is not helpful…

        1. ElspethGC*

          Some of the race breakdowns in UK vs US are interesting when you look at the language that people use. (I’m so white I’m translucent, so this is looking in from the outside, but this is more of a national difference that I’m thinking of.) Like, I get the impression that when someone from the US says “Asian”, they’re generally referring to East Asian people? But here in the UK, people from East Asia generally get referred to by country of origin, and “Asian” as a generic term is generally accepted to mean South Asian – Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi. I’ve seen people say that it has to do with immigration patterns, which seems to make sense. We have a much higher proportion of South Asian people here than we do East Asian.

          1. PX*

            Yup, this is definitely true as well. I can imagine that for instance even between different parts of the US, and perhaps Canada (I have a little experience there too), Asian can mean very different things for example: India vs China vs Vietnam vs Thailand. And each of those groups may have different challenges and experiences in whichever (part of the) country they ended up in.

      2. LGC*

        Exactly – but we wouldn’t call a southeast Asian person or a Pacific Islander “black” under most circumstances where I’m from in the US. (We’d often use their country – or region – of origin, like “she’s Thai,” “he’s Samoan,” so on and so forth.) Black Americans/African-Americans are actually somewhat unique in this case as we tend to be referred to as a monolith. (I’m black.)

        I…don’t read the same media that Matcha reads, obviously – so I haven’t noticed the PoC = black drift. In that case, it’s kind of a shame! (I have heard the “ethnic hair” = “black hair” shift, and…okay, again, I’m black and my afro is flat on one side right now, but I think at least part of it is to get away from the baggage that the term “black hair” carries.) I like having a general term to refer to “not white, ” but a large part of that is personal preference.

        Usual disclaimer that being a PoC myself doesn’t make me an expert on ethnic relations, and I could be messing things up.

        1. matcha123*

          I don’t have anything I can pull up right now, I listen to radio programs or read through articles/web postings/comments without saving the original sources.
          I guess if you are just listening along, then it might not sound immediately apparent.
          As an example, I think I was listening to 1A on NPR and they were talking with black kids from some school near Chicago (I think) and some problem between some of the black and white students. In that segment ‘people of color’ was used by the host (I think) and the students and guests, but they were talking about an issue between some black and some white students. Maybe they didn’t want to frame it as another black/white issue, but that’s what it was. I guess, while I too am tired of that whole “black vs. white” dynamic, I’d rather they just say it if that’s what it is. Or round out the conversation with some perspectives from other students of color (maybe they were asked and declined to go on the show, I don’t know).

          I think people of color or ‘ethnic’ are fine terms, but if we are only using them because we don’t want to say ‘black hair,’ etc. then how are other people of color supposed to fit into this narrative? (Not that you have to answer, it’s more like asking out loud.)
          And I should add that more voices are being heard, which is great!

          Maybe to be a little clearer?, what I see is that if a group is talking about some kind of racial issue, ‘PoC’ often seems to refers to blacks. If they are citing a study, “PoC” refers to blacks, Hispanics and sometimes Native Americans. But I rarely ever see “PoC” applied to East/South Asians, Pacific Islanders, or multiracial people. For me, that’s a lot of people who are being excluded from important surveys and discussions.

          1. LGC*

            (tl;dr – LET ME, A BLACK PERSON, EXPLAIN TO YOU, A MIXED-RACE PERSON (WHO IS PROBABLY PARTLY OF SOUTH ASIAN DESCENT), WHAT RACISM IS IN AMERICA FOR EVERYONE. Because clearly, I, an Internet Weirdo™, am qualified to pontificate on race issues.

            If you can’t tell, I’m well aware I’m going to screw a LOT of stuff up.)

            With the ethnic hair/black hair thing, I wasn’t trying to say that it was correct shorthand! It’s just that…like, to be clear, there’s a ton of history about African hair and the politics behind it. And for a lot of people, it’s a surprisingly sensitive topic, so to dodge claims of racism they just use a euphemism. (And to be clear, I’ve often heard the word “ethnic” used as a dodge in general – it’s far more socially acceptable to say, “She looks ethnic” as opposed to (for example), “She looks Middle Eastern,” or “She doesn’t look white, but I can’t place her ethnic background exactly.”)

            With PoC in general – At first, I was just thinking it was a weird NPR-speak thing, since a lot of the examples you used were from NPR. But also…I think that might be more a problem with the “model minority” myth, personally. Like, we think that people of Asian/PI descent in general are doing just fine – and by some metrics, they are! But we then forget that people of Asian descent also have their own structural issues (and this also depends on whether you’re Middle Eastern, South Asian, East Asian, or Pacific Islander). It’s interesting that in the study example you listed off black people, Latinx people, and then Native Americans – that’s generally what would be considered “historically disadvantaged minorities” in the US.

            Also: For what it’s worth, I think that African-Americans are the most politically unified ethnic group (which is…a mixed bag), so that might be another part of it as well. Just in general, people don’t deal well with nuance, and in the US, since the highest-profile racial conflict is between blacks and whites, that’s how a lot of things are framed. It’s pretty stupid once you look below the surface – police brutality doesn’t just affect young black men, immigration and asylum doesn’t just affect Central Americans, terrorism is DEFINITELY not just about Middle Eastern and South Asian people – but I can kind of make sense of the bad shorthand going on.

            Finally, I think that people just stay within their own frameworks, and it takes work to get outside of those frameworks. (It’s work people should do! But also, it’s work, and people are lazy.) As I’m writing this, I can see that part of the reason I feel a little less urgent about this than you do is because I’m on the “other” end. (I will say that this is making me think about a lot of things, though!)

            1. PhyllisB*

              My pet peeve (and being a white person with no dog in this fight, feel free to disregard) is referring to all black people as African American.
              My sister and I had a flaming row in which she called me a racist because I referenced someone we both knew as black. (The reason race was even brought up was because we knew two people with the same first and last name, and one was white, the other black.)
              My argument is, that not all dark-skinned people are from Africa. Some are from Haiti, some from the Bahamas, ect. you get my meaning. Am I sounding racist by not just saying African American? If so, I will stop immediately because I AM NOT a racist person and I would never want anyone to think I was.

              1. Damaris*

                I’ve heard black people say that they prefer to be called black – that Jesse Jackson decided they should be called African- American and that was that– but they dont like it. As a white person, I must admit I prefer “black”. I’m white, she’s black. What’s wrong with that? African-American seems overly complicated and descriptive (should I be called Russian-Polish-American?) and it’s true that not all black people here are of African origin.

                1. matcha123*

                  My black family members call themselves black. I can’t think of any black people I personally know who call themselves “African American.” The idea behind the word was to move away from the ‘black/white’ dynamic, but I would say that black Americans are fine with ‘black’, and black people from South America or the Caribbean would prefer to identify with their countries of origin. Either way, I think using ‘African American’ over ‘black’ is a larger debate within white American circles than black ones.

              2. Femme D'Afrique*

                As an African, I (obviously?) don’t relate to the PoC appellation, but I wanted to give another perspective to PhyllisB. Here, people often use “black” and “African” as though they’re interchangeable, which is problematic for various reasons, for instance it denies most of North Africa of their “Africanness.”

                However, when I hear the term African American used to refer to people in the United States, regardless of whether their immediate ancestry is from Haiti or the Bahamas, I see it as an attempt to acknowledge that they all have their origins in Africa, which is true and is a politically powerful statement (as well as being an acknowledgment of a common history).

                When people use the appellation as a substitute for Black and end up referring to non-Americans as African Americans, then it’s the latter part of the phrase that needs interrogating, IMO.

                1. PhyllisB*

                  Hmmm..Femme, good points. My sister said I was racist for referring to someone as Black instead of African American because it’s demeaning to reduce someone to their to skin color. I get that, but I get referred to as White all the time, and to me it’s just an identifier, as I was using in this specific instance. We know two Mary Smiths; one Black, the other White/Caucasian. I don’t expect to be referred to as Irish-American, or English-American or whatever. How would anyone know which unless they knew my family lineage? So to me referring to all Black people as African American seems like the same thing. Never thought about the fact that original lineage was from Africa. (Besides, how do we know they’re (any color) are actually Americans? Maybe they’re still citizens of Jamaica, Costa Rico, ect. Anyway, not trying to start a debate here; but I would never want to do or say anything that would hurt someone or be construed as racist.

            2. matcha123*

              I am mixed black/Native American/white, so I definitely know the history of racism in the US.
              As a multiracial person with a large number of Asian American and multiracial friends, many of whom range from growing up in poverty to growing up with everything handed to them…from experiencing a lot of harassment to almost none, it is frustrating that these voices are rarely heard.

            3. Chameleon*

              Just wanted to clarify an issue that I’ve seen a couple times in this thread–the idea that Pacific Islanders do not fall into the “disadvantaged” PoC framework is totally not true. At least in my area, PI families tend to be very similar to African American and Latinx families in terms of income, educational achievement and opportunity, job discrimination, etc. Mileage may differ in areas where they are not as large a percentage of the population.

      3. matcha123*

        PX below (above?) has the meaning I was looking for. There are many issues in America that can be shared by people of color, but some issues that are more specific to certain communities.
        America really jumped on the race issue, but I feel like we also need national origin, too.
        I get that it’s a huge problem to tackle, what with 300-some million people in the US with roots in hundreds of nations.

    2. Drop Bear*

      It seems to me – a white non-US person – that using PoC is a step ‘backwards’ – back to a binary classification system- white or non-white ; making it so the most important thing is whether you are white or not – any other ethnic/cultural background is of secondary importance. I think it’s less to do with fear of saying ‘black’ or inclusiveness, and more about attempting to wipe out cultural/ethnic pride and power – but I’m old and cynical and hopefully wrong.

      1. CC*

        Its original intent is the opposite. The idea is that you emphasize the person, not their race or ethnicity. It is also used in different contexts, for example, saying people with disabilities instead of disabled person.

        However, most people do not mind if you say Black people or disabled people, but as I understand it, the original idea was to emphasize the humanity first.

      2. fposte*

        Though the UK has a similar locution, at least in academic circles, of BAME–Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic. In my head I always read as “badass mother effers,” which I think is a point in its favor.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          I work for a non-profit that works with employers on having more diverse workforces (among other things), and I fear that now I won’t be able to write or hear BAME at work without thinking that!

    3. PX*

      I come at this from a slightly different take as I’m not American and I’m black (and would always refer to myself as that). I..honestly get confused by PoC sometimes because its so broad I’m kind of like – well, who are you referring to here actually?

      Personally I think it is as you say – people are afraid to use the word black (which to me personally, is just a descriptor, same way I would refer to someone as being white) and so in trying to soften it and be inclusive, it then becomes a mass generalisation. And while I get that in some ways it may be useful to have an easy catch-all term (in some discussions), it can just as easily be unhelpful when, as you say, the topic being discussed is specific to a certain group, and it might be better to just…be specific about which group you are referring to.

      1. New Bee*

        American Black woman here, and I agree. I most often hear POC used to imply solidarity, which is…just not accurate in so many ways.

        I’ll also toss folks saying “African American” when they mean “Black” into this pile.

        1. ElspethGC*

          I’ll never stop being amused by American newscasters/talk show hosts/etc introducing Black British people as “British African American”.

        2. PX*

          Its actually not funny, but that last point of yours – I will never forget when there were riots in France a few years back and there was a clip from an American news channel (I forget which, not sure if there were multiple) talking about the ‘African Americans’ rioting in France and it was just like…*facepalm*.

        3. TL -*

          Oh interesting. I use it when I’m speaking very broadly but it’s very intentional when I do- I’ll say something like “Health disparities exist between white people and PoC,” which is true.
          If I wanted to talk about anything in particular, I would use more specific terms, ie, “Black women have maternal mortality rates 2x higher than white women, but Latina women have maternal mortality rates lower than white women.” But I really like looking at a big piece of data and breaking it down into all its different components, so I do tend towards more specific language when I can.

      2. Lissa*

        I’ve seen PoC used to mean everything from “anyone who isn’t 100% white” to “people who visibly aren’t white” to “black people” so yeah, I don’t think it’s useful unless you’re in a specific group who understands what meaning is being used.

      3. Mazzy*

        This is my takeaway too. Especially when a politician uses it in a general idea. Then you literally have no idea who exactly they’re talking about. Sometimes I wonder if they even know who exactly did they’re talking about. Sometimes I think they’re just using it as a shorthand for something else.

    4. ronda*

      this is putting me in mind of transgender naming conventions — from what i read you should call people what they want to be called.
      So maybe the group in the news story wants to be called poc?

      It is hard, cause everyone does not want to be called the same thing….. so at a overarching level, someone is always going to be annoyed.

      I do remember over the years, a few different ways you where supposed to label black people.

      And national origin….. I cant really tell by looking at people — and many black people would consider their national origin to be USA.

    5. purple otter*

      Asian-American here – yeah, I’ve kind of noticed that trend as well. Which frustrates me because if it’s supposed to be inclusive/non-discriminatory, then why does it apply to just black people/African-Americans? Are the rest of us minorities supposed to be referenced by where our ancestors came from or the “color” of our skin? Color is so vague anyway, since both Indians and Hispanics sometimes call themselves brown. And this doesn’t even go into multiracial people!

      Also, the hair issue mentioned upthread is so real. Asian hair has a different texture from European or African hair. I go to a salon where the clientele is entirely Asian or else my hair comes out looking stupid.

      1. TL -*

        I grew up in a majority-Hispanic area and when I moved to a big city and started going to salons that dealt with mostly-white customers, it made all the difference in the world for my hair. And I learned things – like, I always thought I had really thin hair but apparently, on the white-girl scale, my hair is actually thick.

        But growing up I could never understand why my friends and I would get haircuts at the same places and their hair would look amazing and mine would not – I always thought I just had difficult hair!

    6. Ann O.*

      I’m not PoC, but my husband is Asian-American and he’s mentioned both noticing that and feeling excluded by it.

    7. valentine*

      POC was coined for groups working in solidarity, so the Black Panthers, Brown Berets, and Yellow Peril are POC. Now, so many people do use it so they don’t have to say Black or even African American, the standard hypervigilance and invisibility. I’d be happy if everyone used the term as intended (and stopped with catchalls, in general), because it’s most often a way to erase Black women. “X show has a woman who is a POC!” Yeah. She’s Black. You don’t get to keep it a dirty word.

      It’s extremely galling that nonBlack and nonwhite people complain of feeling overlooked when there is any focus on Black people. Black people are not stopping you telling your stories and getting NPR to talk about you. And how are the Black people in your group? Because if they had everything they needed, so would you.

      1. matcha123*

        Black people are not stopping anyone from telling their stories. However, if the media at large use “PoC” in place of black, when they definitely mean “black,” then that cuts out voices.
        Why would it be galling for other minorities, who also experience discrimination in America, to feel overlooked?
        My issue is not about black people taking something from another minority group. My issue is that other minorities are being shut out of participating in many important discussions about race in America. It’s important that black Americans know about the contributions that other minority groups made to the Civil Rights movement in the US, and it is important for other minority groups to know how actions taken by black Americans have helped their communities.

        It is very important for other marginalized, minority voices to be heard.

        1. New Bee*

          “My issue is that other minorities are being shut out of participating in many important discussions about race in America.”

          True, but that’s the fault of white supremacy, not Black people. I see valentine’s point that it’s frustrating that Black people, especially Black women, are expected to do for everybody when they don’t do for us.

  8. Jemima Bond*

    This weekend I am moving out of the flat I have lived for just under 16 years. There is so much stuff. Send help.

    1. Feliz*

      Good luck! I hope it goes as well as possible.
      This is why we move or do a huge purge every 3-4yrs – I hate how stuff builds up. My spouse likes to keep everything so it’s a challenge! There’s a box of cds that has remained unopened for +8yrs – including through 3 moves and one stint in storage. I’ve warned spouse that they’re not moving again :D

      1. Drop Bear*

        Arson? But seriously – good luck. I’m determined never to move again unless I win the lottery and can afford to pay someone to do it all – and I do mean ALL!!

      2. Extra Vitamins*

        I hear you about the spouse. I just yesterday found mine has been keeping the cardboard bits out of the midddle of paper towel rolls, apparently for YEARS.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It took me a while to break this habit when my kids stopped doing so many craft and school projects. (Same with shoeboxes. After so many years of “Okay next week everyone bring in a shoe box…”)

        2. Perse's Mom*

          Check with local animal shelters or small animal rescues! I think mice, hamsters, gerbils, even rabbits will happily play with/gnaw on them.

    2. I am still Furious!!*

      Oh good luck! I had to clean out my house where I lived for 27 years. Oh. My. Goodness. Where did all that stuff come from??? I’m down to a 10×12 foot stash in my Mom’s garage and I finally feel like I’ve gotten a handle on it! You’ll get there!

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Preparing to move. We’ve been here for just under 20 years. A *lot* of stuff isn’t coming with us. And I still expect to unpack stuff and decide it should go right into the donation pile after all.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve been clearing my parents’ clutter.

      I keep thinking of a Stone Soup cartoon in which one sister is helping the other clear out her kitchen preparatory to working on the cabinets.
      Val: What’s in this drawer?
      Joan: That’s the junk drawer.
      Val: But what’s in it?
      Joan: I don’t remember.
      Val: …. Okay, turn your back.

    4. Lady Alys*

      Unpacking in our new house after six months of construction limbo. I thought I had decluttered a lot, but wow was I wrong. You have my sympathies. Good luck!

    5. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Hug. I am trying to clean out the 25+ years of clutter from the deceased hoarding spouse (7 garage stalls full). It’s an endless task and I’ve given myself 9 months. Going slowly.
      Make some rules about jettisoning and do not deviate. Indecision is not your friend.
      Can you send a plea out to others – bring helping hands and there is free pizza? Beg for help? Is it packing? Buying the boxes/tape/supplies (doing a Home depot run?) Lifting? donation run? Identify the one big thing that would help you the most, and ask for the help from EVERYONE. I was surprised at those who came to help.

      1. CommonName*

        Sounds like my mom. She has a storage unit just for… my old baby clothes. Now that my dad’s passed, I’m planning on visiting for a week just to clean.

    6. valentine*

      Throw out anything you don’t use, especially if you forgot you had it. Just throw it right out. When I decide I can let something go, it’s best if I throw it out straightaway. No donation pile to postpone decisions. The KonMari pile in the middle of the floor is too distressing for me, but I was able to ditch a lot of stuff because her of book and no longer want to weep at the thought of moving.

    7. Jemima Bond*

      I’m still alive! Back to the flat tomorrow to clean and collect a few bits and pieces, but the worst is over. Mr Bond has been a prince among men, driving the van and helping out in all ways. Strokes of luck include: that the management company of the flats where I’vd just left, decided to order a skip this weekend to put out for residents’ domestic waste; that I am a big strong lady that can (with one other human) lift and move a beast of a sofa bed; and that a lady from a local Facebook group with whom I rehomed my sandwich toaster, brought me a chocolate orange as a thank you!

    8. Jemima Bond*

      I forgot to mention – in the course of rewarding Mr Bond with pizza and beer for his hard work, I was lucky enough that the pizza place accidentally delivered the pizza twice. We did say, but the delivery lady let us keep the second one. So tomorrow’s lunch is covered!

    9. Daisy Avalin*

      We moved two weeks ago – I got rid of 19 bin bags of clothes, and have 20 – 25 bags left to sort through and decide what I want to keep!

      Just keep breathing through it, and make sure you have alcohol to hand on the last night of moving!

  9. Feliz*

    Is there any correct response to the following situation?
    A family member (by marriage) vaguebooks a lot, which I just roll my eyes at and ignore. Like random memes about how people hurt you but you know who your true friends are. These do not get many comments

    Occasionally she posts quite cutting things about her spouse. I hate it when she does this – firstly this is not the right forum for your problems! And secondly her spouse bends over backwards for her and their child. Spouse isn’t on facebook but lots of other family members are.

    I’ve just ignored it for years but it’s starting to wear on me. I can’t even imagine trying to bring it up in conversation, and I’m definitely not planning to add a comment!

    1. Lena Clare*

      I don’t know what vaguebooking is but…she’s passive-aggressive. Ugh, passive-aggressive people.

      The relationship between her and her husband is not really your thing so I’d say leave that alone, unless you feel that he is being abused in which case I think it’s ok to offer support if he needs it, but I don’t think you’re saying that.

      I’d block her on Facebook so you don’t have to keep seeing this stuff. (I’m not on Facebook because I.HATE.IT). You’re still interacting with her in meat space right because she’s a family member.
      If she asks why you blocked her on FB (which I don’t think people can tell, can’t they?, but she might notice she can’t see your stuff on there, and because she has no boundaries she might mention it) you can say “I’m not enjoying our online interactions”, or if that’s too uncomfortable you can lie and say “I want to keep my interactions on there just to people who don’t live near enough for me to see regularly, so it’s a way to keep in regular contact”. I mean you don’t actually owe her an explanation.

      And if she *is* one of those people who you don’t see regularly in meat space well then the beauty of online is you don’t need to respond at all – your silence *is* your answer. And I’m presuming you have contact with her outside of Facebook? Like texting and whatever? But she doesn’t send passive-aggressive memes to you directly via text?
      If she did, that would be weird… super weird. But you could always respond with the disingenuous “huh, I don’t know what you mean at all?”

      I would totally love doing this in kind – they send a meme, I send one back e.g.

      Or, go read Captain Awkward for better advice than what I can give you :)

      It sucks to have to be the one to consistently set boundaries, especially when it’s hard work and it’s the *other person* making it difficult. But it’s 2-fold: set the boundary, then stick to it. You don’t have to put up with this is ypu don’t want to.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh format fail, some stuff got missed out

        The example was – I would send a meme back of a ‘very puzzled person with a big question mark over their head’ in response to her sending you memes to your personal number if she texts. But that’s me being childish :D

      2. TL -*

        Vaguebooking is posting things like, “This has been the worst day ever and at least I know who my true friends are” where you allude to a problem in a fairly dramatic way but don’t specify what it is. Bonus points if you snap at people for asking what’s wrong in the comments or pointedly state that you don’t want people prying into your issues when they ask.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            >LOL and headdesk at the same time

            Double Oh wow–this is an eloquent combination of two words in Modern Language.*
            Although my son’s “f*ck yeah” reaction to certain results in the U.S. election is a close second. (Not specifying _which_ results except to say that he was not rejoicing about the election of any White Nationalist Racists.) End political discussion.

            *description I just invented which I wanted to mean “lingo used by young people who want to get on my lawn.” It probably also means “I have aged so far away from being hip that I need a translator!”

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          I honestly don’t see what’s so terrible about that. Sometimes it’s helpful to reach out and tell people who you’re feeling even if you can’t go into detail. Some stuff is too personal for Facebook. Sometimes getting specific is inadvisable for legal reasons, or because friends of the person you’re talking about are in the audience, or work, politics, all kinds of things.

          But if people know something bad happened, they can be more understanding when they run into you and you seem grouchy, or reach out privately / in person to offer support. I know some people vaguebook passive aggressively, but it can be a healthy thing too.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            It’s that indirect way of speaking, that avoids addressing the actual problem with the person involved. The unspoken message here is “one of you really messed up today, I am not saying which one of you, but I am really ticked about it. And you should know that.” Meanwhile, no one has any idea who the writer is angry with or why.
            This is not how adults handle problems.
            When used repeatedly over a long period of time, it comes across as passive-aggressive, since it’s not a one time vent but rather it’s a way of life. “Time to play guess who I am mad at now.”

            This is not a person who wants to solve matters, this is a person who wants to wallow in problems.

            1. Slartibartfast*

              A modern version of “If you don’t know what you did wrong, I’m certainly not going to tell you!”

            2. LilySparrow*

              Yep. If it’s too personal for Facebook, then keep it off Facebook. Reach out to individuals who can support you, or tell people you’ve been grouchy to, “Sorry, I’m having a tough day.”

              A public performance of “Oooooh, I’m just so very very upset” isn’t going to get you any real support or compassion.

          2. Asenath*

            I am not on Facebook – but honestly, the description given reminded me of people who go around obviously absolutely miserable, and when you ask what’s wrong, they tell you that if you paid any attention you’d know and so on and so forth, and the whole scenario blows up into a nasty quarrel over what an unkind and selfish person you are, not noticing and fixing OP’s problems. In non-Facebook life, I finally dealt with this, to be honest, by ignoring the dramatic hints of misery. Unkind, perhaps, but better for my mental health and peace of mind.

          3. Lissa*

            I mean….there’s ways to do it and ways not to do it. A one time, “I’m going through a really rough time and could use some support – anyone up for distracting me with cat pictures?” Totally fine. Or something like “I can’t get into details now but things aren’t going well for me, please send good thoughts.” Also can be fine. It gives some actionable advice for how you’d like the support to manifest, and isn’t deliberately mysterious.

            The kind of vaguebooking that I find people really hate is the type that “subtly” complains about someone who can likely see it. I think this is also called subtweeting? Like, “Wow, you THINK you know somebody, and then find out they stabbed you in the back!!” Also, anything like “I guess I am just a terrible person who doesn’t deserve happiness” where it’s pretty much screaming “please tell me how I’m actually great!” By anyone above 16 or so.

            Frequency is also huge. I’ve got a friend-ish person who posts about being betrayed by friends on a really regular basis, and it just comes off as immature and dramatic. But basically everyone can get away with a bit of drama once in awhile if they usually aren’t like that.

            1. Anon Anon Anon*

              Ok, I get that. These explanations are helpful.

              For me, what the person is complaining about also makes a big difference. I get really sick of dramatic posts about minor problems, or problems that come with having advantages in life. I’m a lot more understanding when people are talking about major things that they don’t have a lot of control over.

              But I guess vaguebooking is about the kind of tone you use – whether it’s helpful to anyone or just blowing off steam.

              1. Lissa*

                Yeah – also with vaguebooking someone could be talking about anything from a family member being seriously ill to their roommate not doing the dishes to their specification, because they don’t say! Glad that helped though! I’ve had my share of drama monarchs on my FB feed over the years.

                1. Anon Anon Anon*

                  I’ve been guilty of it at times. Sometimes a lot of stuff is going wrong and you just want to announce, “World, times are hard for me right now!” I’m trying to figure out how and when to do that (if at all) and what lines not to cross. I always regret it, but then I think, “Well, at least I’m reaching out to people and communicating. There are less healthy ways to deal with problems.” But I think it is generally something to avoid.

          4. Parenthetically*

            I mean, I hear ya, but this isn’t, “Hey, I’m going through a tough time right now, I really could use your good vibes/prayers/bottles of wine right now!” THAT is absolutely healthy. But “some people are SO petty but it’s cool I’ll get mine and one day you’ll get yours and meanwhile my real friends stick around and don’t stab me in the back” — I literally do not see any way for that to be healthy.

        2. PhyllisB*

          Never heard the term vaguebooking before, but guess I did that a couple of weeks ago. However, I did not get upset with people who expressed concern, I thanked them and told them I would reveal all soon but for now didn’t know what to do and asked them to keep me in their prayers. Don’t put something like that out and then get pissy with people who express love and concern for you. If it’s just somebody being nosy/looking for gossip, piss away!!

      1. tangerineRose*

        Or the unfollow option. This has been very helpful to me in the last few years. I don’t mind people having different views than I have, but if people with any views (even views I mostly agree with) get overly obnoxious about it repeatedly, they’re unfollowed.

        1. Clumsy Ninja*

          I have unfollowed quite a few people lately. It’s very freeing. I can go check in on them once in awhile and see if things have changed, but we’re still friends and I don’t have to be annoyed by their crap.

      2. Anon Anon Anon*

        I’ve just stopped looking at the news feed. It’s designed to push your buttons. It causes too much stress. As much as I want to keep in touch with people, that’s just not worth it.

    2. JB*

      I agree that the best plan of action may be to block her (I doubt she will notice, if she does you could feign ignorance, “Oh, I’m not in your friend list anymore. How strange, I rarely use Facebook. I’ll have to look into that! Anyway, [topic change ready at hand]”

      My brother’s wife started a blog that I read for a bit, until she started posting about their relationship. It got too intimate to me and seemed like things that should stay between the two of them (or discretely talked to with her close friends, if she wants advice). I stopped reading the blog.

      1. Parenthetically*

        You can hide/unfollow someone AND NEVER SEE THEIR STUFF AGAIN HALLELUJAH without the drama of blocking or unfriending them. Bless facebook for this feature honestly.

    3. Waiting for the Sun*

      I am on Facebook a lot and that kind of thing is really annoying. Agree with unfollowing her.
      Google “7 Ways to be Insufferable on Facebook” by Wait But Why for some laughs of solidarity.

    4. Old Biddy*

      Can you hide her posts? I know it’s harder with family members, but if she asks you can always blame it on Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms.
      I have low tolerance for humblebraggers, oversharers, and vaguebookers, so I hide their posts. No one has ever commented. Ever so often I glance at their pages to see if I missed anything important.

    5. Slartibartfast*

      My sister in law is like this. I can’t unfriend.her, did that once and she noticed! It was not worth the family drama, so I pretended it was an accident. I have her hidden on my news feed and I am more of a lurker than a poster, so it’s plausible I just don’t ‘notice’ unless she messages me directly. Out of sight out of mind and ignore, ignore, ignore. I feel bad for BIL, but it’s his monkey and his circus, not mine.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Living with someone for a long time means they will absolutely do stuff that irritates you. But I HATE when people complain non-stop about their spouses to the world at large. Reasons:

      1. If I’m your coworker, I don’t care.
      2. If I’m just a Facebook friend, I also don’t care.
      3. Unless it’s funny and you’re obviously gently teasing and he/she would laugh along with you, it’s rude and demeaning to run down someone you purportedly love, especially if they bend over backwards for you. I dislike those shrewish wife cartoons for the same reason.
      4. I don’t want to know stuff you should be keeping private (i.e. “He never blah blah blah sex stuff”). Everyone I know who does this eventually complains about sex. Everyone. Now when Bob comes to pick you up, I’ll be thinking about how he doesn’t blahblahblahsexstuff. Thanks for that.
      5. I’d give anything to have a spouse even if he throws their socks toward the hamper so that they fall behind it instead of in it and then when he runs out of socks, says, “Babe, why don’t I have any socks?”*

      Stop doing it or get a divorce since you’re obviously unhappy.

      *I literally just now made that up but I would be okay with it

      1. Justin*

        This is why, even though like any humans we argue, I don’t complain about my wife online (or to anyone aside from working things out with a professional.. uh, not that kind of professional).

        So I agree 100%

    7. Feliz*

      I think this was probably more of a vent so thanks for listening! I see some of you know people who do exactly the same, like the passive aggressive stuff. This really nailed it for me: “I get really sick of dramatic posts about minor problems, or problems that come with having advantages in life.” She has an incredible amount of privilege that goes completely unrecognised – and then complains about her (pretty easy) life. And yes, at heart she is very unhappy.

      I don’t want to unfollow her else I’ll miss out on seeing what their child is up to – we only see them in person 2-3x per year. I’ll just keep ignoring

      The joys of family!

    8. PhyllisB*

      Yeah, my husband got off FB because he didn’t like seeing comments I made about him and all the responses. The odd thing is, I NEVER put anything negative about him. (I save that for y’all.) :-) The only things I ever said was something like Happy Birthday/Anniversary/I love you, or look what my sweet hubby had waiting for me when I got home from work today: a string of pearls and a bouquet of flowers for my birthday. I didn’t realize this upset him until he got off FB and told our kids over a Sunday lunch why. If he had just told me, I would have quit mentioning him.

  10. Blue Bird*

    I argued with someone about Woody Allen (the abuse allegations) and he was enraged that anyone could doubt his integrity. Cue him yelling at me and talking over me (“it’s art! It’s just a fantasy! So what if he likes them young? It’s just his taste! Only one woman ever accused him and her memories are not reliable!”). By the end I was silently shaking with fury and disgust.

    So exhausting. :-(

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Exactly. there are a LOT of artists, writers, musicians, etc whom I very much admire their abilities, while also knowing that they are horrible human beings. It’s not mutually exclusive.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Good point–it can indeed be exhausting to be around someone who disagrees with you on something about which you feel strongly. Especially when the other person also has a different take on what’s appropriate (yelling? talking over you?). Can you take any comfort in having stayed civil?

      Comic postscript: I wrote this before undoing a Major Reading Comprehension Fail. First time around I misread the “he was enraged” as “I was enraged.” No offense intended. I’m just amused at myself for having been so Carefully Polite in my reply…which still stands even after my Reading Comprehension Adjustment.

      I am slowly slowly trying to become less of a Ranter and more of a Discusser. Nothing cures a person like seeing this habit reflected by one’s teenaged offspring (or students, or younger siblings, cousins, other associates, etc.). It’s like Egad, I have really set a terrible example!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      So if Mr. Allen snuggled up to his underage daughter he would be fine with that because art triumphs everything else????
      So if every artist or designer in the world behaved in the same manner that would be okay also?

      Sometimes it’s clear that conversations are going no where fast. It’s sometimes easier just to end the conversation as soon as I realize, “Let’s agree to disagree and move on to another topic.” I have noticed that with some people, routinely shutting down certain topics does over time help them to rethink what they are saying. It works sometimes but not always.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Gah, NSNR, I hope nobody misinterpreted my diplomatic vagueness for approval of Woody Allen’s behavior. I boycott his movies and have ever since his affair with his stepdaughter-now-wife became public.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Sigh. [To self: just type whatever word sounds like the actual word, it’s okay.]

          2. Jean (just Jean)*

            I was really worried about other readers misunderstanding me. It’s pretty clear that your rebuttal applies only to people who are actively defending Mr. Allen. No offense taken and I trust none given. :-)

            I like your idea re redirecting conversations before they go off a cliff. I think I have to gain more maturity before I develop the discipline to do this–I’m usually too interested in the lurid narrative of watching myself or someone else take the discussion clear over the edge. (Opens mouth, inserts foot.)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I suffer this affliction also. But I am very fortunate to have friends who have enriched my life so I have suddenly become motivated to find new ways of dealing with things. I have one friend in particular who helps a lot of people, myself included. Everything is fine until the wheels fall off on some topics. I can’t let the topic go by unchecked but I don’t want to destroy the friendship either. So this is my new approach that I am working with. It’s been a few years and I am seeing changes in my friend. He seems to be thinking about things.

  11. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread!
    What have you accomplished this week that you’re proud of – whether it’s NaNoWriMo progress, a technical manual, or even just a difficult e-mail that you managed to handle perfectly?
    Personally I once wrote some banter between characters only to realise they were HELLA FLIRTING with each other. So now I’ve been figuring out how to deal with a person from a culture that reveres the dead possibly dating a necromancer.

    1. This Daydreamer*

      I’ve got over 17k words so I’m pretty happy with that. I’m not sure what happens next, though, so I’m a little bit stuck. I need to stop procrastinating and start typing again.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        That’s amazing! 17k is a hell of an accomplishment in one week. Congratulations.

        When I’m stuck and can’t move on unless I write something, I just write something in bold like – Jane needs to do x thing here – figure it out – and then move on as though I’ve written it. I find it easier to come back in the editing process.

        Which is sort of where I’m at right now. I’ve just started something new and I’d forgotten how hard it is to write a good opening so I’m just sort of flinging words at the page and holding my breath until I get into the meat of it.

    2. Sled dog mama*

      I did not get Mad over a stupid email my boss sent me and managed to reply civily in five minutes instead of the two hours it normally takes.
      Major win for me!

    3. poetry writing*

      As you may recall I was writing a little book of poetry to gift to someone and it went really well! they were very grateful and touched by it. I also survived them not adoring all the poems in there – I mean, even I had my favorites so they were allowed to too.

      I tried something different with a poem, in that it was using the white space in the page differently, and I used bold too, and it was interesting. I always wondered how/why writers decide to do that but I guess the poem tells you it needs it, so that was instructive.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        That sounds pretty cool. I’ve always wondered how writers made that decision myself (poetry is most certainly not my strong suit ^^’ )
        Glad the recipient liked it!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’m at 24K already (I cheated and started with 15K, which helped when I switched projects and also I lost time at the election and protesting on Thursday). It’s going really well. You can follow my progress on my blog (link in my name).

      I was trying to avoid writing Book 2, since Book 1 hasn’t found a rep/sold (yet!), but the project I started NaNoWriMo with doesn’t want to be a novel. It seems more suited to a screenplay. I wanted to try that form anyway and didn’t have anything to work with, so I decided to save it for that. Plus, trying to fit it into the novel form when it didn’t want to go just stressed me out.

      So I chucked it and went on to Book 2. I know I did the right thing because there is so much less stress, yay. Last year, I tried to NaNo Book 2, but I got sick and lost so much time that I couldn’t finish. Then there were Book 1 edits, rewrites, job hunting stress, etc. etc. pfffffffffttt. If this keeps going well, I may either finish or end November way past 50K. :)

        1. Justin*

          …get anxious when things might possibly maybe ever be late and… overwork ahead of time to ease anxious feelings.

          Note, this anxiety used to paralyze me and led to procrastination. I (with prof help, meditation and generally learning myself) am at least able to weaponize it rather than try (and fail) to eliminate it.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      At that place which must not be named, my part of our high-visibility Teapot Peripheral (TM) project was listed by the regulatory agency. Phew.

      At home? I feel sheepish it’s taken so long, but .. I realized that I’m actually feeling organized in the public parts of the house we moved into last year. Bedrooms & home office & garage workshop are another matter, but I’m even start to catch up on the “depression debris” boxes I hid away the year my mother died.

    6. PhyllisB*

      Okay, so what is NaNoWriMo? I get it that it’s some of kind of writing; essays? SciFi? Fanfiction? (not even real sure what that last one is, either.) I’ve seen the term in here a lot lately and I’m curious.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        National Novel Writing Month. It’s indeed a writing thing. You can sign up on their site and the goal is to write 50k words (a rather arbitrary number tbh, but having a certain goal can be useful) within the month of november. Personally I don’t care much for it, but for every person who doesn’t like it you’ll find someone who does.
        There’s no specific genre either – you can do fantasy, romance, sci-fi,…

        1. TardyTardis*

          And it just has to be 50k words in a row–there’s no requirement that it has to be good. Lots of loving description can be your friend.

    7. Not Australian*

      Sorted out some major admin stuff from my small business, some of which had been outstanding for quite a while, and caught up with my filing. Given the size of the room I work in, this has major implications in terms of freeing up workspace both physically and mentally.

  12. This Daydreamer*

    I’m feeling very sorry for myself right now. I’m at work for a twelve hour shift and have four hours left. A little while ago I was getting really hungry, so I decided to heat up my soup. It was the only food I brought with me.

    Well, I just had to clean the entire thing out of the microwave after it went boom. All I have to eat now is from the office junk food stash. I know I know, first world problems, but I seriously almost started crying when I saw my soup splattered all over the place. Boo.

    1. Loopy*

      I don’t know if this will help but I have the same level of emotion when I don’t have my planned food at work. Having a solid meal (and not assorted junk) is so important to my well being (I get hangry) and I feel so you. Sending internet hugs. I would be in the exact same place.

    2. GhostWriter*

      I was visiting a relative in another state recently, and she said I could take any foods bars I wanted as snacks for the plane trip back. I grabbed two gram cracker/peanut sandwich butter bars and some sort of nut bar that looked really good. At the airport, I took a bite of a gram cracker bar and it was the most foul tasting thing I’d ever eaten. Realized the expiration date was in 2015. Checked the nut bar, which expired in 2017. Threw it all out and had to buy super expensive airport food.

      It’s sooooo disappointing when you’re looking forward to eating something and you’re HUNGRY and then you can’t eat it because it’s ruined somehow. :/

    3. LCL*

      Been there done that-worked a 12 and my lunch got destroyed or made inedible somehow. You have all of my sympathy, it really ruins your day. Then you compensate by eating everything in sight when you finally get back to a decent food source. 12s can be rough.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Did a 10 hour day at the tax place a couple of times last year (a peanut butter sandwich in a plastic bag in your pocket can be your friend. Also, some of those days they had pizza in back). At least I had all the coffee I could drink.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You should have seen my face drop the day I got missed breakfast, got stuck in meetings, and at 12:15 learned that the cafeteria was out of hot food.

  13. Lena Clare*

    I have been depressed and this week I started therapy… and it was amazing. Not the first time I’ve done therapy, but definitely the most profound.

    Right now, I feel horrible, my heart is aching, and I’m grieving, but I also feel…hopeful? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s ‘terrible mixed in with not-so-terrible’, which is a vast improvement on just a few days ago when everything was just terrible.

    I hope everyone has a lovely weekend.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Feel the feeling. Feelings are not actions, they are just feelings. They impact no one, however if a feeling or feelings are locked inside us and cannot come out those feelings can eat our insides right up. Stomach problems, heart problems, intestinal problems etc.
      May your path continue to get lighter and lighter.

      1. Alpha Bravo*

        Preach! As someone who has spent the better part of the last year desperately trying to avoid feeling those dreaded Feelings, I can attest to the deleterious effects on the digestive system. :/

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’s wonderful when to click and start seeing the light growing brighter.

      Have you read anything by Jennifer Lawson? Aka The Bloggess. She’s incredibly direct and funny about living with depression & other disorders.

    3. Sorority Woman*

      Good for you for taking action!

      Be kind to yourself. You are doing your best. Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to a friend in this situation – you’d encourage and be positive!

      Good luck and keep us posted!

  14. JB*

    To celebrate my 30th birthday, my husband and I have rented a house to invite friends for a three-day weekend near the beach. We will be around 12 adults, 2 children, and 2 babies. There are 7 rooms so each couple/family will have their own room. Foodwise, I think my husband and I will organize the meals and ask our friends to chip-in (this is the norm in my social circle).

    Anyone have tips on how to make sure the weekend is enjoyable and relaxing for all? Any fun 30th birthday ideas to make the celebration more memorable?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I would say to be careful to not over schedule – have your key events (like a birthday dinner), and have suggestions for things to do that people can join, but also let people do their own thing for part of the day if they want to.

      Oh, and discuss shower schedules, so that everyone isn’t trying to get hot water at the same time.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Over scheduling is a big deal. The rule I use is the more people the longer everything takes. Allot extra time for whatever you plan such as add an hour on for each meal time.

        I clocked it once. We took seven people in a mini-van on a day trip. JUST to stop and use the bathroom was almost an hour. We did not get to all the things we had planned. At some point it stops being about activity and just starts being about hanging out with each other and, oh yeah, there is this activity that we are trying to do if we get to it….

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Ask the parents about food for the 2 kids, and if they offer to handle the food for them let them. Some kids go through a period of only liking a certain brand of chicken nugget or shaped cracker, and being very restrictive at 4 really doesn’t correlate with what they will want to eat when they are 20. Or even 5.

    3. Hannah*

      Don’t take on too much planning. Keep it simple. Maybe plan dinners, buy an assortment of easy breakfast and lunch items, share what those items are with your friends, and then say “you’re welcome to bring anything else to meet your own specific needs” to avoid anyone saying “can you buy X kind of bread or Y kind of milk?”

      Pick one or two things YOU want to do, and tell your friends “Husband and I are going to the llama farm on Saturday and the teapot museum Tuesday. Everyone is welcome to join us, or it’s fine to do your own thing too!”

      Wrangling that many people’s schedules, especially with kids, etc., is nearly impossible, and a resentment-free opt-in situation will be easier than trying to please everyone.

    4. Kuododi*

      We did a rental house on the beach for our parents 50th anniversary. We stayed for a week, played on the beach and divvied up kitchen duties. The kids were older so there were no issues around keeping up with baby supplies, toys etc. We did tour a couple of local museums, historical locations but for the most part kept things loose bc coordinating that many people with various wishes, physical limitations etc is like herding cats. The evening of Mom and Dad’s actual anniversary, we made a reservation for dinner at a local seafood restaurant which did a wonderful job with our huge gaggle of people. Enjoy your trip and have a great time!!!!

    5. Feliz*

      When we do stuff like this with more than 6-ish adults we ask people to bring what they want for breakfast, then to pick a lunch or dinner and be totally responsible for it for everyone. Allergies/requirements are taken into account. They bring the food, prep and clean up.

      Else we end up spending the entire weekend buying food, preparing food and cleaning up after food. People do want to be helpful, but it’s easy to have a huge oversupply of food (that won’t fit in the fridge) and I end up feeling like I’m having to be involved in everything all weekend and it’s not really relaxing.

      This has worked surprisingly well – we all still help each other out and it’s fun. Plus our friends enjoy showing off their culinary skills (or lack of – but replaced by good planning – nothing wrong with store bought stuff)

      I hope you have a great birthday – sounds like fun!

    6. Not A Manager*

      Happy birthday! We’ve done several large-group events for various reasons, so I have some suggestions.

      First, it can be fun to organize all the meals, but another approach would be to ask everyone to volunteer to cater one meal. With six couples, you have an opportunity for everyone to be on their own for, say, breakfast, with eggs and cold cereal, etc. available for them. Everyone could volunteer for either a lunch or a dinner, with the cooks doing as elaborate a feast as they want, and the not-cooks getting cold cuts and sandwich fixings. We’ve had couples pair up for a meal, we’ve had one fancy breakfast, etc.

      This does run the risk of duplicating ingredients. We usually solve that by having everyone just take away whatever they brought, if everyone is driving. Other options are for people to post what staples they are bringing – olive oil, butter, etc. – and then you don’t have so much extra stuff.

      In terms of events, we’ve had good luck with one or two “everyone attends” events, and then a few others that people can join or not. “Whoever wants to go for a hike, meet at the trailhead at 1 pm.” Depending on the crowd, people have enjoyed board games, midnight swims, fires indoors or out, and booze. Sometimes dancing.

      Know in advance how you are going to choose bedrooms. Seriously. I’ve seen whole weekends go to shit because people had very different ideas of what was fair.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Beach? Lucky you!
      Let people know to tell the parents if they decide to bring a boat of any kind so they can bring life jackets in the right size for their kids.
      Plastic kiddy pools make amusing drinks coolers until a toddler tries to get in not realizing it’s ice.
      And remember the advice from Kurt Vonnegut…wear sunscreen.

    8. Bethany D*

      Ask the parents if the babies have regular naptimes to be considered in scheduling activities. Trying to play noisy boardgames right when Wilmington Junior is going to sleep will not make anyone happy! But delaying a hike half an hour so Daisy Dumpling can be toted along in a baby carrier would let all the adults participate. You don’t have to spend the entire weekend revolving around the kids of course, but making it easy for the parents to take care of their kids’ basic needs will help them be able to enjoy themselves too.

  15. ScotKat*

    I’m running my 5k in the dark tomorrow! With two friends. It’ll be fun, and I don’t think anyone’s going for fast, we’re just going to enjoy it. I like a 5k because I am not stressing about it like with a 10k.

    Today though I am at a bit of a loose end. Hmm. It’s so sunny, I might walk to the next small town and get a coffee, then walk back. What are you all up to today?

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

      Good luck with the 5K in the dark! I’ve always wanted to do an after-dark race. The only one I know of in the New York City area is the midnight run in Central Park on New Year’s Eve… and I hate New Year’s Eve and always just want to hide from it.

      1. ScotKat*

        Thanks! Yeah, I wouldn’t fancy a New Year one either. This one’s at 5pm so hopefully not too cold, and everything will be lit up and we get head torches to wear. It should be good fun! I’m looking forward to it being a chilled race rather than worrying about whether I can even complete it, haha.

    2. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      How fun! I’ve never done a night race, although I’ve ran in a dusk race two years in a row now. It was during the summer, and I had such a blast. I hope you do, too. Good luck!

  16. Loopy*

    Updates: I realized if people like work letter updates, maybe everyone who has commented on my various dilemmas might also like weekend thread updates? If so, here goes:

    Going to the book festival on fiance’s rare Saturday off:

    It’s today! Fiance showed less than zero interest in coming and seeing book festival (which is absolutely fine) and actually lunch didn’t even work out because he got asked to work a breakfast shift. BUT the most important update was: he wasn’t as disappointed/upset as I projected and whoever advised me to flip the situation and see how I would have felt was 100% RIGHT. I was projecting feelings on to him and he totally seemed to get how important the book festival was for me and didn’t show any indication he would have rather had me give up the festival to do something together. In fact he helped me plan! Plus we might have an opportunity to go out to dinner tomorrow night, so it all worked out.

    Wedding feelings:

    Turns out removing some problematic media from my life went a long, long, long way. That and other parts of life ramping up was a good combination (elections, holidays! other fun events) and I feel less obsessive about my appearance now probably just through sheer distraction. Didn’t end up talking to fiance about because other wedding communication issues came up and we worked through those successfully (which was very hard but I’m so relieved we got through it). I’m still frustrated that overall, wedding planning has not been the best experience for me because I just… I want to be someone who doesn’t care about the wedding and focuses only on the marriage. So in general I’m still struggling with how caught up I got in wedding!feelings, but I guess we can’t always be our absolutely ideal selves.

    Investor/mascara advice:

    I decided to get him a subscription to morningstar and membership to aii (american independent investors) – two options I NEVER would have thought of on my own and that I’m super thrilled about!

    Sadly my commitment to getting up earlier to put on makeup lasted a whopping 2 days. So until I can make it a routine, no pricey mascara for me! But if I do ever make it a habit, I’m definitely picking up Sephora’s Better than Sex!

    Thanks to this community for being so responsive, helpful and supportive! It’s made such a difference in my life! Now, off to the book festival!

    1. Lazy Cat*

      I just want to say you’re not alone in wedding planning being not the best. I got engaged and planned a wedding literally across the country from my family and friends, which was killer when all the wedding (planning) social media emphasizes “special time with your mom!” or “DIY session with your ladies!”

      It got especially bad since my fiance was still in school and got congratulated left right and center – which I loved hearing about, but also made me cry more than once. I got around that in the end by being very clear with my fiance about what my emotions were, and accepting that it was okay to be sad.

      Also, I feel you on the Saturdays off. I get one a month, and this year we’ve had to schedule almost every one for major events. It makes Sunday our one weekend day, and there’s such (imagined) pressure to do something special or “fun” – even if what we want is to do our individual craft projects at home.

      All that to say, I feel where you’re coming from, and I’m glad it’s better than last week.

    2. Reba*

      Hey Loopy, I totally get you about the confusion of wedding feelings. Some things I really cared about (but felt at times I should not care about because I am a Smart Feminist Modern Lady, not a dupe of the WIC) other things I didn’t care about but could be shaken into wondering whether I was doing it all wrong…. I found the checklists and whatnot so horrible for that! And yeah, media diet and some personal relationship information diets were so important.

      Glad you got to go to the book fair happily! Love book fairs.

      Finally, was it mentioned to you before to consider eyelash tinting?

    3. King Friday XIII*

      Lucky you! I would have totally gone to the Portland Book Festival if I wasn’t working today. It’s part of a healthy relationship to respect that your partner does stuff you’re not into and support them in it, so I’m very happy your fiance was supportive and helpful and wants you to do things that you will enjoy!

    4. TootsNYC*

      I hope you can start to think of “wedding planning” as “just planning a party.”

      And also, it’s totally OK to just go with whatever seems easiest. My own experience was that the emotions of that actual day, and the people of that actual day, so far overshadowed anything else that it really didn’t matter what I decided.

  17. AMD*

    Has anyone gone from being a really messy person to being clean and organized? What helped in making that transition? What did you have to sacrifice to achieve it?

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Pull up a chair and get comfy :-D . Short answer: The good news is that there’s a lot of help/ inspiration/ encouragement out there. Create systems that work for you. This includes being able to follow them routinely. Don’t expect overnight miracles. Be kind to yourself. Celebrate small achievements. Longer answer below in two parts.

      First the impersonal evasion: There are many authors or bloggers or other resources in this arena. Some will speak to you, others won’t; that’s okay. A partial list, not in any particular order: Don Aslett; Julie Morgenstern; Marie Kondo; Peter Walsh; Brooks Palmer of clutterbusting [dot] com; FlyLady; the Slob Sisters (one of whom has retired; the other seems to be affiliated with FlyLady); <Taming the Paper Tiger by Barbara Hemphill; Unf*ck Your Habitat (book + online in various formats); NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers; and probably a lot of information from the ADD/ADHD community. Visit chadd[dot]org to begin or look for Edward “Ned” Hallowell, or Kathleen Nadeau. If you suspect executive functioning challenges try the book Late, Lost, and Unprepared. Go online and/or to the public library or a bookstore and prepare to be overwhelmed.

      Now for the personal confession: I’ve been trying to achieve this for time measured in decades (to be fair, while also becoming a parent and weathering various challenging life events)! *Looks around at home filled with clutter plus evidence of active life in a fairly small space.* Your experience may vary. I hope so.

      Once you get going you start to gain skills in sorting, decluttering, setting priorities, and/or recycling or donating or discarding whatever you don’t want to keep. At that point it starts to get enjoyable because your confidence increases. Good luck.

      1. Jessen*

        As a follow-up, don’t feel guilty if someone’s method doesn’t work for you! I was frustrated for ages because everyone was raving about Unf*ck your Habitat and the whole 15min at a time system doesn’t really work for me naturally. I eventually found some more useful advice that did help (for me it was “a slob comes clean”), but it was endlessly frustrating to hear everyone talk about this magic book that didn’t work for me and I didn’t know why.

        I did eventually figure out why, by the way – the 15min system for me has to be bounded by not doing things in a way where the task will take more than 15min to complete. So even if its less efficient, it’s better for me to pick up one thing and put it away, than try to round up everything that needs to go somewhere.

        1. Natalie*

          It can also work to just take and leave part of a system – I never strictly did 20/10s, but I did use UFYH’s overall concept of doing certain cleaning tasks daily, cleaning a little bit at a time, prioritizing the grossest or most important stuff, and NO MARATHONS. Doing small, specific cleaning tasks every day made the biggest difference in changing my own expectations and comfort with messiness, so that I was more motivated to spend a little extra time on laundry or whatever.

          1. Lissa*

            Yeah, the one thing I took from FlyLady, which I wasn’t overall that into tone-wise, was when all else fails, clean the kitchen sink! It really helped my mental state around kitchen things. While our place is FAR from perfect I feel like it never gets to the same level of bad that it used to.

            1. Elizabeth West*


              When the sink is dirty/full of dishes, the entire kitchen feels dirty. Same with the bedroom. I make my bed nearly every day no matter what else I haven’t done.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I use her webite without emails. It gives a launchpad, daily missions, general reminders, and the babysteps that walk you through to writing your own “control journal.” (And as long as she publishes her oversized wall calendar I’m buying it.)

              I just couldn’t take all the add-on friends with other programs, so no more emails. She freely advises people to take the parts that work for them, so I’m cool with that. And honestly, the days her assignment was to delete old Flylady emails? That was an eyeopener that I was turning into an electronic packrat….good practice deleting something I knew would roll around again.

        2. Roja*

          I’m the same way. I know a lot of people swear by doing a little bit of laundry or cleaning every day, but I can only manage if I do it all in one day. Then I feel like it’s done. If I did it in chunks throughout the week I would never feel like my house was clean or my laundry done.

        3. Dance-y Reagan*

          Hard agree on keeping with it even if someone doesn’t jive with you. It’s a bit like finding a therapist. Don Aslet’s overt Christianity really turned me off, and Fly Lady’s sink schtick was annoying (porcelain doesn’t shine, lady). I ended up using a bit of Kondo, a bit of UFYH, and so on.

    2. ainomiaka*

      In terms of what actually helped-a dog that will eat anything left on the floor. Okay, that’s snarky, but really, making it not about moral standards. Which is actually an important question. Are you trying to be cleaner because you want to, or because you feel you have to? Some of that is because I share a house with my husband-we aren’t fighting over whose version of clean is right, we are trying to still have shoes next week.
      also concur that there are lots of different ways to do it-I prefer something that does a little every day, some people prefer to just clean it all once a week. Neither is better, but if you hate one particular system you won’t do it.

      1. Tris Prior*

        The dog thing is so true. I have been super tidy and good about not leaving stuff out – which does NOT come naturally to me – after adopting two kittens who will lick, eat, break, roll in, or otherwise destroy anything that is lying on any flat surface.

        I changed because the consequence of not changing (i.e., having to wash food off of a kitten because she rolled in it, finding the other one sitting in the dirty instant pot, to give just two examples) was worse.

    3. Madge*

      I’ll add Home-Ec 101 to the list. She’s got a weekly schedule and has frequently fielded letters from people who were overwhelmed by the mess and didn’t know where to start. She hasn’t posted in a while, aside from a couple weekly menu posts, but I still visit her site often.

      Since you’re starting from behind, it’s easy for one task to snowball into an afternoon’s project. For example, your plan is to pull books you don’t want from one bookshelf but you decide to dust and reorganize the whole shelf because it needs that too. Try to stick with the single task as much as possible. You’ll get to the others in time.

    4. GhostWriter*

      Not a messy person personally, but I’ve become more organized and clean–and I’ve seen messy friends become more organized and clean–whenever a big decluttering happens. It’s really hard to stay neat and organized when there’s stuff everywhere and there isn’t enough room or designated spaces to put it.

    5. LGC*

      I’m in that process right now myself.

      So, so far – I did get outside help, and part of what’s helping is to impose a system. (It’s a little bit of 5S, actually.) I’m making SOME progress, but what I’ve noticed the most is that I’m already much more mindful of what I do – if I throw something on the floor, for example.

      I’m hoping to get a lot better in the next few weeks.

    6. Autumnheart*


      I used to be a slob. Then I shared an apartment with a really good friend of mine who turned out to be an EPIC slob, of which legends are still told. He’s a great guy and we’re still friends, but spending a year being constantly surrounded by someone else’s mess flipped my switch such that now I feel aggravated and annoyed when something is messy.

      I went from there to having to live in a very small apartment. The down side was that it took very little clutter to mess the place up, but the up side was that it didn’t take long to clean. I took the rule of “If it hasn’t been used in a year, get rid of it” to heart and cleared out a TON of belongings that were just taking up space, until my place felt sufficiently spacious and organized.

      When I bought a house, I suddenly had oodles of space, but I still try to keep the rule about stuff that hasn’t been used in a year, and the routine I developed in cleaning my previous apartment still works for the house. It does take longer to clean because it’s a bigger space, but as long as I generally put stuff away and clean up after myself as I go, it’s manageable.

    7. fposte*

      Maybe? I’m clean and organized compared to how I used to be, anyway.

      Time helped; my emotions around stuff are different now and this was a gradual process over years. Getting a cleaner helped, because I want to keep stuff picked up enough for cleaning to achieve something. Seeing my elderly neighbor’s house cleaned out after he died helped, because everything he’d treasured went into the dumpster. Marie Kondo helped; a friend doing Marie Kondo at the same time helped.

      My house is therefore reasonably clean and tidy, save in the basement and the room where I have more latitude. For me, the important thing was purging the bottom 50% or so of my stuff so I really, really liked what I was left with, and using that stuff I really liked to contain and define space. I contain charger cords in porcelain teacups, PT tennis balls in mid-century glassware, and my hairbrush in a lovely Scandinavian vase. Because then I get to see them and enjoy them and my random crap isn’t random.

      None of this is true about my desk at work; my other rule is not everything has to be fixed at once, or ever. The goal is improvement, not cure.

      1. AVP*

        I love this! I use cut-glass wedding gifts to hold hair ties and clips, vases for the cough drops I keep on my home desk, and old pryex bakeware to hold…everything. I love looking at them and there’s no way I will ever use enough milk in my coffee to make good use of the many creamer dishes I love.

    8. wingmaster*

      Still working on this, especially with my bedroom. I found the Project 333 to be very helpful in de-cluttering my closet. The general idea of this Project is that you have 33 items (from clothes to accessories) in your closet and you change it up every 3 months. I am a visual person as well, so I like interesting storage layouts.

    9. King Friday XIII*

      I’m a work in progress, so I can tell you what’s the most helpful for me. It seems like the resources that did the best job of meeting me where I was/am and helping me make it just a little better at a time were Dana K White, who has two books but blogs at A Slob Comes Clean, and Unf*ck Your Habitat which was mentioned upthread. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADD but organizing resources aimed at AD(H)D people have tended to work for me as well. When it comes to little tricks and habits to build up, White’s recommendation that you run your dishwasher every day to cut down on “dishes math” has probably been the most helpful single thing.

      When you’re ready for big-picture stuff, I like Marie Kondo and Julie Morgenstern. If you think KonMari is a little too precious, Morgenstern covers a lot of the same high level concepts. I’m still working on what it means to imagine a house filled only with stuff I love or use or both; and also I love a lot of stuff so stricter minimalism is a recipe for disaster and OCD spirals if I’m not careful. If you are up for it, going to the library and browsing literally everything in the 640s that looks relevant will give you an idea of a LOT of systems. Some will seem like an arcane sport, and some hopefully will seem sensible and easy to try. Pick one or two of the latter, read them, try them. Keep what works.

      For me the sacrifices are mostly being willing to get up and Do The Thing even when I’m tired. It’s not a lot of things, usually, but it’s often when I’m at my most tired at the end of the day. So there’s that.

    10. CommonName*

      I’m mid process, but what has really helped is making sure everything has a “spot”. I don’t really follow any one organizing philosophy. I also cut myself a lot of slack and set very small goals. A personality test I had to take for a job told me I was a perfectionist. At the time I thought that was hilariously wrong. But upon reflection, I realized that I am, but rarely started anything because I didn’t want to feel bad about failing by not achieving my perfectionist goals. So instead of planning to clean an entire room, I’ll plan to do one thing, like clear off the top of a dresser.

      My preferred system is having a lot of the IKEA Smala boxes in various sizes and a label maker. Even though the boxes might have things thrown in them, when stacked together in a closet, they look nice. It also makes clean up a lot faster because I can just toss things in the various boxes as I go.

      One thing that has really helped me declutter is my neighborhood’s Buy Nothing group. It’s a national organization, so there might be a local group to you. I am MUCH better about getting rid of things (previously, I’d keep an item if it was in good condition even if we never used it) now that I can give them away instead of tossing. Now, I’m on the vicious end of getting rid of things (Toy requires batteries…doesn’t make it in the house).

      I like to say I clean in short bursts, but really we only clean if we have to. My husband is really good about cleaning the kitchen every night. But we don’t give the house a good clean unless people are coming over. Just this weekend I had the thought that we needed to invite people over so we could clean our house….

      1. PhyllisB*

        This is not about organizing per say but just cleaning/maintaining your house so you don’t get condemned by the Board of Health; one thing that helped me was realizing that dreading/postponing hated chore actually took longer than DOING dreaded chore. I started timing various chores and was amazed at how quickly most of them are done. I can vacuum our whole house in <15 minutes unless it's a day that needs vents cleaned, ect. I can make the bed in like two minutes unless it's sheet changing day, in which case it's 7 minutes. I can fold a load of laundry is <10 minutes and maybe five minutes to put it away The beauty of this is, you don't have to do ALL this on one day unless you really want to. I generally do because I like to get it all done at once and be done with it, but I could vacuum one day, fold laundry another, ect. The idea is to find a system that works for you. However, I still haven't attacked my pile of books/magazines yet. One step at a time.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Seconding this!

          Also, I find it helps to conflate routines. My DH used to empty the dishwasher in the morning while his coffee was brewing.

    11. Book Badger*

      So I’m just going to say: I am NOT clean and organized. But I am cleaner and more organized than I used to be.

      Stuff that helps me:
      * For things that build up quickly (ex: dishes), eliminating steps to do helped. So when I didn’t have a dishwasher, emptying my dirty mug or rinsing my bowl of oatmeal before I put it in the sink in the morning cut down on steps I needed to do when I got home and had to wash them in the evening. Now I’m back in my parents’ house and we have a dishwasher: now I put dishes directly in the washer instead of letting them pile up in the sink. Oh, wait, are there clean dishes taking up room? Well, looks like I’ll have to put all the clean dishes away, wonder how that happened. Related: putting pens back immediately after using them, hanging up clothes after washing them or wearing them (still suck at that), cleaning the kitchen after cooking.
      * Sometimes, to save on wallowing in dirty clothes on my floor, I’d just do a huge load of laundry. Like, just pick up all the clothes on my floor, even if they were still wearable, and do three or four loads of laundry in one go. Then I could sort them out from scratch instead of frittering away time wondering if this shirt was still good or where do these pants go? Also, doing laundry makes me feel accomplished. (Caveat: this never worked for me when I needed to use a laundromat, but in-house laundry was fine)
      * Having a thing I NEEDED to do before I could do a fun thing kicks me into gear. Like, I enjoy baking, but I can’t knead dough on a dirty table. So I have to clean the table. Now I have a purpose!
      * In the same way, using my natural distraction skills against myself. Like, I’m a person who will be cleaning the living room, see the DVDs, and get distracted by organizing the DVDs for an hour instead of substantive cleaning. Okay. So instead what I do is put myself in the kitchen and clean the table. Well, while I’m here, I remember that I need to clean the floor. Okay, I’ll do that. Wait, while I was cleaning the floor, I realized the countertops are gross. So I’ll clean that, too. Then some hours of time have gone by and my naturally flightiness has been used for good instead of evil.
      * Cheating. My mom still fills up a bucket of soapy water and cleans the floor that way – I will cheerfully cheat and use Swiffer instead. I use disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces like tables and counters instead of soap and water. I de-calcify my electric kettle by boiling a mixture of water and lemon juice instead of going in there with a brush. The least amount of effort I need to put in, the easier it is.

      1. Koala dreams*

        I’m also in the process of getting cleaner and more organized. I’m doing things a bit different though.
        *I take 5 minutes each day to clean the kitchen table. It’s great to at least have one table area that’s neat. If I don’t have the time to clean it super-clean in just 5 minutes, no big deal, I get a new chance tomorrow.
        *To give myself treats afterwards doesn’t work for me, instead I give the treat before I do the difficult thing. Eat some candy, then do the dishes. Drink a cup of my favourite tea, then clear the kitchen table.
        *Fold clothes in front of the television. I like watching tv, instead of shaming myself over all the chores I could be doing instead, why not do both at the same time? Win-win!
        *Cheating: There are a lot of youtube videos about chores. I watch them now and then and try to incorporate them if they seem like they make my cleaning easier. Sometimes I learn new tricks. For example, it’s easier to clean the microwave if you microwave a bowl of water, optionally with lemon juice, and then use the rag. The crusty bits become soft and easy to remove from the steam.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I’m not as organized and tidy as I used to be.

          But, back in the day, I had some “friends” on an online forum for Organizing the Home (it’s now part of the Houzz site, and it’s not as good as it was), and I would think of them when I would get back OUT of bed to clear off the dining room table.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Short thoughts… Flylady. HabitHacker. Going through 5S training & implementation at w@&*.
      But most importantly in the middle of all those efforts, I got an ADD diagnosis as an adult. That gave me a framework for figuring out why habits have always been so hard. (I’d been able to trigger the hyperfocus at school & at work… but personal life suffered.)
      I found a group of Flylady fans on social media and we check in with each other on a daily basis. The support and reminders help me a lot. And for whatever reason, it was the 5S mantras that has helped me get across to my other half my need to have us both work to organize our life!

    13. matcha123*

      I started as messy…not slob-level, but lots of clothes on the floor, piles of books, papers, etc.
      Moving into a tiny apartment and getting into a routine are what helped.
      If I were you, I’d start with one thing, make it a habit and build up from there.

      For me, it was folding and putting away my laundry immediately. Then I moved to washing dishes right after I ate. Then it was do a little sweeping every day. Then etc. etc.

      For being more organized, it was the same thing. I could remember everything, but allowing nighttime me to pick my clothes for the next day, organize my purse, etc. helped take the burden of doing all of that in the morning off of my shoulders.

  18. Bob*

    Thanks to everyone for their friendly comments on my first motorway adventures last week! I survived, and as somebody said, it is way easier as its just a straight line pretty much!

    Things I learnt:
    – I have a bit of a lead foot apparently, and if I got distracted for event a moment, I found myself going over the speed limit (whoops)
    – If you dont drive regularly, oh my god my foot started hurting. I like to think the seat was set up as best as it could be, but just holding down the accelerator for so long was no fun. If there was cruise control, I didnt find it :(
    – Strange cars are the worst. At least when I was learning I got used to my instructors car, but figuring out the rental was…an adventure
    – See above re:gears. At the beginning I was wondering why the car sounded so funny until I realised it was probably because I was in 3rd when I meant to be in 1st (oooops!)
    – Roundabouts in unfamiliar places are the worst. This is probably the biggest thing I took from it all. One of my biggest issues when learning was about anticipating/preparing early enough in advance. Not sure if this was also down to the crappy sat-nav which never really gave enough warning, but had a few adventures coming back into the city with being in the wrong lane and having to make last minute lane changes which I did not like! Need to figure out how to improve on that for next time.
    – Apparently I’m quite okay with manoeuvring! And I survived the narrow, narrow streets of my neighbourhood too!

    1. ScotKat*

      Glad it went OK! Like most things, experience really helps, and once you’ve done it a few times you’ll be totally fine. If you have a suitable phone, Google’s navigation is pretty good (if your sat nav isn’t), usually shows which lane you need to be in. I got a TomTom sat nav separately for longer trips and it tells you which exit of the roundabout you need and so on. That’s the bit I need as well, because even though I’ve driven for years, if I’m going somewhere new it’s easy to end up going the wrong way round a roundabout!

      1. Bob*

        I think for me the biggest issue with the sat nav is when it would tell me things? Like, it would give the warning way in advance….and then silence until you’re supposed to be doing the thing!

        Whereas when I was learning, the sat nav used would give you the warning way in advance…and then a little bit closer..and then just before you needed to take action. Still, a good learning that I need to be a bit more aware of my surroundings if I can!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Am giggling about the lead foot. Driving at higher speeds is actually easier than crawling through city traffic. So yeah, the presence of mind slips away on higher speed roads and suddenly I am 10 mph or more over the speed limit.

      Foot hurting. Several things here. Make sure your seat is adjusted for your height/leg length before you start to drive. I have fat feet. So I can rest the side of my foot on the transmission hump and press the gas pedal with my big toe. Lower back support, aka , kidney support also helps with leg fatigue. Additionally, you may find it easier to drive in shoes with thinner soles. I have big heavy winter boots I like to wear, so I wear them out to the car and change into sneaks to drive. Then I put the boots back on when I reach my destination.

      I end up renting cars often enough. I take a minute before leaving the parking lot to adjust the seat and mirrors and make sure I see where the wiper lever is and the turn signal lever. Because car makers seem to have more ways of hiding these things and you cannot find them at 50 mph. It’s only after I rented a dozen cars that it dawned on me I need to do this before pulling out of the parking lot.

      Not a technical person but my cars always seemed to forgive me for being in the wrong gear. They did not forgive me for what I did to that poor clutch though! ha! whoops.

      When I am going some where unfamiliar I google the directions and some times print out pictures of intersections where I need to turn. (We can’t count on cell phone reception here. You can be driving along and suddenly NO PHONE so your directions become useless also. You have to have some working knowledge to salvage the situation.)

      My husband had great advice on navigating a new area. Learn two major N and S routes that will take you back home. And learn two major E and W routes that will take you back home. So if you get lost, you know that if you can work your way to one of those four roads you can eventually get yourself home again. This is an amazing calming tool also!

      1. Bob*

        The foot hurting thing is annoying. When I was learning, I found if I had a long break between lessons, it would come back, so I think its just having my foot in an unfamiliar position for a long time. But as you say, its also always a bit tricky for me. I’m quite small so I need to find the compromise between getting close enough to comfortably reach the pedals, but high enough that I can see over the steering wheel too :D

        And I totally feel you on the set-up before leaving the lot thing. I was worried I was sitting there way too long after being given the keys, but it was raining and the car was fogging up and I was really struggling to figure out why the demister wasnt doing anything until I realised it was because the car needed to be on/moving before it kicked in properly! And then the hand-brake was also quite sticky so I struggled with that for a moment and felt like a complete newbie to be honest.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I hope I can explain this well enough.
          Some seats tilt toward the back of the chair. I notice it because it feels like the seat is swallowing me up. My knees are too high for one thing, but it really hurts my legs, too. And I know if my legs hurt it won’t be long and my feet will hurt.
          Newer cars have a lever between the seat and the door that lifts the back of the seat (the flat part of the chair) UP or down. You might be able to gain comfort by adjusting the seat of the chair as well as the location of the back of the chair.
          If the car does not have a lever to adjust the seat then as small and fairly flat pillow might help.

          Fogging up. Am chuckling. I can see that happening. It’s a learning curve. Be patient with you, each thing you get figured out you won’t have to go back to it again because you got it. But in reality, the best drivers are the ones who say, “I can always learn more about driving.” It’s the know-it-alls that cause real problems. I helped a friend get her license and I said, “Promise yourself that you will spend the rest of your life learning about how to handle a vehicle.” And she is.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Another defogging suggestion, mentioned because it’s counterintuitive– turn the blower on warm and turn on the AC at the same time. AC dries the air out enough to keep new moisture from forming. Its a trick ive used since having a car in upstate New York but not a covered parking space. VW has started doing this automatically bow in at least some models.

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

      Good going with the driving!
      Re: the car sounding funny, I doubt you accidentally started in 3rd gear unless you were driving a car with a very powerful engine. I would think most cars would stall if you tried to start driving in 3rd gear — or at the very least, it would accelerate very, very slowly.

      1. Bob*

        Yeah, I think it was more like I’d start in 1st, go to second at some point, then need to slow down again, but instead of getting into 1st, I’d accidentally end up in 3rd? In theory this should stall the car, but this is also where my bad habit of abusing the clutch comes in..

        Even I’m not sure how I did that but eventually I just made a mental note that 1st needs MORE LEFT when shifting and that made things a lot better!

    4. Boo Hoo*

      If your foot hurt then your seat was not in fact in the right position, you likely needed to be a bit closer. Driving once or daily it should never hurt.

    5. Anono-me*

      You might want to look into getting some driving shoes. I really love mine. They are light weight slipper type shoes with a very weird soles that look like just the bumpy part of an athletic shoe sole.

      Also, it sounds like you are
      mostly driving in the city or highways. I find it easier to drive an automatic than a stick in unfamiliar paved areas. You may want to keep that in mind when renting a vehicle or if you are lucky enough to have several borrowing options.

      If you are somewhere that has lots of sticks and you rent or borrow a stick vehicle; here are a two things you may want to keep in mind.

      1st gear on a 5 speed and Reverse on a standard H are in appropriately the same spot. This can lead to making the person behind you at the stop sign nervous if you forget that you are driving a standard H.

      If you are borrowing a stick vehicle that is used for work/farm/offroading, it is a good idea to ask if it has been geared down and if so, what gear to start in.

    6. Koala dreams*

      I feel you on the roundabouts! Sometimes I go around the entire roundabout just because I missed my exit. It will get better… I hope!

    7. TootsNYC*

      I hear you on unfamiliar roundabouts. However, one thing I like about them is that it is totally OK to just keep going around and around until you figure it out and feel more comfortable.

    8. Business Librarian*

      Most cars also have cruise control. I use it for highway driving all the time to keep my lead foot from getting me into trouble. You just tap the brake pedal to disengage it. It might also help with the foot pain.

  19. GreenRibbon*

    I live in the area where three Girl Scouts and an adult were killed in a hit and run last Saturday. It’s difficult to put into words how this impacted the community. At the same time as being shocked and devastated, the support has been enormous – locally, across the state, country, and even world.

    This afternoon you might see Girl Scouts out participating in a service project or gathering together, as a group effort/vigil.

    I’m so moved by all of this…….the compassion by others and the fierce bond of the Girl Scouts.

    Curious if anyone else who was a prior Girl Scout or is currently involved in the program is taking part in this.

    1. CAA*

      I was a GS all through school, and then I was a leader for 13 years. I hadn’t heard about the accident and I’m so sorry.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I heard about that and it just wrecked me. My Doctor Who group adopted a street near the lake and I worry about it all the time, especially when on the bridge. I always put my phone in my pocket just in case.

      I was a Girl Scout, through Juniors. When we got to Cadettes, all the girls in my class lost interest so we didn’t have a troop anymore, boo. I still have my sash with all the badges and pins. :)

    3. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      We are neighbors! I also live in the area. I’m so proud of the community rallying around the families and the girl who survived, and the rest of the troop, too, but I’m so sad that this happened. Keep on keeping on, neighbor!

  20. KLChica*

    Baby update!
    Thank you for the advice about having my first baby. You may recall that I was five days overdue when i last posted. One of the providers in the OB office was pressuring me to induce but I wanted to hold off. I went for non stress tests and an ultrasound when I was 7 days overdue and the baby looked GREAT. The provider we met with that day was a different one and she was actually willing to let us go to 42 weeks before she would ask us to induce. (I’m not sure why they have a different philosophy in the same practice but I was grateful for her flexibility). To be honest, I was starting to feel uncomfortable physically and also impatient at that point. I requested to be induced at 41 weeks 5 days, which fell on a Saturday. The practice doesn’t do inductions on weekends, so we bumped it up to the day before. I would need to check into the hospital on Thursday 9/27 and start the process, with the official induction with pitocin, on Friday 9/28. I made my peace with it and the next few days were great. I got together with friends, spent time with my husband and relaxed and repacked my hospital bag. We went for a last date night on Wednesday 9/26 and then…I went into labor that night!!!! We headed to the hospital around 11 am 9/27 with our doula.
    So I didn’t need to be induced after all. I was so relieved. AND the doctor who delivered her was that same nice and patient woman who had agreed to let us push back the induction date. (She was on call)
    The baby was born early Friday morning 9/28. She was 6 lbs 14 oz and had a FULL head of hair!!! We named her Rowan Olivia. I labored naturally for a long time and tried pushing (and I TRIED)!but the baby just wasn’t descending so we ended up with a csection. Come to find out she had the cord wrapped around her neck twice and there was meconiun present, so the csection was the best decision for us. I am not upset about the experience. Rather I am really happy to have a healthy baby who arrived safely!! And the staff at the hospital was great throughout our stay. Thanks to all who posted with tips about what to bring.

    Parenting has been an adjustment! We are 30 and 31 yrs old and we were used to freedom and being able to come and go easily. Haha. It’s not that way anymore and sleep is a precious commodity. I also struggled with breastfeeding at first, (I sought help from a Lactation consultant and now at 6 weeks pp Its much easier).
    I honestly didn’t expect to feel so strongly about my baby.. and I didn’t expect to love being a mom this much, but I do!
    So thanks again, everyone! Now to experience the “4th trimester” and figure out this parenting thing!

    I would ask that this not become a debate like last time regarding induction, pitocin and other interventions, and c-section vs vaginal birth. Please respect that! I would like positive comments only ….and to keep the thread on topic. otherwise, please keep scrolling.

    1. KLChica*

      I forgot to say that the baby arrived 11 days late!!!! Everyone and their brother was texting, calling, and posting the same thing on my social media. “Baby?” “Did you have the baby yet?” “Where’s the baby?” It got to be so annoying that I stopped responding to any communication like maybe when I was 7 or 8 days late. And I savored the time in the hospital and only told close family and friends when she was born. Then I posted way later.
      My husband said he was on the receiving end of some comments at work, also, when I was overdue and it got to be a little annoying. :)

      I learned my lesson for next time!!! Do not share your due date with anyone! Haha. I’m going to only say the month next time when people ask….

      1. LizB*

        I have a good friend who’s currently 6-7 days overdue. She posts on Facebook pretty much daily to try and keep people from texting her, usually something like “Baby update: nope!”. (Actually I haven’t seen an update today, so who knows, maybe there’s a baby!)

    2. Forking great username*

      Congratulations!! Minus the being past the due date part (my son was right on role), this sounds similar to my labor. Long and ending with an c-section, but the choice for me and baby. And a happy ending =)

      Take lots of pictures of the tiny newborn stage – it doesn’t last long! And again, big congrats to you and your family of three!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Those goofy little kits to imprint fans and toes really are worth it… I treasure the baby handprints.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      How wonderful! Congratulations on everything, and I’m so glad that you’re all happy and healthy.

      Rowan Olivia is a gorgeous name :)

    4. Sled dog mama*

      I was 4 days late with my second (and 4 early with the first) so I totally understand about the questions once you are past the due date. My first came before her due date and I had already tired of the endless stream of “ no baby yet?” To the point that when some poor soul at work asked (in person so they could clearly see the belly) and I replied that the baby had actually arrived the previous night and I shoved her back in and told her to wait a day because mommy has an important project to finish tomorrow at work. Nobody asked after that and four years later I’m still very ashamed of my reaction.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I had induction followed by a C-section (and lots of merconium) and felt good about it! Totally normal reaction.

      Glad you asked a lactation consultant. There are so many tiny adjustments, like ‘hold your elbow 3 inches higher,’ that really aren’t evident if you are looking at a diagram but can make a big difference.

      If you or husband are of a scientific bent I recommend Alison Gopnick’s books–researcher in child development and philosophy. Interesting window into what is going on in the baby’s head, and it can make the “lima bean” period more interesting.

    6. Ranon*

      Yay! Congrats on your new kiddo!

      The good news about the whole parenting thing is after the early days where it feels like you need to learn all the things you mostly only need to pick up one or two skills at a time- e.g. at three months you don’t need to be ready to parent a teenager, or even a two year old- there’s plenty of time to figure things out even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. Sounds like you’re rocking it!

    7. Vic tower*

      Congratulations! Wonderful news
      I was hoping for an update, so glad you wrote in. Great name choice BTW. I hope all goes well with the adjustment. I’m in my 30s and planning to get pregnant in 2019 and it’s always nice to hear how different people experience this huge change

      1. KLChica*

        Thank you! Vic tower. I was actually wondering if anyone would remember the post from September and be interested to have an update. Lol.
        I’m glad we waited til now for the baby stuff cause my husband and I got some good years just the two of us and we have lots of memories. But I am happy that we have the baby now and life is good. People say that you should do it in your 20s cause you’ll have more energy but I think I will remember the years of just us with a lot of happiness. And I have energy still, and patience. (Although I’m still on maternity leave…so…haha)
        If I’m being 100% honest I did feel a tiny twinge of grief for our past life but I think that’s normal! I loved being able to make spontaneous plans, run errands quickly, sleep a good amount of hours, stay out late, not have to worry about pumping (if I leave the baby for an extended period), etc. but I got over it really quickly.
        Good luck for conceiving!!! Just go for it! It’s an adventure (having a child) and you’ll love it (I think most people do..that’s why they keep having kids haha).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          In their teenage years my brother-in-law woke his kids up strictly as payback for all the times they woke him up at the crack of dawn as toddlers.

    8. LilySparrow*

      Congratulations and blessings on all of you!

      Aren’t lactation consultant marvelous? I wasn’t able to take advantage of the one in the hospital, because I didn’t know enough yet to realize there was a problem. I had to work with one privately, and she worked miracles. I’m so happy things are going well for you!

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Congrats! My friend just had a baby girl. She’s still in the NICU and Friend has been reading Pippi Longstocking (a favorite book) to her. This made me want to read it again too. My favorite part is when Pippi goes to the coffee party and keeps telling increasingly outrageous stories about her grandmother’s servant Malin. LOL.

    10. It’s all good*

      Congratulations! Welcome Rowan Olivia! We were married for 7.5 years before we had our first at 30, totally remember where you are coming from in all aspects. Some days are harder than the day before but also more rewarding than the day before! (Also if you are feeling out of sorts, please get screened for post partum depression, it can happen to anyone and help is out there!)

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*


      Re: csection critics. If you get it, you can stop them cold. You didn’t choose it frivolously, and it saved your child’s life. Cord around neck is deadly! If that doesn’t stop a critic, I wouldn’t be inviting THAT person back.

      Enjoy the new love of your life. I wasn’t baby-crazy until I met my daughter, so I know exactly what you mean.

      1. Observer*

        You didn’t choose it frivolously, and it saved your child’s life. Cord around neck is deadly! If that doesn’t stop a critic, I wouldn’t be inviting THAT person back.


        It is most definitely true that there are a lot of unnecessary c-sections. But even when a c-section actually was not required, it’s waaaay out of line to criticize a mother for it. When it’s a case like this, it’s just beyond ridiculous.

        C-sections can literally be the difference between life and death. That’s not an exaggeration. And this was the case for you. So, yes, if anyone gives you any sort of flak ask them straight out if they think it wouldhave been better to let your child die.

  21. Need mascara recommendations*

    It’s funny, I was going to post this today and ran into a comment that also mentioned mascara. I hate mascara but if I’m going to wear makeup, which I do to “that place that shall not be mentioned,” it’s a necessary evil. Any recommendations? I’d be fine with drugstore brands. What I don’t like about mascara is that it gets hard when it dries, and it doesn’t seem to actually do much. I don’t need crazy long lashes, as I’m in my 60s, but if I’m going to go to the trouble of putting it on (and taking it off), it should at least look like I’m wearing it. I’m currently using Maybelline Total Temptation which is billed as a “soft mascara” and it doesn’t get hard but it also doesn’t do much. I know that “makeup artists use Maybelline Great Lash” but it does nothing for me. I used to like Bobbi Brown mascara but last time I bought it I think they’ve changed the formula. Any and all suggestions appreciated! Thanks.

    1. Nerdgal*

      I like soft mascara for its easiness of removal but I live in a humid climate and always got raccoon eyes by the end of the day. So I switched to Cover Girl Clump Crusher Aquaresistant. It doesn’t clump or run and comes off fairly easily. Like you, I am in my 60s and don’t like to wear a lot of makeup, but my eyelashes are invisible. My lashes do get a little stiff with this product but they dont look stiff and they get soft again when I wash my face.

    2. Boo Hoo*

      Toss your mascara at the latest when it is three months old. That will help with it getting hard and flakey and also you don’t want to use it on your eyes after that as it has so much bacteria in it by then.

      I like Dior Show, it is long rated one of the best out there. Also YSL. I don’t know about drug store brands however.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      My only suggestion is to consider giving yourself permission not to wear mascara. I wear makeup without mascara because I have tried so many and they make my eyes itch. And I really look fine, blonde eyelashes and all. Wear a little eyeliner if you like (or not; I don’t), do The Other Makeo Things, and be fabulous.

    4. HarrietJ*

      Have you ever tried getting your eyelashes dyed? I do it every 3-4 months. In my area it costs about $25, so its more expensive than drug store mascara, but a lot less hassle.
      If you have light lashes it is great – you wake up and look like you have already put on mascara. If you are used to more dramatic make-up it won’t be enough.

        1. HarrietJ*

          The key is finding a person who really knows what they are doing. You just close your eyes while the expert puts absorbent cloth under your lower lashes and applies the dye to both upper & lower lashes. I had one bad experience when some of the dye leaked and it took a while to rinse it out of my eye. I go to a very reputable salon where one woman specializes in dying lashes.

    5. ElspethGC*

      The mascaras I use are Stila Huge Extreme Lash (not what you’re looking for – it basically looks like I’m wearing falsies and is my holy grail product), L’Oreal Paradise (doesn’t make your lashes particularly clumpy or hard but might look too bold for your liking), Essence Volume Stylist 18h Lash Extension (pretty damn good and also only £3) and Max Factor False Lash Epic (not as intimidating as the name sounds, doesn’t really lengthen but does define). In my defence, two of those four (#s 1 and 4) were freebies. I also have a tiny sample tube of Dior Pump n Volume, which is super nice, but I wouldn’t pay Dior prices when I could pay Essence or L’Oreal prices!

      Out of those, I’d probably recommend Max Factor – I’m wearing it now and poking at my lashes and they don’t feel particularly hard, although I’m not sure what you would class as a ‘soft’ mascara. It’s definitely softer than the others. I’d also recommend digging around the options from Essence – they have a lot of different options for not very much money.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I need to curl my lashes before mascara shows up at all. You can buy a decent curler at the drugstore, or if you want to, try the Shu Umura brand online. They’re really good curlers.

      The other thing I do is use a lash primer before I put on mascara. I like the Clinique brand – you can get it at Sephora and other beauty retailers, and also at department stores. Put a thin layer of the primer on your curled lashes, and then put the mascara over. Don’t let the primer dry first.

    7. Kat in VA*

      Maybelline Full n’ Soft is billed as a soft mascara. It won’t give you tons of oomphy volume and length, but it’s a good all around mascara that doesn’t take a jackhammer and an Act of God to remove, either.

      1. Ron McDon*

        I used to love this mascara, and it did indeed leave my lashes full and soft, but they don’t seem to sell it in the uk any more *sad face*.

    8. Ingrid*

      I love the mineral mascara “Vatn” by Idun because it is water proof to 39 degrees celcius (or something close to that) which means that I don’t have to worry about it running in rain or when I’m crying or swimming and at the end of the day I can simply remove it by using hot water :)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        How is it for flaking over the course of the day, and if you forget & rub your eyes? If my eyes itch, I don’t even realize until it’s too late that I’ve rubbed them. And any flakes of anything make them itch.

    9. Drago Cucina*

      My go-to mascara is L’Oréal Paris Double Extend Beauty Tubes. I’m 60 and don’t like anything heavy on my eyelashes. I need it to show, but not look like I’m going to the club. My only caution is don’t freak out when you clean off your makeup. It looks like your lashes are coming off, but they aren’t. It’s just the tubes.

      1. Ron McDon*

        Rimmel London volume shake mascara is good – it gives a nice natural fanned out eyelash look, they do a waterproof version which doesn’t smudge or run, and you shake the product up and down to keep it runny so it doesn’t get all dry and clumpy.

        Unfortunately most mascaras dry very ‘dry’ in my experience.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      It can be hard to find, but they actually make clear mascara!
      I love it because I don’t need the mascara to color my natural dark lashes, but more to hold the shape & define. I find clear mascara gives a more natural look too.

    11. coffee addict*

      super late to the game here, but mascara is totally one of those things that wears differently person to person. A few that work for me for fluffy, light lashes are L’Oreal Lash Paradise and Maybelline Volum’Express The Falsies. Other more high-end mascaras that I use as well are Too Faced Better Than Sex and Benefit They’re Real. Overall, I’d totally recommend going to Sephora and working with one of the employees to try some different ones in-store to see what you like best.

  22. Lcsa99*

    Ok, so I am not sure if this should have been in the friday thread since its about work clothes but not really work, but here goes…

    I have to report for federal jury duty on Tuesday, and I am not sure what to wear! My office is pretty casual, so I usually wear slacks and nice (but cotton) tank tops because I really run hot. But the instructions say no tank tops. I have some nicer tank tops I can wear, but all my tops are sleeveless. Will that be ok? I don’t want to get in trouble or make them think I don’t respect the system. But I don’t really own anything else except long sleeve sweaters for snowy days!

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      You have absolutely no shirts with sleeves? I would get one to have on hand for occasions like this.

      1. Lcsa99*

        I hate the way I look in short sleeves because my arms are huge, and while i do have long sleeves, i only wear them in really cold weather. If i try to wear them indoors I’ll spend the whole day sweating (even this time of year).

        I honestly don’t want to buy a new shirt just for jury duty if I can get away with a nice sleeveless blouse.

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

          Keep in mind that there’s a big difference between “sleeveless blouse” and “tank top.” I think a nice sleeveless blouse will not be noticed, based on my previous experience. A spaghetti-strap tank top or ribbed undershirt-type tank top, which I don’t think this OP is referencing…maybe not.

          I wonder if the sartorial standard for jury duty varies depending on area of the US? That’s not to dismiss other comments at all; I’m just curious. In NYC, it seems like everything goes for jury duty. I’ve served three times (county twice, Federal once) and in all three instances, I was kind of astonished by what people wore to court.

      1. Red Reader*

        Target too, usually pretty inexpensive. Or even a solid-colored v-neck t-shirt, usually just like $7-8.

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

      I served Federal jury duty in Brooklyn a few years ago and I remember being very surprised by how dressed down some people were. Like, stained jeans and beat-up sneakers dressed down. My feeling would be to wear the nicest sleeveless top you have that covers as much of your shoulders as possible, a nice pair of slacks, and shoes that are presentable, and you should be fine. (Fair warning: This comment is coming from a man.)

      1. CAA*

        They publish a similar dress code here too (I’m in the opposite corner of the country from you) and many people either ignore it or don’t notice it on the jury summons. I’ve even seen people show up in shorts and flip flops, which is acceptable attire at many casual offices, but definitely doesn’t meet the jury duty dress code. However, I have never seen them enforce the dress code. The last jury I was on took 5 weeks, and I will admit that by the end, even my own standards had slipped a bit to the point where I was wearing my nice jeans.

    3. Nerdgal*

      Do you have (or can you borrow) any scarves? You could cover your shoulders if they ask you to, or stash it in your purse if not needed.

      1. Lcsa99*

        Ugh. Yeah, I have a few shawls for dressy occasions. Might look ridiculous, but I guess that’s an option.

    4. LoTR Fan*

      I’m a little confused by your use of “tank top” and “blouse” seemingly interchangeably in this thread. Those are two totally different things! When you say “nice sleeveless blouse, most people will think of something like this: https://www.loft.com/tops-short-sleeve/cat1730030 and for “cotton tank top” people will think of this: https://www.walmart.com/browse/clothing/womens-tank-tops/5438_133162_2290732_1199500.

      Since you say you are wearing a “nice” tank top with SLACKS, I can’t imagine it is at all like the example I gave, which is almost definitely what the notice says isn’t allowed! I imagine you are wearing something more professional which would be appropriate for jury duty. If not though, you may want to reconsider your work wardrobe! If things like slacks are the norm at your place of work and you are pairing them with that kind of cotton tank top, I bet there are several people thinking in their head that you aren’t dressed appropriately.

      1. Lcsa99*

        No those aren’t really what I am talking about. Those are all short leave shirts. I consider something a “blouse” if it has nicer fabric like this one:


        Most of my cotton tanks for work are like this (exactly these, actually):


        They both work with slacks but the second just happens to be cotton, so I don’t think it’s nice enough for this.

        1. fposte*

          I wouldn’t wear those on their own to a place that’s said “No tank tops.” Umpteenthing the advice to hit Target, Penney’s, Walmart, or thrift for an inexpensive lightweight cardigan–it can be open-weave with no buttons, even.

          1. Observer*

            I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think EITHER really qualifies as a tank top. But, I’d suggest avoiding the cotton one and using the one with nicer material. (And yes, stash a shawl in your purse.)

        2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

          You’re totally fine wearing those tops. The Court does not want to make you buy anything new for jury duty. It’s not a church.

          Attorneys have to be dressed more formally, but no one expects those rules to apply to jurors. I, an attorney whose practice is mostly federal, have personally been in court, been hot and put my blazer on the back of my chair, exposing a sleeveless shell or dress. Better than sweating and no one batted an eye.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      I would hit the thrift stores and get one oversized short-sleeved button-up shirt and wear it every day, open over your sleeveless shirts as it it were a happy little summer cardigan.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I know if you go into prisons in my state they don’t want people with bare shoulders. This might be what the court is saying no bare shoulders.

      You can call the court and ask if sleeveless dress tops are okay.

      Or you can just pick up a short sleeved shirt or sweater at a second hand store to have ready if you need it.
      I would get something in a neutral color that would go well over most tank tops.

    7. Extra Vitamins*

      I would get some kind of cardigan- looking thing to throw over. I know you said you run hot, but the one time I was on a jury the courthouse was approximately 40F the whole time. Something from a thrift store as suggested should be fine. Pretty much anything without swear words printed on it should be fine. My fellow jury members wore everything from a blazer to multiple frayed plaid shirts.

      1. Chaordic One*

        You are so right about courthouses being cold. I accompanied a relative to court to show support for her, since other members of the family couldn’t be there. The court room was freezing. Colder than the hallways. I ended up wearing layers including a knit shirt, a cotton shirt over that, a sweater and then a blazer and I was freezing the whole time. There was a paralegal there who had a quilt that she wore over her lap and there were other people with their winter coats over their laps. (This was a couple of weeks ago, during otherwise pleasant autumn weather where it was approximately 50 degrees outside.)

    8. Hannah*

      What is the worst that can happen, they throw you out?

      Just wear your nicest top you got and if that’s not good enough for them…they can stick it!

      At least that’s my feeling. It’s not like they are paying you! You don’t need to impress them.

      1. fposte*

        Well, it is the court. They don’t have to stick it. They can require you to come back appropriately dressed or consider you to be evading jury duty and issue a bench warrant for you.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        You do want to be respectful. Not just to The Law, but to the victims, the criminals, the falsely accused, all the people who are also in court involuntarily, but with much more important consequences.

        1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

          A sleeveless blouse and slacks is perfectly respectful. The dress code is in place so people don’t show up from a shift on the docks reeking of fish or whatever. It’s not there to intimidate blue collar workers, students, stay at home moms, or anyone else who might not already own a full formal wardrobe.

      3. Boo Hoo*

        Ya that mentality is not ideal. They can punish you legally as they see fit with that attitude. Also, if they make her leave she will just have to reserve. I passed out and was taken to the hospital by ambulance during jury duty and they just said, as I was being wheeled out, “so when can you reserve”?

    9. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      What about a lightweight cotton blazer or one of those “kimono” things that are sort of like a light shawl with sleeves?

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you’re just going to report for initial selection, wear your sleeveless top and ask them. “This is my standard work wardrobe, is this too close to a tank top for court if I get selected?”

      If they say it’s not enough coverage visit a GoodWill in a nearby Hoity-Toity Neighborhood… Donations are likely to be sold by the store where they are dropped off, so location can lead to better garments for same price structure.

      (I graduated college during a recession, does it show? LOL!)

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I’ve heard some judges are more demanding than others about what jurists wear. Does anyone know if a judge can issue a “contempt of court” against a jurist for inappropriate dress?

  23. temporarily de-lurking*

    Does anyone here ever feel like no one listens to you? I’ll be talking to someone, having a normal conversation (I thought!) with back and forth and then they’ll say something that makes it very clear they haven’t been listening to anything I’ve said.

    For example:
    Me: Oh man, my ice maker is annoying. Even though I *never* use the crushed ice setting, every time I get ice, it crushes at least 2 or 3 ice cubes and little bits of ice end up everywhere.
    Sister: Eh, it’s probably just left over ice from when you used the crushed ice setting.
    Me: … I never use the crushed ice setting.
    Sister: Oh, huh. That’s weird!

    Me: I found this really beautiful heart shaped Celtic knot pattern. I’m thinking about trying to get it onto the invitations.
    Brother-in-Law: Well, for the issue of trying to get it onto your dress, you could ask Sister-in-Law; she has a sewing machine that I think you can input patterns in to.
    Me: ….Oh, interesting, but I don’t want it on my dress, just the invites…

    Me: So, Spouse’s math degree is going well—lots of homework, but they’ve really been enjoying the challenge!
    Dad: What’re they going to do with a history degree anyway? Are they planning to teach?
    Me: Oh, no, they’re getting a degree in math. As for what they want to do with it, they’re not 100% sure yet, although definitely no teaching! Fortunately, we’ve still got at least a year to figure things out!
    5 minutes of conversation later, Dad: It’s crazy that they’re getting a history degree. Teaching really just doesn’t pay very much.

    It’s like people listen to me enough to pick up on the general topic we’re discussing, but can’t be bothered to actually listen to what I’m saying. It happens so often, and it’s so frustrating, that I’ve mostly just stopped talking. I’ll ask questions, or make general, “Hmm, interesting!” noises, but if no one’s going to listen to what I say anyway, I just don’t see the point in trying to contribute to the conversation.

    Has anyone else ever dealt with this? Did you ever figure out a solution?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      To be honest, I do this sometimes. For me it’s that I either miss a word or two (maybe something distracted me or I just didn’t hear those words) or I lose focus for a moment. I admit that I struggle with maintaining focus when someone is telling me a story, or is relaying details that I might find mundane, so that makes me not the best listener sometimes.

      But I’ve been in your position, too, and it’s definitely annoying. I just try to remember that what’s important or exciting or interesting to me, probably isn’t as much for the listener.

      From the examples you mentioned here, I see it more on the scale of a minor annoyance and it happens. The listener has the gist of it, but they missed a detail.

      1. temporarily de-lurking*

        It’s true that on a case-by-case basis it’s just a minor annoyance, and I’m sure I’ve done it to others on occasion. I guess my problem is that it happens so often. I tried to use brief examples to avoid walls of text, but it happens with nearly every conversation I have, whether it’s a casual chat or a serious discussion or trying to make plans with someone (where the nitty-gritty details are kind of the whole point of the conversation). Since it happens so often, in so many different conversations, I feel like the only common denominator is me–like I’m not speaking the same language as everyone else, and no amount of trying to speak more clearly, simpler, or more straightforwardly makes any difference.

        1. Lissa*

          I think this is a good way to look at it – if you think that this happens to you more than to other people, there’s a few possibilities. One is that you perceive it more – the other is that you’re doing something conversationally that might encourage other people’s bad habits. (I’ve seen this topic come up before and often the conclusion seems to be “everyone sucks but me” which … can feel good but not useful!)

          Is there somebody you could ask to see if your communication style is hard for them to understand in some way? Also, lots of the examples you gave are family – maybe your family has a “style” of communication that totally doesn’t mesh with you, so you’re always at odds. I have a couple coworkers like this, where it’s like – we just DO NOT mesh well conversationally! Have you ever found a group of people where this doesn’t happen with? I think collecting more information might be a good step here.

          1. temporarily de-lurking*

            You have a good point about family. I’m not a particularly social creature, so yeah, a disproportionate amount of my experience with this comes from them. I’ve always been the black sheep of my family, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that it’s possible good communication is just never gonna work with them.

            The one person I found who has always listened to (and understood!) me is my spouse. They’ve been quite busy with working and going to school full time; so I suppose it makes a lot of sense that this is really starting to bother me now, because what little socializing I do is much more likely to be with my family, exacerbating the feeling of never being listened to.

            1. LilySparrow*

              Any chance there are some hereditary brain function issues in the family? Like undiagnosed ADHD, or auditory processing? Or maybe just different processing styles, that are not disordered but just very different than you?

              I am very auditory/verbal. Like you, I care about using accurate words to express myself.

              I once watched a movie with two friends – one extremely empathetic and the other highly visual. They spent the whole movie (a period costume drama) narrating their experience – one was constantly reacting to the costumes and sets, and how the changes showed the character’s change in fortunes or their intent for the scene. The other was constantly reacting to the relationships and emotional reactions between the characters, and how that impacted them.

              I was about to go crazy because I couldn’t hear the dialogue, so I had no idea what was going on! They didn’t hear a word of dialogue either, but seemed quite content with their experience of the movie and felt they completely understood the plot.

              TL;dr: People are bafflingly different.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I do this too–and then make an idiot out of myself by re-asking a question i already asked, especially during a long conversation. I was listening; I just forgot I already asked you!

    2. Helpful*

      You might be one of the detailed conversationalists, vs. “Bottom Line Up-Front” people. Try starting with your main point so your listeners know what to grab onto. I know some people who confuse me with their conversation style, as in I don’t know what they are talking about and it causes me to interrupt to clarify. Perhaps the amount of words coming out of your mouth confound your main point.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Take it situation by situation rather than just shutting down.

      Sometimes I notice there are people who do not do well with some topics. When I was working on my house that was a big chunk of my day and my life, so I talked about house repair. I could see some eyes glaze over. I decided not to talk about repairs with those people.

      Other times setting is a factor. I know for me, if I am cooking a big meal for a bunch of people that is not a good time to tell me about other stuff. I am too one track focused to really concentrate.

      OTH, in the dad example, if I mention spouse again and he remembers it’s math not history then all is forgiven, we are better now. Some folks because of their value in my life get a free pass over and over and over…..

      All your examples are family members. It could be that your family has a habit of not really listening to each other. I would make an effort to observe how others are treated.

      Sometimes stuff like this can be fixed by joking about it. “Dad. Spouse is taking math not history. Did I mention there was going to be a listening test at the end of this conversation? I am going to ask questions to see how closely you were listening to me.”

      I have seen many instances of your first example about the ice maker. I concluded that this is the type response I get when the person has no idea what to do to fix my problem and I need to find someone else to discuss it with. I separate that example out of the group because it happens often enough in life that it’s good to recognize what it is. It’s a way of saying, “Talk to someone else because I am clueless.” You can get these responses at work or from friends also.

      In short I vote for watching what topics individuals relate to and watching the setting surrounding the conversation. Indeed, there are some people who will never talk with you about “your stuff” and if you watch you will see they treat others the same. So as you trouble shoot this problem, toss out the people who only focus on their stuff they are not a good gauge to go by. Look at the people who seem to be interested in your life from time to time.

    4. Anon right this moment*

      Yes, but I don’t have a solution unfortunately.

      Friend: How is Hobby going?
      Me: Unfortunately I had to take a break due to Nasty Injury a few months ago, can’t go back to Hobby for several months.
      Friend: Oh. Did you go to Hobby Event last week? I heard they had live music.
      Me: Uh, no. Injury. Haven’t done it for months, doctor says I can’t do Hobby until next year at the earliest.
      Friend, not three days later: Hey, are you going to Advanced Hobby Event this weekend?
      Me: Nnnnoooooo…Injury…remember?
      Friend: Oh…okay…

      As near as I can tell it’s more a problem with other people than with you – they are listening to *tone* rather than content, so when they hear an agreeable *tone* they assume that you have just confirmed whatever incorrect assumption was in their head, and their expectation is that if they are wrong, you would react more negatively or more forcefully or something, even when it’s something not worth arguing or getting upset about. They personally get fired up about a bunch of trivial crap being wrong (I have also been guilty of Someone Is Wrong On The Internet, so I understand to some extent), and they assume other people are also like that.

      Like I said, I don’t actually have a solution. :/ My only solution is to find the handful of people in my life who DO listen for content and hang out with them more often, which is obviously not 100% helpful all the time.

      1. temporarily de-lurking*

        Thanks. I hadn’t thought of it in terms of tone–I’m occasionally weird about words and can spend all my focus on word choice, definitions, and literal meanings. I feel like that should make me easier to understand (how many advice sites say, “Use your words!”) but if I’m communicating with more empathic (or emotional *cough*family*cough*) people, it makes sense that they might be focusing more on tone and emotional displays rather than what I’m actually saying.

    5. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      Any chance you’re a “low talker” without much volume? Or that you mumble?
      My husband does this – but only on the phone. He used to always blame the other person, blame the phone, etc.
      Until one day I took video of him talking to his mom on the phone and he could hear for himself how he drops volume and even tone when he talks on the phone. Now he’s more aware and tries to use his regular voice on the phone and – surprise! – the problem went away!

      1. temporarily de-lurking*

        Haha, I do kind of wish this was the issue. According to my spouse, I am actually almost always way too loud. My spouse says my family are the loudest people they’ve ever met. And tying that in with some points people have made above, it makes a surprising amount of sense that I’m loud too. Bad habits from family, but also acting (stereotypically) American–people aren’t listening to me, maybe if I just TALK LOUDER people will start understanding me, lol.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        My wife does that, usually but not always on the phone. She just kind of trails off her volume, while still speaking. (It’s habit, not hearing issues.) I tried to point it out, mostly unsuccessfully, until she noticed that her mother does it with her, and how annoying it is. It’s better now. :)

    6. temporarily de-lurking*

      Thanks for your advice, everyone. <3
      I've got a few things to think about and a few techniques to try.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Suggestion to you: shorter sentences. Introduce your topic strongly and plainly, let the other person respond, then give more info. Make it more of a back-and-forth than a paragraph of ideas. Leave that for your writing. (And don’t try to converse with people who are watching tv, even if they try to converse with you.)

        I make this suggestion because I have a similar problem with my wife, where she loads too much information up front. Books can have sentences written this way, but speaking this way is hard on the listener, especially if there’s a lot of sort of introductory information, and especially if your listener has some attention deficit (like me). And of course hearing loss can factor in too, if your parents are over 50.

        An example: Instead of this:
        “Oh man, my ice maker is annoying. Even though I *never* use the crushed ice setting, every time I get ice, it crushes at least 2 or 3 ice cubes and little bits of ice end up everywhere.”

        Try this:
        “Oh, my ice maker is really messing up.” And there you stop. Give the other person a chance to show interest (or even that they’re paying attention). If they ask what’s wrong, then you say, “It keeps giving me crushed ice. I never use that setting!” And if they respond sympathetically, you continue with “I want ice cubes and instead I get little chips of ice everywhere, and they melt on the floor. So annoying.”

        Another example. Instead of this:
        Me: So, Spouse’s math degree is going well—lots of homework, but they’ve really been enjoying the challenge!
        Dad: What’re they going to do with a history degree anyway? Are they planning to teach?
        Me: Oh, no, they’re getting a degree in math. As for what they want to do with it, they’re not 100% sure yet, although definitely no teaching! Fortunately, we’ve still got at least a year to figure things out!

        Try this:
        “Spouse is really enjoying their classes. They say the homework is a good challenge.” (Notice how there’s only 1 piece of info here: classes.)
        Your dad says something about history degree and teaching. You ignore the teaching bit and say: “Dad, why do you think it’s a history degree? It’s never been a history degree.” (Again, only 1 piece of info here.)
        Your dad says something, whatever, doesn’t much matter.
        You say: “He’s actually studying mathematics.” (Notice short sentence with no distractions.)
        Your dad says something about “what do you do with that” and you say, “We’re not sure yet. Some of his classmates want to be teachers, but Spouse hasn’t decided.”

        (And then – special case for your parent – if your Dad still says something 5 minutes later about history degrees, tell him that you just talked about this, does he remember? And then stop talking and make/let him answer you. And at that point you might want to have a heart-to-heart with him about how it feels when he ignores what you say, and since you know he loves you, maybe he should have his hearing checked? And maybe it’s not his hearing, but you have told him directly that you speak and he appears not to hear or pay attention, and it’s hurting your feelings. But first make sure you aren’t stacking the deck against yourself by trying to talk in a noisy room, or while the tv is on, or whatever. It’s common for people to not realize that their hearing is less good than before, since nothing hurts, it’s just that everything is quieter. I’m in my 50’s now and I’m noticing a little trouble hearing in crowds, and I don’t always hear the cat in the other room but my wife does.

        1. Nita*

          Yes, that’s it. Shorter sentences. That’ll give you the chance to gauge if the listener is even interested, before you launch into the details.

          1. temporarily de-lurking*

            To be honest, I’m not sure I see the helpfulness of this. I’m not cornering a poor cashier and nattering at them for 20 minutes while they try to escape. I’m talking with friends and family in situations where we’re literally getting together to chat. I’m also not going on hour long monologues at people–just trying to have a back and forth conversation and feel like it’s actually a conversation, not just me silently listening to someone talk. If I can understand that people have different interests and passions than me, and can politely listen and respond to someone giving a ten minute explanation of the consistency, color and frequency of their dog’s poop (bc yes, this kind of thing is important to pet owners, even if I have zero interest in hearing about it), then I don’t really think it’s unfair to use two whole sentences at a time to talk about something I’m interested in.

    7. J*

      I’m curious: are these convos happening in person or over the phone? I know that I’m guilty of sometimes trying to “multi-task” while I’m on the phone, and my attention suffers.

  24. I am still Furious!!*

    Ugh, no update! I just checked our local newspaper’s online version, and one divorce is posted – it was granted on October 31, and just made it to the courthouse section this Saturday. Hopefully mine is maybe signed but has not made it to the newspaper yet. I emailed my attorney’s secretary on Thursday for an update, but hadn’t heard anything by yesterday, so she could have been out of the office or busy with current stuff.

    What really bites is that I’m still on the hook for employee/spouse health insurance deductions until I can get a copy of the signed decree so I can take him off my insurance. That’s $240/paycheck. It will be about $100 per 2 week pay for just me, maybe a bit less, so I’m looking forward to the reduced withholding. It will be the first time in over 30 years that I haven’t covered him on my insurance. He never paid one penny or had a job that provided insurance, so it always fell to me.

    I’m running errands this morning, so will check the mailbox at the old house, hoping that all the mail is either being forwarded or he’s change the addresses by now. My indoor/outdoor cat has completely adopted the new owners! He’s happy, they’re doting on him, and I saw him last weekend when I checked the mail. I’m sad that he can’t be with me, but happy he’s doing well and being cared for. The two cats here with me are hysterical. They bring me so much joy and company!

    Now to make plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I plan to take some time off from the “W” thing we don’t talk about on this thread, and aside from that, I’m not sure what I’m doing. I do know that I feel so much less stress this year than last year, and the years before, so that’s good.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      I hope that before your next paycheck you have solid confirmation that you can take him *off*.

      I’m one of the many who have followed your saga without commenting (because of not having anything original to say). Today’s new idea: Please take time to be very, very proud of what you’ve done. You’ve held steady employment for over 30 years to maintain not only yourself but your soon-to-be-ex and your child. That is an accomplishment. You’ve also successfully maneuvered through difficult waters (logistical, emotional, legal) to arrive at this point that is so much better for YOU. Enjoy your stress-free holiday season and overall life.

    2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Sending hug, and +1 on Jean’s comment.
      I did get back premiums via refund… because it also took them a month to process the paperwork to take him off – even with death.
      But more paycheck comes home and that’s great. (and I had the premium health insurance, plus life, plus dental, plus vision… you get the picture).
      As soon as you have the paperwork, I’m sure you also plan to update the beneficiary on your life insurance, your last check/PTO balance, and your retirement accounts. (Here, we have to have “spouse” as 50% legally – until they are not a legal spouse).
      I don’t know if your workplace has a good “life event” checklist (the way they do for death). But follow up… dropping the car insurance coverage, cutting back the renter’s insurance, cancelling the magazines… lots of savings in little places helped me.
      I even realized I could cut back on “my” life insurance coverage because I didn’t have to worry any more about how he would survive without my paycheck to completely support him and his habits. I’m over insured now for term coverage. (I will fix next open enrollment).

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        My HR person said she would try to get a refund for me. And the only thing I think I have to change still is my life insurance through work and my 401K plan beneficiary (he’s already at the minimum 50%, but still…) and I think that’s it. Everything else is done. I’m anxious to see what my paycheck will really be.

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          Happy dance for you. More paycheck, and you get to choose where to spend (what’s left after paying ‘your’ bills). And you know it will still be there when you turn your back. You are doing great!

          1. I am still Furious!!*

            OMG yes! It will still be there when I turn my back! It’s great being able to go for a walk and leave my credit cards in my wallet. I started doing that before I left, for a few months, after I figured out what he had done. I took him off my bank accounts years ago, when it was clear he couldn’t be trusted. I’d get paid, schedule bills to be paid, and wake up the next day to overdrafts because he’d go go an ATM and take out money to gamble with. I am so glad to be free of this.

            1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

              Yes. I understand. My heart is still breaking but you are a shining beacon of hope that this can be overcome. The end is in sight!

      2. valentine*

        Also remove him as next of kin everywhere and assign a medical proxy if you don’t want it to be your mom. Call the secretary and the court clerk.

        1. I am still Furious!!*

          I’ve already done that – with my dentist office (they have contact people too) and my doctor’s office. Thankfully my doctor’s office is affiliated with a large medical group here (it’s like UPMC) so my records are accessible by all of the area hospitals. I chose a close friend and my daughter. Thank you for bringing this up – others may be in the same boat. It can be overwhelming! I made long checklists!

    3. Woodswoman*

      It must be maddening to be this close to having all the legal paperwork finalized and have to keep waiting and spending money on monthly premiums. What great news that your kitty is settled with a new family.

      It’s so good to read that looking ahead to the holidays, you’re already feeling less stressed about them than you did in the past. Even if you’re in a part of the country with challenging weather, I hope you can find time to take walks or otherwise be outdoors when you can. Being outside is healing, not just my platitude here but scientifically proven to promote well-being in multiple research studies.

      Send the best to you!

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        I do take time for walks outside, and it has to be pretty bad for me not to do so, as in, full out blizzard conditions. I have Stabilicers for my waterproof hikers, so even ice doesn’t keep me inside. I’ve gone for walks with temperatures below 0F, just put on my heavy down coat and layered up. I love to feel sunlight on my face, even in December! And Central PA isn’t known for its pleasant weather from November through March :) I’m also very fortunate to live right next to a major hiking trail, and I’ve been exploring it as I have time. It’s very challenging in spots, but I am 55, so probably not so much for younger people, so hope to find someone to hike with.

        Thanks so much for your comments. I’m hoping to get at least a partial refund on the health insurance, my HR person said she can submit based on the date on the paperwork and she’s been moderately successful in the past. Fingers Crossed!!

  25. The Other Dawn*

    Has anyone had a medial branch block for chronic back pain?

    I have bulging lumbar discs (L4-L5, L5-S1) so I get pain down my left leg to my knee. I can deal with it during the day by moving around more (I have a desk job), but sleeping is becoming difficult again. Not a night goes by when I don’t take a half a Tylenol PM and either one or two regular Tylenol. It helps with pain relief and generally prevents me from waking up at 3 am and the tossing and turning the rest of the night while I try and get comfortable.

    I just went to the orthopedic again so I could try another round of epidural corisone injections. Since I didn’t get a lot of relief from the the last three rounds (maybe three weeks each time), the doctor recommended trying a lumbar medical branch block. If that works, then I could have the nerve killed. (I forget what he called it, but they basically fry the nerve.) I know the nerve would eventually grow back, but it could provide long term pain relief.

    I’ve looked it up online so I know a bit about it, but I’d love to hear anyone’s experiences with having it done.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Forgot to add that I’m not yet ready to have fusion done, which is what is needed eventually, so this is just pain management for the time being. I’m not yet at the point where the nerve pain is preventing me from doing anything other than getting a full night’s sleep. Pain level is mostly an annoyance rather than something that sidelines me.

    2. MostCake*

      Not sure if it’s the same thing, but last year after a couple of steroid injections for severe low back pain and the same horrible burning and throbbing nerve pain down my left leg, I had two facet block procedures, which were explained to me as a way of determining which nerve to fry in a future radio frequency nerve ablation procedure. The two facet blocks were a few weeks apart and I had to keep a 24-hour pain diary after each one. They helped but I was still suffering a lot and could barely make it through the day. I had the nerve ablation last January and it’s helped tremendously. For the first time in four years I can walk without pain, pick something up off the floor, tie my shoes, et cetera. I would say the pain is reduced overall at least 85%, and it just keeps getting better as I am regaining strength and stamina, plus I’ve lost about 20 lbs of the 50 I gained when I could barely move for so long.

      I don’t even know what has caused my condition. I just started having horrible pain in my low back that got worse and then the pain down my leg started and I didn’t know what to do. I was limping and couldn’t sleep and was just a mess. My regular doctor booked me for an MRI but the insurance company denied it saying I had to go to physical therapy first, which I wasn’t able to do because of my work hours. I was in tears at work and someone said well, right down the hall is a brain and spine center with a pain clinic, go make an appointment, so I did, worried all the while my insurance would refuse to pay, but so far they’ve paid for everything even the IV sedation for the nerve ablation.

      Sorry to blather on, but if the medial branch block is the same as a facet block, I can tell you it’s changed my life so much for the better.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, it’s the same thing. I Googled it! :) So how long did the pain relief last after the blocks? Also, what was the pain during the procedure like? On the same level as a steroid shot? Worse? Not as bad? Same for the ablation–painful?

        I’m really surprised the insurance wouldn’t pay for an MRI. I mean, I guess I *shouldn’t* be surprised because I’ve been denied for things before, too. (So annoying!)

        1. fposte*

          MRIs are really expensive and time and PT often solve back problems; outside of an emergency situation, it’s pretty standard for insurance not to cover them until you’ve done PT first.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Oh OK, didn’t know that! I guess mine was the exception then. I’d been going to an ortho off and on for several years for back pain, so maybe that’s why it was covered.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I bet duration of treatment counts for some insurers. I think the goal is to avoid MRIs for the majority of people, who would be better in 6-8 weeks anyway, which tbh I think isn’t unreasonable.

        2. MostCake*

          The pain relief from the blocks was about medium (60%) and didn’t last more than a few days, but I was told it wouldn’t as they were diagnostic to determine which nerve to kill. The block procedure pain… well, it was not just pain but weird sensations that were unpleasant too. Had I known my insurance would have paid for sedation for the blocks (I’ve since found out they would have), I would have had it. But having experienced it without sedation, I would do it again if necessary. It is pain and weird sensations, but it is over quickly. It is not excruciating but it is painful, just remember it will be over in less than half a minute.

          I was told I *had* to have sedation for the nerve ablation, so did and after the procedure I went out to breakfast on the way home and was back at work the next day. I don’t recall any pain from the procedure itself. The lumbar and leg pain relief was very much immediate but improves even gradually as my mobility improves daily and my strength and agility are catching up. Seriously, I feel like I’m getting my life back and I regret how long I waited to deal with the problem, but it made me depressed and then I could barely deal with anything besides slogging back and forth to work every day.

          The doctor who has done all the procedures on me, he is an anesthesiologist board certified in pain management, told me that if the ablation didn’t work then I’d be referred to the spine doc for a full workup and probably surgery. I’m so thankful this has worked and I continue to improve. If I have to have another ablation I will without hesitation. I hope you have a good outcome too!

    3. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I have not had the branch block but I did end up having surgery for my pain. My back never hurt; it started with the pain down my right leg (sciatica). And what a pain that was–I still remember it 23 years later! Anyhow, they started me out with physical therapy which never worked. It took me almost a year before I found a doctor who referred me for a cat scan which showed a bulging disk (L5-S1). Then they did an MRI which showed that the disk had herniated–a small piece had broken off and was pressing on the nerve. Within a month I had surgery to have the disk removed. They explained that if a disk is just bulging out, physical therapy can work it back into place, but since the piece was broken off, continued pressure on the nerve could cause permanent damage. I was furious that it took them so long to properly diagnose me. I had been in such bad pain for so long and could only walk with a cane. If they had done a cat scan or MRI earlier, I would have been spared all that pain. However, I am very happy to report that the surgery was a success and within two weeks I was pain free.

  26. Jessen*

    Blah. I really should get ADHD testing, but…I’m honestly terrified to go back and deal with the mental health system again. I have benefited from the system, but I also have a lot of painful and traumatic memories that were induced by mental health practitioners. I know people talk about finding the one that fits, but I also feel like that presumes that simply trying people until you find the right one is a low-cost activity (I don’t just mean financially here).

    What I’m particularly worried about with ADHD testing is that they want to find out about your childhood and symptoms before 12. Because I was homeschooled, the only source of that information would be my parents. And I do not want my mother anywhere near my mental health anything. But I’m afraid because I know how tiring and stressful it is to try to justify yes, she actually is that toxic, no, I’m not embarrassed. A lot of people don’t seem to get it, and I’m worried about being interrogated or turned away because I won’t involve my parents and I don’t have anyone else.

    1. Need mascara recommendations*

      I don’t think a therapist is going to turn you away because you won’t involve your parents. Plenty of people have deceased parents and what are they supposed to do, suffer in silence? I know what you mean about the non-monetary expense but unfortunately I don’t see a way around that.

      1. Jessen*

        It’s more that I’ve found that since I have my parents and can contact them, it’s easier to be labelled as uncooperative – whereas if they were deceased it would obviously not be me choosing to not involve them. I really don’t want to justify, yet again, why my mother is toxic and I don’t want to involve her in anything. And it’s been a frequent experience with mental health that they just want you to spit out everything that’s wrong quickly and have a pat explanation, and a lot of doctors will dismiss problems as just nerves or anxiety.

        1. Natalie*

          Have you ever tried just saying “we’re not in contact” or “we’re estranged” rather than explaining why you won’t ask about XYZ specifically? Even with mental health professionals who should probably know better, I find that shorthand is accepted much quicker.

          1. Jessen*

            I mean, we’re not estranged, exactly. My mother is on a very strict information diet. She gets lots and lots of cute kitty stories and chatter about the weather and other light topics, always in a situation with a time limit and ready-made excuses to go. She doesn’t get anything that would be useful in boundary stomping.

            1. Natalie*

              Right, but what if you just said you were estranged? If it’s just for a screening test it doesn’t really matter that it’s not the exact 100% truth. It communicates that this information isn’t available from her, which is the point.

    2. ainomiaka*

      As an adult in the U.S. it would be weird to require your parents, possibly a HIPPA violation. I don’t know about other countries, but I wouldn’t worry about that particular issue.
      Sadly that doesn’t help you know in advance what therapists are going to be worth going to. It’s always such a dice roll.

      1. Jessen*

        Yeah, what gets me about the dice roll is it can actually have really bad effects if you get a bad one. A lot of people treat it as the worst that can happen is they don’t help you at all.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      Can you have neuropsych testing, because then you don’t need the detailed childhood bevlhavioral inventory. It’s pricier, of course, but it’s just a bunch of cognitive tests and I don’t recall a bunch of probing questions about my childhood or my feelings.

      1. Jessen*

        I’ll look into it. The main concern I have is one of the diagnostic criteria is symptoms present before age 12. I just don’t have really any access to anything about what I was like before age 12.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Just tell them that.

          You’re an adult. They can’t force you to involve your parents. I got screened at age 42 and while they asked me if I could recall any relevant symptoms as a child, I didn’t have to provide documentation or references. It was only a very minor part of the testing. A friend of mine also got screened by a different doctor, and while they had a section where the patient could ask family members for information, it definitely wasn’t a requirement to do so. Just “If you remember, it might be helpful”.

        2. LilySparrow*

          I am not being snarky – I know this is a real issue with traumatic childhoods: do you have problems remembering what you were like before the age of 12, and your own experience of traits/symptoms?

          Because I was diagnosed based solely on self-reported symptoms and experiences. As were several of my friends who were diagnosed as adults. None of us were required to prove anything. Longer post below.

          I’m sorry you’ve had such horrible encounters with people who were supposed to help you. I can tell it must have been really bad, for you to have such fear about what is, for many people, a process that is relatively benign or even a source of relief.

          I hope you get some real, useful assistance from caring and competent people.

          1. Jessen*

            I’ve never really thought of it as “problems remembering” so much as just, like…the memories I have wouldn’t be relevant? I feel like it’s not uncommon for people to not have a lot of memories before that age, and especially not a lot of ones that would speak to symptoms. And with homeschooling I don’t really have a distinctive set of memories about school that are separate from home life, nor did I really have regular grades and feedback that would have provided a lot of information. There was a lot more of “do it until you get it right” without any external mechanism to know how I measured up to other people.

            Most of what I remember about schoolwork is later – I remember that I couldn’t master proofreading no matter what, and I had a tendency when doing advanced math to make a lot of extremely basic mistakes (think like 2+5=9).

            I suspect at least some bad encounters are more common than people think. I think the mental health profession is still susceptible to a lot of the same biases wider society has and isn’t always very good at addressing them. It tends to be very individually focused, which has its advantages but I think also certain disadvantages when dealing with any sort of systemic bias, and the nature of the system encourages chalking pushback on the part of the patient up to their mental health. (Also, the whole “maybe you’re not ready to get better” line can die in a fire.)

            1. Observer*

              I think you are misunderstanding ADD. The kinds of things that diagnosticians are going to be looking for are not necessarily going to be tied to a formal school and / or grading setting.

              1. Jessen*

                I get that a bit, but, like, most of my memories are like “I hate cauliflower but I had to eat it anyway.”

    4. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      I’ve never done testing, but I hear you on the sheep volume of people who simply don’t believe you when you say you don’t talk to your parents because they are terrible people.
      PSA to the world: If someone says that to you, BELIEVE THEM. Do not expect examples or proof.

      1. Jessen*

        Yeah. I do talk to mine, but my mother’s on a strict cute kittens and new recipes information diet. She doesn’t get to come to my apartment, and I won’t get in the car with her, because those create situations where it might be difficult for me to get away. And she doesn’t get any information that would be personal, at all.

        I think that surprises people more than complete estrangement would. I know she tends to see boundaries as “Jessen is just being mean for no reason”, so I kind of keep her in a spot where she doesn’t have the chance to really get at me.

    5. LilySparrow*

      It depends where you are. I’m in the US, and I told my GP I was concerned about it. She referred me to a psychiatrist for screening. We met once for an hour (and he’s a fun guy – he has ADHD too, and screening and treatment for ADHD is basically all he does). He sent her a report, and she manages my prescription. He said I can come back and talk to him whenever I need to, but I”m not required to have ongoing mental health treatment for the ADHD at all.

      He didn’t ask me anything about my relationship with my parents, and didn’t require anything from my former schools. He just asked me about my experiences now, and traced whether these traits seemed consistent with my experiences as a child. (To make sure it wasn’t something new out of the blue).

      In my case, there wouldn’t have been anything from school anyway, because I didn’t have any trouble in school. I was a weird kid socially because of the blurting, hyperfocus on odd interests, and physical clumsiness/messiness. But it didn’t impact my grades or get me in trouble with the teacher. My symptoms cause me problems with adulting, but being a kid was easy because somebody else was doing the adulting for me.

      And that’s pretty typical for a lot of adults with ADHD — if it impacted our schooling, we would have been diagnosed a long time ago. So I can’t see why school records would be relevant at all?

      Start with your GP. See what the standards are and what/who they recommend.

      1. Jessen*

        Well, the problem is I honestly plan on replacing my GP. I really don’t like him, and new job means new insurance and lots more options. So I’m thinking I’d probably rather start with a psychiatrist?

        I think I’m just nervous because I’ve had some pretty terrible experiences within the mental health system, and overall I felt (across several practitioners) that I was being fixed rather than being heard, and that a good patient was supposed to shut up and do what the doctor said. And if I didn’t like it or wanted to try something else that was a symptom that we needed to work on.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Ah, I see.

          Is there anyone you’re able to talk to about getting recommendations? I’ve always had the best results with word of mouth in finding health providers. Way better than just searching lists & trial and error.

          Maybe if there’s a local forum or support group for ADHD, you could ask there?

    6. MommaCat*

      I got tested about a year and a half ago, and I didn’t have to contact my parents. The psychologist did ask, but they aren’t in the picture for different reasons; I think you would be safe saying that you’re estranged from your mother. I had an interview with the psychologist, and convinced him enough for a paper test that I took with a bunch of other people. Let me tell you, having a bunch of ADHD people trying to take a silent test in a silent room at the same time was kind of hellish. In any case, I didn’t rate high enough on the test to rate a diagnosis, especially given my high grades in high school and college (I finally found that if I stretched myself thin enough, I didn’t have time to procrastinate. Probably not the healthiest coping mechanism). I ended up letting it go, but I’m probably going to follow up again in a few years when we switch providers (current plan is great for prenatal, crappy for mental health). Hope this helps you!

      1. Jessen*

        Yeah that’s always my worry. I’m great in academics, especially if I have a structured environment. But I have a hard time paying bills because I don’t remember that they’re due, I can hardly manage to keep a house free of flies and garbage, and I routinely forget to eat. I also can’t seem to manage calendars or to-do lists because they become part of the background pretty quickly to my brain.

        1. TL -*

          One of my friends does great if she has a structured environment and not so great out of it; that’s really common with ADHD in adults, especially women. Her diagnosis was pretty straightforward – her counselor recommended testing, she got tested, they put her on medication and she has strategies that she’s worked out with her counselor as well.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Omg it wasn’t a one on one!? I cannot imagine it.

        (And now I’m picturing the scene in Men in Black where flippant NYC cop Will Smith is taking a test with 5 military people in dress uniforms…)

    7. Not A Manager*

      I’m confused about what you’re looking for. I have relatives with ADHD, and they were given a bunch of neuropsych tests to determine it. IIRC, there was also a personal history taken, but the bulk of the diagnosis was based on the testing.

      On the other hand, I have friends who basically described their symptoms to the prescribing doctor, and the doctor gave them a prescription and said, “try this, if it helps then you have ADHD. If it doesn’t help, you probably don’t.”

      So maybe it depends on what kind of doctor you see and what you want? If you want a prescription for some kind of med, I don’t think they are that hard to get. If you want a referral to someone who specializes in behavioral treatment for adults with ADHD, that might require more testing.

      In terms of the request to contact your parents, I’d suggest firm eye contact and “we’re not in contact.” Don’t fill any silence. Let it be awkward. If the doc pushes you, just keep repeating variations of, “that’s not possible, we’re not in contact.”

      1. Jessen*

        I think I’d prefer behavioral type treatment, although I’m not opposed to meds. But I also tend to react weirdly to meds and I’m cautious because I’ve had anxiety issues before. For various reasons, there’s also some advantages to me to having an official, on-paper diagnosis.

        I am in very light contact with my mother, for various reasons. I get along pretty well with my father, but I know I couldn’t involve him and not my mother. But mom’s on a very strict limit of nothing important or personal.

        1. MommaCat*

          So, one thing you can check out the YouTube channel howtoADHD. I’ve found a lot of her tips to be really helpful. Also, I’ve set up my Fitbit to alert me for things like cleaning up my work area before it’s time to leave work, or giving me warnings that I should be eating breakfast NOW if I want to get to work on time, things like that. I just turned off my alerts for cleaning the house, though, I’ve been ignoring them for a month. I’ll turn them back on in a week or two, hopefully that will help me reset.

          1. Jessen*

            Hey, that’s the other symptom – me and videos have issues!

            Seriously, I’ll check it out. I’ve done a lot of life rearranging, like right now breakfast is a fruit bar and a thing of kefir rather than a sit-down breakfast, because I just won’t remember.

    8. Jennifer Thneed*

      Thing may have changed since I was diagnosed over 10 years ago, but it was very much based on “what are your experiences right now, and are those experiences a problem for you?” So, thinking things are funny that others don’t laugh at — it happens but it sure doesn’t bother me. But never remembering anything unless I write it on my calendar — it happens and is a big problem.

      That particular psychiatrist was really uninterested in doing *therapy* on me, didn’t care about my childhood except as I could recognize experiences that the ADHD explained. So I wonder why you’re certain that it will come up for you? In any case, just tell them that you’re estranged for good reasons and you can only share what you remember. (And if they push back on that, it’s okay to end the appointment and come back another time.)

      Also, I agree with whoever said, “What would they do with people whose parents are dead?” This is a thing that happens, especially with adults over 35. And I challenge you on this: “the memories I have wouldn’t be relevant?” That sounds like you are making an assumption, and I suggest that you might be wrong, and you should ask the experts rather than assuming. (And for the record, lots of people I know remember things before age 12. You might not remember events accurately, but you’ll certainly remember things like “sitting still in class was always hard” or “I could read fine but somehow I could never learn to spell words”. It’s before age 4 or so that most people don’t remember, because of childhood brain development.)

      1. Jessen*

        I mean my memories of that age are more like “I remember we had cauliflower for dinner and I hated it” or “I remember that I wanted to paint my bedroom black but my parents said that would be too dark” or “We got this wooden spider decoration and it was awesome and I kind of wish I still had it”.

        I have memories of the setup for academics, but little to no memories of actually doing the work or how easy or hard it was for me or how long it took, just that it got done eventually. Similarly, I remember that I had chores and did them when told, but I don’t think remembering on my own and organizing things was ever expected of me beyond “put your stuff away where mom says it goes when she tells you to put it away.” I don’t think anyone ever cared if I sat still or not, or if I daydreamed or stared out the window.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I was diagnosed with ADD in my 40s. They didn’t ask for school records–they asked me. I told them I pulled my first all-nighters in fifth grade… and that was enough to demonstrate that it was a consistent thing, not a new development.

      1. Jessen*

        That makes sense. I think part of my thought is homeschooling for me meant a very different environment than your standard school environment, which means I don’t really have a lot to compare it to, and certain common issues just never came up. It also means my memories don’t tend to come with as many time markers; anything from age 8 to age 18 was at the same spot in the same room with the same people. The other side is that mom got upset over so many stupid things it’s hard to tell what was actually a thing I was doing and what was mom being out of control again.

        I just get nervous around mental health treatment because I’ve had some pretty nasty past experiences. (My current favorite is the guy who put down my having a girlfriend in college as a symptom.) I think I’m trying to talk myself into it because there are some kind of nasty associated traumatic memories, and who do you go to to deal with traumatic memories that are caused – and retriggered – by therapy?

    10. LilySparrow*

      Hey Jessen, I don’t know if you’ll be back to see this, but I just got a notification that ADDitude Magazine is having a free webinar this week on How to Get An Accurate ADHD Diagnosis. If you can’t make the live session, they’ll send you a replay link.

      Link in my username.

    11. Observer*

      I have to agree with the others who said that it’s almost certainly impossible for the to REQUIRE that you involve your mother or to label you “uncooperative” if you refuse to involve her.

    12. JustDiagnosed*

      Not sure if anyone is still checking! Just wanted to chime in since I just got diagnosed very recently. I asked for a referral after going to an audiologist to check my hearing (absolutely fine). It was a 30-min session with a neuropsych who asked about what issues I’ve been having and asked guiding questions, which do include some childhood questions. At the end I was given a diagnosis, some medication to start with, and a timeline to come back to see how everything is going.

  27. GhostWriter*

    Anyone have any suggestions on how to dust books without removing them from a bookcase?

    I used to take all my books down and lay them in piles on a table (one shelf at a time) and vacuum the tops, but that was labor intensive and a lot of dust got in the air (I’d get sinus pressure and a runny nose for the rest of the day whenever I did it). Recently I tried patting a Swifter duster on the tops of the books to pick up the dust, but I got sick from that too.

    I’ve seen vacuum attachments that are long and super flat (for getting under furniture), so that might work, but the ones available on my vacuum brand’s website don’t say they fit my model.

    1. And Peggy*

      I use a microfibre duster wand – it has a telescoping metal handle so I can reach the tops of shelves, and lots of microfibre “strings” that get into all the gaps. It traps the dust so I don’t get it in the air (I have breathing issues). I drag it across slowly rather than patting as that way dust doesn’t get lifted up by the air movement.

      1. CAA*

        This. It’s how I dust the guest room that we also call “the library”. I had a feather duster, but the feather bits would get stuck in the gaps in the bindings and break off. The microfiber works much better.

    2. Autumnheart*

      Dust them more frequently, so you’re not dealing with tons of dust each time.

      If these books are not of particular value (e.g. paperbacks that are still in print), consider getting rid of them entirely and replacing them with e-books.

      If they are valuable, consider an enclosed bookcase with a glass door. Or maybe an air purifier in the corner near the bookcase, to filter out dust so it doesn’t collect as quickly.

      1. GhostWriter*

        I was only dusting them every three or four months because it was so time consuming to take every book down, vacuum and then put them back. If I can find a nice duster or handheld vac that would make the job quicker I think doing it more often would be a good idea!

    3. GhostWriter*

      Thanks for all the suggestions! I ‘m going to see what kind of dusters and handheld vacs are available online and in my local stores. :)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m looking for something too, actually, because when I packed to move, I was shocked at how filthy our books had gotten–and I was using the upholstery brush on the tops. Now that we’re setting up shelves to unpack…well, there are a staggering number of options when I search on “vacuum attachments for narrow spaces”.

        In the long run, I’m going to get glass doors for the shelves…hurrah for IKEA door add-ons.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Cut waxed paper into a strip that will lay on top of the books. Then carefully fold it into itself to encase the dust. Toss, and cut a new strip.

      Or, there’s the idea of attaching strips of cloth to the underside of the shelf above. Google “Martha Stewart” and “linen dust shields.”

  28. Foreign Octopus*

    I finished watching the Haunting of House Hill last night. I was really hesitant to start it because I HATE horror shows but it looked good and it had the kid from ET in it (although he’s not a kid anymore, obviously, but he has the bluest eyes imaginable) so I gave it a go. I am so glad I did. I really loved it, although I did feel that the last episode was a little weak – I was expecting a huge confrontation but it felt a bit of a let down after everything.

    I also started feeling for the house when that song played at the end, which is ridiculous, I know.

    So now I’m looking for something else to watch. Anyone want to recommend a show they’re really into right now?

    1. Laura H.*

      If you like fantasy, don’t mind a cartoon, and or liked Avatar the Last Airbender, The Dragon Prince is a good one!!

      1. No Green No Haze*

        The Dragon Prince is excellent.

        I’m won’t go on and on about how awesome the character of General Amaya is, here, but I want you to know I COULD. Like, for an unsetting amount of time.

    2. Lena Clare*

      I’m re-watching series 1 of Prison Break so i can continue to watch seasons 2-5 which I never did originally. I know tis old, but it’s good.

      I’m watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend and The Good Place atm on Netflix, and if you haven’t seen Killing Eve oh my gosh watch it, it’s so good!

    3. GhostWriter*

      “Travelers” was really good if you’re into sci-fi or time travel, and “A Series Of Unfortunate Events” is great if you like silly or dark stories, or if you like Neil Patrick Harris. “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” looks good, though I haven’t seen it yet. (All are on Netflix.)

      “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Sneaky Pete” are really good if you have Amazon Prime.

    4. catsaway*

      Also after finishing the Haunting of Hill house I started watching Babylon Berlin. It’s a detective show (I guess) that takes place in 1929(ish) Berlin. I’ve been surprised by how much I like it, 5 epidsodes in. It has good production values, a good plot, and some wild (in a good way) subplots – communist factions, Berlin nightclubs etc.

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I’m quite into Stranger Things tbh. Haven’t gotten around to Haunting of Hill House yet so can’t tell if you’d like it based off of just that, though.
      This reminds me I really need to go and finish Stranger Things.

    6. PX*

      Second the rec for Killing Eve if you havent watched it!

      My current binge is Killjoys which is a fun, show with good female characters on Syfy.

      And I…sort of started watching Kings last night. Its a pretty old show (2012) that had lots of rave reviews when it aired but unfortunately got cancelled after 1 season. Only 1 episode in and I can see why people liked it, but not sure I have the capacity for a deep political show in me right now. I’m mostly about fun and fluffy to be honest :D

    7. Courageous cat*

      The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has been a great next show to watch after Hill House. A little more campy but a good transition show

    8. Foreign Octopus*

      Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I’m going to go with Sabrina for now – I need a transition show.

  29. the elephant in the room*


    I’m going to check out that book, it sounds fascinating. I just finished The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix and, after reading about the differences between the book and the show, I’m really itching to read the book. The show was fantastic and I’m actually pretty psyched that they were able to take the same universe and set a different (GREAT!) story to it, so I can read the book without spoilers.

    Any Shirley Jackson fans watch the show? What did you think?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I have not–I heard that it bore little resemblance to the book, and I’m a fan of the 1963 Robert Wise film adaptation anyway. I might check it out but I’m not all that eager.

    2. Ellie*

      Only connection to book and tv show? The names used and the fact that there is a house!!! The stories in each are completely different. The book is a classic for a reason, and the tv show is good for other reasons. Don’t expect the book to have any connection to the show. (I say this because the book is phenomenal as it is, and I can’t bear the idea of anyone reading the book and being displeased when it has nothing to do with the series.)

  30. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Rec me your favorite audio books and podcasts.

    This week, I listened to One of Us is Lying (which I think Alison recommended a while back) and it was great. I’ve listened to the whole catalog of Han & Matt Know it All, Crime Junkie, The Trail Went Cold, and Moms & Murder podcast wise.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      “Just above the 60th parallel in the Baltic Ocean, a team of researchers arrives at an abandoned wind farm, to investigate some unexplained energy surges. They discover that the wind farm has become sentient. And hungry.”

      This writing prompt, given by a director to a playwright, has grown over years into an episodic science fiction revenge tragedy. Jarnsaxa, a giantess, and her cousin Loki, seek vengeance on Thor by unleashing Ragnarok. Meanwhile, agents of a multinational energy corporation pursue eco-terrorists in the frozen North. This story travels gritty dystopian wastelands, supernatural paradise, and contemporary realms, to examine what we sustain and why.

      The producers also provide transcripts.

    2. Lady Jay*

      Mentioned it a week or so ago, but Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime is one of those rare books that’s actually better on audio–Noah is able to do the various African dialects/languages, so you get a feel for the language diversity of South Africa.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Audio books:
      Fan of the His Dark Materials series for long car trips. It’s by a cast, not one reader (might be a BBC radio production?) and it’s great to have the voices sound like the right age/gender.

      I also like Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, which is sort of like listening in on hot old science gossip while also answering a bunch of “yeah, how DO they know that?” questions.

      For mixed ages on a several hours’ car ride, you can’t beat The Phantom Tollbooth.

      Politics podcasts: I like the 538 podcast and usually listen when making dinner Monday night. WaPo has one called Can He Do That which answers that recurring question. And I love Says You, the NPR word quiz show, which has podcasts.

    4. Valancy Snaith*

      I’ve gotten really sucked into Casefile and Astonishing Legends lately–Casefile is an Australian true-crime podcast that’s very straightforward and just-the-facts, but excellent, and Astonishing Legends is wayyy more into the two-guys-chatting-about-mysteries. They cover paranormal stuff, mysteries, ghosts, etc., which is very appropriate for this time of year, I think! I really want to like Lore, but that one just doesn’t grab me. Non-true-crime and non-murder related, I LOVE Gastropod, which is all about the history/science/culture behind food, and Switched On Pop, which is a musicologist and songwriter/musician discussing pop music in depth and is wayyyy more fascinating than it has a right to be.

      For audiobooks, the audio versions of the Crazy Rich Asians books are fantastic because the narrator absolutely nails all the different little bits of dialect in there, which is fascinating to me.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I like the stories on Lore, so I listen anyway, but his delivery really annoys me. He’s doing a series at the moment called Unobscured about the Salem witch trials which is pretty interesting.

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I don’t listen to audio books, but for podcasts I can recommend “Stranglers” (about the Boston Strangler, although that one does contain graphic descriptions of sexual violence so be warned), “My Favourite Murder” (this one occasionally includes the host’s cats!) and “Lore” (about a different sort of horror subject every episode – like the Mercy Brown vampire incident, H.H. Holmes or Iceland’s “Hidden Folk”).

    6. Nameless Wonder*

      Reply all
      Guilty feminist
      Terrible thanks for asking
      Stuff mom never told you
      Women at work (from Harvard business review)
      In the dark
      This American Life

      All excellent podcasts

    7. Violet Strange*

      In Sight
      Trace Evidence
      –both true crime
      Slow Burn–2 seasons, one on Watergate and one on Monica Lewinsky and other Clinton era scandals

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        Ask A Clean Person
        The Hilarious World of Depression
        (I also listen to quite a few sewing podcasts and I’ll spare you all except for Sewing out Loud, which I adore.)

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I loved Slow Burn S1! I’ve been waiting until the second season was wrapped so I could binge listen.

    8. Free Meerkats*

      Two of my favorite podcasts are Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap and Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase! KUEC is author and artist Ursula Vernon and her husband trying unusual foods so you don’t have to combined with random discussion of hounds and cats and chickens and cons with an occasional visit from the teenager. Is guess there’s at least 500 hours to listen to if you start at the beginning.
      Betty In the Sky is the adventures of a flight attendant with a major airline.
      Audiobooks: Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Mary Roach, Lord of the Rings.

    9. Lissa*

      I am currently really into The History Chicks podcast. Two women talking about women of varying levels of fame from different periods of history – very fun!

    10. Ranon*

      Please: the Disability Visibility podcast is super interesting and the host is a really talented interviewer. For history podcasts Sexing History and the Dig History Podcast are great, and for science you really can’t beat Ologies.

      For audio books Cod by Mark Kurlansky remains one of the most surprisingly absorbing ones I’ve ever listened to.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Cod and Salt were both fantastic. Even the then-fourth grader listened while Mom & Dad had it on!

    11. Anon2*


      Carruth – about recently released Rae Carruth
      The Dream – all about MLM companies (it’s SO good)
      Household Name – untold stories behind big name brands

    12. Jennifer Thneed*

      Hah, we were just doing this with a friend last night!

      1. Lexicon Valley, but only the recent 18 months or so, when John McWhorter took over. He’s a trained linguist and the guys who started the podcast were more just “interested by language” people.
      2. Containers – 8 episodes, history of containerized shipping, as seen thru the focus of one particular port (Port of Oakland) but really interesting even if you’re not a local.
      3. Put Your Hands Together – comedy podcast of a weekly standup show in LA
      4. Alison Green’s Ask A Manager — these are shorties
      5. Reborn in America – Bassem Youssef
      6. Levar Burton Reads – short stories, read just so excellently

      And this isn’t a podcast, but rather a series of 4 novellas that I was listening to on Audible: The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells. A nice take on your basic angst-ridden android, funny as hell, read really well. Each one is 3-ish hours long.

    13. Minta*

      You have to like the subject, but I have found that I love biographies and autobiographies on audio for popular music artists. If you’re not into that, maybe you’d enjoy audiobooks on actors or authors or painters. I love them because they provide so many answers to questions I had as a kid and a teen who was super interested in rock bands and musicians but who did not have the same sort of research access now possible with the internet.

      Here’s a list of my favorite bios on audio. Please note that this list does not reflect my favorite artists or bands necessarily. They’re just subjects and titles I thought would be enjoyable–and they were.
      – Rod Stewart
      – Pete Townshend (I never wanted this one to end, and I’ve never been a huge fan of The Who. So good!)
      – Chrissy Hynde
      – Billy Idol (his bio provided a surprising number of valuable life insights amongst all the expected tales of debauchery. He is incredibly well-read (and a history-buff), and it shows.)
      – Bruce Springsteen (Driving down the damn highway crying my eyes out on the way to work on a couple occasions. Whew!)
      – Johnny Marr
      – Tom Petty bio (Listened to this not too long before he died, and I’m still reeling. I feel like I got to know him, and his death has been extra difficult because of that. It’s the danger of listening to these bios on aging artists, I guess.)

      Other good ones:
      – The Wilson Sisters (Heart)
      – Phil Collins
      – John Lydon
      – Morrissey
      – Freddy Mercury
      – Mick Fleetwood
      – John Taylor of Duran Duran
      – Carrie Brownstein

      Next up will probably be the Stevie Nicks bio. Need to look at what’s new. I really need to listen to the Patti Smith one; just haven’t gotten around to it.
      One surprising benefit of listening to all these was the chance to hear different sides of what happened in the same story. There was a bit of overlap between some of the stories between Pete, Rod, and Mick.

    14. SRRPNW*

      Last Scene – true crime, but not murder. It is investigative reporting into the largest art heist ever. So far I’m really enjoying it.

  31. Lcsa99*

    Has anyone else had problems with silicone molds staying clean? I use them specifically for chocolate, so that might be the problem. But I clean them carefully every time before storing them, yet every single time I take them out again they have a film on them so I have to wash them a second time before I can use them. Is this just something that happens with silicone molds? Or is there something I should be doing before I put them away?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Ooh! I can answer this!

      Use a paste of baking soda and massage it, get it in all the corners and crevices. Let it sit for a little while, then scrub and rinse well. Silicone doesn’t absorb anything so reside that might not be visible at first rises to the surface. You can also put it in the top rack of your dishwasher for ongoing cleaning.