weekend free-for-all – November 17-18, 2018

We are the new cats!

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: Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, by Gretchen Anthony. A very misguided matriarch grapples with change in her family while writing cheerful Christmas letters.

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

{ 1,262 comments… read them below }

  1. Kate*

    This might sound like a weird question, but here it goes.

    I feel like I am getting dumber. My mind feels like it is foggy all the time, and I swear I don’t make connections as quickly as I used to. In meetings, rather than being able to think on my feet (very much the culture), more and more I have a preference for hearing what is said and coming back a few days later having had time to actually think about things. I find myself needing to make lists for EVERYTHING, otherwise really basic stuff like my credit card or my bus pass gets forgotten, or I’ll remember our vacation dates a day off the actual dates.

    I can’t tell if this is normal (a feature of modern life with smartphones?), if it’s just a feature of this season of my life (small kids, high stress period of my career, etc.) or if this is something that requires an actual diagnosis.


    1. Junior Dev*

      Are you getting enough sleep?

      Are you dealing with any new stressors or responsibilities?

      If it’s not either of those things, maybe a visit to the doctor is in order, get a physical check up and test for vitamin deficiencies.

    2. The Principal of the Thing*

      I feel like you’re describing me at the moment! I’m also much more distractable and I’m not sure if it’s my more distracting workplace or something else.

      I’m trialling some diet changes but am only a week in, so too early to tell if that will make a difference, but it was suggested to me that cutting back on refined sugars might help, so that may work for you, too. :)

    3. Not Australian*

      Depending on where you are in the world, you might want to consider a SAD light … I started using one after discovering that I had brain fade in London in November but was a lot smarter 24 hours later in Sydney. It’s amazing how much difference light levels can make to mental function!

    4. Anon attorney*

      Yes to checking out sleep and nutrition patterns and getting a physical. Also, have you suffered any losses in recent years? Grief affects cognitive performance. I’m grieving a fairly recent loss and I feel like I’ve lost 20 IQ points, but I’m told that it’s normal and temporary.

    5. Asenath*

      I’d look at stress as a cause. I’ve been more forgetful in recent months – and I can’t really trust myself to remember things I used to automatically juggle so that they all get done. And, not so coincidentally, I’ve had a lot of worries since the new year – sometimes fading into the background, sometimes flaring up, but still there. Doing the usual self-help stuff like resting and eating properly and keeping up with excercise and hobbies or outside interests help. So does not stressing myself out even more by worrying that I sometimes forget things even with workarounds like lists. Be kind to yourself.

    6. LibbyG*

      My kids are now 4 & 7, and I feel like I’m emerging from a foggy headed phase during their younger years. Sleep interruptions and that constant responsiveness at home took a toll on cognition and also my mood. Getting back to regular exercise helped clear the cobwebs.

      I hope you can feel more like your regular self soon!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yes, this is my situation too. I have more foggy days now than I used to, and I’ve learned I need to write things down if I want to be sure to remember them. And then remember that I wrote the things down so I actually read the list. I feel like I’m just as sharp on mental tasks from Sudoku to learning programming when I focus, but if I try to remember to do 5 things before leaving the house, I will only get 4 of them reliably. I think it’s because kid-related things take up a larger share of my brain bandwidth, and differently, than they used to as it’s changed from basic survival mode to managing schools and extra-curriculars.

        Bad sleep will absolutely compromise both your memory and your cognitive processing, whether it’s one really bad night or a series of 6-7 hrs/night sleep when you need 8. And regular exercise is known to improve memory and cognition, so that’s important too. (Something I definitely need to work on!)

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

      This is me, minus the kids. Getting adequate sleep definitely helps, and I find I feel mentally sharper on days that I run. I was concerned enough a few years ago to get a physical, but it revealed no abnormalities. Good luck!

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      It could literally be any of those things. Switching to a more reflective style of information processing doesn’t necessarily mean anything more than “isn’t it interesting how we change as we grow older.”

      Forgetting lots of stuff, though–I had that as a drug reaction to the first blood pressure medication I tried. About a week or so in I drove over a wooden bridge, thought “That’s not the right sound for driving to the bank–where AM I?” (answer–not on a road I routinely take anywhere) and after I managed to course correct made it to the bank, had my daughter drive us home (trip was to retrieve her and busted bike) and went the hell off that drug. Now I have a nice generic drug that just lowers my blood pressure and hasn’t generated a single interesting anecdote.

      However, I was aided by the fact that this came on fast (bank trip was the last straw over a week of escalating forgetfulness). If yours has come on more gradually, you should talk to a doctor–small kids and less sleep could be it, but so could something medical. (Mostly thinking a drug reaction here.)

    9. MissDisplaced*

      You’re probably not imagining it!
      It’s not that you’re getting “dumber,” but as we age we do tend to become more forgetful. I’m in my 50’s now, and while I’m still smart (finished a masters degree just 5 years ago) but often can’t remember to pay the phone bill!
      Some if this is just due to working long hours & stress, but some is age. I would definitely say get a physical to check your health stats. Also, many people develop sleep apnea as they get older, which can lead to the foggy feeling.
      I had to get bullet journals for work so I don’t forget things, and yes I di take more time to think about things rather than jumping as I used to.

    10. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      Get your levels tested and talk to your doctor. For me, this was an indication I might be having thyroid issues. They tested that and also found my Vitamin D was through the floor–that is by any standard my level was very low. Fixing some of that helped A LOT. Before I felt like my brain just wasn’t “sparking”–I could feel the thought, but it wasn’t moving from place a to place b like it should. It got so bad I could be telling a story and forget the punchline halfway through.

      Also, and this was just me–I also tended to fall asleep with my PC way too close to my head (like right next to it)–I make sure to move it off the bed now. I couldn’t find any good information about what’s put out by older laptops, but I did find a lot of misinformation. At any rate I’m sure they don’t do testing for people basically sleeping on the keyboards long-term.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I second this – my thyroid still is wonky, even with Synthroid. But I was always tired, had severe brain fog, and had all the other symptoms typical to hypothyroidism. Seriously, I could lose my train of thought seconds into an explanation. Synthroid, a new vitamin regime – D included – and lots of exercise helped a lot. Tried yoga but couldn’t stay focused.

        If you haven’t gone through menopause, be prepared. My brain fog got so much worse because of the hormonal imbalances. I had to literally write down everything I heard or said at work, I couldn’t remember even simple discussions. I misplaced everything, couldn’t plan more than a few hours in advance, and had to create checklists for daily activities. I used every trick I could to make sure I didn’t forget or misplace anything. Very tough 8 years for me, but things are better now.

    11. Competent Commenter*

      I second a thyroid check. For me it’s hormones plus ADHD. Ugh. Never been the same since the baby at 41. :(

      Also check your iron levels. My daughter was so anemic she required blood transfusions at one point in her 20s and she started making a lot more sense immediately afterwards.

    12. Yorkshire Rose*

      For me, it was age, a high stress job, and insomnia that caused this. The other recommendations in this thread are excellent as well. I have a SAD light from Verilux that helps a lot with mood and tiredness.

    13. Bad Janet*

      Everyone has covered the most of the basic medical advice, here’s what I have to add (which mostly still falls under “consult your doctor”):

      If your body is on the pre-diabetic/already diabetic path, this may be a diet thing. If this is the case, very low carb/ keto diet might help. When I’m successfully low carbing it, there is a greater clarity to my mind (which is saying a lot b/c I have a triple-whammy of ADHD, Depression, and Anxiety – all of which have memory/executive function implications).

      I recommend finding some solid reading on the hunger hormones & how they affect the body (lots of options out there, my lightbulb was “It Starts With Food” by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig. This is the Whole 30 book, which isn’t explicitly low-carb, and mostly their first 7 chapters cover this particular information).

    14. Nita*

      – lack of sleep, stress, or both?
      – vitamin deficiency, or thyroid issues?
      – small kids?

      Just dealing with kids can do that to you. Thankfully I haven’t noticed an effect at work, but I’ve gotten noticeably dumber in other ways. When I’m shopping, I can no longer do simple math in my head to compare prices. I make lists, and still forget things. Following complicated instructions takes ten times more concentration than it used to. I cannot write anything more coherent than a short text if they’re in the same room. I really hope it’s temporary…

    15. Dance-y Reagan*

      This was me before my thyroid diagnosis. I honestly wondered if I had dementia in my thirties. I would go upstairs to retrieve laundry from the hamper and pause at the landing, totally confused about where I was going. I used to be a whiz at crosswords, but I was losing basic vocabulary. I’d suggest a full blood workup with TSH and T4 levels.

    16. Basia, also a Fed*

      People have already mentioned having your blood checked for vitamin level, but I specifically want to mention B-12. My levels were so low that it can cause dementia which explains the fog, and my doctor was pretty alarmed. I can’t absorb it when taken orally, so I will likely have to have monthly shots for the rest of my life. It hasn’t fixed everything, but has made a big difference.

      1. B12*

        I’ve been going through this recently too. I had several rounds weekly shots (transitioning to monthly) and I’ve noticed a difference in my mental fog and alertness. After years (lifetime?) of being always tired and having trouble focusing and always blaming it on everything going on at work/life events/burning the candle at both ends it was enlightening to actually tie it to a medical cause (at least to a degree).

    17. C Baker*

      There’s just too many possibilities. I think you need to arrange to see a doctor… though I can’t promise it’ll be instantly helpful.

    18. LGC*

      I’m going to be honest: just reading about what you’re juggling sounds tiresome!

      I’m not a doctor, and even if I was I couldn’t diagnose you through a blog comment. But it reads as if you’re juggling a lot of things (small children, a career), and you’re doing a bit of triage. Which is good! It sounds like you’re not getting dumber, it sounds like you just don’t have the brain space to remember everything that’s thrown at you.

      This isn’t to say that it’s not a medical issue. But it might just be that you’re handling a ton of stuff right now.

    19. LilySparrow*

      If this is a noticeable change that you’ve never experienced before, you should certainly get a checkup and mention all these things, particularly brain fog and memory problems.

      ADHD can cause issues for adults as their responsibility levels go up and get more complex, even if it wasn’t a problem in childhood. But it’s not because the symptoms are totally new and unfamiliar – it’s because your coping mechanisms get overloaded.

      What you’re describing, especially with little kids in the picture, sounds more like sleep, thyroid, nutrition, or hormone changes – all of which deserve a checkup and all of which respond well to treatment or management techniques.

      It’s worth considering whether you’ve had any changes during the same timeframe in your level of energy/fatigue, hair skin & nails, digestion or bowel movements, hot/cold tolerance, weight, or mood.

    20. Girl friday*

      Training yourself to hear things and write them down is not a bad thing to do. Anemia, pregnancy, thyroid, blood pressure, diabetes, and a few more serious things like Parkinson’s disease and MS, can all have these effects on people. Things not related to physical problems can also cause this such as stress, Mental Health, anxiety, family changes and life changes. I think you should see a doctor just for a general check-up.

    21. Combinatorialist*

      This sounds like me when I was vitamin B12 deficient. I would get checked out because I thought I was just dealing with lots of stress. Starting to take a supplement vastly improved my life?

    22. It Really Was a Brain Tumor*

      See your doctor. I casually mentioned to my primary care doctor that I had trouble remembering things. He didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about but referred me to a neurologist just in case. The neurologist said he didn’t think it was anything but ordered a CT scan just in case. Turned out I had a large, benign brain tumor. Neurosurgeon removed the tumor and all is well.

    23. Still trying to adult*

      Yes to getting all aspects of your health checked out. Esp. sleep; in my case, a number of years ago I learned about Obstructive Sleep Apnea from some friends and got tested, with a sleep study. Yes, I had it. Getting a CPAP machine & mask has been wonderful!

      I can say now that I felt similar before my diagnosis; forgetful, unfocused, unable to keep track of things, and several other symptoms; irritability, inattention, anxiety, and generally not good for my family to be around!! :-(

      So, this could be any number of things; get it all checked out!!

    24. JustAClarifier*

      Basically you’re getting foggy because you’re not exercising all of the areas of your brain that you probably used to. Modern people use different parts of our brains as technology has become a larger part of our lives. I didn’t see anyone else respond with this, so thought I’d chip in here. I had this issue, down to the lists and everything, and realized there’s a direct correlation to how much technology I use.

      Studies have shown that our brains have re-routed how they process information – we’ve gone from linear, long processing that came from reading books and following longer threads of information to quickly processing various sections of web pages, applications, etc. Following those long threads is what enhances your memory and sharpens the cognitive processing in your brain.

      When you make a point to read at least 30 minutes a day (I’m not talking about online, I’m talking a book – and I’m talking 30 straight minutes where you don’t grab your phone during that time or jump on the computer quickly, just sitting and focusing on what you’re reading) it helps to re-route the neural pathways in your brain and exercises it. I began doing this myself and noticed a HUGE difference.

      Obviously rule out health, but if you’re fine otherwise….you might want to try this.

      I don’t remember where to find the original study I found on this, but here are a few articles for those who are interested: https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-09-18/your-paper-brain-and-your-kindle-brain-arent-same-thing and https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/27/17787916/reader-come-home-maryanne-wolf-neuroscience-brain-changes

      1. Salamander*

        This is super, super-helpful. Just the other day, I was bemoaning the fact that I don’t have the same focus that I did when I was twelve and could lock myself in my room and read or write for a whole afternoon without interruption. This helps explain it. Thank you so much!

        1. JustAClarifier*

          You’re welcome! When I found this out I was shocked and it’s made a big difference for me mentally. I’m glad that it’s helpful. Just have to flex the brain

    25. JSPA*

      perimenopause. Can start way earlier than people assume.
      Shift work.
      inadequate sun exposure / too much blue light in the evening.

    26. Diana Barry*

      Hi – replying after the weekend, but here goes. Response is similar to what others have said. I had a time like this when I was in my late 20s (mid 30s now, don’t have this problem). It was shortly right after my then husband and I separated, I was living with my parents (who are good people but just NOT easy to live with day-to-day as an adult, we drove each other crazy), was laid off for over a year, and would continue to be laid off for another year, I was continuing to look for a job, and at the same time, finishing off my Masters. I experienced a few very forgetful moments where I was truly shocked at how I could have forgotten certain pretty basic things. It passed. So, looking back, a bunch of stressors had piled on and caused this forgetfulness. Looking back at it now, it’s obvious I had a lot on my plate, but wasn’t clear when I was in it. I would look at what is happening in your life – maybe you have a lot on your plate too and need to offload a bit? Best of luck :)

  2. Junior Dev*

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

    I’m freeeeeee! That is, I had my last day of work before starting a 2 week vacation. I’ve never had a real vacation in my entire working life. I’ve been extremely burned out and I need it.

    Proud of getting through this dang week. I keep waking up around 10 or 11 and I got triggered by physical therapy last week reminding me of past health problems and I’ve been completely exhausted. And proud of trying to help a friend even though he’s not in a good place to receive it well, I hope that he eventually feels better about himself but all I can do is let him know i care.

    I’m struggling with sleep and not getting enough of it and going to bed at odd hours and feeling unfocused during the day. I’m also feeling bad about myself a lot of the time. I haven’t exercised at all for at least a week and I think that’s making it worse. I might try to go for a jog tomorrow even though my PT told me to wait on running because I just feel so cruddy.

    How are you doing?

    1. Best cat in the world*

      I’ve been a bit of a mixed bag lately.
      I’m in the classroom at work at the moment and we’re coming to exam time. It’s getting stressful and we’re all going a bit stir crazy. Can’t wait to be done and back to work properly. Although that’s also a scary prospect!
      On the other hand, the lessons have suddenly got a lot more practical and interesting and I’ve enjoyed them more, and pushed myself out of my comfort zone a lot.

      Out of work, I’m still missing my furry little soulmate terribly but the arrival of a friendly little panther to stay has helped massively :) And I’m gradually getting back into things that I enjoy doing, including exercise, and I’m gaining my confidence back at them which is brilliant.

    2. LenaClare*

      Well I’m having difficulty posting this reply for one thing!

      I’ve not been feeling great – in fact I’ve been doing badly lately – but I’ve just started seeing a new counsellor and doing some work with her, and she is absolutely amazing.

      Plus I’m renewing my search for a new job seriously and consistently the last couple of weeks so I can get out of my current dysfunctional workplace.

      And bonus points for me for getting out of bed showered dressed and full face of makeup before 10 a.m.!

      All of that basically gives me some hope that things are changing and that I won’t always be stuck in this awful place physically and emotionally.

      Have a great weekend everyone.

    3. Lazy Cat*

      I started actual anti-anxiety meds a few weeks ago, they’re finally fully kicked in, and it’s life changing. I can flip light switches without worrying again!

      Also discovered I need glasses, which may fix my regular minor headaches. It’s been a good week.

    4. Anonforthis*

      I am really struggling this week. Holidays with my family are always stress nightmares and the run up to thanksgiving has been a mess of people getting crazy about stuff. We are supposed to be doing a baby shower for me over the trip and my mom invited way too many people without asking the host and now everyone is mad.

      And then on thursday I got a call that one of my siblings was on an involuntary 24 hour psych hold. From what I can tell, the doctor overreacted, she just wanted her meds adjusted because they were giving her bad headaches, I had talked to her an hour before her appointment. But she didn’t want my parents to know (this is a legitimate choice, they overreact and make everything worse). It is not her fault, but that just sucked.

      So yesterday I go in for my OB appointment and my blood pressure is high. It went down but now I need all these extra tests and of course I was dumb and googled it and am now worried about my baby. I read fine on my home monitor, but just argh.

      But this stuff literally could make me and my kid sick. I just don’t know how I am getting through next week. I don’t want to cut them off (particularly my sister because someone needs to be there for her) but I don’t know how to handle all this and keep myself and kid healthy.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Hugs. That’s a lot to be dealing with! I think it is quite all right to focus on your own and your kid’s health, everything else can be secondary, even if it means missing holiday events or leaving early or whatever else you need to do. So many families turn holidays into a minefield of stress and obligations where you’re supposed to perform cheer and togetherness but no one is actually happy. What’s the point of that?

    5. Villanelle*

      I am trying to find a counsellor but am getting stuck on what sort I might want to try (that I can afford). Do I go for talking, gestault or CBT…?

      1. LenaClare*

        I think there’s pretty much nothing that person-centred can’t fix imo. I’m having pc at the minute. But without knowing what you’re going through at the moment, might it be worthwhile getting an assessment from a psychologist first to see which type would be a better fit?

      2. MarieAlice*

        Depends on the kind of person you are and the kind of problem you have :)

        Most importantly, you need to have some kind of connection to your counsellor. If you don’t feel at ease, if you don’t feel listened to, if you feel you can’t share things or you don’t trust the plan or approach they have, it’s not the right one for you at that time.
        Cave: therapy isn’t supposed to be fun, it can be paintully awkward, you might not be able to open up immediately, but you should feel your counsellor is someone you’d want to open up to. It may take a couple of intake sessions but it’s worth taking your time. Consider how they made you feel. Consider their plan. Ask all the questions you have.

        Secondly, some problems have approaches that fit them better than others. Psychoanalysis might be a great approach if you have a non-urgent, rather vague problem and enough money. If you have a fear of flying, exposure therapy will probably benefit you. Borderline is often treated with CBT/DBT or with a long-term psychodynamic approach. PTSD responds well to EMDR. But that doesn’t mean that’s the only approach possible, and if your problem doesn’t rise to the clinical level there’s little research on the effects of different approaches.

        I don’t know how it works where you live, but we often do first intakes where you don’t see your eventual therapist, but someone who assesses your needs in order to define the kind of therapy that would benefit you, or even if they’d advise further testing before advising a certain approach. You can also make an appointment and ask them what kind of treatment they would advise. If they feel their approach wouldn’t work for them, they will probably tell you and refer you to someone else.

        Side note about the ‘being able to afford’: tell them during the intake session, or even when you make the appointment. Some therapists offer discounts depending on your income!

    6. Washi*

      I’m doing pretty well! I was very reassured by the posts a few weeks ago about my experience with CBT that my therapist had kind of an odd approach to it, so I stopped seeing her. I haven’t found anyone new yet but I’ve been reading a lot about anxiety and journaling, which have both been surprisingly helpful.

      I know it makes sense to try therapy again, but I’m really nervous about it and afraid that like, I’m just not cut out for it or something. Not sure whether to push myself on this or just kind of wait it out.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        Hug. Gently, just my opinion, okay? But don’t let the part of you that is invested in being stuck, tell the rest of you, that you are not cut out for therapy or you can’t change…. Somewhere inside, some of us are stuck, and fear moving on, fear change, and that voice/piece of you undermines your forward motion. There’s an old saying -if you keep doing the same thing over and over, you keep getting the same result. So maybe a little pushing back on that voice, saying “I am strong, I can change, and I will find someone to talk to that “I” really connect with…. Again, just a suggestion from one who spent too long in fear and stuck….

    7. Nita*

      Yay for vacation! Enjoy it, hope it helps you feel better!

      I’m… more good than bad I guess? I’m thisclose to resolving an issue that’s been making me vaguely suicidal, at least for the next year. Of course, in a year I may be back to square one, but that’s a lot of time to figure out a better way to do things. I’ve also got a small cold, which is really nothing but feels like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Oh well. As usual, there’s no way out but through. Just one more week, and things might look better.

    8. Red*

      I’m doing well! I feel really stable for the first time in years, and I’m loving it. Thank the gods, researchers, and everyone else involved that Latuda exists!

      Here’s the thing, though- I never thought I’d feel this healthy. I counted on living a short, messy life, and set my plans around that. To be completely honest, I thought I would be dead by now. I’m obviously not. It’s nice, of course, but there is this unsettling feeling of “where do I go from here?” I feel like I’m playing catch-up because I’m just now encountering something people take for granted – the assumption that death isn’t going to happen soon. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life at all!

      1. thankful for AAM*

        Red, I find that so intellectually interesting! I hope you share more about what you are thinking and experiencing. I hope this is coming across in the interested and engaged time i meant!

    9. Sparrow*

      I’m doing well! I made it through my last major exam of the year, so I have some down time and much lower stress levels for the next month and a half.
      I’m proud of making it through the intense stress, and for asking for help and meeting with a counselor when the stress peaked and I needed it. I’m also proud that I have the energy to recommit to exercise again, although the weather here has been awful and I’ve had to work out indoors.
      I’m working on striking a balance between actually resting and relaxing during my break and accomplishing things. I know I do better with some structure and tasks, but I don’t want to set a bunch of half-formed goals that I won’t actually complete. So I’m trying to be thoughtful about that

      1. Junior Dev*

        Thanks! Tbh I’ve been kinda in “hold it together until vacation” mode and now that I can sleep in and do whatever I feel much better.

    10. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      So this is hard, but also a breakthrough. I have finally told my counselor and wife that sometimes, especially now that i’m realizing and discussing something sexual that was unwanted when I was a kid, I still feel like harming myself.

      It was a problem when I was a teenager and again at 20 (now 28). I highly doubt that i’ll ever do it, but it was hard to deal with the feeling on my own.

      1. Red*

        I’m glad you reached out to others. It sucks to feel alone when you’re dealing with things like that. If you think it would help you to have an on-call stranger that’s willing to listen, I am more than happy to give you my email/phone #

      2. Junior Dev*

        I’m glad you are able to talk about it. You probably already know this but it is quite normal for therapy and talking about your feelings to make you feel worse, not better, in the short term. Especially when it’s a trauma or tragedy you never really got to grieve properly, which is often the case with sexual abuse–I know it was for me. I remember being really angry after i was hit by a car in my mid-20s, and everyone responded well! The cops didn’t blame me, my friends and family didn’t minimize what I was feeling or tell me I should feel sympathy for the driver who hit me. You mean this is what it can be like, when someone hurts you and the people around you don’t have a bunch of shitty cultural hangups causing them to dismiss you? And in large part because of that, I have a healthy caution of crossing the street but it doesn’t haunt me the way intimate partner violence has.

        Anyway, this got long winded but I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s normal to have a lot of intense feelings around discussing trauma that you never got to acknowledge or grieve properly when it happened. And I’m glad you are doing the work and having the conversations, even though it’s painful.

    11. 653-CXK*

      This week was my birthday week…usually each year, I go to a different local restaurant for a birthday lunch in the greater Boston area, but since I had an interview in the late morning, I went later on that afternoon.

      The result of the interview? I didn’t move forward, but unlike many other interviewers where I hear nothing or I have to pull teeth to get answers, they were quick (one day), honest (“you’re good, but not what we’re looking for”) and will keep my resume on file in case there’s something else. That’s how you get good employees…I came away with a nice impression.

      I had one hyper-aggressive recruiter yesterday trying to sell me on a job that, once I looked at the description, I most certainly did not want. First, Hiya (best phone screener ever) blocked the number on my cell. Then the recruiter called my house phone, and I hung up on them and blocked that number. They also left a voice message, which I promptly deleted. I don’t think I’ll be hearing back from them any time soon ;-)

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Ditto on not as much exercise.
      Ditto on sleeping weird hours–it’s mostly from not having a job. I slide back into my natural circadian rhythm, which is go to bed at 12:30 and wake up at 7 or 8:30. That’s not a good working schedule, LOL.

    13. Prof_Murph*

      I’m fairly anxious about being lonely during the upcoming week. Everyone is excited for the upcoming holiday but it’s a really tough one for me. Over a decade ago, I moved to the opposite coast from my extended family, so I only go home during the winter holidays. In different years, I’ve been invited for Thanksgiving to friends/colleagues’ homes, but that’s faded away. And I’m a long time vegetarian, so over time, Thanksgiving has become a harder and harder holiday – as I don’t like to be around the meat or meat smells. I realize that these are my choices, but it brings up a lot of lonely feelings. Especially as everyone asks what I’ll be doing for the holiday. Nothing, reading, or maybe going to the movies. By myself. I used to a Turkey Trot 5K, but haven’t been able to do that even as I’ve had a nagging calf injury for the last two years (sooo frustrating!) I get jealous when people complain about how they have to see so much family or get together with friends or are looking forward to this week when all I’m feeling is a bit of dread and gritting teeth just to get through. Just trying to avoid not feeling sorry for myself, as I recognize I made a lot of choice that got me to this situation, and not get too down that I fall into depression.

    14. Justin*

      Feeling good. Depression really rare, anxiety mostly stable.

      Self actualization in my life has helped a lot (though therapy got me to where it was possible). Doing well at work, in my relationships, at school, has left me feeling very calm. Of course, it’s hard to do all that when it’s not going well, but these have been the best weeks in a while, so hoping it continues.

    15. Claire*

      I am struggling and doing well at the same time, if that makes sense.

      The struggle comes from the dayjob, plus the gray weather, both of which exacerbate my depression. I’m doing my best to take care of myself. This includes taking a step back from the dayjob and trying to figure out what is best for me. This site, and all you commentators, have been a godsend for me.

      At the same time, my writing and publishing is going really well. The first book in my new series is getting some nice reviews, and the publisher sent me the cover for book #2, which is awesome. I’m now dithering over whether I should just dive into writing full-time.

    16. Chameleon*

      My ADD is, pardon my french, kicking my ASS lately. Despite meds I can’t focus on anything for three minutes straight and bringing myself to start unpleasant tasks is nearly impossible. My house is a pit, and I have caught myself bouncing between five different tasks in the last half hour, completing none of them. -_-

      I know it’s stress-driven because of work right now, but the inattention caused by the stress is just making the stress worse, which makes the ADD worse, which makes the stress worse, which makes the ADD worse…

    17. A Teacher*

      Struggling. Professionally everything is great-I won a major award. Personally, ugh. My daughter was adopted a year ago and a lot of the trauma she experienced in the foster system is rearing it’s ugly bead in not fun ways. I’m operating on 3-4 hours of sleep a night and my anxiety is theough the roof. Going to the doctor this week to address it and my kid is in therapy. I’m hoping it’s just a season of life and we’ll get through it but I’m exhausted.

    18. Sylvan*

      Doing okay overall.

      I haven’t seen two of my friends in a while. Anxiety’s doing the nobody-likes-you dance, despite evidence to the contrary. I think I might try to use this thread to be accountable and come back next week to say whether I’ve made progress on that.

      Some body image issues, but working on it. I’ve dug myself out of this before and I can do it again. :)

    19. Janeitenoir*

      It’s kinda been a rollercoaster for me. I was doing absolutely lovely until a minor anxiety trigger last Wednesday, which spiraled into a flare-up of OCD (wasn’t great with managing compulsions) for a few days. I turned in my final grad school paper on Friday and got engaged Saturday, and I feel like that Jane Austen quote “Elizabeth, agitated and confused, rather knew that she was happy, than felt herself to be so”. Still absorbing, both things were very much expected and wanted, but just waiting for the anxiety and dust to settle, and continuing despite fear.

  3. Electric Sheep*

    Question for people from the US: I have heard that you don’t really use the word ‘fortnight’ (in the sense of being a two week period). 1) Is this actually true, or just a rumour spread on the internet, and 2) if so, what do you say instead? Do you just say ‘let’s meet every two weeks’ instead of ‘let’s have fortnightly meetings’? It just seems like such a useful term not to have.

    1. This Daydreamer*

      Fortnight isn’t a word that is routinely used here but it isn’t unknown. We’d usually say that we’d meet every two weeks or maybe twice a month.

      I like the word fortnight. I think it should be in more common usage here in the US.

    2. The Crazy Cats*

      I have always known what the word meant when I ran across it in reading, but cannot remember ever using it in a sentence–not in over 60 years. I would say every two weeks, or every other week.

    3. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Honestly? We say biweekly and then everyone has to ask for clarification. I wish we would just use fortnight.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Mutts has it. I’ve seen meetings derail arguing over meeting frequency …the second time, I had been at the company long enough to be comfortable interrupting managers: “Do you mean two meetings a week or once every two weeks?”

        1. Bad Janet*

          Seriously. We need fortnight in common parlance!

          When I get into these bi-whatever arguments I try to be educational and yell about BI MEANS TWO, SEMI MEANS HALF! IF I WANTED TWO MEETINGS PER [period] I WOULD SAY SEMI-[period]. I will one day ignite the movement across the U.S. for dinks to learn the difference between bi/semi and use fortnight when appropriate!


          1. Ktelzbeth*

            I pretty commonly hear bimonthly to describe the payroll style that gives two paychecks a month, so, whether correct or not, I can easily understand why biweekly would seem to mean twice per week.

            I might say fortnight. I know I say thrice, which is another thing Americans often don’t say.

      2. Nines*

        Argh! I hate biweekly for every two weeks! So many people use it that one but it has never made sense to me.

        1. Nines*

          that *way
          And I am pleased to read that I am not crazy. That this really makes no sense. Sometimes I wonder if *I* don’t understand what biweekly means…

    4. Washi*

      I like the idea of rumors being spread on the internet about how Americans don’t use “fortnight.”

      But unfortunately it is true, if I heard someone use fortnight in a sentence, I would assume they’d been reading too much Shakespeare or something. It is a useful word though!

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        Exactly! It’s associated with Other Times and Places here – Shakespeare and fantasy novels. When I first saw it in another country, I thought it was a joke. I like the idea that we’re rumored not to use it.

        By the way, is it used in Canada?

        1. Lissa*

          I have heard it used occasionally here in Canada but not consistently. So as with most things it’s somewhere between UK and US English. I definitely associate it with being old fashioned or British but wouldn’t be surprised if someone used it.

        2. Felicia*

          As a data point for Canada, I am Canadian, and I have never heard anyone here use it and think I only know what it means because I read a lot of British fiction. A newish friend from New Zealand said it recently, and I had to think for a second to remember what it meant, because I’d never heard it in real life before.

        3. Canadian Natasha*

          It sounds snooty/snobbish to use in Canada. The average person in my region probably isn’t familiar with the word (I am, but I’m also someone who was excited to get to use the word “appended” in a conversation recently, so… ;) ).

      2. Forking great username*

        I would probably assume hey were talking about the video game! Although I teach high school, haha.

      3. Slutty Toes*

        I once heard a rumor that Americans don’t, by and large, own electric kettles.

        Am American. Can confirm.

              1. Slartibartfast*

                Microwaving water does affect the flavor of tea. That has to be boiled. American child of a mom with Irish roots, proper tea is important. My house doesn’t feel like home unless there’s a kettle on the stove.

            1. Lcsa99*

              Yeah, it kinda seems silly to have something special to boil water in. It doesn’t take that much effort to boil it on the stove. My husband and I didn’t even know they existed until we saw one on The Price is Right.

            1. Trouble*

              Electric kettle owned in UK by me, and I have a Nesspresso machine. Filter coffee is very much not really a thing here. Even McDonald’s does McCafe lattes and cappuccinos. The coffee scene was very much a culture shock moving here from Canada. But I love my electric kettle. It boils so quick and doesn’t heat anything but the water. Plus it doesn’t block a ring on my hob even when not in use. That said, when we went to visit my mother she had an electric kettle on the counter for the first time ever this summer and the stove based one was gone. Maybe they’re infiltrating the north?!

        1. SignalLost*

          My mother has one. I think a friend who is American but married a Brit does. Far as I know that’s it.

        2. Mrs. Fenris*

          I’m American, and I had heard of electric kettles but had never seen one until our week in London this summer. Our rental flat had one and we thought “hey, this thing is pretty cool!” They may not be common in America but you can find them, so we bought one. We’re still kind of laughing at ourselves for being this excited over a small appliance.

        3. Bagpuss*

          I think it’s in part to do with the power supply- we have 240 volts as standard, whereas I believe in the USA it’s 120 – which in turn means that for us, it is much faster to boil water using an electric kettle than to do it on the hob, but In The US that isn’t the case.
          That and perhaps we drink a lot more tea so have more need of boiling water!

          1. LilySparrow*

            No, I have an electric kettle in the US and it is sooooooo much faster than the electric stove. Unless you have a gas stove, it would always be.

            I think the difference is in the prevalence of coffee and the lack of tea as a social ritual.

            If you just want to drink tea yourself, the microwave is faster. But if you’re making tea for several people at once, a kettle is better.

            1. Washi*

              Yes, it’s so much faster and so much easier to pour out of! I drink tea every day and can’t imagine boiling water on the stove every time.

        4. DragoCucina*

          I have an electric kettle. Even though I make gallons of iced tea I thought it was silly. I then decided to give it a try. It’s wonderful. Not only for tea, but for my husband’s French press coffee, boiling water for instant a cup of noodles, etc.

        5. The curator*

          American and an electric kettle person. I can’t live without it. First week at my job, ordered one for work. Stove kettle is fine but you have to remember that you put it on. Having hot water fast is a joy.

        6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I had never seen an electric kettle before I moved to the UK. The first day I was in the shared kitchen of the student accommodation I was living in I didn’t even notice the plastic kettles on the counter and boiled some water in a saucepan to make a cup of instant coffee (because I was also confused by the lack of electric drip coffee pots and stovetop steel kettles).

          Someone else asked me if there was a reason why I wasn’t using the kettle and explained what they were!

    5. Hobbert*

      Very true! If I used the word “fortnight”, my coworkers would probably tell me about a meeting in ye olde conference room. It’s an old fashioned word and it would be a bit strange to use it. Too bad because it’s really specific and useful!

      1. Femme D'Afrique*

        I find this hilarious because in many parts of the world, it’s NOT an old fashioned word!

        Thanks, Electric Sheep, it never would have crossed my mind to even think about this (and I went to college in the US!)

      2. Kathenus*

        Now I really want to schedule a meeting in ye olde conference room. What a great mental image – lots of wood beams, candle holders on the walls, maybe a suit of armor in the corner. Hand-written, calligraphy invitations of course.

        Thanks for a fun thought on a Saturday morning at work.

                1. Canadian Natasha*

                  “At least this would be a motivation for people to WANT to attend meetings”

                  Wait, are you saying you’d be more likely to go to meetings that could end in death? Is this like office russian roulette?

                2. Kathenus*

                  It’s all tongue in cheek. And in that vein, there are a number of meetings that fantasizing about throwing someone out a window would make them more enjoyable. It’s not the same as actually doing it.

                3. Canadian Natasha*

                  Oh sorry, my humour must not have come through on tone. I was also being tongue-in-cheek. ;)

        1. FD*

          Sort of a cross between Don Quixote and The Office.

          “My mettle tested, I prepare to speak
          And show my projects stand the test of time.
          A raise, my case to make–that no mere cost
          Of living increase will concede my worth.”

      3. Sc@rlettNZ*

        I’m a kiwi and fortnight is most definitely NOT an old fashioned word here at the bottom of the world. I’m laughing my head off about ‘ye olde conference room’ though :-)

    6. Lcsa99*

      I love some of the responses here. I also didn’t know what fortnight meant and would have guessed like two days (my husband knew!) I would just use every-other week or bi-weekly.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      And it’s the same in Canada. A fair number of people would recognize the word, particularly if they’re well read, but it’s not in common use.

    8. SemiRetired*

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word spoken aloud until recently in reference to some movie title (I think.) I’ve read it in books and know what it means, though. I would consider it a sign… along with “ou” spellings and lifts and lorries… that I am reading a british book. (An aside, the word that always confused me was “row,” as in the Green Knowe children or the Lost Boys or the Narnia children having a dispute among themselves. Could never figure out how they suddenly got a boat or where they were “rowing” to.)

      1. C Baker*

        For me it was “torch”. All these kids clambering around in attics and under bushes, carrying… torches? And nobody ever caught on fire!

        1. ElspethGC*

          I used to get irrationally angry as a kid at the American children who carried “flashlights” in my books. They don’t flash! They’re lights, but they don’t flash! Why is the first half of that word necessary? At least with “torch”, it still means “a thing you carry for light”, it’s just that the technology is a bit of an upgrade.

      2. Zona the Great*

        I only recently learned it’s pronounced like now and my mind was blown to bits. Always read it as row like Roe.

        1. Bulbasaur*

          I was very widely read as a child and my vocabulary was full of words that I’d never heard spoken out loud. They all had a default, best-guess pronunciation in my head. Every once in a while when I was older I’d embarrass myself by trotting one of them out and finding out it bore no resemblance to reality.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, we know what it means, but I never hear it used in the US.
      We say every other week, bi-weekly, or twice a month pretty interchangeably.

      “I get paid bi-weekly.”
      “I need the TPS reports every other week.”

      1. Dan*

        My gripe with using “bi-weekly” or “every other week” interchangeable with “twice a month” (or “semi-monthly”) is that the later two have substantively different meanings than the first two.

        Real example: My current job pays us “bi-weekly” or every other week — every other Friday like clockwork. Most months, I get two paychecks, but twice a year, there are three. I like this system. My paychecks are for fixed amounts, and 10 months out of the year, I make the exact same money, so I budget like that. The two “extra” paychecks go into the fun bucket.

        My last job paid us “semi-monthly” or twice per month. This isn’t semantics — the pay dates were fixed calendar dates. We got paid on the 8th and the 25th of every month. I have to be honest, this system drove me months. I can almost say I hated it. The number of paid days in a pay period fluxuated constantly, such that no two consecutive pay periods every had the same amount of money. What really killed me was the last pay period in February — some years, there were only 9 days in the pay period. (The other pay periods ranged from 10-12 days per period.) The February paycheck particularly sucked coming off the Xmas season where everybody spends too much money.

        The point to this rant is that “bi-weekly” and “semi-monthly” are two very different things. I like getting paid bi-weekly, and strongly dislike semi-monthly paychecks.

        1. Trouble*

          In the UK getting paid once a month on a fixed date is way more usual. I get paid on the 25th of every month. My husband gets paid on the last day of the month, which is a ballache as it moves around, but knowing you get x amount for the month and have x bills to pay with it helps me budget.

        2. FD*

          Agreed! It also seems to be much more common to get paid bi-weekly in the US as versed to on specific dates from what I can tell, though some places do do monthly instead. I’ve heard of places that pay on specific dates but that seems to be a bit more unusual.

    10. Snoring Pup*

      I’ve never heard that word dropped in casual conversation. If someone did use it, I’d laugh and say ‘give me a real date, please’. But then again, I also ask for a specific date if people say to meet again in a couple days because I know they rarely actually mean two days and use ‘a couple’ interchangeably with ‘a few’ and ‘several’.

    11. GoryDetails*

      Heh! Yeah, it’s not commonly used in the US – at least not as a standard time period. But when I was doing software engineering it appeared quite often in the phrase “furlongs per fortnight”, usually as a humorous example for date-and-unit conversion code.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        We had to convert the speed of light to furlongs per fortnight on a high school physics test to prove we understood unit conversion.

    12. the gold digger*

      Related question: My mom uses “forenoon.” She is the only person I have ever heard use this word. She was born and grew up in northern Wisconsin. Does anyone else ever hear this word?

      And re fortnight – I would say, “We will meet every other week on Tuesdays at 10” and then I would fight with Outlook calendar to set up the meeting and get really ticked off.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I’m English, I know ‘forenoon’ as an archaic term but it’s not a word I’d ever use in ‘real life’
        Are there any any Amish or Mennonite communities near where your lives? I think it may be a word more in use among them.

    13. Ainomiaka*

      I would also know what it meant (though have to check from context if we are talking about the video game) but not use it.

    14. Melody Pond*

      Randomly, Mr. Pond uses the term “fortnight” regularly, especially in regards to things like our paycheck schedule. But he’s the only person I know who does this (we’re in the US). I appreciate it – it’s a solid word, and its meaning is very specific.

    15. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Dual citizen here (living in the U.S.).

      Americans don’t use fortnight at all; if I used it I’d need to explain what it meant. So we get until the bi-weekly/semi-weekly/etc. confusion.

      That being said, I don’t think fortnight is especially useful. It’s not any harder to say “Let’s meet in two weeks,” or “Let’s meet every other week.” And it’s always struck me as strange to have a word for “two weeks” but not (in common usage at least) a word for three weeks or six weeks or ten weeks. Why throw it in the mix?

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I wonder if this is one of those soft Sapir-Whorf things where by not having a word specifically for that amount of time, we have less of a tendency to measure time in that increment. It seems equally useful (or useless as the case may be!) to have a word for “two weeks” as “three weeks.” It comes naturally to separate out time as a week or a month, but not really as two weeks.

    16. Panda Bandit*

      It’s an old-fashioned word! I might run across it in old books but I never heard anyone say it. In my area we would say every two weeks or every other week. Biweekly is used sometimes but it seems more rare.

    17. Gatomon*

      I’ve never heard it used in speech, just old American texts and non-American English. Everytime I see it I have to look up what it means – in my head it is a four week period, like a month. I consider myself to have a strong vocab game, but this word doesn’t stick!

    18. Not So NewReader*

      Mention some thing about furlongs per fortnight and watch people’s eyes glaze over. They have no clue what was just said.

      My husband and I used the expression to indicate a unit of measure that was not handy for reference points, especially in the grocery store. The shelf price on one item is cost per quart and the shelf price on another item of comparable use is shown in cost per gallon. Com’on, really. That’s not handy.
      I love the situation with eggs. We buy eggs by the dozen so the shelve price shows cost per ounce, as if everyone knows how many eggs are in an ounce. “oh look, hon, the comp prices are measured in furlongs per fortnight, so the consumer can easily calculate which brand has the best value.” grr.

    19. nonegiven*

      The use of fortnight makes more sense in a country that seems to arrange billing every two weeks.

      In the US most bills are monthly.

      Or maybe it’s the other way around, you have billing every two weeks because everyone thinks fortnightly.

      1. Twinkle*

        Can I ask something in relation to that? I’m an Aussie and almost all our billing is fortnightly (and we use this term a lot!) I don’t have any monthly bills, so I’ve always wondered how they work. When you pay for something monthly, does it cost the same amount each month, or does it vary based on how many days there are in the month? And likewise for getting paid – if you get paid monthly, does it depend on how many work days are in the month, or is it an average across the year (assuming you are salaried)? I get paid each fortnight, so my pay is always the same, and I pay my mortgage fortnightly, so it’s also always the same amount. It’s really easy to budget with this system. Is it the same if you operate on a monthly basis? It feels like it shouldn’t be given some months are longer than others.

        1. Shell*

          I’m American, and all my bills are monthly. Most (like water and electric) vary by usage, but my mortgage is the exact same amount each month, no matter how many days the month has.

        2. Avasarala*

          I’m not in the US but almost all my bills and wages are monthly. As Shell says some things vary by usage, most others have a set price per month but can be pro-rated by # of days used. I think it averages out over the year because I assume most services set their flat rate based on the unit of one month, rather than the unit of one day. So they think “what is a fair price for one month’s usage” not “what is a fair price for one day’s usage, then that x30 or sometimes x31”.

    20. FD*

      Nope, it’s definitely not a common word in the US. I know what it means due to reading, but I suspect a lot of people wouldn’t know what you mean. Usually you’d say “biweekly” or “every other week”. Dunno why we dropped it, really, but there you go!

      1. FD*

        And it was dropped fairly recently. For example, they use the term in the Great Gatsby (published 1925), so we dropped it within the last hundred years or so.

    21. catMintCat*

      Australian here, and I get paid fortnightly. If I said “every two weeks” I would be assumed to have forgotten the proper word and be evaluated for dementia.

      I own an electric kettle. I5 is by far the most used appliance in my kitchen.

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        I have a lot of funny stories about switching between Australian and American English. There’s a comedic gold mine there.

    22. YetAnotherFed*

      The US federal government runs on a biweekly (i.e. fortnight) pay period schedule. Most of the federal government thinks in terms of pay periods, but the USPTO thinks in terms of biweeks, as this is how deadlines are set for the patent examiners.

    23. matcha123*

      Am from the US, and until I spent more time on the internet, I’d always assumed ‘fortnight’ was one of those old, ancient Shakespearean English words that we just don’t use anymore.
      Isn’t ‘every other week’ or ‘every two weeks’ the same? If so, that sounds a lot clearer to me.

    24. thankful for AAM*

      I lived in the UK for 3 years (and read British fiction growing up) so I know the term. I have never heard an american use it.

      I have heard people say meet in 2 weeks or meet twice a month or every 2 weeks.

    25. Kittymommy*

      I know what fortnight means but I have never used it myself, not have I heard anyone else (from the states) use it. Must people I know use either every other week or occasional biweekly.

  4. This Daydreamer*


    I just got caught up again after taking a few days off. I keep thinking I’ve hit a block but I keep figuring something out and keep writing on. It’s exhausting but also exhilarating. Because my job is so quiet I get most of my writing done here and I’ve got a few days off so it might be a challenge to stay caught up. I should go to one of the local write-ins. It’s going to be hard to write at home with a new cat who is determined to climb all over me when I’m at the table.

    How about you other WriMos?

    1. Best cat in the world*

      I’m still at the 1046 words I wrote on the first day. I think those ones were the most important ones for me to write down and I haven’t had time to do any more since!

      1. This Daydreamer*

        I’ve had a few years when I ended up with not much more than that. Every word is important. I’m lucky to have as much time as I do.

    2. Doc in a Box*

      I’m doing surprisingly well. 45k right now. I haven’t written anything creative in about 10 years (since the last NaNoWriMo I did as a student, actually) so I did not have high expectations, but I’m a bit shocked at how quickly this story has just poured out of me.

      Things that have helped:
      – Setting writing times. I’ve been insisting on taking at least 30 min at lunchtime (I usually work through lunch) and closing my office door to write.
      – Going to regular write-ins. I host a Sunday morning one, and a friend of mine runs a Monday and Wednesday evening one. Also have gone to random others. It helps to get out of the house and meet other writers.
      – Using a writing software rather than an enormously unwieldy word doc. I’ve been using Shaxpir as it’s free, but there are lots of others.
      – Writing my last chapter first; this way I know where the story has to end and I’m working my way towards it.

      Good luck to all the other WriMos!

    3. Felicia*

      I’m struggling at a few days behind and considering stopping, but I think I just have to realize that the fact that I am still writing every day is a win, and I shouldn’t put too much pressure on myself to reach a specific wordcount.

      1. Annie Moose*

        That’s the spirit! I always tell people, even if you don’t hit your original wordcount goal, you still have more words at the end of the month than when you began! And that’s pretty cool no matter what.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’m at about 31K or so. It’s doubtful that the book will be finished by the end of the month, but I’ll definitely hit the word count.

      I told a trusted friend my plotline for Books 2 and 3 today (nobody else knows) and in telling her, I realized how much stuff I have to work out so it stays within world rules. Oy. But that’s okay, since first drafts are just for getting the damn thing down. I can always fix it later.

    5. the.kat*

      Sitting at 15k, but I think I know where we’re going next, which is important to me. I didn’t know until a few days ago, so now I’m ready to keep writing.

    6. Annie Moose*

      Oof. Still on track, although I’ve lost the large lead I had–at 32k right now. This year I was all, I’m going to have it all plotted out! I know exactly where I’m going! and then immediately fell off the bandwagon and have reverted to my usual “ehhhhh figure it out as I go along” method. This is annoying because I wanted to know where I was going, but inevitable. I like several bits that I’ve done so far, at least. It’s all quite salvageable.

  5. LenaClare*

    I’ve been struggling, badly, lately, and I really find this time of year hard. Plus I sit next to someone in work who’s a real Christmas Lover :/

    But a new therapist who is AWESOME, and seeing my doctor on Monday morning, plus making some changes like applying consistently for new jobs to get out of my dysfunctional place of work, are all helping me feel more in control – even though I do still feel bad, there’s a bit of hope there.

    Bonus points for getting up and showered at 9.30 a.m ready to go to the shop before 11!

    Hope everyone has a lovely weekend x

    1. Observer*

      Good for you for being able to make some useful changes!

      If you haven’t done so, you may want to look into full spectrum lights. They do wonders for some people.

      And, if part of your issue with this time of year is the constant bombardment of certain types of music eapod or headphones with music you like can help.

    1. Concepta*

      I have an Apple Watch and do running as well as martial arts and Pilates and I find that extra apps are not necessary. The watch tracks it all pretty well. I tried Nike Run Club for a while and it was just clunky and awful. (But that was more than a year ago, so maybe it’s improved.)

      My SO is more into running and uses Strava, which he swears by, though. It has a kind of fun community aspect that allows you to compare yourself to other Strava users who run in the same places.

      What sports and activities do you do? I think there are more specific apps that help you with your golf swing and stuff like that.

  6. The Crazy Cats*

    I am so excited. I finally got my two cats to eat side by side in the kitchen! The fat cat would gobble down her food then shove the skinny cat out of the way and eat all of his food. He is a nibbler and would only eat a little bit at a time and when he came back to eat more, it was all gone. So I had been feeding them in separate rooms and would often shut fat cat in the bathroom for a couple of hours so skinny fat could nibble as much of his food as he could before losing interest. He is under vet’s orders to gain weight while fat cat is supposed to be on a diet. Sometimes, fat cat would just stare at him until he got the message to leave and let her have his food. But I guess I finally wore them down and they have been eating side by side for the past month. Of course, fat cat still has to take a quick peek into skinny cat’s bowl to make sure she has the same thing he does, but she is not bothering him anymore. I guess perseverance pays off, because this only took TEN YEARS!

    1. Rachel in Non Profits*

      I’m having this exact same problem with fat cat skinny cat! It’s hard because previously they were both correct weight cats. They would carefully nibble on their food throughout the whole day. But as the younger one moved out of kittenhood into adult cat life, she became an overeater.
      It’s really difficult for me to keep them separated, but your comment gave me hope that it can work.

    2. Lcsa99*

      Somehow our cats are the opposite. Fat cat is a lot more timid so skinny cat will shove him out of the way, eat his fill then wander off and fat cat can take his time eating the leftovers from both bowls.

    3. Asenath*

      I don’t know how my fat cat manages to maintain her weight. In theory, she’s on a diet. When the vet was telling me about one of my late cat’s size, I said, optimistically, well, fatcat is smaller. Yes, the vet said, dampeningly, she’s got a smaller wheelbase. But she’s still fatter than she should be – and it’s not all fur (she’s longhaired). So, move forward a few years past failed attempts to get her to exercise and eat less, and the death of one cat and replacement with another she loathed (they’re no longer at each other’s throats, exactly, but it’s taken a copule years). That cat has spent very prolonged periods in her own territory (aka the main bedroom) with access to only carefully measured amounts of cat food, since she didn’t, and sometimes couldn’t if they actually were engaged in open warfare, go to the kitchen and the main cat food and water source. And I don’t think she’s lost an ounce – no, not even a gram. I can’t understand why. Maybe she sleeps more to make up for the deprivation of getting only the prescribed amount of food – but cats sleep a lot anyway, and I don’t think she sleeps more than normal.

      1. Arya Parya*

        I have the same problem with my cats. They are on a diet and don’t seem to lose any weight. We measure their food, spread it out over the day. They also get exercise. Nothing happens. I really don’t know what to do anymore.

        1. The Crazy Cats*

          Now that you mention their food, I realize that I did (under vet’s orders) switch their dry food to one with higher protein a few months ago. Perhaps fat cat is more satisfied with the newer food! I leave dry food out all the time for them, as I never know how long I will be gone from the house. The food they now eat side by side is the canned–and now I realize that after they switched to the higher protein dry food, they stopped liking salmon flavor canned which used to be ALL they would eat. Now they are eating beef, shrimp, turkey, liver…everything they both used to turn their noses up at before.

    4. cats, amirite*

      I have one large cat and one small cat. The large cat gulps his food immediately, the small cat is a nibbler. My solution was to get a medium-sized dog crate, take off the side door and install a cat door (in some foam core) that the large cat can’t fit through. It works really well, though I had to put up a little cardboard barrier along the side as well or he would hook the dish over to the side and spill it out to get at it! It obviously only works when there is quite a size differential between the two cats, but has made our lives so much better.

    5. Yorkshire Rose*

      I have 2 cats (siblings from the same litter) and the big one gobbles and then shoves his sister out of the way to finish her meal. We have set meal times and we have to babysit them to make sure biggie doesn’t steal his sister’s food.

      When we go out of town more than one night, we have to get a sitter! We have timered feeders but we know biggie is stealing all the food and the little one is only getting a nibble when no one is there. I can empathize!

    6. Redshirt*

      And it only took ten years!

      Hehehehe. I’m a cat parent myself, and the struggle is real. One cat is a skinny diabetic 17 year old elder who needs every calorie that he can get. The other is a youthful 5 year old cat that our vet describes as voluptuous. She really needs to cut back on the kibble. They have to be fed in separate rooms. Otherwise, voluptuous cat pushes ancient cat aside to eat his delicious (and horribly expenaive) seniors weight gain food. Voluptuous cat has a paunch! She does not need Big Mac kibble!

      1. The Crazy Cats*

        I tell my fat cat that I will soon need a forklift to pick her up if she continues to eat like this. I don’t think she is too fat just yet, but she is on her way–but she has always been this way–and I try to engage her to play to burn calories when I can. I wish now I had tried to leash train her when she was a baby so we could go for walks outside.

        1. cats! cats! cats!*

          For what it’s worth, I think you can still leash train! It might be long and difficult, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears will be shed on your part, but it can be done! Take it slow, associate the halter and leash with good things your cat likes, and be as patient as you can. It usually gets easier once the cat realizes the leash is a signal for the outside world. Oh, also be sure your cat is up-to-date on shots, flea/tick protection, and has a microchip/tags with your info, just in case!

    7. Marion Ravenwood*

      I am having this exact same problem (although ‘skinny cat’ is relative; he’s not overweight, but he’s not underweight either. Plus he gets easily distracted, so fat cat swoops in when he’s not looking and eats his food). I’m slightly despairing at the prospect of ten years of separate/supervised feeding, but you’re giving me hope that it can be done! We have just switched them to senior food as well (they turned seven in April) so I’m crossing my fingers that will help. Let’s see if fat cat has lost some weight when he goes to the vet next week…

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread!
    For the NaNoWriMo crowd: how’s it been going?
    For the others, I’m a little out of inspiration for this week’s question so I’ll just recycle this one: what’s your favourite thing you’ve written this week, be it an e-mail, a non-fiction thing, a short story, or even the outline for a work project!
    Mine is a little short story about a vampire history teacher (hey, who is better at teaching what it was like being a child during WWII than the woman who was a child during WWII? Who is better at teaching about Vlad the Impaler than the woman who has a friend who knew Vlad the Impaler? Although her students are not aware she is a vampire, they just think she’s weird.) writing in cursive on the blackboard. Her students sort of laugh at it and ask if she was never taught to “write normally”, at which point she asks them if it occurred to them that THEY could be the ones lacking a skill. Next class she proves her point by having them read the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, providing both the manuscript and a version she wrote in Word. No one bothered to read the manuscript, causing quite a ruckus when she pointed out all the deliberate errors she’d made in the transcription which completely changed the meaning of some passages.

    1. The Crazy Cats*

      This is interesting! A few years ago, an organization for penmanship and calligraphy (they have a long name that I cannot remember) had their annual meeting in my city and I went and listened to a lecture about how we are raising a generation of children who will never be able to read the Declaration of Independence. It was an eye-opener!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Bwahaha, nowhere near publishable state at the moment XD. Might consider putting a sneak peek on here, though.

    2. Claire*

      I’m not doing NaNoWriMo because the schedule won’t work out for me. (Though I think it’s awesome.)

      However, I did just finish copyedits for my next novel, which is about Watson and Holmes as two black queer women, in a near future US divided by a second civil war. I love my characters to pieces, and it’s such a joy to write about them. Dr. Janet Watson gets to be angry and blunt, the way I always wanted to be, and she doesn’t take **** from Sara Holmes. I also loved adding in layers about friendship and families.

    3. Maria*

      I’m doing ok – I’m at 100k words, currently unemployed. I think roughly 45k+ are usable though haha. I have a 150k total goal and I’m not sure I’ll hit it.

  8. Seeking Second Childhood*

    My daughter’s having homework trouble, large part due to her ADD. Her first school dance is coming up (combined 7th/8th grade) and now I have husband trouble.
    While I agree with him that poor academic performance needs consequences, she’s not actually doing that badly. As in most classes…but one she’s flipping between A and F averaging C- mostly because she’s forgetting to hand in homework.
    I think shes got consequences already — no drama club this year, no weeknight activities other than school clubs that let out before 4 three days a week. Any weekend plans with family even are waiting until she’s done any overdue work.


    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Wishing for an edit button “As in most” reads wrong. I mean she’s getting As in most classes.

    2. ??*

      Why are you stopping her from doing drama club?

      Why don’t you talk with her and work out how to put in strategies to help her not forget things?

      Why are you giving her consequences for a health problem? That’s like punishing her for falling over because she has osteoporosis.

      I know that’s not what you asked but I think you may both be part of the problem, sorry.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Homework that’s estimated at 1.5 hours takes her four. With drama club last year she was cutting back on her sleep to an unhealthy level.

        1. Boo Hoo*

          We stopped stepson from drama club as well for the same reason except her doesn’t have issues beyond being lazy. Once he does do his homework he finishes it in record time which just makes me angry and wonder why he’d rather be in trouble and get bad grades than do a dang 10 minute assignment. We signed him up for a weekly after school study group through his school which he of course threw a huge fit over. Honestly the kids freaking exhausting me right now. He’s smart as heck but the laziest human being, even if it benefits him. He got mad we put him in the bigger bedroom, because it’s further steps to the kitchen. Seriously cannot make that shit up.

          1. Mm*

            Usually kids who seem lazy are actually struggling with something like depression or ADHD or social problems at school. Shame you don’t have more empathy. Take the kid to a counselor.

            1. Boo Hoo*

              No he’s been tested for everything. Teenagers do just tend to be lazy. Pretty common. I have no empathy for refusing to do work.

              1. C Baker*

                How has he been tested? A full battery by a neuropsych, or a checklist from the pediatrician? When was this evaluation completed?

                He got mad we put him in the bigger bedroom, because it’s further steps to the kitchen. Seriously cannot make that shit up.

                This is not a normal complaint, and I don’t think it can be explained with the word “laziness”. I think you need to go back to the doctor and/or counselor.

                1. Kerr*

                  Yes, PLEASE take a second (or third) non-judgmental look at this. The kitchen thing is a red flag – this doesn’t sound like normal teenage laziness. I did a really good job of hiding my anxiety issues as a teenager. The symptoms bubbled over in ways that you wouldn’t automatically link back to an anxiety disorder.

                  Also, had I been tested, depending on how things were handled and how scared I was about how they would be handled, odds are high that I would have lied through my teeth to come out as “normal.”

                  Please be careful to make sure nothing is said to make him feel like he’s “broken” or that scary things will happen if he does have health problems. I had no clue that there was even any treatment available.

              2. Panda Bandit*

                Yeah no, something important is there and you’re all missing it. When I was a teenager my anxiety ramped up tremendously. I had panic attacks every day for years. When my parents saw that I couldn’t do a bunch of things, or couldn’t do certain things properly, they decided I was just a terrible person and assumed that I was on drugs. Wtf, parents. Talk to your son and try to find an actual solution together without being judgemental.

              3. Observer*

                Get him retested – SOMETHING is wrong. Kids can be lazy, that’s true. But when they do things that hurt themselves and get nit picky over the number of steps in one room vs another, that is NOT standard teen age laziness.

                You need to find out what’s going on here, because sure as sure SOMETHING you don’t know about is happening.

              4. Ron McDon*

                I think people are piling on boohoo here – I have a teenage son, and some teenagers just love to complain about stuff! I could absolutely see my son being a pain about his bedroom being further for him to walk somewhere, just as *something* to complain about when he’s hormonal. It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s some mental health issue going on, esp as boohoo indicates he’s been tested.

            2. SaeniaKite*

              And sometimes they are like me, and are just insanely lazy. I had to be taken out of classes for a day to do my coursework and I drove my poor mother to her wits end. I never expected empathy and understood it was my problem, I just can’t seem to scrape together the will to fix it. I wasn’t so bad that more steps to the kitchen would cause a sulk but I refused to even consider any other schools then the one on the end of my road, despite its reputation, because then I would have to get up earlier. As an adult I can see that this may have cost me several opportunities but I still don’t really regret it. I am a coaster by nature and am perfectly happy being paid minimum wage and just making my way through life despite others feeling like my intelligence is ‘wasted’ or that I haven’t reached my potential

              1. C Baker*

                I don’t know you, and I don’t know your situation. However, I do know that a lot of people with undiagnosed disabilities come up with “excuses” for themselves like “I’m just lazy” or “I just don’t want to”. They often even believe those stories! But that self-assessment isn’t always accurate.

            3. JamieS*

              What peer reviewed studies show that most lazy teens have some underlying issue beyond normal teenage struggles? Yes there are some teens who probably have an undiagnosed issue but that doesn’t mean most lazy teens have an issue beyond being lazy. Not everyone behaving in a displeasing way has some sort of mental issue. Sometimes, I’d argue a lot of times, people are just lazy, unmotivated, etc. for no reason other than because they’re lazy and/or unmotivated.

              1. C Baker*

                That’s debateable, but at any rate, in this case this is a thread about a boy who apparently was so upset over being a few extra feet from the kitchen that he threw a fit about it, even though the new bedroom was bigger. He also, apparently, doesn’t shower or brush his teeth. This is not in the normal range.

              2. Observer*

                Actually, the term “unmotivated” is a red herring. EVERYONE is “motivated” but they are motivated by different things, and for different reasons.

                The idea that something is not true unless there is a peer reviewed study on the matter is another red herring. Most people are motivated to do the things that benefit them, although their assessment of benefit may be different than the typical. That’s human wiring, and pretty much every study on human behavior works on that basis.

                So, when a kid is so totally unmotivated to do things that they should see benefit them, it’s worth looking VERY, VERY closely at the matter. And if a first look doesn’t find it, it’s worth taking a second and third look.

          2. Tau*

            I don’t want to come down hard here, because you obviously know your stepson better than random internet strangers, but…

            why he’d rather be in trouble and get bad grades than do a dang 10 minute assignment

            Are you absolutely certain this is the case? Like, you are 100% sure that there is no factor such as learning disability, ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety, etc. influencing this?

            Because… well… this sentence is ringing alarm bells for me. I’m going to say that the vast majority of people would probably prefer to spend 10 minutes in order not to be in trouble and not to get bad grades. The decision not to do so is super illogical even for a teenager. And I have a lot of experience being the person who is really smart! really! but does inexplicable self-sabotaging things all the gd time. I beat myself up for being lazy for years. It turns out Asperger’s really sucks that way sometimes.

            FWIW, the “fewer steps to the kitchen” thing is also something that rings alarm bells for me, because this – again – is the sort of thing that I’m going to say the majority of able-bodied people are not really concerned about. I, on the other hand, have to be extremely careful about kitchen placement etc. when searching out flats because how difficult it is to get from [place I spend my time] to [kitchen] makes a huge massive difference to my quality of life – it affects how often I cook vs eat take-away, whether I drink enough, whether I skip meals, whether I can make myself a cup of tea as a soothing ritual in the evenings. The time I had to go through two doors from living room to kitchen was a disaster in many ways. I consider the considerations I make here (and the fact that I basically have to have an open-plan kitchen in order to live a decent life) a matter of disability accommodation, and not normal. The fact that your step-son considers this a priority to the point where it takes precedence over room size is… concerning.

            (Note: a person in my situation might tell you, might even legit think that they don’t want to do the things they’re struggling with. That doesn’t mean it’s the truth. If you attempt to do a thing that everyone else around you appears to manage effortlessly and you inexplicably don’t do it, “I guess I didn’t actually want to do the thing” can be a very logical conclusion to jump to just because it’s the only explanation you have. This is especially true if you have the sort of problems connecting with your own emotions common among many conditions that cause executive function problems. This sort of thinking messed me up for years.)

            1. Boo Hoo*

              I am a billion percent sure he isn’t depressed, has anxiety or anything. I will not tell strangers on the internet his testing and such as someone asked some really personal things that were way too invasive but due to being so odd and not doing work he went through a battery. Also he agrees he just doesn’t want to do things so he doesn’t.

              1. Special Needs Teacher*

                You won’t share that info but you’ll rant at length and in detail about how awful and pathetic he is? You’ll castigate him and tell us all about his “orange teeth”? Because that’s somehow LESS personal? How hypocritical can you be?

                That kid is suffering and you are too self-centred and judgemental to help him. He deserves so much better. Poor kid!

                You need to take a long hard look at yourself. You’re the adult here. Act like it.

            2. Imtheone*

              Thanks for this insight. I agree that so many seemingly inexplicable problems can be understood when we have more knowledge about possible causes. Very interesting about the placement of the kitchen. I know people who forget to eat, and some of it is the stress involved in preparing even simple foods.

            3. NACSACJACK*

              @Tau – i find this very interesting. Dating someone that has to have things a certain way. In most cases okay with it, but in some, its like a sideways glance at him. Dont remember what med it was that he doesnt take, but it has neuro triggers in it. He’s never been diagnosed with an issue, but just through trial and error knows he needs to watch out for that.

        2. C Baker*

          I think you really, really need to adjust the IEP to allow for her to not hand in the homework. If it’s taking four hours to get it done then it’s negatively impacting her life and probably her education.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And we’ve been working with her on strategies since 1st grade.

        This is a husband problem not in my mind a student problem. I need to get him to understand why I don’t want to keep her from going to that dance, that it’s not an appropriate level of response.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          It sounds rather punitive, given that she’s working with a medically diagnosed condition. Restricting external activities for time reasons is one thing, and can make sense. But being barred from hobbies and social activities and family time so that she spend all her time struggling with something that she’s bad at sounds like a really joyless existence. It’s like if you were struggling at your job and no matter how hard you worked it didn’t improve, but you can’t quit and have to work overtime and weekends to try to compensate.

          And a question to think about – what if she’s doing the best she can? What if no level of punishment or isolation will force her to get good grades in all her classes?

        2. Reba*

          Yeah, it’s a too-punitive stance on your husband’s part. Especially when it sounds like she is trying. She doesn’t need to be grounded for being “bad”–you are all working on this together (I assume that your husband works just as much as you and your daughter on this issue…?). I know you know this, just encouraging your point of view. :)

          Maybe you can argue that a reward for effort (mostly A’s!!!!!!!!!) is a good motivation, rather than motivation through threatened punishment, more privation/overwhelming focus on schoolwork. Many kids–and adults–do better when they have motivation and scope to succeed at the things they are passionate about. Maybe your child will never get good at French, but she will blossom in drama, and it will be *that* that makes school worthwhile, not grades. Hope that made sense.

          Does he think she will get better at schoolwork if school is just grinding misery with no fun parts? Why does that seem like the goal?

          Does he actually want her to not have fun, while she is young? Is keeping her from doing things that are usually considered memorable, milestone events with friends good for her? Does he really think she should grow up without these experiences? If not this dance, when?

          Is there something else about the dance in particular that bothers him, that he hasn’t named (worries about boys, drinking)?

          I’d ask him all these questions and make sure you are on the same page about A) what is reasonable academic performance to demand of ANY kid, and B) what ADD looks like in your child and the APPROPRIATE strategies recommended by a professional to cope. Good luck SSC and your daughter, too.

        3. Mm*

          I have severe ADHD growing up and my parents acting much like your husband wants to. My relationship with them is very poor and it took years of therapy to get over the trauma of being punished for having a learning disability.

        4. neverjaunty*

          If he doesn’t understand, I suspect it’s because he doesn’t want to understand – he’s prioritizing his own feelings of frustration and need to lash out over making a sensible choice.

          Draw a line in the sand. You don’t need to approach this from the perspective of “his decision is right until I can talk him out of it”. It’s a consequence you don’t agree to impose, and therefore it’s not happening. Period. What’s he going to do – lock the door so she can’t leave? File for divorce? I doubt it. But if you make it clear to him that you do not agree with his decision and you are not going to simply go along with it, maybe that will snap him out of his snit enough to get him to listen to you.

      3. Mabel Pines*

        Commenting for the first time ever for this. I grew up with undiagnosed ADHD and did poorly in school because I rarely turned in homework. My parents and teachers focused on consequences and not the underlying issues. My childhood education years were grim. As an adult managing my ADHD I am thriving both professionally and personally, but not because of those consequences my parents and teachers thought were teaching me such Important Lessons. Now I have an 11 year old stepdaughter and she is starting to forget to turn in assignments so we are starting daily routines with her where she unloads her bag and briefs us on everything and clears the clutter and updates the homework tracker. It is sometimes laborious but we are trying to teach her to have a set routine every day just like we do at work and show her that everybody is accountable, just like I have to give my boss a daily status update. It sounds way more like a dictatorship than it is, in practice it is more like her time for show and tell with us after school. It is just one system that happens to work for us to keep her on top of her assignments every day and remind her that we are invested. Hugs to you and your family, this parenting stuff is harder than I imagined.

      4. popgoesthescaleagain*

        Oh I have so many feelings about this as someone who was raised this way. As the kid who was made to quit activities because of my grades/homework issues/undiagnosed ADHD, this parenting method gave me so many complexes that affect me both now and when I was a kid. I missed out on so much by only seeing classmates in school and not working in groups outside an academic setting. It’s also highly likely that she is feeling isolated. Unless she is actively working with a doctor to develop coping mechanisms for ADD, you are just punishing her for things she has a hard time controlling, and it’s no doubt making her feel worse than she does. Please rethink! Past me is advocating for future her in a way I never could.

    3. Washi*

      Is your question whether you should punish her for her homework issues by not letting her go to the dance?

      If that’s something you already established as a consequence, then maybe. But if your husband wants to retroactively declare that that is another consequence for the homework problem, then I would say no, mostly because that doesn’t feel fair to me! Especially if you get the sense that she’s genuinely trying to improve.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        He’s saying no dance, considering it part of the same “must keep up” that we’ve said for years.
        I think it’s a new level of social activity and telling her no is much more extreme than he realizes.
        I don’t know how to get him to understand that.

        1. fposte*

          What about this: this isn’t a one-off but likely something your daughter is going to struggle with for a long time. Is it his plan to keep her from ever doing anything social during her childhood if the struggle continues? Hopefully the answer isn’t yes. If it’s no, then what about a discussion as to what the policy is, what’s an infraction vs. what’s a struggle, and what punishments make sense to levy if you think of them as things you’ll be enacting for years and not just right now.

          And if the decision is she does need to be punished, I really, really encourage the two of you to find ways to do it that don’t cut off social possibilities for a kid who’s already lost a huge amount of them.

          1. Reba*

            well said, fposte! Locking down your kid’s social outlets is going to make her lonely and not necessarily a better student.

            Looking back, I lost touch with a friend in high school due to this kind of dynamic. At the time I wasn’t really equipped to see what was happening with her (aside from how it affected me) but she was under a lot of pressure and we just saw… less and less and less of her. Her parents became more and more controlling.

            1. Not a cat*

              In high school, I became a joke among my peers because I was always punished. I was even punished on my graduation day. I had to go home and go to my room. Teachers were annoyed because I had to ask them for “extra help” even when I didn’t need it (basically parents demanded that I ask teachers to give me extra homework and then make sure I did it). My guidance counselor had my parents come in several times, but it made things worse.
              OP, I am not trying to make you feel bad or call you names. I am trying to let you know how this may be perceived by your daughter. My parents were extreme but it all started with a C+ in AP Biology first semester freshman year.

          2. Thursday Next*

            fposte makes an extremely important point here.

            Social development is crucial and needs to be treated as another facet of adolescent growth and learning. Particularly if it turns out there is something larger underpinning a child’s executive functioning.

      2. Washi*

        Also I don’t know much about ADHD but in general I think punishments that are actually just natural consequences are better – like if she never had time to finish her homework with drama club, then it makes sense to skip drama club for a year. But not going to a dance doesn’t seem to connect with that – it’s a one-time chance to have fun with her friends and it’s not like being left out will improve her academic performance.

        1. Anona*

          Seconding this. A dance is a social milestone, rather than an academic one. I agree that skipping it would be more serious, since it’s a one time thing, and doesn’t seem like a natural consequence.

        2. Auntie Social*

          Yes, I agree. I’d allow her to go to the dance with her friends. Not letting her go is just overly punitive, IMO.

    4. Juiced*

      Poor academic performance already HAS consequences. What it does not need is punishment.

      If her “poor” academic performance is the consequence of ADHD, punishing her by preventing her attending a social event will do nothing to improve her academic performance, and will only make her feel worse about her situation, resentful of her parents, and frustrated by her additional support needs. Thus likely lowering her self-esteem, and damaging her relationships with her support network.

      What is your husband’s goal here? Why does he think this is a helpful and productive course of action? That will decide how to approach the discussion, I think.

    5. WellRed*

      She’s getting mostly As, despite the diagnosis and you all consider this poor academic performance? What am I missing here? Poor kid.

      1. only acting normal*

        I misread the original post and thought it was C- average in most classes (except one). But you’re right, it’s almost straight As (except one where it’s a C- average).
        Why the hell is husband bent on punishment for that?

        1. Stormfeather*

          It’s like he wants to punish her for being ill, or for not being perfect.

          Put your foot down. Let her go to the dance, and maybe even lighten up a bit to put some more social stuff back into her schedule if she enjoys it, even if she slips back down to *gasp* a B or something.

          It sounds more like people need to work more on getting her schedules or even meds she can cope with TBH. I hate suggesting meds when the usual thought is that kids are over medicated, but no kid should regularly be having to spend four hours a day on homework and missing out on their hobbies and social life. Obviously I can’t do any diagnosing and don’t know the whole situation but it seems like things aren’t working as they are.

        2. Not a cat*

          My parents were like this. It made my childhood a constant misery which has made for a miserable, depressed adult with a head full of negative self-talk and self-isolation. I haven’t talked to my mother in over 20 years. Please, please don’t continue down this path.

        3. Kat in VA*

          I had this also. Straight As in all classes but they honed in on the C (usually in Math) and whoops, you’re grounded again.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      Everyone else has made good comments (especially the ones about a dance being an important social milestone and a one-time experience, not ongoing like drama club). One more reason is that the dance is probably not scheduled for a time in which your daughter would otherwise be doing homework. I’m assuming that the event is scheduled for a Friday or Saturday evening and most students struggling with ADD have at least some time away from their homework on weekends. Plus if she goes she gets to feel just like everyone else which is a good experience for any kid otherwise learning to live with some aspect of being “different.”

    7. Laura H.*

      How is she doing right now?

      All of the other restrictions deal with the long term.

      How is she doing right now? Are her study habits good this past two weeks/ a certain amount of time? Has she turned in her homework more reliably in this amount of time?

      Rewards work too. Short term evaluations work.

      Don’t just let her go, but do evaluate her progress and factor that in (I’m hoping she gets to go though.)

    8. Competent Commenter*

      As someone with ADHD and a son also just diagnosed, it is so sad to me that your husband wants to impose consequences on your daughter for symptoms of a learning disorder. She’s already struggling and on top of it she’s got a parent who is reinforcing that it’s her fault. This is why people with ADHD suffer from lifelong feelings of shame. I highly recommend he/you listen to ADDitude podcasts for better parenting strategies and tools. There may also be local groups or workshops for parents. He needs to move from punishment focused to solution focused.

    9. Book Lover*

      My brilliant kid with ADHD is getting Bs and Cs. It is frustrating because part of me wants to say that he can do better. But he can’t do better, if he could he would. I encourage him to do his best and praise him, I haven’t restricted any activities based on his grades. I would be over the moon if he were getting As in most classes.

      Everyone is different, of course, but I have been working very hard on trying to be ok with my genius kid doing poorly in school, recognizing school rewards something he just isn’t good at. It is hard, but grades aren’t everything – our relationship and his happiness need to take a priority.

      So, congratulations on having a hardworking kid who is doing amazing despite having a brain that functions a bit differently, and please support her and I hope she has a wonderful time at the dance.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Thanks for the concerns.
      I too have ADD. Yes she has meds, schedules, routines, and an accommodation program with the school. Yes she’s appreciated for the good person she is and the good grades she does get.

      I think the most useful suggestion so far has been to point out to my husband that this is NOT on a school night so is NOT a time frame when she’d normally be expected to be doing homework and is therefore NOT in the same classification of removed activity as we’ve otherwise stated.
      I may not have a thick enough skin for being the OP.

      1. fposte*

        Sorry, SSC. You asked early in a busy thread about something people have a lot of feelings about, so the responses got intense. Take a break from the thread if you need to, but consider also showing it to your husband so he can hear from people who were hurt by parental responses like this. It sounds like you and he are figuring out how to be a team as she gets older while still supporting your kid; that’s pretty common, I think, and I know sometimes people find counseling useful for that.

        1. Villanelle*

          Perhaps the people commenting could also take a breath before posting potentially hurtful things. Works both ways, fposte.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I didn’t see people posting hurtful things; I saw people sharing their own experiences and, as requested, opinions and advice. It’s a really hard and personal issue so it makes sense that reading through people’s thoughts on it can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean people posted hurtful comments.

            1. Ann O.*

              I see people making assumptions about what actions have/haven’t been taken and then writing based on those assumptions. That then has the result of giving advice that’s not needed/mildly condescending and not giving the advice that’s been sought, which can feel quite hurtful.

              1. fposte*

                I don’t know if there’s a solution to that in an asychronous conversation like this, though–there isn’t time for people to ask followup questions to clarify, so they’re going to hit what seems to be the most important point based on what’s been presented. But I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on that too–maybe there’s a suggestion for how people could ask questions that would give that information up front? (I confess I’m not a big fan of telling prospective answerers what the questioner *doesn’t* want to hear about, but I respond pretty well to “we’ve got this info, and I’m especially interested in that other info.” What do you think?

                1. Ann O.*

                  IMHO, we would go a long way if answerers followed a protocol of only giving advice to the specific question and using questions to clarify broader issues. But that requires answerers to take a breath and really ask themselves about whether their response is on topic or off topic before clicking Submit.

          2. fposte*

            Villanelle, you seem to think I was reproving SSC. I wasn’t. I was sorry that she’d felt piled on and I was explaining why I thought it had happened.

            SSC, if you thought I was reproving you, I definitely apologize; I wasn’t.

      2. ket*

        For the discussion with your husband, here’s a site on natural and logical consequences: https://extension.umn.edu/encouraging-respectful-behavior/using-natural-and-logical-consequences It might give you some wording to work with to explain to your husband why you think the dance isn’t the thing to take away.

        It sounds like you’re trying to be thoughtful and advocate for your kid. That’s good! Yay SSC!

        Last, I’ll point out all the research that shows ADDers are over-represented among entrepreneurs, etc., partly because many developed their strengths in making relationships, keeping a lot of projects in the air concurrently, and seeking paths to success that didn’t go through a high GPA. Sometimes a good ‘story’ can really help a kid/adult through things, and the ‘story’ of ADD success even with spotty grades is definitely there.

    11. C Baker*

      I’ve always been told that consequencing doesn’t help kids (or adults) with ADHD even a little.

      If her trouble is primarily that the homework is getting done but not handed in, I’d want to see if there is a structural way to fix this, which might be as simple as having her teacher ask for it explicitly at the end of class every day. (Actually, I’d seriously consider asking to have ‘no homework’ put in the IEP, or at least requiring that it can only be a small percentage of her grade.)

    12. Anonymo*

      Are our husbands related?? He is SO STRICT with our ADD girl (despite also being ADD, and having a pretty crappy relationship with his parents over the “punish it out of him” approach) Its helped to understand she does worse in classes she doesnt like- usually due to personality conflicts with the teachers or the method of teaching. That was a big revelation for Husband, because I could point to very specific examples where he did/does do a crappier job when he didnt like his boss (or my sister or that guy in his service group he really hates gets paired up with him occasionally) and hes able to guide her in ways to deal with whatever it is (Which is still my big husband problem, that he feels he MUST fix problems and turns towards his upbringing when he cant figure out how to fix it otherwise). Heres hoping you and Husband can figure out the right way for your girl, whether its off the wall or old school, yall are doing your best!

    13. LilySparrow*

      Maybe this will help your husband:

      ADHD brains do not respond to the “carrot & stick” the way typical brains do. They are wired differently. Negative reinforcement backfires.

      An ADHD brain lacks dopamine (among other issues). The most common ADHD meds work because they release dopamine, which helps the brain function normally.

      Dopamine is the chemical reward, it makes the brain happy, focused, and motivated. The feeling, “Sure, I can do that! It’s a lot of work, so I better get started right away!” That’s dopamine talking.

      The feeling, “I just can’t even, it’s too hard, it’s too complicated, it’ll never get better”: That’s lack of dopamine talking.

      If you remove all rewards and fun, you will starve her brain of its natural dopamine sources. You will increase her dependency on medication. And you risk her just giving up. If she has mostly A’s, she is working damn hard.

      Fun will actually help her in a practical way. Discouragement will undermine her and make it harder for her to succeed.

      It’s like telling a kid with Type I diabetes she can’t have any insulin until she puts on some weight.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      She’s getting mostly As? Tell your husband that many parents would give their right arm to be in his shoes with a good student like your daughter.

      She reminds me of me. I had that one course I did not do well in. I told my parents the reasons, x, y and z. They just told me to get out of the course. On another occasion I had to finish the course to fill requirements. They said, “Do the best you can and learn what you can.”

      While my father was strict and old fashioned, he did know for a fact that different people learn differently and letter grades do not necessarily reflect what a student has learned. If I got a D the worst thing he would say is “see what you can do to bump that up to even a low C.” I knew from experience with him that Cs were fine, he would say, “I see you working at your studies every night. You work hard for your grades.”

      I don’t know her setting but my grades were very subject based. You could count on me to do okay in English but my grades were always lower in math and science than they were in English. I was consistent like that.

      Since the problem seems to be with that one course, I think I would talk with her about what is going on with that class. How’s the teacher and the students? Does she sit up front or near the back? (I did better when I sat up front.) Does she like the text book? (I had a text book for calc whose authors should have been banned from ever writing a book again. And that teacher came to class stoned every day. I explained to my father that he did not make sense because of being stoned and I was using the text book to get the meat and potatoes of the course. Yeah, the crappy text book. My father saw the problems.)

      Remind your husband that a student does not have to get straight As to be successful in life. Conversely just because a student gets straight As does not guaranty that they will be successful in life. Many things go into being a successful adult.

    15. Girl friday*

      Section off the little spot of her homework like the bottom inch and a half. Write please sign and return to parents and make a big line for a signature and the dotted line for cutting. Send a letter to her teachers asking them to sign at the bottom and tear or cut it off when she turns in her homework. Collect all of those for a week and then give her a reward on Saturday, every Saturday that she turns them into you. That will help everybody. Give a little daily rewards you if she brings them home every day. Get her a little cute sparkly envelope to keep them in or something.

    16. Smarty Boots*

      I’m not going to comment on the learning issues — it sounds like you have already had her tested and I’m guessing have an IEP or 504 for her. If you don’t, you should do that. If you could talk with a learning specialist, that person could help you figure out new strategies for your daughter and also could have suggestions on how to revise the IEP or 504.

      I’m sorry some of the other commenters are calling you names or accusing you or your husband of not caring or being bad or oblivious parents. Really, folks, how is this helpful?

      Since all but one class is an A, she’s actually doing quite well, and you should help her figure out how to address the problem with the A/F class. Talk with her about the A classes — is she turning work in for those? If so, what makes those classes different for her from the A/F class? (Kind of work? How it’s turned in? When it’s turned in? Teacher expectations or personality? Something going on in that class? Something going on right before that class? Etc). For instance, does she have to turn in the work on paper in class, or could she turn it in online as soon as she finishes it? That could be something you get into the IEP or 504– I’d start by asking the teacher if that would be ok, and then move to getting the accommodation plan revised.

      Punishments— I really don’t think these are effective ways of addressing your daughters learning issues. It’s reasonable to identify activities that suck up large amounts of time and put those on hold, or to allow just one activity that’s time intensive. Figure out with your daughter how much free time she has each week with just school, homework, home chores, eating, sleeping, etc. — then figure out with her what extracurriculars are reasonable for that amount of time.

      I’m sorry you and your hubs are at odds on this. I’d get him to agree to try a non punitive approach for say 6 weeks to see if it makes a difference. You know best how to talk with him, although perhaps talking with a school counselor or learning specialist may be more helpful.

      Good luck! Even kids without learning disabilities have to learn these skills, it’s just amped up for kids with LDs. You got this, mom!

    17. Koala dreams*

      I’m not sure I’m reading this correctly, I thought A was the best grade and F the worst? Since she has A in all classes but one, that sounds to me like academic success. Oh well, school is confusing.

      As for the school dance, I’m not sure which sides you and your husband is on, but I think you should let her go if she wants to. This kind of thing is often very popular with teenagers, and she risks feeling left out if all her best friends go and she doesn’t. It’s a small sacrifice on the side of parents compared to a regular activity where you need to drive every week and pay fees every semester, but it’s a big thing in the life of your child. Good luck!

    18. Imtheone*

      There are lots of good interventions to help students with ADHD. Taking away things that the student enjoys is just more likely to make her angry and depressed. She needs to be allowed to go to the dance.
      For a start, she needs a system t remember to turn in homework, including a personal check-in with her teacher. This should be part of the accommodations for her ADHD. And then when she does turn in her homework, she needs some kind of reward/acknowledgement. That which is easy for other people is hard for her, and if she does it, even with reminders, that is great.
      When she has homework, try to sit with her. We would all work at the dining room table. A recognized and effective strategy for kids with ADHD is to have someone nearby keeping an eye on them. Then the child doesn’t have to use up so much energy making herself work and can use that energy in actually working.
      You might look for programs that focus on improving executive function and improving study skills.
      (I’m speaking as someone with a masters in special education and experience teaching and tutoring students with issues such as ADHD.)

  9. Loopy*

    All! I won my bake-off :) It turned out I was mostly the only entused one as there were only four other entries in a division of well over 100, but still. Yay. I beat out a buttermilk pie, blueberry cobbler, smoked peach cobbler, and oreo cheesecake bites.

    In other news, this morning I discovered a funny quirk. Apparently three scrambled eggs is too much. I cannot handle the egg to toast ratio and will not touch eggs alone on a plate (must be on toast. Must). So when some fell off on to the plate, I was like ew, no. Those eggs are not being eaten.

    Anyone else have extremely particular quirks a la eggs-must-be-on-toast?

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      Prefer eggs on toast as well. Cottage cheese must be on something else- cracker or slice of fruit.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      No butter or margarine on my toast if im making it into an egg sandwich. Apparently that’s not restaurant standard because it took years for my restaurant-trained husband to remember. Mornings are hard, we all run on rote.)

    3. Overeducated*

      Eggs must be hot. Beware ordering at restaurants, because if they sit out waiting while other people’s food is prepared, they will not be worth eating.

    4. Serenity*

      My eggs have to be scrambled and eaten with hash browns! Very very tasty. Now I want to go out for breakfast.

      Congrats on the bake off! What did you make? I’m not a regular commenter and don’t always read the weekend threads so if you said something previously I probably missed it.

      1. Loopy*

        I only eat scrambled eggs as well (no idea why omelets feel so different).

        I made s’mores cupcakes” chocolate cupcake with a marshmallow creme filling, topped with super creamy, rich milk chocolate buttermilk frosting and a dusting of graham cracker crumbs and some of the marshmallow creme drizzle on top. AND apple spice cupcakes with a caramel frosting. The apple spice cupcakes were simpler but better- the cinnamon and nutmeg spices really came through and having chunks of apple in there pushed them over into heaven territory!!!

        1. NACSACJACK*

          I am with you. I dont like omlets. I want my eggs scrambled. Yet half the time, when I order an omlet scrambled, I get the omlet. :(

      2. Windchime*

        I will only eat scrambled eggs, or eggs that have been otherwise beaten before being cooked, like in an omelet. I hate the texture of egg yolks like in a hard boiled egg, and would absolutely NEVER eat a gooey yolk from a fried egg. When I go to a restaurant, I make sure to ask for my eggs to be scrambled dry, because I won’t eat them if they are goopy and half-cooked.

        Yes, I’m picky. But I make a damned fine scrambled egg.

    5. Villanelle*

      I like my eggs next to my toast but not on because I don’t like soggy toast.

      Well done on the win!

      1. Loopy*

        Ooooo my scrambled eggs are quite well done and I avoid the soggy toast. Mostly. I think. I may have to report back next week to confirm.

    6. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I am very particular about which foods can touch each other and which can’t. Meatballs in tomato sauce with fries? Tomato sauce CANNOT touch fries (turns them soggy, blech).

      1. Parenthetically*

        I’m FASCINATED. Dying to know where you’re from that meatballs in tomato sauce are served with… fries!

        1. A bit of a saga*

          I live in Belgium and meatballs in tomato sauce with fries is on pretty much every menu. I’ve come to really like it

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Yep, it’s Belgium. We’ll have just about everything with french fries.
          I’ve been told by an American friend it never occurred to you to have them with mayonaise? But you do have them with vinegar????

          1. Someone Else*

            Fries with vinegar in the US is generally a Rhode Island thing, notsomuch the rest of the country.

    7. Red Reader*

      I can only eat eggs if they are hard-boiled with mayo involved. I love egg salad and will eat deviled eggs by the dozen, and apparently I make fantastic omelets, scrambles and fried eggs at any level, but I can’t eat them, they turn my stomach.

      1. Anonymouse for this*

        I can’t eat hard boiled eggs on their own – the texture of the egg white makes me gag. But I love the egg salad sandwiches a friend makes for picnics.

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

      Congrats on winning the bake-off! Now I’m curious to try what you made that won!

      1. Loopy*

        I made s’mores cupcakes which are chocolate cupcake with a marshmallow creme filling, topped with super creamy, rich milk chocolate buttermilk frosting and a dusting of graham cracker crumbs and some of the marshmallow creme drizzle on top. AND apple spice cupcakes with a caramel frosting. The apple spice cupcakes were simpler but better- the cinnamon and nutmeg spices really came through and having chunks of apple in there pushed them over into heaven territory!!! The apples ones actually won!

    9. CAA*

      Congrats on the win! So what did you end up making? You told us about the losing dishes, but please, tell us about the winner!

    10. Not a cat*

      About a year ago I discovered eggs and rice with furikaki, kimchi and soy sauce. Now I can’t eat eggs any other way! Soooo good!

        1. Not a cat*

          I dump 2 eggs into hot rice and mix them really fast. Sometimes I microwave it for 30 seconds to be sure the rice is hot enough to cook the eggs.

          SO GOOD! :)

        1. Not a cat*

          Have you tried it on french fries w/ parmesan cheese? A restaurant ’round here does it that way and it is amazing.

      1. ElspethGC*

        Ditto. My eggs need to be nonexistent. Texture issues, mostly. Eggy bread (French toast to me is thinner bread and with fruit, eggy bread is just good ol’ carbs) is good, though, but I can’t breathe through my nose while it’s cooking because the smell makes me faintly nauseous.

      2. Loopy*

        Thats how I usually am but lately I’ve been able to handle eggs with cheese and toast because mmmm cheese and carbs

  10. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Apparently our next door neighbour has THE BEST tree for sitting in, according to one of our cats. We knew he spent time up in that tree but now that it’s autumn he stands out quite a bit. It’s rather funny watching that branch bopping around in the wind, him sitting on it without a care in the world…

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Sadly, no. He tends to sit in spots that are difficult to photograph from our own backyard or in such a way the lighting is bad (right now, for example, it’s rather sunny over here, but the sun is coming from behind him so if you try to take a picture he looks like a shadowy blob)

    1. nonegiven*

      The house next door apparently has the best roof and once in a while a cat will discover it. There is a railing around the covered patio. From the railing to the roof of a small storage building, then across the roof over the patio and to the top of the roof of the house.

  11. LGC*

    Morning guys! How’ve you been? How’s your running been?

    First of all, I want to shout out The Librarian for running the Philadelphia Marathon tomorrow! Good luck, man – I’ve heard it’s a pretty good course. It looks like it’ll be a bit on the cool side, which could be good and bad. (For me, I’ve run decently well in cold weather, but it hurts to race in that kind of weather!)

    Speaking of races: anyone else planning on doing a turkey trot? (Thanksgiving Day race.) I’m planning on doing one, I’m just not sure which one! My club’s putting a smallish 5k on…not too far from me (like, the start is literally within walking distance of my house). There’s a larger 8k further out from me (NJ people might know this one – it’s Ashenfelter) that’s…pretty competitive! I’m kind of on the fence – the 8k has better race souvenirs (better shirts, mugs for the top 100 male and female finishers), but again, it’s pretty competitive and a trip. But then again, a few of my friends might be doing the 8k. But my club is unable to field a team (we’re small, most of us did NYC, and also it’s Thanksgiving and some of us are traveling), which would be the real reason I’d do it.

    1. acmx*

      Morning! I’m sitting in my car waiting for a 5k to start. It’s too cold to go stand outside and wait (cold is relative).
      I’m thinking of doing a turkey trot. But they’re both a small trip for me.
      I think I’d do the one outside my door instead of the long haul. Except you could place at the 8k, right? You’re fast.

      1. LGC*

        Good luck today – and hopefully Thursday! I’m hoping your race goes awesome!

        (And yeah, that’s the other thing. I know I can probably get in the top 100, since I did last year and I’ve gotten better since. But then I opened my cabinets and realized they were pretty full already!)

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

      Thanks so much, LGC! But…with three days to go before the race, I decided to pull out. On my next-to-last run before the race Monday, I felt pain in my left knee about three miles in, and even after getting five days of rest, I couldn’t imagine any scenario in which a 26.2 mile race would go well. I thought about going to Philly anyway and switching to the half, which I know I could get through, but decided my body was telling me the game was over. And after wallowing in a bit of self-pity for a few days and being reluctant to make the decision, I’m cool with this now. I got in all of my training runs, which is what I really wanted. If I did gut my way through a marathon somehow, I’d risk being sidelined for months, and I really want to recover for next year and be able to run some good half-marathons. I’m hoping one of them is the NYC Half, which I entered the lottery for (probably a long shot).

      As for turkey trots: I love them, but as my family has gotten larger over the years, they’ve become more logistically difficult. I’ve only done one in my life. How is your recovery from the marathon going, LGC? Unless you’re certain you’re back to 100 percent strength, honestly I’d probably do the shorter race that’s closer to home.

      1. LGC*

        Aw man! Sorry to hear that! Good luck with the NYC Half lottery – I didn’t enter this year because my best friend is getting married that day. (If you could transfer entries, I totally would have entered and done so.)

        As for my recovery: I’m lacing up my shoes to jog 2 miles and then do a 10-mile run, so…I’m feeling pretty good. I’m being cautious, though.

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

          10 miles less than two weeks after a marathon! I can’t even. Good for you.

          Thanks for the kind words re: the NYC Half. You’re more well versed in NYRR than I am; how much of a long shot is getting into a big race via lottery? I’m imagining it’s something like a 1 in 5 chance, but it could just as easily be 1 in 100 for all I know. I’m not realistically expecting to get in, and maybe it’s in my best interest if I don’t anyway, but I’m curious to know just how unrealistic it is.

          1. LGC*

            For the NYC Marathon, it’s 1 in 6. I think the chance for NYC Half would be higher – it’s a smaller race (22k last year), but lower profile. So I’d guess closer to 50/50?

            It’s certainly possible to be turned down – my teammate got turned down last year, but I got in (granted, he had a rough stretch of racing for the past few years, but my ONLY race at that time was a 1:30 half marathon that fall). But again – New York is famously difficult and the odds aren’t that low!

    3. First 5K*

      I posted before about getting ready for my first 5K – it’s in two weeks!!! I’m hoping the weather actually changes from what it says it’s going to be – RAIN! I mean it’s New England – it will change … hopefully not to snow but whatever I’m still running it …. or fast walking… or something….

      I can’t wait until spring when it’s light out at 5am and I can get more running done during the week. Then I’ll be in even better shape for the next 5K. Because no matter how this one goes I’m doing another 5K in 2019! Just maybe not the same one.

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

        They can’t forecast weather that far out. If you notice the long range forecasts, they will ALWAYS call for rain or snow two weeks out… that’s to cover themselves. No one will be upset if a rain forecast changes to sunshine, but plenty of people will be angry the other way.

        Anyhow, all the best of luck in the 5K!

        1. First 5K*

          Thanks for the good wishes!

          I was mostly joking around :) I know it’s going to change and I won’t really know the weather until that morning!

      2. LGC*

        Good luck! I’m actually running a 5k on that weekend as well! (I totally forgot because I signed up for it in September.)

        So, anyway, you didn’t ask for this, but…if it does rain, I’d still go race. I’d just come prepared – with a change of clothes (including socks and shoes!) for afterwards, towels, that sort of stuff. A lot of people will put plastic bags on their feet – I’ve never done so, but it’s an option. It’s also why I really recommend training when the weather isn’t perfect, unless the weather is especially terrible (like thunder). My opinion is that you can’t predict what the weather will be like on race day, so you might as well prepare for everything.

        Also…still continue running during the week, if possible! Get a headlight and reflective gear, and that should help a lot. You don’t need anything fancy – the headlight I use was $10 on Amazon, and I have shoe clips that were about $10 as well. This does depend on where you live – if there are other safety concerns (like wildlife, traffic, crime, other things), you might need to consider those as well. (For example, the park trail by me closes half an hour after sunset and is not really lit at all.)

        1. First 5K*


          And also thanks for the suggestions! I’m going to plan for the worst and hope fur the best ;) I put a hat with a brim under my winter hat to keep the rain out of my eyes if I have to.

          As for running during the week – we have at I’m actually able to use a treadmill at work a few nights a week so I’m okay there – I just really prefer running outside – it’s not as boring and easier in general.

          I know I haven’t pushed myself as much as I should have in preparation for this 5K but I do want to improve so I’m definitely keeping all of your suggestions in mind!

          1. LGC*

            To be honest, you’re probably fine! I’m a little crazy in that weather doesn’t usually discourage me from running, and I’ve had to learn to run at night (although I much prefer running during the day). But it’s something I just recently got used to doing.

            My philosophy is that I can’t control the weather, but I can control my response. And a lot of the time, the best stories are from races in the worst conditions. (Ask Sarah Sellers.)

      3. CoffeeOnMyMind*

        I recommend a hat with a visor to help keep rain out of your eyes. I’ve run in rain and snow, and a visor does wonders. Good luck on your race!

        1. First 5K*

          Thank you!
          Yes – I’ve got a hat that should work under my winter hat so I think I’m set there.

      4. Jane of All Trades*

        Good luck! How exciting! I ran my first 5k about 11 months ago, and have done 2 longer races since then. I was supposed to do another 10k a few weeks back but work got in the way, both of training and on race day. Today I did another 5k to prepare for a longer run in 2 or 3 weeks. It was harder than I would have liked (due to not being able to run as regularly), but I bested my time from 10 months ago by 4 minutes.
        I hope you enjoy your race in two weeks. If possible try running the course before race day, so you know what to expect.

        1. First 5K*

          Thanks! Unfortunately, I can’t run the course ahead of time in this case because it’s in the middle of a city on streets that they close for the race.

    4. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      I’m volunteering at a 5K & 10K turkey trot this weekend. I’m manning the water stations. It’s going to be freezing but fun!

      1. LGC*

        Good luck and try to stay dry! (And warm!)

        (Just be glad I’m not going to be there. I think on one water stop at NYC I had to reach for three cups before I managed to grab one!)

        1. CoffeeOnMyMind*

          Hoo boy, just got back from volunteering at the race and it was a doozy. I’m not sure if all races are like this, but it was crazy chaotic: 20 volunteers’ shifts ended before the race started so there wasn’t enough people to hand out medals, remove timing chips, or man gear check. Some of the race vendors stepped in so the rest of us wouldn’t get crushed by the onslaught of runners at the finish line. And then they ran out of medals. Turns out the shipment was short a couple hundred medals, and they won’t be in for 2 weeks. The race organizers “forgot” to tell us this, and so we ended up having to deal with many unhappy runners. It was crazy town. And my thighs are burning from squatting for 90 minutes, removing timing chips. Great unintentional workout, but ouch!

    5. Junior Dev*

      I’m off running or any kind of exercise these last few weeks but I want to go for a jog I think.

      I saw a physical therapist and she gave me some goals for core and hip strength before I can run much. So I’ve got to be better at doing those exercises.

      The weather is really nice today so it’ll be good to get out there.

    6. SG*

      My family switches which side we do Thanksgiving with every other year, and when in Nashville we do a 5 mile run. It’s been SUCH a fun thing to do every time we’re down there. It’s also nice if you’re a more frequent runner to push yourself a little bit – the extra mile or two doesn’t really add much time past the 5k time and I always feel really proud of myself after for making myself do a little more.

      1. LGC*


        (At least it did for me at the time. Actually, what REALLY hurt was the first mile because it was literally freezing and I ran a 5:45 first mile. My 5k PR at the time was…17:47, which roughly works out to 5:43/mile. It hurt to breathe after half a mile.)

    7. CheeryO*

      My brother and I will be running an 8K Trot here in Buffalo. It’s supposedly the oldest road race in America, older than the Boston Marathon. I’m in no way recovered from NYC, so it’ll be just for fun!

    8. A bit of a saga*

      I did a local 9 km race this morning. Good fun and it went well – my average pace was higher than the last 10 km I ran so an improvement. As we don’t have Thanksgiving here we also don’t have the Turkey trots – I’m a bit envious I must admit, sounds like fun! I am planning on a Christmas race, though, which should also be good.

      1. LGC*

        Congrats! I’m glad you did so well!

        If I remember correctly, Thanksgiving is actually now the biggest running day of the year in the US. (I think the 4th of July is the second biggest.) A lot of towns in my area run their own races, and I’m pretty settled on the 5k just because I don’t want to stress too much about things. One of the things I like about holiday races is that a lot of them become a bit like parties – you have people showing up in costumes, things like that. The 8k I mentioned is a little like that, since it’s open to the general public. It’s also highly competitive at the top end, because it’s a USATF-NJ Championship race. (Which sounds fancy, but basically means it’s…kind of like F1 or NASCAR, where the races are part of a series.)

        I’ve never done a Christmas-time race, actually – but it sounds interesting! Part of what’s put me off is…I’m going to be a bit of a hypocrite, but while I run year-round, I usually avoid winter races because of snow. (Last winter was…pretty bad for that, by my area’s standards.)

        1. A bit of a saga*

          Thanks:-) We don’t tend to get much snow here at all so I will brave the Christmas race – I think it should be similar in spirit to how you describe the Thanksgiving one with people dressed up, music etc. Good luck on the 5k – and have FUN!

    9. Clumsy Ninja*

      Just ran a 5K a week ago – had my best time in 3 years. My kid ran “with me” – as in did the same race – and he PRed. We’re both running a 3 mile turkey trot on Thursday. Should be fun, but it’s our first time on this particular one, so no idea how the set up is and whether we’ll make good time. I’ve tried three other local turkey trots before, and they all tend to be pretty jammed up for most of it, so just hoping it’s better than those. Then I have another 5K on the 1st and another on the 9th. Then that’s it for me until it hits spring time.

  12. Washi*

    Any book recommendations about anxiety specifically around perfectionism? There are so many out there! (Also I have read Brene Brown’s books and love them, but I’m looking for something that tackles anxiety more explicitly.)

    1. Jillociraptor*

      When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough by Martin Antony and Richard Swinton really helped me. It’s a workbook with a combination of some good writing explaining perfectionism, a few exercises to help you connect your own experience to the literature, and some concrete strategies to try, step by step, to develop coping mechanisms and re-route some of your perfectionist trenches. I went through the book one chapter every week or two to really dig into each idea and while this is still a major struggle for me, I have gotten much better at dealing with it!

  13. Rachel the Moderate*

    Anyone else struggle to explain depression to their spouse? We have a very complicated family life (newly blended family, lots of kids) and with his support I’ve been able to do things like stop working FT from an office and start consulting from home, I’ve got more time with my kids, but also more kids to spend time with, and I’m overwhelmed. I think I’ve been fighting the depression label for a while (this is my MO, and usually my mom is the one to point it out because I get really irritable). It just hit me the other day that this is what is going on, and I need treatment. But I think he’s confused about why I could possibly be depressed when I’ve basically changed my schedule to remove that stressor. I am almost ashamed that I told him, because I feel like he’s looking at me funny now. He’s a really good person and I think could understand, but I don’t know whether I should just treat it and get better and hope he reacts to me normally, or try to explain what this is and why it’s not a reflection on us? TIA

    1. Red Reader*

      As a spouse of someone who has struggled to explain depression and anxiety to me (because I am fortunate enough to have never really experienced either at a clinical level), I just need him to -a- realize that I don’t really get it, and knock wood never will, and -b- remember that he and I are on the same team and that I can’t control what his brain weasels tell him, but that the brain weasels are not on Team Us. So I need him to do his best not to flip out at me because of the brain weasels, and I need not to get exasperated with him when they’re chewing on his common sense. But I also need him to be honest with me when they’re chewing on him, and not just start acting weird and trying (and failing) to pretend everything is fine, because I’m not stupid, I can tell everything is not fine, and that just sends us both into a bad spiral.

      1. Rachel the Moderate*

        Thank you. I think this is what was happening. I have been trying, trying, trying to hold everything together, and then just kind of explode in a ball or either irritability or sadness, or a weird mix of both over something that seems small to everyone else. I like “brain weasels” and I think that is a great way to describe it! It must be really frustrating to see what looks like irrational behavior. I think my husband is constantly wondering “is this the thing that’s going to make her happy,” and then being disappointed and confused when it’s not.

        Can I also just say that it is constantly amazing to me to know there are people who never have these feelings? I am both envious and happy that not everyone has to experience this beyond the sadness that one would expect as part of life! Brains are amazing.

        1. B*

          I think it’s not so much “never have these feelings” and more “there is a specific environmental cause to the feelings when they happen” – i have experienced feelings that seem consistent with how depression is described, but in the context of being lonely, or maybe some seasonal affective disorder. Being with family/finding an so helped the former, getting good sleep, exercise, and getting outside some every day (even in the winter) helped the latter for me. What’s probably perplexing to those without experience in clinical depression is sometimes there is no fixable external “cause” (but sometimes meds/clinical tx help). Although I don’t think I have that sort of depression, I’ve done enough psych that I’m somewhat familiar with various types of depression, and there’s clearly types that seem driven by to internal biology, and some overlap, etc. So that’s my best guess.

          1. Red Reader*

            YES. I’m a fixer. Problems that don’t have solutions or even causes drive me bananacrackers, and that was the hardest part for me, realizing that there’s really not a whole lot I can do to help my husband with his brain weasels.

        2. Red Reader*

          I get anxiety type issues every once in a while – like, if I have to have a conversation with someone that will potentially be unpleasant, I’ll spend ages getting myself spun up about making up all the worst case scenarios and replaying the possible conversation in my head. But for me, that lasts a couple hours if I’m not doing something else that distracts me, then I have the conversation and I’m fine. The last time it happened, I was mumbling about it to my husband and I was like “Is that what it’s like, all the time?” And he goes “well, when I’m not properly medicated, yeah.” I can’t even imagine.

          I use the “brain weasels” term as a reference to the weasels from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, if that helps too – because they’re sleazy jerks who are out to cause trouble, screw up as much as they possibly can, and – in some cases – have less power over you if you can identify them as what they really are and get yourself to laugh them stupid. (That maybe sounds more flip than I mean it to; I hope you take my meaning.)

      2. Owler*

        My husband says the same. It’s so much better when (a) *I* can recognize I’m sliding and (b) I tell him. But putting those two puzzle pieces together has taken about ten years.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      You can share my anecdote with him:

      Many years back I went to the ER with an asthma attack and was prescribed steroids without a taper. I asked about it, because the one previous time they had emphasized tapering off the dose, and the doc assured me they didn’t do that any more. Turns out, yes, they do, because that abrupt drop off the steroids can cause some alarming switches to flip in your brain. I was in a really dark spot for about a week, started to emerge, and only then was I able to look back and say “Oh, whoa, that wasn’t getting up on the wrong side of bed–that was biochemical.” More than a decade later I went into a similar mood, but gradually so I didn’t notice the shift for a long time. I didn’t have a ‘reason’ like some new external difficulty I couldn’t deal with–for quite illogical reasons some switches in my brain flipped, and it was not until I had spent much of a day crying about something that hadn’t happened, but would be very stressful if it did, that I connected how Not Normal this was and got help. Even though it took a bit to find the right drug, the immediate switch to my mood was really helpful in terms of resetting my baseline so it was easier to notice that I was slipping into “I should do X, but that requires some minimal effort which right now looks like a brick wall.”

      I’ve been off drugs and fine for some time, and while some things are different in my life–to degree rather than kind, and due to the passage of time–there is no “here is the external stressful thing that changed, thereby fixing/causing the depression.”

      1. Rachel the Moderate*

        Yes, thank you! I think that it’s a really hard leap for people who have sadness related to actual events (makes sense, follows logical progression) and what looks like a really nice life but the person doesn’t appreciate it. Which just feeds into the whole depressed thinking again, because you aren’t doing/reacting the way you are supposed to. I am glad you are doing better!

      1. fposte*

        I gave a relative Allie’s book and her therapist said it was the best depiction of depression she’d ever seen.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      Maybe he can listen to a few episodes of the Hilarious Wprld is Depression podcasts. They’re great interviews with celebrities he has heard of and their experience with depression. I think it helps people see how the inside doesn’t match the outside and how someone with a “great life” can still be trapped in a dark brain.

      1. Rachel the Moderate*

        I’ve not heard of that podcast so thank you. That is exactly what I’ve been trying and failing to articulate.

    4. Competent Commenter*

      Just want to point out that depression isn’t just linked to stressors. You seem almost apologetic that you’re depressed despite having reduced stress. You might be depressed for biochemical rather than situational reasons. It’s not your fault.

      You might consider whether it might be seasonal depression (try a lightbox), and also consider medication.

      1. Rachel the Moderate*

        Yes, I definitely feel guilty even though I know it’s chemical. The apologetic thing is really a problem…I am trying to be up front about this, and practical. I will look into a lightbox! Medication already started so I am hopeful this well resolve quickly. But it would be good to have a way to explain this so that he doesn’t feel like this is a reflection on him. It’s hard to try to manage someone else’s feelings while wading out of your own disordered thinking.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Guilty feelings are a symptom of depression for a LOT of people (myself included)!

          I deal with anxiety more than depression now, but my husband struggles with depression, and even having walked my own similar road, it is HARD sometimes not to take his Black Dog moods personally. One thing I’d heartily recommend — ask him to educate himself about emotional labor (maybe send him that metafilter thread as a start?). It’s really unfair and counterproductive, as I’m 100% sure you know, for you to have to try to manage his emotions or worry about how he’s going to react to things in addition to trying to manage your own, and for him to be on board with coping with his own emotional stuff rather than offloading it to you as men are often socialized to do. I think it can be really helpful to just tell him that. “Hey, I find myself even in really bleak moments ALSO worrying about how you’re going to respond to my bleakness and how it will affect you. It would be helpful if I didn’t have to do that. Even if you don’t ‘get’ depression conceptually, can you please relieve me of that responsibility?”

          Best of luck to you!

    5. Dance-y Reagan*

      The two-part article on depression from Hyperbole and a Half is the best explanation I’ve ever seen. I’d share that with him.

    6. Washi*

      I’ve successfully explained to others what it’s like when I’m depressed…but not when I’m depressed. Being in the dark swirly brain fog makes it pretty much impossible to articulate what’s happening, why I’m suddenly crying, why buying a bus ticket is too difficult, why being startled by the toaster sent me into a tailspin.

      My husband saw a therapist himself for a couple months (we’re really lucky that his work offers a bunch of sessions for free) and that was really helpful because he had someone to talk/vent to who could also offer constructive strategies. But an easier option, if you’re able, would be to maybe google “how to support someone with depression” and send him one of the articles that resonates most with you. Plus the Hyperbole and a Half comic, which is pure gold!

      1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

        I’ve had depression off and on for years, medicated. Turns out that I’m allergic to wheat and soy and side effects can be depression. It’s a pain in the butt to go wheat and soy free (and add in the egg whites allergy and SHEESH!), but the change in my health is amazing. I’ve had fatigue my entire life – which of course got me labeled as lazy as a kid – it’s gone. The brain fog is gone. The aches and pains are pretty much gone. I do more now in a day that I did in a month.

        1. ket*

          Yes, this can be really significant. I’m not celiac but also seem to react to wheat; if I decide to eat a bit of fabulous croissant or something I just time it so that I can be depressed & useless in 2 days because it really does make me sad and hopeless. (It’s gotta be an amazing croissant to make it worth it!)

          But it’s important to remember — I’m not sad because of the events around me per se, I’m sad because I’m reacting to chemicals my gut made upon ingesting this substance. And that’s really interesting.

    7. Rezia*

      Hi Rachel!
      I can really relate to your post because I’ve gone through much of the same in the past year. First, please realize that (1) depression can’t necessarily be pinned to specific stressors – so yes, you can be depressed for “no reason”, don’t feel guilty if you don’t know why. (2) Stress can linger a long time and in weird ways. I got through a very intense year of work stress + friend passing mostly fine, and only when that was all over did depression rear its head in earnest. I kept thinking, things are better now, why do I feel this way?

      My husband has never experienced anything like depression, but he loves me and I think what has helped us is a mix of the following.
      – I’ve taken time to try and explain to him my brain loops, e.g. how my brain can easily jump from Mundane Thing X to “I’m a terrible person”. I acknowledge that this is not rational, and that I’m working on breaking these misguided conclusions with my therapist, but in the meantime, I ask him to just realize my brain really believes this nonsense in the moment, and for him not to dismiss it out of hand – “well that’s obviously not true” – but rather if he can, to help me get to a better place. (Btw, I’ve had to explain my jerkbrain to him multiple times, it may take a while if it’s very un-relatable for your spouse, as it was for mine)
      – My husband is a “fixer” and he has gotten frustrated in the past because he loves me so much, hates seeing me this way and wants to just know the right thing to say or do. For my part, I try to help him help me, whether by telling him what he can say that will be helpful (not expecting him to read my mind), or by reassuring him that even though he can’t fix it, just having him in my life/sitting on the couch with me is something I really appreciate.
      – If I have a really bad moment and can’t articulate well then, I revisit it later on with him to help him understand what happened (and sometimes to apologize if I pushed him away then)
      – I think it helps him to know that I have a therapist, so there’s an external person helping with the situation. Sometimes, I share with him a bit of what came out of therapy, and I think that helps him both understand me better/feel involved in helping. As an example, I’ve come to realize that my mental health depends a ton on getting regular and good sleep. He now hustles me off to bed when it gets late, even if that means taking over certain chores. We’re both happier for it.
      – When I’m feeling good, I revel in it with him. Depression is awful, but the good times are sweeter in some ways, because we celebrate together as I improve. On days when I’m out of the fog, I go out of my way to take care of him, as well.

      All this to say, please don’t “just treat it and get better and hope he reacts to me normally” — depression is wily and excels at isolating you and making you feel alone. Don’t let it. If you can face it as a team, that’s definitely the better option. Lots of encouragement to you. Hope things get better soon!

      1. Rachel the Moderate*

        This made me teary. Thank you! If you don’t mind, I’d like to show him this response because this hits exactly what I’m trying to get across. (As do the other comments! This one just covers everything.) He is exactly that fixer and his frustration is just because this isn’t fixable, and he hates watching me so unhappy. Also, because of the nature of our newly blended family, I’ve taken on an additional workload that is emotional and hard and hectic, and I think part of him feels responsible for “adding on” to my load with this, even though I would handle it no problem if it were not for my brain sometimes.

        I appreciate all of the really thoughtful comments I have gotten here. I’ve been reading AAM for years but this is the first time I’ve posted, and I am so glad I did!

    8. Koala dreams*

      I also tried to find the reason when I first got diagnosed with depression. It’s quite natural, I think, to try to find a reason why this horrible illness is happening, but sadly the world doesn’t work like that, some people get ill and some doesn’t and it’s just unfair. If I could give some advice to your husband, it would be to find a therapist to talk with about his worries and anxiety. You really don’t have the brain space to work on your own depression and then take up your husband’s worries on top of that.
      I wish you get well soon! Good luck!

    1. Trouble*

      I never thought I would find anyone with more cat trees than me but in one picture Alison has proved me wrong. Mine are bigger-two of my cats are also huge-but in pure quantity Alison wins hands down :D.

      These are both very lovely cats. I’m broody for cat five by my husband says absolutely no way on earth. Kilo for kilo my two NFCs likely count as three cats though, so maybe he’s right. I’ll say that here but not to his face :’D.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I need to buy another cat tree soon. I have a few (I have 11 cats), but they wear out quickly. I have one cat who is very paranoid and seems to attract attacks from several other cats in the house, so I want to get a high tree that has some cubby holes for her to hide in.

  14. Anon for this*

    This is going to sound like a weird question, but can I get some ideas for self care?
    My therapist pointed out to me that I don’t ever have down time for myself and has assigned me to scheduling down time. I’m trying to think of what to do then that will be actually relaxing. I’d love some indoor ideas if possible (I get anxious in crowds and live in a big city). Also, I don’t really watch TV.
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      Go to the library and look for something to read: biographies, hobbies, fiction, something you don’t know about. You won’t hurt the book’s feelings if you put it down because you don’t like it. Home manicure, hot bath while eating ice cream, drawing, buying a stack of silly magazines at a used bookstore, sitting in your own room cleaning out a drawer so you will feel happy the next time you open it, getting a massage or haircut, walking in a pretty park by yourself with or without a podcast.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Everything that everyone has said, I second.

        If you have a yard, sitting out in the sun (or even wrapping up in the rain) for a few minutes a day, feel the light in your face – that’ll improve your mood.

        Talk to someone on the phone, but only if they’ll understand you.

        A few drops of essential oil in a spritz bottle with water is nice to spray on your skin every now and then.
        I like lavender too relax, and also orange to revitalise me.

        Deep breathing is helpful to me, mindfulness meditations help with that. I particularly like Prof Mark Williams and Danny Penman guided sessions on YouTube. They always help me.

        I love the suggestion of sound…I can’t remember what it’s called or who said it without going back a page and losing what I’m writing! But I love listening to the sounds of rain on a car roof, or thunderstorm sounds just in my earphones when I’m relaxing doing nothing, or reading. It’s incredibly calming.

        And finally, I like to plan my meals and make sure I get at least one nourishing meal a day, today is lentil and potato soup with granary bread. They don’t have to be expensive, but just the act of planning and writing a list helps me feel more cared for.

        Good luck!

    2. Yorkshire Rose*

      Free guided meditations on YouTube. Click around until you find a narrator whose voice doesn’t annoy you. :-)

      Yoga with Adriene on YouTube (great for beginners).

      Libraries have displays that the librarians arrange according to interests (bestsellers, mystery, historical, etc.).

      Take a bath.


    3. DLC*

      For me, when I get time on my own, I like reading, baking, cooking or crafting, catching up on podcasts.
      I think also depends on what you personally find relaxing- my husband finds cleaning the basement relaxing and and satisfying. Mess creates anxiety for him, so making sure he has time for household management is a big part of his self care.

    4. anon24*

      Seconding everything that Yorkshire Rose wrote – I do all of those.

      Get a massage. Seriously. I hate being touched by strangers. Earlier this year I was dealing with such chronic pain that I scheduled one on a whim. I had such horrible anxiety about going but my massage therapist is seriously amazing and I now go to her once a month as a gift to myself for working a job that takes a physical and emotional toll on a person. Afterwards I feel so calm, relaxed, and less stressed out.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Exercise is good for my mood though I don’t always like it. If there was something active you liked, I would do that. Could be indoor swimming, walking in a park, stationary bike w a podcast.

    6. Amy*

      Do you happen to know if you respond to ASMR? If you don’t know what it is you can Google it, but it’s basically the phenomenon in which certain sounds can trigger deep relaxation and a pleasant tingling sensation on your scalp and down your neck. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t feel it, like my husband! I’ve experienced it since I was a child in response to certain sounds or voices. Watching ASMR videos on YouTube before bed is my self-care. I have a small child, a long commute, and I’m in a stressful grad school program, so it really helps me relax.

      Try it out if you’re not sure – if you “get it” you’ll likely feel it right away, and if you don’t, it will just seem really silly and strange. No harm done. My favorite ASMR YouTubers are Gentle Whispering ASMR and WhispersRed ASMR. They do different a variety of video styles, some with speaking and some without. Some work better for me than others.

      1. fposte*

        I also like “double-dipping” my ASMR with something I’d like to know more about. Soothing cooking videos, for instance, where I might actually learn something; they don’t always give me the tingles but they still put me in a calmer, more relaxed frame of mind.

      2. Basia, also a Fed*

        Just reading your post caused that sensation along my scalp! I’ll have to check these out – thanks!

      3. Canadian Natasha*

        Okay that is weirdly addictive and relaxing. Apparently I’m in the AMSR club too: crinkly and tapping sounds are nice! (Although the whispering mostly skeeves me out.)

    7. Mehhhh*

      Crafts if you’re in to it. Crochet, knit, coloring, embroidery, cross stitch. I find legos to be way more fun now than when I was a kid. For me it helps to have something to do with my hands because it makes me put the phone down. Also, listening to things — new music, old faves, podcasts.

      1. Windchime*

        This is me. I was so excited for the weekend because I had a craft project in mind; this afternoon I worked on it and it was just so satisfying. I rarely watch TV unless I am knitting or sewing; there is something about being creative that just makes me feel better.

      2. Claire*

        I was just going to suggest crafts. A number of my friends knit, and they talk about how the texture of the yarn, and the act of creating, fills the emotional well. (And you can knit while you watch movies or TV.)

        1. Teach*

          This is so true for me – an engaging knitting project, cup of tea, and a book on audio that I’m really into are my trifecta of self-care. Add comfy clothes, a tidy-ish room, a warm blanket, and a snoozing cat and I am deeply content. It’s not really about the end product for me – colors and textures and finishing steps and getting into that flow state of mind are the enjoyable parts.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Hydrate regularly. Set a goal to get in similar amounts of water every day.
      Get interested in eating salads, soups and other veggie dishes as part of your daily routine.
      Mediate or keep a gratitude journal.
      Learn a craft. The need to create is a basic human need. This could be needlework, stained glass, gardening, anything that is interesting to you.
      Read positive materials. This could be self-help materials or it could just be happy stories.
      Get interested in finding out what it will take for you to sleep well most nights.
      Teach yourself something. I like this one. Nothing says, “I think I am worth the effort” like trying to learn something new and developing ourselves.
      Self care can also be extended out to personal security, good locks on your doors, smoke detectors, protective programs for your computer, etc. Sick of your bank? Get a new one. Look around to make sure that your basics are in place and your basic needs are met.
      Self care can also mean planning for your future. If the best you can do is plan for next week, then do that, plan for next week. I know I have gone through points where I could only plan for tomorrow. That is fine, that is doing what we need to do to get ourselves through a rough patch.

      1. Anon for this*

        “Get interested in finding out what it will take for you to sleep well most nights.” –> this idea is kind of blowing my mind. I’ve always been a poor sleeper but just figured that was me and haven’t actively tried to improve things. Thank you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This crew here on AAM has a very long list of what they are doing to ensure good rest. You can ask them, they will tell you.

        2. Kuododi*

          Oh sweetie…. unfortunately when we were younger that really was the mindset about people who have sleep problems. Not much was known so a person was either a “good” sleeper or a “bad”. Now there are specialists in sleep disorders who are able to screen for and assist with a plethora of sleep problems. Looking back I’ve had TMJ and some form of sleep apnea even as a little kid. (No one knew what to do….it was just there waking up every body in the house.). I was finally in a situation with insurance where I could get the studies done after DH and I moved to where we are currently living. I would strongly encourage you to talk with your GP and your insurance about a referral for the studies. Depending on availability, if everything is approved and scheduled reasonably promptly you can look at a 6-8 week process to do the consultation, screening, follow up and getting established with any recommended equipment and/or supplies the Dr feels would be appropriate. Ive been very pleased with the quality of life improvements since beginning treatment using a CPaP device. It was one of those things where I had been so exhausted so long I almost didn’t recognize what having energy felt like!!! I’ve jabbered on for a bit, but bottom line is that a conversation with the GP is in order if sleep problems are an issue. There are oodles of non-medication interventions which are possible. Best wishes

    9. StellaBella*

      I have never owned a TV, so I relate to you in that sense! My self-care routine varies but I like to have an interesting book, in a hot bath – with maybe something that smells nice like lavender soap or scrubs. When I lived in a big city, I’d spend time in parks but I hear you on crowds, too. Now I walk in nature. If you can afford to, and would be interested, indulge in a spa for an hour-long massage with oils too that smell good to you. I’d also say that going out to a movie is good if it is a fun movie. Yoga, too maybe? Good luck!

    10. StellaBella*

      I have never owned a TV, so I relate to you in that sense! My self-care routine varies but I like to have an interesting book, in a hot bath – with maybe something that smells nice like lavender soap or scrubs. When I lived in a big city, I’d spend time in parks but I hear you on crowds, too. Now I walk in nature. If you can afford to, and would be interested, indulge in a spa for an hour-long massage with oils too that smell good to you. I’d also say that going out to a movie is good if it is a fun movie. Hydrate yourself. Eat something nice and healthy .Yoga, too maybe? Good luck!

    11. Koala dreams*

      In my experience, it takes a few tries before relaxing things actually become relaxing, so I suggest you try a couple of different things a few times each and then you can decide what to keep doing and what not.
      Some things to try:
      listening to music
      watching the little birds from the balcony/the garden
      baking bread or a cake

    12. Pieismyreligion*

      Self care means doing things that help you stress less and accomplish what you want to. Sure pedicures are great, but could taking a class, learning a computer program, setting aside time to de-clutter, exploring the family tree, etc… also be beneficial for good mental health? Finally getting a Will in place to settle that stress?
      Honestly, my self care is carving out time to perform small house repairs/renos that allow me to feel more settled at home. And then get in some hot water. I really enjoy hot springs and soaking pools.

    13. DrTheLiz*

      Two mildly contradictory things: I try hard not to eat too much rubbish (chocolate, crisps etc) and I eat something I actually like for breakfast. At the moment, it’s waffles. Two pre-packaged waffles with frozen berries under the grill for a minute or so. If I’m looking forward to breakfast, it gets things off to a good start :)

      1. Anon for this*

        I kind of love this. I skimp on breakfast. It would be nice to actually sit down for it instead of rushing off to work.

  15. Lcsa99*

    Since we have lots of cat parents on this thread I was wondering what weird non-toys have other cats adopted as their favorite toys?

    Of our two cats, one is mostly a good little angel. He loves his catnip toys, but his one quirk is paintbrushes! I assume it’s because it smells like or reminds him of whatever animal the bristles are made of, but either way, I can’t keep my brushes out for any length of time. He’s even gotten good at tearing holes in ziplock bags to get at them.

    Our little devil kitty on the other hand, will play with anything that isn’t nailed down. His favorites are tape of any type (apparently a delicious treat), q-tips, which he has played with since he was a kitten, and his new favorite – nasal strips! I assume the strips give him the best of both worlds – adhesive and something stiff like q-tips. But he’s so obsessed with them we’ve had to start flushing them because he will happily go through both the bedroom and bathroom trash cans to find them. The first time I caught him playing with one he brought it on the bed and was throwing it in the air and pouncing on it. He didnt notice me take it away so he spent an hour after looking for it!

    So what do your little furry things love to play with?

    1. LenaClare*

      Mine are obsessed with pens, especially the ones with a push down nib. And they love scratching my emery boards – they like the texture I guess :)

      1. Red Reader*

        I used to know someone who had attached sandpaper to a board and taught her dog to file his own nails :)

    2. Red Reader*

      My husband’s cat steals the little cube-shaped USB power bricks. I THINK she only steals them if they’re not plugged in. I hope. :-P

      The real problem here is that she leaves them, invariably prongs-up, on the stairs. In the middle of the night. Thank god I haven’t stepped on one yet. :-P

    3. I Love Thrawn*

      Cats always like the non toys best. The boxes the toys come in – oh yessss. The very expensive item inside? Meh. One of mine is very partial to balled up paper that doesn’t quite make it into the wastebasket. Purrfect size and shape for whapping.

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

        One of our cats is obsessed with boxes. The other day I needed to install a new printer, and… that box was just a bit too tall for the little guy. It took him,about four attempts to scale the side of the box and land inside. And then, once he made it in, I heard sheepish little meows. He couldn’t get out! But he did after a minute or two, and calmly looked like he’d planned the whole thing. I wish I had taken a video of it.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I once bought a cat tree that came in a box with a circle printed on it (in dotted lines). Inside the circle it said something like “cut this out to make your cat happy”.

        1. Annie Moose*

          I buy my cat’s food online from Chewy, and on the box they encourage you to take a picture of your cat in the box and tag them on Twitter!

    4. Max Kitty*

      One of our cats likes the black wires that come wrapped around electronics cords. You throw them and he runs after them, pounces, and brings them back to you. We have to be careful to hide them at the end of playtime (he doesn’t seem interested in eating them, just chasing, but we still worry!).

    5. Cruciatus*

      Unfortunately our 4 month old kitten has decided it loves my mom’s nose cannulas (for her oxygen machine) and will destroy them. He’s gotten 3 or 4 at this point. Don’t know what it is about them! Fortunately he does mostly play with this many, many, many toys.

      My older cat is the same regarding Q-tips! If I drop one in the bathroom, the older cat will go crazy and completely displace all of the bathroom rugs trying to play with it. And yes, to emery boards as well. The minute I get one out the cats are like “ooh, what’s that you’ve got there!?”

      We also have a basket on the stairs that we change for the seasons. The cats mostly ignore it except for fall’s decorations which has plastic gourds. They are constantly taking them out and playing with them elsewhere around the house. I don’t know why these gourds are so fun, but they must be.

      1. dawbs*

        I had that problem with a breast pump.
        Fail to latch the door and you’re trying to shoo away a cat while you’re firmly attached to an outlet. The noise and wiggle they gave didn’t help.

        Same cat bsteals and licks until disturbingly wet any make up brushes he finds

    6. Rebecca*

      One of my cats is partial to envelopes with those clear windows that are sort of crackly when you crumple them up? He will play with one of those endlessly until he’s completely shredded it. And he loves my elastic hair ties. He carries them around, chews on them, bats them (so far I don’t think he’s eaten any). I do try to keep them rounded up in a drawer in the bathroom, one that he can’t open, that is, because if he can get it open, I’ll come home from work to hair elastics everywhere.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        We have to keep those window envelopes away from one of our cats. He’s so dumb that he will try to eat the plastic. He does the same thing with curling ribbon, so we can’t leave any gift-wrapping supplies lying around.

        1. Rebecca*

          That made me laugh. My cats aren’t the brightest bulbs in the pack, either, and it’s adorable to see them do things that are just plain weird and then look at me, as if to say, I meant that.

    7. A.N. O'Nyme*

      One of ours will very helpfully sit in front of my computer screen and bat at everything that moves in order to help me win my video game XD.
      He even sits still to watch the cutscenes.

      1. mreasy*

        I was working at home recently and my none-too-bright fella kept going face-first at the mouse arrow.

    8. MsChanandlerBong*

      One of my cats is constantly stealing my hair ties and blush brushes out of the bathroom. He also likes the sponges I use to apply/blend my foundation. I’ll go to put my hair in a ponytail and have to hunt under the couch to find a hair tie I can use.

    9. ElspethGC*

      – Hairties/bobbles – when she was a kitten, she’d just trot around the house with one dangling from her mouth.
      – The cardboard strips you tear off Amazon envelopes to open them – we still have one lying around from a delivery that was months ago, and she still loves it.
      – The computer – when she was tiny, she sat meerkat-style in front of the screen to play with the mouse as it moves.

    10. annakarina1*

      Mine plays with a costume wig that my roommate had. He loves kneading it and humping it, and always goes to it whenever I put out my mat to work out, like he’s got his own workout going on. He also like pens, balled up paper, his collar (he doesn’t like to wear it, just to bat it around), as well as his usual cat toys like toy mice.

    11. Melody Pond*

      Our younger cat goes nutso for hair ties and thick rubber bands. Like she will somehow manage to treat them like they are active prey, moving around, both trying to run away from her and also trying to chase her. It’s hilarious.

      1. tangerineRose*

        It’s a good idea to be careful with hair ties and rubber bands. Sometimes cats eat them, and dealing with that can require surgery.

        1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

          Yes! I am late but was coming here to say this. At my clinic we had to do an exploratory surgery on an anorexic kitty and found a huge mass of hair ties in her stomach. She did fine post-op but was an expensive lesson for the owner to keep the hair ties securely out of reach.

    12. Operational Chaos*

      Lighters, of all things. I keep a couple around the house for candles and such and without fail, if I don’t put it back in a draw, it won’t be long before it’s being batted around every room and I’ll have to hunt it down the next time I want to light a candle or burn some incense. It’s the only thing she does that with that isn’t an actual cat toy.

    13. Old Biddy*

      Both my Maine Coon mixes have been obsessed with those plastic rings from milk jugs.
      My current one became obsessed with one of those foam filled door draft shield. she would drag it around the house and periodically pull out the foam and shred it. When there was no more foam she still would drag the casing around the house. She also dragged my husband’s tent flap from the deck out into the woods. We though the wind had gotten it but there it was wedged under a shrub in such a way that something had to have pulled it under there.

      1. nonegiven*

        We took out an old gas heater and found about 90 of the milk jug rings so we stopped giving them to the cats.

    14. Tris Prior*

      Haha, literally everything in my house is a kitty toy to my brother and sister 5-month-old pair. Some favorites:

      Paper grocery bags – I snip the handles so they can’t strangle themselves. They love to destroy them.
      Any sort of crumpled up paper, really. The little girl will methodically destroy it – she rips off a piece with her teeth, spits it out, rips off another piece, spits, repeat until it’s dead and there are shreds of paper all over the room.
      Hoodie strings, or the drawstrings on pajama pants, are the Best Things Ever.
      The little strips for the adhesive on bubble mailers.
      Both of them greatly enjoyed the “I Voted, Did You?” wristbands that we get instead of stickers here in Chicago. (They did away with the stickers here years ago because apparently we are all a bunch of degenerates who cannot stop ourselves from sticking the stickers on polling place walls, and the polling places got tired of having to clean them off.)

      Who needs expensive kitty toys when all of these things result in hours of joy (and keep them occupied while I’m trying to get things done that do not require their “help”? )

    15. Square Root Of Minus One*

      Let’s see.
      Currently, a string ball. Cooking string I neglected to put back in the drawer, I have about a 10-foot long casualty.
      Earlier this week, a shoelace with a mascara plastic wrapper at the end. (Shoelaces are generally quite popular, especially on a shoe on somebody’s foot)
      Before that, a pair of ribbons I destined to reusable cloth bags.
      Regurlarly, I revive CD/DVD plastic wrapper rolled into a ball and held with tape. She also likes my hair bands.
      I have only one and not a kitten. I don’t buy cat toys, I don’t see the point :D
      (Other funny quirk: she only drinks water from a glass. The water in a bowl next to the food is either disdained or poured on the floor. I’d rather have her hydrated, so, well, she’s got a glass.)

    16. Trouble*

      Mine steals tweezers and carries them around if he can find them. He steals the other half’s stuffy nose sniffy thing and carries it around, hiding it when he’s tired. They all love boxes. Sometimes they’ll play with reusable bags as well.

      Horlicks, the stealer above, also chews on stuff he shouldn’t. Cardboard. Books. His cat tree. Packaging. Almost anything. But he sleeps on my bed, sometimes on me and begs for my dinner like no cat I’ve ever known, and he’s my favourite even though I know I shouldn’t admit to having one and I love him so much I let him get away with murder.

    17. Zona the Great*

      My used ear buds! She taught us to play fetch with her using them. She prefers them fresh out of my ear and has been known to wake me by trying to get them out of my head herself. Gross, hilarious, and odd.

    18. Arya Parya*

      Not really a toy, but my cat likes to lick clothing and sheets. Especially ones that have been in a whites only wash. So if you wear a white shirt of leave it somewhere he can get to, he will lick it.
      He has a ritual where he licks the sheets on the bed. He goes all around the bed, licking and purring. But he will only do that when my SO or I are with him. So one of us has to go to the bedroom and sit on the bed, and then he can do his thing.

      1. Anon, a moose!*

        Do you bleach the wash? Mine is a fiend for bleach, any time we use the hard cleaner in the bathroom we have to lock him out until it dissipates, the little junkie.

        1. Arya Parya*

          I checked, but no bleach. I think he likes the detergent and the fabric. He also likes to lick plastic bags, so we have to keep those under lock and key.

    19. nonegiven*

      A long time ago, we had a cat that stole a home made gold and white potholder off the counter. I found it on the floor one day and threw it in with a load of laundry and put it back on the counter. Found it on the floor again, not in the kitchen, thought why would a cat do this? After it happened several times, I gave up and let her keep it. She would carry it around and sing.

      I have a cat now that likes the longer twist ties that DH’s uniform shirt hangers come tied together with. I have another one that carries toys and sings but she does it with actual cat toys, the stuffed ones.

      1. Windchime*

        Ha, this is so cute! I used to come home and find skeins of yarn in the hallway. I couldn’t figure it out; I knew it must be one of the cats but I could never catch them. Then one day my calico came walking down the hall, carrying a skein of yarn as if it was a kitten. Mystery solved! She was getting into my yarn basket in the closet and taking “kittens” out of it.

    20. Ktelzbeth*

      Mine likes anything with a hollow ring shape. Designated kitty toys, milk jug rings, hair ties, elastic Alice bands, those rubber slogan bracelets, shower curtain rings, you name it. Also crinkly plastic. There are only a few of those things (designated kitty toys and shower curtain rings) that she can have unsupervised, because she also likes to eat things.

    21. Windchime*

      Emery boards, tissue paper, and pens. He loves them all separately, but if I combine them all into a hiding game, he loses his mind with happiness. I show him the items and then fold them up in the paper, and he has a ball trying to find the items in the tissue paper.

      He also loves string and yarn, but I never encourage him to play with yarn because I don’t want him getting into my knitting.

    22. Slartibartfast*

      I had a cat that reacted to strawberries like they were catnip. Head in the grocery bag before I could even set it down. Tin foil balls and the plastic ring off of milk jugs are some things all my cats have played with.

    23. Seal*

      One of mine just found a rubber wrist band and has been chasing it and carrying it around for a good half hour or so. He’s the reason I had to get a metal band for my Fitbit; he’d grab it when I was in the shower and run off with, leaving tooth marks all over the original rubber band. Interestingly, the Fitbit didn’t count steps when he was carrying it all over the house.

    24. Elvis Needs Boats*

      My new kitten discovered a ball of fluff–a pom-pom for crafts, that was missed when we cleaned up after my 2.5 year old niece emptied an entire gallon-size ziploc bag of them (“I put them in the air!”)–that has become his absolute favorite toy in the last couple of days. It’s about the same size as small soft ball toys I’d had for my cats in the past, so it’s perfect for him. He throws, pounces, chases, and carries it around in his mouth. SO CUTE.

      1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        No, they end up at sewage treatment plants where they’re fished out along with wipes and other things that don’t dissolve and are put in a landfill. If you’re somewhere with indoor plumbing odds are the raw sewage is not being dumped, untreated, into a body of water.

  16. Overeducated*

    I’m probably going to have to move in the next year, so I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at listings, mapping potential commutes, etc., but I can’t easily find good info on the mechanics of buying. (Currently a month to month renter.) I’m Googling terms that are getting me tips like “make a budget” and “get preapproved,” I’m definitely beyond that and into the shopping phase but not sure where to find more detailed next steps. So help me, AAM!

    Here are my particular constraints: I live in a very HCOL area and have a very average household income, my spouse and I now have jobs in different cities, and we have a kid. There are very, very few places we can afford to move in between without adding to my commute, which is already 40 min to 1.5 hours depending on a few factors. There are very, very few listings in our price range in areas where my commute would stay about the same and we wouldn’t have to get a second car and drive everywhere, so we’re willing to trade off a lot in terms of space for location. (Please trust me that we’re doing our best on the job front, it has taken us a long time to get here, we’re not going to double our pay or find two jobs in some amazing cheap small city any time soon, we’re ready to settle down.)

    So what I don’t know is, is it worth trying to find a real estate agent if you’re not going to be going on a bunch of different showings because there are so few listings that fit your needs, you just need to be ready to jump? I can imagine “hey I’m looking for one of the super cheap places that comes up every 2 months, please don’t bother showing me non-transit-accessible stuff the next town over” does not make for a desirable client. But if not, how do you learn about what goes into making an offer and how to not get screwed?

    Also, the hardest piece of the puzzle will be finding a new day care with an opening at the right time. So how long does the whole process, from offer to possession, tend to take?


    1. Lcsa99*

      I would absolutely get an agent to help you. They have access to listings you won’t find by yourself (or can get to them faster than you) but you might have to try out a few to find one you like. Talk to them first to see if they really seem to get what you need or if they want to show you everything. When we were looking we talked with two – one is now known as the shark, while the agent we went with was sharp as a tack and a sweetheart. Don’t let the sharks you”ll come across scare you! Because they have to share the commission, some listing agents won’t want to play with you if you have your own agent, but it’s really in your best interest to have someone in your corner who knows what they are doing.

        1. Lcsa99*

          We only talked to two because we liked the second one so much but we would have talked to more if necessary. One we found online reviews, the other was a personal recommendation from a friend. I also read a lot of the threads on the chats on Street Easy and there were agents there in our area who gave me a good idea of their personality (but that only helps if you’re in the New York area). Definitely talk to people you know who have gone through the process cause they can give you an idea of their agent’s style.

    2. Overeducated*

      Also want to specify that due to the cost of living here, the affordability issue for us is not the down payment, it’s the monthly mortgage, taxes, etc. and possibly HOA fees (a lot of the lower end options are condos or townhomes with HOAs). A place with an affordable monthly payment is a place where we can afford a standard down payment. So I’m not sure if the first time home buyer programs where you can do 3-5% down are a good fit.

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

      Business librarian here: I was a first-time home buyer last year and I found the books by Ilyce Glink–particularly 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask–to be extremely helpful.

      I agree with Lcsa99 above. Definitely get an agent/broker. You probably can search properties on your own, but the further you get in the buying process, the more helpful they are, especially if you’ve never done it before! We absolutely can’t imagine going through this process without an agent.

      As for how long it takes? For us, from offer to moving in took six months, because we had an extremely recalcitrant seller. We were assured it’s normally much faster, but it can take that long. It also took us four months to find the right property, so we were very picky, too.

    4. Boo Hoo*

      Yes for sure you need an agent. Also you won’t be seeing most of these properties without them. They also can help you find listings before they hit which sounds like is exactly what you need in this situation.

    5. Asenath*

      On my first house purchase I didn’t do any of the things I’m going to suggest here – and it was the best financial decision I ever made, since I lived there for quite a while, very cheaply, and eventually sold it for enough to make a major down payment on a condo apartment all on one level with fewer maintenance issues which I hope to live in until they carry me out feet-first. I rented and then bought number 1 from my landlady, a woman I knew and respected. We agreed on a price, I had enough from a severance payment to make a down payment, and negotiated a mortgage with my bank. I was heading into a pretty low-income period of my life, but it was cheap to buy and as time went on, the difference between what I was paying on my mortgage and the higher rent for an equivalent (or possibly better) place grew.

      Second time –
      1. work out a good budget, taking into account everything, like all the taxes and fees that come both with a property purchase and subsequent ownership.

      2. get a good agent. I don’t know how to pick a good one – I lucked out a bit, I think. I found mine very helpful, with her only fault a tendency to suggest places outside the area of the city I had chosen. You do need to be very specific with your instructions to an agent to avoid getting useless suggestions – and public transportation was very high on my list. And she helped me sell the old place (which wasn’t terribly desirable, and I needed to sell it in winter, which isn’t good, fairly quickly.

      3. The length of time between the offer and possession can vary a lot depending on the seller, and how “motivated” they are (if they’re moving, if they’re having trouble financing their new place, etc etc). I started, oh, late summer, perhaps, thinking that because my requirement list was so specific I’d have a really hard time finding anything suitable, so maybe it would be the following spring or summer before I found anything. I didn’t want anything too expensive, it had to allow pets, it had to be in a particular part of town close to all kinds of things, including my work, and with good public transportation (which meant it was a bit of a more pricey area), and so on. When I found a place that fit most of my criteria, it was the last apartment a businessman who had been developing several had, and he wanted to get it off his hands – so things moved very fast, and I was in by Christmas. In general, it is NOT a good idea to have your closing just before the Christmas holidays if you live in an area noted for nasty winter weather, but it worked out OK in the end. I still haven’t quite forgiven the lawyer’s office involved for leaving it til the last minute to exchange the documents, and then call me to say that their courier couldn’t get across the city due to the weather, but my invaluable agent found someone to do the job.

    6. Reba*

      Yes, if you will need to move fast when a property comes up, you DEFINITELY need an agent already! The agent is just there to show you properties but will eventually shepherd you through the process. Agents get news and tips among themselves that you won’t see on online listings alone — in my experience, not necessarily like Ooh Secret Listings but hearing about when something’s likely to go on the market, and knowing about the reputations of certain buildings or what have you.

      Interview some, and find someone who gets what you’re after. Sure, some agents won’t make an effort for someone in your situation, but others are happy to work with someone for years to find the right place. I think knowing what you need actually DOES make you a nice client, so don’t feel bad about that!

      Ask your potential agents too about what market picture they are seeing for your kinds of properties. This is info gathering for you, even beyond the agent selecting. Are sellers getting offers over asking? Or are sellers offering sweeteners to buyers? How long are things staying on the market? In my area it seems to be cooling a bit and I hope that’s true for you, too.

      The agent will also be able to put you in touch with the other professionals you will need — lender, inspector, lawyers if you need that.

      In addition to the Glink book mentioned above, I found a NOLA book on homebuying to be really helpful.

      From offer to move in it can take as little as six weeks (in MA I was told that was fast) and as long as… rather a lot longer.

      I assume you’ve done the “rent vs. buy” calculator things — noting that many of those online calculators were made in the days of the mortgage tax break that is no more? And school districts are probably a consideration? There’s a lot to balance here, good luck!

    7. Yorkshire Rose*

      The house we live in now, we would not have found without an agent, as it wasn’t even on the MLS yet. Yes there are some bad agents but that’s the same in any industry. We sold our condo in 2 days and found our house shortly thereafter. Couldn’t have navigated the whole process without an agent. Don’t be afraid of listing out your requirements and if your agent doesn’t listen, find a new one!

      Our process took 2 months. We do not have kids however.

    8. Jane of All Trades*

      Never bought a house myself, but in my city (very high COL) there are organizations that offer first time home buyer info sessions. My friends who have / are in the process of purchasing have found them to be quite helpful. Maybe look into those?

    9. Smarty Boots*

      For sure use an agent. Ours was excellent. At the time we bought our house, it was really a sellers market and properties moved fast. For our house: the day it opened we were the third prospective buyers to walk through, at 10 am. We made an offer that day at 4 pm, and it was accepted at 7 pm. No kidding!
      Here’s what the agent did for us: talked with us about what we wanted and didn’t want, helped us figure out how much we wanted to spend, recommended several places for the mortgage (we got pre approved), showed us houses, listened while we talked about the houses we were viewing, showed us more houses, then, because she was so good at understanding what we wanted, at my request gave me lists of places that fit and I went around and previewed them. For the house we bought, she called us before it was officially listed to let us know about it. — said it was perfect for us and she was right! Then she helped us line up the inspector, lawyer, title search, hlped us find a structural engineer to inspect a possible problem, found a good home warranty company, helped set up the closing, and gave us a beautiful housewarming gift.

    10. Lynn Whitehat*

      My husband is a realtor. (Up yours, NAR. If “doctor”, “lawyer”, and “engineer” aren’t capitalized, “realtor” shouldn’t be either.) The difficult and time-consuming part about working with buyers is needing to accompany them to homes they may be interested. Typically at rush hour, since that’s when people have time to look, and often not in areas of town that are at all convenient for the realtor, because why would they be particularly?

      Being a client isn’t time-consuming at all for your realtor, in and of itself. They sign up for notifications on the Multiple Listing Service of homes that fit your criteria, as much as your criteria can be searched on. (“Feels cozy like my grandma’s house used to” is not searchable. But things like zip code, square footage, presence or absence of a swimming pool, absolutely can be.) You can be copied on these notifications. Since you’re looking for something unusual in your area, there won’t be hits every day or even every week. So when you get a hit, and it looks like something you would actually consider, then the realtor shows you the place.

      Being specific about what you want, and being serious of purpose, makes you a highly desirable client. You’d be shocked how many people just want to play “Let’s Pretend”, or cannot at all articulate what it is they are looking for. DH currently has some who can’t decide if they want 100 acres way out in the country, or a high-rise downtown, or something in between. And they’re family friends, so he is reluctant to cut them loose.

    11. Doc in a Box*

      I bought without an agent last year, for a long-distance move. It was stressful, but I’m here to tell you it’s do-able. I knew exactly what I wanted (smaller, Craftsman cottage or townhouse, in a walkable neighborhood, near a park/greenspace, within a 10 min drive or 20 min bike ride of my new work place) and what I was willing to compromise on (garage, master suite, schools as I’m child-free by choice) and spent a long time looking through listings on Zillow and Redfin. I did meet with a couple agents but was disappointed in what they were showing me — industrial loft conversions or McMansions bordering on a golfcourse (well I guess that was greenspace? but the house was tacky as hell), so I ended up going it alone.

      I was lucky in that I had a family member who was peripherally involved in real estate so could help guide me through the process and what to expect — in my opinion that’s the real value of an agent. There were also several listing agents who refused to work with me because I did not have an agent. (I found this bizarre, but shrugged and moved on.) This is a hot real estate market — I lost my first offer to someone who bid 50k above asking — but I found an adorable new construction infill house that checked off all my boxes. I’m 5 min drive from work, and within a mile (i.e. easy walking distance) or several restaurants, brewpubs, coffee shops, independent booksellers. A 10 min bike ride brings me to the core of downtown, where there are higher-end restaurants, bakeries, and a restored 1930s movie palace that shows retro classics as well as arthouse releases. If I’d stuck with the realtors, I don’t think I ever would have found my house, which I truly hope is a forever home.

      Good luck to you as you start the process, Overeducated!

    12. Ktelzbeth*

      A good agent stuck with me through a long and particular search. If I remember right, I started in September and found the place in May. I was housed in a month to month rental and ready to buy, but only if and only if certain criteria were met that were hard to combine. I felt like giving up and settling more than once. My agent was worth having. She knew what I wanted, but mostly hung in the background and waited for me to find listings and suggest showings. There was no pressure to look at things or random charging around town once she got to understand what I wanted. At times, I felt like she was too passive on the finding me listings front, but my point right now is that I had an agent who I think would have done what you wanted as well, so they are out there.

    1. Anona*

      I love Bigelow’s lemon ginger tea. I actually drink it all year round, and can typically only find it at food lion around here, but it’s smooth with just the tiniest bit of ginger spice. Perfection!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      From Tea Pigs:
      • Chai–I like chai tea, and this one is a nicely balanced blend of black tea and spice
      • Lemon-ginger: An herbal tea, one of those things that feels healthy to drink, or just inhale the steam, and tastes good. Ginger gives it a kick.
      • Licorice-peppermint: I don’t like licorice in tea, but my husband and daughter love this one because it’s unusual and invigorating

      From Republic of Tea:
      • Cardamom/cinnamon: I love cardamom, and this is a pleasant warm wintry herbal tea
      • Comfort and Joy, a black tea with spices only available at the holiday. (Looking at the website they list licorice, which might be new and so reformulated? Or maybe I didn’t notice it in the past.)

      Where I live (wealthier suburb in New England), these are available at grocery stores and the specialty food shop; I’m sure you can also order them online.

    3. Llellayena*

      Stash chocolate hazelnut (decaf)
      Numi toasted rice
      Republic of tea vanilla almond
      Stash peach black (a taste of summer to me)
      Zhena’s Gypsy tea coconut chai

      If you can’t tell, I drink a lot of tea!

      1. Canadian Natasha*

        Ooh, I can’t get the Stash Peach Black tea around here anymore but I used to love that one!

    4. Kathenus*

      Tazo Sweet Cinnamon Spice tea – misnamed because the anise flavor is much stronger than the cinnamon, which is fine with me as I love anise. Also almost any lemon teas and chai spice (especially vanilla chai). I prefer stronger teas so tend to get black teas versus the green or other milder ones.

    5. Not a cat*

      Mariage Freres Imperial Wedding and Paris Breakfast
      Barry’s Tea Gold (my fav)
      Seven Smith Teamaker #47 Bungalow
      Ralph’s Brand Earl Gray

    6. Bluebell*

      Celestial Seasonings usually does a few special winter teas including a gingerbread spice one I love. I also like Yogi Tea honey lavender before bed.

    7. MostCake*

      Grew up drinking Lipton’s with a bit of sugar. When I started buying my own groceries, teas were still a bit limited (Lipton’s, Twinings, and Constant Comment were about the extent of it), but chose Earl Grey and Darjeeling on a whim. I didn’t like the Earl Grey at all but loved the Darjeeling with a bit of sugar and sometimes some milk. I don’t drink much tea anymore but a cup of Darjeeling brings me such great memories and a feeling of security.

    8. Weyrwoman*

      I’m very partial to Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice. It’s got both ground cinnamon types in it, plus something that tastes like cinnamon candy. And there’s hints of clove and orange too. It’s fab.

      1. stellaaaaa*

        Yes! I have about 6 bags of this in a cabinet right now. I am totally addicted to this tea – it needs no sugar, and is the perfect way to wake up on a chilly winter morning. Buy the sachets version.

        For non caffeinated tea, I particularly like the Trader Joe’s harvest tea, which is also a sweet-tasting tea, that’s kind of fruity/apple harvesty. I’m actually sad they don’t sell this year round, and I can’t stock up on it because I think it goes kind of funny after a few months.

    9. Tris Prior*

      I like Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green Tea, which they usually have around the holidays.
      I don’t remember the brand, but there’s one called Sunny Orange Ginger that just tastes so bright and happy – great for a cold gray day. That one I found at just a normal grocery store.

    10. Earthwalker*

      Chais are all really different, so if you try one and don’t like it, try another. My favorite is Stash Double Spice, heavy on cloves. Good Earth’s original is very cinnamony and good too. And I second the Stash peach tea.

    11. NB*

      Fancy: Harney & Sons Rose-Scented Tea, loose (I’ve run out and I’m sad)
      Ordinary: Bigelow Vanilla Caramel or Vanilla Chai

      Both have caffeine.

    12. Canadian Natasha*

      I’ll stick to the more easily available brands and not specialty teas:

      David’s Tea brand Buddha’s Blend white tea (has jasmine and white hibiscus blossoms)
      David’s Tea brand Ginger Pear white tea
      Gyokuro green tea (tastes like freshly cut grass smells if you like that.)
      India brand Masala chai
      Tetley brand Honey Lemon Ginseng green tea
      Tetley brand Earl Grey black tea

      Celestial Seasonings brand Bengal Spice (basically an herbal version of chai)
      Celestial Seasonings brand Cranberry Apple Zinger
      Celestial Seasonings brand Black Cherry Berry
      David’s Tea brand Mother’s Little Helper (herbal blend including mint and lemongrass)
      Stash brand Licorice Spice tea
      Tetley brand Cleanse (Lemon Balm and Honey with Elderflower)

    13. Handy Nickname*

      I really want to be a tea drinker too, which mostly means I make cups of tea and don’t drink them, but I really like the Stash Chamomile Nights tea. It’s chamomile with spearmint & lotus (?). I don’t care for plain chamomile chamomile tea and most other blends have citrus, which I’m not a big fan of but the mint offsets the chamomile just enough in this one and I love it. Only downside is that I can only find it online in boxes of 100 bags, but maybe you have a tea drinking friend(s) who would want to split it?

      1. Handy Nickname*

        Ooh and seconding Good Earth sweet & spicy (also caffeine free). Lots of flavor and still tastes halfway decent at room temperature.

    14. HannahS*

      I like strong black teas. In Canada, my favourite daily (i.e. cheap!) tea is orange pekoe from President’s Choice. More expensive ones are Tazo and Yorkshire Gold. Great thing to wake up to, especially with milk and sugar.

      If you manage to find it online, Yamamoto Yama is hands down the best green tea I’ve ever had. Leaps and bounds above others; it’s what’s served in a lot of fancier Japanese restaurants.

      Any loose-leaf Cream Earl Grey is good; I usually would go for David’s Tea. I was very disappointed to hear that the “special something” is really just a bit of vanilla, but it tastes so luxurious!

    15. Chaordic One*

      I recommend Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea (caffeinated). And yes, it’s great for breakfast. As I get older coffee doesn’t seem to agree with me so much.

      Also Tazo Wild Sweet Orange (decaffeinated). Great in the afternoon and in evenings.

  17. Navigating Family Matters*

    Probably overthinking this but I still wanted to ask. My mom and I are very close. She raised me as a single-mom, so we were set from the start to have a close relationship, but we also have most of the same likes and hobbies, so it’s easy for us to hang out. Basically, we spend a lot of time together, even with me moved out several years ago.

    My mom’s sister, my aunt, has told my mom that she is envious of our relationship. Aunt has a daughter seven years younger than me, still in college and living at home. They were very close up until my cousin’s high school years. College saw my cousin going to a school far away, mostly following her boyfriend there (which we the family aren’t thrilled about but that’s a different post). Even the times when she should be back home from school, she skips, like this summer when she opted to stay at school for a summer internship. My aunt feels very cut off from my cousin, and told my mom that our relationship makes her even sadder because she wants what we have. (She’s also struggling with depression, a younger son with behavioral problems, and a marriage on the rocks, so this is likely the least of her worries, but it is bothering her enough that she mentioned it to my mom)

    With the holidays where we’ll be spending Thanksgiving and Christmas together, is there anything I should do to be less ‘in your face’ with my aunt while she is struggling? Maybe not talk about the plans my mom and I have for the upcoming year or something like that? This is my favorite aunt, my favorite person in my extended family actually, so I obviously don’t want to hurt her if I can avoid it, but I also think it’s unavoidable since even if I’m less buddy-buddy with my mom in front of her, she’ll see our stuff together through the year on social media. So probably nothing I can do but try to make her smile and laugh through the holiday season but I thought I’d ask for some perspective. Thanks!

    1. LenaClare*

      Oh my gosh, no, just be yourself and that’s your aunty’s stuff to deal with. Just give her lots of love too. But don’t change the relationship with your mum because of her.

      1. Quandong*

        I agree with LenaClare. It’s really not your responsibility to manage your aunt’s feelings!

        Honestly, I don’t know what your mother was hoping to achieve when she told you about your aunt’s feelings. This is very much not a problem for you to solve. You don’t need to take on extra emotional labour for your aunt.

        Ideally your aunt would get some support (such as counselling) to help with her situation. Many, many people feel grief over relationships that aren’t what they would wish for. It’s very unfortunate she took the approach of dumping her Feelings on to your mother who then passed them over to you too.

    2. PetticoatsandPincushions*

      Instead of minimizing your relationship with your mom, can you up the ante on your relationship with your aunt? Not in a fake way, but maybe trying to spend some quality time with just her during the holiday season, or even finding some way to express sincere gratitude for her presence in your life? Pretending you and your mom aren’t close will feel like an act, and you can’t fix your aunt’s relationship with your cousin, but you can strengthen the relationship you have with her. It might be extra meaningful to her right now to be reminded that she does has strong, healthy, loving family relationships in her life.

      1. Kathenus*

        Thirding this, focusing on spending time with aunt would be a great strategy versus trying to minimize or hide your closeness with mom.

      2. Navigating Family Matters*

        I feel a bit dumb for not getting to this conclusion on my own but I think you’re right! I need to do more stuff with my ain’t. It’s a bit of a struggle because we live several hours apart and she is tied to her family without much free time (for taking care of her son) but I do need to show her how important she is to me. Thank you for this revelation, this makes perfect sense! :)

        1. PetticoatsandPincushions*

          As a (probably fellow?) Fixer, I think it’s sometimes really easy to get bogged down in all the interactions and processes you observe in your daily life that you want to fix and can’t, rather than trying to see how you can improve those things using your own toolkit. Not exactly ‘be the change you wish to see in the world,’ more like ‘If I can’t solve that exact issue, what am I personally able to do that improves the circumstances surrounding the issue.’ I’ve found that a helpful perspective in a lot of areas of my life!!

        2. PetticoatsandPincushions*

          Also, Skype and texting and all that are nice easy ways to connect over distance. My husband and I were long distance for a few years, and even just sending him funny pictures I found on the internet a few times a day made us feel like we were sharing a lot together although we were physically several thousand miles and a few hours apart. And the back and forth of texting meant we didn’t have to be available at the same time in order to share a connection with each other.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Grief over the change in relationship when a child grows up and moves on/out is for real. Glomarization, Jr., decided to go to university on the other side of the damn continent and hoo, boy, was I more than a little whiny about empty-nesting for a while. Add it to the other stuff going on in your aunt’s life and it sounds like a really difficult time for her, certainly more than I had to deal with. It’s her difficult time, though, so remember that you’re not having your own relationship with your own mom “at” her.

      Your compassion for your aunt is very sweet. I like the suggestion from PetticoatsandPincushions to try to hang with her more if you can.

    4. WellRed*

      I like the advice to up the ante with your aunt. Your cousin’s behavior is so normal, and set against the chaos in her mother’s life ( depression, rocky marriage, son with issues) it’s healthy. Your aunt would see that if she could.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I really like how you framed this, WR. A good thought for the OP, too, your aunt would see it if she could.

        Some people who really impressed me the most in life were the ones whose actions said, “I dunno how to help with your concerns but I am not afraid to stand beside you while you sort it out.” More than a few times in life I have done this or had it done to me, “Yes. Terrible Thing is going on. But I am not frightened of it and I will talk with you and go through life with you anyway. And it’s okay that neither one of us sees any answers right now.”

        Encourage your mom, too, that it’s okay not to have the answers for your aunt’s concerns. There’s a person under that pile of worry and that person is all you need to focus on.

    5. Kathenus*

      Not sure the best way to do this, but if your aunt (and maybe you) can not think of college breaks as times when cousin ‘should be back home’. A summer internship is a good thing, and could be very important for future careers. Thinking of breaks spent doing things other than coming home as wrong are going to stress out aunt more and potentially add a divide in the relationship if cousin is made to feel she’s doing something wrong. Maybe aunt and cousin could pick one or two breaks a year and plan a short but special trip or experience. Something they both want to do at a time that works for cousin’s college/work/internship plans, that they can both look forward to. Always easier to try to find a concrete plan or solution – such as a joint adventure – versus trying to alter or change a more amorphous thing like ‘closer relationship’. Kind of you to care so much about your aunt.

      1. Navigating Family Matters*

        I was actually in favor of the internship, it’s something I didn’t do in college and I regret not having that experience before getting into my career. And my aunt does understand it’s a good thing, I think she was more looking forward to seeing her daughter over the summer and was really disappointed when the plans changed.

    6. Operational Chaos*

      It sounds like your cousin escaped a pretty chaotic home life and is doing really well with college and internships. Those are things that will build her future, coming home to a family that seems to be judging her motivations and lack of comparative engagement really don’t.

      I did something similar. My brother had severe behavioral and physical health problems growing up and my mother was entirely devoted to his support. It’s something I’m practical minded about, but a side effect was that I was left to fend for myself and my mother and I aren’t close. I moved out the day after my high school graduation and it was a great thing for me.

      My mom sometimes laments how far I’ve moved or how “unsentimental” I am about coming home, but that’s because she’s thinking of things from the perspective of how close she is to my brother due to effectively being his nurse our whole childhood.

      It all eventually came to a head several years back and I had to let her know if she kept pushing and attempting to guilt me into some sort of caricature of the relationship she’s imagining, I’m fine being more distant. Even more so when she complains to family members and they elect themselves to be torchbearers and attempt to guilt me into falling into line as well. It just forces me further away and makes me remember why I bounced in the first place.

      Blood is thicker than water is a misquote. It’s the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. No one owes anyone a relationship and your aunt should be celebrating how successful and independent her daughter has grown up to be. Not trying to chase a Gilmore Girls fantasy relationship.

      I’m sure there’s times your extremely close relationship with your mom has presented its own problems, that’s the nature of any relationship, but it’s likely your aunt isn’t thinking of that, she’s simply thinking of what she doesn’t have and not what it would take to maintain the relationship she thinks she craves. I’m sure a lot of the commentary here will be supportive of the aunt, but it might be worth reaching out to your cousin and trying to suss out if a close familial relationship is even something she wants.

      1. Girl friday*

        My kids are very independent and very loving. I think she just enjoys hearing how things are going. There’s so many different ways that things could be worse, people generally overestimate how affected other people are by the choices they make. In other words she’s probably or hopefully listening with one ear, and thinking about herself with the other.

    7. Koala dreams*

      I like the idea of spending more time with your aunt, whether in person or by skype/phone/postcards, but I also think you can push back a little when she laments her lack of closeness to her daughter. You can kindly ask her what she herself is doing to be more close. It sounds like your aunt is very busy and the not-close relationship with you cousin is as much a consequence of her actions as those of the cousin. Of course, this supposes you have this kind of equal relationship where you can be honest with your aunt. If not, maybe it’s better to make soothing noises and change the topic of conversation.

    8. matcha123*

      I grew up in a single-parent family and I also have an aunt who seems to struggle with some of the same things yours does. Honestly, I don’t think there’s much you can do aside from treating her kindly.
      From my view, they maybe feel jealous? because on the outside they have the ideal family unit: married with kids, and they struggle with the independence of the kids compared to the single-parent sibling.
      But, being a single-parent means a lot of struggle and loneliness. You can’t bounce ideas off of a spouse and many single-parents relay a lot on their kids. Your aunt probably would not go back in time and trade the stability of marriage for the stress of being a single parent just with the hopes of forming a closer bond to her child.

  18. I am still Furious!!*

    Not yet :( I heard from my attorney’s secretary, papers have been sent to the courthouse, and she said it would take a few days. So, it might be done but just not picked up in time for today’s newspaper, because last week they reported a divorce granted on Oct 31. Which means I’m still paying for health insurance premiums and fingers crossed my HR person can get at least some of it back for me. The bill for EXH’s legal fees came to $710.00, so I need to pay his attorney. I agreed to this when I left because he was unemployed and I didn’t want him to be able to come back later and contest everything because he had no legal representation. And yes, he’d do that.

    We had a snowstorm here, almost 10″ of snow and that’s with hours of rain and sleet mixed in Thursday night. I shoveled my Mom’s driveway, took me 3 hours, hair frozen to my head, my car got stuck and I had to park it down in town (and walk through 8″ of unplowed snow up hill to get home), since we live on a hill and the township didn’t plow before I got home from work, car got plowed in, had to call a friend for help at 9:30 at night to help me…OMG…my muscles still feel like I’ve been on the receiving end of a Vance McDonald stiff arm. And you know what? Mom never even said thank you. Not “glad the driveway is cleared so I can go to town tomorrow” or “thanks for taking care of that” or “I see your hair is frozen to your head, can I heat up water for tea?” Nothing. When I got home from work yesterday, I noticed someone pushed the snow back further with a plow. She said our neighbor came over and took a few minutes to plow the snow back, and she was upset with herself because she didn’t get a chance to thank him. I just looked at her. I said Mom, I worked really hard at that last night too, and she said “oh, I know”, and walked away. I’m didn’t expect her to shower me with gratitude, but a simple thanks for doing that would have been nice. One good thing that came out of this: the guy who helped me get my car free knows how to run the snowblower. Dad bought a monstrosity of a snowblower, I can’t find the manual, but…gonna get snowblower lessons so no more shoveling for me. At least not too much!

    So on to Thanksgiving next week, and I’m using up the rest of my vacation time from “W” so yesterday was the last Friday of “W” until January 4 for me. Plus, I’m on vacation starting Dec 21 and returning to “W” on Jan 2. Hope to visit my daughter out of state, and try to relax a bit, maybe hike if there isn’t too much snow, looking forward to it.

    Waiting impatiently…or trying to be a bit patient…as pacing around and being impatient isn’t helpful.

    1. chi chan*

      Moms who think courtesy is reserved for strangers and doesn’t apply to your own children. Grumble mumble

    2. Kathenus*

      Sorry this keeps dragging on. I’ve followed your story for a long time, and I have to say that you are doing a fantastic job of how you are handling the delays and things like your mom’s quirks with the snow. I really get the second one. Years back I flew to my mom’s at her request to help clear out parts of the house (she was somewhere between a packrat and a hoarder), spent a week of vacation to do so, and after she complained about what didn’t get done – so I feel your pain with this. I just tried to make myself remember that she was not in a good place emotionally and this was her unhappiness showing, that it wasn’t a reflection on me.

      And you gave me a smile with the Vance McDonald reference :) – Go Steelers!

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        Steeler Fan here! I wear my Terry Bradshaw NFL throwback jersey on game days, or tee shirts when it’s still in the 80’s and 90’s here. Loved that Vance McDonald stiff arm a few games back, like to watch TJ Watt and wow is James Conner doing great!

        I have to laugh – I just got back from our landfill. I had loaded up the truck a few weeks ago with junk from the basement (Mom is a packrat, and so was Dad, so the basement had a bunch of unused stuff piled up). I took one whole Sunday afternoon and sorted through things, loaded up the truck, and then it rained of course each Saturday, last Saturday was about 35 degrees with a stiff wind, and I didn’t want to go to the landfill and unload in the rain and wind. Now it snowed. Landfill is open when I’m at “W” and Saturday mornings. So I went to the landfill this morning, damp, cold, 36 degrees, unloaded all the stuff, got back to the house, and she asked “did you get the mail?” Yep. Here’s your junk mail Mom. Nothing about being cold, working outside, so I started making more coffee, and she grumbled about the weather. Oh. My. Gosh. Really. And like you, I know she is fundamentally unhappy and miserable, so it’s not a reflection on me, and I feel sorry for her.

    3. Competent Commenter*

      I wouldn’t shovel snow again for a parent who won’t say thank you but lets you know they thank others for doing less. I bet that behavior didn’t spring up out of nowhere. You deserve better.

      1. Forking great username*

        Well, is furious paying rent? If not then mom might just assume that helping out around the house is a given.

        1. I am still Furious!!*

          Well, if I don’t shovel or snowblow, I won’t be going anywhere either :) But it’s my job as the able bodied adult in the house (Mom is almost 83) to make sure the driveway is clear. I’m not paying rent, Mom let me move in after this whole divorce thing, dumping my house, and my contribution is helping to cook, clean, laundry, dishwashing, getting groceries, carrying things for her, just basically doing all the stuff she can’t do and making sure she’s OK. I take out the garbage, and do any other chores that need to be done, including driving her at night or when the weather is bad. What hurt my feelings is that she was so eager to thank the neighbor but never said anything to me. I was literally standing there, soaking wet, hair frozen to my head, and said, I’m done shoveling, I need to walk down into town to try to get my car up here, and it’s raining and sleeting. Gotta put on my ice cleats and get going, Mom. She grumbled about the weather.

          Had I been in Mom’s shoes, I would have at least offered a hot beverage, asked if I could make hot chocolate or fix something hot to eat for when that person got home, considering they had been up before 6 AM to go to work and it was already after 9 PM.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Ever if it’s Furious’ job to help mom in exchange for rent, it doesn’t make it less rude or infuriating not to at least acknowledge the effort. We thank waiters, taxi drivers, bartenders, and plenty of other people whose job it is to serve us, no?

    4. msroboto*

      There youtubes on how to use a snowblower as well. You should get the lessons and watch a couple of those too. Some will emphasis safety and you should be aware of safety when running a snowblower.

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        Found some YouTube videos, excellent suggestion, that’s my go to. I had to laugh – guys with hats and plaid shirt and work boots, so I figure they know what they’re doing :) :) Plus, neighbor man who helped me is going to give lessons. Today’s task is to check the oil, see what fuel mix it takes, make sure the tires are pumped up correctly, etc. It’s sort of a beast of a thing, thankfully it’s self propelled.

        1. I know it’s here somewhere....*

          If you search the exact make and model of your snowblower online, there is a good chance you will find a downloadable PDF of the owners manual, or a copy at a reasonable cost. (Have done this often for our power equipment, not sure where the manuals hide…)

          1. I am still Furious!!*

            I tried that, only found the one on the John Deere website, and they want $39.95 to download. Um, no. I can see a nominal fee but that’s ridiculous. So it’s YouTube and Neighbor Man.

    5. Dan*

      BTDT with paying for things we don’t want to, although my ex didn’t have representation… many people (not lawyers) told me that I shouldn’t have had to pay my ex a dime to go away. In my state, divorces can be done without a bunch of lawyers. I/we did the initial paperwork and then I paid a lawyer to actually handle the court processing. Best $250 I ever spent.

      But I paid my ex to go away because I didn’t want her to be able to contest the agreement. In my state, agreements can be contested on the grounds of fraud, duress, and/or they are just downright unfair. I figured if I made my ex sign an agreement saying she got nothing, she’d stand a good chance of finding a lawyer who would thing the agreement unfair and drag me into court. So I gave her enough money such that I didn’t think a reasonable person would buy that argument.

      The other thing I explained to people is that I basically paid a lot of money for overnight shipping. We could have let things drag out, we (I) could pay the lawyers instead, or I could just pay her to go away the next day. The later option had some appeal. So yes, there’s greater good in paying things we don’t want to or think we should have to.

      As for the snow, I can’t help you. I rent, and the snow just magically disappears. I don’t even call people. It’s wonderful

      1. fposte*

        As the saying goes, sometimes the cheapest way to pay for something is with money. It was true for you with divorce; it’s true for me with snow removal :-).

      2. I am still Furious!!*

        Agreed, Dan, his attorney proposed the settlement, I accepted it, and this is the best money I’ve ever spent. And even though it’s a lot of money for me, it’s a fraction of what it will cost me when he goes deep into gambling debt again, which will happen. Only this time, I won’t be there, my bank account won’t be drained, or credit cards maxed out, I won’t have the stress of debt collectors calling the house, etc. At least this debt will be manageable, and since I sold my house, even for the tiny amount I got for it, all of that money can go toward what I owe. I feel so free. And yes, I paid him to go away. And he can’t complain – his attorney, his proposal, his terms. Well, he can complain, but you know what I mean.

      3. Isotopes*

        This is what I’m currently trying to figure out – how much money is enough? It’s a very difficult process. But I’m the same way, I’d rather keep lawyers and agreements out of it as much as possible (for similar reasons to you), so it’s just a matter of the magic number. Ugh.

    6. Blue Eagle*

      Thank you very much for shoveling the snow for your Mom. I was very lucky to have a Mom who would thank me for every single little thing that I did for her. So I will thank you for doing that for your Mom in honor of my Mom.

      By the way, I wish you only extremely good financial things so that you are able to move out of your Mom’s house.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

    7. Woodswoman*

      That must be so frustrating to work that hard to help your mom and not get appreciated for it. It’s good to read that you addressed it directly with her and spoke up for yourself. That’s a great response to a crummy situation.

      Here’s hoping the paperwork for the divorce comes through soon, and that the HR person at your job can pull off the removal of your EXH to be retroactive and save you some money. The payment for EXH’s legal fees sounds like a sound decision to make sure the process doesn’t drag on further.

      As always, your journey is inspiring and impressive. I hope you have a terrific vacation!

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        Thank you! After 30+ years of footing the bill for health insurance I’m ready to have a paycheck to myself for once! It will get done. I understand our rural county has a busy schedule right now at the courthouse, we have a murder trial that just started, very unusual here, we don’t get many of those, plus a ton of probation stuff, preliminary hearings, etc. and I’m sure the judges are busy. I keep thinking back to the first meeting with my attorney, determining when the constable could serve papers, etc. and wow, how time has flown by and dragged at the same time.

        Once I get my vacation time in, and get back to W in January, I’m going to file my taxes as soon as humanly possible in case I owe money I changed my withholding some time ago but still, not sure if I did it correctly. That way I’ll have time to save up before April 15 rolls around.

  19. Can’t We All Get Along?*

    It’s so sad to see someone get hurt somewhere they thought would be a safe space. I volunteered at a sci-fi/alien convention over the weekend; though I didn’t see this for myself, the volunteer coordinator shared it with some of us.

    There were a lot of panels about life on other planets. Not fictional ones like Star Wars or Doctor Who, but discussions about the actual possibility of it being real. There was also a panel about alien abductions. During the Q&A portion of this panel, a gentleman went up to the microphone and started saying how he’d been addicted multiple times over his life. He started crying, explaining how this affected him and no one believed him, but he shared it here at this panel about alien abduction with like-minded people. Some of the audience laughed at him as he told his story and mocked him in their seats.

    I don’t care whether you think alien abductions are as likely as the Loch Ness Monster; this was a guy sharing something important to him at a place where he thought he would be accepted, and he ended up being ridiculed. The volunteer coordinator was pissed and so was I. I would have loved to tell those mockers to shut up, let him share this important thing without you making fun of him.

    Let’s all just try to remember that people can have different thoughts and beliefs, and as long they’re not hurting anyone around, let them enjoy their ideas without fear of ridicule.

    1. WellRed*

      Too bad the panel moderator fell down on the job. Maybe other people felt the way you do and dinged him on the evals, if there were any.

      1. MattKnifeNinja*

        The moderator really blew it.

        If everyone is sharing their personal stories, then that man got up and really overshared his experience, no one should be laughing. His experience is just a more extreme version of the others.

        If this was a general discussion, and the man morphed it into group therapy session, that’s not cool either. I’ve been to many many mental health meeting/support groups where one person gets up and way overshares their issues. The moderator gently says, “Personal stories are beyond the scope of this meeting. Feel free to share amongst yourselves afterwards.”

        If the session was advertised as personal experiences are welcomed to be discussed, the moderator should have jumped in and shut the kindergarten nonsense down.

        If this was a “general overview” discussion, the moderator should have gentlely moved that man along. Noone says the man couldn’t tell his story, that moment in time wasn’t it.

        Moderators need to step up the A game next year. Either explicitly state was is allowed for that panel, or the drop the hammer on the hecklers.

    2. StellaBella*

      Yikes that is terrible, the poor guy. I am thankful for your comment about letting others be free from fear of ridicule. And with the comment on how shocking it is that so many people chose to be cruel. I can’t imagine how much pain this poor man is in and how much more he now has because of the ridicule.

      A suggestion – the event likely had a website and likely has email lists or some way thru social media to reach out to the people who were on the panel and in that audience. Can those methods be leveraged for reaching out and saying this was wrong and not in the spirit of the organisation?

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Damn. That is really uncalled for. The poor guy could be having sleep disturbances and the suffering from that is very real. Making fun of him was mean and stupid. When someone is in pain, you show them kindness, not ridicule.

      Too bad I wasn’t there; I am NOT shy about telling idiots to shut the hell up.

      1. HannahS*

        Exactly. It doesn’t matter that you think he’s wrong about what happened to him! He’s expressing that he’s suffering; that part is indisputably true. Laughing at that is so unkind.

  20. Nervous Accountant*

    Any advice on parking w/o a rear view camera?

    I’m in Canada for the week visiting in-laws and since both our cars were totalled by a hit & run last week, we have a rental thru insurance. It’s a 2018 Nissan Versa which is very similar to my car (17 Sentra). Except there’s no rear view camera.

    I got my license pretty late (3 years ago at 30) and was driving a 2009 Versa for 2 years so I did actually learn to park without the camera—but just a few months with a rear view camera and I rely on it way too much -_- so while I’m ok driving, I’m not comfortable parking.

    If it matters I’m in Toronto and will be driving around in Brampton/Mississauga. It’s no issue if someone is with me but I may be driving alone here and there.

    1. Boo Hoo*

      I didn’t have one for most of my life but once I did it was hard to go back. I feel lost when I drive husbands car without it. No advice but it does become a crutch.

    2. WellRed*

      Honestly, the best yoi can probably hope for is to not need to back up parking. Move onto to another spot. It’s funny what we get used to. I have never used a camera in a car and frankly wonder how people do it.

    3. Kathenus*

      Park in larger, easier to access spots – even if it means a longer walk. I have a very small car, and when I end up driving a large car or truck, I park further away if needed to make sure I’m in a spot with lots of room to maneuver without stress.

      I’m the opposite, I can’t use the rear view camera, since I don’t have any experience with them and they make me nervous to use as my main visual view.

    4. Competent Commenter*

      Pull up parallel to the car in front of the spot, about half the length of your car or a little less. Turn the wheel pretty much all the way to the right. Gently reverse, looking in right side mirror to make sure you’re clearing the car in front. Reposition and restart if not. When you’re about halfway in and have cleared the car in front, turn steering wheel all or nearly all the way to the left and keep reversing until you’re into the spot. Starting at the right spot to begin with is crucial to a successful and elegant job. I lived for many years in San Francisco, never had a garage, parked up and down hills and on the left and right sides of one way streets. Probably have parallel parked thousands of times. If there is at least 6 inches of clearance front and back I can get in. You can do this ! :)

    5. Dan*

      I’m old enough now where I’ve been able to see technology outright replace at least a few things that we used to differently. A common theme with the early technology is that “oh, you can’t let the ‘fundamentals’ go to waste” so we’re going to teach you old-school. For me, I grew up in an era where you couldn’t use calculators on the math section of standardized tests. Except now, computers and calculators are so ubiquitous that I don’t see the point in penalizing people who can’t do math in their head or long form multiplication on paper. You need to know how to estimate so that if you fat finger the numbers, you have some clue that you screwed something up.

      I learned to drive before GPSs were a commodity. I learned to navigate and find directions using a paper map. Guess what? I don’t have a paper map anymore. If my GPS (er, cell phone) dies, and I’m in an unfamiliar place, I’m screwed.

      So, on to your problem. Yes, it’s an “issue” that you are so used to a rear view camera that you can’t park without one. But when that piece of technology is so central to your day-to-day activities, there’s not much you can do about not having one.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I hear you Dan. I’m just annoyed at myself bc I was driving w/o the camera for years yet just a few weeks/months with one seems to have undone all my learning. It is what it is.

        1. nonegiven*

          I’ve been driving for 46 years. The first time I parallel parked was the night before I took the test. The third time was some years later. I think I end up needing to do it once every few years. I do it slowly with my head on swivel, looking out all the windows and in all the mirrors, step by step.
          Just go through the steps Competent Commenter wrote and you will be fine.

          1. Dan*

            Since we’re on that subject… I live in suburbia. I grew up in the sticks. I can parallel park on the right just fine. However, the major city near where I live has lots of one ways streets with parking on both sides. I… just… have no idea how to parallel park on my left hand side. I tried it once and quickly gave up.

    6. LCL*

      I just looked up the versa and Sentra, those are some tiny cars. So, pretend your car is a big SUV or pickup and do what the smart drivers of those cars do. Park in lots, not on the street, park toward the back of the rows where there are empty spaces around, look for rows that face each other so you can drive through to leave instead of backing. If you have to back, walk all the way around the car first looking for hazards and pedal, roll your window down so you can hear people.

    7. Zona the Great*

      Backup cameras cause more backing accidents than turning your head and doing it the normal way. Practice with cones and never go back to using that thing. My drivers are written up for not using traditional means to backup.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        How do they cause accidents?

        Sometimes I worry that the camera is wrong and I’m actually closer to the vehicle than far away as the camera suggests. But I thought that’s maybe my paranoia.

        1. Zona the Great*

          Because it actually cannot see what you can physically see yourself with most folks’ neck dexterity. Similar to side swipe warnings. They should not be used in lieu of checking your blind spot always.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I just finished taking driving lessons and getting a UK licence, and even though the car I was using had a camera I was forbidden from relying on it for parking. If I’d tried to back up without physically turning my head and looking it would be an automatic fail on the driving test because you can’t see all of the blind spots or people moving from the side to come up behind you. Also the perspective on those things can be really weird because the ones I’ve seen have a fish eye lens, which can distort distances.

          Perhaps find an empty parking lot or something and practice backing in while ignoring the camera?

    8. Girl friday*

      There are two schools of thought in Old School parking. Look out the driver side window and crane your neck to see if anyone’s coming in both directions. Turn your nose to the back window and keep it there while you back up is 1. Get those little circle mirrors that I think they still sell at Auto stores and stick them to your mirror and use them both when you back up. Use the side mirrors on both sides of the car to help you in other words. It’s so cute to have to explain this to people. Also, be really observant when you’re walking to your car to see what kind of structures are around you when you back up. That’s what we all used to do I think.

    9. Smarty Boots*

      Can you find someone who knows how to parallel park (I assume that’s what you’re asking about?) to go out with you and practice? It’s really the best way to learn how to do it.

      If you mean, back into or out of a pull in parking space, then my advice is: don’t back into the space, it’s hard to do. Drive in and then back out. For backing out, just go slowly and stop a lot. If you have enough room to back the car all the way out before turning, do that. Otherwise, get the car as far out as possible before turning to straighten in. You can always drive back into the space and start over if you think you’ve misjudged.

  21. The Curator*

    Still have post-big project hangover. The struggle is real. Made plans with friends. Went to an art opening last night and brought home three books to read prep for next week.
    Going to a play today and maybe music tonight. Tomorrow wide open. I am picturing wrapped in a blanket, fireplace, dog, cup of tea and a stack of books. There may be napping.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yay napping!

      It’s very nice out today but tomorrow is supposed to be cold and rainy. I may whip through the housecleaning and some writing and then take a nice cozy nap myself. :)

  22. TGI The Weekend*

    My partner and I love to travel together and we’ve discussed using our Christmas gifts to be geared more towards experiences for our travel wishes and less things that we don’t really need. The problem is that both of us also like giving and opening actual gifts under the Christmas tree. So we can do a few little things easy but I’d prefer to keep it geared more towards our travel plans.

    However, we don’t have any travel plans set in stone for next year. It’s not like ‘we’re going snorkeling so here’s a new bathing suit’ or something else that would be useful for our travel, since all our plans are still hypothetical right now. Thoughts on the what we can give for hypothetical trips?

    1. PetticoatsandPincushions*

      I’m sure this is obvious, but do either of you need luggage upgrades? Not even a full suitcase, but a nice carry-on bag or even toiletry organizer? It’s a gift that is very practical, you can find in a range of quality so you could even splurge on, say, a nice leather shaving bag or an indestructible duffle from LL Bean. Bags are also fun because after you open them you can sort of…explore them? Maybe it’s just the organizing nerd in me, but I love to go through a new backpack or piece of luggage and decide where everything fits and think about how I might pack it next time. Sort of a symbol of the next trip even if it isn’t planned yet.

    2. Boo Hoo*

      My ex traveled a lot so I’d get him Tumi items. A laptop bag once. A toiletry case. Always was a hit.

    3. Madge*

      Maybe travel gear? My husband has an inflatable camping pillow that he uses for travel. Its great because it packs small and can be partially inflated so you can smoosh it into whatever shape you need. You could also get good day packs, water bottles, geek lamps, etc.

    4. Ranon*

      If you don’t already own packing cubes, packing cubes are perfect- they’re so useful to have but feel a bit like an indulgence to buy. Portable battery packs are another good one.

    5. Kathenus*

      Do your big gifts travel-related, and for Christmas day focus on fun and interesting stocking-stuffer type small gifts. Finding neat, quirky, but inexpensive things can be a lot of fun, and just as much fun to open as the bigger stuff. Full disclosure, stockings were always one of my favorite parts of Christmas morning, and I’m not in a situation where I get one anymore as I live alone. I’ve told family how much I love them and that they could do this instead of a ‘real’ gift, but it doesn’t happen. They are very kind and generous with gifts, but don’t really get that I think the stocking stuff is just as good.

    6. Llellayena*

      Walk into any AAA travel and get ideas from their section of stuff. There’s a ton of stuff there that I didn’t think I’d ever need but that I now don’t travel without. Also, guidebooks! Easy to wrap, generates tons of ideas and takes time to go through!

    7. Parenthetically*

      Depending on how/where you travel: backpack, water bottle or camelbak, passport holder/document organizer, nice wheeled carry-on, a travel jacket with RFID blocking pockets, smart-looking compression socks, comfy walking shoes/hiking shoes.

    8. Overeducated*

      I’ve enjoyed receiving guidebooks to places i want to visit to fantasize and plan for future trips.

    9. HannahS*

      My favourite travel comforts:
      Tao-tronics noise-canceling earbuds. I recommend these for everyone; they make air travel much more comfortable.
      Wool socks. Don’t get grossed out, but wool stays much cleaner than other fibres; they genuinely don’t need to be washed every time you wear them, unless you’re very sweaty.
      A travel pillow that fastens in front.

    10. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      What about doing something kind of silly and buying shelf stable groceries that relate to a place you want to go? So a jar of spaghetti sauce if you’re dreaming about a trip to Italy, packets of dried seaweed if you’re thinking of Japan, cured chorizo for Spain, etc?

      Just a goofy idea but I love to give gifts that you can use up if there’s nothing you really need or want right now.

    11. pugs for all*

      how about travel magazines, if you don’t get them already? Wrap up a current issue for something to open, and then you get the fun of the magazine every month. They’re also not too $$$!

  23. Boo Hoo*

    Seriously struggling with my stepson lately. He’s lazy and disrespectful and I feel husband just lets it happen. He will finally step in and handle it but then it causes us to fight. Which makes me resent the kid. I hold that in and treat him well but deep down I’m screaming inside. Part of the problem is the kid never leaves the house. He doesn’t do things with friends, sports, any activities no matter how much we try or encourage him. He’s very lazy and just wants to lie around playing video games. In turn he is constantly under foot. I’ve never known a teenager to do nothing. Most I know are anxious to get out of the house. He will fight us on anything and everything, even bathing. He didn’t even brush his teeth for months. So gross. He’s not depressed or anything this is just how he is. He won’t turn in school work so then he gets punished but frankly it’s more like punishing ourselves with the arguing and tantrums. I don’t think husband should allow him to scream at us but he does and it’s makinh me miserable. In turn husband and i get into fights because I’ll tell son to not scream. I don’t think I should have to as husband should but I won’t be screamed at in my house. Especially over taking a damn shower. I’m so worn out over this. I dread kid coming home from school and literally count the days between when he visits mom, which is only a couple times a year. I really don’t want to feel that way but I do. Husband promised counseling but it hasn’t happened yet. I’ve researched a lot and the take away 100% of the time is husband disciplining and now allowing it but he doesn’t.

    1. Reba*

      That sounds hard. Please try to make family therapy–and individual therapy for the kid!–more of a priority. This is urgent.

      Where you see lazy, disrespectful, never leaves the house, gross — I see possibility of depression, other neuroatypical issue (sensory sensitivity), and anger that he doesn’t know how to cope with.

      1. Boo Hoo*

        No he is fine. I’m 10000% sure. He was this way with his mother too. He just has never been given any boundaries ever. Mom tried to enforce but dad will over ride and doesn’t follow through. And I’m always going to think not brushing your teeth for a month is gross. Sorry. He said and I quote “everyone has orange teeth”. Ya they aren’t yellow they are orange. He truly just doesn’t care. He won’t speak In counseling. Just sits there silent. We tried many times. He isn’t angry. He’s just a teenager being a teenager. Issue is husband not disciplining which any human let alone kid needs.

        1. Reba*

          I mean, regardless of whether he has a diagnosis or whatever, things are clearly not All Okay with your stepson, right?

          And constructive disciplining techniques and family communication are definitely things that a family counselor can help you with — it’s not just for mental illness as such. Sounds like you know you have a spouse problem just as much as a kid problem, so I just want to encourage you to go forward with counseling. You can even go by yourself if no one else will go at least to start with, and get some perspective and tips. Working with a neutral party who can evaluate what’s going on in your household and make suggestions for improvement looks like the only way forward.

        2. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

          You might feel 1000% sure, but you also could be 1000% wrong.
          I’ve raised several kids with depression to adulthood, and all this sounds VERY familiar for a depressed teen. So painfully familiar. Right down to not talking in therapy. With a good therapist, they can push past that point. I *so* wanted to give up on therapy at that point. We had no insurance coverage for mental health at that point, so it seemed ridiculous to pay $100 cash every week when he wouldn’t talk. But a friend convinced me to hang in there and trust the process, and by three weeks in he was past it, mostly.
          I’m concerned that you don’t really sound like you have much empathy for him. You say it’s “just him being a teenager” but you also say he’s not like any teenager you’ve ever known, because he doesn’t want to be with friends. That is not normal for a teen. You’ve made up your mind that he’s just lazy. You’re blaming him for problems in your marriage (not without reason, but it seems your husband is getting a pass and your son is not)
          You absolutely have a husband problem, too, but please don’t dismiss the idea that your stepson might need help.

        3. C Baker*

          He’s not fine. He’s not bathing. He’s not brushing his teeth. He’s not doing his schoolwork. He’s not socializing. None of this is fine. This is not a teenager being a teenager. There is something wrong – and he can’t be disciplined out of this.

          If he doesn’t like the counselor, find another. Consider looking into medications as well.

          1. Mehhhh*

            +1. And even if this is “just who he is,” he sounds miserable. And you are miserable. You can’t fight your way out of it. He knows you don’t like having him around, and he rarely sees his mom. So no one wants him and he’s stuck. I’m depressed reading about it. This isn’t healthy for any of you.

        4. This Daydreamer*

          Why are you so certain it’s not depression? Not wanting to spend time with friends and hygiene issues are huge red flags for depression. So is the anger and irritability. It sounds to me like he’s using video games to escape his unhappiness.

          Please don’t give up on therapy for him. Untreated depression is a deadly illness.

          1. Boo Hoo*

            Oh let me clarify. He doesn’t spend time with friends because he doesn’t have many and the ones he does have do exactly what he does. They talk on their video games. He’s a stereotypical nerd, weird kid.

        5. families!*

          I went to counseling as a teen and did not speak for at least 6-8 months because in fact despite appearances to the contrary speaking of my family with strangers was uber prohibited and the ultimate betrayal of the family, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. Not talking is not a symptom necessarily that all is well. To the contrary. Why would he even trust his therapist when he can’t trust his family?

          You describe your step son in such disparaging ways that I am not actually surprised he is behaving this way. He is behaving exactly how you (and perhaps others) expect him to – as a loser. You think he’s dirty, so by golly he’s going to be disgusting. And the 2 of you continue on this dance, you are more and more disgusted, he will become more and more disgusting [all of this is happening unconsciously, it’s not like he sat there and decided this]. You may say no words to this effect to him but your attitude is clearly readable. On top of that, it doesn’t sound like anyone likes him very much, his mother doesn’t see him, his father doesn’t seem to care [no boundaries], you don’t like him and think he’s disgusting. He’s just behaving exactly like you all taught him to, plus he gets some attention, even though it’s clearly negative.

          I second the family therapy suggestion but if that is not possible, therapy for you so you can approach him in a more neutral way and he can have space to find his way. You are the adult, I believe you have to initiate this change.

        6. Courageous cat*

          Dude, teenagers being teenagers don’t avoid brushing their teeth for 1 month. If they did then you probably wouldn’t be so upset by it. This sounds like mental illness and I can’t imagine you’re fully equipped to be so sure about it. You don’t think that if he were to see a counselor -> they recommend antidepressant -> he tries it, that he wouldn’t change even the slightest bit?

    2. Kathenus*

      Sounds like you have at least as much of a husband problem as a stepson one. I have no magical ideas. But you can stop doing things for stepson (and husband) to make this behavior easier. Don’t clean their stuff, don’t do their laundry, don’t wash their dishes (hoping this doesn’t all fall on you regardless, but given the descriptions in this, not confident that you aren’t viewed as the person expected to do these things).

      Since you can’t control them, control what you do and what you don’t. Don’t enable the bad behavior. And take care of yourself.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, I’d say separate things into “your business” and “not your business.” “Your business” = he is not permitted to yell at you, he needs to clean up after himself in shared parts of the house and keep his room from stinking, etc. “Not your business” = his teeth, his relationship with his dad, his laundry, his hobbies, his homework, etc. Your husband can get off his ass and parent if he chooses to, but you can’t force this, so let him dig his own hole.

    3. Competent Commenter*

      Family therapy, yes. I know you say he’s not depressed but boy does he sound like it. I also wonder about ADHD.

      1. Nita*

        Me too. I have a relative with ADHD, or Asperger’s, or something (diagnosis has changed a few times) who behaves similarly and has a very fuzzy concept of personal hygiene. I’m glad you’re setting limits – no one did that for my relative, and the result was not pretty – but if it’s something like that, limits alone aren’t enough. It can take a few years to get the right diagnosis and the right treatment, but not looking into the possibility of something medical is not doing your family any favors.

    4. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      I’d say this is a marital problem masquerading as a stepson problem. The stepson has issues that you don’t like, but the main problem is that your husband is either not handling things the way you agreed or that he doesn’t see them as a problem, yes?

      For sure, therapy (and schedule some alone if you can so you can work through how you feel and your frustrations with your hubby/stepson). Agreed with the above to just schedule yourself.

      A different perspective on the stepson: I am an avowed homebody and have been so most of my life. I could probably stay in my house for about a month before I’d even notice I’ve not been outside. I have mostly indoor hobbies (video games, home improvement, reading, etc.), too, which means even when I do have free time I’m usually inside. Some of my family does not get this AT ALL–they are the types that like to go out, do things, hang out with people, etc. That’s just not me. When it comes down to it, I’d rather be in my house. Not depression, just personal preference. My friends are the same way, so even when we hang out, it’s usually at someone’s home.

      To me, that issue is totally different from the yelling and tantrums. There are better ways to communicate and both of those are inappropriate in adults (I feel). If I wouldn’t tolerate it at work, where they pay me to listen to them, why would I tolerate it in my house?

      And finally, the hygiene issue (especially if he’s smelly, so it’s not just forgetfulness) could really be a signal for depression, so do see if you can get him to counseling. Hopefully the counselor can talk to him about expressing his frustrations, too.

      Might all be symptoms of a larger issue with you/his dad–rebellion in a different way. How long has the family been blended?

      1. StellaBella*

        This. ^^^. I have no idea, but I also think husband clearly did not respect former wife and does not respect you. I’d start therapy and think about your relationship with him first. If he’s refusing to be a parent and is ok with stepson railroading the family dynamic this is on the husband and he is the one that needs to see how his behaviour impacts you and the relationship.

    5. Auntie Social*

      A lack of self-care—bathing, tooth brushing—is an indicator of depression. Therapy should happen sooner rather than later.

      1. Boo Hoo*

        He’s fine. I’m sure. He just is lazy. I’m not being mean or not caring it just is a fact. His friends are all dirty too so to him it’s normal. If something was wrong I’d 1000% help him. He truly is just a lazy kid who wants to play games all day. Many teenagers are like this. Not everything is a diagnosis.

        1. C Baker*

          You said upthread that you’ve never known a teenager like this. Now you’re saying that many teenagers are like this. Which is it?

        2. Mehhhh*

          You don’t like this kid. Even your user name is taking a shot at him. Honestly, he was in your husband’s life first but it sounds like you resent him. Every child deserves to live in a home with adult(s) who care for them. If you can’t look at him with a little bit of compassion, perhaps you should consider whether this family is for you.

          1. Boo Hoo*

            Ive had the user name for a long time. It was Boo Hoo to the whiney snowflakes on her if you wish to recall way back.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I didn’t realize that but now that you’ve explained it… That’s going to make it difficult for people to assume good will from you, so could you please change it to something that’s not antagonistic? Thank you.

            2. Mehhhh*

              I’m curious as to why you’d want advice from a community you look at with disdain. I’m sorry that your son isn’t the child you wish he would be and I’m sorry that there’s so much discord at home. But I think your own attitude towards him and the people you turn to for help may require more introspection than is available here.

        3. Natalie*

          Okay? So let’s say he is fine – how does that change anything *for you*? Your anger and frustration don’t seem to be having any positive impact on his behavior. Is that likely to change somehow?

          I would see a counselor for you, not because you have some kind of diagnosis but because you sound unhappy and your current coping strategies don’t seem to be serving you well.

          1. C Baker*

            Yes, this is important to reiterate – you don’t need to have an illness or a diagnosis in order to seek counseling!

          2. ThatGirl*

            This, and also seeking help for him certainly couldn’t hurt. I don’t see how she can be so sure nothing is wrong when he’s acting like something definitely is. Why wouldn’t you want to find that out? Why wouldn’t you want to help him? But at least go for yourself.

        4. valentine*

          He’s not lazy. Remove that from your assessment and see what it does for you. What if you proceed as though he physically cannot bring himself to do what you want him to do? How does that change your attitude and actions? Maybe he’s exhausted. Is he getting enough sleep at the right times or does his school start too early? (Frankly, if he were lazy, so what? What decisions does he get to make about his life and has anyone asked him his goals without boxing him in or being judgmental and obviously wanting him to leave the home, for college or someplace else, someday soon?)

          If you haven’t already, see if he will agree to go to counseling alone, with a therapist who is not the one you see as a family. He knows you hate him. He knows you fight about him. His mother abandoned him (or his father’s stopping him seeing her). Your family is fragmented in part because you view it that way. Things will improve for you immediately if you accept him unconditionally as your son, no remove. If you don’t love him or know you never will, you should leave. He needs all the adults in his household to be on Team Him, on Team Family, without these weird rules where his dad has to boss him about because you obviously don’t want to deal with him or sexism rules. Go to couples counseling and maybe only talk about these problems there. He never leaves home and is underfoot. Does he want to spend time with you? Do you do family stuff, at least weekly? Let him tell you about his videogames. Don’t disparage his interests.

          Dial back to basics. I’ll assume he’s having a dental cleaning every six months. Have the dentist tell him what he needs to do to prevent cavities/extra appointments. Can he even do it? Physically, I mean. Can he rub toothpaste on his teeth, even if he can’t do a full brush? Get him floss picks, for portability and possible fun. Bathing: can he draw a bath and sit in it? Would he be willing to sit in the shower if you got him a bath chair? (Like a plastic patio chair.) If no, buy him disposable washcloths (pre-soapy, for sponge baths). At minimum, he needs to, what, not smell? Start there.

          This child needs lovingkindness everywhere, but especially at home, and you have the power to provide it, while he has little power to seek it elsewhere.

          1. Courageous cat*

            I dunno about some of this, like that last paragraph. I mean I definitely would suspect the kid has depression but I don’t think treating him like he’s 5 or has a mobility issue (I would assume BH would have mentioned that as context if it were part of it) is going to help anything other than broach the line from “encouragement” into “coddling”. If he can physically shower but isn’t, then I don’t think giving him the opportunity for sponge baths is going to change much.

            Overall, here’s my take: he can have depression and need help and *also* not be someone that OP has to love and be kind to always. He’s clearly pretty terrible to her in some regards, and seems old enough that he should be able to control his outward emotions to some degree. The issue is honestly that his dad needs to start setting boundaries and parenting him.

        5. Oops I forgot*

          This was my younger brother and his friends in high school, to a “t.” My brother was extremely depressed.

          I literally would drive 2 hours home from college and try to make personal hygiene “fun”. He fought with my parents constantly, in a rage. He ended up getting arrested at one point because he threw furniture at my parents and they didn’t know what else to do.

          Work on getting him help. My parents weee in just as much denial as you. It was my other siblings and I that convinced them and brother that this was Not Normal Or Okay.

          He’s now a happy, healthy 33 year old but that 3-5 year period was the darkest for our family.

        6. J*

          This does sound incredibly difficult to deal with, so I can understand your frustration —but the lack of tooth brushing is seriously, seriously not normal, and it sounds like your stepson does need help. I occassionally forget to brush my teeth in the morning before running out of the house, and by the end of the day my mouth feels disgusting and also ….it almost …hurts? Brushing my teeth becomes my most ardent desire. No matter how ‘lazy’ someone is, they’re going to become VERY motivated to brush their teeth long before the one month mark. The fact that your stepson let it go that long really does make this sound like an issue with depression and/or anxiety.

          A friend of mine once didn’t brush his teeth for several months when he was a child, because of OCD. He didn’t tell his parents about his OCD, though; he just let them think he was brushing his teeth.

          A final observation is that as a teenager my brother’s primary activitity was playing video games. He proudly described himself as “lazy.” His favorite animal was and is the sloth “because they’re so lazy.”But he didn’t have a hygiene problem or a lack of desire to spend time with friends. He did his school work. I’ve known plenty of stereotypical “lazy gamers” and the behavior you’re describing isn’t normal for them. Please seek a second (or third, or fourth) professional opinion. It sounds like all three of you are really hurting and things aren’t improving as they are. So if you enlist the help of a professional and things don’t improve — well, the current strategies weren’t improving things, either. And maybe things can get better.

    6. Middle School Teacher*

      As someone who has interacted with teenagers for 15 years, sorry but this is not “a teenager being a teenager”. This is something wrong.

    7. Gatomon*

      I’m confused, how are you going to discipline him into hygiene and having activities with friends? Are you going to find teenagers to hang out with him? Strap him down in the yard and hose him down? He is not a baby or small child, and it doesn’t sound like there’s much in his life to take away from him as discipline. If he’s always at home, being grounded is not a punishment. Are you going to kick him out instead?

      It doesn’t seem like you have much interest in the root cause of his behavior since you’ve decided that this is simply how he is. I don’t think your husband is the whole problem here.

    8. LibbyG*

      I’m struck by how you say he’s “constantly underfoot” and that you dread when he comes home from school. It sounds like maybe you’re home a lot too? Like part of your frustration is not having the house to yourself as much as you’d like?

      I agree with others that this kid can’t be happy with life. I dearly hope he gets real, empathetic help soon. But in the short run, you aren’t going to get him to change his behavior, so maybe focus on meeting your own needs so that you can cope better.

      Do you need more alone time? A tidy sitting area at home all to yourself? Do you need to get out and see friends more? I hope you can find something helpful that doesn’t rely on a radical change in behavior from your family members.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Wait. So he only sees his mother a couple times a year???

      Okay this is reminding me of a few teen aged boys I know whose mothers point blank said they do not want their sons. The boys were DEVASTATED. Absolutely and completely devastated. I am not talking about mother-dependent teens, I am talking about otherwise average teens whose connection to their mother was reduced down to next to nothing.
      One of those boys is now thirty something and sitting in state prison. In a different example the boy ended up with a step-mom who would do anything for him. That boy also totally rebelled in every way he could think of. Which parallels what you are saying here, “nothing works”. The problems were constant. And as you are saying here, step-mom said “Dad needs to step up to the plate.” Well Dad couldn’t because he was working 80 hours or so a week.

      Like you are saying these boys all did NOTHING around the house. And their self-care was non-existent.

      The despair and hopelessness of the situation is very clear in your writing. You’re at your wits end dealing with all this apathy here. I think it’s time to put your foot down and tell these two that you are all going to counseling together, to get your lives back. What is going on now is not living, it merely surviving from one day to the next. Tell your family they deserve better than that. You guys are all losing parts of yourselves. Time to reclaim those parts.

    10. KR*

      I knew some young men growing up like this. Honestly what seemed to help is peer pressure over time from their friends. Soon enough they figured out, oh wait if I don’t brush my teeth or take showers no one will want to talk to me because I’ll smell. If I don’t hang out with my friends soon I won’t have any. So on. I saw a lot of guys glow up when they hit college or their last couple years of school. I would just make it clear to your step son that a)at least semi frequent bathing shows respect to other people because they don’t want to smell you. Figure out what you would be happy with – if he baths and brushes his teeth every third day will you not fight about it? Also can you enlist your dentist to scare him into taking care of his teeth? B)if he does poorly in school it will affect his future because he won’t learn what he needs for college and he will be limited in college selection. I don’t have techniques for this, sorry. My husband did not like to do school and the only thing that motivated him was classes he really liked and the fact that he had to graduate to join the military. Now that he’s older he is more responsible and knows he has to work hard to get what he wants. But it took time. I would just lay it out depending on how old teen is – if he’s 13 this is all a bit too soon and he will probably grow out of it, if he’s 17 it’s time to start saying for example, we will support you for x amount of months after high school and after that you must pay rent to live here. That includes bathing x amount of times or you have to find a spot to live. If you’re in college keeping up grades you can just live here but have to show us grades (or whatever you and husband agree on). Good luck. Note I have no kids but people I knew who were similar.

    11. Thursday Next*

      I’d say to start from a position of compassion for all three of you, and see how that helps you approach this situation.

      Bluntly, you have a stepson problem, a husband problem, and a you problem. All three of you seem to want something, to feel your needs aren’t being met in some way.

      You really control only yourself, so please start with therapy to help you unravel some of these issues, and work out ways of discussing this productively with your husband.

      I know you’re frustrated and fed up with this behavior. But perhaps if you could think of him as a child who needs the help of adults he lives with, it could help you see yourself as being someone in a position to make a positive intervention in his life.

      A lot of commenters have suggested underlying medical conditions, like ADHD and depression. I think these could well be the case and I hope you consult a professional again. But even if he’s “just lazy,” it’s neither typical nor constructive for an adolescent never to brush his teeth or shower, and you would benefit from professional advice on how to approach this.

      Best of luck to you.

    12. neverjaunty*

      You have a husband problem, not a stepson problem. Your stepson’s behavior is WAY outside the norm, but apparently your husband’s approach has been to let you (and previously the boy’s mother) do the heavy lifting, only stepping in when he has to, and promising counseling that doesn’t happen? No wonder you’re screaming inside – but your screaming should be pointed in a different direction here.

    13. LilySparrow*

      Look, the only thing you can do for yourself is find someone to talk to who can help you so you don’t feel like you’re screaming inside and dread a big section of your days. So I hope you go to therapy on your own, whether your husband follows up or not. Going to therapy isn’t about you being broken or wrong – you are under a terrible amount of stress and are living with people who scream at you and treat you with disrespect. Nobody can put up with that forever with no outlet. You need support. A therapist can help you come up with strategies to communicate with your husband and stepson, and take care of yourself.

      Obviously your stepson is not behaving in a way that’s healthy or constructive – you see that, and it’s part of what worries and exasperates you. But it need not be a medical issue like clinical depression or ADHD either.

      It’s really common for kids to be angry after a divorce, and resent their parents and their stepparents. It’s super common for teenagers to show their anger through irrational fights, withdrawal, opposition, passive-aggressive resistance, and self-sabotaging behavior. It’s really common for parents to get stuck in guilt and give up on appropriate boundaries. It’s sadly common for dads to allow their kids to be disrespectful to their wives.

      It’s dysfunctional. It’s unhappy and unhealthy – but it’s not a “medical problem” in the sense of having debilitating anxiety or executive function problems.

      Your husband needs to roll up his sleeves and invest some time in rebuilding his relationship with his son, because you can’t offer healthy discipline unless you have credibility, trust, and emotional authority in someone’s life. If he tries to come down hard on this behavior right now, he’ll just drive his son further away. He has to work at restoring some love and positive communication before his son is going to care what he thinks or listen to him about anything.

      Unfortunately, you can’t control that. So I hope you get some support for yourself. And maybe your therapist can also give you some ideas on how to break up this deadlock of the three of you pushing against each other. There may be something you can change in your responses that will start a domino effect of change in the household. Not magic-wand fixing everything, but some positive shifts over time.

      Good luck!

  24. Poké*

    Pokémon Go rant (smallish one, but I have to get over my frustrations :P )

    I’ve been playing the game since the beginning… the past week I found a golden magikarp: for the first time ever!
    I got it. but it is only 10 HP…. makes me want to cry, that is gonna take a long time to evolve and make it decent.

    1. LGC*

      Congrats! And I wish I could send candy, since I have about…800 candies stockpiled waiting for a shiny Magikarp. (I have a few Gyarados already, but I think almost all of them are pre-shiny.)

    2. Book Lover*

      I have a 10 cp one also :). It is just for cute and for dropping in gyms – just enjoy having a teeny gyarados. I kind of love the teeny tiny ones.

    3. Cruciatus*

      It might be low CP and HP but it could have 100% IV. I caught a magikarp (unfortunately still no golden ones) and it was 10CP but had 100% IV so I powered it up all the way to full and then evolved it to a 100% IV gyarados. All that powering up improved the CP and HP over time, though the IV can never change. So you might have a fantastic golden magikarp that just needs to be powered up (a whole bunch)! (It could also be terrible as it seems most of my shinies are).

      I use PokeGenie to test for IVs. It’s easier on an android I hear (which I have) and is more of a hassle on iPhones (though it still works). I have only caught one shiny that I know of on a non-event day (a Swablu). I accidentally deleted a shiny Natu once because I needed space during a community day and my hand just moved faster than my brain. I saw “Do you really want to delete shiny Natu?” and my finger said “yes” and my brain went “Noooooooooooooooooooooo”. Too late.

      1. Anonomo*

        Hahaha this is so true! I didnt know about IV calculators for about the first year I played so Im sure I threw tons of 100s away! My shiny magikarp is a 116HP but an 89IV (Im waiting to trade it with my husband because he has the snitch (shiny swablu) I want but we arnt “good enough friends” lol

  25. Anon Anon Anon*

    Rental situation here. I could use some advice.

    I’ve been renting my house for a few years. My landlord lives in another part of the U.S. She isn’t completely fluent in English and I don’t speak her native language. So we have a property manager, a former tenant who lives nearby.

    I’ve had mostly good experiences with the property manager, but he gives off a weird kind of vibe and can be unreliable at times and weirdly argumentative at other times. Gut-wise, he gives me the creeps. But I’ve had no good reason to complain about him. He’s usually nice and friendly.

    The other day, he stopped by with a repair person to get an estimate. I came outside to say hi and let them know I was there in case they needed anything. He gave me a weird look and said sternly, “I thought you weren’t home because your car isn’t in the driveway.” I just replied, “No, I’m here!” because I had this sudden instinct not to tell him that I no longer have a car. I’m an artist, I look young for my age, I dress a little unconventionally at times, and I have some minor physical quirks (and related limitations) that some people misunderstand. So I get a lot of judgment from certain people because of that. The “irresponsible, lazy young person,” stereotype. In reality, I’m about 40, I get up around sunrise every morning and I barely drink or anything. But that’s only tangentially relevant. I dismissed his weirdness as being part of that picture.

    Anyway, after they left, I went outside to do some gardening. A woman with two young kids approached me. The woman asked if the property manager lives there, identifying him by his car. I said, “No, he works for my landlord.” She said, “He was filming us! It scared me. I tried to ask him what he was doing and he quickly got in his car and drove away.” “That’s awful! Yeah, he’s a little weird. I’ll tell my landlord about it,” I said.

    So now I’m trying to figure out what to do. I realized that telling the landlord might or might not be the best course of action. The woman told me she lives down the street, but she didn’t say which house. I don’t remember her name.

    It seems like the most appropriate response would be for me to give her the property manager’s name and info so she can report it if she wants to. But I think my landlord would also want to know. I’m really dreading writing that email, and wondering what will happen as a result. I haven’t been a model tenant because of some other stuff that happened, and she and the property manager have been nice and understanding about it. I don’t want to jeopardize that, but filming random children and running away when approached is really not cool. I know there could be an innocent explanation, but it upset these people, so it’s really not ok.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Personally I would report it to the police. They can keep you anonymous and they really should be dealing with this anyway.

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        So if you go to them and they tell you that they can’t keep you anonymous, what should you do? Look for a phone number for a unit that handles certain kinds of things?

        1. C Baker*

          Did they tell you that, or are you speaking hypothetically? If it’s the latter, I’d worry about that after it happens, not before.

          1. Anon Anon Anon*

            It happened with another situation. They told me that if I file a report, it would be part of the public record, including my name. That was for an attempted sexual assault sort of thing. They said an officer could talk to me without filing any paperwork, but then it wouldn’t be actionable.

    2. chi chan*

      Tell the woman who was filmed to report him to the police. You did your bit by identifying the man to the victim. And if questioned by the police you can point them towards your landlord.

    3. WellRed*

      I don’t usually “go there” but today I am gonna say, look around your apt for signs that he’s been in there unknown to you.

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          I actually did! I had them on for a while. But I was having trouble paying my bills and as a result, sometimes my internet was shut off so they weren’t operational. Creepily, during those times, there were some signs that someone might have broken in. And there were a couple of break-ins before I got the cams. But the police won’t do anything because nothing of value was taken. It was stuff like clothing and photographs, not something like electronics that they can easily put a price on and look for in pawn shops. They said they’d keep an eye on my house, though. I had other suspicions about who had broken in, but I really have no idea.

            1. Anon Anon Anon*

              I know. I was pretty sure it was someone I’ve known for a long time. But the police just pointed out that it would be easy to misplace stuff and forget about it. They asked if I was sure I don’t have memory problems and they said they don’t make reports of stolen property unless its monetary value is above a certain amount. :-(

    4. MCL*

      Also why is he entering your home without notice? Whether your car is in the driveway or not, he should be giving you a warning about being in your house. I would ask him to do that.

    5. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      He sounds sketchy. I like all the above recommendations.

      As for the rest–I wouldn’t want someone that gives me creep vibes to have access to my house. My brain went the same direction as WellRed–why would he care so much that you were or were not there?

      I’d probably invest in some cheap nanny cams to see what else might be going on when you aren’t there, and I’d for sure let the landlord know about that complaint. It may also protect you later if something happens and it becomes a he-said she-said.

    6. Anon Anon Anon*

      These are great comments! I need to clarify a few things:

      – I don’t have a way to contact the woman. I don’t know her name or which house she lives in. I would have to go door to door. It’s a pretty friendly neighborhood, but I don’t know if that would be a good idea or not.

      – The property manager told me he’d be coming by that day. He only needed to access the exterior of the house. There was nothing sketchy about the visit except for his peeved and judgmental-sounding tone when he told me he thought I wasn’t home. He’s always followed the rules and notified me about things. I can’t rule out any sketchiness, but I don’t have any hard evidence either.

      – The police in my city don’t allow you to remain anonymous, unless I’ve been given incorrect information by some of them. CPS does, and I could contact them because this involves children, but I think they refer you to the police if you’re not a direct care-giver (relative, teacher, babysitter, etc). Both are pretty reluctant to take reports about something someone else told you, in my experience. They want to hear from the person the thing happened to. But I might try.

      1. Jaid_Diah*

        I would check if he installed cameras in your house, because that’s the creepy I’d expect from a person you’re describing.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        As upsetting as it is for you, I wouldn’t make a police/CPS report on hearsay.
        It’s up to your neighbor to report it – she DOES have enough information for a police report. She knows how to get in contact with you and how to get your property manager’s information. Let her decide what she wants to do.
        Trust your gut. Keep your cameras up and running. Make police reports if you have more break-ins, even if there’s no followup by police. Actually, I hope your property manager starts behaving better, now that he knows he can’t predict when you’re home.
        Best Wishes for Peaceful Times.

          1. valentine*

            Given the way they’ve treated you, the police may double down and target you if you keep making reports.

            Move. You’re not safe. This sounds like a crime documentary: weirdo, stalker B&E, the police gaslighting you. Look for the guy to escalate. Filming kids is fairly bold.

            Assume the landlady’s email goes to Creepster. If you can call/text/chat with her, ask your library or look online for a translator.

            1. Anon Anon Anon*

              She only communicates by email. Which sounds sketchy, but I have met her in person. I am concerned that she might not understand the message and might forward it to him or copy him on the reply. I can’t afford to pay for any translating services, but I might try Google Translate and hope for the best. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to move right now.

        1. Officer Anonymous*

          I agree with Wishing You Well. I know a lot of people wish they could remain anonymous, but in order to follow the law and uphold the constitution, I have to have probable cause in order to investigate a crime. In a situation like this in my jurisdiction, a statement from the complainant is necessary to develop that probable cause. Without it, I would have to personally witness this subject filming someone and that, in and of itself, might not fit the criteria of a crime. You and I know it’s wrong and just plain gross, but I have to be able to prove it’s also illegal.

          Your own documentation can be very helpful, even if it’s just a notation in a notebook or calendar that you saw the property manager at a specific time/date at your residence, proving he was in the area. If your jurisdiction doesn’t have a heavy call volume, it might also be worth calling and asking for advice on what they need to have to pursue this type of complaint.

    1. ElspethGC*

      Ohh no, that’s always so annoying.

      A couple of years ago I had a group project that we had to do decently on to pass the year (first year of uni didn’t count grades-wise, but there was one module that had to average out at 50% across two group projects in order the pass the first year) and it wasn’t even that hard, but we got ghosted. 5,000 word essay and we were each writing a third, and we agreed to all get the parts together by Friday to hand it in on Monday for the deadline. He didn’t make that deadline and promised to get it to us by Saturday afternoon…and then didn’t get back in touch with us until 10pm Sunday. We wrote the last third ourselves with no prior research, and he didn’t get a grade, and he also didn’t come back to class for the rest of the year. In other words, he didn’t pass first year. But he still has his email registered with the university? I think he possibly got the chance to retake the first year. But *still*. It was super frustrating.

      1. Enough*

        Had one of those in college. Added to that presentation was after Thanksgiving and we had a bad snow storm and he missed both Monday and Wednesday classes so we had to do the presentation without him. The school gave everyone a pass for Monday and there was no reason he shouldn’t have been there.

    2. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      When I was a TA, a student tried to get into the exam room 30 minutes late! He pounded on the door, which disturbed the other students, and tried to explain that his alarm went off late. I admit I had little pity for him, in part because this was his second semester (ie he knew how uni exams work). I told him that he’d have to find the professor and talk to her about taking the exam. After 20 minutes or so I got a text from the professor, telling me that he could take the exam. So I let him in, but told him he had the remainder of the exam period to finish. The room was reserved next period for another exam, plus I personally refused to reward him for being so abysmally late. Project deadlines and exams were the two things I was pretty much unmoveable on (extreme circumstances aside). He was very lucky that the professor let him take the exam at all. Plus, from my POV, the experience should motivate him to make sure to never be late to an exam again.

    3. Asenath*

      I always hated group projects in university. There was always someone who coasted along on everyone else’s work. It’s really infuriating.

  26. Be the Change*

    Love of the week?

    Mine is ( laughs sheepishly) the Dr. Oz podcast. I found it last Saturday while painting my bathroom. He’s no great thinker but it’s entertaining and the guests are very interesting.

    1. Boo Hoo*

      After 3 plus years of my heart rate constantly being high for no reason, dozens of doctors, being told I just have anxiety when I knew that wasn’t the case…. I FINALLY am on beta blockers and was diagnosed officially. I am so relieved and one week into my meds my HR stays normal and I am starting to feel a lot better. I am working on figuring out the medication…it doesn’t mention taking it with food but lord help me if I don’t I will be sick in bed all day. It makes me a bit tired and not so hungry so I have to remind myself to eat, on top of having to eat before I take it. Doctor said it should take a few weeks to get past the initial side effects and if it isn’t working he will try something else, but so far it seems pretty good and I am having pretty minimal side effects. Just so relieved to have someone finally taking me seriously after years of feeling like I was going to pass out after running a marathon, every single day, constantly.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Is it metoprolol? I am having a heck of a time getting the dosage right. I was on 100 mg twice per day, but after about eight hours, I can feel my heart pounding, so my doctor told me to take 150 mg in the morning and 100 at night. Well, if I take 150 mg all at once in the morning, I am a slug who can’t stay awake for the rest of the day. I am thinking I am going to have to take 100 in the morning, 50 around lunchtime, and then my usual nighttime dose. It took me about two weeks to get used to my current dosage.

        1. Kuododi*

          I have been on Bystolic for a couple of years now due to a minor hear arrythmia. I’ve found it to be quite helpful, with negligible side effects. I’m aware it’s one of the newer ones on the market and I am very thankful my insurance hasn’t chosen to be ridiculous about coverage. It might be worth a chat next time you are in for a check up with your GP. Best regards. (PS. All standard disclaimers apply… I am still not a nurse, doctor or in any way qualified to make medical recommendations….. I additionally have no connection to the manufacturer of Bystolic. If you find it helpful…great!! If not…no sweat- certainly no bad feelings. )

        2. Not a cat*

          I didn’t do very well on metoprolol. Cardie switched me to DILT XR, 120 mg once and day and am much better. I’m a series case though, I need a valve replacement.

    2. Lore*

      Someone mentioned them above, but packing cubes. I never really got what they were for. But I just finished a 10-day trip where the super saver airfare meant checking a bag cost $60, so I needed a new suitcase and there was a deal where the cubes + suitcase cost less than the full price suitcase so why not? All of a sudden packing was simple geometry rather than fluid dynamics! I didn’t spend the whole we removing and replacing everything to get dressed. I didn’t forget which shirts I had because they were all together. (The new suitcasevhelped too of course.) Littlr square pouches. Who knew?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        OMG packing cubes are GREAT.

        You know what works really well for that? The clear plastic zipper thingys you get sheets in. You can put stuff in them like the cubes and if they have to search your bag, they don’t have to open everything because they’re see-through. I save those things and use them for all kinds of storage.

        1. Lore*

          Smart! I’ve mostly been buying sheets at Target and they pack them in fabric bags that always annoy me because I’ll never get the sheets back into them and yet somehow they feel wrong to throw away. The idea of extra packing cubes may be an incentive to buy sheets elsewhere!

    3. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      Sweater weather for dogs! Never thought I’d be the person who buys clothes for my pets, and yet here we are! A friend told me she was disappointed in me, but I’m not even sorry because it causes me such great delight!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        A friend of mine and her husband got one of those Cornish Rex cats, a white one, and they dress her up sometimes. She doesn’t mind. They take lots of pictures and videos of their baby and share them. <3

  27. catsaway*

    I am looking for vacation recommendations! I will be going to Italy for a conference in February. Since the most expensive part of a European vacation (plane tickets) is being paid by someone else and it’s the off season so there are a lot of good hotel deals I’m going to take a long weekend type vacation in Florence.
    I am looking for any recommendations/suggestions of what to do in and around Florence for 3-4 days. I’ve been to Florence before, but it was just for one day so I hit up the major sites but not much else. I don’t want to see ‘David’ again but I do want to go to the Uffizi Gallery. What else is good to see in Florence or what nearby city is best for a day trip? Any recommendations for good and reasonbly priced restaurants in Florence? Since it’ll be February I’m more looking for indoor sites since I know I can’t count on the weather to be good enough to spend all day outside. I’ve traveled to Italy, and on my own, before so I am comfortable navigating trains and old European cities by myself.

    1. Winter Squirrel*

      We spent 4 days in florence in April a few years back. I can’t remember the names of the restaurants for the life of me. I don’t remember disagreeing with tripadvisor’s assessment of restaurants though (we avoided the very touristic spots and had a 25-30€ per person budget per evening – with no wine-. At midday we snacked: focaccia, ice creams, ‘cakes assortment for lunch’ and the like) .

      Here are some suggestions for activities:
      We enjoyed just strolling around and visiting the churches, even those not listed in the top ten lists are pretty grandiose. Since there’s about a church every other street, it’s doable with an umbrella even in bad weather.^^
      If you haven’t been to the Duomo ( Santa Maria del Fiore – the Cathedral) it’s definitely worth the trip. The Basilica San Lorenzo and the adjacent chapels of the Medicis family (Cappelle Medecee) are also architectural wonders and have interesting history.
      If you like art and history, the national museum (Museo Nazionale del Bargello) is very interesting and beautiful. It’s a nice addition to the Uffizi.
      The Boboli garden (good weather required) is lovely and the museums nearby are worth a look (all in the large “Palazzo Pitti”) : there’s classical art, modern art,porcelain, silverware etc. You can keep busy for an afternoon easily.
      The library ‘biblioteca delle Oblate’ is also nice hideout if it’s raining.

      There’s Siena and Pisa about an hour’s bus away, there’s plenty to keep you busy for a day in each town. I found Siena to be more charming, but I was there in the spring and we mostly stayed outdoors admiring the architecture. For just one day, the tourist office will give you everything you need to know.

      Have fun!

    2. Hellanon*

      The Museum of the History of Science is fantastic, and is pretty much at the back of the Uffizi on the river. The Pazzi Chapel at Santa Croce is worth a visit as is the Medici Chapel. The Opificio, up near Accademia, is interesting if you are a fan of the Florentine stone-inlay work. Sienna, Volterra, Orvieto, San Gimignano are all fairly close; Bologna is about an hour by train, and the trip over the mountains is beautiful. Heck, Rome is not all that far and you can see a few of the major sights if you get an early start. Enjoy – Florence is beautiful!

      1. catsaway*

        Thanks for all the church and city recommendations. Bologna wasn’t even on my radar and it looks like its 35 minutes from Florence on the high speed train.

    3. DragoCucina*

      I second the Bargello. The Brancacci Chapel is small but Masaccio’s frescoes are breathtaking. There are also lots of good places to eat in the neighborhood. One of my favorite meals of all my trips to Florence was in a neighborhood filled with auto body shops. There was no formal menu, just what was made that day. The Certosa of Galluzzo is a beautiful monastery that’s a bus ride outside of Florence.

      1. catsaway*

        Thanks for the monastery recommendation – it looks very interesting and I don’t know if I would have found out about it myself.

    4. Traffic_Spiral*

      I’d spend a little time outside florence proper – go see a winery and have some good rustic tuscan food: bistecca alla Fiorentina, some boar pasta, definitely a truffle dish, and lots of nice chianti. Torre a Cona is my favorite winery – they all speak English, but it’s not one of the huge industrial wineries that they ship the busloads of tourists to. Then get recommendations for some good restaurants in the area from them.

      1. catsaway*

        Are any of theses things accessible via train or bus? My budget is more 2/3 star hotel off season, so I can’t rent a car.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I’d recommend booking in advance for the Uffizi. Even at low season it can be hugely busy with very long queues, so booking ahead for a timed ticket will save you a lot of queuing.
      Siena and Pisa are both easy to get to via public transport,and are interesting.
      I’d second or 3rd! the Bargello.

    6. Applesauced*

      Il Latini is a great restaurant in Florence! I went 10 years ago so I can’t remember the price, but I was a student so it couldn’t have been too dear. And it was SO GOOD

  28. MCL*

    Favorite vegetarian freezer meal resource? I have a friend with an infant who is experiencing a family emergency and could use some single serving meals that can easily be reheated. I’d like to make her something beyond soup/chili. She is vegetarian. I don’t really do make ahead cooking in my own life, so tips are helpful. Like, especially helpful would be resources with explicit instructions for how to freeze and heat, and recommendations for storage while frozen.

    1. ElspethGC*

      Pasta bakes can be portioned and frozen pretty easily. Sometimes the pasta goes a bit soggy, but it’s still tasty – I eat them as frozen leftovers pretty regularly. Lentil curries are also a good option. Very filling and full of good stuff, and fairly quick and easy for you to make as well. Toss some naans into the care pack (they can also be frozen and cooked from frozen) to go with the curries. A lot of recipes I’ve seen for lentil curry talk about adding rice, but we just eat them with naans and they work fine.

      I’m afraid I don’t have any specific recipes to link to – I tend to wing my own cooking with whatever I have in the house, but I know that the pasta bakes we freeze as leftovers are just cooked how you’d normally cook it to eat that night, then the leftovers put in some tupperware once we’ve finished eating and chucked in the freezer until we next want it.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      If you don’t mind, or your friend won’t mind, commercial frozen dinners, there’s a line of vegetarian frozen entrees called Amy’s. They’re available in normal supermarkets (meaning, you don’t have to find a specialty organic shop for them).

      1. MCL*

        Thanks! Amy’s is pretty common here. I want to include some homemade stuff as well. I’m just not exactly sure how to store said homemade stuff. Do I wrap single servings in foil before freezing or something? I don’t want to show up with a whole pan that I’ll have to coordinate the return of…

        1. ElspethGC*

          When I batch-cook (I’m cooking for one; sometimes I do a big batch and freeze then reheat each serving as needed) this is what I do.

          Let’s say I’m cooking a big batch of pasta sauce with veggies. Cook as normal, ladle servings into takeaway containers (like those plastic containers you get with Thai or Chinese) or storebought containers (search for “disposable freezer containers”, your friend probably doesn’t want to do washing up). Leave lids off servings for half an hour or so for them to cool down. Put lids on, put in freezer. Sorted. That’s literally all it takes. Make food, put serving-sized portions of food in containers, put containers in freezer.

          When it’s time to eat them, take them out of the freezer, take the lids off, put the container in the microwave on the defrost setting, blast it for five minutes at a time with stirring in between until it’s melted, then usually stick it in the microwave for a few minutes on medium-high heat just to heat it through. Again, nothing complicated.

        2. Sam I Am*

          I made mini lasagnas and stuffed shells in disposable loaf pans. I used the next-to smallest ones at my store, they fit one lasagna noodle at the bottom of each pan perfectly. A little sturdier than foil, a lot easier to find room in the freezer than a large pan.

      1. Max Kitty*

        For the burritos, you can wrap in freezer paper or foil and then put them in a gallon plastic bag.
        For the casserole and the waffles, I just use the square Ziploc plastic containers.

  29. Bad Janet*

    Those of you who have done Toastmasters – what is your experience? how has it helped you? what’s a meeting like?

    I’m trying to gauge whether it’s a good fit for my needs. It seems to be geared toward public speaking which, funnily enough, I’m OK with. Public speaking doesn’t freak me out. My problems lie in 1-on-1 networking type speaking. I’ve seen raves about TM (online, don’t know anyone personally) that indicate the org helped the person in this way also, but their website seems pretty pretty focused on public speaking.

    Flipside, since I generally view public speaking as “prepared” speaking (hence, why it doesn’t bother me – I’m good at preparing!), I view 1-on-1 as more “improv” which is where I completely freeze. So, I’m looking at the local improv classes (and have a few friends who have done these to great success). Anyone here that can speak to that side of the equation?

    1. carrie heffernan*

      So I have done it and it has been a while, but every meeting had a section called Table Topics – someone comes up with a topic or theme and then calls on people and you have to stand up and speak for a minute – so it is very much on the fly and learning to be comfortable even if you are not familiar with the topic (faking it, etc) – I think this might help with 1:1 networking.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I was in Toastmasters for a while, and Table Topics gave me great practice for speaking on my feet, which was really helpful for a job interview.

        Different groups are different, so if you don’t click with a group, you might want to try another.

    2. Ainomiaka*

      I did a couple of Toastmasters groups. I am basically the same as you-giving a speech to a group is not my issue, particularly if I prepare. Even less so if they are strangers, actually. I don’t think it did a lot for one on one “improv” networking stuff at all. But I wasn’t coming from a place of total fear. I’d love to know if you think the classes help.

    3. Mimmy*

      I’ve thought of doing TM myself. I too am fine with prepared speaking (my main experience is with case conferences) but could definitely use some work with “on your feet” speaking – that’s where I sometimes freeze. I’d love to be able to have intelligent conversation with family, friends and networking contacts. I’m getting better, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.

      I’ll definitely be following this thread!

    4. Lissa*

      Oh this is relevant to my interests! I also have no problem public speaking, but am really bad at 1 on 1 stuff with people I don’t know well. I feel like I always always come off as awkward, and unfortunately have had enough feedback to know it’s not all in my head.

    5. Ann O.*

      I’ve known people whose lives were changed by improv, but in the sense that they fell in love with it, joined improv groups, and performed regularly. I wouldn’t say any of the people I know changed in terms of social conversation.

      Personally, I’ve tried improv a couple of times and do not love it. All it did was show me that my “yes, and” natural instincts are offbeat rather than funny.

    6. Kuododi*

      I haven’t done TM myself but my dear Dad participated back when the Earth’s crust was still cooling. He would be the first to admit if it weren’t for TM and Dale Carnegie he would probably still be squirrelled away in his engineering work room fixing and designing things. The only time he would have talked to anyone at work was the absolute necessary to maintain employment….presentations would have been impossible!!! Now he’s retired after a 30+ yr career in the industry and is very active in the community as a volunteer. He’s still introverted and needs alone time however communication both one-on-one or groups no longer puts him in a near panic.

    7. Just Sgt Pepper, Not the Band*

      Long-time Toastmaster here. I joined for similar reasons – prepared speeches didn’t bother me, but improvisational speaking did (and still does! but I’m better at composing my thoughts on the fly now).

      tl;dr – It’s helpful, but go in with specific goals you want to accomplish, and pick a club/environment that supports those goals.

      What’s a meeting like: Typically, clubs will have Table Topics (one person asks questions and the other members have to answer with no prep time); then a speaking program (1-2 or more speakers giving a prepared speech of 5-7 minutes); then evaluations (by other club members); then awards (best speaker, most improved, best table topics, best evaluator). Clubs may have a business meeting as well (to practice running a formal meeting that uses Robert’s Rules of Order – like the way a board meeting might run).

      Big thing here is that clubs are **highly** variable in their approach and culture. For example, my work club doesn’t have a formal business meeting, typically has 1-2 speakers each meeting, and they stick to a timed agenda and run 50 – 55 minutes. My home club has a 30 minute business meeting, spends 30 minutes on Table Topics, has 3-4 speakers each week, agenda timing is looser, and the meeting runs 2.5 hours – but most of our members have been in Toastmasters 10+ years and prefer a more flexible approach. My work club would never ask about things political or current events; my home club does it all the time and we get into debates. So finding the right fit is key and not every club culture will work for you personally. Many clubs have websites that will give you a glimpse into their personality, and I have yet to run across a club that isn’t looking for more members, so stopping by to listen in is always a good bet.

      Table Topics was the most helpful for me – you get asked a question or given a topic and have to speak to it, immediately, for 1-2 minutes. It helped me practice how to stop, think, and then respond and work around what I didn’t have answers for. I also found evaluating speeches helpful, because I had to listen, digest, and then meaningfully present on what I’d heard pretty quickly.

      But have your own agenda. For example, my home club is large enough that you only really speak once per Table Topics session, so I compose answers in my head even when I don’t have to speak for additional practice. Our long business meetings give me another opportunity to speak on my feet. For a while, I deliberately underprepared for speeches to give me more practice in ad hoc speaking (i.e, I would have a topic and generally know what points I wanted to hit, but I wouldn’t write out the full text of my speech or practice – not the end of the world in my home club but probably a no-no for the work club). Many clubs are big on “the manual” – i.e., the education program promoted by Toastmasters. That wasn’t my thing, so I found a club that really doesn’t care about the official program, and it works for me.

      Speaking of… there are definitely Toastmasters out there who are… how to say it… Extremely Into Promoting The Program. Toastmasters is a useful tool, but it’s just one of many options, and sometimes the folks can be a little die-hard for my taste. But overall, it’s been a good experience, and I’m getting what I want out of the system.

    8. librarygal30*

      With the new Pathways program, you will be able to do different projects than the old program. Table Topics are a great way to learn to think on your feet. I’m getting back into it after a break, and the being able to gather your thoughts quickly on a surprise topic is always a great skill to have!

  30. My MIL is writing a book*

    I know there are a fair amount of writers here so I’m curious to get your takes on this.

    This is going to be long so TL;DR:
    My MIL is writing a biography and it kind of sucks on a few levels. My husband and I would like tips on how to respond to her requests for feedback.

    My MIL plans to publish a biography detailing her experiences growing up on a farm, going to (and dropping out) of medical school, getting into the tech industry, making intercontinental moves every two years (and her experiences dealing with bigotry as a liberal atheist in the Deep South of the US), and clawing her way up through the ranks of a male-dominated industry to get where she is now (an executive at a multinational tech firm).

    Sounds pretty interesting, right? Well, she sent the first draft to my husband (out of the blue; he had no idea that she was writing one) and…

    …The book is pretty bad! For one thing, it’s boring. It reads like this: “I went to school but dropped out when I met (FIL). We got married and had (her son/my Husband). We moved to the US. I didn’t like it. After 2 years we moved to the UK. Then I got a new job in the US so we moved back.” Etc. Etc. She treats incidents where she dealt with extreme harassment and sexism with the same level of detail as a recounting of how FIL had to repaint a room in a house they bought. It’s just a dry retelling of statements of fact with no reflection.

    There are also times in the book where she specifically “names and shames” people she has worked with, who are very much still alive and active in the industry, and didn’t commit any actual misdeeds beyond personality clashes. Seems like a career-limiting move at the very least, especially since she still plans to work in the industry for at least the next decade. She also drops in random sentences about people that don’t go anywhere or otherwise contribute to the story. For example, she plops in one sentence in the book about how my husband’s college roommate has PTSD from his militar service. She never mentions the roommate again and it’s a jarring little detour from an otherwise mundane retelling of how they moved my husband into a new apartment. (Husband is still good friends with the roommate, who is a very private person and surely wouldn’t appreciate knowing that he’s mentioned by name in this way.)

    Last but not least the book spends a not-insignificant amount of time going into detail about how my husband is a brat who “guilt-tripped his unconditionally loving parents” into making choices that made them unhappy. To me it seems pretty obvious that moving between continents every 2 years is bound to be pretty upsetting and hard on a kid. But there’s no such introspection on her account – of course none of it is in any way the parents’ fault and it’s just that my husband is a selfish asshole who hated seeing his parents happy.

    She sent the draft manuscript last week and has been excitedly texting my husband for his “editing feedback”. We’re not entirely sure what to say. From a literary standpoint the book is boring and is probably asking for defamation lawsuits. From a personal standpoint, my husband is extremely hurt by his portrayal. I’m big mad on his behalf because my husband is the most kind, gentle and unselfish soul I’ve ever met and it took years to undo the guilt he felt about “holding his parents back”. He hasn’t responded to her yet. I don’t know what to do or say because I honestly just want to go off on my MIL but that’s not constructive or helpful. Thoughts/advice from the commentariat?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Wow, how to say “I’m not going to be an unconsented-to beta reader for your book where you badmouth me”!

      If it were me, I think I’d respond with something along the lines of, “That’s some book you’ve written. I’m no editor, so I’m not going to get into giving you editing feedback, but I hope you find an editor and agent soon. Truly, I wish you the best of luck.”

      1. My MIL is writing a book*

        You summed it up so well!

        Unfortunately one of the main reasons she sent it to my husband is specifically because he has a related degree and has editing experience (though admittedly not of the biography/long-form type).

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          “Don’t have time with my work commitments to give your book anywhere near full, professional attention. And even if I did, this kind of editing is outside my wheelhouse.”

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          He can say that he’s too close to be objective about it – since obviously the experiences in the book touch on him, and point her to some online literary/editing communities.

    2. WellRed*

      Her story sounds so interesting! But! Not everyone with a story to tell is capable of doing so and alas, she’s one of them. Setting aside your husband’s hurt for now, what happens if you tell her it’s…not very interesting? That it needs details? “Mom, you are so full of life, but it’s not coming through on the page.” Cruel, I suppose, but she doesn’t sound overly sensitive to begin with.

      1. WellRed*

        Also, I assume she’s planning to self publish. If not, the book isn’t going anywhere with an agent or publisher.

        1. My MIL is writing a book*

          That is far less cruel than what I was going to come back with!

          Yeah, I can’t see this going anywhere with an agent, though I’m sure she’s going to try to shop it around. Ultimately she’s likely going to self-publish.

          1. tangerineRose*

            I think I’d start with how naming names could hurt her career and hurt others. Mention that your husband was hurt by what she wrote about him and that many kids don’t like moving so often.

            For the rest, it sounds like she needs an editor and maybe a ghostwriter or someone who can get her to talk about the stuff that should be interesting – details would help.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I would tell her she should have an attorney review it and let her know if there are any legal complications with what she has said about people.

    3. Bad Janet*

      OMG. The most professional route I can think of is to try to redirect her to a professional editor who does this stuff for a living. But the impression I’m getting from your question is that she’s the type of woman who 1: feels she doesn’t need a professional editor (esp since you don’t mention heinous grammar – so many people just think editing is proofreading and it’s so much more than that) and 2: after shopping the manuscript around to no success will self-publish. (Or, worst-case scenario, a bad-actor publisher sees her status and the flaming hot mess and decides to publish and ride the publicity). Maybe the easiest deflection for your husband is “since I’m mentioned in the story/ too close to the story, I’m not qualified to give you fair/unbiased feedback. If publication of this manuscript is a serious pursuit of yours, I recommend finding a qualified editor for a fresh eye toward your story.” There’s a good argument to be made toward being too close/ unbiased / unqualified to provide useful feedback.

      How to recommend an editor: have her pick her 5-10-15 [however many] favorite autobiographies: contact the editor(s) listed in those books. (bonus points if she’s not read enough autobiographies to even manage this)

      1. Nita*

        Seconding that! I’d say that I don’t think I can give unbiased feedback, and it’s best if she works with an editor who can give a fresh perspective. And/or claim lack of time. Possibly give a quick suggestion about which parts of the story need more fleshing out, and which ones could be left out to focus on the good parts. And yeah, probably would suggest either leaving out names, or giving a lot of thought to how she’ll work with these people after.

      2. My MIL is writing a book*

        I like this tack, thank you! We’re really at a loss on how to respond without airing too much hurt, while still giving her some next steps that will lead away from us.

      3. My MIL is writing a book*

        Also, yes, the grammar is heinous. There are smiley faces in the text. Smiley faces. :) :) :)

    4. Laura H.*

      This isn’t helpful but I’d be so tempted to feed it to the shredder and send it back to her…

      But alas. That’s a fantasy.

      The industry tangents are concerning… it’s- pardon the pun- it’s kindling inviting a blaze of disaster to hit….

    5. fposte*

      I don’t think anybody is ever going to see this book, so I wouldn’t worry that much about the defamation part. No publisher is going to pick it up, and nobody’s going to pay any attention to it if she self-publishes.
      Just think of it as a really long blog post from somebody who isn’t ever going to figure out that it’s set to private.

      Options vary, depending on the relationships involved. A cheerful “I’ll read the parts where you say how great a son I am, Mom–let me know what pages they’re on!” A truth-tinged turndown of “Mom, these are times I don’t always want to think about, so I’m going to pass on using my free time to relive them.” An evasion of “Oh, I’ve got so much piled up that I won’t be able to get to it for a while, Mom, and I’m sure it’s fine.” A straight out truth of “Mom, I have some real problems with this project, and while I’m not going to stop you, I’m not going to spend time on it.” I’d choose based on whether I thought getting into the issues behind this would be fruitful or not.

    6. Operational Chaos*

      Has her husband read this book and know what she’s including in her autobiography? Especially the family portrayals and how meanspirited they are? Your FIL might be the better choice to deliver this bad news to her since he’s going to have to deal with the bulk of the consequences- especially the damage to her career she’s about to do.

      1. My MIL is writing a book*

        Yes! Her husband has been encouraging her to do this for years so I’m sure he’s had a pretty heavy hand in how it’s taken shape. Unfortunately that probably also means he’s aware of how his son is portrayed and didn’t have an issue with it.

    7. Sherm*

      Wow. I’d be so tempted to say “Mom, this book, frankly, is boring, choppy, and jarring in its emotional detachment. You’re asking for trouble by naming and shaming people you’ve had mere personality conflicts with. And most troubling for me, Mom, is your apparent need to tell the world that I’m a bratty son who caused you and Dad plenty of unhappiness.”

      I suspect, however, that it would be best for your husband to just remove himself from this as cleanly and quickly as possible. “I’m afraid I don’t have the time. I suggest a professional editor.” Will she think he’s selfish? She already does. And I bet her opinion wouldn’t change even if he edited and polished the whole thing.

    8. I edit books for a living*

      Hey, DIL. I edit books for a living, fiction and nonfiction. You’ve gotten some excellent advice from these awesome posters. I am happy to answer any questions I can about memoir-writing.

      It does sound like she has a cool story. I’ve seen people with less interesting stories write memoirs. What it sounds like she really needs is a ghostwriter. Because an editor is not going to turn someone into a riveting writer. All we can do is advise on prose, pace, character development, etc., and only if we’re hired to do that. There are different levels of editing, and we’re not going to spend our time on this type of review if we were hired for a copyedit (mechanical edits, like punctuation, consistency, etc.) In fact, you’re really not supposed to do more than one type of edit at a time. The rest is up to the author. Any more than that, we need to get paid as ghostwriters. And it’s a whole different skillset that not every every writer or editor has.

      As for the diciness of the names. It’s easier to use real names at this stage, then change them later. Trust me, you might think you’ll remember who’s Jennifer and who’s Joyce, but mixing them up could be pretty disastrous. Even if she does change names, I am a fan of hiring a lawyer. It can’t hurt.

      It’s pretty rich of your MIL to bad-mouth your husband, then turn around and ask him to edit her book. Gag. I agree with the posters above; he’s too close to give it a neutral read. I mean, this is not a dodge, it’s the truth!

    9. StellaBella*

      Agree with the advice and the comments here – all very well thought out. I think tho that you are correct in weighing the damage this will/has caused to the people in it she’s named. I think she needs to have a ‘come to jesus’ meeting about this. It is poorly written, and mean-spirited. Also – one cannot give ‘editing feedback’ on a rough draft, with no clear organisational structure or ‘story’. It cannot be an autobiography if it is just a recounting of a series of things she did/places she went/people she met – some of whom she reveals painful information about – there is no story there…this is just a ranting of a diary of honestly, a person whose stuck in their teens it sounds like.

      My advice? Your husband should say no, he has no time for this, and be honest – he does not appreciate the ‘outing’ of his friend, the naming and shaming of people she works/worked with, and that the whole thing is a terrible idea – and she should read a few autobiography/memoirs that are well written first, and think about why she wants to speak poorly of people if this is *her* story. I’d be tempted to redline it to hell and flag things in yellow that are just horrible things to say about outers, etc etc but …. I am not the DIL or the son here, so …. :/ I am so sorry. She also sounds a tad narcissistic TBH.

    10. LilySparrow*

      Turning your thoughts – much less your life – into an enjoyable book requires a level of detachment and perspective that is hard-won and does not happen in anyone’s first draft of anything.

      Your husband is in no position to exercise that detachment, either. That’s where I’d come from.

      “Mom, I’m way too close to this story to look at it with professional eyes. And in fact the things you said about me are pretty hurtful. If you want to talk about our relationship, I’m happy to do that. But I’m not the person to edit this manuscript.”

    11. Ann O.*

      What it really sounds like is your husband and MIL need some family therapy to address some deep hurts in the family unit! But that’s not likely to be productive feedback.

      If I were in his shoes, I would recommend shopping the manuscript to a full service vanity press. I don’t know of any by name, but I used to work for one. We had in-house editors. Authors paid a fee for various packages of services (that could include ghostwriting). The one I worked for actually had to accept the manuscript, but I think that was atypical. As I understand, it’s generally pay money for the level of service you want. At the very least, you get an eval of the manuscript. I’m not sure about this, but I think a full service press would also advise on the legal issues of naming.

      If you know for sure that she has no ego invested in her writing skills, he could advise that she hires a ghostwriter to help her. It does sound like she has a genuinely compelling story in her life! But if you don’t know 100% about that, I would keep things vaguer. Other people have given the good suggestion of your husband using his closeness to the story as a polite way to wiggle out.

      I do think if nothing else, that’s a question your husband should raise with his MIL. This is a draft, so it’s not unreasonable for her to use real names here. But if she self-publishes, she needs to obscure identifying details for her own protection. Of course at the end of the day, all you can do is advise.

        1. DragoCucina*

          Sorry my iPad refreshed and posted.

          She will probably flog her book. In the past year I have been invited to 3 BIG parties for self-published books. One person had bagpipers, food, and sold about 300 books. Another it was people in period costumes, champagne, and sold about 100. In OP’s husband’s case that’s more people than need to know his family business.

          Unless his mother loses interest the best thing the husband can do is distance himself.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Eeep. I’m cringing at the naming and shaming. I agree with I edit books for a living; she’s gonna need a lawyer.

      About the writing itself—first drafts will suck, whether you’re a complete newbie or Stephen King (though King’s drafts probably suck a lot less than say, mine, because he’s had so much practice.) But a lot of folks don’t realize that a memoir, though technically non-fiction, needs to be written with engaging language and an eye toward storytelling.

      If this were my mother, I’d point her toward some books on writing memoir and some really good, well-written ones to read as examples and leave it at that. There is no way I’d edit for someone like this, especially if they dissed me IN the book, mother or not!

    13. LGC*

      Tell your husband to get you and a friend together so you can make a podcast out of it and clown the manuscript. You wouldn’t be the first. You could even call it, “My Mom Wrote A Tell-All.”

      (Tangentially related: The last Porno Day of 2018 (and possibly, ever) is in about 7 hours and who else is excited as hell about it?!)

      But yeah, your mom probably needs outside assistance if she wants to actually have it reviewed. But your MIL comes across as lacking in introspection, at the very least – she gave the manuscript to her son, not thinking that…hey, he’s actually a major player in this story so it’d be difficult for him to review this objectively. (And then there’s the entire character assassination of her bratty son who didn’t just go along with his globe-trotting parents when he was a kid, presumably because he as an 8-year-old couldn’t appreciate that his mom was a Great Woman who did Great Things.) Whether it’s an editor or a ghost writer (honestly, I’d suggest the latter), she probably shouldn’t publish it like that.

      I’d suggest your husband frames it as…he can’t edit it because he plays such a large role in the book (which is true if she spends a substantial amount of time assassinating his character in the book). I don’t know if I’d provide any criticism because it sounds like your MIL is possibly infested by evil bees not going to take it in.

  31. PenPal*

    I’ve been trying to find an e-mail penpal on the penpal subreddit. I messaged a guy recently who sounded super fun and friendly, and we exchanged one message. Then I told him I wouldn’t be able to respond for a couple to several days because some serious, stressful stuff had come up in my life, and I needed some time to calm down before being able to concentrate on writing again.

    He said it I sounded like I needed someone to talk to and did I want to talk about it on instant messenger? I said no, thanks, not comfortable unloading that kind of emotional burden on a stranger. He said it was no burden at all and he hoped it didn’t feel like he was pressuring me, he was just very concerned and wanted to help. Nope, not pressured, thank you. Then he wanted to know if I was suicidal. No, not suicidal. He’s very relieved! Etc.

    Thought it was kind of odd that a stranger would act so concerned. (If I got a message saying someone I just “met” couldn’t write for a few days, I would have just thanked them for letting me know and said I was fine with waiting for them to sort things out.) I’m not sure if it’s a sign that he’s going to be one of those guys that get inappropriate or weird a few messages in as has happened to me in the past. Am I over reacting?

    1. Forking great username*

      I think you are. You could have just said you were having a hectic couple of days – the fact that you opened up the subject of you having serious stressful stuff and an “emotional burden” going on…his response just sounds like him being a decent human being.

      1. PenPal*

        I should have worded it better than saying “serious, stressful stuff” (probably could have just said “some stuff” came up). I couldn’t really think straight at the time and wanted to make sure he knew I wasn’t ghosting him.

        I think it’s inappropriate to shove any sort of “emotional burden” on a stranger you just met. Like, if you go on a first date and the other person spends two hours venting about their landlord being a jerk, how they just got unfairly fired from their job, and their best friend is spreading lies about them, etc. that’s not good. I feel like there’s a term for it but I can’t think of it.

      1. PenPal*

        I agree. I realize I shared too much now. I think “a tad pushy” is a good way to view this. I specifically said I couldn’t talk, so it was a little pushy to then send a bunch of messages with questions that I might feel obligated to respond to.

    2. Anon Anon Anon*

      Yeah, giving that kind of a reason that early on probably sent some kind of signal. But you didn’t do anything wrong, or even unusual. Most people don’t use the best judgment when they’re upset.

      I think asking if you were suicidal is a little creepy, especially coming after you said you didn’t want to talk. I would proceed with caution.

      1. PenPal*

        He said he was asking about suicide because he’d found out one of his high school classmates committed suicide several years ago. But I didn’t give any indication that I was suicidal (I didn’t say I was hopeless or wanting to die or anything). I thought it was odd he would jump to that conclusion based on me being too stressed out to write to him.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I’d say you shared a little too much, which is why he acted the way he did. That said, I don’t think you’re overreacting at all. If someone acted like this with me, I’d find it very suffocating and I’d be backing off a lot. But that’s how I am in general.

      1. PenPal*

        Yeah, it kind of felt like being smothered with concern and required a bunch of energy to keep responding to questions. I would have appreciated a “If you need to vent or anything, let me know” more.

  32. Marguerite*

    I have a group of friends that I see and they sometimes bring other friends. There is one guy, “Ian”, who is sometimes very funny, but can be rather touchy. Ian likes to joke around, but has trouble taking a joke and then gets defensive. The last time we met, our friend joked to Ian that he never says “good night.” So now every time we end the evening, Ian has to make it a point to say “Good night” and add, “See, Anneliese? I said, “Good night!” Every time! It’s rather awkward. Luckily she just laughs and plays it off, but why does he hang on to things like that?

    He also does it with other people, but it is draining because we all just want to have a fun and light hearted time. Does anyone know someone who does this? What is it with the person who does this?

    1. Forking great username*

      …honestly, I don’t really get what the issue is here. Someone pointed out that he never says goodnight. Which kind of seems like a weird thing to point out? You said she was joking, but it doesn’t sound like a joke. It sounds like her correcting him over something that doesn’t matter. So now he pointedly makes sure to say good night. And somehow that’s the problem/not getting the joke?

      Confused. Maybe it would make sense to me if I’d been there, but just from reading about it, it sure doesn’t sound like Ian is the only one who was being awkward or overthinking things. It sounds like you just don’t like Ian and are being annoyed by whatever he says.

    2. GhostWriter*

      I think if he just made it a point to go out of his way to always say good night to Anneliese, it might be like a cute inside joke thing, but I think saying good night and then pointing out to Anneliese that he said good night (and doing so repeatedly) does make it feel more passive aggressive.

      If Anneliese laughs and plays it off, it doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal to her. If it’s bothering you, could you tell him you’re getting tired of the joke and ask him to let it go?

    3. anon today and tomorrow*

      Well, your friend was awkward for pointing out that he never said “good night”, which is kind of a weird thing someone only brings up if they’re really bothered by it.

    4. Snoring Pup*

      I definitely have a friend who likes to joke at other’s expense but doesn’t like it about herself! Most recently, she keeps teasing me because I have the first birthday of the year in our friend group, and therefore am the “oldest” (hers is around this time of year so she’s the “youngest” of our group). She keeps joking that I’m the old lady of our group and whatnot. I’ve been getting real sick of talking birthdays with her because she constantly points it out.

      Next year is a milestone birthday for our group. So the last time she made the old comment, I said “Yeah but I get the first big party of the year so celebrate the milestone while you gotta wait til so late in year”. She did not like that I joked about that and got really huffy. But at least she’s stopped making the old comments since then.

    5. C Baker*

      Does Anneliese mind that he does this? Do the other people mind? Surely, if they have a problem with how he speaks to them, they need to bring it up to him themselves.

    6. Lissa*

      I think sometimes people don’t realize they are doing something every single time, and that it gets sort of irritating. It sounds like everyone has a fairly jokey relationship, which does mean that occasionally someone will take something badly, but I disagree with the people above who think Anneliese is the one in the wrong – she made a joke that didn’t work out, *once*. time for Ian to let it go.

      I have a friend who I once mentioned to that I don’t feel emotionally connected to celebrity deaths, and he took it weirdly badly. Now anytime there’s a death he’s affected by, he’ll make some comment like “But I know Lissa doesn’t give a F so…” One day I am seriously just going to be rude to him like “yup, you’re right, I’m not affected by the death of a 90 year old I never met! I’m a monster!”

      1. Marguerite*

        That’s it! Ian can joke about everyone else, but if someone makes a joke towards him, he gets defensive.

    7. ainomiaka*

      Without being there to hear tone, this reads to me as the original joke came across more hurtful than Anneliese intended and he is being a little passive aggressive, but trying to do what she wanted. Also that he can tell that there is some hostility towards him.
      Best advice I can come up with is be accepting and inviting for a while and then maybe say it isn’t necessary.

    8. Kuododi*

      My mother tends to fixate on what you or I would see as trivial stuff in dealing with interpersonal issues. However I have mentioned before that she’s in the mid stages of dementia following traumatic brain injury. Bottom line is that this is one of the many “quirky” things we are learning to breathe and accept about the new version of Mom. Best wishes.

  33. Bacon Pancakes*

    The Camp Fire in Northern California has been raging for nine days.
    Nine days and 71 lives lost.
    Nine days and 1,110 people still missing.
    Nine days and 9,700 homes destroyed.
    Nine days and 50% containment at 146,000 acres.
    Nine days and the worst air quality on earth.

    1. Competent Commenter*


      I’m 70 miles away and our air quality hit 328. Feels like the end of the world here and we are fortunate to not be otherwise personally affected. My God what those people in Paradise are going through. :(

    2. Mimmy*

      I’m amazed at how much the number of people missing keeps jumping up day by day. What accounts for that?

      The Camp fire is so heartbreaking – here’s hoping that conditions begin to improve soon. Please stay safe.

      1. MattKnifeNinja*

        There was one place that was mostly seniors. It was in Paradise, CA.

        Many seniors don’t have cell phones.

        Many seniors don’t have immediate family that checks on them.

        Many seniors have neighbors, but who knows when those neighbors left, and didn’t have time to say where they are going.

        Seniors went to one shelter, then wound up at another.

        If the trailer park was burned up, who knows where anyone is? Land lines and contact information is gone. People who were too sick, cognitively impaired, too stubborn might have perished in the inferno. If you don’t keep contact with someone, no one can report you missing.

        I think the increase of numbers, is people finally are able to figure out, “We haven’t heard from Roger down the street.” Figuring out, oh Aunt Sue moved to Paradise and we haven’t heard from her.

        When people don’t have routine contact with others, it’s hard to piece meal where they’ve been/are located.

      2. Undine*

        At this point, they’re publishing all names they have, which may include duplicates, names which were misspelled when taken down, names of people who have already been located. I guess they are casting as wide as net as possible so as not to miss anyone.

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          I’ve been wondering about the undocumented immigrants and anyone else who would have been keeping a low profile (people with warrants, runaway youth, etc). Would anyone report those people as missing? Would people even know what their legal names are? Regardless of what you think about those groups of people, they have families and friends who would be left wondering.

    3. tangerineRose*

      I have friends who live in that area. It’s heartbreaking.

      I’m trying to think about the rescues, the kindness that people are showing to each other, the people who are reunited with their pets.

    4. Woodswoman*

      Those I know who were affected directly by the Camp Fire were lucky to get out with their lives and their pets. So many lives lost and lives turned upside down. The last estimate I heard was that 90% of Paradise was destroyed. So people are not only looking at losing their homes, but also their whole community–jobs, schools, neighbors. It’s heartbreaking.

      The air in the Bay Area is heinous. Even with my air purifiers which typically do the trick, this level of smoke is aggravating my asthma. It’s California’s worst air quality in recorded history. I’m staying indoors, using my inhalers, taking antihistamines and the lung herbs my acupuncturist gave me, and I still feel just barely ahead of a breathing episode. One of my neighbors has had pneumonia and with the intensity of the smoke yesterday, she passed out and went to the hospital in an ambulance (better now and back home fortunately).

      We really, really need rain.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I wish I could send ours to you. We’re supposed to get rain tomorrow. I also wish I were closer because people could come stay with me.

        Ima kick some climate deniers in the booty.

      2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        I think you recommended the “L” Hepa filter purifier last week? I ordered it from Amazon finally, and awoke – at last – with being able to breathe through my nose. Thank you!

    5. Ann O.*

      I’m in the Bay Area, choking on our horrible air and I still can’t really conceptualize the magnitude of the suffering and disaster.

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        Me too. I’ve lived there at various times for a total of about 10 years. I couldn’t stand to see some unsavory politicians in the news coverage today. Still trying to come to terms with it all.

  34. Anon here again*

    Can anyone recommend any good shows to watch on Netflix? Just finished watching the new Sabrina series, but don’t know what to watch next.

    1. Rebecca*

      I admit getting a kick out of Norsemen, which I thought was a documentary until about 30 seconds into it! Started watching Lilyhammer again, now with subtitles…admitting here in a safe place that I had no idea about subtitles and watched the first 2 episodes without them, thinking, this seems to be a good show, but would be better if I understood what was being said. Um, yeah. Also watching Broadchurch and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

      1. Asenath*

        Norsemen is hysterically funny – a bit raw in places, but still I loved it. One of my sisters put me on to it – her husband, an artist, loves it too – especially Rufus.

      2. Earthwalker*

        I read that every scene in Norsemen was filmed twice, once with actors speaking Norse and once English.

      1. Lily Evans*

        Those shows are both so good! I still can’t understand how Sense8 flew under the radar for so many people, it was one of the best put together shows I’ve ever seen.

      2. merp*

        (Two days later but) omg I get so excited when I see other people recommend Sense8. I love it so much! I wish more people other than us had loved it (partly so that we could had a less rushed ending and partly so I had more people in my life to gush about it with, haha).

    2. Anon here again*

      I was watching “Shetland”, but I just can’t get into it. The scenery is beautiful though…

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Black Mirror (Intense)
      Glow (Dramedy)
      The Great British Baking Show (Food Fun)
      Kim’s Convenience (Funny)
      Marvel’s Luke Cage (Drama—watch season 1 only)
      Rita (Dramedy)
      Salt Fat Acid Heat (Food Fun)
      Somebody Feed Phil (Food Fun)