weekend free-for-all – November 3-4, 2018

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

Book recommendation of the week: Family Trust, by Kathy Wang. I got an advance copy of this and I devoured it. It’s about a patriarch who has long promised his family he’s leaving them a fortune when he goes, his two kids, his ex-wife, and his second wife — and how things unravel and come back together for all of them. It’s funny and layered and I loved it.

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

{ 1,170 comments… read them below }

  1. Julia*

    I wanted to apologize for some of the things I said in the thread about Christmas this week, especially to Sachi (if she’s reading this). I was having a really bad day/week/month, which doesn’t excuse any of it, and I’ve since stepped away from this blog and will stay away for a bit to sort some things out. I might not read any replies to this either.
    I’m sorry.

    1. misspiggy*

      FWIW (and from an outsider’s perspective), I didn’t pick up on you saying anything bad. For me you were one of the more moderate and informed voices in a thread which worked through complex issues about identity and difference (and was instructive to read).

      Anyway, I hope things get better and life becomes all puppies and rainbows as soon as possible.

        1. Julia*

          Thank you all! I do think that I got really harsh and snippy towards the end, because I was in a bad mood that day, and it wasn’t okay. I carried that with me for the rest of the week and waited until the thread came online to apologize. (I couldn’t bear to open the actual thread again, plus I assume no one would read it anymore.)

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      Meh, love it or hate it, Christmas brings out the crazy in us all. Everyone gets a bit of a pass for Christmas irrationality.

    3. Bowserkitty*

      Speaking of Julia, do we have any way to get in contact for our continued discussion of the Tokyo AAM meetup? I think about it everytime I see your name here! :)

        1. Julia*

          I actually posted my email address here a short while ago and received emails from five people. If you’re one of them, please check your spam folders. If not, please email me under turtle_fangirl23(at)yahoo.com. (Don’t worry, this is my spam address that I don’t mind getting out, Alison!)

    4. CM*

      Hi Julia, I didn’t read the Christmas thread, but I did want to mention that I was just reading a response you wrote to another post and was thinking, oh, that’s Julia — she always has interesting input, especially about Japanese culture and norms. I appreciate you!

  2. Loose Seal*

    I just want to brag a bit and say that I got to go to the Stacey Abrams (running for governor of Georgia)/Pres. Obama rally Friday and I got to be on the stage right behind the speakers! I had a blast but the downside was that I had to stand with no breaks for about seven hours, which is hard on this old body. Now whenever I see those news clips I’ll know that everyone back there has really sore feet. And calves. And backs.

    1. StellaBella*

      Well done! I saw some clips, including Representative Lewis dancing and the clip of Oprah and Ms Abrams dad chatting on how much he believed in her. It was inspiring!

    2. Stan Lee (not the famous one)*

      “I had to stand with no breaks for about seven hours”

      Wow… that must have affected your ability to enjoy the event as it was happening.

      I’m sure looking back on it today, in retrospect and now that you’ve presumably recuperated, you’re glad you were there and have no regrets. But would I be correct in presuming that there were moments where you just wished the darn thing would just f*****g end already, so that you could go home and get some relief?

      1. Auntie Social*

        Probably a combination of that and wishing it would never end, because when is that going to happen again?

        1. Stan Lee (not the famous one)*

          Sounds right… but at the same time it must be frustrating because all around you, everyone else is enjoying the event with no problems, they’re just so glad to be there and everything’s right with the world and life is all happy happy joy joy and sunshine and flowers and peace and love and happy chocolate and if you’re miserable because your feet hurt then something’s wrong with you and you really don’t belong here anyway so just shut up, take it like a man, and don’t spoil my fun.

          That’s the perception I’ve had when I felt like OP, even though in my case the events didn’t involve having to stand in one spot for seven hours.

          And of course, who knows how many of those happy happy joy joy people might actually be feeling miserable themselves, and be looking at me and thinking I’m one of those happy happy joy joy people! Oh brother (sister), if you only knew…

          1. Loose Seal*

            Yes, that’s exactly it. I even felt a bit guilty admitting my sore feet here so I’m glad you all understand. I mean, it’s all well and good to say you could have danced all night but the physical reality sets in eventually.

            The event handlers that herded us gave us multiple opportunities to drop out and go find a seat in the back of the auditorium. They were very good at estimating how much time was left and made sure we knew when our very last opportunity to back out of the onstage group was. They told us that we would be close to the podium but we couldn’t use our phones much because they wanted our faces on TV (understandable) and that we had to commit to looking and acting responsive to the speeches. The only surprises — and I’m sure they didn’t really know ahead of time to tell us — were the wobbly risers and the fact that we couldn’t hear very well because all the speakers pointed away from us. So we all got really good at judging whether to applaud or laugh or shout based on what the rest of the room was doing.

      2. Loose Seal*

        Yes! That’s exactly how I felt. He never seems so long-winded on TV. I’m sure he only spoke for 20 minutes or so but by that point all of us up on the risers had our shoes off and were discreetly taking turns to put a leg up on a higher or lower riser for a change.

        Also, the whole time he was onstage I felt like I was in a dream so I wasn’t as in the moment as I wished I could have been. I still am very glad I didn’t pass up the opportunity.

    3. CAA*

      Wow, that must have been inspiring (and tiring)! Obama is a great speaker. He gave the commencement address when my daughter graduated from college, and although we had to be there hours early at least we had bleachers to sit on.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Me too. There is a third party candidate that’s been polling around 1.3%. In GA, if a candidate doesn’t get over 50%, we have to have a runoff a month later (Dec 4). I really, really, really hope we don’t have to have a runoff. But I also wish that we aren’t bogged down for months in recounts and lawsuits. We are going right to the wire. Fingers crossed and all that!

    4. Ann O.*

      That is awesome! Although it’s a shame that they can’t figure out a way to give people breaks.

      And what do people do if they have to go to the bathroom?

      1. Loose Seal*

        They held us in the hallway until right before they brought on Stacey Abrams (followed by Obama) and there was a unisex bathroom right there (a true unisex one with all genders in there in about four different stalls and shared sinks; I was super impressed with that since I have t seen one of those in a while!)

        Standing in the hallway ahead of time wasn’t as bad as standing on the risers because you could shift positions at will. It was when we got on the risers that it turned hellish. They were aluminum and only about 10 inches wide and we were packed on there. So you couldn’t move without shaking the risers and knocking your neighbors off balance. We all kind of felt we knew each other enough by then because we had been herded from place to place together all afternoon so we worked out a system to help each other shift around and fan each other with our signs. I added 9 new people to my FB friend’s last night. That part was great.

        1. valentine*

          This is terrible. Only people who can stand for seven hours can do this? No one thought to put in stadium seats (for back support as well) or teleprompters aimed at you?

          1. Loose Seal*

            Yes, I thought about that when everyone around me was commenting about the diversity of the group picked. I mentioned that racial diversity isn’t the only thing and it would have been nice to allow those who couldn’t stand for so long to come up there. (There was an ADA entrance but I could not tell where their seats were from where I was).

            This especially hits home for me because I use a variety of mobility aids, including a wheelchair, depending on how my body is feeling. And I’m never sure if I can go to things I’ve committed to. For this, though, I took every pain med and muscle relaxer that I’m allowed to so I could manage it without any physical aids (also explains why I felt like I was in a dream the whole time) and I knew it would take days for me to recover physically (I’ve been in bed for all but two hours today when I moved to my chair beside the bed). Was it worth it? Yes, I think so. But I know if I had had my canes or wheelchair, I would not have been pulled out of the regular line to go onstage. There would have been no way to get me up there for one thing.

    5. It’s all good*

      Wow! Experience of a lifetime. I hope you recover soon. I’ve has quite a few dreams over the years that I’ve met the Obama’s and they were very coool.

  3. StellaBella*

    Here’s a topic: what are you proud of doing/achieving this week (non-work stuff)?

    Me? I did some touch-up painting, cleaning, and donating of some stuff as I prepare to move … and I saw a citizen’s advice counsellor to discuss my ongoing issues with my landlady and her renovations in this place – things that were not needed and interfered for months with my life, so am working on the details this weekend of sorting this out before I move.

    Share your accomplishments and celebrate yourself (which I wrote as elevate first – need more coffee! But elevate works too).

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Silly as it sounds: I watched two horror movies BACK-TO-BACK and did not have nightmare! I’m a rather notorious scaredy-cat, so this is quite the achievement for me.

      1. Loopy*

        Kudos! I watched the first three episodes of a really well done horror show (the haunting of hill house or something…?) on Netflix and dropped it for fear of potential nightmares- even though it was really good!

    2. Loopy*

      I forced myself to not put off a ton of tiny things this week and it was so much more productive for it! Things like emailing a thank you, calling the doctor and making an appointment, ordering wedding stuff, doing the really boring parts of wedding planning (address labels, gah), making a grocery list, picking out a birthday present, etc. So many tiny, easy things, but it’s so hard to just do them NOW.

        1. Loopy*

          It worked out that way. When I remembered something, if it was at all possible I just sat down and took care of it right then, even if I didn’t really want to. Mostly I’ve learned making a mental note to do something later never really works (my mental note disappears!)

    3. Waiting for the Sun*

      Helped an ailing acquaintance clean her apartment with some other friends.

      Did political canvassing last Saturday and about to do more today. It’s at households who voted with the party in the past, so preaching to the choir, but hopefully helps.

      1. jess r*

        It does help! At this stage, it’s all about reminding folks to vote, making sure they know their polling place, all the logistics. It absolutely helps.

    4. Overeducated*

      It was the week of Halloween AND my kid’s birthday, so I feel like it was a big team effort to make it through the week! We made a costume, went trick or treating, baked and decorated cupcakes for school, wrapped presents, and took kid out for McDonald’s on the night of the birthday. It doesn’t sound like that much but on top of work and normal life, there went all our free time. Today we have to get supplies and make a cake for the party tomorrow.

      1. StellaBella*

        Wow, good job multi-tasking – it sounds like a lot to me, but I only have a cat. :) Happy Halloween!

    5. Old retired me*

      I signed up to do a female only mini triathlon. 200 meter swim, 9 mile bike, 2 mile run. Im social security age so wonder if I’ll be the old lady on the course.
      Went to the pool to swim for the first time in years and years and was able to (slowly) knock out 200 meters. Now, to get the bike out of the corner of the garage and see if it’s true that you never forget.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        Wow… in awe. keep us posted… (Im’ not there in the fitness bracket, but it lurks as a deep wish). Inspiring!

      2. Anonicat*

        I just started riding again about a month ago and it’s true you don’t forget the balance! But it took me a couple of weeks to relearn corners, braking and gear changing with confidence. Just go slow and stick to bike paths and quiet back streets and it will all come back soon enough.

    6. Red Reader*

      I set myself five daily goals and one weekly one for October. Nothing huge, mostly little stuff like taking my vitamins and walking 1.5 miles worth of steps a day, but I hit 100% on all six goals! So I rewarded myself with a new winter coat, then added one additional daily goal and bumped up the weekly one for November. :)

      1. StellaBella*

        Terrific – and it is nice feeling a sense of accomplishment on these goals. And yay on the coat!

        1. Red Reader*

          Thank you – I love my old leather, but it was battered when I paid $6 for it at Goodwill in 2012, haha, and does not look nice over a dressier outfit. My new one is a deep red wool-blend peacoat and I’m stoked!

    7. LizB*

      I made a whole five phone-banking calls for an activist organization I’m a part of. I hate the phone and talking politics makes my anxiety go through the roof, so for me this was an accomplishment. After call #4 I was feeling exhausted, but I committed to five, so I did call #5 and thankfully got to leave a voicemail.

    8. Lena Clare*

      Getting out of bed and having a bath, getting dressed and putting make up on to go to the shop despite what feels like crippling depression today :(
      I’ll probably get back into pjs when I get back but it’s an achievement your today.

      1. StellaBella*

        Yes, well done. I have days like this too. And completely understand. So – good job on motivating and getting outside.

      2. Daffy Duck*

        Hey – good job! Managing “can-be-seen-in-public” clothing and make-up is huge some days. I sympathize and am pulling for ya.

    9. Nita*

      I cleaned out my extremely stinky fish tank! Didn’t think I had the energy to do it, but I got through two hours’ worth of cleaning, and it’s beautiful and no longer stinky. Also proud of my husband for doing all the other chores so I could focus on the tank, and then waiting up for me even though it was well past midnight. It’s been another rough week, and I look forward to every chance we get to just talk without anyone interrupting.

    10. Seal*

      I fired my new primary care physician after my first visit. Having recently moved across country for a new job and having some ongoing/chronic health issues, I needed to find several different doctors right away. All of the doctors and specialists I’ve gone to so far (eye doctor, rheumatologist, physical therapist, urgent care) have been great; in fact, better than the ones I had been seeing previously. The nurse who checked me in and gave me my flu shot at primary care physician’s office was great, too. So I was caught completely off guard by the terrible bedside manner of the woman who is now my former primary care physician. She started out by telling me that she would not prescribe a medication I’ve been on for over a decade without asking why I was on it. When I tried to tell her it was for anxiety on an as-needed basis, she dismissed my symptoms and reluctantly wrote a prescription for something else. Since my anxiety issues have been under control for years due to my current meds, I was more than a little alarmed; less than 6 months into a new job in a new part of the country, the last thing I need is to be experimenting with a new medication on someone else’s whim. Things went downhill from there. After I left the office I realized that there was no way I could work with her; I need a primary care physician that will listen to me and take my concerns seriously. So yesterday I called the clinic, told them that my first visit did not go well and that I wanted to start over with a new doctor. To my relief, the person I talked to didn’t question my decision or try to change my mind; they simply found me a new doctor and set up an appointment.

      Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have made that decision so quickly. In fact, back then I stuck with a terrible doctor for years because I didn’t think I had the power to stand up for myself. But walking away from that doctor and finding a much better one was a revelation. So I promised myself that if I every found myself in that situation again, I would walk away ASAP. And that’s exactly what I did this week. Quite proud of myself to standing up for myself!

      1. Buona Forchetta*

        Good for you! I too tend to hesitate to question medical professionals but received good advice once from a nurse before I gave birth. She said to ask, why is this your recommended course of action; what are other alternatives I could consider; what would happen if I didn’t do this; can I think about it and let you know later. It’s a little ad lib and I may have left off 1 or 2, but the gist is that you are your own best advocate!

      2. Slartibartfast*

        I need to fire my new PCP too, for similar reasons. Just waiting until after the upcoming open enrollment period on my insurance.

    11. The Messy Headed Momma*

      I avoid confrontation, but I asked the apartment manager to refund the $$ for the “Community Area Management Fee” as I was not presented with or signed the addendum. It just appeared on the rent suddenly. Not only did she agree, but she apologized for not presenting it when I resigned the lease. Now we don’t have to pay the extra $30 every month.

    12. wingmaster*

      This week, I uploaded a few prints on my shop and was able to get a sale! I have a Spoonflower shop, where you can buy fabric/gift wrap with my prints. I have a chicken wing with a Santa hat on it, and someone reached out to me to make pajama pants for them in that print.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Cleaned the house!

      I get mired in anxiety and can’t do anything so I sometimes let it go for a while. Honestly, clearing out some stuff has helped a lot — it seems to go much faster than it used to. Definitely want to keep doing that.

      I actually cleared off an entire bookshelf recently. Looking at the gap made me feel like a million bucks. No, there is no such thing as *too many* books. Yes, I have many books I do not read anymore that can happily go to the library book sales, where someone might want them even if they’re old. At some point, I might even be able to put knick-knacks or miniature roomboxes on my shelves as well as books, like you see in magazines, instead of layers and layers of dead trees all stuffed in haphazardly.

      Next up, the autumn car clean, when the sun comes back out.

    14. fposte*

      I love this topic! Thanks for bringing it up.

      I found a new exercise direction to help recent back stuff and have been working on that, and it’s been making some decent headway.

      1. StellaBella*

        Sure thing! I am glad – exercise helps, I did none today but will tmrw – today we are having a big storm so inside all day.

    15. I work on the Hellmouth*

      I stitched a giant sparkly sequined tiger head on the back of a purple denim jacket that I am sewing!

      It is going to be the most EXTRA garment ever made. I am stoked.

    16. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’m in the middle of hanging a curtain rod over my patio door. I don’t know exactly what I’m doing and I’ve messed up (more than) a couple times already, but I’m figuring it out.

      1. StellaBella*

        Keep trying – my experience with things like this is nails or screws, a good hammer or screwdriver, and a sturdy safe thing to stand on are all you need. Put it up after measuring. Am sure you did really well and they look great. :)

    17. Anonymous Celebrity*

      I aced my French written exam. And I agreed to tutor one of the students in the class who’s been having difficulty in class, in preparation for the upcoming oral exam. It feels good to do well, and it feels good to do good.

    18. Bluebell*

      A lot of big things this week (political and health related) but some small things I’m proud of: sent in a memorial gift on the anniversary of my grandparents death, scrubbed the front of the refrigerator, dropped off a special family photo to be restored, and brushed the dog this morning.

    19. pugs for all*

      I’m on day 20 of the Whole 30! And for the first time probably in my whole life I did not have ANY Halloween candy. Which means I did not do my usual have one piece, and then another, and then it’s all downhill from there until the good stuff is gone.

      It’s definitely been challenging to cut out so many food and beverage items, though I’m getting a bored with all the planning, prepping and cooking. On the plus side, I feel great, I’ve lost some weight and my nightly stomach aches have stopped.

      1. StellaBella*

        This is terrific, a friend did this in January and loved it. I might try it. I am happy for you too that you feel better!

    20. Kj*

      I figured out my baby k’tan. It is like an origami wrap thing you use to strap an infant to your chest. The diagrams make it look simple. It is not. But I figured it out and my baby was in it this AM when I had to do chores, snoring away.

    21. SheLooksFamiliar*

      An old friend is staying with me next week and I went into a cleaning frenzy this morning. Somehow my dining table and kitchen counters became collection zones for lots of stray items, you’d think I was preparing for a flea market, and I was overdue on mopping the floors because I just hate doing it. But after several hours of cleaning and stowing things in a closet, my house looks like an organized adult lives in it. Whew!

      Now I just need to plan some menus and go grocery shopping, but I like doing that!

    22. Trixie*

      Big and small things but all added to a productive week. Flu shot, voting early, vet appt, new prescription cat food based on vet appt, washing heavy items before winter (rugs and electric blanket), and using this sunny day to dust/sweep EVERYTHING.

    23. KR*

      I did my absentee ballot even though I had to pay $25 to overnight it because I put it off until the last minute.
      I framed and hung up a bunch of things I was putting off.
      I cleaned a really gross corner of my kitchen where the trash and recycling are. The wall and baseboards needed a good wipedown with soapy water.
      And most importantly I took the kitchen sponge which needed replacing and used it to scrub the toilet before I threw it out. The toilet scrubber just was not cleaning this grossness and it needed elbow grease.
      I am going to finish my laundry this weekend, finish cleaning the bathroom, and vaccum upstairs. I’ve been in a funk and my house has been getting dirty, so I’m proud I actually did all this before 2pm today.

      1. Boo Hoo*

        I had to throw out my sons scrubber because he would scrub poop then put it back in the holder. The thing was disgusting. He is 16! Now he must wash my hand. Haha b

    24. PhyllisB*

      Managed to do all the chores on my TO DO list today. Nothing exciting, take back-hoe into adolescent grand-son’s room (back-hoes were all rented out so had to do it by hand.) Wash and fold four loads of laundry, get to the grocery store, and clean out a pile of stuff to recycle. Can’t believe I did it ALL!!

        1. PhyllisB*

          Ha!! Couldn’t do that, Stella!! Today I had to teach our ladies’ Sunday School class, vacuum the house, change bed linens for afore mentioned grandson. Then tonight we did Birthday dinner for oldest daughter. Hubby cooked the meal, all I had to do was make cupcakes and help with the clean-up. Tired now, but the kind of tired that’s good from accomplishing your goals. Thanks for posting this thread. It’s not that we need CREDIT for doing things, but sometimes it’s good to reflect and realize you really DID accomplish something.

    25. Merci Dee*

      I feel like I’ve walked into the most awesome sale weekend ever.

      I’ve been contemplating a few purchases lately, but backing away at the last minute. But this weekend, I found phenomenal sales on the items I was looking for. Bought 5 new pairs of knit pants for work for $60 (saved $65 on the lot). =Finally= found a 7-foot prelit pencil Christmas tree that will fit in a small bit of wall between my TV and the hallway for $50 (saved $80 at a pre-season sale). And picked up a very nice Lodge 6 quart enameled dutch oven for $59 (saved $10).

      They were all purchases I’d been thinking about for a couple of months, but never felt comfortable going through with. So glad I waited!

    26. Victoria, Please*

      I decided to force the issue of painting my bathroom and took all the fixtures out and did the first spackling of the holes. Goal: finish by next weekend while hubby is away.

    27. Non-Prophet*

      Fun topic! I hung several rolls of wallpaper this week in the family room. Still not done, but it looks good so far. And since it’s partially finished, I’m motivated to keep working on it a little bit at a time. I’m currently 11 weeks pregnant and the fatigue/nausea has been a struggle, so my productivity and energy levels have been hit and miss for a while.

    28. Emily*

      I made and went to an appointment at Sephora! I am a bridesmaid in a wedding where we are doing our own makeup and I literally did not own any! I was a little nervous. But the woman who helped me was very nice and respectful of the look that I/the bride wanted and of the fact that I didn’t know how to do most of the techniques already.

      Now I have makeup, and I am probably going to practice today, but I think I need to go back there first – the foundation she gave me isn’t quite the same shade as the one she put in the product list she emailed to me, and I’d like to check that I have the right one before opening it.

    29. Cat wrangler*

      I DM’d a budget airline yesterday on Twitter and asked them to honour the original t&cs of a return flight for next weekend ie not having to pay for checked luggage as they changed their rules after we’d booked to state no free checked luggage (it’s to do with flight turnaround times or that’s the official line).

      The boarding passes stated a cabin bag of 40 x 25 x 20 cms (about the size of a laptop bag) and no checked luggage, so I got annoyed, wrote them and got the booking amended for a 10kg case checked in for free. It’s not a huge amount – about £25 sterling if we’d had to pay but it was the principle of the thing.

    30. Paula*

      Met a weight lifting goal this week one month ahead of schedule! (The deadline was my 50th birthday). I can now deadlift 245 lbs, squat 145 lbs and bench press 110 lbs for a total of 500 lbs. I have been working on this since my 49th birthday when I started with just the bar (45 lbs) in each lift. ‍♀️

  4. Mallory*

    I’m getting back into tea after a decade or so hiatus. Where/how do I get loose leaf tea? A million years ago, I went teavana but they are no longer a thing.

    I mainly want a sort of fruity tea, no caffeine, not chai. I want to make a big ol pot and drink it down in a few hours :-).

    1. Lena Clare*

      Where are you? Loose leaf tea is ready available everywhere in the UK. But elsewhere, probably online is best. Maybe try teapigs?

    2. Radical Edward*

      Sounds like rooibos might be worth trying. It should be readily available online if there’s not a supermarket that carries it near you. It usually comes in all sorts of tasty flavours but it’s pretty great by itself, too!

    3. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Honeybush might also be a good tea to try – it tastes a bit like honey (go figure). No idea where you would get it in the US though.

    4. Loopy*

      I’ve ordered from Adagio teas. I am not a tea expert but I was very pleased with the price and what I got. Worth checking out their website!

        1. Loopy*

          So I just remembered- they offer samplers which I love when I want to try an array of teas (that I might end up not liking) on the cheap. Definitely check ’em out.

      1. DuPont Circle Travel*

        I LOVE Adagio. Their fandom collections are also fantastic and fun (I’ve tried some of the Sherlock ones and they were delicious – Also makes great gifts)

      2. Dance-y Reagan*

        I actually boycott Adagio due to terrible customer service and snide responses I received from them several years ago. They are NOT nice people.

      1. Bluebell*

        Upton Tea imports doesn’t have a retail store but you can order online and they have a huge selection.

      2. CeeCee*

        I am also in the US, Boston-ish Area. (About 40 mins outside the city) For more commercial places where you can go into the store and sniff/try things before you buy them, you can check out David’s Tea. They tend to be in malls, but they have a huge and wonderful selection. Also, if you are anywhere near a Wegman’s they have a loose-leaf selection with a decent amount to choose from. (If you’re anywhere near Natick, both stores are in that mall.)

        Those are places I would start since you can smell and get a feel for each tea before you spend a bunch of money on them. I personally prefer it to buying things blindly online.)

          1. CeeCee*

            No problem! I hope you find some you love. I am absolutely obsessed with tea and love when other people get into it too!

      3. Steve*

        David’s Tea. It’s not quite as good as my local shop, but they have a lot of choice, reasonable prices, and you can smell the tea before you buy.

      4. lapgiraffe*

        Here to second Upton Tea, great quality and fast turnaround, for the “serious” tea drinker. They get the bulk of my tea money (and have great tea making tools), couldn’t recommend them enough.

        David’s is much more geared toward Tea 101 and style over substance (not everything! But a lot of it). I have found some things I like there, but for classic teas I find they turn out overly acidic and just aren’t as great.

        Rishi brand can be found at Wholes Foods, but I find it very expensive and only buy the Earl Grey (which is stunning and vibrant!) by the pound on Amazon.

        It’s been years since I’ve been to Tealuxe because of the location but I always found it charming and the few teas I bought there were very nice.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have to plug Bigelow Tea…most known for teabags, but they sell some loose as well. (I focus on the Earl Grey but I’ve seen herbal blends as well.)

      My co-worker talks about Republic of Tea and David’s Teas, and she’s all about the loose-leaf herbals.

      1. Mallory*

        Perfect. I live down the road from a WF and wouldn’t have thought to look there. Will hit TeaLuxe the next time I’m in Cambridge

    6. teafan*

      I love Rishi tea! I buy it online. They have a huge variety of herbal/botanical teas, too. The blueberry rooibos is my favorite.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m wondering why they picked “Rishi” as the name of their tea company. That is awfully close to “Reishi”, which is a specific mushroom that some use as a medicinal tea. (Truly. Not hallucinogenic. I looked it up when a mushroom-forager friend spotted it in my old yard.) Their web searches are going to get criss-crossed!

    7. PB*

      I just bought some through Republic of Tea. I’ve also had good success at local food stores. As others have mentioned, places like Whole Foods or local co-ops can sometimes sell loose leaf teas in bulk, which can be a good way to buy small quantities of a bunch of stuff to try and see what you like.

      1. Jaid_Diah*

        My mom loves Republic of Tea. We also love the Russian supermarkets because they have nearly a aisle of tea and coffee.

    8. Qosanchia*

      I’m not sure what all you have on that side, I’m in Seattle, and the QFC stores out here (our regional Kroger grocery chain) has bulk tea in and around the bulk coffee sometimes. It varies from store to store.
      My roommate makes tea blends for festival gifts, I’m not sure what all she puts in there, but I know rose hips and hibiscus flower for sure. Probably chamomile. It’s usually a mate blend, but you can forgo that, to skip on the caffeine

    9. Nita*

      A lot of stores where I live carry loose leaf tea (Twinings, Ahmad, other brands) in tins. The flavor is hit and miss, but usually it’s better than the tea bag stuff. And if you really want to spoil yourself with a great fruity tea… the best one I’ve come across is Soderblandning. It’s hard to find in stores, but I order it online once in a blue moon, usually as a present.

    10. A day in the zoo*

      Harney and Sons — based on CT but have a mail order business and are often sold in Barnes and Noble, but their options are limited. The best citrus loose tea I have ever had was from the Thomas Edison Museum in Florida. I think they sell it on line but it is a bit pricey.

    11. AVP*

      I am barely a tea person but if you want something fruity I really like the Tazo hibiscus flavor. They used to sell it at Starbucks but now I find it at most grocery stores (in the US).

    12. ket*

      The Tea Source sells in person in Minnesota and online everywhere. Very nice selection of black, green, oolong, puerh, herbal of all kinds — over the years I know I’ve gotten honeybush, rooibos, green mate (! not decaf exactly), and some nice blends like “sweet sarsparilla” and “evening in Missoula”….

    13. LJay*

      I brought some looseleaf tea from a shop called Dryad Tea during GenCon.

      They have a website – it’s just their name and dot com.

      They offered a bunch of different sample packs of .3oz of different flavors so you could try all different ones. I like chai so that is what I got a sampler pack of, but they had different types and I’m sure something more to your liking. What I got I really enjoyed.

  5. Lcsa99*

    So with all our leftover halloween candy, I had fun last night showing my husband the weird way I eat Kit Kats (nibble the chocolate off the edges first, then the top and bottom, saving the wafers for last) and I think I’ve converted him! He said it was much more of an experience my way. :)

    Does anyone else have weird ways of eating your favorite candies?

    1. TL -*

      I used to eat Lucky Charms all the cereal bits, then the marshmallows in a particular order, saving the rainbows for last.

      1. Stan Lee (not the famous one)*

        I could never do that. For me, the sign of being a grownup is the ability to eat Lucky Charms, Malt-O-Meal’s Marshmallow Mateys, or similar cereals, is the ability to eat it without picking out the marshmallow bits first.

        I admire your ability to do it the other way around and hold off on the marshmallows until after the toasted oat bits are gone. Don’t understand your “no brown M&Ms” habit of saving the rainbow marshmallows for last, since all the marshmallow bits taste the same, but that’s how you enjoy it, and that’s what matters.

        Side thought: you know how there’s a variant of Cap’n Crunch’s Crunchberries cereal called “Oops! All Berries” which has just the crunchberries and no Cap’n Crunch? Who among us haven’t thought it would be cool if Lucky Charms did something similar and put out a version with nothing but marshmallows, even if just for a limited time? Yeah, I suppose it wouldn’t actually be “cereal” anymore, but c’mon, it’s the weekend, let’s not shift into “grownup” mode and spoil the fantasy.

        Fun fact: there was a legitimate reason for “no brown M&Ms,” which appeared in a 1982 Van Halen contract rider. According to The Smoking Gun, the band explained that “the M&M provision was included to make sure that promoters had actually read its lengthy rider. If brown M&M’s were in the backstage candy bowl, Van Halen surmised that more important aspects of a performance–lighting, staging, security, ticketing–may have been botched by an inattentive promoter.”

      2. Emily*

        I wasn’t quite that systematic, but I also used to prioritize eating the cereal first so that I would have mostly marshmallows left at the end!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I must admit I still sometimes nibble candy corn one layer at a time.
      It started as a kid trying to find out if the colors were flavors…now it’s a way to slow down and not gorge myself on sugar.

      1. Bluebell*

        In our house you eat the tip of the candy corn first , then the bottom and finish with the middle. I have no clue why.

        1. anon24*

          I’m such a child. I soften the ends of the candy corn in my mouth and then stick them on my teeth. I see how many I can get to stay on and when one breaks or falls off I eat them all then start over :)

    3. Claire (Scotland)*

      I used to eat Mars bars the same way – eat the chocolate off the sides, then the bottom, then the top. Then eat the nougat and caramel together. Sticky, but fun.

      1. fposte*

        Ha, I was going to say Milky Ways (American Mars bars). Except my protocol was slightly different–eat the top layer of chocolate off, eat the nougat off, then eat the caramel with the remaining chocolate.

        1. Slartibartfast*

          A friend’s family keeps the milky ways in the freezer, then unwraps them onto a plate, microwave 15 seconds and eat with a fork. Warm melty chocolate, still frozen in the middle. Weirded me out the first time, but these people are GENIUSES!!!

    4. Forking great username*

      I do something very similar with Reese’s. I eat the chocolate around the edge of the cup, then the top and bottom, and then the peanut butter by itself.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I do the opposite. I like to pop out the center of the Reese’s cup and eat that first and then eat the edge.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I eat Kit Kats that way too! And Twix, similarly — caramel off first, then chocolate off the sides, and then the shortbread biscuit last.

      My dad eats M&Ms in a very particular color order that’s terribly complicated.

      1. Qosanchia*

        I sort Skittles and M&Ms by color, and eat them singly or in pairs, to keep the different groups at a similar size.

    6. Llellayena*

      In middle school, my friend and I would each put a quarter in to buy a shared bag of skittles. We’d then dump them all out, separate by color, and divide each color up evenly. We’d then make flavor combinations out of the colors until they were all gone!

    7. Square Root Of Minus One*

      Ahah, that’s how I eat KitKats too!
      At least when I still ate them, but a few years ago they came up with a more sugary recipe and I pretty much didn’t like them anymore.
      Although I think I heard they make them with dark chocolate now… Hm.
      *goes investigate*

    8. Middle School Teacher*

      I eat blue M&Ms last because they’re my favourite. I also eat kitkats and coffee crisp by breaking them into the layers rather than all at once.

    9. Melody Pond*

      I try not to eat candy as regularly anymore, but I used to buy M&Ms regularly, and microwave them before eating them. I got really good at determining the exact time/power setting on my particular microwave to result in M&Ms that were toasty warm with melted chocolate on the inside, but mostly intact shells on the outside (the right combination would vary, depending on the microwave). They were awesome!

      1. Jen*

        I have a friend who adds M&Ms to a bag of freshly popped microwave popcorn. The heat from the popcorn melts the chocolate, but the outer shell stays intact. Plus, you have the added bonus of salty/sweet in one snack, if you like that combination. :)

    10. Gen*

      I break the KitKat into fingers, bite both ends off, and use them like a straws to drink coffee/hot chocolate through until they’re too melty to hold, then eat them :D

      1. ElspethGC*

        Tim-tam slam! Just with KitKats. (I’m not Aussie, but we have family friends in Melbourne. I blame them and tim-tams for my weight gain when I last visited.)

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          Tim Tams are awesome. They’re one of the things I miss most about living in Australia. The last time we went they were doing a bunch of special flavours with Gelato Messina (fancy Aussie ice cream company) and I brought a shameful amount of them home in my backpack. I know we have Penguin biscuits in the UK, but something about them just isn’t the same.

          Also, pro tip for the Tim Tam Slam: do it with the caramel ones, as they hold their structure for a little longer.

    11. kc89*

      A lot of people eat candy in slightly different ways like that, it never appeals to me though because the chocolate starts to melt really quickly.

      I think I have “hot hands”

    12. The Cosmic Avenger*

      One of the few things I do this with are Smarties (the US version). For some reason I like to eat each flavor separately. I haven’t had Skittles in a while, but I don’t remember doing this with them, for some reason. I’ll still sometimes pop a whole roll of Smarties at once, but usually not.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      M&Ms by color. Brown/yellow/orange/green/blue/red. When I was a kid, they had tan ones instead of blue, so those were first.

      If they’re special Easter ones, it’s yellow/green/blue/pink/purple. Always purple last because that’s my favorite color.

      1. Chameleon*

        I would rotate the colors. So if I had 5 brown, 3 red, 3 yellow, 2 green, and one orange I would first eat two brown so they were even with the yellow and red, then eat one brown, one red, and one yellow; now there were two of everything except orange I go brown, red, green, yellow; then finally now that there’s one of each, I can eat them all.

        …That’s a little odd, isn’t it?
        (Also I’d eat skittles the same way)

        1. Square Root Of Minus One*

          I also rotate the colors. So if I don’t finish the pack it has a general aspect similar to when I opened it. But we seem to be outnumbered on this one ;)

      2. I edit everything*

        I sort them into piles, with each pile having one of as many different colors as possible. The ideal pile, naturally, is one of every color. I eat smallest pile to largest.

    14. Canadian Natasha*

      Wait- does anyone *not* bite the edges off the kit kat first? ;)

      Actually I do that with licorice too- the kind that has ridges all along the length of it. I nibble off a section of the ridges and then bite the flat middle part (then repeat till I’ve eaten the whole thing).

    15. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but occasionally Pretzel M&Ms sound good. I reach into the bag without looking, and eat them two at a time – but only if I pull out two of the same color. When I’m left with single colors, I eat them by color in alphabetical order: blue, brown, green, orange, red, and yellow. I have no idea how this started and I don’t think something bad will happen if I eat them at random, but it’s a habit that stuck.

    16. Trixie*

      The Little Debbie Nutty Bars are attacked by layers, top to bottom. With care, the central wafer layered in peanut butter remains intact. Not sure why I started this but am please it slows me down while extending the moment.

    17. curly sue*

      O’Henry bars! Eat the chocolate layer off all the way around, then the peanuts like you’re eating corn on the cob, then the nougat stick from the middle.

    18. Lcsa99*

      I love that I am not the only one that likes to play with their candy! I do eat twix that way as well, and candy corn by color, and I also eat m&ms by color (eating the colors I like the least first, so I have only pretty blue and green ones at the end)

    19. Manatees are cool*

      With haribo sweets I eat the head of the teddy sweets first and then I eat the body. With chocolate Bourbons I eat one of the biscuits and then I face the buttercream downwards when I eat the other half.

    20. Marion Ravenwood*

      I eat Smarties (UK sweets with a chocolate centre and coloured sugar shell, sort of like M&Ms) in order of least favourite to favourite colours/flavours. I always start with the brown ones, then pink, green, yellow, blue, orange (because they taste of orange chocolate), purple and red.

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread!
    What are your tips to get over the dreaded “blank page” syndrome? How do you get started writing?
    And for the NaNoWriMo participants: feel free to post your updates on the process here.

    1. Loopy*

      I haven’t written regularly in a long time but I find myself feeling very creative and inspired after consuming a really good book or movie. Even finding a new artist can do it. I was shocking that consuming helped me create! I should get back into writing…. for a while I was having lots of fun doing short stories (just for myself).

      1. OyHiOh*

        You know the saying “My personality is 80% the last book I read” ???

        Yeah, I have that problem. If I attempt to write immediately after reading a powerful book or after being involved in a stage play (I work in non profit community theater), whatever I write comes out bearing a distinct resemblance to the thing I just read/was involved with.

        1. ElspethGC*

          A couple of years ago I tried to write fic a couple of hours after binge-reading about three Austen novels in two days. It felt like perfectly reasonable writing at the time, but going back to it about a week later was an experience. This is sci-fi fic, dammit, not regency period writing! And yet. It was very Austen-y in terms of language and sentence structure.

          1. OyHiOh*

            ElspethGC, do you know the musical comedy Reefer Madness? Months after watching a performance of this, I realized I’d written an entire 1 act play in that general style (the pompous lecturer particularly). Fine, brain, but that’s really not the style I was aiming for!

        2. Loopy*

          I haven’t heard that! But true, I’m sure I do this. I write just for myself so I guess it never concerned me, but if I wanted to focus on developing something original and in my own style, maybe I just gave out terrible advice!!! Oops. Maybe music is the better route for this. I’m a music fiend though.

    2. Dear liza dear liza*

      I use the Pomodoro Technique, with a slight twist: for that time, I have to write. It can be random thoughts related to what I’m supposed to be doing, it could be a well formed paragraph for later in the book, it could be outlining, it can be questioning why I’m writing on this topic- but I have to write something and not stop. Often, that breaks the block for me.

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      I start off with something innocuous, like a setting detail or even a date or time, just to get something into the page and begin. Then I’m usually off to the races. I’m 5500 words deep in so far and all I want to do is sit and write. Damn life getting in the way. It’s fun to write creatively, which I haven’t done in years. It’s like stretching muscles I forgot about.

    4. LizB*

      I made quota for the first two days! Today is super busy, so I’m going to have to grab writing time in between errands and other tasks.

      For blank page syndrome, one thing that helps me is remembering that I don’t have to write the whole thing in order. I can jump around to the parts I’m most excited about, I can go off on tangents and write exposition that may not make it into the finished product, I can stop midway through a scene and switch to another one. It’ll all come together in the end (and with some diligent editing).

    5. CAA*

      I am not a writer, but I am a dedicated reader and very aware that you writers are the ones who make my favorite hobby possible. So I just wanted to say how much I admire all of you and appreciate your dedication to telling your stories. I wish you all a creative and productive month and hope you achieve your NaNoWriMo goals!

      1. Loopy*

        This!!!! Reading is my most satisfying hobby. I took creative writing as a minor in college and dabble every few years- just enough to really know how difficult it is from the other side of the page! Go writers!

    6. Gen*

      I open a new google doc on my phone and write the first few paragraphs on there because the blank page is waaay smaller and it feels less intimidating, then I switch to the laptop.

      I did 92k last month but November is a terrible month for writing (too much school and social stuff) so I’ll be lucky to hit the target

    7. OyHiOh*

      Blank page syndrome: I don’t make any decisions about what I’m writing. By that I mean, I don’t write character names. I don’t even think about who they are. Many times, I don’t even give them gender. I just start writing two or three people having a conversation (I write stage plays mainly) in another room. A page or two comes pretty easily that way.

      NaNoWriMo progress: I’m using the month to finish two projects that have spent an unconscionable amount of time lurking in my files. Hit my maximum page limit on one last night (at least a week ahead of anticipated schedule). Putting that baby to bed and pulling the other file this morning. One of the coffee shops in town is running a NaNoWriMo special: Come in and write for at least 30 minutes for 6 days, your 7th day is free (the place is pay by the minute, the snacks and coffee are unlimited). I’m very motivated by free coffee shop time :-)

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I’m not a writer, but I’ve always felt as though I have novel inside my mind waiting to get out.

      I tried NaNoWriMo and few years ago. I started writing an autobiography, mostly about my life as a morbidly obese person and the before, during and after of the weight loss process. And that was it. Haven’t written since, mainly because I started with back problems and sitting for too long is a no-go these days. I’m thinking I might pick it up again and write while I’m at work. My company was recently acquired and I’m working out my last few months, and it’s very slow at the moment so I’d have plenty of time.

      Anyway, when I’m staring at a blank page, my strategy is to just write whatever comes to mind, in no particular order. That’s the beauty of writing on a computer–you just write, and then cut and paste later. Add, subtract, change.

    9. ElspethGC*

      NaNo isn’t going to happen this year for me (hooray dissertation) but for my blank page syndrome for both essays/papers and creative writing – start my writing on the same page as my planning. No blank page.

      Get together at least half a page of some sort of planning – for essays, points I want to cover; for creative writing, a few basics about where I want this scene to be set, maybe some background for what I want the scene to achieve in terms of revelations or moving the plot forward. Then begin writing at the bottom of that section, not necessarily beginning with what will end up as the start. Don’t paste it into a blank document until you’ve written at least a page. It works oddly well, possibly because I still feel like I’m planning so there’s less ‘Argh now I need to write something’ pressure.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Blank page: throat-clearing helps. If I just write a bunch of nonsense then I no longer have a blank page. I can always delete it later.

      NaNoWriMo: I’m blogging it (link in my name) and using Atomic Scribbler, which gives you a cool online graphic of your progress and updates your projected daily word count if you fall behind or get ahead. So far I’m waaaaaaay behind, LOL.

    11. LilySparrow*

      It helps me to start longhand on paper. I start making notes about the conflict in the scene, the beats of what each character is after, and that leads into dialogue. I’m usually into full narrative flow by the bottom of the page.

    12. Annie Moose*

      I’m at an all-day (or at least six-hour!!) write-in at this very moment for NaNoWriMo, at the beautiful Library of Michigan. (which I really need to visit sometime when it isn’t NaNo–this place is awesome) I broke 10k earlier today, which I’m quite excited about! It always works best if I get as far out ahead of the goal as I can, early in the month when my creativity hasn’t drained away yet. Means I can have some easy days later in the month!

    13. This Daydreamer*

      I just broke 10k a little while ago! I think that’s more than I’ve managed for the whole month for the past few years. After the election I’m hoping to make it to some write ins.

    14. Pathfinder Ryder*

      I don’t necessarily write in order. If I know what’s going to happen in a later scene, I’ll write that first to put something down, then catch up to it later.

      I’m not NaNoing, but I’m running a fandom exchange with gifts due this week :)

    15. Isabekka (delurked)*

      NaNoWriMo oh god I have not written a damm thing. It’s hard and it does not help that I have only recently recovered from viral conjunctivitis.

      I have actuallly been reading this blog for about 2 years now but I’m just delurking for the first time.

    16. Minocho*

      I usually have a scene or a thing that inspired me to write. An emotional or exciting scene, a reaction to a specific situation. If I get stuck, I write a version of that scene. First, it gets me writing something. Second, writing a version of it gives me insight into the characters and helps me flesh them out in my head.

      Another thing I do is lists. Lots of lists.

  7. Red Reader*

    How do you organize your life? I mostly mean activities, not physical belongings – digital, paper planner, sticky notes, a to-do list tattoo on your arm? What works best for you and yours?

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Personally I use a good old paper planner, although I’ve also heard good things about bullet journalling. When you look that up on Instagram you’ll probable see the really fancy ones pop up, but it was designed to be very practical and customisable to your needs.

      1. Triplestep*

        I always suggest people look at the original Ryder Caroll version/video first. There seem to be a lot of people taking bullet journaling to a level of scrapbooking, which I’m not into at all. It would take way too much time for me to do that, which (for me) would defeat the purpose of time management.

        I made my bullet journal from a discbound notebook (ordered tiny disks for it) so I can carry it everywhere.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Also, discbound notebooks are great! I usually use Atoma when I need that kind of notebook.

    2. TL -*

      I use an Erin Condren paper planner – it’s a bit extra but I really love it; it’s super functional and pretty and you can customize the cover; I used a bunch of pictures from the previous year.

    3. OtterB*

      For some years I have used the Workflowy app. I like it for keeping track of *everything* in an easily cutomizable manner, but I’ve realized that for day-to-day I like paper better. I’m currently using a graph-ruled composition book for lists of things to do this month and then a double-page spread of the current week. Still experimenting with format.

      I am not a podcast person, but I am a fan of the writer Urusla Vernon aka T. Kingfisher, and her husband Kevin Sonney runs a podcast called Productivity Alchemy that I hear good things about. They have explored a bunch of types of planners, calendars, etc.

    4. Loopy*

      I really wanted to be the person using a planner/bullet journal but it’s impossible to always have handy when I think of things, need to add something that came up. So… I just use my phone since it’s always there to easily plug something into. I use a plain old google calendar and add reminders and events like there is no tomorrow. It’s SO easy and handy. Not as creative or fun to look at as a planner or journal (I love the look of organized, nice handwriting on a page!)

      1. Annie Moose*

        Yup. Phone for everything. I have a billion reminders on my phone + events on my calendar + shopping list/to-do in the Notes app. I would also love to be the planner person but it just doesn’t seem to work! Plus, I love that my calendar can sync with Waze, that my phone will actively tell me when I have something coming up, etc.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I live and die by Google Calendar for personal stuff and Outlook reminders for work stuff. Seriously, I’d never remember all the volunteer meetings and workshops and repeating work tasks without them. And for a to-do list, I use Google Tasks, which I usually check in Gmail. (It’s a little checkmark in the right side bar on the new Gmail layout.) My partner and I send calendar invitations to each other all the time so we don’t forget about things.

      1. Ainomiaka*

        Yes!! I absolutely need the reminders. That is the biggest reason why as much as I’d love to use paper, I just can’t.

      1. This Daydreamer*

        Same here. My ADHD head needs something that I have wit me all the time to stay even a little bit organized.

    6. Autumnheart*

      I have a whiteboard on my fridge for tasks, and make heavy use of Alexa for reminders and lists. I used to use Evernote and then Google Keep for lists, but it’s priceless to be able to say “Alexa, add eggs to grocery list” when I’m in the middle of something. I have ADHD and having to stop, write a thing down, and pick up the thread of what I was doing (or finish what I’m doing and hope I remember to add my list item later) is a struggle. Now I can just tell Alexa to add the thing, and then look at the list on my app when I’m shopping.

    7. Kendra*

      My main thing is using the mobislenotes web and phone app for checklists and scratch thoughts. Generally I keep a running list of groceries, books and movies I want to read, a to-do list for the next few days, and thoughts and plans for stuff I have coming up. I use Google Calendar for one-off events, and excel spreadsheets for my budget, keeping track of my school assignments, working out my weekly schedule of classes, keeping track of car maintenance, and anything else.

      I don’t have a good way to keep track of workouts, though. I’d want something that works on my phone, but I haven’t found the right balance between something flexible enough to accomodate a variety of stuff I want to do, but structured enough that I don’t have to write a lot down every time I do anything.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Paper planners don’t work for me. I tried! Google Calendar works better for me, since it updates across platforms (computer, phone) but I haven’t figured out how to use it outside Gmail, which I don’t keep open all the time. I have a VueMinderLite calendar on my computer also. I like that one because it has an option to add UK and geek holidays, as well as phases of the moon. :)

    9. Canadian Natasha*

      I put all appointments, celebrations, and social events as reminders in my phone and I write everything on a monthly whiteboard calendar at home. At the place we do not speak of on weekends, I use outlook, a yearly wall calendar and a monthly wall calendar.

    10. LilySparrow*

      On the same note, can anybody suggest a free or very low-cost substitute for Outlook? The G suite just doesn’t work the same for me. It’s the one thing I really miss about the day job.

    11. Slartibartfast*

      A few weeks back someone here mentioned the Cozi app. I use that and a paper desk blotter calendar stuck to the fridge with strong magnetic clips. So much more space than a typical calendar.

    12. The Person from the Resume*

      Facebook, google calendar on my phone but then each month or more often I transfer everything to a good old fashioned monthly wall calendar that is hung near my desk. I defvonfluct activities at this time and decide if there’s too much on a day or week what I’ll drop. Since it’s next to my desk (I work from home) I check the day, week with a glance throughout the day.

    13. AVP*

      iPhone calendar for life events / parties / weekends / after work appointments.

      To do lists during the day – either a particular Muji notebook I like and have on my desk at work, or a Rifle Paper “to do” list notebook for home (if I’m making a to-do list at home I need to make it more fun because it’s kind of depressing to feel like you have a to do list for cleaning and dishes).

    14. Marion Ravenwood*

      Google Calendar for personal/side hustle stuff, Outlook for main job. I’ve considered getting into bullet journalling, but something about it seems a bit overwhelming somehow.

    15. DessertDweller*

      I’m chiming in here because it’s an ongoing struggle in my super busy academic office plus the personal life. I’m close to the end of the second year in a basic bullet journal (no fancy stuff. The fanciest thing is a simple monthly calendar glue-sticked in at the beginning of every month). It really helps me with daily/weekly tasks. The Google calendar with reminders that pop up on my phone and the emailed daily agenda is the other necessary thing. Between the two, I have dropped far fewer balls in the last couple years. My department thinks I’m amazing!

    16. Kat in VA*

      I keep damn near everything in my head at home or on my phone calendar/iPhone Notes/wall calendar.

      At the place we shall not name? Bound books, ring binders, and I swear I go through a pack of fricking Post-Its every week.

      Whatever it takes!

    17. E*

      Late replying, but I found that a bunch of post it notes in a notebook helped me, because so many tasks repeat regularly, or get moved to the next day or week. This way I can shuffle them around and see at a glance the day’s top priorities. I’d love to be able to use a pretty day planner, but I need more flexibility for now.

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

    Good luck in the NYC Marathon tomorrow, LGC!! (As well as anyone else who might be running.) I’m relieved that it looks like all the bad weather is going to blow out today and make way for a near-perfect day tomorrow. Although you didn’t ask for it, here are some things to keep in mind for the race.

    –Bring clothes you don’t care about to the start. Fort Wadsworth always has a cold wind and you’ll be standing around for what will seem like forever (but it’s so worth it!)
    –When the race starts, you’ll probably be on too much of an adrenaline rush to notice the incline of the Verrazano Bridge. But you WILL notice the downhill after mile 1. Do not overspeed on the downhill! You will need all the gas in your legs for…
    –The Queensboro Bridge — it is a bear. It is particularly a bear because it comes at mile 15, right around the time many marathoners first begin to notice they no longer have a full tank of gas. As with the Verrazano, don’t overspeed on the way down, or you’ll pay on First Avenue and beyond.
    –Other than the Queensboro, none of the bridges will be much of a big deal. The two Bronx bridges might *feel* big because of the stage of the race at which they’ll be thrown at you.
    –Chances are, this race will be markedly more crowded than other races you’ve run. You may need to adjust mentally if the crowding keeps you from running the pace you want, especially in the early stages of the race, such as Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. (This might not apply to you, as a faster than mid-pack runner.)
    –If family/friends are going to meet you along the course, have a backup plan for the places they meet you. Crowding may prevent them from getting their first choice of spot.
    –Be prepared for a HUGE CRUSH LOAD OF PEOPLE moving extremely slowly at the finish line. It will take far more time than you might guess to get your medal, get your baggage, and escape the park. If family or friends are meeting you, build in a lot of extra time to meet them; even if you didn’t pack baggage, you’re going to get stuck in the traffic and can’t leave the park early.

    Some of this may sound negative, but the NYC Marathon is incredible! I’ve never experienced anything close to the crowd support you’ll get in NYC in any other race. Except perhaps for the short section in the Bronx (sorry folks in the Bronx), you’ll constantly be stimulated by what’s around you. There’s nothing like the last three miles in Central Park and the amazing finish, either. The reason why I wrote such a long post is that a part of me does wish I was doing it myself, so I’m instead going to live vicariously through you and anyone else running the race. Good luck!!

    1. LuJessMin*

      I’m walking in the DAV 5K in Tulsa this morning with a group of friends from the glassblowing school. It’s a cold morning right now, but should be about 50 by race time.

      1. LuJessMin*

        Finished the race in 1 hour, 2 minutes – was walking with a friend with two knee replacements in her first 5K so I kept to her pace. Good morning for a race, a bit brisk but it warmed up at the end. Then everybody went for breakfast!

        1. LGC*

          Congratulations – and those are the best races/runs, I think. (And huge props to your friend for doing it with TWO knee replacements!)

    2. LGC*

      I like how I was typing right as you posted! (Alison, you can nuke my thread if you want.) And – dude, thanks for the pointers and advice (and…you know, just being there for the past few months).


      -I’m not going to lie, the Bronx section is…not the most beautiful, and this is coming from a guy whose family is from the Bronx! (I actually got to run the last 10 miles last weekend, so I have passing familiarity with it.)
      -And I’m hoping that I survive the QB! The elevation chart looks deceptively flat (like, it looked like it peaked out at 96 feet above sea level), but I’m still a little concerned about it. (Honestly, the wheels came off for me at mile 18-19 on my first marathon, but I suspect that was because I was dehydrated. So I’m hoping I feel fine enough when I hit the bridge.)
      -I looked at my bib and it said I had to take the 5 AM bus. I…was not impressed. (I start in Wave 1 Local Competitive. So really, I’ll be out there for four hours at least.)
      -It’s actually going to be the largest race by a factor of…two, I think. Brooklyn was the next largest (25k), and then NYC Half (22k).
      -I’m hoping that crowding and merging back isn’t going to be much of an issue. I’m actually on the bottom of the bridge (Green), so I’m hoping it’s not quite as bad since we merge back in at mile 8. On the other hand, it might be a bit quieter, since the pro men are Blue and take the main route.
      -I am probably going to be one of those people moving extremely slowly.
      -In case the other thread does get nuked: 653.

      (Also, semi-random trivia: Although my best half time is 1:19:46 (so, 6:05/mi), NYRR has my best mile pace at 5:46/mi. That was mile 3 of Brooklyn Half – I had a slow start (and a very embarrassing bathroom break), and ended up charging ahead to make up time. I think I averaged 6:07 (so 19 flat) for the following 5k, then 6:03 for the remaining part of the race.)

      1. runner*

        One thing about QB bridge: when I ran, there was a wall of porta-potties right before so no waiting (just in case!). Also, QB is the quietest and last quiet place of the race, it’s a bit eery, but it was kind of nice too. Good luck!

        1. LGC*

          Thanks for the tip – hopefully I don’t need it! (Normally I’m really good about making sure that this isn’t an issue.) And thanks – I’ll need all the luck I can get, since I’m aiming to run 2:50. (My first was 2:57 and change. I figure I can knock off a couple of minutes just by staying hydrated this go.)

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

        I don’t think your thread should be nuked! 5 am bus… yikes. All part of the experience, though!

        The merge at mile 8 was always a non-issue for me. I got to run the top of the Verrazano once and the bottom twice. I’ll admit I liked the top better, but the bottom is somewhat less severe of an incline.

        1. LGC*

          Normally I try not to post a topline comment if you’ve posted, which is why I said that! So it’s more my preference. There’s a few comments already, so I’ll be semi-active in both.

          I’m a little disappointed about being on the lower level, but it’s not a big deal. (On the bright side, nearly everyone else in my group that’s running NYC will be in the same corral with me, I think.) The one thing I’m most concerned about is my watch being off – although I’ve heard it should actually drift slower instead of faster.

      3. A bit of a saga*

        Good luck tomorrow!! I haven’t checked in for a while but I finished the Amsterdam half 7 seconds short of my goal – which, considering I was battling an ankle injury the last month before the race, I should be pleased with. But still: 7 seconds…

        1. OyHiOh*

          7 seconds

          (I’m in a bit of a foul mood this weekend and also just finished a writing project that has a difficult ending)

          7 seconds: The difference between landing in 6 ft of water vs on land (combat parachute jump back in the 80’s)

          7 seconds: The difference between a young soldier with an amputation staying on active duty vs suicide (soldier was 7 seconds “too slow” on his physical fitness assessment and . . . . well, he never woke up the next morning)

        2. LGC*

          Ouch! But also – you basically nailed it; 7 seconds is almost a rounding error at that distance. Congrats on an awesome race!

          (Funny enough, one of my teammates beat me at Brooklyn by 15 seconds. That was…less time than I was in the porta-potty. I think that’s the only time he’s beaten me in a race.)

          One trick I’ll use is to set multiple goals, in case things go south. So, in my case, I think I’m capable of running under a nice round number (and getting close to the PR of one of my other teammates), but then I have a couple of other marks if I fall short. My first marathon, I wanted to run close to 2:50 (and was on pace through mile 18/19), but fell apart at the end. I still ran well enough to qualify for Boston, which was my main motivation. (This year, I had to break 3 to make it in, although the official BQ was 3:05.)

      4. Justin*

        It’s not that crowded at mile 8 at your/our speed. It has thinned out by then.

        Good luck to you tomorrow, and maybe I’ll see you at mile 8.

        I’m #1602. I ran LC the last few years but didn’t run fast enough this year.

        1. LGC*

          True – usually it’s been my experience that things thin out even earlier than that (like, it’s really the first two or three that’s a goat rodeo). It’s just…this is my first NYC, and I’m nervous about things (and as my teammates can tell you, extremely prone to mishaps).

          Hopefully, you have a good run this race and manage to make it back in next year (if you’re planning on running New York next year)!

      5. Jill of all trades*

        Best wishes! Thanks for letting this marathoner live vicariously. NYC marathon is a dream.

        1. LGC*


          And definitely apply – from what I’ve heard, the lottery is a 1 in 6 chance! (But then there’s the cost – entering the lottery is free, I think, but the race fee this year was $295.) If I remember correctly, applications open for next year from January 14 to February 14.

      6. LGC*

        …I mean, I totally know the difference between metric and imperial units. (Looked at the app and it peaked out at 200 or 300-something feet on the Verazzano, which sounds right. I was really confused by the chart at the expo, though.)

    3. runner*

      Second all of this! I was walking around yesterday and it’s so exciting to see all the tourists here for the marathon, like there’s a charge in the air. My friend who is not a runner did not even notice and I was like oh there’s another one, see their shirt/windbreaker/bag? At the same time, I wanted to tell them, save your legs, save your legs LOL.

      Good luck LGC!

    4. Lady Jay*

      Just got back from a 6 mile trail run. I love making time to get out onto the dirt paths, off the road, and recoup. It’s really very healing. It was a foggy morning too, and I was running alongside the river, so quite beautiful!

      Good luck to those marathoning! Sounds like (chilly) fun!

    5. Thursday Next*

      Non-runner here—we take our kids out to cheer runners on! That is totally a thing here in Brooklyn. Good luck to all of you tomorrow.

      1. LGC*

        Keep an eye out! I’m on the Green start.

        (And I’ve actually come out to watch in past years. It’s definitely a party!)

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Yep. I ran it once — I’m done with marathons forever, but I did a few back in the day — and the crowd support was unbelievable. No other race, not even Chicago or Berlin, had spectators along every inch of the course like NYC did.

        Well, every inch except the bridges, of course. Which makes coming down off the 59th Street Bridge just as emotional as everyone says it is, when you’ve been running in silence for the last mile-plus and all of a sudden a wall of cheers comes at you.

        (Also memorable: people peeing off the side of the bridge. I still crack up remembering that.)

        Have a great race, everyone!

    6. Justin*

      I’m running tomorrow. I’m glad I got fast enough that I never have to worry about crowds after the very first mile.

      It’s my favorite day of the year and it went poorly last year. Weather looking great, sunglasses and confidence on deck!

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

        It definitely sounds like you will luck out with the weather. I’m excited for you guys. Good luck!!

    7. LGC*

      And…wish me and Justin luck! Going silent – have to drop off my stuff right now.

      See you guys soon, hopefully!

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

        You guys might have a different take because I’m seeing the results from a non-competitive runner’s perspective, but looking at the race numbers you guys gave on the marathon tracker, it looks like you both killed it! Congratulations to you both!!

        1. LGC*

          Thanks! I ran a PR by…approximately 3 minutes? (3:10, if the unofficial time holds. People are still running now – although I think they just did the cut-off about half an hour ago, if I have my timing right. (It’s 6:30 from the last gun, I think – and that was 11 AM.) I managed to hold it together a bit better on the second half, but I just realized that I get dehydrated very easily, even if I take water at each stop.

          If you saw my time drop HARD around mile 22 or 23 (this is how messed up I was – I don’t quite remember right now!), that was because my hamstrings were basically quivering masses of jello from mile 16 and then I accidentally bumped into a dude at the water station and felt BOTH legs cramp up. It let up after a couple of minutes, it felt like, which was fortunate.

          I actually ended up going to a med tent because I was pretty messed up at the end. I didn’t have time to think about it while I was running (because I was just trying to finish – I have to check, but I think I ran an AQ for next year’s races and know I ran a BQ-10 for 2020 if I decide to do Boston again), but when I saw my teammate and his friend at the end and I was not really making sense, I was a little concerned. Somehow I made it up to 80th before I finally decided, “okay, I need a doctor like NOW.”

          (Translating to non-runner for bystanders: AQ is automatic qualifying for New York Road Runners’ most prestigious races – the NYC Marathon and 5-Borough series. BQ is Boston qualifying – I’ve mentioned this in other weekend threads, but the Boston Marathon famously has qualifying standards to even apply for entry. Since I’ve blown up my anonymity, I’m turning 35 next year, so if I remember correctly the standards are 2:55 for NYRR, and 3:05 for Boston. The first one I might be wrong on – I think it’s either 2:53 or 2:55. I am not checking right now because I do not want to think any more about racing than absolutely necessary for at least the next week.)

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

            Good going! The NYC Marathon is a HARD race if your only other point of reference is NJ Marathon. Struggles at the end notwithstanding, you did amazing. Dehydration is no joke; I suspect that’s why my quadriceps have melted in my last three marathons, running too hard and not drinking enough to compensate.

            Enjoy relaxing and recovering the next few days!

          2. CheeryO*

            Way to tough it out! I had some issues with dehydration too, despite drinking so much I had to use a portopotty during the race, which is a new one for me. My stomach also rebelled and I couldn’t get my last gel down. So 3:53 for me when my goal was 3:50 – still a PR and 20 minutes better than 2016.

            I also forgot how much those little grades add up. I was dying on that last uphill stretch on 5th Ave!

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

    Obligatory cat question:
    Does anyone use Feliway (Comfort Zone) plug-in diffusers? They recently redesigned them. They always used to be totally odorless; now there’s a hard-to-describe smell that is sort of like an unpleasant mix of pepper, oregano and locker room. It’s awful! What did they change? Will getting new diffusers solve the problem? Or do we have to somehow find the old ones and stock up on those? Thanks!

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

        We tried both standard and multi-cat. I’m getting the same smell from both types. My wife doesn’t notice it at all. Maybe I’m crazy? But I had a little left in the old diffuser, plugged that back in and smelled nothing — so something definitely changed, or again, I’m crazy.

    1. Joie De Vivre*

      I noticed the change too (multi cat). With my cats and the new formula, it was almost like starting over: spats, fights, growling. It has settled down some, but for my cats the old formula seemed to work better.

      I could smell the old one, but the new one smells stronger/worse.

      I have the new and old dispensers, but can’t tell if the dispenser makes a difference in the smell.

    2. Gatomon*

      I just started using Feliway Original and while it is generally unscented there is definitely an initial “smell” when I plug in a fresh bottle. Is it burning off or persistent?

      1. Laika*

        This is my experience too, albeit with the multicat/Feliway friends. When a refill is first plugged in it’ll smell for about a day, and then it fades.

        Come to think of it, last week when I picked up two multicat refills and the vet tech actually mentioned that they had changed the formula (and maybe bottle?) for the original, and that folks’ve been complaining that the new ones leak. Maybe the smell is related to a leak?

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

          Thanks – it doesn’t seem to be related to a leak.

          The smell is somewhat less severe after being plugged in for two days, thankfully, but still noticeable.

          But why, oh why, do so many companies insist on changing things that work?

    3. MostCake*

      I used them throughout my house a couple of years ago but my kittens have matured and don’t fight so much so stopped using them and I don’t know if newer ones smell. What I do remember and my brain can still conjure up is the nasty smell of is the original feliway spray from the 90s, which was a really odious smell that is hard to describe, all I can think of are words like fecund. It was recommended to me by a vet when I took on a new cat that sprayed, but the smell of it was nearly as bad as the urine. But back to the new feliway diffuser, I just happened to buy a couple last week that will be put in use tomorrow in a rescued kitten habitat that is being set up as I type. I will report back if there’s a noticeable odor. I bought them off of Amazon prime.

  10. LGC*

    Running thread! This week, I’m going to lead off about…myself. Because in about 24 hours I’m going to be in beautiful Staten Island freezing my butt off. (I still need to grab proper throwaways – I was anticipating it being in the low 50s, but it looks like it’s going to be in the 40s! Thankfully I have lots of clothes I need to get rid of.) I pretty much worked out solutions to all the minor issues I’ve been thinking about.

    The expo was…I got there at 1 yesterday (I biked past the Javits and didn’t realize until I was in the 40s) and literally sailed through getting my bib number. So all my fears about getting held up in line were unwarranted. I KIND OF got caught up in the expo booths, though – this was my first really big expo, and it was an experience. I’m a little annoyed that the Kipchoge treadmill skipped New York and won’t show up again in the US until Boston, though – I could totally kill on that. (Fortunately, I escaped mostly unscathed.)

    runner asked what my bib number was last week, and…I had to think about posting it, but it’s 653. (Why do I have a three-digit number? I live just outside of New York and I’m decently fast.)

    Good luck to everyone racing this weekend – and in the near future!

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      Good luck!

      Last weekend I did one of those muddy obstacle course races over 10k. There was a lot of water wading in the river and it hailed while we were doing it! It was a lot of fun but very intense and in some ways kind of awful! Plus I had a bit of a cough already and then got pretty ill this week…

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

      653! I’ve never met anyone with less than a five digit number in the NYC Marathon. All the best of luck to you LGC! You’re going to have the time of your life (hopefully literally as well as figuratively).

        1. LGC*

          You probably have – you ran NYC Half, right? If you were in AA (or A), you were probably close to a really tall (and really cold) dude that was VERY underdressed for the occasion. (If you saw a black guy dressed in a red singlet, neon yellow sleeves, and dark gray shorts regretting all of his life choices up until that point: congratulations, that was me!)

          It looks like we’re on separate starts for this one (1602 is blue; I’m green, so lower deck), and I’m SLIGHTLY jealous you’re right behind the pro men! (Although that can be overrated, depending on how they handle the start.)

    3. ScotKat*

      Good luck! I got my race details in for the 5k I’m doing (in the dark!) next weekend. My knee is playing up so 5k sounds OK right about now… but I am in awe of all the marathon runners! I don’t really understand a lot of what you said, but it sounds intense ;)

      1. LGC*

        Good luck – and for all my races, I’ve never done one at night before!

        I can actually explain pretty much everything I wrote (because it’s really not that intense or maybe my perspective is skewed): basically, I picked up my number yesterday (so I went into the city and – hilariously – biked 10 blocks too far north before I realized my mistake), was a little disappointed that one of the exhibits that I’d heard about at Chicago wouldn’t be at the NYC expo (the treadmill), and managed to escape the race expo without spending too much money on junk.

        There’s a bit of info in my race number – I got assigned a 3-digit number since I’m in the “local competitive” start corral. (In my case, I’ve run under 1:21 for a half marathon (twice), and I live within 60 miles of New York City.) I should have noted this, but that means I’ll be starting at 9:50 AM local time (Eastern Standard), and near/at the front of the pack.

        1. ScotKat*

          I am quite excited about running in the dark! It’s actually at 5pm but here it’s already dark by then these days. We get head torches and my friend has bought glow sticks so the 90s are coming back, haha. It should be fun!

          Ah I’m not in the US so maybe that’s why I was getting confused. Yeah, so you had to estimate your time and you got a number? That’s what I’ve had to do, and then go in the right ‘pen’. Usually NOT near the front in my case. Sounds like you’ll be hardcore right near the front! Will I ever do a marathon? Doubt it… Half? Er… no. I think 10k is my limit… she says, looking up ‘how to train for a half’.

          1. LGC*

            That’s the basic idea, yeah. For NYC, faster runners generally have lower numbers (although this isn’t ALWAYS true – Justin and I are about equally fast in general, but I ran a little bit better this spring). If I remember correctly, the lowest numbers are reserved for pros and athletes with disabilities (AWD).

    4. First 5K*

      Not this weekend but next month I’ll be running in my first 5K! Been exercising more and started running soon after starting my current job… I’m really looking forward to doing it.

      1. LGC*

        Good luck! Hoping everything goes well for your first race!

        (Just remember to not go out too hard – usually, the second mile/middle 2k is the most difficult, in my opinion. At least on the last 1.1/2k, you can tell yourself you’re almost there!)

  11. Bob*

    Tomorrow I have to actually drive myself on the motorway (UK) for the first time since passing in July…I haven’t driven much since passing at all either. So kind of nervous – but also kind of sure I can do it, I just need to..do it.

    So that’s going to be the prevailing thought of the day!

    1. ScotKat*

      You’ll be fine! Motorway driving is actually (in my opinion) easier than city/town driving because it’s just a straight road with lanes. If you get nervous, stay in the left lane and don’t worry about going fast, but once you get used to it I’m sure it’ll be good. And what I told my friend who was worried: with motorways, if you panic or get lost, just come off at the next junction, park somewhere and chill/check the map or whatever. You’re not ‘trapped’ on the motorway, if that makes sense!

        1. Trouble*

          It’s actually an offense in the UK to ‘camp’ in the middle lane. If you are not overtaking another car you must stay in lane 1, the left lane. There is no reason to be in lanes 2 or 3 unless you are overtaking. And we are only allowed to overtake on the outside lane. Going passed another car in the right hand lane in a left hand lane is also an offense, called undertaking.

    2. Jen RO*

      Good luck! I’ve had my license for 15+ years and been driving in the city for 5 years… but I’ve never driven alone on a highway. I totally get your anxiety. Good luck!

    3. blackcat*

      You can do it!
      My first time on a “motorway” was after a red eye flight on which I didn’t sleep, in dense fog, while it was still dark. Everyone was fine! It’s fine to hang out in the leftmost lane and go a bit on the slow side.
      (I am from the US, and a highly experienced highway driver here. But you guys drive on the other side of the road! And OMG YOUR ROUNDABOUTS FEEL SO WRONG! I can handle turns with the roads being flipped, but somehow, going clockwise around a round about was so, so hard.)

        1. only acting normal*

          Avoid the notorious Swindon magic roundabout – I don’t know what they were smoking when they designed that thing, but it was the ‘70s so, hey! I suspect they broke out a Spirograph.

      1. Two Dog Night*

        Also, from the US, and for some reason the roundabout direction doesn’t bother me–maybe because we don’t have many where I live, so they’re a novelty.

        It’s so much easier getting used to driving on the left starting on the motorway; renting a car in the city is much, much harder. (I love Edinburgh, but, wow, the streets.) The worst, though, are the singletrack roads in Scotland–they’re nerve-racking!

    4. Jemima Bond*

      Stay calm, if anyone is desperate to go faster then leave them to it.
      Leave space between you and the car in front; remember tyres and tarmac! That is, if you come to a stop you should be able to see a bit of road in front of you plus the back tyres of the car in front. And while moving – only a fool breaks the two-second rule!

  12. Loopy*

    I might just need reinforcement on this to not feel guilty. Or may…yes, feel guilty? There’s a once a year book festival in the city where I live. It’s huge and I look forward to it all year long. When the schedule comes out I pour over it, planning out my whole day. It’s massive crowds and long lines and likely not super fun for anyone not into the book scene.

    I go alone, happily every year. This year my fiance has a RARE day off on a weekend (I work M-F he is usually working weekends). I feel so badly going off all day on a rare full day we overlap (it’s nearly impossible to do some longer activities/day trips). I do think joining me at book festival would be agonizing for him so I dont think inviting him along is a solution. He won’t be mad of course, but I think he may be a little sad/disappointed at how it’s working out, with a side of frustration (not at me, at the situation).

    Should I just go, have fun and leave him on his own? Normally this would be fine but it’s SUCH a rare thing to both be off on a Saturday!! I’m agonizing. Thoughts?

    1. Lcsa99*

      I would invite him anyway then go with no guilt if he says no. He might hate it, but he also might just enjoy your company and seeing you enjoy yourself. The timing sucks but he loves you so he should understand.

      1. Loopy*

        This is a good idea. I get up early and leave hours before he’d be awake. Do you think it would be rude to say he can come join me whenever he gets up? I’ll be out of the house by 7:45, he won’t be up until at least 11 or so. He HATES mornings.

        1. TL -*

          You can give him the option! I’ve definitely gone to friends’ events like that, where I met them there later and it was something I went to because they liked it. So I imagine your fiance would do the same for you (he’s marrying you and all, so he’s probably a wee bit more invested.)

        2. Lcsa99*

          Absolutely! It’s not rude at all. But I would give him the option of going early with you or meeting you later. Let him be masochistic if he wants

        3. CAA*

          Even if he’s not interested in browsing around book stalls or listening to authors speak, maybe there’s something else he’d like to do nearby and you could meet up for lunch and/or dinner?

        4. Boo Hoo*

          I would totally ask him to meet you around lunchtime. You will want to eat anyway and then the time he does spend there won’t be all books for him but also lunch. I bet he’d enjoy that.

    2. TL -*

      Just invite him – sure books may not be his thing, but talking and spending time with you probably is and if there’s lots of lines, there will be lots of time to chat/hold hands/look up interesting articles on his phone.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks. I think I was overthinking it. By the time he’d want to head down and join me (much later than I would go) parking would be a nightmare so I was finding all the reasons it would be a hassle for him. Hopefully he feels comfortable saying no if it does just seem like a big headache (which, logistically, it is!)

    3. Waiting for the Sun*

      Tell him he’s welcome to go with you but you understand if he doesn’t want to.
      He may have some other place he’d like to go on his rare free Saturday, or friends he can hang out with. Hope so.
      Also, maybe you can cut out of the festival a little earlier than you normally would and the two of you can chill together.
      Enjoy your festival!

      1. Loopy*

        I would feel so much better if he had alternate plans! I’d just hate for him to be home bored, while I’m off having fun! My current schedule had me done at 4 and I’d be home by about 4:45 but with daylight savings time it’ll be near dark by then, which is a bummer even though it gives us the whole evening.

        1. Kuododi*

          Is it.possible the whole ” sitting home alone being bored” might be a reflection of your view on what would make a great weekend activity? By that I mean you sound like a person who to some degree or another needs to get some amount of outside activity during your off time from work. (How much or how little…that’s your thing….. doesn’t make you wrong or defective…. just a part of the delightful sum that is you.). OTOH your DH sounds much more like my Dad and my DH. Both are wonderful men and they are both the personalities which periodically need to crawl into their “Bat Cave,” for some time away from humanity. Dad has on more than one occasion had to remind Mom that he finds solitude enjoyable. (Otherwise she’s fixated on the possibility he is “lonely” while he’s working alone at his volunteer service and similar scenarios.). I am also a more retiring personality when it comes to social connections however I do enjoy going out periodically. DH and I had quite a few conversations before it occurred to me that it was ok for me to come and go without advance work. Best regards and I hope this helps.

    4. Nancie*

      I’m probably being overly logical about this, but which is rarer — the yearly book festival, or your schedules syncing up?

      If you decide to go to the book festival, I’d still invite him along. If he takes you up on it, maybe you can do a nice breakfast on the way there and then a nice supper after?

      1. Loopy*

        Definitely the book festival (I was thinking along the same lines). His slow season is coming up so he may actually have *some* Sundays off. I was thinking of trying to do evening stuff with him.

    5. foolofgrace*

      Personally, I wouldn’t push having him come with you. He might do it just for you but you could be miserable if once he gets there he seems annoyed at the lines, waiting around, browsing books when he doesn’t give a sh*t about them, etc., and it won’t be any fun for you. If it was me I’d just go and maybe make it a short day and meet up with him later.

      1. Loopy*

        I appreciate this perspective because I do think it would be a chore for him. In the past he’s said he’d stand in lines to get stuff signed for me because he’s a collector and really values having autographed things. But this year I don’t have anything I wanted signed so he’d likely be less interested in just wandering/panels.

    6. Miss Wentletrap*

      I understand your dilemma! I’m a seashell collector, which often means getting up at 5am to hit the beach. Most people want nothing to do with that! It also means a lot of stopping and looking – so conversation is disjointed at best. So I usually go alone and am very happy for it! But there is a safety concern (I’m female). So I have invited my husband along sometimes and he really likes it! He’s a super early riser so he can help get me going! (Thank you, Army.) but that said, you could always suggest that your SO take an Uber and meet you for a few hours of the Book Fest? That way he can see something you’re really passionate about without having the ante level of commitment you have to your passion. Good Luck!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I like this–he could come by later and meet you and then you guys could just hang out there a bit and leave and go do something together. That way you get to go and also spend time with him.

        1. Loopy*

          I’m definitely thinking this might be the best option to offer- him coming and meeting me whenever he wants for the last few hours (at most) and then we go off and do something else.

    7. Helpful*

      I may be misreading your post/replies, but the way this is written makes me think that you’re assuming his plans / feelings about your plans are your responsibility. If you are engaged, you should absolutely be able to negotiate this in an open conversation. Something like :

      You: I was planning to go to this thing, what do you think? Want to go?
      Him: That sounds like fun / doesn’t sound like fun.
      You: great!

      It sounds like an event that is very important to you. So he should either want to come with you to watch you enjoy yourself, or be happy that you go on your own as planned. Why all the agonizing/responsibility?

    8. LilySparrow*

      You should definitely go, and offer to meet up with him for lunch or if he wants to come join you at the con.

      He’s your fiance, which means if all goes well you have the rest of your lives to hang out together. There’s no need to cancel your long-laid plans because of a surprise day off.

    9. annabelleigh*

      If the situation was reversed, you had a weekday off and he had plans – would you be mad at him? And would he spend time worrying about accommodating your feelings? Or would he trust that you would be okay with him doing his thing, no resentment or lingering regret?

      1. valentine*

        annabelleigh’s take is great. You don’t need to cruise-direct. Go and have fun. Your guy can sort himself.

  13. Waiting for the Sun*

    Thanks to those who offered advice for my allergy-free Halloween treats.
    I mentioned the allergy-free treats in my neighborhood’s Facebook group but didn’t have any trick-or-treaters who said they needed them. The Skittles were almost as popular as the M&Ms with everyone, so maybe an all-Skittles Halloween for 2019.

    1. Girl friday*

      Skittles are everything. They are an allergy lifesaver! Except for red food dye, but you can’t have anything perfect anymore.

  14. Anon GYN*

    I know this is about my work. But my question is also about gender identity so I hope it is OK to ask today. I am a gynecologist in a very liberal, suburban area in the US. I try to make my practice open and welcoming to all. On our demographic sheets we ask for pronoun choice and gender identity. I have numerous lesbian patients, but in my 20 years of practice, I have never had a transgender patient. Transgender men who have not had surgery still have female organs and still need the appropriate medical care. What can I do to make transgender patients more comfortable coming to see me? (I know, noone likes coming to see their gynecologist…)

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      Network with endocrinologists, mental health professionals, and surgeons who have transgender patients to let them know you’re available.
      Thanks to you from a cis woman. <3

    2. FerL*

      You could stop using terms like “female organs”, for a start. (pro tip: If they’re a trans guy, their organs are not female.)

      1. Melody Pond*

        Disclaimer – I’m a cis woman and so don’t have any firsthand knowledge of what would help trans patients feel more comfortable. But, I would speculate that FerL is likely right. It would probably be best/safest NOT to refer to them as “female organs”. If I were you, I’d refer to them like this, in restating one of your sentences:

        “Transgender men who have not had surgery may still have vaginas, uteruses, ovaries, etc., and those organs still need appropriate medical care.”

      2. Triplestep*

        Was there not a nicer way to say this to a person who came here for suggestions? Who is a pro themself – the kind who often describe things clinically and probably was doing so when referring to organs (not people) above? Or would you prefer that Anon GYN just not have asked at all?

        If the goal is to actually educate people, then I suggest you look to the post by trans guy below for style and substance. But if you believe that none of us should ask to be educated, and we should all become sensitive by osmosis … then by all means, carry on. Shaming people is a great way to deter them (and others) from asking.

    3. Red Sky*

      I think I remember hearing about a website resource that provided info on trans friendly healthcare… A quick google shows there’s one called transcaresite.org you might want to consider listing your practice there.

    4. trans guy*

      Let LGBT Centers/clinics/support places where trans people already go to know you are open and willing to see patients is one way. My primary doctor has a network of other doctors that they know and have “pre-selected” that they refer me to, as doctors who are trans friendly. This has worked well for me for referrals.

      I don’t know how feasible this is, but if you could have a day that you people at the LGBT clinic/place where trans people are there already, that would also probably be helpful. That would lower the barrier in many ways.

      Training your staff not to react if they see a man there, and supporting that person if other female patients react negatively to having a man in the waiting area. Making waiting times short (that waiting room can be a doozy too). Having non-pink robes, sheets, etc. Listening to concerns for example if I tell you a certain kind of speculum usually works better, don’t dismiss it outright. Not assuming that one is having one kind of sex with one kind of person.

      Some of this you probably do already telling the person you are going to touch this or that or do this or that before you do it, taking breaks if they get too tense/triggered during the exam, letting them have a friend with them if they want to, referring to them in their name and gender throughout, asking them before the exam about any areas/parts that might be triggering or if they want you to refer to certain parts as x or y. I for example like/don’t mind the use of medical terms but some people find it really hard to be reminded they have x or y.

      Sorry this got really long!

      1. bassclefchick*

        As a cisgendered, heteronormative, white woman, I really appreciate your comment! I know it’s not your “job” to educate me about what it means to be trans. I live in a pretty liberal area (probably the MOST liberal city in my state) and I do not have any trans friends. Or at least, none have come out to me. These days, it’s so hard to be aware of everything and not cause offense by being generally curious and willing to learn. I tend to ask the questions on my mind, without thought of how invasive they are. Kind of like a 3 year old, really. So, thank you. For helping me understand that something I wouldn’t even register as an issue can be VERY triggering for someone else.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        This is a great list of suggestions. Definitely affirmatively reach out to the LGBT+ organizations that focus on support, counseling, etc., for trans* people. Ask them about “best practices” for your type of practice, make any changes or improvements that you can reasonably make for your budget and location, show them what you’ve done, and then request that you be added to their lists of practitioners.

        If you can find out which plastic surgeons tend to get a lot of the local/regional chest surgeries, consider reaching out to them, too, as having recently expanded your practice for people with ovaries and uteri.

        And speaking of “ovaries and uteri,” I’m putting a link in my handle to a PDF that uses terminology that may be preferable in the trans* community to “female organs.”

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          On that note, an easy place to start would be looking up trans communities and resources online. There’s a lot out there about which surgeons people recommend and people’s experiences with doctors.

      3. char*

        Seconding going through LGBT organizations. I pretty much only go to specialists recommended by my LGBT clinic, because that way I’m less worried about potential cluelessness about trans people. If I just choose some random provider, it’s a total crapshoot whether they’ll even call me by the right pronouns, let alone have any particular understanding of trans-specific health concerns.

    5. anon for this one*

      I’m not trans, but I am a cis bisexual woman. I’m sure a trans persons may feel differently than I do, but I know myself and a lot of other LGBTQA+ people are terrified of going to the doctor because of what has been done to LGBTQA+ people in the past.

      When my gyno finally changed their forms to ask if you had sex with men, women, both, etc., I was so terrified of circling both that I left it blank for years. I know you’re supposed to be honest with your doctor’s about sexual health, but there was a deep rooted fear in me that by marking that down on paper, someone would end up using it against me. I’ve been to support groups with people who were forcibly sterilized, who had doctor’s refuse to treat them or provide wrong information, who have doctor’s who don’t actually know anything about LGBTQA+ health, amongst other things. There’s still a fear of being judged and exposing yourself, especially to someone who wields such power.

      The year I did circle both on the form, my hand shook so much. And…..my gyno just talked about condoms and safe sex with men, and then warned me about contracting HIV, which made my stress levels and feelings of worth so much worse. (I did find another gyno, but it also took awhile for me to admit to my bisexuality because I didn’t want another lecture on how my lifestyle could lead to AIDS – we’re all aware that it’s still out there ffs).

      And this all happened in a very liberal city.

      There’s a lot of research, polls, and studies out there about how a large percentage of LGBTQA+ individuals still fear going to the doctor. Google it and you’ll get a lot of results.

      As to your question, I think a good first step is to reach out to any trans specific groups to provide your info. A lot of LGBTQA+ people won’t go through normal hospital referral methods to find a doctor, but go by word of mouth or based on recs from their LGBTQA+ groups. I’d also suggest working with a trans group so you have an understanding of any implicit biases you may not be aware of, or any actions or language you could use to make patients more comfortable.

      1. Ms Cappuccino*

        Forcibly sterilized !? I didn’t know it existed. It must be illegal. At least I hope.
        And can doctors legally refuse to treat a patient ? I hope they were penalized.

        1. Sorry to say*

          Medical consent can very much still be a legal grey zone, and it’s only relatively recently that a lot of compulsory sterilization laws were repealed: ie, this wasn’t illegal, it was encouraged. Forced sterilization still happens. (Right now I’m most familiar with it happening to indigenous women here in Canada, but this is not a thing of the past for vulnerable groups.)

        2. anon for this one*

          There’s a long, ugly history of marginalized groups being forcibly sterilized in not only the US, but all over the world. The US has a bad history of forcibly sterilizing mentally disabled individuals and minority groups. It’s not illegal in many places because some people still try to justify eugenics as in the best interest of those sterilized.

          Some European countries have required sterilization for trans individuals who want reassignment surgery:



      2. jolene*

        I’m really confused by this – surely the lecture about sex with men/condoms/HIV isn’t anything to do with bisexuality but the fact that you’re a bio-woman having sex with bio-men?

        1. Observer*

          In that case, wouldn’t you have expected that lecture MUCH sooner? I mean the vast majority of cis women have sex with men. So absent any other information it’s not totally unreasonable assumption that a cis woman is actually having sex with men. Given that why would the doctor only think to give her the lecture after she found out that anon was actually having sex with men AND women?

          So, yes, something is off there.

          1. Thursday Next*

            I thought that Anon for this had previously left it blank (which maybe the doctor interpreted as no sexual activity), so this was the first time the doctor saw *anything* circled on the form.

        2. anon for this one*

          What I meant to say was that my gyno didn’t even talk about safe sex with women, just mentioned that being bi meant I had a higher risk of getting diseases than just having sex with men.

          When I asked about safe sex for women, she just repeated the lecture about HIV. It took me two other attempts to find a gyno who actually talked with me about safe sex for women having sex with other women and didn’t immediately launch into “you’re queer, you’ll probably get AIDS and other diseases” lecture.

          1. Thursday Next*

            Wow, that is terrible. It is amazing to me how uneven medical professionals can be with the human side of patient relations. When really, many times that’s what we as patients need—some patience to listen to us, some open-mindedness, and some medical advice that’s actually relevant to our individual situations.

            I didn’t see a gyn for four years after I told my then-gyn that sex was painful, and he told me to have a glass or two of wine beforehand. (I was underage to boot.) When I finally got up the courage to go to a gyn again, I found out I had a few diagnosable issues that accounted for the pain.

            I applaud the gyn who started this thread, because I appreciate their desire to learn how to serve a wider range of patients better. Anon GYN, you seem like a doctor who is trying to think about your patients’ and prospective patients’ needs, and how to be inclusive and address these needs with sensitivity. Thank you.

    6. Anon Anon Anon*

      I’m really happy to see this post. It’s great that you’re making an effort to include trans patients. People have already commented with some really good advice.

      One thing that I would add is to expect trans people, gender variant people, and some people who don’t ID that way to be masculine or at least not act like a woman by the standard definition. I know how obvious that sounds, but it seems to come up with doctors a lot. Sometimes if you communicate in a more masculine way, they look for a psychological explanation and don’t think of gender variance. Or they assume there’s common ground in terms of the gender experience when there isn’t. Also, some trans and gender-variant people are uncomfortable about body parts that are considered gendered. I would ask each person what they like to call those parts and what would make them comfortable.

      1. ket*

        Personally, I am most comfortable with a doc who treats all patients with respect and doesn’t expect anyone to “act like a woman by the standard definition.” I’m a cis woman with “male” hobbies in a “male” field. Like many women, I don’t act “like a woman”. I hate gender essentialism and trans identity should not be used to support it. My charm or lack thereof, much less my nailpolish or lack thereof, has nothing to do with whether I need a Pap smear.

    7. blackcat*

      Not trans but as someone who has many trans friends, I second advice about reaching out to local LGBTQ+ centers in your city and passing along your info. Also, do you have a planned parenthood nearby? If so, networking with them could be helpful. They are often the gateway to medical care for trans folks.
      (And, yeah, don’t refer to “female organs.” Name them what they are. Ex: “Uterus and associated organs.”)

    8. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

      Bear in mind that there’s a lot of variety in gender-affirming surgery: I have friends who have had top surgery (bilateral mastectomy) but no other surgery, and might still need a gynecologist.

      Also (you may have thought of this already) make an effort to be inclusive of non-binary people as well as trans men. The pronoun choice should either have room for people to write in an answer, or at least include “they” as well as “she” and “he.”

      And yes, reach out to colleagues and trans organizations. (My GP’s office specifically offers transgender health care on the website, but she’s a family practitioner; I think she works with endocrinologists, surgeons, etc. for things that are outside her skill set. (I get my Pap smears there rather than going to a gynecologist.)

      [I should note here that I’m a cis woman and try to be a supportive ally, but am nothing like an expert.]

    9. Anon GYN*

      Thank you everyone for your replies. I didn’t use the terms uterus, vagina, or breasts because on some sites those words are blocked or edited. I should have realised that would not be the case here. I am really trying to be inclusive in growing my practice and believe all people should get compassionate care . You have given me a lot to think about.

    10. someone, probably*

      I’m going to be frank – if I were to go to a gynecologist, I would want to go to someone who specialized in trans-/LGBT-related health care. Even though I still have the sex organs I was born with, my testosterone treatments mean that they look different from a cis woman’s, and my health risks are different too. If I went to a provider who had only ever seen cis women before, I would be concerned that they might not be familiar with trans-specific issues, and that their staff might not know how to deal with me. I’m not saying that applies to you, but that would be my concern.

      1. someone, probably*

        Sorry, I realized that this probably came off as a little harsh and unhelpful. I wasn’t trying to be down on you, and I’m glad you want to be more welcoming of trans people! I’m just explaining some reasons why you might not have many trans patients seeking out your practice right now.

    11. Triplestep*

      My city has an online and print monthly (free) magazine by and for the LGBTQ community, and it has a directory of services and providers. I’ll bet your liberal suburban area has something like this; that would be one way to identify other kinds of providers with whom to network, as some have suggested.

    12. trans guy*

      Just occurred to me that there is this organization called WPATH – World Professional Association for Transgender Health (wpath dot org) – and it has its share of problems (mostly a very medically focused view of transition that doesn’t resonate with a lot of people) but it could be a network of professionals to talk to and they have a directory of providers.

    13. Public Health Nerd*

      There’s also a few major national pediatric centers who have gender clinics. Their directors might be able to connect you with adult equivalent clinics or organizations who might have trainings or conferences that you and your staff can attend. Sometimes pediatrics moves a little faster than adult med.

    14. Apple*

      I don’t know if this is a widespread issue, but I knew a trans guy a number of years ago who was reluctant to legally transition because that meant his health insurance would not cover obgyn visits. So that may be a barrier as well.

  15. Seeking Second Childhood*

    [Reposted from the work thread…I goofed, saw ‘open thread’ and there’s no way for me to go back and delete it from there.]


    At my daughter’s recent birthday party, my husband overheard one of the girls talking about Tinder. They’re 12. Admittedly from what he heard, she was talking about using it as a game — sort of like some kids like with prank phone calls. I’ve got my MamaBear up — this is potentially a lot more damaging than a prank phone call.

    How do I pass this information along to the girl’s mother? Can you suggest a way to do this where my daughter’s friend doesn’t decide she’s a tattler? (My daughter wasn’t even in the area.)
    A Tinder question too — if the girls DID go off and play pranks with it, is there now a location record of it being used at my house?

    She does have older siblings, so she may well be using a “legal” account. And the kids were *not* given our wifi password.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I would say something like:

      “My husband overheard something that was a little worrying and I thought we should pass it onto you. Rose was talking about using Tinder as a prank, I don’t know the full details but I thought you’d like to know about it. I’m talking to Martha (yours) about it as well to make sure she understands that it could be dangerous.”

      I know you want to protect your daughter who hasn’t actually had anything to do with it but social media is dangerous enough for children and when Tinder is involved, which is actively aimed at seeking sexual partners, I would consider this serious enough to disregard other concerns – then again, I have no kids and you’re the expert when it comes to your daughter and her relationships.

      I would say that, no matter what, the girl’s parents needs to be aware that a) she knows what Tinder is and b) she might have an account on it.

      Good luck!

      1. LilySparrow*

        You should certainly bring it up with Rose’s parents, and I think this is a good script.

        I would not advise shilly-shallying around as mentioned below or obscuring the fact that it was Rose who spoke about it. We’re talking about an app for meeting up with sexual partners, on a device that transmits location data.

        Rose is putting herself in physical danger.

    2. Waiting for the Sun*

      I’m not a parent but I think you should mention what was overheard to the other mother: “I’m concerned because I don’t think the girls understand how dangerous this could be.”

    3. Lissa*

      Yeah, this doesn’t surprise me – when my friends and I were around that age the Internet was just getting started with chatrooms etc, and we would go online and “play pretend”by lying about who we were and getting fake pictures to talk to people, making up ridiculous stories etc. It’s a way to “pretend” to be an adult for awhile in the way we imagined it, while also being silly.

      One way you might be able to phrase it is that you heard a conversation about it happening, without singling out that it was specifically her kid talking about it, make it sound more like she was one of a few.

      1. Observer*

        No. Do NOT obfuscate what happened. The mom needs to know very clearly what her kid is up to. I’ll point out that Tinder on a smart phone is a WHOLE lot more dangerous than the chat rooms (although those were problematic enough.)

        Don’t over play it, but be very clear about what your husband heard.

      1. Trust me I know what I am talking about*

        Good advice above. There is no need for paranoid “oh god there’s a paedophile on every street corner” thoughts, because there just isn’t. But something like tinder, at that age, is risky. It would be right for their parents to have a little chat with them about keeping themselves safe and not engaging with people they don’t know. More good advice here https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/11_13/

    4. zaracat*

      Wjile the girls’ safety is the paramount concern, some thought should also be given to the men they are pranking. They potentially face being branded for life as sex offenders even if they’ve done nothing wrong.

  16. ScotKat*

    What boring but necessary life admin are you doing this weekend?

    I am organising a few things at home, finishing an assignment and paying some bills. In between I plan to drink coffee, listen to music and maybe go for a run tomorrow if my knee holds up.

    1. WellRed*

      Figuring out my budget for the month. Last weekend I worked my through a giant pile if mail and filing. That felt great!

    2. I am still Furious!!*

      Organizing recycling for my Mom, and if the rain stops, probably going to the landfill with a load of junk in the first steps to start to declutter Mom’s house and some of my stuff. Going to watch college football later this afternoon, and will probably do laundry tomorrow since it’s “supposed to be” windy and sunny in the afternoon, so I can hang everything out on the clothesline. And hopefully go for a walk. LOL I’m boring myself!

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I am attending a talk on the college admissions process this afternoon, since the minion is a HS junior, then we have to do our grocery shopping this afternoon instead of tomorrow morning because tomorrow the minion has a day-long sporting event. However, a friend from w*rk lives right near the event arena, and might stop by for a few minutes.

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          Not that basic. For me, a trip to costco is a time sink and deserves it’s own slot in the schedule. It takes forever to plan, go, fight the crowds, make good decisions, and then come home, unpack… and if you bulk cook (I used to) start cooking up that 10# of burger or baking that 4# of chicken breasts. I’ve begun taking a long lunch hour on Fridays and jetting out to get it done, to beat the crowd on Saturdays (worse on Sundays). Ugh!

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Sorry, I meant the college admissions talk was really basic. Do extracurriculars, figure out the cost, ask about financial aid, be sure to visit a variety of schools….that was a waste of my time. Not a big deal, just slightly annoying.

          And now I’m heading out to pick up some Indian takeout for tonight, and subs for tomorrow (instead of buying food from the conce$$ion :D ).

    4. Parenthetically*

      We’re taking our (almost literal) entire closet full of recycling to the recycling center. We could have gone three weeks ago (and probably should have), then forgot two weeks ago, then last week it was pissing down rain, so we’re in a desperate It’s Taking Over! kind of situation.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I feel this so much. I have so. many. clothes. And I hardly wear any of them, yet somehow it is so hard to decide on which ones to keep.

          I’ve tried to do the konmari thing but I think my emotions are just too flat for me to get it. I don’t feel anything in particular when I pick up most items, but I can imagine ways that this or that might be “useful” (like the normal office clothes) even though I rarely find myself needing clothes like that. I think it’s also that I am a large and hard to find size so I tend to hoard the clothes that *do* fit because the fat lady options around here are so awful and limited. If I got rid of my suit trousers and then needed a pair on short notice I’d have a hell of a time finding a replacement. But this also applies to more boring items that I just can’t seem to let go of.

    5. CatCat*

      Paying bills, working on our budget, and reconciling our accounts. I actually LOVE doing this stuff.

      Some people find it relaxing to do dishes, iron, or fold laundry… for me, it’s working on the household finances.

    6. Boo Hoo*

      We had a bunch of paperwork and documentation to fill out for a loan we are getting. We knocked it all out on Friday evening luckily.

    7. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Hubs & I are apt touring (after an unrelated piano tuner mishap, see below). Then groceries.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Opening & filing oodles of backlogged mail. I’ve pulled the bills out as they came in… or at least I hope I have.

    9. Loz*

      Buying everything needed to make a 4 bedroom house ready for habitation. From 350km away. Using about 10 photos with approximate measurements.

    10. Marion Ravenwood*

      I did a bunch of recycling and tidying up, sorted all my ‘specialist’ laundry (ie things that can’t just go in with a regular washload – new jeans that to be washed to get the dye out, tops that need to be washed on a cold cycle etc), cleaned my makeup brushes, took two pairs of boots to be re-heeled, went through some old magazines for recipes, and caught up on some reviews and interviews from my side job that I haven’t had time to do for a few weeks. With similar coffee drinking and music listening included!

    11. Allison F*

      Some light cleaning (gotta keep the kitchen and bathroom sanitary!), practicing my choir music (concert next weekend), panic-shopping for a new concert top for said choir, and dropping some unused clothes at Goodwill are on my to-do list for today. I already paid my bills for the month, did some laundry, and changed the bedsheets yesterday. Good timing, because a lot of this is stuff I’ve been putting off!

    12. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I finally got around to finishing re-sealing the bathtub for the 1,582,853rd time and putting everything back together. I left everything open for a while to make sure it all dried out because some of the floorboards are actually rotten now. :-( I’m saving money to get the tub replaced and repair the floor in the spring.

      I don’t know why it won’t stay sealed but this time it took me ages to notice that it was leaking until I realised there was water dripping into the kitchen cabinet below. :-( :-( But at least it now looks like a normal bathroom and not a dusty construction site.

    13. LilySparrow*

      Bathtub faucets.

      Our bathtub hardware is original to the house (1950’s). We had an ongoing dribble that turned into a stream a couple of weeks ago. The plumber did some kind of acid dip on the inside valves that got all the corrosion and minerals off, and they finally shut off completely. But he warned us that it might be too far gone and need replacing.

      The dribble is back, so now I have to shop for faucets and work the decision matrix on aesthetics, durability, compatibility, and budget.

      Bleah. I like fantasy hardware shopping just fine. But when there are a lot of real-life requirements it makes my brain hurt.

  17. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    I’m reading The Princess Bride and, I have to admit, I’m not loving it.

    1. WellRed*

      A Swedish thriller, Crow Girl. I wish it was more police procedural, less focused on the character with dissociative identity disorder.

      1. CAA*

        I read this a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I find that I’m liking the Virgil Flowers books better than the recent Lucas Davenport books.

        1. WellRed*

          Yes, I love Lucas but the stories are getting formulaic ( gang of 4 rides into town, commits nefarious deed, then they start turning on each other).

    2. Lcsa99*

      I’ve read that! I love the movie so much that I had to read it. I seem to remember it had a lot of portions that were hard to slog through, but when it really gets into the story it gets better.

      I am currently reading Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories…which isn’t nearly as cool as it sounds. None of them are written by him, just a collection of his favorites from other authors. They are decent, but for some reason I am just not feeling it.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I’m reading Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst, a novel about a fictitious (but very similar to the actual ones) reality-TV show, focusing on half a dozen contestants and told from alternating viewpoints. I’m really enjoying it so far, for the characters and their relationships as much as for the look at the behind-the-scenes mechanics and manipulation of such shows.

      In honor of the threads about the New York Marathon, I also recommend Russell Taylor’s The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner: An Unfit Londoner’s Attempt to Run the New York City Marathon from Scratch, which is hilarious – and also an effective look at the challenges of training for a marathon, with some history-of-the-race thrown in.

    4. Lady Jay*

      Princess Bride is one of the few stories that I think is better as a film than a book.

      I’m reading John Fea’s Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Tr*mp. (It doesn’t have the asterisk in there of course, but I’m trying to avoid filters.) Fea is a professional American historian with an interest in our religious history who essentially sets out to answer the question of how in the world people who were publicly committed to national morality wound up supporting, in an overwhelming majority, the least moral candidate.

    5. Redshirt*

      Evolution by Stephen Baxter. It is a repeat read for me. Each chapter is based on a different species in the story of human evolution. Most species described actually do show up in the fossil record. Though Baxter does show us delightful theories of what could have happened during the gaps of history. As for the future of humanity? The book takes us to the death of the sun/known universe.

    6. CatCat*

      The 19th Wife. It’s a novel that jumps back and forth in time telling the story of some early Mormons, and then the story of some fundamentalist Mormons in modern time. I am listening to an audio version and wishing the narrators were better, but so far I am finding it interesting. I have ancestors who were early Mormons so I am finding that part interesting, and I have current relatives who are (mainstream LDS).

    7. heckofabecca*

      Tropical Cowboys by Ch. Didier Gondola for my Women and Gender in African History class. It’s about young urban male gangs who modeled themselves after American cowboys in the Congo city of Kinshasa 50s and 60s. The very theoretical introduction was a horrific slog (ideas are cool, sentences were all insanely complex), but the meat of the story is great.

    8. Photographer*

      My crazy season is winding down, so I’m multi-booking! Right now I’ve got What the H*ll Did I Just Read, by David Wong in hardcover. Audiobook is Modern Love by Aziz Ansari, with Bonfire of the Vanities downloaded and ready to go next. Can’t wait to also start The Witcher Elm by Tana French!

    9. No Green No Haze*

      I just burned through N. K. Jemisin’s ‘The Stone Sky,’ the extremely satisfying wrap-up to her Broken Earth trilogy, two of which have won Hugo Awards.

      Hard to describe what it’s about, really: a mother and her daughter in an Earth so post-apocalyptic it no longer matters. The world is geologically unstable, with frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and a subset of the population basically has superpowers that can calm plate activity and scare the hell out of everyone else, who vilifies and enslaves them while relying on them for safety. The mother, superpowered but incognito, comes home from work to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and taken their daughter away. Its all about what comes next, as well as what led up to that moment, and it’s just mesmerizingly good.

      1. Qosanchia*

        Mere minutes ago, I read the prologue to The Fifth Season at my roommate’s urging. It’s amazing!

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        I’ve just had a quick Google and I’m interested but I see that some parts of the book are written in the second person and that’s an immediate turn off for me. Can you tell me if there’s a lot of that or is it just every now and then?

        1. Another fan*

          The “you” narration is basically 1/4 or so of the 3rd book of the trilogy, it signals a narrator switch. One of the narrators uses “you”, and I found it pretty clever and fitting since that particular narrator is… different (can’t find a better term without being spoilery). Their voice is supposed to be a little jarring, and using 3rd or 1st person wouldn’t have worked as well.

    10. Qosanchia*

      I’m currently finishing up The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve listened to the audiobook previously, but I like to read to fill in all the gaps that I inevitably miss.
      On my plate to finish is Oathbringer, also by Sanderson. I enjoyed the first two in the series, and I want to read it, but it’s dauntingly large, and I haven’t gone digging for the ebook yet. It’s also more to have common cultural ground with my roommates than to actually read for myself.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Print book: The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton

        Audiobook: Four Past Midnight by Stephen King

        I’m slowly working through most of King’s audiobook catalog. I got into audiobooks heavily right around the time of the 2016 election (it’s basically replaced the niche that talk radio previously held).

        That being said, the audiobooks for Oathbringer and the other books are really great.

      2. Maya Elena*

        Sanderson gets repetitive fairly quickly. If you pick up the books he took up from Robert Jordan, they have the mark of his characters, conversation patterns, behaviors, and blind spots throughout.

    11. The Other Dawn*

      I’m on the fourth installment of the Matthew Shardelake series, “Revelation.” I’m really enjoying this series. It’s set in the 1500s. I love historic fiction, so this is right up my alley.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I left my book at work, and the lead character’s in a total bear trap. ARGH. (Total escapist fantasy…one of Ilona Andrews’ shapeshifter books.)

    13. Professor Plum*

      Recommending “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride” by Cary Elwes. It’s a delightful book filled with behind the scenes interviews and stories from the making of the movie. Even better than reading it is listening to the audiobook which includes narration by many of the principles.

    14. Maya Elena*

      The rare instance when the movie is better than the book – cutting out lots of unnecessary dross and preserving the scintillating essentials.

    15. Teapot Translator*

      Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman. I really liked it and was sad when I finished the book. I’m very busy today and for most of the week, so I’ll wait before I buy the next one.

    16. Marion Ravenwood*

      I just started Illuminae, for my YA book club. It’s a dystopian sci-fi/fantasy where a remote settlement gets attacked by an evil corporation’s fleet and is saved by two spaceships, but the ships get damaged in the attack… and then there’s a plague to boot. The narrative follows two teenagers who used to be a couple but split up on the day of the attack, and are now on two different ships.

      So far it’s OK. I like the way it’s told, through interviews/emails/chatroom transcripts etc, but am not wild about the two central characters – I liked them to start off with but now they’re getting all ‘oh I wish we never split up’ and it’s falling a bit flat. But I’m still only halfway through so we’ll see if it improves.

      1. Shannon*

        I love that series. Like you said the two central characters aren’t great. In fact the plot itself isn’t great. But the way the story is told makes up for it.

    17. Pam.*

      Currently re-reading, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Good Omens, and Rumer Godden’s Little Plum.

      Oh yeah, and Mary Lasswell’s Suds in Your Eye.

  18. Penelope*

    Following-on from yesterday’s post regarding my stress/anxiety: does anyone get ‘early morning anxiety’?

    Sometimes I can go to bed in a reasonably calm state of mind (although I may just be exhausted, it’s hard to tell these days) and then wake up around 4am and while it’s not exactly an anxiety attack, my mind is racing and my heart is pounding, and I can’t seem to calm myself down.

    I did some Googling and apparently it’s a thing that’s quite common? And has something to do with brain chemistry upon waking (becoming alert etc.)? Right now I’m ‘dealing’ with it by putting on a sitcom of some kind just to distract myself. I wish I could use the time I spend awake doing something productive but my brain just isn’t cooperating.

    1. Drop Bear*

      It happens to my partner a lot – they have always thought (but not googled to confirm) that waking in the dark triggers their ‘primitive’ brain and puts them on high alert. On that basis, their strategy is to thank their brain for warning them that the dark can be risky but that they’ll handle it now. They usually get up and work at their potter’s wheel – the repetitive movements calms them – if they don’t drift off again straight away. I have woken to them snoring while Blackadder plays on their tablet though – so comedies help too it seems!

    2. Dr. Anonymous*

      I get this often. I now have a rule that I get up, go to the bathroom, come back to bed, and immediately turn on a Headspace sleep track to listen to. No thinking allowed. Otherwise, my brain comes up with some complicated worries to go with all that adrenaline and it becomes a Thing.

    3. Redshirt*

      It’s something that happens to me sometimes. Now that I know that others also go through This Thing, I’m going to search Google for new coping supports.

      Usually I wake up and feel frustrated with the absurdity of my situation. Then I read a book for a few hours. Trying to go back to sleep seems to be futile at best and more anxiety producing at worst.

    4. CatCat*

      Check out “one moment meditation.” It’s basically 1 minute of deep, conscious breathing. I’ve been amazed at its effectiveness to reduce stress.

    5. chi chan*

      Sleep apnea can cause you to wake up suddenly. And because you have been deprived of oxygen the body is stressed. Maybe ask a doctor about it.

    6. fruit fly annihilator*

      This happens to me sometimes. My pattern, generally, is to wake up at 4am needing to pee and feeling all keyed up, start thinking about whatever was on my mind during the day, lay awake for two hours worrying about that thing, finally start drifting back off right before my 6:30am alarm. I’ve found a few strategies to help.

      Almost all of those strategies stem from a conversation with my therapist. The big revelation in that conversation was that, per the therapist, your body gives you a jolt of cortisol (the stress hormone) immediately upon waking. That hormone is what causes the anxiety feeling. In waking life, you’re used to encountering a stressful situation, which triggers the cortisol, which triggers the stress feeling, so the stress feeling means there’s some kind of underlying issue for you to address–that there’s an emotional or external cause of your worry like a big work deadline or a fight with a loved one or something. In the middle-of-the-night situation, the waking up triggers the cortisol which triggers the stress feeling, and it’s helpful to me to remember that there’s no external thing I need to handle; I’m just experiencing a chemical reaction to waking up. One major thing that stems from that is I no longer go looking for the thing causing the worry. Since I know it just comes from waking up, I don’t need to excavate a waking-life problem and turn it over in my mind for two hours.

      In concert with declining to think about my daytime worries, I do “box breathing”. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four, repeat indefinitely. Someone on here suggested it a long time ago, I think maybe for anxiety attacks; apparently it helps your parasympathetic nervous system settle down. It also gives you something to focus on and keep your brain from doing worry-excavation.

      Finally, and in a very nuts-and-bolts way, I’ve been trying to exercise more change my water drinking pattern. I think more exercise helps me sleep through the night (so avoid triggering the wakeup cycle), and changing the water pattern helps me wake up closer to 1am than 4am (I find that I’m groggier at 1am and less likely to get into that stress cycle).

  19. WellRed*

    I mentioned my bro staying at mom’s for a month to sober up (alcohol and, I think, opioid). I have learned he got busted on the drive down (through Boston btw) for DUI, open container, possession of a controlled substance and one other thing. My mom referred to the CS, a pill, as a “blocker.” Anyone know what that might be? Also, any chance the fool could get sentenced to rehab ( frankly, I’d be ok with jail, too, but thinking of my mom. Who I assume is paying for his lawyer).

    1. No Green No Haze*

      The only thing that pops to my (very square) mind is beta blockers, which are used to regulate heart rhythm. I’m assuming he at least didn’t have a prescription for them? Otherwise, they don’t seem terribly abusable, though the International Olympic Committee bans them from use by athletes because they lower heart rate and reduce tremors — they consider that cheating for sports like archery & shooting.

      Apparently they don’t mix well with alcohol or cocaine.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      A blocker is anything that antagonizes a receptor on a cell in your body – so that could be anything and the description is meaningless…

      Sorry about your brother.

      1. WellRed*

        I looked this up and you may be right. It makes sense in as much as any if his poor choices make sense. Thx.

    3. Pieismyreligion*

      My thought is suboxone, which is used for medical withdrawl from opioids, it is a controlled substance and needs a prescription and monitoring for legal use but is sold on the streets as well.
      I have no clue about Boston courts, but he may be offered a diversion program from jail which would include rehab and parole, especially if this is the first offense.

      Good luck. This all sounds like it sucks for you and your mom.

    4. Kuododi*

      I’m not going to speculate about medicine he may or may not have access to at this time. First bc I am not a MD and second bc with as small amount of background information as we currently have, I am uncomfortable even trying to give a lay opinion on the matter. I will say in my experience working with addiction clients is that in general, 1st time offenders who were non-violent and didn’t have other legal complications…..(ie caught dealing within a certain distance of a school), those folks would usually get mandated to treatment. Mandating people to addition recovery treatment is a bit of a c**pshoot. In my experience only about half of the court ordered participants make any meaningful steps towards recovery. (No emperical data to back that up…. just ballpark opinion based on experience.). I do hope things work out for you and your family. Best wishes.

    5. Sparrow*

      If he’s recovering from alcohol or opioid use, the blocker could be naltrexone, which “blocks” the high from drug use. It’s not controlled the same way opioids are, but maybe his could get in trouble if he had it and couldn’t prove it was his prescription.
      Another possibility is Suboxone, which is naltrexone combined with buprenorphine, a drug that helps manage opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This one is prescribed for opioid addiction and is a controlled substance, but is often sold from person to person as people try to manage withdrawal symtoms.

    6. Sam I Am*

      So many places have drug courts now that whoever is paying for the lawyer should ask them about the possibility of having tthe case steered in that direction. Drug court will be better at addressing this as the medical problem that it is, while still treating the legal problems as legal problems.
      The courts will also like to have the family involved as your brother goes through this process. Do not let this fact guilt you into doing things that are harmful to the rest of the family. If there is theft or other social problems your mom has to take care of herself. This reality will serve your brother and the rest of your family well in the long run. Love him but don’t diminish his responsibility as he moves through this. And make sure you have someone to talk to.
      Good luck!

  20. I am still Furious!!*

    Sighs. I checked the online version of our local paper, Courthouse Roundup section (yes, it’s actually called that) and there were a ton of marriage licenses issued to local Amish folks, but no divorces recorded. Fingers crossed for next Saturday’s paper.

    I know the paperwork was being sent to the courthouse on Thursday for the judge to sign, but that means it went to his secretary, and then she has to put it on his desk, and that could have meant Friday, and the newspaper wouldn’t have record of it before printing last night, and my attorney wouldn’t have the papers back and I certainly wouldn’t get any notification. Yet. Can you tell I’m a bit anxious?

    I talked with STBEXH’s (or EX’s?) sister and she said he will never change. He won’t even stop at her house to get his mail, he expects her to open it and tell him what it is so he can determine whether or not it’s worth him making the trip to her house to pick it up. She said she is very concerned about him, as now there is no one left to help him or solve his problems. She and her husband have their own health issues, and she point blank told me he had better not expect to move in with them the next time he gambles himself into a mess. I agreed with her, and we both agreed he has had decades to learn life skills but chose not to. People have to live with the results of their choices.

    Hopefully by next week I’ll have papers in hand.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Courts are so bogged down now, it’s incredible. From what I am seeing the paperwork actually gets done in a fairly timely manner (they have people they are accountable to, so things have to be done in a timely manner). What takes time is notifying others that it has been done. I am guessing your paperwork is moving along like it should and no one has been told yet.

      Your last paragraph, there is the satisfaction of validation there but there is also that sadness, a person is unraveling. It’s also maddening to watch a fellow human being unravel themselves. Sometimes the best we can do is as your ex-SIL is saying, protect ourselves first. And you have done that, you decided to salvage you and that is huge. I kind of like your ex-SIL. She seems like she is real. Good for her for being so candid with you.

      It is true we live with the results of our choices until our very last day. No one can lay in that nursing home bed for us, we have to do that ourselves. Some folks actually could not prevent their circumstances and I cry for those folks. But other folks are a life lesson for us to learn from.

      Here’s hoping you are typing in CAPS next week telling us you got your papers.

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        So well said. I admit I came home from work on Thursday, went up to my room, and cried. I knew the papers had been sent to the courthouse, I have wanted this for so long, but yes, there was still a bit of sadness in it for all these wasted years and the inkling of what I know is coming for STBEXH. My ex-SIL wants me to stay in their lives, she said she considers me part of the family, even now, and totally understands why I had to do what I did.

        The worst part of this now for me is the loneliness. I was talking to a coworker this week, she’s just filed for divorce, terrible circumstances, and she said she hadn’t realized how isolated she had been until she left and filed the papers. I started thinking about that, and realized for the past 20 or so years, I’ve basically done nothing except go to work and try to make a failed and dead marriage work, and for the past 10 years or so, I could have been in a coma for as much as I really remember about it, other than I was unhappy. If you have a Facebook account, each day there are memories…most of mine are from last year. Once in a while, a few pop up since I joined in 2010, but probably 90% of the memories are from 2017. To me, that’s very telling.

        I think I said before – no matter what comes in the future, it’s got to be better than what I went through in the past.

        1. Dan*

          So with STBEX, just ignore him after the divorce is final. It gets easier with time, although can be hard/unsettling at first. There was a stretch where any attempts at contact were a bit jarring, but after that, ignoring any emails/phone calls was pretty easy.

          My ex’s family wanted to keep in touch after the divorce, but since we were only together less than 5 years, I hadn’t developed the same relationships you may have. They also moved out of state, which made getting together a bit more difficult. I haven’t talked to them in a couple of years, and I probably won’t. TBH, as much as I may want updates on the train wreck, I certainly don’t need them.

          I agree with you on the loneliness. I’m pretty comfortable on my own, but after I kicked my ex out, it occurred to me just how much of my social contact revolved around work and my ex and not much else. I joined a few social meetups (some of which I still attend regularly) and it was really jarring at first… as an introvert, trying to be social with strangers after that long of time was just plain weird. It gets easier though.

          In the last days we were together, one of the things I felt really guilty about was that my life was going to get better the day we split, my ex not so much. I thought about trying marriage counseling, but realistically didn’t see it going anywhere. And since *I* had nothing to gain by “working things out”, what was the point? So when the time came to kick her out, I did so and embraced it with maybe just a little bit of guilt. The light at the end of the tunnel was a heck of a lot more appealing than dragging it out.

    2. Dan*

      You know what’s funny? My divorce being final didn’t really matter to me in the least. To this day, I have some vague notion of when it was final.

      You’d think I’d have that date etched in my memory, but it was just so inconsequential emotionally. My support payments were lump sum, so it wasn’t as if a dragged-out divorce cost me more money. Also, I put in my paperwork that continued health insurance was contingent upon my continued employment with a particular employer — I was laid off three months after we split, so the insurance payments stopped long before the divorce finalization.

      For me, the two biggest emotional milestones were 1) The day I actually kicked her out, and 2) Two weeks later when I changed the locks. (I gave her time to get her stuff out, which she didn’t.) I think it took a year and a half for the divorce to be final, but I paid a lawyer to handle the paperwork and I stopped caring. Best $250 I ever spent. With no kids and no support, a year and a half is a long time to forget about things and move on with my life. When my lawyer let me know the divorce was final, it was pretty much “oh, that. Great. Thanks!”

      In terms of the train wreck… yup, peeps got to live with their choices. Unfortunately, “society” isn’t very well equipped to handle/help people with mental health issues. If one hasn’t figured out how to be an adult by their mid-30’s or 40’s, I have no idea how they’re supposed to start. But at the end of the day, nobody has a right to drag you down with them.

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        For me, it is the day I moved out, or evening…to be more specific – I waited until he left for “work”, which I found out later he hadn’t been working for at least the previous month and a half, but he didn’t want to tell me. We had separate bank accounts so I had no idea, and while my name was on his account, I couldn’t see anything at that time because I didn’t have access. He intercepted the statements while I was at work, and my attempts at getting the code mailed to me for online access (one of the bank’s weird rules) was pointless too, since he just threw them away when they came. September 15, 2017. Papers served to him by our constable on Monday, September 18. Those dates are what I remember.

        Dan, you are so right. Nobody has the right to drag you down with them. And I want to say how much I appreciate your comments, too, it’s good to hear things from people who have been down this path!

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Wrote a long reply and lost it (hate this laptop). Rooting for you.
      I did want to suggest that you make a conscious choice for something new, or of interest, to volunteer or do, to fill part of the void you’ve created by removing him. Volunteer at a shelter, take a class (pottery? kntiting?), get a trainer to set you up with a program at the gym, something that will get you towards a goal/place you want to be in 5 years. Or, even if you just work a part time job over the holiday season (fabric/craft store?), you get a store discount and money in your pocket – and out from the house regularly. Or a journaling/ women’s support group (I go to one).
      Otherwise, by default, you will fill that time and energy space with just… stuff. (speaking to myself here, who is still in the midst).
      I made a list of everyone I wanted to stay in touch with or build a relationship with, and am trying to reach out to one a week for lunch or dinner. (in some wonderful cases, they are coming here to help support me while I declutter).
      I’m lonesome, and talking to the dog… and mom is coming. But I had 25 years of propping up dead weight, and I need to be conscious about my choices.
      BIG HUG for all you’ve done and the inspiration you are!

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        That’s good advice. Now that I’m settled in at my Mom’s, and going through my stuff, getting rid of things, etc., I’m starting to look for something to do. I thought about house sitting or pet sitting locally, as I have a full time job, and I love animals. And yes, I talk to my cats :) Mom, not so much, she is such an anxiety ridden mess and is a totally Negative Nancy, I can’t really deal with talking with her for an extended period of time. I like the idea of reaching out for a lunch or dinner with friends. I need to catch up with my friend where I stayed for almost a year – right after I moved out, she was away for a while and I haven’t seen her. I miss her and her dog :( And yes, propping up dead weight. I had 32 years. Totally get that. So glad that’s over!

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          I am doing the women’s support group so I “unlearn” and retrain the brain. I’m so ticked at myself for putting up with it (putting my head in the sand?). It’s completely understandable – I am working at both my anger and my recovery. But I’m trying to be VERY conscious about my choices and not sitting here with the mental mess as well as the physical. And learning to interact with people in a “normal” way. Because nothing was normal while I was busy making excuses and propping up my fiction of a good wife (I was in denial) and working my fingers to the bone for him (and the other women and gambling). Sigh.
          You are an inspiration… and I get you about Mom. Mine is moving in, in a month.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          My suggestion may or may not be a thing that appeals to you. If you have any inclination to go to church you might want to check out churches around you. I did manage to find a church group who is very, very supportive of divorced folks and others who are struggling. Supportive in ways that are small and large. That support can come in the form of helpful tips, companionship, or just plain being able to say, “I have been where you are.”
          I had sworn off church for quite a while. Then after my husband passed, I just really needed to find a (reasonably) safe place to be with more gentle type people. I got lucky where I landed. Not everyone has the same experience, of course. And again, this may not be your thing and you can just ignore me here.

          1. I am still Furious!!*

            I belong to the United Methodist Church, and my congregation has been supportive, but they are all much older than me, and I’m 55, so I mean mid 70’s and older. They do have groups that meet, but during weekdays, so I’m at work, so I can’t attend. I’m going to try to find something else in the evenings or weekends.

            Thank you for suggesting it, no worries :)

          2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

            Church is one of my support network places. And one of the women from my women’s group at church, introduced me to the journaling group. I won’t go into details – the church, for me, was also one of the problems – but this particular group of women at church, and the support network, has been amazing. So I hang with them.
            I’m busy healing but the volunteer thing is high on my list. Animal shelter, docent training for the museum, sewing group for charity… I’m game when the clutter is gone.

        3. Woodswoman*

          My memory is that you’re in a decent-sized city. If that’s the case, you may want to check out Meetup. At a low time in my life when I wanted to make new friends, I found a couple groups to join where those who show up have common interests. I eventually even hosted my own events, figuring I’d have a good time doing something I like regardless of who else showed up. I’ve made a couple new friends that way, which has been lovely. Wishing you all the best.

          1. I am still Furious!!*

            That’s a good suggestion, and my daughter suggested it too, except I’m in a rural area. I checked out the site, and there are groups in the general area within 50 miles, but I didn’t see one thing I was interested in. I’m not crafty, I don’t have home schooled children, etc. Ugh. Not giving up, though, as she also suggested some volunteer organizations, so I’m going to start looking into those, too.

      2. Stan Lee (not the famous one)*

        Off-topic but I don’t think anyone will mind…

        “Wrote a long reply and lost it (hate this laptop).”

        Once you realize – this applies to everyone, not just NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser – anyway, once you realize you’re on the verge of writing a long reply, stop what you’re doing and compose it in a word processing document.

        Just like Google, cut-and-paste is your friend.

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          GREAT suggestion. My work docking station for my main work laptop has a keyboard and mouse – so I’ve been lazy with my wrists. The “home” laptop has some quirk where if I even ghost my wrist over the touchpad, it seems to make it go back a page…and I lose the reply. Ugh. and the cursor seems to jump up and back to random places in the text. However, I love the 360 /touch screen, and I’m not in a financial position to replace it…so maybe I’ll hook a keyboard to it. LOL. In the meantime, notepad / word is getting opened the next time I head into an answer…

          1. nonegiven*

            I disabled the button on my mouse that made me go back a page. I use it left handed and the button was way to easy to hit.

          2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            Check the settings. You might be able to change the sensitivity or enable an option that turns off the touch pad while you are typing.

        2. Em*

          I do that, AND I have also changed my word and excel settings to auto save every 5 minutes. I also use google docs/sheets which constantly saves.

    4. Basia, also a Fed*

      I don’t want to worry you, but in the past 4 years two friends of mine got divorced in central PA. One judge took 3 weeks after he he received the papers and the other took 7. In the second case, the lawyer told my friend that the judge only signs divorce decrees once a month – say the third Monday of every month. If he got your papers on the third Tuesday, you’re waiting a whole month. And for hers, he was on vacation during his regularly scheduled week, so he didn’t do them for two months. For the one who took 3 weeks – my friend called her lawyer a couple of times and the lawyer told her this is very normal. I’m not saying this will happen to you, but just want you to be aware that it could be several weeks.

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        My attorney said it could be 5 days or so after the papers are sent to the courthouse – so for now, that’s what I’m hoping for! But I realize there can be delays…and we have 3 judges…so hopefully if one of them is busy someone else can step in!!

        1. Basia, also a Fed*

          Good luck! I have been following you a little and am rooting for you. I don’t know where you are, but my friend where the judge took 7 weeks was in Berks County and the one where he took 3 weeks was in Cumberland County. Hope to see an update for you next week that you are a single woman!

    5. Nameless Wonder*

      Fingers and toes crossed for you. (changed names, previously was something that abbreviates to AA)

  21. families!*

    A relative is visiting from out of town and I’m having a really hard time with it. I’m in east coast big city where there are infinite numbers of things to do. When asked if they have anything they really want to check out, they have zero idea. I suggest something, they like it but then suggest maybe something else, and what would be the best choice? They also have seem to have zero ideas abut taking care of themselves, so will want to on a long walk in the park when in fact they get tired after walking slowly for 10 minutes. Shouldn’t they know that about themselves and take that into account when making plans? they seem totally surprised by it, even as I am not anymore. I need to get out of this dynamic, but am not sure how – my solution would be to be like ok, we’ll sit at here until you decide what you want to do, but that seems kind of passive aggressive.

    1. Nicole76*

      That sounds frustrating. I have a family member that does something similar. They take so much time to make a decision that by the time they choose, their choice isn’t always a viable option. Maybe in this case you can make the choice for them based on what you do know they like and sway them toward that? They might suffer from anxiety like my family member and need that extra push. Good luck!

      1. WellRed*

        Agreed. It’s annoying, but uf you make the decisions, etc., I think you’ll be less frustrated.

        1. A bit of a saga*

          Yes! We live abroad from both sides of the family so they come regularly and most are as you describe. So now we come up with something WE want to do that we think they will also enjoy and just push ahead with that idea unless they have other, strong wishes (they never do). We choose something that does not include a lot of walking because from experience everything takes forever when traveling in a pack – due to visitors and kids. I’m a restless character so sitting around while people make up their minds drives me insane – plus it’s my weekend too and I also want to enjoy it! Good luck!

      2. Auntie Social*

        I’d make one choice for them that you think won’t exhaust them too much, as a test case. Then they tell you how they’re doing/how tired they are, then you plan other similar or even shorter options.
        Even the small museums wore my parents out.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You can kind of get a handle on the day by planning out meals. Will you guys eat at home or eat out somewhere? Sometimes activities can form around meals. “We can go to X restaurant and stop at Y place along the way.”

      Maybe the relative does not want to do something every day. I have had that too. I had a dear aunt, who point blank said, “Plan one activity every other day.” That was all she was up for. On the slow days we filled in with planning meals, researching stuff on the internet and other small at home activities. We also planned naps. This was great. I did not have to pretend my on switch was in the On position all the time. She ended up with the dog and the cat napping on the guest bed with her and she was totally delighted.

      1. A bit of a saga*

        I love visitors who nap/go to their room for some down time/are happy to sit with a book for a while – it’s exhausting to be ‘on’ all the time. I had a row with some family members about this a while back. They were offended we were not ‘present’ enough and I had to explain to them that we were on day 7 of a 10-day trip to stay with various family members, over the holiday season, sharing one bedroom with two kids under 5. By then we really, really just wanted a couple of hours to curl up on the sofa doing nothing/playing on the phone without having to engage in thoughtful conversation. This year we’re staying home for the holidays..

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Real Simple had a good feature this month about being a good host and a good guest.

      General tips:
      *suggest two options for activities or food, not infinite options

      More specific ideas:
      *things like narrated bus tours are generally friendly/interesting to the older or mobility challenged guests and most big cities have them
      *going to somewhere that has sitting/resting opportunities like a mall or a small museum

    4. tangerineRose*

      I think you should pick something that you like to do that they’ll be OK with and that doesn’t require a lot of walking.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A thought for big city with infirm relatives… many long-walk institutions offer wheelchair rentals. An elderly relative has admitted she’s reached that point, so our next daytrip outing should be a lot more enjoyable for her — we’ll get her set up with wheels.
      And after all, at its heart, a botanical garden is a park…albeit one with a nice little lunch place in the middle. :)

      1. Em*

        When my children were young, we went to the zoo and invited my grandma. She wasn’t going to go because it was too much walking, so we rented an electric scooter from the zoo. She loved it! She got in, tested it out, and said, “I never thought I’d drive again.”

    6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I have had many frustrating visits with relatives like this. What I now try to do is plan a rough itinerary before they arrive, with the view that we can always change things. Perhaps my relatives are more amenable to being told what to do but most of the time if I suggest activities when there are a lot of options it generally works out.

      I will definitely push certain relatives to get a mobility scooter or similar if we do a big trip with them again. I had a really horrible experience a few years ago with someone who either didn’t realize or didn’t want to admit how much trouble they had walking around, and it would have saved so much exhaustion and frayed tempers if I’d insisted on getting something like that. Even one of those tiny folding chairs attached to a cane, and maybe a wheeled shopping trolley, would have made a huge difference.

  22. Handy Nickname*

    2 related questions:
    What kind of things do you like to do with your friends? Couple ideas I had were going to a ball game (wrong season now though :( , taking the antrack to a city a few hours away to spend the night and hang out, going for a drive/out for food/to a movie. What are your favorite friend adventures?

    What kind if things do you enjoy doing alone? I’m in a place in life where I have a lot of flexibility in my life outside of my 9-5, but most of my friends opposite or irregular schedules or busy with family/SOs or live far away, and I’m tired of coming home from work, making dinner, and watching Netflix every night. I’d love suggestions of at-home hobbies and bigger things you like to go and do.

    I’ll be in & out today, so may not be able to reply, but I’ll be reading. Happy Saturday everyone!

    1. Hannah*

      I have just one local friend, who is really busy and we only hang out once every few months usually. So, I spend a lot of time at home.

      Right now, my main “free” time is spent taking (free) online courses and learning some new skills that will help me succeed at work. I also read books, or if I’m feeling like I have tons of free time, I drag out my guitar or my knitting. I also volunteer a few hours a month. Of course, somehow I seem to spend most of my time at home cooking, eating, washing dishes, or other chores. Why are chores so unending?!

      As for time with friends, I pretty much just like eating food or going out for drinks. It’s not really the activity that matters–I just like doing anything where we can have long conversations. I don’t really feel like there has to be an activity that is exciting in order to enjoy each other’s company. I do like traveling with my best friend, but that is a bit different from what you are asking I think.

    2. GoryDetails*

      For many years my group of friends played D&D and other fantasy role-playing games together (I was very fond of Call of Cthulhu, despite the tendency of every session to end with all the characters insane or devoured by eldritch monstrosities!). In recent years we’ve fallen away from that, with occasional exceptions for one-shot games, but it was great fun at the time.

      Among my main hobbies now: reading, usually accompanied by my cats, though I always have a book with me so that when I’m having a meal alone at a local brew-pub I have something to read.

      On the more active side, I love geocaching, the GPS-based treasure-hunt game; it gets me to interesting places (including local parks that I had no idea existed), and some of the caches are hidden on hiking trails that provide a good workout. (Others are easily accessible from parking lots or sidewalks, so there’s something for everyone.) I do this alone and with friends – avid geocaching friends or casual-but-willing-to-tag-along friends.

      I’m also into BookCrossing, a site where one can attach a unique ID to a book and then pass it along and (if the finders cooperate) learn where it goes; I read so much that I always have lots of books that I don’t need to keep, and I leave them on park benches, trailheads, Little Free Libraries, interesting public statuary, or other spots that take my fancy. [Even inside geocaches now and then, if the containers are large enough.]

      Other things I do alone or with friends: visit museums, go on road trips to interesting eateries (from low-end but well-rated clam shacks or brew-pubs to – as the budget permits – ritzier spots), join local history-walks (old cemeteries, architecture, etc.)…

      The dinner-and-a-movie option is also fun, with friends or alone.

    3. Friends and hobbies*

      So it seems like your friend ideas in paragraph 1 are not really conducive to your descriptions of your friends’ lives in paragraph 2. If they’re busy with their families or irregular schedules, they likely won’t have the bandwidth for an Amtrak trip or maybe even for a drive.

      If you have the flexibility, it would probably just be best to meet them where they’re at. I am always the one who travels to my friend several states away because he hates flying and I have a lot more flexibility. I usually meet my friends who earn less and have less time for a cheap dinner. I don’t really have friend adventures? I went to a wine festival as the DD recently with a few friends—that was a lot of fun. Honestly I find that the regularity and consistency are way more important than what we’re doing.

      For at home hobbies, I cross stitch (while watching Netflix) and I go to the gym. The gym means I see the same people regularly, which I really value. I like to travel to visit my friends (which they like too because it means it’s easier for them, and they also want to see me). Oh and I’m getting into hiking.

    4. Qosanchia*

      I’ve let the hobby go a bit stale in the past year or so, but I took up yarn spinning and weaving on something of a whim, and it’s been a good social activity. Generalizing a bit, many of my friends like making things, so organizing “crafternoons” where we get together and draw/paint/bead/knit/whatever works well. It also works as a solo activity, but I usually need a show or something on while I’m doing it. I used to record and post to YouTube, but as the crafting fell off, so did the edit and upload schedule.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I suppose I can throw out a couple useful options:

      * local meetups
      * local adult Ed (I am taking beginner Spanish but they have everything from finances to gardening usually one night/week)
      * local sports – hiking, biking, jogging, softball, bird walks – there’s bound to be a group for each in your area

      Stuff with your friends:
      * go to their place, maybe pickup food, be flexible on times (my parent friends are easier to meet for weekend breakfast than at night) or go close to kids bedtimes and hang out w them after at their house
      * do a kiddie activity once in a while – kids museum, zoo, etc – you can chat while they multitask

    6. Waiting for the Sun*

      With friends – bar trivia, more for the trivia than the booze. Perusing thrift shops. Board games.
      When I’m lucky enough to find a friend who shares my taste in music, love going to concerts.

      Alone – Library, exploring unfamiliar neighborhoods.
      Honestly, sometimes I like shopping for clothes by myself because I can look at only the things I’m interested in and leave when I want.

    7. Lily Evans*

      With my friends I like to go out to eat to try new restaurants, or order in and watch bad tv. We’ll also go out to events like trivia nights or special museum events. When we’re hanging out as a bigger group we’ll do theme nights like arts and crafts or a spa night and those are lots of fun!

      I’m not the type to care about not having someone to do something with, so I’ll do pretty much anything alone, whether it’s just going to a museum or traveling to another country, if I want to go I just go. When I’m at home alone I just hang out with my cat, bake, and watch a lot of shows online.

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      With my friends I like going to the cinema/theatre, out for dinner or just hanging out together at the pub or someone’s house. I met a lot of my friends either through the country music scene or a Harry Potter Meetup group, so we also do lots of activities related to those (gigs/country club nights or slightly nerdy things – for instance the HP group recently went to the wand-lighting at St Paul’s Cathedral for the new Fantastic Beasts film, and a group of people are planning to go see it when it comes out).

      On my own I like reading, learning languages (I’m currently refreshing my French for mine and OH’s trip to Paris this month), watching TV, writing, sewing and baking.

    9. Prof_Murph*

      I’m in a very similar situation. Though I would say my friend group is rather small. I spend a lot of time alone (and often lonely). I recently got into miniature room building – sort of like a dollhouse or diorama. There’s a ton of craft sets online and I’ve done a few – I usually do the crafting while watching Netflix or some reality show that I don’t have to pay too close attention. I also have done some coloring in coloring books. I know that these both sound very dorky and if you told me a few years ago that I’d be doing these things, I wouldn’t believe you. But there’s been some freedom is just getting into a hobby without thinking it’s too dorky or silly and just enjoying it.

  23. Kate Daniels*

    The weather is supposed to drop to a high of 30/40 degrees around here this week, so I am excited to bust out my flannel sheets! What are your favorite things about winter or to do in winter? This year, I’m on a quest to find the best hot chocolate in the city and am looking forward to experimenting with making soups. I am also really looking forward to seeing lights and decorations go up around town—it makes the place look magical!

    1. Rebecca*

      I like to get out the scented candles, especially now, since tonight in my part of the USA we turn the clocks back an hour. That means pretty much total darkness shortly after I get home from work during the week, and the candles help lift my mood during the winter months. I like the cold, crisp air, and total lack of mosquitoes!!

    2. anon today and tomorrow*

      Coats! Coats are my fashion statement. I love striking coats that catch the eye and are fashionable, but also warm. There’s something delightful to me about wearing a nice red coat in a sea of black or grey coats.

      Also, winter is my favorite month to sit inside with a cup of tea/cider/hot chocolate and read or write.

    3. Windchime*

      I put my flannel sheets on a couple of weeks ago and it’s been heaven. I sleep with the window cracked so the bedroom gets chilly, but I’m snuggled under my flannel sheets and a couple of cotton blankets. Mmmmm, so cozy! I’ve also upped my hot chocolate consumption. I love making chicken soup and beef stew during the winter–it’s so nice to come home to a crock-pot of dinner that’s done except for the making of biscuits.

      I work on a main downtown street in Seattle, and soon they will put up little white lights in all of the trees that line the avenue. It always looks so pretty and they leave them up for several months.

      1. Qosanchia*

        The thing I’ve come to love about living in the North (I moved from AZ to Seattle a few years ago) is how sparkly the city is on winter evenings. Everything is dark and wet by late afternoon, but it also means all of the lights come on, and everything is extra reflective.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yes, gosh, we keep the window open unless it’s blowing a gale or going to be below 20 F, and have a thick feather duvet, and it’s wonnnnderful.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh I enjoy my flannel sheets. I don’t have heat in my bedroom other than a plug-in oil radiator, but the sheets let me turn it down so it doesn’t use up so much energy. And I sleep better when it’s a little cold. They’re very snuggly. :)

      I look forward to wearing all the scarves I’ve collected. It’s funny–I never used to like them, but now I have a huge amount hanging on the bedroom door. They make great souvenirs if you go somewhere, and then when you wear them people ask, “Where’d you get that?” and you can breezily say, “I got it in London!” I also buy a lot of them at flea markets for very little money.

          1. PhyllisB*

            I’m glad to see you back, too. I’ve always enjoyed your comments. In fact, when there was a thread a while back that asked who is your favorite commenter, you were one of the ones I listed. (Of course, I finally said there were too many to just list one, but you were one I did mention.)

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        That’s the best kind of souvenir, I think! I also buy earrings sometimes. Much better to have something that reminds you of a trip but that you can actually use.

        I recently bought some Jersey sheets. I haven’t tried them yet but they will hopefully be nice and snuggly.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ooh yes, earrings. I got some really cute teapot earrings in the gift shop at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. That was a fun day. It was actually May Day and I saw Morris Dancers for the very first time.

          I also bought a tiny replica of its bell. It lives in my purse and I whip it out sometimes and ring it when the occasion calls for it, LOL.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My daughter’s the age when I fell in love with skiing, so this year I’m hoping to get her signed up for a couple of beginner lessons. Both downhill & cross-country . Downhill was my love until I had a scare on the slopes…and cross-country ould be an eyeopener for my daughter. I’m absolutely terrible and have such fun anyway. I predict many laughs from snowbanks.

    6. LilySparrow*

      Boots and layers. I love wearing a dress with tights & boots, or a tunic with leggings. Not usually an option from April – October around here, it’s too hot.

    7. Marion Ravenwood*

      Lots of things other people already said – high streets lit up with Christmas lights, hot drinks (I am irrationally excited about all the coffee shop Christmas drinks which launched this week in the UK), scented candles, curling up on the sofa when it’s cold outside, knitwear, boots, slippers etc. I also love a good country pub on a wintry day, especially if it has a roaring fire and a roast dinner to boot.

  24. The Curator*

    Big Voldemort project that has occupied my life almost every spare minute for months.Weirdly feel bereft. Anyone have post big project depression/anxiety?
    Visiting some friends for lunch.
    Getting something in fish for dinner.
    Making an instant pot of pea soup as weather is turning foul today.
    Hoping to read a sweeping time travel novel by a debut author.
    There will be a nap.

    1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Forgot to post “congratulations” yesterday on this (I went and looked at your link – wow)!

      1. The Curator*

        Thanks. It was a super big deal. The show opens in Feb. but for now, it is out of my hands except for fundraising for the print edition. Taking the weekend off for rest and reading.

        Good new- shrimp for dinner w/grits if I have any.

        In bed now with the healing white dog- nap-ready, with The 48 by Donna Hosie. Turns out not a debut author but new to me.

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          hug for the healing white dog…. you deserve a long recuperation period. I had a project (shall go unnamed)… I took almost 10 days to get back to normal from the push to hit that deadline. I get it. Be gentle.

    2. Jane of All Trades*

      I always get post huge project lows. The intensity depends on how long and intense the project was.
      Be kind to yourself, it takes a while to get used to the lower stress. Maybe you can alternate resting / reading and so on with some activities that you really looked forward to but couldn’t do during the project? For me this has been everything from going for a run or a hike, setting up a dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in a while, and projects like baking, gardening, etc that feel productive but also relaxing.

      1. The Curator*

        Thanks for this. Watched a run of 4 episodes of A Million Little Things. Phone Banked. (wow, I did want to do something that might make a difference, but that WAS a special kind of hell, by the end I was praying that no one would pick up)
        the Shrimp and Grits turned out awful so there was blue cheese and grapes and crackers for dinner.

        Accepting the weird post-project lows and prepping for the work week. Plenty on my plate there.

  25. Jessen*

    Ok cat owners of AAM, I need some advice.

    I have a 10 year old cat who’s starting to lose weight. She gets sheba wet food supplemented with some dry food (especially since I can’t be home midday to feed her). She was eating the nature’s recipe chicken flavor but it got discontinued. Tried canidae and she doesn’t like it. I already know she hates science diet. Any recommendations for some good kibble to feed a fussy feline?

    1. Rebecca*

      Long time cat owner here – I had an older cat who started to lose weight, and he had a thyroid problem. I also had a cat once who developed diabetes, also lost weight, but started drinking and peeing – a lot. Another cat had a tooth problem. I’m recommending a vet checkup, if you haven’t gone that route yet, along with trying another food.

      1. Jessen*

        She did just have a vet checkup, and I’ll get her blood, fecal, and urine results on monday. She’s currently skulking around complaining that bribing her with treats and then stuffing her into the carrier was not fair. But I started noticing some issues around when I switched her food so I’m thinking that’s likely the culprit. (Fingers crossed it’s not the cancer coming back – if it is there’s not much I could do.)

        1. Asenath*

          Well, the vet would have been my first choice, and you’ve done that. You could try tempt-the-appetite food, but as I’m sure you know cats can be finicky. Sardines can work, and I’ve used baby food bottles of chicken and turkey (until I wised up about the cost and bought regular chicken and boiled and pureed it). If you do the baby-food option, don’t choose the ones with vegetables. just the pure meat. I once had a cat that wouldn’t eat for the vet after surgery, and at home she started on Vienna sausages – and then, once she was eating, her regular food. When I reported this to the vet, she said well, a diet of Vienna sausages isn’t recommended, but the main thing was to get her eating again, and if it takes Vienna sausages to do it, that’s OK.

          1. Jessen*

            I’m mostly looking at daytime feeding options. She likes her sheba wet food well enough, but with my commute there’s no way to feed wet midday. So I give her kibble as well. She’s definitely getting her wet food upped though.

            1. tangerineRose*

              When my cat started getting skinny, it was a thyroid problem. The vet suggested pills for this (and putting them in Pill Pockets so the kitty would eat them), and she’s doing great now. I hope it’s something fairly easy to fix for your kitty!

              Also, if you use Pill Pockets, I found that keeping the resealable packet in a Tupperware container or something similar means that my kitty won’t start refusing to eat the Pill Pockets when they’re about half gone. Apparently, the resealable packet isn’t that great at keeping them not stale, and using that plus the container makes a big difference. (I didn’t notice the difference, but my cat clearly did.)-+

          2. Wishing You Well*

            I’ve done the turkey baby food for an older cat who wouldn’t eat. The vet recommended heating it in the microwave to encourage my sweet old dear to eat. I always checked the temperature before serving it.
            I agree with Asenath’s vet about palliative care: whatever works.

            1. Jessen*

              The problem I have with her is she just refuses to meal feed. She’ll only eat a fairly small amount at any given time – small enough that I’d need to feed her 4 or 5 meals a day. Hence why I mix with dry food, since I can’t stay home all day to feed her.

      2. Rebecca*

        Oh yes, the dreaded carrier!! I have to keep them hidden, and I know which cat to grab first…take to the carrier in another room, and stuff in, and then go for the second one. I’ve missed vet appointments in the past because they’ve seen the carrier and hidden.

        I’m thinking it is the food – maybe try a few options to see what she likes? Cats are weird that way, they can be completely happy with their food until one day they wake up and say “I’m not having this any longer, human”.

    2. tink*

      Our cat is 6, but she’s on the Whole Hearted kibble (turkey flavor, but they also have chicken and tuna) because we are also not home during the day to feed her, and a bit of a rotating list of wet foods. Whole Hearted, Nutro Max Cat, Tiki Cat, Solid Gold, and I think there’s a fourth, but the name is escaping me at the moment. She likes the Whole Hearted kibble just fine, although she prefers her wet food. The Tiki Cat kibble is probably worth looking into as well.

    3. Windchime*

      I have a very picky cat who will only eat a very few flavors and types of food. He will literally refuse to eat anything that’s not on the preferred list. He also hates Science Diet; I don’t know any cat who loves that stuff. Anyway, for kibble he eats Purina Pro Plan (Indoor cat recipe). Quality-wise, I think it’s better than normal old Purina or Meow Mix, but probably not as healthy as the specialty foods.

      Good luck. I hope kitty starts feeling better soon.

    4. Can't Sit Still*

      I had success with Royal Canin Savor Selective kibble for a cat who was otherwise uninterested in food. It does seem to have a stronger aroma than other kibbles.

    5. Worked in IT forever*

      Royal Canin has a dry food for fussy cats (I can’t remember the exact name, but it has “fussy” or something like on the bag). I think the bag is pink and white. Our picky youngest cat likes it. Whiskas dry was a big hit with her, too. Because she’s active and not food obsessed (unlike any other cat we’ve had), she’s slim (unlike any other cat we’ve had). She’s perfectly healthy but shouldn’t lose any weight. So we give her as much as she wants of whatever she’ll eat.

      Also, even though he sells the high-end prescription food, our vet also believes in the “any food is better than no food” philosophy.

      1. Worked in IT forever*

        Oops, I guess I was typing my comment when Can’t Sit Still posted. We’re talking about the same food.

    6. Dr J*

      I feed Blue Wilderness duck dry food. It’s grain free and both my cats seem to like it. I was having a different problem where one of my cats would eat too fast and regurgitate immediately, and the grain-free food seems to help.

    7. Trouble*

      Orijen. We call it kitty crack. Ours love it. They get MACs wet food twice a day but they will scorn it in favour of the Orijen kibble. Dry cat food is to them what fast food is to us as well, so I’d love for them to eat the wet and stop focusing so much on the dry, but they love it and half the time the wet doesn’t get finished.

      Blue Buffalo is supposed to be good, and I know my mother’s dogs eat a version of it and she’s quite happy with it.

      I’m a cat food researcher. My husband is like they’re cats feed them cat food, it’s on an isle in the supermarket. I was like nope, I am going to do FBI level research into what they should eat and we eventually picked the Orijen.

      I want to transition them onto raw, but like you I have an older one who struggles to keep weight on and I don’t think it’d be fair to her to pull the rug out from under her with two fixed meals a day of a totally new kind of food she’s never seen before when for 12 years she’s had free grazing of kibble all the time. The other three are two two year olds and a one year old so I could switch them, but I’d have to get one of those microchip activated bowls for the older one, and that feels like teasing the other three. Feline nutrition is a nightmare!

    8. Trixie*

      At times like that, I try multiple brands by single can to see what is palatable. My cat also loves cat nip so I’ll sprinkle some on his wet food.

    9. cat socks*

      Based on my experience, my cats have had appetite issues related to thyroid issues and kidney disease. Mirtazapine is an appetite stimulant that works on my kitty that has kidney disease. It was just recently released in a transdermal gel that I put on her ear. Just recently she got an esophageal feeding tube to help get her weight back up and it’s reduced a lot of stress with getting her to eat.

      Are her teeth okay? She may need a dental cleaning.

      I’ve found these lockable treats – I think the brand is Hartz – and sometimes I’ll mix that in with regular wet food. All my kitties like FortiFlora sprinkled on their food.

      1. Jessen*

        Teeth are ok. She had to be switched quickly off her old food a bit ago (it was discontinued, I didn’t find out until I went to buy more), and I think she’s not taking the adjustment well.

    10. Smarty Boots*

      I have an itchy cat — chicken allergy — with a tender tummy, so perhaps this will work with your kitty. I tried everything! Different brands, different meats. Everything came right back up. Very best kibble for her is Nutrisca salmon. It’s a bit pricey, but it has no chicken in it at all. Wierdly, she also likes and keeps down Purina cat chow of all sorts, but it’s all got chicken in it, so I can’t give it to her.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      What I do is buy one or 2 cans of a bunch of different stuff and offer it. Save labels of anything that gets eaten, then get a couple more cans. Keep doing this until you’ve got a good list of what is liked.

      I try to stick to the bigger brands, vs the “boutique” ones. I’m on a couple cat pages on FB, and thus see recalls. they’re always for the smaller brands – clearly don’t have the quality control in place like the Purina’s do. So, Iams, Purina, Science Diet, Royal Canin are on the ok list for me. However, mine is 19 and at this point gets whatever she wants, so there’s a bunch of Neutro flavors in the rotation now. (I also get to repeat the process periodically, as mine will just reject foods at random.)

      You may also want to consider a vet checkup if she hasn’t been recently.

      1. Jessen*

        I’m looking for dry food here, not wet. Hence why I’m looking around more, because you can’t buy a small amount of dry food. And I have never in her life been able to get her to meal feed without it just resulting in her losing weight. It might work if she could be fed 4 or 5 times a day, but I can’t do that.

    12. Panda Bandit*

      My cats always loved Solid Gold and Chicken Soup for the Soul cat food. They’re midrange brands, better than grocery store kibble but not super duper expensive.

    13. Jane of All Trades*

      My cats are rather picky when it comes to the healthier types of dry food, but they do go crazy over the friskies dry kibble that you can by at Walgreens and cvs. It’s not great because it has a lot of fillers and not a high protein content, but they love it and it’s not expensive – maybe you could try if she’ll eat that and, if so, slowly mix in a healthier dry food that has a higher % of protein and no fillers?

  26. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

    Any parents have suggestions on strategies for kids with executive function problems? My kid is great at participation and tests, but has sometimes has problems with remembering to do his homework and remembering to turn it in. I can help wrangle on the first aspect, but it’s the second part, turning it in, that’s a thorn in my side.

    1. Oops I forgot*

      How old is the kid? What motivates him? Can you do the equivalent of a sticker chart (log, reward)?

    2. Llellayena*

      Is there something your kid brings to school every day that you know they look at before class? Maybe put a big note in/on it that says “do you have homework to turn in today?” I’m posing it as a question because it encourages thinking about the topic instead of blindly following a direction. Alternately, can you ask the teacher to ask that question when your kid walks in?

    3. blackcat*

      Not a parent but a teacher with SPED training.
      Make a checklist on fabric (preferably canvas) and sew it so that it’s a flap at the top of his backpack. Then every time he opens his backpack, he’ll get a reminder to turn in homework.
      Generally rewards and stuff don’t work with executive function issues and can make things worse since it adds to feelings of guilt and shame.
      Lists and visible reminders are much better. The eventual goal with teens is to get them to remember their lists/plans for tasks and to write them down *at the start of the task.* Externalizing that processing as quickly as possible helps.
      Ex, I trained a former student to write at the start of long test questions “Content: ____ Plan: ______ Answer should address: _______” Similar strategies may be useful as your kid gets older and has to do things like more essay answers on tests.

      1. Chameleon*

        As a person with executive functioning problems, I heartily agree that visible reminders are *far* better than rewards. I already feel bad about forgetting to do important tasks; losing out on something cool because of it too would make it worse.

        One thing I would add–make sure to change the visible reminders often. Brains have a tendency to erase things they get used to. I constantly give myself reminders and then a week later will completely ignore those reminders because I stop “seeing” them.

        1. LilySparrow*

          I like star charts. But not really for a reward, I just get a dopamine hit out of getting the stars.

    4. Luisa*

      Talk to his teacher(s). They probably have strategies they’ve used with other kids (maybe even with some of your son’s classmates).

    5. Kendra*

      I had this problem in elementary school. I remember that my parents started to make me pay $5 for every missed assignment, and that the problem eventually got solved, but I don’t remember if the penalty $5 was what actually fixed it.

    6. Kj*

      If he’s in middle school, turning in assignments requires thinking about it up to 7 times a day. That can be really hard! I often suggest that we make it once- by letting the kid turn all his assignments in to the teacher’s boxes in the front office. That takes less executive functioning skill and if you set up a time of day for this to happen with the school, they are generally supportive (if they aren’t, make it part of his 504 plan or make them come up with a better idea.) Also, if he is struggling with this after you do all you can, I’d call a 504 or IEP meeting. Let the school help fix it. If your kid doesn’t have a 504 or IEP, I’d recommend getting one.

      1. LilySparrow*

        In elementary school, the teacher introduced take-home folders for everyone. Everything coming home goes in there, and we check it daily. And everything to be handed in (permission slips, assignments, etc) goes in there, so it’s the first thing they unpack when they arrive.

        For me & my kids it helps if the thing we need to remember is physically blocking the normal routine in some way – like you have to go through it to get anything done.

        If we were having trouble turning stuff in, I’d rubber-band the take-home folder to the outside of their binder or Chromebook or whatever item they use first. If it’s different assignments for different classes, you could use one of those multi-pocket sorters.

        If your son has a phone, could he email a photo of the assignment to his teacher as soon as it’s finished?

      2. Observer*

        Getting an IEP is a good idea. Having the kid hand all their homework in at once may not be a realistic option, though.

        It can’t hurt to ask about it, but in plenty of school it just would not be something that can be realistically done.

    7. Athena X*

      I teach a lot of executive functioning skills to kids and teens. Smart But Scattered has a ton fo excellent ideas; there’s one for kids and one for teens. Not sure how old your child is but here’s a link to the teen version:

      If your child has a smart phone, use it for support. Have your child put things on their calendar with reminders. Homework turn in? Make a recurrent reminder.

      In terms of doing homework, make a plan for when and where homework will be done. You will likely have to step in, provide scaffolding for organization, and then fade yourself out after your child is comfortable with the system.

      Good luck!

    8. DrTheLiz*

      I don’t know if I have executive function problems as such, but forgetting homework was absolutely me throughout secondary school (grades 7-13 US). My strategies were similar to those others have suggested in terms of making things external and as “passive” as possible – write down every assignment and due state when it is given out, then when the work is done check it is on the backpack last thing at night before bed. There’s been less of a gap between doing and putting in the backpack, then, and the #1 reason my work was late was that it was sitting, done, in my bedroom. It also allows for a last-minute morning memory spurt.

      In general, the more of my morning I did the night before the better off I was, up to and including laying out my clothes.

  27. Oops I forgot*

    Husband’s 35th bday is tomorrow. Need gift ideas. He has a million hobbies. I don’t want to spend a lot of money because we just signed a contract for an addition that will cost us approximately as much as a new house.

    Any good books? Stuff to help with a commute? He has a good travel mug. He’s been eating carb-lite. We’re going out to fancy dinner which is the main present but we have young kids so we’ll do a cake and presents mostly for show.

    He could use A good sweatshirt – any recs that I don’t have to order? I have access to basically all US stores. Am also going to get him some clamps for his woodshop bc they are my fallback.

    1. Llellayena*

      If you’ve got a Sears nearby that hasn’t yet closed, a Lands End sweatshirt should last nearly forever.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Lands End is no longer part of Sears, though some Sears may still have LE gear. LE has standalone stores and a great return policy in their website.

    2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Date night gift basket…movie passes, box of his favorite theater candy, and/or DVD he likes. Or gift card to restaurant, with reservations (can be rescheduled). Or “fine woodworking” magazine subscription and those clamps (if he doesn’t already get it).

    3. Kuododi*

      Ive been known to make a gift basket of all of DH favorite gross snack foods which set my stomach off simply smelling the odor. ( ie- sardines, olives stuffed with garlic and/or jalapenos….you get the idea.) Have fun!!!

    4. Tessa Karlov*

      For a commuter, I’d recommend some noise-cancelling headphones, they are truly a gamechanger.

      1. Mephyle*

        Noise cancelling come in either headphone models or earbud models.
        Cordless ones are especially nice, because you don’t get them jerked out of your ears or off your head when the cord catches on something.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If he drives in the winter, does his car have heated seats? A few years ago, I got a car seat cover that plugs in… heaven at 5:45am and 25°F.

    6. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      You could get him an Audible subscription. I have a lot of friends who like to listen to audio books on the morning drive.

  28. Tech Writer*

    For those who do international travel, how do you pack your cosmetics/skincare/liquids? Also, what are some good travel hacks for traveling by plane?

    1. Victoria, Please*

      Take some bleach wipes and the moment you get to your seat, wipe down everything you will touch. I used to get sick every damn time I flew, and since starting this have not got sick once. You should also wipe up after going through security.

    2. anon today and tomorrow*

      I pack wipes or powders instead of liquids for my carryons. So powdered deodorant instead of gel, makeup removal, insect repellant, or sunscreen wipes instead of liquids, and powdered makeup instead of liquid. Bar soap instead of liquid soap.

      If I’m staying in a hotel, I rarely bring my own soap and shampoo/conditioner because every hotel I’ve every stayed at has shampoo/conditioner and soap as a toiletry. It saves me space in my luggage – though I realize this doesn’t work if you need a certain type of shampoo or soap.

      I bring antibacterial wet wipes to wipe down my seat and tray table on the plane. I also bring a reusable water bottle to keep hydrated. A portable battery has also saved me on many occasions when I’m traveling somewhere that doesn’t have an option to recharge my phone or iPad. I believe my Anker portable batter cost about $30 and it can charge my phone twice and iPad twice before needing to be recharged.

      If you’re flying a long distance or going somewhere international that has a different climate, I find hydration tablets really useful. They kept me from getting dehydrated and sick when I was in SE Asia.

      1. Tech Writer*

        Oh thanks! I’m going to East Asia and it’s been a while since I’ve been so I haven’t been sure of what cosmetics/skincare/hygiene products to bring on the plane and in the country. I’ll definitely check out the portable battery and hydration tablets.

        1. anon today and tomorrow*

          I bought these ones from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019GU4ILQ/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

          I was pretty dehydrated after 30 hours of travel to get to SE Asia, and these tablets helped. They also helped when I got traveler’s diarrhea and when I was exhausted from the heat.

          Hydration tablets have electrolytes, and I always felt better when I put one in water at the end of a long day outside, or a day or traveling. They worked wonders!

    3. Anon Anon Anon*

      Honestly, I avoid bringing liquids and cosmetics on international trips. I remember being stopped at the airport once for having deodorant and a nail clipper (sharp objects). Now I purchase travel sized whatever when I’m at my destination. I enjoy it because I get to sample the stuff people use wherever I am. I know this isn’t possible for everyone; some people have liquid medicines or other essential stuff that can’t be bought after arriving. I guess I would invest in good packaging that’s designed for air travel in that case.

    4. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

      I have a collapsible folding water bottle, which I fill from a water fountain after I go through airport security (and sometimes use when walking around at my destination). Other than that, I carry a small tube of skin lotion (the < 3 ounce size is useful to just leave in my bag day to day) and a spray against dry mouth (which is under three ounces anyway) and then figure that there are drugstores etc. at the destination, so if I have my prescriptions it doesn't matter if I forgot my deodorant or lip gloss or couldn't find a suitable-size container of shampoo.

      For traveling by plane, bring something to read (the kindle is my friend, because 100 books weigh no more than one) and maybe snacks–don't assume the airline will feed you, or that any food they do offer will suit your tastes or come at the right time.

      Carry-on luggage is for things you will need en route (those should go in a small bag under the seat in front of you), are sure you will need during the trip (I generally put a bra in my carry-on), or things you want to have with you that would be difficult or expensive to replace (like a laptop or good camera.)

      Wear a sweater or light jacket when you get on the plane, so it'll be in reach if you need it rather than in the overhead bin.

    5. LizB*

      For any travel, I’ve started taking my liquids, unscrewing the top, putting a piece of plastic wrap over the opening, and screwing the top back on. Then I put them in a ziploc. Zero spills or explosions since I started doing this.

    6. Middle School Teacher*

      For cosmetics and liquids, I got a lot of multi-taskers (eg blush and eyes in one palette). I carry a tiny bottle of micellaire water on long-haul flights so I can wash my face since the sinks are so tiny in lavatories. For other supplies I got some travel bottles at dollarama. Baby wipes are a godsend for quick cleaning jobs. Instead of toothbrush/toothpaste in my carryon, I got a package of little one-use brushes (I think they’re made by Scope and come in a pack of four). I also have a little canister of dry shampoo in case I am delayed getting to the hotel and need to get my hair in order (I use a dry powder by Cake, it comes in multiple colours so no worries about white residue on dark hair).

    7. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      For long flights I bring an inflatable neck pillow and use it to support my lower back – it’s a long time to be sitting, plus since it’s inflatable its easy to pack without taking up much space.

    8. Lily Evans*

      I swap out a lot of liquids for solids when I travel. Solid shampoo and conditioner and bar soap instead of shower gel. It’s also nice because solid options last much longer than a small travel-sized bottle.

    9. only acting normal*

      I usually go hand-luggage only so everything has to fit in those allowances.
      Powder foundation, crystal-salts deodorant, bar soap. Anything like that which can replace liquids.
      Then genuine travel-size versions of my regular liquid things rather than decanting – those empty ‘travel’ bottles to decant into always leaked for me so I gave up on them.

      Travelling light, I also take things that are multi-purpose: a sarong doubles as a scarf and a plane blanket, a bandana serves as an eyemask on the plane and to tie my hair back to wash my face etc.
      Drink plenty on the flight, buy/fill a big bottle of water after security, airplane air is hellish dry.

    10. AcademiaNut*

      I just finished three international trips in just under a month….

      For cosmetics, I use the hotel shampoo and soap (and if you’re going to Japan or Taiwan, hotels usually provide toothbrush/paste and disposable razors). For other stuff, I have travel sized containers of things like moisturizer, and a zippered cosmetic case that fits in the outer pocket of my suitcase, so any leaks won’t get on my clothes.

      For plane trip – aisle seats are the best, because you can get out to the washroom whenever you want. I pee pre-emptively, because having to pee right after they turn on the seatbelt signs for turbulence sucks. On the flight I have a drawstring mesh bag which holds gum, mints, tissues, pen, plus my airplane slippers/face mask/eye mask/earplugs/inflatable neck pillow. That, plus a case with my phone and kindle, are all I need at my seat, so I don’t have to touch my carryon. Some airlines will give you a free kit with slippers and eyemask, particularly for overnight flights.

      I always pack emergency snacks in my carryon, high calorie stuff that will keep me going if the airplane is stuck on the runway and I can’t get anything else, because cranky from hunger does not play well with travel. I also pack some over the counter medicine – anti diarrhea, antihistamines and pain medication. If you’ve got a particularly long trip, pack a travel sized deodorant and a toothbrush set, so you can freshen up in the airport.

      For hydration – I drink water like crazy the day before I travel, so I’m hydrated to start, do my best on the flights, timing for bathroom breaks, and drink a ton of water when I get where I’m going.

      I find international travel much nicer than domestic, in spite of the longer flights, because of the better service. They feed you, there’s free alcohol, and you can ask for a snack in the middle of the night, plus better entertainment options.

      One final tip – keep a list of the generic/chemical names of any medications you take, and the dosage and instructions, because the brand names won’t be the same. That way you can show the name at a pharmacy, and get what you need. In Taiwan, for example, the generic name will be listed in English on packages of over the counter medication, but nothing else.

      1. Tech Writer*

        Oh thanks! I’m actually going to Taiwan, so I’ll keep those tips in mind. Where else did you go in Taiwan that helped with medication or are good places to shop? I know the general areas – Jialefu, the supermarket and the night markets are good places.

    11. matcha123*

      I only carry what I need in the baggie: eye drops, hand sanitizer, some makeup that might break in my suitcase.
      In general I do not wear makeup, aside from eyebrows, on long flights.
      For liquids, I wrap everything in a few plastic bags and then wrap those with towels before packing them securely in my checked luggage.

      My big suggestion is to take eye drops with you and apply them every hour or so (the air in the plane is drying), bring lotion and hand sanitizer, eye mask, and a face mask (one that covers your mouth, this keeps your throat moist and helps prevent colds).

    12. Ann Non*

      Planes give me a headache, so I always bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it up in the bathroom/drinking fountain before boarding the plane. I also bring pain killers and allergy medication on the plane because flight attendants are sometimes (always?) not allowed to distribute them.
      When travelling intercontinentally I always check a suitcase and put my makeup/conditioner in there, and I make sure everything that cannot be replaced is in my carryon (prescription medication, laptop, prescription sunglasses).
      On the plane, I bring chapstick, face cream, hand lotion, deodorant and tooth paste but no other cosmetics in the carryon. They are also slightly heavier versions of the products I usually wear (think “dry skin” instead of “moisture”). Like others, I have the stuff I am going to need in a little bag that goes by my feet so that I don’t have to bother with the carryon in the overhead compartment.
      Since you also asked for general “travel hacks”: the things that make life bearable for me are noise-cancelling headphones, compression socks, and soft, stretchy clothes in breathable fibers.

      1. Tech Writer*

        Oh thanks! I’d been planning on just taking the regular headphones, not noise-cancelling ones and wearing comfortable clothing, but I’ll keep the rest of the hacks in mind too.

    13. Marion Ravenwood*

      Agree with the suggestions of powder/solid toiletries rather than liquids where possible (though be aware some airlines might count things like lipstick as a liquid). Travel size bottles filled with your usual products if you can’t find sample/travel sizes and keeping a clear bag of travel-friendly toiletries in your hand luggage are also good ideas.

      Also, this is more applicable to short-haul flights, but I really recommend getting a small bag that lies flat and filling that with everything you think you’ll want on the flight (book, phone, headphones etc). When you get on the plane, whip this bag out and put your big bag in the overhead locker, then put the little bag under the seat in front. This means you’ve got all the stuff you might want to hand but don’t need to get up and down all the time to get things out of your bigger bag.

      Finally, I would highly advocate for a backpack over a wheelie suitcase. Not only are they far less of a trip hazard, they’re also a lot easier to manipulate if you need to run through the airport and they keep your hands free! I also find that airlines which have restrictions on luggage in overhead racks look more kindly on backpacks than hard cases, meaning you don’t need to wait for them to get your stuff out of the hold on short-haul flights.

      1. Tech Writer*

        Oh thanks! I’d been planning on using my backpack and a large duffle bag for an international flight since I’m only going for about 8 days or so. I didn’t realize that airlines look more kindly on backpacks than hard cases.

  29. Anon For This*

    Happy Saturday, AAM’ers! I posted last week about not feeling well after being in a car accident. The responses were really nice and caring. I’m kind of isolated right now so it made a difference to know that people out there care. That helped to lift my spirits a bit.

    I never made it to the doctor, but I am feeling a lot better. I think I’ll be fine. And next time I do go to the doctor, I’ll ask about this and get checked for any issues from it. I’m between Friday Things right now. I hope I’ll soon find a new Friday Thing with good benefits. Right now, I can’t even afford the basic health insurance that we’re required to have by law. How can anyone pay $100 – $200 a month and still have a place to live, food to eat, and keep the electricity on? I’m trying to reduce my expenses so it will be possible.

    Anyway, thank you so much to you all. I’ll continue to post updates as I continue to feel better.

    1. anon24*

      I’m glad you are ok! I didn’t respond to your thread because there were so many great responses already but I’ve been worried about you all week.

  30. Family Failure*

    I’m at a point where I don’t know how to continue. I have a husband and 3 kids, 2 adult males and a seventeen year old daughter. My daughter didn’t finish high school and works in a boutique. One son attends college and the eldest doesn’t work. Neither does my husband. I support them all. Which I have been willing to do, even if that means working 2 or more jobs.
    Recently, I have been, and remain, out on Workers Compensation and it looks like I will be out for some time to come.
    My biggest concern is that if I am not “leading from the front ” the rest of the family behaves extremely badly. One son took ice and smashed up our house and assaulted my husband. We had to call the police and he now has a restraining order and charges against him. My husband is rightly traumatized but has taken to his bed, leaving me to do everything. I feel like such a failure because this isn’t how I imagined the family that I have worked so hard for. No matter what I do, someone is unhappy and they have no qualms about letting me know that. I can’t leave but I can’t stay.

    1. blackcat*

      Are you and/or your husband in therapy? If so, start there. For you, workers comp may actually help cover it.

      As a general piece of advice, you are not actually doing your adult or soon to be adult children favors by supporting them to that extent. They are learning that they don’t have to be responsible for themselves. It will be easier for them to learn to support themselves the younger they are.

      You *can* leave. I you have obligations to your minor child, but you are not required to support adult children and a husband who chose not to work. It may be extremely hard (see “I’m still furious”), but you are allowed to leave.

      1. valentine*

        You can leave. Research whether your state considers that “abandoning the family home” and would penalize you for it in a divorce, and what tenants’ rights your children may have. Talk to a lawyer and to your doctor about separating from everyone. What if you prioritized your health? What if you went on a retreat or to a B&B for a week, to start? Is there a relative or friend who would give you a room of your own and a key to lock it and put your spouse/children’s numbers on do not disturb? Someone has sold you a bill of goods, for you to prioritize and take the blame for three people who refuse to work or to properly contribute to the household.

        Go to counseling on your own to see how it all came to this. I don’t think family counseling, without a separation, is an answer because the roles are so entrenched a hard break is necessary to reset them. I would expect your spouse/sons to do the bare minimum to make you stay and maintain the status quo, like any abuse cycle.

    2. WellRed*

      Why have you been willing? Why doesn’t your son or husband work? Are they not capable? Have they stepped up while you’ve been out of commission (I am guessing not). Honestly, unless there’s some big details missing here, I am unclear if what your “leading from the front” has accomplished so far. Still, I am sympathetic and would love to tell you to go on strike, but that probably won’t help. Counseling?

    3. Anon Anon Anon*

      What can you do to support everyone outside of financial support? Why is the eldest using ice and smashing things and not working? What are the underlying issues? I would asses that and see what you can do and what you can’t do. You won’t be able to do everything. Life is too complicated for that. But do what you can and then step back.

      I don’t have kids. But, speaking as a non-parent, I would talk to each kid, ask them what their goals are and what would help them to get there. You could offer to be there to listen and help them find information about things but let them know you can’t afford to give them money anymore. Phrase it in terms of what is and is not possible and draw clear lines.

      This sounds really complicated and difficult. I wish you and your family the best.

    4. NewNameJustForThisBecause*

      I am changing my user name for this one. I just started going to Al-Anon – a very soft, laid back group. (there’s a bevy of them here). “MY” dysfunction was trying to lead, support, pay for, encourage, be everything and make everything right. And in the process, it turned out awful. Beyond awful… no kids, other stuff that devastated me. It takes at a while to come to grips with setting your boundaries at a reasonable place. I’m also in counseling (which my work insurance covers). If you have an EAP program, start there, as well. Others have suggested here – cognitive behavioral therapy (which my counselor uses).

      1. Wishing You Well*

        100% yes to Al-Anon or EAP or any other counseling you can get!
        Your situation can’t really be solved online. We can offer suggestions and support, but you really need a professional therapist helping you decide what’s right for you – face to face.
        Sending you best wishes for a better future.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I suggest looking at some boundaries books, these books discuss when to say no. And they also talk about how to define what “too much” looks like.

      You know, I always say that we all have our own definition of what love is and what love looks like.
      Before we go too far here, if you saw my house you would say my definition of love is that Love eats my flooring and my furniture. My dog plays a probably way too important role in my life. I think we all do this to some extent. We all have our own definition of love and we live by that definition.

      Looking at your story here, I thought, “I wonder if OP thinks love looks like doing everything for everyone because life is so harsh and it’s not fair that they have to experience that harshness, too.”

      Meanwhile, no one is doing anything to lighten your load.

      This will probably take a good therapist to work through but reality is that the most loving thing we can do for people is to help them prepare for life’s bumps and dumps. (If life is not offering bumps that is only because it is dumping on us.)
      You know the expression about fishing poles vs fish? Give a person a fish and you will do that every day for the rest of your life. Give the person a fishing pole and they will go get their own fish. My suggestion is to learn how to give out fishing poles and learn how to teach your family to get their own fish.

      This meltdown probably would have happened sooner or later. That is because one person cannot sustain a quality of life for 4 other people. It’s not a long term plan. They have to build and sustain their own quality of life themselves.

      Back to the idea of a good therapist. And while your at it maybe a nutritionist, too. This level of stress depletes vitamins and minerals out of our bodies at an incredible clip and that can leave a person feeling very empty on the inside as if there are no internal resources left to use.

      Start thinking about steps to take. Baby steps are fine, choose something small that you will do within the next few days. Let us know how you are doing.

    6. Kj*

      You need some boundaries. Sorry to be blunt, but you should not have to lead from the front to ensure the good behavior of three other adults. Your husband needs to step up. Your son needs substance abuse counseling (you can ask the court to impose that if charges are being filed). Counseling for you would be good. Family counseling would be good as well.

      Also you can leave. If you don’t want to, that is fine, but you can. You can also leave for a little while, to force your husband to step up. Your family isn’t a failure, but it and you need help. Start with counseling for you. Ask your therapist to recommend a family therapist and ask your kids and husband to attend with you. My family did family therapy when I was in late HS/early college due to some serious issues and it worked wonders.

    7. Nita*

      What others say. You can leave. You may need to leave. At least, that’s what I would recommend if some of the people involved weren’t your children… but even so, the children are adults and it’s long past time they took responsibility for themselves.

      I’ve got close family like this. The father is useless and his idea of facing problems is to sit in a comfy chair with his nose in an iPad, and ignore. The kids… one abused and terrorised the entire family for years, and even after getting treatment and stopping the abuse, expected to be waited on hand and foot by his aging parents for years. The mother is the only one empoyed, and pulls most of the weight. I got out. I don’t think I could ever go back – it’s like I’ve been living bent double under a huge weight, and now that I’ve straightened my back, I can’t go back to fitting into that tiny little life.

      I feel bad for them. I’ll probably end up caretaker for the lot of them one day. But I’ll die rather than go back to actually living with them. I’ve realized I can’t change who they are – I can save myself, or get crushed by the weight of being in that family. Guess I’ll just try to stick to occasional visits to make sure they have food, the house is clean, and they are not digging themselves into a financial home.

    8. Family Failure*

      Thank you everyone for your kind and thoughtful replies. My husband has always resisted counseling but it is something I will pursue. I guess I will put my own oxygen mask on first and see where it takes me. I will try some of your suggestions and report back in a month or so. Thanks again.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Please do seek some help for yourself. Therapy without your husband will be extremely valuable—you need a place to talk through some strategies that you can implement to take care of yourself.

        I don’t know if it’s possible for you to take a break from the family home, even a short one, but it can be very restorative to have some time to yourself (or in the home of a well-functioning friend or family member).

        If there’s anything you can stop doing for them, however small, that would give you some relief, please do that. At the start of this school year, I sat my husband and children down and declared that I would no longer clear anything from the dining table (except my own dishes) or the area of the kitchen counter they use as a dumping ground. And I don’t. It’s freed up time, but more importantly mental space. They do clear the table, and
        a couple of times a week, they deal with the stuff they pile up on the counter. It seems small, but it’s made a big difference. And it’s step one in my plan to shift more responsibilities off my plate.

        I get the feeling that you’re like the frog plopped into the pot of cold water that’s then set to boil. You may not realize how far from a healthy setup you’ve gotten. This is not to blame you at all, as you clearly feel very responsible and concerned for your family. But in doing so, you aren’t able to care for yourself—and no one seems to be stepping up to take care of you. Your children aren’t children anymore; yes, you have legal responsibilities to your daughter, but she should be able to contribute to household tasks. And while I come from a culture that would be scandalized by the notion of charging adult children rent, you should consider working out a “contract” with each of your children that lays out what you’re going to provide, with a taper-off schedule, and what you expect from them. This might be one way of taking back some control of the situation.

        I don’t know what to advise about your husband, who sounds like he’s been traumatized by your son’s violence. Even if he’s normally averse to counseling, could you pitch it to him as a logical next step given the recent, concrete violence? Is there a reason why he hasn’t been working or contributing to the family needs before?

        Wishing you the best—

      2. Quandong*

        I’m very sorry, your situation sounds incredibly exhausting.

        When you have time, please check out Captain Awkward’s site. She has answered many questions about breaking up.

        It’s also worth reading these posts which list low-or-no-cost mental health resources:
        (The 2011 post has some ideas which aren’t mentioned in the 2017 post.)

        If you have never read this Dear Sugar post I highly, highly recommend it:

        Sending you fortitude and encouragement to put yourself first. You don’t need to continue suffering this way.
        And you aren’t a failure, not in the slightest.

      3. Observer*

        Please do explore counseling.

        I think that the things you REALLY need to look at are what boundaries you need to set, and how. Why you have been willing to carry so much of the burden, and why you think you can’t leave.

    9. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      I can toss off the easiest of all reasonable suggestions. Insist that your daughter get her GED or diploma if she wants to keep living with you. I left high school for life reasons, and later that year I was able to get my diploma through a free county adult learning program. It was very easy – I only had to complete my senior year, and it took about two months to get it all done. I had to go to the learning center twice a week but I did it. People don’t always realize that these types of programs are often free, and how little work you actually have to complete. (I’m being a little overly detailed with this because most AAM commenters are not high school dropouts, and I technically am one.) Or she could just start taking community college courses once she turns 18. You don’t need to have graduated high school to do that. It sounds like your daughter is the least of your worries so maybe that’s a good place to start? I can answer any questions you might have about this stuff if you’d like more info.

    10. Zona the Great*

      For some perspective, I hope you’ll read this. No one I know or have ever known would tolerate this. Finishing high school is non-negotiable or would trigger a requirement to move out or pay significant rent, a husband who won’t contribute triggers divorce, assault triggers prison time, staying in bed (wrongly or rightly) triggers all sorts of things and is seriously selfish, and completely abandoning your own needs triggers rapid and sweeping catastrophe. I hope you’ll get therapy.

  31. Marguerite*

    There’s this guy at my gym who will stare at me with this very intense gaze. (He doesn’t smile- he just stares.) He has never spoken to me- he just stares at me. He’s cute, so I didn’t mind at first, but now? Not so much. It’s making me uncomfortable and I don’t know if he’s trying to intimidate me or what. He needed help with something and so I was trying to explain something to him, but he just cut me off mid-sentence and walked away.

    Recently, he has been more polite. He held the door open for me and helped me when a machine got stuck, but he doesn’t really talk to me otherwise. He talks to other people there, though.

    I took my friend with and she thought that he was into me, but too nervous to talk to me. I don’t know- I get a bad feeling about the guy. Any thoughts?

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Trust your gut instinct.

      The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker teaches us that our initially feelings are generally the most correct in this situation. He might just be a nervous guy but he’s making you uncomfortable and that’s enough for you to nope out of the situation. Don’t worry about being polite or coming across as rude.

      Maybe talk discreetly to a member of staff and ask them about this guy, see if they can do anything to nudge him along or something but don’t ignore your feelings! It might be nothing and the worst you’ll do is feel a little silly, but it might be something and then you’ll be glad you listened to your gut feeling.

      Good luck.

    2. Sunny Sunday*

      He’s probably either really awkward (unintentionally rude), or he’s intentionally rude.

      Something that worked for me in my early twenties:
      While you’re at the Gym around other people and catch him staring, you call him out on it. A non-accusing, even cheerful “Hi Bob, did you want to ask me something?”, or if he’s too far for you to address it without shouting, you can either wave/ acknowledge him pointedly (polite smile, whatever). So he can’t deny he’s doing it. In my case, it had him stop staring and we even had an amicable chat or two later.
      Sure it’s awkward, but he made it awkward first, don’t feel bad about it. You can also full on tell him to stop staring because it’s distracting you (again, say it factually, no need to get angry/accusatory, but no need to justify, you’re being entirely reasonable. If he pushes it, that’s on him).

      This isn’t just about being assertive, it’s also you making it public: everyone will notice and acknowledge that the guy is staring. If it’s a harmless rude thing (he just likes looking at you), it should kick his manners back in place, but if he’s creepy and the staring is a prelude to pushing your boundaries further, it’ll be easier for you to put a stop to it if people have your back.

      If there’s any gym member you’re on good terms with that talks to this guy, you could also ask him what’s up, something like “Hey Frank, do you know Bob well? I keep catching him looking at me but he doesn’t seem interested in speaking to me, am I using the machines wrong or something?” I’d go for no apologies and a touch of humor, but see how you feel it.

      1. Vondonduck*

        What Sunny says. silently waiting for him to change is futile. You don’t want to be part of this awkward/creepy interaction, you must take yourself out of it by breaking th passive acceptance -Speak up, acknowledge and put the spotlight on what he is doing, so that he can either stop, or he can explain.

    3. Anon Anon Anon*

      This reminds me of something I went through that turned into a borderline stalking type of situation. There was a new guy at work. I thought he was attractive. I might have looked at him in a way that made that obvious. I read his bio. He seemed really cool, like someone I’d be friends with. Then at the end of the bio, he mentioned his wife and kids so I thought, “Ok, he’s married. I’ll leave him alone,” and I stopped thinking of him that way.

      Then the creepiness started. He seemed to become increasingly interested in me and there was a weird kind of formality and pressuring tone to it. It’s hard to describe in print. I don’t want to go into detail for privacy reasons, but it got weird, I left that workplace, he continued to pursue contact with me . . . And I had a really bad feeling about it all. He acted fairly normal at face value, but there was just a weird tone to it that deeply gave me the creeps.

      So, anyway, trust your gut. Those feelings tend to be accurate.

    4. No Green No Haze*

      Yeah, trust your gut on this one. He’s got boundary issues. Option A) he’s “into you” but too nervous to apply social conventions of politeness and is instead acting like a creeper, you don’t need him. Option B) he’s a creeper, nobody needs him.

      A firm “I’d like you to stop staring at me,” followed by reporting it to a gym staff member if he doesn’t stop, would be my suggestion. Avoid being alone with him. Avoid letting him ID your car or bus stop, depending on what mode of transportation you use.

    5. Nita*

      Cute does not = not crazy. From what you’re describing, he’s not good news. Make sure you’re alert when he’s around, and when going to and from the gym.

  32. anon for this one*

    So I’m thinking of signing up for a lesbian/bi speed dating event!

    I’m 32. I figured out my sexuality somewhere around 25/26 after years of suspecting, but denying it due to various reasons, but mostly society’s idea of forcing bisexuals to choose between straight or gay and rejecting bisexuality as a valid identity. It was a long, confusing, exhausting, self-hating process before I finally came to the realization that it was okay for me to be attracted to both men and women.

    I haven’t dated for years, and I’ve never had sex with a woman before. It took me about four years to even work up the courage to look for same-sex dates. I used dating apps because the only other way to meet same-sex partners seems to be bars and that’s not my scene anymore. I stopped using dating apps pretty quickly when I realized a lot of the same-sex “options” were bots or for catfishing.

    So here I am years later and still incredibly nervous, but also thinking I need to give it a try and speed dating seems to be the best option. Has anyone else done speed dating? For other queer ladies, how did you get over your fear or nervousness of dating women? And for other bisexuals….if you’ve only had sexual experience with the opposite-sex, how did you approach dating the same-sex? I’ve found a lot of people get wary when they find I’ve only dated men and have never gone beyond a few dates or kissing with women, and I’m honestly worried about being rejected for being bisexual (it’s happened) or because my experience has only been with men. My stomach is literally in knots over it, and I can feel myself sliding back into some self-hate just at the thought.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      Several of my friends and myself are late in life lesbians. Later than you – early 30s and early 40s. You’ve got to put yourself out there. There may be people who have dismissed us because of our inexperience before but now we’ve all dated women and had relationships by now.

      Sex for the first time with a woman was indeed nerve-racking for me in my 40s. But I talked about it being my first time and admitted my nerves. Communication with your sexual partner before and during sex is key for both same and opposite sex couples.

      My first time was good and enjoyable and later experiences were exciting and fun without nerves.

      I’m trying online dating. I haven’t noticed a predominance of cat fishing on the apps. I have about 6 first dates, a few second dates but nothing has come of it.

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      Let me add, have you found a queer community of friends yet? There are queer events in my city. My friends and I go to them and meet more queer people. A lot of them are at bars and start ridiculiously late IMO, but because of my friends and queer community I hear about lots of events.

      I’ve never tried queer speed dating. It sounds like fun. I think it’s a great idea.

      And I think a queer community would help with your self-hate. I made queer friends through meet-up. You need to go to events and get contact info from people you meet there and go on friend-dates, but it has expanded my circle of queer friends.

      FYI: My best friend is a bisexual woman.

    3. DrTheLiz*

      Bi lady solidarity! Closest thing I’ve got to advice is that I was so,so, so nervous the first time I asked somebody out, but I’m totally glad I did. It didn’t work out-at all, the person was a total jerk – but I felt so free after I did it. You know you’re ready to put your toe in the water, or you wouldn’t ha e got this far, so do what scares you and I hope you feel as free and empowered as I did! Good luck!

    4. moql*

      I don’t have good advice, but just know that this isn’t a function of age or your realizing too “late”. I came out as bi at 20 and I still got people who didn’t want to date someone who is bi and had no experience with women. Haters going to hate, it’s just them not you. I think it’s a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy. They’re afraid you will leave them and the community for a man,but I left the community because I didn’t feel welcome and then found a man.

    5. gay in the city*

      For what it’s worth I’m a lesbian married to a bi woman. My ex-gf is also bi – so we don’t all shun bisexuals! I met my wife when she was just shy of 30 and she had very recently come out. We met online through a lesbian social group – so the main purpose wasn’t dating but hanging out with people with similar interests. Maybe something similar would be less nerve wracking for you because you meet over a joint interest rather than to date? Good luck!

  33. Anon anony*

    I’m single and it used to not bother me, but I’m in my early 30s and it’s starting to worry me. I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, but it takes me a while to warm up to people. I probably have some form of undiagnosed social anxiety, and I’m still very shy. I’ve been on dates with guys, but nothing developed into a relationship. I don’t have much experience, so I guess that is also making me shy away from situations, because I feel inexperienced.

    Is there any hope for me? Any advice? Is there anyone that has been in this situation and everything turned out for the best?

    1. Dan*

      I’m in a bit of the same boat, although just a few years older. Yeah, getting old by myself doesn’t have the greatest appeal. The flip side is that in the near term, I really like doing my own thing on my own terms and not having to “answer” to others. My mom was quite controlling growing up, and 20 years after leaving the house, doing my own thing on my own terms never gets old.

      I would say though that the solution to inexperience is to get experience (hah!). As for the relationships not going anywhere, well, that’s just par for the course. As for dates not going anywhere, IMHO, that’s to be expected. I think it does take a lot of dates to find someone you’re attracted to and you actually like. A year after I left my ex, I hit okcupid pretty hard, and got maybe a half dozen dates out of it, and then met a couple others through acquaintances. All in all, okc wasn’t too bad, and some “relationships” lasted longer than others, although I think the longest was 3 months. The three month one I feel a tad guilty about, because that had great long term potential although at the end of the day I just wasn’t attracted to that person. I so wanted to be, but I wasn’t.

    2. The lucky one*

      Hello. Super shy guy here (and very inexperienced back in my late twenties) who got lucky to be noticed by a woman who decided I was worth pursuing (we’re married).
      You can pick a hobby/cause and meet people through that and expand your social circle, you’ll hopefully have enough in common to at least have interesting conversations, and it’ll give you time to warm up to people . Friends are work, they don’t just happen, so yeah, it’ll sometimes feel exhausting. But friends are also how you meet new people. My wife flirted so freely with me (complete stranger) because as a friend of a friend I was “safe”. Hopefully, you’ll meet people that are more compatible with you then if you do a random search (dating apps and the like.)
      I got lucky, it would be disingenuous to pretend otherwise, but you can do your best to cultivate luck. And if you don’t find a partner, you’ll still have new great people in your life.

      Don’t worry about the inexperienced. When you meet someone new, they’re new no matter the amount of sex partners or relationships you’ve had before. If someone’s into you and you can communicate decently, the learning curve isn’t that steep. For some people inexperience might be a dealbreaker, but just about anything can be a dealbreaker. Good luck.

    3. Ainomiaka*

      Unfortunately I have found that if it truly takes you a while to warm up to people (as in you need to see them many times before you feel close) foe me it has meant I spend a lot of time going on dates/hanging out/whatever to see if I’ll warm up to them and finding that sometimes the answer is no. I haven’t figured out how to make the process more efficient. I think you just have to give yourself as long as it takes.
      This site did have a pretty good suggestion of find a few topics that are more personal than weather but not so close to your heart that it’s nerve wracking and have some conversation ideas about those prepared in advance. Essentially find some medium intimacy topics that you will offer rather than wait for someone to bring up something you may not at all want to share. You’re less likely to seem closed off, but still have boundaries not be an issue. This is why I am pet lady at lots of jobs.

    4. No Green No Haze*

      Fellow slow-warmer here, currently happily married and carefully making friends:

      What worked for me was to meet friends and romantic partners at work, because I could learn a lot about them from how they worked, we were in forced proximity with incentive to get along professionally before any of my personal inclinations came into play. Actually dating a current co-worker isn’t necessarily a good idea, for all the reasons this blog makes clear, but it’s a way to get to know people fairly well before moving forward in intimacy, and for us crockpot types, I think it’s helpful.

      Keep in mind I’m also task-oriented more than people-oriented, so I tend to focus on What We’re Doing rather than How We’re All Getting Along. If this is a common trait with introverts, it’s helpful to have an activity we’re all invested in going on, whether it’s a work project or a volunteering mission.

    5. LilySparrow*

      I was in my 30’s when I met my now-husband, and had only been on a handful of dates in the 6-7 years before that.

      We met doing a creative community project and knew each other through a circle of friends for a year or so before we went out on a date.

      We’re both odd ducks, had tried online dating and hated it, tried being set up by friends and hated it — so we just bumbled along figuring it was way, way, better to be single than in a bad relationship.

      And then we bumbled into each other’s path and have been odd ducks happily together for 15 years.

    6. Nita*

      Been there. I didn’t date till I was around 25, but it didn’t bother me because I had good reasons for keeping people out of my life. And then I started dating, and realized I can’t warm up to anyone. Had about 1.5 relationships in the three years that followed. When I was 28, I drove myself into a nervous breakdown trying to force myself into a relationship with someone who was mad about me, just because I felt guilty that my beloved grandparents would never see their grandkids. Realized that I can’t do this, and that the dating is taking so much out of me emotionally that I’ve got to stop or it may kill me.

      So I figured I’m going to just become a hermit for a while – go to work, come home, rinse, repeat, no more hopes, but lots of peace of mind. I planned the best summer of my life – lots of parties with friends, an amazing vacation, and then I’d kind of drop off the face of the earth and just not do anything social.

      I think it was not a bad plan, and would have worked out fine. I’m really comfortable in my own skin and would have enjoyed being alone if that’s what it came to. Only, life had other plans.

      In hindsight, I suppose the reason I couldn’t warm up to anyone I met before was that they weren’t my one and only. Simple as that. Oh, and my grandparents did get to meet their oldest grandkid, a couple of years later.

    7. Jemima Bond*

      Well, you don’t HAVE to have a boyfriend/girlfriend – don’t let social norms bully you! But if you’d like one you can get one. Internet dating has some bad press and yhmight have to go on a few dates before you meet someone you click with, but tbh in that sitch you are at least arranging to meet with someone that is the right age bracket, the right sexuality, and is single and looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend. Plus some stated aims about type of relationship desired, kids etc will be set down. So you won’t spend a month barking up the wrong tree after a person that is the wrong sexuality for you, looking for a fling when you want a relationship, wants kids when you don’t. A lot of the work has been done and you won’t have to waste a lot of time; you will be able to concentrate on what you like.
      Fwiw I’ve been with Mr Bond for six years and he’s a prince among men.OK Cupid.

    8. Aurora Leigh*

      I didn’t date (at all) until I was 24. I had two internet dates that were flops and then I took a break for a year.

      And then I decided to try the internet (Match) one more time, and I met my bf. :)

      I’m also shy and awkward and was sooo inexperienced, but you know what? That didn’t matter to him. He thinks I’m cute and funny and was willing to be patient and gentle and wait for me to come out of my shell.

      We’ve been together almost two years now and share a home and several pets. It really can work put when you least expect it too!

  34. CatCat*

    Anyone have thoughts in “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”?

    We watched it this week and I thought it was okay, but I really couldn’t figure who is the target audience for this show. It was pretty dark, but idk, also just kind of silly to me (and not like it was trying to be silly).

    1. Asenath*

      I saw the first episode and wasn’t wildly impressed. Maybe some of the oddities are worked out further in, like the, well, no spoilers, but make up your mind, writers, is this a child or an adult? I know adolescents have elements of both, but still…things seemed to be done out of a need to have a plot and not out of character development. I’m certainly not the intended demographic since I’m not generally fond of high school drama or coming of age stories. Except Buffy. I liked Buffy.

    2. anon today and tomorrow*

      There were times it felt sexist and homophobic to me, almost like it didn’t know whether it wanted to be modern or bring up values from 20 or so years ago.

      It also had the same vibe as Buffy in that women are only powerful when men give them their powers, and you’re always reminded that it’s men who control female power and can take that power away again.

      I think the audience is supposed to be the same audience as a CW show. I did appreciate that it didn’t try to evoke nostalgia of the 90s sitcom (which I loved), and that it was its own story separate from the sitcom. I thought it was good, but not something I’d rave about.

    3. Gatomon*

      I’m through episode 7. SPOILERS BELOW, continue at your own risk!

      In short, I will finish it, but I do feel it is a disappointment. My biggest issue is with Sabrina herself – she’s insufferable. With her mortal friends, she’s the savior/golden girlfriend who is always there to dramatically go running to adults* for help when there’s a problem, but is totally not supporting her friends day-to-day through life-altering medical diagnoses and LGBTQ issues and parental abuse… She reminds me of a certain type of person who always says they are supportive and love to make public displays of support that relatively meaningless, but when you actually need their help are “too busy” or don’t pick up the phone. And if she’s not around all the time due to the double-school bit (now when does she attend this school actually anyway? does she have Hermione’s time-turner?) shouldn’t her friends be shown missing her? I think it would be more interesting if she had truly joined the CoS and was struggling to break free while entirely immersed.

      Finally, for a woman growing up in a witchy household, how can she be so ignorant of the CoS and its rituals and practices? She ought to know exactly what that entails by now. Her puritanical attitude (she’s shocked at the idea of sleeping/being intimate with anyone, including her boyfriend**; has stated all life is sacred, etc.) is also baffling since she doesn’t seem to have any other religious beliefs. As an atheist, I don’t believe morals must stem from religious beliefs, but this show smacks of a God vs Satan plotline that didn’t want to actually invoke God. So this leads me to wonder if this is a universe where there is only 1 powerful force and “good” doesn’t exist. BUT then there’s the whole issue with the dispute over the claim to her soul, so therefore God must exist too if he has a claim on her. Therefore in this universe, it is possible to prove that God (and Satan) exist, even if most mortals do not know it, and Sabrina potentially being an atheist is logically impossible because she knows the truth. So who is this girl and what does she believe??

      *What 16 year old spends this much time begging adults for help? Is she 16 or 6??
      **16 = mega hormones for everyone so… is she maybe asexual? Why save yourself if you have a lovely SO and no puritanical notion of virginity to wrestle with? What are you saving yourself for?

      1. anon today and tomorrow*

        When I was 16, my hormones meant I was overly emotional, but there was no desire for physical intimacy. That came when I started college, so I don’t really think it’s that abnormal and I think the idea that all teenagers are either full of raging sex hormones or ace is pretty limited.

        I felt her shock was more that she was being hit on by someone who knew she was in a relationship, and at seeing an orgy going on in her house. I’d react the same way in those situations tbh.

        I do agree with most of your other points, though.

      2. TL -*

        Some people just aren’t ready at 16, even with a boyfriend and raging hormones and physical urges and no puritanical upbringing to fight against. People go at their own pace and that’s fine. 16 is still really young.

      3. Gatomon*

        @anon today and tomorrow and @TL – Thank you, I realize I’m seeing her sexuality too diametrically. There is a spectrum of readiness somewhere between puberty and adulthood. I’m reminded now of a friend who was upset because she expected to get laid on prom night and didn’t because her boyfriend didn’t feel he was ready.

        @TL – Some of the camera shots when she asked Harvey to check her for a witches’ mark made me cringe tbh, knowing she was meant to be 16.

  35. Anon anonymouse*

    I am really quiet and I feel like it’s holding me back socially. I feel left out- a coworker had a housewarming party and I don’t know him well, but I feel like if I was more social, I would have been invited. My coworkers who were invited were talking about it and the new girl that he works with was invited. (But I work in a different department, so I don’t see him much.)

    I get jealous over stuff like this and feel like if I was different or more outgoing, I would have more opportunities, but then I still can’t help being shy…. It’s this vicious cycle that I don’t know how to break out of. Any advice?

    1. Dan*

      This is one of those cases where I’d say that instead of waiting for invitations to other peoples’ events, invite them to yours. My last job had a lot of younger people, so I’d throw dinner parties every now and then. They were quite well attended.

    2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Maybe start with the baby step of just asking a different one to walk with you to go get coffee every week, or grab something to go, or walk …. Even stopping to ask how they are doing in the kitchen. The 5-10 minute chat, routinely, adds up. Remembering their baby, parents, partner (others have mentioned this) is a great way to direct the conversation away from you, and to them… and it means a great deal more to them than hearing about you. Eventually you are seen as warm and friendly, just a little quiet. I found out folks assumed I was standoffish/ not friendly (because of them) when really it was all about my own feelings and quietness. So I try to set them at ease and in the process, it works that they feel liked.

    3. Maya Elena*

      I can definitely sympathize with the resentment of not being included. But if you don’t know him well, and he you, then…. how would he know to invite you, even if you weren’t shy?

      Moreover, there are plenty of introverts, some even on this very site, who would feel imposed upon if their coworkers kept inviting them to personal gatherings, even when they want to keep work and personal life separate, thank you very much. Hard to tell what kind a person is just by looking.

      1. Anon anonymouse*

        I just feel frustrated with the personality that I have versus the more outgoing personalities of my coworkers. Some people don’t seem to have any trouble talking with others, making them laugh, feel comfortable, etc. While it just takes me a while to do that. I feel like there is something wrong with me sometimes.

        1. LilySparrow*

          There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you! Having a shy temperament brings a lot of beauty to the world. I’m not shy, but I’m an introvert who’s learned to fake extroversion when I need to.

          I am so thankful for the introverts and shy people in the world! Extroverts can be nice or fun but they are loud and exhausting! If the whole world were extroverts it would be hellish.

          You can channel that restlessness/frustration to give you energy, so you can get “over the hump” of reaching out to one or two co-workers at a time. Extroverts often assume that if you’re quiet, you just want to be left alone. They don’t usually mean to be exclusive, they just can’t imagine what being shy is like.

        2. Bulbasaur*

          You sound a bit like me 30 years ago. I used to think I was an introvert, but it turns out I’m nowhere near as much of one as I thought. For a long time I was cautious about talking to people and had a strong emotional conviction that they were looking for ways to find fault and mock me (this is because I had a not-so-great experience of high school, and my expectations were correct there more often than not). This made me extremely guarded and suspicious of new people for a long time, and if I did talk to them I felt like I was negotiating a minefield and was terrified of doing something “wrong.” I wasn’t like this with friends and people could have very different impressions of me

          It took a long time but I eventually got over it and I would say I have average or better social skills now (and would place myself in your first category). One thing that helped me was learning to assume the best of people, rather than the worst. Most people aren’t waiting to find fault with you or pounce on your social mistakes – in fact they’re probably more worried about what you will think of them. If you can manage to think of them as kind, friendly, supportive, interesting etc. then you’ll be surprised how many people will live up to that. (On the rare occasions when people don’t, think of it as their problem and not yours).

  36. JustMelissa*

    My mom recently had a life event that resulted in a significantly reduced income. I’m helping her develop a budget to live within her means. But, I have no idea how much is realistic to budget for food! She lives alone, is 75, and has a small appetite. What’s reasonable for a person to plan for in a week? She lives in rural South Carolina if that makes a difference. I have a family and live in a different country so I have no idea what’s realistic. Thanks!

    1. Rebecca*

      I’m sorry about this! I think this is going to depend on a few things, like is she mobile and able to get to grocery stores, or is there a “food desert” as we call them here, where there are few choices and prices are high? Does she cook for herself? What about local food choices, like farmer’s markets, local eggs, that type of thing? Also, if there is a significant loss of income, she could be eligible for SNAP assistance or there could be a local food bank as an option.

      I live in a rural area of Pennsylvania, and I’m fortunate in that I can drive to several different grocery options locally, buy things on sale, cook in bulk, etc. and that cuts down greatly on my food budget expenditures.

    2. Dan*

      I think it’s too hard to answer that question with out more particulars. I tend to think in terms of “cost per meal” and then just multiply it out. But that’s going to be different depending on if one goes out to eat all of the time, or if one cooks. Additionally, dietary/food preferences matter as well. And then you have to figure in “splurges”. Me, I like good cheese, which kills my budget after “meals” are planned for.

      So I’d say you should work with your mom to figure out what she’s actually going to eat and cost that out. If it’s too expensive, then she has to figure out what she can cut/reduce.

      But if I had to pick a number, I’d say $100/week would cover a well balanced diet with two meals a day, seven days a week. I’ve seen this topic come up here before, so I know some will chime in and say that’s way too high. (I cook well, I’m a big guy, and live in an expensive area, so that may very well be too high for mom.) This number comes out to about $7.50 per meal, which for me and where I live isn’t outrageous.

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        I think that sounds accurate. I’m smaller and vegetarian. If I was bigger and ate meat, I would probably be spending about $400 per month too.

        When you look at your budget and total up how much you’re spending on all the basic stuff, food tends to be one of the biggest expenses. For me, it’s second only to rent. And, yeah, there’s a lot of room to reduce, but then you’re often trading for reduced energy and health consequences.

      2. Red Reader*

        On the other hand, I feed four adults – two of whom work physically demanding warehouse jobs and one loses weight from the calories he spends chewing because his metabolism is so bonkers – for about $550/month.

        1. Dan*

          Some of what I eat is expensive food that I wouldn’t necessarily buy if I’m feeding multiple people :D Plus I also live in an area that is high cost.

          That aside… feeding one person, in reality, is very, very economically inefficient. Unless I’m eating something “simple” like fish with butter and lemon juice, a good chunk of the purchases are for sauces, rubs, sides, or whatever. Usually I can manage the protein costs easily, but for the other stuff, I’m buying the same amount for one person as I would for three or four. That recipe calling for a tablespoon of fresh herbs? I have to buy the whole bunch for myself, and I’d do the same for four people as well. Dry herbs are even worse. When I need a quarter cup of cream? I’ll buy a small carton and most of it will go bad before I use it all. That waste really adds up.

          I can do leftovers for two days (I plan for that) and three days if something’s good. But for me, by the time I get to the fourth serving, I’m probably tired of what I made.

          Bottom line, though, is that the economics of cooking for one just sucks.

          1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

            Lots of that can’t be helped true… I like dry spices from bulk bins (so you can buy only a little). Fresh herbs can be frozen in ice cube trays in olive oil or kept going in a glass of water on the counter for about a week. Not much help for the cream unless you multipurpose it to make whip cream for an easy dessert (w fruit).

          2. research assistant*

            What i do as a single person is cook 4/5 meals out of a batch of ingredients, eat 2 in the next 2 days and freeze the other ones in tupperware. do that a few times and you will have a nice assortment of tupperware meals to pull out as you see fit

    3. Anon Anon Anon*

      Eating a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables, I spend about $300 per month on food. It sounds like a lot when you total it up, and I’m sure you can eat healthy for less. But it usually comes out to about that amount. An older person might be able to get by on less, but somewhere around there could be a good place to start.

    4. WellRed*

      Small appetite, mostly healthy eater here and I can’t imagine spending more than $50 per week. Often less, ocassionally more, like when I buy a bunch of stuff to make a couple pots of something.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Another thing she will have to think about in the near future is likely getting around. Does she still drive/feel safe driving? Able to drive in the dark? How far are things from her since you said rural?

      It matters for food and but other things as well like appointments. Anything that has to be delivered to you is more expensive and her rural area may make that more difficult.

    6. JustMelissa*

      Thanks, everyone! I had penciled in $400 a month so it sounds like I’m not too far off track. It may be that she could spend less and still be eating appropriately. She is within about 10 miles of a few chain grocery stores (Food Lion, IGA) and Walmart, so she has options. We looked into home delivery, but she outside everyone’s service area. She will be housebound, but I’m bringing in a caregiver for a few hours every day and that person will be able to do her grocery shopping. The biggest challenge for mom will be that she eats frequently, but very small amounts and she loves variety, so historically she’s had a LOT of food waste. She’s going to have to make better choices – buying what she eats and eating what she buys. I’m hoping the budget will help her change her habits. P. S. It sucks when you become the parent to your parent, and by necessity, reduce their personal agency. Mom’s body’s a wreck but her mind (and tongue) are still sharp.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Your postscript sounds like you have a keen understanding of the conflict. Logistics and emotions are hard to manage! All the best to you.

      2. Owler*

        Look into senior services in her area, perhaps a Meals on Wheels. Be prepared for her to rebel like a teenager and strafe a little under your guidance, and try to just let her struggles flow under you. If there are some indulgences that you can let slide, try to let there be something she can control.

        It’s really hard to change roles, and you are so right…parenting your parent sucks. Get to know her GP, make sure you have medical POA while you both can sign papers, and give yourself some room to mourn the change in the dynamic between you. It’s been over three years since I had to do so for my mom after a car accident, and I still grieve at losing the person she was, while trying to enjoy who she is now.

    7. Hannah*

      How much does she usually spend? Does she know?

      It’s totally possible to feed yourself on $40 a week or so, but not if you have eating habits you developed while spending $100 a week.

      I’d start with asking her how much she usually spends, and then making some suggestions on how to reduce that a bit. For example, if she’s eating more expensive fruits and vegetables (grapes, asparagus, red bell peppers) you can talk about ways to eat cheaper ones (bananas, cabbage, carrots). If she eats a lot of convenience foods, maybe talk about some cheap recipes to try, especially ones where she can freeze leftovers.

      It can be really tough to completely change your eating habits overnight, and there’s a big range of how much different ways of eating cost.

      FWIW, I have a BIG appetite and eat very well for $260 a month, including buying all my meat grass-fed, free-range.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Can she qualify for Meals on Wheels? If you google “meals on wheels south carolina” you should get pointers to information and availability. We hooked my grandma up with the local equivalent after her income went way down.

    9. Dan*

      Oh… following up on one of my other posts about the economics of cooking for one (which are terrible), let me recommend a cookbook that your mother may appreciate: Cook’s Illustrated Cooking For Two. I realize that your mom is by herself, but the premise of the book gets at what I was mentioning elsewhere — taking a recipe designed for four and cutting it in half doesn’t really cut your food costs in half. The cookbook focuses on “traditional” recipes that can’t efficiently just be “cut in half”. Instead, what it does is it looks at substantively different ways to prepare more traditional recipes, in ways that are more cost effective for one or two people. I don’t use it nearly as much as I should, but IMHO is really useful for small households.

    10. MindOverMoneyChick*

      When I work with single clients I allot them $300/month and most can do that if they do some basic meal planning. For an older person with less of an appetite maybe a little lower? But $300 is a good place to start.

    11. JustMelissa*

      Following up on your suggestions, I discovered she may qualify for Meals on Wheels and for $40-$55/month of SNAP assistance. Every little bit helps. As Dan noted, the hard part about budgeting for one is the cost of staples that span meals. I do think I can stock her up on those and then her weekly meal expenses will be easier to anticipate. She has no idea how much she spends on groceries now because she does 2 things: 1) makes lots of little trips to the store where she may buy groceries and a new skirt (if she goes someplace like Walmart) and 2) order a ton of stuff off Amazon for home delivery, again mixing stuff she wants with stuff she needs. There’s a lot of change coming at once and I know she’s going to struggle. All I can do is give her advice and she’ll need to decide what to follow and what to ignore. But, budget realities will come crashing down soon if she can’t adapt!

    12. Smarty Boots*

      Look into meals on wheels for her, as well. That will help her budget plus someone will be stopping by, too.

  37. OyHiOh*

    Feeling pretty raw this weekend, still. Have slept a lot. Cried randomly. Went to Solidarity Shabbat service last night . . . there’s a memorial service next week that I’m going to also. I live in a town with a fairly small Jewish presence and it just feels too hard. The feeling isolated is bad enough that my spouse and I are starting to talk pretty seriously about moving in a couple years, with the main criteria being near a JCC and/or larger Reform temple. We’re just coming out of a financially difficult couple years and can’t really afford to make a change right this minute but in three to five years we’re going to need to.

    1. HannahS*

      Virtual hugs. I went to services this morning and left with mixed feelings. Our local MP and some city councillors gave speeches, and some members of a nearby church sang us a little song. It felt weirdly more like a rally than a service, and I just wound up feeling stung. It was so nice of everyone to show up, but I was more appreciative of the local pastors and church-goers who came, donned kippot, and sat quietly through the service. It just felt a bit performative, I guess. Like, why do I need to hear from them? This isn’t about them. I wound up feeling kind of talked at. I went to mourn, not to hear non-Jews express their feelings about antisemitism or talk to me about how terrible they thing it is. I missed my university’s vigil, which was apparently wonderful and I was warmed to hear that the school’s chaplain and local Muslim organizations and the mayor reached out in support and participated. The administration put out a good statement. I just wish today had been more for us.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Our service last night was just Jewish (thank goodness). Tuesday night is an “all faith” memorial service. I’ve let myself get isolated (I work inconvenient hours for Fri/Sat service schedule but no way to change that without stepping out of a niche I love) even within my little community and I fully expect Tuesday tonight will be a performance of how much “we the community” support you kinda weird Jewish people. Not looking forward to the performance aspect but “need” to go for myself.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Oh, I hear this and I’m sorry. Our services today were lovely, and I was afraid of the very thing you mentioned– people coming out as some kind of performance. We had several visitors who, yes, donned kippot and sat through the service. Most of them were friends of congregants. It felt really wonderful to be together today. We had a wonderful vigil on Sunday, where so many people from area churches and mosques came out, where clergy from all over the state spoke, and that was amazing and appropriate. If that had happened today, it would have felt just as you describe.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sending good thoughts to you. I don’t know if this is any comfort to you, but you are part of a long tradition (not always fun) of Jews living in small communities in small towns (in my case, my dad’s family a few generations back, and myself and husband, briefly when first married). I hope that in a few years you will be able to be part of the other tradition of moving to a larger Jewish community!

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        P.S. Yes, it’s all still very hard and painful. Leaves me mute which not much does. People can be wonderfully kind but a significant minority can acquire and act hatefully on horrible falsehoods.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      I think people just don’t know what to say or do. I doubt they’re all thinking, “Oh, let’s go see some Jews and put on a Caring Show for the TV!” Many people probably just feel bad and don’t know what to do and so they’re being awkward. I’m so sorry about this awful tragedy. I am also clueless about what would be helpful.

      1. HannahS*

        Yeah, we know? That doesn’t change how others’ behaviour affects us. I’m not sure why you feel clueless–if you read above, a few of us have said that we appreciate people who show up, offer support, and participate without centering themselves in our tragedies.

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          I’m sorry, that didn’t help at all. I sometimes re-explain others’ motives to myself (whether I’m right or not) so their behavior affects me less, but of course that’s not right for everyone. I can’t really imagine how hurt and angry you must be right now.

  38. Kristen*

    I’m looking for advice on how to bring up the topic of finances to parents as they age. My father is 63 so still not elderly, but you never know when health will decline and terrible things can always happen, so I want to make sure my parents are prepared. He is still working and is the primary breadwinner. My stepmother works, but makes very little. The first question I would have for them is whether he has life insurance (how much?), etc. Easy enough question to ask & answer, but I worry they’ll think I’m being nosy. Also, bringing up the inevitability of death, seems so serious(?). Although, I’m comfortable discussing death (even my own), I know other people aren’t.

    Although, I am one of four of my father’s children (including one half-sister; my stepmom’s), I know a lot of this end of life stuff will fall to me, which as of now doesn’t bother me, but I want to know everything is in place as much as it can be. I also know that if my father were to pass before my stepmother (likely since he’s 10 years older), she will need help (especially financial if he doesn’t have life insurance since I know they have little savings).

    So to people who have had these conversations before: any advice? How did you bring it up? What kind of questions did you ask?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Can you ask them about their insurance by pretending you’re shopping for/reevaluating your own insurance needs? Even if they say “we don’t need any, never saw the purpose”, you can then talk about how you’ve been reading up on different kinds and how they might want X. But if they don’t have much money, they probably don’t want to spend it on insurance, which will probably be expensive to start at that age.

      But they’re functioning adults, so they’ve probably considered it and already come to a decision. I wouldn’t go in expecting to change their mind about anything, but then again my family is pretty obstinate and pig-headed.

    2. fposte*

      I think you’re right that asking about some stuff directly would be tough, but maybe you can lead with your own intentions. “Dad, I really want to be able to help you and Jane as much as I can when you guys move into full retirement and if either of you run into health problems. Would you be willing to talk to me about what’s in place now while it’s a leisurely conversation? I know life insurance can be very helpful–are there policies I should know about to make sure you guys get what you’re entitled to? When it comes to living wills or wills, would you be willing to share the info or let me know what attorney should be contacted if that’s needed?”

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      You say that you’ll be the one to take care of all this, and you might be right, but there’s no need to volunteer for it up front. Be the catalyst and assume that of course everyone will pitch in. Put them in the position of having to refuse to help. And like them, you can decide your participation based on your life. You can also say no. If your dad couldn’t live alone and everyone else refused to house him, you could also refuse and then he or your family would have to come up with another plan. If they get to determine their lives, you get to determine yours.

      Are you all getting together for Thanksgiving? That would be a great time to start the discussion. You can say you read an article that recommended a discussion. Better yet, google for the article that works for you, and send it to everyone now along with a general question. Create a family text/chat/whatever so you can all be informed.

      My husband is going through this with his mother and is using a book called “How to Care for Aging Parents” by Virginia Morris.

    4. Kuododi*

      My sister and I have had multiple conversations with our parents about these issues. It’s different for us bc we’ve been dealing with Mom’s increasing problems with dementia. Dad is also determined to keep her at home until the bitter end. They had done a great deal of planning ahead some time ago before Mom became ill however things weren’t updated for example, their wills, living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare. My sister and I ended up having to nag our parents to meet with the elder Care attorney to update the paperwork before Mom’s condition reached the point that she wouldn’t be able to legally sign documents. Long story short, the updates were taken care of and there was minimal squabbling between parents and sister and I. (It helps if you have no emotional investment in whether or not your parents get offended but simply making sure they are in a position to have their needs met as they continue to age.). I sympathize and send you best wishes.

    5. Dan*

      Sometimes I talk to my dad about insurance stuff (I’m the math geek in the family) and the reality is that “insurance” products that are actually going to get used and/or cost *lots* of money if claimed will not have cheap premiums. Long term care insurance is one of those things.

      The thing with life insurance is that… I hate to be morbid… we’re all going to die. Life insurance products serve different purposes depending on the stage someone is at in life. When one is young (say 20’s and 30’s), the risk of death is low, and the point of the policy is to take care of minor children and a SAHM spouse (or child care) until they reach the age of majority. Sure, we can equivocate that, but the idea here is that the risk of death is low, the policy need (and limit) is finite, and consequently, premiums are a drop in the bucket. Heck, odds are in the favor of the person never collecting on the term life policy.

      Someone at your father’s age is in a different boat. Here, I don’t think you’re talking about a freak, unexpected event. Consequently, since the insurance company is likely going to have to pay, the premiums are going to reflect that. At your dad’s age, insurance premiums are going to steadily (and rapidly) increase each year as he ages.

      Looking at some numbers I found online (I don’t know how accurate they are), the cost of a half million dollar policy for a 60 year old is $117/mo. However, those rates rapidly rise and as that person reaches 69, those premiums are now $300/mo.

      1. DrTheLiz*

        My grandparents were facing this ~20 years ago, and what they did was got an investment product that was basically a voluntary widow’s pension for my grandmother: they paid in out of their combined pensions, then when my grandfather died my grandmother “converted” the invested sum into an extra annuity that really eased the loss of income for her. Given that insurance companies are playing to win, I suspect that this type of savings/investment product will offer better returns.

  39. wingmaster*

    Anyone in (or have been in) a relationship where one was the “planner,” someone who liked to plan dates/events in advance, while the other was more of the last-minute/spontaneous/go-with-the-flow type. Has anyone had major issues with this?

    My dad gave me an earful last night about how my boyfriend was not doing much planning as I do. I haven’t realized it until now, because my boyfriend and I haven’t had a lot of issues on this..yet. It’s not that he’s lazy, but most of the time he would tell me, “Let’s do this tonight!” but for the most part, I’m already doing something that night. Then I realized that I am very much the planner where I have to plan out my life for the month. Our schedules are different. I work full-time, and boyfriend works and goes to school. It would be nice if my boyfriend did plan something in advanced though.

    1. Anon Anon Anon*

      Could your dad’s commentary be a way of suggesting that your boyfriend isn’t contributing enough to the relationship? I obviously can’t say without knowing any of you, but it sounds like one of those dad rants where the underlying message is, “You deserve better. I don’t think he’s good enough for you,” etc. If that’s the case, maybe show your dad more evidence that he is a good guy, just not one to plan a lot of things?

    2. Autumnheart*

      It’s one thing to not be a person who plans well in advance, or is spontaneous. It’s another thing entirely for one partner to expect the other to be the relationship cruise director.

      For instance, “Let’s go see a movie tonight!” “Aw man, I have plans already, how about Saturday?” and you agree and then he buys tickets for Saturday—that’s spontaneity being a bit of an issue, but he’s still planning.

      But if it’s a situation where he’s like, “I’d love to go on a river cruise! We should do that!” and then either you book the tickets and make all the arrangements or it never happens…that’s a problem. That’s one partner expecting the other to do all the cruise directing. Not cool. A person who expects others to do the majority of the heavy lifting is typically not a very dependable person when you need them to step up.

      1. wingmaster*

        It’s more of the first situation, which is why it’s not an issue for us. I think I’m letting my dad rant, though what he says is reasonable, get the best of me.

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      You and your boyfriend live in different worlds. His time is more flexible and somewhat out of his control (varying homework levels) so being spontaneous works best. Being in the working world, your time is more structured and predictable and you’re more able to plan ahead. Both are fine lifestyles, but it’s hard being in a relationship with a mix. If you’re fine with it, then you don’t need to change anything, regardless of anyone else’s disapproval. Your boyfriend won’t be in school forever so it’s possible this is temporary. If it bothers you, you two could figure out a way to plan to be spontaneous. Maybe schedule a date for him to plan. And he probably contributes to the relationship in other ways. The only people who can really judge a relationship are the ones in it. Your dad may have a good perspective from the outside, but he could also be mis-reading the situation.

      1. wingmaster*

        You are right about how his schedule isn’t always forever, and yeah, he does contribute to our relationship in other ways. I understand where my dad is coming from, and I do respect his opinion. I just kinda got bothered by it last night, and I think I just need to move on and keep on showing that my boyfriend is a good guy in other ways besides the planning. Thanks for your comments.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Can you get a large calendar for your kitchen where you and your bf write down open time slots or busy times?

      Conversely, can you guys use a Sunday meal time to plan out the up coming week?

      I will say this, me the planner married guy the NOT planner. I think what your dad is driving at it that you will end up doing most of the planning for the two of you. If you are fine with that then no problem. I was fine with that for the most part. But if you are a goal setter who has timelines and you are going to rely on his active participation, this might be a problem in the long run.

      All of this might be moot, perhaps you don’t see this guy as a long term relationship. That is enough reason not to even give this a second thought.

      Meanwhile, you can just say, “Dad, don’t worry about these things. We will work it out between ourselves.”

      1. Dan*

        Yeah, this is about right. My ex wasn’t much of a planner, and I am. Which actually has a lot of upsides — when I’d plan vacations, there was very little disagreement because she just rolled with it.

        The issues arise when the plans are laid out (and known) ahead of time, and last minute, she’d just want to “go with the flow” which was code for “I want to do whatever the hell I want *right now* and screw anything else.” (I told her more than once that she wasn’t the only flow, I was the flow too.)

        But NSNR’s advice is spot on. See if this does actually bother you, and if it doesn’t, then hey great, tell your dad it’s not an issue.

        1. wingmaster*

          This sounds about the same with me and my boyfriend. He’s usually fine with whatever I plan, though he does contribute to the planning with brainstorming and sharing his thoughts. We haven’t had issues like the latter.

      2. wingmaster*

        Thanks for your comments. I used to do something organized like having a calendar, but I’ve been all over the place recently. It’s probably time for me to get back into my system of planners/calendars/bullet journaling. Also, it’s actually nice to see someone who doesn’t mind being the planner. I’ve had many friends who’d complain that their significant others don’t take initiative to plan.

    5. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      I think planning is something one arrives at by necessity. I have a 40 minute commute to work, which honestly isn’t bad because I like the job, but it still eats away at my free time. I like to be in bed by 10 on worknights. My friends have kids and dogs that can’t be left alone for too long. I basically only have between 6:00 and 9:00 to do funtime things during the workweek, so it has to be scheduled and crammed in there.

      These were not limitations I had when I was in school. Your boyfriend will either figure out his own kind of planning once he graduates.

  40. Nervous Accountant*

    My brother texted me today.

    I moved back upstairs last weekend and since then I’ve had very little interactions with her.

    He told me that she told him disturbing things and he’s not happy w the way I’ve been treating her and I give her so much attitude and said please be nicer to her.


    I don’t expect him to understand why I’ve been acting the way I do. I didn’t say anything except
    Ok I’ll be nicer. Seems like that’s the end of the discussion so maybe I missed my window.

    I’m breaking down right now. I’ll be better in a little bit but I’m hurting and feeling so attacked rn. It was always me and my dad vs me and my mom, and now I’m all alone

    1. Anon Anon Anon*

      Sending hugs! I can relate to the upsetting family stuff. That sounds so hard. I hope you find a way to make the situation better. I don’t have any advice, but I’m thinking of you.

    2. tangerineRose*

      I think your mother should move in with your brother. Seems like a win-win to me. He can treat her the way he thinks she should be treated. You get her off your back (which seems like it would be a huge relief).

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        She won’t leave this house or stay with him for more than a few days. They’re better than me in every way so idk why she won’t.

        I’m not I should be mad at him for saying it. He moved out at 18 so he never really lived with our parents and things were very different for both of us so I honestly don’t know if he’d understand or not. But it feels like a waste of time to explain my position

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          I’m not sure **

          Easy for everyone to say “be nice, have more patience” but they don’t know/care what I’m going through so. *shrugs*

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Just my opinion but I don’t think mom should be living with you.
            I am one of the ones who believes she is over the top and way too difficult. You will never please her because she will not let you.
            The response to that is for her to live somewhere else. I would not ask her, I would tell her. “You can’t stay here.”
            But yes, meanwhile, you will feel like a failure because you mom is not going to let you be a success.
            I am so sorry, this all is so sucky.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Seriously, NA – how much longer are you going to put up with this? You need to get away from her.

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          So tell him that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about so you want him to stop talking about it. He’s perfectly welcome to live with her if he likes, but because he doesn’t, you aren’t interested in hearing his opinion on it.

          Get real broken record about it. “So have her move in with you,” for every thing he says.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            I think he would very much want her to come live with him. But she doesn’t want to.

            1. Nita*

              Hmm. In a situation like this, I’d leave the house and keep nothing but myself and a suitcase of basic necessities. Just walk away. In my neighborhood, there are always cheap rooms to rent on short notice. They’re not the Hilton, and there are going to be neighbors, but if that’s what it takes to keep my mental health…

            2. Traffic_Spiral*

              So she just wants to stay and make you miserable? Remind me, does she live in your house or vice-versa?

        3. Julia*

          I was supposed to be stepping away from AaM, but your situation makes my heart hurt.
          I, too, have a difficult mother. (In fact, she just texted me to vent about something I have no control over and then tell me I’m wrong.) I, too, am the one my mother lashes out on, whereas both of my brothers tell me I overreact, it’s not that bad, bla bla. It’s not that bad if you’re the golden sons and get to ignore her, but when you’re the only daughter and expected to shoulder all the emotional labor, it really, really sucks.
          You know what my favorite moment this year was? (Well, maybe second favorite, I also graduated this year.) My mother came to visit me in Japan, and on one of the first days in my apartment, she said her hair was so frizzy, she looked like an n-word. I looked at her and said, “mother, that’s not acceptable language in MY house.” She couldn’t argue with that. I don’t know if your mother could, and obviously you don’t live on different continents most of the time, but it seems like she is living in your house? Your house, your rules.
          “Mother, you cannot talk to me like that.”
          “Mother, that’s not acceptable in my house.”
          “Mother, I’ll walk away from you now.”
          If that doesn’t make it better, and I assume at this point it may not, your mother receives an ultimatum. Either she behaves, or she can’t live there anymore. Make your brother come and get her. If he thinks she’s so great, and she thinks he’s so great, they can work something out. (If your brother is married, I suspect he will leave a lot of the care to his wife and that will blow up, but maybe then he’ll see.)
          You don’t owe your mother life-long human punching bag services. It was great of you to take her in, but she’s making you suicidal. You don’t take your meds every day, it seems, either because you’re too stressed or because you subconsciously want to die. Do you think your mother wants you to die? If yes, she has to go. If no, she should go and understand, and if she doesn’t, she still has to go.

          I also second the poster asking about your husband in all of this.

    3. Nervous Accountant*

      Yeah, so 5 hours later, I’m finally feeling “normal” after really trying hard to keep my sh*t together all afternoon. Funny thing is, when this crap happens, I’m just like “what’s the point of trying to keep myself alive? Just let the diabetes run its course.”…. yet these are hte times most when I get on a health kick, taking my meds eating healthy and even going to work out now. Hopefully taht should let off some steam.

      I texted him back immediately saying “Ok I will be nicer” and he said thanks. I didn’t follow up cz I’ve been thinking about this ALL DAY. now Im torn between pushing it and giving my side of things and things possibly get super bad, or just let it go.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s super bad right NOW.
        Seriously, take a look at what you have here, you are considering letting your diabetes finish you off. You have a serious problem right now. And this is not the first time you have told us this.

        No one, not even our parents should rob us of our will to live. No one.

        Do you have a counselor you work with? If yes, please, ask her to help you develop a plan to get yourself to a better spot in life. Your mother is verbally abusing you and draining all your energy. And you are housing her out of a strong sense of family obligation. This is not love, this is not what love looks like. Love does not hurt like this.

        Ask your mother if she would talk to your brother the way she talks to you.
        When she snips at you tell her she has been invited to live at your brother’s house.
        Tell her you think she needs a full medical exam.
        Bare bones, tell her “Mother, I don’t speak to you that way because I don’t expect to be spoken to like that.”

        You are on a roller coaster here, NA. Roller coastering is dangerous. Don’t wait until you are laying in the ER to decide that “it’s bad right now”.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          It was a fleeting thought. I’m not going to do that. Just felt super down for a minute. she’s going away next weekend for a few months. I just need to get through this week.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            With my heart behind this sentence: It’s a fleeting thought that happens on a recurring basis. It’s detracting from your quality of life. And you said this the last time too I think, she was going away for a few days. The lows on this roller coaster are too low and too dark.

            1. valentine*

              she’s going away next weekend for a few months
              Super. Don’t let her back. Move, if that’s what it takes. Move to a space too small for her, if that’s the only way you can hold the boundary. Your dad had no right to make you promise to take care of her at your expense, on her terms, and you don’t have to keep that promise.

              Do you journal? Write down how you feel after month 1, 2, 3, away from her. Go no-contact while she’s gone, with her and your brother. See how you feel. Then again in month 6. Picture the life you want and make it so.

              Your mom sounds like someone who, rather than choosing happiness, is choosing for both of you to be miserable together, and maybe that is her happiness, but you hold the reins. Treat her like a vampire and don’t let her into your home, head, or anywhere else. You can fly and be free.

              And where is hubby in this? Knowing how awful she is to you, why didn’t he say no? Would you have chosen her over him?

              1. tangerineRose*

                I second these “Don’t let her back” and “Your mom sounds like someone who, rather than choosing happiness, is choosing for both of you to be miserable together”

                She’s hurting you, and you shouldn’t have to be suffering like this.

          2. Traffic_Spiral*

            Do not let her move back in! Do not. Once she’s gone, get a moving company and drop everything off at a storage unit (near your brother’s place). Then change the locks and the access codes. Then tell her and your brother in writing “I’m sorry, but I can’t do this any more. We fight too much and I need to focus on my health.”

            Seriously, your mom is driving you to suicide! It’s not ok! You need her away from you!

            1. tangerineRose*

              Yeah, what Traffic_Spiral says. And if you can, get your brother in on this so you can send her stuff directly to his place, and he can welcome her in.

          3. NewNameJustForThisBecause*

            Oh, please listen. I did not. I had friends who tried to tell me (and I never confessed to them that I prayed repeatedly I would not wake up). It might be a thought you don’t actively take, but I deliberately neglected my health and did not do self care. And poured myself out / sacrificed everything for a verbally abusive person who felt better only by making me feel worse or manipulating me (so compliment, criticize; pretend to love, hurt with words or just actions).

            I did not see the pattern and was so mired in the lies my brain was telling me – that I “had” to do this. I just stopped and cried right now, for the whole of my best adulthood, lost to serving a useless purpose because I was so blind and had insufficient boundaries to call BS and stop it. I should have walked away. Instead, I’ll be financially paying as well.

            Please, please… NSNR and others are here to help you. You can say no. There is ALWAYS a choice. And trust me, the easy path is not the right choice…. letting her stay and make you miserable is NOT preferable.

            Think of it like this. You have gangrene in your toe (mom). You can keep taking antibiotics and putting up with the impact on your life (not walking, it is going to spread). Or have the amputation. And while you fear the surgery, when it is done, you will have some healing to do – but you will be able to move forward into the future without the disease “in” you. By letting this fester and continue, it is just impacting more and more of your brain wiring and your physical health. AND it takes time away from the good things in your life.

            I can’t get back my lost time and health… but I can say from this side of it, please stand up to her and put yourself first. We are here for you.

    4. Villanelle*

      How your mom males you feel must be impacting on your marriage. What does your husband think of it all?

      You have a stressful sounding job and a stressful (because of your mom) home life. You have recently lost your dad. You have diabetes that needs monitoring. I think, from your posts, if I remember correctly, you want to have kids at some point. I don’t see your mom being conducive to such a situation.

      You also need to have a proper conversation with your brother, not just over text. Maybe phone him or send him an email with how you feel. Perhaps you, husband and brother can all sit down with your mom and say “best thing for all is to move in with brother”.

      I note from your posts that you keep on posting the same sort of situations, the majority of which is down to your mom and how she makes you feel. Sometimes personalities just don’t work well in small places, it doesn’t mean you don’t love your mom. I also wonder about cultural expectations and if that plays a part in your situation.

      You have the power to change this, for the better. This is your one life. It’s the only one you get.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      This might be a good time to text your brother that you’ve been thinking about what he said and you realize it’s just not working out to have mom live with you and let’s start making plans for her to live with him. Get it out there so the idea can begin to come alive. Your mom doesn’t actually have to like it.

  41. Be the Change*

    Love of the week?

    Mine’s my clothesline. It’s from Lehman’s store, a big rotating one with bright orange arms, that will take at least four loads of wash at a time. I’ve gotten so many compliments on it — guests, landscapers, whoever, will say “Oh wow, I love your clothesline! It’s so great that you have it!” …It’s…a clothesline? Like everyone used to have? I think it’s funny and a little sad that a clothesline is a social statement.

    1. fposte*

      My love of the week is a new light switch. I finally got electricians to wire a basement light to the switch at the *top* of the stairs. Look at me, living like a queen and turning on the light before I go downstairs!

      1. Merci Dee*

        Do you do the royal wave as you descend the stairs into your fully lit basement? Because I feel that you should be doing this. Just a gentle circling of your hand so that your arm doesn’t get tired from waving at all your adoring fans. ;)

    2. I am still Furious!!*

      I love having a clothesline at my Mom’s house! I have 3 loads of clothes out there right now, and they smell so good when I put them away. Winter here in central PA means not too many more days of drying clothes outside until Spring, so I do this whenever I can. Plus, it saves electricity.

    3. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      Hmmmmm, I got a new weekly activity for which I earn funds and benefits, and I’d say that’s my love of the week! But yes to what you said about a clothesline – everyone used to have one and use it, but it IS rare now. We have one and I use it as much as I can, but it’s now too cold here (WI) to do any good, unfortunately. However, mine is just a standard one, so your orange one sounds super-cool and I’d probably be excited about it if I saw it, too!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m loving the LED bulbs we found to fit our old fluorescent fixtures. Not only are they extremely low energy, the plants I brought into the garage at first frost started blooming again! It’s making it hard to decide which ones will be potted to keep in the living room all winter, but that’s such a nice problem to have!

  42. Curly*

    Any recs for natural-ish curly hair products? My hair is now just past shoulders, and super thick and curly. It gets so knotty! I’d love something to help hold the curls and avoid so much knitting.

    1. Kendra*

      My hair isn’t super duper curly, but I’ve liked using leave-in conditioners instead of gels or sprays. The texture is softer and you don’t get any of the stiffness/stickiness/crunchiness that makes it get tangled. I like the Garnier fructis kind.

    2. Loopy*

      I searched for years for the right curly hair product and someone here suggested Shea Moisture. I now adore Shea Moisture products and will never try anything else. I use their leave in condition and style cream. It’s sulfate free and has a bunch of other qualities that I think make it one of the more natural products (I can’t recall but I remember a list on their bottle).

      1. LizB*

        Ditto to Shea Moisture! I use their Curl Enhancing Smoothie as my leave-in product. It gives me great definition while still making my hair super soft.

      2. Trouble*

        Shea Moisture is great. I’m a huge fan of the 10 in one deep treatment they do in the purple pot. I also use the smoothy and the style cream and the shine spray.

        1. Curly*

          I used Shea Moisture (curl smoothie maybe?) for a couple years and felt that I got a ton of buildup from it, but I did like how it held my curls. Maybe I’ll go back to it. So I guess suggestions on minimizing buildup would be helpful too :)

    3. Gatomon*

      Kinky Curly Knot Today for conditioner. Smells strongly of marshmellows but works wonders. For less marshmellow smell and slightly cheaper, I like Cantu Shea Butter conditioner (found with the products for PoC but being a PoC is not required!).

      I like DevaCurl’s lo-poo shampoos.

      1. foolofgrace*

        Frizz Ease Dream Curls, although the pump spray doesn’t spray a lot per pump and I usually end up just taking the top off and pouring some into my hand and then onto my hair.

    4. Dance-y Reagan*

      Magick Botanicals Oil-free Shampoo and Conditioner. Oil free, fragrance free, and uses no nut oils. The line also meets Curly Girl guidelines.

    5. Smarty Boots*

      I’d talk to your hairdresser. See if you can get a cut that will help you keep your hair under control, and ask them also about products and care. I have extremely thick, fast growing curly hair. I’ve had it super short and very long and everything in between. My hairdresser is terrific — she’s able to shape and take out a lot of the weight.

  43. Anon Anon Anon*

    I was in such a good mood this week, staying positive despite a lot of things going wrong. I was being optimistic, appreciating what I had, and making the best of my circumstances. Then, out of left field, I received some nasty text messages (see Friday Open Thread), a friend let me down by not being supportive, and it was obviously all part of a bigger picture. So I got really upset and wrote something online about violence against women and minorities in the arts and how there’s too much of it and it’s too widely tolerated, and acknowledging that it’s had a huge impact on my life. And how we need to be there for each other more, and support each other. I don’t even know what I wrote. I’m working up the energy to go back and respond to the comments and deal with any fallout. Sometimes there’s a backlash to that kind of thing, unfortunately. Fortunately, people have generally been nice to me online lately, so maybe not.

    I just realized I didn’t have much choice but to say something. I wanted people to know what I was dealing with. I wanted people to know that the petty rumors about me are part of a bigger issue where people subject me to violence or other awful stuff and then spread false rumors about me to sort of cover their tracks. I wanted it to be known that this is a huge problem that probably affects a lot of people and it’s part of a much bigger social problem and there are a lot of tangible consequences. It’s not just small talk.

    So, I feel really somber and frustrated with humanity, ill at ease. I shouldn’t have to write that kind of thing online. It shouldn’t have to come to that.

    On the other hand, I’m hopeful that some good will come of it, that someone will reach out. That talking about it will build bridges and break through the resulting isolation.

    I’m supposed to sign a lease for another year. I feel like moving on. But I’m not in a good position to move right now so I’ll have to sign the lease and then see what I can do – travel, etc. I keep trying to reach out to more people.

    I think I’m going to take some time off line to touch base with a few people face to face. But I have puffy eyes from crying all day yesterday and I look weird.

    I’m genderqueer. My body looks more feminine than I would like and there’s not much I can do about it. I don’t have health insurance. When I’ve had jobs with health insurance, I’ve worried about the consequences of being out at work and haven’t wanted to use the benefits for anything gender-related. Ok, both workplaces were reasonably queer-friendly; other stuff going on in my life at the time was a factor too.

    Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and confused by the people side of life. It’s so complicated. There’s rarely one right or good course of action. You’re always just guessing. I’m hoping I can find someone to help me with the people side of things in the arts so I can focus more on the work. But it would have to be someone I could trust so I’m holding out for the right kind of situation. Someone who gets me and gets the business side of it and will be ethical and fair.

    Argh. So much frustration. I just keep in mind that writing about it and talking about is a fairly healthy way to deal with it all even if there are some negative consequences and I get things wrong and do the wrong thing sometimes.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I just went and read your comment in yesterday’s post. I am so sorry you’re dealing with this and I hope that you find some supportive friends.

      I’ve been struggling a lot the last couple of months after something caused memories of old issues to bubble up and I’ve been having a lot of ~feelings~. I’m trying to do better about reaching out for support when I need it and stepping back when I need to, but it’s still a work in progress.

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        Yeah, it’s hard. I’m doing some painting today and feeling better. It just seems like so often, there is no ideal solution. When you talk about things, you often don’t express yourself perfectly and there can be misunderstandings. But not talking and pretending everything is ok also causes misunderstandings. I want to be open about what’s on my mind, but then I feel bad about upsetting people, even if the thing I’m talking about is important, and upsetting for good reasons. But you just do the best you can and hope that you get somewhere. I feel a lot better speaking my mind than any of the alternatives.

    2. LilySparrow*

      I don’t have any suggestions, but I hope you are safe. I’m very worried about how casually you mention being subjected to violence. I hope you have some legal recourse, and can find safe places to live and work.

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        The legal resource thing is one of the hardest parts. I’ve visited several relevant organizations but haven’t gotten anywhere. The statute of limitations for assault is only a year or two in the places where I’ve lived. The police tend not to be that helpful unless it’s something happening currently. Family violence orgs tend to focus their legal resources on helping people get out of cohabiting abusive relationships – divorce, child custody, housing, restraining orders, prosecuting very recent violence, etc. I contacted a disability rights organization and told them I had been dealing with harassment and discrimination at work and was trying to get back into a good job and asked about local resources. The response I got was, “Could you please send me your resume,” which seemed kind of off and didn’t answer my question. I’ve contacted lgbtq+ groups since some of this might have to do with being gender non-conforming, but I’ve either gotten no response or referrals to mental health services – stuff that isn’t a good fit right now. I’m sure there’s something I haven’t thought of. Maybe if I keep talking about it publicly, someone will reach out and want to talk to me and then I can explain in more detail what I’ve been dealing with and maybe they’ll know of good local resources. It’s so challenging.

        Right now, I live alone, I have a big dog, and I work from home. So I’m reasonably safe where I am. But there’s a lot of nastiness out there in my community, unfortunately.

      2. Anon Anon Anon*

        I wrote a reply to this, but it seems to have disappeared. I appreciate your concern. I do have a safe place to live and work, although my employment situation has been impacted by this and I’m barely earning enough to get by.

        I’ve been trying to find legal resources for years but haven’t had any success yet. It is sad when you reach that point where you’re casually mentioning being subjected to violence. Unfortunately, I’ve talked about it a lot in a lot of different contexts and people rarely seem to take it seriously. That could be because I look very young and innocent. Maybe they think I’m lying or exaggerating? Or that I must have friends and family who can help? Who knows.

        Ironically, the reason I’m often not taken seriously is one of the reasons I’m often targeted. I look a lot younger than my age, and I have some joint and muscle problems, and I don’t always act very feminine. So I come across as an awkward young person who’s lost and out of place and acting too important for their age and not respecting their elders enough (because the “elders” are my age). It’s weird. I wish I could have a normal job and not have to deal with harassment all the time. I wish people would take me seriously when I talk about dealing with violence. But if I just keep going and keep getting the word out, I will get somewhere eventually.

      3. Anon Anon Anon*

        Thank you! I’ve written two longer replies, but they didn’t appear so I’ll keep this short. I’m safe at home and I appreciate your kindness.

      4. Anon Anon Anon*

        Still working on the legal recourse part. That’s the most challenging. I’ve tried many options. Hoping that if I keep talking about it, someone in my city will reach out and recommend something.

      5. Anon Anon Anon*

        I work from home and I’m safe there, but this has taken a toll on that part of life. Wish I wasn’t casually mentioning it. That’s the result of not being taken seriously a lot of the time.

    1. Just me, Vee*

      I am! Kindle says I am 70% done. I dislike Stanley. I need to finish it before I will be able to tell if I liked it or not. How it ends will either make/break it for me.

  44. Goose Lavel*

    Meeting my 37 year old son’s new filipina girlfriend for the first time next week and néed advice on ways to keep the event light and cheery. They are coming for dinner and will be brining homecooked food that she is making. Note that my son is divorced with two kids 8 and 6 and currently living with his ex girlfriend and her two kids. His is planning to move out within the next several months so this ex can be financially prepared.

    1. fposte*

      What about letting all that backstory go for the night and just treating it as an enjoyable “meeting new cool person” occasion? “Angela, it’s so nice to meet you, and how kind of you to bring us this wonderful food! Tell us about what you like to do.” It’s up to your son to hash out all that divorce/ex/housing stuff anyway, so no need to dive into it.

    2. Lissa*

      Yes, light and cheery is a good idea! All the backstory can hopefully be left behind, and you can show that you’ll be a kind person to have around who won’t bring that in – she’s probably nervous about meeting you too, especially since the situation is complicated, could be bias issues etc. Have a few friendly/funny stories at the ready that you can tell if the conversation seems like it is faltering, maybe ask your son ahead of time if his new GF has any hobbies or interests, so you could bring those up. Compliment the food a bunch no matter what!

    3. valentine*

      No politics/religion. Only faves/best of. Don’t let her do any work, especially not helping in the kitchen. If you need help and no one else lives there, assign it to your son.

      1. Young coworker*

        This is hard for guests, at least me! I would much rather be assigned something easy like chopping so we can talk and I don’t feel useless

  45. I work on the Hellmouth*

    Any sewists or folks with other creative hobbies out there who have experienced this? I’ve been learning to sew for about a year and I LOVE it! I’ve been specifically focusing on garment construction, and every time I finish something cool or look down and realize that I’m wearing an outfit that I made I feel great–but if I talk about my hobby (in person, on social media, etc), without fail I am besieged by people (some of them not even people that I know very well) asking me to make them custom wardrobes, ball gowns, curtains, re-create dresses they have pictures of, mend their clothes, sew them tailored menswear, etc. They do not always handle a polite “Oh, this is just my hobby–the little free time I have to focus on it barely leaves me time to work on my own stuff, and I don’t really have the expertise or comfort level to perform Project X for you, anyway” well. Any advice on how to talk about my hobby (which I am very enthusiastic about) without having everyone around me be all “GIVE THIS TO ME, SEWING WENCH”, or the best ways to dodge requests when they come up? And barring that, anyone have any fun stories about the most outrageous request they’ve gotten when people have heard about your hobby and decided that you definitely should make things for them?

    1. Yetanotherjennifer*

      That’s great! I’m glad you’re having fun. I’ve never had your experience, but I think you need a firmer no. If you want, start with the gentle deflections you’ve been making, but if they push you could say, “No, I can’t do that. This is a hobby just for me.” Or just go straight to the No. Then change the subject. You could also get the name of a local tailor and get their hourly rate and share that with anyone who gets too pushy. Unfortunately, it sounds like your friends aren’t going to be receptive to news about your hobby without trying to get something out of it for them. I think you’d be better off to find a group of fellow sewists and crafters that you can share your enthusiasm with.

    2. Fishcakes*

      Inknit and sew and get that all the time. Some people are astonishingly rude about it, too. I had a coworker get really angry at me because I wouldn’t sew her a bee costume. We weren’t even friends!

      I have a bunch of go-to phrases:
      – Sorry, I don’t take commissions.
      – I only sew for myself.
      – I don’t have time.
      – I don’t want to.
      – [Tailor] can help you with that.
      – I charge $50/hr plus materials.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I like the “I only sew for myself.”
        Perhaps be ready with a few local names of professional people who sew.

        If they asked again, be sure to say, “Oh you asked me that before, remember?” Many times reminding people they have already asked is enough to make them stop asking.

        1. I work on the Hellmouth*

          Those are all good! I also sometimes tell them my sewing teacher’s website and let them know they can always book lessons to learn how to make whatever for themselves. This also gets mixed results, heh.

      2. I work on the Hellmouth*

        Hahahah, I’ve never gotten a bee costume request, although I have had a few for adult sized onesies. I’m glad it’s not just me!

    3. Quilt Person*

      I quilt so I hear ya! One of the first things I do is explain to them the cost of materials. Then how much time it takes, and surely they would not expect to pay me less than minimum wage per hour it takes me to make something? Though my skill is worth more than minimum wage as I have been working at my craft for 25 years? and I have a chart which someone worked out as to rough cost of a queen sized quilt. It usually results in a quick “never mind!” Since you have already told them in a roundabout way that you don’t want to or have time to do this, you may just have to say “sorry, no – this is my hobby to relax from work, and working my hobby for other people would take take the pleasure out of it,” and maybe look up the number of the nearest tailor/seamstress for them. When they get a professional’s price, they’ll just go back to store bought!

      1. I work on the Hellmouth*

        Ha! My sewing teacher told me to start telling people $250.00 plus labor. I do tend to ref her out to folks and say she could help them learn to do it themselves, but no one has ever called her, heh.

    4. HannahS*

      Hah! Oh the woe of having a useful hobby! I usually laugh and say that since I just do it for fun, I don’t take on commissions, because then it’s work. Or, “Haha, it’s so much work that the only person I make stuff for is mom.” Or, ominously, “You can’t afford me.” I think if you’re politely refusing and people are reacting with anything other than, “Oh, ok” then the people asking are really entitled and that’s really not a problem you need to fix, you know? Let them feel disappointed.
      Oh, you know what though, sometimes making suggestions can be helpful. If I mean it sincerely, I tell people “I’d be happy to show you how to hem your own jeans” or whatever, and while I really would, no one’s ever taken me up on it. Or if not, I’ll say, “No, I just do this as a hobby, but a lot of dry-cleaners would actually be able to do that for you” or, “You know, I bet the people who do wedding dress alterations would be skilled enough to make that for you, and I know a lot of them will take commissions if you provide the fabric and pattern.”
      Most outrageous…hmm, never anything too crazy. Hemming, mostly. Mostly people tell me how they think I should start a business, not realizing how impractical that is from a financial perspective.

      1. I work on the Hellmouth*

        Hahahaha, no one realizes it! My little brother actually called me up to tell me he thought maybe he should start a clothing line and would I sew for him, and I had to (very kindly) tell him how that actually works and what he would need labor and start up cost-wise. Needless to say, he dropped the idea immediately, lol.

    5. Free Meerkats*

      I’ve just said that I sew for new and my wife and I don’t sew for others. If pushed, I will politely to non politely day no, depending on how hard they’re pushing.

      Only once have I had to lay out what it would cost them.

    6. A.N. O'Nyme*

      As a crocheter…Yep, I’ve had this. Sometimes I do simple requests (things like a simple hat or scarf – I can do the basic stitches without looking at my hands so I can do something else at the same time, or listen to a podcast or something). Sometimes people make unreasonable requests though (like this NotAlwaysFriendly story – not mine, but it conveys the idea https://notalwaysright.com/pokemon-red-black/110219/ . And here’s a Lugia pattern for the curious http://wolfdreamer-oth.blogspot.com/2010/09/lugia-plushie.html ). I think most crafters come across this at some point or another – a lot of people seem to think that because it’s handmade it must be cheaper.

    7. Penguin*

      One time I was visiting my former girlfriend, her semi-estranged parents stopped by to deliver a bookcase. During the very awkward “getting to know you” conversation, I mentioned that I made furniture as a hobby. The mother immediately turned to her husband and said in the tone of someone discovering a windfall “Oh, we could use some furniture!”
      If I thought faster on my feet, I would have pointed out that she qualified for my 100% “overly-entitled customer surcharge”… sadly, I just kept my mouth shut. My girlfriend later confirmed that yes, social niceties and empathy were foreign concepts to her mother, and yes, that had a lot to do with their estrangement.

    8. LilySparrow*

      These requests are ridiculous, so just laugh. It makes the situation very clear, but it’s not heavy-handed.
      “Thanks for the compliment, but I’m not going into business.”

    9. Anon Anon Anon*

      I have gotten some outrageous requests. As long as what they’re asking for is ethical, I don’t turn them down. But I have set the price so high that it would work out in my best interest whether they accepted or not. I felt a bit yucky about it. One time, someone was communicating in a way that sounded manic, like they were having a manic episode or on drugs, and they wanted to buy a large quantity of my creative work. They also wanted me to come to their city for a performance thing – across the country. I quoted them a fair price, but I felt like I was taking advantage of someone who wasn’t using good judgment, although how was I to say? And of course there are worse things someone could spend money on. In the end, it all fizzled because they kept changing their mind and then wanted to date me, and had the wrong idea about a lot of things, and then became verbally abusive. So maybe I should have ignored them to begin with, but what can you do?

    10. Red Reader*

      I once knitted a gorgeous lace shawl, like 120 hours worth of work. I didn’t actually have any reason to wear it, so I donated it to a silent auction/wine tasting fundraiser for a group I volunteered with. Come to find out they’d started the bidding for it at $10 and it went for $40. The next year they asked me if I would do another one. Noooooooo chance, I said. Y’all get much better value if I offer my time in actual volunteering than in craftwork. (And that’s how I ended up running the kitchen committee for three years’ worth of those fundraisers.)

      1. Close Bracket*

        I regret to say that fundraising silent auctions typically start that low and don’t usually do to anywhere near the actual value of the item. I saw a $200 ring go for the opening bid of $30. It pains me for the person who donated the piece.

        1. Red Reader*

          No, I know. I didn’t mind about the first one, I wasn’t going to do anything with it anyway. But my left foot I was going to deliberately take the time to do another one for the same outcome, haha.

    11. Llellayena*

      I actually have not gotten many “can you make this for me” requests as a quilter who makes mostly bed sized quilts (still working on understanding that small things are useful too). But a neat semi-related story:

      I’m surprising my great-aunt with a bed quilt for Christmas (just finished quilting it today, yay!). She saw another quilt I had done last year and loved it. Last month (after I started making her quilt) she wistfully asked my mom “do you think Llellayena takes quilting requests?” Mom deflected with “she’s a bit busy now but you can check after their new year.” Great-Aunt will be so surprised!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is so cool. You will have to tell us about it when you give it to her. I love stories like this.

    12. Windchime*

      I’m just now getting into sewing garments and I’m very excited about it. When people discover that I knit and quilt, they will often ask (or hint) that I make something for them or their child. I just come right out and tell them that I never charge for knitting, and I only knit for family (which is true, except for the occasional charity item). If they keep going on about it, I will offer to teach them to knit. The conversation usually wraps up pretty quickly after that.

    13. RL*

      GIVE THIS TO ME, SEWING WENCH just about killed me, ha!

      Lately, I’ve been starting to teach myself to sew some stuff and ALREADY my dad is like, hey, these outrageous clothes I’ve thought of would be nice…. Old man, I can barely put together a pillow, and if I get any better the last thing I want to do is make you whatever you’re thinking of.

      I’m a professional artist, so I’ve heard lots of these requests. Usually I say I’m not currently taking commissions (they’re always surprised I’d charge them!) or say, hey, sounds great, my commission price for that size starts at $$$$ and with all the details you’re talking about, you better email me so I can give you a quote. It usually shuts them up. Once or twice I’ve got whining so I pointed them in the direction of some beginner drawing books. Never heard more about it.