weekend free-for-all – December 1-2, 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: Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarty. Well, I’m recommending the first half of this book, but then it went off the rails. In an interesting way, but still off the rails.

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

{ 1,425 comments… read them below }

  1. Anna Banana*

    What’s everyone reading? I just finished Nine Perfect Strangers too and agree it went off the rails toward the end.

    1. The Goldfinch*

      I’m reading Tana French’s new one, The Witch Elm. I really like it–the reviews on GoodReads seem a bit mixed, but IMO it builds a feeling of claustrophobia and psychological dread very effectively.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Carpet Diem by Justin Lee Anderson. Rereading actually… it’s so good and with lots of nice little touches.

      2. alex*

        Oooh I’m in a queue for this book on my library app; how is it related to “Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?”? (no spoilers, please!)

      3. neverjaunty*

        How does it compare to IN THE WOODS? I like her writing but I was very annoyed at “characters act like complete dumbasses so we can get a plot twist”.

        1. Lily Evans*

          If that’s the primary reason you disliked In The Woods, you might not enjoy The Witch Elm. ITW’s protaganist was my least favorite Tana French POV character, until The Witch Elm came out.

          1. LCL*

            I loved the Witch Elm. The ending is shocking, but after thinking about it awhile I realized it made sense and fits what we know can happen to people with brain injuries. It is definitely melancholy, like the end of the Golden Compass trilogy. I was wrecked for days after I finished reading that. I think many people are having trouble with the Witch Elm because the main characters all start from a position of relative privilege, which has caused some readers to dislike them from the start.

        2. The Goldfinch*

          I haven’t read In The Woods but The Witch Elm was quite different from the other Tana French I’ve read (The Trespasser).

          I have finished The Witch Elm now, and while I still think it was really good, it fell apart for me a bit at the end. Unlike lots of the GoodReads reviewers, I thought the beginning was great, and kept enjoying it until there was only maybe 5% of the book left. Then I was like WHAT. SERIOUSLY??

          1. Lily Evans*

            Oh my god, the ending. Like I definitely felt like it took me longer to get into than her other books, but I did get into it, and I would not feel so strongly about disliking it were it not for that ending. It was so much, and way too rushed, and the moral of the story would have stayed intact without how OTT it got.

      4. SparklingStars*

        I love Tana French! I didn’t enjoy the last couple of books in her Dublin Murder series, but I really enjoyed The Witch Elm.

    2. TL -*

      The Role of Emotions in Preventative Health Communication…sigh. I’ve reached the point where I’m reading so much for school that it’s hard to read for pleasure.

      But I did just finish Julia Quinn’s new romance, The Other Miss Bridgerton, and I loved it. I think it’s the best book she’s put out in a while!

      1. ElspethGC*

        Ditto! Mid-essay and cycling between seven different books related to fifteenth-century politics and Henry VI. Good period, but god it gets dry after a while. Also, very heavy to carry around.

        Storey’s The End of the House of Lancaster, Gross’ The Dissolution of the Lancastrian Kingship, Lander’s Conflict and Stability in Fifteenth-Century England, Keen’s England in the Later Middle Ages, Horrox’s Fifteenth-Century Attitudes, Harriss’ Shaping the Nation 1360-1461, Castor’s The King, the Crown and the Dutchy of Lancaster. Oh, and Sir John Fortescue’s Governance of England.

        Reading for pleasure isn’t going to be happening for a while.

        But once it is, I have Caitlin Doughty’s From Here to Eternity lined up, which I’m excited about.

        1. curly sue*

          Solidarity. I’ve got Homelands and Empires, We Were Not the Savages, and Three Centuries and an Island on the go right now. It’s ‘rewrite my lit review’ time, but next week it will be a huge pile of student term papers and quizzes for marking. I’m not sure what the first thing I’ll grab off my TBR pile will be once my life is actually my own again. I need to find a good classical Brit-style mystery writer to follow up my PD James fixation, since I’ve read everything of hers.

      2. Ginger ale for all*

        The new Julia Quinn book is on my holiday wish list. I am glad it is one of her better efforts. I was wondering if she would shine again like she did years ago. I wasn’t impressed with her last one, it just went through the motions for me.

        1. TL -*

          Yeah, I’ve been feeling that way too but I really enjoyed this one! It was a bit of a departure from her normal set up and I wonder if that helped.

    3. Jack Be Nimble*

      I’m reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel! I like it so far, but the prose is very ornamented and sometimes hard to follow. I keep checking Wikipedia to read about the actual people and events, just to make sure I understand what’s going on.

      1. Cruciatus*

        This was one of the first books I gave myself permission to not finish! I gave it to my mom who loves historical fiction and she gave up about where I did. There would be 20 men in a room and it would just say “He said blah blah and then he said blah blah blah” and I had no idea who was speaking and I wasn’t willing to work it out. However, the TV mini-series was pretty great! Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn, Damian Lewis as Henry VIII.

      2. ScotKat*

        I think it’s actually quite straightforward, but it’s a unique style. My advice is to flow with it (and with her) as much as possible, as then it starts to make sense. That’s how I found it, anyway!

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve just started reading The Surgeon of Crawthorne by Simon Winchester, which seems to be the story behind the Oxford English dictionary.

    5. Lcsa99*

      I am reading The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison, about a man who kidnaps young woman and intricately tattoos them, then keeps them in his garden. It’s essentially a retelling from one of his victims after the FBI gets involved. I am only about 100 pages in but it’s definitely drawn me in.

    6. Asenath*

      “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean. It’s a fascinating combination of memoir, history, and the roles libraries have and had in society – plus lots about fires and arson.

    7. Rebecca*

      9 Perfect Strangers is on my list, my first book by Liane was Big Little Lies; slowly making my way through the others.

    8. Lady Jay*

      Over Thanksgiving (a loooong drive home) I read Tara Westover’s Educated–and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Westover is raised in essentially a Mormon version of a prepper cult, way out in rural Idaho, helping her unlicensed midwife mom deliver babies and prepare essential oils, and dodging junk as she helps in her father’s scrapyard. She doesn’t even have a birth certificate. Despite these challenges, she passes the ACT, enrolls in Brigham Young, then goes on to Cambridge, where she eventually earns a PhD in history. Educated is the story of how she got there. I couldn’t put it down.

      Currently, I’m still working through Who Fears Death? (Nnedi Okorafor)–it’s good, but not what I was expecting.

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        I haven’t read it yet. Keep thinking it looks interesting but my sister warned that it might have triggered for people who had to deal with a bipolar/schizophrenic mother growing up. So that makes me hesitant.

      2. mistressfluffybutt*

        I just started the audiobook of this for my work commute and it’s so good that it is now my background music too! Seriously it’s amazing, I may have to get a physical copy of it too.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Mycroft and Sherlock by Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. (Since this surprises people: Jabbar is a huge Holmesian, has written a number of books, and writes on cultural topics.) Follows on the very good Mycroft which focused on Sherlock’s brother in a mystery set in Trinidad, this one focuses on London’s slums, opium dens, and power centers, and gives a back story for the Baker Street irregulars.

      1. Tort-ally HareBrained*

        I’m on the second Mary Russell book by Laurie King. These are also Holmes-adjacent stories. They seem to be taking me longer to get through than my usual read but I am enjoying them and the slightly different prose.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I couldn’t get into those, but really liked Carol Nelson Douglas’s series focused on Irene Adler, which starts with Good Night Mr Holmes. (Check your library.)

          1. Someone Else*

            The first few aren’t as good as the middle ones (but lay important groundwork). I’ve read, I think, 12 at this point?

        2. PhyllisB*

          I have read and enjoyed several of the Mary Russell novels. I read the first by accident. I was looking for a book that my book club was reading and couldn’t remember the name. I just knew it was something with Bees in the title. Very fortuitous mistake!! I always love Sherlock Holmes and loved the idea of him having a spunky female sidekick. BTW: the book I was SUPPOSED to read was The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Also very good.

        3. SparklingStars*

          Laurie King is one of my favorite authors! Like Someone Else said, the middle ones in the series are actually the most fun to read.

        4. swingbattabatta*

          These are my hands down favorite books ever. The first eight (through Locked Rooms) are the best, IMO, and then they drop off a bit in terms of quality, but that’s just my feeling. You are in for a treat! I love them so much.

          1. Tort-ally HareBrained*

            Good to hear. I’m used to zooming through books so was worried I wouldn’t feel motivated to keep going. But my library has them all, and I do love reading series so will keep going along.

        5. Pam*

          I could never get into those, but love Laurie King’s modern police procedurals set in San Francisco.

          1. Violet Strange*

            Me too, I wish Laurie King would write more of the procedurals. Can you recommend another similar writer, one yone/character richness?

            1. Someone Else*

              She wrote a one-off called Folly that I thought was pretty good. It’s not in the Russell or Matinelli series(es?), but I very much enjoyed that book.

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        I just finished this last night. The plot was ok (I preferred the plot of the first one) but I find the writing a bit juvenile. Too many adjectives (reminds me of middle schoolers being told to add elaborating detail to their work).

      3. Database Developer Dude*

        Holy frijoles!!! The second one is out???!?!?!?!? I was over the MOON for the first one…thank you for posting this…

      4. Hiring Mgr*

        For those who like Holmes, you should check out Anthony Horowitz if you haven’t already.. (not only his Holmes novels, the others too..)

        1. aa*

          Horowitz is a fantastic writer. I highly recommend not only his Sherlock books (which are great) but his thrillers in general.

      5. gmg22*

        These sound amazing — I always avidly read Kareem’s essays/op-eds in the NYT and elsewhere, but did not know he wrote fiction as well!

    10. Book Lover*

      Dragging myself through what used to be a guilty pleasures series – the latest archangel book by Nalini Singh. I think may just be done with them :(

      Next the first wayward children book by Seanan McGuire and the latest Rivers of London, which I am avoiding reading because then it will be done for a year, sigh.

      1. Buzzbattlecat*

        Oh YES to the Rivers of London!
        Sorry I didn’t see this earlier and posted about them way down thread.
        And yes while we have to wait a year, at least the author posts his daily word count, so you know he’s still hard at work haha!

    11. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I just finished Redshirts by John Scalzi; I’ve got a lot of his ebooks on hold through the library, and I’m specifically waiting for the first book in the Old Man’s War series so I can continue bingeing on his works. :D I finished the Locked In series and found that one was available to check out. Very well done, very meta, that’s all I’ll say to avoid spoilers.

      I just checked out Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen, whose work I have enjoyed, both mainstream and YA, but I haven’t started it yet. I thought I’d start on it yesterday, but I was busier than I expected.

    12. ScotKat*

      Milkman by Anna Burns. It’s great. Very funny (darkly), interesting, inventive. I love that more experimental, literary fiction by women is getting attention.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Never! I’ve just written a stupidly long piece of Doctor Who fanfiction so you enjoy yourself!!!!

        (And honestly, I’ve read some fanfiction that is leagues better than published books).

        1. Jaid_Diah*

          You’re so right. And sometimes you come across something that just sparks your imagination.
          What’s your favorite AU/trope?

          I like the Golden Compass/daemons one.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            I’m really into Everybody Lives! at the moment. If it’s written well, it really changes the story – think Harry Potter where James and Lily are alive, or Game of Thrones where Ned didn’t die.

    13. ATX Language Learner*

      El Invierno en Lisboa – a beautifully written novel about a jazz piano player in Spain. Poetic writing with detailed descriptions of what’s happening in the story.

    14. Amy Miller*

      I just finished Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. It was excellent! One of my top picks of the year. Reading Nine Perfect Strangers right now, but I’m about 100 pages in and it hasn’t hooked me yet like her books usually do.

    15. Sparkly Librarian*

      I’m trying to catch up on my hundred-book challenge, and I’m way behind, so I’ve read a number of shorter titles recently. Stephen King’s Elevation was… nothing special, really. I would have liked to see it get more into the reasons behind the protagonist’s strange dis/ability (his weight gets less and less while his appearance/mass remains the same). I rather enjoyed the WWI scenery in Love to Everyone (children’s novel). Running on Empty is another children’s book, with a UK teen whose parents have learning difficulties; they all are trying to cope with the death of his grandfather. Interesting family study.

    16. Free Meerkats*

      At work I’m reading “The Tears of the Sun”, the 8th book of SM Stirling’s Emberverse series. At home in reading Relic” by Alan Dean Foster. And in the car, I’m listening to a BBC dramatization of “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman.

    17. Luisa*

      About to start Holes (re-read), Long Way Down (Jason Reynolds), and The Crossover (Kwame Alexander). Why yes, I do teach middle school.

      For me, I just picked up Nicole Chung’s memoir All You Can Ever Know.

    18. Anu*

      I’m reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Honestly, though I like individual sentences, the book as a whole is leaving me cold. I previously read Operating Instructions, also by her, which is about her son’s first year, which I thought would be perfect since I have a 15 month old but felt similarly. I can only conclude that she’s one of those authors who are Good but Not For Me. I have the latest installment of Louise Penny’s Gamache series on loan from the library as well as Nine Perfect Strangers and cannot wait to get into those.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I felt this way about Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. It was such a beautiful constructed book and it was clear that she knew what she was doing but I was left feeling cold at the end of it.

    19. Canadian Natasha*

      I just started Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. It’s basically a couple of tech guys trying to hack time management. I thought I’d see if they came up with anything new/useful.

      1. Rebecca*

        I listened to it (Audible) and there was another short story included called “Laurie”, I rather enjoyed that too. Agreed on the strange part, and I wasn’t sure what to think about the ending.

    20. Mrs. Fenris*

      I just finished Nine Perfect Strangers too. Definitely weirder than her other books…I thought it was about to veer into truly disturbing, and I kept reminding myself that her books don’t really do that…but I liked it pretty well.

    21. The Original K.*

      “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. I’m about 3/4 of the way through. A lot of what she says resonates with me, as a woman of color – the age-old refrain that many Black people grew up hearing (I know I did): “You have to be twice as good to get half as much” and how she wrestles with self-doubt in all these new situations she finds herself in. I come from a more economically advantaged background than she does, but some things are universal. I like how she gave herself permission to “swerve,” as she puts it – to veer off her chosen path as she realized she was unhappy in corporate law. And of course, the inside info on life in the White House is interesting – I had no idea First Families had to pay for the food!

      1. FalafalBella*

        The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood. I love books about bookstores, libraries and books, and this one was just great.

    22. danr*

      I’m reading two by Evan Currie. Into the Black: Odyssey 1 and An Empire Asunder (The Scourwind Legacy, 2).

    23. Teapot Translator*

      Still Life by Louise Penny. I liked it overall, but it really annoyed me that the few French sentences included for verisimilitude were not proofread. There’s a whole province of French speakers and the publisher couldn’t find one person to quickly proofread?
      Anyway, enjoyable read nonetheless.
      Anyone have any recommendations for cozy mystery novels?

    24. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Rereading Garth Nix’s “Abhorsen” with my daughter…except we’ve come to a dark section filled with the undead, and she hasn’t wanted to press on for several days now! She’s instead reading Shannon Hale’s “Princess Academy”–a fantastic twisteroo where the main characters are almost ALL female, and the strongest doesn’t even want the prince–just to help her community.
      I’m probably going to hit the library and look for a WWI oral history.

    25. Nacho*

      I finished Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium today. There was more action and less humor than I’d expected after reading the reviews, but then I suppose the cover image of a man standing heroically over a dead orc, bloody chain sword at hip and gun in hand should have clued me in on that. Still a great read.

    26. Jackie*

      I’m reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. I think this author was a time traveler…

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        That’s a scarier story than most of the supernatural horror I run across… talk about books that keep you up at night!

    27. Buzzbattlecat*

      The Rivers London urban fantasy series by Ben Aaronovich. The seventh, Lies Sleeping, has just been released.
      This is one of my favourite series ever! A young police constable in the London Metropolitan police learns that magic is real (but difficult and dangerous) and there’s an Inspector who is a practitioner. PC Peter Grant has a West African Mum and a heroin addict, jazz player Dad, and he’s smart and funny without being a maverick hero. He has a unique voice.
      The characters are diverse in culture, sexuality, faith and body type, without being stereotypes, which is refreshing. The magic is well thought out and internally consistent, there are long and short story arcs, and the supporting characters’ motivations are not always simple or clear.
      I also love the frequent references to various geek cultures and the clear love of London that shines through.
      Aaronovich has written for, among other things, Doctor Who, and spends time promoting libraries. He also writes graphic novels.

    28. Jaid_Diah*

      Oh, I forgot. I just finished reading “Lies Sleeping” by Ben Aaronovitch, part of the Rivers of London series. Urban magic, police procedural.

    29. MissDisplaced*

      I’m reading Mortal Engines. I love steampunk and this is a good escape thus far.
      I recently finished a contemporary adventure/scifi series called Breakthrough by Michael Grumley that was pretty good too. It involved speaking with dolphins, which was pretty interesting. My only issue is that while each book could stand alone, the overall theme wasn’t finished in 4 books, and I’d really like things to wrap up by that point.

    30. Annie Moose*

      Ahhhh I just got into the Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson and I can’t put them down. Despite my best efforts to hold off, I read the first two books in four days each and I’m half a second from buying the third on Kindle so I don’t have to wait until it’s back in my library! WHAT TERRIBLE DISASTER WILL BEFALL THEM NEXT???

      (also how will the love triangle be resolved?? I can’t decide which configuration I want to win out!)

    31. Claire*

      I’ve been binge-reading a number of favorites. Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series. (Romance, obscure law points, and puppy cannons.) Heather Rose Jones’s Alpennia series, historical fantasy with women as scholars, scientists, friends, and lovers.

    32. WhiteWalkerFromTheWall*

      A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin and Anna Karenina by Tolstoy….both in French. Because I don’t torture myself enough by reading them in English, I have to be the type to want to keep my 2nd language up by reading Russian literature in it!
      Plus ‘The Nazi Seizureu of Power’ an oddly interesting read about one town from 1922-1945 and how the Nazi rise to power and the Third Reich played out in one town/small city.

    33. Marion Ravenwood*

      I just finished The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden. It’s a YA fantasy set in medieval Russia and modelled after Russian folk tales. I’ve read it before but it’s one of my book clubs’ picks for December (at my suggestion, so I really hope other people liked it!) so wanted to refresh my memory beforehand.

      I’ve also just restarted A Million Years In A Day by Greg Jenner, which is a lighthearted non-fiction book about the history of everyday life – think Bill Bryson’s Home but a little more wide-ranging. I’ve had it on my Kindle for ages but needed to fill a book gap before. I get back from Paris and can start my Christmas books (please say I’m not the only one who has books they only read around Christmas!). So far it’s good though – an informative yet easy and humorous read.

    34. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      Ugh, I’m reading children’s books in a language I’m learning and it’s… demoralizing. I don’t understand a hoot!

        1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

          I don’t know, good suggestion… so far I’m trying with books I have already read in my own language, but parallel edition would be a smart move. I shall look for them! Thanks!

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            Yes! Penguin does some parallel editions of short stories. I’ve used the German ones a few times.

            I’ve also had good luck recently reading a German detective novel on the Kindle. The Kindle is great for foreign-language reading because you can touch a word and see the definition right away*, and detective novels are written at a lower grade level than some of the other stuff I’ve tried to read in German, so I didn’t have to use the dictionary as often.

            *For the most part. It has trouble with conjugations and compound words, which means that sometimes you have to exit the book, look up the word in the dictionary, and come back to the book. But still easier than a paper book and a dictionary.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I had this problem. Alice in Wonderland in Spanish took me six months to finish because I had to stop and check every other word, but it’s worth it. I learnt words from that that I still use today. Maybe give yourself permission to only read a paragraph at a time – that’s how I started and it’s got easier now.

        Good luck!

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            I’m actually an ESL teacher and I always recommend to my students that they start with a book they know well. For most people that’s Harry Potter; because most people know the story well, they find it easier to read than something like Alice or even Peppa Pig (which I hate. I tried watching the show to learn Spanish and I was near ready to kill those pigs).

    35. Caregiver fatigue*

      I’ve been procrastinating on Carl Jung’s Red Book, to the point that I had to renew from the library after being overdue for a few weeks (!), but I’m starting on it now, and damn, the art is amazing.

    36. JustAnotherAnalyst*

      I am reading Circe by Madeline Miller which need to finish tomorrow and return to the library. As a classics nerd, I like the book. Also, I find the main character relatable.

  2. BeingMoreConfident*

    Does anyone have advice for being more confident in myself and my abilities? I am very capable, but I just have trouble believing in myself.

    1. Lena Clare*

      One thing that made me more confident was getting to know myself and what I thought and believed. I could be confident that I was behaving in a way that was authentic for me, and not really care what others thought about that.

    2. SherSher*

      I know Lena says to essentially “know yourself” but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little “fake it til you make it” thrown in. I have been told for a long time that I come across as very confident, but I didn’t used to be. Through a process of learning who I am and believing in myself, and adding a little “pretending to be confident”… I have become pretty confident in my abilities and strengths. And, as Lena said, not worrying about what others say or think.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      Sometimes it helps to keep a little happy notebook to jot down your successes and compliments you get (large and small).

      1. Asenath*

        I definitely agree with all the the above posters. I’d add, when that little voice in the back of your head starts saying things like “I can’t do this, I’m really hopeless”, stop it, remind yourself that the little voice often lies, and that you did exactly this (or something similar) before, and you did a good job. Add in positive memories of what others said about it.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Also, every time you hear the voice in your head, don’t just ignore it, counter it with what everyone else says about you. I’ll bet that it’s almost universally complimentary; those of us who are this hard on ourselves tend to try really hard, and I’ll bet others usually recognize that, and they are often very encouraging, too. (This wouldn’t work if you’re in an abusive, isolating relationship, or have a narcissistic person in your life, who will often act like they’re helping you when they’re undermining you.)

    4. sequined histories*

      I strongly recommend the book Feeling Good by David M. Burns.
      I suffer a lot from depression and anxiety. The simple, practical exercises in this book were key to helping me become more functional. I don’t mean to assume that you are coping with the same mental health challenges as I do, but I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who feels stuck in negative patterns of thinking. The book helps you label and categorize certain types of thoughts that make it more difficult for you to take positive actions. It then gives you concrete, pencil-and-paper exercises to engage in to disrupt the pattern. Doing one of these exercises for 15 minutes would often get me “unstuck” and able to take action when I had been despairing and demoralized by self-doubt for hours, days, or . . . much longer.
      It’s cheap, easy, and worth a try.

      1. The Original K.*

        Thank you for this – I’m going to look into this book. A lot of my therapy sessions center around my negative patterns of thinking (for example, when I turn in a piece of work, I don’t think “I worked really hard on that and it feels good to have it done” or “I hope they like it;” it’s often “Oh God, what if they hate it?” which can spiral very quickly) and it would be nice to have another tool in my arsenal to battle them.

      2. BeingMoreConfident*

        Thanks for the book suggestion! Do you think it’d be helpful for confidence and self-esteem, as well? I don’t really have any anxiety or depression about it, luckily. Also would it matter if it was a used copy (as in, are there places you write in the book?)

        1. sequined histories*

          A used copy of the book would work just fine. A copy from a library would be fine. It’s not a workbook. The exercises are very simple—he just kind of illustrates how you would approach countering a negative thought, and it’s easy to see how you could apply the techniques using any random sheet of paper. For some reason, the act of writing things down rather than just thinking them through seems to be a key to making the system work, though.
          I think it’s worth a try if your issues are just confidence and self-esteem. At the time when I was using these techniques most actively, I had a part-time job that eventually led me down the path to my current full-time job. I had a hard time initiating certain tasks, and the difficulty with getting started had to do with a lot of negative self-talk: “I didn’t do a good enough job of that because the outcome was not X . . . If I were better at Y, Z would be worth trying, but since I’m not, there’s no point,” etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
          It sounds like you’re saying you have reason to believe that your self-assessment is UNREALISTICALLY negative. In my experience, this system was really helpful to me in reducing the intensity and frequency of unrealistically negative thoughts I was having.

        2. WhiteWalkerFromTheWall*

          I do have the workbook companion to Feeling Good, called ‘The Feeling Good Handbook.’ It’s helped…and I need to get back to it. If I don’t work it, then I lose the benefits of it. *sighs*

    5. neverjaunty*

      Ask yourself: What Would Chad Do?

      I don’t remember which AAM commented pointed this out, but it’s a riff on “give me the confidence of a mediocre white man”. Chad Chaddington the Third doesn’t feel out of place or wonder if he’s good enough. He just applies for that promotion. He knows his friends want to hang with him. If the job doesn’t pan out or the potential date says no thanks, he shrugs and moves on. And it’s not because Chad is a jerk, or is unusually handsome or talented; he just doesn’t ever think about whether he’s “qualified” or “good enough” to do things.

      1. BeingMoreConfident*

        Is that actually how people are? I spend SO much time wondering if I’m good enough, I would love to just feel like I am! I’ll keep this in mind…

    6. Just A Little TeaPot, With Soda*

      I’m in the same boat. I’m working on it, sloooowly. I also got anxiety meds which have helped a lot.

    7. LilySparrow*

      One thing that has helped me a lot is trying and learning a lot of different things. Some personal, like different fitness, cooking or artistic/hobby techniques. Some career related, like a software program or aspirational skill.

      When you are used to engaging and mastering new things, and enjoy it, it gives you a baseline expectation that you can learn to handle whatever might come up. It also makes you more comfortable with the messy beginning part of trial & error. It changes your perspective from “I failed therefore I suck” to “Oh, I need to figure out what went wrong there.”

      Confidence isn’t believing you can’t fail. It’s knowing failure is necessary, temporary and correctable.

      Obviously, some things like bomb disposal or heart surgery have no margin for error. But most of life isn’t like that.

      1. BeingMoreConfident*

        “Confidence isn’t believing you can’t fail. It’s knowing failure is necessary, temporary and correctable.”

        Wow, this really speaks to me. I think I take setbacks too much as an indication of my ability, I really like the idea of looking at failure that way.

      2. Minocho*

        I get comfortable and complacent – I get scared when stepping out of my comfort zone – and sometimes I talk myself out of trying things because of this.

        I realized this when I was near finishing up college – and the thought of graduating and going out there on my own WITHOUT A ROADMAP was terrifying. Everything up until then had been outlined for me, but now I was going to be for serious responsible for making my own decisions, not just executing the decisions of others.

        The emotions weren’t under my control very much, but my brain was able to recognize that this fear could become paralyzing and seriously hamper me forever, so I made a radical decision to jump really far outside my comfort zone. I was studying Japanese, and my Japanese professor had suggested applying for a Japanese government program to teach English to Japanese public school students. As a Computer Science and Engineering major, this had never been part of the original plan, but I decided that right after college was the only time I could do something so outlandish, and it would be the perfect way to metaphorically jump into the deep end of stepping outside my comfort zone.

        The flight to Japan was 14 hours of agonized “What have I done?!?”, and it was terrifying – and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made for personal growth. Do I need to move across the country for a new job? No problem, it’s not as far as Japan! Am I worried about taking on a project that requires a new skill I’ll have to get up to speed on? No worries, it’s gotta be easier to learn this new computing language than it was to pick up Japanese! Etc…

        Find that thing you’ve done before – and remind yourself you can do things like it again!

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Lots of great advice above.
      I’ll add a physical aspect to confidence: Be well-groomed and stand up straight. Have a confident look on your face and look people in the eye. Keep your shoulders down where they naturally rest. Speak confidently. A sense of humor will help. Remember to breathe.
      You CAN fake it ’til you make it!

    9. Anon Anon Anon*

      I find it makes all the difference to share those abilities with people who will appreciate them – people who will give you genuine, positive feedback.

    10. Buzzbattlecat*

      All good advice here!
      Although it SEEMS we should change our thinking first and our behaviour/action will follow, one of the big pillars of managing anxiety is to change behaviour first and eventually thinking/feeling changes.

  3. Lena Clare*

    What self care things have you got going on this weekend?
    I’m going swimming, tidying up, and ‘noticing my thoughts’! :)

    Have a good weekend!

    1. Loopy*

      I had a crap Friday and decided to spend the weekend doing EXACTLY what I want: baking a cake! I will have to find people to eat it and I really shouldn’t spend so much on ingredients but gosh darn it I want to! Sometimes self care for me is just letting myself to what appeals to me and trying not to feel guilty.

      1. pugs for all*

        I love this! I too had a crap Friday and was thinking that making a nice festive bunch of holiday cookies would cheer me up. :) Have fun baking!

        1. Bulbasaur*

          I parsed both of these wrong the first time I read them, and was wondering why I needed to know on what date each of you had moved your bowels, and why it seemed to be such a source of ideas.

      2. Sparrow*

        I’m also baking a cake–lemon raspberry! I also went to a yoga class and I have some library books to read and podcasts to listen to.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Working on an art quilt. Since the kittens have decided to help, this has gotten complicated.

    3. rubyrose*

      Taking my dog to a nursing home with a group of other dogs, to see if she is interested in doing this on a regular basis. To do this, had to give her a bath last night, which she does not enjoy!

      1. Nines*

        I definitely read that as if you were going to check out a doggy nursing home with your dog. You know, to see if the dog was ready for that transition. =D

          1. rubyrose*

            Oh my goodness – that will teach me to post early on a Saturday morning (I’m two hours behind what is actually posted as the time on the post)!

            So we went yesterday, to see how she would react to going to a nursing home and interacting with the residents; thinking about having us do therapy dog training. She did great. The event was held in the dining room. When we got in, she went straight to the middle of the room and started rolling around. This is her was of saying she really really likes where she is at and what is going on. Signing up for January classes today.

    4. WellRed*

      Getting my Christmas on! Getting the tree, decorating the mantle. Might even watch Love actually even though I think it’s overly long.

    5. Alex the Alchemist*

      I have a class today and work tomorrow, so not too much time, but I’m going to take some time this evening to knit and I’m going to the local diner with my SO this weekend. Hopefully more self-care will come post-finals :)

      1. Lena Clare*

        Good luck with the exams. I haven’t knitted since I was a child, and I’ve just thought on – a friend of mine bought me a ‘knit your cat their own toys’ book which I think would be an excellent way to relax and do something fun!

    6. Amerdale*

      Cleaning all the windows (I think it has been six months since they were last cleaned….) and then putting up Christmas decorations. Maybe baking some cookies, too.

    7. Seal*

      Putting up outdoor Christmas lights for the first time ever. My previous place was a condo that didn’t allow outdoor decorations. Now that I own a house I can do what I want outside. I’m not going crazy with the lights (just a few well-placed strings) but I’m quite excited about my latest project!

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I had a hair appointment yesterday so self-care / pampering then. Today, probably a nap. Everyone is all bluuuuh because of the tornado sirens last night. Of course it had to wait until one in the morning. :P

    9. Canadian Natasha*

      I decorated my bookshelf for Christmas and now I can sit on my couch and look at pretty lights, poinsettas, and red and green themed art. :) It makes me smile.

      I’ve also going to hang out with a friend tomorrow for a much anticipated and delayed get-together. We’re watching a movie called Les Emotifs Anonymes. (Social self care in the winter is making sure I have enough human contact so I don’t turn into a wild hermit)

      I’m making a point to notice beautiful things around me so I’ve been taking lots of quick photos of the snow and frost.

  4. Sc@rlettNZ*

    In the spirit of a recent post about how North Americans don’t use the word ‘fortnight’ here is another example of cross-cultural miscommunication. To set the scene, I’m a kiwi and my partner is a Canadian who has lived in New Zealand for the past 20 years.

    My boots are starting to look a little shabby and really need a polish so I poked my head into the lounge and asked Michael “do we have any black nugget?”. He looked at me blankly, I assumed he just hadn’t heard me so I repeated the question. Same blank look. I’m like, “do we have any nugget, you know, shoe polish?” Finally the penny drops. We laugh and I say to him, you’ve never heard the word nugget before, have you”? Apparently he has not.

    I’m pretty sure he didn’t believe me it was a word but Mr Google told him it’s a UK brand of shoe polish. And I obviously don’t polish my shoes nearly enough because we’ve been together almost 11 years and it was the first time I had accosted him with the strange nugget word :-)

    1. TL -*

      I constantly get caught by Kiwi slang – durry (cigarette) in particular gets me; it always takes me a second to remember what people are saying when they say they’re about to step outside for a durry. (durie?)

    2. SherSher*

      Speaking of slang… my US boss recently went to the UK on vacation (holiday!) and recently she has been sending me instant messages when she wants to talk to me and asking me to “chat her up” when I get a chance. I guess i should have told her by now that chatting someone up isn’t exactly what it sounds like. For those unaware… it essentially means “hit on.”

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        That reminds me of a friend at university who used the phrase ‘knocked her up’ to mean ‘knocked on another friend’s door in halls’ and wasn’t aware of the other meaning (ie ‘got her pregnant’). Both of them were from the UK as well – good old regional variations…

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Well hello there I was about to add that story. He does get around doesn’t he!?

    3. Waiting for the Sun*

      I’m an American who’s heard the word “nugget,” but not as a shoe polish. Here, it means a little clump or chunk of something.

      1. FaintlyMacabre*

        Yeah, when I worked in a vet clinic we would refer to poop as nuggets a lot. I would not have thought of shoe polish!

        1. Auntie Social*

          Yeah, we call them nuggets. I’ve also called cat poop Almond Roca (you know, mixed with litter….). My niece says she hasn’t had a bite of Roca since.

    4. Mrs. Fenris*

      I’m from the rural South, and occasionally I heard people say someone “doesn’t know shit from Shinola.” Imagine how everything became clear when I finally learned that Shinola used to be a brand of shoe polish.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Having grown up in NYC in the 70s and 80s, I feel like “doesn’t know shit from Shinola” was a popular saying in NYC in the generation before mine, so maybe 40s-60s. I didn’t hear it said much among my peers, but my parents’ generation seemed to know it from their youth.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        I’ve heard this saying many times from parents & grandparents (PA so northern) but I never knew what Shinola was. Guess that brand disappeared a long time ago.

    5. Nerdgal*

      I am from Chicago and my husband is a native Texan. There are several words and pronunciations that still confuse us. Dinner vs lunch/supper, icebox vs frig, and my favorite, saying “pin” when he means “pen.”
      – honey, do you have a pin?
      – safety or straight?
      – (blank look)

      1. Linguistics Major*

        Depending on regional dialect and where vowels are placed, “pen” and “pin” might not be pronounced any differently. The “pin/pen” merger is a common feature of the US southern dialect. In some cases the person might be able to hear the difference in comparison (like if you say both words together) but in isolation can’t hear the vowel difference and will produce them the same.

        1. Turtlewings*

          Yeah, I’m from the South and it bewildered me the first time I saw a reference to “pin” and “pen” being pronounced differently. Like… do “cat” and “hat” not rhyme in your world, either? I still don’t hear (or pronounce) any difference, though intellectually I understand that apparently there is one, in other regional pronunciations.

        2. Nerdgal*

          Yes, that’s exactly what he says. He heard the difference when I say the two words but he can’t say them differently.

          1. Kat in VA*

            I’m saying it in a Southern accent and to the uninitiated or unfamiliar, they would both sound like pey-en. Pin is slightly more pih-yin and pen is pey-yen but said at normal conversational speed, yeah, they sound the same.

            I enjoy accents and languages – being from California means my flattish accent places me precisely nowhere left of the Continental Divide*, but folks on the East Coast (except for the DC area) can definitely determine “you’re not from ’round here, are you?”

            *could be Utah, could be New Mexico, could be Montana, could be Oregon…

        3. Operational Chaos*

          I worked a long time to scrub my accent into being as neutral and non-regional as possible but pin/pen is the one evidence of my Southern upbringing I’ve never been able to master and it also seems to be the one that non-Southerners just love to gawk at and comment on. It’s surreal the amount of attention it gets.

        4. Courageous cat*

          Yep, lifelong Southerner and this is how it is for me. Always blows my mind that people distinguish between the two. Pin and pen are said exactly the same (“pin”).

      2. Emily*

        I grew up in a relatively cosmopolitan area of the US South and came away with a neutral US accent – for the most part. I say “pen”/”pin” and “ten”/”tin” the same way and didn’t even realize until college that there was supposed to be a difference. (I can say them differently if I focus hard enough, but I usually don’t feel the need.)

        I also found out very recently that many people say “lawyer” differently than I do. I pronounce it like it’s spelled (“law-yer”); apparently lots of people say “loy-er”? Wikipedia informs me this is another Southern thing.

    6. Worked in IT forever*

      How do you refer to a soft drink, like Coke or Pepsi? In my part of Canada, you might say soft drink, but people typically say pop. In parts of the U.S., I typically hear soda, but someone from California told me that where he is from, they say Coke to mean any type of soft drink, like ginger ale or actual Coke. I think I’ve heard fizzy drink in the U.K.

      1. ScotKat*

        In Scotland, you’ll often hear ‘fizzy juice’ or just ‘juice’ depending where you are! It gets a bit confusing if you’re not sure if someone means a fizzy drink or a squash-type drink. I would say ‘Coke’ to mean cola/Coke, and refer to most of them by their actual name, but I might go for ‘fizzy drink’ or ‘fizzy juice’ for a generic term.

        1. Canadian Natasha*

          Lol, and in Canada I would think “You want a drink made of pumpkin?” when I hear squash-type drink. (Though I know what you mean from reading it in novels).

        1. Merci Dee*

          Southerner here, too. We tend to do that for lots of stuff – take the most popular brand name for an item and make it the reference for the general item. Like “clorox” for bleach, “ziploc” for zip-top bag, “band-aid” for adhesive bandage.

        2. Emily*

          I wonder if that varies across different areas within the region? I’m also from the South (North Carolina) and have only ever called it/heard it called “soft drink” or “soda”.

        3. Clisby Williams*

          I’ve heard the “it’s all coke here” before, but I’ve lived most of my life in the South and have never actually heard anyone use “coke” as a synonym for “soft drink.”

      2. OhNo*

        North midwest, here, and it’s all pop all the time. Definitely got me a few weird looks when I was in college out east, but I refuse to be swayed!

        1. L.A.*

          Pop all the time where I from too.

          I remember being a teen in Disney World (Orlando, Fl) once asking for a “regular pop.” Not only did the poor guy working had no clue 1) what kind of beverage we asked for and 2) what size of said beverage. At the time, we didn’t realize that this was not the typical way of asking for a medium soft drink.

          That memory also sticks out to me because it’s been a while since I’ve ordered a “regular” pop.

      3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I usually say coke to mean any kind of fizzy beverage, or else soda, and I grew up in the west. My grandmother (Midwest) used to say “sodee” but at some point she started saying coke.

      4. TL -*

        One time I was in a movie theater in Australia and I ordered a Coke and a water. The cashier kept on repeating my order back to me as “You want a soda water and an ice cream?” and I kept on saying, “yes, and a water please.”

        We went through three rounds of this before she (with exaggerated pointing) got me to understand she was saying, “Soda, water, and an ice cream” not “soda water” the term some people in Texas use to refer to sodas.

        1. Harvey P. Carr*

          To me “soda water” is seltzer… which, if you’ve never heard of “seltzer,” is basically unflavored soda, or carbonated water.

      5. Marion Ravenwood*

        Brit here. I’d use fizzy drink or soft drink, but fizzy pop was also a common term where I grew up in the North West of England, particularly amongst my oarents’ and grandparents’ generation. Squash would be a concentrated fruit cordial that you mix with water, and juice is just fruit juice.

    7. fposte*

      My favorite NZ-related language story is a colleague who moved to Australia from NZ, and asked, in her NZ accent and using standard NZ terminology, asked in a shop for “chilly bins” (what in the US we’d call “coolers”). The shopkeeper led her to the jelly beans :-).

    8. JxB*

      My British friend tells the story of working in an office in the United States as a young woman and calling out “does anyone have a spare rubber?” to her teammates. From her perspective, she was asking for an eraser. But it apparently stopped all conversations cold and she received good-natured teasing about it the entire time she worked there.

      1. Jenifer Crawford*

        Yup, this exactly, tho in the version I heard, the new UK employee on the first day of the job was invited out to lunch. He and another employee both remained in the office to finish the projects they were working on, and he turned to her and requested a rubber. Can’t even begin to imagine how embarrassing that would be in either case.

      2. TL -*

        This happened to an Irish friend of mine, but it was the day after he’d told his new boss that he had ‘great crack’ the weekend before (he meant great fun)…his boss sent him to language sensitivity training. (Which was basically an intro to American cultural norms and slang for international employees, but the boss had okay’ed him skipping it because she didn’t think an Irish person would need it. She was wrong.)

      3. Swordspoint*

        This happened to my mother, who came to Canada from Scotland in her mid-twenties to teach. She asked for a rubber in the staff room and apparently there was quite the silence. Much laughter once things had been sorted out, and it was an ongoing joke for some time.

      4. Earthwalker*

        Travelling in winter in New Mexico, my shoes were getting soaked in seasonal rain and I had nothing waterproof to pull on over them. So I went to the shoe store and asked if they had those boots that might be called “wellies” in Britain but in my part of California I knew them as “rubbers.” The clerk blushed bright red and said, “I think you have to go to the drug store for those.”

    9. JxB*

      Then again, not all miscommunications are cross-cultural. Years ago when my brother was graduating high school, my mom was organizing a party for him. His only request food-wise was a cake. This was mentioned between them several times. Who would order it? He would. What size? Large. Was he sure it would be large enough to serve everyone? Yes. Was he sure he didn’t want her to get it? No, he knew just what kind he wanted. Did he want to specify any of the other refreshments? No, just the cake. Anything else she did was fine.

      The miscommunication didn’t become clear until the day of the party when he was leaving to pick the “cake” and she suggested taking her car but he responded, no – he’d just throw it in the back of his truck. After protesting that the cake wouldn’t make it home intact, mom learned – all along – brother had been saying KEG but she had been hearing CAKE. The look on her face was priceless. (Note, drinking age was 18 then.)

      1. Auntie Social*

        That’s okay—I yelled at the man at Logan Airport for having luggage cats. Cats!!! What a terrible thing to do to a nice kitty, to make it haul your suitcase!

    10. Anon for this*

      Here in the US Midwest, I’ve never heard the term despite having been a “bootblack” in the local kink scene for some years. I once amused some friends referring to the volatile “Lincoln vs. Kiwi” debate in bootblacking circles. (I prefer Lincoln for black, although Kiwi has many more colors available.) Kiwi in this context is polish, not a New Zeland reference.) But interesting you should identify yourself with the term! Just curious, is this polish brand or type particularly chunky and that’s why it’s called nugget?

      1. Sc@rlettNZ*

        Nope, it’s just completely normal shoe polish. I wasn’t aware until recently that there is a brand of nugget/polish called Kiwi.

        My partner hears my accent as pin when I say pen, and Australians like to try and get kiwis to say the word six as they hear it as sex.

      2. Sc@rlettNZ*

        Nope, it’s just completely normal shoe polish. I wasn’t aware until recently that there is a brand of nugget/polish called Kiwi.

        My partner hears my accent as pin when I say pezn, and Australians like to try and get kiwis to say the word six as they hear it as sex.

    11. Anon Anon Anon*

      When I first arrived in Australia, I asked, “What’s a CBD?” and everyone laughed.

      When I first dated an Australian (in the US), he said, “I’ll give you a ring tomorrow,” and I thought, “Woah, it’s a little early for that!”

      He thought it was funny that Americans talk about rooting for a sports team.

      Oh, and that’s just the beginning. There is so much to say about all of that. I was surprised by the number of words and expressions that exist in one country but not the other. And I did think paying rent by the fortnight was a joke at first, like the landlord was into Ren Faires. But no.

    12. The Cosmic Avenger*

      OH! I can’t believe I forgot about the funniest language mix-ups I’ve seen.

      First, one time I was in England, we were out doing touristy things and it was a warm day out, so I was wearing one of my give-away tee shirts. So another tourist asks with an English accent about my tee shirt, which is from the National Marrow Donor Program. For those who don’t know, NMDP is about registering your tissue type so you can donate bone marrow, usually to people with leukemia, but “marrow” in the UK means what we in the US call a zucchini. So they assumed it was some kind of food bank, and the zucchini reference was maybe symbolic of food in general?

      Not quite as germaine, but still funny: one year in college I roomed with a guy who had grown up in France, but spoke English pretty fluently, as he had lived in NYC for many years. One day he was in bed and I was at my desk, and I hear him mumble something at me, and I said “What?” and he said it louder, and it still didn’t make any sense, so I said kind of slowly “[roommate], what are you saying?” and he took a couple of seconds and said “What time is it?” Turns out he was saying “Quelle heure est-il?”, or “What time is it?” in French. :D

      1. Jenny F. Scientist*

        My host mother in France once said something to me (in French) which I heard as “my son used to be a pedophile” but I think she was actually saying “my son used to sleep with men” (pédéraste). I couldn’t quite bring myself to say “WHAAAAAT???”. Turns out that unless you read a lot of de Sade, an academic vocabulary has a LOT of holes in it.

    13. ..Kat..*

      If you had asked me for black nugget, I would have wondered if you were asking for black tar (heroin)!

  5. Frustrated!*

    ARGH. So. Frustrated.

    So back in March I booked my holiday leave, including flights etc. Then due to various issues from both my work and personal life throughout the year, I had to change my schedule and re-book my itinerary multiple times. Just had to put in yet ANOTHER change this morning, and now my flights are a lot closer to Christmas/New Year’s than I wanted. Between the switching fees and more expensive flights I’m paying about £1.5K more than I’d originally planned. It’s insane, and I’m not even certain this is the last change.

    I know I should count myself lucky that at least I /can/ afford this, but it’s SO frustrating to have all this uncertainty, not to mention the fact I have to keep changing plans with people (even though all the changes were beyond my control, I’m sure they’re starting to get annoyed with me). It’s getting really hard to get into the ‘holiday spirit’ right now because I’m just so anxious all the time!


    1. HBucket*

      Oh my! I can’t imagine. Once I book my plans I would be so hard pressed to change them! I’m not rigid… but I am .. let’s say.. frugal! And I would not want to spend the extra money on changes! Plus once I decide when and where I am going, my brain is really anticipating that date!

    2. Loopy*

      Sending my sympathies! I’m a planner and have struggled with being flexible once something is set in my mind and planned out in the real world. But also the money aspect would be especially hard on me too. I really hope this can be your last change!!! It will be a well deserved holiday and hopefully once it all happens this effort will all make it even more enjoyable to finally be there!

    3. Michaela Westen*

      Could you just stand firm and say “no more changes”?
      Or maybe find a more flexible way to travel, like driving?

      1. WellRed*

        If you really can’t avoid making further changes, at least stop making plans with friends until your itinerary is final. But really, can you adopt the “no more changes” mindset?

      2. Observer*

        Well, maybe “frustrated” is correct when they say that it REALLY was out of their control. If the roof of your house falls in, you can’t say “well, it’s not on the schedule.” Same for someone calling a strike, a weather event, someone getting sick, etc.

  6. Anchorage*

    Sleepless in Anchorage. The aftershocks just keep coming. They are impossible to get used to. We’re about 16 hours post-quake now and have had hundreds of smaller ones, including 60+ over M3.1 and a half dozen over M5.0. I’m safe, have power and heat, no major damage… but I’m exhausted.

    1. SherSher*

      Watching the videos online have been …. I don’t even have a word for it! I cannot imagine the terror. I have been in three earthquakes, all of them much more minor than what I saw in videos and pictures coming out of Anchorage. Praying for safety!!

    2. Mimmy*

      The news said that you had TWO major earthquakes?? I knew there have been aftershocks, but yikes!! Yes, the footage has been unreal to see. Please stay safe!

    3. Hellanon*

      Commiserations from a Californian – once you’re already rattled, those aftershocks are terrifying. Stay safe… after the 1994 Northridge quake, I felt like it was months before I really got my equilibrium back.

      1. Kat in VA*

        Came here to say the same thing. We were roughly ten miles from the epicenter (east end of Simi Valley) and every time I visit California (I’m in the DC area now), I’m always afraid that The Big One™ is going to hit and I’ll be stuck.

        I will never ever forget waking up to a small quake, going, hmm, small jiggly quake, that’s cute. Then the room picked up and dropped and I had enough time to think, “Oh, shi—” and the lights went out. It was like being strapped to the world’s biggest pogo stick with a train roaring right in your ear in pitch blackness for the better part of a minute. I was screaming, my husband was screaming, we were in contact with the bed for maybe a second at a time between jolts. I had a sore neck the next time because my husband was holding me down – apparently in my absolute blind unreasoning panic, I was trying to climb over the railing of our loft apartment to get out.

        When it ended, we scrabbled for clothes (and that was the last night we ever slept buck-naked) and went flying downstairs, through broken glass and tripping over books and detritus in our destroyed apartment.
        Made it outside…and were immediately thrown to the ground by the first aftershock as transformers were cutting loose everywhere in showers of blue and purple and white sparks. Car alarms blaring, people screaming, dust flying, and everything overlaid with that awful grinding roaring groaning noise as the ground heaved.

        It was the embodiment of pure chaos.

        It was the most unadulterated terror I have ever been in…and hope to never ever be in again. The fact that my memory of it was so vivid – and it happened in 1994 – means it was a definite event for me.

        1. VictorianCowgirl*

          You’re a gifted writer, I feel like I was with you for that roller coaster. Thanks for the exceptional description.

    4. CAA*

      We’re thinking of you here in California. It is exhausting to be always on edge and waiting for the next one. Hang in there and stay safe.

    5. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Sending comforting thoughts from N. Cal. Do you have pets? Mine seem to know when shocks/aftershocks are coming and shake in fear in advance, so there’s the double whammy of worrying about me and them. BIG HUG but glad to hear you are safe

    6. The Other Dawn*

      My sister in law’s son is an Alaska state trooper and he posted some of the pictures. Thankfully his family is safe but the pictures are so scary. Glad you’re ok.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I hear you. I was in Palo Alto CA for Loma Prieta in 1989. One thing that helped me was collecting the (at least somewhat) humorous stories. Here for your amusement… The student who was holding onto something to help him stand up only to be told that lamp post had been swaying 35° back&forth. The swim team who had kids splashed out of the pool as they went to turn and swim back the other way. The biker who thought he’d blown a tire until he realized acorns were hitting him and car alarms were going off.
      I had to pack away a few jingly things in my bedroom, like a classic old windup toy, because the sound was waking me up for aftershocks I wouldn’t otherwise have felt.
      We also started estimating the rating of an aftershock and looking it up to see how we did …that got to be fun.
      The hard part for me was moving back to the east coast and feeling subway rumbles as earthquakes. This too has passed. Hang in there!

    8. Anchorage*

      Thanks everyone. It’s gotten better today — aftershocks are less frequent and not as strong. And dealing with some logistics of the thing we don’t talk about has been a good distraction. Going to venture out — def learned a lesson about leaving my gas tank close to E and minimal food in the house!

      1. Kat in VA*

        They can last for up to a year after the initial quake. I won’t say that you get to the point where you can exactly them, but you become inured over time.

        I live relatively near Quantico, and they have a habit of blowing stuff up on the regular for training exercises. The first time the windows rattled from some higher-order explosive boom out in the woods, I was up and off the couch – and out the front door – in a flash before I could even think!

  7. NZHoney*

    My husband thinks that people ignore and he gets quite offended by it, often saying something to me afterwards. Most of the time these are people that know me well, and while they might have met him a few times, they generally talk to me. The problem I have is that he never actually talks to them, maybe just a hello that gets missed, but never any follow up communication.
    How do I broach this without hurting his feelings or him getting defensive??

    1. Cosette*

      Maybe in the moment, when he brings it up, just say matter of factly, well, to be fair you didn’t really talk to them either. Depends on him as to how you say it.. but it probably has to be when he brings it up,

      1. valentine*

        You don’t need to take this on, NZHoney. Let him be hurt and get defensive. Even if you’ve not pointed out they may not have heard his hello, is he appointing you social director or just stating his perspective and you’re rushing in to make it all better for him?

        When things are peaceful, though, maybe address his defensiveness, if it’s his go-to or common response.

    2. Loopy*

      I’d approach it less as a criticism of him and more of a “Well, lets figure out what we can do to avoid this in the future,” type of proactive conversation. I know it can be really hard to break into a conversation without it being awkward and/or feeling rude, so maybe you could tell him you’ll help get him engaged in the conversation or pleasantries next time but he has to be ready for it (meaning, he should be expecting it).

      I know I’m always so appreciative when someone throws me a line like “Gosh I can’t believe everyone here hates Marvel! Loopy, do you think the latest Marvel movie sucks too?” It’s just something to give me an opening to speak and it really helps me feel included and seen.

    3. Michaela Westen*

      I’ve known several men who say hello and then keep quiet. This gives the impression they don’t want to chat, and I respect that.
      Is there a way he could show more that he’d like to chat?

    4. Jane of All Trades*

      In addition to the suggestions others have made, maybe you can come up with strategies that will help him be in situations where he can talk more easily – eg, is it easier for him to socialize in smaller groups? Could you do a game night, go bowling, or do other activities where you have a bit of a structure around the interaction that can help with the conversation?

    5. Cee*

      You can probably also help by involving him in the conversation actively, giving him places to break in our tell a story. I’ve been in his position before, sometimes a little help goes a long way!!

    6. LilySparrow*

      I think when he brings him up, you could ask, “do you mean they ignored something you said? Or did you want them to try to draw you out?”

      Because if he expects other people who don’t know him well to invest a lot of emotional labor to entice him into the conversation, that’s not really reasonable. You don’t necessarily need to tell him that, because it would put him on the defensive. But the question might get him to consider his own approach.

      You mentioned hellos that get missed. It could be something as simple as raising his voice or making eye contact. If it’s more general that he feels left out of the conversation, you could ask him how he might want you to adjust your conversation style to include him more.

      It could be body language, like keeping him in everyone’s eyeline instead of off to the side. He might want you to ask his opinion (but some people might not want to be put on the spot so directly).

      But asking him what kind of support he wants is probably the best way to go, because it acknowledges his feelings and gives him agency in changing the dynamic.

      1. Ann O.*

        I think this is full of really good and useful advice, but I disagree with the framing that it’s emotional labor to draw someone into conversation. IMHO, that’s politeness and being a good conversationalist. Groups certainly can be better and worse about this. (personally, I am not very good at this, but I would never describe myself as a good conversationalist!)

        1. LilySparrow*

          It depends how withdrawn he is or appears to be.

          Some quiet people, if you make general remarks to the group and include them in eye contact, will start responding, at least nonverbally. And they will give nonverbal cues that they have something to contribute, so you can make space.

          But I’ve also encountered people who seem to actively avoid engagement and inclusion. Or who are so withdrawn you can’t get any response out of them without stopping the whole conversation to “pump” them for their opinion. That is emotional labor, and to expect that level of effort from everyone you meet socially is unreasonable.

      2. NZHoney*

        Thank you! That’s excellent advice.

        I’m normally the gregarious one, especially around people I know, and my husband is the quiet one.

    7. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

      Why are you managing this for him? He’s an adult and should be managing his social interactions on his own. Next time he complains, ask him what he intends to do about it.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        On the one hand, spouses do a lot of each other. On the other hand, managing someone else’s social skills is real tough – especially if she’s got to find a way to hint at it because straight up saying “they aren’t ignoring you, you’re not talking to them,” hurts his feelings.

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      I agree with the suggestion to try and bring him into the conversation. I’ve been the person who’s been on the edge of the discussion (usually with groups I don’t know very well and when it gets into in-jokes etc) and I would have found something like that massively helpful. Also if you want him to make more of an effort, then I’d encourage him to ask questions – even saying ‘how are you?’ when he says hello (if he doesn’t already) could make a big difference.

  8. Boketto*

    Period question!

    Do you have pain at the beginning of your period and has it changed for you over time? Do you take painkillers?

    The reason for asking this is that, in talking to a friend, I’ve once again realized how much the stories that we hear influence our perception of what is “normal” and common. And even doctors have their own biases and different approaches. Which is also why I think that places like these, while not a substitute for expert help, are very important for exchanging experiences!

    Anyway, I figured that my pain is somewhere around average or slightly above average at times (I’m completely fine if I take 1-2 ibuprofen pills early enough, if I’m late with it I’m usually stuck with an hour or two of fairly disruptive pain until the ibuprofen kicks in), because I have friends that need to take maximum dosage of painkillers and sometimes even that isn’t enough. However, this friend asked me if anyone has ever checked me for endometriosis, because that pain doesn’t seem normal to her – her own periods are most of the time completely pain-free, and she knows only one person other than me that needs to take a painkiller at all.

    So, I know that this can be highly individual, but I’m curious – what has been your experience?

    (For what it’s worth, when I brought up this pain with my doctors so far, no one has been worried or mentioned that it seems out of the ordinary, but I still plan to bring it up with my gynecologist on my next visit soon.)

    1. TL -*

      If I’m off birth control, the pain can get debilitating enough that I can’t function. On birth control, there will be some periods that it’s annoyingly persistant and will have little 5 minute waves of cramps bad enough that I’ll need to stop and take a breath – maybe every 1 out of 4 periods will be painful, though? The rest aren’t.

    2. Coleen*

      When I was young (still in school) it could be so bad I’d miss a day of school. As I got older I learned (as you have) to pre-medicate with some Ibuprofen. That helped a lot! But even through all that, endometriosis was never brought up nor a problem. I am 60 now and those years are behind me. I would mention it but I wouldn’t worry about it. Also, a lot of the women in my family were like me, but my daughter has much lighter and mostly pain free periods… so there ya go!

    3. Hermione Langstrumpf*

      I’m 29 and off birth-control. My periods are super painful, I take a special painkiller (max. dosage 1/24hrs) on the first two days as soon as I can feel the pain start. Otherwise it’s debilitating and nothing stops it for a few hours. This pill is not available in my country (went through all the options in the last 15 years and lately nothing helped), I get the current pill from the Netherlands (I swear it’s not marijuana!).
      I also need to take a pill when I ovulate. It’s not as painful as my period but especially my lower back hurts so much I can barely move.
      With the painkillers I am absolutely fine. My doctor says I have nothing to worry about.
      My mom used to have the same cramps during her period (not when ovulating though) and they stopped completely with her first kid.
      I wish the best of luck in finding medication to everyone who is experiencig period or ovulation pain. I’ve been very lucky that my boyfriends, roommates and colleagues have been super understanding if it occurred (and it was never a big deal to anyone).

    4. Red Reader*

      I’ve been on depo for yonks so I don’t have a monthly anymore, but when I did, a day or so of mild cramps was it. I don’t think you have anything to worry about, from your description.

    5. Christy*

      I occasionally have cramps that require a few ibuprofen but not every cycle and usually only on day 2. My wife, on the other hand, has back pain (radiating to her leg) so bad that she uses a heating pad and regular strong doses of ibuprofen for several days every cycle.

      1. Curly sue*

        I’m like your wife – back cramps, leg pain, my mobility takes a hit and even with high doses of ibuprofen I’m occasionally couch-bound. Thankfully it usually only lasts the first 12 hours or so. It’s very similar to my back labour pains from childbirth.

    6. Nicole76*

      I’m pretty much like you – as long as I get my ibuprofen at the start I’m good. Otherwise it’s cramping for a good half a day and then it gets better. Some sort of pain makes sense to me – you are shedding the lining of your uterus after all. If it was intense pain throughout that over the counter meds didn’t help then I’d be more concerned about endometriosis.

    7. Anon for this*

      In my teens and twenties about one in three periods would result in aching cramps that were unpleasant but not debilitating – like you, I’d be fine if I took painkillers in time, but if I didn’t have them it was unpleasant (thank-you high school sick leave policies – at 17 I couldn’t leave without a parent’s permission, or go to the store to be a pack of Advil) As I got older, it tapered off, and now it’s very mild sometimes at the beginning of the period, and sometimes near the end, but not enough to require pain killers. My flow is also lighter than it used to be and has changed in pattern (I’m hoping for menopause to kick in soon – one it became apparent my reproductive system wasn’t producing kids, I was so ready for this to be over).

    8. Jack Be Nimble*

      My cramps are generally bad but not overwhelming, but I also tend to have flu-like symptoms during my period, which is no fun.

      I also had a pelvic exam recently and asked tje doc about menstrual cups – I have one, but have never managed to use it correctly. It was either in securely with debilitating cramps or not secure and very leaky (I had similar issues with tampons).

      Turns out my cervix is shaped unusually and I’ll never be able to comfortably use a cup :/

      1. Ranon*

        Have you looked at the discs? They’re not as reusable as cups but they’ve gotten rave reviews from friends.

    9. Ranon*

      Pre-pregnancy, absolutely nothing in the way of cramps, at ovulation or any point in my period. Postpartum, a little cramping but nothing I’d even bother taking a painkiller for.

      Like your friend, I’ve wondered if I should mention endometriosis to my sister just because her cramps are so much worse than mine, although apparently middle of the road between mine and “completely debilitating for the entire week”

    10. Anon for this as well*

      I used to have periods that were much more debilitating than they are now. Once, in HS, I passed out from the pain. My pediatrician and my aunt (a gynecologist) both were not concerned and said it would get better. This was in the 90s and early 2000s, I don’t think there was as much awareness of endometriosis as there is now.

      When I was about 25, I had ovarian torsion — a cyst that had grown too large and twisted the ovary around itself until it cut off the blood supply. That was terrible pain; I thought I had appendicitis except that it hurt on the wrong side. Unfortunately they were not able to save the ovary, so I just have one now. But it’s a trooper and I still have regular periods, so….

      Now, in my 30s, I take 400 mg of ibuprofen with every meal for the first two days of my period. If I miss a dose, cramps are terrible, but not so bad as to miss work or anything. In the last few years, I get mild flu-like symptoms (generalized achiness, fatigue, chills, sometimes nausea) which is new but not debilitating. The interval between my periods has also gradually shortened, from every 5 weeks when I was a teen to every 25 days now.

      1. Kj*

        Hi five, fellow one-ovary haver! Same thing happened to me, except the torsion happened when I was 21 (and, worse, when I was one a backpacking trip. I had to be helicoptered out!)

    11. Blossom*

      32, no children. Usually no pain at all. Some months, a little cramping on day 1, but not bad enough to require a painkiller.

      I do recommend seeing a doctor if you have any concerns. I’ve always had long-ish slightly irregular cycles, but since it wasn’t causing any problems and it fell within the range considered normal, it was never considered worth looking into. Recently I’ve been paying for a course of private medical treatment for something kind of related, and this involved tests and scans that explained my cycle in much more detail. There’s still nothing concerning about it in my case, but I’m a “why” person so I like understanding the detail. There’s also a fair amount you can learn from tracking apps, measuring different symptoms.

    12. ElspethGC*

      I tend to get somewhat painful periods for the first 24 hours or so. It feels a bit like growing pains (or if anyone has varicose veins and gets achy legs, that sort of ache. I hate that I’m twenty and already have to talk about my damn varicose veins). It’s distracting and makes it hard to concentrate until the ibuprofen kicks in.

      Definitely not endo, though! I had a friend with endo and she literally vomited from the pain every month so had to be on anti-emetics every time her period came around. I’ve had one or two really bad periods in my late teens, where my mum came into my room to ask why I wasn’t getting ready for school and…well, let’s just say that apparently, I looked vaguely green. Took the day off school and I was fine twelve hours later.

      To put into context how little it bothers me, a side effect from my pill is that my periods have become more painful – I get cramps every month now rather than only occasionally – but I’ve decided that it’s a reasonable compromise for regular periods. Yeah, they don’t really bother me.

      I think it’s more surprising when people *don’t* get cramps. Your uterus is contracting! You’re literally going through a tiny mini labour! Your uterine muscle is doing the exact thing that it does to get a baby out, and it’s basically muscle spasms. It would be surprising if you *didn’t* feel any discomfort from that.

    13. Lehigh*

      On birth control I don’t get a period. When I did, though, it was debilitating without meds. Occasionally threw up from the pain, more often thought I was going to, would end up lying on the floor near the toilet or lying in bed with a heating pad for hours just wishing and wishing for sleep. Once I had to call a ride home from work because the pain was interfering with my eyesight (making me lightheaded, I suppose) so I wasn’t sure I could drive.

      Ibuprofen and tylenol were both completely useless, didn’t touch the pain. I didn’t grow up with Aleve but finally found that it is the one painkiller that helps me. If I took it at the very first hint of pain, Aleve could usually manage it for me. If I didn’t take it in time, it could still mitigate the pain eventually but it was too late to have a good day.

      At one point I was in really good shape with a very strong core. That helped a LOT–it made it so that maybe only two or three periods a year were debilitating instead of all of them. The only downside was I got out of the habit of taking painkillers and then would be taken by surprise when it got bad.

      From what I heard growing up, I don’t think my pain level is unusual.

      I did get a lot of side-eye for not handling it more gracefully from people who thought I was exaggerating, until I had a kidney stone and could confirm that the pain was very similar. I sometimes think about going off of BC and hope that I will be able to handle the pain better with more life experience…but that may be wishful thinking.

      1. Lehigh*

        Just to add: the debilitating cramps only lasted a day or two, from what I can remember. With periods of relief. So, not like a week straight or anything.

    14. Agnodike*

      It’s so normal to need painkillers for period cramps that an entire brand of medication was developed to address this market niche. Your friend is being weird. I have essentially the same period experience as you describe and my uterus is perfectly normal.

      I could go on a long rant here about our cultural relationship to women’s pain, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that there’s never any harm in mentioning something to a doctor, but that I’m side eyeing your friend hard right now for suggesting a long and invasive course of investigations to you because your experience of your body doesn’t match up with her experience of her body.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Yeah, I agree. If your friend isn’t on BC I think her experience is the exception, not yours.

      2. Boketto*

        Her comment came really from a place of caring, as in “ugh, that sounds painful, maybe you don’t need to suffer this much?” (from her perspective). We talk a lot about our reproductive health and symptoms lately, so I definitely didn’t read any ill or judgy intention into it.

        1. Agnodike*

          It’s definitely possible to send someone a harmful or hurtful message thoughtlessly rather than from a place of deliberate malice. Your original comment definitely didn’t imply malice on your friend’s part! But it’s still pretty rough for her to say, no matter how much from a place of caring, “Your body is different than mine so I assume something is wrong with you.”

          1. Alice*

            “Maybe you should talk to your doctor about a condition that might explain your painful symptoms” is not the same as “Something is wrong with you.”

          2. Myrin*

            I think that’s a very unkind reading of Boketto’s friend.

            Her reaction doesn’t seem unusual to me at all – both she and Boketto share a bodily phenomenon, but it’s painful for Boketto and not at all painful for her. I don’t think it’s “rough” to think “Huh, I don’t have any pain during my periods and I have only one other friend who does; I figure from that that usually, people don’t experience much pain from their periods; but if Boketto experiences pain like that, maybe she has a condition which could be treated and allow her to be pain-free, too!”.
            (Whether she’s statistically right about it being more “normal” to not feel pain than to feel pain I have no idea, but I can easily see someone extrapolating from their personal anecdotes.)

            (I also think it’s a bit unfair to characterise this as an issue of “your body is different than mine”. We’re not talking about someone with a flat stomach urging their friend with a lot of body fat to get surgery. This is someone feeling bad about the pain her friend experiences and thinking of a possible way to lessen that pain.)

            1. Boketto*

              Thank you, this is exactly the way I see it as well, and you’ve managed to put it into words so nicely.

    15. Anon for this question*

      Until about 5 years ago they used to be manageable with Advil, but if I didn’t take it early enough it would be bad enough that I’d be unable to sleep, and would occasionally throw up.
      When I tried the copper IUD things got so bad that I’d have to take several Alleve throughout the day. I’ve gotten rid of the IUD, and right now it’s easy enough that I’ll take one or two in the first day, and then I’m mostly fine.

    16. Anon who has periods*

      I used to get awful cramps on day 1 or 2 and then be fine the rest of the week with an upset stomach here and there. Also bad back and leg pain (this was on the pill and before I went on birth control).
      On IUD #1 I got cramps sometimes, but usually a week before I got my period which was a great warning sign. However I started getting more and more muscle and joint pain and getting flu like symptoms when I had my period. Again this was only for a day or two at the beginning.
      Now on IUD #2 I rarely get bad cramps like I did before IUDs. An acetaminophen usually takes care of it. Still get back and leg pain.

    17. Myrin*

      I have something ranging from slightly painful uncomfortableness to slight pain on the first day of my period for about… two hours? Accompanied by diarrhoea, yay! But that’s really the extent of it.

    18. ScotKat*

      I have bad pain the first day, sometimes into the second, although some months it can be OK. I usually take a co-codamol painkiller because they are bad pains. I am 35 and I’ve always have bad pains, and they sound worse than yours, and it isn’t anything ‘serious’, so I think you sound fine if you’re able to manage yours with ibuprofen (and it isn’t messing too much with your life). Ibuprofen does nothing for mine, unfortunately. I need the prescriptions!

      I think it’s very individual and might even be genetic, as my mum and grandma both had bad pains too. I mean, sounds like you’ll be reassured by speaking to your gynaecologist, but to me it doesn’t sound like something you should be actually worried about. I don’t think ‘armchair’ diagnoses are massively helpful, especially if the other person has no experience of what you’re feeling. Hope you get it sorted soon!

    19. DCR*

      I generally have no pain at all. In fact, before i started tracking, I wouldn’t realize I was having my period until I went to the restroom. Maybe once or twice a year I’ll get back pain. But I have back pain at other times of the month, so I’m not sure that is actually associated with my period.

      I will add that I’m almost always on birth control. During at least one time when I was off birth control, I would always get migraines when my period started

    20. Chocamole?*

      Severe pain, yes. Without medication my cramps will leave me lying curled up on my side, whimpering and making unvoluntary pain noises. I can’t walk upright and may vomit (projectile style) from the waves of cramps. I will be unable to eat or drink normally, and cannot concentrate on anything but riding the cramps. This will be about two days, and then milder but still nauseating cramps on day 4-5.
      This runs in the family, and I’ve been told the cramps are birth cramp levels. Every month.

      I’ve had 28 years of this so far, and have plenty of experience in managing it. I don’t aim for pain free days, but I want to be able to walk and sit upright, not make unvoluntary pain noises, and be able to think (aka go to work and function somewhat normally). Some months I get migraines accompanying the first days, those are strictly bed ridden days.

      The most important factor for me is taking pain meds before the first major cramps. I have a 30 min window from realising it’s starting till I’m crawling on the floor. If it happens while I’m sleeping, that day is fucked. If I know it will happen at work, I will need to take preventive pain meds if I’m going to a meeting etc.
      I just take 3 ibuprofen for the first wave, and then refill with 2-3 more every 90-120 min, depending on the demands of the day. I just take the edge off, and still need to have little breaks («birth breathing» and stomach rubbing, e.g.) to acknowledge and mentally «put away» the pain during the day.

      I also eat chocolate for the pain, which genuinely helps (good to take before the pills start working, and as food substitute). It’s the cocoa that somehow work, so cocoa powder mashed with avocado also help, if sugar is no-go). Jasmine green tea is good as well, water can be difficult to drink during the cramps. Heat is also good for both the cramps and the back ache that comes during the day. Wool, water bottles and baths.

      1. Jane of All Trades*

        That sounds terrible. As others on this thread suggest, I have had really good experiences taking Alleve on days where the normal Advil is not enough. Maybe that could help you too?

      2. MissDisplaced*

        I used to have luck with muscle relaxers for cramp pain along with Advil. Also, a heating pad can work wonders with bad cramps. Getting a massage can help with the back ache.

    21. NicoleK*

      I use to get cramps the first couple days of my period. Some months, it wasn’t too bad. But sometimes the cramps were terrible. The last 10 years or so, it changed. I don’t get cramps anymore, but backaches.

    22. Amerdale*

      I always have some mild (well I consoder them that) on my first and second day. More annoying than anyhing else, no need for any kind of painkillers, just enough that I forgo exercising for those days. Once or twice in a year the cramps are stronger and I take 1 or 2 ibuprofen.

      But like Coleen and others, mine was a lot worse, when I was a teen. I regularly missed school because I just couldn’t sit and concentrate for hours. It got continually better during my twenties.

    23. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Day 1: 1 midol, an ice pack to fight off icky cramps. Day 2: less cramps, but 1 midol. Both days 1 & 2 require dark chocolate and pb to satiate me, plus meat/tiny not-large meals. Days 3/after are manageable without meds.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        FWIW, I just learned this year that Midol has caffeine. That suddenly answered my question of how I ended up with a caffeine jones even before I learned to LIKE coffee.

        1. Annie Moose*

          Ha, I almost never consume caffeine, so Midol has a VERY strong effect on me. I’ll just be sitting at work vibrating and suddenly go “oh… that’s the caffeine, how weird.”

    24. Turtlewings*

      I’m curious what pain you mean? Like, what is it that’s hurting? Like cramps, or migraines, or what? Surely you don’t just… hurt all over your body for no reason. That’s definitely not normal.

      It’s not uncommon for me to have migraines and cramps the first few days of/around the beginning of my period. Both usually respond to 2-3 ibuprofen. My cramps rarely actually hurt, they just feel very uncomfortable and twisty in my middle. I didn’t even know actual *pain* with cramps was a thing until my best friend told me how much worse hers are. In recent years I’ve had cramps that hurt a couple of times but it’s very rare for me.

      Other common pre/peri-menstrual symptoms for me include fatigue, mood swings, acne, dizziness, and Endless Hunger. I have definitely felt my body’s reactions to my period shifting around a bit as I get older (I’m 34) — the dizziness, migraines and hunger are worse, the acne and mood swings are better. I feel like on the whole I have a much lighter and less awful period experience than many women I know, including my two best friends and my sisters (3 of which have PCOS).

      1. Boketto*

        I meant abdomen pain, sorry. :D I typed “cramps” first, but that didn’t seem right, since the feeling is more just general pain in the abdomen area, not a cramp that comes and goes in waves.

        1. Turtlewings*

          Ah, okay. That might have made perfect sense to me if it was something I experience, but like I said, I get cramps that are distinctly unpleasant without being exactly painful (usually). Bummer that you do!

    25. ThatGirl*

      Doctors just do not seem to take women’s pain seriously, especially related to periods. It sucks.

      I have an IUD now, but when I had regular periods, even on the pill, the first day was often the worst and I required a steady stream of ibuprofen to get through.

      1. Auntie Social*

        I went to a new GYN and he said during my exam how my uterus was badly tipped, fibroids, etc, and then he said “your periods must be hell. Just literal hell”. And I cried for 10 minutes because somebody finally GOT IT. My mom was wrong, I’m not a wuss, all the advice from friends was crap, etc. I’d have married him if he’d asked me.

      2. Kat in VA*

        My periods were never a big deal, a day or so of cramping, the usual period sh*ts, that kind of thing.

        My daughter, on the other hand – pain debilitating enough for an Honors student to miss two days or more of school a month, wild mood swings, and general misery.

        I took her to my OB/GYN and even though she’s not sexually active and was 14 at the time, agreed immediately that putting her on a lower dose pill to help get her hormones under control was a great idea. I was so grateful I didn’t have to beg or plead to get her some relief.

        Me? I have had four kids and am nearly 50 – I take the pill continuously so as to avoid the whole mess entirely and I’m thrilled with not having to go through all the mess, cramping, diarrhea, headaches, and general shenanigans that accompany a period every month!

        1. Tiny Soprano*

          Gosh I’m so glad times have changed! I was in a similar boat to your daughter at the same age (except I had dysfunctional uterine disorder as well which meant I had a heavy period for a whole year straight) and they wouldn’t put me on the pill because I was 13. Ugh.

          As for cramps though the pill works really well for me to minimise them. Without it I’m in a ball on days 2 and 3 because paracetamol and ibuprofen don’t really work. Naprogesics take the edge off but the dull back ache is still there. The doc prefers it if I skip them altogether, and much like you I prefer it that way!

    26. Jessi*

      Please see a nutritionist with a degree in human nutrition! Often times painful periods are hormonally caused and a proper decent nutritionist can look at your bloodwork and see what you are deficient in and then use nutrition and supplements to help right the hormones that are causing the pain. My friend is a nutritionist and she swears that periods shouldn’t be painful!

      1. LilySparrow*

        Your friend is being hyperbolic, or is very inexperienced. There is no magic nutrient or perfect eating plan that fixes everything for everyone.

        Yes, good nutrition and fitness help. But making wild claims like “no woman should have any period pain if she’s eating properly” is body-shaming and encourages magical thinking and disordered eating behaviors. A health professional should know better than to say something so irresponsible.

        Women don’t have cramps because they’re doing it wrong. They have cramps because the strongest muscle in their body is in spasms and is forcing their cervix open.

        1. Boketto*

          Yes, this is sort of what I’ve been wondering about, especially because I’ve been experimenting with removing/reducing wheat, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol from my diet for the past 3 months, partly in hope that it might help with breast tenderness/pain and period pain, as suggested by some sources. I was a bit disappointed that it does not seem to help so far, so thank you for the reminder about no magic solutions.

      2. Agnodike*

        “Nutritionist” is not a registered health profession and there are no restrictions on who can call themselves a nutritionist or on the quality of the knowledge such a person might possess. A registered dietitian can advise someone on nutrition and is a valuable part of a healthcare team, but RDs don’t – at least in my jurisdiction – order or interpret bloodwork, which is the purview of people with medical training only. Please don’t recommend that people see unlicensed service providers about their health, and please don’t spread unscientific misinformation about the human body.

      3. Courageous cat*

        I don’t think this is a thing – also, from my understanding, look for a registered dietician. Anyone can be a nutritionist (as evidenced). This sounds more like “fasting is good because it eliminates toxins” science.

    27. Ghost Writer*

      I’m on birth control. I generally have bad cramps for one day (I need to take 2 extra strength Advil every few hours and use a heating pad if home and still feel crappy), and will have annoying cramps for one or two days after (I might just take 2 Advil in the morning or might take 1 Advil every few hours the whole day to keep the pain at a manageable level).

      I briefly tried a different birth control that my doctor thought would help with hormonal acne, but I had to stop after three months because I’d get debilitating cramps for a few days (it was so bad I would have to stop what I was doing and curl up at times).

    28. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I will get cramps the first day or so, it’s actually an early warning for me so I don’t ruin my clothes. The severity has varied over time. As a teen, these could last 2-3 days and be completely debilitating, even with painkillers and heating pads. Eventually it stabilized into what I have now, and I often don’t take painkillers (unless I’m trying to sleep)

      I have a copper IUD, and when that was new I had HORRIBLE cramps and REALLY REALLY heavy periods (like soaking through super tampon and overnight pads in an hour or 2), but it gradually has normalized.

    29. Beatrice*

      Has anyone else’s periods changed over time? It seems like mine evolve every few years, with changes in bleeding level, clots, duration, and pain. Nowadays, I have super heavy bleeding, lots of clots, around 5 days duration, and minimal pain. The heavy bleeding and clots are new in the last couple of years, but were also a thing when I was in my teens – in between, my bleeding was moderate and relatively clot-free but the duration was longer. There was a time when pain would warn me it was coming, and that stopped happening, so I had to chart it. There was about a year when my breasts would get a little sore, but that doesn’t happen anymore, etc.

      I’ve talked to my doctor about it, and he says it’s nothing to worry about, and attributes it to going on and off birth control, having a child, losing a couple of pregnancies, weight changes, activity level changes, age, etc. I’m interested in hearing what other women experience, though!

      1. Enough*

        My periods got very heavy with clots after I had a miscarriage and lasted till menopause. Pain varied over the years. Nothing in my teens. 2 years of intense pain that lasted 1 1/2 hours in my early 20s. Yes hours. It was weird. Then mostly rare stabbing pain in lower left abdomen during ovulation after second child was born.

    30. Grapey*

      I’ve never had any pain with mine, just mild “reminding you I’m here” cramps the first day and I don’t notice anything else for the remaining 3 or 4 days.

      Also my cycle is naturally longer at about 45 days.

      Sometimes my body skips the downstairs murder scene but I always get mild symptoms like breast tenderness and at least one honking zit a few days beforehand.

      1. Enough*

        My cycle was never regular till child 2 (needed a little medical I intervention to get pregnant). Appeared I never ovulated regularly. I had a period go 64 days once. Periods also varied from almost non-existent to a normal amount. Was regular after child 2 at 28-30 and knew the exact moment I got pregnant with child 3. Stayed that way till menopause. My sister was always regular at 6 weeks. And my mother was 28 days and an hour.

      2. Owler*

        Mine was a similar 45-ish days (emphasis on the -ish) and skipping, and it turns out, I was anemic. If you ever have problems with fatigue or bruising (like getting a big bruise on your hip even though you thought you only the doorway), ask your doctor for a blood test to see how your iron looks. I felt so much better once we treated my iron deficiency.

        (If everything else feels fine, then ignore my comment and continue to enjoy the fewer visits from Aunt Flo!)

    31. LilySparrow*

      One thing I think is important to note is that the prevalence of hormonal birth control has changed a lot of women’s concept of what a normal period is. I tried different formulations of the pill and the Depo shot, and had wicked scary/health-risky side effects to all of them. So most of my life I have not been on any.

      I have not had any other reproductive health problems, and was able to get pregnant easily in my late 30’s. So the levels of pain you describe sound very normal to me.

      I had very painful periods frequently for the first couple of years (like skip a day of school and stay in bed with Motrin & a heating pad). By my late teens – 20’s it usually ranged from an annoyance to an inconvenience – take Ibuprofen and reduce my workout or possibly skip the gym, but still go to work and perform at about 70- 80% normal. I’d call it nagging discomfort rather than pain. I did have very noticeable PMS symptoms, like breakouts, bloating, and mood swings.

      In my late 20’s – mid 30’s severe cramps were rare (or I was just used to them), but I would be aware of them. The PMS was less, but still noticeable, and a couple times a year I’d get a migraine along with it (usually if I was under a lot of stress).

      Late 30’s were pregnancy/breastfeeding time, all haywire.

      In my early 40’s I wouldn’t get cramps, but sometimes nausea and flulike fatigue/aching through my lower back and legs, along with a couple of years of frequent monthly migraines with a couple of days of aura around them. That was also stress related, because those migranes stopped the month I quit that job.

      Around that time was when I started having “stealth periods”, with no noticable cramps or PMS symptoms at all. My gyno said it was because of perimenopause, and those were the months I didn’t ovulate.

      Now I still have regular cycles, but never have cramps or PMS to speak of, other than a sudden pimple and some water retention. But I take a lot of anti-inflammatories now for other reasons, so that might be masking some of it. The main problem now is that the stealth periods are sometimes very heavy and very sudden.

      You know those giant maxi-pads that look like second-cousin to a Depends? I keep those with me now, sometimes it’s that bad.

      I get all my annual checks and talk to my gyno about all of it – it’s all perfectly normal.

    32. Snow Drift*

      Mine were so bad in my teen years that my teachers/parents would find me unconscious in the bathroom. My brain just whited out from the pain. They also lasted forever (usually 9 to 11 days).

      Years of tests by multiple doctors came up with no cause. I supposedly do not have endo, PCOS, cysts, tumors, or anything else that would explain the extreme pain. I ended up just taking BCP with no off week (this was before Seasonale existed) and now I have a Mirena.

      Hiding the symptoms isn’t a cure, but nobody was willing to give me a tubal/ablation because they insisted I would change my mind about not wanting children.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        A tubal ligation does not stop your periods. It just cuts the fallopian tubes. As long as your ovaries are functional and your uterus is intact, you’ll have periods.

        That said, denying a highly effective form of BC because you might change your mind is terribly paternalistic! Hope you find another gyn

        1. Snow Drift*

          I know. The ablation would (hopefully) have made them less severe, and the tubal goes hand-in-hand with that procedure.

    33. 24 year old*

      never any pain! just get stuck in the restroom for a while with an active stomach ache the day beforehand.

    34. Vic tower*

      Obgyn here. Very broad range of symptoms can be normal. Also, unfortunately, severity of pain =/= severity of endometriosis. So some women have one tiny deposit and severe pain and others have extensive disease with no symptoms. However there is some correlation usually.
      As people have mentioned, the combined OCP can be very useful in controlling symptoms, as can paracetamol and NSAIDs (ibuprofen etc). Some women will always need to take analgesia on their period or during ovulation. HOWEVER, if pain (or heaviness) is having an impact on your life (unable to work, missing events, iron deficiency, avoiding sex etc) then you should definitely get it checked out. Mirena can be very effective against pain and heaviness if the COCP doesn’t help.
      Finally, my periods are fine when on the pill or mirena but without it I get a few cramps and occasionally take a couple of simple analgesics. I also get stronger pain with ovulation than I do on my period that can last a couple of days intermittently but again very manageable with paracetamol or ibuprofen.

    35. Annie Moose*

      It varies. I’d say a quarter of my periods, I only have minor, easily overlooked cramps that I don’t take anything for (or perhaps I take painkillers once); half the time, I have stronger cramps that require painkillers multiple times; and a quarter of my periods I have cramps strong enough to take multiple kinds of painkillers at once, and often don’t leave the house/leave work early/etc. However, this will generally only be one day out of the whole period.

      So to sum it up: in a given year, there are perhaps 3-4 days of debilitating pain, 10-15 where I take painkillers but am otherwise fine, and maybe about that many where I have mild cramping/backache that’s too minor to take anything for.

      26, not on birth control

    36. MissDisplaced*

      When I was in teens/20s I used to get really bad cramps, often to the point of doubling over/missing work.
      In 30s the cramps weren’t too bad, more like back ache and medium cramps first day, but nothing Advil wouldn’t fix. But then came the debilitating migraines! They almost always hit 1-2 days post-period.
      50s: I’m happy to report I seem to be full-on menopause, and it really hasn’t been so bad. I’m now at least 6 months period-free YAY! and as such, no more migraines. I do tend to ‘run a bit warm,’ and get some occasional hot flashes/night sweats, but nothing so bad as I’ve been told happens. So far, I seem to be easing into this without too much fuss.
      Strange how it changes through life. Personally, I’m glad it’s stopping. No more migraines or tampon/pad buying is a win in my book.

    37. Emily*

      I’m 27, never been on birth control. I usually feel gross on the first day of my period (I don’t know how to describe it accurately, but I would assume it’s mild-to-moderate pain – enough to make me feel bad, not enough to stop me from getting out of bed). One or two ibuprofen helps, when I remember to take it. Occasionally I will have some cramping on the second day, but often I don’t, and by the third day I’m fine.

      Other (potentially relevant?) information:
      – I have noticed that eating and exercise in the weeks leading up to my period have an effect on how bad I feel on the first day/how heavy my period is, even though my weight rarely fluctuates more than a pound or two.
      – I think I have a heavier-than-average flow (I have overflowed my DivaCup before). I take a daily iron supplement to ensure that my iron levels stay healthy.

    38. Anonomo*

      I have pretty light pain with periods. Im likely to have a migraine, maybe some zits but no real cramping. My cycles about 35ish days and Ill get a twinge or 2 of ovulation pain in there. My pain tolerance is also a bit higher than average as well, that may play into my experience too. As for your friend, Ive always heard periods shouldnt hurt more than a bit of aspirin can take care of and if the pain is stronger then to get checked for endo so I understand where she’s coming from, but after all the replies I dont know how true that is.

    39. JewelryLover*

      I’m in my later 40’s and have started getting ocular migraines in the week before my period. I also pop Alleve like candy so I can move and so I don’t vomit. My periods have been that painful for my whole entire life.

      But, I’m mostly regular still (28 days), bleed heavily for 2 days, then spot for 2 and it’s done. So I”m luckier than my sister who is irregular and can have a period that lasts for 2 weeks normally, with extremely heavy bleeding.

    40. Blue_eyes*

      I’m in my early 30s. Since I was a teenager I’ve gotten severe cramps with every period. I usually need to take the max dose of Aleve every day for the first 2-3 days of each period. Sometimes I’ve even needed to take more than the max recommended dose of Aleve, or alternate Aleve (naproxen) with Tylenol (acetaminophen). When I’m on hormonal birth control (most recently a Mirena IUD) my period flow and cramps are both significantly reduced and I rarely need to take pain killers. I had a copper IUD for a while, but it made my cramps worse, or at least not better, so I switched to Mirena.

    41. MonkeySeeMonkeyDo*

      When I’m not on birth control my period cramping is bad enough that I have frequently vomited from the pain. With birth control I’m usually okay with a couple of over the counter painkillers, but without it I straight up need prescription pain killers and to sleep through the first day.

      Only one of my doctors has ever not written this off and the only thing she did was put me on birth control and recommend that I consider getting an IUD.

    42. Observer*

      It’s the very rare doctor that gets it- I don’t know how often I’ve heard “oh, this can be normal for some women and there is often no cause” even for ridiculously debilitating pain. And it’s just not true. Yes, some women have a harder time than others without an underlying problem, but I simply can’t take a doctor’s lack of concern as any sort of indicator.

      It sounds to me like you’re on a border. Besides endo, which can actually be hard to check for, things that are worth checking for are uterine fibroids (especially if the problem has gotten worse over time), thyroid and Vitamin D.

    43. Francine*

      For me, it went from really bad periods in my teens to manageable in my twenties (by discovering ibuprofen – I’d tried Aspirin all the years before and it did zilch). I’d still get pain so bad it made me throw up about every three months or so – but throwing up always made the pain go away. Go figure.
      Then, in my thirties, things got manageable on just ibuprofen, later just heating pad (when my body decided painkillers should make it break out in hives).
      Had my first kid at 36, two years ago, and my periods have not been painful since. Lets see whether that changes once I’ll be done nursing.
      Bodies are strange.

  9. TL -*

    One of the more interesting talks I’ve had about cross-cultural differences lately – both NZ and Australia are dramatically hiking cigarette prices in an effort to lower smoking rates further and a Kiwi friend and I were discussing.
    Cigarettes here start at $21 NZD (15 USD) per pack and in Australia it’s $28 AUD ($20 USD) and they have plain packaging laws. (Both countries are set to nearly double prices in the next few years.)
    But the smoking rates in both countries are about the same as they are in the USA, where the average price of cigarettes is $5.51 and we don’t have plain packaging laws.

    My Kiwi friend was shocked – his position was people would of course smoke more if it was cheaper, so he thought the USA would have much higher smoking rates. But cigarette smoking is heavily socially shamed in the USA and it’s rare to see people smoking openly in public. Whereas I see more people smoking very casually out on the sidewalk here and it’s pretty rude to make faces or cough pointedly if someone is getting cigarette smoke ‘on’ you.

    I thought it was really fascinating the different ways societies have of achieving public health goals. And how much we default into ‘our way is the right way’ because it works – there’s usually more than one way to skin a cat!

    1. Shaze*

      And we aren’t happy about our $5 a pack either! I quit 20 years ago… and prices had just started to edge over $1 a pack. I can’t imagine paying $5. Certainly not $15!!

    2. Jack Be Nimble*

      Smoking in the US has a lot of age and regional variation, too! I live in a big city on the east coast, and I see a lot of people smoking, but hardly anyone my own age. When I lived in a big city in the midwest, there were almost no smokers of any age, but when I lived in a small town in the same state, everybody smoked.

      The people I know who smoke have an occasional cigarette at a party, or smoke a couple times a day. I don’t think I know anyone who’s a pack a day smoker, unless they’re very good about hiding it!

      1. Lilo*

        It varies between cities too. I have lived in DC, Chicago, and Seattle and not much smoking there, but saw a ton more of it in NYC. That may have just been a population density thing.

        In my own (large) family my more rural cousins smoke while the suburban/urban ones do not.

    3. Loopy*

      I had no idea! That’s fascinating.

      Not to make this about Work, but I have sensed negativity around smoking in regards to unequal treatment to go take breaks. I know I’ve heard lots of muttering at multiple jobs about smokers getting unfair leeway to take numerous breaks while the rest of the team would be seen as slacking being away from their desk so often and for the same periods of time. I think Japan even rewards non-smokers because they don’t “waste time” (phrasing is mine, I’m grappling for how it was put) on smoke breaks?

      1. Lilo*

        I do remember in my terrible fast food job as a teenager, the smokers ended up with regular breaks, while I never, ever got a break (the place was a huge bag of labor violations). I would get crap for using The bathroom while smokers would go out hourly. The store manager, unsurprisingly, was a smoker.

        1. hermit crab*

          You’re not alone – people have been annoyed about that for a long time! When my grandma was a teenager in the 1940s, she worked summers as a camp counselor. She got so fed up with the smoke break situation that she temporarily took up smoking (or pretending to smoke, depending on how she tells the story).

        2. MassMatt*

          I know several people that started smoking while working in restaurants precisely because it got them excuses for breaks. For some reason saying “I’m going to go have a cigarette “ was ok but just saying “I’m going to stop working for 5 minutes and go stand in the alley” was not.

          1. Iain C*

            I got annoyed about this once, so started taking fag breaks too. I don’t start smoking, but I took the break!

      2. Rebecca*

        This is a bone of contention at my workplace. Smokers go outside about once per hour! It’s ridiculous. If you can’t make it to break time (2 hours into shift), then another 2 hours to lunch, another 2 hours to the next break, and then another 2 hours until quitting time, you have a problem. I assume they sleep more than one hour at a time, after all. And I’m a former smoker!

        I truly believe they should have to clock out and in every single time, except the actual paid break times. And yes, we are all tired of walking through the haze of smoke outside the door and having to go through them when it rains as they huddle right at the door under the awning. None of us like the smell. I’ve had people ask me, have you started smoking again? Your car/coat/whatever smells like cigarette smoke, but no, it’s because I’m exposed to second hand smoke every work day. But it’s only an extra 15 or so minutes a day, they say, OK, then – 240 working days per year x 15 minutes “extra” = 3600 minutes = 7.5 days of extra paid time off during the year. That’s why non smokers grouse about this.

        1. tangerineRose*

          In some places, smokers have to stay 50 feet (or something like that) away from the business door when they smoke. But even when that’s the law, that doesn’t always happen.

          I get annoyed at the smell that comes inside with the smoker.

      3. Kat in VA*

        I figure the hour of lunch I “donate” to work every day offsets the three breaks I take (one at 10:00, one at noon, the last at 2:00). I work through my lunch and take a lunch hour once a month to see the doctor. I also get to work around 15 minutes early most days. I’m conscious of the smell as much as I can be (wear a coat & scarf, wash hands, mouthwash, etc.) and I don’t abuse the privilege.

        Yes, I need to quit smoking. No one has said anything (other than the usual “We gotta get you to quit, Kat”).

      4. In Japan*

        I’m in Japan and haven’t heard of anything regarding limits on smoke breaks. In cities fewer people smoke than in the countryside but the smoking rate is still quite high, mostly among men (who are most of the workforce) so while companies may feel smoke breaks are a waste of time, punishing workers who smoke would really anger their main workforce.

    4. TIFTP*

      Pity the same tactics of social shaming have been useless in tackling the overwhelming obesity rates in the US.

      1. TIFTP*

        Note – not saying that shaming /should/ be used as a tactic, just that there’s significant social stigma there as well but it doesn’t seem to have any effect on the end results. (Not trying to start diet talks either, after the thread yesterday where people are quite sensitive to that kind of thing).

        1. Peacemaker*

          I wonder if the difference is about outcomes versus process? Obesity is an outcome of overeating (the process by which one becomes obese), and eating isn’t really shamed the way obesity is. On the other hand, smoking (the process) is shamed, while of course cancer and various other illnesses (the outcome) are not. Maybe we should be shaming the process more than the outcome.

          1. Peacemaker*

            I should mention, of course I know it’s more complicated than that, and there are multiple causes for both outcomes. Still, the difference seems striking to me.

          2. Lehigh*

            Yeah, that’s what bothers me when people say things like, “Well, being fat is just as dangerous as smoking” as a justification for body-shaming.

            (I understand neither of you is advocating for this.)

            It would be similarly horrible to have a mean or callous attitude toward someone who has lung cancer or has very wrinkled skin. Yeah, maybe they smoked, but there are other possible causes and also what’s the point of shaming the outcome? It’s too far removed from the behavior to be an effective deterrent for the average person, and it’s cruel.

          3. catsaway*

            The other issue, of course, is that everyone needs to eat to survive and no one needs to smoke to survive. Add to that the fact that, while there’s a certain range, people do have different caloric and nutritional needs, allergies, food preferences, the cultural importance of food to many folks etc, you end up with a very different reality of the process of becoming obese vs the process of smoking.

          4. HannahS*

            Lung cancer is pretty shamed, actually. It’s often seen as being just deserts for smoking, to the point that the response to “So-and-so has lung cancer” isn’t “Oh no, that’s terrible” but is instead “Mmhmm, well, did they smoke?” They also have quite a hard time with campaigns for funding because of it.

      2. SemiRetired*

        Nobody chooses to be obese but people choose to smoke. Even addicts have the option to just stop. No one can “just stop’ being obese. The situations are not at all analogous. Plus, no one else is affected by being in the vicinity of an obese person, while smoking persons stink and their second-hand smoke affects anyone in proximity.

        Social shaming probably adds to the obesity problem more than it helps. Frankly, “shaming” the obese sounds to me more like bigotry than an effective public health technique. I am somewhat appalled that you have even suggested it as something that could be beneficial.

        1. SemiRetired*

          TIFTP, I just saw your followup comment that you are not advocating this. I apologize for jumping the gun. (Now, where did that expression come from? Another one that doesn’t make sense.)

          1. Qosanchia*

            Derailing a bit, but I always understood “jumping the gun” to be related to racing, where a starting gun is used to signal the start of the race. “Jumping the gun” would be jumping to start before the gun has fired off.

          2. Ann O.*

            It makes a lot of sense if you’ve been a sprinter. :) Sprinters start races from starting blocks, with a hands on the track/feet against the block position. They push off the blocks to the upright running position. They have to hold the start until the gun goes off. Coming off the blocks early is a violation and “jumping the gun”.

        2. ..Kat..*

          Just ask anyone who is overweight. They are routinely fat-shamed. (And it does not change anyone’s weight.) Some studies suggest that this lifelong shaming is what causes the most health issues for the overweight. For more information, and maybe a bit of compassion, check out the Dances with Fat blog.

      3. tangerineRose*

        Shaming probably makes things worse – at least it would for me. When I feel sad, I want my chocolate.

      4. TL -*

        Obesity rates have actually stopped rising in the USA and in some sectors have started falling (children).

        But smoking also had more media campaigns with a clearer message. Stop smoking is much easier to obtain than eat calories equal to or less than your output.

      5. LilySparrow*

        I should think that encouraging physical fitness and the growing popularity of charity run/walks, extreme challenge sports, bikesharing services, para-athletics, lifelong fitness, body-positive gyms, etc, would be helpful in reducing both smoking and obesity.

    5. Rebecca*

      Here in Pennsylvania, (I had to look it up online) average price per pack is $6.85 and about $10 in Philadelphia due to taxes. I knew dedicated smokers who got around the $70+ per carton cost by going to Indian reservations in NY State, or by getting them from other states at lower costs, like from a truck driver friend. I think there will be a breaking point – the price will get so high that it will open up a huge black market, tax revenues will plummet, etc.

      And let’s face it – as much as the government carries on about cancer, death, etc., they won’t ban it outright. I believe they simply won’t give up the tax revenue. And if they did, what would they tax to bring in the same amount of money?

      1. 653-CXK*

        That’s exactly it…governments will not ban smoking because vice taxes (not just smoking, but gambling and alcohol) are much easier to collect and are much more profitable than income taxes – and they are very much regressive.

        Here in MA, we have a $3.51 excise tax on top of a 6.25% sales tax. For a $10 name-brand pack of cigarettes, 41% of the price is tax. For an $8.50 generic pack of cigarettes, it’s 56% of the price.

      2. tangerineRose*

        To be fair, I understand smoking is horribly addictive – maybe they don’t want to add nicotine to the war on drugs.

        I don’t smoke, never have, hate the smell. But I know a few ex-smokers who still sound wistful about smoking.

        1. TL -*

          I think it’s less that then how ingrained smoking is to the culture. Cultural norms play a huge role in what societies view as an appropriate risk.

        2. 653-CXK*

          My mother quit smoking 27 years ago – cigarette prices had gone up to $2 a pack (!) and she got fed up spending the money. She quit gradually with nicotine gum, but one time she was pissed off at my father and tried to light up – only to engage in a huge coughing fit.

        1. Rebecca*

          Philadelphia instituted a tax, I know as a shopper, if I wanted a 2 liter bottle of soda, and it cost roughly an extra 96 cents (1.5 cents per ounce), I’d just go outside the city limits and stock up when it was 99 cents on sale and take it home. As far as I know, it’s still in place.

    6. Asenath*

      I’ve read analyses about stuff like that – how some initiatives, which make perfect sense to the people proposing them, have no effect, or sometimes even an effect quite contrary to the intended ones. I think myself that although smoking rates are very low in my area of North America, the reason they’ve been dropping steadily through my lifetime is partly because of wider awareness of the health risks and very largely because smoking is no longer fashionable or even widely socially acceptable. The cost has had less effect – although if it gets high enough, it makes smuggling very profitable and commonplace. Many smokers now are poorer people, some of whom have mental issues such as anxiety which they use nicotine to deal with, and if they need the nicotine badly enough, they’ll manage to get it, and I can’t really blame them even if I celebrated more than most when I could go on public transportation without enduring the smell of cigarette smoke. It’s also hard to connect a particular outcome with a particular action – are, say, NZ smoking rates low because of the cost, the attitude towards smoking, health risks or something else? And if, as seems likely, a lot of factors come into play, how do you figure out which is the most influential?

      1. TL -*

        With smoking, it’s actually easier than most to connect public health initiatives to outcome. The outcome is fairly quick to happen (versus a chronic disease risk, which can take decades to manifest) and we have a very clear timeline of when smoking became known as unhealthy.

        We know, for instance, that the USA’s media campaigns against smoking have been successful and you can plot prices against smoking rates in countries that raise them significantly and get a good indication of impact.

        1. Asenath*

          But there are multiple causes of changing smoking rates. They’ve been decreasing for decades. It’s not really possible to say that a recent decrease is due to a recent initiative like price rises when it’s probably just a continuation of an existing decreased, caused by changes in fashion and awareness of health risks.

          1. TL -*

            Well, you look at changes that deviate from the norm – you’re looking more for a change in the degree of change. If things are decreasing steadily but then there’s a sudden drop, that usually indicates an outside factor and often that factor can be identified.

            You can also look at smaller groups exposed to a particular antismoking campaign and track them versus peers, compare states with different initiatives (states with higher cigarette taxes versus states without, for instance, especially since most major antismoking campaigns are national), and if you stratify and control for things like socioeconomic factors, you often end up with useful but not perfect data.

            1. Asenath*

              I just posted a second response – sorry about that, I thought the first hadn’t gone through.

              But in general there isn’t a sudden drop in smoking rates at the time higher prices were introduced to cut smoking!

              Sure, there are lots of ways to study the influence of various factors on smoking rates. Some of them can produce some useful data – although it’s remarkably difficult to do such studies well. I don’t know of any that actually prove that the recent initiatives such as raising prices, restricting display, controlling packaging etc. have decreased the smoking rate anywhere. I have seem claims that it does, but on closer examination, they don’t seem to take into account the fact that rates were declining long before such interventions, and didn’t suddenly decline more than would be expected if nothing had been done.

          2. Someone Else*

            At least here, the goal of the price increases is not specifically to reduce smoking rates. The goal is to increase public health. So the theory is (I’m oversimplifying) “Let’s add a special 60% tax to cigarettes and other tobacco products. Some people will be priced out of smoking and that is good for the public health. Others will gladly continue paying, regardless of cost. Now we’ve got more tax revenue to fund XYZ.”

            1. TL -*

              I’m not sure about where here is, but NZ’s stated purpose is to get the smoking rates under 5% and I think Australia’s goals are similar.

              1. Someone Else*

                Right, I understood that the original question was citing something in Aus and NZ. I was adding another data point for comparison (which is what I thought you were after?), that while NZ’s stated purpose is as you indicate, other countries/states/cities have instituted tobacco-specific taxes, but not with the same specific sort of goal in mind.

                I don’t know what studies NZ is using to back the outcome they’re anticipating, and it’s entirely possible the behavior in NZ in general is different enough that you could chose a policy, any policy, enact it in NZ and get a totally different outcome than in pick-a-US-city.

                My point was more that, according to the public policy analysts I know (which I realize isn’t a huge sample size), their expected outcome from taxing the crap out of cigarettes is a mix of behaviors. It is possible that it might eventually get priced so high nearly everyone will be priced out (and that’d still be considered a success), and it’s also possible very few would feel priced out and would thus pay the gigantic tax (and that would also be considered success), but what they’re really anticipating is something much more in the middle. They expect the threshold for price-alone causing people to drop out of the pool of smokers to be fairly high, and thus the strategy to get people to stop smoking isn’t as focused on price or packaging. The people whose primary job is reducing smoking rates are trying to convince people mostly before they’d reach the point of having the package in-hand. Once a consumer has got it in-hand, the price is going to be a larger factor than any health-related or emotional-pull to get them not to purchase. That’s the theory as I’ve heard it presented anyway.

        2. Asenath*

          Well, actually it isn’t easy to connect, say, price rises to smoking rates. There are a number of factors that affect smoking rates, and in the countries which have increased prices to reduce smoking, smoking rates have been declining for decades. It’s therefore impossible to say that the decrease in smoking since the price went up is caused by the price increase, since smoking was declining even before the new initiative was put into place, and there’s no reason to assume that its continued decline can be attributed to the price increase. It’s quite likely due to other factors that were already in play – I’d bet, personally, on education about the health risks and, probably more than anything, the increasing stigma.

          1. TL -*

            I don’t agree with planned price hike proposals – I think smaller price raises are reasonable but they reach a point of diminishing return and increased harm to vulnerable populations – however, there is plenty of evidence that increasing the price of cigarettes does lead to a drop in cigarette consumption unexplained by other factors.
            The WHO states that every 10% increase in price is responsible for a 4% decrease in smoking.

            The data is complicated, but there are ways to tease it out analyse it.

    7. CVS Warrior*

      Woah, woah, woah. Wait. I’ve never seen social stigma against smokers as a thing in America! Well, at least not in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. Maybe it’s a coast thing? I live in Milwaukee, WI right now and whenever I mention that I can’t be around a smoker (serious health reason, I could legit end up in the ER) people literally tell me I’m being rude and that I don’t have to make them feel ashamed, I could just remove myself from the area without talking about it etc. Even when ME removing myself is meaning not being at work.

      1. Lady Jay*

        Really? I lived in the Midwest much of my life (Kansas and northeast Iowa) and would agree that there was a strong social stigma against smoking–not that we’d *say* anything publicly about it, but social spaces were constructed to prohibit and discourage smoking. “Smoking sections” of restaurants, for instance, went away in the early aughts where I lived, and even though smoking was technically permitted, I rarely encountered it. Now that I’ve moved to the Appalachian South, it’s much more common for me to run into smokers on public sidewalks, outside of grocery stories, etc.

        Now that I type all this out, it occurs to me that one reason the US may have lower smoking rates is quite simply that (in true American fashion) we legislate against it.

        1. KayEss*

          This. It’s less a social stigma in the sense of people shooting smokers dirty looks, and more that society has systematically removed places where it is acceptable to smoke. My local PARK is a labeled no-smoking zone, though I have no idea how that’s enforced. I’ve never smoked, but I assume it’s a lot harder to have as a casual habit when literally the only places you can do it are in your own home (and probably not most apartments) or car, or standing out on the street.

        1. OhNo*

          Agreed, although I’ll echo other below in saying that it does seem to be tied to class as well. The folks I know who work restaurant or manual labor jobs are more likely to smoke. It doesn’t seem to be as common among office workers.

          1. TL -*

            Fposte is right below – smoking rates rise as income drops. The restaurant industry definitely has higher smoking rates than average (as does the medical industry, though that’s changing due to hospital policies becoming more strict.)

          2. Auntie Social*

            We are a boutique law firm and were about to hire an associate who smoked. Partner said “Our clients don’t smoke. Rich people don’t smoke. Rich people see a smoker and assume you’re the kitchen staff. So when are you quitting??” He gulped and threw his Marlboros in the trash and said “today, sir!”

      2. Asenath*

        Maybe it is regional – or at least class based. In my area, in many social circles and workplaces, even the small number of people who do smoke tend to be very apologetic about it. And it’s become associated with the poor and possibly the working poor. I can remember when smoking was associated with fashion and sophistication – and even liberation for women, whose mothers generally didn’t smoke at all, since it was something respectable women simply didn’t do, like wearing slacks. The change in attitudes towards smoking and the groups in society who do it has changed dramatically – within my area, anyway – and the changes largely pre-dated changes in legislation, packaging and display regulations and some of the more drastic price increases, that is, the ones aimed at changing smokers’ behaviour rather than raising more tax revenue. We did have lots of educational initiatives – I can’t remember my high school classmates being much impressed by them since at the time they saw smoking as a sign of adulthood and sophistication. But by now, most of that generation, particularly the ones working at middle-class type jobs, have quit, and I think it’s largely because of the stigma. They don’t want to be seen as smelly, addicted, and poor.

        1. MattKnifeNinja*

          Smelly, addicted (mental health issues) and poor is what drives the no smoking attitude where I live. Except substitute “poor decision making skills” for poor.

          If you’re eye balling a C level job around here, you better not smoke or be overweight, and drink with extreme moderation.

          My BIL was with me at an municipal sponsored family event hosted by my city. He asked around if anyone had a light. People treated him like he ask if they had child porn on their phones he could view. Then people told him the whole outdoor event was smoke free. I got to hear him rant all evening about the quashing of personal freedoms for a legal substance.

      3. fposte*

        I’m in Illinois and in my circles you’d be the norm. Any smoker who did the defensive lashout would get “the hell? Get your butt outside” from the rest of the crowd.

        There’s a big class element here, too; smoking rates rise as income rates go down, and Milwaukee is traditionally a very blue-collar town. In my university regions, smoking doesn’t read well as a social behavior. Most smokers I’ve known either have quit or are trying.

      4. MattKnifeNinja*

        It’s the immediate area more what a chunk of the country that determines how people view smoking, I found.

        I live in Metro Detroit. It’s a huge social stigma for a woman, especially if you have kids to smoke.

        The higher the income, the more “WTH? I guess you don’t care about yourself or you kids.” OR it gets bundled into do you have a low level mental illness thing going on.

        “Buffy has to have a sparky treat because she can’t cope.” (eye roll)

        I literally know only one person who smokes. I don’t live a twig and wild berries life style.

        For people who would fit the demographics for this website (white collar, BA/BS degree and beyond), they don’t smoke around here in public. They don’t some at business parties. If they are smoking cigs, they are doing it on the real down low.

        The hospital I used to work at is a nicotine free work place. They hire no smokers. My current work place is nicotine free.

        Where my sister lives, it skews blue collar and alot less college educated. They smoke and really drink. If you have more than three drinks where I live, people are planning an intervention. My sister’s area, people wonder if you are in AA or sick.

        It’s probably the socioeconomic area you are in determines what peoples attitudes are about smoking. I have Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists in my immediate area. Those houses of worship push hard on no alcohol/no smokes. I’m sure that contributes to the no smoking vibe.

      5. Kat in VA*

        Wow! If I found out me smoking could put you in the ER, I would remove myself immediately, make certain I am NEVER smoking around you, and take steps to mitigate the lingering second hand smoke/smell as much as I could!

        It’s my crappy habit and there’s no reason to make you endure it – and if you want to judge me for having a crappy habit, that’s totally your prerogative.

        A health reason to not be around smoke isn’t being “rude”, it’s something that you accommodate. :(

    8. foolofgrace*

      In Chicago proper, thanks to taxes the price of a pack of cigs is about $16.00 — considerably less in the suburbs that are in a different county, much like gasoline prices. And it’s been my experience that it is very much shamed in Chicago. I quit last Thanksgiving — I like smoking, couldn’t afford it, I was between those things we cannot name here — and vape instead, which is treated not quite as badly as smoking. But still can only vape where smoking is permitted.

      1. MassMatt*

        Vaping is a whole new and different trend and it’s difficult to tell who is vaping and what substance it is. Lots of kids do it in schools it’s much easier to get away with and they make devices that are tiny and easily concealed looking like thumb drives for example. Products don’t seem to be nearly as regulated or taxed as cigarettes and are definitely designed to appeal to children with candy and fruit flavors. Many if not most kids doing it seem to think it’s perfectly safe, sadly.

    9. Superman's Wife*

      I live in NYC and cigarettes are $15/pack and have been for some time. It hasn’t deterred people. You still see a lot of people smoking outside in the street (we’re not allowed to smoke indoors).

      1. TL -*

        Boston has more casual outdoor smokers than Texas but I think part of that is Boston has a higher rate of immigrants from countries where smoking is socially permissible and is a more walkable city than pretty much all of Texas.

        Both are still pretty low in terms of public smoking – and in Boston, a lot of smokers shame smoked hiding in an alley or corner outside, especially in the medical center.

    10. LCL*

      I loved the Witch Elm. And I love the protagonist. He seemed very real. I think a lot of readers are having trouble with this story because most of the characters come from a privileged background. The book does end on a melancholy note. If you are looking for a cheerful mystery story, stay away from this one.

    11. PurpleMonster*

      And hiking the tax has also led to an explosion in aggravated robbery of convenience stores (we call them dairies). Our local is now practically a prison, with automatic locks, because the owner got attacked with a machete a few months ago by some young thugs. They normally sell them on the black market. Dairy owners can’t stop selling them because it’s where most of their profit comes from – people grabbing a pack of smokes, and at the same time deciding to get some milk or chocolate or whatever.

      It’s a very big problem, but I don’t know how they can fix it. The last government should have thought it through.

      1. TL -*

        And since New Zealand’s smokers are disporportionately lower-income people and Maori – 35% of Maori adults smoke – the new prices are going to harshly impact the most vulnerable Kiwis.

        Australia’s laws will have a similar impact – nearly 40% of Aboriginals smoke.

        Both governments provide or cover smoking cessation help, but both Aboriginals and Maori are less likely to seek out health services in general or live in areas with less access to medical services. I don’t know if either government is addressing these concerns as part of their overall plan.

    12. Anon Anon Anon*

      Well, you all also have better tobacco. I didn’t get really hooked on smoking until I lived in Australia. American cigarettes are full of weird additives and even the higher end “natural” ones just don’t taste as good. Just not as fresh or something.

    13. KayEss*

      I think the US (or at least parts of it) has also spent several decades really trying to reduce the smoking adoption rate for youth, both through PSA-style “here’s what your lungs look like on cigarettes” health education and through elimination of media avenues that are able to promote smoking as “cool” to minors. Cigarette advertising is heavily restricted at this point, and there’s been a significant shift away from showing movie characters smoking. (Sometimes to the point of dissonance: I remember seeing “Hidden Figures” and thinking “so in real life, literally everyone in that calculation room would have been smoking non-stop, ESPECIALLY the guy ostentatiously chewing gum.” It’s supposed to be the 1960s, and there isn’t a cigarette in sight for the entire movie.)

      I read recently that a new study has shown that kids in the US are now most likely to have their first illicit drug experience be with marijuana, rather than cigarettes or even alcohol. Cigarette use will probably continue to trend downwards in areas where it’s already down, because kids aren’t being exposed to it. (Communities where there’s still a lot of smoking are trickier, since kids will pick it up from parents/relatives.)

      1. TL -*

        New Zealand’s anti-advertising laws are stricter than the US’s – they have plain packaging laws, so all their cigarette packages have are a large yellow warning, an image of a body part damaged by smoking, and the brand name in small, standardized font. Australia’s are very similar. I’m not sure either country allows tobacco countries to advertise.

        I don’t know if they’ve done the massive media campaigns like the USA has done (and continues to do – the most recent one I can remember was shown as a preview for movies and it was brutal.)

        1. KayEss*

          I don’t know that I’d expect plain packaging to have a huge effect… it seems to me like something that is combating the issue at too late of a point in the process? I don’t know if cigarettes are sold differently in NZ but most times I’ve happened to see someone buying them, you don’t even see the pack until they’ve asked the clerk for it. It may be targeted more at preventing kids from taking up smoking when someone in their family smokes and therefore has packs lying around the house, but at that point you’re fighting an uphill battle against cultural/environmental pressures. I’m curious as to what the studied effects are, in terms of whether it’s reduced smoking adoption rates for children with a parent who smokes.

          But mostly I agree with what a lot of other people are saying that yeah, it’s very class- and regional culture-based in the US. Even when I was a kid, before indoor smoking was all but eliminated, the impression I got from my parents/family was that smoking was a “dirty” habit, smelly and reckless. My family was very well-off, living in a well-off white-collar suburb, and smoking was just something that “we” didn’t do (no one in my extended family or my friends’ immediate families smoked). It’s a social nuance development that’s probably pretty difficult to artificially trigger in a different national culture.

          1. PurpleMonster*

            No, in NZ they have to be stored in a plain cabinet behind a counter. No advertising allowed and R18 purchase.

  10. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread!
    How did NaNoWriMo go for the participants?
    And for the others: do you ever just write something and then wish you could draw it because it sounds so cool-looking in your head?

    1. Thanks For Nothing*

      Preface by saying I’m a NaNoRebel – I write scripts, not novels.

      November went very well for me.

      Goal 1) Finish a specific project that had been hanging out in my files for well over two years. Checked that off in the first 5 days!
      Goal 2) Develop a short one act I wrote last spring into a full length script. Got the first act done and a solid outline for the second act.
      Goal 3) Try something new. Did research on a particularly dramatic historical event, wrote about 20 pages towards that end and have an outline for the rest of that script.

      We have a pay by the minute coffee shop in town that ran a NaNoWriMo special where, if we came in and wrote for 30 minutes 6 days in a row, we’d get a free day. Earned two of those free days, baby.

      1. RemingtonTypeType*

        Pay by the minute? Like an Internet cafe, or like pay-for-each-minute-you-sit-in-the-chair? I’m curious.

        1. Thanks For Nothing*

          The nice ladies at the front desk start a timer on your name when you walk in. You get all the coffee/tea/snacks/wifi/games/books/etc you want while you’re there, and pay for your time when you leave. An hour is charged at a rate equivilant to buying a medium size coffee and snack at any of the nicer coffee shops in town.

          It’s helped me learn to think about my **time** being valuable.

    2. Nynaeve*

      I was also a Nano Rebel and just did a bunch of vignettes to try to get back in the writing habit. I got less than 17,000 words, but on the upside, I also wrote every single day of the month! I’ve never managed to do that before, so I was proud of myself.

    3. Just A Little TeaPot, With Soda*

      It went great! I finished with my wordiest year, 178k. That doubled my last year’s Nanowrimo. I have two books to publish and edit. I’m excited.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I want to draw my characters, maps, settings, etc. I need to get back on the drawing lessons (I was teaching myself from a book but it fell by the wayside with other happenings).

      I finished with more than 50K words, but I’m not done yet. Hoping to be done by Christmas at the latest.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Also I have a character who draws and I kinda wish I could draw the things he draws. Sadly, my skills are about up to par with a four-year-old and I honestly don’t enjoy drawing enough to practice and become better (at the moment, at least). So…I’ll just stick to describing it, I guess.
        I really need to get off my lazy butt and get more serious about drawing as well.

      2. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        I DO draw my characters, settings, maps, fantastic beasts….. high five to you!

    5. Snow Drift*

      I did not come close to making word count, but I finished a short poem. I’m calling a completed work a success, despite it not meeting the formal criteria.

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

      I don’t believe in NaNoWriMo, to be honest, but I wrote about 20,000 words in November and my latest project is shaping up fairly well. So I’m happy.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Tbh I’m not a fan either, but whatever floats your boat and gets you doing something you love is okay in my book.

      2. Thanks For Nothing*

        I’m not a gigantic fan of the concept. I’m not convinced that quantity of words is more valuable than quality but I fully confess to taking advantage of “everyone” writing to find other writers in my community, and take advantage of “lab” hours at the library, the special running at the coffee shop, and so on.

    7. LizB*

      I won NaNo this year! And my draft actually isn’t all the way finished, I still have some fun climactic stuff to write, so I’ll get to keep going.

      Yes, definitely. Also I had an idea that I think would make a better graphic novel/webcomic than plain old story. I keep trying to convince my sister the artist to work with me on it but so far no dice.

    8. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      I’m not sure if I know what NaNoWriMo, but I’m figuring it out from the context… well, this month mine went awful :c too many things to do, and brain that feels like mashed horseradish: useless and disgusting.

  11. DanaScully*

    How can I deal with that one friend who lets other people buy them drinks, but manages to never buy anybody else one?

    I’m not sure how it works in other places, but where I live it’s customary to buy drinks in “rounds”. That is, we all take turns buying drinks within a group. It works well on the most part providing people acknowledge when it’s their round and go to the bar.

    Unfortunately there is one person in the group, Geoff, who always manages to get out of buying the drinks when it’s his turn. He will suddenly claim to feel unwell and will leave or will disappear to somewhere else in the venue, only reappearing when someone else has been to the bar and replenished the drinks for the group.

    I wondered whether this could be a financial issues thing, but I think it might just be an issue with social cues/him being a tightwad.

    I (and others) have bought him countless drinks over the years but have not once had a drink from Geoff in return. I don’t give to receive but it’s starting to wear thin now.

    If Geoff ducked out of being in the round in the first place and said he would get his own drinks then that would be fine, but to accept around five drinks on average and then not reciprocate is total arsehole behaviour to me.

    Does anyone have any advice on how I can deal with this? I see a few options:

    1. Stop including Geoff in the round altogether. Allow him to buy his own drinks.

    2. Include Geoff in the round but speak up when he tries to cry off and tell him it’s his round (difficult if he says he’s feeling “unwell” and leaves).

    3. Speak to Geoff privately in a different setting and ask what’s up with him not participating in the rounds when it’s his turn.

    4. Something else?

    Thanks for any replies.

    1. Shaze*

      I’d start with 3 but approach it as though he isn’t doing this intentionally (although he probably is). Not sure of the verbiage, but I’m sure someone else will chime in on this!! If you do 3 and that doesn’t work then I’d go with 2 and then 1, in that order.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, start with 3 and proffer the fig leaf of “My heavens I never noticed that I do that, it sure is unintentional and a coincidence.” I would wager he has been figuring it’s a little life hack he does to save money that no one even notices.

      2. zyx*

        I agree with taking approach #3 to start, especially if you think there’s a chance Geoff might have some financial difficulties. When I was younger, there were times when I wanted to see my friends for drinks and could afford *one* drink at the place we were meeting. Luckily my friend group doesn’t do rounds, because I definitely could not have afforded a drink for each of us.

        The culture of buying rounds has some lovely things about it—it feels good to be included in the group. I can see how it might feel awkward or unfriendly to remove oneself from the group that way, plus a lot of people feel shame about not being able to afford things. Those two things together can make it hard to speak up.

        It’s not okay for Geoff to continue to freeload, but there might be more going on than him just being a jerk.

        1. TootsNYC*

          yeah, but if you can’t afford to buy a round, you don’t accept multiple drinks from everyone else. You say, “No, I’m good, thanks,” and you just don’t drink as much.

    2. Jack Be Nimble*

      What if you suggest that he buys the first or second round?

      I think it’s worth speaking to him privately and asking if there’s a reason that he isn’t able to contribute to the drinks-buying. The suggestion of asking rather than accusing is a good one, you don’t want him to get immediately defensive (although he might end up there, anyway).

      I’d also be asking myself whether I thought his company was worth the aggravation of always being the one to buy drinks. It might be be better to find non-drinking activities to do with him, or just to phase out the friendship entirely.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I would second speaking to him privately about it. Do you know what his financial situation is? He could be a horrible moocher, but it’s also possible that he’s in ridiculous amounts of debt and still wants to hang with friends but honestly can’t afford to buy rounds of drinks for people but feels ashamed to admit it?

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            I’m not saying he’s doing the right thing by not paying. I’m just saying he may not be as callously freeloading as may first appears. Talking to him privately, you may find out what’s going on instead of just assuming.

    3. Lizabeth*

      If you really want to know …#3 but don’t be surprised if he gaslights about it, given his behavior. The easy way is for everybody to buy their own drinks, no rounds. My uncle did a variation of this going out to dinner with the parents. He’d order up extras then want to just split the check evenly when it came. Dad always said separate checks after the first time and didn’t say anything else. And the amount of extras went down after that…

      1. valentine*

        They shouldn’t have to stop rounds just to avoid this missing stair.

        3, then 4: Discuss with group whether to not offer to buy for Geoff or whether to accept that this is a literal price of his company.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I don’t give to receive but it’s starting to wear thin now.

      This is one of those inherent human things–bean counting is exhausting but we do notice and resent when the balance of favors shifts heavily one-way only because one person always dodges when they could pour back into the communal pot of mutual aid.

    5. Grapey*

      3, but he knows what he’s doing. Have your other regular round buyers noticed this too? Like some of Alison’s advice, you could push back as a group and say “Hey Geoff, I think you’re due to buy the first round.” and make sure nobody else offers until he does.

      1. Jessi*

        This! “Hey Geoff, you didn’t buy a round last time its your turn today!” said in a very friendly manner and then just wait the awkward out.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If everyone is equally annoyed, you could just have a group convo to get rid of the buying rounds. Honestly, if it’s a big group, rounds get hard to carry/deal with and it’s a lot of drinks. If I accepted 5 drinks in one night, I would be sick too – puking or passed out.

      If it’s at a bar where you walk up, just let everyone get their own drinks. In addition to avoiding the freeloaders, people who don’t want to drink that much can sip their drink instead of being pressured by a new round appearing.

      I wouldn’t have a Big Deal convo with Geoff about it but that’s just me. Likely he’s just cheap.

      I had this problem in grad school with group checks being shorted – people would get a burger and 2 beers then throw in cash only for the burger and leave. It got annoying. I just started getting my own check. Though mostly the problem goes away as people get older and big drinking gatherings happen less.

      1. Ali G*

        Yeah I would just start buying my own drinks, and encourage others to do so. You can say something like “It seems we all tend to come/leave at different times, so it’s easier if we just do our own thing.” If some people keep buying rounds, it will be more obvious with a smaller group that Geoff isn’t contributing.

      2. DCR*

        I agree with this approach. My friends and I don’t do rounds because 1) we generally arrive and leave at different times, 2) we don’t all have the same number, and 3) we drink different things, which vary in price.

        If someone’s going to bar, a friend me ask them to pick up a drink. But then the receiver either gets the next for that person or gives them cash/venmo

    7. SignalLost*

      Straight to number 1 for me. The next stop is to cease socializing with him altogether. The round is a whole thing, and freeloading off of it for as long as it sounds like this has been going on is ridiculous.

      Or make him buy the first round and if he refuses, straight to number 1.

    8. Shelby Johnston*

      Ugh, what a freeloader. Why are you guys still including him in the round of drinks you buy after he disappears? Anyway, I think you sh say something to him because his bad behavior needs to be pointed out and maybe hell feel some shame. And then I’d probably do what others have suggested and stop buying rounds and let everyone buy their own drinks. I don’t understand why you’ve let this jerk get away with this for years??

    9. Not A Manager*

      If the cultural expectation is that people buy in rounds, it will be very hard to change that for your group. I think the easiest thing is if a few of you agree that, first round, you’re just going to cheerfully tell Geoff that it’s his turn. Sometimes these things are easiest if you state them plainly but jokingly – “Hey Geoff, first round’s on you!” “Geoff, you get this one, I think you’re behind!” The key is not to sound annoyed, but like you think it’s mildly funny and this will clear everything up.

      If he complains or demurs, you can speak the truth but in a kind and cheerful way. “No, you need to get the first round, because goodness knows where you’ll be when your turn rolls around later.”

      I like this approach because it shouldn’t shame Geoff if he’s willing to play along with it. It tells him that all will be well if he just buys some rounds. But if he gets angry or stubborn, I would take him aside right then and say, “Dude, no one wants to make you feel bad, but you need to participate fairly. Buy a round when it’s your turn, or don’t drink when other people are buying.”

      While talking behind someone’s back feels a bit icky, I would coordinate this approach with a few other people. If most people are very conflict-averse and you just institute this on your own, you could be left with no support and other people insisting that it’s FINE to buy rounds for Geoff.

      1. Qosanchia*

        I second this advice. I’ll note that I’m not from a culture that shouts drinks or stands rounds, but my understanding from observing culture commentators is that this is exactly the right way to go about it, assuming you don’t want to simply drop Geoff from the group.
        It’s possible that there is some underlying reason why Geoff can’t buy, but approaching it with the jocular attitude you propose will give everyone the opportunity to avoid being too confrontational or accusative.

    10. SemiRetired*

      Perhaps stop drinking so much? I don’t know how many friends are involved and how many rounds, but from my old person perspective, I don’t know any grown adult who regularly drinks more than one or two drinks, except alcoholics. Either all your friends are alcoholics, or you’re all still young and in that teenage drink-til-you-can’t-anymore stage.
      I guess I would pick 3 – speak to Geoff – or otherwise limit yourself to one drink and buy it yourself, opting out of the “rounds” method with the explanation that you are trying to cut back.

      1. Bhean Sidhe*

        Wow. They didn’t ask for advice on their drinking habit. Or for your judgmental old person nonsense, frankly!

        If you don’t know any adults who have more than two drinks on a night out, that’s just your experience. It’s certainly not universal – I’m 42, and all my friend will have five or six drinks on a might out, easy, and none of us are alcoholics. It doesn’t make them alcoholics, either.

        If you don’t have advice on the actual question, maybe you don’t need to post at all.

        1. SemiRetired*

          I did have advice on the question – I went with #3 of the choices listed – and I also suggested another option, i.e., opting out of the whole thing. I mentioned my “old person” perspective because it might mean that my advice wouldn’t be useful or relevant. However, I stand by my judgment that regularly drinking 5-6 drinks a night is unhealthy, wherever and whatever culture you may be in, and could very well be a sign of a drinking problem. (Part of my perspective is that at my age, a “night out” is likely from 8-10 or so, whereas a younger person (or older person with more stamina) might be out from 5-midnight… 7 drinks in 7 hours is not too much, unless done frequently. 7 drinks in 2 hours amounts to an excessively drunk person.) Again, my experience is that no one that I know who is not an alcoholic drinks that much regularly. So that’s my advice to get out of this “buying rounds” situation – just don’t drink that much, opt out of the rounds buying, and then this is no longer a problem for you.
          I posted to offer another option besides the ones listed. I generally don’t post unless I have something to add that wasn’t already mentioned. I’m sorry about appearing judgmental – adults can certainly make whatever choices they like around alcohol – but if a person is regularly drinking that much, this is probably not the first or last time someone might suggest that person may have a drinking problem. I have no stake in whether this OP or their friends do – but if someone is prompted to stop and consider it, I will accept the condemnation of being considered judgmental. Sometimes when you’re in a situation in which unhealthy habits are seen as normal or even good, it can help to have someone outside the situation mention how toxic it really is.

          1. Alice*

            You’re assuming the rounds are all being bought and drunk during the same night. Did it say that in the post? In my circles it’s perfectly acceptable for the rounds to even out long term.

      2. OhNo*

        Well that’s jumping straight into some judgement that has no place here. How about we just assume that DanaScully is an adult who knows their own limits?

        By the way, drinking culture is different all around the world. Only one or two drinks may seem the norm for your crowd in your region, but it would be very odd in other places, or with other groups.

        1. ..Kat..*

          I am assuming that SemiRetired is simply explaining his demographic – and therefore why he does not have a Geoff problem. I am not getting a shame vibe.

      3. Trouble*

        Wow! That’s pretty judgy on the basis of the information the poster gave us.

        I often drink several pints of cider or glasses of wine on a night out, depending on who I’m out with. Over a night of 7pm until 2am five drinks isn’t that many. If they’re out for a longer period on a ‘night out’ then this seems pretty average to me. It’s not indicated they all tossed down five drinks in an hour!

        And the whole rounds thing is pretty normal in the UK and I’m sure some other places. Most people who weren’t going to buy a drink for everyone in return would count themselves out of the round, it’s pretty easy. When asked what you want, you say ‘oh no thanks, I’m going home early tonight so I’ll just get my own.’ Or if you’re close enough with the people ‘oh, I can’t afford to buy rounds this month so I’ll just sort myself out tonight.’

        Adults get to decide how many drinks they can handle. I have had three medium large glasses of wine tonight sat at home with my husband and I don’t even feel tipsy never mind intoxicated. Clearly my tolerance is different from yours and that’s ok. And no, I’m not an alcoholic as I don’t need alcohol to function all day nor do I crave drinks. I just enjoy a few when I want to. I am also long since passed my teenage drink til I’m drunk years.

    11. Beatrice*

      I did this for a while with my drinking group, and I have always wondered if anyone noticed or cares. In my case, I work with everyone in the group, they were literally all senior to me at the time, and it was always one or two drinks, not five. I would show up for after-work drinks, someone would buy me one as soon as I walked in, and I would nurse that one until it was time to go, or accept a second if someone offered to buy me one. It wasn’t about not wanting to spend my money, it was more about not wanting to drink more than one or two, a little bit of social awkwardness, and not being sure if it was okay/normal to buy drinks for people senior to me at work. (I’ve been promoted now and I’m equal to some of them, and I’ve switched to grabbing a drink from the bar before I join them. I’ve tried buying a couple of times…one time no one wanted anything and I pushed too hard and it was awkward, and another time I misheard and accidentally ordered someone the wrong drink and she couldn’t drink what I got her. Just remembering makes me anxious. If they weren’t such awesome people and I didn’t enjoy their company so much, I would have stopped trying to socialize in shame long ago.)

    12. LilySparrow*

      Tell Geoff it’s his turn to go first next time.

      Reciprocity and turn-taking are the basis of all human society. Squirrelling out of your turn repeatedly is being a mooch.

      His response will tell you if you want to keep socializing with him or not.

      Financial issues or not wanting to drink much are absolutely no excuse for mooching off others without reciprocation.

      If he’s old enough to drink, then he’s old enough to use his words. Or decline to go out when he can’t afford it.

      Or offer to reciprocate in some other way, like inviting people over for coffee or making them a dinner at home. You can make a vat of spaghetti marinara for way less than the cost of a round of drinks, but the social value of personal hospitality is much higher.

    13. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

      Always make him buy the first round. He might disappear at that point which will save everyone from paying for his drinks the rest of the evening.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Yeah, I’m always making Geoff buy the first round from here on out. Or, when it’s time to order another round I’m asking Geoff to give me a hand at the bar and then telling the bartender that Geoff has got this round while patting Geoff on the back thanking him for grabbing the round. I would make sure to let the group know that Geoff picked up the round so he could be thanked appropriately. If it’s a scenario where you have a dedicated cocktail server/waitress I’d point to Geoff and tell he/she that Geoff has got this round.

        I’m not a fan of freeloaders/moochers so unless Geoff provided some other form of social currency to my group, I’d be looking for him to start picking up the slack ASAP.

    14. DanaScully*

      Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to reply to my quandary. There are so many useful suggestions which I really appreciate.

      A few clarifications:
      1. Geoff is overall a pretty good guy, and a good friend on the most part. This isn’t something I would end our friendship over as although it’s annoying that he does this, it’s not a friendship “hill to die on” for me. I would rather try to address it with him than cut him out of my life completely.

      2. The rest of the friend group are aware of Geoff’s ducking and diving when it comes to buying drinks. Last time we were out, we did smaller rounds in pairs which worked well. Geoff arrived later and went to the bar and bought his own drink, then left once he had finished it. I’m not sure if this was because it was clear we wouldn’t be buying his drinks that night or for another reason.

      3. I accept that we’re not all in the same financial boat which is why I mentioned it in my OP. Geoff has never mentioned struggling financially, but I agree with the replies which said that Geoff shouldn’t partake in the rounds if he can’t afford to reciprocate.

      4. With regards to the comment which queried whether I’m an alcoholic: thank you, I needed a laugh today! Drinking culture is different all over the world and I try not to judge the choices of other consenting adults – particularly people I don’t know. I’m not dependent on alcohol, nor are my friends, and we are all responsible adults aged 30-50 in professional roles. I also didn’t state that these were all alcoholic drinks, for the record! :)

      Thanks again, I’ll take all of your comments on board for the next time Geoff and I meet.

  12. Jack Be Nimble*

    A good friend of mine is considering breaking up with their terrible, freeloading boyfriend and I’m crossing all my fingers and toes that they do it.

    Said boyfriend puts them down in front of other people to make himself look better, told them he expects them to financially support him (because he grew up in a single income household and expects it) gave some of their things away without asking, doesn’t do chores ever, and mentioned in passing recently that he doesn’t know anything about them because they “never talk about themself.” (They do, he just doesn’t listen.)

    He’s the worst, and our entire friend group is holding their breath, hoping he gets dumped.

    1. Thursday Next*

      Boyfriend sounds terrible, and I hope Friend goes through with the breakup. It’s hard to be a bystander to such a lopsided relationship.

    2. WellRed*

      You would think someone who grew ip in a single income household would understand the value of work. Please update us on how the dumping goes.

      1. The Original K.*

        My friend dated a guy who grew up in poverty (he experienced homelessness) and as a result, he thought poverty was noble and refused to work on principle. Thank God he’s out of her life. That was just the tip of the iceberg.

    3. Anon101*

      Do we have the same friend?! My best friend is also in a long drawn out process of breaking up with her boyfriend. This guy’s MO is to constantly insult her & continually trying to “open up their relationship”, amongst other manipulations. Here’s hoping it sticks for both of our friends; I’ll cross some fingers for you.

  13. Loopy*

    Has anyone else found a hobby they have dabbled in for years suddenly is so much more appealing and they get really into it? I’ve a self proclaimed dabbler and have never found my one Thing. For years it made me sad that I was never driven to stick with anything but I came to peace with it. But lately, I’ve been naturally getting really, REALLY into baking. I follow bakers, I watch baking shows, I research techniques, I plan bakes, all I want to do is BAKE.

    I’ve always liked baking very casually but have never gotten into it this much, not even close.It’s absolutely wonderful and has brought so much excitement into my life but I’m also kind of wondering if it’ll naturally stay this (effortlessly!) engaging and fulfilling. I’m really feeling motivated to take it to the next level and am baking a three tier gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting this weekend and am super excited to try out chocolate work for the decorations. This is an example of something I never would have done years ago: I researched all about cream cheese frosting and found a version that “crusts” or hardens so you can get closer to the smooth look of a buttercream. Apparently most hate it because it makes decorating hard (I found many a post from panicked people who realized this late into the night when they had a cake for an event the next day). So I looked up a hybrid cream cheese buttercream that had decent reviews for being smoothable. It didn’t feel like a chore at all and I’m hoping the footwork pays off.

    I also made a baking Instagram to see my progress over the next month and beyond (I have about 4 different bakes I’m aiming for this month and a few things I’ve done recently up). If anyone actually wants to see what I’ve been up to (it’s only a few things up so far), let me know and I’ll share it (and feel free to follow, it’ll only be baking, nothing personal).

    1. Nicole76*

      That’s great that you found something that makes you so happy! I enjoy baking as well but only do it around the holidays lest I eat my creations (trying to cut back on sugar). :(

      That being said, I would love to follow your Instagram!

      1. Loopy*

        I’m worried about eating my creations too! Hoping I can have the willpower to gift them away! I can’t not eat it if it’s in my house so that something I need to make sure happens!

        I’m @thedoughboydaughter :) Should be about four posts there.

      1. Loopy*

        It’s like this magical gift of interest and inspiration and motivation, isn’t it? I feel that way anyway (it might be a bit over the top description after years of wondering how other people loved things SO MUCH for so long and got so into/good at them and I just…didn’t).

    2. Tau*

      It’s great that you found something that gives you enjoyment!

      I possibly have an unusual perspective on this… my interest patterns work such that I get super into a certain thing to the point of outright obsession, it stays at that level for a few weeks then dies down slowly over the course of the next few months, eventually my brain finds something else to latch onto, rinse and repeat. This is almost certainly because I’m autistic as intense/obsessive interests are an autistic thing, although I generally hear of them sticking around for a little longer. Anyway, I went through so much angst thanks to the ever-changing interests when I was younger and would try to fight off new interests and keep hold of old ones (which was always painful and always unsuccessful). These days, I try to simply take my interests as they come, enjoy picking up new skills and exploring new activities, and gracefully let go once it’s over.

      Which is to say that from my perspective, I wouldn’t worry too much about “is this a long-term interest? what if it fades?”: it will or it won’t and chances are there’s little you can do to influence that, but worrying about it may cast a shadow over your enjoyment. Live in the moment and enjoy your hobby while it lasts! And even if the intense interest does fade, you’ll likely still be able to benefit from the skills you learned from it later – like, my interest in chocolate-making is now quite a few years in the past, but I can still whip up some truffles or filled chocolates as a cool gift for someone if an occasion arises.

      1. Qosanchia*

        I’m finally getting to this point with my own interests. I’ve always been a dabbler, and like you mention, had (and still have) a fair amount of harsh feelings about how flighty I am with my enthusiasm. I really like your framing, and I’ll try to take it to heart!

      2. Loopy*

        This is helpful! I don’t think I have the exact same experience but I have had the trying to force myself to stick to something part. I do still struggle a little with wanting things to stick and need to keep this in mind. I said I came to terms with being a dabbler, but that’s probably denial!

    3. ThatGirl*

      I don’t know where you live but I work for a well known baking and decorating supply and education company, you should consider a fun class or two! We also have a ton of tutorials. Have fun!!

      1. Loopy*

        I definitely looked up classes! Sadly the local community college had a weird spread out schedule for non-credit courses. There’s a bootcamp I’m considering but it’s not until June!

    4. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Wonderful. And enjoy for as long as you love it! You don’t have to have a lifetime “thing” – just some “thing” you truly love “right now” and for as long as you want. It sounds like you found that. So don’t look back on all the other “sorta things” – but live mindfully in the bliss of this great thing for right now. And don’t look forward to when it might not be your thing any longer. Who knows, might never happen – or you might find you bridge into something else.
      Just great joy that you have it now and are obviously GREAT at it. (Beautiful pictures – and I’ll bet they are as yummy as they look)

      1. Loopy*

        Ahhhh I so WANT to have this mindset. I used to struggle more util a few people who were *those* people, who had their Absolute Thing even burned out and switched to other hobbies. It gave much needed perspective. I still like the idea of being really good at something though.

    5. LilySparrow*

      I have several loves that I cycle through, seasonally or for a few months or years at a time. I think that’s normal, but people are just on different rhythms.

      1. Loopy*

        I think I may be falling into cycling rather than dabbling now that you put it that way. I’ll be super into reading for a while, then fall off for months at a time. This is an interesting way to reevaluate it!

      2. Blue_eyes*

        This. I’ve been knitting for 20-ish years (and I’m only in my early 30s!) and crocheting for about 10 years and it definitely comes and goes in cycles. There was a year or two recently where I didn’t do any knitting or crocheting really, and now I’m excited about it again and have two different projects I’m working on. I also bake, and I’m learning calligraphy and those things go in waves too.

        Hobbies should be enjoyable and it’s fine to “follow the psych” aka, do whatever is inspiring to you right now and not worry about it when you’re feeling it.

    6. rogue axolotl*

      Sounds great! I have a few hobbies and usually tend to latch onto one for a while, then switch to another. Right now I’m really into improving my craft fair game. Usually it helps if I have a kind of project or outlet to focus on–I don’t usually make things just for the sake of making them. My baking output is low at the moment because I don’t have anyone to eat the baked goods. I used to bring them into the office mostly.

      1. Loopy*

        I guess more people do this than I realized! I didn’t expect so many people to say they do it too!

    7. Ginger Sheep*

      Hi! I’ve recently had a very similar experience: I’ve always kind of liked to bake, and I’ve dabbled in many artistic-craftsy types of things over the years, but with nothing ever sticking or becoming a real hobby. Last year around Christmastime, I accidentally discovered cookie decorating, and I fell for it head over heels. Like you describe, I have spent the last year thinking cookies, researching cookies, planning cookies, decorating cookies and dreaming of cookies. I never thought I would keep that level of interest for a full year, but it happened. I really don’t know how long I’ll continue (I feel like I’m the only person in my country with this hobby so it feels a bit lonely sometimes), but as of now, I’m still 100% in. I even registered for an international cookie convention in the US – it’ll be my first transatlantic flight as an adult, will cost me over a month of salary for four days, and I’m still doing it – because this is what I actually want. I sometimes really feel like an addict (and my cookie obsession does have a minor impact on my work – I no longer work at home nights and weekends because I have cookies to do!), but I figure there are worse things to be addicted to.
      I’ll follow you on Instagram, and if you want, you can have a look at my account as well: @le_bois_mesle !
      And by the way, I really want to thank here the many wonderful commenters of this blog who follow me on Instagram for their likes and their encouragements – I really appreciate it, you folks are great!

  14. Dragonfly*

    How about arranging it with everyone else in the group beforehand to let Geoff get the first round? And if he demurs just say it is a group decision, taken to ensure he does the decent thing and make up for the time before when he took ill.

    1. Auntie Social*

      Yeah, wouldn’t it be great to hear six people say in unison, “The first round is on GEOFF!!!”

      1. valentine*

        No. Don’t gang up on him. He’s your friend, after all.

        And he can just claim illness and leave again, leaving at least some people feeling bad.

  15. Lcsa99*

    So the english language has a lot of sayings that when you think about them too hard, they actually don’t make sense. Like “under the weather.” That was used in a post earlier this week, and of course we know what it means, but when you think about it, aren’t we all technically under the weather? I mean, it comes from the sky, which is above us, so we’re all actually under it.

    And “happy as a clam”. How can you tell a clam is happy or sad? They don’t have faces, so they can’t smile. Do they actually have emotions? How would a sad clam look different from the average happy clam?

    So what are some other sayings that don’t actually make sense?

    1. Cruciatus*

      I think a lot of phrases we have in English made more sense once upon a time, but over time we have lost the connection. I think the “happy as a clam” phrase actually has more to it–“happy as a clam at high water”. It’s still a weird saying, but it makes a little more sense. I looked up “under the weather” and it has nautical roots. When a sailor was feeling seasick he’d go below deck to get away from the weather.

      But I bet the list of English sayings that make no sense will still be a big one!

      1. NiceOrc*

        Yes, bits of the original full phrase get lost so we are left with a snappy but nonsensical saying! My (now ex-)husband says “You’d complain if I pissed on you” to which the only answer is well, yes, of course I would! But the full phrase is apparently “You’d complain if you were on fire and I pissed on you to put it out.” Which makes a bit more sense (but is still aggravating!)

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      The straw that broke the camel’s back = we all know what it means but a straw can’t break a camel’s back so it’s an odd saying, definitely.

      Tonsil tennis has just come to mind as well.

      1. Cruciatus*

        Tonsil tennis for sure–ick. But it’s not that there’s only one straw that breaks the camel’s back, it’s that adding one more piece becomes too much–I’ve always assumed there are already a lot of straws and the camel could just not handle one more on his back.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I think the long version of that one is “It’s the last straw that breaks the camel’s back”, which does make sense.- adding even a small extra weight to an already overloaded animal my cause it to collapse..

      3. Anon Anon Anon*

        If you’re loading straw onto a camel’s back one straw at a time, without regard for the safety of the camel, eventually, there will be one straw that causes its back to break. Awful to think about, but I think that’s the idea behind the expression.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Grammarist refers to it as a proverb, and there was a precursor “the feather that broke the horse’s back.”
        To me it seems situationally related to the “frog in slowly heating water” image.

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

      “A stitch in time saves nine.” What? How do you stitch time? That sounds like something out of either a Doctor Who episode or a David Bowie song.

      “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” EWW. I don’t want a bird… doing its business in my hand. I’d MUCH rather admire the birds from a distance in their bushes.

      1. Inge*

        How did you get pooping from ‘a bird in the hand’? I always figured it was a dead bird you could eventually eat instead of two birds you hadn’t caught yet.

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

          I have incredibly bad luck with birds. Every time I see one, I end up with bird do all over me. It’s kind of uncanny.

          1. acmx*

            When a bird crapped on me, I was told it meant good luck. So, you should be incredibly lucky. Do you feel lucky? (I refrained from adding ‘punk’).

            On topic: neck of the woods.
            I was going to add head over heels and saw fposte addressed it.

      2. Ainomiaka*

        The stitch in time thing isn’t about stitching time, but early enough- like “just in the nick of time.” Jobs get bigger if you delay.

      3. ElspethGC*

        “A stitch in time saves nine” is saying that if you fix things as soon as you notice they’re breaking (aka in time) it saves time in the long run when you’d have to spend much more time fixing it. See also: going to the doctor as soon as you notice something rather than leaving it so long it’s harder to treat.

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

          I know what the expression means, but the way it’s worded is awkward. But now that I read your reading of it, I’m realizing now that I’ve literally heard the saying wrong my entire life.

          1. Qosanchia*

            It’s definitely a weird construction, it relies pretty heavily on assumed words. “A [single] stitch [added] in time [i.e. before something bad happens] saves [you from adding] nine [after the bad thing happens].”

            As someone who enjoys getting super literal at inappropriate moments, I’ve always enjoyed squaring that one with “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So are preventative measures 1:16 with restorative measures, or are they 1:9? And anyway, I thought it was “better to ask forgiveness than seek permission?”

            Aphorisms. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.

            1. SignalLost*

              Neither, really, as ounce and pound are dry measures and stitches are length measures. Plus, stitches for small repairs are often artisanal and there is no federal standard for stitch length under artisanal conditions, so it’s a variable distance measure to boot. You would have to convert using hogsheads per maid x 9/5.

      4. JanetM*

        “A stitch in time saves nine.” — I think (but could be wrong; I didn’t look it up) that “in time” here sort of means “at the appropriate time,” as in, “I thought we were running late but we still arrived in time to see Santa before he left the mall.”

        So the phrase would be suggesting that an action taken at the right time saves more reparative action later.

        Or I could be wrong.

      5. Beatrice*

        ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ refers to how a small repair done quickly can avoid a more difficult repair later.

      6. Wishing You Well*

        “A stitch in time saves nine” came from the clothing industry before sewing machines were invented. A quick single-stitch repair could save a tailor from fixing an even bigger tear later. 9 stitches/inch was the standard for hand-stitching clothing seams.

      7. Slartibartfast*

        A stitch that’s places in time saves you from having to put 10 stitches in later, if fix the small hole quickly you won’t have to fix a big one later

    4. Inge*

      I’ve never understood ‘raining cats and dogs’. But then we say ‘raining shoemaker boys’ in Denmark which makes even less sense.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m betting the boys is the same origin as the cats and dogs–they would huddle up near the structurally dubious roof for warmth (heat rises) and when it rained hard, couldn’t keep their grip and fell down with the rest of the family.

      2. dawbs*

        I remember learning (not saying i’s right, just that I was taught it) that in Victorian London, a hard rain would flood things and the result was a lot of drowned strays that would be found in gutters.
        So the rain kinda looked like raining cats and dogs.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        How is that written på Dansk? I’m trying to learn, and we chat with friends overseas quite regularly.

    5. New Bee*

      Idioms FTW! I notice I can more readily think of examples in my first language (English) than in my others, but one interesting similarity is “pulling one’s leg” and “tomar el pelo” (pulling one’s hair”) in Spanish. Both mean to tell a lie, play a trick on, etc.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I understand that “fits like a ring” in Spanish is the equivalent of “fits like a glove” in English.

      2. Qosanchia*

        I don’t know the actual phrase, but I’m told there’s a Spanish idiom that translates as “don’t stick a fork in your ear” or some such, which is closer in meaning to “don’t let it drive your crazy.”
        On second thought, it might be a noodle, not a fork. Either way. Idiomatic language is great

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          There’s a fun book of idioms from all over the world…”I’m not hanging noodles from your ears.” By Jag Balls (sp?)
          It disappeared into my daughter’s room a while ago…much giggling ensued.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I want to know what “pull the other one, it’s got bells on” is from.

        I guess, “pull the other leg,” meaning, I already know you’re pulling my leg, or telling me an obvious lie (which is its own odd idiom), so you might as well go on and tell me another whopper.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I always thought that if you’re looking down at a clam (which we almost always are), the seam of the shells kind of looks like a smile, especially if it’s open a crack, and that’s where the saying “happy as a clam” might have come from.

    7. fposte*

      I’m always intrigued by the ones that morph. Like “head over heels,” which used to be, more reasonable, “heels over head.” Or “sucks,” which didn’t use to be sexual but then picked up a sexual meaning.

      1. Turtlewings*

        Did it really used to be “heels over head”?! I’m so glad to know that, because that always bothered me so much. Of course you’re “head over heels”! Your head is always over your heels unless you’re upside down!

        1. fposte*

          Yup. It morphed back. I think it was basically a hypercorrection, like a linguistic equivalent of spinning out completely on ice when you try to turn.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Sounds like what happened with the phrase ‘I could care less”. It used to be “I could care less… but not much less”. Of course, that made more sense :)

            Heels over head makes more sense too.

            1. fposte*

              Yup. When people talk about “could care less,” I always bring up “head over heels.” Which is why I’m so in demand at parties.

            2. Kat in VA*

              I thought the correct version was “I couldn’t care less”?

              “I could care less” implies you could care less but actually do care, whereas “I couldn’t care less” means you don’t care at all (can’t care less than zero)?

              I love language with all its idiosyncrasies!

              (and now the word “care” looks weird to me…)

              1. Someone Else*

                Both are used to mean “not really caring”. I’m not sure if one of these origins might be urban legend, but the way it’s been explained to me is the “could care less” version means “I care a bit, but could care even less, but we’re dealing with small amounts of caring here”. Whereas “couldn’t care less” implies caring such a small amount that if one cared less one wouldn’t care at all, or in other readings, it already means you don’t care at all, hence unable to care less.

    8. Forking great username*

      As a parent with young kids, the phrase “slept like a baby” immediately comes to mind. Generally used to mean you got an awesome, restful night of sleep. Which is completely not how babies actually sleep. This phrase made me furious during the hormonal days of sleep deprivation, haha.

        1. All Caught Up On Sleep Now*

          None of mine ever did.

          But it’s a useful fallback when the sleep deprivation feels like deliberate torture, and someone asks “so how does Fergus sleep?” and you can reply, “like a baby” which they’ll understand means “often, but not for long, and in a cactus position”.

    9. rogue axolotl*

      This is slightly off track, but I am particularly fond of the many horse-related idioms–don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, you can lead a horse to water, putting the cart before the horse, from the horse’s mouth, etc etc. I like the fact that the days when horses had much more relevance to our daily lives are enshrined in language.

      1. Lcsa99*

        At least the horse related idioms are better than the cat ones. Who would put a cat in a bag?! Poor kitty.

      2. Buzzbattlecat*

        There’s a band from Sydney, Australia, The Whitlams, who used the following lyric: “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it enjoy the view…”
        I love how they pivoted from the familiar saying to a different place. In Sydney, the harbour view is much prized:)

    10. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      Actually, “under the weather” makes me think of a kitten/puppy in the rain, so… it sort of makes sense to me :) but I’m not a native English speaker.

      1. Earthwalker*

        Doesn’t “under the weather” refer to a ship rolling in stormy seas and making its landlubber passengers seasick?

        1. Cara*

          I heard it as sick seamen (those unable to work) used to be recorded in the ship’s log and their numbers exceeding the space in the relevant column, so the overspill were recorded in the adjacent column which was for recording the weather. So the names of the sick were literally under the weather.

          No idea if there’s any truth to that!

  16. Lora*

    Ugh. Today I have to tell my mother that I can’t take care of her, she can’t live here anymore.

    I had to travel for work and while I was away there were not one, not two but THREE caretakers to manage things and she still had a major meltdown.

    This is a woman who has been emotionally abusive all my life and neglected me as a child to the point where Social Services was repeatedly called, so I didn’t have much love for her to begin with. We’re not talking about a sweet old lady who bakes cookies or even a raunchy amusing old bat who drinks whiskey all day – we’re talking about Regina George as an old lady who never learned to be kind to people and spews constant racist / sexist / homophobic / anti-Semitic crap at everyone within shouting distance.

    Came home to find half the house empty. Like, clothes and blankets from the bedroom and furniture missing, computer missing, doors unlocked. I asked what the hell happened, was it robbers (the security camera was broken too). Oh no, she had a temper tantrum and broke / ruined a bunch of stuff and it had to be thrown away.

    Half my clothes. A bunch of electronics. Hand sewn quilts off the bed. Some food, small appliances, tools in the garage, small craft projects. She went on a rampage. I can’t handle this kind of destruction. Talked to her brother, we are arranging for her to be in some kind of appropriate housing near him, he’s going to find out what’s available in the homes where their parents lived several years but I know only one of those can handle dementia and they are usually booked solid. Plus she doesn’t have long term care insurance, so it’s on the state.

    This sucks. I just needed to vent. She’s with it enough to mostly understand and she will likely have another tantrum and I will have something thrown at me before the end of the day. I can only hope whatever she throws is small, soft, and inanimate.

    1. pugs for all*

      Oh, I am so sorry you are going through this. You were very kind to have taken her in in the first place. I’m hoping all goes well (or as well as can be expected) in the process of getting her moved out and you are on the other side of this soon.

    2. rubyrose*

      I’m so sorry. By her going somewhere else, you are also taking care of yourself.

      It’s good you can work with her brother and that he can help with the arrangements. Could he physically be there for the discussion? Or be on the phone? In the long run, it may make a difference that she understands it is not just you being mean.

      Since this is on the State – is he taking that into account when talking with these facilities, as in telling them this upfront? It can make a difference. Any access to social workers, or other professionals that can help with this?

      1. Lora*

        He is a few states away, so has to be on the phone. Yes, he is aware of her financial situation, he helped her several years ago setting up some automatic payment things so she wouldn’t have to manage money. Since then she ran up over 100,000 in credit card debt.

        I don’t care if she thinks I’m being mean. I just want this whole chapter of misery and firefighting over with. She won’t have any therapist or social worker or anyone like that because she thinks that would mean she is crazy and she isn’t crazy, (insert name here) is the crazy one! She thinks social workers and therapists and anyone in that field is an agent of Big Pharma trying to hook her on The Drugs.

        We pointed out repeatedly that this is the same way her mother started going downhill and how poorly Grandma’s quality of life was when she treated the nursing staff badly and refused treatment. No luck. It’s just going to suck. I’m running around trying to get things set up so it will be a fait accompli – only a few more things to do today to set up packing and organizing and then I’ll tell her later today.

        1. rubyrose*

          Actually, I meant the social worker/therapist that could provide you with easy information/guidance on getting this done the best way possible. My concern is more for you than her. I have had to deal with crazies in life.
          I found that proactively thinking some about what might happen and how to handle it if it did helped me be more effective in the moment. So if she totally loses it when you speak to her (be it today, or another time), have you considered calling the police if she becomes physically violent?

          Please be sure to update us.

          1. LilySparrow*

            Yes, in our area the elder care branch of the state social services department can help you identify resources and plan a transition like this.

        2. ..Kat..*

          Googling “elder services “ in your area (or your brother’s area) might provide you with assistance in taking care of this. I suggest you get a good lock for your bedroom door, have good smoke detectors, and can exit out your window in case of emergency. Also, can you keep important stuff (documents, electronics, a computer backup, jewelry, etc) at a friend’s house? Safe deposit box? Please keep yourself safe while you deal with this.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m sorry for your having to grow up with someone like that, and it was very generous of you to even talk to her, much less try to care for her. While I feel you have no moral or ethical obligation, I encourage you to Google “filial responsibility laws” and your state and the state your brother lives in, if it’s different. Because when I read “Plus she doesn’t have long term care insurance, so it’s on the state.”, the first thing I wondered is if you or your brother could legally be held responsible. Probably not, as even states with such laws on the books often don’t enforce them, and they usually only apply to state spending, not private care facilities, but it is probably worth researching before you find a permanent place for her, as if you and your brother are in different states, one state might be much better legally for the two of you.

      1. Rebecca*

        This is a really good point. PA where I live is one of those Filial Responsibility states, and has dusted it off. Look up John Pittas and what happened to him. Ridiculous.

        1. rubyrose*

          I work in the Medicaid world and had never encountered this. But I saw the list of states where this applies, and I’ve never lived or worked on Medicaid in any of those states.
          John Pittas – unbelievable.

    4. fposte*

      Oh, Lora, I’m so sorry this has gone so badly. You are absolutely doing a reasonable thing by saying “Enough.”

      I wouldn’t spend a lot of time worrying about filial responsibility laws, especially if you’re not in Pennsylvania–the Pittas case is an outlier, and there are something like 4 million people in nursing homes on Medicaid without getting such laws involved. What I would do, if you think you can, is find an elder law attorney to discuss the legalities and logistics of a move into nursing care. You may already be familiar with her coverage via Medicare and Medicaid and whether she has any assets; if not, check those out to have a clearer idea of the terminology and her status for meeting with a lawyer.

      I hope it goes as smoothly for you as possible.

    5. Ms. Ann Thropy*

      Take care of yourself. Biological relationship notwithstanding, nobody has the right to treat you the way she is. And you deserve to live in peace and security.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I am so very sorry. And I am amazed that you let her stay with you to begin with. You are just an incredible, awesome person.

      When someone lets us live with them that is a privilege for us not an obligation on their part. With that privilege comes responsibilities to contribute to the household as much as possible and as often as possible. Your mother is doing the exact opposite. If you chose to continue to allow her to live with you she would bring your ship down with her own sinking ship. Yes, so this is very close to a battle for life or death, where you are trying to stay afloat and she has the torpedoes lined up and is firing them. You have come to the only conclusion there is, really.

      I am so sorry you are going through this. You tried so hard. I hope things go peacefully for you or at least go along a little quicker than you expected.

    7. Not A Manager*

      I had to move my mother to a care facility due to dementia. I don’t know your own circumstance, but it’s not at all clear to me why you need to tell her this TODAY. She’s not going to learn a lesson and change her behavior, even if she could. The strong likelihood is that her behavior will get much worse while she’s still with you, AND she’ll turn on as much manipulation and guilt as possible as well.

      Even if she’s not legally incompetent – or hasn’t been declared incompetent – the fact is that she has limited resources to resist you once you actually get this set up. My STRONG advice, from personal experience, is not to have a Big Talk with her now. Get everything set up with her brother, get your ducks in a row, and then deal with looping her in.

      In the case of many people with dementia, the easiest thing is literally to get them in the car and take them to their new residence. This sounds harsh, but depending on how bad their memory is, they might not remember any prior conversations about it anyway, and those conversations can be very traumatic to both of you at the time. Many people at my mother’s facility believe that they are “visiting” in a “hotel.” Telling a little white lie such as, the home needs some repairs, or this is a short vacation to stay near her brother, etc. might be helpful.

      If she’s more intact, but angry and hostile, then it might still make sense to postpone the conversation until she’s in the car, or at least until a day or two before the move. Again, if you’re going to tell her while she’s still living with you, have a support person there with you at the time.

      If I were you, I would certainly NOT have this conversation with her now until I’d at least talked to a geriatric social worker and gotten some good scripts.

      1. Not A Manager*

        ALSO – Do not be afraid to lie to someone with dementia. What you both need is for them to feel safe and secure, and to experience as little emotional upset as possible. Resist the urge to give them distressing truths that will upset them and that they will not internalize or even remember.

        It’s hard for my mother to part from me after I visit her. I’ve found that it’s best to reassure her that I’ll come back in time for dinner (because she thinks she’s at a hotel and is vaguely “vacationing” near me). I tell her to have a nap or watch TV while I run some errands, and then I’ll be back. In reality, I visit her twice a week. But what’s the point of having that upsetting conversation? She forgets that I’ve been there literally when I’m out of sight.

        So think about what will best sit with your mother regarding her move. “The roof is leaking and it will take some time to get it repaired, so I want you in a quiet environment.” “Winter here is cold and icy so you should vacation someplace warmer until spring.” “My job is requiring me to travel a lot for the next few months, so now’s a good time to visit near your brother.”

        And, as I said before, think about when is the best time for her AND FOR YOU for you to share this information. With previously-autonomous, previously-intact adults, there is the urge to continue treating them as autonomous, intact adults. But if that’s no longer the reality, then you need to time your disclosures based on what’s actually best and easiest for her.

        1. Lora*

          This is incredibly helpful. I think you are right, but basically I want her out of my house starting now and I’m changing the locks. I think you are right about fibbing to her and this has been something I’ve really struggled with trying to care for her – she yells and screams and makes up stories in her head that have nothing to do with reality and it’s all I can do just to hold my tongue and shrug and let it roll off me, without contradicting her and saying no, that’s not how it happened. I’m sure it’s extra difficult just because of my history with her, too. You’re not the first person to say that by far, but somehow I have a real mental block about lying to her. I’m not good at thinking up something she would find plausible on the spot.

          She still has good days, they are just fewer and further between, and on a good day she does understand what’s going on. It’s that the bad days are REALLY bad and getting worse all the time. If I try to put her in the car and “hey, we’re going to Dave’s house for Xmas!” on a good day, she will be very suspicious and refuse to go. But I never know what day it’s going to be.

          And partly because I feel like it won’t be so easy to get her moved into care – her doctors have been pretty unhelpful. Her oncologist was actually more helpful than her regular doctor because he saw her all the time for chemo and saw her on good days, bad days and horrible days, and I think he was the first of her medical team to see how bad it really was. But her primary care doctor is useless. I kind of feel like I don’t have any help with anything, like they’re going to shrug and say, “oh she loves you deep down underneath it all, you’re exaggerating and it’s not really that bad, it’s your job to take care of your mother!” Because I have heard that nearly all my life.

          Thank you. I need to think about this a bit, how to get from point A to point B.

          1. fposte*

            Lora, do check out the laws in your area before you do something like locking her out today with notice (I wasn’t sure if you mean that literally); that could be an illegal eviction. It would be in a lot of U.S. states. That’s a much likelier issue than a filial responsibility case, so I’d consider consulting a lawyer before I took any action.

            1. Lora*

              She’s in a little granny cottage, so she wouldn’t be locked out of her little apartment – just the main house.

              She tore up the seat covers on my car. The seat covers on my friggin car. Just… what??? I can’t deal with this.

              1. fposte*

                Aha, okay. That’s good both for legal and personal reasons; you can keep up some barriers between you in the mean time.

                But yeah. Somebody who tears up the seat covers on your car is beyond logical reach, and I would totally want her out of my life.

              2. Auntie Social*

                Do you need photos of the damage for the courts and for the nursing homes, to see what they’re up against? I just wonder if you’re going to have to be her guardian (I so hope not). She will get medication in a SNF, a friend’s mom was hell on earth and they gave her a medication for paranoia and she’s much more pleasant. She’s never going to be a sweet old lady, mind you, but there is a huge difference. I’m so sorry, I know it wore my friend out. She will be gone soon, I promise.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Statements from the caregivers in this most recent episode would also have an impact.

          2. Wishing You Well*

            I am very, very sorry you’re dealing with this.
            Say and do whatever you need to at whatever time you need to deal with this.
            If you need to convince someone of Mom’s behavior, a video would be your best witness. Videos tend to silence doubters very quickly. (Don’t post to social media, just to be clear. Show it to the individual doctors, lawyers, etc.)
            Even Glen Campbell, with all his money, had to be put in a care facility because he was too violent to be at home anymore. Your mom now needs more help than you can provide.
            Jedi Hugs, if you want them.

          3. Observer*

            That stinks, but that’s all the more reason to not talk to her until you actually have someplace to take her.

            Please document as much as you can, including pictures and statements from people like the care givers who had to throw out thousands of dollars of stuff. This kind of stuff is important, but at that point you can make the point that is doesn’t matter whether she loves under it all or not – she just NOT SAFE. She’s a danger to you and herself.

    8. LilySparrow*

      I’m so sorry!

      I think what you’re describing would be much better for her, because consistency of environment and caregivers is really important in dementia. She won’t like the change, and it may be a rough transition, but once she’s settled it will be safer and calmer for her to be in a properly equipped place with 24-hour staff. A rampage that violent is going to get her and/or someone else badly hurt at some point, in a normal home with breakables and kitchen equipment at hand.

      My relative had different health issues, but it was still emotionally difficult when we transferred her to a facility. I didn’t feel guilty for doing it, I was relieved.

      And then I felt guilty for feeling relieved, and questioned whether I was just being selfish (and got accused of selfishness).

      But it’s just the practical reality that she needs more care than you are able to do on your own. Getting her the best possible care is a very kind and loving thing to do. Particularly when your relationship is so difficult.

      Best wishes, I hope the conversation and the process go smoothly!

      1. LilySparrow*

        I just read NotaManager’s good advice. I hear you about not wanting to lie to her, but it does sound like it would be good to postpone the conversation as long as possible. And have backup with you when it happens.

      1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        Not from what’s described here. She sounds like a pain in the ass and a danger to property, but not a danger to the safety of herself or others.

    9. Woodswoman*

      I am so sorry you’re having to deal with this, and you an amazing person to have invited her to live with you in the first place after growing up with her abuse. With her brother being far away, I can’t imagine dealing with such a horrible situation by yourself. I echo what others are saying about finding more support for YOU through a social worker and or a therapist. I hope you’ll post an update.

    10. Lora*

      Well. Crap.

      Her brother found out how much work it would be and how much it would cost, because the state payments don’t kick in until she is MUCH worse (I mentioned that her primary care doctor is useless, wasn’t kidding) and basically not having good days at all ever. He bailed. AGAIN. He’s moving out of the country and won’t help. Don’t have any other family who can step in. I guess he thought he could just talk to her nicely and tell her we are all very concerned about her and she would be cool with that? And was shocked when that didn’t work. And it sounds like he has his own Issues with her and doesn’t want to help for that reason too.

      Apparently my only legal option if she won’t voluntarily go is to evict her and get a restraining order. Which I guess I will do. I can’t live with this.

      Why am I so fking all alone in this crap? There is seriously no help.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        It’s not fair, but people are often more than happy to dump all the work on whomever they think will do it. I’m sorry it’s so tough.

      2. ronda*

        when she goes on a rant, call the police and have her arrested because she is assaulting you (from one of your comments it sound like that has happened), or whatever she is doing this time.

        refuse to let her come back because it is un-safe.

        They will find somewhere to put her.

        1. rubyrose*

          Seconding this.
          You need to take care of yourself and your possessions first.
          The authorities will find a place to put her. Hopefully, it will be where she will get an objective evaluation (because it does not sound like her primary care provider is being objective or engaged).

      3. rubyrose*

        I hope that you will have been able to have the locks changed on your place by the end of today. My guess is that she will become enraged when she figures that out. Be prepared to call the police if she does anything illegal when she has another tantrum, be it against you or your possessions. Don’t give her anymore slack or leeway on anything. Actually, can you still report today getting home and finding a good portion of your things gone/destroyed?

        It sounds to me like the best thing would be for her to immediately be in an institutional facility, be it jail or the hospital. I don’t think either of those places are going to put up with what you have had to deal with. They can gather the evidence of her mental state. I’ve never been in the jail system, but I have dealt some with acute care behavioral health settings. If she is not put on an involuntary hold, they are required to come up with a plan for someone leaving the hospital. They have social workers. Since they want their money, they will get Medicaid involved.

        If I were in your shoes, I would be contacting your state elder services first thing tomorrow. Maybe they have a web presence and you can get some information online today? Maybe a 24 hour help line? Also, start the restraining order/eviction process tomorrow. I just don’t know which order I would do them in.

        I know it feels really lonely, Lora. I think there is help, but it is help you will need to reach out for to from agencies that you have hoped you would not need to contact.

        One other thing – those folks who try to guilt trip you into staying involved because she’s your mother and she really loves you – ignore them. Feel free to tell them no.

      4. Not A Manager*

        I have no idea what the legal situation is in your state, but when I moved my mother, I didn’t need to have “her primary care doctor” specifically sign stuff. It could be any doctor who had examined her.

        If you have some resources, I would suggest tracking down the best geriatric unit/practice in your area, and consulting with them. If you can’t do that, try elder services, social services, and the social worker at your local hospital. You need someone to give you general information and set you on the right path.

        Worst-case scenario, next time your mother goes on a rampage, call 911.

        Best of luck. This is a terrible situation.

      5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Wait, yesterday your uncle wanted to have your mom move out near him, but today he’s moving out of the country?!

        Ok, maybe not exactly that, but I like the idea of your uncle fleeing the country to get out of taking care of his sister.

      6. valentine*

        Lora, you can absolutely prioritize your safety, including keeping your property intact because letting her destroy things isn’t good for anyone. (I don’t know why she has access, anyway. Couldn’t the carers have called the police if she tried to break into your house or car?) As she has carers, can’t you stay in your house and she in the cottage without that being neglect? I don’t see why you have to interact with her, but if she throws something at you, what about reporting it as assault and asking the police to remove her immediately and to bar her from your property? Doesn’t her assaulting you and vandalizing your property trump her tenant’s rights? With her causing harm to herself or others, can you get a psychiatric hold?

        If you’re going to suffer her longer, maybe have the carers photograph the destruction (Why is it your stuff? Can you remove anything of yours from the cottage?) and keep the items for you to peruse and to present as proof.

    11. not Lynn Davis*

      You may want to google ‘office for the aging mystate ‘ and her brother’s state, to get to each state’s elder info. From what I’ve seen there are often central state resources plus links to each county. The folks at the referral lines (if you decide to call in addition to googling) have lots of experience with what services are available….which might include talking with someone (social wkr etc as suggested above) who can help you plan. If they list a caregiver support group near you, that might be worth trying. That’s usually not my thing…but it really helped; several attendees had stories similar to yours, and the group gave us a safe place to say I’m overwhelmed/angry/need help and get commiseration and suggestions instead of judgment. Contacting the state/country where your uncle (and soon mother!) live may provide info on the suggested process there. Bravo on taking care of yourself, and I’m so glad your uncle is willing to help. (Also, I don’t remember the details, but if ‘the state’ is paying, that’s probably Medicaid, and there’s a bunch of paperwork — gathering old bank statements etc – to prove financial need/lack of assets. Hopefully the facility uncle is looking at can provide a list of required docs, so you/he can get started. )

  17. Bibliovore*

    I am planning to go to a sketching night at the natural history museum. Part of the “have something in my life that isn’t the thing that shall not be named” super nervous. I haven’t made art in 25 years. What do I bring? Pad? Recommendations, ? Pencil? That’s it?

    1. Overeducated*

      That sounds so fun! I have a friend who does stuff like that and it sounds very relaxed, quiet, noncompetitive. Enjoy!

    2. Dr. KMnO4*

      One thing I find is that people who haven’t made art in a long time can be very self-critical. I was like that until I took some art classes. Just be kind to yourself and don’t get too caught up in how things “should” look. My best art has all come when I stopped worrying about making it look perfect/photorealistic and just focused on making it look the way I felt it.

      1. Tiny Soprano*

        Something really great for circumventing perfectionist urges is using something permanent like markers or crayons so you don’t spend lots of time being self-critical with an eraser. It can make it easier to embrace the chaotic nature of art. Have fun!

    3. Lizabeth*

      Instead of doing one big drawing, use your credit card to outline a bunch of smaller frames to draw in. One of my old profs had us do that for landscape drawing so we wouldn’t get bogged down by size.

    4. redbug34*

      I bet it will be a great time! I did a drawing class at our local natural history society, and everyone was so gracious and enthused, and at all different skill levels. It was a very good, calming experience. I’d say bring a simple sketch pad and whatever media you used to work with – pencil, pen, watercolor – and enjoy yourself!

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I would just bring a pad and pencil and that’s it.

      I do a regular drawing thing (not at a museum, though that sounds fun!), and there’s a real variety. Some people bring a small sketchpad or notebook. Others have giant sheets of newsprint with charcoal. Still others paint. I saw someone sketching on an iPad! It’s really just whatever works for you. Have a blast!

      1. Bibliovore*

        I just blew the bank on the iPad Pro. I will bring that along. My favorite drawing app didn’t update. sigh.

  18. LuJessMin*

    I’m up at 6:30 am on Saturday morning due to my infernal coughing. I had a cold on Monday and all that’s left is the coughing. I wish I had some of the good cough syrup with codeine.

    1. Overeducated*

      Right there with you. My cold was worst yesterday and Thursday, I was looking forward to sleeping in but also up at 6:30 today. Hope you feel better soon!

    2. Kuododi*

      Oh Sweetie… I am wide awake in my corner of Paradise having all kinds of sympathy pains for you. ( Cough, drainage, sore throat and the like) Unfortunately I am allergic to the whole Codiene class of meds so I can’t have any of the fun cough syrup! :(. I’m making do with OTC products and feeling a bit whiny. Hang in there! It will get better!!!

    3. Ali G*

      My homemade “cure” for sore throat/cough is to take my french press (if you don’t have one, you can just strain this manually), add a sprig of rosemary, a lemon halved and juiced (but throw it in too), add boiling water and then honey. Steep for ~5 min. Push the press down/strain and drink! It feels really good.

    4. Anona*

      One point against the codeine syrup- we had some and gave some to my husband when he got the flu last winter. It helped with the coughing, and he got pneumonia! They told him if he didn’t rest he was very close to having a tube put in his lung to drain it! They blamed the cough syrup at least in part, since he wasn’t clearing his lungs. It was scary and surprising.

    5. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Couldn’t add the codiene last winter during the cough season to hubby’s routine (lung issue), but highly recommend “Traditional Medicinals” (or comparable quality herbal) “Throat Coat” and “Breathe Easy” teas. (The first one is slippery elm bark… ) I bought the sampler and then a shipment of Throat Coat from the place that has Prime. (I gave bags to friends as needed to winnow the supply down!).

      Throat coat – for me, adding honey to the tea – plus the Burt’s Bees cough drops with honey (for some reason, they use the real stuff, and their cough drops work, unlike the sugar bag stuff at the drug store).

      Helped SO MUCH. I keep it now, along with the generic good cough syrup, in the medicine cabinet.

      1. Anono-me*

        Seconding the Traditional Medicine Tea. I really like how thethe Gypsy Cold Care tea works for me (Although I am uncomfortable about the name. ). I drink it with honey and lemon.

    6. Ha2*

      Ugh, I also get persistent coughs after colds, and it sucks. I’m sorry. For me the only thing that ever works is cough drops with high menthol content.

    7. AnonNDmous*

      I’ve had great luck with slowly eating a spoon of honey and then trying not to drink anything for a while (let it coat your throat.)

    8. Not A Manager*

      I also find that codeine is by far the best cough suppressant. Without getting into the pros and cons of cough suppressants in general or codeine in particular, just FYI that it doesn’t have to be delivered in a cough syrup formula. If you have any, say, Tylenol 3 leftover from a procedure or whatever, you can take that.

      I don’t want to sound like I’m giving medical advice. What I do is, I carefully google the med that I have to see how it compares to the active ingredient in a codeine cough syrup, and I try to deliver a similar quantity of codeine.

  19. pugs for all*

    Financial advice please!

    DH has been pushed into involuntary semi-retirement (well, almost fully pushed, but he does still work a little bit) and this obviously has negatively impacted out finances. (It’s also not been great on our relationship in other ways, but that is another post!)

    We have been arguing about money and I am at my wit’s end. We just go on circles and never get anywhere and get more in debt (I found out a few months ago he has run up $35k in credit card debt on his own cards, and just learned he may owe $20k to pay back a line of credit his now-failing company took out).

    Are there financial advisors out there that can help? All the ones I’ve met with seem to deal with retirement savings and so forth, not how to get out of a hole. Has anyone used one in this sort of situation and what “type” was it? How do you find one? Thank you.

    1. Asenath*

      Many places have non-profit credit counsellors. These are NOT the ones who are in it for profit and want to sell you financial services or handle your bankruptcy; they’re often run by a non-profit group, the local government, maybe a church or similar group. I can’t recommend them highly enough for anyone in financial difficulty. They will help with budgeting and negotiating credit payments, and if necessary refer their clients to someone who handles bankruptcy, but that isn’t by any means the first thing they suggest. They aren’t infallible – money management is a difficult and personal issue, and some people can’t accept or stick with the kinds of budgets and payment plans they recommend. How you find one? Googling should turn up some, but read their sites carefully to make sure they’re not the for profit kind, which are generally more interested in selling some financial product that teaching you to handle your money longterm. They may be listed among government or non-profit program organization sites – if you were in Canada, I’d suggest https://creditcounsellingcanada.ca/

    2. Gala apple*

      Check out the Financial Gym; they seem like a neat org that coaches people through things like this. Good luck!

    3. Missouri Girl in Louisiana*

      Go to http://www.daveramsey.com and look for endorsed local providers in your area. They won’t give you bad advice. It’s hard finding good financial people you can trust. Dave Ramsey saved us when I got laid off many moons ago.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      To be blunt, he might need therapy first to stop the financial self-harm he keeps inflicting on both of you before you work on healing those financial wounds. Or both at the same time, but working on that debt won’t do much if he keeps overspending money that you don’t have. Is this something new, or something he’s always done? The former might be easier to deal with, since it might be partially due to depression and avoidance about his work situation.

    5. fposte*

      This seems like less of a financial problem than a marital problem. You’re married to somebody who’s running up debt without telling you. A financial advisor isn’t going to change that. (And you’re right that they’re not generally getting-out-of-debt advisors anyway.)

      What it might be worth doing is checking out a nonprofit credit counseling service. I’ll append an FTC link about finding a reputable one. However, I also think I’d consider couples counseling here–$55k of debt that you weren’t told about is a big deal. Does he still have access to any credit cards, and is there a balance on any of them?

      1. A different anonymous today*

        Nesting, because fposte is right and also I don’t want to scare you… reading this in context of the recognition that this isn’t really about the money only… hopefully sets the stage for what I’m going to warn you about and recommend? I know I am going to react strongly here, but please know that I see warning flags I missed, and I’m concerned for you. Ignore or use it…. I’ve posted in the past about my troubles, so I’m coming from a very painful place.

        You are of an age where you don’t have recovery time if he doesn’t straighten up, stop, and immediately pay these off (with what?).

        The marital issues are actually the iceberg here (debt is the tip). Whether or not he agrees, you need to take a step back, get into counseling, and look at how you might be enabling him to do this “to you.” Seriously. Because if you are legally married, these become your debts if he dies (you are executor? Are there marital assets they can come after? What if you do get divorced?).

        I was (much more than afraid) so I get it… you try to fix the symptom, not the cause. What is really going on? Not just debt… but his behavior, communication, your marriage. The debt is a symptom.

        I held on, tried to fix (because of many reasons). My brain refused to look at the big picture, and dealt with the trees at the edge of the forest. (ie, things like “we owe $50,000 in defaulted judgements…” rather than the whole debt PLUS the reality of the non-communicative, disrespectful marriage and my supporting him).

        My brain only dealt with tiny pieces and trying to fix him/ the edges of the marriage/ pay the bills “today.” Why? I would give myself excuses / logic on why I had to stay in the marriage/ with him / keep beating my head against the wall. Things like I had “>20 yrs” in the relationship… he wasn’t physically well (depression takes many forms)… “I” would look like a jerk if I left him… “I” would be alone at (old age.).

        Turns out none of those were as bad as the reality of losing ALL of our retirement savings (he’d actually managed to tap into those secretly, and spent over X00,000 in inheritance I didn’t even know about to boot – which generates a tax hit as well), and being > X00,000 in debt when he died that I didn’t know about in total. And now I am unable to retire and probably having to go bankrupt myself (still waiting on the details for this… one of the big debts is not dis-chargeable).

        All because I stuck my head in the sand and thought I’d just deal with “what I could” and “owed it to him” to help him through the physical illness/underemployment (really severely compounded un-diagnosed depression and mental illness).

        Is it harsh to say divorce and put it on him? No. Not in retrospect. I look back now at every fork in the road and have to NOT beat myself up. At every red flag and wish I’d paid attention.

        What I was doing was black and white. I could have done a better middle ground (if I’d had counseling which I STRONGLY recommend). I could have divorced him, not had responsibility for his debt and STILL supported him as a friend and loved one through the mental illness – had I taken stock and been realistic.

        I should have done an agreement/ plan with him. Yes, you shouldn’t have to parent him. But you are. They are not a partner if they are not holding up their half the bargain. Set down a plan and agreement, not just for the repayment, but for the “no more usage.” (and check up on it) For the communication and weekly review of spending. For the going to the financial and (marriage) counselor. For the employment seeking/ second holiday job to pay off those bills. AND give deadlines for each step… this by “X” date. And hold to it. (Look up tough love for teenagers). You are enabling him… you may need to hold to the plan and cut him loose.

        What happens? Worst case? You are single and divorced. Trust me, from my perspective, it WOULD have been better to have cut him loose, put his debt in with his settlement, and kept a cordial as possible relationship. In retrospect, I should have learned to live with the (possibility of ) people thinking I’m a jerk for divorcing such a sweet, charming, ill man. Offer to him, to move back in AFTER he cleans up his act and proves it. You are still his friend of many years. You are just not financially owning his mistakes, and you don’t want to get stuck with them if he is hit by a car this weekend. (Sorry, but be realistic).

        You learn to draw boundaries, you stand up for yourself… and when he gets through learning his lessons, you are still on your own two feet. If he doesn’t, you are still on your own two feet and not drowning in debt and feeling guilty for not doing more. (and not contemplating having to move to the back side of beyond and living out of a 1970 double wide driving a $1000 car because you can’t afford to survive otherwise… or worse, throwing yourself on the mercy of friends or relatives because you CANNOT stand on your own two feet).

        The important steps are between here and the nuclear divorce, and how he takes responsibility. Not a bad idea to help him see the plan options, but he has to OWN his responsibility and take the steps. And you have to give firm deadlines and be prepared (and DO) take the actions if he doesn’t.

        I completely understand… but there’s a lot more here than a debt counselor. There’s dysfunction and as one who is suffering – deeply – remorse and pain from a situation… I just wish someone had pointed these things out to me.

        I was MORE wrong to stay and prop up, than I would have been to go and let him fall. It’s like a bad employee. Do you do their work for them… or let them get fired? I pulled in all kinds of cultural, family, emotional filters and never protected myself or my values of standing on my own two feet and having financial integrity.

        What would your future self say to your current self if this doesn’t get better ? Visualize… you are pushing 75 and having to work as a fast food cashier (as I may have to, seriously) to pay for a rented room and supplement social security while paying on that debt? (Debt collectors can mercifully only take X amount of your social security pay but it doesn’t leave much)…

        Don’t let pride or “shoulds” keep you from protecting yourself and doing what you will wish you’d done.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Well said. Thank you for sharing this, I am sure more than just the OP are reading and thinking, “wait. this is FOR me, too.” I am sorry life has been so harsh for you.

          OP, Different’s comment here is reaching me as my friend just lost her hubby. Nice guy but lots of health issues and lots of emotional baggage. Now that he is gone, she finds that they had 15 credit cards she did not know about with balances she was never aware of. Some of the cards are in her name. He lost the house before he passed because he failed to pay the mortgage for seven months in a row. The cars quit working a while back and he was unable to get them fixed for whatever reason. DMV pulled his license and she was never sure why. He said there was life insurance somewhere, but they haven’t found it yet.
          Fortunately, people are helping her a lot. I think she will be okay but it could be a year or two before we find out. And, yeah, lots of tears, too.

          Please bring in your own people to advise you as to what YOU should do. Put your own oxygen mask on first.

          1. A different anonymous today*

            Thank you – NSNR. You have given me many thoughtful supportive comments during my struggle these last few months, and I do look up to you and the others on this list who are wise and helpful. I feel for your friend.
            Forgery and identify theft is real, even in spouses. Forgery happened a lot. It is hard to believe, but they do have your SSN, they do have your signature, they can lay their hands on those credit card offers… and they have not the qualms you do. (and did do it to others, too).
            The pattern can be missed if they are charming and a good liar.
            Hard to say, but assume the worst until investigated. Use his ss# and identity, and get that credit karma or whatever report, etc. The truth needs to be known.

            1. A different anonymous today*

              Last point? I am not an advocate of sneaking and spying, but…. You have to. Log onto his laptop (most folks do save their passwords). Look at his main email, and online bill pays/statements, for email from companies or institutions or multiple accounts. write down the passwords. You know (probably) his mother’s maiden name, and most of the favorite pet, etc… you can do password resets. Don’t let the red herring of “why are you snooping” deter you from full discovery. They have already proved themselves not trustworthy. If your employee is doing drugs, as part of the rehab, you get to get that drug screen run. As part of this “rehab” you need to have all the info and discovery to know if they are running up or opening new accounts, and EVERY account they have.

              You can’t have a level playing field. And you can consider it a red flag if you’ve already “had the talk” and yet he’s opened up another account or borrowed money from family and / or friends (if there are any left who will loan it) without telling you…

              1. A different anonymous today*

                yeah, re-reading the better comments below… I know the snooping advice is bad. Don’t do it. In my defense… it is because I am so damaged by the lies and in agony this week in particular. (would-have-been-big-number-anniversary weekend).
                I will say, though, that if you have any niggling doubt that he is still hiding his financial issues/ borrowing/ debt (friends being borrowed from. other tiny flags…)… run, don’t walk to have the conversation. AND be aware that if it comes back to complete defensiveness and they won’t meet your eyes, there’s signs of lying… you need to protect yourself. Don’t be diverted by his defensiveness.
                I apologize, it’s a horrible, horrible place to be in and I’m not the first or last. Because I’m usually so nice, I’m particularly blindsided.

                1. valentine*

                  Please stop being so hard on yourself. What’s done is done and you’re unlikely to repeat it. What you did is perfectly human and I’m not sure it’s physically possible for you to fight your brain to both see and tackle the big picture at once. Your brain protected you by looking at a piece at a time and here you are now, on the other side. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

                  Pugs, I would start with a divorce lawyer and a PI. Even if you preserve the marriage, you’ll know at what real risk and cost you’re doing so.

        2. Clisby Williams*

          It’s worth checking with a lawyer on how this affects/could affect your finances. This may vary from state to state, but in mine, I have zero responsibility for my husband’s credit card debts, and he has zero responsibility for mine. The only joint debt we have ever had was our mortgage, which is paid off.

      2. neverjaunty*

        This, this, this. What the hell is he spending $35K on that you didn’t know about it until just now?

        Absolutely get credit counseling – but that is a stopgap. You cannot fix this as a couple unless he is fully transparent and on board with you. And if you are going around in circles on this it seems like he is not.

    6. Operational Chaos*

      I agree with the advise already given, but I would encourage you to pull a full credit history for both of you to make sure there aren’t any more surprises to contend with later on. You can also put freezes on credit checks, etc to prevent things getting even worse.

      1. Auntie Social*

        Um, that’s illegal. Seriously illegal. I say just go to a bankruptcy lawyer and each of you run your credit while you’re in his office. Nowhere to run, you know? It’s time to tell the absolute truth in a lawyer’s office.

        1. fposte*

          Sorry, good clarification. Run your own, but I wouldn’t try to run his or snoop in his stuff at this point. You don’t need more evidence on his side than the $55k of surprise debt you already know about to take whatever actions you’re going to take.