weekend free-for-all – January 12-13, 2019

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: Severance, by Ling Ma. Alternating between flashbacks and present day, this is the story of Candace Chen, one of the few to survive after a plague wipes out most of the population. It’s got office politics, zombies, and shades of Station Eleven.

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

{ 1,326 comments… read them below }

  1. StellaBella*

    So, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, can you share your favourite or best cozy, hygge, warmth inducing habits? Am on a budget so now I am wearing some thick cozy socks, a secondhand cashmere sweater, sweats, and enjoying ginger tea while working on a vision board for 2019.

    1. LeRainDrop*

      Snuggle with cats, dogs, people, etc. :-) Other clothing ideas include a warm fabric headband that covers your ears, leggings under your sweats or pajama pants, slippers, a fleece jacket, and blankets galore. I’ve also heard that running a humidifier makes the room feel a tiny bit warmer, but I haven’t tried that.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Omg yes! I have a fur lined hat which is for Christmas but I’m wearing now and I don’t care!!! I wear it indoors too.

        1. So glad I'm out of there*

          I totally rock a hat indoors. I’m super cold sensitive and sometimes the air feels cold even when the thermostat says it’s 73. I get on the couch with my electric blanket on High and put on a cozy hat of some kind!

    2. Hope is hopeful*

      Hot water bottle, blankets and mood lighting/the lights down low/the main light off and just candles or fairy lights.

    3. Now the brightest bulb on the porch*

      I don’t know if this is hygge or not, but my husband got me a SAD light for Christmas and it’s been life-changing. Ten minutes in front of it, and I’m a changed person. I don’t crave coffee the way I usually do in the winter.

      1. pugs for all*

        oooh, do you mind sharing the brand/model? I’ve been on the fence about getting one but you may have just nudged me over!

        1. Curly sue*

          I have a standing box called a Day * Light and I love it. It sits on my bedside table and I lie under it for 15 – 20 minutes with the iPad and my news sites every morning. The cats adore it too — I’m currently under both the lamp and an elderly Siamese right now.

        2. Now the brightest bulb on the porch*

          It’s a Lumie Vitamin L – I’ll paste the website into the Website field so you should be able to link to it.
          It is a little spendy but so worth it. I was up to 5+ cups of coffee to get myself going in the morning and now I have 1 in front of the box and am ready to tackle the day. I am completely solar-powered and really struggle in the winters.

        3. A Nonny Mouse*

          Do be aware that light boxes can trigger sleep disruption and hypomania in people with bipolar disorder.

          1. Superman’s Wife*

            I’m bipolar and I use one and haven’t had any issues. It was recommended by my therapist.

          2. Well, Actually*

            A review of the relevant research indicates that the risk of switching to hypomania through light box use is no worse than the risk of spontaeous switching during placebo treatment, and concludes that there is no specific safety concerns associated with light box therapy in treating patients with bipolar disorder.

            (Source: “Rate of switch from bipolar depression into mania after morning light therapy: A historical review” by Francesco Benedetti)

    4. Not Australian*

      Binge on ‘cosy detective’ shows; I’ve been battling bronchitis since before Christmas, and I’m watching all my box sets … with particular emphasis on ‘Endeavour’.

      I also bought a ‘slanket’ last year, and so far it’s been worth every penny. My house is never really cold, but there are definitely times when you need something more.

      1. Allie*

        I find Inspector Lewis to be particularly cozy. They didn’t find the need to make him super dysfunctional for drama purposes. I think they’re on Prime (streaming stuff moves around).

        1. AL*

          It’s interesting, because he was the ‘sensible, happily married, settled down’ copper in the Inspector Morse series, they couldn’t make him super dysfunctional in his own series…
          It’s nice to see for a change.

          I think the ‘dysfunctional detective with Terrible/No personal life’ such a lazy cliche…

          1. Marion Ravenwood*

            Agreed. The only other example I can think of like that is Inspector Barnaby in Midsomer Murders (the original one played by John Nettles, not the new replacement guy).

            For other ‘cozy’ detective shows, I recommend Death In Paradise – nothing like watching people solving murders on a sunny Caribbean island when it’s freezing cold outside! But it’s also a good ‘easy’ watch if you don’t want something too taxing.

            1. Stormfeather*

              I blame some of the formative detectives in fiction being on the eccentric side/downright dysfunctional, so people are afraid to mess with the formula too much in case *that’s* the element that draws people in…

              Like Holmes who was antisocial, anti-emotive, hyper-focused on work, addicted to stimulus to the point of relying on drugs during slow periods, etc etc… or Poirot who wasn’t as bad, but had serious quirks re: neatness and order, quality of food he eats, etc. Even one of Christie’s fictional-world-within-the-fictional-world detectives had serious quirks which his creator complained about and regretted giving him.

              1. Stormfeather*

                Also sorry about the link in the name, I added it one time for a comment where it was a useful link, and forgot to remove it.

        2. Parenthetically*

          I like Inspector Lewis! Very chill. I’ve never seen a second of Morse but I also love Endeavour (different vibe obviously, though). I also love a bit of Suchet/Poirot — just classic.

    5. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      A heat pack or hot water bottle on your lower back. I don’t know why, but I swear this does more to make me feel comfortably warm than anything else.

      1. Jaid_Diah*

        Two electric throws, one on the sofa, the other on my La-Z-Boy. An electric mattress pad. Oooo.

      2. MySherona*

        YES. I have an electric throw at home that I drag between my office and the couch like Linus Van Pelt, and one at our cottage that moves between the living room and bedroom practically every day we’re there in the winter. They’re amazing.

    6. Jess*

      Second the cosy socks and cosy clothes! I have been living in an ancient merino jumper whenever I’m home lately. For me it’s my favourite knitted blanket (which for ages I saved ‘for good’ before starting to use everyday, cats snuggled up to me, sofa, radio playing quietly, a good book, a pot of tea (or mug of hot chocolate), fairy lights, and something nice in the oven for later. And a clean home and lots of indoor plants, looking after them in the winter really helps when everything seems cold and grey. Also feel much more hygge when I enjoy been outside for a bit, no matter how grim it is! If I’m with other people – jigsaw puzzles always make me feel really cosy.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ve just rediscovered jigsaw puzzles. ..unfortunately I only want to do one once then pass it along…and my d as ugh term wants to keep it and do it again. Noo [oo no more clutter…

        1. Quackeen*

          My local library had jigsaw puzzles you can check out. That’s a good way to address the need to keep things uncluttered.

    7. pugs for all*

      my recommendation is my screen name – pugs for all! They are a very snuggly and affectionate breed.

      But seriously, having pets is so wonderful in these cold winters. Not only do we have a very fine pug, but three cats also share the house. My favorite cozy thing is to lie on the couch under my fake fur blanket and read, generally with 2-3 animals on or beside me. We bought this ikea floor lamp that swivels and just provides the exact perfect amount of light and I can adjust it just so – it’s one of those inexpensive purchases that has had a large impact and made reading so much more enjoyable. Also – with a big cup of tea nearby. Right now I am in the second of the Elena Ferrante books – The Story of the a Name and looking forward to getting my chores for the day done so I can snuggle in this afternoon and keep reading.

    8. Loopy*

      I’m a big fan of scents, either from cooking, baking or wax melts. I definitely feel cozy in a home that smells like a hearty stew, or fresh baked *anything*. I have weirdly strong emotional reactions to smell though so YMMV!

    9. Lucy*

      Crochet – it’s warm and tactile and creative and mindful all at the same time. And you can share the love if you give away your finished projects.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Knitting, too – it’s lovely to have a lap full of wool. And the rhythm of it is so soothing.

        Bonus points for yarnwork in front of a fireplace, or even a “fireplace for your home” video, if you don’t have one.

        Slow TV is also nice for doing handwork to.

    10. Nerdgal*

      I picked up fleece leggings at Walgreens, 2 pairs for $10. I wear them with a thermal undershirt and one of my husband’s old flannel shirts and my dearfoams slippers. In cold weather I like to have a batch of beans or chili bubbling in the slow cooker.

    11. CoffeeforLife*

      I got what I thought was a gag gift for christmas, a Comfy. It’s the Best. Thing. EVER. It’s an oversized hooded pullover that is lined and super heavy and totally, well, comfy! It’s like wearing a cozy blanket but you have total mobility (plus a front pocket pouch) totally made for winter days.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I made a fur throw, which was a piece of fur fabric and the same size satin fabric sewn into a square/oblong (Squoblong?) which is a nice extra layer for keeping out the cold. It also feels like being wrapped in a giant teddy bear, which I always think is a bonus.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I admit to stealing my husband’s sweaters …but they’re not fleecy so hmm maybe I have lost out.

    12. LadyRegister*

      Love this!
      – New types of tea (rooibos is my favorite right now)
      – Spiced apple cider warmed on the stove (makes the house smell amazing)
      – Melting into a giant pile of pillows
      -Heated blanket
      – *Weighted* blanket (pure hygge comfort all year round!)
      – Snuggling my dog
      – Hallmark movies (cheesy but sometimes I just want a happy ending!)
      – Fresh bread (lots of no knead doughs you can store in the fridge for 1-2 weeks and pull off small chunks at a time. I like the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day)
      – Going for a walk or getting some sunlight in the morning so I can curl up indoors all afternoon
      – Hot bath with some yummy scents (bath bombs if it’s a special occasion)
      – Journaling
      – A good book (I’m partial to anything with dragons – let’s me escape the real world for a bit)
      – Decluttering/Organizing my space usually makes me feel zen (especially if I end up donating items too)

      Good luck and enjoy!

      1. Pippa*

        My list is a lot like yours! In the post-holiday sales I got a lovely new china mug and some Buddha’s Tears tea – jasmine green, in rolled pearls that unfurl as they steep. The beautiful scent and the few moments it takes to watch the leaves unfold are very calming.

        Back episodes of the Great British Bake-Off, the most amiable program ever. And it takes less than half an hour to bake a fresh batch of scones using Mary Berry’s recipe.

        And lots of meals involving hot sauce and spices – that’ll chase the general winter blahs and also this cold I’ve got!

        1. LadyRegister*

          Oh I ADORE the Great British Baking Show! It’s what convinced me to attempt lemon tarts, croissants, and scones. All have made me feel extra schmancy/accomplished while also being quite delicious. (Well, the croissants leaked butter but the taste was there if not the flawless presentation!)

          I also enjoy going to thrift shops – feels a bit like a scavenger hunt and sometimes you find the most delightful treasures.

          Remembered a few more things:
          – Adult coloring books
          – At home face/hair masks for a mini spa day
          – Planning my work outfits for the week (not hygge per se but it can be such a weight off my mind)

      2. Life is good*

        Decluttering and organizing! I just took some vacation days this last week to declutter and clean several rooms and paint a bedroom. It was so cathartic. Not hygge, but did make me feel good…now I can hygge next weekend and not feel like I have to spend so much of my weekend on the house.

    13. IrishEm*

      I have velourish, velvety joggers that are barely a step above pyjamas and the fluffies hoody you ever saw and I say to my dog “Will I wear my soft clothes?” and she goes bananas and snuggs up to me as much as possible :)

    14. CM*

      If you have a wood stove keep large smooth rocks on it. Make appropriately sized bags out of an old cotton mattress pad or use cotton batting (it has to be cotton, synthetic will melt). Then put the heated rocks in the bags and use as hot water bottles!

    15. StellaBella*

      Thank you all for your ideas and the amazing discussion. Vision board is half sorted out, and my cat and I are now snuggling.

    16. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I wear leggings under my pants, either jeans or sweats. And fingerless gloves because my hands are the ones that get cold easiest.

    17. Bluebell*

      Fleece lined leggings were on clearance at Walgreens this week for 3! So enjoyable. And my dog is super snuggly. Plus I have a candle which has basmati rice as one of the scents – it’s awesome.

    18. Marion Ravenwood*

      My sister has a big patch of land at the back of her house where she keeps three sheep (amongst other animals), and this Christmas she gave me, my parents, our other sister and various other relatives a blanket made from her sheep’s wool, mixed with alpaca. It is the snuggliest, cosiest thing I have ever sat under, and I am basically getting under it the second I get home from work at the moment. (I am actually sitting under it typing this right now.) What makes it even better is my cats love it possibly even more than I do, so they’re often snuggled up next to me whilst I’m sitting under it, for extra-added cosiness.

      Otherwise, my keep-warm methods are hot chocolate, a good book and cosy slippers (I have ankle boot-type ones that look like monster feet – childish, but awesome) or bedsocks for sleeping.

    19. Parenthetically*

      Baking, especially something spicy and cinnamony, though this morning’s batch of buttermilk biscuits did the trick. Starting a big pot of something spicy and warm — dal and chili are favorites — that can simmer for hours and warm you up at night. Mulled wine or spiced cider. Someone else mentioned tidying and decluttering — there’s nothing for me like a made bed and all the laundry folded and put away, or a nice neat living room with pillows and blankets on the couch, to complement the smell of something delicious wafting from the kitchen.

      I also have a pair of Kyrgies felted wool slippers that I ADORE — very hygge.

    20. Alpha Bravo*

      Coziness is very important to me here in cool, wet Washington State. As a lifelong early riser accustomed to rolling out at 0-dark-30 and heading to work in decidedly UN-cozy weather, my current cozy indulgence is lying in bed, with my heated mattress pad and microfleece sheets, and watching the news or reading while drinking hot tea. It feels incredibly decadent and it is seriously the best. :)

    21. Aphrodite*

      I’m a socks person too but my favorite cold weather “snack” is hot milk. Just plain milk; it’s so delicious!

    22. Elizabeth West*

      Snuggled on the sofa, with cocoa (real milk!), under a blankey or two, with either a really good book, a plethora of websites to read, or a movie I want to see. Best if there is someone else here but there is not, alas. Because (he) could have some cocoa too. :)

    23. CatMintCat*

      It is currently 46 Celsius (about 115F) outside my house. The cooler is struggling to cope.

      Just reading this thread has made me feel a little better.

    24. Loopy*

      I’m back because I cannot believe I forgot to plug Jane and Bleeker slipper socks. I LIVE in them in the winter. They are gianormous (pull up to at least half calf) and fluffy and happiness for feet. Any sock lover MUST check them out! They are not super expensive and come in plenty of styles (some cutesy but plenty not cutesy!)

    25. Kate Daniels*

      Winter is the time when I get to bake all of the delicious goodies–it makes me so happy when my apartment smelling like snickerdoodles or cinnamon rolls! I also plan on getting into making soup with a slow cooker on Sundays this year.

      I enjoy hot chocolate (whole milk + Ghirardelli Double Chocolate + whipped cream) and read my way through all of the books I have stacked up or checked out from the library. I also like to keep some white holiday lights wrapped around my bed frame. Also, snuggling with the kitty is a must. I got her a heated cat mat that has a sherpa cover so she can feel even cozier all day while I’m at work, too!

      At the place-that-shall-not-be-named, I brought in a space heater for my office and have a pair of comfy slippers under my desk. It has improved my comfort and productivity immensely!

    26. Screenwriter/Mom*

      Thick cozy WOOL socks are super warm, you can find some very cheaply on amazon; wear layers–a tank top under a long sleeved tee shirt, and then put the second hand cashmere sweater on top of that. The air cushions between the layers keep you extra warm. When my house is very cold, I wear a comfy, lightweight wool or cashmere scarf –keeping your neck warm keeps you extremely warm–again, you can find them in thrift stores or even get some inexpensive wool and knit yourself a scarf! (Another hygge activity!) A hot water bottle, as others have suggested, is cozy and warm and not pricey; if you can afford it, though, an electric blanket, or an electric heating pad are really lovely (especially in your bed at night- electric heating pad under your shoulders, electric blanket on top of your covers. Hot tea, or, a simple bowl of rice mixed with chicken stock, are very warming and cheap. Hot lemon and honey with a dash of whiskey, even better!
      Stay cozy!

    27. Beatrice*

      I use heated rice bags to stay warm. Pop one in the microwave for 2 minutes and then curl up under a blanket with it, and it’s good for about an hour of toasty warmth. I have three – one of them is handmade and they’re pretty simple to make – 1 lb of dry plain white rice in a cotton bag sewed with cotton thread – mine is terrycloth, but I think any cotton fabric will do.

    28. E*

      A cup of warm tea, cocoa, or apple cider. I used to have a recipe for crockpot cider that started with a frozen apple juice concentrate and then you just add cinnamon stick and spices. Whole house smelled wonderful and we could grab a cup throughout the day.

  2. Arya Parya*

    I’ve invested in a good pair of slippers, tent mules from The North Face. I hate having cold feet and these keep my feet nice and warm. They aren’t cheap, but my first pair lasted 5 years. Am now on my second pair and still very happy with them.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        No it’s good! I might not have seen your comment otherwise and now you have me googling these!

  3. Vic tower*

    How much do you combine your finances with a partner?

    For context, just about to move in with my partner and planning to marry later this year. I bought this house and have another property, my partner has property in another country and we both earn a good wage but I’m more frugal of the two of us.

    Do you each keep own accounts and have a shared pool? Where do you keep the bulk of your money if so? Is there an upper limit on individual decision purchases? (for example, all purchases above 1000 dollars have to be discussed) Do you know exactly what the other person has in wage/spending etc or just work on trust? Is one person more “in charge” of the finances/taxes etc where combined?

    Open to all advice!

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      We have a joint account for things like the house payment and utilities, and we both contribute to it, but otherwise maintain separate accounts. I’m a dual citizen and it would cause a lot of headaches (and tax liability) if I had any control over the bulk of my husband’s salary since he earns about three times what I do, so we keep most of our money separate. I also have accounts in my home country that he doesn’t really have access to, mostly because I don’t know how to do it.

      I don’t really keep track of what he earns and spends, or vice versa. We are both fairly frugal in our day to day lives and we would probably discuss buying anything over £100, just because we would rarely buy any single thing over that much. There are no formal rules or anything but because he earns so much more, and I spent many years as a student and then under- or un-employed the finances naturally fell to him for the most part. He’s also better at keeping track of deadlines for payments etc so I just let him do it, although if the situation was reversed I’d have no trouble taking it on.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Similar situation here with the tax liability – we are both US citizens, so I actually divert my paycheck into his bank account to keep the filing requirements down. He manages and pays all the bills and investments, while I manage the household expenses and fun things like travel (I can squeeze a £ hard for that!). Some “fun money” is diverted into my own bank account every month, and if there is a major purchase I will talk it over with him first (and vice versa). I also let him know if I need money sent to US accounts for bill payments.

        I dont think we ever had the talk about this, its just always worked out well because I don’t like managing deadlines at home and get forgetful about online payments, etc. We also had to do something similar, but reversed, when he was finishing college because he was eligible for FAR more aid by us not having a joint account/household.

        We do have a similar outlook on money and means of handling/level of frugality – I think if we didn’t have that and one person was extreme one way or another we would have to put in guidelines about spending or whatever, but for us it seems like anything over £150 will trigger a “hey, Id like to do this, how does that work with our finances this month?” chat. Usually its not a big deal, but if there is something to flag or consider, its a good time to do it.

    2. HBucket*

      You have some factors that make a big difference, in my opinion. I would find a way to keep some accounts separate for your properties, at the very least. In our case, all our money goes to one checking, and certain amounts are automatically moved to separate savings, and an investment (rainy day fund) account. But the only property we have ever owned we bought together If I were you, I would do some serious financial calculations and just determine what needs to go in a shared account for joint expenses (utilities, household, groceries, etc.).
      We both know exactly what the other makes and we do have a pseudo-cap on expenditures before it requires a joint decision. That is, if he wants a new bigger TV, he just mentions it and I weigh in (I don’t care, I don’t watch it much), and we generally discuss a price, and he gets it. Back when we had a lot less discretionary money, we planned our purchases a lot more and discussed them a lot more. It sounds like you guys are in good enough shape that you could be a little more relaxed about it. But setting a limit is probably not a bad idea.
      One last thing, right now he handles all the finances, but I have done so in the past (when he traveled a lot). And I am fully aware of all our bills, what is due when, and how much we owe. Whoever does NOT do the finances/taxes, etc needs to be sure to stay in the loop. I’ve known to many widows who were completely lost when their spouse unexpectedly passed. Good luck!

    3. Loopy*

      I am getting married in six weeks so I can let you know what we do and why but we don’t have the property part of your equation beyond him having a house and me moving in.

      We are planning on keeping separate bank accounts but are very involved and knowledgable about each other’s retirement/savings/investment style and level. Though all of that is separate too. Mainly, we know the other is saving accordingly and don’t feel the need to be much involved/joined in each other’s day to day finances because of that. We do have a prenup just so we know exactly where the other stands financially, which is good.

      We are open to getting a joint bank account for ease if needed but so far we haven’t found any reason to, but this is because we have such a clear picture of the others spending habits and financial situation and have been operating separately with some shared expenses just fine (we have a system that works well for all our shared expenses).

      An important caveat is that we have been together over five years and feel comfortable saying neither of us is wracking up huge credit card debts/has bad spending habits. The prenup really helped us have a very very very detailed review of where we each stood (you really can’t hide anything for one of those) and it was a core part of shaping our financial style as a couple.

    4. M*

      Not US, so can’t speak for your banking system (and we don’t have student loans, or need for a retirement account).

      TLDR: we’re a reasonably well off rather frugal couple with similar earnings and goals who agree on money. It’s easier when it’s like that.

      Husband (10 years together, 3 married, 3 both earning money, before that I was earning for 3 years and he not) and I have multiple accounts: one personal each and one joint.
      The joint account holds what we need to live off 3 months in instant access, the rest is in another joint account that brings interests. We put between half and 75% of our earnings in there depending on what we want to buy together (which means it fluctuates depending on how much we earn, at first I was supporting us both).

      We now earn enough (and have similar frugal spending habits) that this covers rent+ related bills, gas/commuting, taxes, groceries, 0.5k for ‘fun’ together, 0.5k for holidays, 0.5k for repairs/health/emergencies -subsidized healthcare country, we spend less than that-, 1k ‘baby fund’, and whatever’s left to ‘house savings’ which is out project now.

      The rest (clothes, solo activities, gifts, solo trips to see family members, etc) comes from the personal accounts.

      I do all the accounting/taxes, he knows the numbers though, and he gives me the numbers for his personal account (I don’t have access). I know what he earns because he tells me.

      I have money from my family, he does not, that’s all the personal accounts which would stay exclusively ours were we to divorce.
      The money in personal accounts is also divided in ‘instant access’ ( a few k) and what are called ‘insurance’ accounts where I live ( very low to low risk with a few percent in interest rates, we’re suspicious of investing in the stock market).

      I don’t remember a single ‘big individual purchase’ decision (thinking replacing the 4yo laptop with a new one for 1k, or buying expensive clothes for work, or solo dance classes for a year -less than 1k-) the other disagreed with.

      Which means you should wait for the answer of someone who actually had a conflict between spending habits.^^

      I have friends where they put a similar percentage (not amount) in the joint account and he adds 1k to her personal account which is her ‘you do 90% of the housework’ wage because they used to fight. It works for them.

      I have other friends who broke up because they were paying the same amount on rent etc. but he was earning 2x more so she had nothing left for herself.

      I guess the key is to figure out a system that doesn’t lead to resentment and accept that there will always be someone paying more.

    5. only acting normal*

      Separate personal accounts + savings, joint household account + savings, complete openness about salary and other finances.
      He earns a lot more than me (these days, used to be equal), so we contribute pro rata to the joint account.

    6. Serious Sam*

      Similar to the above. We decided that we would be equal partners, regardless of salary. So all income goes into the joint account, which pays household expenses + major purchases. We each get the same monthly amount transferred into our individual private accounts. We have individual saving accounts, with approximately equal balances for any spare money.

      A monthly transfer goes into a further separate account that we use for regular and ad-hoc giving. This allows us to respond to appeals etc using money we will not miss.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband and I have both been burned with exes, so our finances are almost completely separate by prenup, up to and including that I own my house (bought after we started dating but before we got engaged) and he pays me the same rent that our housemate does. I make not quite half again more than he does (though I also have more bills, a car payment etc) so I’m slightly more likely to foot the bill when we go out, but we do the “who’s getting this one” dance anyway. We do have two shared accounts – one only for him to transfer his rent etc to me, and one for shared vacations that we both put $100/month into. (We don’t vacation together super often because I get like four times the PTO he does, so I go to Disneyworld by myself a lot.)

      When we file our taxes, we do jointly and I’m the one who both does the filing and takes the refund (because I’m the one who puts in the extra money, please don’t lecture me about it, I know and I don’t want to hear it) but usually put it toward a big house project – last year I redid the kitchen, this year I’m hoping to both fix up the deck a bit and replace the garage door.

      We don’t have any say on each other’s spending, but have agreed that we will discuss anything like new credit accounts (not permission, just discussion) and I won’t cover him on things if he’s out of money because he made an ill advised loan to his shiftless brother who never repays him.

      We both keep enough life insurance that if something happens to one of us, the survivor can pay off the house. Also technically all the animals are mine on paper because I do the vet runs (I work from home), but the dogs are mine and the cats are his and he pays for their maintenance.

      1. black dragon reader*

        Prenups are so unpopular but smart in this day and age. It’s refreshing to see that you and your husband didn’t get caught up in the “why do we need a prenup when we will be together forever…” trap.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I have a prenup and I love it. The best way I ever heard prenups described was: There’s going to be a contract governing your split if you break up. You can have the contract set by default by the state you live in, or you can write your own contract.

          1. Loopy*

            +10000. I love when people speak positively about prenups. Theres still so much stigma around them!!!

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            and also — you can write your own contract when you like each other and can agree on what’s fair, or you can take the risk that you’ll be writing it in a situation where that isn’t the case.

        2. Handy Nickname*

          I heard someone (maybe here?) describe a prenup as saying to your future spouse, “I love you so much that I want to ensure that if I am ever angry and unreasonable, you are still taken care of.” I love that.

          1. black dragon reader*

            This is a good one and compassionate way of putting it. Divorce brings out the worst in people.

    8. Triplestep*

      We are married and blended our accounts right away. I didn’t really expect us to given that my husband was becoming a step-father and not just a husband when he married me, but he wanted to blend and it’s worked for us. We tend to be on the same page about general saving/spending/investing, so that helps. He knows more about long term savings and investing, so I have been happy to let him make the decisions there. I am better at “day to day” finances – budgeting, bill paying, etc – so that is my purview.

      I once read about a money-sharing method for couples that I never tried myself, but told to a young co-worker who used it with her then-live in boyfriend: Have a joint account for household expenses and each put a percentage of your paycheck into it (many companies with automatic payroll deposit will divide where your pay gets allocated.) The remainder of your paycheck goes into your personal account for you to do with whatever you like. This method accounts for disparities in pay, and means that each person is contributing to the shared expenses in a fair way. Some couples use the shared account for more than just household expenses – the co-worker I told about it used it for a vacation fund as well.

      This method is not just for unmarried couples – when I first read about it, it was a married couple using it.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This– the joint account for household expenses and the separate personal accounts– will be what my partner and I do when he gets a post-PhD job (fingers crossed!). Right now, we rent and I pay the majority of the bills as I earn about four times what he does; he writes me a check for a portion of the rent, he pays the electric and I pay everything else. When we buy a house, however, and his salary will either match or exceed mine, we will set up a joint account and contribute percentages of our paychecks. From there we’ll pay the household bills including mortgage, utilities, cell phones, etc. Maybe groceries. Probably vacations, but I imagine those will be supplemented from personal accounts.

        We technically could do that now, but when I tried to set up a checking account to which he had access and could contribute, his income was all over the place and he has never had direct deposit so it just got more annoying than it needed to be. Once he’s working and has direct deposit and steady income, it will be so much easier. I look forward to that day, if you can’t tell.

        What my partner and I don’t do is a lot of accounting with each other. I know someone who has to bug her husband to pay her back for things and it just never sounds fair. We have an informal system where one person pays for one meal/outing, the other pays for the next, etc. I actually find it easier BECAUSE our incomes are so disparate; I basically figure I’ll be paying for most things anyway. If we end up with equal incomes, we’ll have to work on finding the right balance.

      2. Portia*

        This is what we do, too. (We’ve been married for six months, living together for three years). We have a joint account, and a monthly auto-transfer from our personal accounts into the joint. The amount covers our usual spending for mortgage, bills, groceries, and eating out.

        Individually, we each have a personal checking and personal savings account, and a retirement account.

        This overall works pretty well for us. The hitch is that he makes less than I do, and also is a spender whereas I’m a saver. So although we contribute the same monthly amount, our big purchases are pretty much all funded by my savings (including his car, his international flights to see his family, etc). For the most part, I don’t mind because I do make more, and I’ve been lucky to have had a LOT more family financial support which enabled me to build up savings in a way that he couldn’t. But sometimes we do clash a little over money. For example, right now he’s pushing for a new TV. I think our TV is totally fine, so I’m not willing to pay for one. So…we’ll see how this one shakes out!

        1. Triplestep*

          Have you considered contributing the same percentage of your salaries to the joint account rather than the same flat amount? You’d be contributing more to the joint account than he would since you earn more, but then your savings could really feel like your own money to do with as you please. His too. So if he wants a new TV, he can buy it from his own savings.

          1. Portia*

            Yes, we talked about that initially. The problem is, as he is the first to admit, he’s not great at putting aside money for things. So he thought he’d rather put the full amount in the joint account, so that we can decide together how to use the surplus. I had suggested a joint savings account; maybe I’ll bring that up again and suggest that we could start saving for a TV.

            1. Triplestep*

              Sounds like he wants the benefits of someone who IS good at putting money aside without doing the work of becoming that person. Your system is allowing him to not save and feel like that’s OK since he contributes the same amount to the joint account, and then you magically make money appear for things he needs. I think for him to learn to be better with money, he might have to get his feelings hurt a little. This scenario has made you into both the bad cop and sugar mamma!

    9. Madge*

      We are almost completely combined: one joint checking account that also holds our savings since it earns better interest than an actual savings account. We both get paid a monthly amout for personal spending that does not need to be shared or tracked. Mine is mostly for treats since I work from home, and my husband’s includes lunches and haircuts. I’m also the more frugal one and it took months to find the right amount of “mad money” for my husband that he could stick to without going over. We used to take turns preparing our taxes, but I’ve been doing it all for about 7 years now because I have more time. I also do all the budgeting and most of the bill paying and keep track of the college fund. Husband pays all house related bills like the mortgage and property taxes and maintains the check register. I also keep a spreadsheet that tracks our ages and money milestones and big spending that’s been very helpful. We have a $100 purchase rule where one has to check in with the other before spending that much on a single item. We try to have regular money meetings.

      1. TechWorker*

        We have a joint account for house things/food shopping etc. Big expenses that come out of there are pre-discussed (but it’s generally house stuff so we’d be discussing it anyway). My partner has owned his car since before we got together but we split petrol/insurance.
        My partner earns more than me but not by loads, and we’re frugal in different ways (I spend more on travel/classes/booze tbh but don’t spend much on material things and he spends more on tech/sports stuff but less on going out). So in general we have roughly equal spending power, except he can drop $$ on for eg the latest tech whereas I would not ;)

        Some friends of ours earn vastly differing amounts and have decided to go for a system where 60% of their income goes into a shared account and living costs/essentials come out of that, and the remaining 40% is theirs to spend or save as they please. Aware those percentages wouldn’t be feasible for everyone but it feels like quite a fair way of dealing with an income disparity – the person earning more has proportionally more disposable income, the person earning less doesn’t spend all their money on essentials, and they can afford to live in a nicer area than if they were trying to split 50-50. It’s worked for them for years I believe :)

    10. Ranon*

      We didn’t combine anything until we married (US). Post marriage, everything goes into a joint account and we each get the same agreed upon monthly amount that goes to a personal account for personal spending. We both have personal credit cards and a shared card. Retirement savings is separate since it has to be to live in tax advantaged accounts, but we agree on withholding amounts every year – and because everything is joint that’s led to us being able to do things like, for example, put 100% of my salary into retirement savings when I became eligible for my company’s plan late in the year so that I could still maximize my annual contribution.

      We both have similar priorities and values around money and have more than enough money, so overall we have it very easy. My partner makes about 4x what I make. He handles the short term financial stuff (bills, pretty much) and I do the long term stuff like budgets and investments. We pay someone else to do taxes. Before we got married we also met with a financial planner (fee not commission based) which was very helpful for a getting everything laid out and talking about financial goals standpoint.

    11. Allie*

      I got married while just out of college and we combine everything (we put each other through grad school so it is really hard to separate out debt, I earn more, for instance, but have more student debt, but am also trying to do public interest forgiveness), but even then we each keep a separate account with a rainy day fund. The thinking is that is something happens like an identity theft, there is a backup safety net.

      I trust my spouse totally but I have also read of financial abuse cases and it always makes sense to keep a separate safety fund (say someone gets bonked in the head and goes crazy). If you totally combine finances, I would recommend this.

      1. Madge*

        I think of this as well. As a woman of a certain age who has only worked part time sporadically for years, I worry about the what ifs. I have my own credit card and retirement accounts and I’ve been meaning to get my own checking account.

      2. Harvey 6 3.5*

        Even my wife and I, who’ve been married since college, each have one separate checking account and one separate credit card in case of criminals. Everything else is together.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      We paid the bills according to income. I made 40% so I paid 40% of the bills. We each worked at reducing costs and we did that on a fairly equal basis but in different ways. He repaired many, many things including plumbing, electrical and carpentry repairs. I clipped coupons, mended clothes, re-purposed items and so on.
      I think it’s important for each person to work at keeping costs down. Prices only go up.

      We set a very low bar of $100 for purchases. Above $100 we talked to each other. Not in terms of asking permission but rather in terms of figuring out if we could swing it. Sometimes we both wanted something so we would agree to make one purchase one month and the other purchase the following month. I actually ended up liking this plan because it really made us think about what we were buying. Heaven knows the crap piled up anyway, we still had too much “stuff”. So even though this sounds pretty restrictive, it did not play out that way.

      We were “lucky” to have a real eye opener when we first got married. My father lost most of what he owned due to my mother’s catastrophic illness. We decided that money was not worth arguing about, there were bigger concerns out there. We simply agreed not to buy anything that we could not pay for.

      When the tax refund came we paid off the oil bill (budget plan) and/or we split it and put it in our IRAs. Inheritances and work bonuses were the total property of the person who received them. We each had the same amount of discretionary money per pay period. You know, keeping our noses out of each other’s personal money really caused each one of us to think about what we were doing with that money. An unexpected positive outcome on that one.

    13. AL*

      I’m in the UK, and married (for context).

      We have own own current and savings accounts. We also have a joint current account and joint savings accounts.

      We each put an almost equal amount of money from own own accounts into the joint account each month. This covers housing, groceries, utilities, joint entertainment, joint spending (e.g. car hire). Quarterly, any surplus goes into joint savings.
      My husband had another property and money for that comes out of his own account.

    14. Random Thought*

      Not “advice” exactly but happy to share what we do. I think every couple has to figure it out for themselves.

      My husband is Not Great with money and I’m very frugal. We combined all finances and I set and manage our budget. We budget all of our income every month and we each get a personal spending budget to spend however we want, no questions asked. We also have a line item for joint spending when we buy something for our home or go out to eat together, etc. Everything else, groceries, utilities, savings, gas, etc. is a combined budget. We find that it is easier to meet our financial goals when we are working as a team rather than saving separately or arguing over who contributes what.

      I manage the budget and I think my husband would say I do a good job of considering his opinion when he wants something that would be a bigger expense. It’s all about compromise; I’ve definitely said no to things but he’s pretty impulsive and if something comes up multiple times over a few months, I generally try to move things around.

      To provide a competing perspective, I’m friends with a couple who maintain separate accounts and each contribute money to a shared account for joint expenses in proportion to their income (i.e. if he makes $60k and she makes $40k , she would pay 40% of their mortgage). There are more “rules” to this, like if one of them wants to see a movie and the other doesn’t, the one who wants to see it will pay. This is why I dont like this approach, because my impression is that they are constantly negotiating with each other, but it does work for them

      1. nonegiven*

        I would say if both want to see a movie it should come out of a joint entertainment budget. If only one wants to see it, they go by themselves with their own mad money.

      2. Natalie*

        My husband and I have a similar system as you do. I’ve always been reasonably good at managing money so I make the general budget structure, keep track of it, and keep track of big picture stuff like using our FSAs, retirement allocations, etc. I also do our taxes, which I actually enjoy, but then I am an accountant.

        That said, we’re both working towards my husband being more involved. I didn’t like the dynamic that was developing where he asked me for permission for stuff and it fell on me to make the decision and (if relevant) say no, so now when he wants something outside of our usual budget we talk about it together. And he’s getting better at managing his own bills and fun money. I’ll probably always care more but I think we’ll be making more team decisions in the future.

    15. ThatGirl*

      I think what works for you, works for you. We are a more “traditional” couple in that we met in college and got married right after he was done with grad school, no prior marriages, no kids, no significant assets. So our finances are totally blended; we have a joint checking account, joint savings, each our own credit card the other has access to. I actually do most of the money stuff because it makes him anxious, he handles his credit card, student loan and car payment. We have similar spending habits and views on money or it would never work.

    16. CatCat*

      For my spouse and I, our money is combined. Both our paychecks go into a joint checking account. We also have a savings account and investment accounts. We individually make very different incomes, but we pool all money together. We each get an equal amount of individual fun money every month.

      We track our budget and spending in YNAB and we are both responsible for entering spending transactions. I am the one who primarily handles the finances though and plans the budget each month. We talk regularly about the budget so if there’s something one of us needs or wanys to adjust about it, we figure it out. I schedule bill payments, reconcile our accounts, manage our investments, and handle taxes. I just have a better grasp on and interest in personal finance so it just worked out thay way.

    17. CM*

      I’m my married life we pooled our meager resources. We never had much discretionary income, so money only ever got spent on necessities. We discussed major purchases. I was in charge of finances for half of our marriage, then he was. It was important for both of us to know about all finances though, and when he died I was able to take over again seamlessly.
      I’m in a non-married relationship now, and we keep finances separate. We each have our own adult kids, and he has some debt that I want no part of. He tells me what his monthly basic home expenses are and I write a check for half. It’s his house, so he pays his own mortgage, and any expenses related to major upkeep (I have my own home, now a rental, to maintain). We take turns buying groceries. He eats junk food, I don’t. I buy more expensive/ better quality food, he doesn’t.
      So far this works for us.

      1. CM*

        I know this is going to be a little weird, but stick with me. This comment is for the other CM and I’m hoping you see this. I’ve been commenting here for years under the name CM with a cookie icon. A few months ago, I noticed you were commenting too under the same name. The funny thing is, often when I read your comments I think that they’re very similar to what I would say, both in content and phrasing. And then recently you mentioned that you write fiction, and I write fiction. And obviously we are both regular commenters on this site, which is itself a fairly small community. I’d like to (virtually) meet you — you can email me at chicken magazine at gmail, without the space, if you’re up for it. No agenda, just curiosity.

        And now back to your scheduled conversation about finances…

        1. SS Express*

          This is a crazy coincidence! I really hope there’s some sort of clone/time travel/alternate reality explanation for this.

    18. Everdene*

      I think this is a very personal thing with couples and you’ll need to see what works for you – and anticipate it will change over time. But happy to share what Oak and I do…

      We’ve been together over a decade and are getting married next year. When we first met our incomes were about equal (but not just from paid work) I rented and he had a mortgage which was about half the cost of my rent. He had more disposable income. After some initial awkward moments I agreed to let him pay more often for dates but I cooked for him LOTS more.

      After a year we moved in together to his place. We set up a joint account* for food shopping/dates/holidays with maybe £300pcm each. I gave him some money towards bills, which all stayed in his name, and we both agreed that since we now had more disposable income we’d work hard to pay down al, our debts and save more.

      Another couple of years down the line we buy a forever house. I paid a 40% deposit and the amount we each put into the joint account rocketted! By this point he was earning much more than me and I was studying but working less hours. He prob put 60% of salary into the joint account and I put in about 50%.

      Over the year the amount of stuff that comes up out of the joint account has increased and so what we put in has also increased. We each now put in 75% of our income and he earns maybe 15% more than me. We’re comfortable that this gives us each fun money but all joint essentials are covered. However as we get married We’ve discussed that if and when kids appear we’ll have to readjust as the personal money is certainly going to reduce but we still want a bit of pocket money each regardless of how the earnings/childcare stuff works out.

      *This account is now 3 current accounts, 4 savings accounts, a mortgage and a joint credit card.

      1. Everdene*

        I didn’t even get into the other stuff! We have no formal agreement about big purchases but we discuss it all naturally. We have shared financial goals (eg pay off mortgage in 10 years) .

        Up until the last year I have done most of the financial stuff but this year he’s kind of taken over. It’s really, really important to me that we are both knowledgeable about our financial situation whoever is physically paying the bills. I’ve seen far to many situations where one partner controls all the finances and they die leaving the other person totally lost OR the financial management is actually financial abuse. I feel so strongly about this that I have persuaded my parents (who have been married nearly 40 years and all finances are completely shared) to each open a single name account with a small balance so they have access to it if anything happened to the other.

    19. Babel Fish*

      We calculated how much we spend a month jointly — rent, savings, utilities, travel, groceries, eating out, shared entertainment, coffee budgets, etc. We pool our money, take out that estimated expenses total (which we made quite generous in case of unexpected expenses), then split what we have left 50-50. That leftover amount is for whatever each of us wants, no restrictions.

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        Yup, that’s what we do too. It hasn’t always been that way though!

        When we first started dating we were long-distance, so we had separate incomes, separate accounts, and negotiated what felt like a fair share of dating expenses (he made 3x what I did so he paid about 75% of the cost of our dates). We kept track by entering costs into an app (Splitwise; it’s great and free and I recommend it) and then settled up every so often if things got too far out of balance.

        Once we moved in together, we opened a joint account and we each deposited our share of the household expenses (rent, groceries, renter’s insurance, utilities) into that and kept the rest. For a period of time that was split roughly 1/3 and 2/3, but then I got a job making about the same as he did and we went to 50/50. We also started putting into a joint savings account, while also maintaining our own individual savings.

        I expected that to be the end of it, because for the longest time I was deeply uncomfortable with combining finances any more than that. But… then we started talking seriously about getting married and I found my feelings shifted surprisingly rapidly to actively desiring more combination and a better sense of equality. My career path has higher earning potential than his does at the moment, and it suddenly struck me as unfair that I might have more disposable funds every month than he did.

        So, now we have our paychecks deposited to our household account, which covers a larger number of expenses which we have mutually agreed on. Still rent, utilities, etc, but now also gas for our cars, car loan payment (his), medical bills (mostly mine), and other costs that we’ve decided are necessary components of our shared life together. We have a budget for expenses and a specific amount allocated for joint savings, and the remainder is divided up 50/50 and transferred into our personal accounts – regardless of our individual salaries. That individual money is ours to do whatever we want with, with no need to check with the other person to buy things regardless of the price point.

        We do also maintain individual savings, and that I definitely can’t see ever combining. It’s important to me that we both be able to walk away if we decide it’s ever the right call – not feel trapped in a relationship that is no longer working due to financial restrictions.

        As for the managing aspects, we each have a personal budget that we handle on our own. He generally does our household budget because he’s the one who designed the spreadsheets and he actually *likes* wrangling them, but we agreed on what that budget is and I know how to do it. It’s easier for us to have one person do it than both try, because we have slightly different accounting systems and it’s better not to try to mix them (e.g., I consider the money I spend in January to be from the paychecks I get on December 31 and January 15 because that’s what we HAVE; he considers it to be paychecks on January 15 and Janaury 31 because that’s what we GET. They both work out the same as long as we don’t try to count three paydates for the same month!). We’re not married yet but do our taxes together as a mini-date, and that will probably stay the same once we do get married.

    20. Sleepwakehopeandthen*

      We count our money as completely joint. Admittedly, neither of us had significant assets when we married and we neither lived together nor combined finances before then. (Also we have only been married for 3 years so its a relatively new system.) We budget for everything jointly (my husband currently makes 3x what make) although we have en wiggle room in our budget are similar spending habits that we seldom need to adjust/discuss it. We also each have out own individual fun money budget (I think $50 a month) for things that only we want and the other person might think is dumb. This is separate from our entertainment budget. Big purchases (>$100) are discussed unless they come out of our individual fun money budgets. We also have one joint savings accounts, two shared credit cards and many separate banking/checging accounts that we reconcile into our budget via spreadsheet.

    21. Texan In Exile*

      We didn’t get married until we were in our 40s. Marido had been married before; I had not. We combined everything when we got married. He was working and I was not. Then he quit his job and I got a job. Still kept everything combined. There is no His Money or My Money. It’s Our Money. It works for us.

      It works because we have the same attitudes toward money. We talked about our incomes, our assets, and our debts (neither of us had any other than mortgage debt) well before we decided to get married. This conversation was harder to have than the sex conversation.

      And I would not have married someone with an approach to money (thrifty, let’s pay off the mortgage, of course we wash and re-use Ziplock bags to do otherwise is wasteful) different from mine.

      I think the real issue, as one commenter noted, is when you don’t agree with your partner about how money should be managed. And then, for me, the question is not so much how do you manage the money together as it is should you even marry this person.

    22. Anonymous Expat*

      I’m once bitten, twice shy about sharing accounts. Spouse #1 had a habit of leaving bills piled up on his desk before he’d sit down to pay them all at once, which is fine until it’s been 6 weeks since you last did the bills and now some of them are overdue. He was also a bit of a spendthrift, so even though we always had enough to cover our expenses, we didn’t really save much.

      When I married Spouse #2, I wanted to combine our finances as little as possible. Then we decided to expatriate from the U.S. For immigration documentation purposes (I’m a citizen of our new country, sponsoring him for naturalized citizenship here), it has been important to have both our names on bank accounts and utilities bills. So as we liquidated our assets in the U.S., we dumped all the money into a single joint bank account. The only non-joint accounts we now have are an investment account that Spouse inherited after the death of a relative, and one of the utilities that we couldn’t put his name on when we first arrived, because he did not yet have this country’s equivalent of a Social Security number.To be clear, though if we had not moved away from the U.S., our finances would be very separate until/unless there were income or tax advantages to combine them.

      I do our taxes every year (my background is in business, his is not). We both watch the bank accounts, and we actually do talk about almost every expense, from things like “I didn’t pack my lunch for work today so I spent $5 for a bagel and coffee” to “the mechanic estimates the car repair at $300” and “rent on house A is $1,200, house B is $1,350, let’s see which one works better for us.”

    23. Quadra*

      Together for 9 years, married for 5. We have a joint account for shared bills, but otherwise separate (but with complete transparency in Mint). My partner had a solely owned property when we got married, which was protected for him in the prenup. We hadn’t fully thought through the long-term minutiae of property ownership, so it’s be helpful to discuss upfront with your partner how to handle large property decisions on both sides – would you jointly contribute to large repair bills or storm damage? Is it a joint decision whether/when to sell? How would sale proceeds be distributed or used?

    24. Marion Ravenwood*

      Background: been with my husband for 11 years, living together for eight, married for four.

      We kept separate accounts up until we bought a house three and a half years ago. Before that I would pay my husband £400 a month towards rent and bills – the flat we lived in at the time belonged to his mum, who was working abroad, so between the two of us and our housemate we were covering the rent and bills whilst she was away. Everything else we paid for out of our own salaries. Things for the house (food shopping etc) were paid by whoever was doing the shop, and the other would pay them back either by doing the shopping the week after or paying for a meal out or similar.

      When we bought our house, we set up a joint account for the mortgage, bills and savings (the account we have gives a better interest rate than most easy access saving accounts in the UK, so we use it for our savings as well). This is the account any ‘joint’ purchases come out of as well, such as work on the house or holidays. I pay slightly more into this than my husband, but he also now does most of the food shopping so it evens out that way. Then we have our own separate accounts which our individual salaries are paid into, and after we’ve put our contributions into the joint account the rest of it is ours to do with as we see fit.

      We don’t have an ‘official’ upper limit on purchase decisions, but I’d say triple figures is the threshold for ‘I want to run this past you before I buy it’, particularly if it’s something for the house. I know what my husband earns and have a rough idea what he spends his money on, but I couldn’t tell you exactly how much he spends on a weekly or monthly basis, and I don’t think he could do that with me either. In terms of who’s in charge, I’d say it’s probably more my husband, but I do look after certain things like all the financial arrangements relating to our cats (pet insurance, vet payment plan etc).

    25. KR*

      Completely combined everything. We have our own retirement savings & make decisions as a couple as to what percentage were going to take out of our pay to put towards retirement. we have separate credit cards because we both had them prior to getting married and like them for different reasons but we are authorized users on each other’s credit cards.

    26. Wishing You Well*

      Unless you’re both very young with no assets or legal complications, see a lawyer and an accountant before you get married. You need to know what the laws are in both countries before marriage. Only lawyers can tell you how to preserve prenuptial assets and avoid legal pitfalls.
      You also need to know what each other’s debts are. Once you’re married, you’re bound by law. Those laws could override any personal agreements you have.
      I’m wishing you a wonderful marriage and a bright future.

    27. Pam*

      Not married, but my sister and I share a house. She pays the mortgage and her car insurance (I don’t drive). I pay the car payment, utilities, groceries, laundry, etc. It comes out pretty evenly. “

    28. Urdnot Bakara*

      My husband and I have a joint account and both have our paychecks deposited into it, use it to pay all bills, etc., but we are also going through his naturalization process, and his application was through me as a US citizen, so it’s important to have (and use) joint accounts to essentially prove the validity of your marriage to immigration, especially if you’re young and don’t have a lot of other shared property.

      After he gets his citizenship, we’re considering doing what other people in this thread are doing and just having our own separate accounts for personal use (he has one already but I don’t anymore–before we got married I had one in a bank that has no branches in our state and that just got annoying) and keeping the joint account for bills, joint activities, etc. That seems like the best way to clearly define what’s “mine” and “yours” and avoid arguments over who’s paying for dinner if that’s what you want to do. I make more money but his family is wealthy and supplements his income so we pay for stuff equally.

      Other things — we file taxes jointly (partially because of the immigration situation and partially because it’s just simpler), and we generally tell each other what we buy but don’t search for approval unless it’s a big expense. I imagine in the future if/when we have kids and more bills this will get more complicated, but that’s what works for us for now.

    29. MsChanandlerBong*

      We have joint checking and savings accounts, and I also have my own checking and savings with my credit union. My husband has trouble balancing a checkbook (I don’t think he has dyscalculia, but he definitely has trouble with math. If you ask him what 10% of $10 is, he has to think about it for a minute). So, I balance the checkbook and pay the bills. We have a shared Google spreadsheet so that he can see what has been paid and what is pending at any time. We also have informal “money meetings” (usually two or three minutes during dinner) when I tell him what I paid that week, what payments are coming up, how much we have in the checking account, etc. I also do the taxes, as I used to be a tax prepare, and I have taken financial and tax accounting courses. Again, I go over everything with him, so there are no secrets or surprises.

      (Don’t feel bad for me because I do all the banking/bill paying; my husband does all the litter scooping, vacuuming, laundry, and dishes. I got the better end of the deal!)

    30. Elizabeth West*

      The one time I lived with someone, he paid the big bills and I bought groceries, etc. We split the phone bill. I’ve never done it like this, but it makes sense to me to have your own accounts and a shared pool for shared expenses, bills, etc. That way, each person can spend some money on stuff they want or need for themselves without having to ask the other person or use the bill money. And it’s a little more secure for each partner if they’re kept separate, in case something goes wrong.

    31. Lilysparrow*

      We kept everything separate until the wedding, but discussed detailed income, taxes, budgets, debt, goals, long-term & retirement planning, and so forth during the engagement.

      Since the marriage, we are joint owners with joint access to everything and have everything in both our names – except one credit card account that he had from before, and I was made a cardholder/account manager on it.

      I do the nitty-gritty accounting and paperwork as part of our division of labor, because I hate it less and am a little better at it. We check in with each other about any unplanned expenses larger than, maybe $50? We try to operate on a zero-based budget and move any slush fund into an interest-bearing account as soon as possible. So it’s important to communicate so we don’t accidentally bounce checks. We have automatic overdraft coverage, but it feels really stupid to trigger those transfer fees when you have the money sitting in savings.

      And if he does anything out of routine, like go out to lunch at a new place he’ll tell me – not for permission, but so I know that it wasn’t card fraud when it shows up on the account.

      We sit down at least annually, but usually more frequently than that, and discuss the budget and our priorities. And if anything changes, like an unexpected expense, windfall, or opportunity, we talk about what to do with it.

      Temperamentally, he was more freewheeling and I was more frugal when we first got together. But we’ve been together long enough that he appreciates not being broke, and I appreciate the value of occasionally spending more for convenience or time. We are a team, it’s our money, our house, our kids. So we decide together.

      If you get on the same page about big-picture values, priorities, communication, and trust – then you can always work the details out as they come up.

      General rule of thumb for us is that we don’t do anything the other one thinks is a seriously bad idea. Because we respect each other’s judgement and consider each other a good source of advice.

      If one wants a splurge or to take a risk that the other one isn’t flat against, but isn’t 100 percent on board with, that doesn’t come out of the main account – we will do some side hustle work to fund it. So for stuff like that, there’s full disclosure, but it’s an independent decision.

      I think money decisions are an excellent demonstration/practice ground for learning how to be partners and working out what sometimes-vague words like “support,” “depend”, “accountability” and “transparency” mean to you, in a very concrete & specific way.

    32. Akcipitrokulo*

      Been with fiance over 10 years and have 3 ids (one is his from previous relationship).

      We’re partners. In everything. We don’t have a concept of “his” and “mine” when it comes to finances – it’s all “ours”.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        We did play with idea of giving ourselves the same amount of “pocket money” out of centrral fund – which was more so that we’d have our own money with which to buy the other one presents :) – but in the end was too much faff for us.

    33. it happens*

      You’ve gotten a lot of good replies already, so I’m going to get meta. First, Allison’s comment on a prenup is spot on. Then, money is not just money, especially today. You and your partner are at a perfect point to have a discussion about it- it’s not just how you combine accounts and pay bills, but what you want to do in the future, which will require money (travel, kids, start a business, retire…)
      There are a lot of books about this process- go to a bookstore or look online to find an author who ‘speaks’ to you and your partner in a language that makes sense. The important part is having a real, open, honest conversation and figuring out a way to continue that conversation over time- whether it’s weekly ‘what bills this week,’ quarterly checkins or annual state-of-the-partnership summits. It just has to work for you. You’ve read myriad ways people here have made it work- the two of you just need to find your way together.

    34. Hola!*

      I’m going to chime in and say that my husband and I *started* out with trying to keep things separate because we’re individuals! But after two years, it became so impractical we gave up. It turned into a Thing if someone bought deodorant at the grocery store but didn’t ring up separately from the shared groceries but the shared account owed them from the time they bought chicken on their personal card by mistake…and dealing with multiple bank accounts meant we had money scattered everywhere.

      Everything’s now commingled, except we kept our credit cards in our own names and our retirement accounts are in our names with the other as beneficiary, not joint.

      One of the secondary reasons we combined everything is because my husband massively outearns me, partially thanks to me being willing to be the trailing spouse. He wanted me on everything so I would be protected financially if something happened to him. It was a team decision, so it’s team money. It’s old fashioned and I never thought I’d do it, but it worked out to be the best solution.

    35. Vic tower*

      Thank you to everyone who has commented! I was already thinking of getting some financial counselling as a couple and about a pre-nup and am now thinking we should do both in the next month or so. It’s so encouraging to see that there is a range of ways to do things out there and good communication seems to be the key element.
      Thank you all once again!

    36. SS Express*

      My husband and I have our salaries paid into a joint account, which we use for all shared/household expenses (mortgage, bills, groceries, furniture and homewares, medical expenses, date night) as well as personal expenses deemed “necessities” (work clothes, gym membership, haircuts). We transfer the same amount of “pocket money” to each person’s own separate account each week, and use this for personal fun expenses like going out with friends, buying lunch or coffee at work, clothes shopping, nail salon, board games club etc. The pocket money is a relatively small amount as the joint account covers a lot for us. We’ve done this since we first moved in together, years before we were married or even engaged.

      We don’t often check with each other when buying things on the joint account, because we trust each other to use our judgement (also, we are lucky that don’t need to be too careful about where every dollar goes). Of course if we were doing something that involved a lot of money, like buying a new couch, we would discuss and decide that together. When it comes to spending our pocket money, I don’t know how much he spends on different things or how much he might have put aside, and vice versa. The idea is it’s completely personal to do whatever you want.

      My husband is a bit more organised than me with finances, so he’s usually the one who pays bills online and checks account balances. But we are both equally in charge in terms of deciding how to spend the money.

      Relevant background: in our jurisdiction our money and assets are treated the same regardless of whether we’re married or just living together, and regardless of whether we keep things together or separately, so our chosen system doesn’t have any consequences in that sense. It’s just based on the fact that we feel everything belongs to both of us equally. Taxes are always filed individually but you have to disclose your partner’s income (whether married or not) on your form so they can work out your household income for certain parts. Obviously check how these things would affect you in your jurisdiction!

  4. The RO-Cat*

    I’m glad that mindfulness meditation is starting to be kown in my country. As some might remember, I started facilitating (“teaching”) mindfulness through my tiny NGO and I’m happy to report it caught on. I just ended a 1-year cycle where I took participants from scratch and now they have their own (almost) regular practice. Also, I got some feedback that my sessions – and the topics discussed as an aside in class – produced some Aha! moments, which I find truly amazing. I’m preparing to launch the second cycle.
    The corporate environment was harder to crack, but I had encouraging feedback. Fingers crossed! It might even turn into a bread-winning occupation some day.
    I learned a lot this year. I do hope I’ll be able to put all that out for others to improve their life quality. For me, compassion and gratitude were key to getting out of the woods and fog, so in my classes I stress that mindfulness – which is simply a tool – can only work as intended within the moral bounds set by these attitudes. It seemed to catch so I made it a permanent feature.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      We were just talking about this after meditation group today. It’s nice that mindfulness and meditation is getting more mainstream, as in certain areas, it’s hard to do stuff that’s not the norm without getting side-eyed.

    2. Ann O.*

      That sounds amazing!

      I’ve been struggling a lot with circumstances that are not feasibly within my control and have been wondering if mindfulness training may help with that.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        It might be worth a try. Mindfulness does take amygdala several notches down (decrease in emotional reactivity, better chance for calm and clarity in decisions), but it’s not insta-calm, it’s a habit for a lifetime, truth be told. Also, there’s a lot of hype and, as such, you might meet bottom-feeders in this field, too, so please do your research beforehand.
        Mindfulness did wonders for me and has science backing it up, that’s why I decided to spread the word. Fingers crossed for you, too!

  5. coffee cup*

    I’m going to Morocco next Saturday with my friend! I am excited to be there, but (a) I’m terrified of flying and (b) I don’t really know what to expect, other than it’ll probably be very noisy and colourful and vibrant. We have a few day trips planned through the hotel we’re staying at, and we’re planning to do chilled things on the other days, such as a yoga class, so I think in general it’ll be fine. But I am really nervous for some reason! It’s just a week’s holiday and it’s meant to be fun and relaxing. I feel anxious and don’t know if it’s just the flight or the whole idea of going. Anyway, I don’t know what I’m looking for… just wanted to share and see if it makes me feel better.

    1. SHerSher*

      I”m a little jelly! We went to Spain and I was hoping to do a day trip to Morocco while there but it didn’t work out. Have fun!!!

      1. coffee cup*

        Thanks! Yes, I was in Andalucía in September and it was gorgeous, so I imagine a lot of Morocco to be similar.

    2. pugs for all*

      I often worry/stress/ or just think too much about things before hand, but one I am in them, it’s all fine and I wonder what I was so riled up about. so I get it!

      but report back when you have returned – it sounds like a fantastic trip!

    3. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Morocco is great but if you’re not used to different cultures it is full on. This is only to say there is quite a difference – but it’s a wonderful difference. You’re absolutely right about ‘noisy, colorful and vibrant’. The food is incredible and I would say the people lovely. If you speak French you’ll find things a bit easier. Are you getting guides or are you going with a tour? You can always get a reputable guide from your hotel, which might be a good way to go.

      I really recommend Dar Moha in Marrakesh. It’s a bit late in the day but see if you can get a reservation for the courtyard – it’s absolutely magic.

      Where are you going? You will have a wonderful time in the fantastic country!

      1. coffee cup*

        We’re staying in Marrakech and going on a couple of day trips via the riad (yes, we did think that would be best, and easiest, to be honest!). Unfortunately I don’t speak French but I’ve been trying to brush up on a few basic obvious phrases! I’m unsure how much cash to take with me but, other than the hotel, I expect it to be not too expensive to do things there.

        Thanks for the recommendation – we decided to try to have a ‘fancy meal out’ on our last evening if we could!

        1. Antonia Balazs*

          Sounds like a great plan. I think it’s extremely smart to arrange trips via the riad. It will def ensure a good experience and you can feel relaxed. Yes – it’s really inexpensive. You’ll have a great time once you’re there!

    4. Femme d'Afrique*

      I’m not sure if you’re the person I’d suggested this to, but the Lonely Planet site has some really interesting ideas/tips about different countries. It’s a mostly backpacking and budget conscious site, but I’ve linked to the Morocco section in my username in case you need some fun ideas and tips about getting around.

      Have fun and do let us know how it goes!

    5. Hannah*

      I also suffer from pre-vacation anxiety! I am all excited when I book them, but then immediately before, I get this weird dread feeling and don’t want to go anymore. I’m not even afraid of flying or anything, it’s just a weird thing my brain does ahead of going on vacation!

      I always go anyway and always have a good time, so just feel the feelings, tell yourself it’s normal, and go and have a good time!

    6. Llellayena*

      I went to Morocco about a year and a half ago with a group tour. You don’t mention where you’re staying, but if you’re in Marrakech definitely set aside a day (or more) to get lost in the medina. I had a ton of fun hunting out the different crafters. If you’ve got day trips, see if you can find some of the crafting cooperatives, it’s really awesome to hear the history of the craft and watch people make rugs and ceramic tiles. In Casablanca, I highly recommend the tour of the Hassan II mosque. I don’t have much to recommend for the nerves, I was more excited than nervous. Have fun in Morocco!

    7. StellaBella*

      I loved Morocco. Stayed in Tamracht at a surf camp, went to Agadir, and stayed in Marrakech … I travel solo, was there 5 years ago, and am a white, near 50 year old woman. I loved the markets, streets, old town, bus tours, surf camp and just taking a city bus around . Food is great as are the people, so smile and enjoy all you see.

    8. Everdene*

      I went to Marrakesh a couple of years ago and loved it, I would fully recommend a trip to the waterfalls of the Atlas mountains and the YSL gardens, we had beautifully relaxing afternoon there.

      The only note of caution I would have is to read up on ‘Faux Guides’ as they were the blot on our holiday landscape.

    9. HurricaneLys*

      That trip sounds like so much fun!

      For the flight, I would recommend noise cancelling headphones! I found my anxiety in flight went way down when the noise from the plane was quieter. I fly on planes for my job, and the Bose noise canceling headsets we used worked so well at reducing my in flight nerves that I bought a pair for my personal travel!

      1. coffee cup*

        Oh, really? I’ve heard about those, but wasn’t sure how effective they’d be (because the plane still moves and stuff). But maybe that would be good. Because all the weird noises freak me out (even though I know they’re all fine and normal… to me, in the midst of my anxiety, they’re weird!).

        1. Nicole76*

          I have heard the headphones suggestion before but the plane engine noise isn’t what causes me anxiety – it’s any change in acceleration, bank, or pitch, no matter how slight. I wish I wasn’t so sensitive to that aspect.

    10. Ann O.*

      I’ve lived in Morocco, although it was a long time ago now. I miss it so much.

      But you are absolutely correct to expect noisy, colorful, and vibrant! It can be an overwhelming experience for certain personalities, but it also can be a relaxing, wonderful, chilled place. A lot just depends on where you go, what you try to do, and how bothered you are by the idea of being hustled or fleeced.

      If you’re doing day trips, you are probably going to be on the relaxing, wonderful, chilled side. The hustle and bustle tends to be in the large cities and in the tourist areas.

      You probably have your trip well planned, but if you want any advice or recommendations, I love talking about Morocco. Of course, anything from me comes with the caveat that it’s over a decade old so may or may not still be true!

      1. coffee cup*

        Definitely would love some advice! Especially as you lived there, and you must know so much. I am not really keen on being fleeced, but I already know I’ll end up paying more for some things unless I get some excellent haggling skills between now and then! I think will be overwhelming for me (introvert, not great in crowds), but I am also excited to experience that at least a bit. It’s part of the experience and as long as I’m not having to be in it all the time, I’ll be fine. We’re staying in Marrakech but having a couple of days trips out to waterfalls and also to Essaouira, which looks lovely. The other days we plan to wander, check out all the amazing food (any recommendations for good places to eat?) and do a few bits like take a yoga class (my friend and I are both into yoga and it’ll be fun to try it in another country).

        I’ve just been looking out clothes I can take. I know it’s best to cover up as much as possible, but my understanding from others who have been is that in the touristy areas it’s not the end of the world if you show some of your arms, but to avoid it away from those places. I don’t own many long-sleeved tops (and I am pretty tight on cash just now) so my idea was to take a few tops and also a couple of light scarves, and use those. That’s the bit I am most unsure about, really!

        1. Ann O.*

          When I lived in Marrakech, even tank tops would not be a big deal in either Marrakech or Essaouira, particularly if you visibly read non-Moroccan. However, people did view it as polite for tourists to at least keep shoulders and cleavage covered. Scarves or shawls to add an extra layer work great. There will be plenty of inexpensive ones for sale if you end up wanting more than you’ve brought.

          Legs are a bigger deal… I would avoid shorts, skirts, and dresses above the knee if at all possible. 9 times out of 10, no one will care what tourists are doing, but the 10th time could go very unpleasant. One of the female students at the language academy I studied at got stones thrown at her. I haven’t kept up with the news, but my sense is that Morocco has gotten more conservative rather than less since I’ve been there.

          Marrakech is probably the hustliest and bustliest of the large cities. I love it so much, but it is high hustle. You will have faux guides constantly approaching you. You will be catcalled. If it overwhelms you, just pick up and go to Essaouira or Agadir. They are both much more relaxed. I also really like Guelmim, but that may be too far South for you. Chefchaouen in the mountains is the ultimate for calm and chill. It’s fairly far from Marrakech but if you have the time for it, it’s wonderful.

          I ended up very philosophical about haggling and pricing. If a price I settled on was worth it to me, then in my book, it’s a fair, reasonable price. There’s no great way to become a great haggler in a week, but you do want to ask around at least three places to comparison shop to get an idea of what starting prices are. Sadly, there’s no rule like only settle for 50% of the starting price or anything. You just have to get a feel for the general range, some idea for the range of quality, and then walk away if you can’t get to a price that’s worth it for you.

          There are fixed price stores in Marrakech’s Ville Nouvelle, so if you don’t want to haggle, you can always buy there instead of in the medina. There are also some artist co-operatives that tend to be fixed price. (although if you end up loving haggling, know that you can pretty much ALWAYS haggle)

          I feel like over a decade is too long ago to recommend specific food places. In general, price will correlate with quality and you want to be careful about food safety. Take the advice about bottled water seriously. You can get very sick from raw fruit or drinking non-bottled water.

          1. coffee cup*

            Thank you! Yes, I plan to wear jeans or a pair of harem trousers I have, and I have a pair of leggings I might wear with a longer top. It’ll not be so hot that I can’t deal with trousers, and I am happy not to show off my legs! Tops are harder for me because I just don’t have long sleeves, but I will take my scarf and definitely buy a couple while there. I’m sure even without too much haggling many of the items will be cheaper than what I’d get at home, so really I don’t mind too much. Plus I won’t be able to buy too much on my current budget. I fancy getting a scarf or two, maybe a floaty top. I’d like to also send my mum a postcard because I never do that any more.

  6. Too much anxiety*

    A vent for Sunday – One of the points of contention between my brother and I is that he remembers (or claim to remember) a LOT more about our childhood than I do … he’ll end up talking about all kinds of shit that happened during our childhood that I don’t remember or only vaguely remember. Now I realize some of this is a problem of my own personality and the average person is a lot more relaxed about filling in gaps or assuming something must have happened and not caring about being 100% accurate in retelling…. my personalty though doesn’t allow that easily. There’s way too much anxiety about being WRONG and what amounts feeling like I’m possibly making stuff up… so he tells all the stories (like my mother tells all the stories about her childhood) and I usually keep my mouth shut because I don’t KNOW for sure all true…….. so naturally it seems like he cares about our childhood while I don’t … he cares about family history while I don’t …and I’m, not sure how to fix that. I KNOW my brain is ridiculous and the anxiety is ridiculous because everyone knows that memories are not 100% accurate (or at least they should know) and telling stories about what happened and not having them be 100% accurate is actually normal but I can’t help it…

    And this doesn’t just apply to childhood stuff for me really… like when I see my parents and they want to know what I’ve been up too I tend to stick to the very basic facts that I know are accurate and not much beyond that. There’s no “story” to tell.

    1. SHerSher*

      You sound a lot more pragmatic and your brother is more dramatic. Not wrong, just different. You be you!!!

      1. Too much anxiety*

        In general that’s true! I do think I take it to extremes at times (at lest internally) but then so does he… we’re opposites in a lot of ways…

    2. Asenath*

      I think it’s entirely normal for family members to have different memories and also different interpretations of events in the past. This was brought home to me recently when I spent some time reminiscing with my siblings – we live far apart and don’t see each other much. Naturally, there are differences in the memories of me, the eldest, and the youngest. I was grown and gone when she was still really a child. But there are as many or more differences between me and the sibling closest to me in age. I decided that it’s very natural for different people to remember and recount things differently. That’s why eyewitness testimony is often unreliable, and family oral histories have stories of the three brothers who were the first to move to a country, but the documentation shows that the ancestor in question arrived with a cousin and a close friend who became a brother-in-law!

      1. Too much anxiety*

        I know it’s normal… It’s just a little frustrating at times.. I wish I could turn off that part of my brain that worries so much about being correct when telling what happened.

        1. CanadaTag*

          {virtual hugs} I so know the feeling! (Have commented below in more detail, but had to chime in about that!)

    3. Ltrim Press Club*

      I have a similar experience in that my younger sibling appears to recall more details from my childhood than me.

      But for either of us, it’s just our memories and our perspective. Something I thought was boring could have been really important to them….and thus we remember it differently.

      I tend to recall things in “pictures” and how I felt. Growing older, much fades. I’ve got big gaps where I’m not certain what the events were.

      Perhaps if you’re in a discussion where your brother is telling story, you can respond with something like – “that’s interesting you remember it that way, the experience for me was/felt different/like this ”. Or some polite way of acknowledging you both can have your own perspective on the past which is more than okay.

      1. Anon For This*

        I have a much younger sibling who also seems to recall more about my childhood than I and at first it really made me feel strange. I finally decided that when I hear “Remember that time when we…” and I have no recollection of “that time”, it just doesn’t matter.

        Over the years, I have come to realize that I have a terrible memory for stuff like that. Example: I mentioned a restaurant to a co-worker/buddy of mine and started telling them about it and they gave me a funny look and said that the two of us had eaten there together. And I still had no recollection of our having eaten at that restaurant together!

        And yet, I have a great memory when it comes to looking at a file and the documentation contained therein and recalling this meeting or that discussion as to how various situations were to be handled. Go figure!

      2. Too much anxiety*

        I normally keep my mouth shut which causes its own problems…. Part of it is just that there are huge chunks of time where I can’t separate what happened when – I could tell you there was a time that I cut my foot on the top of a tin can but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you how old I was or were we were living at the time…. I’m sure my parents know but I sure don’t. In the mean time he seems to know exactly where we were living for each story he can tell… they all start with – “when we were living in [State X]” or “when we were living in [State B]” … (there were a few different states over the years).

        1. Asenath*

          Sometimes people just remember some things better than others. One of my siblings can almost always say exactly what year something happened. I almost never can. We just seem to process information differently.

    4. Madge*

      I’m the same way: I don’t remember a lot of my childhood. Part of that is due to anxiety and trauma-it can interfere with your ability to save memories and can cast a shadow on what you do remember. My brother also had a different childhood because he’s significantly younger. They say raising kids more than 5 years apart is like having multiple “only” children. And I can really relate to your fear of remembering things “wrong.” In my mind my brother would be the one true source of memories and if I remember differently then I’m the one who’s wrong. But I don’t know that he thinks that way. We don’t really reminisce together.

      1. Former Employee*

        Ditto. I am nearly 8 years older than my younger sib and I definitely fit the description of an only child versus an oldest child.

      2. Too much anxiety*

        We’re not that far apart in age and I’m pretty sure there’s no real trauma involved… well other than the “trauma” of being the kid with multiple disabilities and dealing with hospitals and doctor visits and shit… but whatever. I couldn’t tell you much of what happened in the last year either (the year before that is mostly a blur at this point).

        1. Madge*

          Anxiety in general can affect your memory as well. It could also be that these memories, or the past is more important to your brother than to you. My husband remembers every restaurant he’s ever been to. For me, if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. It can take him a while to get me to remember a particular place, if at all, and it’s usually not by what he’d consider an identifying feature.

    5. New Year, New Me*

      Family memories can be weird. For example, I’ve been to Disney World several times in my life but the first time my parents took me, I was two years old. Naturally I don’t remember it because I was two years old. When we have discussions about Disney and I mention the later trips in life I actually remember, they remind me about my first trip. I’ve told them I don’t remember but they constantly reminded me about it.

      I was so frustrated by years of this that I finally asked why they took me so young when they knew I wouldn’t remember. They said that the memories for them were worth it even if I didn’t remember. Plus that little two year old me had a blast in the moment.

      1. Too much anxiety*

        I know we went when both of us were older than 2 but I don’t remember how old we were… I don’t remember much though. That’s another one I know my brother remembers more of.

      2. Gigglemesh*

        Oh I feel you on the repeated, “You don’t remember??” My Grandma loves to remind me that I had a pony at my 4th birthday then is aghast– every! single! time!– that I don’t remember it. Listen I’m sure little kid me loved it, but it didn’t make it into the long term memory clearly.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I have a family member like this. Her version of what went on is so very different from what I saw. Yeah, it can make a person anxious. Oddly, my nails break when ever I went to see her. I could not process the wild differences in what we saw and what we believed was happening. I ended up drifting away from that person.
      Someone commented that it’s a lot of drama. Yeah, I see this too in the stories my family member tells, there’s lots of drama and lots of needless hand-wringing.

      In my older generation family there was a person who would tell stories. I think Person believed the stories. But no one in the family could back the stories up. So Person became known as a liar. It’s too bad because I think something did happen to Person but we will never get down to the nuts and bolts of the story.

      Listen when you can and move away when you can’t listen any more. Try not to let his story shake your very core, that could be the anxiety. Life is mostly done on perception anyway. If I perceive you are my friend I will act friendly. If I perceive ill will I will be friendly but I will keep my distance so as not to bother you too much. We go with what we perceive and accuracy is not always where it should be. (Eh, countries do this to each other.)

      For unknown reasons his life view and world view is different from yours. If you are not ordinarily anxious most of the time, pay attention to this feeling. It might be happening to protect you.

      1. Too much anxiety*

        I am anxious a lot so I think that’s part of it. It’s just I’m so ridged in how I think things should be and sometimes I take it rather too far while in the mean time he goes too far in the other direction and there’s so much drama from him…. Oh well. That’s life

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is such an interesting thread…I’ve never known anyone who just didn’t care to be reminiscence like that, unless it’s about an uncomfortable or terrible life event of course. But even my friends wouldn’t have a thing to speak about if we didn’t just get together and laugh about the stuff we’ve done together over the last two decades. My brother is six years older, so he talks to me about our parents when I was too young to remember or explains pictures I don’t have any knowledge of.

      Granted I’m into history as a whole and like stories. My favorite memories of my dad’s generally terrible family is listening to stories from my great aunts and uncles.

      I feel like if you’re that different, if you say something, he’s going to be upset. If you don’t say something, you’re upset. It’s one of those sad situations that boils down to “I’m not that close to my family, we’re just so different.” :(

      1. Asenath*

        Reminiscing is a way to create links among family (and friends, too!), so it was a bit of a surprise for me when I realized that some of the increasingly few people who were actually there with me all those years ago remembered different things – and sometimes, remembered the same things differently. I’ve come to realize that this is perfectly normal – we have different personalities; take and took different levels of interest in different events in the past, had different kinds of relationships with the same relatives. And of course my own relationships with relatives changed over time as we aged. In my experience, I haven’t found that the relative whose memories/stories are most different from my own is particular offended by that difference. I know I’m not. But neither of us is invested in having the right story; the only story to be accepted by the entire family. Of course, it’s important not to express this difference as “I can’t believe that story about Cousin Mordred!! He was an absolute angel to me and (fill in story).” Something like “It’s very interesting to hear that. My own memories are different (fill in story)” is probably better. What’s absolutely fascinating to me is how family stories morph over time, or bits get forgotten! How often did that beloved elderly uncle visit? Which cousin was it who taught you all those rude words?

      2. Too much anxiety*

        It’s not so much that I don’t care it’s more that I just don’t trust my own memories enough to repeat stories like that. Sometimes I do tell my parents about stuff but it’s usually right after the event – either we meet up shortly after or I’ve told them I’m doing something and then soon afterwards they ask about it.

        1. Asenath*

          Well, there’s nothing wrong with that – if you don’t want to join in the story-telling, you don’t have to do so, for whatever the reason, and I think being cautious about sharing your memories is fine too.

          I did end up way off base with one of my stories of my childhood – but I ended up accepting it, and learning something about the limits of memory in the process. Short version: there was a boy in school with me who I hated – I thought he was a nasty bully. I went to a very small rural school, and many of the students, particularly the rowdier boys, dropped out after Grade 8, when they were legally old enough to, after spending enough time in Grade 8 to reach that age if needed. I was convinced this boy was one of them. I had a lovely moral tale about how the wrongdoer was punished; he dropped out of school and had a miserable and limited life, and I finished high school and went on to continue my education and so on and so forth. Many decades later, on a visit to the old place with some relatives, someone pulled out a high school yearbook from my graduating year, and there my nemesis was! He graduated from high school with me! I had to admit to myself (and to a few of the people I’d told the tale to) that I’d somehow confabulated my memories to make a story that I liked! I’ve been much more open to the possibility that memories are not always reliable ever since.

          What actually happened to the boy was that after a rather adventurous life (including time in prison) he died comparatively young, but apparently (according to his obituary) of natural causes, and much missed by his family.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          That’s incredibly fascinating to me. It seems like it’s rooted in being afraid to being wrong, which absolutely makes sense, that’s why I never ever raised my hand in school after awhile, once my anxiety started really setting in pre-teens age. I don’t like guessing games either, I fear that kind of thing. So this seems like a bigger version of that which I can respect completely.

    8. Not Australian*

      At my mother’s funeral, my sister and I – who have not spoken to each other for many years – each contributed a brief biography of my mother for the officiant to read out. Just about the only facts we agreed on were my mother’s date and place of birth; as far as I’m concerned virtually everything else my sister came out with was total fiction.

      When you have two eyewitnesses to any event, you will almost certainly get three different stories.

    9. Screenwriter/Mom*

      Please remember that two children in the same family can have completely different experiences in that family; so he may have registered certain things very strongly for reasons pertaining to his role and relationship within the family, while you were focused on things that were important to you! You have your own relationship with your parents, so just enjoy that. You are who you are, your brother is who he is! No need for anxiety! Just you be you.

    10. Lilysparrow*

      Most people don’t actually remember things in coherent stories. Especially events from childhood. They remember snippets, emotions, phrases, and sensory experiences. And after all, how can your emotional reaction to something when you were seven be right or wrong? It’s not as if anyone can dispute it.

      Turning a collection of “raw” memories into a linear story is a process of curation, synthesis, and editing. For some people, this process is learned and becomes habitual, and they do it without really thinking about how it works. Families that like to swap stories actually collaborate on developing them by sharing and adding details or honing in on the most important details or the “takeaway.” So the current version of a story is deemed “accurate” by mutual agreement. Not because it’s really more reliable in any objective way. And it will continue to evolve over time.

      It sounds to me like your mom & brother are both natural storytellers, and since you are not, they have this bonding point you are left out of. If you want to join in, you could try sharing some detail that you remember, even if you aren’t sure of the context. And you could offer it up for discussion about where it fits. So, if you aren’t comfortable asserting it as a “story,” you could turn it into a question.

      “I remember this one time, I cut my foot on a pop can. Let’s see, it must have been summer, because I was barefoot, right? When was that, I wonder?” And then you build up the context by adding details – maybe what you were wearing, or the color of the linoleum in the kitchen, that help you deduce the context. And they can help with that.

      You don’t have to be right to participate. (Unless your family are just jerks.)

      Also, I noticed in one of your replies that you were dealing with multiple disabilities as a child. Listen, it’s entirely possible the reason you didn’t record a lot of stories about family history or where things happened, is because your brain was **busy** dealing with your health issues. Observing one’s surroundings and current events is a luxury. You had some stuff to cope with, naturally it’s going to take up a lot of your bandwidth.

      If your brother was put into more of an observer role, it makes sense that he’d have more occasion to watch, analyze, and recall what was going on around him.

      1. CanadaTag*

        Yes, this! My memories of my childhood are foggy – I have a few distinct memories from before I reached adulthood, most of which I remembered due to the sheer emotion invoked in them (not always good emotion), or they were something that I did often. And the people commenting about how anxiety can screw with long-term memories are right – it happens. Extreme examples include repressed memories (one of which I’ve been discussing lately, in fact, because the aftermath still exists, 35-odd years later) and flashbacks/PTSD. And that goes double for dealing with anxiety and other mental health (or physical health) issues – quadruple when you’re a kid and your brain isn’t yet fully developed.

        Of all of us, my youngest sister has the “clearest” memories of our childhood (from when she was of an age to actually remember), followed by my middle sister – my brother and I, not so much. (At least as far as I’ve been able to tell.) But yes, things look very different from our perspective on events, and based on what our brain chooses to remember.

        One thing that might help is internalizing the fact that every time you remember something, you actually change the memory. There have been studies done on this, I know (just don’t ask me what they are) – it’s an observable fact. And one’s brain fastens onto things that are important to it/you. (I’m not good at remembering verbal information, for example – much better at visual, so long as you’re not asking me to describe intensity and specific colours, etc.) And on each reach back to that memory, the things that were important to your brain are emphasized, and the other things are diminished.

        I can tell you all about the game I was playing outside the day before my fifth birthday (in part because it’s a repeating element); all I know about the weather is that it wasn’t raining. I can remember being in Grade 2, and being praised to my Grade 2/3 class for the report I did on an outing we went on – I’ve got no idea what I wrote, nor do I remember anything about the outing save that it was a presentation of The Magic Flute. (And I remember nothing about TMF, save that I think the music is by Mozart, and that’s more because my dad loves classical music!)

        Anyway. Not sure what to recommend doing about the anxiety stopping you in the moment, and the fixation on being correct (which I have, but aimed towards general facts/knowledge, not memories, so what works for me wouldn’t for you – hard to do research on eyewitness reports!). I know I stim when I get anxious – do something (rock, pet a cat, rub my fingers along intriguing textures, nibble at the inside of my cheeks) to try to calm myself down, but I don’t know if that would work for you or not. (For those who recognize the term, yes, I am autistic.) The best suggestion I can come up with at the moment is to support Lilysparrow’s suggestion above if you want to participate – asking questions about the things that do stick in your memory. And remind your anxiety brain about subjectivity?

        Hope that I was at least able to help/support a little bit!

  7. Wondering*

    If you met a 30-year old woman who says she’s never been in a relationship, what would you assume was ‘wrong’ with her (assuming she’s reasonably attractive, gainfully employee etc, no obvious red flags)? Would you assume similar things if it was a man? Or would you just shrug and think that’s the norm in this day and age?

    1. anon with no name because I can't think of one to stick with.....*

      I wouldn’t assume anything but then I’m nearly 40 and never been in a relationship so what do I know.

    2. coffee cup*

      Definitely not. Dating is difficult and hard to predict. And 30 is young. I try not to judge on those things because I know how tough it can be.

    3. SHerSher*

      There are lots of different kinds of people in the world. If she is all the things you mention, maybe she just didn’t want to get in a relationship, the right person never came along at the right time…. Hard to say. Don’t judge her (if it’s not you) and (if it’s you) don’t sweat it.

    4. pugs for all*

      I’d think she just hasn’t met the right person yet or been at the right place in her life for a relationship. I wouldn’t think there was anything wrong.

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I would assume that she’s just never met the right person or that some other factor for in the way (moving away, a family crisis, a health problem, etc). I would not assume there’s something *wrong* with them.

    6. Woodswoman*

      I have a friend who is amazing–smart, funny, kind, attractive, talented, emotionally stable–who I knew for years in her 20s and 30s and all of our mutual friends couldn’t recall her ever dating. Until eventually she met The One, and they’re now married with two kids. I wouldn’t be alarmed by someone who’s 30 and hasn’t been in a relationship.

    7. foolofgrace*

      I wouldn’t think anything of it … I have a friend who’s mid-30s and has never been in a serious relationship and he’s a great guy, just painfully shy. That being said, however, if this person wants to be in a relationship it might be a good idea to start perusing dating websites. You can’t just rely on Prince Charming knocking on your door someday. Yes, coincidental meetings can turn into the love of your life, but you can’t rely on that as your only method of pursuing your dream. If you’re not a person wanting to be in a relationship, please ignore what I’ve said about meeting someone, I’m just spitballing.

    8. OldMom*

      It might depend on the situation in which we met and how I learned of her “relationship” status, but, I don’t think I’d assume anything was “wrong” with her. I might wonder about what her story is but again, depending on context, I doubt I’d think it was any of my business. Unless she asked me on a date or to go steady, it wouldn’t be any of my business. Some things I might speculate about: is she asexual, is she aromantic, is she a late bloomer, is she from a small town or enclosed culture with very few choices of people to be involved with, does she have some unusual fetish or orientation that is in short supply in her area, did her family dynamics keep her from involvements (example: youngest daughter expected to stay home to take care of parents), does she have an unusual religious background (was she a nun? Although maybe that counts as a relationship?), is she highly sexual but in a way that precludes relationships, and finally, the most likely, she just hasn’t met the right (or a right) person.
      Unless there was something obviously “off” about her, or she just said to me, “there is something wrong with me, I’m 30 and never had a relationship,” and then invited me to advise or speculate, I wouldn’t think anything was wrong.
      Yes, I think it’s in the range of “norm” these days or any days. No, I wouldn’t think different things if it was a man instead, but I might think some of those explanations more likely based on gender or how the person presented.
      If you are this person and people are telling you there is something wrong with you, tell them to F off and find better friends. If you think there is something to it, find a therapist and work on it but still cut short time with these hypercritical friends.

    9. New Year, New Me*

      I hope no one would assume anything is wrong because I’ll be turning 30 this year and have never been in a relationship. And at least three of my friends in the same age range have also never been in relationships. There’s nothing wrong with us. For me personally, it’s just that I haven’t yet met anyone who I would want to tie myself too in that way. Nothing wrong with that. I do hope to find someone one day but I think I’d also be perfectly happy if that didn’t happen for me.

    10. black dragon reader*

      I would think that she is one step ahead of everyone else considering how traditional monogamous marriage is doomed to fail. At least statistically for most people. Divorce rates are north of 50% and of those that are married, 70% of those people surveyed have cheated or want to cheat. It brilliant to want to give that a hard next in spite of societal pressure to get married.

      1. TechWorker*

        My googling of divorce rates is different to yours.. but also I don’t think this is a particularly productive way of looking at it. No-one should be in a relationship unless they want to be, and I certainly don’t think there’s anything ‘wrong’ with someone who doesn’t want that but also relationship=/=marriage and even then, if 50% marriages *do* end in divorce I wouldn’t necessarily count that as a failure of marriage, no more than I would count working somewhere for 15 years and then moving on a failure of a job… terrible analogy, but I guess I’m saying it’s bizarre to judge the worth of something by whether it lasts ‘forever’.

        1. black dragon reader*

          The intention of traditional monogamous marriage is for it to last a lifetime. If I am having a foundation poured for a house I am building and the foundation guy says its going to last a life time, then after 15 years it breaks. I would most definitely consider that a failure because the intent was for it to last a life time and it only lasted 15 years and now I am going to have to scramble to find resources to make these unexpected repairs. On the other hand if both people go in to it with the understanding that marriage isn’t forever and are emotionally and legally (prenups, child care agreements etc..) and that marriage ends after 10 or 15 years or so then I wouldn’t really count that as a failure. At least in the second scenario peoples expectation is in line with reality.

        2. black dragon reader*

          As far as your data, divorce rates may be different for you if you are not from a “Western culture”. In which case that may be a completely different ball game so to speak. The American Psychological Association puts divorce rates at about 40%-50%.


    11. HannahS*

      Well, given that I’m approaching that situation and know several others in the same boat, here are some ideas (for both men and women):
      -they belong to a culture/religion where they wouldn’t have begun to date until their early/mid 20s
      -they belong to and are dating within a small religious and/or ethnic minority and haven’t met anyone
      -they were seriously ill for a portion of their early adulthood
      -they chose to focus on their career and it just didn’t happen on its own
      -they spent portions of their early adulthood living and working in an area with few/no young people
      -they were dealing with personal tragedy in their 20s and didn’t have energy to date
      -they were sorting through their gender identity and/or sexuality

      1. Anon for This Comment*

        My husband was 2, 4, and 6 + shy. There was nothing “wrong” with him and he is an extremely excellent husband, father, and human. He told me shortly after we started dating that he didn’t really have any relationships before me and I was… just unbothered. He was great and I didn’t care about his lack of romantic experience.

        1. HannahS*

          Yeah, I’m 1 through 5 and it is what it is. If I met a guy who had as little experience as I do, I’d ask him why, in the same way that I’d ask him about his previous relationships if he had them. It’s useful to know why and how someone’s life has shaped up the way it has, but it’s certainly not a “what’s wrong with them” kind of thing.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      I read a while ago that there is a section of our society that just does not date much. I didn’t. But I met my husband when I was 19 and we married a few years later. I just did not feel the need to date much.

      I think it really helps to understand how a person views dating. I have a friend who is dating because this is his way of getting out and doing things and having fun experiences. So maybe looking at their goals would be a good insight as to how they behave.

    13. CatCat*

      I wouldn’t think anything of it nor would I think there was something wrong with her. But then again didn’t have a relationship until my late 20s and there wasn’t anything wrong with me. Life just happened that way.

    14. Nita*

      I’d just assume they had other things on their plate in their teens and 20s. And/or that they hadn’t met anyone they had deep feelings for.

    15. 653-CXK*

      I think it’s quite normal these days to be unattached. Despite the benefits of a relationship/marriage, some people are not cut out for it, so they’re quite happy in their solitude and independence.

    16. Myrin*

      Short to your three separate questions: nothing, yes, and no.

      Longer answer: Well, I’m almost in that group – I’ll turn 28 in six weeks but I’ve definitely never been in a relationship (although some might argue that I’m not “reasonably attractive”, but I’ve certainly met my fair share of people who were absolutely less conventionally attractive than I am and who still were in a relationship, so what does that even mean). For me, I’m on the asexual spectrum but even beyond that, I’m just… not interested in a relationship? I’m just really content being with myself. And I guess that absent any reason to suspect differently, I’d just assume the same of anyone I met in that category.

      1. Issabekka*

        This describes me too, Myrin except I am 46. I do ocasionally think it would be nice to meet someone I can share my life with, (though not my house, because I like my private time and space) but mostly I am content most of the time.

    17. Anon for this*

      So, hi, I’m anonymous, I’m 33, and I’ve never been in a relationship, and I’m not sure what to make of this question. It’s actually a little offensive, in that somebody (not necessarily you!) is jumping to the conclusion that there’s something wrong with me because I don’t meet the romantic/sexual norms of our culture. But at the same time, it seems possible that you’re asking about yourself.

      So here goes: If you’re asking about yourself, I think it’s super normal for those of us who’ve reached middle age (or nearly so) to wonder if there’s something “wrong” with us, if we are not in a relationship the way our friends and family members are. Just this past holiday season, actually, a *bunch* of my family members suddenly started dating; I’m older than all of them; and I’m left wondering where I took the wrong turn. But here it’s important to remind ourselves that these feelings do not actually correspond with reality; being in a relationship, or not being in a relationship, does not say anything about how whole and healthy of a person we are.

      If you’re asking about somebody else, on the other hand, it’s important to remember that there are lots of reasons people don’t date. I was raised in fundamentalist environment influenced by the I Kissed Dating Goodbye Books–so from the time I was 16 right on through till I was 23 or 24, I believed casual dating was definitely wrong, I hung out with people that believed that casual dating was wrong, and my ability to date was screwed over. I grew out of that mindset, but at that point, I was living in an area of the country where there were very few older single men; most people got married and started families early. And while I’ve dabbled in online dating, I don’t currently have the time/money for it. I’ve gone on a few dates, and enjoyed time with people, but I’ve never been dating That’s my story; other people will have different stories; but there are myriad reasons why we reach this age without getting married.

      (Note: I’m a fairly regular commenter whose chosen to go anonymous, not because I’m embarrassed about being single, but because I don’t want all the I Kissed Dating Goodbye stuff linked to my usual handle.)

    18. Bigger fish to fry*

      I wouldn’t assume anything was wrong with her. I’d assume she had her reasons for not doing those particular things, if I thought about it at all. Same if it was someone of a different gender identity.

      But I really wouldn’t spend much time thinking about something like that at all.

    19. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Did we meet…?

      I can tell you that i never had a relationship before the eve of my 31st birthday. Here’s the boring story.

      I was a depressive, anxious child who was bullied by boys at school. It impressed upon me that men thought I was disgusting and therefore I should stay away from them and I actually built up a fear.

      I made a couple of friends who were men online because I didn’t have the same issues when there’s distance and a screen involved. This is the only reason that I was able to arrange to throw away my virginity at 28 because I was so distressed internally at becoming a 30 year old virgin.

      And then on my 30th birthday, I bit the bullet and joined a dating site. I dated someone for a couple of months, it didn’t work out because I have no a low attraction rate and tbh he was short and I cannot get over that hurdle. So I went back into my seclusion until I got a message out of the blue from my still active dating profile that coaxed me into a conversation over six months later. I was full on paranoid and a wreck for the first year of the relationship, not in a jealous way, in a “I can’t speak, this crippling fear won’t allow me to communicate in person at all.”…thankfully this wasn’t scary AF and my partner is super interested in the personality he knows exists due to our written communications that we were still engaging in.

      Five years later, it’s night and day now that he’s broken me out of my emotional chains and confirmed that I’m not just a mutant.

    20. Old Biddy*

      I wouldn’t assume anything – some people are late bloomers or are busy with school. I was super busy with grad school/postdoc and didn’t get a real, stay in the same place for more than a few years job until I was 28.
      I had my first real relationship at 35 and am now a boring old married woman at 50.

    21. Marion Ravenwood*

      I have several close friends (male and female) who are in that situation, so no, I wouldn’t think there was anything ‘wrong’ with them. I’d just assume that for whatever reason, they hadn’t found the right person yet, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If anything these days I think it’s perhaps more unusual to be settled down at an early age; I got married just after I turned 27 and my husband was 28, and we were considered very young to be married at that time.

    22. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      BTW, let’s acknowledge that AAM commenters are thoughtful, understanding and generally accepting of differences.

      EVERYONE who isn’t my parents, brother and best friends think I’m broken in some way. My extended family assumed I was an “old maid” because I’m a secret lesbian.

      There’s a woman on 90 Day Fiance who claims that she was a virgin until 30, until she met the guy she eventually married on the show. The general live-feed was shouting from the rooftops that she was a liar and a fraud.

    23. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Well, it’s obviously not “the norm” for someone to be 30 and to have never been in a relationship. But as to whether the person has something wrong with her, I wouldn’t assume that. There are 7.5 billion people in the world, so 7.5 billion different ways to live one’s life. A friend of mine from high school is pushing 50 and has never had a sustained, long-term relationship. She’s a successful professional who is rich in family and friendships and has a work-life balance that many would envy. Who am I to say that there’s something “wrong” with her that has kept her unmarried or unpartnered up to now?

      And considering how well my first marriage went, maybe I should have waited until well after age 30 to have my first relationship!

    24. Someone Else*

      Did she say she’d tried to be in a relationship but it never worked, or was it just not a priority? I wouldn’t assume anything “wrong” with just the info you mentioned. But if the premise is she’s telling me she’s tried but never succeeded and asking what may be going wrong…I’d probably ask her 35 follow up questions before I’d come up with something resembling suggestions. If it were just the statement in a vacuum that she’d never been in a relationship I’d assume it was intentional until otherwise indicated. Same if it were a man.

    25. Asenath*

      I wouldn’t assume anything was wrong in either case. It is very common, however, for people to make assumptions about those who are different – including those who are not and have not been in a relationship – and those assumptions will be determined by the views of the person making them, not about the target.

      1. Not My Usual Name*

        Perhaps it’s simply that there isn’t anyone to meet? Where I live is quite a transcient place with people coming and going, so it isn’t easy to meet people. Add to that there there are quite a few couples relocating, and a single person is seen as not fitting in, or the threat of splitting up a relationship.

        After the First World War, there was a whole generation of unmarried women, simply because their fiances/boyfriends had been killed and there were no men left to replace them.

    26. Triplestep*

      I’m 55, and when I was in my 20s and 30s, it was pretty well accepted in my circles that women over 30 who were reasonably attractive, gainfully employed, etc, and weren’t romantically involved were too intimidating to men with their fragile egos. I believed it at the time, and looking back I still believe it for those times.

      Today, there are many more women are getting college and grad school degrees at higher rates than men are, which contributes to women staying single longer. So If I met a woman over 30 who was all the things described in the OP, I’d think it was related to this.

    27. Anonymiss*

      This doesn’t change based on gender for me, actually. I wouldn’t assume something was wrong with someone if they hadn’t been in a relationship by 30, assuming they hadn’t given me any of reason to think so. I honestly can’t imagine a reason I’d be thinking that much about it unless I was trying to date the person, in which case I might make a mental note incase it’s relevant later (say, it turns out no one has dated them because they found out he’s an axe murderer, somehow affects relationship dynamics, etc.)

      At the same time, I don’t think I know a single person (all around 28-32) who has never been in a relationship… and I wouldn’t say all my friends are particularly social people. They’re not all in relationships now, but they’ve all had at least one. So I wouldn’t assume anything was wrong with a person or that not dating was bad, but I wouldn’t think it was the norm.

      1. Asenath*

        I can think of a least three people now well over 30 and never in a relationship. There are probably more in the much larger group of people I didn’t know when they were in their teens and twenties so I don’t know if they had a relationship back then. It’s an unusual situaction and so not the norm, but I think it’s more common than some think it is. It’s not something people talk about much. Some don’t think they need to justify or explain; others are embarrassed and afraid people will say there’s something wrong with them.

        1. Anonymiss*

          I wonder if it varies regionally, I’d imagine it would… I do know people who are choosing to be single, or are single but have previously dated, widowers, etc. I’m certain they’re about though, and they certainly don’t deserve to feel bad about it.

          1. Asenath*

            I’d guess the number of never-in-a-relationships varies regionally, by culture/subculture and by age. I suspect that among the younger, less religious and North American/Northern European groups there would be fewer people in such a category simply because there is so much pressure to have some kind of a relationship that more people would have had at least one before deciding not to bother with another. People from other backgrounds might well have decided to wait until marriage (rather than being pushed into some kind of relationship by the mid teens through peer pressure), and then when marriage didn’t materialize, would be in the “no relationship ever” category. And there are plenty of reasons a relationship or marriage might not have materialized. It’s still popular to put it down to sexual orientation (eg asexual) and I suspect the old “must have some sexual problems” idea is still out there. But some people don’t meet someone they might find attractive enough, or are absorbed in something else – career, care elderly relatives, personal situations such as illness or disability – and so never marry. There’s also a kind of vicious circle in which people who are shy or introverted are encouraged to date in the party and bar sense, and if they try it, they hate it, and the only possible partners they meet are interested int he party and bar scene, which means they are not really compatible with a shy or introverted person. So they decide dating isn’t for them, until they really get lonely and decide to try again, the same way.

      2. CanadaTag*

        It also depends on what exactly is meant by “relationship” – and I’m assuming that it’s a romantic-oriented relationship that’s being discussed. Casual dating? An intimate relationship? A “let’s get married”/”serious” relationship? A “we see each other a few times a year, but there’s chemistry between us” relationship? There’s a lot of different types of potentially romantic relationships

        (And for the record – no, nothing “wrong” with that. Some people don’t need – or want – intimate relationships to feel fulfilled/happy/content with their life. Or even casual dating relationships. If they’re – no, doesn’t differ by gender either – happy that way, the more power to them! Especially if they’ve managed to push through this idea that everyone needs to be in a relationship to feel fulfilled, and come out the other side.)

        1. Jasnah*

          This would be my question. I know people who have said “I’ve never been on a date” but then it comes out they’ve gone to the movies alone with their crush, or something that I would consider a date that for some reason they don’t. Similarly, there’s nothing “wrong” with not having had relationships or for having many many relationships, but I would be curious if we were defining “relationship” the same way.

    28. Lissa*

      I would try not to make any assumptions because there are so many different possibilities, lots of which are outlined above! Though I say “try” because with most people I’m sure I make subconscious assumptions based on my own experience, and in that case, I have been really close with a couple people who exactly fit this, so my mind would probably fill the gaps and assume it was similar if I wasn’t thinking about it. So in that case subconscious assumptions would be that she had high standards and hadn’t met anybody who was perfect for her, and that she’d rather be single than with someone who wasn’t just right.

    29. Anon Anon Anon*

      I wouldn’t make any assumptions, regardless of the gender, but I might ask about it if we became friends. There are so many possible reasons, it’s just not fair to speculate.

    30. Lilysparrow*

      I don’t know if it’s “wrong,” but unless she said it in a way that made it sound like she was unhappy about it, I would assume it meant that relationships aren’t her #1 priority – or had not been in the past. Which is just information, not really a flaw or something.

      If she said it in such a way to indicate she regretted it, or it bothered her, I would assume she had some family situation – like being very sheltered, or illness, or needing to go to work very young – that had interfered with a typical teenage/young adult dating life. But again, that’s not necessarily something “wrong” with her. It’s just more like, “oh, she sounds unhappy about this situation, I wonder what’s holding her back from what she wants?”

      I didn’t meet my husband until I was 32. My prior relationships were few & far between, and not satisfactory. The friends & family members I have who have never been in any relationship at all by the age of 30 or 40, are in that situation because they are ambivalent about dating, or have some emotional/family of origin issues that make it hard for them to seek a relationship out. And they’re pretty cognizant of it.

    31. RestlessRenegade*

      Regardless of the other person’s gender, I would assume they hadn’t been in a relationship because they didn’t want to be–either they have a specific reason or haven’t found the right person, etc. There are lots of reasons people don’t date, including asexuality/aromanticism, religion, pickiness (which is a good thing!), etc. Until they provided a reason, I wouldn’t assume. But I’m generally pretty unassuming…

    32. Namey McNameface*

      No! Definitely no assumptions about what was “wrong” with them – man or woman.

      I have a friend in her mid 30s who dated someone for a few months when she was a teenager. After they broke up she was too busy doing her own things and didn’t much care about dating anyone else. Nowadays I believe she would be keen to start a relationship but hasn’t got around to finding someone she likes enough to start dating.

      Her decision to stay single her entire adulthood is not a reflection of her personality, it’s a combination of choice and circumstances. She’s a funny, intelligent, successful woman.

  8. Anonymous Poster*

    I’m a furloughed federal employee, and the thing that bothers me the most right now is the personal relationship side of things! Folks ask me how I’m doing (I’m not working but still trying to do what I can to prepare for when I go back to work, and looking at side jobs I can take in the meantime), but they don’t really care about that. They’re much more interested in saying, “Oh I’m sorry I completely blame X.”

    Look, I understand everyone has their perspective, and that everyone’s not thrilled that I’m being used as a pawn, but I’m not interested in my furlough being your conversational jumping off point to bash one side or the other and hearing all about your personal political views. I know I’ll get back pay, but I still have to pay my bills, and it sucks.

    I’ve started just telling people I’m annoying that they’re using my personal problems as a platform to launch into their political diatribe. But I’m so tired of it. And it’s folks on both sides of the aisle that have been doing this nonsense.

    Please be respectful of us in this situation. Thanks all!

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’m not even directly involved and just seeing comments on Facebook etc is driving me nuts. I’m so tired of political sniping of all types right now.

    2. pugs for all*

      Thanks for your perspective, and sorry you are going through this – both the shutdown and the political diatribes.

      Is there anything that would be helpful that friends/acquaintances could do that would be helpful? Take you to lunch, buy you cupcakes? Just be an sympathetic ear?

      1. Anonymous Poster*

        It’s embarrassing to ask for help, though many people could use it. My best suggestion is dropping off some food, or a gift card to a restaurant, or another place you know they go to. It helps us not have to ask, fills a gap in the meantime, and gets us out of the house.

        The worst part really is just having no where to go all day.

        And of course, the best response in my opinion is, “It sucks you’re in this situation. It really sucks. I’m sorry you’re going through it. May I take you to a movie, my treat?”

    3. Allie*

      Agreed. I have a lot of feelings about facing being furloughed, but it feels like randos have come out to try to talk about it. If you aren’t my good friend/close family, nope. And even with close family, yes, brother, I am aware of X, Y, and Z but can we please just talk about anything else?

      Also, yes I know I will likely get backpay. No that does not mean “woot free vacation”, especially when no one knows when paychecks will flow again. Plus the nice lady who sits outside my office and gives me tea is a contractor and she is likely to never get paid.

      1. Allie*

        Also, no I will not post about it on social media and please do not tag me in your posts because I am the only fed you know. I don’t list/talk about my job on social media for a reason.

    4. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impaired Peep*

      It was 50/50 if a friend of mine was going to be furloughed – she’s an intern in an intern to hire position* – and I just sent her gift cards to some of her favorite places. We keep politics separate because I know she doesn’t want to hear about it. That’s what friends should do.

      *She’s funded for a few months, so we’re all just wishing it’ll be over ASAP. 11

    5. Minocho*

      My brother is furloughed, and he’s expressed the same frustration. My dad was a federal employee for years, and you would think he would understand this, but even he has done this to my brother! And my brother and dad agree on the politics stuff pretty closely, but it’s just not something my brother wants to hear or deal with right now. Poor guy.

      I have actually offered an interest free loan if he’s running into trouble. Obviously he was hoping there would be a solution on the horizon at least by the time of the first missed paycheck.

  9. Anonymous Trans Guy*

    I offered a couple weeks ago to do a mini AMA about being trans, and I’ve got some time this morning, so I figured I should make good on that!

    Got any questions about what it means to be transgender? I’m happy to answer!

      1. The Messy Headed Momma*

        Your primer is SUPER helpful! I work in a large school with a few trans kids. It’s great to have a resource to reference. Thank you soooo much!!

    1. Anonymeow*

      So this might be an odd question, but I have a sibling in this situation that I don’t speak to for other reasons (my sibling came out years after I last spoke with them) but how would you explain this to the child (lets say 10 -13) of someone transgender? And would you want the child to start calling you mom instead of dad? It’s a complicated matter for any adult, I have no idea what to say to a child, and in this particular case the child is being raised by someone other than the transgender parent.

      1. anon with no name because I can't think of one to stick with.....*

        …. it’s not really that complicated…

        1. Lissa*

          But this person is specifically asking somebody who WANTS to answer questions about it, so I don’t see why being snarky is necessary? I mean, sure, if someone approaches a random trans person and is like “explain things to me” then yeah, but why the need to respond like this when someone’s made a really nice offer?

          1. anon with no name because I can't think of one to stick with.....*

            That wasn’t intended as snark. It was intended as a statement of fact. I honestly don’t think it’s that complicated to explain to a child that a person feels that they were born in the wrong body and haved made changes to correct that.

            1. Lilysparrow*

              I think you are discounting the emotional impact when it is the child’s own parent. The concept in general may not be complicated to explain to a child outside the situation. But the conversation and emotional reactions can get complicated real fast when the child is the product of the reproductive organs that feel wrong. Just starting with the question, “if you’re in the wrong body, is my existence a mistake? Don’t you want me?”

      2. GoingAnon*

        (Going anon for someone else’s privacy, speaking as a cis person – hopefully this isn’t out of my lane.)

        I’m not entirely sure I’m parsing your question correctly, but you’re asking about how someone who is trans explains it to their child? Or how to explain a parent’s transition to a child who is not in regular contact with that parent?

        My eldest child’s best friend has a parent who is transitioning socially – when we were first introduced years ago she introduced herself as ‘BFF’s Dad’ and now introduces herself as ‘BFF’s mom.’ Everything has been very matter of fact – Eldest was talking about school and mentioned offhandedly that ‘BFF has two moms now, her dad is actually her mom,’ and things went along as normal.

        The conversations we’ve had at one step removed have basically been ‘you call people what they want to be called, and sometimes what they were called when they were born wasn’t right.’ Mine haven’t had many questions about the medical side of things, and I answer those in the abstract (especially since details of a specific person’s process are 100% none of our business).

        Kids are extremely resilient and if transitioning is treated as one of many normal happenstances in their world, they’ll roll with it.

      3. DrTheLiz*

        My perspective on this: one of my parents is trans, and came out when I was 19. We agreed that we’d use the pronouns and relationship descriptors that were accurate at the time (or were medically/legally so – in the UK familial relationships don’t change when somebody transitions, so a person ends up with a male mother as far as the law is concerned. Fun discussion with the person doing my marriage certificate!).

        If I’m telling somebody about my childhood I talk about “my mum said X and my day said Y”, but if I’m talking about a university story then I’d talk about “my parent”. This is also partly a concession to my other parent, who is deeply transphobic (not great, I know) but didn’t ask for any of this.

        To their faces I call my parents (let’s say) Father and Julius. Those friends close enough to notice I have permission/am happy to tell that I have a trans parent, but that’s not that many these days because my parents live separate lives now, so I only discuss them one at a time.

        I was older than 13, but a straightforward medical explanation was fine for me. I didn’t enjoy the acrimonious divorce, but I’ve been glad of the bigot filter amongst my friends and family. I did “step back” from Julius for a year or two as our relationship changed from “parent +gendered expectations” to “parent of adult”, but they’re making an international trip to visit me in February – we’re all good now.

      4. Anonymous Trans Guy*

        So for context, I’m a trans man, which means that I was assigned female at birth, raised as a girl, but now identity as a man. I have started transitioning socially (using a male name and pronouns) but I haven’t started transitioning medically (which for me, will mean taking male hormones and eventually getting top surgery, or a masectomy). I hope to start the process of medical transitioning later this year!

        I don’t have kids yet, and I’m not planning to for 5 ish years for a variety of reasons. But when I do, I’m definitely going to tell them about being trans. For
        little kids it can be as simple as saying that when I was born, the doctors thought I was a girl, but after I grew up, I realized that I was a boy, so I took medicine to change my body so I could be a boy.

        For older kids, I’d get more into the weeds about how I always felt disconnected from my name and body, which affected my mental health and how happy I felt when I started using a male name and pronouns.

        If I’d already had kids, it’d be the same conversation, but supplemented with a lot of language about “I’m changing, but I’ll always be your parent and love you, even though I stopped being your mom and started being your dad.”

        I think it’s super natural for kids (and adults!) to have a lot of questions, which I’d do my best to answer in a kind and age-appropriate way. I’d emphasize respect, and I hope that I’d be able to demonstrate the ways in which transitioning made me happier and more present in my own life.

        I’ve been told by friends that they’ve how much happier and more at ease I’ve seemed since I began socially transitioning, and how I’ve been a better friend since then. I’d try to show as much of that to a kid as possible, while making the rest of their life as consistent and loving as possible. I’d want to make sure that the kid had other supportive adults in their life, and safe places to process any complicated feelings they might have about me or my transition.

        If I was the sibling of a person who transitioned, I’d try to be that adult for their kid. Just to offer support and to listen and make sure the kid has access to resources like PFLAG to know that this is confusing, but it’ll be ok.

      5. AlsoAnon*

        Another non-trans parent with family experience weighing-in… The Lumber Janes comic book series could be a great introduction to the topic. I believe it’s the troop leader who is trans. It is very girl-centric, so it may be of more interest to a girl than a boy. But I like finding media that helps start the conversation. Or just to have lying around, so the positive messages are easily accessible. The “it’s not the stork” series is great for explaining sex and a bit about sexuality in age appropriate ways. I also like the Scarlett Teen website for the older end of your range. And there’s the genderbread graphic which can be helpful as well.

        I’m not clear on what your role is to the child, but it sounds like your family has been through some tough times. With kids and complicated topics it’s easiest to give the basic facts without judgement and let them ask questions. This may happen in the moment or later…often when you’re in the car. If it’s up to you to have this discussion with the child, then practice what you’ll say about your sibling, your relationship with them, and their situation in the family. But the child is at the center of it all, they don’t need all the backstory, and this doesn’t have to be a big deal to them.

        Your sibling is the best one to say what they’re to be called. If they’re not available, you can use “your parent” or “your ” or whatever the child likes. I did some googling and there’s some good ideas and discussions about gender neutral nicknames for parents. These things will sound more natural the more you use them and may change as the child gets older.

        1. AlsoAnon*

          Interesting…I tried to put something in karats and it disappeared. My suggested generic names for your sibling were “your parent” and “your ‘parent’s name.'”

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      At what point, if any, do people stop referring to you as a “trans man” or a “trans woman”?

      I hear it all the time in relation to the out public figures who are transgendered and it got me thinking about why people need to put the word “trans” before man and woman.

      And how do you feel being referred to in this way?

      (Thanks for doing this AMA, it’s really interesting).

      1. Anonymous Trans Guy*

        I think people like to use trans because it’s relevant to understanding their experiences! I’m a man, but I was never a boy. I have different experiences and a different perspective than most men. For me, belonging to that distinct category is important, so I like saying specifically that I am a trans man. It feels like an affirmation for me! I am both a man and a trans person, and belonging to both of those categories is important to me. I’m not bothered if people just call me a man, but I don’t think of myself as a man — I think of myself as a trans man.

        This isn’t a perfect metaphor (and I’m a white person, so grain of salt!) but it reminds me of an essay I read a while ago by a black woman. She was both black and a woman, and her womanhood affected her blackness, and her blackness affected her womanhood. Just saying that she’s a woman didn’t capture the whole of her experiences, so she preferred to use both words, even though neither would be inaccurate on its own.

        I’ll always be a trans man, even if I grow a beard and my voice drops and I’m read as a man 100% of the time. That category will always be part of who I am, even if it becomes less immediately important in my day-to-day life.

        Other people have different experiences and different opinions though, so I can’t speak for everyone, just myself!

    3. CatCat*

      If a person accidentally uses the wrong pronoun a couple times and is not corrected at the time, but realizes later that it had happened, should they later apologize or just work harder to use correct pronouns in the future?

      1. Anonymous Trans Guy*

        If you weren’t corrected in the moment, I’d just let it go and make sure to use the right pronouns later on. Sometimes people apologize for misgendering in a way that’s just over the top, and it’s uncomfortable to be on the receiving end. If you do apologise, I’d keep it low-key, and just say “I realized I used the wrong name the other day, so sorry!” and just letting it end there.

        The best apology is to use the right name and pronouns going forward :)

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Oh good. Cause I don’t know anyone I can ask IRL. Your thoughts on the approach I’ve been taking. I kinda… don’t care. It doesn’t change how I treat you, and I don’t want to know about your sex or love life anyway! (that goes for EVERYONE)
      Example: The one person I knew was trans I met as a male, if I hadn’t been told that he used to be female, I wouldn’t have known. I just went with “you’re a guy.” With all the good and bad that went along with that. The fact that he was born a she didn’t impact how I treated him. (I haven’t known anyone while they transitioned from one to the other though, so haven’t had to figure that out.)

      But is the approach of “you’re a guy, I’ll treat you like a guy, don’t tell me about your private parts or sex life regardless of who or what you are” horrible? I don’t like the potential ramifications of treating people differently, so I’d prefer to just treat people like people.

      1. Anonymous Trans Guy*

        I think the instinct to treat people the same, regardless of their gender is a good one!

        However, I think that the assumption that hearing someone is trans automatically means you know something about their genitals or sex lives. For one, there are a lot of ways to be trans! Some people have surgery, some don’t. Some take hormones, some don’t. Some wear prosthetics to shape their body, some don’t. Hearing that a person is trans doesn’t tell you anything other than they identify as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth.

        Second, I think there’s sometimes a double standard when it comes to trans and gay people vs. straight and cis people. For example, when people are introduced to a straight, cis couple with biological kids, they probably don’t automatically think “those people had SEX to get those kids!!” they just think “oh, a family!” If people are introduced to a man they assume is cis, they don’t think about his private parts or the way he has sex, even though he definitely has private parts and probably has sex.

        When people meet queer and trans people, many times, they think immediately about sex and genitals, even though those subjects are no more relevant to daily interactions with queer and trans people than they are to daily interactions with straight and cis people.

        Sometimes, I think that double standard comes from a place of discomfort, which I totally understand! There’s a moment of “this is new to me, it feels strange and maybe kind of gross! I don’t want to think about these people’s junk!!!! Gross!!!!” And when you’re trying not to think about something, of course it’s going to be the only thing on your mind.

        Even though I’ve always felt like I wasn’t a girl, I didn’t want to think about the possibility of being trans for a very long time because it felt scary! I didn’t know very many trans people in real life, and I was uncomfortable with the idea of transness. It took growing up, getting more comfortable with my own feelings of dysphoria, meeting more trans people, and learning that I’d had a lot of the same experiences for my discomfort to go away.

        Basically, I think it’s a good idea to treat people with kindness and respect, no matter whether they’re cis or trans. If your boss or coworker or neighbor is trans, they’re still just your boss or coworker or neighbor, and it doesn’t matter for the sake of your daily interactions. But it might matter a lot to them, and knowing that they’re trans isn’t TMI any more than knowing that someone has diabetes or biological kids is TMI.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Good points, thanks. I’ll have to think about it more, and thanks for the feedback.

          It doesn’t help me that I know some people who are not-straight who are very much in your face with their love/sex lives. Like, please, I’m glad you’re happy, but I don’t want to hear (or see) this stuff. So that may be influencing my reaction, because I have sometimes had to ask people to chill (this isn’t holding hands or giving someone a kiss on the cheek territory stuff).

            1. I'm A Little Teapot*

              I’m adverse to hearing/seeing stuff that really should be in private, regardless of who it is. Basically, keep it PG or find a quiet room. (Yes, I’m a bit of a prude)

              Though the instances I referenced involved were WELL past that point, and the non-prudy people around were unhappy too.

    5. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      I have a friend who is a trans man. I don’t have any issues with using his correct pronouns (he/him for the last 2 years) 95% of the time, but I do have a hard time when talking about the past. So no issues with “I’m having lunch with him this week” or “He says he’s on his way and should be here in about 10 minutes.” but last week I caught myself saying “I remember when I first met her, she had blue hair.” – because then my friend was using a female name and female pronouns, and did for the first 10 years of our friendship. My friend also went through about 3 years of using they/them during his transition and I notice when I talk about memories of that time those are the pronouns I use.
      Am I being disrespectful in those usages? I plan to ask him at dinner next week but would love your perspective as well.

        1. ThatGirl*

          A friend of mine has a trans sibling and this is the one place she gets tripped up, speaking of her brother in the past tense when he presented as female. I’m not totally sure how sibling feels about it, but I’ve heard other people say “I was always (preferred gender), I just didn’t show it outwardly”.

      1. Alpha Bravo*

        I have a beautiful trans daughter. When telling stories from her childhood I normally say “When she was little” and go on with the anecdote. I use her current pronouns and specify the time period. I’m quite sure she wouldn’t appreciate being outed to someone who didn’t know.

    6. Forking great username*

      High school teacher here – I have st least one student who is transgender and another who is non-binary/uses the pronoun they. Is there anything in particular you think teachers can do to support these students? I sometimes feel unsure of where the line is where they know that I support them without making it over the top. And sometimes when LGBTQ topics come up in a text we’re reading too – I want to be an ally/advocate for these groups, but I also don’t want to come across like I’m…what’s the LGBTQ version of mansplaining? I guess it just feels awkward sometimes – I’m not LGBTQ and don’t want to make it seem like I think I know it all or am the authority on the subject.

      Sorry if this question isn’t clear enough! I guess I’m just wondering what teachers can do to be supportive. And if there’s anything we should not do – other than the obvious things that transphobic teachers do.

      1. Anonymous Trans Guy*


        This is a great question and it means a lot to me (and I’m sure to your students!) that you care enough to ask!!!

        I’ll post more it I think of specific stuff, but I think generally using the kids’ pronouns, even when they’re not around is super helpful! So is gently correcting people who use the wrong pronouns. A lot of times, trans folks don’t correct misgendering because it feels like a big ask, so someone else stepping in to say “Jaime uses they/them pronouns!” is great. Introducing yourself with your pronouns, and putting your pronouns in your eail signature or on a name tag helps normalize the practice and can act as a subtle signal that you’re an ally.

        If you can, it’d also be great to advocate for gender neutral bathrooms. If you can’t get away with that language, you can talk about single-occupacy restrooms or family bathrooms and talk about them as a disability accommodation (its a lot easier and more comfortable to get a wheelchair into a single occupancy bathroom than into a stall).

        If you’ve got syllabi or other materials that use language like “his or hers” or “he/she” you can switch it to “they.”

        On a broader scale, advocating for trans folks in the larger world is good! Vote against bathroom bills and speak in support of trans folks when you can.

        Thanks again for looking for ways to support your students!!!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        For what it’s worth, Rick Riordan’s ongoing Percy Jackson universe is doing a good job of having characters who just happen to not be CIS. And they’re major characters, too. So if you find fiction helpful, give them a try. I don’t want to say more because so much of the plots depend on intrapersonal dynamics and changing attitudes.

      1. Anonymous Trans Guy*

        There isn’t really a correlation between gender identity and sexual orientation, in my experience!

        Some trans people are straight (a trans man attracted only to women, or a trans woman attracted only to men), some are gay, some are bisexual or pansexual or queer, the same as cis people.

    7. HannahS*

      I’m a medical student, and I’d love to hear what kinds of things your doctors have done that made you feel safe and comfortable with them. And, assuming I’m a respectful person using someone’s own name and pronouns, are there any pitfalls that you see where you go, “Argh, it’s not the HUGEST deal but I wish they wouldn’t…” that you could share? Much appreciated :)

      1. Anonymous Trans Guy*

        A lot of trans folks have a lot of trauma associated with doctors and clinical settings, so just being aware of that is huge!

        I also think doctor preferences are super personal, so there’s nothing I can think of off the top of my head that would be specific to the trans community and not also applicable elsewhere!

        I’ll come back to this if I think of anything, also other trans folks should weigh in, if they feel comfortable doing so!

      2. Gerald*

        I can’t speak for trans, but for friends who have had big problems with the medical system:
        Listen, acknowledge your patient (i.e. don’t ignore them and talk to their spouse), believe them, be open-minded / don’t criticize their experiences, explain what you are doing (or explain the options)…. It isn’t hard to be a good doctor, yet so many of them fail.

        One of the frustrating experiences is finding a doctor who isn’t dismissive. A friend wanted top surgery and couldn’t find a surgeon who was supportive.

        I know this doesn’t completely answer your question, but hopefully it helps.

      3. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

        My health care setting has added options beyond “male” and “female” to intake paperwork, added an open ended question that asks for pronouns, trained all staff, etc.

      4. another anon trans guy*

        On top of the above, don’t assume that any condition I have is because I am trans. Don’t ask about my transness when I am there for something likely to be totally unrelated (a cough or a rash). This is akin to what happens to larger people when any ailment they have, they are told to lose weight. This is totally unproductive and just guarantees the person will be less likely to seek care in the future, and won’t really trust you if the condition is somehow related to their being trans.

        Put it on your website/profile if possible.

        Be somewhat informed.

        This is something that comes up also: how do you name body parts? For example if you are having a gynecological exam (stressful to all bodies, I think). I personally don’t mind the use of the medical term itself, but some people would rather refer to them by other names or not referred to at all. Having a discussion about this before the exam can be super helpful. Allowing someone else to be there in the exam room if it would make the person more comfortable. Not having all pink gowns, a small thing, huge sometimes if you’re doing something that is hard (letting the person choose the color!). Listening to what the patient knows about their own experience of the exam/procedure and believing them.

        The other thing is to make connections with other doctors in your area at least who are known to treat trans people and let them know you are available (and an LGBT center as well). It is always very reassuring when I get a referral to someone who is known to my primary care provider, and I can go in assuming they have some basic competence and won’t freak out because my body parts may not match what’s generally expected, esp. if it’s for something like a colonoscopy, say.

      5. Minocho*

        I have a difficult experience with medical personnel due to abuse. The big ones for me are to not be dismissive of my ability to process information and make decisions and to explain what you’re doing and when you’re going to touch me, let me know and give me a second to cooperate, instead of grabbing or touching unexpectedly.

    8. anon for this*

      Coming at this from a slightly different perspective as a fellow (but closeted) trans person–feel free to disregard if it’s too personal! I was just wondering if you also struggled to come to terms with being trans, and how long it took to settle on a gender identity that felt right for you? I still feel pretty uncertain, although probably a lot of that is just fear of not being accepted.

      1. Anonymous Trans Guy*

        It took me years and I’m still figuring it out. I always felt ill-at-ease in my body, and like my name belonged to someone else. I remember being a freshman in college, staring at the name tag on my door, and really, genuinely not knowing if it was mine, because the name meant nothing to me.

        But there were also times when I felt connected to womanhood, to femininity. I tried out they/them for a while, but it didn’t fit so I switched back to she/hers. He/him is newer for me but feels right in a way everything else hasn’t.

        That said, I don’t know that I feel like a man. I feel more masculine then feminine, certainly, but I wonder all the time if it’s real, if it’s permanent. I’m certain enough that I’m starting down the road to medical transition, but I can’t always pin down my feelings. It changes, day to day.

        I don’t feel like I’m following a straight road to a fixed point, where that point is Being A Man, I feel like I’m bushwahacking in rough country, just to see what’s there. It’s a hopeful feeling, and I’m happier now than I have been, but that uncertainty is still there.

        If I drill down, I feel more like a non-binary masc-aligned person than a man, but it’s easier to just be like “hello I am a trans man” than it is to say “I think my actual gender is sort of an abstract dark shape on a whitewashed canvas” so I go with the easier sell, lol.

        Good luck to you, I hope you enjoy your time in the gender wilds.

        1. lurker bee*

          This description resonates so closely with the journey we are watching one of our offsprings’ childhood friends take. Wishing you a sustained hopeful feeling. Thank you for posting.

    9. Anonymous Trans Guy*

      Alright, I’m logging off for the day, thanks everyone! I’ll try to keep an eye on this thread for a coupl days if there are more questions, but I’m signing off for the night!

      Thanks all :)

      1. Nines*

        No questions have immediately come to mind at the moment… but I just really want to say thank you for offering to do this. It feels like a very safe place to ask and answer these questions so far, and that can be harder to find than it should be.

      2. Jasnah*

        Late but thank you also for doing this, this is very kind and brave of you and was interesting to read!

    10. Liane*

      Hope you check in today. I just want to thank you for doing this. I have a bi- or pan-sexual daughter (she’s used both to refer to herself) with a lot of friends who are LGBTQ+, and I am glad to have another resource with the Trans Language Primer.

      1. jolene*

        How do you define what it means to be a man and be a woman? Ie, what about being born into a woman’s body made you feel that it was wrong – was it physical or social or a mixture of both?

  10. Loopy*

    There is a lot of sadness in my house right now. It’s deep, complex sadness that I cannot fix. I need to be empathic and not turn to stone but can’t seem to do that without drowning in it myself.

    This is a question for a therapist, I am very much aware but while that’s not an option at this time I’m hoping someone out there has advice or even just stories of making it out the other side of hard times in a household. The next week is going to be long and difficult because part of me just wants to flee the house and the rest of knows that’s of course not the right answer either.

    Any insight/tips are appreciated.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Well, you maybe can’t flee completely, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out of the house to give yourself a break. Run errands, go sit at the coffee house or library for an hour and relax. Trying to keep your usual routine as much as possible will help – humans are hardwired to be comforted by consistency. That goes double for children.

      Exercise can help you release some of the stress too. Even a simple walk can do wonders.

      1. Loopy*

        I was thinking of going to the gym a few times this week but also, it feels mean to go off and leave the person who is directly sad alone during this time. Would offering to bring back dinner on my way home maybe help?

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          I think that if I was directly sad and someone just put yummy food in front of me when it was time to eat, I’d really appreciate it. And depending on what’s going on and personalities, your absence may not be noticed. which sounds horrible, but it can happen.

          1. Loopy*

            Actually this combo worked well. Funnily enough he loves Taco Bell of all things and there’s one next to the gym. They just rolled out some new menu items he wants to try so I offered to get them for him after the gym Wednesday. Now he knows I’m going and also its framed in a positive light.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Sorry you’re going through this.
      Be kind to yourself and take whatever breaks you can. Is there an organization or phone hotline that deals with what you’re going through? The future often gets better.
      (Jedi hugs)

      1. Loopy*

        It’s more that my fiance is going through a very understandably hard time. Some relationships he’s held dear are ending in spectacularly hurtful ways, family in the hospital, distance between family members becoming apparent, etc. So I’m not directly affected by anything and he probably wouldn’t want to go that route, unfortunately.

        1. Sparrow*

          I don’t know you or your fiance, but I think in his shoes I would find extra physical touch from my partner extremely helpful. Like holding his hand during a difficult phone call, giving him an extra long hug when he gets home from visiting family, sitting together on the couch to talk or watch a movie to take his mind off of it. For me it would be a very concrete way to make me feel safe and loved and supported while going through rough and sad times.

    3. Notthemomma*

      At the hardest, when you can’t flee, take a long hot shower with blaring music to cover your crying/yelling/whatever noises. Don’t try to get through the week; break down into smaller periods of time…’the next two hours will be rough-I will get through them 15 minutes at a time.’ Sleep. Eat. Have something physical you can focus on for comfort- a coin or rock in your pocket that you rub, a soft sweater you can touch, a photo which lifts your spirits that you can gaze on. And tell yourself- our loud to make it more real- that this is not your normal; this is a small period in an otherwise good life and you are a strong person who is not defined by this.

      I’ve been there. Although I don’t know you, I am pulling hard for you!

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you, this is such a helpful comment. I’ve broken it down before and I complete forgot about the day by day tactic. Also that last bit sounds so so so helpful and I will be using it.

    4. Aealias*

      Take it in bursts. Listen and empathize when you can. When you can’t, do something productive: make sure those closer to the situation have light food, clean clothes. Take breaks for yourself! Escape to do errands, disappear into your room with a book. You don’t have to participate in the sad 24/7 to be supportive.

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you. It ca be hard to find the balance between 24/7 and not at all for me but I will try to think of them as bursts of support followed by self care.

    5. HannahS*

      I’m sorry to hear it. I hope it helps to remember that hard times will end. There will be a day–not next week or month, but maybe next year–where you look back at this week and remember how bad it was, but at that point the end of the story will be, “But we made it through.”
      When children have cancer, their parents often schedule a big thing (like a trip to Disneyland) for after their treatment ends. It’s helpful as an anchor to keep them focused on the future, as a reminder that this will end. We’re having a cultural conversation om “living in the moment” right now, but IMO sometimes focusing on the future is a valid coping mechanism. Is there anything in the future that will be a relief? Maybe focusing on that sometimes will help.

      1. Loopy*

        I so wish there was some sort of future we could focus on but with sick family members the future may not be a positive focus. I do appreciate the idea though for the future. For me, its always easier when there some light at the end of the tunnel and right now it’s a bit murky. I will try and remind myself just because I cant see an end, doesn’t mean there wont be one.

    6. Teeth Grinder*

      I’m sorry for whatever has caused the sadness. Anything we survive does, eventually, get better, or at least fade somewhat. Knowing that isn’t terribly helpful in the moment, though.

      No, you can’t just go away, but you don’t have to be there every second. Is there yard work or snow shoveling (depending where you are) that needs to be done? Are there errands that need to be run that you can volunteer to do?
      Are there things that need to be done inside, that could give your mind another focus temporarily? The reason for the sadness doesn’t go away, but a well-scrubbed kitchen (for example) gives me a sense of having accomplished *something*: “X is still bad, but at least I made one thing better.”
      Make sure everybody is fed; make sure everybody has clean laundry. Wash the dishes, and take out the trash. Take care of the everyday practicalities for yourself and the rest of the family. Not because you have to, but because doing something constructive is better than sinking into a morass of sadness. And, hey, somebody has to do this stuff.
      If there are young children, they need distraction even more: read them a story, or take them to the library, or play a not-too-loud game with them. Make sure homework gets done, and they get to and from school on time. Try to keep their lives as normal as possible. This also offers relief to other family members, who may be feeling overwhelmed.

      Don’t be a stone, be a rock on which others can depend. Surprisingly, it will make you feel better, too.

      1. Teach*

        Staying busy helps me, and a peaceful tidy environment is often soothing for the sad one. An audiobook or podcast with earbuds is a good distraction, and the quiet buzz of a person doing household tasks reminds the other one they are not alone. Warm cats. Hygge ideas from the thread above. Nourishing food. Fresh air and sunshine. Simple, but often a little improving.

  11. PhyllisB*

    I woke up early so I could make my comment before it was so many. (It’s 6:15a where I am.) Some of you may remember me sharing about my upset with my son and his drug use. And I thank all of you for the kind comments and advice.
    After I posted here, I decided to write him a letter and tell him (again) that I couldn’t allow him to stay here doing these things, that if he wanted to live like that he would have to go somewhere else. Also that he really needed to think about his future; did he really want to turn around in 20 years or so and still be living with his parents working in a liquor store? (Now there’s nothing wrong with working in a liquor store mind you, I just know he wants more out of life.) I also reminded him we love him very much and if he wanted help, we were here for him, and his sister was ready to help also. (She does marketing for a re-hab center and said she could get him admitte to de-tox without cost) Well, I have an update!! Yesterday afternoon he came to me and my husband and said he was ready to get help, and he had already texted his sister and she was preparing to get him admitted to a detox unit in her city. So I took him to meet her yesterday evening and she got him admitted. I will keep y’all updated on things, but once again I want to thank you all for caring.

    1. Agent J*

      I’m happy to hear this update. I hope your son finds some peace and healing while he recovers.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      May you and your son and all of your family have peace and strength and self-caring in whatever combination you need.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Wow, got a little tear here.
      Good for you for turning that situation around. And good for him for accepting help.
      I hope and pray for a lasting recovery for him.

    4. BTDT*

      That is great news! Please also seek out help dealing with an addicted family member to keep him progressing toward recovery. Boundaries and non- negotiables will be part of your life now.

    5. Rebecca*

      So glad to hear this, hugs, and strength to you and your family. He has good support, and I think that’s important.

    6. PhyllisB*

      Thank you all for the kind words. He is in the detox center, AND she has managed to get him a scholarship to a rehab center about 3 hours from here. This is a SUPER nice place, and the usual fee is (gulp) $30,000.00!!! He’s not sure if he wants to go; he doesn’t want to be away from his girlfriend that long. It’s only 28 days though, and I hope he decides to go. My daughter is doing her best to encourage him, but we’ll see. I’m also going to ask his girlfriend to encourage him. I know he won’t make it if he doesn’t. A one week detox is just the beginning. Those of you who pray, please say a prayer that he will make the right decision. I’ll keep you posted.

      1. Woodswoman*

        I hope your brother’s girlfriend understands how critical this is for his well-being. How she responds to your request to encourage him to do a month-long rehab program will give you a sense of whether or not she’s onboard with the seriousness of his addiction. That would be excellent if you’re all united in affirming how important this is. Either way, you’re an awesome sister.

  12. Lena Clare*

    Hi all
    I’ve got a miserable cold. The cough is keeping me awake at night so ill not really sleeping which is horrible, and the sore thrust is painful.
    It’s not showing any signs of abating.
    I got a doc appt on Monday a.m. and I don’t think I’m going back into work (I HAD been off on holiday when I got ill grr)
    Any tips for getting rid of a cold?
    I’ve got Lemsip and ibuprofen, vitC tablets, cough tincture and some cough drops.
    Keeping warm and drinking fluids too…
    Anything else I can try?

    Thanks in advance, hope you have a nice weekend.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Omg sore throat. I checked the spelling I promise – I think my phone corrects after I change it!!!

    2. coffee cup*

      Not really, as colds tend to just do their own thing in terms of getting rid. But you can ease the symptoms as you’re doing, sounds like you’ve got all the right things. Something like Vicks to ease your sinuses and help you breathe can be nice, and sleep really I feel is the best medicine in this case (although it’s a shame you are having trouble sleeping with the cough, I think it would make a difference!).

      You just need to rest and give your body time to fight it.

        1. ValaMalDoran*

          If your nose is stuffed up, put the Vicks on right under your nose. Oh, and there are tissues that have Vicks. Breathing through one can be really comforting.

        2. coffee cup*

          I don’t know if you have this where you are, but we have Olbas Oil here which smells/acts like Vicks but it’s in oil form (surprise!). I find it really handy for putting a few drops on a tissue or the collar of my top and then that helps me to breathe and sleep.

            1. coffee cup*

              Just saw from below that you’re in the UK! Makes sense, me too! Yeah, I love Olbas Oil. It’s also good for rubbing on muscles that ache.

        3. Jersey's mom*

          My nurse buddy recommends putting Vicks on the soles of your feet, then put on socks before you lay down. She swears it helps eliminate coughing.

    3. ElspethGC*

      For help with sleeping – hot water with honey and lemon, hot milk with honey, or (my personal favourite) hot milk with a nice dash of whisky. Take it to bed so you have it right before you go to sleep.

      It doesn’t get rid of the cold, but it does soothe your throat, and damn does it help you sleep better.

        1. Lucy*

          An alternative (and I’m assuming from your language that you’re in the UK so apologies if not) is a Turbo Ribena which is hot blackcurrant with a good shot of port added.

          1. Lena Clare*

            I *am* in the UK. Well spotted :)
            I don’t drink any alcohol, but this is a good tip for friends who *do* drink it and are suffering too, thank you!

        2. Liane*

          Hot tea–whatever flavor you enjoy–with just honey & lemon is still effective. Although I drink alcohol, I leave it out of this remedy when I need to be awake or if my throat is very sore.

      1. Allie*

        Seconding honey and lemon. I had bad strep last year and hot tea with honey and lemon is instant relief.

        1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

          I boil water and steep ginger root (sliced thinly, the more you use the stronger it gets) and a cinnamon stick for 10 minutes. Remove steepers, add lemon juice, a (very small) dash of peppermint or spearmint oil, and sweeten with maple syrup (or honey, if preferred).

          It’s magic for a sore throat.

    4. Rachel*

      Drinking lots of hot liquids is helpful for colds & flu – this can reduce the viral load in your body by washing out the mucus membranes of your mouth and throat. Plus staying hydrated helps your body heal. Herbal tea and lemon & honey are good here. Hope you feel better soon!

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I take a travel mug full of hot honey + lemon + ginger to bed with me so that I can sip on it when I am getting to sleep. Cider vinegar + honey is also good. I look for otc remedies that have guifenesin in them if I am coughing a lot, as it seems to be more effective than some of the more common cough syrups. I also am a bit paranoid about taking too much paracetamol/acetaminophen so I try to buy decongestants on their own.

      Prop yourself up on pillows when you sleep if you can. I sometimes use one of those travel neck pillows to keep my head straight and enough pillows that I’m nearly upright and that often helps.

    6. AL*

      What I find helps me to sleep is this…

      Before going to bed, do the old fashioned thing of steam inhalation. I put either Olbas oil or chopped up rosemary and thyme in a bowl, pour over boiling water, let it rest for 30 seconds, then lean over with a towel ‘tent’ for about 10 mins…

      Then go to bed. Apparently it’s meant to be easier to fall asleep if your body is cooling down…

    7. Llellayena*

      I had a cold once where the cough wouldn’t let me sleep and the doc handed me geltabs that I think were cough medicine with codeine. Oh my god they were a lifesaver, I was out like a light in minutes. Other than that, I think everyone else is covering the standard remedies.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I like to soak in a hot bathtub.
      And one of my very favorite things it to change my bedding and night clothes. I usually start to feel better once I start swapping out the old bedding and pjs for fresh.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I think Nyquil is ZZZQuil over here (UK) but I can’t get it anywhere :(
        All the other OTC cold meds are non drowsy which is totally stupid, but there you have it!

          1. AL*

            Have you tried Benylin with the original formulation? It’s moved behind the counter at the chemist. I seem to remember being able to buy off the shelf years ago.

            That seems to knock me out pretty quickly…

            1. Lena Clare*

              No but thanks for letting me know, I will try and get some for tomorrow night. I’m currently sitting up in bed wide awake at 1.20 a.m. coughing like crazy :(

        1. Professional Merchandiser*

          No, Nyquil and ZZZquil are two different products made by the same company. (I know because these are two of the products I merchandise.) Dayquil is for daytime use, non-drowsy. Nyquil is for nighttime use for cold and flu symptoms, ZZZquil is strictly for sleep. I don’t know how effective because I haven’t used it (ZZZquil) but it sells very well. Being in the UK I don’t know what’s available, but TheraFlu is also good. It’s packets you mix with hot water. Very soothing to drink.
          Also, as others have said, Vick’s salve is a lifesaver to me when I have a bad cold. Rub your chest and back really good with it, putting it up to the throat and on the back of the neck. Wear a close-fitting top to kind of help hold it in. A turtleneck shirt is perfect. Also, y’all are going to think I’m nuts, but put it on the soles of your feet and put on socks. It really helps, even if you don’t put it on your chest. But I can guarantee if you do all of this, you will sleep better and feel better in the morning. It’s not a cure, but it helps cut through the congestion. Also the hot tea/lemon and/or honey is good, too. And if you have cranky bed partners who hate the smell of Vick’s, ask them if they would rather smell Vicks or have you disturbing their sleep with your hacking and tossing and turning?

    9. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      Seconding the steam inhalation, it’s always helped me sleep better.

      I tend to have terrible coughs which in turn aggravate my throat so if it gets too bad I always eat a spoonful of honey every 2 hours or so, it soothes the soreness.

      Idk if it’s available where you are (and it might have a different name?) and it’s a prescription medicine here but the one thing which reliably blocks my coughs at night and lets me sleep is paracodein. It knocks you out pretty good and blocks the cough so only take it at night though.

      Hope you feel better soon – I’m also off sick with a nasty cold and unfortunately the main thing to do is let it take its course.

    10. Lena Clare*

      Thank you so much to everyone who has replied!

      I wondered about apple cider vinegar – I have some organic stuff in the fridge, I’ll try that.

      The hot drinks are helping! I’ve got some Rocks ginger cordial, and omg it’s delicious with lemon and honey.
      Like Miss Pantalones en Fuego (excellent name, btw) I don’t really like taking medicine for too long. This is day 8 and my second big box of Lemsip, so I’m going to come off them and try just the herbal remedies instead.
      If I can get something from my doctor to take just before bedtime that’ll be something anyway.

      Also! I found a lip balm made of Manuka honey and I’m using it around my nose to soothe the skin (tmi?!) but it really works!!

      Thanks everyone x

      1. Lucy*

        In the UK I recommend hot Ribena (not as good since they swapped some sugar out for sweeteners, but still best) with a generous glug of port. A “turbo ‘bena” really hits the spot and gives you a good dose of fluids and vit C in one go!

        Get well soon x

      2. Kuododi*

        Hello… stinks to be battling that nasty stuff. DH swears by original formula Ricola to help with cough and sore throat. (Personally I prefer the cherry flavor but that’s my issue.). I’m allergic to all the Codiene class of meds so no fun cough syrup for me. I have had good luck with the Robitussin meds for cough, congestion and drainage. Also, I make sure to keep H2O on the night stand so if I get into trouble coughing in bed I won’t be stumbling around in the dark trying to get H2O while trying to cough up a lung. (You laugh ..I once had the winter cold and had a coughing fit so strong that I broke two ribs!!!). Not pretty. Feel better soon. Best regards.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Very hot bath with Erkaeltungsbad. Basically it’s like Vicks’ Vaporub but in bath oil format. The main ingredient seems to be Eucalyptus.

        1. Professional Merchandiser*

          I forgot the bath stuff!! I use two different kinds. If you’re taking showers, there’s a kind that comes in cubes that you throw in the bathtub and when the shower hits it releases the vapors.Can’t remember what it’s called, haven’t used it in quite a while. The one I use for tub baths is Teal’s Foaming Bath with Eucalyptus and Spearmint. If you prefer Bath Salts, it comes in pouches, too. Run your tub and draw the curtains closed and soak and breathe in deep.

  13. Call me St. Vincent*

    A couple of months ago, I posted asking for advice and opinions about the Peloton bike and whether I should get one. My husband wanted it SO BAD, but I was worried about spending so much money on a piece of indoor exercise equipment that could become a dust trap. Well, we got one for the holidays and I wanted to report back.

    We are OBSESSED with it. I have used it almost every single day since we got it and we are both loving it. My husband has probably used it every other day. The best part is that there are classes from 5 minutes to an hour (maybe more, haven’t checked), which is amazing when you have small children. Also, amazingly my 3 year old sits on one of her toys and pretends she is riding along with me and also dances to the music for a 20 minute class and the baby sits in his bouncer watching us with awe. I literally haven’t worked out for close to two years and I was able to pick up the beginner classes, low impact classes, and advanced beginner classes pretty well (although even the beginner classes are HARD but good hard). My husband is very athletic and he does the regular classes although finds them extremely challenging.

    So my report back after owning one for 10 days is that is is awesome and I feel bad we didn’t get it sooner!

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      My buddy wants one REAL BAD, and I’ve seen the super slick shop in London, but even though his household earns a lot and he would use it a bunch, he’s somewhat put off by the price tag. It would probably get great use in our house too, especially by partner, but we have no room right now and are somewhat put off by the price tag.

      Could you report an update in a few months about continued use and health improvements? This could be feasible next year!

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Definitely! I felt the exact same way because it’s SO expensive, but I do think so far it’s worth it. It’s 9 am and I already did a 30 minute class and (just cheesily like in the commercial), I jumped off and my husband hopped on. Part of it too was that we both canceled memberships to other places that we weren’t using (don’t even ask me why I had a membership, I literally did not go at all ever!) so that offset at least the monthly subscription.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          This is totally my beef – Other Half has a gym subscription he doesn’t use nearly as much as I do, but if we got a Peleton (and he loves to ride a bike, but hates/is intimidated by formal exercising in public) it would almost pay for itself in a year if we just cut out his gym membership AND he may actually exercise more consistently at a higher rate.

          Something to contemplate when bonus season comes around in a few months!

    2. Two Dog Night*

      If anyone is interested: I looked at a Peleton bike, but I ended up getting a different brand spin bike for about half the cost and subscribing to Peleton’s iOS app, which is something like $12 a month. I don’t see the leader board and all that, but I can still do any live or pre-recorded classes. That said, the Peleton bikes are *really* good–I just didn’t want to spend the money.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        We looked into that as well! I don’t care about the leaderboard but my husband is uber competitive and loves it.

    3. noahwynn*

      I live in an apartment and want one really bad but am worried about the noise level. I’m on the second floor and don’t want to drive my downstairs neighbors crazy.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        The bike wheel itself is virtually silent. If you wear headphones, I don’t think it will disturb the neighbors at all.

  14. The Other Dawn*

    Can anyone suggest a good, authentic spanakopita recipe?

    A coworker made it at our potluck last month and it was delicious. She’s part Greek and uses her grandmother’s recipe, which explains why it was so good! Unfortunately I can’t in touch with her since she’s on vacation.

    I’ve been Googling, but there are SO MANY variations and I don’t know which to pick. Lots of them call for “a bunch” of dill. OK, but how much is “a bunch”? I assume that varies from store to store? Some call for several fresh herbs, other for dried herbs, some just dill, no parsley, and the list goes on.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I posted down below by mistake!

      We’ve always used Linda McCartney’s (vegetarian) spanakopita. No lamb in it but it is amazing and all the meat eaters in our family devour it, there’s never any leftovers for me or my s-i-l.
      The amounts are specific, but theres a LOT of dill and spinach in it :D

      1. SHerSher*

        Interesting, @Lena Clare! I have never had lamb in my spanikopita! And I have only ever eaten it in Greece or using a recipe handed down by an old Greek lady. I can’t find the recipe right now, of course, or I’d share it with @The Other Dawn!

    2. Dan*

      This can get into a really interesting conversation, with far more nuance than i feel like typing in my phone.

      First, what constitutes authentic? It may be that the dish in general is very generic, like a hamburger, for which you’ll never see the same recipe twice.

      Second, every recipe is a particular chef’s interpretation of it. It’s like buying a “car”. Nobody buys a “car”. Everybody buys a specific make and model.

      It also raises the question about not liking something. How many different preparations do you need to try before you can figure out if you don’t like the dish in general, or just that particular chef’s interpretation of it?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        For me, authentic=how a Greek grandma would make it. I mentioned below that I didn’t taste much dill at all in my corworker’s recipe, so I’ll opt for something that doesn’t use a lot of it. I think the recipe I was going to try, which calls for a “bunch,” would be way too much dill for me, and definitely way too much for my family; they’re all very Plain Jane when it comes to food.

    3. GreekLondoner*

      I can’t paste the link but search for Felicity Cloake’s spanakopita recipe in the Guardian. This is as close as I can get to the taste of my mum’s spanakopita, without access to the Mediterranean ingredients (I’m Greek but live in the UK). I use frozen whole leaf spinach.

      Having said that, there are as many recipes as there are cooks… Regional variations can also mean different types of pastry, herb combinations and cheese types (and some are against using cheese in spanakopita, simply omit if you dislike it). Ultimately you’ll need to experiment and decide how much dill tastes best to you! :)

      1. GreekLondoner*

        Oh and just to say that I definitely up the amount of herbs suggested in the recipe to a good bunch, but I pretty much stick to the rest of it!

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, the dill is what is throwing me off the most! Some recipes don’t have it at all, a few say two tablespoons, another is 1/2 cup and some say a “bunch.” I feel a little dill goes a very long way, and I didn’t taste it hardly at all in the recipe my coworker made, so I think I’ll opt for one that uses less dill, like either the two TB or 1/2 a cup.

    4. rogue axolotl*

      I’ve always used this version, which I believe originates from the writer’s Greek mother-in-law: https://heatherchristo.com/2011/04/11/spanikopita/. However I use fewer eggs and more feta, and I skip the leek and cottage cheese. I do think the use of cream of wheat to soak up excess liquid is a stroke of genius, though. I also appreciate that this recipe only has layers of phyllo on the top and bottom, because I tend to find it a bit excessive when it’s wrapped all around the filling. On the all-important dill question, this recipe calls for 1/2 cup, which I use because I love dill. I don’t think the flavour is excessive, because it is balanced out by everything else, but if you’re not a fan you could half it.

    5. Smarty Boots*

      I always make it with spinach and feta (no meat), garlic, green onion rather than yellow or white onion, and a lot (I mean, a LOT) of whatever fresh herbs I can get (dill, mint, parsley are the main ones). I’d say, about a quarter of the filling is finely chopped fresh herbs. And unless the stems on the herbs are big or tough, I chop them right in there too. Salt (but not til after I mix in the feta, because that can be salty), pepper, some crushed red pepper, and a big pinch of nutmeg. I don’t think you really need to worry about exact amounts. Especially for a dish that is one of those “my mama makes it like this and that’s the best way to make it” dishes.

      Cook the spinach with the onion and garlic, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Mix in everything else.

      I personally like to make it as individual three-cornered pastries rather than in a big pan, because that works well for us — I put them together, bake some for dinner and freeze the rest unbaked. For a party or to take for a potluck, making it in one big pan is probably easier.
      Also, if you have too much filling, no problem — I use it on pasta. It freezes well.

      I’m not Greek, but my Greek friends think it’s really good– they ask for leftovers, so!

  15. A.N. O'Nyme*

    After a two-week absence (I got busy): Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Also, do you ever wonder what search engine algorithms would think of you if they were human?

    1. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

      Nothing for writing, but I’m now imagining all the search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) as 50’s era operators or nosy neighbors listening in on the party phone line. Then getting together for drinks after work and swapping stories of us.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve finished nine chapters of the first draft of a new story I’m writing. I’m excited about it and sort of in love with the two main characters who are developing a really interesting relationship with each other (not romantic). I just love the two of them and am excited to get back to them.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Same! One of my protagonists has a complicated relationship with the (arguable) antagonist and no, it is not romantic (though I’ll eat my hat if readers won’t start shipping them anyway). I’m really excited for this particular project.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I’m kind of half shipping mine but if anyone reads it and wants to write fanfiction about the two of them, I’m 100% down for that!

    3. Pam*

      For a take on search engine thoughts, read Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures, Please.” It’s available on her website.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Last night, I fixed a chapter that I wasn’t exactly satisfied with. I am now satisfied with it and I think it has more tension, because the reader and the character know something that the person he’s talking to doesn’t. It still needs a little more revision language-wise. Plus, it gave me the idea that the information Character didn’t share will cause more conflict later, since Character didn’t tell him. :)

      As for search engines, judging by some of the stuff I look up, I’m convinced I’m on a list somewhere, LOL.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Dear governments watching my search history,
        I’m a writer. I have no interest in guns outside of my writing. The only murders I’m planning are those of fictional characters.
        This has been a PSA.
        P.S. Did you know there’s a wikipedia page detailing different kinds of strangulation?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Same, LOL.

          I was also a criminal justice major and I did spend some time a few years ago in the murky depths of the internet both for writing and school purposes dear government I am not a serial killer and do not *enjoy* looking at that stuff kthxbai.

    5. RestlessRenegade*

      I haven’t posted in a while but I wanted to pop in and say I hope everyone is doing well and achieving your goals! I am getting back into the swing of it after ~40 days off following NaNoWriMo. It’s always so hard to start up again…good luck all!

    6. CanadaTag*

      I have so got to get to work on getting my edits for my first to-be-published-this-year novel started. (The last few weeks I’ve been working on a cover for a best friend’s latest book, so I haven’t done much in the way of going through the draft for checking.)

  16. coffee cup*

    I’d like to get better at cooking meals from scratch, but I am a very unconfident cook. I can do stir fry, pasta with variations (and I make my own pasta sauce now, which is good), risotto, sometimes curry… Nothing very adventurous or different. I’m not vegetarian but I actually prefer veggie recipes as I’m keen to cut back even further on my meat eating (not that I eat much of it in general) and it’s just easier to cook for me if I don’t have to worry about meat. I do have a slow cooker but haven’t used it in a while.

    I wondered if anyone had any easy, fairly quick, tasty recipes they could share with me? I like recommendations for this rather than searching, as I get overwhelmed and for some reason it makes me a bit anxious and then I don’t cook anything at all (weird, I know!). Even better if anyone else is a bit of a reluctant cook like me and has learned dishes they feel good about making. Thank you :)

    1. IndianaAnna*

      Everything I have ever made from the Budget Bytes blog has been fantastic. She had the best recipes. She’s doing a month of vegetarian eating right now. Her pork and peanut dragon noodles is really popular with my teens.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I second Budget Bytes. Her lentil and coconut soup (and lentil salad) are both fabulous.

    2. Lena Clare*

      Roast aubergine pasta bake with mozzarella and basil.
      This is a VERY rough guideline.

      1/ chop an aubergine up into roughly equal cubes and roast in a fairly hot oven about 180 degrees C for about 30 minutes until soft and browned.

      2/ meanwhile, blitz a whole white onion and one or two garlic cloves in a food processor till it’s super finely chopped and fry gently in some olive oil until soft.

      3/ add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a splash of white wine if you have it though it’s not necessary, a tablespoon of tomato puree, a good heaped tbsp of dried oregano, and a handful of chopped black olives. Get the ones stored in oil as they’re better. Add salt and pepper to taste. I have to say I never add salt and it tastes fine.

      Cook the tomato sauce down. I leave it on till the aubergine is done.

      Or, you can make you own version of tomato sauce, whatever you prefer. In fact I’d be interested in hearing your recipe for pasta tomato sauce.

      4/ cook about 400 g of whole wheat pasta penne until it’s just al dente, about 8-9 minutes. You don’t want to overcook it because it’s going to absorb some of the liquid in the oven and it will get too soft otherwise. When cooked, drain reserving a tbsp of pasta cooking liquid.

      5/ mix the pasta (and the tbsp of pasta cooking liquid if you want), cooked aubergine, and sauce all together thoroughly.
      Layer half of it in an oven dish – a lasagna dish is perfect – and tear up a mozzarella ball and lots of fresh basil leaves on top of this layer.
      Cover that with the rest if the pasta mixture. (The mozzarella and basil are a layer in the middle).

      6/ grate some strong cheddar cheese or whatever hard cheese you like on top.
      I also sometimes drizzle a bit of olive oil on top.

      7/ bake in the 180°C oven for about 20 to 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden on top.

      8/ Serve with a bowl of rocket leaves and some toasted pine nuts scattered on top.

      Or garlic bread pizza ;)

      1. coffee cup*

        I think my pasta sauce is pretty much the same as yours! Except I don’t add wine, and I use 1.5 veg stock cubes, basil rather than oregano and a generous amount of smoked paprika. Which makes everything better automatically.

        I’ve in the past used balsamic vinegar in it or Worcestershire sauce. I used to add a pinch of sugar but I’m trying not to do that any more to cut down on unnecessary sugar in savoury stuff. I’ve read recipes where butter is used… but I’ve never tried that.

    3. Allie*

      This isn’t specific, but I found YouTube really helped me learn to cook. Actually watching the processes made a difference. His voice can be a bit annoying but Chef John from Foodwishes is particularly good at showing all relevant steps, as is Binging with Babish (his basics videos are not a bad place to start).

      If you are anxious, I would do more oven meals. They require less hands on time and usually have more wiggle room on time. It is super easy to bake potatoes or roast veggies (sprouts, carrots). Just salt, pepper, and oil and 30 minutes at 400 (or your desired cruchiness, depending on the veggie). You can play with it more on glazes and sauces as you get more comfortable.

      I do a really basic chicken breast stuffed with herbed goat cheese and sundried tomatoes. Just mix it up, cut open the chicken and stick it in the center, salt and pepper, and stick it in at 350 for about 20 minutes. The amounts are totally up to you.

      1. gecko*

        Absolutely second watching YouTube! Or, Good Eats is a fabulous one since it explains basics on a deep level and visually shows you what you want to look for when cooking. Basically those kinds of shows will help you be able to just cook from a recipe.

        Serious Eats also has good resources for basics—the book The Food Lab has it all compiled, it’s fabulous.

        I like roasting root vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, other sturdy vegetables, by cutting them into even chunks, covering them in a bit of oil, salt, and pepper and putting them on a sheet pan in a hot (400F -500F) oven until browned.

    4. PB*

      My go-to for quick, cheap, easy weeknight dinner is black bean tortas. My recipe is adapted from the Thug Kitchen cookbook. I like to tell people it’s made with black beans and magic. It tastes so meaty, it’s hard to believe it’s vegetarian.

      Chop up an onion. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. When warm, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add one clove of chopped garlic, 1 tablespoons chili powder, and 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

      Stir in two cans of black beans, drained and rinsed. Add 1 1/2 cups of broth (vegetable if making the vegetarian preparation, but I’ve also used chicken or beef) and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Raise the temperature slightly to bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Smash the beans to a chunky texture (think chunky guacamole). Let the liquid cook down, so the mixture becomes very thick. Off-heat, stir in the juice of 1/2 lime and more salt if needed.

      I eat this on hamburger buns with mayonnaise, guacamole, and whatever fresh vegetables look appealing (tomatoes and lettuce are good). The Thug Kitchen original calls for making your own vegan chipotle mayo. I did once, but I didn’t find it that tasty, so I’ve skipped it since.

      1. coffee cup*

        Oh this does sound good! I already have chili powder and cumin. I seem to have amassed spices for some reason…

    5. Koala dreams*

      Couscous salad with cheese.
      Add hot water to the couscous, put on a lid. Grate a carrot. Cut the cheese in small pieces. Cut a tomato in pieces. Take a small can of corn, and rinse the corn. Take a spring onion and cut it. Mix everything with the together with the couscous and add some black pepper and salt.

      Lentil soup
      Cook lentils, carrot slices, a can of canned tomatoes, onion slices, with vegetable broth for 15-20 minutes. Add sliced bell pepper and cook 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Ready!

      If you want, you can start by frying the carrot and onion in some oil so they get soft, then add the lentils, tomatoes and broth and cook as above.

    6. CatCat*

      I use a meal planning service called Cook Smarts and they offer a 6 week online cooking course every yeat. I got an email that they’re starting another session soon. They focus on basic skills (I found the knife skills portion especially helpful!) and you cook new meals during the course. It’s kind of pricey, but if it’s within your budget, I found it great for building skills and confidence in the kitchen.

    7. Madge*

      I grew up in the Midwest and I think you’re being very adventurous with cuisines and flavors. CookSmarts is a weekly menu service but she has plenty of other content for sale and for free. Her calendars are full of helpful infographics and are available on Amazon. Her recipes are versatile and well written and delicious. She also has classes and tutorials on cooking skills.

      I’m also really enjoying Bon Appetit and Babbish’s videos on You Tube.

      And here’s an easy recipe: chickpea Ragu over roasted polenta. This is a recipe that is perfectly fine if you dump it all together at once, and even better if you add ingredients bit by bit as described and layer the flavors. It would also be good over any other starch.

      Cube a roll of polenta, toss in salt and oil and roast on a parchment covered pan at 400 until golden.

      Meanwhile dice an onion and chop a clove or two of garlic and sauté in a pan with olive oil for a few minutes. Then add one or two shredded zucchini or yellow squash and sauté a few minutes more. Add a can of chickpeas, drained. And add enough jarred chunky pasta sauce until the mixture is a bit saucy. (I like Bertoli’s rustic cut marinara) Salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low until hot. Serve over polenta.

      1. coffee cup*

        I have never done anything with polenta! I like it though so I could give it a go. I had an orange and polenta cake today, it was yum (nothing to do with me cooking, but still…).

        I’m in the UK and pasta and stir fry aren’t really seen as adventurous at all. I feel quite flatted you think I am! I am getting into more flavours, though, and trying to be less scared of trying new things in the same old stuff I cook. Like paprika in my pasta. Small, but makes a difference. Maybe that’s the key.

        1. Smarty Boots*

          I love Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipes — lots of them in The Guardian. They’re very tasty, very veggie forward, and forgiving.

    8. Ali G*

      I taught myself how to cook by watching Rachel Ray;s 30 minute meals. It might take you longer than 30 min to start, but she’s really good at making cooking easy.

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I like the Pioneer Woman for basic, American cuisine type recipes for the newbie cook. Good instructions and photos so you can see what’s supposed to be happening.

      And some advice: You will mess up. This is not a tragedy, it’s just what happens. I’m a great cook, and I have some amazing fails in my past. (The time I didn’t thaw the chicken before roasting it. The tomato soup. The time I studded the onions with cloves before making chicken broth. The delicious chocolate cake that looked a toddler tore it up. The gazillion times we ate about four hours later than planned.) Eat it anyway, feed it to the dog or dump it in the trash, depending on how bad it is. No big.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Elspeth, I give a hearty amen to the mess ups. I’ve been cooking for over 40 years and I have a few in my history. One was a slow cooker version of Hunter’s Chicken. (This was in the 70’s when crock pots just became A THING.) I don’t know if I had a bad recipe, or if I did something wrong, but it was AWFUL!! Watery and tasteless. After that, anything I made that I wasn’t sure of then I would ask my husband, “what did you think?” And he would reply, “It’s not as bad as the Hunter’s Chicken.” This happened before our children were born, and even they would say that even though they had no idea what they were talking about. :)
        Then there were the Prune Meatballs. I was reading a book that had this recipe. It’s basically meatballs that you stuff with a prune and cook in a brown gravy and serve over rice. (Scandinavian recipe.) Well, it took me all day to make it, and it made a huge pot full. My husband was undergoing treatment for Lymphoma at the time and was taking Predisone that week. If you’re not familiar, it’s a steroid and you want to eat everything in sight while you’re on it. He ate three huge helpings; then took the pot and dumped the left-overs over the fence and said. “Don’t ever make those again!!!” I could see the look of relief in the kids’ eyes. So after that, the new thing was, “It’s better than the Prune Meatballs!!” Bottom line; don’t be afraid to fail.

    10. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

      I just got Chrissy Teigen’s “Cravings” cookbook, and it has a lot of relatively simple but delicious recipes!

    11. Akcipitrokulo*

      Discovered something really warm and surprisingly delicious :)
      vegetable stock cube.
      Chopped onions.

      Boil until lentils soft and break up into soup texture.

      Also – quorn sausages, onions, carrots, bisto gravy. Stick in casserole dish and cook for about 30 min (til everything hot and casserole-like.)

    12. Loopy*

      I’ve struggled with cooking and being miserable around cooking for a long time. I don’t have a recipe per say but I have found one thing that works- focus on only one part of the meal being complicated and bonus if you can make it in a batch. For me I like to get a good sauce I can use a few times and throw it over something like zucchini noodles/pasta or rice/ frozen cauliflower rice. I will sometimes add broccoli, carrot, and a protein, but there’s nothing much to prepping these since they just get covered in sauce- I just need them cooked!

      If the sauce is good and different, that makes me feel like Im eating a much more exciting meal and I only have to deal with one night of making that part every 3 or so days. I love a good peanut sauce and I found a lovely general tso’s sauce. For super busy weeks, I can always buy the same in a bottle!

      I get overwhelmed by recipes that are easy but involve lots of ingredients, even if its just a lot of chopping and dicing or measuring spices. My counter gets cluttered, I worry about forgetting something, there’s more clean-up. So I tend to look for low numbers of ingredients. So for me it’s base (rice, pasta, zoodles, grain etc.), some extras for tetxture (whatever veggies I have), and a protein with sauce.

    13. Jane*

      My easiest vegetarian recipe:

      saute an onion and two cloves of garlic in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes in a large skillet

      add a large (28oz) can of diced tomatoes, 1 15 oz can of light coconut milk, 2 15 oz cans drained chickpeas, 1 pound of butternut squash (I buy a 1lb bag of frozen cubed squash to make it easy, but either fresh or frozen is fine), 1 tablespoon each curry powder and garam masala powder, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt or to taste. Simmer until the squash breaks down, and serve over rice.

      It sounds weird but it is so good! I made it once for some vegan dinner guests and was so pleased that they went for seconds (I’m not vegan or vegetarian and would normally rely on meat to serve to guests).

    14. CrazyPlantLady*

      Here are some of my favorite recipes that I make all the time. They’re all very easy and flexible. For anything that has a sauce, I use my magic bullet, but any kind of blender will work. I’ve made other recipes from all of these sites, but these are ones I keep going back to over and over because they’re simple and delicious.

      https://www.loveandlemons.com/lemon-pesto-spaghetti-squash/ (For this one I often use a jar of pesto from the store rather than making it myself. That makes it a lot easier and faster.)
      http://thefirstmess.com/2016/01/13/creamy-french-lentils-with-mushrooms-and-kale-recipe/ (This one goes really well with polenta, but I’ve also eaten it with quinoa or rice. You can replace the fresh thyme with half the amount of dried thyme and the shallot with red onion.)

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        copied the links into a note so I can visit them later… wow – super helpful!

        1. Teach*

          I really like Mark Bittman’s How to Cook… cookbooks. There is a vegetarian one! They are great fat tomes organized by food type, and you get a base recipe with ingredients, and then giant lists and charts of how to swap out for other ingredients. Like if you can make a basic bean stew, how to swap out the type of beans, veg, and seasoning for other flavors. It’s fantastic and builds your cooking instincts.

    15. Public Sector Manager*

      I got Gordon Ramsay’s “Fast Food” and it’s the best. It’s a bunch of scratch cooking meals that can be prepared, including prep time, in 15-40 minutes. This really got me over my hump that cooking had to be complex and drawn out to be good.

  17. Kuododi*

    Wanted to tell y’all… on Tuesday the 8th DH and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary!!! We still enjoy each other and he’s the only one I want to wake up with every morning. He’s absolutely delightful!!!

    1. Marion Ravenwood*

      Congratulations! And happy belated anniversary :) Hope you have many more happy years together.

    2. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

      Whoo hoo! Congratulations! My hubby and I will hit the same milestone in September.

  18. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I have always been fond of 60s-vintage concrete & steel playground equipment. A large part of that is because it’s the stuff of my childhood, I’m sure, but I love sculpture and good industrial design in & of itself.
    I’ve recently learned that several of my favorites were all by the same sculptor…and he’s still working. He’s moved on from playgrounds. Jim Miller-Melberg’s cement turtle and porpoise and climbing shapes may well be familiar to you as well. I linked to his site in my name … and I’ll comment with another url to share a photographer’s collection of photos. If I ever found Mr. Turtle or the saddle-shaped climbing shape on auction I’d be totally tempted… heck, I have a mid-century modern house now, so it would even be appropriate.
    I’d love to see any of your playground classics from before the safety rules changed in the 70s.

      1. kc89*

        I wasn’t able to picture what you were talking about, but clicked on the link and I love those pictures! I really like the camels

    1. Rebecca*

      I have fond memories of this, I was in elementary school from the late 1960’s through the early 1970’s, what a blast. I did get a concussion from falling off the jungle gym, though, just hard ground and concrete then, no soft landing for me! We had a blast at our local park on big metal sliding boards. We’d take waxed paper and slide down on it, and wow could they get hot in the summer! Fun times!!

      1. GoryDetails*

        I remember using waxed paper on the metal slides too! Amazing speed one could get that way… But I also remember scorching my legs on sun-heated metal, so there’s that {wry grin}. And I often skinned my knees through running around on the gravel-covered cement of the playground. (I skinned them in plenty of other ways too, so it’s not entirely the fault of playground design, but when I see the modern soft-landing versions I admit I rather envy them.)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Interesting to me is hearing of newer studies showing no significant differences in the injuries because post-safety rules kids are less likely to spot each other, and more likely to assume it’s safe. I have seen the study myself though.

        1. fposte*

          That sounds interesting–I love information about paradoxical effects. However, my first reaction, as somebody who grew up in the Darwinist playground era, is I don’t remember anybody spotting anybody then either. Maybe we were just a savage bunch.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Maybe it was misdescribed from warning new kids they were too high? Because I don’t remember any spotting either, except when my 6th grade friend was trying to coach me through a front hip pullover. (I never got it, sorry Gigi wherever you are!)

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          I saw an article about that study- I think part of it was that kids were more likely to use modern playground equipment against design (ex: climbing up the outside of a covered slide tunnel, or climbing over a safety rail to jump off a platform, for example) because its designed uses were boring or not physically challenging to children.

    2. Nita*

      Oh, that’s so cool! In my neighborhood there are a couple playgrounds with his sculptures. I hadn’t known he designed them, but they’re really something. They’re so distinctive that my kids have taken to calling one of the playgrounds “the one with the dolphin”. Sadly, that playground is being renovated and I don’t think the dolphin will stay…

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Tell the town they’re collected now! Of nothing else they might be able to auction it to pay for more dtuff. Or they could paint the heck out of it with town slogans.
        Show them up “rocketship park” in Torrance California for a time where popular opinion saved a vintage metal climber-slide from the scrapheap–and it’s now a draw for the town.

        1. Nita*

          Too late! They’re already gone. I’m hoping they’ll be put back after renovation, but probably not :(

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            It’s worth asking, because cement can be hard to get rid of.
            And of course if the critter had internal damage, I could be talking through my hat. Apparently some of these statues were made as fountains, and internal parts make for a path for water&ice damage. Alas.

    3. fposte*

      That is really fascinating. I love information like this about people whose artistic visions have become an unquestioned part of our landscape.

    4. KayEss*

      Oh my gosh, that turtle! I had completely forgotten about it but seeing it again just brought back visceral childhood memories. Never seen any of the others, but I remember crawling under the turtle to nest in the cool, shaded sand there.

      The playgrounds at my elementary school (there were several) all had these fantastic metal-pipe jungle gyms, some of them in sculptural shapes… there was one shaped like a house, another I think was in a big upright “S” shape you could climb around and over and hang from. There was one on the playground for the oldest kids (like 8-10 years old, the school went through 5th grade at the time) that was a pretty standard shape but quite large, I want to say the top was a good 15 feet up, at least? The bars were also very far apart, so the squares that made up the structure were probably close to 3 feet on a side. None of it was padded, and just wood chips at the bottom… I do remember at least one kid in my year broke an arm falling from something, but it wasn’t one of the tall jungle gyms, it was a set of monkey bars that was maybe 7 feet high. I loved the jungle gyms because I loved to climb and be high up, but as a pretty pudgy kid didn’t really have the arm strength for things like monkey bars.

      One of the other playgrounds (the one for first graders, so like 6 years old…) also had a big hanging rope to swing on, you would climb up onto a wooden structure (not huge, maybe 4 or 5 feet up?) and swing off it on the rope. The trees near enough to be a collision risk had those blue gym mats bolted onto them as padding. This was all in the first half of the ’90s!

    5. Pam*

      Cool! My childhood park had a 5 story receivership climber and slide and a real fire truck. Sadly, both are long gone, but the fire truck remains in the outline of a climber.

      Another park had an airplane, which is now concrete.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I remember when we lived in Kansas City, MO there were some weird climbing shapes near one of the houses we lived in. They were very space-age. I can’t remember where they were. I can also remember a very peculiar style of playground slide with a cover on it, like a mini-tunnel, and it was painted in spatter paint. I remember a red one somewhere and a black one elsewhere.

      Also, there was a shopping mall there that I think has since been torn down that had concrete animals in it, including a nearly life-sized elephant. You could climb on them. I can’t remember what the mall was called!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I was thrilled when we visited Dayton Ohio a few years ago and found metal slides. My then 4th grader was totally amused by mom doing the slides with her over and over.
        I’d rather have a slide burn my bottom in high summer than give me static electric shocks all year round!

    7. pcake*

      How amazing to know who created the cement turtles of my childhood!!! I loved the cement turtles as a child . I kept trying to convince my parents to get me one, but they didn’t. I have a very small cement turtle on my desk as an homage to my childhood playground turtle friends.

    8. Basia, also a fed*

      The turtle!!! And the weird upright cylinder things with the swiss cheese holes!! And the trash cans! What a blast from the past. Thanks for sharing!

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Another day, another search … another article. Or…four?



      “I’m the only person in Michigan who has shipped camels to Saudi Arabia!”

  19. Red Sky*

    Do you have any tips/hacks/tricks or proud moments of saving money large or small? We recently completed a remodel of our kitchen and one wall was pantry cabinets which was going to cost $4-5k which I just couldn’t bring myself to spend. We have white shaker base cabinets so pretty easy to match and I’d been keeping an eye out at our local Habitat Restore and craigslist with no luck, then one day we were at Ikea and their pantry cabinets were still expensive but cheaper than $4k, but then I wandered into the closet storage systems and the Pax wardrobe system turned out to be the perfect size and finish and offered a lot more organization options than traditional pantry cabinets. I think we wound up spending about $1,200 for the pantry wall and it looks great!

    1. IrishEm*


      We’re getting a new boiler put in this week that’s oging to save so much money going forward in terms of the cost of the type of fuel it uses and how much of said fuel that it uses. Big outlay now, but worth it going forward.

    2. Plain Jane*

      This isn’t exactly revolutionary, but going to Marshall’s or TJ Maxx for something I normally would buy somewhere else. I’m not even talking about clothes for myself, but things like designer or good quality beauty items, or gifts for new babies or home items for birthdays. When I have a baby or wedding shower or birthday party, my budget stretches so much further if I check out Marshall’s or TJ Maxx for something.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m all about discount stores and comparing prices, this is why my place is very much a mix n match set-up. My frugal ways crush any desire to have matching furniture. It’s always sturdy and in good condition because that’s my requirement to spend money in general.

      1. Red Sky*

        I actually prefer unmatched furniture, it feels more curated and thoughtful that way. When it’s all matchy-matchy I kinda feel like it was purchased straight from the showroom floor, nothing wrong with that, but I like older classic pieces mixed with the new. Right now I’m looking into finding an old sofa with good bones and having it reupholstered as I’ve heard the older pre-80’s furniture were structurally built much better and to last.

        1. Former Employee*

          I have a sofa that I got from my parents over 40 years ago. I’m pretty sure it was fairly new at the time, but they were making a long distance move and didn’t want to pay the cost of moving furniture. It’s been reupholstered twice now (second time was about 2 years ago) and it’s still going strong and the most comfortable piece of furniture as well.

          Good luck in finding that special item.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          A matching set feels “clinical” for me, does that make sense? Too uniform and “stuffy” for my taste. I am also afraid to sit on too-nice of things, I like the broken in feel as well as the look.

          Which is hilarious because I spent a decade selling furniture and yes, of course they were in sets. I have a few pieces and I intentionally mixed up the designs!

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I hear you! We have a sofa (currently in storage with my fatherinlaw) that is a godawful tweedy orange. But it has *leaf springs* so it isn’t sagging and probably never will.
          Reupholstering it is on my wishlist.

      1. Red Sky*

        Can we post photos here? I dont have a photo acct app thing so can’t link to any pics online, they’re all on my phone. My favorite thing about my pantry right now is the pullout drawers (which would have normally been used for storing clothes) so things in the back don’t get lost. There’s also a shallow one I use just for spices and a basket drawer I use for things like potatoes. I also made an electrical outlet cut out of the back of the cabinet for the shelf holding the microwave and other small appliances so they’re not taking up counter space. I did have to reinforce the shelves with some L-brackets from home depot to hold the additional weight. I’ve watched a few of the Marie Kondo episodes on Netflix and plan on adding boxes for even more organization.

        1. Nicole76*

          Can’t post photos here without linking to a site.
          Some people use imgur for that purpose but no biggie if you’d rather not.

          As for storage boxes, I found some inexpensive sturdy plastic weave style ones at Menards. They come in different sizes and colors, including white.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m rather pleased to have acquired all my yard furniture (big yard) at yard sales or giveaways from Buy Nothing. Most I paid was $100 for an iron table, rocker-bench, and 8 chairs.
      I wish I were so determined about ma king lunches instead of buying…

      1. Red Sky*

        Ooohh, I hadn’t heard of Buy Nothing! It just might be the thing to finally make me join facebook

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It’s more local than Freecycle, so I’m actually meeting neighbors like they intend.

    5. Loopy*

      For things like every day non-shared/event food or something that doesn’t need to be a high quality (for safety reasons, etc.) I always start with the lowest discount store and move up if I cant find things there. For example, I shop at Aldi’s and then get anything they don’t carry at my regular grocery store. I check dollar tree, good will, then Walmart, then someplace pricier, etc.

      It sure doesn’t save time but it’s a good habit/routine to get into!

    6. Teeth Grinder*

      Small savings:
      I check the grocery ads before making my weekly meal plan. For example, if broccoli is on sale but not asparagus, we will be eating broccoli and not asparagus.
      Then, I organize my list by store, and hit several grocery stores for different specials.

      Last spring, I bought a small stand-alone freezer so I can stock up on pork chops, for example, when they are on sale without having to eat pork chops every day for a week.
      Which reminds me, it’s cheaper to buy a whole pork loin and have it cut into chops, or a big ham and cut several ham steaks off it. But only if you have freezer space, obviously.

      Label the leftovers, if they’re intended for a second meal. That way, the cooked chicken for the carbonara doesn’t disappear into somebody’s late-night snack. Unplanned snacking can destroy a grocery budget. Which doesn’t mean there can’t be snacks, just that you plan inexpensive ones.

  20. The Curator*

    If you travel for work and have a Sat off between. Do you A. catch up on W. that you let slide while traveling and expenses and finish the newsletter?

    B. Take the day off and get a massage and visit the butterflies at the Natural History Museum?

    I’m leaning towards B. Any reason that I shouldn’t. Sunday is scheduled W. already. Newsletter is due to the designer, ASAP.
    Any reason that I shouldn’t B.?

    1. Allie*

      Take self care. Travel can burn you out so easily and you are already scheduled to work Sunday, so you would have no break whatsoever if you don’t take a break.

      The newsletter, I dunno how actually urgent that is, but can it be finished tonight with a glass of wine in hand?

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d say butterflies, if the museum isn’t shut down. Wear bright green, I’ve heard they’re more likely to land on you if they think you’re a plant.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Totally depends on what will feel most restorative to you.

      For me, that’s usually taking the day to decompress. But I’ve definitely had times when just getting the work off my plate was more valuable than taking a break.

      1. The Curator*

        I’m feeling that so I will do Newsletter tonight. Its the tail end. Tuesday is a travel day. So I hit the ground running on Wed.

        I DID book a massage. TaDa!
        No butterflies but I had really delicious ramen for lunch.

  21. West Coast Breeze*

    My roommate/friend and I have been living together for a long time. She has recently been having some severe medical issues, that ended up with the removal of one of her ovaries. She’s had minor medical incidents before but this has been the most significant since I’ve known her. Obviously before the surgery, she was scared and we had a few times where she broke down crying and I comforted her to the best of my ability. Now it’s has been a few months since her surgery and she is constantly noticing things that she thinks are red flags to further problems.

    These are minor things like thinking her heart is beating too fast now, or that her fingers are twitching. There was one of those 24 hour colds going around our friends and family; I caught it and was fine in a day, she caught it and was immediately worried it would turn into something worse like bronchitis or pneumonia. She now is worried that every single minor change in her body is a major medical issue.

    In addition to this, some of her family members have been having medical incidents too (significant issues, such as a sister with cancer that keeps returning and one of her parents having heart issues). My friend had anxiety before her medical emergency but now it’s kicked into over-drive. Most of our conversations after work are about some new symptom she’s discovered or an upcoming doctor’s appointment. She cries a lot and is scared to the point me made me promise to take care of her dog if anything happens to her.

    I’m at my wits end with comforting her. I now frequently eat out when I know she’ll be home and retire to my room early to avoid talking to her. I want to help and comfort her but it’s so constant now that it’s draining to be around her. I have tried to suggest counseling/therapy for her but she says she doesn’t have the time or money. What can I do to help her while also saving my home sanity?

    (Please no comments on why friends should not live together. Between college and post-college, we’ve lived together for at least nine years. This is the first time we’ve had a serious issue that couldn’t be resolved by a talk. Thanks!)

    1. Flinty*

      So much sympathy! We don’t live together, but I have a friend with anxiety who has been trying to get pregnant for a few months and it’s pushed her normal tendencies into overdrive – I love her and want to support her, but basically from her first period after they started trying, she’s been panicking about various things that could go wrong and calling her doctor constantly to see if he’ll do more tests, etc, and it’s tough all around.

      I’ve found that what works best for me is 1. not being afraid to take breaks. and 2. when we do talk about it, to just mirror back her feelings, like “that sounds really hard” and “that must be very stressful.” In my experience, there’s no comforting anxiety. Any time I tried to reassure my friend, she would find a way around my reassurance to re-assert that something IS wrong, and neither of us enjoyed that. Now I generally listen to as much as I can and then change the subject when I’ve had enough, which sounds harsh, but seems to work for us.

      1. Agent J*

        + 1.

        As a person who deals with anxiety, I think Flinty’s suggestions are spot on. Take care of yourself before you start to resent your friend and lose a valued relationship. Anxiety brain can’t always be comforted or rationalized. And if she isn’t able to see a therapist, then you have to limit how much help you try to give because there’s only so much you can do.

    2. Kuododi*

      Oh my dear…I completely understand where your roommate is coming from. My cancer diagnosis and treatment was over twenty years ago. I still remember the immediate aftermath when I had to consciously stop myself from fretting over every little ache and pain. It took a while before I was settled in my new reality as a cancer survivor to where I wasn’t worrying about any little ache as being the start of a relapse with cancer. Personally, I was fortunate to have a connection with a skilled therapist and was able to get a few sessions with her to address this anxiety as well as assistance with other adjustment issues following the cancer. I found it most helpful when the significant people in my life would listen calmly and would encourage me to keep in touch with my therapist as well as focus on ways to redirect myself from fixating on things over which I had no control. I hope this helps and send best wishes for you both.

    3. anonagain*

      Have you told her directly that you can’t listen to her vent all the time? Or have you been hoping that she’ll infer it?

    4. HannahS*

      I think recommending therapy was the right way to go. I think you can kindly say once more, “Friend, you’ve been having a ton of anxiety about your health lately, which makes a lot of sense given what you’ve gone through and are continuing to see in your family. This has all been pretty traumatic for you. I don’t have answers for you on that, except to say that if you have a serious illness in the future I’ll love and support you as a friend. But you need to tell your doctor about this because I’m seeing that you’re not coping well, and because I’m not a doctor I have no idea how to help you when you come to me with things like this.” If she says something like, “Just be here for me/I just need you to listen” I think you can say, “That doesn’t seem to be helping you much, because I’m seeing that the issue is getting worse, and it’s not good for our friendship for me to be acting as the substitute for the therapist. Your anxiety here is real. You need better help that I can provide.”

      And then…you have to enforce it, which is the hard part, especially because you live together. When she starts talking about her health, it a kind but firm, “I’m not a doctor, Friend, and I don’t have answers. I think you should tell your doc that you’ve been worrying about this. If affording therapy is an issue, ask her about low-cost options–I’m sure lots of patients are in your situation. Why don’t we talk about something else instead?”

      1. Basia, also a fed*

        Hannah’s, thank you for these scripts. I’m not the OP, but I just took a screenshot of your comment for use with a friend.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This heavy level of worry can be a precursor to a problem, sometimes. Sometimes we intuitively know something is not right inside us.
      The daily (?) crying/talking about it would drive me bonkers, though. So what I would do is ask her what steps she is willing to take to improve her health. Assuming that exercise is not an option, there is still plenty to look at such as diet (good foods), hydration, sleep patterns, and so on.
      Take her concerns seriously and ask her to start working on action plans where she helps herself. Try to encourage any action plan she comes up with, just to get her moving around rather than just scaring the crap out of herself.
      You can say things like, “This isn’t you. This isn’t the Jane I know. What are you willing to do to help you along here?” At first she will probably say all the things she can’t do, encourage her to shift to thinking about what she CAN do.

      She might get some small relief by using drinks with electrolytes in them also.

      1. TechWorker*

        Whilst everyone can benefit from looking at ways to improve their health, wouldn’t you worry here that it could just turn into a different thing to obsess over? Or if she does have further health problems in the future she might then blame herself for not doing enough (you can never ‘do enough’ to be guaranteed good health, right)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Just my opinion of course, but in my mind I think Friend is already obsessing over health, so obsessing over good self care might be a way to channel some of this force that seems to be driving her in a positive way.
          And, sure, she could blame herself for not doing enough. We can’t control people’s emotions and we can’t protect them from their own emotions. Hopefully, OP will not feel responsible if this does happen, because OP is not responsible for her Friend’s deep seated concerns. If this turns into a runaway train, then counseling might no longer be optional. She (Friend) might have to find a way to pay for counseling. Going one step at a time here is helpful until the extent of the concern becomes more apparent. If taking steps to increase her self-care does not seem supportive to her, then, yeah, this is could be a therapy level concern.

    6. fposte*

      Oh, poor both of you. I think this is not an uncommon anxiety response after a serious health situation, but that doesn’t make it easy.

      Would she read a book if you got her one? It skews British, but a lot of people with health anxiety (that’s not the US term, but I always forget what it is) really find value in Claire Weekes’ books. You might find it useful too, for that matter; it might have some strategies for family and friends.

      I also think that comforting her isn’t actually helping her long-term. She’s reassurance-seeking rather than developing an ability to tolerate the anxiety herself; that’s pretty common with anxiety, and it’s really hard to detach from. So if you’re looking for a justification to back off on the soothing, that’s one right there. Maybe go for “I understand you’re anxious and upset, and I hope you’ll get help for that, but it’s not good for you to rely on me when you need a professional to teach you to rely on you. I’ll help you find somebody whenever you’re ready to look; in the meantime, I’m going to go watch TV/read/whatever.”

      (I’ll also post a link in followup about how to find low-cost mental health care just in case, but I suspect that cost isn’t the real thing that’s blocking your friend.)

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You can only comfort her ‘so much’ and if she continues to spiral like this, without attempting to get some kind of therapy of her own to work through the post-surgery anxiety, it’s only going to compound :(

      So keeping your distance is not bad on your part and you have to think about yourself while “taking care” of others.

      She should find a support group if she cannot afford therapy. She has to take care of herself, nobody else can do it for her sadly. It’s the same as if she were partying too much, had substance abuse or a spending problem.

    8. Thursday Next*

      I think it’s okay to set some gentle and loving boundaries. “I love you and want to talk to you, but when I get gome from work I need X amount of time to eat (or whatever) before talking.” Or “x amount of time eating while reading/watching a video”—whatever works.

      If face to face therapy isn’t feasible, what about talkspace or another app? Similarly, how would you and your friend feel about having a meditation period, perhaps even jointly, every day? This might be a good thing to consider for the evening, as a “reset” before launching into serious topics. I like the Calm app, as I have about a 10-15 minute attention span and like having a guided meditation.

    9. Quandong*

      Having lived with a person who refused to seek mental health care when they needed it, I know how utterly draining it can be. In my case, it also led to irreparable breakdown of the relationship. I really encourage you to keep seeking out ways to change the way you and your friend interact around her mental health needs, regardless of whether she seeks the care she requires.

      As you know, it’s not healthy or appropriate for you to be your friend’s default therapist and anxiety sponge. Even if you were a trained mental health worker it would not be okay. And, it’s clearly not working for your friend, and making things difficult for you! My suggestions are for you to seek some therapy or support for yourself, and to establish boundaries and maintain them – although this may be challenging for your friend, it’s best for both of you.

      This Captain Awkward post may have some scripts and ideas you can use right away:

      I love CA’s approach and her advice is excellent. You might like to look through the archives for other posts that may suit your needs at this time.

      Best wishes!

    10. Namey McNameface*

      I can relate to this. I had a friend who experienced anxiety about her own health after her father passed away from cancer. While completely sympathising with her loss, it was draining to hear constant talks about what we all should/shouldn’t do in order to stay healthy. Stuff like: don’t eat rice, use special types of bowls (apparently most bowls on the market have traces of poison or something), lengthy details about every vitamin supplement everyone MUST eat, and so on.

      I also encouraged her to see a therapist but I’m not sure if she did or not. Afterwards I gave the absolute minimal response required to maintain a polite social interaction. When she talked about health issues I only said “mm hmm” “oh yeah that sounds like a good idea” “oh I see.” I didn’t engage or debate with her at all. It was a way of enforcing that I couldn’t listen to her discuss all this medical stuff all the time.

      Good friends comfort you in times of distress, yes. But they are not full time therapists. It’s okay to not want to have a friendship that revolves around comforting her and listening to her sadness.

  22. Washi*

    I have a friend who has had depression and anxiety for pretty much as long as I’ve known her (~4 years) and up until recently, I would say we were fairly close. Our contact was up and down, but we saw each other 2-3 times per month, and sometimes she would be hard to get a hold of but it generally all worked out.

    But it seems, as far as I can tell, that she’s had a pretty serious flare up of depression and I now haven’t seen her since August. I’ve been trying to text her regularly, once a week at first but now more like every other week. She responds sometimes, and we’ve made plans I think like 4 times and she’s cancelled day-of every time.

    The thing is, I’m starting to find it hard to keep reaching out – I’ve always been the one to initiate about 90% of plans in our friendship, and the inconsistency/cancelling is starting to get to me, even though I know she’s probably doing her best. I’m feeling like I’d like to take a break, but I also feel really guilty about not being there for her (I have my own issues with depression and know how hard it can be) and I don’t want her to think I don’t want to be friends anymore. I’d be so happy to hear from her if she reached out to me! But I’m finding the one-sidedness increasingly draining. Has anyone else been on either side of this situation?

    1. Agent J*

      I can totally relate, as the person whose friends always reach out and then goes quiet when depression hits me like rock.

      If you need space, please take it. You have to take care of yourself like she’s trying to take care of herself. If she wasn’t the initiator before, it’s unlikely she will be now because she’s focusing on mental health. And that’s okay—I just want to temper any expectations you may have.

      Maybe reach out once a month just to say “Hey, I’m thinking about you. How are you?” Remove the expectation of making plans but still let her know you’re there for her if she needs you and when she’s ready to hang out again. I think this is a case of communicating with boundaries vs. conversation (for now).

    2. Koala dreams*

      I find holidays to be good for when you want to reach out but don’t want to overdo it. Just send a short greeting at the mayor holidays, and don’t worry the rest of the year.
      I think a break might be nice for both of you. I know when I’m depressed I get stressed by having to respond to a lot of messages. It’s a sad part of the illness that it impacts your social life so much, but I haven’t found a solution to that. Sometimes lifes just comes in the way, and you have to accept that.
      I think the sentence about you being so happy to hear from her if she reached out sounds lovely, and I think it would be a nice message for her to get. Then you can let her know that she can text you when she feels up to it.
      Or just go with the holiday greetings. Whatever feels best to you.
      Good luck!

      1. CanadaTag*

        I agree with this (and the comment below from Natalie). You can maintain an open line of communication without having to meet up (and be rejected when you suggest such a thing). I’ve been on both sides of this, and it can be hard for either person. Generally when it comes to reaching out, I’ve learned to just let them know that I’m there for them if they want to talk, that I’m thinking of them, etc. And when I’m hitting a depression whirlpool, I have a hard time responding (like Koala dreams). It’s easier to answer a text or email that says, “Thinking of you, hope you’re feeling better” (even if I’m not feeling better) than one that says, “Hey, thinking of you, wondering if you’d like to get together next week” (or variations thereof).

        (It also helps that my local friend – rather than the friends in other parts of the country or the world – and I understand each other and made an agreement that if we made arrangements to meet and one of us felt rotten/like we wanted to hibernate, we could cancel or reschedule. But in that case, I initiate maybe 25% of the time, rather than only 10% or less, and sometimes if one of us is feeling blah, the other will come over, so there’s no need for the blah!one to go out.)

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is a typical lopsided friendship, some people regularly do not initiate get togethers and depend on others to do so. It’s a personality thing, then coupled with anxiety/depression a lot of people can’t get themselves to be the one who reaches out.

      You have to take care of yourself and your mental health. If it’s exhausting you to stay involved like that, you should make peace with yourself and know that it’s okay to remove yourself as the unofficial designated friend-date maker.

      I have a mother who grew tired of being the only one who visited people, both friends and family. She never really has understood that she can just invite people to her home…so instead she just doesn’t talk to people very much and loses touch after awhile.

      I’ve usually been the one in my friend group to try to put things together. My partner has hermit-like tendencies and will hole himself up and not initiate contact first in a lot of situations. He’s great at responding usually though, even when he’s having a rough time. So it’s a balancing act for most people!

    4. Lissa*

      This is why I’m not a fan of those memes/articles that say things like “if your friend has depression/anxiety, it’s up to you to keep reaching out even when you keep getting rejected” because they don’t acknowledge how hard and hurtful it is to always be the one putting in the effort, and to always end up feeling rejected. There’s a narrative that you should just put up with it because whatever negative feelings aren’t as bad as what she is going through, so you just deal, but I don’t think that’s fair. We all have our own stuff to deal with, and often that stuff involves not feeling great about the one who always reaches out or has friends last-minute cancel.

      I think that if I were you I would take a break from being the one to reach out. If that means essentially your friendship lapses for a bit, that can be OK! There’s no reason you can’t go back to it later. I would send a message every so often when I felt up to it saying something like “Hey, I hope you’re doing better, I’d love to see you when you’re up to it” but NOT be the one to make plans or keep reaching out. Lower expectations on the friendship for her, but also take a step back for you, basically. Friendships wax and wane, it’s OK to say “this is a low tide phase, but I’ll be down for hanging out again when she’s able to take the lead a bit.”

      1. Roberta Plant*

        This is a great point!!! When I am always on the receiving end of a rejection when I initiate plans, I truly do not think, “Oh, s/he must be depressed, I have to keep trying.” I think, oh, they don’t want to see me/they are trying to kindly back off on this relationship without having to say explicitly “hey, not-that-into-you” and if I keep asking and suggesting plant, I am violating their boundaries. I generally back right off — because I figure that is what they want.

    5. Natalie*

      What if you stopped trying to make plans, but did occasionally reach out with just a casual friendship text? (Article she might like, animal pic, whatever.) you’re keeping the lines of communication open without having to open yourself up to the constant canceling and rejecting.

    6. Owler*

      Sometimes hearing that a friend needs support is a helpful thing for someone dealing with depression. It helps you (me) realize the world is not all about you/me. What if you said, “I need to take a break from reaching out to you to deal with my own depression. I hope you understand. Please reach out when you can.”, and see if your friend can pick up the ball?

  23. Allie*

    I just about murdered my cat this week (not really he just got yelled at). I am working on a baby blanket, and he peed on my yarn. I tried my best to save it but nothing worked. The yarn store I got it from helped me figure out the color numbers and reorder (they didn’t have them in stock) but I still sobbed for a good hour. I am due in a couple weeks and now there is no way I will get it done before the baby arrives.

    This has been really stressful (this dips into work a teeny bit but just to explain my headspace). Due to the shutdown my office has been operating on back funds but we are close to running out, right around when I am due to go on maternity leave. I also keep getting extra tests ordered (which always turn out fine). So it takes very little to push me over the stress cliff these days and that darn cat just had to do it.

    1. Be the Change*

      Aww, man. So sorry. That is a complete bummer. Jealous kitty takes revenge. :-(

      I would make you tea and bring cookies if I were there!

      1. tangerineRose*

        That would be so frustrating! If it helps, cats tend to pee in inappropriate places when they feel insecure – he may have been trying to mingle his scent with yours.

    2. chi chan*

      Sorry about the cat peeing on the yarn. Did he pee on the ball or the knitted part? If it is the knitted part you could tape the needle end to keep stitches safe and handwash it in the sink. If it is the yarn ball it’s more tricky, but unwind a layer about an inch off the ball and wash it in the sink too. Best wishes for you and the baby.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve known people to handwash yarn–maybe try an enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Miracle?

          1. Allie*

            My attempts to wash the yarn kinda didn’t go well at all and I may have wrecked it but my more gentle attempt did nothing for the smell, hence ordering more. I admit I wasn’t super calm and probably went too fast. It would have been WAY easier if he’d peed on the in-progress blanket.

          2. Minocho*

            I’ve had good luck with washing in ammonia to get out the smell (which seems really counter intuitive!)

    3. Nita*

      Oh no! Maybe you can change the design a bit to work around that. And babies nap a lot in the first weeks, so you may well have time to finish the blanket before baby needs it!

    4. New Year, New Me*

      That cat would definitely be a dead cat in my house. I’ve never had a pet pee on a project before but I have had little bites taken out of them and that alone drives me nuts.

    5. Lost but not alone*

      Try soaking the yarn in vinegar for a bit, then rinsing it in cold water. I’ve gotten cat urine out of several pieces of clothing that way. Congrats on the baby and I hope that good things come your way in the rest of your life!

    6. Not a cat*

      I’ve had cats and dogs destroy Very Important Things and I have cried and yelled. I now try to comfort myself with, ” there is a price to pay for all the cat/dog love, devotion and warm fuzziness and this is it.” It helps after an hour or so :)

  24. Bluewall*

    Wondering about site guidelines and posting links. I recall months ago Alison commented that the link in name wasn’t for article linking, but for link backs to personal blog, etc. it looks like article linking in band is becoming super popular right now. Alison, is that your preference or is it too much to keep on top of?

    1. valentine*

      It’s not allowed because it bypasses moderation. Most people will put the link in a separate comment so only the link’s delayed.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve never seen Alison say we can’t link articles or other things in the username, I see it happen frequently especially during free-for-all posts, since she doesn’t monitor them as much it seems given how fast they go.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I prefer people not do it, since the whole point of links going through moderation is so that I can make sure they’re not spam. If people keep doing it, I’m going to need to get rid of that field.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        This is a pet peeve of mine (on your behalf). It just baffles me that folks so cavalierly ignore this rule, whenever its convenient for them. (And I’d argue that even if they’ve never had the rule explained the fact that they’re using a workaround demonstrates that they k ow they’re, well, working around the system you have in place for a reason.)

    4. Harvey P. Carr*

      I’ve never seen it done except for a handful of Alison’s posts, so I’m presuming it’s frowned upon, but what the heck, I’ll ask anyway. Is it okay to include images in our posts?

  25. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

    Cat update! I asked last week for advice in helping two cats, Calvin & Hobbes, get over their tiff after Calvin spent the night at the vet and Hobbes refused to accept him back. Thank you all for encouraging me and telling me they’d get over their deal. They’re buddies again, and my house is back to normal (cats alternately tearing through the halls or curling up together). Kitty drama is ended. :)

      1. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

        They embody their names! Calvin is short and cunning & Hobbes is lanky and free-spirited. I can just imagine the comic strip where Calvin goes off to camp (the vet) without Hobbes & Hobbes holds a grudge. :)

    1. Marion Ravenwood*

      Yay for kitty friends again! (Also, your description of the house being back to normal sounds exactly like life with my Thor and Loki :) )

  26. Anona*

    I’m the mom of a 4.5 month old. My maternity leave is ending, and I go back to work this week. Any words if encouragement? Or good strategies? Complicating things is that I have a 45 minute commute, so 8-5 is really 7-6 (or 6-5 if I can get up early enough), with daycare dropoff.

    1. Nita*

      It’s hard… hang in there! For what it’s worth, in my experience that’s a good time to go back to work. I went back to the office at 4.5 months when my oldest was born, and 7 months with the second kid. The transition was, surprisingly, much easier at 4.5 months.

    2. New Bee*

      1) If you’re feeling sad about leaving the baby, know that it gets easier, especially since they usually don’t have separation anxiety at this age. 2) If you have other moms (colleagues or friends) to confide in, it helps to seek out ones who feel similarly to you–I know I don’t ever want to be a SAHM, and it can be less-than helpful when people assume you are secretly crushed inside from being away from your baby. 3) If you’re pumping, block it out on your calendar. Good luck! :-)

    3. Call me St. Vincent*

      It’s okay to cry and to feel sad the first day/week. Call daycare as many times as you need to check in. Know that it’s harder for you than for baby and that baby will enjoy the stimulation of a new environment and the other babies. Hang in there!

    4. Lucy*

      Equally, it’s ok to feel ok about it. I’m good at compartmentalising so when I was in the office I just got my work head on and didn’t think about baby until it was time to leave. Then when I got home I didn’t think about work, and so on.

      The hardest part was that baby was still nursing *a lot* so in the first couple of weeks I needed to express for comfort (which was horrible) and we learned what Reverse Cycling is (spoiler: even less sleep for mama). But once my supply settled I dropped the expressing.

      Best of luck. That first full hot drink is a revelation

    5. Namey McNameface*

      Expect and accept that your kid will be ill frequently. If s/he doesn’t fall ill often, that’s a bonus, but otherwise assume it will happen. My daughter was constantly sick for a year because of daycare germs. She would get one thing then catch something else before she recovered from the first bout of illness. I just about camped out in front of the medical centre. On the plus side, she is school age now and hardly ever gets sick. I think all the sickness she had as a baby/toddler must have given her mutant ninja power immunity.

  27. Adult son diagnosed with autism*

    This week my 21-year-old foster son was diagnosed with autism. He’s been our son for 8 years, and it’s been a very difficult time, during which I have been desperately seeking answers for his difficulties in school and inability to make friends. I was the one who suspected autism and it took me nearly three years to have it confirmed. This weekend we’ll tell him the diagnosis. In my state it means he’ll have access to lifelong resources that finally may have a chance of helping him learn to socialize enough to make friends, be able to work, and hopefully live semi independently.

    Does anyone, particularly people with ASD, have any resources for helping him understand what this diagnosis means, or helping me explain? My son is of average intelligence but struggles with understanding complex conversation, does very badly with metaphors/inference, never reads for pleasure, and has always worried about being perceived as not normal. He has participated in the assessment without really understanding what is going on or what autism is, although we have been explaining in simple terms along the way. This is pretty typical, not just because it’s been about autism.

    The resources I’m finding assume your child is young, or likes to read. My son’s only interests are EDM and hip hop music, and video games. He has extremely low self initiative. Any suggestions much appreciated.

    1. Intel Analyst Shell*

      See if there is a local autism support group in/near your town. I know the one local to me offers weekly meetings for both parents and kids/teens/adults with autism. They also coordinate a lot of great events that are aimed directly towards those with autism, like there is always a quiet room or space available when everything gets too much, they have volunteers on hand to help the parents, etc. They also have counselors and specialists available.

    2. anon with no name because I can't think of one to stick with.....*

      Whatever you do please avoid Autism Speaks… please. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a much better more inclusive option for your son to find his own answers to questions.

      1. valentine*

        My son is of average intelligence
        No. He’s been tested by neurotypical standards. I hope you can connect him to other autistics and learn to see him as part of a spectrum and not different in a negative way or x degrees of variance from what you expect or consider standard.

        1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

          valentine, I’m so sorry I came across as seeing him in a negative way. I mentioned his intelligence as a positive (there’s nothing wrong with average intelligence), but clearly it didn’t sound like it. When I talk about what he struggles with, it’s very common for people, whether they’re clinicians or other parents, etc., to ask about his intelligence level so they can make useful recommendations. I always explain he’s of average intelligence—if he’s having trouble understanding something I say, it’s not because he’s not intelligent, it’s because he has trouble understanding spoken language, or doesn’t follow metaphors, etc. It’s not that he’s not intelligent.

          A big part of why I sought this diagnosis is that I felt like he was “different” (not a bad word, as a person with ADHD I am also different) rather than lazy, stupid, unwilling to try, etc. Unless he goes out with family, he’s spending 23 hours/day in his small room playing video games. He has no friends. He failed all his college classes, and has struggled to get anywhere with our Dept of Rehabilitation job training program. So there’s a lot of judgement or assumptions from others, “Just make him do it,” “a kid his age should be working,” “just kick him out of the house and he’ll deal,” etc. that I’ve been fighting against.

          I hope now that he’s been diagnosed with autism, he can connect with others on the spectrum and live his life in a way that he enjoys and in which he’s not fully dependent on others and not completely socially isolated.

          1. Pam*

            If college is something he wants to do, the diagnosis will make it easier for him to get necessary support- most campuses in the U.S. have disability support services, and the majority of users are those with non-physical disabilities.

            1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

              Unfortunately he failed every class at the state college he attended for one year, even though it was the one in our state that had the best support for foster youth. Then he moved back home and took community college classes for 3 semesters, just two classes, and failed every one. He is extremely passive and shows almost no initiative (I say this objectively, not judging), and doesn’t share his feelings much at all, so it’s hard to know if he still wants to try college. I think he’s going to need occupational therapy, socialization classes, etc. to get ready for any next steps. He’s got a complicated situation, coming from a neglectful and abusive home, having PTSD, having massive anxiety, in addition to having autism. So, many layers. At least now he can start getting help that doesn’t rely on the idea that he’s just highly anxious, because that angle got him nowhere.

        2. LGC*

          To be honest, I think you’re being overly harsh on the OP.

          For what it’s worth, autistic spectrum disorders can be paired with intellectual disabilities (okay, by neurotypical standards if you must). I’ll agree that the OP didn’t use perfect language, but I don’t think they meant harm by it.

          1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

            Ah, yes, I may not have been clear also that I don’t see autism and intelligence as being linked.

            I’d be happy to get guidance on how I should have framed that. As I said, it’s something I get asked a lot when seeking resources. I want to be respectful, and beyond that, I want to understand.

            1. LGC*

              I meant to reply earlier, but here goes: I didn’t see a problem with that phrase the way you used it. (In fact, I actually mirrored it!) I’m not going to go over the issues with intelligence testing, but it was obvious to me what you meant.

              But…I’ll be honest, one thing I picked up on in your original post was that it seemed like you were “talking down” a bit to him – specifically, when you said you were explaining his diagnosis in simple terms. I think that’s a really common assumption – that because someone is on the spectrum they need things explained simply. And I don’t think that’s always the case.

              Another related point (which didn’t come up in your post, but I feel like I should mention it) is the divide between “high functioning” and “low functioning” autism. Basically, it’s the assumption that if your symptoms are more obvious (like, let’s say you have a limited ability to speak verbally), you’re less capable in general. Daily function was (and is) part of the diagnostic criteria – ASD I needing the least support and ASD III needing the most, under DSM-V – but that doesn’t mean more visibly affected people are more impaired overall.

              I’ll also say that this is my personal opinion (obviously). So I’m pretty sure others will disagree or think I didn’t go far enough!

              1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

                Thanks so much for your reply, LGC! I can see that issues like this are really complicated to talk about in a forum like this, so this is good practice for me and I really appreciate you taking the time. I for sure know that having autism doesn’t mean someone needs to have things explained simply but my post didn’t make that clear. I’m sorry. It’s more that my son specifically seems to need to have things explained simply. No metaphors, keep things short, ask if he has questions, then stop. His previous assessments indicate he has problems processing what people are saying, although it was hard to know if it’s because he has PTSD and huge anxiety or because he has a processing disorder of some kind.

                So I’m sure I sound like I’m talking down to him. I FEEL like I’m talking down to him, which I hate. Or I feel super brusque. I hope that as he starts receiving services we can get more insight and do better.

                Thank you for more detail about high/low functioning. I was seeing posts about that on Reddit and I was like, I have to eliminate that language from my vocabulary. I can see why it’s offensive and inaccurate. My son’s symptoms are very subtle, hence his diagnosis was missed for so long, but day to day, he’s not doing well and we’re concerned about his ability to live independently. He admitted that when he was away at college, he would wait until he was really, really hungry before he’d buy any food. I hadn’t heard that until this recent assessment and it was like, yikes! Here at home if there’s no milk in the fridge, he will just not eat breakfast, even though there’s a store about 300 feet away, per google maps.

                Thank you for helping me keep learning!

                1. Close Bracket*

                  >Here at home if there’s no milk in the fridge, he will just not eat breakfast, even though there’s a store about 300 feet away

                  This might be something that occupational therapy can help with. Now that he has a diagnosis, he might qualify for aid for this kind of support.

                  I’m sorry that someone was harsh to you over your assessment of his intelligence. It really sounds like they read something in that you did not intend. I actually find their objection amusing. I’m on the spectrum, and I’m of above average intelligence—by neurotypical standards. I wonder if they would have the same objection to my intellectual levels. Perhaps I would actually be stupider once my ASD was taken into account!

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Resources for parent of young adult with ASD – Jan. 12, 2019 post to AAM weekend open thread

      Parent of young adult on the autism spectrum here. Welcome to the community and congratulations on your determination in getting to this point. May things get easier and your family enjoy some good times to offset the difficulties.

      >In my state it means he’ll have access to lifelong resources that finally may have a chance of helping him learn to socialize enough to make friends, be able to work, and hopefully live semi independently.
      This is great news! Milk your local contacts as much as possible to find additional information, connections, resources, etc.

      Here are some ideas, listed as they occurred to me rather than in any order of significance. If something doesn’t work for you, look elsewhere. Keep on being hopeful and take care of yourself along the way. See book reference below.

      Hop online to look for local communities of folks likely to be in similar situations. I would try searching for groups of:
      – parents of adults with autism
      – parents of children/adults/adult children with special needs
      – parents of people who live in group homes
      – psychologists, social workers, or other therapists who work with ASD young adults and their families – some facilitate social skills groups

      You might also check for student disability support services in your local community college. Unlike K-12 schools, higher education organizations require the student to self-advocate. Legally, parents have no right to participate unless their child gives written permission. However, people I know (our young adults, both with ASD, are friends and fellow students) said that they were welcomed when they accompanied their child to an initial meeting with the disability support office. Be confident and courteous. If your child is on board with this, it doesn’t hurt to try.

      Maybe I should have said this first: also look online for local chapters of national organizations. On the guesstimate that you’re in the U.S. I did a quick online search to find the “nationals” of groups I’ve encountered locally:
      – the Arc “for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities” (https://www.thearc.org/ and https://www.thearc.org/find-a-chapter)
      – Autism Society of America (http://www.autism-society.org/about-the-autism-society/affiliate-network/)
      – your local office of disability services, which in some places might be co-housed with a department of aging
      – Partnership for Extraordinary Minds (www.xminds.org) has a local focus (Maryland close to Washington, DC) but sections of its website may be helpful regardless of your location—as long as you’re in the U.S. Click on Resources, then click on Transitions, then click on “Support Programs for College Students on the Autism Spectrum” to visit another site (http://collegeautismspectrum.com/collegeprograms/) that lists “2-year, 4-year & secondary support programs.”

      Books: There are gazillions about life with autism, life with Asperger’s (the term disappeared from the latest psychiatric diagnostic manual, but I keep using it because it’s widely understood in the general community), and parenting kids of all ages on the autism spectrum.

      I’m currently browsing: The Loving Push: How parents and professionals can help spectrum kids become successful adults by Temple Grandin, Ph.D. and Debra Moore, Ph.D.
      The front cover says, “Chapters cover compulsive gaming, how to break bad habits, teaching vital life skills, and much more.” Published in 2015.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Grinning immodestly with delight at being helpful (although the first line was a note to myself & not really intended to be posted). Now when I start to think, “There’s no time to do everything before returning to That Activity Which We Do Not Discuss Here” [because thank the gods I am not a furloughed fed or contractor] I can counteract the panic with, “House chores can wait–at least I helped a fellow/sister AAM reader this weekend!”

          1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

            Aw, thanks!!!! As an ADHDer, I know too well the allure of posting…just a bit…and then a lot. When I provide resources, I provide a lot also! Different for me to be on this end of it.

      1. Not a cat*

        Hi Jean,
        Just wanted to say how kind you are to give everyone all these resources.
        Thank you Thank you Thank you

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      My very long reply (larded with links) seems to have gone into moderation. I’ll check back here in a couple of hours. Most important parts repeated here:

      Welcome to the community and congratulations on your determination in getting to this point. May things get easier for your son and all of you and may your family enjoy some good times to offset the difficulties.

      I’m currently browsing: The Loving Push: How parents and professionals can help spectrum kids become successful adults by Temple Grandin, Ph.D. and Debra Moore, Ph.D. The front cover says, “Chapters cover compulsive gaming, how to break bad habits, teaching vital life skills, and much more.” Despite this self-helpy/overnight miracle vibe it’s written with compassion and understanding. (Temple Grandin is well known in the autism community. She was blessed with a strong-minded mom who refused to deny her daughter’s potential to become herself.) Published in 2015.

      P.S. Thanks to Anon with no name… for mentioning ASAN. I couldn’t think of its name!

      1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

        The Loving Push sounds like a great recommendation, Jean! Thank you. And yes to you and Anon with no name… on ASAN. And I have heard about Autism Speaks and know that it’s problematic. So far what I’ve found most helpful has been Reddit threads where adults with autism are talking about their experiences. I thought I was already in a place of accepting my son as he is while balancing that against the need for him to become an independent adult, but hearing directly from people about their life experience helped me go into a deeper place with that acceptance and understanding. It will be a long journey, I know, but that helped a bit.

    5. Sleepwakehopeandthen*

      I have ASD and although I think I am very different than your son (I really really love to read, for one, which is how I approached most of my solutions), the thing I found most useful about this diagnosis was talking to other autistic people and learning how they approached life. I did this largely online, but in person would also be helpful. I agree with the recommendation for ASAN.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Nothing specific to offer here (neurotypical non-parent, so I’ve got nothing) but an idea that I recently learned about: an org in my region is starting the first-ever (for our region) mentoring program matching autistic adults with autistic teenagers. I was gobsmacked to hear that it hadn’t been done before and so pleased that it was happening. Maybe theres something like that that you could connect your son to?

      1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

        Oh that’s such a great idea. Even in the small research I’ve done so far for resources and perspectives, I’m shocked at how little information is available from people with autism themselves, relative to the advice to or stories from parents of younger children with autism. Having a person with autism mentor younger people sounds absolutely wonderful. Duly noted!

    7. LGC*

      So, to start off: I’m an adult with ASD. My experience is only my own, and it was actually really different from your son’s (I was originally diagnosed with PDD-NOS – to date myself, part of that is because my diagnosis was when I was a young child and before Asperger’s was defined separately in DSM-IV). A lot of what I’ve learned has been through therapy because it was the 90’s and my parents never explained exactly why I was in the special classes. (There are online resources as well, which I can try to track down.)

      But…so, for starters, he’s 21 and he’s of normal intelligence. I’d just explain autism the same way that it’s been explained to you. With one difference – be literal about it. A really common thing with people on the spectrum is that they take everything literally, and it sounds like your son is like that. So I guess the way I’d explain it is…”We noticed you had problems in school and making friends, and we think you might have ASD. The big thing with autism is having deficits in social skills, like not being able to understand a lot of jokes or metaphors, or being hyper-focused on narrow interests. There’s other things that go along with this as well.” In this way, you posted to possibly the best site – a lot of Alison’s advice boils down to being direct and literal in your communication (while not being hostile), and that’s exactly what you need to do here.

      And part of why I say that is…your son already knows there’s something up! It sounds like he’s self-aware enough that he understands that he’s different from other people. That’s not a part of autism per se – that’s living in a world where he’s different and he’s aware of it, but he can’t put his finger on why. (I know from experience.) I don’t think you need to explain it in simple terms (nor should you because eventually he’s the one that has to live with this).

      As for progress going forward: honestly, I’ll be real, I have my own quirks. I’m not the stereotypical train chaser (although I have known a couple in my life), but I’ll fall down wormholes myself. Heck, you can probably see it on AAM – I’m really passionate about distance running right now, and if I didn’t check myself I would drone on all day about it. But…I don’t think it’s a problem that he has really narrow interests per se. (It’s A Thing with autism – actually, if I remember correctly, it’s part of the diagnostic criteria.) The problem comes up when he’s not able to engage others in an appropriate way – which is something I have to be conscious of myself, and something a lot of my friends just aren’t able to do. (I can remember one time one of my friends said he had problems talking to people who didn’t share his interests, and I responded, “Um…ask them about their interests?” He looked at me like I’d told him to just start speaking in a completely different language.)

      To use a metaphor (which…is ironic of me, I know): I’m really good at math. (I mean, really good.) The way I’ve described my experience is that for me, math is like I imagine conversation is for neurotypical people, and conversation for me is like math for everyone else. But it’s true – while I generally do okay in social interactions, I’m constantly actively thinking about how to interact. A lot of the time, it does feel like solving calculus equations, except in this case the “equation” is having a conversation with Tangerina about her cats.

      Finally, for resources – I’d just search “[ASD/autism/Asperger’s] adult” and see what comes up. You’re right in that a lot of the resources are focused on early childhood, but there are adult resources out there. And there are social support groups – I attend one weekly myself.

      1. LGC*

        And I also forgot to mention – Anon with no name brings up an extremely good point about Autism Speaks vs. ASAN. Autism Speaks is…very controversial because of the way they’re structured (I’m really oversimplifying, but they tend to make autism seem like this really tragic thing, and they also didn’t really include people on the spectrum in their governing structure for a very long time).

        I hope it doesn’t need to be said, but people on the spectrum can be pretty capable! I think it’s a really common assumption that if you have an ASD, you’re just unable to interact in polite society, which is (quite frankly) offensive. (Not that you’re assuming that, OP! It doesn’t seem like you are at all – it’s just a really common thing.)

        1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

          Yes, on Autism Speaks, even before I formed the idea that my son might have autism, I heard about the issues with them. And in case I forget which organization it is, the irony of it being called Autism Speaks when it wasn’t putting forth the voices and perspective of people with autism has always stuck with me!

          I appreciate everyone mentioning it though because I was meeting with a mom yesterday and she recommended some resources from them and I said yeah, but they’re really problematic aren’t they? And she looked so annoyed. I’m sticking to my guns on this. :)

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        > for me, math is like I imagine conversation is for neurotypical people, and conversation for me is like math for everyone else…
        LGC, This seems to me a really helpful way description.

        1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

          Yes, that analogy makes so much sense to me (as someone with poor math skills). I also have been extrapolating a lot from my late diagnosis ADHD. I knew something wasn’t right, it was taking so much effort to keep up with people in certain areas of functioning, despite being a very competent and driven person.

      3. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

        Hi LGC! Thank you very much for all the advice. I agree we need to roll it out very literally. It might sound silly but one way in which I’ve struggled to frame this usefully for him is that he’s so reserved and hides his issues from others, so it’s harder to have a clear list of symptoms I can point out. He doesn’t have obvious repetitive behaviors, doesn’t talk about just his favorite topics, etc., which is why previous therapists and clinicians kept overlooking autism.

        And I totally hear you on the idea that he knows something’s up and that he’s different. As a late-diagnosed ADHDer, YES! For me it was a huge relief to know why I was different. I hope he can make that connection for himself too. When I have pointed out some things that might be problematic for him to explain why we’re doing an assessment, he’ll act like that’s not a thing, I think out of pride. Nope, he’s not failing his classes, he says! Nothing to see here! When he’s had previous assessments that identified some learning issues, he never used any of that information to make changes in his own behavior. We left a great reading assessment meeting with some very helpful ideas (and I’ve heard a lot of unhelpful ones) and I asked him in the car if he thought he’d use any. He thought for a moment and said, “No, probably not.” Not indicting him for it, just saying he’s a tough nut to crack!

        1. LGC*

          I’m glad I could help! Autism (and I’m just using that term as shorthand) can be…pretty odd, in that not everyone has all the stereotypical symptoms. I’m absolutely horrible with eye contact (to the point employees have called me out on it!), and I literally have to force myself to do it anywhere near properly, for example. But I don’t have “stimming” issues (that’s the repetitive motions). One of my friends is the opposite – she stims when she gets excited, but her general body language is much better!

          At any rate…I don’t know whether it’s so much pride that’s preventing him from acknowledging his issues. I think a huge part is that…a lot of this is asking to change who he is as a person. And although he’s struggled in his life, that’s a huge ask for anyone. In a lot of ways, you kind of have to meet in the middle (or as close as possible).

          As for why he hides issues: If I had to put money on it, I’d say part of the reason he hides issues is because he doesn’t feel safe in revealing them. (I mean, that’s why I do it. It’s a habit I’m trying to break.) I think this might especially be the case since he’s your foster son, so he probably didn’t have a stable home life before he came to you.

          I’m wishing you and your son the best of luck!

          (And finally, one more thing: Autism can be “co-morbid” with some mental health issues – and one of the big ones is depression. Again, I’m not a doctor, just an Aspie on the internet, but throwing that out there.)

          1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

            I was just replying above and wanted to answer this too! I’m only now realizing the huge range of ways that autism can manifest. As an ADHDer, I think we have less of a range. My son was partly missed because he could make eye contact and chuckle at a bad joke, etc. and people would dismiss our concerns based on these really trivial things.

            You may be right that he hides issues because he doesn’t feel safe. He has been through SO MUCH. That’s another reason his diagnosis was missed—everything he did was always chalked up to PTSD.

            I guess I’m hoping that some of the behaviors we’ve struggled with will turn out to be autism-related so as to open up other avenues, approaches, services, etc., because we are really out of other ideas and his current situation is not good. Realistically there are limits to how much this will be the case and I have to get a grip. It’s been a very hard 8 years.

            I wish you the best on dealing with eye contact. I think I’d find it kind of a relief to have a boss who doesn’t want to make eye contact. I have spent waaaaay too much time staring into the eyes of my current boss, who just wants to hold you in this extended visual lock. Gah! I’ve got my own social awkwardness and have spent much of my career working remotely. This in-person thing can be stressful! I wish she’d look elsewhere and give me a break!

            Thanks again and take care!

        2. Close Bracket*

          I want to wordsmith a little bit of LGC’s phrasing:

          The big thing with autism is having deficits in social skills, like not being able to understand a lot of jokes or metaphors, or being hyper-focused on narrow interests.

          I find that wording to frame autism somewhat negatively (“deficits,” “narrow”). For more neutral wording, I suggest:

          Some things with autism are socializing differently than most people and taking things very literally, like not getting a lot of jokes or metaphors, and being hyper-focused and really into the details of your interests.

      4. Bulbasaur*

        Re: your second-to-last paragraph, this is consistent with my experience. I have a young son who is on the spectrum. He is a normal kid in the sense that there are things that come naturally to him and things he has to work hard to learn, but the things that fall into each of those categories are different than they would be for a child not on the spectrum. This presents challenges in a school environment, for example, because half of the things that he is being taught are things that he would have figured out on his own anyway (or has already, in some cases) while half of the things that he genuinely does need to learn are the kind of things that you are just expected to know without being taught. That leaves us (the parents) with more than the usual slack to pick up, although finding a school that understands ASD and has some capacity to adapt is a big help.

        I think of him as ‘differently normal.’ If 90% of people in the world were like him, then people like me are the ones who would struggle. I’ve seen some amusing imagined report cards for non-ASD kids at an ASD school: ‘Invents detailed social rituals and expects others to follow them without explanation.’ ‘Needs effort and repetition to retain all but the most basic analytical concepts.’ And so on.

        1. Close Bracket*

          You forgot, “insufficient attention to detail.” :) The guy who wrote Neurotribes has a TED talk where he says essentially those things.

    8. Mrs. Fenris*

      My son is very high functioning ASD. He was diagnosed at age 6 and it was a tentative diagnosis before that. We’ve always been upfront with him about it, but apparently he didn’t really take it in, because suddenly at age 13 he wanted to know why he got these special services at school like the special ed kids. I had to explain the whole thing from the ground up. I was low key about it. I said it wasn’t really a disorder, just a variation in how one’s brain is wired, where the circuits all loop back toward each other more than in a typical brain, and it makes it harder to understand other people and to process sensory input. We had to flesh that out more in the next few weeks. He eventually got it. He never did really love having an IEP but he was ok with it. I was incredibly worried for a long time because he didn’t really have much drive to do anything. He probably could have managed college, but he didn’t want to go. He’s getting a trades education now. He’s a pipe fitter. He’s having fun and will probably always be able to find a job. His work ethic is actually really good, as it turns out. Would you be able to interest your son in any kind of trade/technical work? It’s not hard to get into those programs.

      1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

        Really useful perspective, Mrs. Ferris. Our sons definitely have some traits in common. Mine also doesn’t always take things in right away. Some topics, like money, we have to talk about over and over. Or like why we were doing autism assessments! When we were leaving our final assessment meeting, I referenced the previous one we’d attended, which had been 2.5 hours, and he was like, what meeting. It had only been a few weeks, and we’d talked about it before the meeting, at the meeting, after the meeting…Now that I think about it I bet we’ll have multiple conversations even after we talk this weekend about his diagnosis where we have to explain it again.

        My son also doesn’t have much drive. I’m not sure if he WANTS to work because he doesn’t say if he does, but work, like most things, involves social interaction and he retreats. He went pretty far in the Dept of Rehab job assessment process, even doing work at multiple locations under 1:1 supervision as part of the assessment, and then didn’t pursue it. When the ball is in his court, he doesn’t respond. I don’t know how well he’d do at a trade/technical job. I’m sure open to it if he wants to!

    9. Natalie*

      Even though he doesn’t like to read, I wonder if he would enjoy memoirs by autistic adults. Audiobooks of course are an option if he prefers listening. I enjoyed Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robeson (Augusten Burroughs’ older brother), and I have to assume there are many others.

      1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

        I’d be surprised if he would do audiobooks but you never know! I appreciate the tip—if he’s not interested, I am. :)

    10. CanadaTag*

      Check out the #ActuallyAutistic and the #AskingAutistics tag on Twitter (the first is just for autistics, but there are lots of conversations around it, including a number of conversations around being diagnosed as an adult; the second one is for anyone who has questions).

      Check out blogs (Neurodivergent Rebel’s, Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, mine, a bunch of others that we list – some links in a follow-up comment). There are a number of blogs out there by autistic adults.

      As you appear to be in the US, I definitely recommend checking out the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN). It has a number of good resources.

      Lacking much energy at the moment, but those are a good starting point!

  28. End of my rope*

    Any recommendations for online support groups, books, articles, etc for parenting a teen and young adult with severe anxiety and depression? I really wish I could do therapy for myself but therapy for the kids is maxing us out (2 kids in weekly therapy X $100+ per session. Thank god we paid off the mortgage a couple years ago because we pay nearly that much in therapy bills every month now. Plus we’re helping two of the kids in college right now)
    I’m just so over trying to talk about it with friends who don’t get it. My 25 yo son doesn’t live with us, so how EXACTLY do you think I should “just make him take his meds and sleep better and exercise”??? Sure, I could go over there and tuck him in every night and go back in the morning, make him get up for work and watch him take his pills, but he’s an adult and the goal is not for me to be codependent and raise him like a toddler. Right now we’re paying for his therapy, which he seems to be willing and working on, but otherwise we are drawing boundaries left and right and maintaining them can be a lot of work.
    It’s somewhat easier with the teen at home, but still a lot of mental load/emotional work to parent and push towards learning coping skills v just being a fixer.
    I’ve found one group locally through NAMI but it’s during my core work hours when I am with clients and they don’t know of any other groups.

    1. valentine*

      a lot of mental load/emotional work to parent and push towards learning coping skills
      Are you meant to do this? It seems contradictory because your kid would resist, versus trying stuff their therapist suggested. Is the therapist not advising you on how to help? What if you hang back and let them figure it out and see how it plays?

      1. End of my rope*

        I don’t have any contact with the therapist for my older child beyond paying the bills. For my teen, I do. So I try to apply suggestions from my teen’s therapist if it seems to apply. And this does mean that when my adult son calls in a panic and wants to be rescued, I do push towards coping skills rather than rescuing him.
        You asked if I was meant to do this. I don’t meddle for the sake of meddling. I rarely initiate any help at all with my adult child. More often with my teen. But my kids (both of the two in therapy) do come to me in a panic or asking for things. If my older son comes to me telling me he can’t seem to get his medicine refilled, I’m not going to just say “good luck with that” but I also am not going to run to the pharmacy for him. I am going to send him a link to where he can sign up for auto refills. Again, pushing him towards self sufficiency.
        Teen calls me from the bathroom at work sobbing because her supervisor gave her feedback, I’m not going to say suck it up, but I am going to say “remember that deep breathing Tanya taught you? This is a good time to do that. Get yourself calmed down, put some cold water on your face and go back to work.” And maybe talk about taking feedback when it’s not a moment of crisis.

        1. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

          I feel you, having parented my (just diagnosed) son who has autism but also absolutely huge anxiety. It is a weight, as a parent, to cope with someone else’s mental health issues. I also have an ex-husband whose anxiety become agoraphobia while we were married and who also had bipolar II, and my father had depression and huge anxiety that also led to agoraphobia. If you haven’t been a caregiver for someone under these circumstances, you don’t know what it’s like.

    2. chi chan*

      Moodgym is a cheap online CBT tool for anxiety and depression. And what sort of books do you like? I found Cheryl Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things very helpful. It is a compilation of letters to an advice column and loving advice.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Phooey to the friends who don’t get it. People can be amazingly unaware about life’s complexities.

      Try looking for groups for parents of young adults with mental illness? Or see if there are any local groups that advocate for people secondarily affected by mental health/behavioral health issues (meaning, not folks directly involved, but their families)? I’m thinking about the Maryland Coalition for Families (totally state-based, but maybe they know of similar organizations elsewhere); – the Arc “for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and/or your local office of disability services or mental health services. In some places this might be co-housed with a department of aging. You also might try asking at the reference desk of any public library. Sometimes one thing leads to another: a website or a book has a resources section, etc.

      If possible (if you don’t want to bump into clueless acquaintances) go to a less-than-local library. Good wishes to you. If it’s any comfort, you are definitely not alone.

    4. Adult son diagnosd with autism*

      I know NAMI wasn’t at a time that works for you, but I’d keep trying to pursue it. I did their family to family support group series when married to my now ex-husband who had bipolar II and extreme anxiety and eventual agoraphobia. It was an incredible series. I learned so much. Most people had mentally ill children, typically teens and older, rather than spouses, I’m sure because marriages break up over severe mental illness, as mine did.

      I realize you may be in a more rural/underresourced area than I was when I attended NAMI sessions, but I actually did them in a nearby county because I also had very limited availability. Next county over had a series on Monday nights, which was the only weeknight that my daughter was with her father, so I could go.

      NAMI is worth some effort, especially since it’s not a forever commitment. I don’t say that lightly. The quality of the program was absolutely wonderful, and it was free. They used a national NAMI curriculum that was excellent so I feel like I can stand by the claim that your local group would also do a good job.

      Do you have nearby counties you can check? If not, can you possibly make an arrangement to not see clients during those hours, one day per week, for a limited number of weeks? Again, I know what that means! And you’re already under so much stress! Their national number is (800) 950-NAMI. I really feel for you, and wish I could do more.

  29. Foreign Octopus*

    If Elizabeth West is around, I have a question for her!

    I know that you’re writing a series of books (have written?) and I just wanted to ask how you go from the first to the second. I’ve finished the first of the series but I’m having awful trouble making the transition to the second. It picks up immediately where number one left off but I’m just not feeling it and it’s all going horribly wrong. Do you have any tips on how to continuing writing a series?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Oh lordy.
      Here’s the thing–I DON’T KNOW LOL.

      The first book was a standalone, or so I thought–I never intended to write a series. It’s not episodic, either; the first one sets up the second, and the second will lead directly into the third. It’s more like the Star Wars trilogy than a TV series where each episode is a story in itself with continuing characters (that’s the best analogy I can think of). The idea came from something I included in the first one without noticing and only picked up once I started editing. And yes, I’ve had to go back and revise the first one (in small ways) to tie it in. If it were already published, it would be a lot harder.

      You might go back and re-read your first book, especially if you haven’t looked at it in a while, and look for things that can carry forward. When I finally got around to writing Book 2, it really helped to get back into my character’s head / situation and look at it as Book 1 and not just Book. My brain was better able to project Chris (Book 1 protag) into the next book because I reconnected with him, so to speak.

      And maybe your sequel needs to start later. Book 2 picks up several months after Tunerville ends. I even skipped over a proposal–it just starts with two people already engaged. If you’re bogged down in the beginning, see if you’re writing stuff just to get to other stuff and if so, you can probably skip over it.

      Also, outline the shit out of that thing. I’ve got notes going all the way through Book 3, even though I haven’t done an outline for that one yet. I keep a concordance not only for Tunerville‘s world (there are a couple of dimensions) but for Book 2/3’s as well. Write yourself a wiki. This will help you even if your series is set in the real world–I made one for the city where Chris lives as well as the other places. So I know where stuff is and I can refer back to it if I forget where I put something.

      That’s the best I can do–this is all new to me too. Maybe someone else with series/trilogy experience can weigh in?

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it!

        I think your advice about maybe starting later is a good one. There’s an opening scene that I’ve written that I love and really want to keep as the opener but maybe I just need to do away with it so I can jump straight into something else some time later. I know I shouldn’t be precious about my scenes like that but I am oddly proud but I suppose, hopefully, I can get it in elsewhere.

        I have outlined the second one (I LOVE outlines, they’re so helpful! I think of them as my pre-first draft) so I know where I’m going and what, more or less, I’m doing but it generally shifts a little bit as I write and my characters start making decisions I didn’t anticipate.

        And, on a side note, I really enjoy the updates you post about your writing progress. I think it’s interesting and actually very motivating for me to see you go through it.

        Good luck with the editing and thanks so much!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          You’re welcome! Kill your darlings, LOL. If you have to cut it, save it. I save all my cuts in case I can use them later or rewrite them for something else.

          I have the same thing with outlines–I just think of them as a guideline. The only time a shift bothers me is when I seem to be toning down something intense, but I can always fix that in revision. I figure I’m going to rewrite a lot of stuff anyway. John Scalzi said on Twitter that he mostly writes clean copy now (that must be nice :P), but he’s been doing it for many years.

        2. CanadaTag*

          To throw my two cents in here – on the other hand, you could use your opener scene as a prologue, and then do the jump for chapter one. I find that sometimes helps – especially if there’s info in the opening scene that would be difficult to get in another way, or if you want to smooth out the transition between Book 1 and Book 2.

    2. Lilysparrow*

      Just jumping in, now that I’m starting #3, in case it’s any help.

      For me, it’s important to respect each book as an entity in its own right, beyond its place in the series. Parts of the story arc continue, parts are unique, but the central question or artistic problem I’m struggling with is entirely new. The more I tried to make the new book be just a continuation of the old, the more it was a muddle and a slog.

      There are different ways to approach it – maybe by exploring theme, maybe by playing with story structure or form, maybe by changing POV. You can also skip ahead in time and let the events in between get filled in as backstory.

      If #1 is a good, satisfying story, then something got solved, answered, or permanently changed. So let that door close. Book 1 is dead, Book 2 has to go into unknown territory.

      As an exercise, try forgetting all about picking up where #1 left off, and just write the first moment that excites you.

      I usually pre-write dialogue, snippets of scenes, and sensory or emotional experiences while I’m discovering what the book is about (not the plot, but the why of it, the heart of it). Then that leads me into outlining and noting where the characters need to go in their emotional/relationship growth. So yes I agree with EW on outlining, but IME, it’s necessary to kind of build up that bank of experiences in order to know how the outline should go.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Thanks so much for jumping in!

        I love everything you’ve written here and I completely agree with pre-writing dialogue. It totally changed the way I write and is the reason that I’ve been able to finish any piece of fiction. It’s so helpful.

        What you say here: “it’s important to respect each book as an entity in its own right, beyond its place in the series.” is really interesting because I’ve been trying to make the book a continuation of the old and it’s just slowing me down and it’s not as exciting any more. I think I need to start afresh (not with the draft, but with my mindset). I’ve been assuming people will read one after the other but that’s not how I read.

        I’m definitely going to try that exercise you suggest, thanks for it.

        And huge congratulations on starting #3!

        1. Lilysparrow*

          I’m glad that was helpful!

          Mine are mysteries, and I do shorts in between the novels. So I try to make each one a different style of problem – an impossible crime, a fake burglary, a scavenger hunt, espionage, wrong victim, Schrodinger’s Box, etc. And so the different forms bring in different thematic or character conflicts for the recurring characters to deal with – identity, proximity/space, one-upsmanship, and so forth.

          You can also look at some classic series, like in LOTR – each of the 3 books is completely different in tone as well as focusing on different groupings of characters. Or other series that flip the script and tell the antagonist’s side of the story.

          You do have to keep it fresh for yourself. If you’re bored, the reader will be bored too.

          Follow your curiosity!

  30. Alaska Roll*

    What’s your approach to splitting up bedrooms between kids, especially in houses or apartments with limited space? I was an only child, so to me the idea of not having your own bedroom feels weird, but logically I know it’s a normal thing to share with a sibling!

    Some background. We have a 10 year old girl and we’re thinking about having another kid. Our house is a tiny three bedroom ranch. Size-wise it’s actually pretty close to some of the larger apartments I’ve lived in. So I’m trying to figure out reasonable options for where a new baby’s room can be. Bedroom #3 would be the obvious choice but it’s currently an office/playroom (see: tiny house) and buying a larger house is not an option in the near future. I believe our daighter would be excited to share her room with a sister, but I don’t think it would be conducive to her sleeping well! And she may not feel the same way when she is a teenager sharing with a toddler. Plus we would we want her sharing a room with a brother. Most likely the office/playroom will become a bedroom but I’m curious how others have approached this.

    1. HannahS*

      I really don’t think it’s fair to have a kid that old share with a baby or toddler, just because of how different their sleep cycles will be! You could:
      -put the baby in the office/playroom and have a more cramped space in other areas of the house
      -once baby is old enough to have their own room, give older kid a large private space in the basement
      -renovate, make the house bigger
      -move the office space to the basement
      If you expect your oldest to leave home for university (I didn’t, but I’ve heard that most people do in the U.S) then your youngest will only be, at most, seven when big sister leaves. A kid that young can sleep in the office space, if you’re creative. A bedroom doesn’t need to be a big space. If you can put a bed and changing table in the office space, then it’s a bedroom, you know? It doesn’t have to be the whole room for a little kid, provided the space gets childproofed. They can nap elsewhere during the day if need be.

      1. valentine*

        I would keep baby with me, but for their own room, give them the office/playroom. If kids have to share (not these kids), they should get the master because adults spend most of their time elsewhere and hog the living room, which somehow isn’t seen as kid space, is an obvious way people don’t really view their homes as equally their kids’ home. There’s nothing inherently wrong with different-gender children sharing a room. (You don’t know their gender until they tell you, anyway.)

    2. Llellayena*

      You can probably keep the new kid in your bedroom for a year or two while you figure things out. I agree that your daughter is getting a bit old to share with a younger brother, but by the time new kid moves out of your room, you might be able to shuffle the third bedroom contents to give him his space. Or you could win a lottery in the next 2 years and be able to move! Who knows! Congrats on the new kid!

    3. WellRed*

      Your kids will be too far apart in age ( your daughter entering puberty by the time there’s an actual baby) to share. You have a third bedroom so that’s the nursery. I like Hannahs suggestions about giving older kid space elsewhere when she’s a teen. I do not think you should share your room with the baby for two years.

    4. New Year, New Me*

      I thinking asking a ten year old to share with a baby is a stretch. I shared with my little sister but only for the first two years of her life and there’s only a six year gap between us. By 8, I didn’t want to share anymore so my dad converted his office to my bedroom.

      Also I only shared with my sister, never my brother. Even on holidays, I don’t mind sharing with my sister but not my brother. So you have siblings of different genders, all the more reason to have different bedrooms. A friend of my brother is one of five boys with one baby sister (those parents really wanted a daughter and ended up with five boys before they got her!). The brothers all shared rooms, I think the oldest two in one room and then the set of triplet boys in another, but the sister got her own bedroom.

      1. Don’t do it*

        Don’t make them share a room if you have the space. Your daughter is going to be starting puberty right around the time your son will be walking and talking and making observations that can be very embarrassing. Haveing a new sibling after 10 years of being an only child is gonna be hard enough, don’t take away her space also. I (a girl) shared a room with my twin brother until we were 10 1/2 and that worked until about the last 9 months as we both hit the beginning of puberty early and needed privacy. I have always found that a good rule of thumb for opposite gendered siblings sharing a room is that if they can’t change in front of each other anymore then they are too old and if there is any other option you need to take it, even if it makes your life harder.

      2. TechWorker*

        My brothers are 7 years apart and shared a room until the older one left for university at 18. My sisters also shared, I got lucky that there happened to be 3 girls and 2 boys… but basically if they do share they will survive and make it work. I agree the older one may not be massively impressed but it won’t like ruin her life, and is obviously super super common in places where families have lots of children and obviously do not have like 6 bedrooms…

    5. MeganTea*

      We also have a ranch. We turned the office/playroom into bedroom for kid #1 (giving the 3yo a “big girl room”), which let us put #2 in the already existing nursery. A lot of stuff got packed up, thrown out, or moved into our bedroom. It was definitely A Project.

    6. Madge*

      I’d turn the office back into a bedroom for the baby. Everyone is right, there will be too big an age gap and the older’s room will be too full of tempting small chokeable items to be safe. And even if the baby is with you at the start, you’ll appreciate having a dedicated space for them and their stuff that isn’t in your own room. My daughter slept with us at night and napped in her room for the first couple years. You can probably work the offfice and toys into the living space if you get creative. IKEA is a great resource for ideas if not actual furniture. Then the family is together but everyone has their own “away” space. And you won’t have to do this for long. Your daughter is only about 5 years away from being more out than in and a few (very short) years away from living on her own after that.

    7. Alaska Roll*

      Thank you all for the good suggestions and confirming that yes, the playroom/office will need to relocate if we have another kid. There is a partially finished area of the basement that the office stuff could move into, so although it’s not ideal it might have to do!

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Thinking outside the box here… a lower budget way to gain more office space can be to convert a small RV or overnighter-trailer. In my state trailers have extremely low registration fees, and I’ve known a few writers to use those, in all but the most extreme weather.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Ten years is too much of a gap! Your daughter will need privacy as she enters her teens and a sibling will be a burden to her most likely. My brother is six years older, we shared a room for a couple of years, after I had outgrown the crib/toddler bed that I stayed in with my mom. But that lasted for only a little bit until they could convert the 3rd room that was a storage room into a bedroom for my brother.

      My best friend has a half dozen kiddos and they share until they’re about 10-12 and then they arrange for their own space because that’s the age when they really need alone time for their mental development.

    10. SAHM*

      I’m in the “you don’t need to decide right away” camp. My 9 month old technically shares with her sister (her crib and dresser are in their room) but she only takes naps in her crib. She’s literally just starting to sit up and play so she doesn’t play in the room either. This will all change in the next few months as we switch to bottles and she becomes more mobile but honestly, you could probably keep it as a office/playspace for another year before you decide.

    11. Not Australian*

      Friends of mine literally divided their bedroom in two – it was the largest – to make separate smaller bedrooms for each of their children, and they took their son’s bedroom which was the next size down. So everyone has their own space, just not much of it – and they managed to squeeze in an extra tiny bathroom, too.

    12. Lucrezia*

      Agreeing with the others that 10 years is too big a gap.
      If they were closer though, definitely! My opposite-gender sibling & I are ~3 years apart and shared until the youngest was 4-5, and we had a great time & were sad to be split up! (we maybe stayed up too late talking/reading/playing :) )

    13. Lilysparrow*

      We have 2 girls about 2 years apart. We moved the crib into the shared room after about 6 months, but neither of them were easy sleepers, so there was a lot of in & out and sleeping wherever we could for the first several years. Once they started sleeping at all, they didn’t bother each other. One could be screaming her head off with a night terror, and the other would snore right through it.

      They first shared a room with Elder in a twin bed with rails, and Younger in a crib. When Younger was old enough for a twin, we got bunks. The next stage they want is lofts so they can have more floor space. We’re saving up.

      If you want another child, don’t let furniture arrangements hold you back. It will all work out.

    14. Slartibartfast*

      We had a 960 sq ft 3 bedroom bungalow with no basement when the second came along. This was right around the time the housing market crashed, so moving wasn’t an option (we tried to sell, no buyers interested). Thankfully we had a large porch, so we enclosed that to enlarge the living room and moved the 3rd bedroom office stuff into the renovated space. There wasn’t anywhere else to put a crib. I had to open the closet door to fit a bassinet next to our bed. We were able to move eventually and the current house is twice as big, but sometimes I miss having the whole family sharing one common space. Then I drive through the old neighborhood and am shocked by how small it really is!

    15. RestlessRenegade*

      Can’t speak to the mixed-gender aspect, but I have two little sisters; one is ~5 years younger than me and the other is ~10 years younger than me. My family always lived in decent-sized houses with 3 bedrooms (we were privileged!) My parents always got the master, and I believe they kept my youngest sis in their room until she was about 1 year old, and then moved her in with middle sis. I frequently slept in there too because we’re all really close. However, around 11-12 I really began to enjoy having my own room and would NOT have wanted to share. I was lucky–my sisters did share a room until the youngest was about 11. They drove each other bonkers but now we all live apart and miss each other like crazy!
      Congrats on the new baby, hope that was some helpful gibberish:)

  31. Mimmy*

    The government shutdown is making me really nervous because I’m supposed to fly to Orlando for a conference at the end of the month and I keep seeing stories about how it’s impacting TSA. Apparently part of an airport in, I believe, Ft. Lauderdale closed due to lack of TSA screeners (I think? Not 100% positive I’m remembering the reasons correctly).

    Even with a slight uptick in callouts, it looks like the majority of TSA screeners are still coming to work. However, I worry that the longer this shutdown drags out, the worse its going to get.

    Any insights or suggestions are welcome!

    (Alison, if you think this is going to create overly-heated discussion, you can delete–I won’t be offended. I’m just reeeeeeally nervous right now)

    1. WellRed*

      Miami is closing some gates. If the shutdown is still dragging on, I’d plan on getting to airport super early.

    2. Courageous cat*

      I can’t figure how this could get be seen as provoking an overly-heated discussion. All I’ve heard is to allow extra time (1-2 hours) to get through security. Good luck!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        The mention of the shutdown can insight political rants. See the comment about the Fed who has to deal with that exact issue from their own personal circle!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      A colleague flew through Miami a week ago and it took him almost two hours to clear the check points.

      You’re flying there domestically, right? If it’s domestic, it is less of a hassle in general but yes, just be aware you need more time to check in and go through screening.

    4. Gatomon*

      When I flew through Orlando last summer they seemed to have a good handle on screening. They get a lot of international travelers and people with children. I would err towards being 2 hours early for the flight though. They had a bomb-sniffing dog checking people so we didn’t have to take off half our clothes or remove all our electronic items and liquids, which really speeds things up. I think it took me 30 minutes to get through security at what I assume were normal staffing levels and it was really packed. But perhaps the dog won’t be there and they’ll have to screen in the more invasive way. So I’d budget for at least 2 hours early and hopefully you just have to hang out at the gate for a while.

    5. lurker bee*

      I just flew this week (not that airport). Minimize what you bring and consider taking only a carry-on, as luggage screening had some hiccups. You might also look into FedExing or UPSing compact or heavy items ahead of you if you have a receiving point, especially if you’re a presenter with a receiving point. If you’ll be coming back with materials you receive from the conference, bring some packing materials and office airbills with you. Shipping off a box or two is probably cheaper than paying a carryon fee, anyway.

      We’ve always been encouraged to use office airbills for this purpose, so I’ve gotten inspired for personal travel. When I’m going on vacation and anticipate doing some shopping, I pre-buy and preprint USPS flat-rate postage labels at home and pack a couple self-sealing medium flat-rate boxes in my bag. Hotel front desks are usually fine with this, and business hotels even moreso.

      1. Mimmy*

        I’m only planning on bringing a carry-on anyway, so I’m a step ahead there.

        Also, I got that TSA Pre-Check thing where you still have to be screened but don’t have to take off shoes and other things I forget. Still, my husband heard on the news that if it comes to a point where there’s not enough TSA agents to cover certain terminals, that could lead to flight cancelations.

    6. Christy*

      I flew through MCO on Monday and there was zero line at the precheck line and minimal line at the regular lines. (I hate MCO in general but it really wasn’t bad this time! Plus if you have time stop at Cask and Larder for actually excellent food.)

  32. Rebecca*

    I saw this on Facebook this morning: “Never be a prisoner of your past. It was just a lesson, not a life sentence”. I need to remember this!

    I missed posting last weekend, but had a great time hiking with a neighbor. It was sunny, warm for January in central PA (around 48F or so) and not too windy. I took photos and posted them to the hiking trail’s Facebook page, and it was nice to have some interaction with others who enjoy the same trail. I was so glad I wore my heaviest wool socks after I mis-stepped and went into a stream and the water went up over my shoes. Not much good having waterproof shoes if the water is deeper than your shoes are high :P

    On a cool nature note, I took apple peels out to the old elm tree stump in the back yard, and noticed remains of some sort of predator scat on the stump! There’s grey hair and little bones, so I think it’s the remains of a mouse and either an owl or hawk left it there. I’m going to take a photo and text it to a friend who is a genius with this sort of stuff.

    Yesterday I rec’d all the documents back from the State Dept, so I put all my papers in a big ziploc bag for now: birth certificate, original social security card, married name social security card, marriage certificate, divorce decree, and passport. Driver’s license photo taken and done, it expired on Jan 20 so I had to get it done. Now to start the whole name change process back to my maiden name. I’m going to my county courthouse on Monday afternoon. Once I do that, off to the Social Security office (I wonder if they’ll just let me use my original card?) and PennDOT to get an updated license. If I had been more proactive, I could have gotten this done before I got my new photo taken, but I didn’t. I learned I can update my passport at no cost since it’s within a 1 year window of issuing. Just another step in putting this whole mess behind me.

    And side rant about my mother: I’ve asked her repeatedly not to clean my cast iron pans. They are very old (like 80-100 years old), well seasoned, and I just wipe them out with a paper towel when I’m done cooking. Last night, I walked into the kitchen and saw my #3 Erie Griswold egg pan on the stove, with something foamy boiling in it, and I asked her what she was cooking. “Oh, I tried to cook an egg, and it stuck to the pan, so I’m boiling water and baking soda to clean it.” Yep. Why she would EVER think this was a good idea, I’ll never know. I grabbed it from the stove, dumped the contents, and sure enough, she had scraped and scrubbed it to the point of now it’s not coal black inside any longer, but a sick grey color. Apparently she put a few drops of canola oil in it, turned it up fairly high, then tried to cook an egg. For reference, when I cooked eggs in it, I’d put a tiny bit of butter in it, let it melt on medium heat, cook my eggs, flip them, turn off the burner, let them sit for a minute or two, and they’d slide out as slickly as a new Teflon pan. This morning, I cooked eggs, and held the pan upside down over my plate and they stayed put. Ugh. I am NOT HAPPY. I feel like the father on “A Christmas Story” when the lamp broke. She did it on purpose! She used all the glue! Arrgghhhh. Even more irritating is usually she cooks a single egg in a little microwave egg thing, and never fries them because she is so paranoid about every molecule of fat that goes into her mouth. I keep telling myself this is a little thing…it’s a little thing…only 10 AM and I feel like I need a shot of Bourbon.

    So, no Bourbon for me right now, off for groceries and gas, exciting Saturday AM!

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Honestly, after the cast iron mess, I’d tell my mother that she was forbidden from ever using my cast iron cookware, and that you saw two different options: either she deliberately damaged them, or she forgot and thus needs a full medical evaluation, including checking for cognitive decline. And then put a lock on the cabinet where they’re stored so she doesn’t have access. But I am not a nice person sometimes. Good luck reseasoning the pan.

        1. Rebecca*

          Yes it’s her house, and now she’s become quite surly over the whole thing, and is just being petty. Yesterday I told her I was going to go to Walmart for groceries, she showed up there, and then wasn’t home for a long while after. She went to a restaurant for lunch, alone, never mentioned it to me or even asked if I’d like to go along. I was right there. I didn’t expect her to pay (she’s really tight with her money) but she never said anything, then when she got home she complained about how tired she was. I heard her come in but stayed upstairs for a bit longer than normal, I had gone out and done another trash pickup along the road and was changing my clothes, so when I went down she said she didn’t know I was home or she would have told me to carry her groceries up the steps. Gee, thanks.

    2. Resident Chef and Foodie*

      You can restore it to its previous condition! That is the wonderful thing about cast iron. My father had a friend borrow his cast iron pans and return them so proud that they were able to get all “the nasty black stuff off”. My father swore he wound never lend out cast iron again. He was able to reseason them but he was not a happy man.

      Rub a little vegetable oil on in and bake it for a few hours. You may have to do this a few times depending on how well your mother “cleaned” it but it should take much at all. Good luck and enjoy your wonderful cast iron pans!

      1. Rebecca*

        Thanks :) I’ll get it back to good condition in no time. Have you ever restored pans? I’ve actually restored pans by using the Easy Off Oven cleaner method to get rid of all the gunk, a vinegar/water bath to remove rust, and then seasoned in the oven as you described. I also set up a electrolysis tub for a big griddle, but my divorce happened so that project went by the wayside for now. I have lye on hand for soapmaking, and you can also give them a lye bath to take everything down to bare metal to start again.

        1. Rebecca*

          LOL she has several of her own pans, and they all look like my egg pan does now because…she’s messed them up and stuff sticks to them! Mine were my Dad’s Mom’s – I have a whole stack of them in various sizes, from the little #3 to a Wagner 12, and one that’s an old gate marked pan from pre 1900. I take good care of them.

    3. Mephyle*

      I learned on the internet that it’s not true that you should never never wash cast iron. There are sites with instructions on how to do it properly. And lots of instructions on how to restore them when they’ve been washed improperly.

    4. Be the Change*

      I’m surprised she could LIFT the cast iron. …Oh, it’s an egg pan, so presumably one of the wee little ones. Sorry this happened, how annoying!

    5. LibbyG*

      Your hiking story inspired me to get outside; thanks for that!

      Such a drag about the cast iron, especially in the context of the other frictions with your mom. Do you have a target for moving out?

      1. Rebecca*

        Not yet, pretty much financially in an uproar since the divorce, but I have a job, am paying back debt, and hope to be out of here within the next 1-2 years.

  33. HannahS*

    Update on fatigue and migraines: Last year I was having trouble staying awake–I was falling asleep in public against my will, which felt kind of scary–and asked people here for solutions. As it turns out, the answer was iron supplements! My blood levels are much better than before. I don’t know if I have significantly more energy most of the time, but I no longer have these periodic intense waves of fatigue that shut me down. I feel like I’m still sleep-deprived, but I tolerate fatigue better than I used to, if that makes sense.

    Migraines: I started having migraines with aura over the summer instead of my usual kind without, had to stop taking oral contraceptives (due to stroke risk), which then made my migraines much more frequent. My doc recommended trying nutritional supplements for migraine prevention instead of jumping to anti-convulsants and it worked! The Canadian headache society has a bunch of recommendations. I was also really worried that my PMS/periods from hell would come back once I was off hormonal birth control but they seem to be normal, for the first time in my life. I mean, holy moly THIS is what most ladies deal with?! No wonder periods are no big deal for most people…

    1. Seal*

      I used to get migraines as part of my monthly cycle and it sucked. After trying a variety of prescription medications that made me sick and/or woozy, one doctor prescribed 400mg of vitamin B2, otherwise known as riboflavin, daily. Miraculously, no more headaches! The only side effect is that it turns your pee neon yellow, but I could live with that. Once I went through menopause the headaches went away and I stopped taking the B2. But whenever anyone tells me they get period-related migraines I tell them to look into riboflavin – literally the only thing that worked for me.

      1. HannahS*

        OMG I know right? No one warned me about the pee. Or about what iron does to your poop.

        I found that my migraines weren’t super cycle-related; they were about every third day. But the supplements are still helping, regardless. I’m hoping to start tracking them again and start eliminating some of the supplements I’m on (I’m on four!) and seeing which is/are the ones making a difference. It’s so expensive to be buying all of them, and of course insurance doesn’t cover it.

  34. Tonya*

    A good friend of mine just found out that her baby due in May will have a cleft lip and palate. I want to be a good friend and know she’s sad but I’m childless/clueless. How can I be a good support? Any input would be great. On a positive note, we live in a city with fantastic access to pediatric surgeons and specialists.

    1. valentine*

      I get it, but repairing them is routine. Her OB should recommend a pediatric consult now to ease her mind and prepare her.

    2. fposte*

      I’m with valentine. I’m positive you both know people who had this repair done in their childhood and you don’t know it. (I just Googled “celebrities born with cleft lip” and found a ton–I realize that doesn’t mean they also had cleft palate, but I bet some of them did.)

      I can get it’s a shock to realize that you’re going to need to support a teeny little person through surgery early, and I suspect some of what she’s going through may be the shift from dream child to real child, with all its attendant limitations; that is, I think, hard to go through pre-birth because you don’t have a baby there to remind you of all the possibilities, too. So I’d say sympathize with her feelings but don’t treat it as a tragedy.

    3. New Bee*

      I think being a non-judgmental listener would be helpful. She might want to confide her worries about how the baby looks, social media/family expectations about sharing newborn pictures, etc. without being labeled superficial or shallow. And follow her lead about telling people; even well-meaning folks can offer hurtful explanations about “God’s plan” and/or what your friend did to cause it.

    4. CynicallySweet*

      I think just listen, be sympathetic, and non judgemental. It’s an easy fix but medical procedures can be expensive and scary. Plus her minds probably coming up with a million other things that could be wrong.

      I think if I was in her shoes it would be really nice to have someone say “I’m so sorry this happened. I have no idea how you feel but I want you to know I’m here for you, I’ll listen when you need to talk and I love you”. And then just follow through. You don’t have to relate, just understand she’s going through something and be there.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You don’t need children to be a good friend to a friend with kiddo related distress! Stay in touch with her, let her know that you’re there for emotional support and just listen if she needs it. I would stay away from making any kind of comments about “I read about this and that and people say that you should try blah blah blah” kind of advice. That doesn’t usually help someone, she’s read up on it, I’m sure of it!

    6. Lilysparrow*

      Just listen. Don’t project anything on to her about how you guess she feels, and don’t hold anything against her if she has to talk through some murky stuff.

      There is so much mythology and baggage about your baby being “perfect” or having a “defect,” even if she doesn’t buy into all of it, it’s going to impact her and she’ll have to process it somehow.

      And of course, there are the practical and medical implications of knowing your baby is going to experience pain. That’s a nightmare.

      Just listen is the best thing to do.

    7. Slartibartfast*

      Just be a safe space for her to vent in. My godparents had a son with a cleft lip and palate who they lovingly called their “fixer-upper baby” when I was 5 and he was born. It’s fuzzy memories because I was pretty young, but I remember him having a couple of surgeries and some speech therapy. As an adult, there’s a faint scar if you know where to look, but no speech problems.

    8. LibbyG*

      I’m reaching a bit here, but she might be having (untrue) thoughts that she somehow caused this or is worried about judgement from others along these lines (because a lot of pregnancy advice books are the WORST about that). As you listen with empathy, you may be able to usefully reinforce reality.

  35. MMM*

    Just booked a trip to London for a week April! I think we’re mostly all set with ideas of where we want to go/things we want to see and do, but does anyone have advice about the more logistical side of things? Like getting around–it looks like there is a Visitor Oyster Card that gets sent to you ahead of time vs. just getting a regular one at the airport. Also possibly places to stay, or at least general areas. It’s hard to tell just from looking at locations on a map, but if we stayed somewhere farther outside the city center (read: cheaper) does that make it significantly less convenient to get around via public transportation? Or would we be fine as long as we aren’t planning on making frequent stops back into our accommodation throughout the day (we aren’t, really just need a place to sleep) Thanks in advance!

    1. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      The Oyster card is easy to get at the airport iirc but tbh I’d get a visitor one (are they pre-charged?) so you have one thing less to do when you arrive.

      Also if you don’t need a home base during the day I think you’re perfectly fine staying a bit further out, just make sure you’re in easy walking distance of a tube or train station. Depending on what you want to see it might even be easier for some of the sights which are not in the city centre.

      Also have fun!! It took me a while to warm up to London but now I love it.

      1. valentine*

        Some Tube stations are absolutely massive, like airports or cities unto themselves. You can walk for what feels like miles before you see the track. I don’t recall if there was intermittent seating.

        1. Brit Ish*

          Some stations, like King’s Cross tube station, are definitely massive. There usually isn’t seating along the way, though most platforms have some seating once you reach them. If a station is a transition point where different lines meet, it’s likely you’ll have to walk some way and/or climb stairs to change lines or get in/out.

          The TFL site is pretty good and has useful info, like the time to walk map that shows walking times between stations. For instance, if you can walk without difficulty, don’t take the Tube between Leicester Square and Covent Garden, it’s only a four minute walk and it would take longer to get into and then out of the Tube than to walk.

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      Londoner here! Firstly I’d say don’t be put off by staying further out, especially if you’re doing Airbnb or similar rather than a conventional hotel. I live in travelcard zone 4, and it takes me 15 minutes to get into central London by train – the same as when I lived in zone 2, which is much closer to the city centre (although obviously you do then have to get the Tube on top of that if where you want to go isn’t near the station you come into). So I would say consider staying a little further out, and also don’t be put off by staying somewhere served by a train station rather than a Tube (underground/metro) line.

      In terms of whereabouts to stay, it will probably depend what type of thing you want to be close to. I personally like to be near bars and restaurants when I travel somewhere rather than major sights (because I’d prefer not to travel too far back to my accommodation after going out for dinner/drinks), so I’d think about perhaps somewhere like Shoreditch. Maybe Brixton or Peckham if you want to go a little further out as they are gentrifying rapidly, although there are still some slightly ‘dodgy’ parts around those areas. If you’d rather be closer to ‘big’ stuff, then it might be worth looking at the likes of Camden, Bloomsbury, South Kensington etc.

      Also yes to the tourist Oyster, although if you have a contactless credit card you can use that as well, and it will cap your daily/weekly spend in the same way as an Oyster card. The Oyster/contactless card also has the advantage that you can use it on the number 15 and number 9 bus routes which are regular London bus routes, but covered by old Routemaster buses (basically the ‘classic’ London red bus) and go round all the major sites, so are much cheaper than a hop-on-hop-off tour if you were looking at doing one of those.

      1. Lucy*

        When we travel into London (slightly more than annually) we just use contactless so I’d definitely recommend going for that if you already have that facility rather than getting an Oyster.

        That said, tourist London isn’t that big – many of the major sites you’re likely to want to see are all within a mile or so, and I would say it’s always worthwhile WALKING a new city to experience it meaningfully. There’s a nice circular walk that takes in Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Monument and Pudding Lane … and we managed it in a couple of hours even with the then-4yo.

        Similarly, most of the big museums are all kind of next to each other in batches. I’d definitely recommend my favourite, the National Portrait Gallery, as it’s really thoughtfully laid out and has excellent seasonal/visiting exhibitions.

        There are a lot of hotels near the airports, which then have excellent transport links into the city. Otherwise AirBNB is absolutely ubiquitous and you might find something quirkier.

    3. Londoner*

      Anywhere on the tube network will get you into and around London very quickly. That’s most of London north of the river, plus some of the parts south of the river. Buses and overground trains cover the bits not served by tube, but are more complicated and less frequent. Anywhere in zones 3,2,1 on the tube will get you to central London within half an hour or so. This is considered a short commute here.

      I’d suggest you download a tube map, look within zone 3 and google the names of stations plus “hotel”. And street map will show you what the neighbourhood is like.

      You can get a pay as you go oyster card. You preloadit with cash and it is charged for every tube trip or overground trip. (£1.50 covers unlimited bus travel within one hour) or you can get a one week ticket. Flat fee covers all travel. If you are getting the latter then don’t buy more zones than you need. If you do go outside your zones then you can pay the difference as you go by loading up some cash on the weekly card.

      Central London is full of chain coffee and sandwich shops that do good pastries yoghurts and porridge for breakfast. They are used daily by office workers and are more affordable than a hotel breakfast. Many tube stations also have branches nearby.

    4. Everdene*

      To be frank I wouldn’t bother getting an Oyster card. You can use a contactless card instead which means you have one less card to carry and you don’t need to upload the money/get your refund before you leave. I visit London regularly and have given back my Oyster cards (yeah…I’d collected 3 or 4 of them) and just use contactless.

      Like any major city you need to work out the cost/closeness equation. As long as you were on the public transport network staying further out will probably be fine if it is just a place to sleep.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Re: places to stay – can depend on your age too. Shoreditch is fun but it can also skew younger and be a bit more boisterous in the evening, which may or may not be what you are looking for! :) But there is really no reason to stay in Zone 1 (and probably better to stay further afield for both value and comfort).

      For logistics – I would download the Citymapper app as it will tell you exactly how to get from A to B (including which bus, which train/tube, which bus stop, walking directions, etc) and also have Uber just in case.

      Note that depending on when in April it will be school holidays here, so venues could be busier than normal. For the big sights I would HIGHLY recommend getting them out of the way first thing in the morning, and even to pre-book tickets if possible (talking Tower of London here in particular). Also, remember the secondary and tertiary museums that can be in different neighborhoods, be out of the way, and far less trafficked than the big guns. Something like the Fashion and Textile Museum (if that is your interest!), Horniman Museum, or Museum of London (which is strangely not nearly as busy as others) are good fun and will help you get outside that main tourist core.

    6. AL*

      Londoner here.

      Definitely download the Citymapper app, that will help with getting from A to B. There’s also Cabbee, and Gett, for taxi service which might be a good back up in case there’s an issue with Uber… (I have not used them though)
      I would recommend an Oyster card, I just feel it’s safer than using your contactless card in very busy places.
      There’s a version of the Tube map which shows step free aceess and I think one which shows which stations have public toilets, which can be handy.
      Try the riverboat for commuting along the Thames, it can be nice if the weather’s good.

      As long as you’re not too far from a rail or tube station you’ll be able to get in and out of the centre fairly easily. I live in zone 3/4 in South London and it is a 20 min journey to the centre.


      1. Brit Ish*

        Ooh yes, do take a riverboat on the Thames. Greenwich is lovely for a morning and afternoon visit, there’s the Cutty Sark and the Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory and you can take the Thames Clipper boat service there and back. There are a number of piers in the city where you can board the boats. It gives you a great look at the city from the river.

    7. J9*

      London is SO much fun! Check out Premier Inn, very economical. We stayed in one by Westminster Bridge, very convenient for the tube (Waterloo station), the London Eye, and easy access across the bridge to Westminster Abbey and other tourist spots.
      Highly recommend doing the London Tower tour, and boat trip to Greenwich. If you are a history buff, Churchill’s War Room is a must. One of the hop-on/hop-off bus tours will give you a great tour of the city.
      Enjoy your trip!

    8. Not Australian*

      Ex-Londoner here – the cheaper accommodation outside central London is well worth the extra travelling time involved. Just pick somewhere on the Tube network. TfL (Transport for London) has a very good website which gives you rough travelling times between stops on the Tube, and anything up to an hour from Central London – which should encompass a good 90% of the Tube network – is worth doing. Just try to avoid peak travel times, if possible!

    9. Jaid_Diah*

      Make sure your cell phone is set for being overseas and let your credit card company know you’re traveling. Make a list of your meds in case you need to replace them.

    10. MMM*

      Thank you so much everyone! I pretty much spent the day up to my eyeballs in airbnb and hotel websites and definitely tried to take note of how close/far they are to the nearest bus or tube stop, we’ll probably end up going with something a bit farther out that just has easy access to get into the more touristy areas. Also, today I learned what a contactless card is and that I have one, lol

      1. Lucy*

        That’s great – honestly you’ll be able to pay for almost anything contactless but particularly anything like drinks and snacks, lunch, souvenirs.

      2. Green Great Dragon*

        Tube and bus aren’t equal here – tubes/trains are considerably faster. You could easily spend an hour or more coming in by bus, but I agree with everyone else that if you’re close to a tube stop you’ll be fine.

      3. Kathenus*

        I stayed in a room over a pub which was great. Easy bus into London from there, so lots of options.

    11. Doreen Green*

      I’ve stayed in the Bayswater/Paddington area multiple times and really liked it. The train from Heathrow goes right into Paddington, and several different transit lines converge at Paddington, so it’s super convenient. Most of the big Central London tourist stuff is a short walk or Tube trip away.

    12. misspiggy*

      Crouch End is a great place to stay. There’s a couple of nice B&Bs, and a ton of great cafes and restaurants literally on the doorstep. Very green with nice views of the city. It’s not on the tube but the buses (included in Oyster) run every 2-3 mins down Crouch Hill and from the high street to Finsbury Park tube, which gets you into the West End in 10 mins.

    13. londonedit*

      Very late to the party, but Ealing is also a great place to consider staying. It’s a lovely little place all by itself (London is made up of little villages/towns really, and Ealing has a nice town-type feel of its own as well as being part of London) and it has great connections. It’s very convenient for Heathrow Airport (there are trains that go directly there from Ealing Broadway, or the Piccadilly line from Northfields or South Ealing) and there are also trains direct to Paddington, and the Central and District lines on the Tube network (all from Ealing Broadway). It’s less than half an hour to central London (Marble Arch/Bond Street/Oxford Circus/Tottenham Court Road/Holborn) on the Central line. At the weekend, the Central line is now part of the 24-hour Night Tube services so you can even stay out late and get the Tube home! Ealing also has lots of lovely parks, great pubs, a bit of history, and plenty of places to eat.

      Definitely get the Citymapper app, and definitely don’t take the Tube in central London if you can help it – it’s very easy to walk everywhere. And please don’t just go to the horrible tourist places – Londoners never go to Leicester Square if we can help it! The Londonist website has lots of info about the city that’s geared towards Londoners and visitors, and it’s a good resource for interesting things to do and see.

  36. Llellayena*

    Women’s personal grooming question below:

    The stores have finally stopped stocking refill blades for my 20 year old razor, so I’m on the hunt for a new one. But the razor companies all assume you’re shaving in the shower so they all have ‘water activated moisturizing strips’ or ‘lotion strips’. (With the number of people needing vision correction, you’d think they’d figure out that we can’t see in the shower to shave…) I tried the only Venus razor that didn’t have those features (5 blades) and it was crappy. I could barely get it to cut and I had to go over areas twice as often as I used to and it still didn’t get it all. Anyone have a recommendation for a razor with replaceable blades, no lotion/moisture strip, and no “cushioning” around the blades (I think that’s what’s making it not work, the rubbery bits framing the blade are getting in the way)? Thanks!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      After a brief Gillette Venus period that ended about 10 years ago, I stopped buying “women’s” razors. Men’s are generally cheaper and easier to deal with for me, especially men’s disposables. I now get my razors from Dollar Shave Club. The razor is technically a “men’s” razor, so no strip. You buy a handle and a pack of four blades and have replacement blades shipped to you. I do every four weeks and change my blade weekly, but you can customize delivery. They just raised their prices so it’s about $7 USD every month and I’ve been pretty happy so far. I like the handle they sell, which has a good grip. I’ve had to buy one replacement handle since I started using the service, but they’re pretty inexpensive. Good customer service, too.

    2. BRR*

      When I bought my men’s safety razor, for my face though, a lot of reviewers said it was good for shaving their legs. I have a merkur handle. The blades are sharp, the handle has no strips, and will be cheaper in the long run for blades.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      I also wear glasses and instead of shaving in the shower I sit on the edge of the tub. Wet legs, apply cream, shave. I can still see and I can still use women’s razors.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I echo the advice to use men’s razors!

      I’m still annoyed how much of an increase they slap on women’s branded grooming items. I don’t need your pink shaving cream for $4 a container, I’ll use the 1.50 men’s shaving cream, I’m okay without the pink or silly fragrances they want to put in those things.

    5. CatCat*

      I use a safety razor. Specifically, Merkur long-handled safety razor. Super close shave and replacement blades are cheeeeeeap. I use Derby blades. It’s like $10 for 100 blades.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I ended up using my husband’s old shaver. It’s the kind with the three floating heads. Did you know that men’s razors last a heck of a lot longer than women’s?? It pinched me once or twice on the underarms but then I got the idea of how best for me to use it. It did my legs in no time flat.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        +1, me too. The electric razor has it’s advantages. Not quite as close, but I can actually just grab it and shave my legs “after” I pick my skirt length (LOL). And, I am prone to nicks and bleeding… getting blood out of stuff isn’t the only issue (looking down and work and seeing a stream of dried blood on your leg… blech). So love, love that electric razor. The Panasonic triple screen is great.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I REALLY want to try this. I hate shaving in the shower because it takes forever and is slippery, not to mention I’m sick of buying blades all the time. And the price keeps going up or they’re always out of them. I’d like to just buzz my legs and be done with it.

    7. Five More Minutes*

      I used to use men’s razors, they were so much better- women’s razors would take me a few swipes, so I’d get razor burn. But… if you can afford it (and you can usually find deals on Groupon, but of course check reviews on places) getting laser hair removal was without a doubt the best investment I’ve ever made. I have a few very minor peach fuzz spots on my knees, but they’re so thin I don’t even see them. I had thick, dark hair before and it’s so nice to not have to think about the last time I shaved when I decide what i’m going to wear.

      1. lammmm*

        I am saving up for laser hair removal because I’m sick of paying for razors. I heard you can still shave during it, just no waxing/tweezing, which is what gave me the push to start putting money aside.

    8. Llellayena*

      Thanks, all! I had heard of using a men’s razor before but somehow while standing in the store I didn’t think of it. I’ll check that out.

      1. valentine*

        I tried a razor marketed to men and it didn’t work, but I don’t recall why. I get the closest shave with Venus Embrace refills (using each only once) on Venus Swirl (worst name) handles. I asked them to revive the Venus Vibrance (vibrating) handle, but no go.

    9. Slartibartfast*

      I’m blind as a bat and I shave by feel in the shower. It never occurred to me that people need to see to shave! How do you all see your armpits?? :)

    10. RestlessRenegade*

      I got a safety razor for Christmas and I’m excited to try it! As others have said, it’s much cheaper and sharper, but for me the big draw was a more environmentally friendly razor. Electric is the best for this, but at least I’m not tossing a razor wrapped in plastic every two weeks!

  37. IrishEm*

    Who is booking holidays this week/month?

    I’m looking at a part of Rome that I visited before when unemployed and on a tight budget and now I have an income I want to go a little more upmarket.
    There’s no Ryanair flights for my dates (I assume they went in the million seat sale, ho hum, no skin off my nose) so I am obliged to go with Aer Lingus and… I dunno, Aer Lingus seems like they’re copying Ryanair’s model except everything’s dearer, which bugs me in a way that’s tricky to articulate. If I’m paying premium money for my flights then I want to know I’m not being treated like a walking wallet like on Ryanair. Is that snobby? I just want to make sure that if I’m paying big bucks that I’m getting my money’s worth.

    The hotel I’m interested in looks so nice, (SO NICE I HAVE HEART EYES) but also they offer really couple-y stuff like roses in the bedroom, and, um, I am the opposite of a couple. Also, what’s with it being cheaper to book a non-refundable stay than one that can be cancelled?

    I dunno I’m in this weird place where I’m trying to be both frugal and a spendthrift all at once, lol. Anyone else planning a holiday and overthinking it way, way too much? XD

    1. BRR*

      I’m thinking of booking a trip to St Martin’s in March. I’m having trouble pulling the trigger though. I want a mix of activities and relaxation and I’m not sure this is the best option. But I found good airfare and it will be nice and warm.

    2. StellaBella*

      Is EasyJet an option? They do some flights out of Ireland. I booked a flight to Florence in Feb for a very cheap price. I am not in Ireland tho. Looking forward to seeing friends.

    3. CynicallySweet*

      Idk about anything else but I’ve flown aer lingus before. The seats are fine (it’s an airplane and I can’t afford the really nice seats so idk about that). The food was pretty good and I really liked their movie selection. They have some cool games on the monitors too. The emails can get pretty annoying. After my trip I just marked the address as spam. Hope you have a great trip! (I’m sure you’ve looked at it but il italia (sp?) want bad either (the seats were supper small tho))

      1. IrishEm*

        I’ll book towards the end of the month, just in the planning stages now. I used to really love aer lingus but the fact that they charge €150 for the same flight if you want to check a bag and €88 i you don’t annoyed me. I’m just being nitpicky and cranky.

    4. Marion Ravenwood*

      Me! Husband and I just booked a trip to Seville in March, and I’ve also booked a solo trip to Nashville in November because British Airways has a sale on this month (see my post further down).

      In terms of the flights, I think that’s pretty common these days – BA was much the same when I was booking my Nashville flights (eg charging for a checked bag, not letting you pick your own seat etc). Which I do get, because it saves money especially if you’re not going for a long time and/or don’t need to take a lot of stuff, but for a long-haul flight I expect that type of thing to be standard and it’s honestly a bit frustrating. Especially when they’re not clear about what you *do* get – I had to look up whether my ticket included food because their ticket booking page only specified you got fed if you booked the standard economy fare not the basic one, and I wanted to make sure whether I’d need to sort out my own dinner/snacks for a nine-hour plane journey before I made the booking!

      1. IrishEm*

        Oh, Seville in March will be fabulous! I hope you have a lovely time! :)

        The whole checked bag in the fare/not in the fare disparity annoyed me. There’s a flight I’m looking at and the fare without the checked bag is about €90 and you can check a bag for either €35 or €45 depending on weight or it’s €150 including a 20kg checked bag and that just annoys me >:( At least it’s only 3 hours of my life at the end of the day.

    5. Annie Moose*

      An extra charge to make a room refundable is to discourage people from cancelling rooms. A nonrefundable room is guaranteed income for a hotel, whereas a refundable room isn’t.

      1. IrishEm*

        Fair point, it’s just frustrating trying to budget and debating whether the €500 extra as insurance will be worth it to me.

        1. Lily Evans*

          As long as you’re pretty sure you’re not going to change your mind about your trip I’d say don’t bother with the refundable room. You can get travel insurance way cheaper than that price difference and that would cover having to cancel in an emergency situation.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We just booked for the Masters – April in the US – using miles on BA. First to Nashville and Business back from Houston was about the best we could do but whatever, its going to be a blast! That still took weeks of thinking/checking combinations, potential routes around the area, etc. Haven’t even started thinking of booking hotels yet either.

      We do need to take a long weekend somewhere in Europe before March, however, and are leaning towards either Florence or Nice. Something packaged where I DONT have to plan for once looks about right! :)

      1. IrishEm*

        Oh, I adore Florence, it’s so lovely in the spring time. I recommend the TravelDepartment.ie and .co.uk for package tours around Europe, they’ve helped me out with trips in the past :)

        I love planning hols in January it puts me in such good form :)

    7. WWF*

      Totally get what you’re saying about Aer Lingus. I flew with them last year – short staffed at Dublin airport and actually charged for coffee on the flight! Shades of Spirit Air.

      1. IrishEm*

        I can’t, tho, allergies :'(
        I like the idea of arranging something similar but less pollen-y to treat myself :)

  38. Myrin*

    I live in one of the regions in central Europe which was declared a disaster area because of the heavy snow three days ago (this is very awkward to say in English because I have no idea about terminology – basically, every “county” has a head politician who can announce disaster alert for the whole are and then some specific actions take place, like schools being closed etc.).

    I gotta say, the traffic situation sucks at the moment because it’s hard to get anywhere – even though it started thawing somewhat today which made everything much easier to get through – but it’s not actually that bad?
    Like, this is the snow area in our country. If you grew up here (like I did), you’re used it it, although it’s slightly unusual for these amounts of snow to accumulate in basically one and a half days. It’s brought to light a very interesting juxtaposition between how the media portrays something and how it’s actually experienced by the people affected by the thing (the people who clear out all the canned goods in the supermarket my sister works at notwithstanding).

    As I said, it’s a pain to get anywhere at all at the moment but other than that, I actually like that everything is so quiet and slow right now.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve been watching the news of Germany and Austria (with students in both countries) and it looks awful so I’m glad to hear it’s not as bad on the ground as it sounds on the news.

      (And I think the English term you need is governor like they have in America: they seem to have more powers than a simple mayor; this is particularly true in federal countries).

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        And I think the English term you need is governor like they have in America: they seem to have more powers than a simple mayor; this is particularly true in federal countries

        Just to clarify: in America, a mayor is the person in charge of a town or city; a governor is in charge of a state (which contains towns and cities).

      2. Myrin*

        I mean, really the only bad thing about it is that it happened so fast and all at once and also that climate change has been super visible throughout even my 27-years-long-lasting lifetime, meaning it’s been snowing less and less in the last years and people became complacent. I clearly remember that when I was a kid, the day of Saint Martin (11th november, which gets celebrated with a procession here) usually had snow already, and there was still snow on my birthday (5th March), but neither of those has been the case in the last decade or so.

        I certainly wouldn’t go skiing at the moment, not least of all because they’re blowing up avalanches (that’s a literal translation and sounds ridiculous; authorities cause detonations which then allow avalanches to go down in a controlled environment) at least five times a day and the thawing makes it even more dangerous, but unless you get into an accident because of road conditions or get hit by snow falling from the trees, you should be entirely safe.

        (I thought a govenor is the head of a whole state (in the US)? Because that’s not what I mean; American states would, if anything, most closely resemble our Bundesländer (like Bavaria, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatine etc.), and I’m talking about the next-smaller area. The dictionary suggests both “district administrator” and “county commissioner”, which sounds about right.)

        1. fposte*

          In the U.S., county government is, if you’ll pardon the expression, all over the map; terms aren’t regularized, and power is often quite limited. In fact, that’s true of a lot of U.S. government–a position that’s incredibly powerful in one state could be a low-paid seatwarmer in another. Counties also tend to be run by boards or councils, so the power is diffused.

          I did find a fascinating article on governing dot com called “Obscure yet Powerful Jobs in State and Local Government” that gives some really good examples. (I’ll post a link in followup but that should get you there if Alison hasn’t started moderating yet.) One example they use is that in Nevada, the Clark County Commission is responsible for much of the cluster popularly conceived of as “Las Vegas”–the Strip isn’t in the city proper but in the unincorporated county. So there’s a *ton* of county revenue. Contrast that to rural areas where there’s no industry and there may not even be a sales tax, and without money, it’s hard to have power.

      3. fposte*

        I think that’s probably the closest equivalent, since we’re talking high-level subdivisions of a country. The U.S. does have counties within states, but they’re not generally headed by an individual but a board, and they often don’t have a ton of funding or power. (In places like Cook County around Chicago there’s a lot of overlap of the power structures. To put it mildly.)

        1. Myrin*

          Ack, we cross-posted (which I just accidentally spelt “gross-posted”, which is interesting but wrong!), but I actually don’t think they’re equivalent, mostly because of size of the area supervised; on the other hand, the way you describe counties are headed isn’t close to how what I mean works, either! This is much more complicated than I thought! In any case, I’m talking about my Landkreis, which dict.cc (which I’ve found to be the vastly superior online dictionary compared to everything else) calls “administrative district”, and its Landrat, the “district administrator” – does that sound any better?

          1. fposte*

            It sounds fine; I just don’t think we work like that.

            It would be logical to assume that power correlates with size of area–that powerwise, it goes country, state, county, town. At least in the U.S., that’s not reliably true. Towns will often have more money than counties, and states sometimes have powers and responsibilities that the country doesn’t. It’s all dependent on the individual structures, which aren’t consistent. (Additionally, some towns don’t have mayors, and some mayors don’t really have much power–Oakland, CA, which is a very large city, actually operated under the “weak mayor” system, where the mayor has no power over the council, until the mid-nineties, and that’s still not uncommon in smaller cities.)

            1. Myrin*

              That’s all so interesting and fascinating. I love learning about different structures like this! You’d think that after consuming a lot of US-based media, both fictious and non-fictious, I’d have an inkling of how this stuff works at yours, but apparently not!

              1. fposte*

                Honestly, I did a lot of Googling while writing my answers, because this is so non-standardized in the US that I didn’t want to overextrapolate! So you’re probably ahead of a lot of USAns on your understanding.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  And just wait until you droll down to cities, towns, villages, and “unincorporated areas” …which basically means too few people to have a village even.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                We know how to be confusing and we are good at it.

                Here in New York state, the leaders of towns are called “town supervisors”. The leaders of villages are called “mayors”. A town can have more than one village in it.

                I grew up in Connecticut and leaders of towns in Connecticut are called “mayors”. Just to keep all of us on our toes.

                Now the real fun stuff. It’s possible for a village to be in two or three different towns. The real estate tax map has to be a nightmare.
                And we do the same thing with towns. We have one town in our state that is also in two other states. It’s in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can see it at port jervis ny dot org. There are other towns in more than one state also.

    2. LCL*

      Yes, I kept hearing it as reported as a massive snow storm in the Alps. I kept thinking and, what’s the story? I never investigated any further, as I ski and when I see the European ski areas on the internet the longing is torture.

  39. Guilty Fed*

    this is a blend of work/not work, but it’s the emotional/social side that’s bothering me….

    How do you handle it when things (even most things) that are good for you are negatives for most people?

    This came on because I’m a furloughed fed & while most of my friends & coworkers are really struggling both financially & emotionally, I’m LOVING being home. I have enough financial cushion to be fine until April. I have a new dog I’m training, a million home improvement projects to get done, and being a natural night owl I’m finally on a sleep schedule that means I’m well rested & feel great. For the first time in my career, I’m in a job that truly is pointless & should have been defunded 10 years ago when a specific program was ended (yes, was applying for new jobs like mad before shutdown) so unlike the previous longer shutdowns where I was doing meaningful work I have zero anxiety about projects going uncompleted. Government shutdowns are quite possibly the single dumbest thing elected officials do but since it’s out of my hands, I’m going to enjoy it.

    This happens more than I like. Another example is I have a medical condition that means heat/direct sunlight are very, very unpleasant for me & can result in an ER/Urgent Care stay so while everyone else gets excited for summer, I want winter/spring to never end. Overcast & 50F makes me soooooooo happy! (yes, I’m trying to move back to the PNW). Or, my family is on deathwatch for my uncle…he’s a horrible, evil, abusive man I’ve been estranged from for years & for me the only tragedy is that he didn’t die/go to prison decades ago yet I know my lovely grandparents are devastated watching their child die from a pretty horrible form of cancer.

    So, how do others deal with the guilt of personally benefiting/being happy about something that is bad for other people??? Mostly I try to say something non-committal & change the subject but it’s not always possible.

    1. CynicallySweet*

      I think it’s important to remember that even though you’re happy for yourself, you’re not unsympathetic to others who are having a hard time (which it sounds like you’re not).

      I really don’t think the weather one is a big deal at all! People have different and strong opinions about the weather! I’m like you and have no problem saying’ I love this’ when people bitch about overcast days. That could be regional tho. I’m in the NE but when u visited my cousin in Atlanta 50 was a disaster!

      For the parts that are more consequential – like the furlough – I wouldn’t rub you’re happiness with it in others faces. But I don’t think you should feel guilty at all. You didn’t start it and have no way to end it. If you can enjoy it, go ahead. As long as you understand why others might not and show sympathy for that I think you’re good!

      1. Guilty Fed*

        Thanks CS

        I’m definitely not unsympathetic! I’ve been refraining from posting anything positive on social media (other than about the new dog because she’s WONDERFUL lol) if only so no one can use my posts politically to minimize the negative impact of the shutdown.

        And I’m doing what I can to help people I know are having struggles (have done both a couple cash loans & been using the excuse of “cleaning out my chest freezer” to give coworkers meat since I know a lot of them are pretty much on beans & rice right now). I’m super, super worried about some of our contractors :(

        1. valentine*

          I wouldn’t feel guilty about any of that. I’m sure people have given you grief for not being Pollyanna at a horrific (redundant) post-dawn/pre-noon hour. Enjoy what you can. You didn’t create these circumstances and your enjoyment or lack of suffering isn’t oppressive.

    2. Nita*

      I can relate. For me, Hurricane Sandy was a blessing. It flooded my husband’s office big time, so he worked from home for nearly two months while I was dealing with a new baby and a difficult recovery. His company doesn’t normally do work from home, so I 100% have Sandy to thank for that. I didn’t gloat about it, of course. But if it came up in conversation, I just said matter-of-factly that we’d been very lucky with this situation. They say it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I was JUST telling someone the other day about how Sandy was a blessing for one of my co-workers because it gave her an extra three weeks of maternity leave (she lived in Hoboken at the time). You’re not alone. :)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Hurricane Irene blew through my state and took enough power lines down that when the power company came around saying it was tree-trimming tim, we offered to ‘let’ them take down a 50 year old maple. They said they’d think about it and went away long enough we figured it wasn’t going to work. Then Sandy formed and the path showed it coming towards my area. The utility company tree guys came back to say they did want to take it down “And csn we do it today please?”

        They did a $600 tree removal for free…and my neighbor’s similar age maple hit her house. I …said nothing.